Jul 302012

I turned 28 on Saturday.

This is a curious occasion for me for a number of reasons. The first is numerological: this is the only time my age and the date of my birth will ever coincide, unless I live until I’m 728. We celebrated in proper style, with somewhere around 25 people attending a party that lasted until 6:30 the next morning. I am a little disappointed with myself for not drinking more than I did, actually, but we had great fun. My sister in law baked some amazing peanut butter cupcakes, and there were pies to be had as well. One of the more notable activities of the evening was the game Psychiatrist, which proved to be a lot of fun. I think we’ll be revisiting that one. Disney Action Princesses were also a thing.

28 is also “the year,” as far as “the plan” goes. It’s the year most novelists get their first publication out, and the book is on track to fit that mold. It’s also the threshold beyond which certain…expansionary discussions could reasonably start happening. I’m not saying those discussions are happening; just that this is when I feel like they could potentially start.

In some ways, 27 was a great year. In other ways, it was rough as hell. But I think all of the rough spots in 27 are ultimately going to have been worthwhile experiences that pay off in 28.

Here’s to the future.

It’s no secret that Tony Stark is a bit of a hero of mine. I am not the child prodigy offspring of a billionaire industrialist, though, so the odds of my ever achieving Tony Stark success is…even smaller than if he weren’t a fictional character. That aside, I apparently now have a target dollar value to aim at: $1,612,717,000.

Aside: I received this as a “silly” birthday present, which I of course immediately assembled and placed on my desk because awesome.

In news that shocks no one, the money won in the Pirate Bay lawsuit/trial is going go to…not the artists.

Hey, RIAA, there was this little movie a while back called Gladiator. You might’ve missed it; it wasn’t big or anything. There was a line in it that you might do well to consider: “win the crowd.” If you win the crowd, even a lowly slave-cum-gladiator can wield enough power to challenge a king (or, y’know, Caesar). You are not winning the crowd by being money-grubbing jerks that don’t compensate the people that make you rich.

There was a piece in HuffPo linked on Slashdot that caught my eye. Much as the Olympics (are meant to) represent the peak of human athleticism, there are yet greater achievements going on that we as a global society aren’t paying any attention to, and that’s sad. Especially when it involves sending an incredible piece of technology to another world to look for other life.

Next week, while we’re all watching NBC, a nuclear-powered, MINI-Cooper-sized super rover will land on Mars. We accurately guided this monster from 200 million miles away (that’s 7.6 million marathons). It requires better accuracy than an Olympic golfer teeing off in London and hitting a hole-in-one in Auckland, New Zealand. It will use a laser to blast rocks, a chemical nose to sniff out the potential for life, and hundreds of other feats of near-magic. Will these discoveries lead us down a path to confirming life on other planets? Wouldn’t that be a good story that might make people care about science?

Remember Richard Muller, the guy who stood up and told the vast, overwhelming majority of the scientific commnuity that it was wrong about climate change and that anything we were seeing was just circumstantial and definitely not human-made?

Yeah, he’s changed his tune. Completely.

Most people don’t understand just how catastrophic this is going to be–at this point, we’re not going to avoid it–because on the surface, it’s not obvious. People in this country, to steal the phrasing a friend of mine used, aren’t going to notice until “growing corn in Iowa becomes impossible, but suddenly Alberta[, Canada] is a fantastic place to do it.” I said to him:

Heh. At that point, famine and drought will have killed quite a few people in Africa, South America, India, and China.

But that’s okay, because those places are full of spics, chinks, and brown people.1

The NSA is spying on everyone, all the time, always.

I find this deeply bothersome in many ways, but in some respects I don’t care. Privacy is a big, big deal to some people. Certain things about privacy are a big deal to me. I don’t want my credit card or social security number spread across the internet for all to steal my identity with, for example. I’d rather not have someone take pictures of me siting on the toilet through my bathroom window, either. In the former case, it’s less because I care that someone has that information, and more because I care about the damage they could do with it. There’s nothing intrinsically problematic with me telling a friend what those two numbers are, because I trust that the friend–even with that power–isn’t going to do something dastardly with it. I don’t trust the rest of the world, thus I want to keep it “private.”

Some people have massive trust issues when it comes to the government. I…don’t really think about the government very often, except when something happens in the news, when it comes time to vote, and when it comes time to pay taxes.2 So, the NSA spying on the conversations I have with my wife, or my friends, or any of that…I just sort of shrug my shoulders. I’m not worried about what the NSA will do to me with that information.

But I am worried about what the NSA might do with that information on everyone. Expand the scope, and it becomes a lot scarier.

In something that will come as no shock to all you Nickelback naysayers out there, we now have scientific evidence that corroborates the general meme that pop music is more homogenous now than it was back in the ’50s.

That said, might one simply interpret this as the gradual honing of our understanding creating music that is pleasing to the largest number of people? While I’m sure a lot of people will balk at the finding on a knee-jerk level, I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing.

One of the author blogs I follow is that of Rachel Aaron. She posted this, which gave me some heart.

Here’s a secret, though. When I was starting out, I didn’t write every day. There were times when I quit writing for months at a time, or days when I got up to write and ended up wasting my entire two hours reading web comic archives. It took me a year and a half to finish my first book, and another year to finish my second. But there, friends, is the kicker. Though there were days I didn’t write, days I flubbed, sometimes even months when I walked away from the computer, I never stayed away. I always came back.

The difference between the writers who make it and those who don’t is that the writers who win are the writers who never quit. This is the secret to all writing: You only fail when you stop. So long as you are writing, even if you’re not writing as much or as fast or as well as you’d like to be, so long as you do not quit, you have not failed.

Along the same lines, here are two letters Patton Oswalt presented to Just For Laughs in Montreal during his keynote address. They resonate with the indie groundswell going on across all forms of popular media.

  1. And in case it’s not completely obvious, I was satirizing the typical close-minded–dare I say conservative?–view of the rest of the world that a fair block of this country seems to have. []
  2. And even then, I’m less thinking about the government and more thinking about making sure I have all my documents in order for my accountant. []
Aug 172011

A great deal has happened since my last post. I’m 27 now, had the best birthday party of my life, have been married for over a year, went on a cruise with my wife (Port Canaveral, FL and the Bahamas, leaving out of NYC), and have been doing some intense self-introspection. I’ve also been working on the second draft of The Novel (which I have now identified as the third of a four-book arc), have resumed playing guitar, and have even been working on my digital painting. Some of the stair pieces have been stained (thanks, Dad!) and more will progress in the coming weeks. Alas, as a result, still no progress on the vacuform table beyond the last update. October is not far, though, and I’ve had a new fire lit under my ass about getting it done (you know who you are).

I had an absurd amount of energy when I got home last night. I decided I should try and bleed some of it off by exercising, so I hopped on the elliptical and jogged 1.11 miles in 15 minutes. That’s not terribly impressive in and of itself, until you factor in the fact that I haven’t exercised in any serious way in months. Not sufficiently exhausted by that, I proceeded to do some weight-lifting. Still not really exhausted, but very sweaty, I showered and then rather than heating something up quick in the microwave for dinner, I decided I really wanted some eggs, so I scrambled those up. At them and still had too much energy, so I sat down to play some Rock Band on expert drums for about an hour. All of that combined finally wore me out enough to be a little more low-key. Very weird, but honestly…I could get used to having that kind of energy.

The lawn desperately needs to be mowed. It needed to be mowed before Cody and I went on our cruise. We returned this past Saturday, to find it looking like a minor rainforest. I should have mowed it then, but had just spent an hour and a half driving with my parents from NYC to CT, and then another three hours driving from CT back to MA, so I was a little tired. Sunday, it rained. Monday, it rained. Tuesday, it didn’t rain, but it was still wet. The minor rainforest is now more of a mid-tier rainforest. I am mowing tonight, the wetness of the grass notwithstanding. It’s embarrassing. Unfortunately, this probably puts the kibosh on any stair work happening this evening. Sigh.

Feb 032009

Saturday was Cody’s birthday. Our plan for the evening was dinner at La Campania, one of the ritziest restaurants in Waltham. It comes highly recommended from my company’s president, known for his refined palette. Before heading over, we had a mini-present-opening, where Cody opened the presents she received from her family while I folded laundry (very exciting, I know). I then took the opportunity to present her with the birthday/anniversary/Valentine’s Day gift I got her: a pair of small, gold-and-aquamarine earrings. She loved them. They match both her eyes and a blue turtleneck that she has, which I had in mind when I bought them.

We headed out to dinner after that, dressing up a bit. Those that know me will know that I do not dress up lightly. I had made reservations a month ago, so there was no wait when we arrived and were seated. Their wine list was bigger than their menu and most of the offerings were by-the-bottle, which ranged from $30 to hundreds of dollars. We selected the Riesling off of their by-the-glass list (La Vis was the name), which was quite tasty. I have had Riesling before, but Cody had not and she enjoyed it.

We knew we were in for a treat when the bread arrived. Their bread is layered with prosciutto! They also serve, instead of butter, a dish of real olive oil — it was even slightly green! — with olives in it. It was excellent! We decided to be decadent and order a foie gras appetizer. We had both heard about foie gras — mainly from Top Chef — but never had it. When it arrived, we realized that we had been seriously missing out! It literally melted in our mouths. One of the most amazing things ever.

For dinner, I ordered Veal Saltimbocca with mushrooms over creamed spinach. Cody ordered lobster risotto. My dish was exceptional and despite its portion size (which was much, much larger than I expected), I managed to eat almost all of it. However, the real star of the evening was Cody’s lobster. It was unbelievable! Cooked to perfection, with just the right combination of flavors. I was quite envious.

For dessert, we finished with a hot chocolate soufflé a la mode. Imagine the best brownie you’ve ever eaten, served with ice cream, and that’s about where it was.

After dinner, we went home and watched movies. We first watched 21, the Kevin Spacey movie about the MIT students who counted cards in Las Vegas. It was quite good! After that, we spent an hour trying to decide what to watch next and we settled on The Matrix, since neither of us had seen it in a while and we had been talking about it. We had both forgotten how deep the first movie is. The sequels were pale imitations, but the first one has some real philosophical meat to it.

Sunday was Cody’s and my third anniversary. We got up around 2pm (while not late for me, it was quite late for her; we’re both worried she might be coming down with something) and made breakfast — actual breakfast. Coconut-and-macadamia-flavored pancakes, bacon, and eggs. While eating, we started watching the final episodes of Deep Space Nine. At about 5:30, we took a break — just before the final episode! — and went shopping for dinner. We had decided, because of how amazing the lobster risotto was at La Campania last night, that we were going to try and make scallops risotto, using the large bag of frozen scallops we had in the freezer. We found a recipe online and took off for the grocery store.

Cooking was a fun adventure and we each had plenty to do. The recipe works well for two people, as there seems to be two people’s worth of work to do at all times. We managed to set off the smoke detector at one point, due to the steam/smoke/whatever generated by the scallops cooking in olive oil, but that just added to the adventure. Then the moment of truth came…and it was spectacular! Our version was, perhaps, even better than La Campania’s, because we ourselves had made it. We were giggling with how delicious it was. We accompanied the meal with some Three Blind Moose and finished watching Deep Space Nine. We then watched the final Star Trek movie, Nemesis. Cody has now seen all of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and all 10 Star Trek movies. I don’t want to subject her to the horrors of Voyager or Enterprise, so she’s as Trekked up as she’ll ever be!

After that, it was pretty much time for bed. All in all, it was a fantastic weekend.