i started the day with a phone call to verizon wireless, to check to see if there were any specials for my “new every two” plan. i checked it out online last night, and determined that i can get a LG VX9400 and as a result of it being my “new every two”, i would only have to pay $30 for it. the nice lady on the phone checked, and said that, yes, it would, in fact, be only $30 for the VX9400. so i decided that instead of waiting the requisite 2 to 4 business days for delivery, i would go down to the verizon wireless store at the supermall and pick one up in person.
when i got to the store, a nice young man named jayson (or something like that, i was too distracted with anger to remember details like that very clearly) asked me for my customer ID (which is my wife’s cell-phone number) and looked me up and said that a VX9400 with no accessories would be $98.50 before tax. i said, no i looked it up online, and it was only going to be $30, because this was my “new every two”. he said, no, the “new every two” only applies to the primary number (which is my wife’s cell-phone) and my number is an “add on” number, which doesn’t apply for the discount. when i offered to look it up online for him, he said, in a very condescending tone, that it doesn’t matter where i look it up, nor who i called, it was going to be $98.50, not $30, and there was nothing i could do about it.
at that point, seething with anger, i walked out of the store, and walked around the supermall. while i was walking, i called moe, and then i called verizon wireless, and by the time i got back to the verizon wireless store, i had bought the phone (i went home and printed out a receipt for $30) and everything was taken care of. i went back into the store and told the guy that i got the phone for $30, and that he sucked. then i walked out.
it’s my recollection that we went through exactly the same thing at the verizon wireless store in the supermall, two years ago, the last time i got a “new every two” phone. it really makes me wonder about what they teach their sales associates in training, if they really teach them that the rules don’t apply when you’re actually in the store, and that they are free to charge whatever they want (the non-discounted price for the VX9400 is $70 if you already have existing service, or $95 if you don’t already have service), or if they just assume that people are going to be stupid enough to believe whatever some nice man in a verizon wireless uniform tells them, just because he’s wearing a verizon wireless uniform. if people really are that stupid, we’re in deep trouble, and there’s no sign that things are going to improve for those of us who still have part of a brain left.
the only reason it hasn’t affected me more than it did is because i went from there to the post office, and while i was there, a old, local guy asked me if that was my car, and wanted to know how much it had cost me to paint all that stuff on it, and when i said i had done it all myself, he said “cool!” – which i took as quite a compliment, seeing as how he was in his 60s or 70s, and seemed really interested…
camp cirque de flambé post-burning-man party tonight at 7:00. it’s possible that moe will be there as well, which would be nice for me. i hope to give out the remainder of my “I Survived Burning Man 2008” buttons to the people i haven’t already mailed them to. BSSB at the Kenmore Oktoberfest tomorrw.
things are starting to get back to normal after the battle of the computer. although i really hate having to re-create things like my calendar, which has already screwed me up and forced me to contact a person to say that i wouldn’t actually be performing at his event because i had already made arrangements to be a performer at another (paying) event. i also really hate that i have to re-create about 100 hours of database entry, which was just beginning to take shape when the computer died last month.
on the other hand, once i get the chaos sorted out, i will actually have a fair amount more room in my “workshop” that isn’t being taken up by computer/keyboard stuff, and now that my computer and keyboard stuff aren’t in the same room, i can do more stuff that involves my band saw and drill press – the former of which is visible in the lower right hand corner of the photo, having not been moved to its final location due to the aforementioned chaos – because of the dust which i didn’t want to infect my computers and keyboards… which means that, potentially, i may get my pipe-making back on track again, and i’ll certainly have more room for musical instrument repair as well.
of course that doesn’t mean that the idea of putting my workshop in a dome is dead. i have already planned the dome and done some work on pricing out the constituent components, and some figuring out of where i can get some more esoteric building materials such as star plates. i want to build a 16-foot diameter 2V Icosa Alternate dome, because it has more space at the level of a workbench than a standard icosahedron. i believe that star plates would still work, except for where the equilateral triangles come together. i still have to work out how to connect 6 points, which means i still have to figure out whether to use lumber or metal for the edges. if i use metal, i can just flatten the end of the tubes and bolt them together, which is an effect i saw used at burning man, but if i use (cheaper) lumber i may have to figure out where to get – or figure out how to create – star plates that have six slots, rather than five. i talked with the people at stromberg’s chickens, and they said that they were marketing a device that was left to them by the original engineer when he died, and they don’t want to mess with the design out of respect to him, but it shouldn’t be too difficult to figure out what they should look like, the hard part is getting them manufactured.
all in all, burning man was a toss up, and i’ve pretty much decided that, given the lack of a good reason to go (like the last performance of Cirque de Flambé EVER), i will probably not go again, for the simple reason that if i’m going to go camping for a week i want to go to a place where i can relax, not to a place where it’s oppressively hot and dry and you have to worry about how much water you’re consuming because there isn’t any, anywhere else for 100 miles in any direction. the following is bits and pieces from a recording that i made every night before going to sleep.
i’m in the process of moving the computer part of my office into the other room, which will (presumably) give me more room in both my office, which will now be a lot more like a workshop, and my office, which will now be where i don’t have to drop what i’m doing and go into the other room and say “what was that?” when moe asks me something. now it’s sort of a mishmash of what it used to be (a big pile of boxes), with the large cat tree and a bunch of computer stuff that has yet to find a permanent place, and the office/workshop is a chaotic mess of displaced shelves and workbenches that are in the process of being moved…
but i did find my GPS unit in a pile of stuff from burning man that i still have yet to deal with, and it had the coordinates for my camp, at 3:00 and esplanade, in it. i figured a while ago that the GPS was approximately 50 yards different from the actual placement on the position of the planet, but that still doesn’t explain why where it recorded i was, was so far removed from the actual placement of burning man, unless, as i have suspected for a while now, burning man moves from one year to the next, presumably to avoid scarring the desert more than it does already.
i’m back from burning man, and completely exhausted. burning man was just enough of a disaster that it made the really cool parts pale to the point where it was a complete toss-up. i have decided that, given the lack of any good reason to go there again (such as the last performance ever of cirque de flambé or something like that), there is practically no possibility that i’m ever going to go to burning man ever again. it was insanely hot – 120°F in the shade, where there was shade – when it wasn’t intensely windy with white-out conditions, and, let’s face it, it’s a desert, and an alkali desert (meaning “intensely caustic”) on top of everything, not to mention the fact that i was involved with helping the broke-down and stranded truck (which i was, fortunately, not driving myself) get towed into the site, nor the three other break-downs that our camp experienced, which is just the tip of the iceberg. i, and everything i took with me, are covered in this very fine dust, which i understand will practically never come out, i still don’t have my own computer (although i got two incense orders while i was gone, which is one more than i expected) and even though i am almost completely unloaded (i still have to unload the roof rack), everything in the car is also completely permeated with this extremely fine, ubiquitious, beige dust, which does not go well with the grey interior of the car.
i took a lot of pictures, but they probably won’t actually get posted until i have my own computer again… 8/
the lack of computers has been a real setback for me. this is the first time in 15 years or so that i have been almost completely without a computer, and i don’t know how to deal with it… although i was able to complete two business card orders (one for $75 and one for $80 plus tax) on my remaining computer, an Os9 G3 Mac with a G4 processor upgrade and 256mb of RAM. theoretically i could run OsX on it, but it already runs slowly enough, and i don’t want to bog it down even further by having to run the Os9 emulator on top of it. the computer that i am getting to replace the linux box – which won’t even boot from a live CD, so the prospects of retrieving the data from the hard disk is remote, although i haven’t exhausted all of the options yet – is a newer-ish intel mac laptop from one of moe’s net-friends in denver. as much as i like the mac os, i’m probably going to install kubuntu on it instead of OsX, because of all of the free software that comes with kubuntu that i can’t run on OsX, and the fact that i can configure kubuntu to work with my 4-button mouse a lot more easily than i can OsX. it seems really weird, especially considering how often in the past i have ranted that if mac os were available for other platforms, i would run it, but there’s the matter of expediency that i never considered in those rants. oh well.
i have a gig tonight at smokin’ pete’s barbecue tonight, and moe and i are switching cars when i get home, so that tomorrow i can pack for burning man. hopefully we’re going to leave early saturday morning and possibly spend saturday night on the road, before arriving sunday. i say “hopefully” because i still don’t know details about leaving yet. stuart is doing all the communicating for them, and all i’ve heard is that heather has to work half a day on friday, they’re planning on showing up at my place “early” saturday morning, and we probably have to be back on monday the first. packing is going well, and i am dropping off my bike with myron (who is driving a trailer full of bikes down and back) this afternoon. it seems somewhat strange that i’m not taking a tent, but this is a strange event that takes place in an environment that is actively hostile to human beings, so it’s not that strange. i’m a little nervous, because i’ve never been before and i don’t know what to expect, but everybody else is really looking forward to it, so i guess it will be okay.
i talked to “my attorney” about the hearing for SSDI and he said that my case hasn’t even been assigned to a judge yet, and probably won’t be until december or january. i realise that this is not a criminal case, but i would think that the “speedy trial” clause would extend to all court cases whether or not they’re criminal… but if i thought that, apparently i would be wrong. i’m pushing two years of “unemployment” with no obvious way of supporting myself, and these people seem to think that it’s okay for them to screw around with their thumbs up their butts for a couple years while they figure out whether or not i’m actually disabled. all i would have to do is take off my hat and they would see the nine-inch scar on my scalp. so what if i’m driving, nobody will give me a job without firing me within 4 months. DVR has decided that i don’t fit into their mold and has finally written me off, but my SSDI case hasn’t even been assigned to a judge yet, despite the fact that it’s been a year and a half since i was denied my appeal.
things are starting to come together concerning burning man. i have a way to get there (plan A, which was plan B has finally worked through most of the major difficulties) and people who will share driving and expenses. the gig at the queen anne farmers’ market went off without a hitch, the parade went off without a hitch, and the overall result has left me with $30 for gas, which i will add to the approximately $250 that i’ve already got. i’m going to the fremont sunday market this sunday, which will likely net me around $60 more, and the snake suspenderz gig at smokin’ pete’s next thursday should be icing on the cake.
on the other hand, i’ve made a more and more rare contact with sugandha prabhu, my long time friend and incense supplier (his name is steven, but i’ve known him as sugandha prabhu for almost as long as i’ve known him), and he says he can get me majmua durbar and aparajita, which, as far as i’ve been able to tell, are not available anywhere else. i’ve got an email in to him asking if it’s okay for me to send him money after the first of the month (and after burning man), but he’s getting more and more difficult to get hold of (i called him 3 or 4 times over the past 6 months or so, and he’s only just gotten back to me), and i’m not sure if he’s even checked his email. i’d really like to get the incense from him soon, but i’m not sure whether or not i can wait until after the first of the month, especially when he’s been so difficult to get hold of in the first place: i feel like now that i’ve actually got in touch with him that i should “strike while the iron’s hot” so to speak, otherwise he might not get back to me, or might not have the incense, or the prices may have changed… or he might have actually died… i know he’s been in and out of the hospital for the past few years with kidney problems which aren’t getting any better, and i’ve known him for 30 years or thereabouts and he’s never been that healthy to begin with… so it’s really a concern… especially since majmua durbar and aparajita are two of my personal favourite incenses, i’m running perilously low on both of them, and i know that if i don’t get them now the likelyhood that i’ll be able to get them in the future is that much less.
i had a rehearsal on monday with snake suspenderz, a rehearsal on tuesday with the the ballard sedentary sousa band, a parade in Brier today (from which there are pictures), and there’s going to be a gig in queen anne with snake suspenderz tomorrow. i have also been running around buying last minute things for burning man, like a patch kit and bicycle pump so that i can take my bicycle, and closed-toe shoes (it has been so long since i’ve worn anything other than birkenstocks, i don’t even know what size “normal” shoe i wear) and a first aid kit. i plan on getting the oil changed and the brakes looked at on both cars this weekend. plan B has, more or less predictably, turned into “very likely plan A”, which means that i will be driving to burning man, most likely with stuart and heather.
i went to a burning man organisational barbecue last night. from what i now understand, it’s going to cost me a fair amout of money above and beyond the ticket price – which is $0, because i have sold my soul to bettie june, coordinator for the man watch. it’s apparently going to cost $75 to camp with the cirque folks. i don’t know if it doesn’t cost anything if i camp by myself, but $75 for a week of food and showers is a pretty good deal, so i’m not complaining. the cirque de flambé camp is at esplanade and approximately 3:00, and from what i understand, it’s going to be pretty noisy. i’m probably going to take 10 gallons of water. i don’t know how i’m getting there yet, and the organisational barbecue that we had last night doesn’t help – apparently a number of other people need rides as well, including johnny jetpack and our ringmaster, moz wright. plan B is supposed to be that i drive down, presumably with at least one other person, in monique’s minivan. i’m thinking that plan B is sounding more and more like a workable plan A, especially since i can sleep in the minivan, which would mean that i don’t have to take, or worry about things like a tent – in which i would have much less protection from a dust storm, which i understand are quite frequent on the playa. the problem at this point is that it’s supposed to be plan B, and i’m supposed to be finding another way to get there, which means that i have to take a tent and worry about whether or not it will be enough shelter in the event of a dust storm… the minivan has a roof rack, so if i take that, there’s gonna be plenty of room for miscelaneous stuff. i’m also wondering whether i it would be a good idea to take my bicycle.
it’s the end of june and i haven’t written about the oregon country fair yet… two more weeks…
so we’ve been rehearsing for cinderella twice a week, and the band has an extra rehearsal tonight. as far as i know, we still don’t have all the music, but i may be hallucinating. we have to learn “Do The Hustle” but i’m not going to learn it – i took a vow when i was in high school (when the song was still popular) that i would never learn the hustle, which i have never broken, and this performance is no exception. i’ll learn the chicken dance – which we also have to learn for this performance – but the line is drawn with the hustle. pam made this twisted suggestion that we play the chicken dance when we play at the ritz, and i totally agree: i can’t wait to see 300+ naked hippies doing the chicken dance.
a few weeks ago we changed rehearsal spaces for the BSSB. apparently, after warmly welcoming us to the crown hill baptist church a year ago, the baptists got a new pastor who decided that we weren’t “christian” enough for them, and so they summarily kicked us out, with very little warning. fortunately, the senior center at the good shepherd center was waiting for something like that to happen. the good shepherd center is closer by about 15 miles to where i live than just about anything in crown hill (although it’s still not in ballard, strictly speaking), and i’m already very familiar with the layout, because that’s where ezra went to the ballet school before the ballet school moved downtown. there’s an added bonus which i found about on the tenth, which was our first rehearsal there, which is that they also have a pancake supper from 4:00 to 6:30 on the second tuesday of the month, which, coincidentally, is the same night we have one of our rehearsals. i showed up early with my trombone and was ushered into the room where they plied me with food and adulation for being part of the band. not at all bad, especially since i wasn’t expecting it.
i’ve got a lot to do this week. the weeks are stacking up that way for me a lot at this time. i’ve got a fremont phil rehearsal tonight, a rehearsal for cinderella on monday and wednesday, a concert with the BSSB on thursday in burien (for which i still don’t have more than a time), then moe and i are going to portland to visit my god-help-me-mother-in-law, then i have to be back in seattle for the traditional BSSB at the locks concert on sunday, next monday is the final cinderella rehearsal, next tuesday is a rehearsal for the BSSB, and then next wednesday i’m leaving for OCF.
last year i was really depressed when i returned from OCF. i don’t see any reason why this year should be different, but at the same time, i’m hoping that this year it won’t be so severe. the fact that i am going to burning man (and not having a brain injury) this year may help, but at this point i’m not sure how.
‘Vatican air’ passengers’ holy water confiscated
By Malcolm Moore
The passengers on board the Vatican’s first flight to Lourdes may have been pilgrims in search of spiritual healing, but they still had to obey anti-terrorism rules, it has emerged, after several of them had their holy water confiscated. Continue reading bizarre… in so many different ways…