big news!

February 28, 2006

Instead of falling asleep like I should be doing, I’m currently playing around with Scribus. As you may have read in these very pages months ago, Scribus is an open-source desktop design program along the lines of Quark or Pagemaker. It’s just now finally available in a beta for Windows! It’s still a little buggy, as is to be expected, but I’m more stoked that I probably should be at the fact that I can sit here and make a flyer in my bed. And it’s not an MS Word flyer. And it’s for one of the couple of shows I have coming up that I’ll be telling you about . . . tomorrow.

The suspense builds.

i got a new computer!

February 28, 2006

It’s a Toshiba Satellite. It’s not EXTRA SPECIAL or anything, but it’s brand new, and therefore does not shock me when I touch it in the wrong place and I’m not in constant fear of it breaking in half (I’ve been unable to close my old laptop for weeks because it would just snap if I did so).

On the agenda: downloading music, posting more pictures on here, burning more CD’s because I don’t have to borrow the roommates’ computer to do so.

High five!

it’s just a flower, people.

February 27, 2006

It’s the time of year when the amaryllis starts looking like something you’re a little bit embarrassed to be viewing in polite company. For your viewing pleasure:

I suspect it’s the noncommital weather, really, that’s getting to me. There are plenty of other little things (not the least of which being my very nature) that could be doing it, but I think the weather is the deciding factor. The temperature goes up a bit, it gets sunny, maybe rains a little, then it plummets again, snows a tiny bit (not enough to be exciting) and starts over, like if you put late January through mid-March through a looping pedal then sped up the loop a bunch, so that rather than transitioning once over all that time, it just kept going back and forth, over and over, with no hoping of breaking past the “spring” mark but equally dour prospects of getting a good fun winter storm.

I have plans to be healthier again, to quit with the lethargy and pessimism:

Exercise, of course. Vitamins, supplements. Force the sun to come out once in a while. Vegetables and fruit juices. Become an Olympic athlete. Write things and publish them. Come up with new ideas and follow through with them, but don’t come up with too many ideas or I won’t be able to. Listen to the Muppet Movie soundtrack more often. Relax. Know my limits. Quit eating sugar for the most part (I did it once, I can do it again). Find a better paying job. Drink more water.

I’ve always felt like this, rather than the first of the year, is the real time to set goals and stick with them.

Other suggestions welcome, although I’ve got my hand full already with these big plans.

The last couple mornings have been perfect Pittsburgh mornings — chilly but not frigid, sunrise coming just a little bit before I leave for work, a slight mist over Bloomfield as I walk up Friendship Ave. I’ve walked to work the last two mornings, yesterday because I was so bugged out about the previous night’s poor sleep that I needed a walk to clear my head and today because I just wanted to listen to some damn music, and I don’t really listen to my headphones much at work because I’m always afraid of people sneaking up behind me, since my computer faces the wall.

Walking to and from work, while potentially slightly fatiguing (it’s about a half-hour walk at my brisk pace), is also a good time to reacquaint yourself with your town if you’ve strayed some. You’re going slowly enough to frame shots of the streets and houses even in your own neighborhood that you don’t generally notice enough to think of as beautiful. It’s a good time to look out across the busway valley from pretty high up and think about how from here, if you were in one of those flying dreams, you could glide across from hilltop to hilltop and take an inventory of all the things you can spot in the chasms between.

Yesterday, I saw Liberty Ave in front of the hospital like it was in 1996, when my sister was a junior volunteer at West Penn and my mom and I would drop her off and take a walk around and maybe sit in Friendship Park. I said then that someday I wanted to live in that neighborhood, and it’s ten years later, and I do. There was something refreshing about thinking about it as it was then, though — devoid of people I know, a new, exciting place that was almost like hiding. Say what you will about home, it’s usually not hiding, unless you’re the Unabomber.

The restless part of the year, wherein I usually shave my beard, and often think about going somewhere else, is looming.

Tonight, French Toast and Allies at Garfield Artworks, then running home to see Sasha Cohen win the gold (right?)

i am re-enabling comments.

February 22, 2006

At the behest of Matt, you can now comment once again, but you’ll have to type the squiggly word thing. Keep it civil and intelligent, tools. Don’t make me ban you again.

Currently reading McPhee’s The Curve of Binding Energy, a dated mid-’70s look at the first 30 or so years of nuclear energy and nuclear weaponry, during my lunch breaks. While if I were really THAT intent on learning about atomics, perhaps something more recent would be a better place to start, I choose this book because it’s John McPhee, and as I’ve probably noted before in these pages, I’m in awe of this guy’s writing. It pains me a little that he was a visiting professor in my department at Pitt (the department I was in as an undergrad, not the interlibrary loan department) only a couple years before I came here.

Regardless, what’s thrilled me thus far in the book is mostly one particular passage, a quick mention of an incident during the Manhattan Project of which I had never heard any mention.

During World War II, the Japanese sent fire balloons over the Pacific and into the U.S. (and occasionally they hit Canada instead). The balloons would float over, drop to the ground and ostensibly explode on contact (though many apparently didn’t explode, or exploded later). This happened quite a number of times, but the press her kept mum on it because the government didn’t want the Japanese know that the balloons were working (fair enough — it sounds like a plot out of the A-Team or something, I wouldn’t think it was actually working if I was the one trying it).

One of the balloons, though, came down on the power lines at the Hanford Site of the Manhattan Project, where they were fissioning Uranium and creating Plutonium-239, and shorted out the power. It only lasted for a short time, since there were of course backup power systems in place, but for a moment, a balloon from Japan shut down a main, important component of the U.S. nuclear program.

Sort of makes you think that maybe the generals were right, and Nena was wrong, eh?