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July 1, 2016

Life continues to go on (, , , , , )

by fluffy at 12:28 AM

A summary for people who don't follow me on Twitter or Tumblr and have missed out on all of my GLORIOUS TALKING ABOUT MY LIFE:

  • Got rid of the Beetle, bought a new(!) Mazda3. It's a lot of fun.
  • Am getting better about driving on freeways again (it helps that the Mazda3 is so much fun to drive and has a bunch of safety features that make me feel way more comfortable with driving on the freeway)
  • Work is going great, except my wrists suck pretty bad and I haven't been able to draw or work on music very much
  • But work is trying to help me out and I'm taking two weeks off soon and if that's not enough I'll look into medical leave
  • For the first of those weeks I'll be in NYC for Song Fight Live, come see me at the Sidewalk Cafe NY on Sunday July 17! (probably, there's a small chance I might end up at the other show on the 16th instead but that seems unlikely, but the lineup as shown on the Sidewalk site is complete fiction right now)
  • Oh and accompanying me will be Spud (on bass) and Paul (on drums), and Paul is probably my oldest friend at this point (we go back to when we were like 12!) and we haven't performed together since a single what-were-we-thinking show back in (I want to say) 200...2? so that's pretty cool
  • One of my cats keeps on shitting on the carpet and I'm pretty sure it's Werner
  • Oh uh I finally came out to friends and family and coworkers and transitioned legally and changed my name and gender markers, I guess that's kind of big news?

August 17, 2014

Bagel Voice (, , )

by fluffy at 8:32 AM

The thing that put me down the Bagel Voice rabbit hole in the first place was being unable to get cellphone reception at my desk at work or at home and using Google Voice + VoIP for my incoming calls, and then realizing that I was paying a lot of money for voice and data service that I hardly ever used, and then I started thinking about how I could get voice calls and text messages during the 90% of the time that I have WiFi coverage without spending more than necessary for the mobile part, all the while still having something like Google Voice but without the Google. I figured that a piecemeal data-coverage-based web app would be sufficient for my needs, and that I could fill in the gaps with a mobile access point.

Turns out, affordable mobile access points have crappy coverage too, and dealing with a web app for texting is really obnoxious. I could make it less obnoxious, but the work necessary to get a better level of integration is just not worth it.

Anyway, iOS 8 finally supports WiFi calling (and presumably texting), and T-Mobile has a $30/month plan that's amenable to my needs and not outrageously expensive (and provides unlimited minutes when doing WiFi calling, negating the other reason I went down the VoIP service rabbit hole it still charges for airtime, unfortunately, but I still have my VoIP service for outgoing calls anyway), so I'll probably just switch back to a regular iPhone on T-Mobile when iOS 8 comes out. (Or maybe sooner, if the iPhone 6 comes out first — I have no desire for an iPhone 6 due to it being allegedly just as big as the Galaxy Nexus, but that will drive the price of used iPhone 5s down substantially.)

Twilio is pretty fun to play with, though, and I have some other app ideas that make sense for it. And of course anyone else can feel free to fork Bagel Voice if they want to pick up where I left off.

August 8, 2014

Song Fight! Live: Washington, DC (, )

by fluffy at 12:07 AM

I'm participating in this year's Song Fight! Live. It's in Washington, DC this year, more specifically next Friday and Saturday (August 15 and 16) at 7DL Studios. The show starts at 6 PM both nights, and my set in particular is currently scheduled to be the first one on Friday (i.e. it's at 6). So, be there or don't. I'll also probably be playing in other peoples' sets as well, and will hopefully be participating in the traditional annual Live Fight.

Also, for folks who live in DC, I'll be getting in late Tuesday night, and not leaving until the following Tuesday afternoon, and quite a lot of that time is unaccounted for! So, if you have any druthers for meeting me, by all means, let's arrange such athing.

August 18, 2012

Seattle's compass zones ()

by fluffy at 4:03 PM

Does anyone know of any guides that explain the "compass zones" in Seattle street names? Most of the city has some sort of regularity to it, but Capitol Hill/First Hill has a lot of exceptions that are pretty hard to detangle (and for much of it, you have North/South streets with the central designation but the East/West streets with the East designation), and I'd like to find something I can use to explain this to people in a way which doesn't melt their brains.

It would also be nice if Google Maps didn't "helpfully" "correct" "incomplete" addresses into something that is halfway across town (for example, I was just looking up 1400 Harvard Ave, which is on the Capitol/First Hill border, and Google "helpfully" "corrected" it to 1400 Harvard Ave E, which is a mile and a half North; and yes it's confusing that in this case the "East" zone is to the North of the "central" zone).

Anyway I suspect this will cause problems for people when they visit me.

If ZIP codes are involved, all the better; maybe I can start out with a ZIP code map and just color it in showing which zones are which, and just have an exception area for where some streets pretend to be in one zone and other streets pretend to be in the others.

But I'm sure someone else has done something like this. I'm just having a hell of a time finding it, if it exists already.

4:12 PM Well, okay, I did just find a "map" on Wikipedia but it's not particularly helpful, as it doesn't actually show where the boundaries are on a street map. I guess the exceptional cases are much smaller than I thought, in any case.

August 12, 2012

Aboda (, )

by fluffy at 6:15 PM

So, my temporary housing while I'm getting settled in here is handled by Aboda, which basically rents out a bunch of apartments everywhere and then sublets them on a daily basis, providing short-term corporate housing for people who have relocated or whatever. This time I ended up in what was called a one-bedroom unit in Fountain court, but it's more of a junior one-bedroom instead.

Things I expected to have in this place:

  • Space to put my stuff
  • A desk on which I could work
  • A TV, ideally with a reasonable setup

Things I got instead:

  • A living room that is way over-crowded with furniture that is completely excessive and unnecessary for a single person to stay for a month or two
  • A tiny bedroom with a billion dressers (okay, actually just one REALLY BIG dresser and two smaller nightstand-dressers) whose drawers hit up against the bed when they're opened, and which gives no space for keeping a suitcase, and a tiny tiny closet with no space
  • A bathroom with a ridiculous amount of towelage
  • A dining table with four carefully-arranged place settings which demonstrate that I can, in fact, have people sitting at the table (and which after driving for two days straight just read as "oh great, more crap I have to move before I can do anything in here)
  • Two LCD HDTVs (one more than necessary), hooked up to an old-fashioned cable box via RF modulator

Things I was hoping to find in the information packet:

  • Information about the amenities of the building I'm staying in (rules and regulations on the swimming pool, fitness center, what other things there are to begin with, etc.)
  • Information about what the various keys I got are for
  • Information about where to put my garbage
  • Information about how to pick up any packages or mail that arrive for me

Things that were in the information packet:

  • Condescending instructions on how to use basic appliances (the garbage disposal, dish washer, alarm clock, etc.)

Fortunately it's just temporary. Hopefully I can find out where the heck the garbage goes, though. Werner's poop is getting smelly.

August 10, 2012

Made it to Seattle (, , )

by fluffy at 7:04 PM

Werner behaved the whole way; at one point he did come in the front and tried to get in my lap but a stern "no" convinced him to just sit next to me. Driving in downtown Seattle is trickier than I remember it being, but I pretty much avoided it the whole time I lived here anyway so whatever.

The soulless corporate housing is, unsurprisingly, soulless and corporate. Just another incentive to buy a new place sooner rather than later. Sure don't want to spend the full two months here. Werner's running around the place trying to find out if there's more than there first appears to be. (There isn't. This apartment is actually smaller than the hotel room I stayed in last night.)

Doing a load of laundry, probably going to take a shower. Would be nice to meet up with local friends for dinner but that seems unlikely at this point, so maybe I'll just reacquaint myself with Belltown.

August 9, 2012

Werner is an Excellent Cat (, , )

by fluffy at 9:15 PM

Today the movers came to take away all my stuff. Werner was a bit freaked out by all the activity but I ended up putting him out on the balcony and he was really well-behaved. Then the movers finished around 1:30, and Werner was freaked out by everything being empty, but I was able to get him into his carrier and that into the car. I just left the carrier open the whole time, and he was ridiculously well-behaved! He meowed a bit at the beginning but then he had a grand old time looking out the windows and then eventually just napped a bunch, and he always stayed out of the way. At a few rest stops I actually woke him up to make sure he was okay and not, like, dying of heat stroke or something, and he was totally fine.

At one stop he was clearly annoyed with driving and kept on getting in my lap and wouldn't let me start the car, but I snuggled with him for a few minutes and that seemed to satisfy him.

Anyway, now I'm in Ashland, OR, at the La Quinta (which I planned on because they're specifically pet-friendly). I ended up in the "Shakespeare Suite," which was their only single-bed room left for tonight. Maybe I should have made a reservation, but I can't complain, as this room is ridiculously nice, at least by La Quinta standards, and with a reservation I'd have ended up in a normal room instead. I think it's intended to be a honeymoon suite. I'm not sure why anyone would have their honeymoon in Ashland, OR, but whatever. Werner's just hanging out and being awesome, and I'm trying to catch up on all the Internet I missed today. The hotel has free wi-fi but it's pretty crappy so I'm just tethering my phone anyway.

And now, I'm going to make use of this jacuzzi, because I mean, it's paid for so might as well, right?

July 18, 2012

You can go home again (, , )

by fluffy at 11:40 PM

I guess because I like keeping records of major life events, I'd might as well post something here about how

  • I had been missing Seattle dearly ever since I left five years ago
  • I went back to Seattle last week for Song Fight Live, as planned since March or something
  • A couple weeks before that trip I happened to be contacted by a recruiter there for a very interesting job doing research in the field of high-performance distributed computing (among other things)
  • The interview went well
  • The offer came quickly
  • heck yeah I'm moving back to Seattle

I put in my two weeks' notice yesterday, and as soon as I'd talked with my managers I felt like the vise grip that had been wrapped around my chest for the last two years had finally released, and I could breathe again. I'm also feeling a clarity and an almost overwhelming lack of anxiety that feels so foreign, and so good, right now. Even thinking about all the things that need to happen (sell my condo, buy another one up there, how should I get Werner moved, etc.) isn't making me even the least bit anxious.

I'm moving back to Seattle!

December 31, 2011

Year in review (, , , , , , )

by fluffy at 2:30 PM

The year began just hours after my grandmother died.

November 20, 2011

Accumulated travel achievements (, )

by fluffy at 2:35 PM

If you follow me on Twitter you probably saw some of these get posted when I "earned" them:

There's a lot of other stuff I should have granted myself achievements for, such as going to the cow-mooing meadow (drink a bottle of Skal) and having a temporary Groundhog Day loop, and perhaps one for being an intense shutterbug.

Oh, and after this week I'm a lot better at reading kana. I'm maybe at a two-year-old level now.

November 19, 2011

Breakfast (, , )

by fluffy at 11:21 AM

Very few things demonstrate the gap between any two given cultures so well as how one prepares the breakfast of another. Tastes can vary so much that in some cases it seems that aliens from outer space who had never even heard of "break fast" are likely to do a more accurate job.

The Japanese take on an American breakfast is a prime example. What do Americans eat? Sausage, eggs, fruit, potatoes, that sort of thing. What kind of sausage? Well, the most popularly-eaten sausage in America is hot dogs. Oh, and those are often served on a bun with chili and onions. Fruit? How about some nice berries... like tomatoes and bell peppers? Potatoes are easy to cook; here's a nice recipe for roasted potatoes, served with carrots and green beans. And how better to scramble eggs than by making an emulsion?

This isn't to say that any of this is BAD, of course, but if you happen to be in Japan and happen to be homesick for America, ordering a nice American breakfast probably isn't the best way to alleviate this.

Of course, it's hard to fault them for trying. Ask any given American to prepare a Japanese style breakfast and you'll probably end up with wasabi corn flakes.

November 18, 2011

Travel tip: laundry bags ()

by fluffy at 6:27 AM

As usual, I forgot to pack a bag in which to sequester my dirty laundry. I found that in a pinch, a dirty piece of clothing (shirt, pair of pants, etc.) could be used as a makeshift one instead.

November 17, 2011

Blogging from THE FUTURE ()

by fluffy at 6:57 AM

Japan's clock is 15 hours in the future. This is a natural consequence of its location on the rotating supermassive ball of dirt.

Japan's vending machines are 15 months in the future. Dozens of selections in every sort of drink category (coffee, tea, beer, vodka drinks), all of them are smart enough to refine your selections based on the inserted amount of money (some with large dynamic touchscreen displays), and some of them take electronic payment schemes that put Google Wallet to shame.

Japan's elevators are 15 years in the future. Banks of elevators are scheduled on-the-fly such that they know which cars are going to stop at which floors so as to maximize their throughput. As soon as you press the elevator call button you know which car is going to arrive first. The soothing chimes and voice tell you where you are and where you're going and where the elevator is going to stop next. The door close button actually closes the door.

Japan's bathrooms are 15 decades in the future. They sense when they are sat upon and start warming the seat. They use a precision-targeted stream of water to clean the user's anus. They intelligently flush. Even the scummiest dive bars have perfectly-maintained self-cleaning robo-bidet toilets.

Self-service restaurants (, )

by fluffy at 3:31 AM

I just had a rather interesting dining experience at the Shinagawa Prince Annex Tower mall food court.

When you enter, there is a sign saying "this is a self-service facility." There is nothing else to direct you. Looking around, there are a number of stations, next to which there are what look like touchscreen vending machines. You put your money into the vending machine, and make your selections; then it gives you your change and several tickets that you run to the stations. They give you a little call box to let you know when your order is ready, and you get it from the pass yourself. Then when you're finished with your meal, you take your tray to the bussing station yourself.

It all seems very Japanese, and once you figure it out it's especially easy because you don't have to deal with language barriers or whatever (the touchscreen ordering systems have menus in English, Japanese, Chinese, and Korean, although it took me a while to figure out that's what the buttons along the bottom of the screen did - and the English text was pretty minimal, and even the button to complete your order is in Japanese the whole time).

Anyway, I got a Margherita Pizza, which was about the only thing I thought I could stomach (most of the menus were full of greasy fried stuff and rich seafood udon, and even the pizza menu was primarily made of, well, typically Japanese takes on pizza), as well a melon soda, which was very, very green.

おいしいでした。

November 15, 2011

Differences between American and Japanese emergency rooms (, )

by fluffy at 7:23 AM

In Tokyo, the emergency room is staffed with enough people that everyone has multiple attendants always taking care of them, whereas in the US it can often be hours between check-ins by the staff.

In an American emergency room, it is up to the patient to undress themselves and put on a gown; if they are unable to do that, the staff will cut the clothing off. In Japan, they do as much as possible without removing any clothing, and are exceptionally conscientious about the patient's comfort.

In a Japanese emergency room, the language barrier is something they attempt to overcome and make sure that everyone knows the same amount of information; in an American emergency room, the attending staff tends to not communicate or even listen to the patient.

In an American emergency room, regardless of what's going on they always hook you up to a saline drip, while in a Japanese emergency room, that is considered a treatment that they only perform when it appears to be necessary.

In an American emergency room, if you have to use the bathroom it takes quite a lot of time before an attending nurse even finds out that you need to, and they just give you a jar to pee in before disappearing. In a Japanese emergency room, they accompany you to the bathroom and make sure that you're doing okay.

An American emergency room bills you later, via the convoluted process of American medical insurance. A Japanese emergency room either bills your insurance directly and asks you to pay the difference (if you have insurance), or just bills you directly and has you pay before you leave (and provides receipts for reimbursement with foreign insurance claims later). Fortunately, the overall uninsured bill of a Japanese emergency room is less than the copayments involved in an American emergency room, so even if one doesn't get reimbursed you still end up ahead.

An American emergency room is doing good if they keep track of your name and mailing address. A Japanese emergency room issues you a personalized smart card that keeps track of your medical history with them for easy access later.

On the other hand, an American emergency room understands that people come in all sorts of sizes and shapes, whereas in a Japanese emergency room, the beds are very small and cramped, the slippers they give you for going to the bathroom (you don't wear shoes!) are tiny, and the adhesive on the tape sticks exceptionally well to a hirsute-American's arms.

Neither one can figure out what the hell is wrong with me.

June 13, 2011

Exorcising demons (, , )

by fluffy at 1:26 PM

For the last several days I've been back in NYC for the first time in six years, for Song Fight Live. The show went pretty well; there were some logistical problems and some equipment issues and of course things didn't go as amazingly as most people ever expect them to, but there isn't really anything new there. It was fun and a good time, when maintaining an appropriate perspective on what it was we were actually doing (PROTIP: we are not actually rock stars).

The main thing I was worried about is that much of our time would be spent treading old ground that represents about a year's worth of really bad memories for me, and I did everything I could to ignore the fact that I was physically in a place where mentally I was very bad off. Trying to ignore the familiar sight of the L train and Union Square and the like, in particular, made me feel twinges of ickiness (even obsessively pre-planning transit before flying here made me feel twinges of deep pit-of-the-stomach sickness), and I very purposefully let Mike (a fellow songfighter from Seattle with whom I was sharing a room and most of my time) lead the way everywhere, and basically played willfully ignorant about how to get around.

Last night, though, I ended up getting, shall we say, sufficiently intoxicated, and ended up getting separated from Mike, having gone with a different group that was going to do some further bar-hopping, but certain members of that group had much better judgement than myself and said I should probably head back to the hotel rather than drink more. (I fortunately had enough sense to realize that I was probably on the verge of feeling like I was going to die if I didn't get some water and lie down very soon. Even if it meant less time hanging out with certain friends who will remain nameless.)

So, of course, the way back to the hotel was very familiar: the L to Union Square, then the 6 up to my hotel in Midtown. It had aspects of trips I'd done many times before, and normally the majority of that would have been in order to go to work (L to 5th Ave, F/V to 25th St - or just walk, if no train was there). I also used to take a bit of extra time to myself to just walk to Union Square after work to clear my head further, so that particular station is also quite familiar to me.

But it might have just been the alcohol but I just plain didn't care. The whole journey was simple and easy and came completely naturally, and it was actually comforting in a way to be alone in the middle of a crowd of strangers. I got to thinking about my relationship with NYC and so on. I came to the realization that I'd gone to NYC to begin with because I needed to launch my career and I was just so desperate that I was willing to take anything, and the reason I put up with the hell I was in was simply because I had no self-worth to speak of. But now I know better, and while I still wouldn't want to live in NYC, I no longer hate it, because it's where I finally started to learn to appreciate myself.

August 23, 2010

Things retrieved from my grandfather's house ()

by fluffy at 8:09 PM
  • An ophthalmologist equipment box (with no equipment inside — he had plenty of equipment but I just really liked the box)
  • A few more of my grandma's pots (she was a fairly well-known potter in her day) and a glass ashtray
  • A collection of small bottles - several classic bitters bottles (my grandma's), several old prescription bottles for phenylbarbitol (my grandpa's), and three really old, unopened, still-with-now-rather-concentrated-fluid-inside travel samplers of various liqueurs (could be either)
  • My great-grandfather's (my grandma's dad, b.1875, d.1964) ceremonial "deputy sheriff" badge; he claimed that this gave him actual police officer privileges (which the accompanying certificate makes the case for) but apparently he was just a pretty big ol' braggart and wanted to be the big man around town. There's no date on it but it's signed by Sheriff Elmer Michael Walsh which dates it sometime between 1946 and 1950.
  • A really awesome 50' tape measure from Sears and Roebuck Corporation
  • A broken-but-repairable "brownie" camera (Falcon Minicam Junior); the optics are dirty and foggy and there's a puncture hole on the casing which would need to be covered by electrical tape, but there is still a manufacturer of 127-format film (in Croatia!), so maybe I could take some (very foggy) pictures with it (although I suspect that processing it will be a major pain)
  • An excellent-condition Miranda T (35mm film camera), in excellent condition except that I can't seem to figure out how to open the film (and the controls are a bit wacky compared to more modern cameras); it has two lenses, a 50mm f/1.9 and a 135mm f/3.5. Both smell strongly of my grandpa's house. I really wish Silicon Film had ever made it to market.
  • My ophthalmology records from when he was still practicing. Age 13, glasses deferred. (Age 32, I still don't need them most of the time.)
  • An exposed roll of Kodachrome KR 135 print film. I believe I will be sending some business to Dwayne's rather shortly.
  • An eclectic collection of ties
  • A rather nice leather jacket
Most of these will of course just be on display as nice decor-fitting reminders of my ancestry.

August 21, 2010

Remembering the good things (, )

by fluffy at 9:30 PM
This past week and a half has been a bit of a whirlwind, but in the interest of best preserving the memory of my grandfather I will try to only focus on the good things.

May 17, 2010

Recordings posted (, )

by fluffy at 12:45 PM
Sadly, this is the best performance I've had so far, I think. Note to self for next time: practice Sometimes It's Hard To Keep Yourself Moving without looking at the guitar neck, because the microphone is in the way and it's hard to play barre chords by feel.

Also, stop rushing.

Technology gripes from my trip (, , )

by fluffy at 9:54 AM
As great as technology was for my road trip (giving me a lot of flexibility and ad-hoc decision making without a lot of preparation), where my road tech of choice fell flat, it caused a lot of aggravation which seems like it would be pretty easy to make better.

Most of these are related to the Google Nexus One, but I have a couple of iPod issues too.

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