Friday, June 30th

::The Brak Blog::


Wow. That month went by quick. However, I refuse to let it end without an entry.

A few weeks ago Lizz got me one of the best presents EVER. [No, not the LEGO Millenium Falcon, though that was awesome...] It's a flask. A metal hip flask that you're supposed to put booze in. The instructions even specifically ask you not to put anything else in there. Apparently the sugars in juices and pops will corrode it from the inside! I don't drink, so it just became the most glorified water bottle the world has ever seen.

Problem is, I can't take it anywhere because people would think me a drunk! However, in spite of its total uselessness, its one of my most favorite things right now.

Speaking of my favorite things: Star Trek. Holy crap. All these years I had it in my head that Star Wars was the end all be all of space dramas [and it is]; Star Trek is a damn close second. The Next Generation (Picard, Riker, Data, etc.) is my most recent fixation, as I'm currently on the hunt for DVDs that won't break the bank.

The sheer amout of material in the Star Trek franchise is staggering. Books, movies, television programs, an exclusive Star Trek Wiki! The reading alone will keep me occupied for the next few years. Another interesting thing about my fixation is that it's helped my home life.


My father was a casual fan of The Original Series (Kirk, Spock, Bones), and now that I'll watch anything with an Enterprise in it, we have something that we can do together. Granted, he still rolls his eyes anytime I talk about The Next Generation, but its a start. Last night we were sitting around watching Superman on cable, and worrying about Erin driving the car by herself, and I had an idea.

I said that we should go rent the first Star Trek Movie and watch it together. With no further provocation my dad went and got his keys and he drove me to two video stores so we could find it. We both fell asleep towards the middle of it, and we both woke up right at the end. Somehow though... it was fitting.

Something else that was sort of fitting happened on the radio a few weeks ago. I should preface this by saying that I had a love affair with the radio two years ago. When I started working at the cleaners I was by myself, and so I listened to a lot of radio. I started out listening to 101, the classic rock station, but I could only stand to hear "Ridin' the Storm Out" so many times a day, so I migrated to the AltRock station, 96.5.

In my time at the cleaners, I grew to think of the afternoon show DJs as friends. Lazlo, SlimFast, and Suzzy (they look pretty rediculous to type out) were who I spent my afternoons with. Tuesdays and Thursdays I was locked to our ChromeCaster (circa 1975) radio. It's cheesy to say it, but that stupid afternoon segment got me though some rough times. Working by yourself can be really frustrating. Nobody to vent at, you know? It was nice to have something that forced you to laugh every once in a while.

It's kinda odd the relationship I developed with the radio. I hardly ever listen to it in the car, and I scarcely listen to it when I'm just sitting around at home, but at work that was my thing. You get to know the people, even though they don't really know you. You play the stupid games on the air even though you didn't even call in. It's a strange bond. Stranger still is how I felt when it was broken.

For my birthday I got an iPod, as earlier mentioned. I also got the FM transmitter so I could listen to it at work. And I did that for quite a few weeks. One day though, I decided to check up on my old pals at the Buzz. I click it on and there's people calling in about Lazlo leaving. What? I'm thinking to myself, "There's no way he's actually leaving. It's just another one of their stupid gambits." but the more I listened, the more I realized he was actually leaving. This was apparently news since last week, so it wasn't really the focus of the show, which made getting the whole story kinda difficult.

The Buzz's website didn't say anything about it at all either. I found Lazlo's blog though, and he had a sad little entry written about how the people of Kansas City are going to forget him, but he wasn't going to forget us. A little heavy handed I thought. It wasn't until sometime later that it hit me. I was driving to Lizz's after work and I flipped on the radio because I didn't feel like messing with the iPod on the highway.

As I sped off into the setting sun and the radio locked onto 96.5, the final moments of "The Church of Lazlo" were playing out before me. The DJs were daying good bye to eachother, and they all started to cry. It was awful. I don't know if I really cried myself, there was no sobbing, but my eyes were wet, no doubt about that. It was really, really hard to listen to. They played a little tribute to the show, which ended in Slimfast saying "The Church of Lazlo: 2003-2006." I hadn't realized they'd been doing it for that long. But then I thought about how long it had been a part of my life, and I didn't feel so weird for getting all emotional.

I guess what the point of all this is, that I wasn't really aware of how connected I was to these radio personalities. And if I was this unprepared to part with someone I'd only heard two days of the week for only two years... it scares me to think about how unprepared I am to leave people that have kept me going for the past four years.

In a little less than a month, the BrakBlog will be 4 years old. It'll be the end of a venture that's struggled along for the duration of my high school career. I can't help but think it'll be a similar experiance for me. At the end of the radio program, right before I got to Lizz's, the last song the Church of Lazlo ever played was "Here is Where the Story Ends".

This part of my story's going to end soon too.
For some reason, all of a sudden, that's really, really sad.

This cowboy's going to make sure the story keeps getting told though.
Of that much, you can be sure.

As was prophesized by Tom at 03:45 PM CST
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Thursday, June 1st

::The Brak Blog::

Let Go

I just got home. I like driving late at night. You see weird stuff.
Example: I turn onto Edgevale, and what to my suprise? A huge truck thing with a totally weird back part. Allow me to explain: It was a big, big truck, a la tractor-trailer combo. That was the front, and the back was akin to a moving van, with the rolly door and all that jazz. I turned around as I passed it and saw a government plate! The street right after it has a bunch of floodlights half the way up it. I was curious as to what was going on, so I squared the block. As I came around, I saw that the street was closed entirely at the other end. You know, with one of those weird orange diamond signs that says "Under-Paid Government Employees Pretending to Work" or some junk like that.

So I thought, geez: What are they doing at midnight that requires that much road-blocky-security-ness? My brain immediately shifted into X-Files mode. My first though was that there was some sort of biohazzard outbreak kinda thing and they had the Water Department Cover Plan in the works. My next idea was that they were busting a meth lab. I didn't get time to form a third idea, becuase I'd taken the long way around and gotten back to where I first saw the truck. I looked up the street at the floodlights again, and I saw a bunch of construction crap. They were digging in hole in the ground.

Boooooring. But for about 3 minutes I was really excited.

Earlier this week something kinda cool happened. I was listening to my iPod at work using the nifty little FM Transmitter I bought, so I could hear it on the radio. Katie dropped by to get her paycheck and say hello, so I paused it. Katie walks in with her sister Laura, who'd given her a ride. Laura's walking around, just kinda taking in the vast and sweeping grandeur that is our little hole-in-the-wall of a dry cleaners, when she sees my iPod.

"Is this your iPod?"
"What station were you listening to?"
*Look of exasperation as I get ready to explain that I wasn't really listening to the radio, but that I was broadcasting the iPod's music over a short range FM Transmitter; but before I can begin-*
"Was it 88.1?"
"Um... yeah, actually. How'd you-"
"I heard your iPod pulling up to the store."

Fancy that! She was using 88.1 to listen to her iPod in the car too! When she turned hers off, mine patched through. That has major potential for awkwardness. (Saddest things on the Pod as of yet: Approx. 8-10 Anime soundtracks; podcast editions of NPR shows...) Later on that day I was closing up, and as I waited for the credit machine to process the day's orders, I went to pull my car around. As I turned it on, I thought to myself, "Hey, this song was just playing on my i-" and then I realized what a complete and total dolt I was.

I must say I'm still impressed. The 50$ transmitter was able to blast 'phat beets' through about 19 feet of standard air and 1 solid foot of cinderblock wall. I guess it really was worth the money. [For the interested, it's Griffin's 'iTrip' for the iPod Video. I've had great results with it. I recommend their auto charger accessory as well.]

While we're discussing things to do with cars, let us open this next story with a quote I'll attribute to the newly returned and back-on-his-feet Paul Gottsch (congradulations, by the way): "A smart man learns from his mistakes; a wise man learns from the mistakes of others." Learn from the following mistake:

I got into my car a few days ago, when it was hotter than hell, remember? As I was getting underway en route to work, I noticed that the sun was out in full-high-noon-it's-actually-two-o'clock-force. So I reached for my sunglasses. I put them on and got ready to enjoy the protective envelope of UV protection that they would provide my face and then suddenly- OH MY GOD IT BURNS.

It's a chemical fact that metals are much better conductors of heat. It's also a well known fact that metal cars with air sealed within will have a tendancy to transfer the metal's heat to said air. The air will then transfer its heat to any OTHER metals that are within the cabin of the automobile.

Lesson: Don't leave your sunglasses in the car.

So right this very second, I am wearing the coolest thing in the world.

That's right. A [Firefox T-Shirt]. The Mozilla store has plenty of other neat stuff, but this is by far the best. It came in the mail yesterday, and I took it out for a spin today. It's up there with my "All Your Base" shirt, as well as the "w00t!" one in terms of nerd-dom. However this is also like a campaign shirt in that it's a conversation piece for me to start rants with strangers about Internet Browser Superiority. w00t. All my browser are belong to Fox. I believe Lizz's initial comment was: "Oh. Neat. Another black T-Shirt. It's not like you have enough of those." She's right. You can never have to many.

My latest obsession has been Lego Star Wars. Initially, I was warry. You'd think that a combination of my two favorite things in the entire world would be awesome by default, no matter what. However, with the cringe-worthiness of Star Wars Transformers (yuck), I had to approach this carefully. If by carefully of course you mean bolting to GameStop as soon as I could scounge the cash. It was a worthy investment of an old gift card (Thanks Mom!) and nine bucks (Thanks Couch!).

If you come over to my house, this is what we're playing. It's little lego people, doing Star Wars-y things. Lightsabers, Wookies, starships, explosions, and lego sets. Mix well. Let stand over night. Serve with healthy dose of humor. I'm now waiting with 'bated breath for the sequel that will Lego-tize the original trillogy (Eps IV-VI) this fall. So you really understand just how crazed I am to play this game with other people, consider the following story:

This past Tuesday, I was at work. It was a long day. We got swamped because of stupid Memorial Day weekend. The one thought that kept me going was that of Lego Star Wars waiting at home to entertain me. Sean was even going to come over to play as well! It then dawned on me that I only had one PS2 controller, and Sean, lacking a PS2 to call his own, couldn't supply a surrogate. So I told my mom to hold dinner for 10 minutes, and that I had an errand to make. It was time to journey into the abyss.

As I pulled out of the Tower Cleaners Only parking spot, I turned to head south into the Heart of Darkness, 119th & Hell (Trnsltn: 'Met-calf). I needed to infiltrate BestBuy to kill another gift certificate (Thanks Uncle Tom & Aunt Barb!) and spend a little cash (Thanks Dad for paying me back for driving you to the Airport even though you know I would have had to do it anyway!) in order to procure another controller. As I turned my car in the direction every bone in my body told me not to, I realized why. Never had nature/god/fate been so blunt before. Located, DIRECTLY above 119th and Hell was a huge, black, way spooky, way swirly storm cloud. Just sitting there, looking way pissed.

Onward I drove. Through droves of undead traffic. Which, for southern Johnson County, really wasn't that bad. (Even they had the sense to stay away from the coming travesty...) Inside BestBuy I quickly located the controller section. My options were Black, See-Thru Black, See-Thru Green, and See-Thru Blue. I already had a black one, and my 2nd PS1 controller was the same Green hue, so I opted for blue. I grabbed it and headed for one of the TWO open register lines. May the record stand that there were actually 10 lanes there, but BestBuy could only, in spite of their hordes of teenage drones working there, maintain two. I picked the one with the shorter line. My mistake.

I quickly realized that my line was shorter becuase everyone somehow magically knew that the girl running it was the biggest idiot in a 15 km. radius (9.32 miles). At first I thought that the customer was pulling some weird coupon-giftcard-saleitem tripple threat combo move that the BestBuy ScrewYouOver policy wouldn't allow. But she left. And then the old man who just wanted to buy a stereo system was next. And somehow she mucked THAT up and had to call her supervisor, and then the guys in front of me who I initally gauged to be gay, but later realized were sibblings, they just wanted to buy a 9.99$ copy of The Big Chill (Goldbloom, et al), and she made them show like a bazillion forms of ID! I believe it was at this point that the lady in the K-State shirt behind me muttered "Jesus christ..."

And all the while, Shakira took something bad and made it worse. She was up there, in the big fat ol' BestBuy speakers, purposefully set 2.5 decibels past the point of audible tollerance, so as to fill all the unused and empty ceiling space in that damn store, singing away that apparently her 'Hips Don't Lie'. I frequently refer to unhappy situations as 'tiny, tiny hell's. This was not. This was one HUGE hell. It was a BigBox-sized hell, like only the BestBuy-Shakira combo death move could deliver. Finally it was my turn in line. [In the following, Caps are metal, Quotes are actual.]

Do I have a BestBuy rewards card?
-FUCK NO LADY. "No, but I have this." *Hands gift card.*
Ok. *scans my item* Has anyone explained the protection plan on this?
-YOU GOTTA BE SHITIN' ME! JUST SELL ME THE DAMN CONTROLLER! "No. But I don't care. I don't want it."
But it gaurentees it for an additional three-
-I WILL KILL YOU, AND YOUR YOUNG! "No. I really don't want it."
*awkward silence.* Here's your receipt.
-'BOUT TIME YOU IMBECILE! *takes receipt and controller and walks away*
Do you want a bag for that?

Lesson: Gauge your line selection at BestBuy STRICTLY on the suspected competency of the cashier. All other factors are irrelevant. Sort of like you can use Boyle's or Gay-Lussac's laws in place of the Ideal Gas Law if certain things are constant. Those other factors don't matter: Look only at the competency. It will ultimately save you precious minutes that you can then firtter away in traffic. To continue with my tale of woe:

I finally escape that nightmare checkout line, and I walk outside to find the landscape nearly dark. That ominous cloud had positioned its epicenter right above my dark nexus of retail horror. And it was starting to rain. I sprinted for the car and breathed a sigh of relief only when I was safely within its protective confines (See: Gary Numan's 'In Cars'). Then I started the engine and put on some spooky music and bolted. It was weird to look in my rear view mirror and see dark storm clouds and look ahead and see a sunny sky, all the while getting hit with torrential downpour.

Eventually I made it home.
Lego Star Wars was waiting. Thank god. I needed it.

Little Known Fact:
Cowboys train for real cowboy-ing using Lego sheep.

As was prophesized by Tom at 03:13 AM CST
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