Saturday, December 26, 2009

New Apartment

I got a new apartment in the Norfolk area since living on the ship is cramped and freezing. I stopped by one day with a friend who also lived there, and signed the lease papers the same day. The only thing that concerned my parents was my lack of furniture. "Oh, I'll be alright mother and father," I said. And indeed, I was. I camped out there in my sleeping bag and pillow and had the best night of sleep since several months. The only problem was getting my stupid power turned on. I had it scheduled for the end of the month, and the date came and went. My power was on, and I figured everything was gravy. That is until I got back late one night from work, tried to turn the lights on, and then attempted to flip the breakers on and off only to discover that the realtor had paid the power company through the end of the month, and that my power never got turned on. After several phone calls, lots of emails, sending in a copy of the lease, and finally filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, my power got turned on. 3 weeks late.
Their main justification for not turning the power on? "We were having billing problems with the previous tenant." That's just peachy keen. My lease that I faxed in proved that I was not the previous tenant and I have no trouble paying my bills on time. Right now I'm kind of tempted to send in a voided check with the billed amount on it to the power company with "Trouble billing with previous power company" written in the Notes section. But I think that'd give them more justification to turn my power off again for a few months this time.
On another note, I'm wondering about my pu'er tea in the really dry environment. The relative humidity in my apartment is about 25-30% which makes me wonder if my tea is going to dry out completely. I think I'm going to have to store it in a chest or a humidor or something for the time being. As for my violin, it might have to stay at home for the time being since I don't feel comfortable taking it to such a dry environment.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

It's All on the Internet

I mentioned yesterday that it feels like some little man with a pitchfork poked me in my legs all night because they hurt like the dickens. Well, it's an unwritten rule that whatever thought you may have, no matter how outlandish it may seem, someone else has had the exact same thought and made it public through the internet. My google search of little man poking me in the legs yielded a moving spiritual that soothes my soul when I sing it to my aching quadriceps.

Friday, August 28, 2009

New Portholes

My grandfather called me today and we had our typical wordy conversation that went something like this: "Hello?" "Hello" "Hello?!" HELLO!" "HELLOOO?! HELLO?!" "GRANDDADDY?" "IS THIS MY GRANDSON? HELLO?" "HELLO!" "OK!" "WHAT?!" *click*

And with that out of the way I went to go get new glasses. I needed them because my old ones are on their last legs. And by last legs, I mean I expect that when I pick them up and put them on my face, they'll crumple into dust and I'll be forced to walk around with squinty eyes and hands held out at arms length while moaning "OOOO! My glasses!"
But the eyecenter I went to had lots of different frames with pictures of models modelling them and stuff. And that was ridiculous in itself. One of the models was wearing some Columbia frames while scaling a cliff face as if to say, "These glasses allow me to see which crevices and holds I should use to prevent my untimely death since I'm not wearing a safety harness," and another was wearing some ridiculous Dave Brubeck type hornrim glasses with a scarf tied around his neck and his collar popped which told me, "I know how to show a girl a good time. First we'd get manicures together, then get our hair styled at the spa, and have conversations over drinks with umbrellas in them."
I settled on some plain ol' frames that didn't have a crosspiece on them but looked like they'd withstand being dropped a couple dozen times and didn't need to be taped in the middle. And as the saleswoman explained to me, "You get a 20% discount since you're in the military. Normally it'd cost this amount, but you save X dollars."
"I thought as much," I sagely murmured, while the look on my face said, "Eyeglass lady sure talk pretty."
Hopefully when I get them on Monday they'll look better on me than my OCS glasses. Now those were a pair of eyeglasses!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Fond Memories of my RDC and CDI

This is an email I sent to my sister during OCS. I think it sums up the more memorable (and hilarious) moments of OCS:

Earlier this week we were doing lots of pushups and sprinting 400 meters
outside during drill, and our CDI said, "ALRIGHT, STOP!...Turn around. You see
that pump house or generator building or whatever the ---- it is?" "YES SIR!!"
"Shut up, dummies. You see that bush?" We watched the bush beside the pumphouse and some guy came out from behind it while his family was standing there. He'd had to piss and went behind the bushes. "THAT KIND OF ---- PISSES ME OFF!! It's one thing to go behind the bushes in secluded areas or where there's no head, but MY GOD to do it in front of your family is just disgusting! ALRIGHT GET BACK ON YOUR FACES!" "AYE, SIR! DOWN, AYE SIR! UP, AYE SIR!"

A little bit later during the week we were doing drill in the killzone right after PT, and there was a yellow "Caution: wet floor" sign outside one of the heads. One of
the class idiots was screwing everything up, and our CDI yelled, "HEY STUPID!
WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?!""Uhh, I, uhhh, this candidate officer, uh, is not, was,
uhhhh, I mean-" "I? I?! AAAAAAAAAAAH!" and with that scream, the CDI took off at a full sprint, punted the yellow caution sign through the ceiling, breaking several
tiles. We're considering framing the pieces of tile and the broken sign as a
memoriam to the day our CDI lost it.

While we were preparing for our 6th week PI, our RDC dropped by to see our rehearsal. We got put on our faces because of our crappy dry run, and he made us put our anchors into an open tupperware container. "Geez," I thought, "there's no lid on that thing, I hope he doesn't throw that" but as soon as I thought those words, he hurled the tupperware down the p-way with an "AAAAAAAAH!" I think it was also during that time were we got RPTed by him while he drolly said, "Everybody say thank you, "THANK YOU SIR!" "Thank you" "THANK YOU SIR!"

And some other quick quotes from the week:
CDI: "Hey stupid! What are you doing?!" "MARCHING LIKE A PANSY SIR!" "WHAT?!"
"What's the sole purpose of the Navy?" "To kill people and blow shit up, sir!" "YES! EXACTLY! Blow shit up!"

RDC: "Officer Candidate, you don't have any personality, do you?" "No sir!" "Well, at least you're honest"
"So, your wife's pregnant? Congratulations. How far along is she?" "Hopefully more than 6 weeks sir!"
We also have two guys named Baker.
That makes for hilarious drill sessions with our CDI: "BAKER!" "AYE SIR!" "OTHER BAKER, STUPID!" "AYE SIR!" "DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU'RE DOING?!?!" "YES SIR!" "THE STUPID BAKER, DUMMY!" "AYE SIR!"
"Sir, could the Class Drill Instructor watch Class 22-09 during our own drill practice?" "Watch? HELL YEAH I'll watch! Lemme go grab some popcorn and a soda! GET ON YOUR FACE RIGHT NOW!" "AYE SIR! DOWN, AYE SIR! UP, AYE SIR! DOWN, AYE SIR! UP, AYE SIR!"
And the other pressing matter that I have on my plate is that I was elected as the daince body for the Welcome Aboard for the new indoc class that has just come in. Can you imagine that? Not only do I get to make a jackass of myself in front of my class, I get to make a jackass of myself in front of the regiment which is about 120 people while the rest of the class sings a song they made up. Can you imagine that? I've got a feeling this is going to go down in the annals of OCS Legends: "Class
14-11, Ears!...On 14 JUN 2009, a young officer candidate started dancing during
a Welcome Aboard and the safety officer called an ambulance because he thought
the officer candidate was having a seizure. Order could not be restored until
three hours later. This is why we now recite poems for Welcome Aboard instead of
singing and dancing."

Monday, August 24, 2009

Breaking Newsflash

This just in: a model who's of the average size of most American women had a photo in Glamour magazine. The result? An unimaginable uproar in the fashion world and an appearance on The Today Show and a featurette on

What is the world coming to? Will the supermodels who subsist on a diet of heroin and cigarettes disappear completely? Will models from now on be a healthy, normal weight? Say it ain't so! Oh the humanity!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Deep Thoughts

While I was driving through New York, I realized that it would be a great place to live there. The only thing it needs are less people, less cars, less buildings so more sunlight can get through, less pollution, less crime, and less tollbooths. Other than that, it's perfect.

Done Sir, Done

I finished up with SWOS on Friday and made the 17 hour drive back home. 17 hours because I was stuck for 5 in a 12 mile stretch through New York. SWOS is the building blocks for becoming a surface warfare officer and you learn shiphandling skills and division officer fundamentals along damage control. Plus, there's a cool ship simulator that you get to drive to familiarize yourself with standard commands and see how your class of ship handles.

It was great seeing the people from my class, though I would've liked to have been able to have had the chance to get to know certain people better.

Some of the highlights (and lowlights) during my time there:
  1. One of the guys in my class asking our instructor, "Sir, I was watching Scooby Doo the other day and there was a ghost ship on there. What precedence does that fall under in the Rules of the Road?"
  2. The benchpress competition between two ensigns with their CDI refereeing the whole thing.
  3. Being able to get out on a boat and see the areas out on the water around the Newport area.
  4. Going to a club with one of my classmates and getting to see a band.
  5. Getting tricked into walking around downtown with UDT shorts on.
  6. Getting a high and tight which resulted in me having a conversation at the club with a Marine Corps Lt. Col. that ended up with me getting free drinks: "Semper Fi!" "I'm actually in the Navy!" "Yeah?! I'm in Logistics too! You're drinking with me!"
  7. Waking up at 4 in the morning because someone in the room beside me was rearranging furniture.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Scream Sweet Nothings in My Face

I went out to a club on Saturday and was listening to the band do their own thing. The club was rolling and rocking, and I was absorbing the entire scene with my arms across my chest. A girl who I didn't know walked up to me, looked me in the eye, and started squeezing my shoulders and staring at my chest for whatever reason, along with screaming unintelligibly at the top of her lungs. I should've told her to stop since I'd forgotten to slip the safety on the ol' guns and they were liable to go off at any time.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Ship Selection

For the record, and because I haven't been home to tell everybody, I chose the USS New York LPD-21 as my ship while still at OCS. You can find out more about it on its website.

Add This to My Scrapbook of Embarrassing Memories

If you don't know what UDT shorts look like, just picture Lieutenant Jimmy Dangle's uniform from Reno 911.

Now, picture me getting tricked into walking around downtown Newport trying to buy ice cream in them.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Jumpstart your career

Right now I'm in school in Virginia Beach, but I'll be heading back to Norfolk with the rest of my ship soon. More to follow.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Deep Thoughts

Saying someone is a night owl is kind of redundant.  I mean, when's the last time you've heard someone say, "Look at that ocean whale!" or "See that land elephant?"

Monday, April 20, 2009

Top Alternative Rock Songs of the 1990's

  1. Pearl Jam "Evenflow"
  2. Alice in Chains "Rooster"
  3. Monster Magnet "Space Lord"
  4. Red Hot Chili Peppers "Give it Away"
  5. Soundgarden "Black Hole Sun"
  6. Better than Ezra "Good," "In the Blood," "Desperately Wanting"
  7. Collective Soul "Heavy," "Gel," "December"
  8. Stone Temple Pilots "Interstate Love Song" "Big Empty"
  9. Weezer "Buddy Holly"
  10. No Doubt "Spiderwebs," "Just a Girl" (not exactly a fan of Gwen Stefani's voice, but the guitar riffs are pretty catchy)
  11. Bush "Machinehead
  12. Spacehog "In the Meantime"
  13. Smashing Pumpkins "Bullet with Butterfly Wings"
  14. Live "Lightning Crashes," "The Dolphin's Cry" "All Over You"
  15. Soundgarden "Rusty Cage
  16. Foo Fighters, "Big Me," "I'll Stick Around"
  17. Butthole Surfers "Pepper"
  18. Third Eye Blind "Jumper"
  19. Days of the New "Down Town," "Touch, Peel, and Stand"
  20. The Refreshments "Banditos"
  21. 311 "Down"
  22. Harvey Danger "Flagpole Sitta"
  23. Eve 6 "Inside Out"
  24. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones "The Rascal King," "The Impression that I Get"
  25. Nirvana "The Man Who Sold the World" "Heart Shaped Box" "Lithium"
  26. Red Hot Chili Peppers "Under the Bridge"
  27. Presidents of the United States of America "Lump," "Peaches" (Deadly orchard ninja swift-as-the-wind attack!)
  28. Crash Test Dummies "Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm"
  29. Blessed Union of Souls "I Believe"
  30. Burlap to Cashmere "Eileen's Song"
  31. Jars of Clay "Flood"

Friday, April 17, 2009

Not the worst day, but pretty high up there.

Who knew my day could start off with such innoccuous words: "Hey, we're going to Raleigh. Want to come with us?"  I knew it was for my sister's wedding and all the preparations going into, so I'd figure we'd talk numbers with some of the venues for the dinner, reception, and the catering service.  No big deal, right? I'd get to eat some cake, see how big 1200 square feet is, and note the colorful ambience of the dining feng shui.

Except none of that happened. Well, I can't say that; I did get to eat a tiny amount of cake.

My sister and mother kept getting into arguments over the whole thing.  It first started off with a squabble over the dining venue, but that soon resolved thanks to some well-placed sniffs by my mother. Then we moved on to the catering service and sampled the different cakes and tried to pair them with the different mousses.  My sister decided on several patterns for linens and things and chose a navy and ivory color scheme. I asked her, "Are you sure you want me to appear in uniform at your wedding? I'll be in full dress blues and they're black."  The woman organizing the catering fawned, "Ohhhh, you're in the Navy! I was a CTM for 6 years!" and she seemed impressed that I was going to OCS in a week. It's a small world, I guess when it comes to previous service.  Right now I'm not sure black will go with a navy color scheme, so I might wear a regular ol' navy blazer with matching slacks.

After the catering, the catfight reached feverpitch when we headed towards the museum to look at the room for the reception area.  It sort of looked like the room my highschool prom was held in. Drab carpet, wood panelling that comes in rolled up sheets, and lighting that could cause epileptic seizures.  My sister did not like it for the aforementioned reasons.  My mother was convinced that it was absolutely gorgeous and that all it needed was a little sprucing up.

The tension was palpable.  If I were to make an analogy, I'd say it was equivalent to someone taking a mallet and banging away on 100 crates, with 10 of the crates filled with TNT.  I was expecting my sister to blow her capillaries and my mother to flip her lid.  Or my sister to throw a hissy fit and my mother to hem and haw.  Or my sister to throw a hoot 'n' a holler and my mom to kiss the wampus cat.  Or my sister to wring the 'possum's neck and my mom to stamp in the muscadine jelly. Or however those Southern US phrases go regarding losing your temper.

Lucky me that I happened to be in the middle of the whole thing.

My sister drove back with her fiancee to visit her future father in law, and I drove back with my mother.  Guess what our topic of discussion was?

In essence, the day boiled down to: "This is my day, this is what I want to do!" "No, I think this would be better, yes this would be much better if we did it this way!"

Oh yeah, and if my day wasn't bad enough already, I got blatantly checked out by two gay guys and was ignored by every single girl I saw.  This seemed to amuse my sister greatly.

Headed towards Newport

I got word from my officer recruiter that my final selection letter came through and I've got a class date of April 26th for OCS. And it only took me 3 years to get here.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Current Sign of the Apocalypse

Former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich is seeking court permission to appear in a reality television show based in the jungles of Costa Rica.

And now for the betting odds: 
1:10 that he attempts to control his coiffure with a comb fashioned from a seashell.
1:2 that he smuggles in Snickers and refuses to share with everybody because he "has this [expletive] thing and it's [expletive] golden. [He's] not going to just [expletive] give it away. [Expletive!]."
1:1.5 that he's called an a**hole, d*****bag, and whiner by his fellow contestants.
1:1000 that the fellow contestants fashion a Blagojevich voodoo doll from his hair and burn it.
1:1.25 that when he's voted off the island, he refuses to acknowledge his dismissal and goes straight to the TV cameras and declares that there is a reality TV show conspiracy against him.

Yunnian 2008 JianCheng 1094

I've almost finished off the Yongpinhao Yiwu Fall Harvest brick, so I decided to unwrap a new bing.  And the Yunnian 2008 JianCheng 1094 Wild Green bing is pretty good!  The compression was light enough that I could pinch off pieces of the bing and separate the leaves with ease.  The leaves are all whole which I'm starting to prefer over the mixed compression of tea leaf fragments, half leaves, and whole leaves.  The whole leaves seem to make the earlier infusions much more palatable than tea mulch.

I used enough leaves to fill the yixing 1/4th full and rinsed the leaves once.  All the sequential infusions taste very similar to the Yongpinhao Yiwu fall brick.  I haven't decided if this is caused by the proximity of the bing's storage to the brick, or if the leaves are from a similar plantation.  I can't really recall the brick being very aromatic, though...

Whatever the reason for the taste similarites, whether it's a storage error or just circumstance, I enjoy the taste of this bing.  Grape, muscatel, and a slight malt character mesh together to remind me of red wine.  These notes on tasting are all tentative since I'm thinking the bing's tastes will change with future tea sessions.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter readings and visitations

Easter came and went at the ol' beach. I got sardines for Easter! Yippee!

I had fun running out on the beach and avoiding all the women with no teeth and plenty of tattooes.  Interesting combination there.

I reread Michael Crichton's "Timeline" and noticed that its writing wasn't up to par. Not that anyone would claim Crichton is a literary genius, but he writes good books that are a cut above most of the sci-fi, thriller, action paperback novels.  Plus, it's sort of hard to read the same novel again, especially when you know exactly what happens and how it all ends.

But I also started reading a Robert Ludlum novel titled "The Scorpio Illusion."

I tried reading it Friday night, but I fell asleep after a few pages.  I woke up around 4AM Saturday morning because the windows were rattling, the wind was howling, and the roof sounded like it was going to collapse.  I though, "Great. The roof is going to collapse and kill me before my life has even started. My tombstone'll probably read 'Graduated from UNC. Pretty much all the best has been spoken for.'" Then lightning started crackling all around the city, ambulances and fire engines with sirens blaring raced to put out fires, and thunder kept crashing that made the whole house shake. Then I realized that I'd be content with only having to worry about the roof collapsing.

I couldn't sleep so I started reading some more of the Ludlum book.  I noticed that he'd written "The Bourne Identity," so I was expecting a good read.  The book is about some woman who sees her parents beheaded so she goes completely apecrazy and decides to kill every single government in the world so anarchy can reign.  Sounds like a good plot, right? But "The Scorpio Illusion" went a little something like this: "Dammit, Chesterfield, we need to know where this Bajaratt is! She can blend in with any culture! She knows over a thousand languages including ancient Latin and Occitan! She can hack into any secure government connection through a regular phone line and figure out all our secrets! And when she displays her sign, it means she's going to destroy all of us!" "*gasp* But surely you don't mean!..." "YES I DO! She's going to steal all the nuclear warheads in the United States, wire them together and trick the entire legislative branch of the USA to sit on them until they explode while deceiving all the military planes to attack cities!" "By God...we've got our work cut out for us."

And that's when I threw the book across the room and decided to read the Michael Crichton paperback about using quantum foam to travel in time because it was a lot more plausible.

My sister flew to New York to study pieces in museums as part of a trip for her art class. She was flying back Saturday night, and was planning to go back home to visit my grandparents.  I was charged with the task of driving my grandparents back from the beach. I really don't know why, unless it's some sort of old-fashioned rule, but whenever I drive, my grandfather always sits in the passenger seat while my grandmother sits in the back.  

And all of my grandparent's idiosyncracies come out to play while I'm driving them and they're in the car.  My grandfather will start to sniff the air like a dog, gaze around, and say, "Do you smell that? I smell something stinky...Shore wish it didn't smell so bad!"  I'll be driving and my grandmother won't be able to hear me when I talk to her, and she'll remind me that she only hears well enough when you're actually facing her, but when I'm driving I don't want to turn my body around so I can see her face to face, so I'll usually opt to yell at the top of my lungs.  My grandfather will gaze at the gear shifting lever, and start wiggling it to make sure it's in the "right" position. He recently did this while we were going 70MPH on the highway, and when I glanced at him, he looked at me and said, "Hm. Good. It's in the right position."  My grandfather will claim I'm driving incredibly fast, and I'll inform him that I'm driving the exact speed limit.  My grandfather and grandmother will start arguing about whether they need to stop for gas, whether they should pick up groceries while they've got the car out, etc.  It's just crazy.

And when we finally all got back home, my sister and aunt were all sitting around and talking, and my grandfather started mentioning someone he knew named "Flatus Jones."

Looking back on all the Easters I've had, this has to be the strangest one so far.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Failed Jump?

I took my sister's Fuji road bike to my local bike shop to get the brake cables replaced.  There's the possibility that it might need more than just that, but based on how much wear the drivetrain has, I doubt it was ridden very much at all.  The chainrings have minimal wear, the cassette's cogs' teeth are all nice and square, the chain is still good, the brake pads are fine.

While I was in the bike shop and staring at the clipless pedals and wireless cyclocomputers, a guy came in to pick up his bike.  The repairman brought it over, and I glanced at it.

It was a hardtail mountain bike complete with disc brakes and other accoutrements.  The thing that really struck me was the chain was all jacked up, the crank arms were all sorts of bent out, and the rear derailleur was in several pieces, dragging on the ground by its cable.  The repairman told the guy, "You definitely need a rear derailleur and bottom bracket, and probably a new chain."

I kind of felt like asking the repairman what happened, but I think I know.  The guy was riding his little mountain bike on a trail and figured he'd attempt to get airborn off a ramp, or do some sort of a jump.  He stood up on the pedals with the crank arms horizontal, and when he landed the rear tire either collapsed, crushing the rear derailleur, or he lost control and fell on his right side which would also crush the derailleur.  The bottom bracket spindle/axle probably couldn't handle the force of a 170lb guy accelerating towards the earth at 9.8m/s/s and then suddenly stopping, so I'm guessing it probably snapped.  I think BMX bikes are designed to do jumps and stuff like that. Mountain bikes are designed to take spills and everything, but probably not the type this guy had.

Anyway, I thought it was kind of cool seeing that much wreckage on a bike. Personally, when I go to pick my bike up tomorrow, I'm hoping to see a guy with his road bike in pieces arguing with the repairman, "Whaddya mean you can't fix this?! This cost me 4 grand!"

It's Just a Mutual Cycling Hatred

The Tour de France organizers and Lance Armstrong have had a long lasting hateful relationship.  After his 1999 tour which he won after beating cancer, the organizers got together in a French cafe, sipping wine and munching on baguettes, and began talking: "Sacre bleu! Thees American's performance in le Tour was too good! He must be doping!" "But Francois, he has not tested positive for anytheeng!" "He must have feegured out a way to fool the tests! Ahh, thees American is so clever!"

And so they redesigned the tours to put Lance at a disadvantage, and made it well known that they'd like to see someone different win the Tour. But that didn't happen for a long time. As a matter of fact, it didn't happen at all for seven years.

During that time Lance was accused of doing various doping practices to give him an edge, but the accusations were countered with the arguments that he produces very little lactic acid, his VO2 max is insanely high, and he generally just trains for the Tour de France year round while racing the smaller tours that lead up to the Tour de France, as opposed to his competitors who race year round.  Tour organizers have gnashed their teeth and whined that he was ruining the sport because there was no competition, while Lance pointed out that he was handedly kicking everybody's asses which is a great feat in itself.

But through a lack of solid evidence, or a really good legal defense team on Armstrongs' behalf, none of the accusations really stuck.  But that doesn't mean he hasn't had his share of detractors and haters.  

So it made sense that when a French anti-doping agency drug tester showed up at his house recently and requested a urine sample, Lance wanted to make sure the guy was really with the anti-doping agency.  For all Lance knew, this guy could've been with a tabloid and had vials of recombinant erythropoietin ready to dump in his blood and urine samples and take them to the press for the story of a lifetime.  And, it's not like Lance is best buddies with labs testing for drugs. One lab claimed to have retested his blood from 1999 and it tested positive for erythropoietin, but Lance threatened to sue for defamation, and the lab was kinda sorta lacking definitive evidence, and they kinda sorta quit claiming it.

The only problem I have is that Lance wanted to shower while his assistants checked the drug tester's credentials.  Bad move, Lance.  I know getting pushed around isn't a lot of fun, but he should've stayed within sight of the drug tester at all times.  That way, nobody can accuse him of taking some sort of masking agent prior to providing the samples.  He tested negative, by the way, but that won't make much of a difference to his detractors.

As far as his prospects for the Tour de France go, I expect him to get smoked by all the younger guys.  He's a good cyclist, but I think the younger guys will all edge him out.  But hey, he's not racing to win, right? He's racing to raise awareness for cancer, so I expect him to have a lot of breakaways, drop back, and not win any stages.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

I done got my hair did

After dropping off a jacket, gloves, and fabulous scarf for my mother, I went to get my haircut.  Haircuts are what I consider a two week commitment. If you don't get a lot of sleep, and your entire face is sagging in the morning, you can only expect to get made fun of for just a day. If you wake up with a stupid tattoo you can expect to get made fun of for as long as you live.  Even if you get it removed, people will still bring it up, "Hey Johnson! You remember when you got that tattoo of a machinegun wielding zombie unicorn? HA HA HA!" Bad haircuts last for about two weeks and you can expect to get made fun of for that long.

And it seems like most of the time women who get their haircut only get an inch or two taken off. And they always say, "Do you notice anything different about me?" to their friends. Their girl friends will always notice and say, "Oh my gosh! You got your hair cut! It looks great!" Their guy friends usually don't pick up on it, and say, "Uh, new shoes?" and then when they're informed that they should've noticed the haircut, they'll sort of blindly stare at the hair and say, "Yeah, you did get a haircut!"

When guys get haircuts, it's usually pretty apparent. Mostly because they either keep procrastinating on getting the haircut, so they'll come in to work or school with two inches of hair missing. Or they get such a hack job that it's pretty obvious they got a haircut.

For me, I always get bad haircuts and the next two weeks I'm always clipping stray locks of hair, shaving my neck, or trimming around my ears or levelling my sideburns because the barber or stylist forgot.  It never fails; they'll comb my hair or wet it down so much that all the mistakes don't show up until the next morning when I look in the mirror and say to myself, "I tipped that guy waaay too much."

Today was sort of a milestone in new haircuts, though. A new milestone of low, that is.  I got into one of the unisex, family style, no-need-for-an-appointment hair cutteries and sat down and said, "Yeah, I'd like a quarter inch taper with about two inches on top."
The person cutting my hair said, "Ok, how do I do that?"

So I had to direct her on how to cut my hair with clippers and a guard. Lame.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

This Bike's a pain in the

So I've had my grandmother's bike for a long time now. Longer than is really necessary, but what with everything that's been going on in my life, it's somewhat understandable that I haven't fixed the Schwinn Breeze just yet.

When I first decided to fix it, I figured the most important thing it needed was rust removal and a new paint job.  But just to be sure, I dismantled the entire thing and found rust all in the rims, the ball bearings were completely shot, the fork was frozen, the actual Sturmey Archer shifting lever was about to fall apart, and the 3 speed hub drained something that looked like tar, and the spokes were about as stiff as you'd expect cooked linguini to be.

In short, I screwed myself over saying I could fix it.

If the amount of problems with the bike wasn't large enough, I'm also coupled with the Schwinn problem.  They made some interesting sized components on their bikes, with the ultimate result that you could only use parts designed solely for Schwinns.  This obviously wasn't a problem when Chicago based Schwinn was top dog bicycle manufacturer in the 50's and 60's. But they went bankrupt and reorganized, and they're not the same company anymore (which means they produce different bikes that have universal components).

I supposed I could replace all the parts, but that presents a problem in itself.  The tires on the Breeze are 26x1 3/8 and are designed for an S6 rim. I was able to locate the tire size through an obscure online bike parts dealer, and found out that although the size was correct, the tire would not fit an S6 rim. And as of right now, I haven't been able to find anyone who carries tires exclusively for the S6 rim.  The crank is one piece and it just sort of "fits" into the bottom bracket shell, which is the hole that the crank arms come out of.  I took it apart and everything looked good, so I packed the cup and cone containing the ball bearings with grease.  And I tried rotating the crank arms expecting them to go whizzing in glorious circles with no evidence of friction.  They made about a half revolution before I heard a crunching sound, and the entire thing started grinding metal on metal.  I opened it up and looked at the ball bearings and noticed that they didn't really seem to roll at all.  They just sort of pushed up against the inside of the cup and froze.  I'm deathly afraid that the bottom bracket shell is some insanely weird size and that no one makes the cup and cone ball bearings anymore.

The wheels are a pain too.  The ISO rim size is 597mm which is absolutely obscure and with the way the frame is designed, if I replaced the original wheels with a bigger size, there might not be enough clearance, and the front wheel would rub against the weird down tube.  But the original wheels are scary enough. There's extensive pitting on the inner rim, and I'm afraid that they'll soon buckle.

And then there's the internal hub.  It's a Sturmey Archer 3 speed, and it was possibly great at one time.  Now it seems to have trapped all the world's evils and dust in its inner cogs.  I took it apart and tried to blast out the old, thick grease with air and WD-40.  Black gobs of sand flew almost everywhere, but they seemed to mostly land on my face.  Apart from the crud, and all hyperbole aside, all it needs is some sort of motor oil to function adequately.  I don't expect the bike to be ridden much, so I'm betting the cog teeth won't catastrophically fail.

I mentioned all of this to my parents.  "Well, just buy what you need, and we'll reimburse you," they said.  I can only imagine what a bike mechanic would say when I tell him, "I need two wheels with an S6 rim."  Possibly, they might say, "We don't carry those, and they're not made any more," or they could be feeling generous and say, "We might be able to scavenge wheels that are in good shape for you," but the most likely response would be, "We'll have to custom make those wheels. It'll be very expensive. It might come to $400 total."

The point is the bike's not worth enough to try and repair it.  A Schwinn Breeze in good condition would probably cost $10-15 just because they were very common, they were mass produced during a long time span, and they're bicycles that are built with the main purpose of getting you from point A to point B with no regards for speed.

Right now I'm just tempted to scavenge a track frame and fork, put some drop handle bars, buy decent wheels with a track hub, put a scavenged drivetrain on there, and a brake, and just give it to my grandmother and say, "Ta da! I got you a new bike!"

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Isn't it Ironic? Don't you think?

Hear ye, hear ye!

Spanish research who studied Mad Cow Disease is suspected to have succumbed to it.

OH the irony!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Navy Denouement

I talked with my Officer Recruiter today and signed off on having my security background check initiated, and it looks like I just have to wait for my final medical clearance before I'm given the thumbs up to go to OCS in Rhode Island.  I also got a gouge on OCS with regards to the knowledge I'm required to learn there (Chain of Command, General Orders of a Sentry, etc) and what OCS will be like.
I also called the Petty Officer who was my enlisted recruiter and explained the news to him and that I wouldn't be enlisting.  He actually sounded pretty happy for me, which I was thankful for, wished me luck, and offered any help or advice I might want.  Gosh.
Looking back, maybe I made his life easier.  I mean, it's not like he had a dearth of recruits; I can totally imagine him and his shipmates at 4AM in the recruiting station working through a stack of paperwork, and commenting to one another, "Remember when we actually had to beg people to join the Navy? I miss the good old days."

Plus, I qualified for almost every rating which meant he would've had to explain what I'd be doing in each rating, and knowing how I ask questions, it would've been a very long job counselling session.

Anyway, this whole strange scenario turned out in a positive way, and I'm looking forward to the future.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Words cannot describe the emotions I'm experiencing right now, so I'm not going to even bother attempting to describe it.  My Officer Recruiter just called me and said there was some sort of error in my application which caused it to be rejected from the February OCS boards, and it was resubmitted for the March boards.  I got pro-recommended for Surface Warfare Officer for OCS.  Now I have all these questions I have to ask myself: Do I want to drive ships for the Navy or do I want to dive, work in intelligence, or cryptology for the Navy with the prospects of becoming a Limited Duty Officer later?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Well, I took the ASVAB last night at the National Guard Armory.  And the test only took 3 freaking hours.  When I got out, I was starving and raced home to eat something.  But, despite my stomach roaring throughout the test, I scored in the 96th percentile (I'd certainly hope with a college degree I'd score very high).  On Tuesday of next week I get to go to MEPS yet again, but this time I'll be given job counseling and I'll probably get sworn in.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Something weird is going on with my bookmarks.  It cycles through all the blogs I follow extremely quickly and several times. I'm thinking about just checking blogs regularly instead of using the bookmark feature.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Texts from my sister

The title really explains it all.

"When I was loading my car, Sadie [our beagle] jumped in and laid down so I left the door open and when I came back PEPPER [our smelly dog] was in there too! Stiiiiiiinky!"
"Pepper knew what she was doing."
"Oh my god, the Asian man in the silver singlet is at the Y again."
"There is a sign on the bus for a church that ordained the first openly gay pastor and it says 'we know a homo sapiens when we see one.'"
"Your brother likes your new friendship. RAAAAR."
In response to Pepper carrying around a massive dead shrew: "Ooooh Pepper must be doing a little outdoor theatre-taming of the shrew! Wocka wocka wocka!" 
"Sick, help [Pepper]. Stick your finger down her throat."
"I'm looking at volunteer jobs on craigslist and a bunch are for disease studies. One says, 'Do you have gout?' It's so frustrating! I've only found like three that are legit!"
In reply to Pepper nearly biting off my foot: "Hahaha it probably smelled rancid.  Her favorite flavor. She's probably going through the change."
"[Our aunt] started rubbing the elvis magnet against her cheek."
"Grandaddy is drawing mustaches and beards on every single woman he can find in the paper. 'I love to mess up pictures. I hope you never smoke. I'll give her a cigar.'"
"TC was telling him to do something and he said, 'your hair needs combing' and started giggling."

Monday, March 9, 2009

UNC General Alumni Association

Those jackasses who run the GAA for UNC keep sending me requests for money so I can join their organization that I know absolutely nothing about and will allow me to keep in touch with all the nonexistant friends I made in college.  In other words,  it's like facebook, except lamer and you have to pay for it.  Where exactly did all the money go that was spent for my tuition?  Flower arrangements for the Friday Center?  An underground chilling plant? A watermain to nowhere AKA the neverending Carmichael piping problem?  Why do they keep insisting that if I don't start handing them large amounts of money (the first check box lists $100) they'll have to dissolve and the entire UNC system will collapse?  

I just graduated a year ago from college! I can't rub two dimes together and on the rarest occasion where I have moolah, it goes to my livelihood support fund appropriately named "I Did the Time, and I'm Doin' Fine."

I think if they want my business, they should sit me down and start handing me envelopes of unmarked bills.  "We really want you to join our club...And we believe Mr. Franklin and Mr. Grant would like that as well."
"Well, gee, it's hard to say fellas.  I thought I already paid a small amount of money through tuition to prop you guys up."
"Ah, I see you are shrewd.  Will Mr. Jackson change your mind?"
"Well...I'll think about it. What exactly can you guys do for me?"
"We can offer you the best seats in the house for any athletics event."
"Too bad. I don't watch sports."
"Well, we can also offer you unlimited bagels from Alpine, sushi whenever you want it from the bottom of Lenoir, access to UNC school systems libraries, and parking all across Chapel Hill."
"Well now you've got yourself a deal!"

And then I'd pay them back all the money that they gave me.

I Got a Fever!

I was sitting in Ramshead the other day listening to the song playing on the jukebox. I thought to myself, "By God, this song is wonderful. It must be the cowbell!" So now I'm trying to compile a list of all the cowbell greats. Let me know if I missed any:
Don't Fear the Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult
Hair of the Dog by Nazareth
The Down Town by Days of the New
Touch, Peel, and Stand by Days of the New
You're Unbelievable by EMF
Heat of the Moment by Asia
Baby You Can Drive My Car by The Beatles
In a Big Country by Big Country, although the cowbell's really hard to hear and makes its appearance during the chorus
We Didn't Start the Fire by Billy Joel, another subtle one between the first and second verse
You Give Love a Bad Name by Bon Jovi
Rock and Roll Hoochie Coo by Rick Derringer
Radar Love by Golden Earring
Owner of a Lonely Heart by Yes
School's Out by Alice Cooper, though I'm not entirely sure about this one
You Spin Me Right Round by Dead or Alive although it's buried underneath cheesy synth drum tracks
Rock of Ages by Def Leppard
Rainbow in the Dark by Ronnie James Dio does NOT have cowbell, but it SHOULD
Green Flower Street by Donald Fagen has a hint of a cowbell
New Frontier by Donald Fagen prominently features the cowbell
The Nightfly by Donald Fagen features the cowbell between the verse and chorus
The Reflex by Duran Duran, the intro to the song features a cowbell
Wild Wild West by The Escape Club
Oh Yeah! by Yello
Conga by Gloria Estefan, not that I've ever listened to the song or anything...Lara told me the song had cowbell in it
Welcome to the Jungle by Guns n' Roses, but it's slightly drowned out over drum tracks. And Axl Rose's caterwauling
Paradise City by Guns n' Roses
Mr. Brownstone by Guns n' Roses, before Axl got all weirded out and braided his hair
Can I Play with Madness by Iron Maiden, probably their only song I know of that has cowbell in it
Rock and Roll All Nite by KISS
Der Telefon Anruf by Kraftwerk features synth cowbell, as if you could expect anything less from them
Funkytown by Lipps, Inc
Working for the Weekend by Loverboy features the cowbell in the beginning of the song
Heartbreaker by Led Zeppelin, although it's really difficult for me to tell if it's a snare or a cowbell
Immigrant Song by Led Zeppelin has cowbell hidden in the background
All Night Long by Lionel Richie, again, another song that Lara told me about
Electric Slide by Marcia Griffiths, again Lara told me that this song had cowbell
T.n.T (Terror 'n Tinseltown) by Motley Crue with an umlaut over the u, I swear I heard Tommy Lee hit the bell once
Dr. Feelgood by Motley Crue with an umlaut over the u
Girls, Girls, Girls by Motley Crue with an umlaut over the u
Easy Love by MSTRKRFT features a synth cowbell
Dead Man's Party by Oingo Boingo
Out of Control by Oingo Boingo
Wild Sex (In the Working Class) by Oingo Boingo
Same Man I Was Before by Oingo Boingo
Weird Science by Oingo Boingo
Dead Or Alive by Oingo Boingo, using a synth cowbell
Grey Matter by Oingo Boingo
Glory Be by Oingo Boingo, could feature a cowbell
On the Outside and You Really Got Me by Oingo Boingo does NOT feature the cowbell but it features the venerable vocoder (how cool is that?!)
Christmas with the Devil by Spinal Tap, umlaut over the n
Do It Again by Steely Dan
Rikki Don't Lose that Number by Steely Dan
Jungle Love by the Steve Miller Band
Apache by Sugar Hill Gang
Rapper's Delight by Sugar Hill Gang
She Blinded Me with Science by Thomas Dolby
Africa by Toto
Drop Dead Legs by Van Halen
Hold On by Wilson Phillips, at the intro. She has a nice voice, by the way
Once in a Lifetime by Talking Heads
Heavy Fuel by Dire Straits
Play that Funky Music White Boy by Wild Cherry
Lowrider by WAR
Do Ya by ELO
Evil Woman by ELO
Neon Knights by MSTRKRFT features a synth cowbell
Work on You by MSTRKRFT features some weird bell thing and vocoder
Hot Hot Hot by Buster Poindexter. Heh heh.
Groove is in the Heart by Deee Lite
And I think that's about it. Let me know if I missed any.

Life would be better with a soundtrack

Life would be better with a soundtrack and I think I speak from experience when I say that. Seriously, walking around Chapel Hill, the sound doesn't fit the beautiful campus. I'll be walking to class, passing massive oaks and beautiful dormitories, thinking to myself, "Wow, the leaves are starting to change, deer season and cold mornings will eventually get here with Halloween, apples, and the state fair, and-" and that's when the construction starts and ruins the morning:
"JOHNSON YOU CLOWN! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!" "Hey man, I'm only doing what you told me to do! Hey! Don't give me that!"
Girls will be talking on their cell phones: "Yeah, I was sooo wasted at the party last night! Yeah, I still have to contest my two DUI's"
People will start lighting up, their lighters clicking nonstop, and then they start hacking out their lungs, and coughing up nastiness: "A HOOCCCHHH! HOOOCCCH!"
Idiots blaring their froo-froo techno music and singing in falsetto to Cher: "If I could turn back tiiiiime"

So why not just cut all that out? If you're going to make your campus look beautiful, I say you should put a perfect soundtrack behind.
Or at least make it appear like a commercial with a "Chariots of Fire" theme:
I'm wearing a flannel shirt with a gray t shirt and jeans. Backpack is slung casually over my left shoulder, and I have a mug of fresh coffee in my left hand. I take a sip, smile and shake my head at disbelief of the great coffee. The 'cha cha cha' part of the theme song starts. I begin to walk to class. Big smile on my face. People are happy to see me, and we greet each other as we pass with high fives and chest bumps. I pass through the doors of the building, exuding confidence, the main motif of the theme starts. I sit down, get my test back with a 100 and "Best test answers EVER!' on it, and give a big, cheesy smile and laugh. I answer all the questions that the professor asks. Professors prompts me to stand up, and I clasp my hands and shake them above my head as everyone claps. I turn to the camera and wink and the UNC seal comes on screen and fades to black.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

I need SLEEP

This week I've been getting some bad vibes, man, and it's totally because I haven't slept much.

Wednesday night I had coffee right before going to bed, which kept me up until 3AM.  I spent those hours prior to slipping into a fitful slumber by trying to recall all my undergrad courses I had, and was surprised that I could only remember a handful.  But at least I retained the information from the classes that I could remember.

Thursday the dogs slept in my room, and one of my dogs, Pepper, perpetually expelled flatus throughout the night in an obstreperous manner.  That night while laying in bed, I was puzzled over the "crackling" noise I heard.  Puzzled, until the smell hit me like a .45 slug and made my lungs sear in pain.  The rest of the night she snore loudly and growled in her sleep.

Last night, some drunk driver ran over the mailbox at 3AM and uprooted a neighbor's tree.  She and the guy she was with are fine, although her Honda is now a compact size and can never be driven again.

What will tonight bring? Will a satellite fall from the sky into my bedroom?  Will a flashmob congregate outside my window and start a rave? Will my bed collapse and my mattress sink into itself like a black star? I have no idea, but I'm not looking forward to it.  My life is starting to feel like that Seinfeld episode where Jerry switches apartments with Kramer because of a Kenny Roger's Roaster neon sign and begins hallucinating from lack of sleep that Kramer's ventriloquist dummy, Mr. Marbles, is alive.

Friday, March 6, 2009

"Tippy Yunnan" Dian Hong

I picked up a small 50g bag of this tea from A Southern Season after the brush calligraphy exhibit in Chapel Hill.  I know I've had this tea before, but I can't place my finger on any specific date.  It's taste is reminiscent of chocolate, sweet orange, and a little bit of malt. Good stuff!  I started off using my mug infuser in a steel, double-walled mug which yielded extremely bitter results after 3 minutes of steeping.  If the $3 price wasn't a tip off to the lower quality, then the bitterness certainly was.  I guess this is probably not quite tippy enough to prevent that.

But, I had fun experimenting with the way the tea tasted in the steel mug and my yixing mug.  The steel mug had a harsh, bitter quality to it and the yixing actually removed the bitterness and enhanced the chocolate flavors of the tea.  I'm still not certain, but I think the tannins in the tea react with metal to create certain off flavors.  Afterall, the mug infuser has take on a blueish tinge because of the tannins...

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

What the hell

Now you can test your child to see if they have genetic potential to become a famous athlete. Nevermind all that hogwash about "environmental factors," or "talent," or the fact that the test can't predict the quality of an athlete.  Now we get to have a new generation of parents pushings 6 year olds to be the next Mia Hamm, Michael Jordan, and Michael Phelps with a genetic test to back it up.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Rattler

I'm not sure how I came up with this finger attack, but I did. And I've always attempted to give the warning in my best Ben Stiller voice from his character Tony Perkis in Heavyweights.
So when you read this, try using his voice for this entire martial arts demonstration.

"Yes, I am glad you asked about that. The mind that never questions is the mind that never grows.  But you are right. Dead. Right.

That attack you just asked me about is known to us in the West as the Rattler.  The Rattler is an ancient Vietnamese art of killing a man with your two fingers.  The shock and pain and humility all overwhelm the senses causing your entire body to shutdown.  If you're not looking for it, the Rattler will find you and demolish you.  If you are looking for it, it will meet you head on. And you will wind up six feet under! 
Now I know we've been learning a lot of kung fu here, but this is what I call dead fu.  And here in my Dojo of Mojo I feel an obligation to show it to all of you, not to teach it, but just to demonstrate the deadly power of this deadly move.  The Marines and Navy SEALs had to drop it from their martial arts curriculum because it was killing too many trainees, so you know it's the real deal.  I know, I know.  A lot of you have the same question on your mind: 'But it's just two fingers, sensei Newell, how can the Rattler kill you?'  When I was in your judogis, I asked the same question. But I cannot answer you because the Rattler will not wait to answer your pitiful questions as they come out of your mouth! It will unleash itself upon you until it turns your bones into jelly! But you will have to show the Rattler no mercy, because it will give you none.  Now my last class that I showed the Rattler to crapped their pants, but it looks like this time I've chosen a stronger bunch without any sissies. Prove me right.

So! How about a volunteer? Anyone? You, you look like you're ready to see death's face. Heh heh, you can stand easy, I'm just joking with you.  I'm not going to hurt you at all.  Unless you wet your pants, because the Rattler can smell fear.  But I have studied its mysterious ways and can control the Rattler.  So stay fierce, be strong, and you will be completely safe.  Now, what I'm gonna do is I'm going to stand, shoulders facing you.  I will warn you once, and then I will unleash my tiger chi onto you in the form of the deadly Rattler!"

[points index and middler fingers at volunteer and begins rubbing them together]

"You hear that? That's the Rattler. And you never know when it's going to strike. BACHAAAAAA!"
[Blows on fingers] "Man, my tiger chi is on fire today! How about a hand for our volunteer? Don't worry, your eyes will uncross after an hour. Well class, I think that wraps up today.  Next week I will teach you all the 'Rutting Water Buffalo' block, but remember to meditate, practice, train, and only use what I've taught you for good. Dismissed."

Sunday, March 1, 2009

A Demonstration of Chinese Brush Calligraphy

I had an unexpectedly pleasant Sunday.  I was expecting it to rain and sleet most of today while driving, but the nasty weather held off until I got back home.  That didn't prevent my leather shoes and pants from getting soaked, and me from getting frozen.

I went to the Ackland Art Museum in Chapel Hill because they were having an exhibit reception for a collection of Asian art (mostly Japanese and Chinese).  I didn't actually go because of the art exhibit, but I went because Jinxiu "Alice" Zhao was demonstrating Chinese brush calligraphy and painting, and Li-Ling Hsaio was playing the zheng, or Chinese zither.

I got there late, so I only heard one song by Professor Hsaio which she described as detailing the rape of a small village, which did not exactly improve my mood on the weather.  After that, Prof. Zhao sat at a small table and began to describe Chinese brush painting.  I've always liked the way that type of art looks: somewhat minimal with black ink on white rice paper and sparse coloring, but structured and flowing.  She began showing the different types of brushes used and briefly described the different weights of paper she uses along with her inks and chi related to painting.  Then, Prof. Zhao talked about the 5 main calligraphy categories.  "There are many styles, but most of them fall into the five categories."  With a smile, she said she was going to demonstrate the five different calligraphy styles by drawing the character for rain in each style which drew appreciable chuckles from the audience, most of whom were in slickers or mackintoshes.

To my untrained eye, the first four characters looked roughly the same.  The last character which was in a cursive type, was definitely different, although she pointed out that it's somewhat difficult to read that type of calligraphy.  And with that she began doing her stuff.

Her first drawing was of bamboo stalks with leaves.  Dipping her brush into water, she swirled the tip onto a splotch of ink in an inkstone until the consistency satisfied her, and then began by painting the stalks.  To these she added delicate leaves in a lighter ink by a light flicking motion with the brush.  When it was finished, she wrote several characters on the top which she said described the "noble character" of the bamboo.  And to put her mark on it, she took a small jade stamp, dipped it into red ink, and firmly pressed it onto the paper.

Her next painting was of a pine branch.  Pine, she said, is indicative of longevity, and is important to artists because of this, but I also think she was painting it for us since North Carolina is well-known for its pine trees and everyone there could relate to the image of a pine.  She drew the main branch with limbs jutting out of it, and added tiny, sharp needles to each small limb.  While waiting for it to dry, she wrote a poem underneath the painting describing moolight on a floor looking like frost.  When the painting had dried, she started painting bark on the limb.  This required a drier ink, she said, and pointed out to us the importance of keeping the brushes slightly wet so that the bristles come to a taper, and that larger brushes absorb more ink.  With the pine branch finished, she pulled a tray of watercolors closer to her and used another brush to mix several colors and ink together to get the correct green shade of the pine needles, and began coloring the needles on her painting.  Her stamp and signature were added and concluded the simple and beautiful painting.

Watching her paint and draw calligraphy was incredible and also prodded me into realizing how little I know about Eastern art.  Thankfully I had a good view of Prof. Zhao, so I could see the way she mixed her ink and drew.  But occasionally the view was interrupted by some simpering man in his 50's who reeked of old lady perfume, who couldn't be bothered to say "Excuse me," when he leaned in front of me and nearly knocked me over.  I was also gravely concerned that he was going to wet his pants when he saw the finished paintings.  But I guess each of us has a different way of expressing appreciation of art.

With her last painting finished, the demonstration ended but my mother introduced me to her.  Apparently she had one of my siblings as a student for a class, so there's no telling what stories Professor Zhao has heard about me: "Oh, my brother would like doing this calligraphy, professor but he hasn't mastered fingerpainting yet." "Aw, that's too cute! How old is your brother?" "In his mid-20's."
She referred to me as didi, but I wasn't sure if this was because my mother said I was the eldest or the youngest of my siblings.  It was nice meeting her, and I wanted to ask her so many questions about her paintings and training, her selection of inks, and what types of brushes she prefers.  I also wanted to ask her what sort of tea she likes and where she buys it along with teaware.  But, maybe it's best I didn't actually ask her about the tea.  I probably would've overwhelmed her with questions.  

Actually meeting her was short since I had to get back on the road because of the heavy rain which was supposed to turn to sleet and then snow.  On the way out of Chapel Hill I stopped by A Southern Season and noticed that they actually had gaiwans!  One highly decorative one was something I'd probably use for company, but was a little bit pricey at $14, and extremely large at 7 ounces.  I didn't consider buying it, because it was too large to actually fit into my palm and pour, and I do have pretty big hands.  The other gaiwan I spied was a simple white one that was a little bit smaller at 4 ounces, but was expensive at close to $30!  They also had a white porcelain gongfu cha set for $75 which was well beyond my price range and tastes.  I browsed the tea section and settled on "Tippy Yunnan" which was on sale.  Happy with my purchase, I stepped out of the store and braved the weather to the car to head home.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Violin Troubles

I ordered new synthetic strings for my grandfather's violin and a snake humidifier.  I bought the humidifier as an afterthought, since I've noticed a crack develop in the back which has to be caused by extremely dry winter weather we've had.  That crack and the seams were also starting to widen, so for the past couple of days I've been frantically pumping moisture into the room where the violin is stored to get the humidity level up to 60%.  I was hoping the wood would swell back to normal, the crack would close, and the seams would tighten.  No such luck.  With a humidifier running for 11 hours out of the day, the moisture never got about 30%.

This rainy weather's been a godsend.  Right now, it's the right humidity for the violin, so I've had it out all day in attempts for the wood to absorb some of the water vapor.

When I was practicing, I realized just how much work the violin needs.  It needs a new bridge to be cut and reset, new strings, new tuning pegs, the crack repaired, possibly the seams repaired, the top needs to be refinished, and the nut maybe replaced.  So I started grumbling about it, and then I picked up my bow and noticed that it didn't have much bite to it.  Which means the hair needs to be replaced.  I'm just waiting for the other shoe to drop, like picking up the instrument and having the strings pull the neck off the body and cause the top to splinter into wood fragments.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Worst Books Never Written

Sometimes ideas for books go off like a rocket.  Other times they run off like a stray dog.  And then there are those ideas that explode like a hand grenade.  This is a list of the worst books never written.

"Natural Childbirth: Out Will Come Baby, Placenta and All"

"The Mysterious Case of Gray Fox and the Exploding Ta Tas"

"Home Butchering 101 with introduction by Dwight K. Schrute"

"A Modest Man" by Steve Jobs

"Horton Hears a Gunshot"

"How to Make Millions while Scrubbing Toilets"

"Irritable Bowel Syndrome Be Not Proud"

"Guns, Guitars, and Gonorrhea: A Rocker's Life"

"Passive Resistance" by Ted Kaczynski

"Thriller! Michael Jackson's Guide to Lovemaking feat. Lisa Marie Presley"

"30 Years Below the Belt: Musings of a Smalltown Urologist"

"Billy Mays' Lessons to Singing the Blues"

"Layman's Terms to Genius Translation Dictionary"

"National Mycophile Order's Field Guide to Slime-Molds"

"Jane Austin-Now in L33t Speak!"

"Khaki: All About that Ubiquitous Tan Color"

"Famous First Words of Celebrities and Politicians"

"Napoleon Bonaparte: Distinguished Crepe Lover"

"America's Famous Toxicologists"

"Robin Leach's Guide to Speaking Welsh"

"Spandex Tights and Neon Lights-The Gripping Story of Right Said Fred"

"An Introduction to Self-Medication" by Jack Kevorkian

"A Children's Guide to Chewing Tobacco Production"

"Grey's Anatomy Coloring Book for Kids-Now Including Pathology Slides"

"Richard Smelton: World Record Gum Wrapper Collector"

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Daily Tar Heel has real competition

While online perusing the rag fondly known as the DTH, also fondly known for its half baked attempt at coherence and unbiasness, someone had the audacity to send links to a similar website titled the Daily Tar Hole.  Here they take the fatted calf branded "DTH" and tan its hide.  Do the people at the Daily Tar Hole attempt faux pleasantries at the people they dislike, or hide thinly veiled attacks that editors don't bother correcting? No! They tell the news like it should be reported!

For too long, I say, we Carolina alumni and students have had to put up with the DTH.  Do we need to be reminded like scolded children that it's our civic duty to register to vote so we can decide who will be elected on the town council of Chapel Hill (AKA The Parking Lot Mafia)? No! Do we need editorials complaining that students don't attend open Board of Trustees meetings, when the directions, time, and place aren't published in the said paper? No!  Do we need to have idiotic articles on bathroom graffiti, gay table meetings, or the importance of abolishing holidays so as no one is offended? I say no!

We need the truth to be published!  We need the blunt truth to be revealed to the light!  The Daily Tar Hole has this truth.  It has things that students would find interesting and somewhat informative.  In other words, it has the news.

Problems with Fernal Humidity

This crazy weather is playing havoc with my body.  Usually I'm used to the humidity being around 40% or so in the winter and going up past 100% in the summer.  For spring and fall, the humidity ranges somewhere those values.  But this winter's been colder and drier than past winters.

Humidities have varied from 10-30% which is awful for tea and violins.  My skin and hair are dry beyond belief and I keep having to retune my violin.  I'm only wondering what effect this will have on my pu'er.  For right now, I have a humidifier running in my room for the violin, tea, and my sake, but I'll be grateful when warmer, moister weather comes back.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Benefits of Driving: An Epistemological Article

The benefits of driving are many.  Driving's primary purpose is to convey a warm, living body from one specific geographic region to another specific geographic region.  Unfortunately, brains are not required for this mode of transportation which results in several vehicles manned by the people with nothing between their ears but dust and fluff, to veer across several lanes of traffic to head towards an exit ramp only to decide that they were perhaps better off on the inside lanes and so swerve through several lanes of traffic to get back to their original position while enduring a gauntlet of horns, hand signals and tire squeals.

But, if a body is possessed of a brain then the transitory phase where the body is being transported between specific geographic regions is uneventful, save for the occasional traffic detours and inexplicably horrible smells that accumulate near roadways.

But of course this primary purpose of driving assumes that a body has a definite starting point from whence to drive, and a definite ending point where the body will arrive.  Transitory points in between can be numerous, especially if the body is throwing a wingding of a party and needs several types of chips, dip, and wine.  However, sometimes a body is possessed to drive from one geographic region to an unknown destination.  Reasons for this are multi-faceted and range from the brain temporarily shutting down so that a body forgets where their final destination is, to a sense of daring and exploration that can be deduced by a body uttering the phrase, "Hey honey, do you want to try and find that store that's having that big sale?"

A brain shutdown is detrimental to driving.  Its symptoms present as forgetting where the final destination of a body is determined to be, a body forgetting that it is in a vehicle with windows, and belief that a shortcut can be found when it is a widely known falsehood.  But ultimately, all brain shutdowns lead to forgetting the purpose of driving.

Forgetfulness of the destination is vocalized by a body stating: "Hey, where the heck is the place we're looking for," "Wait, did we want to go there," and "Wait a second! This is the wrong way!"

A vehicle has several strategically placed windows to allow a body to use its vision to perceive its surroundings.  This also allows other bodies in other vehicles to peer into a singular vehicle and perceive another body.  A brain shutdown leads to the mistaken belief that no other bodies in the surroundings can perceive a body while it is within the confines of the vehicle.  This is physically demonstrated by a male body inserting finger(s) into his nose with aplomb, while a female body on the street or in another vehicle views through the vehicle's windows at the male with disgust.  Occasionally, if the male body glances around and sees other bodies looking at him from the surroundings, the male's brain will awaken and perceive that there are other bodies that can view the male from the vehicle's windows.  The male quickly removes the finger(s) from the nostril(s).  

The rarest symptom of a body's brain shutting down is the belief that a shortcut can be found, despite knowing that shortcuts do not exist on a stretch of road.  Indeed, this is also the deadliest symptom since it waylays a body several miles off the beaten path and into the boonies.  A typical conversation between cognizant bodies and a body with a shut down brain driving might proceed as:
"Hey. Where are you going?" "I believe this is the right way." "Well, I know it's not the right way. Turn around." "You don't know! You don't know anything!" "I know it's the truth that we're headed the wrong way because you're mistaken! Turn around before we get captured by some in-bred rednecks!"
A shut down brain can be awakened either with a logical argument on the behalf of the cognizant bodies in determining what they know from what they believe or by stumbling across rednecks who proceed to tell the body "Golleee! Yew shore are headed in the wrawng deerection!" with the knowledge that the body in the vehicle is headed in the wrong direction.  Sometimes rednecks withhold this knowledge and give mistaken beliefs "Well, I reckon if you follered them iron hoss tracks it should lead you to whurr you need to go. Heh heh" because they are assholes.

A sense of daring and exploration is another reason for driving without a predetermined destination.  Sometimes this final destination is elusive, with a body being unable to name it unless the body actually sees the destination and determines that is where they want to be.  And sometimes the final destination is vaguely known, but the transition from one destination to another is unknown.  All of these require a sense of exploration and a good idea of direction.  If a body does not possess a curiosity for the unknown, they will simply give up and say, "Heck, let's figure out where we want to go before we drive aimlessly around."  But ultimately knowledge is gained by not having a final destination for driving.

The benefit to this is that a body will save a bundle of money otherwise spent on frittered gas.  The downside is that they might not see things they believed to exist, but did not know existed.  This is exemplified by my belief that there are weirder people out there than I can possibly imagine.  I came to know this by driving aimlessly around Cameron Village and seeing a man wearing coke bottle glasses with military medals pinned on a baseball cap, driving a remote control tank.  I believed that there are odd people out there, but after seeing one, I know that there are odd people out there, and this knowledge cannot be refuted.  And, my driving without a final destination finally gained a purpose.

But a body might not find anything by driving without a final destination, and they then would know that driving without a purpose is a waste of time.  This could be proven to be conditional however, if future purposeless drives come across a serendipitous final destination.  However, knowledge gained by the purposeless drives could indeed be considered to be the "final destination" if not a physical destination.

The benefits of driving are numerous as demonstrated in the above essay.  Knowledge, beliefs, and embarassing situations can all be discovered by one.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

2007 Yiwu Yongpinhao 4735 Fall Harvest

This sheng pu'er is quite enjoyable. Light, fruity with freshness, but darker fruit flavors, including a grape note and tannin character are present in the tea.  This is quite possibly the lightest sheng I've had so far: in a literal sense.  Packing my 120 ml yixing full of leaves yields tea that lacks a thick texture.  The complexity of the tea makes sipping enjoyable.  The lighter muscatel tastes are first noticed and closely followed by the darker tannin taste.  I personally enjoyed lightly breathing in with some of the tea on my tongue, much like tasting whiskey, because it actually enhances the flavor.  Succinctly, this tea reminded me of a lightly oxidized formosa oolong. 

This sheng is pretty forgiving with regards to brewing methods.  I was able to use 10 seconds in between each infusion, and the amount of leaves used varied from enough to fill the pot halfway when wet, to the leaves pushing the lid off and out.  But increasing the leaves to that extreme only seemed to make the tea somewhat stronger.  

I will be ordering more of this tea. It's not excellent enough for me to rave over it, but it's good enough that I could drink it every day and be satisfied.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Deep Thoughts

Everyone talks about curlicues.  But what about the vastly underrated curliezees?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

NPR (Narcoleptic Public Radio)

"And that was Artie Shaw playing 'Stardust,' for Mr. and Mrs. Robert Fanning in Wakiki, Illinois followed by Paganini's first caprice...played by Rudolf Lipschitz, slowed down of course to half tempo for our listeners...And now for something exciting [sounds of frog chirps, grunts, and croaks] No, listeners, that was not recorded at a muddy swamp in the flats of Louisiana.  Though it may sound like frogs, it was actually recorded here in our very own studio by famed biologist Luke Thatcher.  How are you...Luke?"

"Why....Hello and good morning. I am doing well, in case you were wondering."

"Well, no I wasn't actually wondering I was just going through a conversation initiation formality. But I'm glad that you are well. What can you tell us about your work and upcoming book 'Bombastic Bombadils?'"

"Yes, the S. frons bombadil. Quite a fascinating being. I've spent my life studying it in its natural habitat and throw everything you thought you knew about these frogs out the window!  My research team and I have stumbled upon the most important discovery of the millenia.  Contrary to what most people think, the S. frons bombadil does NOT attempt mating calls during the lunar cycle when the moon is at its apex, but it attempts them solely during spring tides."

"This is very interesting. Now, how come no other researcher has discovered this?"

"My team and I have scratched our heads over that one.  Apparently no one else finds them very interesting since they're so numerous in the US, they eat anything, and their habitats always involve lots and lots of mosquitos. And they have a tendency to smell like low tide and mud. But to me, I like that smell.  It's the smell of publication in scholarly journals!"

"I share your sentiments.  How is this discovery you found important?"

"Well, it goes against what we thought before! It's extremely important! I mean, this whole mating pattern is very important to their survival! It might mean I get to have my own office now and a salary of 25K a year!"

"My, if I could use a new-fangled term to describe this...that is 'cool.'  Luke, thank you for your time...My name is Anna Eisen of 'Exciting Discoveries in the Field of Science,' and thank you for listening.  Up next we have the Finnish electrical guitar virtuoso Yggdrasil Jorgensen describing his eclectic musical stylings of Paganini."

Friday, February 13, 2009

Navy PRT

Today I took the PRT and was handed a letter describing a need for me to have bloodwork done to determine if I'm eligible for a medical waiver or not. Oy.

When I first walked into the office, a girl was ahead of me, waiting her turn to talk with the LT.  I got my weight and height measured and drove over to the highschool to do the fitness test.  "Say, Lieutenant, I wouldn't be able to swim the PRT, would I?"

"Ehhh, nope. You can swim, bike, run, but none of those are actually guaranteed except for the run, because it's not that hard to find a mile and a half to mark off.  An exercise bike and a pool are kinda hard to come by."


That was sort of my last hope if I didn't pass this PRT.  Because my best time for the 500y freestyle was 6 minutes, which is 20 seconds under the time needed to achieve the highest PRT score.  The LT asked me if I swam for UNC, which I replied that I didn't; but I did swim 3-8 miles a day in college.  His eyes bugged out at that, and he said, "No wonder you wanted to know if you could swim the PRT!"

Pushups and situps and the foot grab went ok, but I had to urinate very badly.  I'd been drinking water all day and when I pulled into Raleigh, I was hot and very thirsty, so I went to a drugstore and got the cheapest bottled water they had.  And it wasn't until I got to the track that I realized just how much water I'd had.  Unfortunately, all of the doors to the bathrooms by the track were LOCKED so I got to run 1.5 miles wondering if I squeezed my legs tightly it might put less pressure on my poor bladder.  My original plan was to run a 1:50 per 400 meters, because 1:50 isn't exactly booking it, but it would cut an entire minute off the run from 12 minutes to 11 minutes.  That idea went to hell as soon as the first lap since I ran a 1:37 in no pain.  My first mile time was a 7:35 and I sandbagged the last two laps to get an 11:48.  I know what I'll be doing for the next couple of weeks: distance running.

Anyway, I finished with a good time and scored and overall good "low" on the PRT.  The LT said my application was being reviewed mid-February and that I'd probably be shipped out mid-April to OCS.  Good deal.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Corruption of our youth

Katie dropped by the other day to pick up her compost bin and she casually mentioned in between throws of the tennis ball to our beagle that she used one of my writings as an example for her class.  "Which writing," I said. 
"The one where you describe taking the dog to the pound.  The first part was factual and the second part was an example of writing."

I was kind of taken back.  I felt like that piece was something that'd be read on NPR, because it's so drawn out over a mundane task.  Whenever my mother's driving, she always has NPR on and they're always droning on about some famous orchestral piccaloist from the 1970's writing his memoirs of the Oregan Symphony.  Or something close to that.  I mean, I don't call it Narocelptic Public Radio for nothing.  Actually, I now have a new topic for my next writing.

But anyway, it's fine that she used it as an example of illustrative writing, because it does get the job done.  Then we started talking about her upcoming wedding and how she wants me to wear my full dress uniform, and also how her students are somehow fascinated with me.  "Wow! He writes really good stories! And he's going into the Navy? COOL!"

And now her students want me to come to her class to talk about the Navy. Weird.  It's strange to think that I might possibly have some sort of influence on impressionable, malleable minds, and I worry what our future would be like if I became a teacher in my later life.

I can just see it now: kids bragging about how much wool socks they got for Christmas, young men learning to wetshave and sharpen straight razors, children saying to each other, "I'll take none of that lip, McGuff unless you want the ol' 1-2!" and school dances filled with students doing the foxtrot.

The Apocalypse

This week's sign of the apocalypse.  Joaquin Phoenix leaves the film industry to go into a career of hip hop artist while looking eerily like the unabomber.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Kunming Chuncheng 2006 Arbor Yinhao Tuocha 50g

I took off the paper of this tuocha and smelled the leaves with anticipation.  Hmm, tobacco-ish and tea-like! So far so good, but when I tried this, I started to gag.  This tea is incredibly astringent and tastes awful, even after 5 infusions! I never form a full opinion of a tea after just one tasting session, but this one left a very strong impression on me.  Maybe, just maybe, some age will tame it out, but for right now I can't drink it.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

It's an H of a Day

I went to visit my grandparents today with the expectation of going to the Old Folks' Home with my grandfather to play music for them.  But he didn't feel up to it and I spent 4 hours longer then I anticipated at their house.

My grandfather and grandmother are always happy to see me when I visit.  I usually play the violin with my grandfather who assumes because I have natural talent on the violin that I should automatically know every single fiddle song there is. "How about Pony Boy? Love Lifted Me? Danny Boy? No?"  So out of 7 or so visits I've made there, we've played "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" at least 21 times since it's the only song I know.  He always gives me this look when I shake my head because I can't recognize the song he's playing.  It's a look that says, "I sure don't understand what his teacher sees in him! He can't even recognize his alma mater song!"  He always asks me what songs I play on the violin which truthfully I can only play the one.  The rest of the time I practice scales and try to build up muscle memory to get the correct notes.  But I can tell he doesn't really think much of scales or learning all of the notes on the violin's fingerboard.  

My grandmother views me as something a little less than a technical genius.  "Do you think you can reprogram my computer? I've forgotten my password and I need my email and things to work."  I'm the least competent computer person I know.  When something goes wrong on my computer, I start slamming my head against the wall, revive, and then see if the problem's fixed itself. If it hasn't I start offering sacrifices and libations in the form of computer chips and contact cleaner to the computer.

Today she asked me to look at her telephone. I glanced at it and immediately said, "Oh, the LCD is burned out or there's maybe a short or something in there," which set her off: "Oh, do you think you could fix it? Do you know of anyone who could fix it? We really need the caller ID to work."  My eyes glassed over and I stammered out technobabble: "OH, well I think they don't repair telephone handsets these days. It's all market leader loss examples with people buying cheap phones and throwing them away when they wear out, though I guess you could buy a new one and get a long distance circuit including your circle of friends."  I'm not saying that she has high expectations for me to keep up with technology, but if a bomb fell off one of the jets stationed near the chAir Force base and landed in their backyard, my grandmother would call me up and say, "Dear, a bomb fell in our backyard marked 'HE' and I just know you can come over and defuse it without us having to get the police and ATF agents involved who'll trample over my begonias. Will you?"

But today was a back and forth day between my grandfather and grandmother:
"It's fernal cold outside. I'm fernal cold in here."
"Well, turn the gas logs on."
"No, they bother you. I'll just sit here and freeze."
"I think the television's loud enough."
"I can't hear you, crazy!"
"WHAT?! I NEED TO TURN THE TV DOWN TO HEAR YOU! what did you say?"

My grandfather really summed up my worst fears when he turned to me and said, "You'll have this to look forward to when you get old" as my grandmother yelled into the telephone "There's something wrong with our PHONE! We need it repaired!"

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

My Physical

MEPS was quite the experience.  I went to the hotel on Monday where the Navy was putting me up around 4 and got to read and relax until suppertime.  There were a lot of people there at the hotel, compared to the 20 that were present the last time I went to MEPS.  I'm guessing it was a combination of MEPS being closed for the holidays, and the end of the month when recruiters should be making quotas.  And quite a few people who were going into the Army had waivers for DUI's, DWI's, misdemeanor drug convictions, and other interesting arrests.

After supper, I biked for a little bit in the gym room they had, read for a few minutes, and then went to bed.  Except I couldn't sleep for more than 30 minutes. My roommate had turned up the temperature for the room, which meant the heat would cut on every 40 minutes like clock work, making me hot and sweaty enough to throw off the covers, and then the sweat would get cold and make me freeze, and I'd throw the blankets back on. That went on until 4 in the morning when I got up, dressed, and went downstairs for breakfast and to check out.

I arrived at the military entrance processing station around 5:45 AM and walked through the doors of my liason at 5:55AM.  Paperwork was first on the things to do, followed by even more paperwork.  Somebody screwed up and got the suffix wrong on my name (not a big deal...but that's not the name on my SSN, driver's license, or birth certificate) and corrections were promised to be made.  After completion of the paperwork, I was instructed to go to the medical section.  There my blood pressure was taken by a pert HM2 in Winter Dress Blues who barked, "Honey, you need to RELAX!" when my systolic was high.  So I did my best while the automatic cuff attempted to cut off the circulation to my arm.

The doctor was next who asked me general questions about my health, and then poked and prodded me.  Hearing and vision were tested in addition to a verbal reading test to make sure I didn't have a speech impediment or stutter.  The same HM2 who took my blood pressure also drew my blood.  And it only took her 14 seconds, including prep and tying my arm off!  Upon having my blood drawn, I went along with 15 other people into a room where we performed several different range of motion exercises.  I'm guessing its purpose was to tell if we had any sort of gait, balance, hand eye coordination, or scoliosis problems.  After the exercises, I had to urinate in a cup.

I was amazed at some people's inability to comprehend exactly how to urinate for the lab tech.  "Uhhhh, my recruiter didn't mention anything about this," "I know I haven't gone in 6 hours, but I don't really need to go to the bathroom," "Well I had to go a second ago, I don't know why nothing happened!"  And these people will be defending our country some day. Sheesh.

After that, all the people who provided samples were seated, and we essentially waited on the rest of the guys who had either failed to provide a sample numerous times or were waiting until they needed to go to the bathroom.  About that time I noticed how unusual the group was.  Some of the guys were former active duty who were reenlisting, and they were in their mid to late 20's.  Then there were guys who bald, gray, and over 40 who had served in the military half a lifetime ago.  It beats the hell out of me what they were doing there, but we were all sitting and staring at each other.  And it seemed odd that I was the only one with enough foresight to bring a book to read.

About this time while we were all waiting some of the younger unshaven guys began whispering to each other, and with each reply, puffed up their scrawny chests and jutted their chins out: "Hey, what're you planning to do?" "82nd Airborne Division, man! I know I'm going to make it!" "Screaming Eagles for me" "I'm going to be a Ranger" "1st and 5th!" "3rd and 5th!"  It only took about 3 minutes of this for me to realize that none of them were shipping out that day but were just entering the Delayed Enlistment Program and hadn't met with any counselor to determine their MOS or to be curtly reminded that specific jobs or MOS are not guaranteed.  But what the hey. The military needs clean toilets too.

After a final check with the physician and going over my medical records with another HM1, I left the actual building at 11:00AM after being there for a little over 5 hours.  I should know, according to the doctor, within a week if I'll be cleared medically but he was completely convinced that I would be cleared. Still, fingers crossed.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Lincang Yinhao 2007 Te Ji Tuocha

I've made a large enough dent in my small pu'er stash to justify opening the wrapper on this tuocha.  The predominant smell is sweet hay and the compression is tight but not impossible to pry leaves off.

The taste is simple but straightforward: hay, sweetness, astringency, smoke, and bitterness.  Each of the tastes can be picked out rather easily from the tea since they don't meld together into complexity.  This tea doesn't have a lot of middle notes to it.  It's just a little bit of sweetness and astringency as it enters the mouth, and then smoke and bitterness as it reaches the back of the tongue.

This tea never really evolved from the first few steepings.  I've become somewhat accustomed to tea being a little bitter than I'd like for the first two cups since the infusions are very short and it's often hard to decant a teapot precisely within 5 seconds or so for the first infusion.  And a few seconds late means bitter, astringent tea.  But this tea was smoky and bitter throughout several sessions and the flavor beneath the smoke and bitterness was hay.

All of these flavors combined to produce a tea that was ultimately forgettable. The smokiness was overpowering and never really smoothed out to add complexity to the tea, and the hay flavor never developed any sweetness or fruitiness or anything.  Maybe 10 years or so would be beneficial to this tea, but there's certainly nothing redeeming about it now.

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