Just so I don't forget

I went to Burning Man and got two very clear things. First, I need more human contact. I mean, I pretty much knew this before hand, but man did the 11:11 ever make that clear. Second, I need to find a way to do more things for other people. I'm planning to enroll in a massage technician's class since that'd address both my needs.


Women who hug their exs.

In the last month I've been hugged by at least two ex-girlfriends. These were both women who dumped me, rather than me dumping them. In both cases I'm a little conflicted between wanting them back (because I'm an idiot who wants things he can't have) and wanting to slap them for screwing with my head and my heart (not to mention my fantasy life). What is it women are thinking in these situations? I don't know of any ex of mine where physical intimacy, no matter how platonic the intentions, doesn't provoke thoughts and memories which are anything but platonic. And that immediately scratches at the breakup scars. It's a strange mixture of heartbreak and happiness. While I'll bitch about it, the truth is that as much as I hate reliving being dumped, I don't really want it to end.


I Beg Yurt Pardon?

So, I'm considering going to Burning Man, well, for the last weekend anyway. It sounds like a really interesting experience and my summer hasn't been anywhere near interesting enough. I keep telling myself I'll do cool and interesting things, but lately I haven't been doing them. So yeah, I think I'll do this. Ratha, Damien and Jonathan are all going, but they're part of camps and are going for the whole week. I'd enjoy going for the whole week, but I think a weekend is enough to start with. I hope I can convince Alfred or at least one or two other people to go with me. It'd make renting a big honking van a viable option, and to be honest I'm not keen on driving the STi out on the playa.


Why Never Back Down is a steaming hollywood turd.

When I studied martial arts, there were two fundamental premises which forced their way into my tiny little head. The first is that getting into fights is a bad idea. People get hurt in fights. Even if you "win" a fight, you'll probably still get hurt and chances are you'll still end up a loser in the grand scheme of things. This movie doesn't really get this first principal, but at least it tries. The second principal is that the only fight you can't avoid is a fight driven by determinedly unreasonable behavior of the other principal. This is the one situation when fighting goes from being almost certainly morally wrong to a moral imperative. Never Back Down doesn't even begin to understand this principal. To the extent that telling someone that a Rocky movie will involve boxing in a ring is a spoiler, so is the following. The climax of the movie is driven by having the bully beat up the hero's sidekick. I haven't bothered with names since the characterization is so shallow that I don't see a point. The hero, reasoning as only a teenage boy can, that his arm candy, or little brother or mother might be next if he doesn't respond, goes to the big fight for the showdown. Sure enough there's a big fight between good guy and bad guy, which starts out formulaically with the good guy getting some good shots in, then the bad guy looks like he's going to win and then... big surprise, the hero pulls it out of the bag at the last minute and wins by kicking the bad guy in the head and knocking him unconscious. Yay, he wins the fight and bones the girl etc. ad nauseam. And this is my biggest complaint about what would otherwise be a crappy remake of a crappy remake of a crappy remake of a, well you get the idea. If it was so unreasonable, the situation into which hero had been forced, then why did the fight end with a knockout? As a codicil to the second premise of martial arts, there is a fundamental idea that you will never fight the same guy twice. The reason for this is simple: one of you will be crippled or dead. If it isn't so unbearable a situation that it is worth risking being crippled or killed, and facing the certainty of lawsuits and criminal action if you survive then you need to reevaluate why the fuck you thought you needed to fight in the first place. That's why I hated this movie. Not only does it glamorize fighting, but it divorces fighting from consequence. This movie sums up why everyone else on the planet fucking hates Americans; their standard for starting a fight is incredibly low and they don't even realize there are consequences, let along consider them. It's clear everywhere from a foreign policy of "preventive warfare" (and I won't even comment on the darkly oxymoronic humor of that beauty) followed by a plan for peace in Iraq that can in a word be summed up as "duh...?" through to inane pop culture crap like this movie. Guess what? Violent acts have far reaching consequences. But you sure wouldn't know if from this flick. The worst that happens in Never Back Down is you end up with some bruises, or if you're a sidekick, in the hospital with some bruises. The interesting things in this movie, the relationship between hero and his mom, and his little brother, and even the sensei's back story are barely touched on. The struggle of hero to overcome his anger is fraught with repeated references to guilt over how his daddy died with no reference to any other event. Even bad guy's relationship with his psycho dad would have been interesting, but it's given such a surface level treatment that I was left wondering if they needed to bulk out the movie so they picked it up of the cutting room floor. And that's why Never Back Down is a steaming hollywood turd.


Bronco Broko

I took my "new" bronco off-roading this weekend. Er... "wheeling" that is. Gotta get the lingo right. It broke. Which is apparently to be expected of a new truck. It turns out that there was a bolt missing from the bottom of where the radius arm is supposed to attach to the front axle. I bet whoever did the lift forgot to put it back in, and, well, it turned out to be kinda important. So... wheeling turned into a back-woods mechanic extravaganza. Sage's bronco broke too, his transmission got unhappy and dumped all it's fluids. So, we had to bum a ride back to Ojai in Steve and Shaun's jeeps. Once there, we collected parts for my truck and a trailer for Sage's, grabbed some burritos and headed back up to Apache Canyon, along with Steve, who had already replaced the leaf-spring in his jeep in the time it took us to scrounge up parts and tools. We got back to my truck around 11pm and had it hacked back together in under an hour, which I thought was pretty darn fast. It was good enough to get us out of the tricky parts of the canyon that required 4wd, but came loose before we were all the way out. This time, we stuck a washer over the bolt to hold the lower bracket in place and with Ryan's awesome driving made it the rest of the way out. We didn't bother replacing the drive shaft to the front and just put it in the back of the truck for the ride home. Once we got back to the campsite (and Sage's truck), Steve and I tried to do something about my alignment which was pretty messed up from the front axle rolling around all uncontrolled like. We also tried to tighten my alternator belt, since I'd been having electrical problems all day. The belt is on pretty darn tight now, but it doesn't appear to have solved the problem. Ryan thinks it might be a bad battery, but I guess we'll figure it out next weekend. Anyway, we managed to yank my tie-rods back into some semblance of right and the truck became slightly less un-manageable. We headed out on the road with me behind Steve and Ryan and Sage following me. Or at least they were for a while. I eventually noticed the lack of headlights behind me, stopped, waited for a bit... and then turned around and went looking for them. I found them walking up the road towards me, and a short way behind them was Sage's truck, still on the trailer and Ryan's truck... not really on the road anymore... but pretty well connected to a tree. Apparently towing stuff when you have a spool type locker in your rear axle makes for difficult to non-existent steering. At least when you're driving like Ryan was. :) About this time I started wondering where Steve had gotten off to. Anyway, we hooked up my bronco to the trailer and managed to get them un-stuck. That's when we discovered that the pittman arm had shorn clean off at the steering box. Hmm, that's pretty broken. Fortunately, we had a part truck on the trailer, so we could cannibalize a replacement steering box / pittman arm from it. Halfway through the repair, Steve showed up again. He was pretty pissed. Apparently he'd been off wheeling around and gotten his jeep stuck on it's belly. He was wondering where we were and thought we'd buggered off without him. Eventually he managed to get himself unstuck and came back looking for us. About this time I realized that having radios installed and working would be a Good Thing. This is particularly lame since I bought radios (both a CB and a 2m) for my truck over a month ago. Anyway, I crawled off to nap in my truck while Ryan and Sage worked on putting the stuff from his truck into Ryan's. About an hour later they were done and we were back on the road. I guess it was around 3 or 4am at this point and everyone was pretty happy to see the pavement. My truck was a heck of a lot less squirrely on the pavement, but the alignment was still bad enough to keep me awake for the drive. We crawled up Pine mountain at about 10mph with Ryan's truck running pretty darn hot from the towing. That part was fine with me, but the longer trip, back down the other side of the mountain was a heck of a drive. Imagine being in a truck that pulls either one way or the other, depending on where you weight is. When you correct, you shift your weight which makes it pull to the other side. Braking exacerbates the problems, so the only solution is to just keep it slow. Annoyingly, the speed I wanted to go was faster than 1st gear engine braking would give me an slower than 2nd gear engine braking. So I had to alternate between gas and brake in 2nd gear. Needless to say, it was a rough drive. Fortunately there wasn't anyone else on the road for the entire duration of the trip, except our sad convoy of limping trucks. By the time we got back to Ojai, it was starting to get light again. We parked our busted broncos at Ryan's farm and Sage and I bummed a car to drive back to Carp where we crashed at my place for a few hours. The morning after (well, technically later that same morning, but after we were washed rested, fed and feeling human again) I drove my STi and Sage took the loaner back up to Ojai and then we enjoyed Casitas Pass in the STi on the way back. What a world of difference between driving that and driving a bronco with ruined alignment.


m-audio suckage

So, I bought a used m-audio FireWire 1814 off ebay. It's a super cool little box that's supposed to just plug in and give you awesome audio in/out stuff for recording and other stuff. Sounds great and it works pretty darn well when I bootcamp my Mac into Windows. Except that unlike every other firewire device I've ever worked with, this one expects you to reboot before connecting or disconnecting things. Well, isn't that lame? And I'm not supposed to use my wifi or bluetooth at the same time? WTF?! Better still it doesn't appear to work at all with my Mac. This post marks the fourth interaction I've made with their tech support guys. While they seem to want to help me, they sure don't have much to offer. Toggle the sync method? What the hell? Who wrote these drivers?! Update: apparently the Mac upgrades stomp on things somewhat, so you need to run the Apple disk repair thing which goes around and fixes permissions. Ugh. Generally I love Apple, but this is kinda lame.