Tuesday, May 31, 2005

All hail the little guy ...

I don't mean Napoleon or Gary Coleman. I'm talking about private landlords as opposed to enormous corporate housing management companies.

Amanda and I looked at apartments for a month's worth of weekends. Long story short, as of this morning we received final approval that our application was accepted and we now have an apartment. (For the full story, check out Amanda's recap.)

The thing is, we spent most of our weekends looking at huge housing complexes. The kind of places that have leasing offices, golf carts, and a bowl full of fruit candies. These places look like everything from enormous yuppie holding pens to tiny pre-packaged versions of American Dream Lite™.

The problem is that these places seem to be much more expensive than they're actually worth and their management companies are always two-faced bastards.

Eventually, we went with a small apartment building with only 5 units (a pentaplex?). It's not the greatest looking place from the outside, but the inside is 1.) huge, and 2.) charming. Not to mention that our new landlord is an extremely nice lady who was very accomodating, very friendly, and very flexible with things like move-in date, pet policy, and even a small bit of remodeling in the unit itself.

So, I guess what I'm saying is, big places suck. Smaller places and O'Doyles rule. Craigslist was the ultimate source for the little guy places, while big web sites like rentnet.com (dumb name) simply list the crap towers we wasted our time with for so long.

So, to borrow one of my favorite quotes from Kingdom of Loathing: Long story short, we got an apartment. Short story long, anything by Dickens.

Friday, May 27, 2005

bureaucratic neverland

So, today I'm talking with my sister about her pending visit to CA over the summer and the subject of her 16th birthday comes up. We start talking about cars and learning to drive and I say:

Jesse: (cue old man voice) Well, when I was your age, we could apply for the learner's permit 6 months before the date of our 16th birthday, drive during the last half of our being 15 so long as we had someone over 18 in the car, and then take the actual driver's test the day of our 16th birthday.

Kody: Well, I think it changed.

Jesse: (shocked) What?! No, it can't have changed. It's not like I took the test 50 years ago or something. Oh, wait ... it was, like, 10 years ago. Oh! Wait! It was 12 years ago!

Kody: (cue laughter at her aging brother)

::end scene::

Well ... turns out that it did change. I looked up the Pennyslvania driver's manual online from the PA DMV's website. (By the way, one of the worst-looking websites I've ever seen. Even among government websites, it's a turd. Come on PENNDOT, jump into 1997 and slap a .gif of some safety cones on there or something.) I don't know when they changed it, but apparently in Pennsylvania you now can't actually apply for your learner's permit until the day of your 16th birthday.

What amazes me is that, in a move of pure torture, they will still let a 15 year-old fill out the learner's permit form and take all of the necessary physicals 6 months before your 16th birthday. This means that the state's 15 and a 1/2 year olds are all freaking out with completed forms and notarized physcials tucked under their pillows that they stare at each day as the hours tick by until they can finally turn the damn things in.

That just seems cruel. As if kids really need any more pressure to feel like they need to grow up faster.

Way to go, PENNDOT.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

a rose by another other name ...

I changed the name of blog today.

Oogu is something I started working on in high school with my friend Ben. We wanted to write our own palindrome, but I can't seem to get this thing to work out correctly. Here's everything we've tried:

ughooe (that one was a disaster)
oogou (closest we ever got ...)

There are others, but I'm forgetting them.

And please, if you figure out how to make it work, don't post it in a comment. I want to figure this thing out for myself.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

the brotherhood of the track one

The mp3 revolution has pretty much done away with albums, as evidenced by sagging sales and angry celebs like Lars Ulrich and Dave Matthews. Personally, I'm a big fan of mp3s and the shift in the music consuming public to a single-song consumption model. I can't tell you how many CDs I've bought because of one or two good singles only to get burned with an album of crap. A consumption model that allows the consumer to only pay for the music they really want is a great step forward, in my opinion.

That said, there's something very special about an album on which the musician/band is able to sum up the entire feeling of the record perfectly with the first track. They manage to set the tone and then live up to that promise for the remainder of the album. So, I thought I'd share my favorites and leave it open to people to post theirs as well.

First up, Led Zeppelin I - "Good Times, Bad Times" These guys are the masters of the Track One. Good Times, Bad Times not only manages to set up a great first album from one of rock's greatest bands, it also manages to set the tone for everything they came to do afterwards.

Audioslave - "Cochise" God damn, that's a good track. In the age of mp3s, these guys actually managed to get me off my ass and over to the store to buy the album. This thing doesn't disappoint. Cochise sets a great tone for a solid album that doesn't relent. I haven't been this excited about a (relatively) new band in a long time. And they sure beat the hell out of other supergroups like Asia.

Fiona Apple - "Sleep to Dream" If you don't listen to Fiona Apple, you should. Something's wrong with you if you don't like her stuff. Hers is a music that drips with a candid and poetic honesty that is so startling it'll make you feel like you're guiltily reading someone's extremely well-written diary. The production work on the album rocks. The song writing is slick. The vocal performances are spot on. Great stuff. And with "When the pawn ..." she only got better.

Beck - "Sexx Laws" Track One off of Midnite Vultures is the perfect Beck track one. I've been a Beck fan for years now and with each album, there's usually a hefty mix of stuff I like and stuff I don't. Midnite Vultures, to me, is the best work he's done and Sexx Laws introduces you to it perfectly.

Radiohead - "Airbag" As far as I'm concerned, and I know this is debatable, Radiohead achieved perfection in 1997 with OK Computer. Since then, I feel like they've been wandering. But OK Computer is perfectly produced and held together by rock solid song writing. Their more experimental stuff later on (Kid A, et al.) lost the focused clarity of their writing that is so clearly evident on OK Computer. From the opening guitar lick of Airbag to the final triangle "ting!" of Tourist, The, the album flows beautifully. Airbag is the perfect start, especially because it feels like it leads directly from their previous album The Bends, as if Airbag and OK Computer were inescapably the next logical step in their careers.

Tori Amos - "Crucify" Track One off of Little Earthquakes. To me, Tori Amos is another artist who's really lost their focus over the years. Yes, she's a bit of a nut bag and that might have something to do with it. But, that aside, her early stuff was very clear in its intent and execution. Crucify is a great introduction to who she is, what she is all about, and again estabishes a great tone for what remains as one of her best albums. My favorite album of hers is "Boys For Pele" but track one on that album isn't nearly as good.

Alanis Morrisette - "All I Really Want" Story time. It's spring, 1995. I walk into the record store on the second floor of the Granite Run Mall just as this song begins playing over the store's speaker system. I proceed to stand in the middle of the Hip Hop section captivated for the entire length of the track by things I hadn't heard in years worth of flannel-induced grunge. Harmony. Vocal range. Production. Tight, frank, honest songwriting. I come to find out later its by the Canuck I keep hearing yell "You Oughta Know" on the radio. That album is still fantastic and this track is its perfect opener.

I'm sure there are others, but those are the first batch as it's about time for me to head off to lunch and I should really get something done other than write my blog.

Monday, May 23, 2005

a-hunting we went ...

Foster City is a little weird, and I say that knowing that I'm the weird one, not it. See, Foster City has a clean, almost "Truman Show"-esque quality to it. Don't get me wrong; this is great and means that it's really nice and clean and pretty and well groomed and etc.

However, it also made the paranoid nerd in me feel like there's gotta' be something wrong with it. Strangely I find it very difficult to accept that it's a nice and normal place with beautiful landscaping and efficient urban planning. I'd apparently rather feel like there are zombies being kept in the Library or the Jewish Community Center at night and that strange experiments are being done to the residents in deep underground bunkers. In the afternoon as we were driving around, I saw some little girl lumbering strangely on her lawn with her head cocked oddly to one side and decided that it proved my zombie theory.

So, my own ridiculous fears aside, Foster City is cool. The apartments are all nice and I feel like I could live in each of the ones we looked at for at least some amount of time without being frustrated. None of them were so awesome as to make me want to move in and never leave. Parking is a problem at some. Management is a problem at others. Noise is a problem at some others. Etc. But of each of the final 5 we were left with by the end of the day, I can't really pick a favorite. Depending on my mood, it seems to change.

Foster's Landing comes highly recommended from apartmentratings.com as well as some random person we stopped in the parking lot. It's beautiful with an enormous kitchen, a washer and dryer in the unit, and a nice open den. But, it's expensive and there seem like there are a lot of bugs around there.

Lakeshore Landing got me really excited about it and I really liked a lot about it. But, it also has a really small living room and a potential noise problem. Plus, it's a little pricier than we wanted to spend, and yet if you're going to pay that price you might as well just pay a bit more and live at Foster's Landing.

Ryan Towers is a great little unit. Hardwood floors, a one bedroom with a living room and a separate den for $1400. But, it's on the 11th floor of a huge concrete monster and had some kind of tankless prison toilet and what I can only assume was the previous tennant's buttload of grunge in the bathroom.

Sand Cove is nice but not fantastic. It's a little pricey, but it's roomy. It's a little dark, but it's on the water. It's really bad for parking and might have a noise problem, but you can paint one of the walls with an "accent color." Plus, they aparently segregate the pet owning residents from those without onto two different sides of the street. ??

Harbor Cove has a fantastic view but it looks like the place is ready to fall apart.

So, there are issues with everything. It was a great start and I know that we're both feeling like Foster City is the right place for us.

Provided I don't get mauled by any of the Penninsula Jewish Community Center zombies.

Friday, May 20, 2005

a-hunting we will go ...

So, this weekend Amanda and I are hunting for apartments in the great wide wilderness known as The Penninsula. Right now, our sights are kinda' set on a town called Foster City. As far as I can tell, here's how it breaks down:

- pretty area
- equidistant from our work places
- close to public transportation
- lots of places allow you to paint your walls

- pricey
- half-hour or more from either of our work places
- built on landfill (so if there's a big quake, we slide off into The Bay)

Amanda was rad enough to set up appointments with places for this weekend, so now we have an itinerary as opposed to two days of aimless wandering. We've also been checking each of the places we find against their respective reviews on www.apartmentratings.com. The first place we fell in love with turns out to be a 24-hour noise-athon with crappy parking and dickhead management. Go apartmentratings.com. Glad we found out before we rented there.

I'll give a report on the hunting expedition on Monday. Have a good weekend 'til then, guys.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

midnight nerdness

Last night, I put on my uber nerd hat and stood in line to see the midnight screening of Episode 3. In short, I had a blast.

Without spoiling anything about the movie: the film is fantastic. It's everything that Star Wars should be. Aliens, conflict, space battles, cool weapons and costumes, everything. It feels so much more akin to the original trilogy, and yet is so completely grounded in the Prequels as to make me fondly remember things like podracing, Sebulba, the clone armies on Kamino, etc.

Anyway, film = good. But, that's not really what I was going to write about. I've seen the film now a number of times. Last night, however, I wanted to go and see it with a crowd of diehard Star Wars fans who hadn't seen it yet. Sure, some probably played the game or read the novel. But Star Wars is visual. And the excitement was palp(atine)able.

Light saber fights in the parking lot, costumes everywhere ranging from very authentic Jedi robes to some guys who just wrote "HAN" and "LANDO" on some Hanes undershirts with a Marks-A-Lot. Two guys even marched a huge cardboard Star Destroyer (or possibly a republic capital assault ship) into the actual theater itself. It looked like it might have been a costume. I think there was a hole running through it allowing them to wear it like a large carboard tutu of sorts.

There was this great sense of community. People were excited and happy to be there. People everywhere were talking to their neighbors in line, sharing stories, reminicing about the other films and how/where/when they had seen them.

I loved it. I'm sad that this is the last of the films. All across the country last night, people from many different walks of life and many different generations gathered in the dark to say "Thanks, George. Thanks for giving us a mythology and an imagination."

I was one of them and I can't wait to see it again.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

quit breaking my heart, tv ...

One of the weirdest side effects of Reality TV is how much it makes America care about people we otherwise would never have known, empathized with, or sympathized about.

We watch couple after couple after intern after family strut their own private versions of the American Dream across the small screen. We watch desperate people with desolate lives forced to compete for millions of dollars.

As with everything, TV's job is to get us emotionally involved and with Reality television, this means picking favorites. Reality TV has taught me, though, favorites don't win.

Boston Rob, Rupert, Rob and Amber, Steph, Kris and Jon, Amy, Kevin, Angie ...

These are all the names of losers. Spunky? Sure! Needy? Some of them. Charasmatic, interesting, entertaining ... and all losers that I wanted to win one show or another at one time or another.

So, now I'm sitting here watching the finale of America's Next Top Model and I find myself almost afraid to watch the end. Kahlen should win, in my opinion. Will she? It's doubtful.

I want her to. That usually means she won't.

Then again, she could be another Zora.

oh good god, dog doog ho.

Two words:

Dog costumes.

fun with autofill

I've started to notice that I find myself thinking of websites I frequent as having nicknames. I realized the other day that it comes from IE's autofill ability to decide what page I'm trying to go to in my browser's history.

Sometimes it makes sense. mail is all I need in order to get me to my yahoo account, while gmail gets me my Gmail (doi).

But then there are others that don't really mean anything. They just seem to be names for websites.
theforce.net is Thef.
kingdomofloathing.com is King.
timesucker.blogspot.com is Tim.

Inevitablly, though, someone will send me a link to something stupid like timisaretard.org and I suddenly have my nicknames all screwed up.

There's something extremely annoying about having to type the extra ".y" to get to mail.yahoo.com if "mail" brings up something else in the location bar.

I hates it, i tells ya. I hates it. And I hate Tim. He's a retard.

what was I thinking?

The Ballad of Turdhall.

Once upon a time, my friend Ceymick decides to create a blog. I decide to post on it and - lo and behold - I find out I have to register with blogspot to do so.

So, forced to come up with a name for my blog, I apparently decide to go with "turdhall." What the hell is turd hall?! What was I thinking?

This makes no sense.