Monthly Archives: September 2006

Going to war

The counter-strike has begun. The initial offensive ended in total defeat, so the insects must have been planning another offensive to capture my apartment. I’ve seen their spies – the earwigs and the spiders – but they never made it out alive. However, some word must have got through, as they invaded while my defenses were completely down… when I was at work. This time, they didn’t screw around. They sent in the yellow jackets, some of the fiercest fighters of the Michigan-area insect kingdom.

They made one critical strategic error though… even insects need to sleep. By the time I got home, the twenty or so invaders had gone to sleep on or about the doorwall frame. This gave me ample time to perform reconnaissance on their positions, and to gather my forces for a counter-offensive. I chose chemical weapons as my primary attack vector, followed up by a serated knife, with some hairspray as a close-range stun device. I added extra clothing so that I was covered from head to toe, just in case their sentinels spotted me and attacked.

They never knew what hit them. I quickly subdued the perimeter guards with the hairspray, and ended them with the knife. This left the majority of the insurgents completely defenseless in the face of my chemical weapons attack. Most of the yellow jackets were killed by pinpoint strikes, but the few that escaped the chemical weapons met their end in a flash of the blade.

After the battle was over, I identified their point of entry – a hole in the doorwall that leads to my balcony. I can only imagine that there is another hole on the outside that they were able to access. To prevent further attacks, I sprayed more of my chemical weapons into the hole, and plugged it with a wad of paper towel. Hopefully that is sufficient to stifle subsequent attempts, at least until old man winter has his way with the attackers.

Tomorrow I’ll report the invasion attempt to the apartment complex, so that they may deploy the appropriate countermeasures.

Gigantour, 9/24/2006

It was a dark and stormy night…. Er, wait. It was a cold and stormy night…. Nah, that’s not right either. It was a cold and windy night… Now we’re cookin. It was certainly cold and windy, but I didn’t care much since four of my favorite bands were going to share the same stage. I went with a few guys from work, Gene and Nick, and their buddy Aaron. We all made the pilgrimage to Pine Knob, one of my favorite spots to check out a show.

The four lesser-known bands that opened the show were all decent-to-good, the best being Overkill. They’ve been around for a long time from what I gather, and easily had the largest following of the opening four. They brought an old-school metal sound into the mix, with a lot of New York attitude. A huge sod fight also broke out on the lawn during their set. I can’t remember if it was as spectacular as the one that took place during the Jerry Cantrell/Metallica show I saw at the Knob in ’98, but it was a sight nonetheless. It also got old pretty quickly, but the teenager types thought it was a riot to pelt the people further down the hill with tufts of sod. I didn’t think it was all that fun, but I remembering having a lot better time back in the day when I was the one throwing the grass. I guess grass-throwing loses its appeal with age.

Arch Enemy was the first of the larger bands to play. With eight bands playing, even the bigger bands had pretty abbreviated sets. AE probably played a good 45 minutes I would imagine. They played a good mix of songs, and the crowd was enjoying it, mostly because of Angela Gossow, their singer. Yep, she’s hot. And her vocals would scare small children. Both are good qualities for a woman fronting a metal band. Given that they could only play for 45 minutes, they made the best of it. Definitely a good showing. Grade: A

Opeth was up next. They were the band I wanted to see most, by far. I had seen the other three big bands there at least once, but I hadn’t seen Opeth yet. They made the most of their 45 minutes as well… by playing four songs. Opeth songs tend to be quite long, to say the least. They opened up with “Ghost of Perdition,” followed by “Windowpane,” “The Leper Affinity,” and “Deliverance.” It was a pretty good mix considering the curcumstances, but I really wish they had another fifteen minutes so they could have fit another song in there. Hearing something like “Blackwater Park” or “Serenity Painted Death” probably would have forced an accident in my pants. I was cracking up a decent amount during their set though. There were quite a few people there that knew Opeth and their style, but there were also a bunch that didn’t. They were easily identified by the “WTF?” looks on their face whenever Opeth would drop into a clean section of a song, or pretty much through all of “Windowpane.” These sections don’t exactly fit in a stereotypical metal show. I don’t care though – Opeth rules. The only bad thing about their set is that one of the guitars was barely audible, which made the songs sound pretty funny in places. Grade: A-

Lamb of God occupied the next-to-last slot, and because of it, they had a longer set, probably on the order of an hour and a half. They’re a force to be reckoned with nowadays, and it was evident as soon as they came out. They showed up Slayer when I saw them together a few months back, and they were aiming to claim this show as their own as well. They easily had the tightest and most well-mixed sound of all the bands that played, and they weren’t taking prisoners either. They played quite a few older songs, including my personal Lamb of God favorite, “Vigil.” They also played a good three or four songs off the new album “Sacrament.” They were on throughout their whole set, and the crowd was loving it. They definitely achieved their goals and stole the show. Grade: A

Gigantour is Dave Mustaine’s baby, so it’s natural that Megadeth headlined the show. This was my fifth time seeing Megadeth, but sadly, it was probably the worst show I saw them put on. I’m not sure why, but Dave Mustaine just wasn’t on. He seemed visibly agitated for the first couple songs, walking off to the sides of the stage to talk to stage hands between songs and during long instrumental breaks. It may have been due to time restrictions, because he made a point of announcing that they had to rush through their set due to the hard kurfew present at Pine Knob. In any case, he just wasn’t on his game. His vocals were pretty weak through most of the songs. He sings with a few distinct styles, and it didn’t seem like he was hitting any of them. The mix was also really bad. The vocals and drums were noticiably quiet, while the guitars were way too loud. I like loud guitars as much as the next guy, but they shouldn’t drown out the rest of the band. The set list was pretty strong, and they played a new song off the album they’re releasing next year. It sounded pretty good. Not “Rust In Peace”-era Megadeth good, but good nonetheless. Grade: B

Clutch, 9/19/2006

I’ve been pretty busy lately, which is one of the reasons I haven’t written about this show yet. The other is the fact that I’ve been pretty lazy with the website. Not a good formula for timely posting. Oh well.

I was anticipating this show a good deal, since Clutch is one of my favorite bands of late, and I’d get to see them in a pretty intimate setting – the Temple Club in Lansing. I would say that the Temple club could hold maybe a thousand people at most, which is pretty small on the grand scheme of things. I went with a buddy from work, Gene, and bumped into Bryan, a former co-worker, as well.

The first band to play was Year Long Disaster. They were a solid three piece hard rock band with a lot of energy. Gene and I were a little worried when we heard them while waiting in line, but they grew on us as their set progressed. They seemed to have a lot of early hard rock/metal influences in their sound, like Motorhead and Judas Priest, so it wasn’t too hard for me to like. I’d definitely say they were worth another listen. Grade: B

Next up was The Bellrays. They were a bit less in my ballpark style-wise, but their set was a lot of fun. They seemed like a great opening band, because their set was really energetic and they were devoted to getting the crowd pumped up for the headliners. I really don’t know how to classify their sound, but I think it’s pretty safe to say that they were a straight-ahead rock band with a certain amount of punk influence musically. In any case, they were decent, even if not completely in my wheelhouse. Grade B-

Clutch closed out the show, and they did it with a vengeance. I was pretty worried early on, though… After the first or second song, they lost part of the stage power, and it took a few minutes to fix. Neil Fallon seemed pretty pissed, and I had toughts in the back of my mind of Axl Rose and all of his antics, but the power was restored and things progressed swimmingly. Clutch has some pretty rabid fans, and they were present en masse. Clutch ate it up, and gave it back. The TC was a-rockin’! They played most of the songs I would expect to hear, and quite a few new songs as well. Neil Fallon played guitar on a good quarter of their songs, which I found odd. When I saw them a year ago at Harpos, he only played on one or two songs, and they played two full sets worth of songs. I think most of the songs he played on were the new songs, which might explain it. Overall, they were great. Being twenty feet from the stage makes for a great show when the band is on, and they were. Grade: A

Durrrrr

Ok, I get the dumbass of the day award. I went into my bank today to do all the necessary paperwork for disputing the fradulent charges I found a week or so ago. I filled out the form to get another card sent to me, then I went over to member services to fill out the paperwork to dispute the charges. The lady looked over the charge history for the Meijer that I shop at, which included the questionable charges, and she asks “does that Meijer have a gas station? I see a few $1.00 pre-authorizations here, which normally indicates a charge at the gas pump.”

And then it hit me.

I’ve used that Meijer gas station for gas ever since they closed the Shell by my apartment. I never once made the connection between Meijer and the Meijer gas station during the whole process. Boy, did I ever feel stupid.

A few good things came out of it though. I went ahead and got a new card anyway, since the one I had was pretty ragged, and needed to be replaced. That and not going through a charge-back process that would have ended up with me losing because I did in fact make the charge.

Charge it back

I called the bank, and they said they would be able to dispute the fraudulent charges if I come in and fill out the necessary paperwork. That’s fine, but I still use the bank I’ve used since I was a wee lad, and it’s closest location is about an hour away, by my parents house. That’s kind of a drag. I’ll probably have to head down there sometime in the week, even though I was planning on heading back to my parents house this weekend. I’ve got some cash left over from my trip to Chicago this past weekend, but it probably won’t last that long.

Awesome.

F#@$@%#@%#$ing Pissed

It looks as though someone has the info for my debit card. There is at least one charge on my card that I didn't make. It was at the Meijer I normally shop at, but I was at home the night it happened. I was talking to people online at the time the transaction was made. I don't see any other suspicious charges on there except the Meijer ones, so I have to believe the culprit is a less-than-honest Meijer employee. The one charge I know I didn't make was only for $37, but that doesn't mean the next one will be small as well. I've moved all the money out of my checking account, and I'll be calling the bank tomorrow.

Fucking people…

Riding On

I've been trying to motivate myself to get in better shape for quite a while now. I've never been what one would call athletic or in shape. Sure, I played varsity baseball for three years when I was in high school, and I was all-conference. However, as most people know, baseball doesn't exactly require peak physical fitness in order to excel. I was a catcher, and didn't need to move much, which is good, because I was a slow runner. I always had the benefit of a courtesy runner, so I didn't have to run bases. Being a catcher just fit my stature and fitness level.

After high school, I followed a typical college path known as the freshman 15. And then the sophomore 15. And then I lost track. By the time I graduated, I had put on 40 pounds over my high school weight. Not exactly great. In my defense, one of my summer jobs involved a decent amount of physical labor, so I kept a decent amount of strength.

Well, after sitting behind a desk for four years and not really eating all that smart, it's caught up with me. I'm now weighing in at 260 pounds, which is 60 pounds over what I weighed when I graduated high school almost 10 years ago. I look in the mirror and I'm farily disgusted. My gut, while not at monumental proportions, is definitely doing its best to make its presence felt. The respectable amount of muscle mass I once had has withered away. I've turned into a stereotypical computer nerd physically.

All of this is starting to serve as pretty good motivation. This weekend I bought an exercise bike and some weights to aid my effort. Quite a few people suggested getting a gym membership instead of buying my own stuff. That's not a bad idea, but quite frankly, I'm embarassed. I also tend to be a homebody and my schedule is goofy, so having the stuff at home just seems like a better fit for me. I also bought the Ipod a few months back with exercise in mind. If/when I do take my game outside, it'll be there to supply me with lots of motivational tuneage.

I hopped on the bike for the first time today, and well, it was rather sad. I wasn't expecting much, but my thighs were burning after about two minutes. I don't know if it was the pace I gave myself or what, but it was pretty bad. I made myself go five minutes just to avoid being too much of a nancy. But hey, you've gotta start somewhere right? Who knows. The bike said I rode about 1.3 miles worth in those 5 minutes, so maybe it was the pace I set.

It will get better though.

I’m falling apart

God my head hurts today. I don't know if it's from my eye problems and the associated eyestrain, or because I've been skimping out on the Mountain Dew (read: caffiene) over the past few days. Whatever it is, it needs to stop. I can't think.

Fog

Yes, the fog in my eye has returned with a vengeance. Any progress that I made by getting the cataracts in my eye removed has been erased. For a while, my sight was pretty good compared to all I've been experienced, but now it's most certainly worse than before. I should probably head back into the doctor earlier than my next scheduled appointment, but I'm really not sure if it will do much good. My eye seems intent on destroying itself, without regard for laser treatments, surgeries, artificial lenses, and happy thoughts.

This sucks.

The newest wave in hair care

I had a good holiday weekend. I took it easy friday night, and just hung about in the apartment. Saturday afternoon I headed down to Andre’s in Indianapolis. He was having a get-together for the holiday weekend, and probably his last before he bows out of bachelor-dom officially. We took it easy Saturday night and played some pool and watched football while enjoying some tasty cold keg-dispensed beverages.

Sunday was party day, and we didn’t waste any time, from my perspective anyway. I woke up at my customary 11-something AM, and beers were being dispensed in the 1pm hour. People started showing up around 3pm, and much merryment ensued. Lawn games were played, food was grilled, and good times were had. Also, thanks to some drinking game horseplay and hijinks, I can now truthfully say that I’ve had a beer poured on my head by an attractive girl, if that’s ever a good thing.

In other news, the Gentoo install on my workstation is complete for the most part. I’ve still got some configuration to dink with, but that’s best done for times of boredom. The X configuration I had working flawlessly before the reinstall full-out hardware lockups with the new install, so I had to start fresh. Not a horrible thing, but annoying. I’ve yet to get all the fun hardware acceleration working, so I’m stuck with slow-rendering graphics for the time being.

I’m also thinking that I need to make some time to try to take apart The Bolt and do some maintenance on it. After a few years of playing, the finish I put on the neck has started to get tacky and it has been rubbing away when I play it. There’s a pretty good hole in the finish down near the end of the neck. I guess that’s what I get for using plain furniture-grade varnish. Thing is, I doubt I’ll be able to strip the finish that’s there properly, so I may end up having to buy a new neck altogether and starting the process anew. I also want to redo the electronics in the guitar as well. It’s only been running with one pickup for a while now, and I’d like to remedy that. I like the feeling of the Bolt a lot more than I do my Strat, but its tone is very one-dimensional with only one pickup.