Meteorological Spring

Meteorological spring starts tomorrow. Oregon’s North Willamette Valley has been basking in the sun intermittently for the past two weeks, and today is another clear, bright day. The sun is shining. The ground is dry. I want to hop on my bike, but have promised Kris that we’ll go to the gym together tonight. Maybe I’ll bike to work tomorrow.

As a child I was puzzled that Spring started at the end of March, Summer at the end of June, etc. It was only in college that I learned that the seasonal constructs are based on the Earth’s orbit around the sun; the Vernal Equinox is the traditional delineation between Winter and Spring for astronomical convenience. More recently I’ve learned that the meteorological seasons conform to the observed weather patterns. Meteorological Spring begins March 1st, meteorological Summer on June 1st, etc.

[Jeff, mowing with his beloved lawn tractor]

With the departure of Winter, Spring activities are beginning. At this moment, Jeff is out making love to his lawn tractor. Kris and Pam are making a trip to Al’s Fruit and Shrub on Saturday while Mac is at baseball practice and I am digging up arborvitae stumps in the yard. Meanwhile, the professional ball players have started Spring Training and the first games are tomorrow. The warm weather is an invitation to outdoor exercise. I’m ready to bike, maybe to hike. The lawn needs to be mowed. The crocuses and daffodils are up, and the daphne in our front yard can be smelled from a block away.

I’ve always said that Oregon’s weather doesn’t bother me; as a native, I’ve become accustomed to the rain, and often enjoy it. This year, though, Spring is especially welcome.

The phones at Custom Box Service have been quiet during the afternoon all week. The sunny weather must be appealing to other people as well…

Custom Box has been crippled by Big Money. Big Money is a web-based game similar to Tetris or Columns. We don’t play by the rules. We play to achieve the largest “coin combination”. The record so far is 121 coins.

With the demise of Napster, Morpheus had become my primary file-sharing tool. I tried Bearshare and was unimpressed. Morpheus is intuitive and convenient and widely used. The key to a good file-sharing system is many users sharing files.

Morpheus, and the other new file-sharing systems, have claimed that the music industry could not stop them, that they were decentralized by nature and therefore even if they were shut down the users would continue to share files because the decentralized network would persist.


On Monday night my connection to Morphues’ network vanished. I received an error indicating that my software needed to be upgraded. Trouble is, I already have the latest version of Morpheus.

It seems that Morpheus is not as decentralized as advertised. A software upgrade shut down the network, something that would not happen with true decentralization. If the recording industry can’t shut down Morpheus within a week, I’ll be surprised.

My cold continues to linger. All that remains is congestion, but it’s enough to be frustrating.

What songs make you think of Spring? “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves and “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears For Fears both evoke images of Spring in my mind.

We used to have a basketball hoop outside on the concrete pad in front of the shop. It wasn’t used often, but I remember playing basketball in the after school for a couple of weeks during the period in which “Walking on Sunshine” was popular. “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” reminds of Future Business Leaders of America, particularly the state convention during the Spring of my sophomore year of high school.

Nick and I were talking about music today, trying to decide what the best songs and albums and groups of each decade have been.

It seems certain that The Police’s “Every Breath You Take” is the best song of the 80s, but it’s hard to decide anything other than that. “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zepplin might be the best song of the 70s, and Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon is probably the best album from that decade, but both could be argued.

Michael Jackson is probably the best artist from the 80s, though it might be Madonna. Personally, we think U2 was the best the 80s had to offer.

The 90s are difficult for us. Was there a stand-out song? Album? Artist? For me, the Indigo Girls were the best artist of the decade. But that’s me. They certainly weren’t the most popular group (though that’s not how we’re basing “best” in this case). We thought that maybe “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana could be considered the best song of the 90s.

From our selections for “best song” you’d never guess that Nick prefers dance and techno music and that I like jazz and folk and bitchrock. (There’s a term that’ll get me into some trouble.)

I’ve been listening to my library of a capella mp3s today, sorting through the covers of 80s tunes so that I can make a mix for Paul. The playlist I have now is pretty darned good: strong performances of good songs.

Middlebury Dissipated Eight – Africa (Toto cover)
Arizona State Pitchforks – Secure Yourself (Indigo Girls cover)
Dartmouth Aires – Take on Me (aha cover)
Tufts University Beelzebubs – Rock This Town (Stray Cats cover)
Calabash – Policy of Truth (Depeche Mode cover)
Bobs – Particle Man (They Might Be Giants cover)
Stairwells- The Longest Time (Billy Joel cover)
UVA Academical Village People – Come On Eileen (Dexy’s Midnight Runners cover)
Dartmouth Cords – Friday I’m In Love (The Cure cover)
Tufts Jackson Jills – Our Lips Are Sealed (Go-Gos cover)
U Penn Off the Beat – Candy Everybody Wants (10,000 Maniacs cover)
BOCA ’99 – Don’t Stand So Close To Me (Police cover)
U of Michigan Amazin’ Blue – Innocent Man (Billy Joel cover)
UC Men’s Octet – Every Breath You Take (Police Cover)
Boca- Best Of College A Cappel – Everything She Wants (Wham cover)
Arizona State Pitchforks – Verdi Cries (10,000 Maniacs cover)
Brown Derbies – Break My Stride (Matthew Wilder cover)
Brown Derbies – Kyrie (Mr. Mister cover)
Brown Derbies – Somebody (Depeche Mode cover)
Brown Derbies – Walk Like an Egyptian (Bangles cover)
Cornell Class Notes – Sweet Dreams (Eurythmics cover)
Dartmouth Aires – Maneater (Hall and Oates cover)
Dartmouth Aires – Tainted Love (Soft Cell cover)
Dartmouth Aires – Hungry Like The Wolf (Duran Duran cover)
Dartmouth Decibelles – Walkin’ On Sunshine (Katrina and the Wave cover)
ASU Pitchforks – Need You Tonight (INXS cover)
Tufts Amalgamates – Just Like Heaven (The Cure cover)
Tufts Beelzebubs – Rio (Duran Duran cover)
Tufts Jackson Jills – We Belong (Pat Benetar cover)
U of Illinois Other Guys – Jesse’s Girl (Rick Sprinfield cover)
Dissipated Eight – Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes (Paul Simon cover)
The Flying Pickets – Only You (Yazoo cover)
Flying Pickets – She Drives Me Crazy (Fine Young Cannibal cover)
Flying Pickets – When Doves Cry (Prince cover)
The Flying Pickets – Purple Rain (Prince cover)
Pitchforks – In Your Eyes (Peter Gabriel cover)
Duke Out of the Blue – Mercy Street (Peter Gabriel cover)
The Dartmouth Aires – Father Figure (George Michael cover)
Tufts Amalgamates – True Colors (Cyndi Lauper cover)


On 01 March 2002 (08:46 AM),
Dane said:

The a capella mix sounds really keen and, frankly, there are a bunch of those songs I would like to have copies of.

I didn’t realize that you enjoyed a capella music. Dagny is a bigger fan of it than I am, but I also quite enjoy it. I’m going to e-mail you a copy of a cover of DMB’s “Ants Marching” done by Four Shadow that I think is pretty keen. Let me know if you like it…

On 01 March 2002 (08:46 AM),

DATE: 03/01/2002 08:46:18 AM

On 01 March 2002 (10:00 PM),
jdroth said:

I am a huge a capella fan. Arrangements with many voices (say 8+) and tight harmonization especially move me. Collegiate a capella actually seems to be of a higher quality than that produced by professional groups.

My a capella collection now includes 322 songs. Every couple of months I search for “a capella” with whichever file sharing client I’m using at the time. Also, I search for individual groups that have impressed me in the past (USC Sirens, Middlebury Dissipated Eight, MIT Logarhythms, Brown Derbies, Tufts Beelzebubs, U Penn Off the Beat).

My collection largely comprises “covers” — original a capella songs don’t appeal to me.

If some group would cover an Aimee Mann song, I’d be ecstatic.

On 16 September 2002 (06:43 PM),
Chelsea said:

I’m in this a capella group from Clemson University. It’s an all-female group, and I’m looking for an arrangement of Pat Benatar’s “We Belong.” Is there any way I could get an MP3 version from you or, even better, the sheet music with the a capella arrangement? Also, some of the music sung by our guy’s a capella group called Tigeroar is posted on Morpheous, etc. I would highly recommend listening to it; although, it’s a lot of their older stuff. Now, they’re absolutely phenomenal.

On 01 December 2002 (01:25 PM),
Kristin said:

I was wondering if you could find the sheet music for a song for me, or if you know where I could find it. I am looking for the song Under the Bridge a cappella sang by the brown derbies. If you know where I could find it, would you please email me back. Thank you so much for your time.

On 04 May 2003 (02:44 PM),
Scott said:

Hey there people, I couldn’t help but notice that you were interested in a cappella music and that you were looking for a good file sharing site.
Well, this is what I found for you even though you don’t know me. By the way, it’s good to meet you…
the service you are looking for is KaZaa Lite, and it just happens to have to the song that one of you is looking for.(Under the Bridge, Brown Derbies, under Red hot chili Peppers)
So, check it out….

On 05 October 2004 (09:36 PM),
Dee Dee said:

I am a former member of the ASU Pitchforks and I sing on both Secure Yourself and Verdi Cries. I, we, are flattered that you like our music. 🙂

Thanks for listening!

On 31 January 2005 (07:25 PM),
Laura said:

I am a member of a small choir dabbling in a capella, but the song we are looking for doesn’t want to be found. Do you know where I could find either sheet music, or a midi (not an mp3), of an a capella version of Billy Joel’s For The Longest Time? It probably gets annoying what with almost everyone asking you to find stuff, but I have been looking for weeks, with no result.
Thanks so much!

The Dream of the Red House

I rarely have strange dreams. Or, more precisely, I rarely remember the strange dreams that I do have. Last night was an exception.

I dreamt that Custom Box Service was having a party or celebration of some sort. A box festival. As part of this festival, I decided to take my house to work.

On the morning of the day of the festival, I jacked up the house, hitched it to the car, and towed it to the shop. I decided to leave my keys in the car in case somebody needed to move the house. The strangest part? The house was painted red.

I felt good because nobody else had thought to bring their house to the box festival. I was the only one to have done so. The box festival was great — lots of talking and fun. Even so, I decided to leave early to work out at the gym. When I walked out to my car, both it and the house were gone!

“Has anybody seen my house?” I asked my fellow employees. Nobody had.

I panicked.

I ran to the road and looked north on Oglesby. No sign of the house. I looked south on Oglesby. No sign of the house. I set off to find it.

For some reason (which made sense in the context of the dream) there was an old, decrepit chicken shack next to Custom Box Service. The shack was being used by a horticulturist society. And for some other reason (which made sense in the context of the dream) I began to search for my house inside the chicken shack.

The shack was dark and earthy. I wandered from room-to-room but, unsurprisingly, found no sign of my house. In one room, a room filled with fruited tomato plants (how did these plants grow with no light?), I found a book with an interesting cover and paused to read it.

I realized that I was wasting time so I set the book among the tomatoes and hurried on, winding through the horitculturists’ maze of rooms and plants. When I reached the end of the chicken shack I still had not found my house.

I was becoming increasingly concerned. I began to jog. I jogged down Oglesby to Needy and then down Heinz. No sign of the house. I jogged back to Needy and then down the hill by the Gingeriches. No sign of the house.

I found myself at Zion Mennonite Church. There was a potluck in progress in the old church basement, and people were milling about. I made an announcement: “My car and house have been stolen. Has anybody seen them?” Nobody had.

Ken Kauffman suggested that I look for them at [BLANK]. (Here you, the reader, need to use your imagination. I have no idea what the [BLANK] was that Ken suggested to me. I can describe the building, but not its purpose.)

I went to [BLANK]. [BLANK] consisted of a large, elongated building with a parking lot. It resembled a college dormitory. [BLANK] resembled a college dormitory on the inside as well. There were several floors of long (half-mile long) white cinder-block hallways with hundreds and hundreds of doors.

I started knocking on the doors. “Have you seen my house?” I asked whomever answered each door. Nobody had.

It was getting late, nearly midnight. I could no longer knock on doors. Instead, I ran the length of the hallway, stopping anybody that I saw, asking about my house. Floor after floor and no result.

At about 5 a.m. I came to the final room, a lounge at the end of the top floor. A group was gathered inside watching a movie: Repo Man or The Princess Bride or After Hours (a movie of which this dream reminds me, incidentally — some kind of weird recursive thing going on here?). They were laughing and eating and having a fine time. I asked for some food but nobody would share. One man offered to sell me some beef jerkey, so I bought $2 of it from him.

“Has anybody seen a red house?” I asked. Nobody had.

Well, almost nobody.

Joyce Trussell, the receptionist at Wilcox Arredondo, was there and she pulled me to the side. She handed me a business card with a hispanic name and a Wilsonville address. She told me that maybe this fellow could help me find my house. The implication was (I remember this clearly from the dream) that the person on the card had stolen my house and that boy, was he dangerous. I’m not sure how all of this was conveyed, but it was a dream, so it was.

I thanked Joyce and left. I didn’t know how I was going to get to Wilsonville; I dind’t have a car or a house.

As I was jogging to the [BLANK]’s exit, a woman stopped me and asked me if Joyce had been able to help me. I said that she had.

Then the dream ended. I was awakened by a couple of loud booms from the other side of Canby. I wonder what they were.

Creative and Analytical

My mind seems to have two major modes of operation: Creative Mode and Analytical Mode.

Creative Mode is used for activities such as reading, writing, etc. It’s also used when I learn photography, when I design my personal web site, when I play certain games. This mode is typified by spontaneity, a casual release of creative energy just to see what will happen. It doesn’t care about the quality of the results; the important thing in Creative Mode is to be creative, to produce something.

When my mind is operating in Analytical Mode, it is more concerned with the way things are rather than their mere existence. I use Analytical Mode for programming, for non-personal web design (i.e. web design for Computer Resources clients), and for playing most games (especially card games). Less obviously, I use Analytical Mode when exercising and when editing material produced while in Creative Mode.

When my life is dominated by Creative Mode, writing is easy. Producing a daily weblog entry is limiting: I want to produce two or three or five! Creative Mode is expressive, and when my mind is operating in that mode I want to write and I want to share. However, when I’m in Analytical Mode, producing a single weblog entry per week can seem daunting. My mind wants to break things apart, not put them together.

Maybe that’s another way to put it. In Creative Mode, I assimilate things, construct them. In Analytical Mode, I break things down, deconstruct them.

Why do I mention this?

For the past week I’ve been operating in Analytical Mode. My web work for Canby Ford and Wilcox Arredondo took over my life, and I found myself living in the Analytical. No time for weblog updates. No time for reading. No time for anything but HTML and exercise.

I’ve finished my Canby Ford project though, and am nearing completion of Wilcox Arredondo. I’ve already begun to slip into Creative Mode. I lost the flow of Downbelow Station when I entered the Analytical phase, so I picked up a new book yesterday (Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk) and read a chunk of it. I also watched some of Magnolia. In the next couple of days I’ll resume work on this site.

I’ve been impressed recently with how much fun I have when I least expect it.

Most of my life is planned. Kris and I usually know what we’re doing for the next several weeks: who we’re going to dinner with, who we’re playing games with, when book group is, etc. These planned activities, while enjoyable, sometimes seem a chore. They take me from other things that are either more important or would be more fun at the time.

Twice recently I’ve participated in social events for which I had not planned. I had a great time at both events. Found fun. In high school and college, I was spontaneous, rarely planning my life more than a day in advance. As I’ve aged (and spent more time with Kris, a scheduler by nature), my life has become less spontaneous. Perhaps I need to regain some of that lost spontaneity. Found fun. I like that.

My most recent encounter with found fun occurred last Sunday. I had planned to spend the day completing my two web design projects, but when Joel and Aimee invited me (and Kris, who had other plans, and Mac and Pam) to their apartment for the Super Bowl, I casually shirked responsibility in favor of entertainment. I’m glad I did.

We had far too much food for only five people, especially considering that Mac and I are dieting. It was good food, though, and I ate too much. The game was exciting, U2’s half-time show entertaining. Best was the smart and witty banter that filled the room all afternoon. It’s been a long while since I laughed so much. After the game, we went to see The Brotherhood of the Wolf. I had never heard of the film (and probably wouldn’t have seen it if I had), but it was more entertaining than it had a right to be.

Found fun. Life should be more fun. Fun is the meaning of life.


On 16 July 2003 (08:48 PM),
JLT said:

So what type of jobs does somebody who is creative and analytical do??

On 15 September 2005 (08:57 AM),
KRR said:

Yes, a couple of job suggestions for a creative and analytical person would be…? Thanks a bunch