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Friday, December 19, 2008 |

Talks At Google and other You Tube uses: Yep, it is a regular warren of rabbit hole behavior. I really found use for You Tube not in watching clips defending Britney or 2 Girls, 1 Cup reactions but in trying to locate archive video. It's been this bizarre treasure trove of music videos before there was a channel to play them (ie Night Tracks-era), BBC programing and discussion & education video. What's made me swoon within the past week is Talks@Google. It seems one of the additional perks for working for the Big G (other than the several on-site restaurants, gyms, child care, car & bike repair, etc) is also the ability to attend really remarkable lectures. The speakers range from authors, presidential candidates, Silicon Valley heavyweights to random celebrities and other cultural icons.

So first, a quick step to elevate to ability to enjoy these presentations - Downloading. You Tube and other sights posting similar content (Funny or Die, Google Videos, MySpace, CNET, et al) can be very easily downloaded w/ some pretty damn awesome browser extensions. The first is Better YouTube and it happily requires the amazing GreaseMonkey scripting extension. Better YouTube allows you to fine tune your viewing experience on-site (Theater View, hiding comments, etc) & adds a download link below the player. PS - For those unfamiliar w/ Greasemonkey, it's a javascript programming platform that allows third parties to overhaul and expand the usefulness of commonly used and loved websites. Once you get feel for Better YouTube, go install and try Better Flickr, Better GMail, Better GCal and any Lifehacker or the dozens of similar enhancements floating out there.

The second extension suggestion, and actually the one I use most, is Video DownloadHelper. This extension specializes in picking out embedded content (whether audio or video) through drop-down menus and toolbar customization. As with Better YouTube, you will be saving these videos into .flv format. If you haven't encountered this or other esoteric types of video file before, go bookmark and install the K-Lite Codec Pack - It will cure this and many other playback problems you didn't even know you had.

But I digress, Talks@Google! At last count, there are 570+ lectures posted and they average well over 45 minutes each. This includes performance, Q&A, and insight specifically slanted geek. My easy favorites have been Neal Stephenson (author of Snow Crash, Cryptonomicon & Anathem), Anthony Bourdain (former chef/author & travel commentarian-at-large), Howard Zinn (author of A People's History of the United States), Noam Chomsky (author of Manufacturing Consent, Failed States, Hegemony or Survival), Temple Grandin (autistic animal rights and psych policy advisor), Daniel Goleman (author of Emotional Intelligence and Social Intelligence), Irvine Welsh (author of Trainspotting, Filth, Crime) and David Friedman (author of The Machinery of Freedom and Future Imperfect).

It's really near the point of having too many examples to talk about comfortably and fit common interest. I've found it far easier to browse either their main feed of all lectures and just page through them or just start subject searching. If you stumble onto something that you're unsure of, fire up the video and give it a couple of minutes. If it seems worth the time and bandwidth, downloads average 120+ megs w/ possession within an easy 5-10 minutes. If not, there's literally hundreds more to sift through. Best of luck and post good finds in the comments!

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Wednesday, December 03, 2008 |

One of the things I wanted to make sure to do ahead, both here and in person, is not to bore myself or others with any one given theme. Whether droning about roller derby, newlywed life, geek culture or music, I want to maximize my time here. Lately I seem to be especially focused on the jobhunt, which truthfully can be kind of depressing. At least if I'm writing, expanding on one of the millions of other things that deserve exploring, I'll get a little more accomplishment from my ever-growing freetime. So accidental reader, expect hopefully frequent postings about Portland explorations, music findings, 3-D photography, the endless geek projects-at-hand and how else I'm wasting my time lately.


Saturday, November 29, 2008 |

Turkey Day was wonderful! For both Lyle and Lili, it was perhaps their very first Thanksgiving away from their families. Amanda Rae and I had long known that those people whom you dread to see twice a year don't have to be the "family" you spend holidays with. All in all, it was just the four of us. I cooked my first bird and felt like complicating the whole thing by following an unconventional recipe. Of course, everything turned out perfect. It already has me plotting out roasting a couple more (though much smaller) within the weeks to come. BTW - Thank you Bridge and Tracy for those wedding present Pottery Barn treasures...amazement!

So, we've moved again. When I last posted, we were in the Woodstock neighborhood, pondering where our house rental would lead as our landlord was an utter disappointment of a human being - He failed at keeping us even barely abreast of his plans on selling the property. Because of this, within a week of our moving in, he gave us informal notice. Yes, this was against the terms of our lease. Yes, this could've been communicated when we signed the lease, whilst in Connecticut, let alone when we took possession. Yes, we were forced to generate capital enough for another security and deposit at a likely more expensive apartment.

Ironically, the unit we found and fell in love with was in the apartment community we'd eyed back in Connecticut. Had we just gone for this one from the start, we could have saved a number of grey hairs and fits of swearing. Anyhow, we were able to explain (read: write our in single syllable, large-type words) to the landlord how this reversal effected our bottom line, how his douche move forced us into a lease at a more expensive locale. Over the next couple of days, I was able to get him to understand the following: 1) We aren't looking kindly at being forced to move for the third time in less than a month; 2) We have found somewhere (more expense though now priced in our budget) to go within the terms of our initially agreed notice; 3) In order to quit possession even sooner, we would lose that unit and be forced to lease a more expense one and that would require "assistance".

Happily, he was nervous at the prospect of losing the house sale and cut us a check to cover the price difference over the next year (read: more than $1000). He and his circle of sketchy friends provided the man power & logistics to deliver a three-hour move and we haven't heard from any of them since.

Life since has been performing the nesting and settling we had been looking forward to all along. Lili found a job as a receptionist at a veterinary clinic about a mile away from our flat. It's everything her old job wasn't. Examples: There - Phonecalls on her day off asking her trivial questions and yelling at her for not accomplishing an unimportant goal the day prior. Here - Calling her on her day off to comment that her hard work hasn't gone unnoticed over the previous weeks, that the entire staff is abuzz at her drive and friendliness and how they felt it was very important that they let her know this as soon as possible (note: they even apologized at calling her on her day off in the first place).

I haven't been as lucky... Even though I've pounded the pavement (literal and on Craigslist, Monster, etc.) and applied to dozens of positions, I've haven't landed anything yet. Last month, I knocked an interview out of the park for a case management position providing services for foster families. Even though I've followed up in polite due diligence, to date I haven't heard back from this agency. My amazing wife is quick to frame this setback as, "Well, if they're treating you like that now, it's probably all the better it didn't work out." Perhaps but, it's still really defeating. Some of it is job market stuff but, some of it is also education minimums. I've found that a number of agencies refuse to take experience into account, especially if they're contracted by state entities that enforce their own guidelines. The good news is there's a type of certification in Oregon that I'm eligible for that replaced the overwhelming need for a Bachelor's. Once I'm hired somewhere, I'll likely be able to receive it and have the employer cover the bill. The bad news is of course, I don't have it yet.

I'm waiting to hear back from a recent interview for a position within a group home based agency. The interview was very comfortable - I was able to present that I'm overwhelmingly qualified and had seven years of experience to prove it. They asked the usual questions and responded very well to the answers and discussions that arose because of them. At this point, I've followed up with the contact person and she's promised that everything's moving along & will be in close contact. Unfortunately at this stage if I'm not hired, I'll be forced to take anything that comes my way, whether drawing on old job experience (UPS package handling, slinging coffee, retail mall life) or settling for a minimum-wage gig. Time and this blog will tell.

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Posted elsewhere mid-October: Well friends, the eagle has landed... Lili and I arrived into Portland in the last few days of September. The whole drive took us about 8 days altogether and went extremely well! The saving graces were Sirius satellite radio and their comedy & new wave stations; Iowa wineries, cheese & fruit lunches and well-maintained picnic areas; lumbar pillows & 8-hour drive times and lastly, most importantly, having a co-pilot who's a fucking crack-up, at least when she isn't homesick.

While the Mrs. is dashing around attending two jobs interviews, I figured I'd fill you guys in. That way I feel less guilty in that I'm not doing the same. confused So I'm writing from the house that we're renting at the intersection of SE 43rd & SE Woodstock. Amazing neighborhood! It has reminded me of attending Berklee, walking out of the dorms and having everything I want within a three-block radius.

Yes, there is a but. Though it is a house we're renting, it is a heating hemorrhage. There's no insulation and the only source of heat is sketchy wall-mounted space heaters. We're talking about moving a couple of miles away, closer to Reed college. It's a apartment community that is sized & priced right but, I feel that it'd be a little isolated and farther from Amanda and her beau. We'll see...

Other than grumbling about our landlord, we're performing the usual filling in at home, replacing abandoned items left in Connecticut - TV's, computer desk, etc. The challenge in doing so is trying to avoid dashing to Ikea and just buying one of everything (Guiltily, we've done a little). We're instead trying to branch out and explore local shop and craft meccas. Saturday Market is a good example. Next week's purchase will likely be a baby bjorn-style dog carrier for wheeling around town with Eggy.

Okay, time served and breakfast is waiting. Good news is coffee's across the street & two cups are needed!

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008 |

So, marriage..?  Yes!  We got hitched in Nevada's Valley of Fire State Park.  We had originally planned it as eloping, through and through.  I abhor big weddings and all of the trappings that go along w/ it.  As such, I had long said that if I get married, we'd leave for a pleasant two weeks vacation and come back w/ a lovely set of rings and the pics to match.  That was the thought...

What actually happened was we're both horrible at keeping secrets...at least the kind that are completely worth sharing!  First we spilled the beans to Susan B. & her better half and did a drunken clumsy job doing so.  Next, Lili wanted to tell her mom, with whom we are sharing an East Haven beach house.  And from there, you tell your mom so, I have to tell my mom and so on & so forth.  In hindsight, all together we had 9 best friends & family and don't regret having including them.  For those interested parties, pics and other such links can be found on my Flickr set here.

In other life altering news, we are leaving Connecticut.  We and SBA have been hatching a mass exodus to Portland, OR for the past 6 months+.  They drove cross-country, saw sights & a wedding and landed there on Monday.  Their housing results have been mixed but, they're both extremely happy!  Our timeline has us leaving for mid-September and arriving for the beginning of October.  We'll be able to visit Robin & Trey again in Iowa, pass through South Dakota Bandlands, dip south towards the Sierra Nevadas and finally drive up through wine country, the Bay area, stop off for some wild salmon fishing and cross the finish line.  The trip will technically be our honeymoon! 

Do we have jobs yet?  Or given notice or an apartment picked out?  No, no and no.  We're working on the three as I speak and should be resolved within the next 2-3 weeks.  Are we having going away celebrations and the what-not?  Yep!  Call or message me if you're interested in attending and I'll keep you in the loop.  Until then, imagine selling your car, shedding 9/10 of your possessions and going on the road trip of a lifetime w/ your best friend.  Yeah, I can't wait to start either.

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Wooster Square Cherry Blossom Festival '08 Monday, April 21, 2008 |

CherryBlossomFestival2008 023, originally uploaded by Lilipond.

Though complicated, and full of the usual sound and fury, life is good. I'm not so much the sick, work is humming along and the rest of my life is happily waiting in the wings. I find the picture funny as it's a brief still frame caught right before the torrent of the next few months start - First, my birthday, next vacation (and more?) and finally life in CT afterwards. I can't wait to start!

Jack McCarron (LOC) Sunday, April 13, 2008 |

With ears like that, it's no wonder that man learned to box! More treasure from the Library of Congress' account on Flickr...

Saturday, March 29, 2008 |

Yep, wouldn't you know it... Lots of talk in entering a new job & new job takes over. The good news is that I'm beginning to feel my bearings and wrapping my head around the big picture. The counseling work that I perform now has a definite life-cycle and I'm now finding a comfort in finding a positive part in it - Not just floundering at any given emergency. *glow*

The other enormous component to life right now is making plans for moving. Over the past couple of months, the Amandae, Lyle and myself have hatched a plan for moving to Portland. This Easter marked my 20th anniversary of the cross-country move to Connecticut. Since leaving to attend Berklee, now a decade ago, I've comfortable that home doesn't have to be where my immediate family is or, in New England. One of the other factors that I've neglectful in mentioning for a long time is the relationships I've been in. To no one's knowledge, I'll hatch some scheme to move back to Boston, live out of the older population dorms & scrape together the last of my BA. Soon there after, a fetching brunette or blonde will pass by and plans are out the window. *shrug*

Happily (and proudly), it's quite the opposite and her stirrings for something else were the genesis to the project. (Project Genesis = nerd chortle) The timeline to all of this have already been hashed out, beginning with my birthday in June. Friends, I've never known a biological clock but, time crawls when adventure is something you're waiting for.

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Illegitimi Non Carborundum