Yearly Archives: 2007

I will also have …

… a laptop.

I keep telling myself I'd wait till the debt gets paid down a bit more, which is unrealistic given the size of the debt and my employer's inability to pay me market rate for my services. (The gap has closed in the last year, but there's still a gulf of a few $K.)

A few things pushed my hand, however.

First, laptops sold in retail stores are now installed with Windows Vista. I don't want to make the switch until after the first service pack, perhaps the second. My studio software all runs fine with Windows XP, and I don't want to drop money on a machine with an OS that may or may not work with that software. If I wanted a laptop with XP on it, I would have to get it now.

But I didn't want to put it on the credit card, and while I have the funds in my savings account to cover it, my balance would once again hover around the spot it has been for the last few years. The tax return and company bonus gave that balance a boost, and I don't want it blown in one purchase.

So I stopped by the credit union to take out some SXSW spending cash, and while I was there, I asked about a loan. Without disclosing any figures, the interest rate on the loan is significantly lower than my credit card. And I could negotiate the terms of the loan to make monthly payments manageable.

So I applied for the loan and got it.

Today, I signed the paperwork for the loan, then went home and ordered the laptop through my office's employee discount program. It's a Dell Latitude D620 with Windows XP. Nope, not the laptop of choice for home studio work, but then again, I have a Dell desktop, and it's produced everything by Eponymous 4. I'm not at the point where I'm going to gig with the thing, so I don't mind.

Perhaps the poorest excuse for such an extravagant purchase is the fact I may not have access to a computer for the entire week I'm at home in Honolulu. In my past visits, my brother would let me use his desktop, but that computer has since died.

I've never carried a laptop on a plane before. I'm going to have to rethink my luggage situation.

I have …

After work today, I shopped for a small bookshelf to squeeze between my bed and one of my keyboards. I guess there isn't much of a market for bookshelves no wider the 20 inches, because Target, Home Despot and Wal-Mart had nothing.

Target came close with a wooden CD storage unit that was about 17 inches wide, but I wanted something with a bit of breathing room.

I had some DVD shelves I bought from Bed, Bath and Beyond in mind as I went from store to store. After applying a bit of logic — if Bed, Bath and Beyond had what I wanted before, then they might have what I need this time — I headed there and found a foldable metal shelf that was 13 inches wide.


I set the shelf up — nearly getting my fingers crushed by the moving parts, as I took it out of the box — and moved the music books from the bookshelf in my living room to the bedroom, where all my music equipment is located.

I'm not sure why I didn't think of this sooner. That's not exactly true. Just about every corner of the bedroom has been optimized for space, and in order to accommodate the shelf, I had to rearrange things. I didn't feel like figuring that out just yet.

But I finally got off my duff when I realized I didn't want to put away some new reference books I bought for my studio software. What was the point of lugging them all the way into the next room if I'm going to need them at some point? Rather than bringing the books to the shelf, I decided to bring a shelf to the books.

And now all my music books are in the same room as my equipment. It's made a difference, too. As I was stocking the new shelf, I ran across some scores that I'd love to hear again.

Ah, how I love when inspiration and efficiency meet!

I want …

I was pretty ambivalent about things I wanted to get during Christmas. I was fine with what I had. My birthday is coming up in a month and some change, and I'm feeling covetous.

Currently, I would like …

  • A laptop, preferably with Windows XP. I don't want to switch to Vista until the first service pack. XP-installed laptops are no longer sold in stores, and I'm not sure how long they'll be available through work.
  • A bigger apartment. I was playing spatial relationship games in my head trying to figure out how I could fit a small bookshelf into my crammed bedroom. I'm almost at the point of getting rid of my bed and sleeping on my futon, which truthfully is a lot more comfortable than my bed.
  • A small bookshelf. I want to move my music books and owner's manuals into my bedroom, where all the equipment resides anyway.
  • A license for Sibelius. Because Finale is full of spite and anger.
  • A stand mixer. Because I have to make my own malasadas, dammit.
  • Keyboard cases for my Korg and Kawai. I'm not actually going to start gigging or anything.
  • Mastering Regular Expressions from O'Reilly publications. For work.

Do I need them? Will I get them? Not right now. Eventually. Or so I think.


I placed an order for Quark XPress and Ableton Live at an online retailer for customers in academia. I figured all these night classes I'm taking ought to qualify me for some student discounts on software, right?

According to the site's order status page, my order is still being processed and hasn't been shipped. But when I came home from work this afternoon, I saw a UPS slip on my door. Oooh! Perhaps they managed to get my order to me after all! (That doesn't reflect too well on the accuracy of their online status page.)

So I called UPS to arrange a pick-up, and I headed over to the delivery center all the way across town to pick the package up.

After returning a call from my mom, I finally opened it up. I saw Quark XPress, but I didn't see Ableton Live.


I've been working on the Lite version of Live, and it's extremely limited in what it allows you to do. I think I finally hit on a way to perform Terry Riley's In C as a one-man performance. A bit of background: In C is considered the piece that ushered in the minimalism of Steve Reich and Philip Glass. It's essentially a big sheet of paper with 53 motifs. An ensemble of any size and instrumentation plays those 53 motifs in sequence, but each player can decide how many times to repeat, when to start playing and when not to play. The alleatoric nature of the piece yields some terrific textures.

As a way to get familiar with Ableton's session view, I programmed the maximum of tracks with the maximum number of scenes available in the Lite edition with the first few motifs from In C. Now if I only had the damn full version I order more than a week ago, I could get somewhere with it.

But at least I've got Quark with which to make my album covers. I didn't know the founder of Quark is gay.

Fuck you, oak pollen

This morning, I saw a light yellow film on my windshield. I took it as an ominous sign. When the weatherman announced the allergy report this evening, he mentioned the first appearance of oak.

Oh diety, just kill me now!

I'd better start overdosing on my Zyrtec.

The new green jacket (it’s actually blue)

People who know me know about the green jacket.

Every winter, the jacket comes out, and it's on me just about every day of winter. It's the perfect jacket — a windbreaker with comfortable body lining and nylon in the sleeves. It's thick enough to keep me warm in 50-degree weather, light enough to carry when it gets slightly warmer, flexible enough to layer with a sweater or a larger coat for freezing weather.

I received the green jacket as a gift from a friend in Honolulu right before I headed to New York City for a year-long exchange program in 1992. It would be the first time I would encounter winter on the Mainland, and the jacket proved its mettle. Since then, the green jacket has been a permanent fixture in my winter wardrobe.

For the past three or four years, the jacket has been showing its age. I've gotten bigger, and it's gotten smaller. I've tried to find a replacement, but I always fail. All the jackets I would try on could not achieve that trifecta of comfort, weight and flexibility. Inevitably, I'd go back to the green jacket, rueful of the day when it would no longer suit my needs.

Austin is starting to warm up now, so there was no need for me to shop for winter clothing. But last night, I had 1 1/2 hours to kill between the end of my synthesis class and the start of the Austin bloggers meeting.

I thought I'd spend a good portion of it having a leisurely dinner at Star of India, but I decided to head into Stein Mart instead, just to peak at the jackets. After a few minutes of flipping through the racks, I found a jacket that had potential. I didn't bring my green jacket into the store with me since the evening was so pleasant. I went back to my car and brought it into the store to compare.

I hung the contending jacket on my fingers to judge the weight, and it was noticeably heavier than the green jacket. Demerit. Then I tried it on.

The fit was surprisingly good. So I made further tests. I fished out numerous sweaters to see how well it accommodates layering. Verdict: Incredibly well. (Yes, I decided to look for a sweater while I was at it.) The jacket came in blue and a gray-ish brown.

After an hour of trying things on in various combinations, I opted for the blue. That leisurely dinner at Star of India would have to wait for another time.

I won't really know till next winter whether I've found a suitable replacement for the green jacket, but I'm wearing it now, and it doesn't feel awkward. It's actually quite comfortable.

After 14 some odd years, I may have finally found a suitable successor to the green jacket.

The shopping list

During my trip home to Honolulu in April, I'm going to hit up Book Off and Hakubundo for the following CDs and DVDs:

  • Tommy heavenly6, Heavy Starry heavenly
  • Chara, Union (although I might track it down on JPOPSUKI first)
  • Sasagawa Miwa, Mayoi Naku (ordered w/ Vola and the Oriental Machine)
  • Shiina Ringo, Baisho Ecstacy
  • Shiina Ringo, Heisei Fuuzoku Daiginjoo (released on my birthday itself)
  • Tokyo Jihen, Shuraba
  • Tokyo Jihen, PV DVDs
  • Tomosaka Rie, Murasaki (very slim chance since the album is out of print)

I'm also going to keep my eyes out for …

  • Supercar, P.V.D. 10th Anniversary (also a slim chance)
  • UA, Turbo
  • UA, Nephews
  • Quruli, Tower of Music Lover

This list will be expanded as more titles come to me.

What am I doing? I can’t afford that …

This trip back to Hawai`i in April has got me in a covetous mood.

It's not enough I bought an iPod to keep me sane on a 9-hour flight from Austin to Honolulu. It occurred to me as I cut the commercials out of the TV shows I transferred from my TiVo that it would be fun to watch some Battlestar Galactica or Friday Night Lights during the flight as well.

I came to my senses when I realized a portable DVD player would really only be used on a flight, and I don't travel enough to require it.

That didn't stop me from going to Best Buy or Fry's to look at some. As affordable as some players may be, I knew it would be a one-time use purchase and an unwise expenditure.

But a laptop? I could probably bring that on the plane, play a DVD, perhaps even write or work on music. A laptop would be a real investment. And that's how I found myself in the laptop departments of both Best Buy and Fry's, seeing and touching but not really expecting to spend anything.

Because there's nothing to spend.

When I was saving up for my car, I was pretty disciplined about savings. I made sure my Waterloo checks I earned on the weekends would go straight into savings, and after a year, I had 1/2 of the necessary down payment. After I bought the car, I stopped exercising that discipline. I haven't really been saving (nor have I been paying down debt, either.)

I'll try to save, then I find a toy that needs my immediate attention — an old keyboard on eBay, some home studio software.

Perhaps saving up for a laptop will make me disciplined again. Or a trip to Japan in 2008. I just have to resist the urge to get Ableton Live or QuarkXpress.

Or I could just remind myself I can't spend money for which has already been accounted.

My astrologer told me there’d be days like this …

I have a friend who's an astrologer. I like to think that's different than actually having an astrologer. In a way, it is because I can get some his services gratis, although I do hire him for a reading here and there.

I asked him for a tarot reading back in October, and he warned me in February, I'd feel like wanting to bolt.

Well, it's February, and I feel like I want to bolt.

It was dinner. This past week, I've been wishing I didn't have the biological necessity to eat dinner because my neighborhood isn't terrific in terms of culinary choices. I'm a terrible cook, so it's safer for me to leave that activity to the professionals. But I'm pretty much bored with what my immediate neighborhood has to offer, and I don't feel like battling traffic to eat somewhere not in my neighborhood.

Friday was the worst. I realized what I really wanted that night was a bento. Just a light dinner with rice and meat, something I could have picked up at a deli in Honolulu or New York City. A bento in Austin is a huge ass ceramic box with large portions of everything. Typical Texas. I didn't want to wait half an hour for a waiter to serve me a bento. I just wanted to pick one up and head out the door.

Something as simple as craving a bento spiraled into a general dissatisfaction with Austin.

As much as I love the city for offering things that make it distinctive — SXSW, Alamo Drafthouse, a liberal oasis in a conservative state — it can't offer things I would like. And I'm tired of that inconvenience.

I'm tired of having to make my own malasadas and bibinka. I'm tired of having to order all my Asian entertainment off the Internet. I'm tired of the dearth of resources for my interests. (Except for Guitar Center. I like Guitar Center.) I'm tired of seeing gay people only at gay-specific events and places. I'm tired of rednecks, white trash and hippies. I'm tired of the idea that Asian food can only be served in a restaurant setting, because there are some nights I just want a plate of chicken katsu and head home to watch TV. I wish there were a more visible classical music scene.

When I visited New York City in 2005, I didn't want to leave. I could engage my interests far more easily there than I could "back home". And on Friday, I felt like I would have rather been there than stuck on MoPac at 5 p.m.

This funk will pass, and something will remind me that Austin isn't a bad place to live. But right now, it doesn't feel like the right place to be either.