Saturday, September 27, 2008

Screw you

So my landlord woke up and realized there is a problem. With Smoking Woman.

A new security door will be ordered, at our expense of course, but hey, it will eliminate the noise from the stairwell (though I will miss being able to hear Sport Fanatic neighbour scream like Homer).

Also they will measure if the pressure in our apartment is too low, thus allowing Smoking Woman's evil vapors to encroach on our peace of mind. The ventilation, which dates from the sixties and was probably designed in the darkest regions of the Soviet Union, might have to be tweaked. I fully expect this to be perfomed by some long dead service person, brought back to a semblance of life by one of the many necromancers I am sure are in our landlord's employ.

And yes, I'm not writing as much as I would want to. I hope to change that after this weekend when my laptop is back in the game. Words. Do come easy to me.

Monday, September 22, 2008

On the road

Driving through a fallish Sweden, going south to visit one of our customer service sites. Last night I had to get up and air out our bedroom because of Smoking Woman. At half past eleven I got up again and wrote our landlord an angry email. Waiting for an answer. I am pretty much prepared to go to war over this...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Better to be a geek than an idiot

The laptop remains dead. Why? I brought it back to work, having proven that I don't deserve a hardware geek badge. Ze geeks looked at the harddrive, and exclaimed "This isn't European!".

Which meant ix-nay on the ires-way. The option presented to me was to buy an adapter. On eBay. From Korea. I turned to the Other Geeks.

See, there's a difference. I always start with the geeks that work tech support. Those geeks talk to our customers on a daily basis, and have at least the semblance of social skills. In the bowels of our office there's a whole other breed of geek, that only speak in BASIC, and firmly believe that graphic user interfaces are for amateurs.

I used to work there, though I've never been able to reach those levels of geekiness. I've moved on to work at Marketing, which is a major faux pas if you're a geek. I've sort of been able to get away with it, and I still hear "you used to work at Networks so you should understand this" at meetings. Most of them believe it's only a matter of time before I show up for work wearing a suit and tie, with a clean-shaven chin. Oh the horror.

So I went down there, maneuvering between full-sized Stormtrooper cutouts, piles of discarded servers and pinball machines. But not really. The pinball machines are in the basement, the servers are stacked against the walls so you don't have to walk around them, and the Stormtrooper cutout is...well, that's actually there.

All your Deathstars are belong to me

They rolled their eyes when I said "Windows". They rolled them again as I said "service pack". They smiled smugly as I said "laptop crash". Then they said "mini OS on a USB stick".

That was Friday. Monday and Tuesday I'm off to customer service for meetings. So on Wednesday I should be rebooting my laptop from a USB stick, and saving the files I haven't backed up. Goodness.

Oh. And I've learnt that in Latvian "Internet" is "Internets". And "Vista" is "chicken". Suddenly a lot of things make more sense.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Boy, I guess you picked the wrong train

I have an hour-long commute to and from work. In the mornings, it's OK. I read, I listen to music, I wake up properly. Or go into the commute coma, which isn't OK, but better than the ride home.

Going from work is hell. I almost always travel during rush hour, so there are all these people around to annoy me. Why can't people just stay home when I go out? Today a woman sat down across from me on the train, and within thirty seconds she tapped me on the leg. I removed my headphones, and she asked me to turn the music down.

What. The. Fuck.

Next to us were two teenage girls, talking and laughing, loudly. Further down a baby was screaming. And she asks me to turn the music down?

I told her that if she had a problem with the volume she could just move. Then I put my headphones back on and resumed my reading. I was tempted to find the most bass heavy track I could, and turn the volume all the way up.

I realize people can find music spilling out of headphones irritating. I don't care. If that makes me an asshole, so be it. Again: I don't care. If you have a problem with noise, stay indoors. Or wear earplugs. Squealing teenage girls and all them annoying children/babies/toddlers/goblins are much worse noise pollutants anyway.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I would love to stand here and talk with you... but I'm not going to.

But really, I am.

We decided to fry up some shrimp and halloumi today, and build us some serious sandwiches. When we visited New Orleans in April, we bought a jar of Frank Davis Stricly N'Awlins Barbecued Shrimp Seasoning (try saying that five times in a row, really fast). We've only used it in minor quantities until now.

Tonight eighteen shrimp went in a bag, which I held while Mah Girl poured some seasoning over them. A great big gout of spices exploded into the bag. And out of the bag.

Let me put it this way. I doubt the New Orleans police department uses Mace or pepper spray to subdue criminals. Instead, they visit Frank Davis once a year, buy a truckload of his seasoning, and load up their spray cans. If someone ever tries to invade my home, I know what I'm arming myself with.

The laptop remains dead. Three geeks with oceans and oceans of PC know-how looked at it, hummed and hawed and concluded that the only thing I can do is reinstall Windows (the power of Christ compels you!).

It's not really this broken.

I have been a Good Boy and done backups regularly on an external harddrive, and them geeks supplied me with a bagfull of wires and gizmos so I can pull the drive and extract whichever files aren't backed up, since reinstalling Windows will wipe all of it. I tried today, but couldn't even figure out which wire goes into which part of the drive. And I'm supposed to be a technical boy (again with the microwave). For shame.

Tomorrow I bring all of it to work again, and hope that The Mighty Morphin' Power Geeks can help me, hands-on. Fingers crossed, y'all.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

We apologize for the inconvenience but Windows did not start successfully

*insert long string of curse words here*

I've been using an LG laptop for almost two years now. A fairly powerful but above all portable little friend, that can go with me on writing excursions. Today I downloaded the latest XP upgrade, and now the fucker (as in Windows, not the laptop) won't start properly.

*insert another long string of curse words here*

And while I am, in many ways, both a geek and a technical boy, error handling for PCs is not my forte (and as we all know, not for microwaves either). I have now spent 45 minutes trying to figure out what's wrong, and the only thing I do know is that a lot of other people have similar problems after installing the upgrade. However, exchanges on geek forums quickly get a wee bit too technical for me, so I'm just going to sulk and wait until tomorrow when I can have a real computer geek look at it, at work.

I work with a lot of geeks. Or at least I used to. Now I'm in Sales & Marketing, though still with the word "technical" in my job description, but previously I was below decks in the network department for five years. Some of the people that work there make me look and feel like I don't know which end is up on a laptop. Or an SS7 network, for that matter. Tomorrow I will aim their geekiness at my beloved laptop. A pox on Microsoft in case my geeks can't solve my problem. Well, a pox either way, but an especially virulent one if my laptop be dead.

Heeeeere’s Beardo!

“Internet at home free workweek” was sort of a success. I was home sick two days, and couldn’t stay away completely. But outside office hours I was a good boy, and apart from the post below, which was sent from my phone, I didn’t write anything here at all. Yay for me!


Now, to be honest, if I were forced to go without Internet access or (horror of horrors) my cellphone for an extended period of time, I would probably freak out like Johnny here.

Hectic weeks ahead. All sorts of activities planned, from visits to our customer service to nerdiness to watching friends play live. On October 4th I’ll be playing some CDs when some other friends support M.A.N. Again, yay for me!

The mighty Come Sleep at KGB.
Jesper from FingerspitzengefĂŒhl to the right.

Monday, September 8, 2008


Boxes and stuffs

Sunday, September 7, 2008


As in “What would Vic Mackey do?”

We went to the movies today, to see Pixar’s new flick, Wall-E. All the Pixar movies except Cars are lined up in our DVD shelf, I’m an avid sci-fi fan and we’ve both been charmed by the trailers, so expectations were high. Without spoiling it for anyone, I can say that it wasn’t as brilliant as I wanted it to be.

I need to see it again though. Why? Because of the father-daughter combo next to me that just wouldn’t shut up. “What’s that?” “Why did he do that?” “Why is that thing glowing?” “What did he do now?” An endless stream of questions. I seriously considered going The Shield on their asses.

Instead, I told them to shut up. Once. It didn’t help. So I glowered and sulked instead. Very positive for my mental health.

I’m also considering applying the Vic Mackey brand of justice to our next door neighbor. She smokes like a chimney, and it’s starting to seep into our apartment. We’ve had to air out our bedroom lately before we go to bed.

But again, I won’t be kicking in her door, Smith & Wesson in hand. Instead, I’ll call our landlord tomorrow and complain. It’s the grownup thing to do.

Oh. On our way home we met a frog. Meet the frog.

The Net is a waste of time, and that's exactly what's right about it

I’ve been a regular user of the Internet (the technical term is BBI, Big Bad Internet) since the early 90’s. I like the Internet. The whole idea of a basically unrestricted playground and repository of knowledge appeals to me on oh so many levels.

Currently I’m a fairly active member of Facebook and Helgon (the first one because I’m a follower, not a leader, and the second one to come closer to my inner goth) and post on a few music forums as well. I have a plethora of email addresses for various purposes (my beardy one, a serious one for sending out job applications and such, two for various games and an old one or two still sloshing about) and, as you know, recently decided to start this
blog as well. The BBI is my friend. We cuddle every day.

And therein lays the problem. Maintaining a digital presence is time consuming. I have no intention of ever stopping completely, but right now I have more important things to focus on, so as of now I’m declaring this “Internet at home free week”. I can check email and communities and stuff from work. As of Monday morning, I won’t turn my private laptop on until Saturday morning.

Alright, so I’m cheating. Five days. Call it “Internet at home free workweek”. Longest. Title. Ever. Unless you count Red Sparowes.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


Once again, welcome to Like/Don’t like Saturdays.

beardonaut likes:
Hangover TV: How I Met Your Mother, Scrubs, Family Guy, The Amazing Race, Dead Fish, Pirates of the Caribbean, etc. I’ve been awake for over 15 hours now, at least 13 of which have been spent on the couch, watching TV. I will continue to bask in TV's warm glowing glow.

beardonaut doesn’t like:
Hangovers. If I wasn’t suffering from it today, I would research the biology of it all, as outlined briefly here. Instead, I say good night.

I thrive on chaos

It’s been a hectic week. We launched new products on Wednesday, and I had to work my bearded ass off to fix all the minor (and some not so minor) glitches that always appear before, during and after such a launch. Monday through Thursday, as well as a few days in the week before, were intense.

On Wednesday I met two friends, who’ve never met before, for dinner and a beer or two. A fine time was had. Meat was eaten, though not by all. TV shows and politics and work were discussed. It was a very unpretentious get-together. I need to meet more of my friends outside of the usual circumstances in which we meet.

On Thursday I had my creative writing group (“crony huddle” being the term our teacher uses). Another fine time was had. Stories were read. Stories were discussed. I always come away from those meetings with a mixed feeling of inspiration and terror. There are such good writers in the class and in my huddle that I sometimes feel like I should format my hard drive and stop playing at being a writer, but at the same time the energy that I bring with me from the huddles is so powerful that I couldn’t live with myself unless I channeled it into words on a page.

And last night was the annual party at our company. Over 1000 people, a Russian mafia theme and plenty o’ drinks.

Yes. It's a boa.
The hat is several sizes too small. 99.99 percent of all hats are.

A very good time was had. Perhaps too good, judging by the size of the scrap metal salvage yard that decided to open shop inside my head today. I blame the co-worker who managed to score I don’t know how many bottles of wine. I never drink. Wine.

And not really never, but rarely. I’m more of a beer person. But the wine was there, it was free and it fit the hat and the boa and the whole theme of the evening. Though the champagne and caviar we had during intermission between the information part and the party part was even more fitting.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

These are my tombs

I’m a fairly serious music fan. Or rather, music is a very serious thing to me. I have very firm opinions on what I like and don’t like. And above all, what everyone else should like. I’m always right. Except in some cases when I’m up against mistlur

But sometimes things happen that take it to a whole other level of seriousness even for me.

In November 2006, my friend Henrik passed away. I found out in a very strange way, that I won’t go into now, since it’s a long story, but I was at work and took it hard. I basically just packed up my stuff and rushed out of there. Like always, I pulled on my headphones and pressed Play.

Converge’s “Grim Heart/Black Rose” came on. It’s the only song off “No Heroes” where they use clean, melodious lyrics instead of Bannon’s tortured screams, and at almost ten minutes it’s five times longer than the average song on that album. It’s one of those songs that just builds and builds, layer upon layer of melodies and emotion, until it explodes in all-out Converge signature chaos. I walked to the subway in tears.

Since then that song has been associated with him, and his death, closely tied to the emotions I went through that day. I haven’t been able to listen to it unless I’m in a good mood.

The same goes for Come Sleep’s “For Sleep” (not the version on the album, strangely enough, but the one on the “I Am Ahab” demo – and yes, mistlur, I know it’s called “Skull of Ahab” but I consider myself hardcore enough to go with the first name) and System of a Down’s “Lonely Day”.

We were supposed to go see Come Sleep, Henrik and I, a few days after he passed away. I went anyway, and was again reduced to tears as the band dedicated that particular song to my grief and loss. And the SOAD song was played at the funeral. Again, tears.

All three songs are now tied to him, and those weeks around his passing and his funeral.

Today, on my way to my creative writing group, I went to visit Henrik at the graveyard. I sat on a bench, underneath the drooping branches of an old tree planted there, and listened to “Grim Heart/Black Rose”. At the other end of the bench a woman was sitting, smoking, staring at a vase of flowers on the memory stand. From the looks of her, I would say she was much more recently bereaved.

I felt at peace, and think that I may have, at least on some level, come to terms with the fact that he isn’t around anymore. I still think about him a lot, and probably always will, but the warm memories now far outweigh the horror of finding out he was gone. And so, I have through the passage of time, also come to terms with at least one of those songs. Time will tell if that goes for the other two as well.

Monday, September 1, 2008

1f u c4n r34d th1s u r34lly n33d t0 g37 l41d

It should come as a surprise to no one that I am a geek... Hello? Anyone? Surprised? No? Damn.

I spent (misspent?) large parts of my youth with my nose in comic books, rolling oddly shaped dice to determine whether my elf would be able to bash in the skull of an orc/troll/dragon/duck/whatever, and playing with Star Wars miniatures. My mother, the Swedish/English teacher, must have been dismayed to have one son with no interest in serious literature (me) and one with no interest in literature whatsoever (my brother). In the end, I think we turned out alright. Ish.

Nowadays I read the occasional graphic novel (comic books with more pages) and roll oddly shaped dice to...eehm...determine whether my elf will be able to bash in the skull of an orc/troll/dragon/duck/whatever. But with more story. And more pages. As for the miniatures, I don't play with them anymore (only when alone on a Friday night, really really drunk), but I still buy them. Not specifically Star Wars, but there are toys all over the place at home. Stewie. Ralph Wiggum. Pinhead. The Sarge.

Frank Kozik's The Sarge

And I spend a lot of time around other geeks. Music geeks, gaming geeks, tech geeks... I've come to the realization that you can be a geek about just about anything.

Back in the day a geek was a computer wiz with glasses with thick rims and questionable hygiene. I can safely say that I fall into none of those categories. I might be more tech savvy than the average Joe, but don't expect me to fix your PC.

By spending time with geeks, I get exposed to a lot of interesting and downright weird phenomena, special interests, sub-cultures, etc.

SETI is one of those phenomena. I have been aware of SETI through various books, movies, TV shows, articles, etc, for quite some time, but I had no idea I could contribute. Readers, meet SETI at home (Wiki, official site). Now go do your part, to help us all find our benevolent friends in the sky (I choose to ignore Alien, War of the Worlds, Predator, Independence Day, Footfall, Martians, the Inhibitors, etc. Real aliens are cuddly-wuddly).

Batman AND a ninja-ish assassin. That's almost too much...

And to continue the geek theme. I walked past a comic book store on Sunday and was unable to resist. The title above and a Lobo trade paperback now sit on my shelves. Mmmm...geeky.