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11:16 AM, Jan 1, 2006 toot this
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Auld Lang Syne
I took the bus to Heidi's house last night, and encountered a very interesting drunk guy en route. He was from St. Louis, visiting his brother that lives in the Northeast, and was terribly slurring his words, at 6:30 PM, at that. However, he had tons of questions about development in Kansas City, so I put my headphones away, and happily obliged him. I guess I saved him some trouble too, when I told him that Buzzard Beach, the bar to which he was going, only accepts cash. He conducted himself with the kind of naive confidence that usually accompanies inebriation. Everybody on the bus had a good laugh when he got off in Westport.

The 51 dropped me off within two blocks of Heidi's house, and I made a mental note to remember to always take that bus in the future, for getting there. I reached her doorstep, called her, and she was on the spot. Just then some more people who would be joining us arrived. It was a very punctual group. We talked for a little while, and I called my man Loor over at Atlas Cab. Ten minutes later, two cabs were waiting for us outside.

Our cab dropped us off at Charlie Hooper's, in Brookside, where I was ecstatic to see that they were not offensively busy, as they usually seem to be. We were able to push a couple of tables together and sit together in comfort. Spirits and laughs ensued, and many photographs were taken. To ring out the old year, I splurged on a steak and baked potato, which Hooper's was offering on special instead of their customary pasta dish. It was sublime. I honestly don't think steak gets any better than a medium rare KC Strip. I don't have them very often, but I think last night qualified as a special occasion.

Then, as the fun was reaching critical levels, Heidi corralled us all up to head off to the Brooksider, where some of her friends were waiting. Andy, one of the people in our group, very generously covered everyone's way in, as the Brooksider had a retro band playing, and a five dollar cover. The music was excellent, and the place was very festive, but it was way too crowded. Almost as soon as I got a beer, someone bumped into me, and made me spill a lively portion of cold beer down my sleeve.

When we walked in the door, the group kind of dispersed, with all the women going to the bathroom together, and all the men beginning cautious circuits of the bar, looking for the women. After a couple of minutes, we were all reunited in a place where people kept walking between us. Amy and Kynha and I all agreed that we liked Hooper's better, and should never have left. So, I bought Andy a carbomb to relieve my soul of the guilt, and the three of us went back to Hooper's.

It can't be overstated, how nice it is to go to a bar with two pretty girls. I was getting more dirty looks from other guys around the bar, and as there were only three of us together, the conversation was pretty much required to be engaging for all three. After perhaps an hour, 2006 began, and the bar passed out complimentary champagne glasses for all to enjoy. Amy, Kynha, and I cheered with everyone else, and were intrigued by a table of folks who kept restarting the countdown, multiple minutes into the new year.

We had been hanging out with these folks for a while, when Katy and Kristin arrived. Katy made herself scarce, and Amy went with her to go and play darts, which left me with Kynha and Kristin, at the table. The details are a bit fuzzy, but Kynha and I were soon afterward among the group of "re-counters" again, and Kynha was talking to some guy about politics. They both disagreed vehemently on politics, and were about to engage in a potentially nasty argument, when I retreated to the game room, and saw that in a game of 301, Katy and Amy were stuck with scores of 3 and 4, respectively. They didn't really know how the game was going to end, so I had to explain the finer details, after which Amy won.

That's how the remainder of the night progressed: wandering back and forth between different groups of friends. Eventually, the rest of the people we went out with came back from the Brooksider too. Apparently, Andy had hit his limit, drank some more, and got kicked out of the Brooksider for his drunken clumsiness. With everyone reunited, my wanderings became even more pronounced, and by about two o'clock, the reason chip in my brain told me it was time to go home. I made the rounds, saying good night and "Happy New Year" to everyone, and walked out the back door, dialing Atlas Cab for a ride home. Loor told me it'd probably be about twenty minutes, which was understandable. So, without any clear direction on how to get home, but no rush either, I started walking.

I didn't get far before I came across some older folks(30s or 40s) celebrating by their car. I'm not sure how we started talking, but they offered me a ride home, when they heard I had taken the bus. That offer, however, was contingent on me living somewhere near them, which it turns out, I don't. One of them pulled me into Joe D's Wine Bar, where the friendly staff told me that there are usually cabs piled up in front of the Brooksider, a couple blocks away. I hurried over there, and sure enough, there was a cab sitting right in front of the door. I climbed in, and headed for home.

The driver, like most cabbies, was a bit crooked. Instead of taking the normal way to downtown from Brookside(Ward Parkway to SW Trafficway), he stayed on really minor back streets with lots of stop signs and traffic lights, running up the fare. I was unfortunately pretty oblivious to this, as I had other things on my mind at that point. It didn't occur to me that I was being had until we were in Westport, only twenty blocks from Brookside, and I looked at the meter. It was already over ten dollars. I came to my senses, and rather forcefully told the driver to stop screwing around and get on SW Trafficway. When he dropped me off downtown, the meter read over fourteen dollars, when it should have been more like eight or nine. I tipped only enough that I wouldn't have to get coins for change(something like forty cents), and started walking to my door.

I made the instinctive grab for my keys, and realized that I had left my keys in my coat, and I had left my coat at Heidi's place. I started making phone calls, and eventually got a hold of Nathan, who was closing the Newsroom, and said he'd hurry home. He got home, opened the door, and we found ourselves having a nice conversation on our front porch, for probably about an hour. We walked into the apartment, and the clock on the cable box read 4:30 AM. It was time to bring the great, ten-hour night to a close.


The pictures are done, in record time. Enjoy.

7:32 PM, Jan 2, 2006 toot this
Magnetic Fields
I am always on the lookout for music I haven't heard before, and I was recently introduced to the Magnetic Fields, on the way to a bar, a couple of weeks ago, through their really fantastic song, Long-forgotten Fairytales, and I was intrigued to hear more, so I got all four of the albums listed on allofmp3, and listened through them. I think it's important to say something here.

Bands shouldn't try to get attention by releasing a single song that is nothing like any of the rest of their music. Long-forgotten Fairytales is a modern take, to me, on New Order's style, and is what drew me to try more of their music. The rest, however, is quite a different story.

Life has been good for me, lately, and maybe that's why I don't like the Magnetic Fields. It is supremely depressing relationship music, lazily drawn out by their lead singer, a deep-voiced guy who seems intent on being the next Morrissey, without any of the appeal. I am particularly put off by the drama queen attitude in the lyrics of songs that, with a different singer(especially a soft-voiced woman), would at least be bearable.

Give this band a pass, with the standout exception of Long-forgotten Fairytales.

11:42 AM, Jan 5, 2006 toot this
Digestion and Longhorns
I went into the office yesterday, for a meeting. I need to make a habit of checking my email before I leave for work, because when I got there, TJ told me that the meeting had been postponed for 24 hours. It was worse today, though. I didn't really have much of a dinner before going out last night, and famished, I ate a burrito and a half from Pancho's on the way home. My alarm went off, this morning, and I felt like garbage, and that burrito and a half was still sitting in the returnable section of my digestive tract.

Luckily, I was able to subdue the urge to return the burrito with deep cool breaths. But I was very sleepy, and had a persistent headache. I was just about dressed and ready to head to the office in Leavenworth, when I checked my email, and found that the meeting had been postponed for another 24 hours. I disrobed as quickly as I have ever done alone, and settled back into bed. Few luxuries can match the fantastic feeling of getting back into bed.

I met some friends out last night to watch Texas break USC's championship streak, and had a very nice time. But, as I mentioned before, I didn't have any dinner prior to going out(except some potato chips at a friend's house), so the delicious Bell's and New Belgium beers worked their debilitating effects much more quickly than usual, and for drinking only five or six beers, I had a rough morning, with fitful, light sleep, peppered with dreams about getting a glass of water.

I think I converted another friend to Firefox last night, too.

1:33 PM, Jan 6, 2006 toot this
Go About Your Simple Lives
I had a meeting in Leavenworth, today. Unfortunately, so did the Vice President. On my normal route to the office, I counted no fewer than 14 police cars, mostly in clusters at major interchanges. Seeing as my office is just outside the front gates at Fort Leavenworth, the police presence right outside our front door was the heaviest I had ever seen. Geoff, Doug, and I went to get a gourmet lunch at Wendy's, and on teh way back, we just barely slipped through the VP's exit blockade, and decided to turn the car around and watch it all happen. This no doubt earned us angry scrutiny from the on-duty police and security forces, but not enough, apparently, to cause a representative to stop what he or she was doing to tell us to "move along."

They redirected traffic away from the front gate of "Post," at the corner of 7th and Metropolitan, causing huge traffic backups to and from the only river crossing for ten miles in any direction. I suppose these measures are necessary, but it must have been annoying to have been stuck in that line. We, however, enjoyed making fun of the police, and trying to pick out which plain white vans were "spookvans."

It was fun.

6:23 PM, Jan 6, 2006 toot this
I am in
I had semi-big plans tonight to go out and have a nice time, but instead I stayed in, watched the last episiode of Freaks and Geeks, and ate half a jar of peanut butter.

Funny how things work out.

1:27 PM, Jan 8, 2006 toot this
Good and Bad
I went down to the Plaza area last night, over to Heidi and Carrie's house, to meet some new people, and help them prepare for their evening with a game of "power hour." I found that it was a tame sibling of the venerable Century Club vomit generator. Instead of drinking a full ounce of beer every minute, for one hundred minutes, power hourers just take a healthy drink of beer from their glass every minute, for an hour. I am not putting this game down, though. When you don't have ten beers for each person playing, century club isn't really reasonable. It was in my attempt to be a two-time member in the Club that the infamous "toothbrush incident" occurred, when I was in college.

It was a very enjoyable way to spend an hour, and the conversation seemed very well directed at two topics that I love talking about: beer and taxes. I even managed not to come off looking like a psycho. We finished the game, and bundled up to head down to the Granfalloon(my favorite) for a beverage or two. After a beverage or two, I announced that I had to meet up with some friends over at the Levee. The group took this opportunity to relocate to my actual favorite bar on the Plaza: O'Dowd's. Wondering if I really should leave, I climbed into a cab in front of the bar, and asked the driver to take me to 43rd and Main.

I want to amend a statement I have previously made on this website. Not all cabbies try to screw you. But the ones from City Cab almost always do. From 47th and Pennsylvania, it's a very short trip to 43rd and Main. It only comes to about one mile, but I just wasn't in the mood to walk the undulating terrain it crosses. The cabbie was poised to turn right, into parking lot traffic on 47th, and would have done so, if I hadn't rather forcefully told him to go straight through the light, and take the side streets.

There was no traffic at all on the side streets, but that didn't stop him from driving at speeds no greater than fifteen miles per hour, in an effort to run up the fare. Not pleased, I slapped a five on the front seat, when the meter read $4.98, and said, "I'm getting out. Drive faster next time."

I suppose it should have been portentous to the rest of the evening. I walked the last couple hundred yards down 43rd street, to the Levee, forked over another five to get in, and went upstairs to find that Geoff was already wasted, Erp was busy talking to some girl, and everybody else I either didn't know, or couldn't strike up an interesting enough conversation to hold interest. Perhaps my mind was elsewhere. I left after about an hour.

Tired of dealing with taxicabs, I walked the four and a half miles home. Nobody threw anything at me this time, so I guess that was nice.

2:32 PM, Jan 12, 2006 toot this
Phones and Drums
Lately, my phone has been ringing about half the times anyone has called, and just going straight to voicemail the other half. In the latter situation, the phone, like a college student startled awake, would about forty minutes later, announce that I have a new voicemail from earlier, asking me where I was. So, I ordered a new phone this week, and it arrived yesterday. Because Sprint's website doesn't advertise any phones that aren't one of the three following things: a camera, a PDA, or a flip phone, I wound up ordering the exact same model I had before, called LaKesha at customer solutions, and within a couple minutes, had the account switched over to the new phone.

This morning, I got up, did my thing, and hopped on the bus down to the Plaza, to get all my phone numbers transferred from the old to the new phone. While I was waiting for the bus at 13th and Wyandotte, some guy approached me and asked if I had a light, for the half-finished cigarette he had found in an ashtray. I told him I did not(I did not.). When the bus came, we both got on. I got in the back, and he sat in the front. When the bus had reached 31st, I had pretty much forgotten about him, until I saw him frantically jump off the bus, leaping at a discarded, but still lit cigarette, lighting his own with it. It was a pretty sobering moment.

I got off the bus when it got to the Plaza, and walked over to the Sprint Store, and found that it was gone. I used another swearword, and called my brother, who, with the benefit of the internet, informed me that there was another Sprint Store in Westport. It was a beautful day, and I had my x5, so I queued up an album, and walked through Mill Creek Park, and up JC Nichols/Broadway, up to Westport, where there was indeed a functioning Sprint Store. I was informed that it'd take about thirty minutes, so I went and got lunch, and tried a delicious Whiskey Stout at McCoys, and waited at the corner of Westport and Mill for about forty minutes for the next 51 bus to come by.

My aforementioned brush with poverty ends tonight at 2 AM or so, when I get paid. Out of spite, however, I'm going out tonight, with Geoff and Erp, over to the Drum Room, the brand-new old bar in the newly reopened Hotel President at 13th and Baltimore. Allegedly, they aren't serving any food yet, so at the moment, it's just a bar, and as far as I know, the only business of its kind in Kansas City, as all bars are under an asinine restriction that states that a certain minimum portion of their profit(usually half), be generated from the sales of food. The city, however, is in asslicking mode with Hilton, who restored and reopened the beautiful old hotel, so they're apparently overlooking the fact that the kitchen isn't "ready," yet.

After enjoying a couple of drinks in spite of silly laws spawned by religious fanatics, we'll be hopping on the casino bus to Harrah's, to see Even Flow, a Pearl Jam Tribute band play their instruments. It's shaping up to be a nice little Thursday.

4:10 PM, Jan 13, 2006 toot this
A Recap of Stupidity
The concert was a lot of fun, last night. A little too much fun, actually. Geoff and Greg and I started off with dinner at Cupini's for some manicotti and lasagne that was just out of this world. We walked from there over to the Drum Room, and had a couple relatively overpriced drinks served by an extremely short-handed staff(one bartender), while taking in the sights at downtown's newest bar, along with the classic beauty of the newly reopened Hotel President's main lobby. We ran out the door with about ten minutes to get to 10th and Main, to catch the 173 to the casino. We weren't very optimistic about making the bus(at least I wasn't), but as we reached 12th street, it stopped right in front of us, seemingly out of nowhere.

Harrah's has, in the last couple of months, undergone a very dramatic remodeling. Bars and restaurants line the hallways now, and the people seem eager to please. The drink prices depended on who took our order, at any given point, but generally, I almost always paid the most. We wound up drinking too much, and staying out until after three. Geoff came over to my place and mooched some chicken fingers, while we watched an episode of Arrested Development, and I introduced him to the magic of bittorrent. After finishing the chicken and the TV episode, we noted that it was almost 4 AM. Geoff said good night, and took his leave. On his way, he placed an empty bottle of Gates barbecue sauce on top of my car.

As is the case with carrying cash and drinking beer, I have no idea where all my money went. I specifically recall gambling seven dollars away, but besides that, all my money was exchanged for goods and/or services. When I woke up yesterday morning, I had eighty dollars in my wallet. When I woke up this morning, I had zero. It didn't help that the exhorbitant beer prices didn't slow us down a bit. Geoff, however, was a spending freak, of sorts. He purchased tickets for all four of us to see Vertigo a U2 tribute band, next week at the same location as we went last night. He then proceeded to win sixty dollars playing blackjack.

We had a meeting with the folks over at the Oaks in Leavenworth, to discuss some services we're providing them in exchange for free golf, but we wound up pushing it back to next week, as today was a little chilly for golf. So, instead, We went to Danny Edwards/Little Jake's barbecue with Matt, who was visiting from California. Now, hours later, my fingers still smell like the pork ribs I had. I sure hope that place can hang on, but I think it's just too "real," to survive all the upcoming downtown development. It's a shame, too, because it's some of the best, fastest, and friendliest barbecue in town.

I talked to Heidi and Amy, and it looks like I'll be hanging out with them in Westport and the Plaza, tonight. There's some show going on at the Hurricane, and apparently there some new bar to try out. Tomorrow might be a bit rough.

8:54 AM, Jan 14, 2006 toot this
Missed the Bus
As I was just starting to recover fully from the misdeeds of Thursday night, I discussed the impending Friday with Heidi, and learned that Amy and Kynha would be coming out tonight, along with a friend of Heidi's named Emily. The plan Heidi and I hatched was to convene at the corner of Nichols and Jefferson, where the schedule for the 51 bus lines night service is very ambiguously cited as the southern terminus, to take a bus all the way to the far reaches of Westport, a whopping mile away.

I arrived about fifteen or twenty minutes early, and started looking around for the distinctive bus stop markings somewhere on the corner. There were none. There were signs kinda sorta nearby, for the 39 and 47 lines. We were in a bit of a pickle, as there was no clear course to take. So, without knowing where exactly to stand, I suggested we just stand at the corner listed on the ATA's webpage, and wait for the bus to come to us.

About one or two minutes late, the bus rolled by us, on the other side of the street, well out of range for us to be able to catch it, stopped briefly as an afterthought, at the 39/47 stop, which is not the corner of Nichols and Jefferson, and rolled away, out of sight. The women were shouting at me to go flag it down, as if it would turn around and come get us. I just smiled, knowing that it was a lost cause. We wound up just driving to Westport in Amy's car, left it in a lot somewhere, and took a cab home.

Our first stop was a new place called Karma, which occupies the space formerly held by local radio shock-jock Johnny Dare's bar, and before that, the semi-venerable Stanford and Sons comedy club. Before that, it was probably a bail bonds place or something. What it is now is basically an overpriced scene bar, with attractive clientele, good music, and excellent heating. I got eye from a couple of girls smoking Dunhills at the bar, while I settled by tab with the bartender. I have seen both bartenders behind multiple bars around midtown, as well.

We left there after a couple of hours, and went over to the Hurricane to see someone's roommate play drums in their band. I settled nicely into the $3 24-oz PBR draws, and everyone circulated. Without really noticing, the music stopped, and the crowd largely dispersed. I talked with Carrie, who had been there for hours, for a little while, until my bladder was fit to burst. I announced that I needed to use the restroom, and she promptly collected her things and left. I don't know.

I found Heidi talking with some friends who had asked her to come by, that night. Amy and Kynha were talking to a couple of drag queens. Not wanting to interrupt Heidi, I struck up a conversation with the brown-haired queen(the other, talking with Amy, had pink hair), and was relieved to see that both Amy and Kynha had rejoined Heidi, so we spent the remainder of the evening out talking in a circle, and walking like Egyptians. We grabbed a cab, and all went to Amy's house for Jimmy John's and sleep. Amy's hospitality saved me about $13 in cab fare, so I was only too happy to hang out until it wasn't reasonable anymore.

I was roused by Heidi's tumblings, at about 8:30. She had to go to work, and I was unable to really get back to sleep after that. I got up and went to the bathroom, and when I got out, Amy was clinking around in the kitchen, and offered me an iced water. I accepted, and we talked while I located my shoes and set about securing them to my feet. I had intended to leave a thank you note, but as my host was looking right at me, I just thanked her in person, and wandered off. I caught the next MAX home, made myself a meager nutritious breakfast of bacon, egg, and cheese biscuits, and stripped to my customary bedclothes(my underpants), and crashed for about three more hours.

It was a very nice evening, though. Nobody got drunk, and everybody looked out for each other.

/// EDIT ///

The pictures are ready.

12:39 PM, Jan 15, 2006 toot this
Indie Films and Chain Sandwiches
I met Heidi, Amy, Kynha, and a couple of others at the Tivoli last night. It's KC's "independent" theatre, showing all the "independent" films that are financed by the major production studios, for only $14 a ticket. We saw Brokeback Mountain, the darling film du jour, and I must say that I really enjoyed it. It's a very emotional film, and while that didn't get past us, the intellectual giants sitting behind us seemed to confuse tear-jerking moments for humor.

My only gripe about the movie is how abrupt the feelings the two main characters have for each other are, in surfacing. One moment, they're herding sheep in Wyoming, the next, they're drunk around a campfire, and in the next scene, there's buttsex. Bam! Lifelong love. I could possibly understand how two men spending an entire summer together in the mountains with a thousand sheep could develop that kind of closeness, but in order for me, the $14-ticket purchaser, to believe it, especially between two grizzly men, the filmmaker needs to work a little more to develop it.

Otherwise, the movie was brilliant. The emotion was real, and it cut right into us. I personally never went more than five or ten minutes without some tears forming up, amazed at the miserable lives these two men carved out for themselves. The solitary guitar music throughout the film accented the drama nicely, too.

When we walked out, we were all in far too pensive a mood to go out. To be fair, Amy and Kynha went out, but to the Granfalloon, which, to me, is not really going out. I went home, and was in bed reading Lord of the Rings for the fourth time, by midnight. I got up refreshed and nicely not hung over, and picked up Heidi for something I haven't done since Brian moved away: Sunday Mass. We went over to Guardian Angels, and witnessed two baptisms. I saw that in the time I had not been going to church, the young congregation had managed to have a bunch of babies, making for a far different experience than it used to be, there.

In my eternal struggle to get Heidi to get downtown, I had it in my mind to go to the River Market for brunch. Apparently, Heidi had already eaten, but still wanted to get a cup of coffee somewhere. We took a roundabout way to get to Coffee Girls, which it turns out, was closed anyway, and on the way, passed the new Panera at Crown Center. Heidi perked up, and enthusiastically advocated going there. I sighed, and buckled simultaneously, and squeezed the car into Crown Center's economically-sized parking deck. I got a turkey sandwich that was so-so, and we ate and talked for perhaps forty minutes.

We walked out, and Heidi suggested walking around. I thought this was a fantastic idea, as it was in the low to mid sixties outside, and the sun was shining. But, I guess what she meant by, "walking around," was, "shoe shopping." We went to Hall's and browsed for perhaps another forty minutes. I've only now just arrived from dropping her off at home, so she can get to work on the 28 man-hours of studying she has to do before she returns to class on Tuesday.

Also, I have just learned that tomorrow is MLK day. I support that.

5:04 PM, Jan 15, 2006 toot this
Eldorado and 2095
Why can't all music cheer me up like ELO?

11:17 PM, Jan 17, 2006 toot this
Big Band and ELO
I may or may not be drunk. I don't know. I'm not a lawyer. Harling's Boulevard big band night may or may not be completely awesome. I don't know. I'm not a lawyer. Riding the bus may or may not be a great way to get around. I don't know. I'm not a lawyer. But I can tell you what isn't awesome: drunk chicks getting all up ons, just because you have some facial hair grown because of an acute fit of laziness, or because of a sense of humor completely lifted from Monty Python and the Coen Brothers.

Quite seriously though, I had a fantastic time tonight at Harling's, watching a twenty-some-piece ensemble play some really excellent jazz/big band music, along with $7.50 pitchers(and $2.75 pints) of Boulevard Pale Ale. Josh, Callie, and I tried some ridiculous hangover medicine, to be taken with the first of each four or five drinks of the evening. The package Josh brought didn't have enough pills in it for everyone, for all the drinking that occurred, so we took three pills apiece, spaced out over a couple of hours. Let me say here: Horse-level pills are not pleasant to take with beer, no matter how tasty it may be.

After the band finished, my last chance to take a bus home had long since passed, so I followed Josh and Callie back to their place, got acquainted with Callie's spastic turtle, and confiscated a Goose Island IPA, before calling Atlas Cab for a ride home. Ceasar gave me a comfortable, fast ride home, and had no problem at all with me drinking beer in his cab.

Goose Island makes one of the tastiest IPAs I know of, but ELO's collaboration with Olivia Newton-John for Xanadu 1980 is just priceless. I have played it about five times over again, since I got home. Cheers.

9:01 PM, Jan 19, 2006 toot this
AIDS and Integrity
My sister just posted a bit on her blog, over at tourist.com, talking about how a possible vaccine for both AIDS and HIV had completed "phase one" testing, and said that a "cure" was fewer than ten years away. This was very encouraging news, but as she didn't bother to post a link about it, and a rather exhaustive search of google news has led me only to this, I'll have to wager a guess that she was simply passing on unsubstantiated gossip. But, I'll give my sister the benefit of the doubt. Besides, the factual basis of her post isn't the substance of mine.

Let me clear the air, first, and say that I think AIDS is one of the worst things to happen to humanity, in its history. The loss of life alone is reason enough to weep for all the ruined lives- ended and not. But the fact that politicians have used this ongoing tragedy as an opportunity to gather support for themselves, and to push their own agenda with that support is sickening. Unfortunately, I suppose that's just the way politics work. Human suffering equals opportunity. But anyway, I, of course, think AIDS is horrible, and I'd be ecstatic if it ceased to be.

My concern is that the young people of today, having AIDS brandished at them for their whole lives, might get the wrong idea, with its eradication. Promiscuity, with protection or not, is an inherently dangerous pursuit, and I'm afraid that with AIDS out of the picture, many people, ignorant or just willfully in denial of the non-AIDS dangers of sex with multiple partners, will take the event as a license to, "let the good times roll." Our society has casualized sex, an intimate personal act indicative of real emotional feelings, to an act as casual and innocuous as playing catch. It's an irresponsible and disrespectful frame of mind, but it does seem to be the overarching opinion.

My concern is that the only thing that's keeping normal people from letting promiscuity rule their lives is AIDS. What happens if it goes away? Well, I suppose whatever problems that would surface as a result would still be minuscule in comparison to the effects AIDS is having right now. I don't know where I was going with this. Rachel, check your sources, and post them.

6:31 AM, Jan 20, 2006 toot this
1 comment »»
Gaffes and Overhauls
Without a whole lot going on last night, I went to bed earlier than I have in a long, long time. I was in bed with the lights out, by 10:30 PM. As a result, I was unable to sleep any later than 6:45 AM. Yesterday, I was working like a busy little bee on some backend code improvements to this website. Through the magic of perl, I've been able to write a conversion script that I can use to populate all the content on this site to a new file format, in a new location, so the new scripts I'm working on can have some real data to work with. As I was working on one of the scripts that generates the "Latest Posts" list you see on the right side of your screen, it escaped me that the new format isn't production yet, and I overwrote the old script with the new, much faster one, that deals with the new improved format. Unfortunately, that's not what gets updated whenever someone posts a comment, and yesterday was a comment-happy day.

Nothing was completely broken, but the "Latest Posts," thing was reading off of data that needs to be manually generated. So, when I woke up this morning, I rewrote the old script, and in doing so, got some new ideas for the new site layout. It unfortunate, though, that this overhaul, the biggest change in the history of thsi website, will be almost completely transparent to you, the reader. The way that certain parts of the site work now is so hackish that I'm embarrased to have written them. The plan is to get everything to work the same, and all using perl.

But, you may have noticed, if you've been looking at this site for a while, that there have, as of late, been some major speed improvements. These have all been the direct result of the adoption of perl, for the display of almost all the pages of the site, as opposed to raw shell script, which was never meant for running websites.

Anyway, I'm going to get to work while I'm still feeling industrious.

12:58 PM, Jan 22, 2006 toot this
1 comment »»
The Office
Recently, through the magic of bittorrent, I got my e-hands on The Office, but the original British series, and the newer, resulting American series. They are both just really excellent shows, and while the British series came first, and was created and written by the same people(Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant) as the American "cover," I still just can't enjoy it as much as the American one. I watched the British series, from beginning to end, over a period of about two weeks, and was simply amazed at its quality. But I still had one complaint.

There were times when I just had no idea what the hell they were saying, especially the main character, David Brent(played by Gervais). I found myself having to play certain segments of dialogue over and over again, just to catch the words they were saying. I suppose this is what initially drew me to the American version, but what kept me watching was the painful crush between the characters, Jim and Pam. Their British equivalents were Tim and Dawn, whose never-more-than-a-crush relationship was played out beautifully and tragically in the earlier series.

Jim and Pam obviously have crushes on each other, but are unable to fully say it, partly because Pam is three years into an indefinite engagement with her fiance, Roy(British equivalent: Lee), but mostly because to clear the ambiguity would be to ruin the entire situation, and their strong friendship. It's a friendship in which there is a definite, sometimes intense emotional attraction from both parties, that neither can ever mention, and it tortures them both.

The British series didn't get this across as well, to me. Maybe it's because I just naturally can't feel very much akin to the people on the British series, but the American one has character traits that come across for me.

10:12 AM, Jan 25, 2006 toot this
Cake and Grease
Last night, Geoff and I headed for the transit plaza at 5:45, and walked up to the MAX stop about forty seconds before the next bus arrived. I have never achieved more perfect transit timing, in Kansas City. Unfortunately, it was over 60 degrees outside, so there wasn't any horribly cold condition to escape with our masterful timing. I guess it's rare to align the luck we had with one of the three or four times a year when it's blistering cold in KC.

Anyway, the bus gently drifted to the Armour and Main stop, where we got off. I have been to Davey's Uptown more times than I can count, partially because I used to live such a short distance away that even I could run the whole way, but mostly because it's one of my favorite bars in town. But even though I have been there as many times as I have, I still, if I'm in the lead, walk right past its very unassuming door every time, and wind up catching myself about five steps later. After making the required corrective backtrack, we walked in, and encountered "Rebel Yell," the bourbon they're using to replace Old Crow as their well bourbon. I'm not sure why, but everybody got a free shot of it. We sipped it, and I, of course, almost threw up. I just can't do liquor.

The drink prices depended entirely on who poured them. When we got there, Geoff's draw of PBR was $2, and my pint of Sierra Nevada Pale was $3.75. Then, they had a shift change, and prices for any good beer on tap went to $3.50. We never complained. We just paid up and drank happily. Josh and Callie joined us soon after we got there, and Callie, who's underage, stuttered, telling the bartender the date on her fake ID. The bartender didn't seem to care though, as we were just in and out, and wouldn't be troubling anyone in the immediate vicinity with our boozing.

We walked the mile or so, over to the Uptown, and I was able to scalp my extra ticket with comical ease. We walked in, and headed straight for the bar, and were promptly charged nine dollars for each pour of Pale Ale. Geoff dropped $36 on his round, and we found that each of the four or five subsequent rounds that we purchased, through the rest of the night, would actually cost ten dollars a pour. I have never seen draught beer priced so ridiculously. Soon, we were all broke, but any depression that we may have experienced was quickly washed away by the comedic stylings of Eugene Mirman, and the over-the-top stage theatrics of the first opening band, Ukraine's Gogol Bordello. In all honesty, their performance eclipsed Cake's comparatively lackluster stage appearance, in my mind.

Cake came out almost three hours after the curtain went up, and played Frank Sinatra, Arco Arena, Love You Madly, Wheels, Comanche, Short Skirt Long Jacket, Comfort Eagle, Stick Shifts and Safety Belts, Guitar, Shadow Stabbing, Daria, Sheep Go To Heaven, No Phone, Ruby Sees All, Never There, and encored with Mexico and The Distance. They were on stage for perhaps an hour and twenty minutes, and quickly left, after the last song was played. I'm told they usually put on a better, longer show, so I guess I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. And, make no mistake, it was a fantastic time. I wasn't previously aware that I know the lyrics to basically all their songs, and had a great time singing along.

After the show, we said good night to Josh and Callie, and went over to the Hangout, a new(to us) bar on Broadway, across the street from the theatre, and found that there were DJs spinning rap music from the early 90s. The beat was great, and there was a dance-off going on. We'll have to go back, some time. At about two o'clock, we called Atlas Cab, and as always, they arrived in minutes, and Eddie, our driver, zoomed us over to Town Topic, for random jukebox music, pinball, and some delicious greaseball burgers. After "topic," we found that Eddie had timed his next fare perfectly to pull up just when we were planning to call him. He then proceeded to drive at over seventy miles per hour up Broadway, to drop us off in front of my place for a $3.50 fare. We got his card.

1:47 PM, Jan 27, 2006 toot this
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Overheating and Suburbs
My computer has recently taken a dump on itself, prompting me to completely reinstall everything on it. It turned out, after the reinstall, that my problem seemed to be related to my graphics card. So, this morning, I opened up my computer, pulled out the video card, and saw that its red color was completely undistinguishable, under the prolific layer of dust. I shook the majority of the standing dust off, making an impressive allergy cloud in the middle of my bedroom.

I found that the dust caking was so heavy around the fan on the card that the fan wasn't able to easily spin. I determined that this must have been my problem, so I unscrewed the fan from its housing, and watched the screws slip into a pandimensional vortex, never to be seen on the prime material plane again. I decided to worry about that when it was urgent, and set about clearing the dust out of the disparate corners of the heatsink and fan, with an old(I hope) toothbrush. If I had directed all the removed dust into a pile in the middle of the floor, I could have wallowed in it.

After everything was shiny again, I turned my attention back to the screws I needed to secure the fan to its housing on the video card. I began taking things apart, to see if they had any screws in them that I could use, and I was rewarded in my search when I encountered the body screws of my old camera. I set about reattaching the fan with the unlicensed screws, and after about five minutes, had the card back in the computer, and turned it back on.

The first time, the computer sounded a bunch of alarming beeps, indicating to me that the video card wasn't seated properly, so I pushed it back in, and hit the power again. Beep! I removed the screw holding the card in place, pushed the card flush against the slot in which it was cradled, hit the power button, and no problem came after that. I carefully reattached the screw to hold the card in place, turned the power back on, and the beeps returned. It seems that the screw was the problem, so I took it out, closed up the case, and turned on the computer again.

It seemed fine, but after about ten minutes or so, about the same time I had finished paying my bills, the screen went crazy, as if the computer was showing me the fun results of its new drug habit. I turned it off, swore aloud, punched a pillow a few times, and got in the car to buy a new video card.

I don't think I can describe my feelings about many things with the word, "hate," but I hate Overland Park, KS. As in, if someone can have a town for their nemesis, mine would be Overland Park. Unfortunately, OP is where the highest concentration of computer and electronics stores in the metropolitan area is, so I began my search at Microcenter, at 94th and Metcalf. They didn't have anything, so I drove down to 115th and Metcalf, to Best Buy, and picked out a new video card for an ungodly sum, as the form factor for my card(AGP) is a dying breed, and dying breeds cost a lot.

I drove home, and saw that I had put almost fifty miles on my car, just to get a damned computer part. The good news, however, is that it works now. At least, it works so far. I suppose the jury is still out.

I need a beer.

2:52 PM, Jan 28, 2006 toot this
Humdrum Friday
I suggested to the usual suspects that we go out in downtown, last night. But, despite my yammerings and perfect willingness to go somewhere and wait for them, Cole and I wound up waiting in vain at Winslow's, for women that don't go out before 11PM, and that never had any intention to come "all the way" downtown. So, as is usually the case, we went to them. Actually, we went to their neighborhood, and were told to chill at a neighborhood bar, while they dish and drink martinis at a friend's apartment.

I guess that first paragraph make me sound angry and bitter, but I'm not. One of these days, these ladies will be tired of the Plaza, Westport, and Brookside, but knowing my luck, I'll be out of town, and return just in time for them to be all excited about the Plaza's three viable bars again.

Again, not bitter. They eventually joined us at JJ's, and conversation ensued. We wound up staying out until Fred P Ott's closed, at 3AM, and Cole and I took the cab of shame home. It was a fun night, but not particularly eventful. Heidi and I are going to mass again, tomorrow morning, and apparently, I'm going to help her find good angles from which to shoot pictures of downtown. I'll have to go through my collection for the good stuff.

11:43 AM, Jan 31, 2006 toot this
Idiot Box
I hate television. That's another thing I hate. Overland Park and television. A number of times, I have been roped into watching pop culture specials on VH1, or home video disaster reels on FOX, UPN, or the WB, and have every time encountered one common feature in all these programs. They are almost invariably a full hour in length, and hence break for commercials about ten or fifteen times. This alone is annoying enough, but the really annoying thing they all do, in the minute or two prior to each commercial, is show a "coming up," segment, telling you what's going to be on the show later in the program, and in the case of the disaster reel(think: world's deadliest bungee-jump car crash animal attack accidents), they usually show you the whole film in this segment.

When you have a one-hour program, interrupted as much as it is with commercials, the time it's actually on gets cut down to something like 39 minutes. Then, when they take two minutes before each of the, let's say, six commercial breaks, to tell you what will be on later, after you've changed the channel, or heaven forbid, turned off the damned TV, that cuts the actual content down to something like 25 minutes. That's 25 minutes of content, and 35 minutes of crap.

I hate television.

10:20 PM, Jan 31, 2006 toot this
Brio and Harling's
Geoff and I met at about 6 to head down to the Plaza for drinks and, for me, dinner. We went to Brio Tuscan Grill, a relatively new place at something like Wornall and Nichols. I had some kind of spicy chicken pasta with a couple of Sierra Nevadas, as we sat "outside," surrounded by plastic sheeting and heat lamps, in 60-degree weather. Nevertheless, it was lovely, albeit a bit on the expensive side. While there, Amy sent me a text, saying to come to pick her up fifteen minutes later than planned. We had agreed to meet at 8, and this would have been pretty much perfect. But, as I now had fifteen minutes to kill, I took a leisurely ride down Ward Parkway to Shawnee Mission Parkway, to State Line, up to 39th, over to Roanoke, down to Southwest Trafficway until it turned into Belleview, which I took until 48th, turned around, and picked Amy up.

We walked into Harling's at about 8:25, and the band still wasn't tuned up and ready to go yet, so we just talked for a bit, and exchanged war stories. The music started up a while later, and it was sublime. I honestly can't think of anywhere else in the world where you can see anything like what happens at Harling's every Tuesday, for free, in your jeans. Boulevard sponsors a 20- to 30-piece big band to come in and play their instruments, and Harling's offers a hospitable rate for draught Boulevard beer, to band members.

The players are just sensational, and they obviously enjoy their craft massively, and that enthusiasm really shows in their performance. Tonight was the largest crowd I have ever seen at said event, as it usually draws only about a dozen people or so. All told, there were probably about 40 or 50 people on hand to enjoy the tunes. Josh and Callie arrived about 45 minutes into the show, and added the fun that they always add to a group. It was an excellent evening.

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