Tuesday, January 31, 2006


So I said I'd talk about the DMV visit.

It actually wasn't all that bad. There was no line to get a number, and I only waited about 1/2 an hour to get called. Pretty amazing for begin in the middle of the day.

The guy I talked to was fairly nice and explained that as long as I try to get the bus to pass smog, even if I fail, they will give me another 2 month extension. That is - until November 2006. Then I'd have to wait until January 2007 to register the bus because hopefully it would be grandfathered in by then. (California has a 30 year law - which means any car made in '75 or before doesn't need to pass smog. New York was 25 years.) He said 'hopefully' because no one is sure whether the law will stay at 30 years, making '76 safe this year and '77 next year or whether they will just say: "Nope, '75 is the year forever." ('77 is the year of my bus, so we are so hoping that they don't change it and we can be legal by next January.)

I called Tassi and gave them a good talking to. They said they'd look at it some more and try to make it pass on it's own. The guy who does emissions must have missed something vital.


Damn Van.

Monday, January 30, 2006

California Smog Emissions


Actually I hate the good laws of Smog Emissions because my poor VW bus HATES those laws with a 4 cylinder passion! (Nobody thinks VW busses can be haters, they're all love and flowers and doobies - well, those are just stigmas, dude. Don't cross an angry bus!) I think it's a great thing that they want cleaner emissions in California. I think it's fine that they won't grandfather vehicles in unless they are 30+ years old. What I don't like and don't understand is why on earth won't they let me put a frickin' catalytic converter on my bus so it can pass emissions?!?!?!

Yeah. My bus can't pass emissions. My bus is an out of state vehicle. Made to Federal standards from yesteryear (Don't even get me started on that tangent!) meaning it doesn't have a catalytic converter. BUT California won't let me put one on because modified cars are... well... they just say they won't let me. I'll look into that.

So I got the bus back from Tassi and they said they tweaked it out and it might even pass emissions without any extra hoo-hah in the tank to help out. Well, I wasn't going to take any chances, so I got this shit:

Guaranteed my ASS. Directions: Fill tank. Empty contents into tank. Run off gas until nigh empty. Fill tank. Take Smog test. Pass Smog test.

I did everything except the last step. I even put this shit in the next tank to boost my octane levels cuz higher octane burns cleaner, right?

I got the same emissions readings as before.
Something fishy, right?
Yeah I'm calling Tassi tomorrow. He's closed Monday cuz he's out surfing. Well, he'll be catching a wave of my anger all too soon.

Better try to sleep it off.
I went to the DMV to get an extension. I'll talk that story up tomorrow.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

LASIK follow-up

This morning we went back to the TLC affiliated LASIK office for a 1-day check-up.

AJ's eyes are doing well. The flap has pretty nearly healed completely - that is to say that it's un-noticeable by the human eye. I could see it the first couple times I administered eyedrops, but then it mysteriously disappeared. They said it begins to heal within 90 seconds and that's why it's important to keep your eyes closed the first day because continued blinking might offset it slightly.

I asked the doctor a couple questions about the machinery used in the surgery. The nurse I asked on Friday said the machine is constantly readjusting itself to compensate for any movement that AJ's eyes might do because of breathing or shaking or something. The doctor said that the laser runs at 10Hz, that is, it engages the laser to ablate the eye 10 times every second. However, the laser's positioning equipment runs at 100Hz, so it's checking eye positions 10 times before it engages the laser to ensure it is in the proper place.

The laser isn't a super thin beam like in the movies. It's pretty large compared to the eye. (Well, I guess it IS pretty thin then isn't it...) The beam overlaps itself a lot in order to even out the lens and any abnormalities in the eye surface. Watch this to see how it fixes astigmatism.

AJ says the weirdest part that they didn't warn her about is this: When the machine goes to cut the eye flap, it needs the eye more easily accessible. The doctor puts something on the eye that grabs around it and puts pressure on it to cause the pupil area to bulge out a bit. This is a very weird and disconcerting feeling. After the incision is made, the machine is retracted from the eye and the "bulging" device is removed. The eye goes back to its normal shape. (Except there's a frickin' flappity flap!)

AJ's vision checked out at 20/20 and 20/15 already, but slightly blurry. They eyes will continued to fluctuate for approximately 3 months. They will be mostly stabilized after a week.

She has to wear plastic eye patches taped to her face to prevent poking herself in the eye at night accidentally.

spaceJASE still in nurse mode to ensure proper timing of eyedrops and regular feeding times.

Friday, January 27, 2006

LASIK surgery

Today AJ got LASIK surgery done to both eyes.
I watched. Through a big window.
She's sleeping now.

It looked nothing like this picture, I just thought it was funny how much this looked like the Death Star!

I got PRK surgery on my eyes about 6 months ago. I now have 20/20 vision in each eye. But I think my left eye ended up with less contrast sensitivity than my right. Which is weird as a computer artist because everything seems a tad brighter in that eye and lights glow more. But generally it's awesome for driving, sports and everyday stuff. My left eye has always been a little weird, though. It reads colors a little warmer than my right eye. OR my right eye sees things a little cooler. It's weird - I noticed in high school. Together things even out OK. It's still that way.

Back to AJ's eyes.
LASIK surgery is creepy to watch. They cut a semi-circle flap of cornea and move it out of the way so the laser can burn (excuse me, the proper term is ablate) the correct prescription into the lens (or something) of your eye. The weird part was that the eye has a glass-like surface. Very smooth and reflective. When the cornea is removed, the under-lying part isn't - it's bumpy like a really small orange peel texture. Fascinating! You can see it on this person's picture. (NOT AJ, just found online. Her surgeon had all the lights off so the computer/laser could better read her eye and there were no silly toys cluttering up the surgery area.)

Anyways, AJ's doing fine right now - it feels like there's a hair in your eye as it heals. They say she could drive herself to the follow up appointment tomorrow, but - I'll be doing that!

spaceJASE in nurse mode, signing off!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Chuck Norris

It seems that Chuck is in the vibe tonite. The air is thick with references - for who among you can hate him? Don't be a hater.

The young Chuck Norris.
Warning: SNL stupidity.
Thanks WooSpace.

The Ultimate Showdown.
Warning: Flash animated - violence & blood.
Thanks JimSmash.

Ah~ Chuck Norris. I wish my chest was so hairy.

Weekend drab.

Friday AJ had an interview again. Same college, completely different job & people. Strange, no? She's multi-talented I guess. We haven't heard from the first interview... wonder how long they will take to send something. We had lunch with Chu & Grace & Bryan at a Korean place. Very good - lots of extras for lunch the next day.

This weekend was pretty eventless.

The van isn't finished so we didn't go get it. I got to the post office too late to mail a package. (Sorry Jim - Monday) I was also too late to visit Dan in the hospital - he's at home now. We went to Craig's and played some cards. We got there late, but it was OK. Maybe one of my new year's resolutions should have been: "Stop being late." hmph - I guess I'll work on it anyways. Better late than never...

It was nice and Sunny today - but I couldn't get AJ out of bed. She becomes welded to the bed for a minimum of 10 hours after having a few drinks. No hike with such a late and lazy start. I didn't feel like it anyways. We took the cats outside instead. They love it. Then we went out to buy bulk spices and ginger tea. Real ginger tea from a Chinese shop. Best stuff ever. OK maybe it's not real, but it's better than any American tea I've had. Intense. Clears up you head in a jiffy. Not that my heads clogged... but we were out. You don't want to have to go looking for it when your head IS clogged up.

Then we made cookies. Cookies will make any sad old weekend better, right? RIGHT. Cookies make life a little easier - even when it's a cinch. Today's cookies were an inspiration: oatmeal walnut with milk chocolate chunks. Why milk chocolate? Because there was a giant Hershey's Kiss sitting around yelling "Cut me! CUT ME!" Or maybe that was in my head... Damn good cookies. Yield: 60. It's going to be a good week too!

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Mike & Maddi

This is a beanbag I got for AJ so she'd hang out with me in the computer room. Only Michael Thomas has taken it over. He always sleeps here. (Except at night when he's on the bed - which is better than Maddi who demands to be IN the bed right next to AJ.)

Here's the proof. Maddi isn't currently "inside" but she will be soon. Don't tell me cats aren't as smart as dogs. Don't even get me started. They just aren't always at your beck and call like a dog, so humans take it the wrong way and get offended. Calling them all aloof and anti-social and stuff. Hmph.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

WoW no more.

I took this screenshot 8 levels ago at 58.
Last night some aspects looked different.

I quit WoW last night.

Yeah. Cold Turkey. OK - I had paid up until Jan 20th so I knew about when I would be quitting, but still - I played, leveled, sold all my gear on two guys and mailed the 150G to Eric. Giggy says I should have sold Space online. Giggy - You probably would have ended up dying at the hands of a farmer you got in the way of... named Space! This way I can always go back to Space if I really need to - although he'll be naked.

Have fun with the gold, Eric! Buy an epic mount.

Space - I'll miss ya. You were only 58. You always made me feel better soloing crazy Quests & stabbing people in the back for 1600 dmg. What could you have done if I had taken you to 60 and raided night after night?

Nothing - cuz you're a GAME. You would have wanted more of me - more time, more purple crap, more more more! I have looked into the void and yea I stand before you again... fresh & renewed!

Now I've just got to find something to do with myself & this new free time...


MLK day hike.

Yesterday we went on a hike. We haven't been on a hike in a good long while. I took a few pictures, so have a look here if ya want.

When we got home I got on WoW. I played for a while with Eric, then I quit.

Yeah - I quit.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Burma: Superstar!

We took the van up to Tassi for a check-up and smog fixing and some weird rusty brake sound. Then we kept heading north into the city. We took a different route which was interesting and led directly to our goal: new weird food! AJ saw a review of this restaurant on TV the other day and it looked really interesting. It's called Burma Superstar. It was awesome! (But not without it's drama.)

apparently, when a restaurant gets shown on TV in a big city, you'd be better off waiting until next year to go, simply because the rest of the city will need to go first. Lesson learned. They told us it would be 45 - 60 minutes to be seated. We signed the list and put my cell number. (They call you when you're up.) Then we walked around and went to a coffee shop. They only take cash. We walked around looking for a bank. We went back for coffee. We used the restroom and then watched a guy walk in off the street and do the same without buying anything. This really pissed the lady running the joint off so she locked the bathroom. Then she watched people come in and stand by the locked door and wait for it to open from the inside. It was amusing to watch her watching them and seething that they wanted to use her bathroom for free. We were surprised to see the number of people actually try to waltz in and use it for free.

After an hour of waiting we went back to the restaurant to find that we were still 7 names down. But she had crossed off several names after ours... I asked what the deal was - apparently, they seat by table size. NOT first come. If a 4-top opens up, search the list for a group of 4 and let them in - Don't split the 2 tables apart and seat two 2-tops!!! I couldn't believe it. We waited for another hour for a 2-top to clear. People inside felt perfectly fine to camp out after eating and talk because they had had to wait an hour or so. sigh - PEOPLE!

The food was delicious, though! Definitely recommended if you have time to kill waiting. Fried coconut pudding dessert was TO DIE FOR. I do not usually get excited about food... This was really good.

We drove home and stayed up too late because of stupid caffeine at 7:30pm.


Monday, January 09, 2006

Interview with MILO

AJ had an interview today. I didn't post about it earlier because I didn't want to jinx it. Not that I'm superstitious or anything, but ya never know...

We had an interesting weekend preparing for the interview - Practice drive to the site, haircut, good food for the mind, read aloud for mental clarity and vocal astuteness, go to bed early, blah blah blah. (I got a sympathy haircut. ACK! She cut too much off and now I look ...Somewhat groomed. I will try hard to mess it up again.)

The interview went quite well. She had to give a presentation and with all the practicing we did, it went off perfectly. Now we wait and see what happens. AJ thinks they already had someone in mind, so she's just going to get a rejection letter in the mail for all our effort.

The one thing we can do is relax, 'cause this first one is behind us so the next few can't possibly be so bad.

Grace made the day worth it for AJ. After the interview since it was so close to their place, she stopped by to say Hey. Bryan didn't bawl at first sight of her and Grace presented AJ with a can of MILO! NICE! We haven't had MILO in ...Forever. Nestlé owns something like 110% of the foreign market in Ovaltine-knock-offs. In fact, no one outside of the US has ever heard of Ovaltine because of MILO. Actually I bet the only people in the US who know about Ovaltine for that matter are old people and people who watch "The Christmas Story" every year. MILO is great. Get some today. Thanks Grace!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Character sketches

Often times when I'm in a meeting listening to people talk over each other, I draw the people talking because they don't notice. They think you're listening intently and scribbling notes. Or I draw other people who really are listening. They don't notice you drawing them either.

Sometimes I just draw them as is (that's easiest), sometimes I draw reflections of them in glass (more interesting) and sometimes I do characatures. These are the most fun, but often difficult because people don't like it when they look silly or you exaggerate features they know about themselves and are self-conscious about.

These are some I did during a painful week-long meeting of meetings where I tried to make the folks look similarly... childish. Like they were all mini-versions of themselves. Pretty fun.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Buy Blue... or Red... or Whatever the heck you want.

The website www.buyblue.org is all about knowing what political party gets money from what store. You can look at the alphabetical listing of stores and who they donate to and how much. They don't just rate stores on political slant - they also rate them either PROgressive or REgressive based on environment, labor & human rights, employment equality, corporate and social responsibility and industry practices. The ratings and descriptions as well as explanations on where they get the info can be seen on this page. Then you can decide for yourself where you want to shop based on these factors - or not... if you even care.

Frankly I think donating to politicians is just about the stupidest thing a company can do with your money. The politicians will stab them and you in the back. No one politician has any say and no one party has real control. You as an individual aren't going to make a difference by shopping here and not there. The CEOs & COOs and whoever else run the show is going to donate money to whatever politician they think will get them the most in kickbacks whether you shop there or not. What we all need to do is organize a revolution and nuke the damn state of DC and everyone there and start over.

Oh God - the FEDs are knocking on my door now... sigh.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

New Year's Day COLOR

Most of our friends know we are... cheap. We prefer "frugal" but, whatever. One of the ways we save money and look good is I color "A's" hair. We get the hook-up on salon quality hair color and I got a how-to lesson from a friend. People don't believe it when I tell them - they think I mean the normal crap from the store. But I don't. We go all out - I separate the hair in layers and wrap it in aluminum foil after putting the colorant on. It takes me about 2 hours to wrap up 50 to 55 bundles. Then "A" sits for an hour to let all of it do its thing. Presto! She's an un-natural blonde. We save about $150, thank you!

New Year's Eve with Bryan Chu

We didn't want to get crazy this year (What could top the limo-ride with drunk-Jonny?!?!?), so we went to Chu & Grace's place and ate the cheese that my Dad & Pat sent us. The cheese was sent from Zingerman's in Ann Arbor Michigan. Let me tell you - that is some quality cheese. Cheese is the one thing that will keep me from becoming a vegan. We also brought gourmet olives from Draeger's. We got garlic stuffed olives, almond stuffed olives, anchovy stuffed olives and the classic stand-by, Kalamata olives. They were quite tasty.

Bryan had just had his bath when we arrived so he was in a good mood. After he figured out that we weren't going away, he warmed up to us and actually smiled and laughed. He's super cute. I sketched a bit of him. This one turned out pretty OK - the last drawing of 2005.

Resolve it!


Yeah it's time to make some resolutions. Actually I think it's a bit trite to wait until a "new year" to attempt to fix things in your life, when if you really wanted to fix things, there's no time like the present! BUT - having moved away from NY recently and being in a new situation does lend itself to making changes in my life - which happens to coincide with this silly new year's tradition of setting yourself up for failure. So, without further ado:

1) Quit playing World of Warcraft. My subscription runs out on January 19th. If I don't quit by then they will charge another 3 months and I'll have to keep playing. What with buying the collector's edition and subscribing all year, I've spent $260 on this game. WOW indeed. Lot's of fun, but not THAT fun mostly because I can't get on early enough to play with friends.

2) Make more art. One thing WOW stopped me from doing in the evening after work is make stuff. Draw, model, rig, animate - it all just stopped over the last year. I bought "The Artist's Way" on the recommendation of Eric DeSantis. We'll see if I can stick to it and get back in synch with the "Flow".

3) Stop being a jackass. Sometimes people deserve it, but not usually. Maybe I've got a headache or a cold, maybe I'm stressed about money or milestones, maybe I'm over heated or my jeans are too tight - whatever the stupid problem is, I shouldn't be taking it out on other people... unless they are directly related to the cause.

4) Change some fat into muscle. Speaking of having tight jeans, I need to trim some of this fat off and replace it with some strength. Since taking this job I've spent more time behind a computer then... well, a lot of my daily hours - and then I tend to come home and sit around looking stuff up online, making stuff, or playing video games. I get winded bending over to pick up one of the cats. That's going to lead to a short lifespan if it doesn't change in some way. (Notice how I conveniently don't say HOW I intend to resolve this one.)

5) Live longer. "A" makes sure we eat good food. She's an awesome cook and we eat very well and cheaply. What I need to do is stop supplementing that great food with sugar. I love treats. Candy, cookies, cake, donuts, ice cream - I like sugar. I need to cut out those empty calories. See, in an earlier post I talked about cutting calories in half and doubling my lifespan. I didn't mean I was going to starve myself, just cut out the crap food. It shouldn't be TOO hard really. I passed up eating a donut on bagel-donut Friday last week - even before this stupid resolution thing.

Well, 5 seems like a good number. Not an unwieldy number. I'm sure I will fail on some - but there's got to be some points awarded for trying to improve, right? I'm sure I will add more throughout the year. I mean - why wait until the frickin' new year to be a better person?