Olfactory time machine.

Spending the night in Kirkland in preparation for a day at corporate tomorrow.   It would have been nice to come over early and hang out with friends today, but I got stuck at the office (as usual).

After checking in at the front desk, I moved the truck set out to find my room.  Walking down the hall I was struck by an odd familiarity.  Odd because I’ve never been here before.  Closing my eyes for a moment, I try to isolate what this familiarity is.  All at once it hits me:  I’m sitting  in my dad’s basement reading a Garfield book.  It’s 1980-something.  I can smell the sawdust from dad’s woodworking tools mingling with the oil and exhaust of the garage.  Everything is underlined by a smell of cigarette smoke, but not overpowered by it.  I can see the pool table in front of me, and smell the wrapping paper from “Santa’s workshop.”  I can hear my evil stepsister playing her Annie record for the 500th time, and even remember playing with a GI Joe toy, which was the last thing Grandma Douglas got me before she passed (she never had the chance to give it to me.  Dad found it in her closet with my name on it).  I know that Cindy is around somewhere, probably listening to a crappy Air Supply mixtape recorded off the radio.  Later we’ll probably all go ride our bikes down to the gas station and I’ll buy some Garbage Pail Kids cards.  There follows a period of memory-hopping; Air Supply leads to a christmas in Nanimo, with Cindy playing that damn tape on a loop all night, which leads to a Christmas in Oroville that we all got up at 3am and opened all our presents, which leads to the house at Deep Bay.  All of this passes in less then a minute.

Then I walk in my hotel room and it’s gone.  No Star Wars sheets and bunk bed.  The 1980’s are replaced with the sterile, institutional-clean bleached smell that only hotel bedding seems to have.  I’m left with odd shadows of memories.  Odd because I haven’t thought about this stuff in what feels like 100 years.  Now I lay here hours later, and my mind is stuck in decades ago.

It’s like clicking through a bunch of Wikipedia links, and opening other pages on each article you read.  Going from looking up the chemical makeup of a blue highlighter to Icelandic fishing traditions to mating ritual of a tibetan monk (which is nothing like that of the Catholic priest).

Memories like these that have the power to make you feel coldly alone, yet warmly comforted and consoled.  It’s an odd form of ADD, and I imagine it’s a weak precursor to a geezer’s full blown “remember when” episode.  I could deal with that, I think.  The brain tends to erase the bad stuff, and leave you with a white-washed, user friendly version of events passed, and that’s just fine with me.

Now it’s 2010, and I can hop on iTunes & buy a couple Air Supply songs.  I can browse through extensive websites about Garbage Pail Kids & GI Joes…  Hell, I could probably even find some Star Wars sheets on eBay (ones without Jar Jar, thank you very much). But Even though you can buy all the stuff, you can’t buy back the time.  And that’s what makes the memories so valuable.

Vehicular Weekend

Sunday was spent working on the KLR. I really wanted to go for a ride a couple weeks ago, but even though I’ve had it on a battery tender, it wouldn’t start. The stock battery put up with my abuse for two years, and finally figured out it wasn’t going to change me and moved on (is there a specific ribbon color for abused & neglected motorcycle batteries?).  After looking around at some replacement options, I settled on a kit from Happy Trail.

It took two weeks (with no communication from them) before they shipped, which sucked. It’s tough to be driving around in a truck on a nice sunny day and see a bunch of bikes on the road.  Other than that I was pretty happy with the kit. I got it installed in just a few hours (I should note that this isn’t just a battery replacement. This is a kit, altering how the battery mounts on the bike, and replacing the factory battery cables). The Odyssey battery actually sits on its side in he bike, and there’s a bit of re-wiring involved in making that happen.  The whole process is pretty involved.  If anyone is interested, you can see videos & pictures here.

During the process, you have to unbolt the exhaust header so you can swivel the pipe out of the way, and get to the negative battery cable’s frame mount.  Imagine my surprise finding the exhaust header bolts not even finger tight, but barely hanging on the threads.  This sort of thing really shouldn’t surprise me anymore.  What else do you expect from a thumper, though, right?

The culmination of all this work was a nice relaxing bike ride. We haven’t had the bikes out since we moved up here in October, and that’s way too long.  Unfortunately, Joe didn’t feel like working on his bike, so it was a solo ride.  His loss!  I didn’t stop anywhere exciting (Starbucks & Walmart), and I didn’t take any pictures. But damn if it didn’t make my whole week to be back on two wheels.  I don’t know if it was having a solid new battery in there, or tightening up the exhaust system, but it seemed to run a little better than I remember, too.

Depending on the volunteer duties, I might even be able to ride it for the Spring Fever Poker Run!

iBooks / Kindle et al

I just finished my first entire e-book on the iPad. Having recently finished “I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell” on my Kindle (first gen), I was looking for something a little more mature… I grabbed “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” by Seth Grahame-Smith from the iBook store, having nearly bought the hardback a couple times.  (I am quite aware of the irony of eschewing the Kindle for the iPad, then linking to Amazon about the book).

The book was quite enjoyable. I love the mix of history and fiction. I’ve always been a fan of history, the Civil War era especially, and this twist was an interesting change from the standard history texts. No dry, boring reciting of dates here. The author did a wonderful job. While some reviewers seem to think there is too much gore, I don’t think any of it was out of line with the story or the times.

I’m not sure I like reading books on the iPad, though. There’s this bug (they’ll call it a “feature”) where you can tap on a word, and instantly search either Google or Wikipedia with a single click. This horrible little bit of code nearly doubled the amount of time it took me to read the novel. Every couple pages in the book I was back in Wikipedia. And of course Wikipedia is rife with internal links, which open so nicely without disturbing your current article, so before you know it you have five windows open, and have completely forgotten where you started. It is a nefarious plot dreamt up by Apple & Wikipedia to prevent me from ever being productive again!

I’ll edit this on a computer later and touch things up a bit (edit – done). Just have one or two more things to finish reading on Wikipedia…

Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter

(book image copyright - um - whoever the copyright of the book image belongs to)

Snow

Woke up this morning to howling winds and… snow. Yay? Maybe. Makes it a rough, nasty day for the techs. And people ask me why I moved to sales! The iPhone pic really doesn’t do it justice. It’s snowing sideways.

** and an updated picture from lunch.   Right about the time all the snow had melted…

WordPress

So obviously I still have a lot to learn about WordPress.  So far, I’m very impressed with the ability to customize.  I’ve re-themed the site, and am figuring out how to add some cool additional features.   My twitter account now shows on the sidebar, along with links to some friends.  They’re in alphabetical order (sorry Yancy) until I learn how to sort things.  I could do a simple HTML table, I guess….

I’m finding more uses for the iPad, as well.  I’m underwhelmed with the WordPress app, unfortunately.  It seems rather buggy; more like a beta product.  Here I am complaining about free stuff again.   It will work wonderfully for short posts, or to put up some pictures.  I got my first little itty bitty scratch on the screen (no crying…  yet).  I really need to get the thing in a protective case.  I ordered one from Apple today, and it should be here before the end of the week.  Until then, I might have to leave my precious at home.  (you heard “precious” in Gollum’s voice, right?)

Blowout

Last Saturday, before we left for the Sounders game, our TV gave up the ghost. Can’t complain, because we got at least 10,000 hours out of a 6,000 hour bulb, and it was pretty inexpensive and really easy to replace. The old bulb was pretty gnarley, though.

thousands of couch-potato hours

This blog has moved

Not that anyone will notice, but I’ve moved off of Blogger.com.   They dropped FTP support, and their “transition process” was pretty byzantine.  Oddly enough, it was easier to switch.   Plus there’s a cool WordPress app for the iPhone & iPad.   So, I don’t know if anyone has an RSS setup or anything, and I don’t know if it will follow.

Somehow, I doubt it.

**update**

Blog is now back live on nxtplato.com.   woot!   There might be more growing pains as I learn how to use the WordPress software.