Archive for October, 2006

For Curtis

Last night I decided to Google my old friend Curtis Safford. He was my high school boyfriend’s best friend. The three of us hung out together quite a bit. We’d go to the movies, soccer games at the Tacoma Dome, baseball games at Cheney Stadium, and Young Life events. He was always cheerful and smiling and sweet and gave the kind of hug that said he meant it. I never got any sense of resentment at the place I was taking in his friend’s life. He was a brainy guy who went on after high school to attend USC where he stayed on to work in their computer services department.

I think it was 1998 when I first decided to look him up. This was the pre-google days so I found him via Yahoo. I found an address for him at USC and pinged him to see if I had the right guy. It turns out he’d gotten into ballroom dancing, a mental image I could hardly grasp as he’d been so shy in school and never danced where any of us ever saw him! We chatted by phone and exchanged current photos and other life updates. It seems he’d had my high school Senior picture in his wallet all that time, which I thought was kind of wacky but sweet. Then, we fell out of touch again for a couple of years. The next time we got in touch, I’d moved to Oregon, and he’d gotten engaged to a girl from somewhere in the state. They got married and about a year and half ago had a little boy. We always talked about meeting up for dinner if either of us ever ended up in each other’s neck of the woods.

I’m not sure what got me thinking about him last night. Maybe it’s because I work with a bunch of Beaver fans who were really happy that they beat USC last weekend. In any case, I discovered that Curtis died this past June from cancer. It sounds like he went relatively quickly and peacefully in the end. I’ve been sitting here at my desk sorting through my memories of him all morning. I feel sadness and regret that we never did get around to seeing each other again. Words seem inadequate right now but I know that his big smile, goofy laugh, and kind heart will live on in my memory always. Goodbye my friend.

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She Wants Revenge and Placebo at the Roseland

placeboWow, what a great show! This was my fourth time seeing She Wants Revenge in the last year. I never tire of watching them. These guys are either touring nonstop, they really like Portland, or maybe it’s both! I can’t even seem to see Stars of Track and Field four times in a year, and they’re local! I hope they stop touring long enough to record a new album before they burn themselves out.

I’d never seen Placebo but I knew several of their songs from the radio. Let me say again, wow. Both bands sounded great live. Placebo had a great stage presence and were very engaged with the crowd. The crowd loved them! There was a girl behind me who literally screamed all of the lyrics to their songs and every time they kicked into a new one, she screamed and jumped around like she’d just won the grand prize on The Price is Right. She was so excited I was worried she might explode a la Spinal Tap! There was another guy standing near us that I don’t even know how to describe. He was probably in his 50’s, white hair, alone. This dude was into it! Hand clapping, fist shaking, foot stomping into it! I had to seriously watch out for his flying elbows. Both of these people seemed incredibly happy to be there so one couldn’t help but smile at them. Surprisingly, there didn’t appear to be any obnoxious shoving up front this time. It was pretty much a perfect show. Excited energy from the crowd + sexy showmanship from the bands + great music = a fun time for everyone.

As an added bonus, I got to take my friend’s son and his buddy to the show with us for their 13th birthdays. It was Jordan’s first real rock concert and She Wants Revenge was not only one of his favorite bands, but it was also an awesome show, and on a school night to boot!

Maybe She Should Move to Portland!

Loretta Nall, Libertarian write-in candidate for governor of Alabama, wants to get her state’s National Guard out of Iraq, legalize marijuana, and among other things, ignore the Patriot Act. Apparently, she also has no problem with her sexuality!

From the Seattle PI,

“Her campaign is offering T-shirts and marijuana stash boxes adorned with a photo of her with a plunging neckline and the words: “More of these boobs.” Below that are pictures of other candidates for governor – including Republican incumbent Bob Riley and Democratic Lt. Gov. Lucy Baxley – and the words: “And less of these boobs.”

Her Web site has a cartoon of someone stuffing bills down the front of her low-cut top. And for $50 donation she apparently offers to show a cartoon of herself flashing her breasts.”

Loretta, if they run you out of Alabama, come on over to Portland!

Nifty Nerd Tool of the Day: LogMeIn – It Rocks!

logo-lmi1.gifLogMeIn is a free web-based application that gives you remote access to your computer. It’s not new but I finally added my media server to my account and I’m newly excited about it. When I log in to my account, I have 3 of my computers available to me (but I could add the rest if I wanted to). That means I can check the files I’m downloading onto my media server from work, or take control of my work computer from my laptop while sitting in a coffee shop.

If you’ve never used a remote desktop application before, here’s what you see. In your Web browser window sits your desktop as you would see it if you were sitting in front of it. You can then manipulate it however you want. It’s simple and oh so handy.

Depending on your connection speed, the lag-time isn’t bad. Right now I’m on a wireless 24Mbps connection at full strength, while my media server has the same connection but at low strength. The lag-time is barely perceptible and is certainly acceptable, particularly for free. I’ve never used GoToMyPC but others I know who have say LogMeIn is a much better deal. They do have added features in their paid Pro version, like remote printing and file transfers but for casual use, the free version is great!

One Thousand Pictures and Mew at Berbati’s Pan

MewTuesday night my friend and I caught the latest 94.7FM “I saw them when” show at Berbati’s Pan. It was a chance to see One Thousand Pictures again and also a chance to see Portland’s own To Live and Die in L.A.

To Live and Die in L.A. were part of the Rock Kills Kid show that was canceled last month so I was happy to have another chance to see them. I liked the second and last songs in their set. The rest sort of ran together for me because the songs all sounded the same. The tempo changes were a bit jarring and at times it felt like the drummer was having trouble keeping it all straight. Was that on purpose? If so, I didn’t get it. I was perhaps distracted by people-watching but even that to me is a sign that I wasn’t engaged by them. As far as the showmanship goes, I don’t think they were served well by the poor lighting. They were lit by a stationary disco ball, which means that the stage was in shadows except for the dots of white light covering everthing and everyone. I amused myself by pretending that the lead singer was actually the character Charlie from Lost. In the dim light and from a distance, he looked just like him!

One Thousand Pictures actually had real lighting, thank goodness. I enjoyed their set and … continue reading this entry.

The Mosquito Ringtone, Can You Hear It?

Last Wednesday night my friend’s thirteen year old son demonstrated the mosqito ringtone for my friends and I. Of the five adults who were present, only two of us could hear it. I’m 34 years old and my other friend who could hear it is 30. The ringtone is a high pitched (17kHz) squeal that made me want to throw the phone out the window to stop it from piercing my skull. If you haven’t heard of the mosquito ringtone, you can get the full story from this NY Times article.

It was originally marketed to shopkeepers who wanted to drive away the kids loitering in front of their stores without disturbing their adult customers. I first heard about it last spring on NPR. It didn’t take long for people to figure out that they could market it as a cell phone ringtone, thereby turning the tables on adults. Since kids aren’t allowed to have their cell phones turned on in school, this ringtone is a great way to circumvent that.

It’s also a fun way to goof off in class. My young friend said there are times when up to 9 kids have the tone blasting from their phones, their teacher none the wiser. Given that the tone is so incredibly annoying, I’m sure they’ll get tired of that aspect in not too long and restrict its use to alerting them of new text messages and phone calls.

By the time most people reach the age of 18, they can’t hear sounds above 16kHz. By the time they’re 30 they can’t hear above 14kHz. I found a handy chart and a link to a free tone generator on Alec Saunder’s blog. He’s another adult who can hear the mosquito tone. I downloaded the tone generator from NCH software and gave myself a little hearing test. I can hear tones up to 20kHz. I ran Steve through the test (he’s in my age bracket) and he could only hear up to 15 kHz, which is actually pretty good for our age group.

Why can some adults hear the tone and others not? I regularly hang out in loud clubs without earplugs. I figured my hearing would be suffering by now. Trolling the Web, I saw theories suggesting that migraine sufferers (which I am) and those with tinnitis can hear higher tones, and that age-related hearing degeneration is genetic rather than inherent. My dad can’t hear the alarm on his watch, the beeping sound trucks make when they back up, or the chirping of a smoke alarm. My mom on the other hand, can hear a pin drop two rooms away. My dad gets migraines, my mother doesn’t. From my own experience I’m going with the genetic explanation. Of course, my dad lost some hearing when a mortar launcher went off too close to his head during the Korean War, so maybe he’s a bad example.

In any case, try out the hearing test for yourself and feel free to post the results. To use the tone generator once you’ve dowloaded, installed, and launched it, highlight “Sine 1 Frequency” and increase the value to at least 10,000.00Hz. That’s a pretty good baseline to start with and then you can increase the frequency from there.

How I Got iTunes Video to Stop Jerking Me Around

I finally got iTunes video working on my laptop. No other video format has ever given me this kind of trouble, and I’ve used all sorts of players, formats,and codecs.

I had to disable DirectX in Quicktime, lower my screen resolution to 1024×768, change my iTunes preferences to play videos in the main window, and then from there click the thumbnail view and widen it to fit the screen. Since I have a wide-screen display, I don’t actually get a full screen experience but at least it’s watchable. It’s also ridiculous. The resolution of the video is pathetic for this day and age. I’ve never been an Apple fan, but this experience makes me actually despise them. The second there’s a legal alternative, I’ll jump ship.

Update: I knocked my screen resolution down to 800×600 and was able to go full screen with only occasional video stutters.  However, the quality of the video was still grainy.  Booooo Apple!

iTunes on My Shiny New Laptop — Friend or Foe?

While waiting for the first episode of BSG season 3 (and when is the 2nd hour going online?!) I downloaded the season premiere of Lost. I’ve watched several DVDs on my laptop and it’s been great. Sadly, watching an iTunes video sucks. The audio is fine but the video is super choppy. Following the advice on the iTunes support site, I disabled DirectX (after installing and testing the latest updates) in Quicktime and it’s better but very subpar. Even when the video isn’t jerky, I’m getting periodic lines scrolling up the screen. It’s not as bad as having a fan nearby, but it’s still pretty annoying. Fortunately, I have a media server jacked into my t.v. and I seem to have better luck there. It’s still stutters occasionally but it’s watchable. It’s pretty sad that the media I’m paying for is of such low resolution and has such crummy compatibility when “free” downloads are so much better. Yes, I’ve googled the heck out this topic to no avail. I don’t have time for this!

Battlestar Galactica Season 3 — Available on iTunes!

Thank goodness. A tiny knot in my stomach just went away.

Battlestar Galactica Season 3 — iTunes update

bsg.jpgI’ve been spitting nails since Sunday afternoon when I discovered that there was no sign of Battlestar Galactica’s season 3 premiere on iTunes. I scoured the net and could only find other people also freaking out over the same thing. Today, scifi.com finally posted an update on their bulletin board.

As many of you are already aware, we are experiencing technical difficulties in making the season three premiere (“Occupation”/”Precipice”) available on iTunes. We are working on the matter and hope to resolve it shortly.

Thank you for your continued patience.
SCIFI.COM Staff “

So there you have it. At least now I know they’re working on it and they intend to make it available soon. If they’d simply said that on Saturday, when everyone without cable or satellite went into panic-mode, they’d have saved themselves some flames.

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