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Here’s an entry I’m pasting in:

I’m at my father-in-law’s house between Goldsboro and La Grange NC,
writing an offline entry. Today we did something I wanted to do last
XMas. He has this habit of just driving us around, and last year we
were in Smithfield, 2 blocks from the Ava Gardner Museum and we never
went. This time we did. I was kind of sweating it a little, because I
thought that we might drive 30 minutes and the thing would really
suck. As it turned out, the museum was pretty cool! We paid, signed in
and then watched a 15 minute biographical video. After that, we
wandered amongst the displays. There were panels on the wall showing
her at different points in her life, and cases with artifacts like the
family bible and such. Several of her gowns were on display, as well
as 26 portraits by an artists who painted one each year from 1948
until his death in 2001. I firmly believe in taking advantage of cool
local things when you run across them and have regretted for a year
not doing this last time. It was really fun and I’m glad we went.

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I’m in a hotel room in Florence SC. Shoret entry as the dialup is
ticking. Today, a belated XMas with my family. Tomorrow, on to
Goldsboro NC.

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Well, not six – actually four. Heading out tomorrow for a belated XMas
festivities in Augusta GA and Goldsboro NC. We really don’t much feel
like making this drive, but obligatory it is.

I saved off the MP3s from the WREK Merzbow Marathon and will
preserve this as a document of the madness. I found it very funny that
in the middle of the madness of this noise, they still kept playing
Earth and Sky and the Sports Reports at the appropriate times.

A near-miss present that my wife was going to get me and didn’t was
the James Kochalka cartoon diaries. She ordered them originally from
GiantRobot.com, which
ultimately never shipped them. Today she ordered them from up the road
a few miles in Marietta GA from Top Shelf Comix. I hadn’t
realized until today that today’s strip is always available at
James Kochalka’s website
. As a musician, he is a former Band of the day and I like his art too.

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That XMas is over fills me with a complete feeling of relief. The day
itself was good, filled with lounging and fun and food and no
obligations to go anywhere or do anything. We watched some of the Trading
Spaces marathon on TLC (or rather, my wife watched while I played on
the computer.) I did research on JDBC->ODBC drivers and otherwise did
that stuff I do, which is fun to me. I’m at work today, but I think
I’m the only developer here. It’s awfully quiet.

There was a Harvey Pekar story in one of the American
Splendor
comics about him working a snowy day around the
holidays when it was quiet and not busy. I’ve always loved that story
because it really captures something about the workaday world, that
blessed relief you get when things turn out to be easy for a change. I
kind of have that feeling today. There are things to do and I’m doing
them, but there is no stress or commotion, just calm and peace.

I listened to Yoshimi vs The Pink Robots all the way
through again this morning, and I’ve decided it is a brilliant,
fabulous album. Unlike a lot of bands that I like in their youth and
then hate as they get old and sappy and lose their edge (Sting for
one), the Flaming Lips are putting out music that is not as abrasive
as their work of 20 years ago but is just as challenging. At first
listen it sounds light and fluffy, but it actually is complicated and
challenging. They make a few references to Pink Floydian territory and
I think that’s the aptest comparison, that this is more like
Dark side of the Moon than the psycho music of their
first few albums. I like it. Their song “Do You Realize”, which is
what they played on Saturday NIght Live and in that TV commercial, is
a beautiful and touching song. Everything about this record is good.

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We all seem happy in this house. I gave my wife the new Flaming Lips
CD, some coasters made from mineral slices and some amethyst earrings
and necklace. The latter gifts where purchased at the AGU meeting, and
I had to carry them around San Francisco and in my carry-on luggage
whilst worrying about them getting smashed. Luckily that didn’t
happen. She also got the IOU for some stuff that Land’s End won’t be
able to ship until the end of January. Thanks, guys, appreciate that.

I got a new electric razor which looks very cool. I hate shaving and
cut myself all the time. However, every electric razor I’ve ever had
sucked. This thing is cordless, rechargeable, and also has a cleaning
unit in the charger. She also got me some Georgia Tech sweatshirts and
this odd but cool animal head suction cup pencil holders.

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Just waiting to open presents – which is sort of a semantic quibble,
since nothing is wrapped. It’s cold here, and I’m still grumpy but
I’ll put that aside for a while. Happy holidays to all! Hang in there.

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Did a little XMas shopping this evening. We got run out of the office
at 2:30 PM (those of us who were still there and working.) You
normally don’t have to tell me twice to make me gone, but today I did
have something I needed to finish because it gated other
developers. Companies do so much to instill motivation in employees
(developers in particular I’m talking about) and yet nothing motivates
me as much as the thought I might be letting my team down. That’s the
way to do it. The company as a whole is abstract, and even your
individual contribution to the value of stock or stock options. What
is more tangible and concrete is the look on the faces of the guys in
your office or their tone of voice on the phone when they needed
something from you and you couldn’t or didn’t deliver it.

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For reasons that aren’t for public consumption, this is shaping up to
be the worst XMas in many years for us. I just want it all over. When
things are going poorly, this is the absolutely worst time of the
year. Some of us may not want the cheer and festivity, so keep it out
of my face, please. I can absolutely understand the increase in
suicides this time of the year. When it’s good, it’s really good. When
it’s bad, everything is just made that much worse. I’m just holding
out for January 2nd and a relaxing of forced happiness.

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Oh goddamn it, how did I miss this? Joe Strummer has died (Reuters
story)
. How fucking depressing. We have lost far too many
musicians that I love this year, and my hero Warren is not long for
this life. Not to mention the horrible feeling it gives me to have the
angry young men of my youth dying of heart attacks and cancer. Joe
Strummer was 15 years older than I am and he dropped dead. Urk.

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There weren’t as many takers as I was expecting for the Zevon
concert. Later today I’ll be posting it to Usenet so mail me soon if
you want it, as I expect that I’ll have given away all the copies
within an hour or two of the original post.

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I e-mailed about the new/old Mac today. We’ll see if the guy still has
it. $300 for a 300 MHz Blue and White G3, with an OS 9 and OS 10.1.5
on it. The cool thing is that it has Firewire. Last XMas my wife got
me a CD burner that has both USB and Firewire interfaces. It’s 24X,
but the USB only does 8X. I’m getting a little excited at the thought
of being able to run OS X. I had resigned myself to an indefinite
future of OS 8.6, which means that things like my newsreader of choice
MT-Newswatcher were no longer being developed on that platform. All
the action is happening on OS X. As late as yesterday, the guy was
posting about it on Usenet, so I hope it is still available.

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I almost missed an entry at all today. I got WREK’s Bugzilla install
working and we took our dog to get a photo made with Santa. Big day
around these parts.

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Today has been a charity day. We wrote a bunch of checks to various
organizations to get them in on this tax year/XMas season. My wife
came up with a plan last year that we didn’t actually follow this year
but is a great idea. Decide how much we want to give for the year,
divide that into monthly increments and then give that much to a
charity each month. That way, we aren’t doing it all in one lump at
the end of the year. We started the list for next year and I think now
we will actually follow through on this.

I also took a load of toys to Publix for the Toys for Tots drive. They
have these adorable Stuart Little in a raincoat dolls at Toys R Us for
$6 apiece, so I bought seven of them yesterday. I had made a TFT run
earlier in the week, but I went back special because these things are
so cute. I found doing my TFT shopping the first time when I was
making decisions to be both fun (as I put myself in kids shoes to
decide which would be fun) and very stressful (as I thought about the
responsibility for a kid getting nothing and something resting on my
dumb ass in a toy store). I tried to focus on things that looked fun
but were not the big trendy cool toy du jour. If it was on sale, that
meant I could get more of them. Somewhere in the middle I got very
teary and misty as I thought about kids in such dire straits that
these things I got them would be the only toy for this year.

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I was wondering if the station would play Tift Merrit (who I saw at
that thing with the Indigo Girls a few days ago and is from Raleigh)
and as I was pulling up her web page, one of her songs came on the
radio. That answers that question. I liked that song too.

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Music TopicBand of the day! Month, really, but house sets the rules. This
is the band I called Raleigh about an hour ago, The Jam Pain Society. It was
tough to get this information over the cellphone with a noisy studio
in the DJs background and I thought he was saying “champagne.” The
song I heard on the radio was “Goodbye Song”, which is available on
their MP3
download page at MP3.com
. They also have an MP3 from their new
still in progress album at their own MP3
page
. I haven’t listened to all these yet, but just “Goodbye Song”
is so good to qualify them even if I hate the rest.

These guys are such music geeks that on the web page you can see
diagrams of their pedal layouts and drum kit! Jesus, that is
hilarious and beautiful. I’ve listened to several MP3s now, and they
are all good. One sounded like Korn or Rob Zombie, one sounds like
really rocking Sheila E. They are awfully cool.

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The WREK Merzbow marathon is over, but until late next week it will
still be available in their week-long MP3 archive.

Music TopicHere’s something I found out from John Bartley
(from whom I’m getting a lot of these links lately) in a newgroup
post:

There is a station in Research Triangle, NC called WBZB 1090 AM that has an odd and
wonderful programming philosophy – they only play local music. Here
is an article about them.
In fact, since I’ve been writing this
entry I’ve been listening to their webcast and heard a song so good
that I called them up to ask who it was (finding today’s band of the
day in the process.) It’s almost a throwback to stations of 50 years
ago in the era of early rock and roll. The programming is loose enough
that they are playing trippy psychedelic rock (the song I called
about) alongside alt.country or even straight raw country, blues,
southern rock, etc. It’s kind of like a toned-down commercial version
of what WREK does. I strongly applaud this and I really hope this
works out for them. Their slogan is “It’s all about the music”, which
is a rarity in modern commercial radio. The CNN story has some quotes
from radio consultants basically giving WBZB no chance. I’d love to
see them eat their words and WBZB make it – radio consultants are why
commercial radio is now unlistenable. Screw those guys and their
cynical horseshit.

There’s a second level to this, which is that the station has a pretty
small signal range but I in fact really wanted to live in it. When we
moved from Oregon, my wife was going into grad school at either
Georgia Tech or NC State. I really was rooting for the latter, as I
wanted to live in the triangle. I like Atlanta and all (less now than
I did 15 years ago) but Atlanta was the choice of the comfort zone. We
had friends here, history, etc. Raleigh would have been a leap into
the unknown but one I wanted to take. I love the music there – a lot
of bands I really dig come from that area. I just wanted something
different and didn’t think I would have any problem coming up with a
job there. I’ve never even been in the area other than driving
straight to the airport once, but I had in my head that I’d enjoy
living there. I’m impulsive that way. I was completely and totally
prepared to load up the truck and head there. As it played out, the NC
State offer sucked compared to the one Georgia Tech made, so as much
as I wanted to live in the area I really wouldn’t have asked my wife
to make any decision differently than she did. She has worked out a
deal where she is going to be doing an intercomparison of her
atmospheric measurement stuff up there this summer, and maybe
I’ll fly or drive up and visit while she is there. That way my desire
to live there can hopefully be coupled with some empirical data. It’s
still in the south (and frankly, living in Atlanta is less like living
in the south every day as it becomes an island full of transplanted
carpetbaggers), it is close to some family, drivable to the rest. I’m
dreaming a little dream.

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So I have this Perl script that reposts this weblog daily to my
newsgroups on SFF.net and Dueling Modems. This thing uses the
HTML::Parser module and I have some rudimentary formatting things I do
to make this log become a raw text news post. Those tables I’ve been
pasting in of the search engine hits on the weblog really really
screwed that up. Combined with the Text::Wrap I do, it become a
hundred lines of unreadable mess. I’ve decided to make the script skip
it until and unless I can think of a good way to format them. That
tabular logic is always a bear. When I was at JStream, representing
tables was the programming task that made everyone crazy –
particularly when the tables could nest. For now, I punt.

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And I see now Lott has stepped down and won’t fight to remain as
Majority Leader. I won’t cry for him. Merry XMas, cracker boy. This
photo says
it all

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Before I got my Trent Lott thoughts written up, here is a similar
sentiment expressed by Jon Carroll at the SF Gate
. I agree with
most of what he says. I don’t think being a racist crackerass renders Lott unfit to
lead the Republican party in the Senate – it should give him extra
credit. As a white man in the South, I have other white people –
usually men – speak to me in code phrases quite often. It’s like any
situation where someone is trying to figure out the other’s membership
in a secret organization – whether the Masons or a terrorist cell or a
spy ring. “It would have been better if Strom Thurmond was elected
President” is a lot like “The neighborhood was better before those
people started moving in” or “That part of town is too urban for me.”

I hate it when I get this shit. It makes me angry that someone even
thinks there is enough chance that I’ll be like-minded to begin the
“those people” dance with me. Is it common? Sadly, yes. Do many
sitting Republican politicians in their heart of hearts think that
Lott is really correct? I’ll bet many do. Do many Democrats? I’ll bet
there are enough to be shocking. I think most Republicans who are
lining up against Lott really are objecting to is the way he tipped
the cards too far. He played the cracker codeword game way too
obviously, in a way that gives away that it happens. He’s also
apologizing in a way that makes it completely obvious it is
horseshit. “I have held beliefs in the past that were wrong but I have
seen the error of my ways.” In other words, “I was a segregationist
cracker bigot at the beginning of the month, but now I am not. Like
Saul of Tarses becoming the Apostle Paul, I have converted on the road
to Damascus.” Sorry, Trent, I don’t buy that, even if you are saying
it while you are dancing on Soul Train. However, in
the same way I don’t think anything has changed in his worldview,
neither has anything changed in the world. He was doing this job as a
crackerass before. What’s different now? The only thing is that he’s
out of the closet. As Carroll says, do we really want people lying
about what they think?

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I got a copy of Jill Sobule and Warren Zevon’s show in Fort Worth, TX
in April 2000 yesterday. It is a part of this bootleg CD tree thing. I
got my copy from a cool but odd dude named “Freelance Fred, whose slogan
is “Small enough to care, large enough to feel cramped in coach.”
Under the terms of my participation, I’m obligated to give away 6
copies of the 2 CD concert (which includes all of both the opening and
main sets) – 3 copies to people without CD burners and 3 copies to
people with CD burners who then agree to do the same, giving away
another 6 copies. And they tell 3 friends, and so on and so on.

To reward the loyal dozen folks who read this weblog or the reposts on
newsgroups, I’m making the copies available here first. One of the
non-burner copies is already accounted for, and I’m taking things in
strict arrival order of e-mails for the other 5. Mail me at 7r09xai02@sneakemail.com, ask for a copy, include your postal mailing
address and whether you have a burner. If by Monday folks have not
claimed all the copies, I’ll make the offer on Usenet on
alt.fan.zevon. For those who question the legality, you can send
lawyers guns and money my way cuz I’m an excitable boy with
desperadoes under the eaves like Frank and Jesse James.

In his e-mail to me, Fred regrets only seeing the man live once in his
life, a sentiment with which I concur. I saw this same tour in Atlanta
in December 2000 and thought it was awesome. What a shame it will be
the last one.