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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

New Music!

Earlier this week - for the first time in almost 3 years - I posted new songs on my music page. There are two new ones: "Goodbye Maria" and "Feels Like Rain". So, if any of y'all see this post, check 'em out and let me know what you think. I'm taking some drum lessons now, too, so I might be rockin' my drumset on the next one.

Oh, and for those of you who haven't heard anything from me since my last post: (contrary to popular opinion) no, I'm not dead.

Monday, March 20, 2006

From Pancakes To Karaoke

I went out for breakfast yesterday and ended up singing karaoke at 1am with a bunch of soccer hooligans. I woke up about 1pm, and Cris (my roommate), suggested we head over to Perkins for breakfast (his interest was mostly due to the fact that we've found a Perkins with cute waitresses, but they have good pancakes, too). I had a couple of things to return down at The Mall*, and Cris decided to tag along (*For non-Minnesotans: Around here, "The Mall" means the giant stinking monument to capitalism more widely known as The Mall of America or The Mega-Mall. It's about the only reason anyone ever visits this state, and it's really not worth it).

By the time I was finished at The Mall, it was already 5pm, and I wanted to get together with Mark for dinner, so I gave him a call. Mark and his roommate were already out looking for a place to eat, so I went directly to Uptown ($1 burger night at William's - yeah, baby!) to meet them; poor, unwitting Cris was dragged along. We were still stuffed with Perkins, so we just hung out with Mark and his roommate while they ate. Cris and I finally started to get hungry around the time they were leaving, so we stayed to order our own burgers. That's when the soccer hooligans showed up.

A bunch of kids (I use the term "kids" loosely; they were roughly our age) came in wearing soccer clothes, many of them even sporting cleats and shinguards. Cris - who was a big soccer player in high school back in Atlanta, and who used to work at a soccer store - was busy pointing out to me the "real" soccer players in the group and commenting on their gear. I don't mean that he was saying, "those are nice cleats"; I mean he was listing the retail value of everyone's socks - this guy knows soccer.

The soccer players started drinking, and, pretty soon, the drinking games began. I don't know the name of the game they were playing, but some of the girls in the group were up doing jumping jacks and push-ups when "Smith", one of the more outspoken guys in the group, noticed us across the bar and invited us to join in the fun. Cris was a little reluctant, but when I went, he followed (that's becoming a theme here; does he actually think it's a good idea to follow me?).

The group turned out to be from a local soccer league, and they had just won their championship game, in an upset victory, via shootout. They turned out to be a blast, and they all welcomed us into the pack with open arms. But the fun wasn't going to stop at William's. It was Sunday night, and they were champions, so what did they want to do next? Find a karaoke bar. Duh.

We headed for O'Donovan's Irish Pub with a few of the soccer hooligans riding along in my car. They kicked off the night with Queen's "We are the Champions" (you might have seen that one coming), I bought a round of Irish car bombs, and Cris and I ended up on stage (with cute backup dancers who materialized out of the crowd) singing "Save the Horse, Ride a Cowboy". Just a typical evening for me, really.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Stepford Student

What the hell happened? In college, I was really good at it. I could pull all-nighters, pump myself full of caffeine and do it - for hours on end - like no other. Now, I seem to have lost my knack for it. Slacking, that is.

I'm taking an evening class at the U of M - an undergraduate-senior-level computer science course - and I'm acing it. That's right, mid-way through the semester, a midterm and two projects behind me, and my grade in the class is 100%. What the hell happened to me? In college, I pulled a solid B-minus average. Now, I just can't seem to do it. Is it the mental stimulation (or lack thereof) of the work environment? Have I been reading too many books? Am I just slipping in my old age?

On a side note, this class has re-kindled my love of Unix & Linux (and I wonder why I'm single...). After yet another Windows-inspired hard-drive reformat, I decided to take the first step away from Microsoft; I've gone Mozilla. The upshot? If either of the people reading this are using Mozilla, you'll notice that I've finally fixed a few bugs in the site; karlos.us is Mozilla-friendly.

Monday, July 18, 2005


I think there are some gaps in my education. As engineering majors, we were required to have 6 liberal studies (ie. anything-but-engineering) courses, plus two freshman writing seminars. That's it. The rest of the 4-year schedule was packed with equation-balancing, code-jockeying, wire-soldering engineering courses. Oh, and those 6 liberal studies courses? My AP credits from high school covered 3 of them! I even took an economics course, and the college happily threw it in the "liberal studies" category, which almost gave my dad, mom, and sister (Philosophy, English, and Sociology/Anthropology majors, respectively) a collective heart attack.

I have to admit that I chose computer engineering partly to avoid being forced to read books and write papers in college. Somewhere along the way, though, I realized that I was missing a lot of literary references in conversations, so I set out to make up for the lack of literature in my education by reading, of my own volition, some of the books I'd missed in school. It was slow going; historically, I haven't been much of a bookworm. As a kid, my parents always told me I should read more, but all I wanted to do was watch TV and play with Legos (Not just when I was a little kid; I had to hide my Legos so my prom date wouldn't see them. Yeah, I've always been a dork; it's not a recent thing).

I finally got on a little reading frenzy while I was backpacking in Europe last year (well, for me, one-book-per-week constitutes a reading frenzy). I found a copy of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 in a bookstore in Rome, loved it, and kept steadily devouring books the rest of the trip. After I came home and started working again, though, I stopped reading - right in the middle of Crime and Punishment. I finally brought that one with me to Maui in January and finished it off. My sister made fun of me for bringing Dostoevsky as "beach reading," but it was the only way to get through the last half of the book; without the Hawaiian sun, I think Russian literature could destroy my will to live.

I started another reading frenzy this year, but this time, it stalled out with Don Quixote (as I mentioned in my last post). About 50 pages into the book, I hit the scene in which Don Quixote tilts at the windmill, and now I think I know why that's the scene everyone talks about from that book: no one bothers to read past page 50! After a couple weeks of trying to slog through the old English of the classic translation, reading about a page at a time before putting the book down and getting distracted by something else, I gave up on the man from La Mancha.

I needed to get my "reading momentum" restarted, and I think Bradbury's come through again; I just finished Dandelion Wine this weekend (thanks to Dan for that recommendation), and now I'm blazing through another Christopher Moore (the Gospel According to Biff author) novel, Fluke, before I hit my next classic.

I enjoy reading, and I love the way it gets the creative wheels in my head moving, but it seems to be way too easy for me to go months on end without doing it. At least when I'm not reading, I'm filling my extra time with friends, guitar, and every sport from tennis to waterskiing now - instead of TV and Legos. Still, I'm hoping I can keep my book habit going a bit longer this time; edumacation is important.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Corporate America is my daddy

Yup, they own my soul now. I'm signed up, plugged in, logged on... I have a 401K, an HMO, an IDP, and if I get hit by a bus, someone gets 1-and-a-half-times my salary in a life insurance payout. For those of you looking for the keys to a bus: no, it's not you.

We had a small (4-week) delay while HR got the paperwork through, but as of last week, I'm officially a corporate slave - no more hourly pay-for-play contract. I had mixed feelings about that - particularly when I realized how much smaller my checks would be (don't worry, I'm still not exactly starving) - but I know this is best for my career (career (ke-rir) n. - see "responsibility," "adult," "corporate raping," blah, blah, blah...).

The delay gave me enough time to finish The DaVinci Code and Vonnegut's Player Piano, then read Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles, followed by Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal (thank you, Jon; that book's definitely in my top 10 list now) and Ayn Rand's Anthem (hey, if she only ever wrote about 1 central theme, why tackle the 1000+ page Atlas Shrugged when you can get the gist of it in 120 large-font pages?), then start Don Quixote, where I've stalled about 30 pages in.

So right now my reading's as stagnant as my love life, but my friends continue to make up for it all. Jason, Mike, Mark and I spent Sunday at Valleyfair (it's like Six Flags, or Disneyland without so many poor bastards who have to walk around in foam suits). The ride that slowly takes you up over 200 feet with your feet dangling in the air, pauses, then fires you downward still scares the crap out of me (in a good way). Afterward, we met up with Jason's wife (that still sounds weird to me) for $1 burgers in Uptown, where I impressed the whole group by hitting on our waitress (with no success, of course, but they all gave me points for guts and "smooth"ness - even the waitress).

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

RB6: Resurrection

I think I caught Bahamas Ebola. I got back to NYC and spent the next week and a half lying on Carmine's couch, hoping for death. I'm finally back in the land of the living, but I decided to scrap the rest of my trip plans. By the time I drove to North Carolina, I'd be completely wiped out again, so I opted for a closer target; I'm back in Ithaca.

After a few more days here with Dan, Sarah, James, and Jenn, I'll be heading home. It looks like I'll even have a job - a real job, with health insurance, 401K, the whole look-at-me-I'm-a-grown-up bit.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

RB5: Beyond Thunderdome

The Bahamas were great ...aside from the random marching-band covers of pop songs the DJ liked to blast out on the loud speakers on the beach from time to time. It was beautiful, warm, sunny, and Jason and Laura's wedding was a lot of fun. I made a great video-recording of the ceremony (of course, it would have been better if that fly hadn't been sitting on the side of the lens the whole time). After dinner, they busted out the all-you-can-drink Bahama Mamas - which are basically fruit punch with rum added (more rum if things get slow). The Bahama Mamas must have been made well, because we started the dancing on the beach during the bonfire, and continued late into the night. I don't know if I've ever seen that many white people out on the floor shakin' it - even Jason's grandma was out there.

I also found out that the Bahamas are probably the easiest place on earth to get your hands on some "chronic." Anywhere we went - the beach, the market - someone was offering. At one point, Jason's brother, Mike, was looking for a Bob Marley t-shirt and asked a guy at a souvenier shop. I guess we could have seen this one coming, because the guy was sporting the 5-leaf-plant necklace, but his response was, "hey, you want some of the real Bob Marley, mon?" I bought a cool wood-carved ashtray (for my guitar picks - I haven't started smoking), and the lady at the shop asked if it was for my chronic. Must be a lot of American tourists buying down there. I just hope they smoke it before they come back, because the guy with the rubber glove at the airport is thorough.

RB4: With a Vengeance

Couldn't find a computer to post a blog entry in the Bahamas ...ok, who am I kidding? I was in the friggin' Bahamas, you think I had nothing better to do than blog?

Last Wednesday, I drove down to NYC from Ithaca. I drove the car straight into Manhattan, met up with my friend Carmine, and we headed for a local tex-mex place. A couple margaritas later, we grabbed our doumbeks (Turkish drums), and headed for Union Square. We found a random French guy playing guitar and singing, so Carmine asked if we could join him. We played along for a couple of songs, then moved on. As we were getting up, a bunch of kids were walking by - kinda punk-looking kids - the kind you'd figure are up to no good. They asked us about our drums, so we started chatting with them. It turned out they were part of a group called the "underground church," and were out in Union Square to give food to the homeless and help them find places to stay. We jammed nearby for a while as the kids passed out food.

When the kids left, we went to another corner of the square and ran into a guy with glowsticks. Yes, glowsticks; he was twirling them on strings, and he was actually really good. We played while he did his thing, and I took the opportunity to do a little people-watching. It was about midnight, but there were a ton of people out on the square, including a cute girl sitting near us, a bunch of guys break-dancing behind us, and a guy who wanted to organize a symphony of street musicians. We talked to the symphony guy for a while, then I played some more for Zane (the glowstick guy) while Carmine explained to the symphony guy that the randomness and independence that makes street music work for individuals doesn't lend itself well to organization.

After a while, the break-dancing guys called us over to play for them. Carmine started busting out the hip-hop rhythms, while I did my best to keep up. The break-dancers were taking turns in the middle of the ring, doing some cool handstands, spins, etc, and then something weird happened: I looked up, and suddenly, the cute girl I had seen earlier was in the middle of the ring - belly-dancing! Carmine had been mixing some Turkish rhythms in with the hip-hop stuff, and I guess she heard one that worked for her, and she went for it. She was good, too! After an hour or so of playing for the break-dancers, the belly dancer, and Zane (who also took his turn in the break-dancing ring), we finally called it a night. Carmine and I talked with Ariel (the belly dancer) for a little bit (she was looking for advice from Carmine on how to get some performing gigs in the city; it turned out they knew some of the same people; I guess there's a sort of belly dancing sub-culture here), then went home, thoroughly satisfied.

I caught about 2 hours of sleep before getting up to catch my plane to the Bahamas.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

RB3: Road Blog Strikes Back

I spent less than a week in Ithaca, and I've eaten at Mano's diner three times. Dan and I held a sort of video-game marathon for the first couple of days, and each morning (ok, afternoon) when we woke up, we went to Mano's for ridiculous amounts of cheap, greasy, oh-so-satisfying food. James and Maureen drove up from NYC on Friday, so I got to hang out with them (and Jenn, of course) over the weekend. We had a good time, although it got a little... interesting (mental note: don't pick up James&Jenn's copy of the Kama Sutra; you're only asking for trouble).

After the third trip to Mano's today (with James&Jenn this time), I picked up Dan at work, and we joined a pick-up game of ultimate frisbee. The game reminded me that I'm ridiculously out of shape right now, but I managed to catch a few passes. I even scored once, which made up for falling flat on my ass in the mud trying to catch another touchdown pass. It's ok; I was wearing a pair of Dan's shorts, anyway ;-)

Now I'm packing up for the Bahamas; I'm heading down to NYC tomorrow, so I can stay with Carmine overnight and catch my plane out of Newark on Thursday morning.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

RB2: Return of Road Blog

Why is it that no one tells me anything (and that I have no sense of the geography of the greater NYC area)?

As indicated in "Road Blog 1," I buzzed through NYC early this week. I wasn't originally planning to be there this early in my road trip, but my sister and my cousin were there on Mon&Tues, so I squeezed in a quick couple of days with them before heading up toward Maine. I spent all day Wednesday at Ryan's place in Stamford, CT, and I'm just realizing now that (1) I was less than 30 minutes from Maureen's place, and (2) James might have been there, too.

Anyway, I had a great time with Rebecca. I got to see the beautiful Maine coast on a brilliantly sunny day, meet some of her friends, and find out just how hard law students party in Maine (sadly, there wasn't enough booty-shakin' to even register on the James-Lamb-0-meter).

Now I'm hanging out with Tarek and Dawn (and Oda Mae Von Bismarck) at the renowned "Casa Sultani." Tarek and I played some of our old E7 songs while the (amazing, varied, and delicious) home-made pizzas were cooking, and I'm looking forward to an Easter celebration here tomorrow. I'll be heading out to Ithaca on Wed, but now I'm worried I might miss J entirely, if he's still at Maureen's place. If he is, I hope he'll still be in NYC after April 12th, when I get back from the Bahamas.