No. It’s not a post about condiments. It’s yet another: Random Posting Surprise™. As in, I’ll start writing something and surprise myself as to what it’s about. I once again started slacking off on posting here after a fairly good start back when I last updated the Oddball Update’s design. This weekend I finally got around to recategorizing all my old posts in the archive — well, I started, anyway — and this left me feeling like I should take a break from that to post something new for a change.
Last week we were in Michigan for a few days, visiting friends and family. We spent Labor Day there, and I actually got to take a couple of days off from work, so it ended up being a four-day weekend for me. The weather was perfect most of the time we were there; sunny and in the mid-70s with the exception of a couple back-to-back rainy days. We had ample opportunity to chat with my family members, I got to see my friends Pooch and Reaper (and pick up Donutown besides, which simply has to happen every time I’m in town), and eat out at our favorite restaurants. We also did a fair amount of eating in this time as well, which was fine with us, because it meant enjoying that much more of my grandmother’s home cooking.
Surprisingly, I did not have much in the way of allergy troubles. I often get bouts of asthma-like congestion and an uncontrollable runny nose when I’m back in the homeland, likely due to the dust and molds present in my old house’s ductwork, if I had to guess. The season contributes a lot to this phenomenon, especially because when it’s cold enough to warrant firing up the furnace, the warm air blowing through those ducts is usually enough to put my sinuses on an express elevator to hell. This time, though, the furnace was not needed, and we only ran the A/C a couple of times. For the most part, I had no trouble. That was certainly a relief.
And, as I mentioned in my initial review of The Beatles: Rock Band, my video game day with my friends was inspiring enough for me to reacquaint myself with the “plastic musical instrument” genre of games after a long hiatus. Since then, Apple and I have continued to have a blast with the Beatles game. I’ve been able to re-familiarize myself with my old favorite songs, which I mostly haven’t listened to in a while, and Apple was introduced to a whole swath of the Beatles’ catalog with which she was previously unfamiliar. The other day she came into my room and took all the Beatles albums off my CD rack, then proceeded to arrange a mix disc which she put in her car. Listening to it on the way to dinner the other evening was like going on a trip down memory lane.
The Beatles’ music makes me think of my high school days, for it was then that I first started listening to them. My friend Pooch introduced me to the group and their music besides, and I promptly started buying up the albums, working my way back from the Beatles’ latter years, the tracks from which I was most familiar. Hearing those songs again today mostly reminds me of driving my old Grand Prix, for a Beatles CD or cassette tape was never far from my car stereo whenever I went home from school, drove to or from my friends’ houses or wherever else I was off to. There were a lot of things wrong with those years, but the smaller they get in my rear-view mirror, the more the good times come to the fore — hanging out with friends, discovering new music, playing the great computer games of the era, and enjoying Junes, Julys and Augusts filled with relaxation and creativity in the pleasant summer weather of Michigan.
Pooch is still introducing me to bands, although this time they’re mostly Japanese in origin. Last week’s trip to Michigan was no exception, for we got together and I picked up some new albums from Shoko Suzuki (whose lovely retro-sounding song “Hi, Hello” I’m listening to right now), Shonen Knife, Ayumi Hamasaki and Ryoko Shinohara.
Speaking of music, I also learned some exciting news about my favorite Thai pop group, China Dolls, whom I’ve gushed about several times in the past. It was Pooch, in fact, who informed me that China Dolls original member HwaHwa had recruited a new member to replace Bell, the other half of the duo, who left to open her own dance school. The new member, Dan Chun, has since performed with HwaHwa on various TV programs and concert events, under the China Dolls name.
I’ve only heard a slice of one song from the “new” China Dolls — plus I’ve seen the concert performance that went with it — but I was pleased to hear that that it was a return to their dance-pop roots. (The original duo had started to go down the R&B/hip-hop road before they broke up.) Supposedly HwaHwa and Dan Chun will be releasing a new album on a Mandarin label sometime soon, although I get the impression that not even HwaHwa herself knows for sure, if her posts on her own forum are any indication. If a new album lands, I’ll have to check it out — hopefully it’ll be full of dance-pop stuff in the old China Dolls style. That stuff is just so catchy and happy, and I could use some catchy and happy. (Hell, couldn’t we all right about now?)
Anyway, we got back from Michigan this past weekend, and I just wrapped up a really busy week at work. We had some new product releases this past Monday, and of course in addition to doing all the posting of files and communicating with customers, I also do all of the promotion and marketing. I swear, I wrote the same mind-numbing marketing copy about sixty different ways over the course of the week. Blog posts, tweets, press releases, change logs, blurbs, product descriptions, RSS feeds, newsletters, ugh…my brain has completely burned out on hyping these products. Every website, news feed or press agency I submit to requires content in a slightly different format, so while I can reuse certain phrases or paragraphs, I always have to craft a custom submission for each recipient. It gets really droll and monotonous.
Hopefully, this week I can mix it up with some other stuff. I did get a chance to put in a few hours last week doing interface design for a custom work project we got from a major telecom, which was a serious breath of fresh air in the midst of all the tedium. It also reminds me yet again how much more I enjoy doing design than marketing. Trumping stuff up just isn’t my thing — I don’t have anywhere close to enough of that energy and outgoing-ness to do marketing effectively. I prefer to create the whatever-it-is, then put it out there and let potential customers examine and purchase it on its own merits. This is reflected in my own buying style, since I don’t like being marketed to and I am influenced very little by marketing or advertising when making my own purchasing decisions.
On the sidework front, I wrapped up a big ongoing project a couple weekends ago, and just today got paid for my efforts. That’s always a good thing. A small slice of this paycheck will be contributed to the “restore the ’79 Trans Am” fund, efforts for which officially kicked off during our trip to Michigan when I met with the mechanic/restoration guru who will be doing the job. We’re looking to start around the first of November. Now that I have the last bit of money I was expecting to collect, I need to throw together an email to him to firm up some details and talk dollars and cents. I’m probably going to be splitting this project into at least two rounds, with the first round taking place over a couple months this winter and likely involving a fair bit of corrosion removal, application of POR-15 rust preventative and engine bay cleanup.
Speaking of my mechanic, we had a great chat about the Trans Am (and other automotive nuggets) while I was up north. I even got to go for a ride in the ’68 Cougar he’s putting together. On the outside it looks stock, but under the hood is an Intech 4.6L V8 and automatic transmission from a