30 March 2006

a new look
i finally got around to working on a graphic logo for the blog. the plain ole' text wasn't cuttin' it. i know it's kind of ugly right now, and it's not formatted exactly the way i want, and i need to do some tweaking of the borders to make it a little less jarring when you scroll down to read... i promise i'll keep improving it.

i actually used a program called gimpshop, which automatically reminds me of the gun shop scene from "pulp fiction." it's actually an open source image editing program that's VERY closely based on photoshop. of course, photoshop costs a few hundred bones, while gimpshop is free. no-brainer.

also, sorry about the lack of photos lately. i am in the process of moving all of my photos over to flickr, which offers a lot more features than what image monster has, and as far as i know, flickr doesn't have as strict a bandwidth limit, so no more blue boxes. work has been keepin me busy lately, but hopefully i'll have time very soon to move my pictures over.


28 March 2006

stay tuned
there will be a whole lot of new stuff posted up here once i get the situation with my photos worked out. i baically used too much bandwidth and screwed myself up. i can't fix it right way, unfortunately, so you'll have to wait. expect a bunch of fresh blogging (on my new job, on my old job, on sports, movies, etc.) within the next week or so.


25 March 2006

mo' money, mo problems
sorry for all the blue error boxes on my blog, folks. i use a third-party provider for storing images and i used up too much bandwidth with all those big SF photos. they should be back up and runnign in a couple days.


23 March 2006

art fiends
di and i got a chance to visit the extremely underrated san francisco museum of modern art while we were out there. it was art-o-licious. for real. we got to check out a bunch of good stuff: mondrian, miro, yves klein, calder, kandinsky, picasso, matisse and a very nice selection of art by local bay area artists... which was a nice change of pace (frankly, picasso and matisse just don't do knock me out as much...). so there was one piece that really caught me eye... "narkissos" by a local artist named Jess. His real name was burgess so-and-so, but the one name thing is much cooler. anyway, narkissos is a huge 7 by 5 foot collage of charcoal drawings that are absolutely insanely detailed. jess basically spent like 20 years of his life on this one work... and it was the last one he did before he died around 1995 or so. he apparently took all kinds of images from life magazine and national geographic and other sources and painstakingly redrew them. here's a pic, but i'll warn you that it's MUCH MUCH MUCH cooler in person:

ooh la la
i'm diggin me some goldfrapp lately. it's an english dance band fronted by allison goldfrapp. their sound is sort of a soul, acid jazz, house, new wave and house blend. someone get this cd for me. it's the least you could do for entertaining you so vividly with this blog. pfffffffft.

1 day til i'm free
well, i heard back from the parole board. they're letting me out of this place tomorrow. that's really what it's felt like at work recently. i'm just dying to get out! in a way i feel bad for my co-workers, especially since the company/evil empire is considering merging a couple offices for greater efficiency, which is never good. but there's a crucial differnce between my experience there and everyone else still there: they've all carved out niches for themselves that insulate them from the direct pressure from my bosses and therefore they never have to shoulder as much burden as I did during my stint as city editor. it was like tightrope walking without a net. every little mistake i made got blown way up and i was at the mercy of my boss's complete craziness. (more on her later, i promise!)

national team blitkrieged
ugh. all true soccer fans despise the german team. the teutonic robots beat up on the u.s. national team today, winning 4-1 after a three-goal flurry early in the second half.
i watched the game and i'm not too worried. first of all, we brought almost no one who will be anywhere near the pitch come the world cup finals. second, this was played in dortmund in front of 70,000 germans. and there was a bright spot:

bobby convey, who made a name for himself as a teenager with DC united, is now learning his craft with reading FC in england and really picking up his game. his technique is really, really good. unfortunately, he plays the same position as my favorite player, damarcus beasley, left midfielder, so it should be interesting to see those two battle it out for playing time at the wc.


21 March 2006

sneaker pimp
my dope-ass kangaroos are finally getting too worn out. so i need some new sneakers. woo. i know i can't compare to the level of swoon that dionne gets for a pair of shiny jimmy choos or manolos, but I really, really, really like sneakers. right now i've got my silver and orange 'roos sharing the rotation with my suede pony mexico '77s. i've always really liked pumas, and i especially dig the red puma "the suede." the suede is actually the name of the shoe. so don't call them "suedes," sucker.


19 March 2006

mash tun time
jay built our new mash tun this week. basically, he just attached a drain valve and manifold to a cooler that he already had lying around. now we'll be able to mash our own grains for our homebrew, instead of just relying on malt extract. the extract isn't bad, per se, but it takes away some of the flexibility since we can't make up our own grain bills... we're stuck with whatever type of malt was used to make the extract. for all-grain brewers, though, there are hundreds of choices: roasted malts, smoked malts, pilsner malts, rye malts, wheat malts, munich malts, vienna malts, maris otter malts, golden promise malts, belgian malts, etc.


11 March 2006

i really do love using open source software... especially firefox and a cd-burner program called CD Burner Xp. there's also an open source office suite of program called Open Office that apparently is roughly comparable to Windows Office. no more buying windows office xp for me. ha.

check out iTunes iSbogus. the authors of the site draw out a game plan that would actually let good musicians get paid while giving listeners access to a wide variety of music they want to hear. Here's their plan, which i really like:
"The internet should eliminate exploitation of musicians, not perpetuate it.

There's a simple solution to preserve the cultural benefits of p2p networks and make sure musicians get paid: voluntary collective licensing. Here's how it works:

* Record labels let ISPs license their music.
* Broadband subscribers pay $5/month for unlimited downloads.
* If you pay this small flat fee you won't get sued.
* ISPs collect data on which songs are the most popular.
* The pool of money gets split up according to popularity.
* An agency like ASCAP or SoundExchange distributes the cash.
* All musicians gain equal access to digital distribution."


10 March 2006

a research study found that most people use the web to visit only visit six sites... out of millions upon millions. i believe it. the funny thing is, sometimes I'm bored and literally can't think of another site to visit. then there are those link binges when you can't keep yourself from surfing from random site to random site. damn www.

jay and i got a chance to brew again last weekend. we happened to have built up a nice supply of beermaking odds and ends, so we tried to use a bunch of stuff on hand for this batch. what came out will henceforth be known as frankenstein brown ale, mainly because it's brown and made out of random bits and pieces... and it's evil. basically we used 6 lbs. malt extract, 10 oz. light munich malt, 10 oz. amber biscuit malt, 12 oz. special B malt in the wort.
hopped with 1 oz. UK phoenix hops at 1 hr. and 1 oz. german hallertauer hops at 15 min.
The yeast strain was the safale S33 dry yeast, which we happened to have sitting in jay's fridge. we'll see how it comes out. our best beer yet, i think, was actually the IPA we made using another dry yeast, US-56. Dry yeasts are generally considered inferior to liquid yeast strains due to the harshness of the manufacturing process, but it's hard to complain too hard when the IPA came out tasting to clean, well-attenuated and hoppy.

our next big project will be to make the transition to all-grain brewing. Basically, right now we use malt extract, which is essentially a concentrated form of sugar. We boil it to make wort (pronouned "wert"). Essentially, someone else is picking out the barley (or wheat) for us, which takes away some control over the brewing process. commercial brewers and many homebrewers, though, mash their own wort. They take grains and soak them in water at certain temperatures to convert certain enzymes that allow you to extract sugars from the grains. Here is a good photo essay on how to do that at home. it's really not that tough. Jay has a good insulated cooler for us to use. We just have to buy a few small parts for the manifold and get ourselves a proper kettle that can handle full 5 gallon wort boils. right now our kettle is a tad too small. So we plan to do our first all-grain batch within the next few weeks. wish us well!

oh, and i almost forgot, the white ale we brewed last month came out great! really has a nice funky belgian flavor and silky mouthfeel to it.

i've really been slackin off with the blogging lately. sorry about that. between the job search (which paid off, read below), planning our little trip to san francisco, and working out at the gym and our homebrewing adventures, i've been a bit distracted.
anyway, i got a chance to watch fellini's "il bidone" recently. what a great film. it was made in 1955, so it's one of his earlier movies. "il bidone" actually came out between his two classics "la strada" and "nights of cabiria". anyway, "il bidone" is about a group of con men from rome who travel the area ripping people off with various schemes. yet the film is so morally ambiguous that you're thrown from one side to the other when trying to decide who's good and who's just plain rotten. I won't ruin the ending, but let's just say, it's fun and twisty and slightly depressing.... exactly the way a good film should end.

ok, so here's the big news: I took a new job today. I'm leaving the Times after three and a half years to move on to greener pastures. i'll be working as a technical editor for a company located nearby in Massachusetts. I'll be stationed at the corporate headquarters workign on product sheets describing hardware that is manufactured by the company. I'm very excited about the move. I was really really ready for a change of scenery. In the last month or two, especially, working at the paper was wearing on me. It was the kind of feeling you get when you stay at the party a bit too long - everything gets a bit weirder and less pleasant. Anyway, I'm very relaxed now. Di and I can enjoy our upcoming trip to san fran much more now.
Oh, and there will be a Joel F. Celebrity Roast at the east ave. cafe in pawtucket on march 23. According to the flyer posted on the wall at work today: "Admission is Free (for everyone except Joel)."


09 March 2006

I've got a big, big announcement for you all. stay tuned. wooooooooo.


04 March 2006

check out this wiki on U.S. Route 6... a road that runs right by our neighborhood... and keeps going and going and going. there's even a jack kerouac reference in there. woo.

breaking news: dionne has locked onto visiting two cupcake shops in san francisco. you heard it here first.


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