Derelict Junction

Providing missile launch codes for foreign cryptographers everywhere.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Memorial Day Weekend

Currently, Three Day Weekends are still not an exact science, but here's my latest experiment.

First off, no better way to start a long weekend than like this:

That's what the Critical Mass bike ride looked like behind me, going down Van Ness. If you look closely, you'll see Eric in the bright yellow/green jacket.

Saturday afternoon was amazing because B.A. invited a bunch of us down to his parent's place in Palo Alto to sit by the pool. The view was amazing, the place was lavish, and the Sox beat the Yankees 17-1. Here's how everything started:

This was quite possibly the most complete Memorial Day BBQ. There was swimming, good friends, wiffleball, and food. But I still managed to screw things up.

This is how it happened: All the youthful stimulus led me to start diving wildly into the pool, just as I did when I was a kid. A slight miscalculation, and a lot of poor judgment, led me to try one of my favorite dives, the sailor's dive, which means you enter the water head first, with your arms by your side. It's a beautiful dive, but I neglected to factor in the sloping of the pool floor and shortly after entering the water, my nose made contact with the bottom of the pool.

I would like to point out here that I did not dive into the shallow end, which usually is the subject of all those diving/paralysis stories. I dove in the deep end, just in the wrong side of it. Luckily, it was just a scratch along the bridge of my nose. In fact, I'm very happy with the way it all turned out. Considering that I could have broken my nose, or neck, or had further damage to my face, I'm completely at ease with how it ended up. As Charly joked, "There goes your modeling career!"

The most pain I had to endure was sitting beside the pool with ice on my nose, explaining with embarrassment how this 35 year old hurt himself trying to do something he should have grown out of decades ago. It looked a lot like this:

Even though that doesn't look that bad, this is what it looked like when I woke up the next morning:

And the answer to your question is "No, I wasn't drunk," although I quickly remedied that after my injury. Now I have to explain myself to people at the new job tomorrow. Regardless of the truth, it does look like I got into a fist-fight, which isn't the impression you want to give new co-workers.

So I stayed in on "Second Saturday", as Kari calls 3-Day weekend Sundays, and went to Dolores park today. After that, the roomies and I met with Jim, Doug and Cathy for drinks. As we were walking out of the apartment, we noticed this figure in the skylight of the stairwell:

Further examination revealed it to be my alley cat extraordinaire, Ruby, who now routinely patrols the basement and roof, regulating both mouse and pigeon populations. When he's not on the job, he's taken to lounging in the skylight, plotting his next move:

Although he won't come to me, the times I do see him, he appears quite happy in his new outdoor surroundings.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Occupational Update.

As mentioned before, I've gone to work for the internet division of Banana Republic. (I'll pause now so you can insert you own, unique "Banana Republican" joke here.)

While I'm still getting to know the office and job, I will say the building and location are great. It's a 3-year old, 14 story building, right where Folsom and Embarcadero meet, easily accessible by bicycle. Specifically:

The view from the front door looks like this:

And the 7th floor patio view, right outside the cafeteria, looks like this:

So, visually, the new job isn't bad. Further updates to come.

Last Weekend

Last weekend was Vegas. Ever wonder what it would be like to drive to Vegas from San Francisco? Well, as Eric and I can attest, it's a lot like this for 9 hours:

Soon after my arrival, I promptly lost the directions to Lisa's place, effectively stranding me until she and Eric got back from dinner. Well, not to brag (because I already have to everyone I could), but after losing the directions, going only on recall from being there once before, I managed to chose wisely and find her palatial Green Valley Ranch mansion.

After much reflection, I concluded the only scientific explanation for this success is that I used The Force. As I sat outside the house in question and looked at the key she gave me, I thought, "Just go up and ring the doorbell. If no one answers, try the key." That's a sound strategy, right?

No answer on the bell. So I as I slipped the key into the door I thought, "Wait a minute, this is how pizza delivery guys get shot in New Orleans!" Lucky for me, it was the right house.

And what a house! One of the things I always assumed I would hate about Vegas is the commodified housing, or as many have said, "All the houses look the same." Conversely, the dimensions of Lisa's place are anything but standard, as are the dimensions of Jessica's condo. So not everything I assumed is true.

In Lisa's place there's a beautiful, two story room that, despite my urging to turn into a half-court basketball room, she's populated with a red pool table. Still a work in progress, here's a shot of her and Jessica trying to decide upon a one-and-a-half seat sofa:

Anyway, I had a great time downloading the short films of Eugene Mirman (brillaint!) on her computer while she was at work and I was waiting for the sun to set.

Also, in addition to Lisa and Jessica, seeing Karen, Shilpa, Ned, Kurlander, Brett, Matt, Nick, Andy, Aki, Tommy, Jackie, Jen, Catie and everyone else I miss so much from Zappos was definitely worth every minute of driving.

My last day there the temperature got to 104! Thank the Lord Buddha for Eileen's offer to go swimming at her swanky place, complete with swimming pool.

See how happy a pool in Vegas can make you:

Star Wars merchandising update.

Nothing says pure evil like an M&M Sith Lord.

If Jedis stuffed their faces with corn syrup and sugar for breakfast, you can be sure these are the spoons they would use-

Friday, May 20, 2005

On the Road Again...

This weekend I'm in Vegas, my last unofficial dance with unemployment. That's right, the good people at Wells Fargo Banking Services kindly suggested it was time to "sell-out to the man", or in my case "the woman". Therefore I accepted a job with the internet division of Banana Republic. I'll basically be doing the same thing I did at Zappos, but for a substantially larger corporate entity.

I say selling out to "the woman" because my department is a self-described "hen house", meaning there are 4 guys and about 50 women working there. That's quite a change from Zappos. I will, however, be scouring the office for anyone checking sports scores in their free time. One of the many lovable characteristics about Zappos was the high incident of sports fans over there, making socializing for me very easy. I'm sure the Banana Republicans have their own shared interests, but after 2 days I'm still trying to figure them out.

Oh, unemployment! I hardly knew ya!

So I came out to Vegas to see all my transplanted Zappos friends and to give unemployment it's proper send-off. So far, it's been very fun. Personally, as everyone knows, I would have a very difficult time adjusting to Vegas, but seeing all the familiar faces here makes everything much easier. People here have mentioned that all socializing revolves around fellow Zappos employees, but I think that's great. I can't imagine moving here and not knowing anyone. Besides, not wanting to do too much research on the matter, Zappos employees are clearly the best collection of Vegas citizens.

A friend said to me yesterday as we stood outside in the heat, "You came on the worst day, it's the end of doing anything outside during the day." I thought he was exaggerating until I went out today for a coffee. I know this is a desert, and I know I should have anticipated this, but the sun here is so overwhelmingly powerful, it amazes me. It's so oppressive, it feels almost fluid. After 10 minutes of driving around, I realized that parasols are not just ostentatious fashion accessories.

Therefore, my best laid plans of enjoying Vegas by day have been thwarted by the sun. Conversely, what makes the days so unbearable here, also make the nights so wonderful. One thing we definitely don't have in SF are those warm, comfortable T-Shirt nights. If I lived here, I'd be even more of a night owl than I already am.

So aside from blogging, what's there to do during the day in Vegas? Movies! I did it, I broke down, braved the geek multitudes and saw the new Star Wars film. Not to hang myself, but this means I've seen all of the last 3 Star Wars installments on opening day. What a dork!

So here it is: the first hour has horrible moments of stumbling character development, much like those painful love scenes in Attack of the Clones, but the second hour is really, really good. A long standing criticism I have of the entire franchise is the way Lucas injects terribly unfunny punch-lines into the action (usually delivered by annoying droids). That still exists here, but it appears he tried to limit those to the first half of the movie. For that, I'm very grateful.

Without revealing anything too shocking, the inevitable attack by the Sith on the Jedi masters could be the greatest moment in all the Star Wars movies. Also, watching Anikan's descent into evil displays an inner complexity that Lucas always seemed so disinterested in. Once again, the dialogue is clumsy and the effects dominate everything, but unlike its predecessors, the dark storyline filled with death and tragedy, elevate it well beyond a mere merchandising promotion to sell toys. In fact, this could very well be the second best installment, after Empire. Hopefully, it makes enough money so George Lucas can have that goiter removed from his neck.

One last thing, and I'm not giving anything away here, but at the very end of the film Lucas throws in a a casual plot point. Whaddup wit dat? I saw that 60 Minutes interview where he profusely said this was the last movie, no doubt. But, there's a very tangible untied string at the end of this movie that will fuel much geek speculation about possible future movies. Indeed, Eric already pointed out that Lucas made the same "no more Star Wars movies" proclamation after Return of the Jedi. Am I missing something that explains why he threw that in? If anyone who's seen the movie wants to explain to me what that was about, please feel free.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Like it or not Cinema Psychology #1.

I've been trying to make note of characters in movies who I secretly relate to, for better or worse. Hopefully, I won't have to invoke my 5th Amendment right against Self-Incrimination, but no promises.

#1. Nurse Betty, played by Renée Zellweger. While this seemed like a clever narrative device, which I'm sure wow!ed studio executives for its creativity, I found the character eerily plausible on a personal level. Due to post-traumatic stress, or Level 5 denial, Nurse Betty becomes so withdrawn that she subconsciously decides to only believe in the world of her favorite Soap Opera. It's a wonderfully sweet and sad film, thick with a compassion that director, and renowned misanthrope, Neil LaBute was not supposed to possess.
If I ever have a nervous breakdown, it wouldn't surprise me if my only means of communication was to quote Simpson episodes, movies I like, and comedy routines. -Like a pop-culture Rain Man, who feels more comfortable with media constructs than his own self. Some would argue this has already begun.

Really, what's the difference if a mental injury leaves you repeatedly chanting "Coffee's For Closers Only", rather than "Gotta Watch Wapner"?

So, if I convince myself that I'm in love with Greg Kinnear, consider this a living will and shoot me.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Things that give me joy, #1284

Frank Zappa, specifically Joe's Garage, Sheik Yerbouti, Apostrophe, and Overnight Sensation. I can't listen to this stuff constantly, but every few years I pull out the CD's and just giggle myself into oblivion.

If you like anything about Spinal Tap, you'll love Frank. Not the jam-sessions, but the goofy songs, the ones you know he did solely to test the limits of free speech. Frank was a master of pop music who liked nothing more than to parody it. After a few listens, it's clear he could have had a prosperous pop career, but he chose to write about having sex with bread loafs, poop-shoots, transvestite castration, eating yellow snow, Jewish Princesses & Catholic Girls.

One of my favorite memories of Frank is seeing him testify before the Congressional Hearing on Music Obscenity in the late 80's. He testified side-by-side with John Denver and Dee Snider of Twisted Sister (who would have thought Dee would out-live the other two?). I always thought, while Denver and Snider were testifying for idealistic reasons, Frank did it so his body of work wouldn't be declared illegal and thrown in a vault somewhere.

By far, my favorite Zappa CD is Joe's Garage. It's a double CD that tell the story of an all-American boy from Canoga Park California who forms a band, goes on tour, catches gonorrhea from a fembot tour groupie, has a sexual affair with a gay German kitchen appliance, gets imprisoned by the state for practicing music (which has been outlawed), and finally goes insane, listening to illegal music in his head. -Take that Walt Disney!

Sadly, Frank died Dec. 4th, 1993 of prostate cancer. Here's a couple of statues in Europe of him, where he's considered a demigod...