Tuesday, March 31, 2009

SHARP MR-990 Boom Box with built in mini-organ & sequencer

sharp01nr2 Click to see full size image It's not often that I blog about something I saw on eBay.com but this one ranks pretty high on my list of coolest things I've ever seen. The MR-990 has a built in mini melody computer keyboard in sliding shelf and it's detachable.
The melody computer has sequencer function, so you can program your melody by step by step
and the melody computer automatically adds suitable accompaniment (chord and bass) for your melody. You can also just play this keyboard alone. According to the seller, it has a very warm analog sound. There are 3 sounds and 4 rhythms are selectable, has 2 octaves.
Lest we forget, this thing is also a boom box equip with twin cassette tape player/recorder, FM/AM radio tuner, 5-band equalizer,
detachable speakers and each control knobs etc.
If you want to check out the auction, it is eBay item#110370471690...and just a reminder, my birthday is coming up in a few months...

Saturday, March 28, 2009

♪ Somewhere on the wrong side of the Rainbow... ♫

weatherThere's no place like home [click click]...there's no place like home [click click]...there's no place like home [click click]...
Darn. Well, that didn't work (friggin' converse shoes...) so here I am in the flattest state of all, and I thought I was off to see the wonderful mechanic of Fontana, in the Emerald truck yard (in my emerald truck!) with my cat To- er, I mean Bowie...but anyways, it looks like I am going to be here for a while; and by here I mean this:
Phone photo0221 Yeah. I am not moving in this picture. In fact I am still not moving as I write this. I have not moved since last night. I used to say I was a "middle of the road" kinda guy but this is ridiculous. There was a snow rescue crew out here earlier who asked if we wanted to be taken into town, but I and the driver ahead of me declined as it is generally company policy to stay with your load, besides which I have the added problem of a battery that won't last more than a couple hours with the truck shut off. Now however, it occurs to me that I am low on fuel (I am 4 miles away from my fuel stop) so I won't be able to idle my truck much longer...I wonder how long it will be before I can move again? To be continued...

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The New Setup

After reviewing my budget and my progress towards my financial goals, I have somewhat revised my proposed music gear setup:

setup copy2 The Wallpaper makes it cool so I'm okay with it. It's also several hundred dollars cheaper than my other idea - which is admittedly the most attractive feature. There is something to be said about simplicity in performance as well. Fewer moving parts means fewer things can break, so to speak. There is also the space issue - this set up would be infinitely easier to transport.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

I missed the beginning of the Apocalypse! Must've slept in that day...

I am often asked what kind of interesting people I meet on the road and I admit I have been remiss in my account of the various characters I run into. I intend to be much more faithful in blogging about these encounters in the future, but in the meantime I hope this one will make up for the opportunities I have missed so far.

draconian_orderToday at a truck stop in Oklahoma I met the head of the American branch of the Draconian Order (he's a truck driver). I guessed that they must claim some affiliation to the old Templars of the crusades like the Masons and Shriners (and hundreds of other societies), but according to the Draconians, those guys were just "hired swords - mere mercenaries..." and the Draconian Order (aka The Order of Light) are the "True Knights of God."  The order actually claims some affiliation with the real Count Dracula though I regret to say I didn't get a chance to explore this connection further. Apparently the order recently discovered an empty Egyptian crypt that supposedly had held the Anti-Christ, thus the events of the Apocalypse began on March 17th, 2009. Wow. We both expressed some sympathy for President Obama who besides being elected in the middle of a national financial crisis and a mess in the middle east, was also unfortunate enough to have become President during the advent of the Apocalypse. Geeze, and I thought my job was tough! This all came out in a  discussion about why freight was so slow. I guess that would pretty much explain it.

He continued the conversation with an air of someone bragging about their custom hot rod that he was also a "reader" and has been developing his clairvoyance since age 11. He entertained me further with some anecdotes which demonstrated his prowess as a clairvoyant and I was tempted to ask for a sample but I didn't want to give the impression that I was questioning his abilities. He seemed like a nice guy, describing himself as "spiritual but not religious" (remind me to watch out for that designation on dating sites in the future) and as a good person with a "Santa Claus" like affinity for children, and I gotta admit, the conversation beat "talking shop" about suicide and anti-depressants with the other truck driver who was also there. The head of the Draconian Order was kind enough to let me take a picture of his signet ring (see above), as he told me all about  the creatures (including dragons, of coarse) that existed in the world before God created light. It was a pleasant conversation, and I especially appreciated that while he extolled the virtues of his Order, he made no effort to recruit me or draw me into an argument, but simply shared the things that he was impressed by, or proud of, or especially passionate about until at length he excused himself as he was eager to get his character to the 21st level on World of Warcraft.

Just one more reason that I love my job. Now I wish I had been blogging all those years I was riding the city bus. So many stories.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Most [superlative] Trip Ever.

This trip was the most...narly? no, exhausting? scenic? mountainous? off-the-beaten-path? I guess maybe all of the above. Nearly 1,000 miles of mountain roads all in two days (and on less than 8 hours of sleep). The moonlit mountains, the snowy vistas in the California Sierras, redwoods, lakes, the rugged high desert mountains capped with snow, the skyline of snow capped mountains...did I mention there was snow? and Mountains? I wish I had some pictures to share but I was concentrating on driving. Maybe next time.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Watchmen: Reflections on the graphic novel

Warning! Spoiler Alert: This blog post may give away plot lines to the graphic novel and the film, Watchmen.


After hearing about the eminent release of a film version of this comic book classic, I decided I'd better go back and read the whole thing before seeing the film. Amazing. I rate this right up there with Huxley's Brave New World and Orwell's 1984 only I think this one hits closer to the mark, confronting issues that became all too real and relevant less than two decades after it was written.

For those who haven't read it yet, first I recommend stopping here, and either reading the graphic novel or (for those with shorter attention spans) seeing the film. I haven't seen the film yet, but if it touches on half the material in the graphic novel, it would be worth checking out. For those who have already determined not to do either, I will briefly sum up.

Rather presenting a possible future, the story presents a possible present, much like our own with a few very important differences. Rewind the clock to the early twentieth century, and the advent of fictional heroes like The Shadow, The Green Hornet, and early Superman. Inspired by the fictional characters, real life masked heroes begin to emerge and soon vigilante-ism becomes not just accepted, but popular. It quickly becomes an important part of American society. The presence of masked vigilantes causes important shifts in the historical events of the twentieth century as these heroes participate in everything from WWII to Vietnam. The  result (in the graphic novel version) is a present where Richard Nixon is still president (by changing legislation to extend term limits) the cold war is still gaining momentum, and technology has developed in a slightly different though not necessarily any better direction. Along the way, the popularity of masked heroes fades in the wake of civil unrest and police strikes.

[Here comes the spoiler - seriously, turn back now! last chance!]

Watchmen 02 - 26That brings us to the current day and the main events of the story. Here's the quick and dirty version. As the world hurtles towards an inevitable nuclear crisis an subsequent self annihilation, a plot is uncovered that could save humanity from almost certain destruction, but would involve deliberately killing half the population of New York City, then covering it up citing some new previously unknown threat as the cause. Needless to say, many ethical questions arise at this point. If you knew of such a plot, would you try to stop it? More importantly, the person responsible for the plot thinks himself a watchful protector (a phrase used to describe Batman in the recent film "Dark Night" incidentally), but that gives rise to the question (currently one off the tag lines for the upcoming film) who watches the watchmen? The protectors who are supposedly making sure the rest of the world is held accountable for their actions - who holds them accountable for theirs? This question cuts to the core of the ideals behind vigilante-ism.

If there is one over all theme to the graphic2392444614_38f8a08116_o novel it would be summed up in that tag line, "Who watches the watchmen?" but there are plenty more moral dilemmas and complications in the actual reading. Questions about justice, forgiveness, the basis for morality, torture, retribution, etc. Unfortunately some of the content is pretty disturbing, painting a pretty bleak picture of the human condition which I think is frankly a little pessimistic and exaggerated, but then again, much of this is from the vigilante's point of view, so maybe that's part of the point. I did however, appreciate not just the moral dilemmas, but the political implications. It was interesting to compare the plot to save the world with the Bush administrations "War against terror" and it's justifications.

[here comes another spoiler]
In the story, the basic idea of the scheme to save the world, is to fool humanity into thinking that there is much worse enemy to be feared than any human rivals, with the idea of uniting the world in light of this new threat; this being accomplished by introducing a sort of alien biological bomb into New York City which wipes out a good chunk of the local population while psychically attacking survivors causing madness and nightmares in another large percentage of the population. Had this been written post 9-11 the parallels would be a little suspect. Regardless, what's really interesting is comparing the aftermath in both cases. The idea of uniting people via fear of a new threat, whether real, contrived, arranged, or imagined, is the driving force of the scheme in the book, and was also used to garner support after 9-11. In the graphic novel it seemed to work - peace was achieved and a nuclear war was averted. In real life however, we became engulfed in a war. A generation that had become notoriously apathetic suddenly became passionately political.

Bush - Yes I Did 

9-11 was used to justify a lot of executive actions that followed, not the least of which were the Patriot Act which removed rights of privacy and fair trial to anyone suspected of having terrorist ties (though many Americans seem to have forgotten the difference between suspected of a crime and actually being guilty). We watched our government use methods in treatment and questioning of prisoners that we had condemned in other countries less than 50 years ago. At the same time, the reaction on the other side was a passionate revival in concerns for human rights and a more global awareness. So some good came out of it, right? That makes it all okay, right? That sounds like the architect of the world's salvation in Watchmen as he asks a colleague in the closing chapter, "I did the right thing, didn't I? It all worked out in the end..." to which his colleague replies, "In the end? Nothing ever ends..."

So basically a lot of good food for thought in the book. How far should one go for the sake of "justice"? At what point does the "greater good" out-weigh the good of the few or the one? Do the ends justify the means? What's worse: punishing the innocent, or failing to punish the guilty? What's better: justice or mercy? And of coarse, "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" Who watches the watchmen?

Sunday, March 08, 2009

"We have labored long to build a heaven, only to find it populated with horrors." - Alan Moore (Prof. Milton Glass in Watchmen)

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Just a Quick Update

Just wanted to let everyone know i got back form the Hospital OK. They gave me a couple shots and some anti-biotics and I am doing better already. More later!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Me VS. My Tonsels

These things have gotta go, man. I put up with the pain and the swelling for more than a week but when I woke up gagging tonight I had to draw the line. I called a local clinic near the Tacoma, WA Interstate Yard and the nurse told me I should just go to the ER so here I go. The midnight fleet manager didn't want me driving there but there's no way this calls for any personal medical escort with flashing lights on it (too expensive - I think they must charge extra for the flashy lights) so I am calling a cab. Anyways, like I told my fleet manager, it's only a problem when I try to sleep - as long as I am awake everything is honky dory; and I am awake...here at 3:00 am...and I really really don't want to be awake. So I'm off to see the wizard in a yellow cab. I am taking my cell phone with me, but here's the hospital info just in case:
St. Clare Hospital
11315 Bridgeport Way,
Lakewood, WA‎ - (253) 588-1711

Like I said, this is no big deal - worst case scenario, I get my tonsels out - yay!