Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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Long time no blog!

In Uncategorized on March 2, 2011 by ryepdx

Well, it’s been a while since I blogged here, hasn’t it? I may have to change the subheading up there to “updates on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays… sometimes.” But I’ll probably start posting here a little more often now that I’ve made two discoveries:
1) I can post audio blogs just by calling a phone number.
2) I can type out blogs and post then on my iPhone via the WordPress app.

This should help this blog get a bit more love. After all, accessibility and the ability to post videos and pictures from my phone is pretty much why my Tumblr has been getting all my attention recently.

But this is all you are getting for now. I am hungry and not in the mood to sit here pecking away at my iPhone screen any longer.

See you next time I post! If you want to be alerted when that happens, just enter your email address in the box at the bottom of the page.

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Management’s Response To My Neighbors

In Uncategorized on February 16, 2011 by ryepdx

I received an e-mail this morning from the guy who manages the apartments I live in. It read:

Hi Ryan.
We are needing to enter your unit. Workers will be adding a pad lock to the attic access in the unit. Is this afternoon or tomorrow morning work?

I guess John and Yoko showed Mr. Manager their photos.

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A Visit From The Neighbors

In Uncategorized on February 14, 2011 by ryepdx

*knock knock*

I put down my guitar and get up from my bed. Perhaps my neighbors are annoyed by my attempts at songwriting?

I open the door to find my neighbors, John and Yoko, standing there with a ladder.

“Hi. We want to get up into your attic,” says John.

“Again?”

“We need to take pictures,” says Yoko.

The management has been ignoring their requests for work on the pipes above their room, claiming that nothing can be done due to the insulation in the attic. But there is no insulation in the attic, as they discovered in their last foray through the access panel in my ceiling.

“Have a cookie,” says Yoko.

“Oh, thanks.” I take the cookie. From anyone else I might have been wary: I’ve learned from Lauren’s encounter with the magical brownies left in the kitchen all those weeks ago. But John and Yoko don’t strike me as the “magical brownie” type.

“You can go back to practicing,” John yells down to me after he’s scrambled up into the attic.

Well, technically it was songwriting, I think, but I don’t correct him. The song I was writing owes far more to my pre-Sound Trash days than to anything before, and as such will probably stay in my notebook for a long, long time. Usually I can’t write if there’s anyone else around, but somehow it’s alright with John and Yoko in my attic. The situation is just weird enough, and they’re far enough removed.

When they return, John’s speaking in a high falsetto. I can’t decide if he’s making fun of Yoko’s high, mousy voice or not. I keep thinking of making a joke about puberty, or about castration, but I’m too polite and I can’t think of a clever way to slip a comment in anyway. (“So, still waiting on your balls to drop?” Nah.)

He keeps talking like this until they leave. I shut the door and go back to songwriting.

I have weird neighbors.

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A Tale of Moving In

In Uncategorized on February 8, 2011 by ryepdx

I moved in to the same apartment Lauren lives in last Friday.

At first it was somewhat depressing. On the first Friday of every month, the apartment is open to outsiders to come in and peruse the works of the artists living here. In my experience there is usually a pretty good crowd. Apparently the crowds have been dwindling as of late though, and the Friday I moved in it was like a ghost town. The Chef (the same one from Lauren’s blog) was blasting away recordings of random sounds. I made a snarky comment about there being a poltergeist about. He just gave me a weird look and I scuttled off to Lauren’s room to see what she was doing.

There was nobody there, aside from her. She was trying to write songs for people, a dollar or two a pop, but the Chef’s noise was making that impossible for her. I wandered off again.

I met the Jerk With Bad Teeth at that point, along with his friends the Cello Player and the Other Musician.

“Hi, I’m Ryan.”

There were introductions all around.

“So, do you live here?” Asked the Cello Player.

“Yeah, as of today. I’m subleasing.”

“Oh, cool.”

We made small talk. I was getting a bad vibe from the Jerk With Bad Teeth. Then, as we parted ways, the Jerk With Bad Teeth said:
“Well, ‘bye. I’ll probably forget your name.”

Except he didn’t say it like most people do. Most people say it apologetically, as in: “I’m sorry, I’m really bad with names, so if I forget yours it’s nothing personal.” This guy? It was more like: “Well, you failed to impress me and thus are not important enough for me to remember your name.”

“I’ve already forgotten yours!” I replied with a smile. It was the one time I was actually glad to be bad with names, though for a while I felt somewhat bad for immediately pegging him as a jerk. I felt less bad after my suspicions were confirmed.

After that? After that things got better. People started coming over to Lauren’s place. I had a nice talk with one of the other people from my college now living here. I went to a folk concert in someone’s studio. Then there was beer and a deep conversation about the universe that left me in a very zen mood.

“I think you are more Buddhist than you think,” I was told.

Yeah, maybe. Aside from that whole neurotic need to control the future. But I’m getting better at letting go and leaving my worries for the day they become relevant. Maybe that’s what’s making me go all zen. Or maybe it’s the Buddha statue someone left in my room.

Buddha, India-style.

I dunno. I’m sure it’s one of those…

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What the hell, Egypt?

In Uncategorized on January 27, 2011 by ryepdx

In recent news, Egypt has disappeared from the Internet.

Okay, that’s not entirely true: there are still a few small ISPs functioning. But the vast majority of Egyptians are now without access to the Internet. This is going to do a number on their infrastructure unless the block is lifted soon.

It’s not Friday and I haven’t really researched this much. This only came to my attention about five or ten minutes ago. I’ll try to get a much more complete post up tomorrow after more details start coming out. But this is too big a deal, I think, to not at least write something about it right away.

The outage appears to be linked to protests which were planned to take place just a few hours before. Most of what I’ve read so far seems to imply that the government may have shut down the nation’s four largest ISPs in order to keep the protesters from organizing. It’ll be interesting to see what comes out after the dust has settled.

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Gutting Microwaves

In Uncategorized on January 26, 2011 by ryepdx

I finally figured out how to get videos on my blog. It turned out to be easy, which only makes the fact that I couldn’t figure it out before somewhat embarassing.

I didn’t make the video above, but I thought it was sufficiently impressive to warrant sharing. I suddenly have an urge to visit Oslo, Norway. :-3

Lauren and I have been busy practicing for our show on February 9th. We’re going to try performing with pre-recorded beats to get around our drummer-challenged status. I’m not nervous about it yet, but I know I’ll be getting a case of the jelly-legs come the day of the show. I’m a little concerned about what the audience’s reaction to canned drumming will be. Still, I figure it’s worth a shot.

I took apart another microwave today. “Wait, ‘another?'” I can hear you say. Well yes, I suppose I did forget to blog about the first one I took apart. My parents’ microwave died and, seeing as I’m an eccentric technophile, they asked me if I wanted to take any parts from it before they sent it off to be recycled.

Did you know that you can make an arc welder with two microwave transformers? Neither did I, but I found out after about five minutes of searching Google. I took out the transformer, along with anything else that looked interesting, and then camped out on Craigslist, checking the “free” section a couple times every day for another microwave.

I lucked out today. Someone out in Tigard was giving away a microwave whose only problem appeared to be a blown turntable motor. Everything else? In working order.

So now I have the guts from two microwaves sitting in a corner of my room. I have to figure out what to do with all the motors and the two magnetrons. What am I going to do with two magnetrons? I have no idea. I need to find a project for those which isn’t likely to cook my innards. I feel like there aren’t many of those kinds of projects out there aside from, you know, making a microwave.

My bandmate’s right. I am Bob the Builder.

More music in video form coming Friday. Stay tuned!


Safety tip: If you’re ever gutting a microwave, make sure you drain the capacitor as soon as you get the case off. You can do this by using a screwdriver with an insulated to bridge the terminals on it. If there was power in the capacitor, you’ll hear a loud “pop.” A lot of manufacturers these days just connect the capacitor to the case with a resistor, though, so it drains on its own after being unplugged for a while. Still, it doesn’t hurt to take a few seconds to make sure the capacitor really has been drained.

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I Got New Books!

In Uncategorized on January 24, 2011 by ryepdx

There’s a story that goes with this one.

A few days ago I took two boxes full of books to Powell’s City of Books. (Most people just call it Powell’s, but this often confuses me as there are no less than six different Powell’s bookstores in Portland, two of which I spent a lot of time around in high school and neither of which are the City of Books.)

Usually they look through my trade paperbacks and inspirational/evangelical books still left over from my Christian days and find nothing they need. It’s always somewhat embarrassing when that happens, like I have bad taste in books or something. I know that’s not the case; probably has to do with inventory or something; but there it is.

This time they found things they needed. Naturally, I took store credit. Or, rather, my girlfriend (who was with me at the time) did, because you need photo ID to take store credit and I have a terrible habit of leaving the house without photo ID.

Policeman with radar gun.

Most people call this the radar gun. I call it the "Oh shit, I left my driver's license at home AGAIN, didn't I?" gun.

So I returned later with my girlfriend, ready to spend the $40 in store credit I’d earned. Powell’s City of Books is a pretty popular place. Not hard to believe, since it’s only the largest used (and new) bookstore in the world. A whole city block of bookish goodness stacked three stories high. One room from this place is about the size and inventory of your average neighborhood used bookstore. It’s a bibliophile’s wet dream. A bookworm’s orgasmotron. And it’s open thirteen glorious hours every day.

Running into people one knows should not be surprising, given the draw of the place, and yet at the same time… it is.

I had just finished drooling over the stacks of Cory Doctorow books and was meandering over to the wall of manga (it’s a sickness, I know) when I found myself being hauled by the shirt collar into the adjacent cafe.

“She’s here!” My girlfriend whispered into my ear.
“Who’s here?”
“My ex-roommate.”

“My ex-roommate” is not strictly a technical term. It does refer to an ex-roommate, but she’s had many roommates in the past. There’s only one person I’ve heard referred to as simply “my ex-roommate,” though. It’s a little like saying “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named” instead of “Voldemort.”

“Oh.”

Now, I’m sure I’ve seen a sociopath up close. It is estimated that something like 1 out of every 100 people in North America are sociopaths. But I’ve never seen someone in person who I already, before even meeting them, strongly suspected to be a sociopath.

“Where is she?”

After getting her description, I wandered back into the Gold Room, like Steve Irwin on a hunt. “We have to be very careful with this one,” I felt like whispering. But my accents have always been horrible.

It wasn’t very exciting. She looked like anyone else. I frowned and made a note to get my “sociopath radar” fixed.

Lots of meandering and browsing ensued. Then, up in the Pearl Room, among the stacks of music books, who should I spy but Tweaked Out Elvis Costello (from my bandmate’s blog) and his girlfriend?

My gut instinct? Hide.

Except I walked right past him and did an over-the-shoulder “wait, is that really who I think it is?” as I passed. Except I hid myself on the opposite side of the very bookshelf he was looking at. Except I couldn’t bring myself to say anything lest he hear and recognize my voice, trying instead to communicate with hand signals as my girlfriend kept asking me what was going on and why I wouldn’t say anything.

Somehow that worked.

But then as we were leaving the Pearl Room about fifteen minutes later, I glanced over my shoulder just as TWOEC was coming around a bookshelf. We locked eyes. Pretty sure I looked like a deer facing oncoming traffic. (This is why you should never look back when attempting a daring escape.)

The Great Escape

And THIS is why you should you never, EVER respond to English when escaping a POW camp dressed as an Nazi officer.

“Oh, hi,” I said.
“Hey,” he said.

Awkward silence.

“How’s it going?”
“Pretty good. How are things with yourself?”
“Pretty good.”

Awkward silence.

“Well, see you later.”

Not sure why I was so concerned about meeting him. Maybe it’s because last time I saw him I was in the rain, hauling my guitar back to my car after a band practice. He tried to start a philosophical debate with me. I remember it now…

“What is the role of the troubadour in modern society?”

Troubadour, eh? I thought. Does he mean “troubadour” in the historical sense, as in “one who chooses a lady of the court as his muse and waxes poetic about them,” or in the broader, popular sense of “one who writes music with lyrics, intending to make a person think?”

This came out as: “Define troubadour. Are we talking courtly love and all that, or Bob Dylan? I mean, this could extend out as far as to include Lady Gaga, really.”

My feathers were already somewhat ruffled. It was cold, rainy, I was ready to go home, and here he was trying to start a debate that sounded like more like a philosophical pissing contest than any kind of earnest inquiry. I get terse under those circumstances.

But at the same time I do love a good debate.

“I mean someone who wanders around, playing songs on their instrument for people to hear.”

“Oh, you mean a busker.”

“No, I mean someone who goes out into the woods, into nature, writing songs and stuff.”

Pissing contest. No, wait. Worse. I took a look at his girlfriend, who was standing with him in the stairwell, at the tiny little smirk under his pencil-thin mustache, at the oversized hipster glasses, at me in my button-up shirt, and I knew exactly what was going on.

I’m not quite sure how I got myself out of that one. It was the precipitation, I think, and the cold that kept me from standing there and tearing his logic apart. The bloodlust was upon me, so to speak, but so was the rain. I took my chance when he turned to his girlfriend to get a light for his cigarette.

“I should get going. See you later!”

I was amused and yet somewhat angry. I had gotten quite a bit wetter and colder for his intellectual chest-beating, but the whole encounter was, taken as a whole, laughable. I added this to the stories I already knew about him and moved on.

I thanked sweet Athe that I hadn’t gotten dragged into a repeat of the encounter above. I had things to do and Powell’s (City of Books) was closing in about half an hour.

Just to top the night off, I then met a much more pleasant individual from the same apartment as TWOEC. He remembered my name; to my chagrin I did not remember his. He complimented me on my band’s music, I thanked him and wished him a good night, and then we were off.

Three people I was somehow connected to in one night. I’m always amused and comforted when that happens.

On a closing note, I got two new books. One called The Checklist Manifesto (by Atul Gawande) and another called Overclocked
(a collection of short stories by Cory Doctorow.) I am more excited about the Cory Doctorow book. I feel like I need the checklist book more. :-p

I look rather manic in this photo. Maybe I'm just excited to have a copy of The Checklist Manifesto? :-p

Read books!