Recent blog entries for robey

I keep writing these extremely long journal entries and then waiting a month to write the next one.

Post-Halloween: Helix and friends held a really cool Halloween party about two weeks after Halloween (around mid-November) at an American Legion meeting house or something. It was a nice clash of realities, because you had to drive to this clubhouse that looked like it would be the Royal Order of the Water Buffalo, but when we got closer, it was definitely a Halloween party, with cool lights, DJs, the whole nine yards.

I wore my "salesman" costume again, but this time powdered up my face and wore black lipstick: Death of a Salesman! (pause for big laffs) Josh went way futuro, with plastic clothing and glo-sticks and glo-stars glues all over him. I played Yatsura's "Glo-stars" song while he was gluing them on, natch. Andrew, Jay, and Gary just went as themselves, happening people that they are. I met up with a bunch of people I hadn't seen in a long time, including Doron, and I met a bunch of new people I have no hope of remembering.

Life: I have no life. Andrew is really getting into cooking lately, and not just things like mac & cheese or ravioli. He's cooking ambitious things like pot roast, pepper steak, and leg of lamb. Things that cause vegetarians to recoil in horror. But the strange thing is that most of them turn out great! Since he stays at Rob's a lot, frequently we will go over there on weekend mornings and cook breakfast: pancakes, bacon, biscuits & gravy, egg scrambles, and coffee. This is practically the definition of a weekend morning for me.

Rabbit flew in on Saturday morning and we spent most of the past weekend practicing, with a few breaks for food and to go up to the Red Vic to watch Hedwig and the Angry Inch again. We actually practiced 21 songs, which is far more than we could do in a single set, but since we're playing two shows (Friday and Saturday), we'll probably just do different songs on different nights. We're sounding a lot better, I think, and this time I'm playing bass a lot more, so I'm trying to do that more competently.

Strick came in a week or so ago, but he's been pretty busy catching up with everyone since he got here -- I think this is his first visit since the spring! Somehow he and Commie have gotten on bad terms, so Commie's been peeing on Strick's stuff and scratching him when he's around. I don't know why, but I wonder if maybe Commie can sense that Strick always forgets he's a boy-cat and calls him "she". ;)

After @Home died, Andrew got fed up with cable modem service entirely, so I hooked him and Strick together and he joined the LLIC. It was the first time I'd been to it since it moved to Brat's basement, and it reminded me that I should join, as soon as I build a new scrap machine.

I can't believe it's almost Christmas.

Was the defining change of the 90s... the internet? It sounds so trite and oversold, but maybe because there's a kernel of truth in it. Maybe that really was the most important change of the decade.

I was talking to a friend who said he thought the 90s was the decade that had the most change of the past half century, and I was pretty surprised: to me, the 90s seemed very static and stable. The 80s, on the other hand, seem like a time of constant change and turmoil. Maybe perception about this is biased by what decade you grew up in?

Something that's been floating around for so long that I can't really attribute it is the idea that decades begin on defining moments that change everything. For example, right now it seems like the zeros definitively began on 11 Sep 2001: everything that happened in 2000 and the first half of 2001 was really just the trailing end of the 90s. The people I've discussed this with have generally agreed that the 90s began in Nov 1989 with the fall of the Berlin wall, and that the 80s began in Jan 1981 with the inauguration of Ronald Reagan.

Most people also agree that 22 Nov 1963 started the 60s, but there's not a lot of agreement on when the 70s started. My personal opinion is that they began when Nixon resigned, in Aug 1974. That means that some decades begin and end a few years before or after a strictly mathematical decade would, but since we're describing cultural shifts, I think that's okay. Non-Americans right now are grumbling that 3 of the 5 decade-changing events I mentioned were of interest only to Americans (all 3 involving presidents): global citizens are free to pick their own dates, but I think a lot of these events (especially Reagan's presidency) directly affected the entire world.

To me, the 80s changed everything: the personal computer, the huge resurgence of conservativism, drab earth colors replaced by bright primary colors. Tons of things got built. The global political climate changed dramatically. Music exploded from 2-3 genres to about 20. Space travel became so commonplace that most people weren't watching the Challenger launch until after it exploded. We were told we'd have a space station by 1991, no problem. The US and Japan were feeding off each other's rampant technological growth and it would never end. The government went from fiscal responsibility to near bankruptcy.

I remember constantly feeling that all rational thought had died and been replaced by gut reactions and responses based on religion or ideology. (Has this changed, or have I just become more used to it?) Religious movements flourished and everyone expected the world to end in a nuclear holocaust tomorrow. You can see it in the way houses from the 80s are already falling apart: people back then did not expect the world as we know it to still exist in 2001. (R.E.M. summed it up in 1987.)

The image that represents the end of the 80s to me is when, on the night of 9 Nov 1989, the TV in my bedroom stopped showing partying Germans for a few moments to jump to the White House to get President Bush's reaction. He actually didn't know what had happened, so he was being told while the cameras were on him, and his reaction summed up the 80s perfectly to me: confusion! He wasn't happy, he was confused, and possibly a bit troubled! It was one of those moments where the mask is pulled off and you see the true meaning of everything, and his face said it all: "We didn't mean for this to happen! This isn't a war we were supposed to win! It was just a distraction!"

I feel like a person from 1980 who jumped in a time machine and arrived in 1991 would be completely lost and without bearings -- that much had changed. But someone who jumped from 1990 to 2001 would probably only need to adjust to minor cultural shifts in entertainment. Except -- my friends who grew up in the 90s are probably right: the internet which is now so ever-present that most people don't bother to mention it was barely even heard of by most people. And so maybe that change alone is dramatic enough to mark a decade.

Hallowe'en was much cooler this year than last year.

On Tuesday (30th), Arlo invited a bunch of friends and Eazelites to Riace's pre-Halloween dinner. Andrew and I patched things up and I invited him along, and we just kinda enjoyed the spectacle. It was pretty surreal: many people were dressed up, and the wine was flowing very freely. There was a DJ station set up at the back, which would play classical music for a while, then Arlo would take over and play dancy stuff, and then when he left it would revert again. One night segue was Front 242 going into Van Halen's "Jump". It was very much like we were in a movie, but we couldn't figure out what kind of movie.

Then yesterday, Gary announced that he was going up to SF to see the Halloween festivities, since he'd never been before. I hadn't been in a few years, so I tagged along. Arlo promised to go with us, in drag, if he didn't have to drive, but when I took him up on this offer he bailed. :) Feeling uninspired, I decided to go as a salesman: I never dress up for anything anyway, so it seemed like a fun idea. I skipped out of work after lunch and Andrew & I went shopping at Target and Walmart and Ross -- all the k00l places. Ross was simply amazing! I think we stayed in the tchotchke aisle for a half hour until finally even I had had enough and had to drag Andrew away from cuckoo-clock candle holders kicking and screaming.

I was somewhat amused to find out that I had a functional tie, but no decent dress shirt.

Gary was dressed as a punk, with a sleeveless shirt, leather vest, studded collar, and gelled-white spikey hair. His friend Josh*e was a raverboy, with patched jeans, white fur, white hair (with 2 little cat ears), and blue/white makeup. Sharon was a dark princess, with a poofy/lacey black dress and this neet glittery makeup that only twinkled randomly in certain light. There were a bunch of other people, too, whose names I can't possibly remember: One was the Memento guy, one was a Soggy Bottom Boy (from "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"), etc etc. The Memento guy was well done and even sorta looked like him in the face a little. He walked around with a polaroid, taking pictures of people in the crowd and then writing on the polaroid things like "They have lost someone too."

Parking was miraculously easy (someone has good karma) but the crowds were incredibly dense and booze was hard to come by, so I took my leave of Gary's friends briefly to trot my corporate-tool self over to a party Eskil's ex-neighbors were having. As I got close, I realized that having a Hallowe'en party 2 blocks from Castro @ Market is clearly an invitation for civic unrest. There were way more people than could possibly fit in the tiny livingroom, and random drunkards and homeless people (ready for Hallowe'en without costume) joined in.

I missed Eskil and his date, but Dan was there (dressed as a devil, with electric glowing pitchfork and red tail) and I accompanied him to the corner store to fetch more alcohol for the party. I've never seen drinks go so fast: after all the plastic cups and coffee mugs were used up, people were sipping mixed drinks out of cereal bowls. Ian soon re-appeared, dressed as the crocodile hunter. Fearing his costume wasn't obvious enough, he also brought along an inflatable kangaroo, which was a hit with the women. After I'd had some drinks, said hi to people, and sized up the barely controlled chaos, I took leave and re-entered the larger, uncontrolled chaos.

No fewer than three people were dressed as DuffMan. I was incredulous at the first one and then just stunned by the time I saw the third. At least two letters of anthrax (one with a cute Osama bin-Laden stamp), and one bottle of Cipro. Four guys dressed in foam outfits of Pac-man, Ms. Pac-man, and two of the ghosts. A he and she robot that were absolutely amazing (little lights and "danger" meters and everything!), a shy Andy Warhol, a giant Vanilla car air freshener, some Tron characters, and way too many drag queens.

Once it was deemed to be "over", a solid line of police with clubs started wedging open the street and telling everyone to go home. I dunno where they came from because there had been almost no cops up till that point, but I felt kinda sorry for them because closing down the party is probably the least enjoyable part of their work, and they were being really good about doing it in a way that didn't piss people off.

I didn't get back home till about 3.30, and today I started to feel bad about how little work I got done yesterday, until I realized that Hallowe'en really should be a holiday anyway. I mean who cares about Columbus Day anyway?

I'd like to offer the following links as a moderate alternative to the loud left/right babbling I have to listen to all the time from many of my friends:

Salon: There is no alternative to war
Why We Must Reject the Notion That America Shares in Guilt

You may assume that I agree with the meat of these articles and that debating me on them is a waste of your time and mine.

I don't want to write anything about the WTC because I'm sick of hearing about it. It's all anyone's talked about in the past two days. I'm also sick of hearing some people get really nationalistic and haughty in reaction, and others saying the US deserves it because the US government does not always make 100% perfect decisions. You all suck, argument over.

At the end of August, I went to Washington DC to visit my friends Nathan and Rabbit, and I had a really great time. I never go clubbing out here (because I hate the people and the music), but they took me out on each of the 3 nights I was there. It wasn't so bad: I still hated the music, but Nathan and Rabbit's friends were fun so I still had a good time. One night they dressed me up in A&F clubwear and put gel in my hair just to see what I'd look like if I was an aging club kid. It wasn't very pretty. Also we went to a Popeye's and had fried chicken and biscuits and gravy!

Shows I saw recently: American Analog Set: Excellent. I recognized most of the songs they played (even though I only got into them recently, through mfleming) and they played all the songs of the new album (which I like best) that I wanted to hear, except "Aaron & Maria". They had a t-shirt stand but apparently hid it in the back in an unusual place, so I missed it. No t-shirt for Robey.

Belle & Sebastian: Not too bad. The first half of the show didn't do much for me, maybe because I was behind two very annoying fans. I think I decided that I don't like B&S fans very much and that I needed to see B&S exactly once -- these guys had taken something special & chemical before the show and were pleading with everyone around to do "funny dances" to the songs and "show love" for B&S. And they wouldn't shut up! Finally I scooted away from them and enjoyed the 2nd half much more. Having never been to the Warfield before, I didn't realize that the main floor would be intensely packed, so I tried not to let all the cramming and jostling get to me, but I realized that I really have gotten spoiled by going to mostly smaller shows, and enjoy those much more.

My ex appeared at the show unexpectedly, so I tried to deal with it. For most of the night, we seemed to be getting along just fine, and I thought things would be okay. We even talked a little bit one-on-one about new CDs and Blaxploitation movies. But then on the ride back to my car, he just snapped and started yelling. My friends called (trying to meet at a bar after the show) and I had to call back because he wouldn't stop yelling at me. We've been broken up for over 2 months -- I thought the bullshit would be over. I was kinda bummed the rest of the night. I guess with some people there is never a reconciliation (you'd think from his behavior that I dumped him instead of vice-versa) and you just have to cut them out and move on. It still makes me sad, though.

Just to end this on a positive note, our water heater broke Monday night. I went without a decent shower (except for a quickie at a friend's house yesterday night) and it looked like a new one was being installed this morning, so I'm looking forward to going home tonight and taking a nice hot shower.

So I ended up missing that Poundsign/Fairways show because I was so exhausted on that day that I took a "nap" for 4-5 hours and slept right through it. That's pretty indicative of how my month has been going so far, actually.

say2/jabber: Work has been going as well as it can, I think. We decided to try out Jabber as a potential backend to some chat stuff we've been working on, so I got to check out what I see as the only real contender to say2 so far. They have a lot working, but a lot of it seems pretty half-assed and incomplete. I was left with the feeling that I was looking at the remnants of a "commercial open-source" project in the aftermath of the boom: a lot of construction that stopped midway and hasn't really received much TLC since then. When I ran into problems trying to get my Jabber adaptor working, I wasn't able to find much of a support structure left: a public jabber-chat channel with a few silent stragglers, and some empty webpages that haven't been updated recently. I suspect that they're like Nautilus, trying to adapt to a suddenly much smaller environment.

It did give me some ideas and motivation for say2, though. That, and Scott's nagging, finally got me to start implementing the say2 equivalent of "buddy lists". I thought the concept was pretty simple, so I could hammer out an implementation in one night -- very very wrong. So far I've worked on it off and on at nights all week long, and I'm only a little over half done. The concepts turn out to be pretty straightforward, but the implementation involves a lot of corner cases and new lookup tables. I hope to have the implementation basically done within another week, and to float out a trial release of jenova for clients to try out.

plaid: Last weekend I went up to the city to see what has been my favorite band for most of the last year: Plaid. Arlo called it "the day of the ex's" because he'd been hanging out with his ex Erin all day before the show, and we went to the show with my ex Greg. I had a really bad impression of Bimbo's from the last time I'd been there (crammed full of fratboys and no beer on top, only a few bottles), but this time there were far fewer people there because the headliner band (Squarepusher) had cancelled. They still had no beer on tap, though. Arlo and Greg holed up in a corner talking through all of the opening acts, so I sat bored and annoyed until some freaks stood right in my face and I gave up and stood in the front, just in time to see Plaid set up. They were awesome! It was worth the annoyance of dealing with SF traffic and people in a way that few things could be: awesomely weird videos played to new mixes of some of their best songs, with over 1/3 of the songs being ones I hadn't heard before. If you ever get a chance, you must go see Plaid do their act.

Plaid did not do an encore. Either this is some artsy "elctronica bands do not do encores" thing, or else they weren't prepared because they expected to be opening for Squarepusher. I hope it's the latter because I can't bear to think of Plaid taking themselves too seriously or pretending to be arty.

life: I have no life. But with the roomie gone for two weeks, I've had an amazingly relaxing time. When I clean things, they stay clean. The kitchen being relatively clean actually inspired me to start trying cooking again, too. And I finally bought FFIX and started playing it obsessively (but trying to keep it down to one hour a night). I was hanging out with some hardcore stoners for a while, but I figured out that they weren't any more laid back than anyone else: if anything, they're more dramatic and mood swingy. Also Commie (my cat) has finally decided that he trusts me enough to sleep next to my head, which is weird but somehow comforting, as long as I don't suffocate.

Also I'm reading a book called Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon. I bought it because I'd liked a much later book by the same author, and had heard good things about this one -- I had no idea it was so controversial. The first 100-200 pages were sometimes tough to read through, because he gets distracted a lot and spins 20-page yarns about something completely unrelated before returning to the plot, but as I've kept reading, I've gotten more and more enmeshed in it. Some rudimentary web searching turned up interesting info on the book that only made me more intruiged: Apparently in 1973, the judges of the Pulitzer Prize decided that Gravity's Rainbow should win that year. But the trustees were so frightened by the prospect that they declared there would be no prize awarded that year! To me that sounds more amazing than actually winning the prize!

I suck at writing journal entries, don't I? Oh well. Simultaneously a lot and not a lot has happened since the last time I wrote anything meaningful, but I'm not sure I have the patience to describe it all.

Monday I went to the Bottom of the Hill to see Kissing Contest, a cool local indie band that seems to contain a lot of my coworkers @ Danger in it. Wasn't sure what to expect until I listened to some mp3s the day before, and then I was pretty impressed. Live, they were pretty tight, and the songs were catchy and infectious without being simple. They were the first band of 3 playing that night, and at the beginning of the set, their co-workers and ex-co-workers (from Be, I think) made up about 1/3 of the crowd. By the end of their set, it was much less -- a bunch of people were drawn in. The following band didn't quite manage to live up to their opening act.

Some overdressed guy with a blond frat haircut was doing incredibly strange gyrations across the floor while they were playing. Didn't recognize him as a Danger person, so I thought, maybe he's a Be person? He was really getting into the songs, though he seemed to not know them very well. Then he did the same thing for the next band, and I found out that nobody knows who this dude is -- just took some bad drugs before the show I guess. People were literally moving a few meters away from him to keep from being a victim of a random spasm.

Wednesday I went back to see Mark Robinson, with Calvin Johnson and Whysall Lane. Didn't recognize the last two names, but wanted to see Mark Robinson, and I was pretty sure maybe Calvin Johnson had sung along with Lush and Heavenly before. Walt allowed himself to be dragged along merely on the basis that he liked a few Unrest songs and took my word for it that Mark Robinson had been in Unrest. Well, Whysall Lane turned out to be Richard-of-Versus, with an occasional friend, doing mostly acoustic stuff. It was cool! Never thought I'd get to see Versus, or even a subset of Versus, on the east coast. Then Calvin Johnson came on, and after the first song or two, I thought, "He sounds really a lot like the guy from Beat Happening." Well I'm a dork cause it soon became obvious that yes, he was the guy from Beat Happening -- the show turns out to be a veritable all-star lineup! His set was cool, though I only recognized one song he played (a Beat Happening song, natch).

Finally, Mark Robinson. Wacky wacky guy. He did no recognizable Flin Flon songs, but did several that he claimed were from his recent solo album (or albums?!) that I'd never heard of. (I picked one up after the show but haven't listened yet.) The crowd seemed more bemused by him than adoring; even when he played "I Hate Milk" and "Isabel", most people seemed to not recognize the songs. (How exactly did they hear about him if not through Air Miami or Unrest? The crowd was not very large.) He invited Calvin Johnson up to sing "Make-Out Club", which was hilarious, because Calvin obviously didn't know many of the lyrics, but had fun making up stuff and throwing Mark off so bad that a few times he was laughing too much to track where he was in the song. Then Mark invited Richard up, and the two of them did a two-guitars/two-voices duet of "She Makes Me Shake Like A Soul Machine", a really old Unrest song that I love and never imagined I'd see live. Richard did know the words, and they both played/sang it really beautifully. Very very cool. I doubt there are many people who would've enjoyed a show like this, so I was pretty gushed out that it could even exist.

Saturday, I go back again (3rd trip in a week) to see the Fairways and Poundsign, and possibly drag some of the 3440 crowd with me too -- whee!

Here are some bands I've seen recently. Tortoise and Mogwai were both at the Fillmore, which I've started detesting mor and more: $20 ticket price, Ticketbastard instead of Ticketweb, no decent beer on tap, lots of fratboys that don't know anything about the band that's playing. Since these shows usually sell out a week or three ahead of time, I'm left wondering why drunken fratboys are paying $20 3 weeks ahead of the show, to see a band they don't know. Anyway, here's a quick synopsis:

Tortoise: I expected a bunch of older guys (i.e. my age) puttering around on instruments and maybe wanking with feedback. Instead they put on a really brilliant show, doing a lot of songs that i recognized (even though i didn't remember the song names or anything) and really just wowing me throughout. Stuff that i thought had to be studio magic on the CD, they just whipped through on stage. And they had lots of cool gadgets, like a device that looked like a harmonica with a vacuum hose attached: the dude would blow into one end, and the other end was connected to a keyboard. The end result was a very harmonica-like sound, but using a keyboard so he had lots of range. The opening bands were very techno oriented, but surprisingly good. I was really getting into the last one, "Nobukazu Takemura".

Mogwai: They're big enough to play at the Fillmore for two nights, but they seemed a little juvenile this time. I liked most of the show, but it was all stuff from CODY and Young Team (except for one song from the new album): lots of loud fuzz and noise, separated by a soft rendition of "Cody" that seemed exactly like last time. I'm all into noise, but their new album is so quiet and different that i was hoping to see more stuff like that now. Also they were intent on knocking over drumsets and amps when they left, like it was 1991 again, and they did the "we're leaving everything feedbacking" schtick when they left the stage for the last time. My ears were ringing but it didn't leave a good taste in my mouth. Honestly i don't remember much else about the show -- just lots of long drifty feedback and noise excursions. But they're no Sonic Youth.

The New Pornographers: Aside from 1-2 poppy songs, it took a while for their one CD to grow on me, so i had no expectations going in, except that it looked like they'd be fun people. They sure are. They played every song on the album (in different order) and there was only one that i didn't really enjoy when they played it (i won't tell you which) -- somehow i was really getting into songs that i only sorta liked on the album. There were even a few extra songs and covers to fill in for the fact that they basically have only one album. Neko was present (yay!) and her and Carl (the other frontman) were both very crowd-friendly and chatty. I went all fanboy and got a t-shirt and would've bought other stuff if they'd had anything to sell. The opening band was a prettboy punkish band from Berkeley, and they were pretty cool too. Greg swooned and bought their EP.

15 Jun 2001 (updated 15 Jun 2001 at 02:48 UTC) »

I feel that some people may be getting annoyed that i generally use this site as a journal of my own thoughts and stuff instead of a journal of my tireless efforts to advance open source software and further the Cause and the Movement. therefore i will geek out a little bit.

Say2 has finally started seeing more interest and traffic on the mailing list, and Scott wrote a good beginning of a native GTK client for it, so i'm very psyched (but now that i'm employed again, i have less time to work on it). Some interesting topics have been argued -- the current one being whether nicknames should be allowed to be in UTF8 like everything else. Users already have an ascii registered id that can be used to identify them, so the nickname becomes just a visible, er... nickname. I'm starting to be won over to the idea that these should be able to be expressed in the user's native language. I wonder if any other chat system has tried that before.

My new server machine (for is basically up and running. Apache and CVS and all that are already on it, and a half dozen of the users have already been migrated. The main headache i forsee is moving email. When i first started wanting to host email, qmail was relatively new, and sendmail was such a pile of manure that i rushed right into qmail, with the result that i know almost nothing about maintaining a mail server that uses sendmail. And after many years of running qmail, i'm really sick of it. So the new server machine is running postfix, which i find much more to my taste. The challenge will be to move all the qmail config (mailing lists, virtual hosts, restricted smtp relaying, etc) to postfix. I think i just need to sit down on some weekend and make a day of it.

New job: Yup, after only a few weeks (and it felt like even less) I started my new job on 4 June at Danger. Of the places i interviewed, this one was my top choice, so i was pretty happy that it worked out. That's also why i haven't had a lot of time to do journal entries either. More later!

It really pisses me off when conservatives claim that the energy crisis is because of California's desire to conserve resources and not trash the environment, instead of the obvious cause: an almost religious belief that because the western world won the Cold War, extreme capitalism is the ultimate answer, and we should privatize even basic utilities like electricity.

I have yet to see a clear line of cause and effect drawn from environmentalism and conservation to massive power shortages. But I've seen several very thoughtful articles on how the rush to deregulate everything in a fit of capitalistic zeal caused the power crisis to be nearly inevitable.

Of course, it's easy for conservatives to paint broad strokes and say "since California is having trouble, it must be because of their differences, like their belief in green causes". Logic becomes irrelevant, but this is nothing new to extreme-right arguments. I'm just annoyed that they keep repeating them, hoping they'll become more convincing with every retread.

I'm not a liberal. I want lower taxes, a smaller government, and more local autonomy. But by turning the power crisis into a California vs. US fight, the east-coast government has completely alienated me. And probably most other California moderates.

Do we really need to be part of the Unites States anymore?

26 older entries...

New Advogato Features

New HTML Parser: The long-awaited libxml2 based HTML parser code is live. It needs further work but already handles most markup better than the original parser.

Keep up with the latest Advogato features by reading the Advogato status blog.

If you're a C programmer with some spare time, take a look at the mod_virgule project page and help us with one of the tasks on the ToDo list!