Thursday, December 29, 2005

R.I.P. Per Frykdal. He was indeed unforgettable, and hence will live forever. Unlike the other people whose passings I have mentioned on this site, I actually knew Per. It's a shock to hear that he is gone. I saw him last in early November, and then only for a moment or two since his arrival pretty much coincided with our departure from that particular party. Little did we know that his own departure would come so prematurely. If there is indeed any kind of afterlife, he will make it all the more interesting. I'll miss him.

Check out some of his art here. Art is forever, even if we are not.
Favorite cds of 2005, in no particular order:

Birch Book "s/t"
Bohren Und Der Club of Gore "Geisterfaust" cd
Current 93 "How I Devoured Apocalypse Balloon"
Circle "Tulikoira" "Perekluchenie"
Om "Variations on a Theme"
Rasputina "A Radical Recital"
Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band "Horses in the Sky"
Sol Invictus "The Devil's Steed"
Dar Williams "My Better Self"
Various Artists "Irreplaceable Hand" (benefit for Dax Pierson)
Simon Finn "Magic Moments"
Chirgilchin "Collectible"
Kemialliset Ystavat "Latvasta Laho"

And some singles/eps:

Current 93 - the "coptic" single
Nurse With Wound "The Little Dipper Minus Two (Echo Poeme Sequence 1)"
The Folklore of the Moon series of 3" cds released in time and tune with the fullness of the moon. What a great idea! It also ensures that I get something in the mail every month.

There were lots of things that would probably have made the list if I'd been able to afford everything I was interested in, and a few other things that might be on here if I'd written this yesterday or tomorrow. It's all so subjective, isn't it?

Saturday, December 24, 2005

The kids WON'T GO TO SLEEP! They keep popping out of bed like a bunch of Jacks-in-the-Box with their springs wound too tightly. Willow, at least, is yawning. Alex is doubting, even though he's been following Santa's progress here. Maybe it's the crappy computer animation that tipped him off.

Uncle Jay is spending the night, which is something of a tradition, although this time he had to catch a plane to get here. I think everything is wrapped, except for a couple of things out in the garage. The wind seems to be picking up too.

Think peace and love. Smile.

Friday, December 23, 2005

I wish health and happiness to all, as long as it doesn't interfere with somebody else's health and happiness. Health and happiness and reasonableness. And peace. Don't forget peace. Merry Christmas/Solstice/Hanukkah/Yule/Kwanzaa/Xwtzachaopl.

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. A lot is done. A lot is not yet done. Let the cards fall where they may.

I'm home today, having traded working today for working next Wednesday. Those 10 hour days of manual labor were tiring me out, so I welcomed the opportunity to stay home today. This morning it was foggy, and it lingered into the afternoon, which was nice. I like it when the edges are blurred. It seems to open up more possibilities somehow. Mystery is alive and well.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Another day spent painting - this time the women's bathroom, which has a very high ceiling (and no, not a glass one either...) and more stalls. These things matter when you have to cover everything with paint. This time I remembered to bring a cd player though, so time went by quickly.

It's strange working until after dark. Everybody else goes home a couple of hours before I do and the days are short, so I often find myself virtually alone on the site. Of course now the days are going to get longer again. Happy Solstice to those of you who observe it in some way. To my mind, it's the most important of all the year-end holidays. Sure, we generally celebrate Christmas around here through sheer force of habit and nostalgia, but I feel more of a sense of connection to the Solstice. We keep meaning to mark it with some sort of traditional ritual, but time gets away from us because the holidays bring with them all sorts of frantic activity and last-minuteness. The 25th is always further away than the 21st. It would just be too much to ask to get anything completed and ready by the 21st, so we don't even try.

I do mark the day in my mind though. The darkness is drawing back.

Earlier, I suddenly found myself clothed in vomit. Willow was sitting on my lap acting distressed, when all of a sudden the contents of her stomach burst forth and coated us. Once I got her into the bath, she felt better, and even played little games with the playmobile people who reside there. Her games always involve a person going, "oohhnooo!," and falling into the water.

Speaking of water, I think I'll go take a shower. The paint and the vomit don't mix well.


Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The classroom teachers who accompany their students up to science camp have long been complaining about the inadequecy of their accomodations. Today I helped do something about that. I ripped out a bunch of brittle linoleum, pulled out some sheetrock, and painted a bathroom. In the middle of doing all of this, while throwing away some old carpets, I surprised a pair of raccoons who were trying to sleep in the dumpster. They huddled together and watched wide-eyed as my coworker and I carefully angled a rolled up carpet into the dumpster so they could escape if they wanted to. They elected to remain put. I hope they don't think they've found a permanent home.

All afternoon the wind rattled doors and sent debris across the site. So far no rain has fallen, but that may change soon.

Tomorrow we put in a new shower. How exciting.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Check out Umlaut. This guy is an old heavy metal friend from back in the eighties, when sometimes we'd go to more than one show a night. I wish I'd kept tabs on all of the shows we went to back then. Of course it was all punk and heavy metal, but this music took up a major portion of my high school and early college years.

Now we're all grown up. Sort of.

The year is winding down, and I've been seeing a lot of lists of people's favorite music and/or concerts from 2005. It occurred to me that I haven't been to enough concerts this year to justify picking out a top 10. I can say that just about all of the live music I saw this year was good, and most of it was free too, thanks to me having friends in bands or actually being involved in the show myself. This is just one more way to stretch the dollar. Anyway, here's the list - not a top 10, but a list of all of the shows I saw this year (to the best of my recollection) and Spoonbender 1.1 @ the Elbo Room
Lhasa at the Great American Music Hall
Sleepytime Gorilla Museum @ The Independant
Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, Faun Fables, and Dot Dot Dot
Om and Six Organs of Admittance at Bottom of the Hill, Moe!chestra, Barely Human Dance Theatre, French Radio, & Drew from Matmos
- Benefit for Dax
M.S. Waldron & J.B. Haynes at some venue in S.F. whose name escapes me.
Dungen, Faun Fables, and The Lonelyhearts at Bottom of the Hill
Circle, Merzbow, Earth, & Growing at the Great American Music Hall
Wooden Octopus Skull Pfestival at various venues around Seattle
In Gowan Ring at Adobe Books
Sleepytime Gorilla Museum @ The Attic
Current 93, Om, Baby Dee, Simon Finn, Maja Elliot, Six Organs of Admittance, and Pantaleimon at the Great American Music Hall
Simon Finn and Whysp at the Hotel Utah Saloon

I might come up with a list of favorite cds of 2005 before the end of the year. Like anybody besides me cares...

I've had a rather extended weekend which was actually almost a week. I've actually been kind of slacking off, sleeping in and wasting time on the computer. That's not to say that all of my time has been wasted. I'm pretty much done with my holiday shopping. The tree is up and decorated. The lizard cages are clean. Nate had a party at the cheese rat place. I saw King Kong with my mom and thought it was brilliant! Peter Jackson has managed to stuff more creatures into his version than they did in the original, not to mention the creepy islanders who I think are the main reason that Nate and Alex aren't going to get to see this one. He's even given us his version of the "lost" footage excised from the original for being too gruesome (a chasm full of sailor-eating invertebrates of various types and sizes - another reason Nate and Alex won't see this). There is a blatant reference to his earlier film, Dead Alive (aka Braindead) as well. In addition to this, he's managed to give it much more emotional depth than the original. Don't get me wrong though, I'm not knocking the original, which is a classic in its own right. Oh, and I also have to mention that I was very impressed by the recreation of a depression-era New York. A little something for everybody here - over the top at times, but endlessly entertaining.

Now we're halfway through re-watching the extended versions of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Movie nerds through and through.

The picture is of Willow jumping on the bed - something she does incessantly.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

My day of manual labor at work was cancelled for some reason. Perhaps everybody is sick. The answering machine message didn't say...

So I stayed home with the monkeys, who screeched and ran around and seldom did as they were told. The more days I spend at home, the more I can empathize with Jen and the more I can understand why she is always so frazzled. It wouldn't be so bad if the adults didn't have a million things of their own to get done, but we do. If it is indeed true that full moons inspire madness, then that was a factor as well. I even had to deal with not one, but two soliciters. I heard the first guy minutes before he rang the bell because he was loudly repeating, "hello, hello," as he made his way up the walk. When I answered the door, he launched into his rehearsed spiel about carpet cleaning. If he hadn't been a lunatic, I might have considered hearing him out, since our carpets are several colors away from whatever color they started out as. But he was, and I didn't. The second person was a kid selling magazine subscriptions. I think he was trying to be funny, but all he succeeded in being was slightly irritating. To top it all off, he didn't even shut the gate when he left.


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

It turns out that I could have worked all week (with the possible exception of Friday) if I had wanted to. A lot of my coworkers are ill, so despite the fact that there are only 90 kids (give or take) at camp this week, opportunities to work keep knocking at my door. I turned down a chance to work tomorrow because there is a major holiday looming on the horizon that we're just not properly prepared for. Today I worked, taking a group of nineteen kids and a couple of cabin leaders on two hikes. We studied the creek and the chaparral. It's always a little hard to show up in the middle of the week and take over a group. There were no real problems with this one, other than not knowing their names as well as I would have had I been there the day before. They were a chatty group too, although a couple of the kids outshone the others with their constant participation and helpfulness. Elsewhere at camp there were problems with shouting cabin leaders and ailing staff. It has all the makings of a chaotic week. It's probably just as well that I'm staying home tomorrow.

It's funny that I was worried about getting enough work this month when in reality I ended up getting more work than I wanted. As of now, I'm scheduled to work on Thursday, and then not again until Tuesday. Sometime during that time, I'm going to go see King Kong. It's strange that the original had him climbing the Empire State building, the seventies remake had him climbing the World Trade center, and now he's back to climbing the Empire State building again. Of course, the new version is set during the early part of the twentieth century, back before the World Trade center was built, but one can't help but meditate on the whole 9/11 angle. Idle thought.

During the days that I spend away from work, I'm going to be searching for the multi-dimensional vortex that must exist somewhere around the house. It's the only explanation for all of the sippy-cups that have gone missing. My theory is that Willow has found this vortex and has been steadily stuffing random items into it, like the aforementioned sippy-cups and God knows what else.
When I got home today, Jen was in a frenzy about the state of the boys' room and the mess that always covers the floor. The boys are unable to ever pick anything up without making a big production of the process. My thought is that if we can find the vortex, we can stuff the contents of their room into it. Problem solved.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Jen's stepdad had surgery today, and it went well. He'll still be in the hospital for a bit, but that is to be expected. Definitely a relief.

I stayed home with the kids, and everything was relatively peaceful except for the usual after-school grouchiness that afflicts the boys.

I get to work tomorrow. As predicted, one of my coworkers is sick (I could have worked today if I hadn't been watching the kids, but that would have been my ninth straight day working, so I'm glad I got to stay home) so I'm filling in. I'm kind of ambivalent about it. The work is fun and we always need the money, but there's lots to do around here and a break would be welcome. Not that I accomplished much of anything today. I mostly just hung out with the girls. Sometimes you just gotta do nothing.

Oh, and preorders are now being taken for the medecins sans frontieres 5 cd set over at Jnana Records. Go on a musical adventure and support a good cause. I make a small appearance on the first track. Lots of friends and other people I really respect (not to mention enjoy listening to) have contributed songs to this.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

I remember a few weeks ago being worried that I wouldn't have enough work in December. Ha! I just finished my eight day in a row working. Granted, I won't be working for the next few days, but things have ended up working out better than expected. Yesterday, I worked three birthday parties, getting tipped a total of $50 in the process (sorry, poverty makes me pay attention to the nickels and dimes, and for some reason tell you about them), and today I put in seven hours at the Christmas tree lot. It's very amusing to see people drive up to the lot in their huge SUVs, buy a six foot tree, and then insist on tying it to the top of their vehicle, when they could easily put a tree twice as big inside and still have room left over for a small town. My question, rhetorical though it may be, is why the hell do people buy SUVs if they're not going to take advantage of the extra interior space?

Oh yeah. I forgot. The status thing. People don't want to scratch up their juggernauts by actually using them for anything practical.

Friday, December 09, 2005

I got my first tip from a student today. As all of the kids were leaving, a girl handed me an envelope (we had made envelopes out of old magazine pages during class to illustrate the concept of reusing things) with a dollar in it. I tried to give it back to her, but she wouldn't take it. Thinking about it, I think I earned the tip anyway, since this was the girl who I'd carried a half a mile on Thursday after she twisted her knee. She's feeling much better now.

I got mentioned a couple of times on the teacher feedback forms too. Apparently they were impressed by my constellation talk. Yay for me.

I took the girls to my work's Christmas party, and they had a good time until a strangely costumed Santa made an appearance. Willow immediately started saying, "I GO HOME! GET SOPHIA! I GO HOME!," followed by, "I DON'T LIKE SATA!" Sophie very emphatically didn't want to go because she was busy hobnobbing with my coworkers, so I was stuck in between two opposing forces. Cry if we do, scream if we don't. One of my other coworkers, bless her heart, came to my rescue by pointing out the mini-play structure out back (the party was in the clubhouse at a mobile home park). I took the girls out there for awhile and we played pirates. This was enough to mostly erase any thoughts of Bad Santa from Willow's mind. We popped back in long enough for the girls to hang around the pool table and interrupt some games. Despite everything, they charmed everyone. We even made off with a ton of extra food.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The rain held off for today's hike, but the fog and general moistness was very much in evidence. I've been feeling kind of low energy all week, and the kids this week have been less studious and less attentive than most of the other groups I've led this season. To top things off, on the way back to camp, a girl fell and twisted her knee badly enough that I had to give her a piggyback ride the rest of the way. My arms are still sore. Hopefully she's on the mend.

At home, Jen told me that the boys' school was hosting a stargazing party. Despite total cloud coverage, they both insisted on going. Nate especially was having a fit about it, so I drove them down there fully expecting to see nobody. Strangely enough, there were some people and a telescope all set up. I heard somebody say it was focused on a Christmas display on somebody's front door across from the school's field. Go figure. The boys played for a bit and then we left. Nate got mad again because he wanted to stay and play. Jen got him calmed down.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

It started raining near the end of the night hike tonight, momentarily hushing the nervous kids. They were scared for the usual reasons - falling over things, nocturnal animals, general fear of the dark, etc. That said, they all thought the owl we heard was pretty cool.

One of the cabin leaders attached to my group went home sick earlier in the day. She is the third person in my group to do so this week. One of the other instructors went home sick yesterday. Several others are sick, but refusing to let it slow them down. A lot of us can't afford to be sick. I am so far successfully fighting off this cold, although I do feel in need of a break. Next week I'll get one because there are only going to be ninety-something kids at camp, meaning that I won't be needed. The week after, I get to help move things around in preparation for the demolition of the office building. That will see us through the Christmas season.

The picture is of frost melting on the roof of the storage building at one end of the school. It used to be a cabin for kids to sleep in, but geologists determined that it was too close to the San Andreas fault, so now it's just a storage building. There are lots of convoluted rules about building use when faults are located nearby. Probably just as well...

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

It's cold today. The kids complained about it during both field classes. I asked how many of them were dressed in their warmest clothes, and only a couple of hands went up. Hopefully more of them will remember to dress warmly for the night program later on.

I found out that I will definitely have more work this month the week after next. I think it consists of hauling the contents of the office to the portable building currently occupying lawn space out front. Ho ho ho.

A stinkbug squirted me in the eye earlier. That's the first time that's happened. It stung a bit, but I flushed my eye out with water and it seems better now. Lesson: don't get your eyes within squirting range of stinkbugs. I asked the kids to smell my eye to see if it stunk, but nobody did. Kids these days... no sense of adventure.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Originally I was only going to work one day this week. Last night, that became a day and a half. Later last night, it became a whole week. I'm glad I hadn't made any solid plans otherwise. This will save our butts in January.
The kids in my group, being fifth graders, are less knowledgable and less mature than last week's sixth graders, but a number of them are really cool. Two kids had headaches near the end of class, and at least one of them ended up going home with a fever. It's that time of year, I guess. I seem to remember that at this time last year I had a bad cold. This year I'm making sure my immune system is in good shape by popping immunity booster capsules, courtesy of Trader Joe's.

Yesterday, Jen made wonderful concoction called Death By Chocolate Torte. M, who shares a birthday with me, came over, as did my mom, and we had a lovely dinner followed by the aforementioned dessert. 38 candles. I had help blowing them out though.

Send energy our way.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

I turn 38 today. Somebody once said that the thirties go by in a blur. It really is true. Jen got me a guitar, which is really cool because it's a gift that will cause me to stretch my creativity. I don't know how to play it, but I've passively wanted to teach myself for awhile now. With a nice guitar in the house, I'll have the incentive I need to get off my butt and learn. It will come in handy at work as well, since a big part of our program is playing and singing songs for the kids. About half of my coworkers are guitarists, and I feel that I should attempt to join them.

Yesterday I worked at the christmas tree lot again. We moved hundreds of trees around, swept up tons of needles, tied trees to a wide variety of vehicles, and bought pizza with funds from the tip jar.

Jen's stepfather is in the hospital after having a minor heart attack (are they ever really minor though?). We're all thinking of him and hoping for a speedy recovery.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

It has been raining all day. When I got home from work after hiking for four hours, I wished I could just get in the dryer to dry myself off. Willow, with her duck, beat me to it. Oh well, I wouldn't have fit anyway.

It was the wettest hike of the season so far. All of the trails had little chocolate brown rivulets rushing down them. Near the end of our hike, the kids were so wet that they were no longer trying to keep dry - they were laughing and splashing through the water like pre-schoolers. Of course, some of the kids were not quite as accepting of their fate. Most of us had fun though. After we got back, it started raining even harder.

It is still coming down as I type.

The rain sure brought the newts out in force though. We counted 35 on the hike today.