Happy New year!

This year has been pretty good to me. I’ve stumbled across some things that have made my life quite a bit easier and I have gotten myself into a position to do what I’ve been wanting to do for a long long time, stop working retail… I’ve made more money this year than ever before and I got another 14+% return on my 401k this year, pretty cool.

I’ve never been a big fan of new year’s resolutions but for perhaps the first time in my life I’ve accomplished something that I’ve really had to work had for. I told myself that to make this trip to Egypt work, I would have to have at least 10 grand in the bank by feb. I hit 12,000 this month. I’ve come around to the whole setting goals thing, so here’s some resolutions for the new year:

1) Go to Egypt for a year. This is what is driving me, it is why I am doing what I’m doing at work, I will make this trip happen.

2) Lose 15 pounds by March 1. I’ve lost 12 just by cutting back on the crap I eat, no reason that I can’t lose more if I actually exercise and eat decently. I’m going to have to concentrate to make this happen, but I’ll do it.

3) Exercise at least 3 times a week. I know, I know, exercise resolutions are the most common and the least attained, but I was actually doing this for 4 or 5 months this year. I gave up during november and december, but I’m going to get back to it, I feel pretty weak right now…

4) Build at least one stereo amplifier. Yeah, the preamp is still sitting there, lacking only a few capacitors and resistors, but amps have always been my focus. I’ll put the order in for the parts at the end of january. Not sure if I want a triode push pull or a single ended ultralinear pentode for my first effort, any suggestions?

5) Get through all of the guitar lessons that I have right now and half of my next book by august 20th. I have let my practicing stop during december but I really want to learn more. I’m doing this primarily for learning more about music but I understand that learning music can also open up other pathways in the brain. That makes it easier to learn things, that’s useful for…

6) Learn everything in the Arabic books/cds I own. I would like to have some rudimentary grasp on the basics before I go over. I’d be happy if I could greet people, say thank you, and tell the cabbie to take me to the campus. I don’t have any doubts that I can learn the language, especially since I’ll have to learn to function over there:-)

So that’s my list. It’s front weighted towards the beginning of this year since I’m not sure what is going to happen once I get over there. So I guess I better get cracking!:-) Happy New Year!!!

Isaac

Must..control…spending…

OK, last night I narrowly escaped purchasing a tube tester, for $1300… I came to my senses and realized that I can’t buy an expensive thing like that until I come back from my trip. I have not been able to resist the urge to buy more albums unfortunately. I really really want a copy of “Get Behind Me Satan” on vinyl but apparently it’s a really rare thing and costs a lot of money. Some of their older albums are not, so I bought “Elephant”, an extravagant repackaging of Sonic Youth’s “Dirty” (4 LPs!), and Siamese Dream by Smashing Pumpkins. I’m a sick man, I already own two of those things on CD (albeit without the extras for Dirty), but I do enjoy the better sound from LPs. I can comfort myself with the knowledge that I made an extra $1000 in sales this month, so I guess a little something for me isn’t so bad, right? Just gotta make sure it doesn’t become a habit, again…

Isaac

More vinyl gold…

Wow, just rediscovered Sam Cooke’s Night Beat. What an album, OMG it’s wonderful. It isn’t intense, just really fun and nice. Plus I could listen to him sing all day long. Next up is Belzububba from the Dead Milkmen. I miss them, and there isn’t really anyone to take their place. I’ll be doing nothing but listening to my LPS for weeks:-)

Isaac

Ahhh…

Some things just sound better on vinyl. I’m listening to “Tapestry” by Ms. King.I can’t think of a more evocative LP than this for the early 70’s and it just doesn’t sound right on CD. The same goes for early Rolling Stones, and the Cynics should never be heard on anything but LP or maybe a scratchy FM station (like that would ever happen…). Can’t wait to put “Revolver” on in the next day or so, and then there’s my Beach Boys records. Oh how I’ve missed these albums!

Of course with my newfound joy I’ve listened carefully to my phono preamp for the first time. It ain’t all that good unfortunately. Or at least it is sorely lacking compared to what I’ve had in the past, but I’m not going to drop that kind of money right now, not until I can build something or afford a decent phono stage (tubed of course!). I did find a cheapie unit ($150) that is universally considered to be the one to beat when you’re trying to do this sort of stuff on the cheap…

Another thing that I’ve noticed, and that I’ve missed, is that I can literally listen to records all day and not get fatigued. Even the best CD systems wear me out after 2 or 3 albums. I’m on my 5th LP of the night and I’m debating on weather or not I should put another on, and that’s with a sub par preamp! With the right equipment, it can be magical… I need to go on a classical record hunt. They are, for the most part cheap as dirt, but I could have my “brain music” on all day and not get tired or a headache! Gotta start trolling ebay again…

Isaac

Christmas was good, LP mania!

Just got back in from my usual, frenetic Christmas travels. We switched things up a bit this year, spent CHristmas eve at mom’s and Christmas day over at dad’s. Usually it’s the other way around. Everything went well, everyone seemed to like their gifts. It’s always a relief t know that you didn’t screw up…
I picked up the shelves from my dad, no I have something to pt my stereo on! I brought up all of my LPs and I’m now listening to a record for the for the first time in years!!! I remember why LPs died off, what a pain in the ass. They’re big, heavy, and fragile. But I couldn’t help but smile when I started flipping through my collection. Lots of stuff I’ve missed, all of my Rolling Stones, 80’s stuff (Greg Khin, Cyndi Lauper, Duran Duran, Human League, Madness, Waitresses, etc.), groups from SST, Fugazi, and a handful of K-tel albums (remember Pablo Cruise, or maybe Frank Stallone’s “Far From Over?”). Plus, the stereo system never really looks right without a turntable…

I also got one of the silliest presents ever, and I love it! It’s a toy rabbit styled after the one in Monty Python’s Holy Grail. It has enormous teeth and is about as silly as can be. Hope everyone had a great Christmas!

Isaac

I went and did it…

I’m sure all of you know that I’m a camera snob, I have just cemented that in my own mind. I have used the best that the commercial world can offer, Hassleblads, Leica, Schneider LF lenses and Japanese precision large format cameras. Now I’m having cameras custom made for me… I ordered two cameras from a guy in Austrailia, he modifies old polaroid cameras that use obsolete film into ones that use current real film. I’ll be getting a 4×5 rangefinder camera and a 6×12 rangefinder. They’ll be like big, folding Leicas! I feel like these will allow me to shoot the way I like to with a minimum if compromise. More importantly, I’ll be able to carry these with me and take them on my travels. Since they fold up into their own hard shell, they will also be pretty impervious to damage. I’m pretty excited, but I’ll have to wait a while. He doesn’t expect them to be done till late Feb. or early March. Oh well, good things come to those that wait, right?

Isaac

Doing well

Those of you that know me pretty well know that this is usually my least favorite time of the year. Christmas in retail can be hellish. Long hours, limited time with family, cranky customers and coworkers all add up to trying times. Or at least they used to. I gotta say that this year is a piece of cake despite all of the other things being the same as ever. In addition, I’m continuing to loose weight and I’m making more money now than I ever have in the past. Not bad eh?:-)

I’m giving credit to several cd programs and a book that has really turned my perspective completely around. I mentioned the Mind OS book before, it’s given me a way to look at the way I’m thinking and redirect it to ways that are better. I’m still reading it (it’s close to 400 pages) but just reading the first 6 chapters has had quite an impact on me. Brian Tracy’s “The Psychology of success” cd program is chock full of good ideas and strategies for doing better in life. It can be a bit cheesy at times, and a little over the top, but it is effective. I’ve gotten more done and made more money already just by using his techniques. The last one is “How to be a no Limit Person” by Wayne Dyer. He was THE guru in the 70’s on self improvement, and this was recorded in the late 70’s. Because of that, it sounds a little cheesy, and the music is ridiculous, but the message is still relevant. I was struck most about his “parking space” talk. Have you ever had to go someplace when you knew it would be crazy busy? You say to yourself, “There won’t be any parking spaces. the parking lot is full…” and then you go there and you’re looking for no parking spaces! You expect it and it shapes your reality. I’ve used his ideas to virtually (not completely mind you) eliminate my road rage with DC traffic and my apprehension of nasty customers. Good stuff, I highly recommend all of these to anyone that has anger problems, motivation problems, or just don’t understand why you do certain things. This things can’t answer every question of course, but they have given me a way to look at the things I’d like to improve and make some headway.

Merry Christmas to everyone!

Isaac

Weird dream last night

I was in a 4 week intensive class learning to be a sommelier. It cost me 5 or 6 grand and somehow I decided that it was worth it for some reason. Turns out that I had a knack for being a wine snob and could match wines with meals really well. Why not, I tend to lean towards the snobbish side of most things it seems… The teacher was impressed with how quickly I picked up the differences in the wines. I even enjoyed the taste of some of them, a real smooth, warm kind of wine. I don’t usually taste things in dreams, but this was pleasant enough. Of course I don’t really drink at all, I can count the number of times I’ve had wine on one hand. It was a pretty lucid dream, no weirdness that usually occurs in dreams. It was odd though, I woke up thinking WTF was that about? I guess I should be happy my dreams are just odd instead of terrible like some people’s…

Isaac

Whew!

24 of my auctions ended on Ebay on sunday. By tomorrow I will have shipped out 21 boxes. I still haven’t boxed up any of the Christmas presents I need to send out yet… I had sunday off but I won’t have another day off until monday, and then no more until Christmas. I’m such a whore, I asked for the hours and I’m getting them! I’ll actually get paid for them this year too, the way the checks work out, we get three in december, that’ll help. Woog I’m tired, better get some sleep and get ready for tomorrow…

Isaac

Newest wallpaper

Found a still from Bergman’s Persona and promptly put it up as one of my rotating wallpaper images. This was one of the first mind blowing films I ever saw and it had quite an impact on me. The still is part of the “dream sequence” where liv Ulman is running her hands through Bibi Andersons’s hair. It is a weird mix of eroticism and creepiness. This was the first scene in which I picked up on the vampirism theme running through the film. No, not literal vampirism, but a symbolic one, of one person feeding off of another. It’s an intense film, and odds are you won’t be able to follow it completely with a single viewing, but it’s worth the effort.

Isaac