The Highways and Byways of the Stratosphere

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Saturday, August 30
1. YACCS seems to be down. That sucks. I doubt I got any comments anyway, though.
2. Why can't I sign into Hotmail with more than one screen name at a time?
3. I'm going to visit my uncle this evening.

Friday, August 29
I sometimes feel that I have unrealistic expectations regarding this blog. While I very rarely read or comment on the blogs (or livejournals or diarylands or whatever) of people I don't know, I'd like to get comments on here from people who don't know me. That's what I think at the moment, anyway; maybe I would change my mind if strangers started leaving a lot of "you're an idiot" types of comments. Then again, maybe I AM an idiot, and that kind of comment would alert me to the fact.

Does anyone know where I can get a decent free guestbook for my web page? Or does anyone even use guestbooks anymore?

Beth, Dorothea, and I went to Clementon Park yesterday. It was pretty fun, even though the Jackrabbit, the only roller coaster there, wasn't running. Also, we were pretty annoyed to find that they closed the lines for all of the rides about fifteen minutes before the park actually closed. This was certainly different from Great Adventure, where they seemed to be letting people get in line right up until closing time.

Thursday, August 28
Last night, Beth and I saw a free Erin McKeown concert. The opener was Jim Boggia, who was actually in 4-Way Street, a band we had seen perform at the Appel Farm Folk Festival last year. I wasn't that thrilled by 4-Way Street, though, nor was I especially thrilled by Jim solo. Oh, well. Erin's set was pretty good. She has some great songs, and others that are less great, but it was fun overall. She performed with a guitarist and a drummer. After the concert, Beth bought a T-shirt, and we both got her to sign stuff (in my case, a free postcard advertising her new album).

It's been a long time since anyone commented on anything I wrote. Are my entries that boring?

Wednesday, August 27
So, yes, we went to the concert at the Tweeter Center tonight. We had pit seats, which should have been really good, and they were, in terms of the view. Unfortunately, the seats themselves were crappy folding chairs that were packed in tightly. That wasn't such a big deal, but it was annoying. Ben Folds didn't seem quite as into it as he was last time. He played a very similar setlist, but he didn't talk as much this time. He did say that he liked playing venues in the Philadelphia area, which is apparently different from the attitude of most other performers. His setlist included a George Michael song, which was certainly different from last time. One song that was the same but great to hear again was the unreleased "They Give No Fuck."

Unlike Ben, Tori Amos played a very different set this time. Songs she played that I'd never heard live before (as far as I can remember, anyway; I don't really recall much of the setlist from my first Tori show) included "Caught A Lite Sneeze," "Little Amsterdam," "Not The Red Baron," "Josephine," "Girl," "Hotel," and, as the last song of the night, "Horses." Yes, very heavy on Boys for Pele songs, for anyone keeping track. It was a great show.

Tonight, Beth and I are going to be seeing Erin McKeown at a free concert. That should be fun, and not only because it's free. According to Ms. McKeown's Pollstar listing, though, she's apparently going to be opening for the Dave Matthews Band in Massachusetts in September. Does that mean I have to hate her now? I suppose I'll give her the benefit of the doubt, and assume that it wasn't her choice.

Tuesday, August 26
My advice for the day: Driving with a Slurpee between your legs isn't really such a good idea.

Tonight, Beth, her cousin Dorothea, and I will be seeing Ben Folds and Tori Amos. This will be my fourth time seeing each of them.

Monday, August 25
Why does the "delete" key never seem to work correctly on library computers? Oh, well. This flat screen monitor is pretty cool, anyway.

I'm at the new library in my county. It's a pretty nice place, and a very new building, unlike the main county library, which recently had part of the roof collapse or something. I applied for a job here, but they wouldn't give me one.

Sunday, August 24
Well, I did go to Borders after work, and I bought the Minus Five's Down with Wilco. Based on what I've heard from and read about the Minus Five, most of their songs aren't as upbeat as Scott McCaughey's work with the Young Fresh Fellows, and I'd say that's true of this disc. It's still quite good, though. There's a song on it called "View From Below," and the Fellows' first album has a song called "View From Above," so I wonder if there's some kind of connection there. So far, I think my favorite song on Down with Wilco is "Retrieval Of You," which contains the line, "I'm a former record star. They call me DJ Mini-Mart, 'cause that's where I work." In somewhat of an odd connection, I recently received the Corn Sisters (made up of Neko Case and Carolyn Mark) CD that I had ordered for Beth, and Scott McCaughey apparently mixed it. It's a small musical world, I suppose.

Saturday, August 23
This will probably be my last quiz result for today. I'm pretty bored. Only one person has asked for reference help so far.

computer hacking
I'm better at computers than you are, I know who
you are and what you do online... Muahahaha

What Less Than Legal Act are YOU? (includes pictures)
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You are closest to the Lord Ganesha. Althogh he has
an interseting feature of looking like and
elephant, his power makes him strong and
faithful. Lord Ganesh is the God to remove all
obstacles in life. And because of his unique
figure, one of his forces is that he looks
beyond one's outer apearance. You are most like
this Great God because you are strong and not
all that judgemental but, you are human and it
can be something in you like all the rest of
us. Well Lord Ganesh like many other gods and
goddess are just all incarnations of the one
almighty god.

What Hindu God or Goddess are you like?
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What kind of AIM-er are you?
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That's pretty much true. I'm usually on IM when I'm online (except at work), but I generally won't IM anyone unless I actually have something to say, Beth being the exception to that rule. I'll talk to anyone who IMs me, though, unless they're a spammer or start the conversation with "ASL?".

The picture for now is of the Sawhorse, Ozma's personal steed.

Is there any particular reason why gas prices have gone up so much as of late? Probably has something to do with the Middle East, or some nonsense like that. Maybe if the country weren't run by rich oil tycoons, they'd be able to come up with some fuel that wasn't so expensive and messy, and didn't require killing people to obtain.

Anyway, yesterday, Beth and I went to see Ben Folds and Tori Amos at the PNC Bank Arts Center. Beth had gotten us some cheap lawn seats, and, luckily for us, they were upgraded to indoor seats. I'm assuming not as many people turned out as they would have hoped, which was unfortunate, but I guess it worked out pretty well for us. Beth also won some free drinks from some eBay scratch-off game. The show itself was really good. Ben played for about an hour, and his setlist included some new stuff (including a song he was premiering live at the show), as well as some classics. Before playing "Rockin' The Suburbs," he explained how the song was inspired by Korn dissing Ben Folds Five in some magazine (Rolling Stone, I think).

While I didn't think Tori's setlist was as good this time as when we saw her back in November, there were some pleasant surprises, including "God" and "Past The Mission." She played quite a few songs I didn't know at all. There were some girls in front of us who got really excited when Tori played "Baker Baker," which I thought was kind of weird, since that song never really excited me that much (sort of the same deal as "Tear In Your Hand," which also got a really warm reception from the audience), but there's no accounting for tastes, I suppose. One thing Beth and I talked about after the show was that there isn't usually as much variety in Tori's live performances as on her albums, and we think a large part of that might be that her band (a bassist and a drummer) play pretty much the same way on every song. I did like the drum part on "Wednesday," though. Tori played for almost two hours. I think she puts on a really good live show. When I saw her the first time back in college, I wasn't sure I would ever want to see her again, but I think I was mostly turned off by the fact that I hadn't heard most of the songs (this was during the From the Choirgirl Hotel tour, and I had only heard Little Earthquakes at the time), and the fact that the sound quality was lousy, especially when she talked. The other two shows I've seen were great, and I'm hoping the one on Tuesday will be as well.

It was Tori's birthday, and, in between her main set and the encores, Ben came out to lead the crowd in singing "Happy Birthday." I thought that was cool. I don't think I've ever seen a performer on his or her birthday before.

Also last night, I finished reading Wicked. This book was a bestseller at one point, I believe. It's basically sort of alternate perspective on the story of The Wizard of Oz, with the Wicked Witch of the West (named "Elphaba," in a tribute to L. Frank Baum) being a basically good woman who is opposed to the totalitarian regime of the Hitler-esque Wizard of Oz. I had started reading this book back in my senior year of college, which isn't exactly the most glowing praise for it. It was pretty long (or it seemed like it was, anyway; I don't think the page count was actually that high), and it dragged in spots. I liked parts of it, though. I think it was best when it stuck most directly to re-examining the plot and background of The Wizard of Oz, most of which took place toward the end. The various mentions of how Elphaba managed to avoid water for so long were well-done, I thought. As a big fan of the Oz books, I think I would have liked it if it had been done more consistently with them; it was primarily based on the MGM movie, with some book elements thrown in. From a commercial perspective, though, I guess this makes sense; a lot more people have seen the movie. There were some elements of Wicked that contradicted the books and weren't covered in the movie, like the origin of the Winged Monkeys, and when the witches gained power relative to the Wizard's arrival.

Right now, I'm at work, and I will be until 5. After that, I'll probably go to Borders, since there's one right near here.

Thursday, August 21
In honor of Ozma's birthday, here's a picture of her. I don't intend this to be permanent, but the last picture lasted a lot longer than I wanted it to.

So, I went to the fire training session yesterday, where I learned about fire extinguishers and the EvacuTrak, which is something you can use to transport people down the stairs. I rode on it for a little while. I guess I'm now prepared in the event of a fire. At least I hope I am.

Today is the birthday of Ozma, Queen of Oz. I'm not even going to guess how old she is, though. That's a matter of too much debate.

Tomorrow, Beth and I are seeing Tori Amos and Ben Folds in concert. That should be fun, even if we do have lawn seats and it's supposed to rain.

Tuesday, August 19
Yesterday, Beth and I went to Great Adventure. It was fun, although it seemed awfully crowded for a Monday. We didn't ride that many rides, but we managed to go on a few that we had missed last time. Beth forced me to go on the ferris wheel, which I really don't like that much, since it stops at the top. I'm afraid of heights, but usually only if I have to stay up there for a prolonged period of time; I don't mind tall roller coasters and the like. There were a lot of line-cutters there, sometimes doing so right in front of security guards. I wonder if they ever actually HAVE thrown anyone out of the park for cutting in line, as signs at all the rides warn that they'll do.

On the way home, we followed some truck with the words "Helmut Lang," a picture of some guy (possibly Helmut Lang, but I'm not sure), and an anarchy symbol on the back. Pretty weird graffiti, if you ask me. I searched for "Helmut Lang" on the Internet, and it looks like he's a fashion designer, so there were either multiple graffiti artists involved here, or else an anarchist who liked to keep up with fashion.

Tomorrow, I have to go for some fire safety training session at my workplace. Sounds like lots of fun.

Sunday, August 17
I was in my dad's apartment for the last time last night. It's going to be weird not being able to go there anymore, but there's no help for it at this point. Right now, I'm working at the library. After work, I'm going to take Beth to the movies to see Freddy vs. Jason. I guess that's all I have to say for now.

Friday, August 15
Well, my dad has left for Albuquerque for good. The apartment isn't entirely cleaned out; my mom, my brother, and I are going over tomorrow to finish. We did a lot of moving today, though, and I didn't care for it. I don't think I'll ever help anyone move again, except possibly Beth, so don't bother asking. I don't really have the physical strength to lift heavy objects, the physical endurance to walk back and forth so much (especially up and down stairs), or the mental and emotional stamina to keep working on a task that is so ill-defined and seems unending. We ended up throwing a lot of stuff away. My mom thought it was stupid of me to get rid of silverware, but I really wasn't in the mood to sort through it and decide what I might need later. Maybe I'll regret it when I get my own place (assuming I do) and have to buy my own silverware, but my dad's stuff wasn't that nice anyway, and I don't really foresee myself buying a full set of silverware unless I get a house. Anyway, yeah, moving sucks, but hopefully I'll be done with it for a while after tomorrow. Well, actually, I hope to get my own place before too much longer, but moving just your stuff isn't anywhere near as bad as clearing out an entire place.

Thursday, August 14
Frank Black commented thusly on Clay Aiken's version of "Bridge Over Troubled Water" in a Rolling Stone article:

"There are certain cover songs you just shouldn't bother with. I mean, 'Bridge Over Troubled Water' - you don't want to touch that one. But plenty of others have made that mistake."

Say Anything...

What movie Do you Belong in?(many different outcomes!)
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I saw that once, but I don't remember it all that well.

Most of my stuff has been moved out of my dad's apartment now, but I still need to stop by after work and get the rest. My mom is upset that there's so much stuff in her house now, but really, where else am I going to put it? I wish it didn't have to be there, but I can't afford my own apartment, and it's really not enough to justify renting a storage locker or something.

Wednesday, August 13
Last night, I had a dream that I was changing my shirt on the staircase at work and some guy got really mad at me, and another one that I was trying to buy a frozen pizza at the grocery store, and could only find ones with mint-flavored crusts. Weird.

Tuesday, August 12
I've gotten so little e-mail today. I wish I would get a Nonestica mailing sometime soon. There's supposed to be a new Book of Current Focus discussion going on, but so far no one but me has said much about it. Perhaps that's because the book (The Scalawagons of Oz) is widely considered to be one of the worst Oz books, but maybe not.

My dad is taking the cable modem back tomorrow. That's too bad, but there's nothing that can be done about it at this point. Besides, if it wasn't tomorrow, it would have been Thursday. This means I won't be online tomorrow night, but does anyone really care?

Sunday, August 10
My dad is giving up the apartment and moving to New Mexico for good on Friday morning. That means I'll have to live with my mom, and I don't think it'll be much fun there. It's really hot in the summer and really cold in the winter, the bathtub apparently isn't working correctly (and my mom isn't planning on fixing it anytime soon), and I won't be able to use my computer, at least at first. According to my mom, if I'm there for over a month or so (which I probably will be, the way things are going now), we might work out some way I can hook up my computer, but for the time being, I'll have to use my sister's computer to access the Internet, and only for brief periods of time every day. I'm not really sure what I'll do without access to a computer. I can't even remember what I did before I had one, aside from reading Oz books (which I still do). I guess I'll have to get another job as soon as I can, just so I'll have something to do during the day, but I haven't had much luck in finding a part-time job. Maybe some retail positions will open up when the students working there for the summer go back to school. Not that I really like working retail (too much standing), but at least it would be something to do. Anyway, I probably won't be online as much in the next month or so, not that anyone really cares.

Saturday, August 9
Moving is incredibly stupid. If you can help it, never move.

Today, Beth, her Uncle John, and I ate at Quizno's. I had an Italian sub, and it was good. I think I agree with Beth in liking Quizno's better than Subway now. The fact that Subway started cutting their bread in the normal way instead of with the wedge cut is pretty annoying. Of course, Quizno's doesn't use the wedge cut either, but they never did in the first place. It just seems wrong for Subway to have switched, because the wedge cut was kind of their "thing," you know? Regardless of how they cut the bread, though, I just haven't liked Subway that much the last few times I've been there.

My dad is moving out soon, and I'm probably going to have to help him, even though I don't want to. He's moved so many times, and he always becomes a dangerous combination of gung-ho and flustered about it. He's just obsessed about it, and it seems to bother him when other people AREN'T really that obsessed. I hate moving, personally, and I hope that I won't have to do it much more.

Wednesday, August 6
I don't really have much to say. I got rejected for another job today, which is kind of depressing. Not to mention that I don't even have any hours for my full-time job during the last two weeks of August. The library is closing early most of those days, and they don't need part-time reference librarians. Other than that, though, I'm doing pretty well.