Saturday, May 30, 2009

It's just a phrase; he'll grow out of it

Our current president is famous for being a more accomplished public speaker than our previous leader. He's given inspiring speeches on the national (and international) stage that lots of people can cheer with. He even gives prime-time press conferences so often it's begun to annoy the TV networks. When every network uses the same news feed and there aren't any commercial breaks or even lower-corner splash graphics for KFC, the networks actually lose money every time Obama makes a speech on a Tuesday or Thursday evening.

The last time Obama had a prime-time press conference (on his 100th day), the FOX network didn't air it, preferring to show its own programming. It was pointed out that the Fox network has previous chosen not to run other presidential speeches, such as George W. Bush in November of 2001. But Fox doesn't have a network news team to tap for on-the-fly coverage like the other networks. The cable channel FoxNews, while owned by the same parent company, is largely independent; one doesn't see ads for cable news shows following "Simpsons" or hear "The coverage continues on Fox News Channel" as one does on NBC/MSNBC.

So now we have a president who talks TOO much. He does have one verbal tic that annoys me and grates on my ears: his use of the word "look" in his press conferences, debates, and other extemporaneous material. I don't know WHY it annoys me so much, but it just seems like a wrench in the works.

I am indeed calling this kettle black, even though I have my own verbal annoyances. I go through stages where I overuse the construction "you know" to the point that my mother brings it up and says it's distracting. I dislike that about my own conversation, just as I dislike "look" in the President's. Still, Caroline Kennedy once used "you know" 238 times in 41 minutes, so I'm by no means the most flagrant offender.

I came across an article from the Pittsburg Post-Gazette, published March 29, 2009. It forwards an explanation that I hadn't thought about: that Obama's go-to word is more of a verbal tell about how his answer is formed, rather than (what I thought) Harvard Law's version of "ummm..." A sociology professor gives an opinion that perhaps the word indicates that the answer to the question requires some rehearsal of background information, so here it comes.

I know that were I using that word in conversation, I'd probably use it to try to reign in an answer which has drifted away from the original question. It'd be the verbal equivalent of "let me sum up".

PRESS CORPS: Mr. President, can you outline your upcoming birthday plans?

PRESIDENT DOCTOR ANDY: The situation in that city has escalated beyond all predictions. I have been in consultations with our armed forces personnel, and they have assured me that all notable security measures have been taken. In addition, I've contacted our ambassadors to Israel and Brazil to be ready to move at a moments notice, depending on the situation on the ground. I have full assurances from Russian president Medvedev that neither he nor his country want their to be an increase in nuclear preparedness.

Look... we're going to have cake... and possibly a clown. Next question.

Friday, May 29, 2009

"It's a secret, baby."

For a short time last weekend, I was in possession of a secret. Upon finding it out, I was urged to keep it secret for basically 24 hours. How nice to have a set end date to the "secretness". This must be what it feels like to have a corporate Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) expire, allowing one to spill the beans about the new iPhone or the latest car model after a specified date and time.

The secret was harmless, in that it contains no malicious information. Still, since few people knew and there was to be an "unveiling" of sorts at a family gathering, it was important not to tell anyone. To be honest, I didn't really have anyone TO tell that would make any difference.

But now the secret is out: my friend and her husband are having a baby. She wanted her extended family to be the "first" to know, which I can totally understand. Her husband brought up the point that a lot can go wrong in the first few weeks of a pregnancy, so it can be better to hold off until the couple is fairly certain that they've made it over the first hurdle before getting everyone's hopes up.

The only reason I found out was because I arrived in my hometown absurdly close to the reveal date, and began pestering wife and husband to come out to lunch with me. Since no one EVER wants to turn down lunch with ME, my lunch with the husband included a note from the wife explaining why she couldn't come out and get drunk at noon.

That's the fun kind of secret. It's news that will genuinely make everybody happy, eliciting lots of congratulations and little pink and blue gift items will start appearing everywhere. All good fun. And let's face it: no one can keep this kind of secret forever. Eventually, there's going to BE a kid and I don't think they just get dropped off at doors anymore.

Doctor Andy: "Say, who's this baby crying in your living room?"

Friend: "Oh, that. That came with the house. I'm surprised you hadn't noticed before..."

*** *** ***

Then there are the other kind of secrets. The ones that involve "people who chose poorly" and "if they found out, it would end the marriage". Those are never fun or harmless. And to make it even more strange, since I just got introduced to this "secret" from a long time ago, there's a good chance everyone involved ALREADY knows. Which would be terrible, because this is the sort of secret that features heavily in those novels with soft-focus pictures of Fabio on the cover. And that's never a good thing.

A few years ago, a friend-of-a-friend's wife left him and tried to take the kids, moving in with a guy she'd met while doing hurricane relief in Florida. The new guy turned out to have no job and a conviction for child molestation and I felt a certain amount of "hot potato" syndrome. "This story is too weird to process; I need someone else's opinion!" I passed the potato and received confirmation that YES, that is really messed up. Splendid, I haven't gone completely bananas.

With this latest revelation I mentioned earlier, I was on the pickup end. My friend had been holding on to this and other incidents for far too long. She felt a great deal of cathartic "oomph" as she unpacked these things with a sympathetic and connected party (i.e., me). It's hard to listen to stories that your friends have been verbally and situationally abused by someone, especially if that someone is an acquaintance. It's even harder to find out that apparently I too have been abused.

It occurred behind my back years back and consisted of an alternative (and negative) narrative for decisions I made in my life. The purpose of the stories was to place me in a situation of little to no power or worth. Finding out what had been said was (and I mean this in the strictest sense of the word) shocking. I almost couldn't believe such things would be said about me. Almost. Finding out all these years after the fact finally let me in on this floating "secret". Certainly not as fun as the upcoming baby.

The enduring feeling I take away from this "unveiling" is that I can't believe that I provoked someone into lashing out in such a negative way. I kind of pride myself on maintaining courteous (if somewhat uneven) relationships with people, so it's a glancing blow to my pride to find out that someone came away with such a negative reaction that it colored all the subsequent events.

At this time, my rational friends would step in and point out that some people are just petty and vindictive, and I shouldn't worry about something that happened oh-so-long ago that has no real consequences echoing into today. No doubt they're right and very sensible. Curse them! Surely these retellings will fade into the wash of memories, just like the rest of life from that far back in the time line. It will become one of those things that only gets mentioned every few years at gatherings of friends. "Whatever happened to...."

Still, I'll wonder what the deal was. I'll wonder which time when I said "left", they heard "right". I'll wonder if I should have been more angry. Perhaps I also should have sold my "old friends" down the river to try to regain the power in a now-defunct acquaintance.

Maybe I should have held on to more secrets to use as a deterrent. Should have kept a few as leverage, I suppose: my own personal Cold War.

No thanks.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

New Tires... and a Different Outlook

I took my car in for an oil change / tire rotation and the mechanic was nice enough to call up and say "You need new tahrs." So I bought four new tahrs, which is money I didn't expect to be spending. Considering I put 75,000 miles on my last set, I take comfort in the fact that I really got my money's worth out of them.

Hopefully, this (plus the free alignment) will take care of the shudder I've been experiencing while driving around at highway speed. The shakes had gotten bad enough that they triggered my break pedal during cruise control, making maintaining a speed impossible except by manual control. I would say it couldn't get worse, but I'm always afraid what fresh hell that will bring.

In other news, a casual conversation with a friend put some uncertainty about a particular job I'd been applying for. Being told that someone else has been selected for a tangentially-related "bonus" of that job has given me pause, even though it's too soon to have heard one way or the other about the actual job. Not that my securing the position was ever a fait acompli: far from it! But something is always different when you're suddenly competing with a friend for something.

I suppose that's why "friends with your coworkers" is always a little strained in the musical world. People on other instruments, sure; I'm not going to win ANY positions that a violin player would be interested in, and vice versa. But once the field narrows to brass, we start competing for teaching jobs, even if the other performer is a trumpet player. It certainly doesn't cross my mind when I'm making friends, but I can't HELP it crossing my mind when the possibility (and I stress "possibility") of it walks through the scene.

It's something that no class of mine has ever discussed and no friend has ever mentioned, so I suppose the possibility exists that it only exists in my head and my head alone. However, since I am loathe to describe myself in any way as "exceptional" (in the conspicuous sense), I feel certain that others have felt these feelings.

Music may be a collaborative enterprise, but when the jobs start to dry up people like me tend to get cranky.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Habemus laptopum!

My little laptop arrived yesterday. Technically, it's a netbook; this means it runs on low-voltage processors, has a small and energy-efficient screen, and generally saves power all around. The upside of this means it has close to 10 hours of battery life, which gives me something I've never really had before: a true "unplug and use anywhere" laptop. The downside means it has a few compromises to make it small and light, including a smaller keyboard and odd monitor size.

Something that is both an advantage and a disadvantage is the size. This thing is extremely portable. I have large-ish hands and by laying my hands next to each other across the case, I can obscure about 95% of it. Holding it in my hands, it's about the size and weight of a hard-cover book (say, the size of a long John Grisham novel about a plucky lawyer and their struggle for the truth).

This means the keyboard is slightly smaller, too. It's one step down from a "regular" computer keyboard - the keys are about 92% of the normal size. This makes my hands feel ever so slightly cramped and it remains to be seen how comfortable it will be for long writing sessions of certain doctoral research products.

It has a little webcam, which is another first for me. It's basically the same camera that's in the iPhone, which means it offers attrocious image quality for still pictures. For little stuttering videos of my bed-head, it seems to work well enough.

This little netbook seems like it will fit in nicely with my Overall Computing Strategy (OCS). Basically, this is the small, light, cheap, and functional thing which can go anywhere I want to (for example, to the U.K. in the fall). It offers internet access and substantial storage for off-loading pictures taken by my camera.

The balance of the OCS comes with the purchase down the line of a more substantial desktop computer, to tackle any of the activities that are too heavy for this computer. Since this computer is designed to be small and low-powered, it should last a good long time doing what it does best: email and other internet related functions.

For now, though, this little computer represents the vanguard of my computing power. It's a significant improvement from the not-safe desktop I have left over from 2000.

Now, what about upgrading my car....?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Cheaper Shipping

I bought my new netbook computer from Amazon last week, and I chose to have it delivered via FREE shipping (taking 5-9 days) because that kept the cost well under $400.

On Sunday, I received an update from my package saying that it had placed itself in line and was now waiting. It's apparently still there. I picture Amazon's free shipping as trying to fly standby. There's my little package, waiting patiently while all the fancy first-class boarders go on ahead up the ramp. Eventually, the door shuts, many packages still clutching tickets and waiting. "Sorry, you'll all have to wait for the next flight." A general moan of disappointment is heard.

My package is in Fernley, Nevada. I'd never heard of it either. Apparently, it wasn't even a town (with a government, etc) until 2001. Prior to that, it was something called a "census-designated place", which sounds REALLY demeaning. You're not really anything, except that the census recognizes that quite a few of you live nearby to each other, so there's probably something going on there.

In 1999, built a 750,000 square foot "fulfillment" center there. After doing a little research, it turns out there's absolutely no prostitution that occurs there, so I think there's been a colossal misnaming.

The population density of Fernley was 93.2 per square kilometer in 2000, which makes it roughly as dense as Turkey.

Fernley is located in a "high desert" climate, so I can imagine my computer hanging out at the facility, desparate to stay in the air conditioning. Waiting for a flight. Or a truck.

I should send it an email.

"Dear ASUS,
Wish you were here."

Monday, May 18, 2009

Something to think about

I have had a pile of information delivered. This is the sort of information which causes one to revaluate a mutual acquaintence, from top to bottom. Sometimes that can be a good thing, such as when Scrooge turns out to be a Samaritan and everyone has to rethink him.

This is not one of those times.

The information also contained some accounts of me running roughshod over propriety, during a particularly self-absorbed period in my life. It's not easy to hear those things and my current contrition regarding (un)said behavior is a sight to behold.

It's the sort of information that needs to be slowly unpacked, just a piece at a time. Trying to think about it all at once is a recipe for making my head explode.

Along those lines, I'm going to bed right now. And I'm when I'm lying down in the dark and quiet of my room, I'm going to hope that my memories don't run roughshod over ME.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

To engender gender differences

One of my favorite teachers was my high school biology professor, Mr. Horak.  For me, he is that teacher that always springs to mind when someone says, "Name your favorite teacher."  I don't know what the significance of him NOT being a music teacher is, but he definitely wasn't.  He loved music, but he didn't try to shoehorn it into dissection lessons just to try "multi-pronged learning" or some other buzzword.  He taught the biological sciences.

He did the things that "good" teachers always try: he used humor in his teaching style, he spoke from knowledge rather than notes, and he stressed the everyday applications of science by citing genetic examples from his own family (how albanism runs in his progeny). And I seem to recall him calling some students "half-wit", but only in the most loving and motivational way. Heh.

He died in 2002, at the age of sixty-four, from complications of colon cancer. For some reason, I thought of him tonight. It was a strange connection, because I had recalled (also for no reason) someone making a comment a few months ago about "same-gender marriage". Mr. Horak was always adamant about the differences between "sex" and "gender", much more so than even other biology teachers I've had.

The "same-gender" comment came at the high of California's debate about Prop. 8. A conservative commentator was continually reffering to "same-gender" marriage. It caught my attention right away as most people (no matter what their views) refer to it as "same-sex". Mr. Horak would have taken her to task, reminding her that "sex" refers to the biological equipment we come with, while "gender" refers to the cultural and psychological implications of our behavior. It is, as far as I know, perfectly legal for two people of the opposite sex but same gender to marry.

Really, I just wanted to hear Mr. Horak correct her while calling her a nitwit.

I remember attending his memorial service, in the smallish gymnasium of a local Catholic church. Until I reread an obituary earlier this evening, I'd forgotten he was Catholic, if I'd ever actually known it to begin with. Had I been paying more attention, I would have recalled our churchy surroundings on that November day. That service was the closest thing I've ever had to a high school reunion, what with people from various graduating classes there to pay their respects.

He's one of my role models. I'd love for him to have been proud of me and what I've accomplished. I honor him in the best way I know how: remembering who he was. He deserves a few entries all to himself, talking about what he meant to me. But waiting around to do that isn't doing him any favors, so I'll just have to sneak in the remembrances as they come, attached to barely connected sparks of memory.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Laptop on Life Support

My computer finally gave up most of its operating capacity last night. Now, it's only able to shuffle files off one at a time while the screen is washed in random patterns and colors, the sure sign of a faulty video processor.

The good news is I've almost decided what to order to replace it. It will be small, light, and relatively inexpensive. Sounds like a plan! Another shot of testing keyboards at Best Buy and I should be ready to place an order.

Lighting candles and praying to my publishing company (Blogger) produced no free equipment. Some publishers they are! If this keeps up, I'll rescind all the money I pay for this free service.

If they weren't unaware of and indifferent to my existence, I'd be *sooo* mad.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

No fate but what we make up on the fly

I've noticed that there's a new movie in the Terminator franchise being released this month. It's called "Terminator: Salvation" and stars Christian Bale as the oh-so-important John Connor, leader of humanity's rebellion against the machines in the near future. This is the fourth movie in the series so far, though I stopped watching after two. This entry is about why.

Some background on Terminators and me: I liked the first two movies. They were fun action movies that also contained some interesting issues to consider, particularly the second film. Lots of ideas on what it means to be human, whether we are doomed to destroy ourselves, and the nature of fate and inevitability.

As with all franchises of movies, I'm sure there are some people who obsess over the details of the background story of the Terminator universe. There are several different models of Terminator which can and can not do certain things, and it seems tailor-made for hosts of people who like to argue about whether or not a T-1000 could form a crossbow out of its "mimetic poly-alloy" (I'm just enough of a nerd to recall that phrase on demand from memory!). I don't care what the little flying ships in the future are called, I don't think it's significant what age John Connor was during the events of "T-2", and I really don't care what Arnold ate for breakfast while filming.

Being a nerd, though, I have to angrily pontificate on the Internet about *something*. And I choose the concept of free will and destiny, as it relates to Terminatordom.

From the start, the series unfolds in a world with a mutable future. The evil robots send Arnold back in time to kill the mother of the person who's giving them so much trouble in the future. This action would, by the series' logic, prevent John Connor from ever having been born and allow them to chuckle evilly forever (or whatever it is robots do when the rest of life on Earth has been destroyed). Not only do the robots fail, they fail spectacularly: their actions directly lead to the conception of said hero. That seems to suggest that they should have NOT tried to fix it, but then where does the savior of Humanity, Jesus Christ... oops, I mean the OTHER J.C., come from? It's best not to get tangled in the threads of causality too far; that way madness lies.

In the course of the second movie, the angry machines in the future (not quite finished off in the first movie) try to kill John Connor directly. They send Robert Patrick back to do the job and, after much early-years CGI, fleshy goodness triumphs over metallic evil. And, victory is achieved in such a way that the robot-controlled future is averted. The message, iterated by one character, is that "there is no fate but what we make for ourselves". In other words, man has the steerage of his own sails. Despite all the future tourists, the decisions of people in the now decides the ultimate results: our destiny is not fixed and inevitable.

This is a nice life philosophy and reflects a sort of Capra-esque "what you, yes you, do IS important" view. T2 ends with the metaphor of life being an unknown road to the horizon. The fate we made has pointed us towards a different future; deciding not to be a slave to destiny made the difference.

Then comes T3, subtitled "The Rise of the Machines". It turns out all that other stuff is pointless: Judgment Day, in which most of the world is destroyed in nuclear war, happens anyway. The friendly terminator says as much, "Judgement Day is inevitable." Take that, free will! The founding principle of the first two movies, that sending people and terminators back in time may change the future, has been completely invalidated. Instead of "no fate but what we make", it's now "no fate except for the nihilistic one; you have no chance to survive make your time". The Terminator franchise has just be shifted irrevocably into a rigidly deterministic universe.

I'm totally hip to why the studios made more Terminator movies. They make good amounts of money and are reliable. The three movies have grossed approximately $400 million at the box office. I've even got to hand it to the writers of T3 for finding some way out of the robot-free corner that T2 backed them into.

But I don't have to watch or support what they've created. So I don't. Because I'm not interested in something that tosses aside its own logic for convenience. And that, in relation to a future that is now presented as fixed and beyond our control, I object to the philosophical worldview of the Terminator series.

That is certainly a sentence I'd never have expected to say with utter sincerity.

Friday, May 08, 2009

This is kinda supposed to be a big deal!

I've had a good time hanging out with friends this week and each conversation has ended with me saying the same thing, "See you soon."

And the response has been, "It'll be Saturday, right?" To which I respond by rolling my eyes towards whatever direction is supposed to help recollect old memories. Finding nothing, I put out some half-constructed syllables indicating confusion and uncertainty: Uhhh, Behhhh, and Errrr, mostly.

They right, of course. Tomorrow morning is my graduation ceremony. I'll be "hooded" by my trombone professor and smile down into the concert hall pit at all the instructors who helped me along my path. Somewhere in the darkened auditorium will be the other four members of my immediate family, as well as all the other "Conservatory of Music and Dance" members who have wrapped up their degrees.

I've had a terrible time remembering that this ceremony is happening this week and people have been asking me if it's because I'm not REALLY finished with the degree. I won't actually be awarded my fancy piece of paper until later in the year, after I finish off the remaining parts of my degree. It may very well be that this fact creates an anti-climax for schooling, but I think there's a much simpler reason.

I think I've put a low priority on remembering this ceremony because it doesn't involve me actually needing to DO anything. There were deadlines in the previous months: indicate intent to walk by Feb. 7, indicate graduating name by Mar. 12, reserve regalia by April 7th, pickup tickets by May 5, etc. But now that all of those things have been taken care of, there was nothing to do to "prepare" for the actual ceremony. I'll squish together with my friends tomorrow in our fancy gowns, walk from one side to the other, then have a quick reception out front. Easy! I don't have to do anything, or say anything, or prepare anything, or worry about anything.

So I've focused much more of my time thinking about the preparation and logistics for the audition in Florida. For the trip to Charlotte. For the oratorio performance of Elijah that's coming up on Sunday. Is it appropriate to play in a synagogue without a head covering? Can I have bacon that morning for breakfast? Do I have to refold my music so it opens right-to-left?

And somewhere in all the fuss, I forgot to order graduation announcements! I don't actually know what they're for or what they look like, but several of my fellow grads ordered dozens to disperse to their extended family and friends. From the way they described it, they must come with a return envelope for checks, because everyone seemed eager to collect the money that such "announcements" engender.

I guess that means they're sort of like wedding invitations, in that you can sort of inflict it on people. If you receive an invitation, you're obliged to send a gift, whether or not you actually appear at the ceremony itself.

As for my ceremony, most of the people who know me know that I'm graduating. And if they don't, then I'll be bound to mention it over the next year or two, whenever I see them next. Perhaps I should cough and extend my hand after they congratulate me, to collect the tip I'm (somehow) owed. There seems little reason to spend money sending official announcements. One, we're only allowed five tickets in the space-restricted concert hall for guests, so people couldn't have attended, even should they want to. Two, I'd feel obligated to send along a handwritten P.S.: "In lieu of gifts, please send nothing."

I received a car from my parents after I graduated from my undergrad, which was a fantastically nice present. Especially after having lived in Chicago for four years with no car, and moving to a city where I'd need one. Techincally I received the car, not for graduating, but for starting the master's degree, since I did not technically graduate from DePaul until the following November.

My family is coming this evening, and we'll rise early tomorrow, trundle off to campus, have some pizza for lunch, and then head back to our respective to-do lists. The pizza is in honor of the visit from my middle brother, who hasn't visited me here in KC since acquiring an adult's job. The only thing he mentions about Kansas City is how good the pizza from Minsky's is, so it would be cruel to have him ride all the way over here without giving him a taste.

Oh, such sacrifices we make!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Time in Charlotte with the Scots, the Yanks, and a couple Britons

I returned today (Monday) from a weekend in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Salvation Army hosted a few players from the Fountain City Brass Band as reinforcements for "The Brass Spectacular". It was the same sort of performance as what I was invited to participate in just after Halloween.

A good time was had by all, as the cliche goes. Four of our members flew out of Kansas City on Friday morning. The Army hosted us in a very nice Doubletree Hotel near downtown Charlotte. When I checked in for my room, the clerk presented me with two surprising items. The first was a warm chocolate chip cookie in a small recycled-paper bag. Apparently, these cookies are a distinguishing feature of this hotel chain, rather like the idea of the cookies served on Midwest Airlines flights. It was delicious, but I doubt it would ever be a factor in deciding which sort of hotel to stay in on a long trip.

The second thing I was handed was an electric blue gift bag that plays a funky tune when the close flap is completely opened. I'd be lying if I said I expected that from the notoriously stodgy Army. This bag contained a few pieces of candy, some fruit, granola bars, chips, bottled water, and the weekend's itinerary. All very helpful, as we tend to get shuffled around at odd times and go long periods without nourishment.

The weekend was a good time. The highlight was getting to hang around with five gents from Scotland who play in a band there. They're excellent players and genuinely excellent people. They enjoyed the contest as a nice way to play with a good group (the quality of all players is excellent), while being able to relax. Since this band has only limited rehearsal time and no real "pressure" to perform, it makes a welcome change from the contest-driven schedule they keep in the much higher profile UK band scene.

The fact that some of these guys are proficient on instruments that don't get regular instruction in North American schools is fantastic. In particular, the soprano cornet and tenor horn guys were so adept at making music through their (foreign-to-me) instruments that it almost caused me to laugh out loud, in a way I do when I see something that is truly surprising. Shocking, even.

Just for the sake of confusion, I even managed to sit next to the only other person in the group named Andy. We only had a couple of moments of confusion all weekend from that: in rehearsal, it was usually very clear which of us was being addressed. Had the director a lazy eye, such that it would be impossible to determine which one he was looking at, the results would not have been so clear cut.

We (the Fountain City Brass Band) will be competing with their band (Kirkintilloch) directly in November. I'm assuming we'll both take the stage at the Scottish Open in competition, but afterwards do as adversaries do in law: strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends. I welcome the opportunity to compete on their stage and am interested to see the results. The judging will be anonymous, but I don't think there will be any doubt who the Yanks are: the Scottish and English bands have another sound altogether from what we produce. It will be interesting to see if there are points for "style" that we may lose, and whether or not they can be recovered by giving an effective musical performance.

It's bad enough to compete in the U.S. and fail; that only reflects on our band and Kansas City. But we're going to the U.K. as the two-year continuous champions of North America. I have no doubt we'll be referred to in some circles as "the Americans" indicating our representative status of being from "over there".

Can't wait for it, though. Should be a fantastic trip.

And I've wandered a bit from where I started! To sum up, the Army took excellent care of us, the band they put together had excellent people in every chair, and it was a thrilling good time. Can't wait for next year.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009


1) What is your salad dressing of choice?
I'm not terrifically snobby about this, so I feel that any salad dressing that's well paired with the meal is pretty good. Balasamic vinagrette, cesaer, ranch, italian, to say nothing of the more interesting kinds.

2) What is your favorite sit-down restaurant?
I love the food at Figlio's on the KC Plaza. That's my favorite "sunny day in Spring" restaurant.
Korma Sutra is my favorite "Oh, look! It's snowing outside" restaurant.
Fuddrucker's is my "Andy, I have to unintentionally spill a secret" restaurant. Or so it would seem, from past events.
Minsky's is my favorite "my family came to Kansas City for pizza" restaurant.
Carl's Drive-In is my "nothing but root beer will do" restaurant.

3) What food could you eat for 2 weeks straight and not get sick of it?
As I've never gotten anywhere near this, I don't know. My gut says I'd get sick of anything for two weeks.

4) What are your pizza toppings of choice?
My one above all is pepperoni.

5) What do you like to put on your toast?
Butter and some fruit jam.

6) How many televisions are in your house?
I've just got the one, but it's all I need.

7) What color cell phone do you have?
It's black and chrome.

8) Are you right-handed or left-handed?
Right-handed. I lack the precision motor control to be left-handed. Strangely, the "handedness" preference is one of the first things I notice about people, though I never bother to remember it. That means I'm continually noticing it.

9) Have you ever had anything removed from your body?
Most people's answer includes wisdom teeth, but I never had any to begin with. Doing a quick visual survey, I don't think I ever have.

10) What is the last heavy item you lifted?
I can't think of the most recent, but I have haunted dreams about a certain white corner cabinet I helped some friends move.

11) Have you ever been knocked unconscious?
I have never had an external force render me senseless.

12) If it were possible, would you want to know the day you were going to die?
No. In the strongest terms, no. At the moment that knowledge was acquired, my life would revolve only around the preoocupation of that fact. I would become a whirlwind of regrets for all the things I'd never be able to accomplish in the time remaining. In all likelihood, my life would cease to function on the day I found out.

13) If you could change your name, what would you change it to?
If given the opportunity, I don't think I'd change it; Andy is comfortable for who I am.

14) Would you drink an entire bottle of hot sauce for $1000?
Certainly. I love hot sauce, and while it's not that great by itself, there's the matter of the thousand dollars.

15) How many pairs of flip flops do you own?

16) What’s your goal for the year?
Wrapping up my degree and finding employment.

17) Last person you talked to?
I spoke to Helen at the airport and we agreed that we'd see each other next on Saturday at the graduation.

18) Last person you hugged?
Most likely a half-drunk Scotsman.

19) Favorite Season?

20) Favorite Holiday?
Since I'm not much of a celebrant, it was whatever ones were paid vacation.

21) Favorite day of the week?
At this time, it's Wedesdays. For some reason. [shrug]

22) Favorite Month?
I like December. So much so, that I wish it was three times as long, somehow.

23) First place you went this morning?
To the bathroom. Outside of my house is still up for grabs, as I haven't left yet.

24) What's the last movie you saw?
It was either Ken Burn's "Mark Twain" documentary, or "P.S., I Love You".

25) Do you smile often?
Often without apparent reason!

26) Do you always answer your phone?
No, and I'm not sure I'd like a person very much who did.

27) It's four in the morning and you get a text message, who is it?
A broken spam.

28) If you could change your eye color what would it be?
I don't really know. My eye color doesn't really effect my life and I seldom see them. Which is a bit odd, considering how much we see other peoples'.

29) What flavor drink do you get at Sonic?
I have been to Sonic exactly twice in my entire life, and neither of them was within the last five years. So, I have no idea what I had either time.

30) Have you ever had a pet fish?
My family had fish at various times when I was growing up, but I don't recall any of them as pets. Mostly, the fishtank was just a fascinating knick-knack.

31) Favorite Christmas song?
I love the minor-key carols, like "The Coventry Carol".

32) What's on your wish list for your birthday?
Sooner or later, I'll need a new car, a new instrument, and a new computer.

33) Can you do push ups?
Yes, though I find the scenery boring.

34) Can you do a chin up?
I have never in my life done a chin-up, though I haven't attempted it in years.

35) Does the future make you more nervous or excited?
Excited. There's little in my future to make me nervous, thinking in terms of survival.

36) Do you have any saved texts?
I do have all the text messages I've received in the last five years saved. They total four and the only reason I keep them is to show them off if anyone asks.

37) Ever been in a car wreck?

38) Do you have an accent?
My friend from Germany once said I had almost perfect unaccented English. However, we were living in Chicago at the time, so it's a bit like being the tallest person at a short actor's convention.

39) What is the last song to make you cry?
I can't recall the most recent, so here's one from some other time: Gethsemane, from Jesus Christ Superstar

40) Plans tonight?

41) Have you ever felt like you hit rock bottom?
This is not something I've ever thought about before and it may end up being a future entry. Short answer: no.

42) Name 3 things you bought yesterday?
Cereal. Food at the Charlotte airport. $48 worth of parking at KCI.

43) Have you ever been given roses?
No. By my memory, I have never received any gifts of flowers.

44) Current hate right now?
I'm rather frustrated that people can be in close proximity and share nothing while still expecting to develop a friendship. Just doesn't work that way.

45) Met someone who changed your life?
Almost everyone I know makes ripples in the pond.

46) How did you bring in the New Year?
I can't recall, but the boring kind.

47) What song represents you?
I don't think of music in this way. The Hokey Pokey? Under the Sea? Nothing Else Matters?

48) Name three people who might complete this?
I don't have any oracular skills, but I do know three friends who've already completed it.

49) What were you doing at 12 AM last night?
Working on a blog entry that wasn't this one.

50) What was the first thing you thought of when you woke up?
Really chilly, turn off the fan.