25 February 2008

Technology rocks my socks

This morning I was at work, doing my thing when I had a great realization. I had just finished sending off an e-mail to a few new professional friends in Western Australia when I realized that I had just been in a three-way e-mail conversation with two people located half-way across the planet. And the exchange was free, took only a few minutes to complete, and gave me instant resources that I needed right away...all from Western Australia!

Think about it. If I told someone about this event 50 years ago, they would have said it was impossible. 100 years ago, they would have laughed. 250 years ago, they would have burned me at the stake for advocating witchcraft.

Yeah, I'm a big fan of technology.

24 February 2008

status: engaged

Hahaha, I had y'all there for a minute didn't I? I bet you were thinkin, "Walker's engaged?! Praise the heavens...miracles still occur...my faith is renewed." Nope. Although I assure you that miracles still happen (as briefly referred to in an earlier post), the heavens are still closed in regard to my marital status.
But NOT for my sister's!!!!

No more than 4 hours ago my sister became engaged to be married to a great guy she has been dating over the last year. Needless to say, I am very pleased with this new development.

Their story is a good one. Indeed, one could say it has the most perfect beginning of any relationship story: they first met at the drive-through of an In N' Out Burger in Southern California. I mean honestly, with a start like that, how could the relationship end any other way besides, "Happily ever after?"

If this event alone does not prove the divine qualities of my favorite fast-food institution, I don't know what would. Congratulations C+J!!

p.s. dont forget to send me an invitation :)

20 February 2008

Musical Exegesis cont.

Sing us a song you're the piano man,
Sing us a song tonight.
Well we're all in the mood for a melody,
and you've got us feelin' alright.
-Billy Joel

Part II: Out of the Woods…and into the Gauntlet

In order to really understand the next phase of my musical development, it is necessary to briefly examine the technological revolution I engaged between the years of 1992-2000. It seemed for a while that every other year there was either a new format to adapt to or some new device to buy. This torrent of technology created a musical brain freeze that didn't quite calm down until the end of the decade, and surely had its impact on my preferences.

Technological Tune-up(s)

It was yellow, but sporty. It was bulky, yet sturdy. It was a tape-player, but it was portable. It was...a Walkman!

I think I was about 10 years old when I first obtained one of my very own. It must have had a battery life of about no more than 5 hours. But those were a good 5 hours, and they could be spent anywhere. I loved the fact that I could take my music wherever I went. This development coordinated perfectly with the mountain bike my father bought me in exchange for mowing the lawn every week for an entire summer. Many a bike ride to my friend’s house across town was complemented with my bulky yellow Walkman blasting some sweet tunes in my eardrums. Although this practice contributed to some minor hearing loss, my musical senses were sharpened and honed.

The musical drug of choice was usually some tape I found around the house. We had a couple of oldies compilation tapes that my parents got from some Shell Oil promo long before I entered the world. I learned to appreciate Frankie Vallie and the Four Seasons, especially since I could match his high range as I had a few years to go before puberty. The Doobie Brothers got me "listnen' to the music" and the Beach Boys taught me the many virtues of "California girls." Life couldn't get better...or so I thought.

It was on the day of my birthday that my mother presented me with what still remains my largest present by size/volume that I have ever received. Inside was a big black stereo; a boombox or 'ghetto blaster' if you will. Along with it came my very first two CD's. A Beach Boy's compilation and REM's Automatic for the People. After giving this new system a test run by playing "Man on the Moon", I soon knew the days of the magnetic tape with its 'rewind squeals' and 'high speed dubbing' were numbered. In no time at all, my music collection had quickly phased out cassettes to compact discs.

But of all the many musical delivery systems in my lifetime, none do I remember so vividly as my first portable cd player. I don't recall for exactly how many months I scoured the Best Buy ads looking for one that suited my fancy. I do however remember my excitement when I finally found 'the one' that I was going to buy. It was a super sleek silver Audiovox Discman. Since I had already tried out all of my buddies machines, I knew very well that if a cd-player didn't have at least a 10 second skip protection, it was worth about as much as a one legged table. Consequently I was happy to find out that this model had 15 sec skip buffer and ultra bass boost. I promptly procured a ride over to the store, and forked out the best 20 bucks I've ever spent. I hit the jackpot too. That little player lasted for quite a few road trips and hundreds of early morning cross-country bus rides before it met its well earned demise. With the appropriate technological armaments, I was ready to engage in a glorious period of bliss that all musical lovers reminisce upon with glee and fondness: the rise of the peer-to-peer sharing services.

Enter the Napster

Contrary to what any music label will try and tell you, file-sharing programs were the best thing to ever hit the music world. All at once, virtually every type of music was at the fingertips of anyone that had a computer device capable of soaking up bandwidth. Random acquaintances with cd-burners became good friends. Friends with cable modems became best friends. At the height of the late 90's anyone could access just about any song from any major group that made music from the 60's and onward (even Metallica if you were Naptser savy). Musical libraries were built up faster than Wal-Marts in the suburbs, and music-crazy adolescents like me were cashing in on this new resource.

By then my musical tastes had already been formed to some extent. I lived off the classic rock, and the hits of the oldies. I dabbled in some New Age but only if it was Enya. Despite having my regarded favorites, I will still up for a little experimentation.

I remember my buddies and I would have 'music burning fests' where we would gather at a house with the fastest internet connection we could find, a list of the stuff we wanted and about 15 blank CD-R's. I remember having the single "Hotel California" by the Eagles on one of my lists. Before the end of the night, I had both the Eagles greatest hits albums all on one cd minus the songs I had already previewed and dismissed as unworthy. This method of course had its faults as manifested by what happened when I brought home the disc and played it in my father's presence. When the disc was finished he turned to me and very sternly asked, "Why isn't Desperado on this cd?!" I had no good answer.

Of course my morals on music sharing have come full-circle and I now wholeheartedly respect the rights of musicians to receive a just remuneration for their services to mankind, but to a 16 year old kid with no idea about the breadth of music available to the itching ear, Napster was heaven-sent. I downloaded all sort of songs and listened to them sometimes only to delete them after a single play. I got to know just about every classic rock band that hit it big in the 70's and I knew all their hit songs. I must say that this motivated me to go and purchase many albums as a result of my exposure to all this input, but usually only the albums that were mostly full of good songs I already knew. After all, I think it was Confucius that said, "life's too short to listen to musical rubbish and pay 15$ for it."

In short, Napster and the other p2p sharing programs helped my musical tastes in two ways. First, I got to be exposed to a virtually infinite amount of new material. Second, I learned to prune my tastes, and only accept the 'best’ of what was out there. You could spend all day sampling, but when the cd playlist got finalized, only the quality had better remain. If somehow a lemon slipped under the radar, you were fiercely reminded of your bad judgment every single time you listened to the mix thereafter and eventually always ended up asking the same quintessential question, "What evil spirit possessed me to put Backstreet Boys on my Downtown Driving Mix?"

Haven't stopped reading yet? Well, now you have to because Part II is over. Get set for soon-to-be release of Part III of the musical exegesis including "The Two Year Fast" and "Rise of Acoustics."

18 February 2008


A co-worker of mine and I got on a tanget in the midst of a meeting a few days ago and somehow mexican panchos came up. This made me question 1st why I don't own a pancho, and 2nd where I can possibly obtain one as it is currently only 45 degrees outside and 800 miles north of the Mexican border.

On a side note, some buddies and I are off to conquer a mountain today. It should be fun, but there is a high chance there will be snow/ice/death near the top of the peak.

On another side note, If I die, bury me in a pancho.

15 February 2008

My Musical Exegesis

Exegesis: A systematic process by which a person arrives at a reasonable and coherent analysis or explanation.

I was humming in the shower today. This happens more often than not, but today it was a punk rock song that I haven't heard (much less hummed in the shower) in many moons. I realized that my musical tastes have changed significantly over the course of my lifetime and I mused at the thought that it would be fun to track and see the evolution of my musical taste. That being said, this may be a long, possibly painful, but hopefully amusing process. Let us begin.

Part I: Birth to Bedlam

Aside from the singing of heavenly choirs when I was born, I am not cognizant of any exact moment where my musical tastes really started to begin forming. I seem to remember that my parents had a goodly amount of music around during my early childhood years. In fact, I remember we had an old school vinyl record player and a small collection of records that we played once in a blue moon. Included within the collection was The Beatles ‘Revolver’, Bill Cosby (not music per say but still a great record), and another record with lots of flower power and paisley art on the cover. No doubt this mystery album was a product of the 70's, and my best guess it was the Mama's and the Papa's. Speaking of Mom and Pops, it was my parents who primarily influenced my musical taste during this phase of my life, and of course it being well into the eighties, some of these influences were less than ideal.

Example A: One of my first musical memories occurred while driving in the family car when I was about four or five years old. Back then, we lived in the south part of L.A. My father's family lived just an hour or so up the coast, so we would often drive up the Pacific Coast Highway (aka PCH) to visit. My love for the beach was cultivated during these drives as I watched the coast out the window and listened to the tunes on the radio. It was on one of these visits that I was scarred forever. I distinctly recall hearing a certain song played on the radio. It was over two decades ago, but I'm 99% sure it was "Straight Up" sung by Paula Abdul. Don't ask me how I remember this, I can't explain it and even if I could…I wouldn't want to explain it. This particular instance was significant because I remember realizing that I had heard this song before, driving up the PCH, around the same time of day on an earlier day.

In my five year old mind I started to think deeply as only five year olds can. I eventually determined that since I had heard the song played at a similar time of the day (2:00) before, in the very same place (PCH) as before, the radio MUST know to play that same song every time we were driving up the beach at 2:00 in the afternoon. It was pure genius. I remember feeling a glad satisfaction I had figured out another small piece of my ever-expanding world.

Fast forward to a subsequent trip down the PCH. It was a sunny day, around 2:00 in the afternoon. I remember it very clearly...almost like it was yesterday. I waited anxiously for the clock in the car console to blink form 1:59 into 2:00. According to my five year old reasoning Paula Abdul was surely to come on sometime soon after 2pm. However, the magic moment was not to come. 2:00 turned into 2:15 within no time at all, and I still did not hear the song I had expected to hear. This is the first real moment in my life I remember experiencing true disappointment. In fact, I think this episode is the foundation of my undying hatred toward the world of pop music. Even looking back on the experience and acknowledging my lack of thorough reasoning on the matter, I still believe my current resent for eighties pop music is still correctly founded.

Ever since then, I have not turned to the corrupted airwaves for direction in my musical consumption, as many in society seem to do in this day in age. No my friends, instead, I have relied on my immediate friends and family to supply me with music worthy of my ears. And I have not been disappointed...

My next phase of musical development was comprised of all the auditory nonsense that kids are exposed to through things like television and more specifically in my case, TV theme songs. To this very day, I can quote...verbatim mind you...every word of the Ghostbusters, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and Inspector Gadget theme songs (even as I write this I am quietly mumbling...go gadget gooo, ba dum dit dit bum bum, ba dum dit dit bum bum ).

TV theme songs get drilled into the heads of impressionable children like myself primarily because of two very significant reasons:

  1. Repetition. Every single Saturday morning at 8:30am kind of repetition. Such exposure leaves its mark and is not easily removed in this life or in the life to come.

  2. Tv Themes are a superb blend of both compression and "catchyness." Within 30 seconds one not only learns the detailed history of how four small turtles acquired kung-fu mastery but can also be indocrinated in the eternal struggles of good vs. evil and pepperoni vs. three cheese pizza.

These TV themes not only left their impression upon my long-term memory, but upon my musical psyche as well. At a young age, I formulated a pre-disposition to quick and captivating tunes that would set the stage for the next great development in my musical journey.

Turn in next time for Part II of my musical exegesis beginning with the "Walkman revolution."

14 February 2008

it's about time...

Everyone hear the good news? The writer's strike...is over! You may now rightly expect that this blog will start to have some decent content on it.

13 February 2008

Haha #2

Here's a good one I heard today:

“Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you criticize them, you are a mile away from them and you have their shoes.” -Jack Handy

05 February 2008

multiple personalities

Today for lunch I was eating the results of my very first attempt at cooking fried rice, enjoying it thoroughly (as my Chinese roommate is a great chef trainer), and found myself trying to evaluate the overall success of my culinary experiment. I took a few bites, munched on the mouthfuls of rice for a while, and said to myself:
"Self, this probably needs a little more soy sauce next time."

Then...to my surprise, another voice (distinct from the first one mind you) shot back,
"You idiot! Why don't you just enjoy your food for once instead of trying to get all 'perfectionist' about it? It’s YOUR FIRST TRY AT FRIED RICE...so what if it's not exactly 'soy sauced' the way your Iron Chef roommate makes it?! If I have to listen to another one of your deluded criticisms again I'll..."
Just then the first voice cut back in,
"Now hold on right there a minute. I was merely suggesting that the dish could be improved upon our next attempt by adding a few tiny drops of..."
It was at this very moment, that I came to a realization of something I have never realized before:
I have multiple personalities.

And they only come out when I'm eating...usually by myself.
Er... I mean selves.

This fact actually explains quite a bit now that I reflect upon various and totally bizarre occurrences I have experienced during my lifetime. For example, every once in a while I will have a sudden and profound craving for something very particular. Lets say this time it might be ummm...a turkey sandwich.

I of course follow my stomach's promptings because for the most part it has done a fine job at keeping me alive thus far. So I gets on my shoes, drive over to the deli and proceed to examine the menu for a turkey sandwich. No sooner than right after I have examined the menu, something strange happens...I suddenly get this thought,
"No, you don't really want a turkey sandwich. That breaded chicken one is what you need."
I then begin searching the menu for that breaded chicken sandwich I just read about. Pretty soon, I'm about to order when I get hit with another snag...
"Mmmm this time get extra tomatoes. It really doesn’t matter what the meat is, as long as you get a tower of tomatoes along with it. Tomatoes will make all your troubles in life go away."
Before I know it, I've switched again from tomatoes to ketchup, then decide that ketchup only came up because of that suspiciously tasty corn dog I had in third grade, and that the corn dog thought was just a way of unconciously reminding myself that I needed to make a vanilla milkshake.

How does something this crazy happen to a more-often-than-not rational person like myself? There can only be one answer:
Multiple personalities.

Eventually I can't take it anymore and leave the deli, (without buying anything) only to go home, walk through the door, plop myself on the couch...and decide that a cheese enchilada would really hit the spot.