friday random eleven – “bruised arm at Magrathea” edition


I suspect this is kind of the usual refrain here, but this has been a rough week. I think this comes up here more often because feelings of despondence tend to trickle out through my fingers onto the interwebs. If I’m feeling good, I’m less in my head, enjyoing the moment. Anyway, I struggled a bit. I suspect some of it had to do with the birthday, which, for any number of reasons I won’t get into here, was tough. As usual, it was kind of low-key, which I usually appreciate. However, maybe because of the completely arbitrary geek connotations of this particular year, maybe I wanted a bigger to-do and simply didn’t realise it; I dunno. I’ve been a little adrift and feeling lonely lately, and that’s feeding into the funk I’m feeling.

That, and I actually gave up on the “um” count this week after I crossed over 75 instances in the first 20 minutes. Ouch.

Also, I’ve done myself a couple of minor injuries in the last week that have kind of annoyed me. Out for a lunchtime Pokemon walk earlier this week, I tripped over a gap in the sidewalk and twisted my ankle (apparently others did too – as I limped by the spot yesterday, somebody put some orange cones over the area), which just kind of sucks. Also, somewhere along the way, I gave myself a pretty deep gouge/abrasion on the inside of my right thumb. This is bothersome because (1), I have no idea where it came from; I just noticed myself bleeding the other afternoon, and (2), it kind of hurts when I’m running songs on the bass in preparation for Dragon*Con next weekend. I gave it a rest last night to see if giving it another day to heal up helped (besides, I’m still don’t have setlists; I’m kind of making educated guesses as to what we’re playing).

Oh well; instead, I sat down with my kid and watched Pacific Rim last night, and according to her, I “sat there smiling like a four year old” the whole time. I guess that means things are looking up, at least a little bit.

Here’s some tunes, as per usual; I changed up the Pandora settings a bit; the mix is a little different, if a bit heavy on modern alternative stuff for this particular sample. At least it’s leaving the same three Journey songs out now.

  1. “Ghosts of Mississippi” – The Steeldrivers
  2. “All That Jazz” – Chicago OBC
  3. “Dead Inside” – Muse
  4. “This Charming Man (BBC version) – The Smiths
  5. “Heathens” – Twenty-One Pilots
  6. “One Chance” – Modest Mouse
  7. “Three Marlenas” – Wallflowers
  8. “Drop The Game” – Flume and Chet Faker
  9. “Turn Up The Radio” – Autograph
  10. “Fighting on the Same Side” – Hooters
  11. “Rock You Like A Hurricane” – Scorpions

And I just gave up and went eleven right away; sue me; I had a momentary bout of enthusiasm when I saw this earlier this week:


some personal pokemon silliness


There’s been another update to Pokemon Go this week, including the new “appraisal” feature, ideally for players to get a read on how effective/powerful their various pokemon are. It took players approximately 30 seconds to turn it into one big dick joke.

I admit, I did laugh. And I needed a laugh this week. This has been a rough one; birthdays often are. I’ve been feeling, well, kind of useless and ineffective all around.

So in the interest of turning tragedy into cheap comedy, I played along, though my particular jokes are a little less phallic and maybe a bit of a cry for help:

(this was only because “sense of self worth” was too long for the field)

Anyway, so far, I’m feeling a little better, which is good, because I need to find my better self in the next week; playing music with my friends in front of people who dig it always does make me feel better, but they’ll be better shows if I’m able to pull myself out of this funk and into a more positive state of mind before I hit the stage next weekend.

I think I’ll get there. Of course, I’m closing out the day with another two hours with the “um” individual, so we’ll see what happens.


they grow up so fast


Got it back just in time to roll over five (virtual) barrels:

Overall, the ownership experience with my Scion iM has been a pleasure; it’s a great car, fun and comfortable to drive. Just sporty enough in appearance and drive feel to engage me without being ridiculously powerful and consumptive (note the average MPG figure in this photo, which was shot after a tank of mostly city driving with lots of stop ‘n go. Highway, I flirt with 40). It stops and corners nicely, which is where all the fun is anyway.

Plus, I can fit all my crap in the back.

So, yeah. Happy 10k, little black hatchback!


the answer


Don’t Panic. (and happy birthday to me).




…among other things, I went to a Pokemon Go! raid this weekend.

What that means is that a huge number of players of this game get together in a Pokestop heavy public area and wander around catching monsters, sharing intel, and generally bringing the social part of this game that overlays the real world to the forefront.

It was also a poorly organized event, as the organizer from Virginia Pokemon Go! had to bow out a the last minute and nobody quite knew how to pick up the slack. Oh well, we still had fun wandering around Colonial Williamsburg in the dark with our own little group (eight or ten strong) and meeting up with other folks doing the same thing. Also, we got an impromptu tour of the William and Mary campus, as our group contained several alums.

The best summation of the the event came from my daughter, who threw the following up on social media:

The best part of a Pokemon raid is when you and three other people yell “PIKACHU” and thirty people come speed walking towards you.

…which is exactly what happened.

Yes, it’s the epitome of a crap Pikachu, but it’s my first – now I have all the starters (yes, the little yellow rat counts).

Oh, I also got my car back on Friday afternoon. The paint match and repair work was pretty much top notch, and they even detailed it before handing it back to me. I am so very happy.

Forecast for the week? Work, and now that Dragon*Con has become real to me, I’m going to be doing a hell of a lot of rehearsing.


friday random ten eleven: “from despondent to obvious” edition


It was a bit of a struggle to get here, I must say. This week’s been rough. Found myself in a bit of a down cycle on the depression continuum the last couple of days. I think I might see the way out of it, but it’s been a hard road the last 48 hours or so. I’ve got a weekend coming up with no formal commitments, so I’m hoping for a little rejuvenation. I always find my way out of these little digressions, so I think I’ll be alright.

I’m also kind of hoping to hear that my car’s ready, though given my luck so far, I’m tempering my expectations. The insurance will eventually get tired of paying for the rental, which will probably motivate the eventual closing of this transaction (yes, I sort of conflate the insurance company and the body shop, but my insurance company has a “concierge office” inside the shop, so they’re kind of one in the same in my head). I’m still debating about whether I call them today. We’ll see.

Work is still in transition, but the reorg is starting to kick in, so the new status quo is sorting itself out in terms of who I need to report to when and what they need to hear. Looks like I have about six bosses again, which really means I don’t have any bosses except the project schedule, so as long as that has some actual direction to it, I’m left alone to do work my data miracles. This is a circumstance I’m comfortable operating in, so I’m cautiously optimistic. Time will tell.

Finally, Dragon*Con is starting to become a real thing in my head, being about two weeks out. We’ve got our tentative performance schedule (including a concourse show this year!), and I’m just waiting for some setlists (though I kind of know where those are going). It’ll be nice to knock the dust off the Humdingers tunes after playing with those other guys this summer, and wrock the pants (or other garments…it can be that kind of party) off of D*C for a third year running. Also, word on the underground is that Valentine Wolfe might join us on stage for a couple of tunes…that’s gonna be a blast.

So yeah, life’s kind of low right now, but it’s on it’s way to getting better. To celebrate the coming weekend, here’s a handful of tunes Pandora spit out. Kind of obvious and unremarkable until you get to the back third, but hey, sometimes life gives you exactly what you’d expect (especially when you get to set the streaming music service channel parameters).

  1. “The Ledge” – The Replacements
  2. “And We Danced…” – The Hooters
  3. “Silly Little Man” – The Badlees
  4. “Losing My Religion” – R.E.M.
  5. “The Safety Dance” – Men Without Hats
  6. “Summer of ’69” – Bryan Adams
  7. “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” – Guns ‘n Roses (the studio version, not the live one 🙁 )
  8. “The Godfather” – Harry and the Potters
  9. “Pretty In Pink” – Psychadelic Furs
  10. “West Coast” – Coconut Records
  11. “Don’t You Want Me” – The Human League

(edit) – so, it looks like there are actually eleven tunes here. I’m okay with a random Eleven now and then.


losening and tightening


I took yesterday off, to take care of some appointments. I got one in, and lots of drama.

The chiropractor experience was magical. My back and shoulders have never felt better. The man is magic. I still worry I’m going to get addicted/dependent on these adjustments; visions of Victorian ladies being treated for hysteria come to mind; seriously, it feels that good. I shall, however, choose to ingnore the guilt complex I have about suffering and continue to go for my periodic maintenance.

Also, I had to cancel my 10k service appointment for the car, because the car’s still not done. I’m looking to the end of this week now. When they took some things off to examine them, they found a bent tie bar, so they had to order one. Better they get it all, I suppose. I’ll keep driving the damned Corolla, and coming up with longer lists of things to check before I eventually take custody of the Scion back.

Things got weird around lunchtime when I got a call from my lead analyst that they changed the locking codes on my building, and the team couldn’t get back in. This goes back to last week when some of the equipment folks moved some equipment out of the building (the bits of it my team doesn’t use is given over to storage) without going through proper protocols. The problem’s been solved, though it involved changing the locks, and left my guys having to shift efforts to their local office. Argh.

As a result of all this, the wonderfully loose back and neck tightened themselves right back up thanks to the stresses of the day. It happens.

At least today, I’ve made myself useful by finding a bug….in my team’s test results analysis tool.



one hundred seventy-seven


Had an okay weekend, I guess. Got together with friends on Friday and Saturday, which was nice. Took the kid for surprise pizza and Build-A-Bear for her birthday. She had a blast.

Somewhere along the line, though, I started feeling pretty awful – it’s going around. I was totally crashed out by early Sunday afternoon. Sinuses and all that. My lovely wife woke up the same way this morning. Must be some new round of blooms in the region (probably tied to the 100+° temperatures around here this last week. Also might be a depressive flare-up; I’m getting those nerve buzzes. Whatever.

I should have stayed in bed. I really should have. However, I’m in the middle of one test (which is going fine), and about to start support on another this week that has never, in the history of ever, gone off without a hitch the first day. The person running that show simply isn’t up to the task, and I gotta be here to pick up her pieces. I don’t enjoy it, even when I’m healthy.

Unrelated, but semi-relevant transition: the person I speak about above was running that two-hour Friday morning meeting I mentioned previously. To give you an idea of what I was dealing with, I engaged in the following (along with the snark and jerkoff motions also mentioned) to get through over 120 minutes of irrelevancy:

If you can’t read that, the final “um” count was 177, give or take, because I likely missed a few.

Anyway; I’m supposed to get my car back today, which will be nice. I’m just waiting on the phone call.


friday random ten – “you mean I gotta wait until 2031?!?” edition


Happy Friday.

You know it’s going to be thaty kind of day when the first thing you do in the office is, after checking a notification that a document’s been added to your personnel file (we’re reorganizing here, and the paperwork has finally caught up with the office code change), you start going down the rabbit hole of of estimating retirement and life insurance benefits.

The good news is that even after figuring a VERY conservative return on my 401k and not counting on any futher promotions (which I don’t really want anyway), the annuities and social security benefits and whatnot guarantee that I’ll be pretty comfortable if I manage to make it past retirement age in public service.

Of course, I gotta wait until 2031 at the very least to manage it, and 2036 if I want to actually maximize the benefits. At least ifteen more years of this crap, huh? Sure, why not.

If I for some reason don’t make it that long, my life insurance payout seems to be pretty nice as well; kids’ll get through college, debts will be paid. they can go out and find a replacement daddy who doesn’t have my issues and insecurities.

But, I really don’t wanna go there. Most of the time I like being around. This is just the kind of data dive you find yourself doing on a slow Friday morning knowing you’ve got to spend 9am to 11am listening to people you don’t really like drone on about a requirements document that you were sure got put to bed three months ago but that people just can’t let go of for some reason.

Okay, that last bit makes me not wanna be around so much, but it’s only on the phone and I can make snarky comments on mute and jerkoff jestures at them through the wires and they’ll never know.

But I have to stick around for at least another month – I got a couple of cool band gigs coming up, and have a ticket to see Willie Nelson (!) play in town in September, and I don’t want to miss that.

Pretty typical weekend coming up, apart from the waiting for the body shop to call about giving me the car back. We’re getting together with some friends we haven’t seen in a while to play board games and make each other laugh. I think we might have our other game group (Seventh Sea) set up to meet on Saturday, but I honestly can’t remember.

Oh, and we have a surprise for the youngest on Sunday, as she’s turning nine, though I have, for some reason, been describing her as nine for the last year. I don’t know why I do that, it’s not going to make retirement get here any faster.

whatever. Here’s some tunes. #8 is a definite memory grabber, causing me to actually kind of smell the chorine and the melting Charleston Chew candy bars at the Sunbury community swimming pool circa 1986-87. This tune, along with “Body Talk” by Kix and a couple of tracks off of Prince’s 1999 got pretty near continuous repeats over the crappy all-weather public address/siren speakers. I think they were the only half-dozen tracks on the ancient jukebox. It’s a good memory, though. I’ll take it.

  1. “Don’t Get Me Busted” – The Donnas
  2. “Fortunate Son” – CCR
  3. “Ophelia” – The Lumineers
  4. “Here Comes The Sun” – The Beatles
  5. “Chasing the Brand New” – The Badlees
  6. “Back in Black” – AC/DC
  7. “Here Comes A Regular” – The Replacements
  8. “White Wedding” – Billy Idol
  9. “The End of the Tour” – TMBG
  10. “Photograph” – Def Leppard

80 percent solution


Yesterday, I finally dropped my car off at the body shop to have the storm damage fixed. As part of the deal, my insurance company is covering a rental car while the professionals replace parts and match paint and all that stuff they’re good at on my 2016 Scion iM.

I left the shop yesterday with this:

A 2016 Toyota Corolla LE. As you might be aware, my Scion and this Corolla are essentially siblings. They’re derived from the same platform, share the same engine (though the Scion’s tuned to make a few more horses), and seem to share, based on my short experience thus far, a lot of the same parts bins for interior hardware and sheet metal. Mine’s got a hatch and a body kit, this one’s got plastic hubcaps and a trunk; otherwise, the family resemblance is uncanny.

That said, they feel like entirely different animals.

Part of that might be the fact that the Corolla has a less advanced suspension out back,is running a CVT rather than a six-speed manual, and has smaller, narrower wheels and tires rolling it along. It’s a little bumpy and sluggish, has less responsive steering, and is largely numb. My Scion, at least, has sporting aspirations; the Corolla is a cheap reliable appliance for people who don’t like driving very much.

But I kind of knew that already, though I’d never had the opportunity to do such a hands-on comparison before . What’s surprising me most is the fit and finish. The interior of the Corolla, again, clearly shares a bunch of components (dash top, door cards, pillar shrouds, buttons and stuff), though even for the mid-trim level Corolla (which actually has a sticker price a bit higher than my Scion), it feels kind of cheap. Surfaces that in my car are soft-touch or leather(like) wrapped in my car are plain, hard rubber and plastic (most notably the steering wheel). The seats are barely bolstered and uncomfortable (also weirdly gray while the carpet and much of the dash is black); the instrument cluster has a cheap LCD screen rather than the color, multifunction display mine’s got, and The sound system, while running the same software, runs on a smaller unit with a lower-res screen and with much lower sound fidelity. Stuff is “mostly” in the same place, though often just off enough to throw me off when I try to turn on the headlights or change the volume.

It’s my car, just slightly shittier, which is weird, since we’re talking about a car that’s nearly identical, but with an MSRP that’s $1100 bucks higher. It feels….cheap.

I don’t know, that might just be the ubiquitous rental car smell – you know, the scent of conflict between deodorizing spray and “I wasn’t smoking in here, honest!”?

Whatever it is, I just want my car back.


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