It occured to me that I not only have a lot of data CD-Rs lying around, but that they're spread out among at least 5 different places in the same room. Time to sift through them. After a while I realized that they all pretty much came in one of the following categories:
Music (audio) CD-Rs. There were times when I'd burn a disc of something in order to have a quick copy I could listen to in the car, or give to somebody, etc. Though given the ease these days of faster internet connections, larger hard drive sizes, larger portable mp3 player capacities, etc., I realized that there's no need to hang on to most of these. There were certainly some exceptions, like discs that had tracks burned on to them that I didn't already have ripped as mp3. Other than that, a lot of stuff to ditch.
mp3 discs. Similar to the above. My first mp3 player was a TDM Mojo player. It was essentially a discman that additionally could play CD-Rs filled with mp3s. At the time (2002?) this was amazing. The idea of being able to carry 20 albums on a single disc was an enormous step up from the pain of having to go through your music collection before going on vacation and trying to decide what to take with you. I put these either with the rest of the mp3 discs I've kept around, or in the trash.
(Purchased) Software discs. This is the installation software that comes with some prodct or another. Some of these were well worth keeping, like the programs or games I still use but they don't make anymore.
Non-personal but useless. By this, I mean things like "Norton Anti-Virus 2002". These are the sorts of discs that aren't really worth keeping around.
Some of you might assume that this is going to be a rant against Black Friday and shopping. Well, it isn't. In fact, I think all of that I-boycott-Black-Friday blogging from people gets really old really fast.
I don't know who's the most annoying of the annual Thanksgiving Weekend protesters:
The loud-mouth vegans who, every year, proudly have to inform the rest of us that Thanksgiving is an evil holiday of meat eating (and probably don't have any friends or family who'd invite them to their house anyway)
The honky college students who, every year, proudly have to inform the rest of us how Thanksgiving is oh so evil to Native Americans, or...
The self-righteous technophobic twits who, every year, proudly have to inform the rest of us that they refuse to do any shopping on Black Friday. (As if they had the money or the good will to buy a TV or a computer as a gift on any other day of the year.)
Some people might think that Black Friday goes hand in hand with the problem of having too much stuff than you can use, but that's not really the case. I suppose that if you're an impulse buyer, then Black Friday may be something you should strive to avoid. But very few Black Friday shoppers are hoarders, and little if any of the stuff overcrowding a hoarder's home was bought from a Black Friday deal. If you do have your sights on a particular upper-cost item (TV, computer, etc.) for yourself or for somebody else, that you want brand new, and that you think will really, really get a lot of use, then maybe plotting out a killer deal on a Black Friday is the way to go.
So having said that, here are a couple of meme pics I made.
Happy Turkey Day! If you came to this site looking for stuffing recipes, well, this isn't the place. This "A Place for My STUFF", not a "A Place for My STUFFING".
Still reading after that terrible observation joke? Good, then lets continue.
Last time I mentioned a big bag o' stuff and the strange things in it. Here were some of the other items:
Tiny black top hat. Was this in case any spider monkeys or lemurs come to visit for a formal dinner? No, it was something I bought in a craft store for a Residents-related project that I just haven't gotten around to. Maybe a doll of sorts. In any case, this can be placed in a better place than at the top of a bag in the middle of my floor.
Giant magnifying glass. I'm not sure what prompted me to get this. Had I been working on some kind of tiny electronics or something? Or did I just like the elegant look of it? Well, I'm putting this one with the rest of the office/desk supplies.
USB Car charger. Good to have, I suppose. But I have a separate drawer that this sort of stuff goes in now, so that's where it's going.
CD labels. Oh but not just any labels. No a few sheets of GLOSSY labels! Wow! Well, time to put these with the other few CD labels I have.
Diablo II info. All about runes and rings and necklaces, etc. from the game Diablo II. Maybe this could come in handy if I start playing the game again. But since I don't know when that would ever be, and since I could find this stuff again on-line just like I did the first time around, there's no point in holding on to this. Into the trash you go.
Eddie Izzard "Sexie" 2-CD. I was wondering where this went to! Promptly ripped and put back on the shelf with the rest of the Eddie Izzard, which is with the rest of my stand-up comedy CDs.
If you read the title of this blog entry and thought I was plotting to kill my grandmother, well, you'd be wrong. One piece of stuff that I've been ignoring for at least a year or two (probably much longer) has been this giant paper shopping bag in my main "computer room". It has been sitting behind my chair for quite some time, being an obstacle between two halves of the room. In fact, what actually prompted me to get rid of it is the music stand behind it, on which is a music book with exercises I've been wanting to go through, probably for even longer. It's about time I took a look inside the bag.
Judging from the contents, I'm guessing it's unrelated stuff I picked up and threw into one bag while I was moving. Here were some of the many oddities inside:
Exercise from What Color Is Your Parachute. Back in 2009 when I was laid off and furiously trying to get a new job in my field in the midst of a shitty economy, I had some career center or another recommend the book What Color Is Your Parachute. It's a book about job hunting and career building, updated every year (mainly to keep the suggested website links and what not all up-to-date). And well, I thought the book mostly sucked. However, there were some exercises that seemed worth doing. I photocopied these sections, and bought a poster board for the exercise too. Then I never ended up doing anything with them. I can't remember what happened to the big green piece of poster board, aside from collecting dust in my bedroom.
Readers' Digest. I bought this at an airport, probably in that same year because I was unemployed at the time. The cover story was "The Best New Jobs". This is worth a second reading, then probably throwing away. I'm going to do that tonight. No sense in waiting longer to do it; that's how things like this end up hanging around for so long.
Middle School newspaper. Volume 1, Issue 1 of my middle school newspaper. I entered sixth grade in the mid 80s, namely the same year that all of the schools in my area got rid of junior high school and created middle school. Now this is a fun piece of nostalgia, and not junk that I'm going to just toss away. My wife will be pleased to know that Jon Bon Jovi won the sixth grade polls in three categories (favorite group: Bon Jovi; favorite song: You Give Love a Bad Name; favorite male singer: Jon Bon Jovi).
EIDOS Interactive catalog, '98. This was the company that made Tomb Raider, and most of the catalog sold related items. This included stuff like a briefcase ($74) and sunglasses ($199). But a 1998 gaming catalog looks like modern technology compared to the next item.
Turtle Commands for Logo. Wow, the Logo programming language. Move the turtle forward 30 pixels, turn right 90 degrees, and repeat those commands until you've drawn a square. Here was a collection of commands I got at the time from my babysitter up the street. All of those secret special commands they didn't teach you in computer class or on the tutorial diskette!
Bad date's phone number and email address, among other things scribbled down on the same piece of paper. I had met this lady though the long defunct website longhairedmen.com, "The site for long-haired men and the women who love them". I met quite a few dates through that site, actually. It was great while it lasted. Unfortunately this was one of the not-so-great dates. I must have been saving the piece of paper for one of the other phone numbers or notes on it, whose meaning has now been long lost. Goodbye, piece of paper!
Some of you may already be familiar with "Jack Chick tracts", or "Chick tracts", or the name "Jack T. Chick". Others may already know what I'm talking about, even if you didn't know the name off-hand.
Chick tracts are these little black and white comic books that born-again Christians use for witnessing. That's a euphemism for "proselytizing". You may have had some streat preacher hand you one, or found them in your mailbox, or what not. They're created by a cartoonist named Jack T. Chick. And no matter what topic you can think of that has ever upset Jesus freaks, you can find some Chick tract about it: sex, evolution, Islam, dungeons & dragons, Catholicism, homosexuality, rock music -- you name it.
Ironically, the biggest "fans" of Chick tracts tend to be atheists, Pagans, and other non-Christians who just find them to be an entertaining collection of bad art work and fallacious arguments. I knew one atheist who had a stack of about 50 of them on his living room table.
I've run into a number of Chick-related links over the years, so I thought I'd put them all here in one place:
First there's the official site, chick.com. I must admit, I'm impressed that they secured this domain name. You would think that a name like "chick.com" would have been grabbed by somebody else to make a porn site. You can see all of the original Chick tracts here. Pick one and look through it, and you'll get an idea of what they're about. Note how all Chick tracts end with a questionaire, usually a "Have you accepted Jesus?" followed by a yes/no set of checkboxes.
I've seen at least two books written about Jack Chick and his tracts. One is "The World of Chick?" by Robert Flowler, which catalogs all known titles and printings of the tracts. It's sort of a collectors' guide, like others that have been written for other comic books.
Debunking of "Big Daddy" page at IronChariots.org. "Big Daddy" was a Chick tract that desperately tries to refute evolution and argue for creationism. This page takes the tract panel by panel, and shows just how embarrassingly dishonest and wrong creationists can be in their arguments.
And now for the parodies!
The Jack T. Chick Parody Archive. This is a really old site, and I'm surprised it's still up, despite most of the links on its links page being dead. But there are still some great things here. You'll find a number of different parodies from different people. I especially like the ones from Jim Huger, like "Dead to Rights". Jim Huger is the creator of Jhuger.com, an excellent atheism site that I've been visiting since I first saw it in the 1990s.
MST3K Presents Dark Dungeons. This site takes a look at "Dark Dundeons", a Chick tract about the evils of Dungeons & Dragons and other role-playing games (RPGs), but done in the style of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Hilarious.
"Who Will Be Eaten First?", a parody that uses the same old fire n' brimstone reasoning that Chick tracks use for Christianity, but instead apply them to the god Cthulhu. You can read all about it from the original creator Howard Hallis, here on his blog. He got a cease and decist notice about it. I do remember seeing another Cthulhu parody out there, but I can't remember the name. I'll add it here if I find it.
Saturnalia is about a Pagan family who moves into a Christian neighborhood, and finds that they have to educate the Christians and correct their misconceptions.
Some Bob Loves Me. The Chick tract "Somebody Loves Me", retold in an Animated .gif format, and of course with a Church of the Subgenius twist. Tiny pic, probably because it was made quite a while back.
It's been a while since I found something of the "Why the hell do I still have this?" category. But I found it. It's a stick whittled to somewhat resemble a pencil. And it looks like I've had it for a long time.
The story behind this? Damned if I know. I think maybe I whittled it in Boy Scout camp when I was 13. Maybe I used it to spool cassette tapes? Maybe I was planning on painting it like a pencil and using it as a prank item, watching with sadistic glee as people tried to write with it, only to hear holes in the paper? Did somebody else maybe whittle it for me? Or did I keep this for nothing more than the fact it was something I spent time on?
I have no idea. But if the item has absolutely no use to me, and doesn't even serve as a memento for anything, then I'd say it's safe to get rid of it.
This Halloween I decided to wear a costume that I had made a few years back. When I wear this, I seem to get one of three reactions: 1) the rare person who knows what I'm "supposed" to be and really likes the costume, 2) people who just find it to be an interesting Halloween costume in and of itself, without knowing where the idea came from, and 3) people who insist on letting me know that they don't know who or what I'm "supposed" to be dressed as.
Well for those who don't know, this is a costume from my favorite band, The Residents. They're a band who's been making albums since the early 1970s, and have never publicly revealed their identities. In fact "band" doesn't completely describe them, because from the earliest days they also did various film projects, and were one of the first bands to explore other media like multimedia CD-ROM. Regardless, The Residents only perform in full costume and don't give interviews. The main reasoning behind this is reportedly that the band wants to be as artistically free as they can, and they argue that what they do in their personal life should all be completely irrelevant to the music listener; the only thing that should matter is the work they produce. The Residents have worn countless different costumes over the years, but this particular costume remains their most famous, and the eyeball-and-top-hat logo has become a general logo for the band. It first appeared on the front cover of their album "Eskimo":
Other fans over the years have similarly made these eyeball costumes for thsemelves, some of them certainly better than what I have here. Even The Residents themselves have made a few revised versions over the years. But here's how I made mine.
First, the materials that I used:
Rubber eyeball mask (yep, I cheated big time)
Two (2) giant 5" safety pins
One or two strong twist-ties
Jacket with coattails
And here are the details:
Obviously the defining part of the costume is the eyeball-and-top-hat piece. Without this, you might as well tell people that you're supposed to be Mr. Peanut! Items #1-4 were used to create this. The eyeball mask itself (#1) is an actual latex mask that I think I bought from a seller on eBay. The pupil part of the eye is a black screen which allows you to see through. I had thought about other ways of making a mask, such as making and painting a papier mâché sphere with openings at the bottom and front, or finding some kind of already made fiberglass sphere and making holes in that, etc., but getting this already-made latex mask made things much simpler. It was just a matter of attaching a top hat.
The catch though is that this particular mask is admittedly difficult to find. There are some places that carry thousands of different latex Halloween masks, but most don't seem to carry this one. If you try searching the web for "eye mask", you're going to get those sleeping masks that covers the eyes. If you search for "eyeball mask", you mostly get pictures of The Residents, and some masks that either only cover the face, or look more like a hood. "Eyeball latex mask" mostly gives you assorted halloween masks that happen to feature gross-looking eyeballs in some way or another. The one that I bought had "Huge Bloody Eyeball Halloween Mask" in its eBay headline (unlike the masks used by The Residents, my mask has a giant severed bloody stump in the back). I did find this other one on Amazon.com though which looks like could work: click here.
Now that I had the mask, I just needed to attach the top hat. The top hat itself is just a cheap black top hat (#2) that I got from a Halloween outlet. Remember that the hat doesn't have to fit your head, because it's going to be attached to the mask, and ultimately be suspended over your head.
When it came to attaching the hat to the mask, the short answer is that the two giant 5" safety pins (#3) essentially hold the hat on to the mask. You can find these pins in most places that sell sewing materials. But I wanted to prevent any possible mishaps of the pins stretching the holes out and ripping a really big hole through the mask, or having to reattach the hat if I didn't position it correctly, etc. So here's how I did the attachment:
I wore the mask (put your chin in first, then pull it over your head!), then with the aid of a mirror, positioned the hat in a way that made sense on top of the mask. I made a few light pencil markings on the left and right sides of the mask where it touched the hat, and markins on the hat itself. Then I took off the hat and mask.
Inside the mask, I put two strips of duct tape (#5) on the left and right sides. These mark where the pins should go. Additionally, I figured the tape would help prevent the pin holes from stretching any bigger. So starting on the left side on the inside of the mask, I opened one of the two safety pins, stuck the sharp end through one end of the duct tape (and thus through the mask too), then into the hat, coming back through the hat, through the mask, and to the pin's clasp inside.
Now I could have just done the same exact thing with the right side, but I decided to do something slightly different. Instead, I just attached the pin to the mask, but not through the hat. Then I put a twist-tie (#4) through the hat where the pin would normally be, and attached the twist tie to the pin on the outside of the mask. The reason I did this is that I could then tighten or loosen the twist tie so that the hat looked good and fit well over the mask. This made it adjustable!
(Here's a close-up. When the mask is actually worn, this part is covered up by the hat. I just pulled the at up here to show the detail.)
With the mask done, the costume from the neck down is really just a tuxedo with the "ultra formal" look and accessories. While I suppose you could wear a normal tuxedo jacket, I wanted to wear a tuxedo jacket with coattails (#7). If you search around, you can find a cheap one that doesn't cost much money. I actually bought mine at a costume shop for about $10. According to the label inside, it used to belong to a tuxedo rental shop. Likewise, you can find a used cummerbund (#8) for cheap if you search around thrift stores and the like.
I do have a "real" tuxedo shirt and bow tie, and I have worn the costume with these before. But this time I decided to keep it even simpler and just wear my tuxedo t-shirt (#7) underneath the jacket. This is just a t-shirt with printing on the front to make it look like a tuxedo. Most big t-shirt shops will carry these. If you do a search on-line for "Tuxedo T shirt", you'll find plenty of people who sell them.
The white-tipped walking stick (#9) and white gloves (#10) are easy enough to find in costume shops or stores when they carry Halloween supplies. You could even get away with wearing a thin pair of white winter gloves.
This just leaves the black slacks (#11) and black shoes (#12) to finish the costume. Remember that this is a costume for Halloween, not formal wear for the opera, so really any pair of black pants and black shoes should do.
And there you have it!
I leave you now with a music video from The Residents. It's hard to pick just one thing from them, since they have dozens upon dozens of albums. But here's a video with the eyeball masks in some scenes. In 1980, The Residents created the "Commercial Album", an album made up of 40 songs that were each exactly one minute in length. They picked four of the songs to make four mini movies, and put them together to make a video:
I take a look at the stats of this blog from time to time. It seems that most readers these days are people who stumble across a page from my blog because they were looking for pages on something else. On the one hand, an old high school friend who I had lost touch with was able to reconnect to me. But then some of the sillier blog entries that I assumed nobody would ever end up willingly seeking out, ended up being just that.
A few years back I posted a Boy Scout camp story about DeMoulas Day. In short, I found stuff that I had saved from a weird event in Boy Scout camp some 20+ years ago, and as usual I took a photo of it, told the story and made the point of "Gee, isn't this stuff ridiculous? Well, now that I've told the story and took a photo, it's time to throw it away." I concluded the post with "There, now wasn't that a completely useless story?"
Well, if you haven't guessed by now, somebody recently found the post and asked me about it. He asked me if I still had the flier posted in the photo. I had to explain to him the same thing I explained to the barf bag collector, and tried to put it in a nice way. Not because I'm always nice to strangers; I'll treat people like shit if they're being ignorant pests. But because I realize that most people by far and large don't understand the underlying mentalities that packrats/hoarders have, and thus don't really understand why the last thing we need to hear is something that gives a feeling of regret for throwing something away.
Basically, I explained that one of the real points of this blog is to track my life as an overwhelmed packrat, and mark progress by being able to get rid of stuff. If you're a hoarder, then being able to throw stuff away without the attached feelings of "But what if I need that some day, or somebody else needs it?" is really a mark of progress. I know most people wouldn't see it that way, because it's "just one" piece of paper being thrown out. But keep in mind that I had literally tens of thousands of other pieces of paper like this saved, to the point where I could barely walk around in my home. Obviously, the majority of it had to go.
The way I see it, telling a hoarder "Damn, I wish you had saved that! Hey, do you still have that thing? Can I have it?" is rather like reading about an alcoholic who blogged about dumping a case of wine, and asking him or her "Hey, do you have any more of those unopened bottles left?" Again, I'm not saying that this reader was an idiot, or triggered some sort of relapse for me. But hopefully I've made my point.
This story does have a happy ending, though. Even though I no longer had the flier, I DID still have the full resolution version of the photo I had taken. So I sent that to him.