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Forwarding address [Feb. 27th, 2012|11:59 am]
[Current Location |Spokane, WA]
[Current Music |Dot Hacker - Inhibition]

With thanks to Dreamwidth and Livejournal, it was time for a change of scenery. My new blog, Culture Lag, is up at cultlag.wordpress.com. Tweets @C_L_Byers.
Hope to see you there,
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Wave goodbye [Aug. 6th, 2010|09:31 am]
[Current Music |HDA - Parasite]

I was joking with a fellow Android user at work, last month, that if Apple had created Wave, by now it would be so ubiquitous that there'd by an Android app. I am sorry to see Wave go, just when it was getting interesting, but if this means Google is trying to trim the wild branches and get more focused on the projects that are important to them, then that's a silver lining I can live with.

As someone who uses Google products every day (including an unofficially abandoned Android device,) I'm coming to see the company more and more as a shop with more cool projects than project managers. When they throw their full weight behind a product, the result is always great. But they don't seem to have much of a vision for how their total set of products should work together, with the result that lots of very 'wow-ing' apps and services just never find a place in the broader product/marketing strategy. If Apple is really girding itself for war, then that's a lesson Google needs to learn fast.
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(no subject) [Jul. 24th, 2010|08:18 pm]
[Current Music |Foo Fighters - Good Grief]

Running some errands this morning, I bought a tiny little coffee press at a Fred Meyer's in Bellevue, then later on this evening, Audra and I biked up the hill to the safeway for groceries, and I got some basic, grocery-store coffee. When we came home, I heated up some water, and gave it a shot. (I'm more accustomed to drip coffeemakers, but I think living in Seattle now carries certain responsibilities.) A clumsy few minutes of alchemy later, I poured a cup that was garbage - I could tell just from the color. I stepped out onto the patio while the sunlight was starting to fade, and took a sip, and yes: wrong temperature, wrong amount of time, wrong grind, wrong all over. But then, that faint, dusty, beaney aftertaste, from the stuff that makes those little black whorls in the bottom of the cup when you're done, hit me with a totally unexpected wave of nostalgia, and there seemed to be this sublime kind of correctness in everything, from the color of the light on the mountains to the sounds of the swallows in the roof. The quick explanation I keep telling people is that I lived in Bellingham for a few years when I was a kid, before I got sucked into the desert, and that I've been trying to get back to the northwest ever since. I forget sometimes that it's true. This feels a lot like being home.
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Settling in [Jul. 20th, 2010|08:34 pm]
[Current Music |TMBG - Your Own Worst Enemy]

I've been in Seattle since late Sunday night, and so far, it's been wonderful. The drive was a blast - I've always liked road trips, and this one was no exception. The last couple of hours were a little grueling, but for the most part, it was a chance to talk to myself, listen to a bunch of music and watch some glorious scenery roll by for about 20 hours. I highly recommend it. And since then, I've just been making myself at home.

To everyone who's said it's a different pace of life here, amen. There is a coziness to the Northwest, at least for me, that seems to rub the edges off of busy schedules. Even going out 'running errands', as I've been doing a lot this week, has more in common with taking a nice walk than it does with hurrying from one task to another. On paper, today I went to the DMV, got a haircut, bought textbooks, filled up my buss pass and met Audra for lunch, but looking at me at any particular point in that sequence, you'd just see a guy strolling around a pretty town, looking amazed at his own good luck and breathing in all the smell of growing things that his lungs can hold. I'm sure a year from now, I won't notice all of these nice smells, or appreciate the mild summers so much, but I will still be in a place where you can stroll down a downtown sidewalk with a huge grin on your face without looking at all out of place. I think it suits me.
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(no subject) [Jul. 16th, 2010|10:41 pm]
[Current Music |PJ Harvey - Big Exit]

My to-do list is shifting into a list of things done, and every calendar I check insists that the day I move is in three days, or the day after tomorrow, or tomorrow, or something ridiculously close like that. Cleaning out my desk today, I kept running across old plans for things I've done in the last couple of years at work, and stopping to wonder how I ever found the time to do all this stuff. The move has been a little like that. I've been getting ready for so long, it's hard to believe I'm pretty much ready, now.

It's been a fun week. Better, actually: It's been a week full of people spontaneously inventing ways to tell me how much they appreciate having me in their lives and how much they're going to miss me. I guess I know, on paper, that people tend to like me, but it's humbling to be told so this frequently. From my boss (a guy who has hired me no less than three times) organizing a little going-away party for me at a bar by the office, to my dance buddies at the Aruba arranging a little 'everybody dance with Charlie' circle, it's all been really sweet. I'm ready to move on, but I've had great reminders of all the friendships I'm going to miss when I'm off to Seattle.

The desert has been really good to me. I don't know how to measure how much I've grown up since I came here, except to look at how much happier I am now than I was then. It's the kind of happiness that, like dancing or SQL or hiking the sneaky back trails in Red Rock, is cultivated in a long string of teacher/pupil relationships, and I've been blessed beyond measure with good teachers, out here.

So, thanks, Vegas. You've been the setting for a great chapter in my life. I can't wait to see what's next.
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(no subject) [Jul. 13th, 2010|05:37 pm]
[Current Music |Queens of the Stone Age - Someone's in the Wolf]

My cat is now on his way to Seattle. I'm going to try and imagine him relaxing in his own kitty first-class seat, enjoy his own little kitty cocktails and peanuts, rather than squirming in a cramped carrier in the space under a seat while Audra apologizes profusely to her fellow passengers for his mewing. Either way, he'll be there soon. It was either three hours on a plane or twenty in a car, and I stand by my decision. I just hope he settles into the new place easily.

Meanwhile, I guess I'm settling out of the old place. The furniture is pretty much gone, the stuff I'm keeping is pretty much packed, and by this time next week, I'll be right there with the cat. Hard to believe the move is getting so close.
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Confession [Jul. 2nd, 2010|07:28 am]
[Current Music |Sonic Youth - She's in a Bad Mood]

I have the same problem with the present Kyrgese/Uzbek conflict that I had with the Tutsi and Hutu fighting; I know, intellectually, that there are deplorable violations of people's basic human rights going on, but when I hear the words, I can only visualize those people as Dr. Seuss characters.

Disadvantaged ethnic groups need less funny names. Can we fit that on a protest sign?
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(no subject) [Jun. 20th, 2010|09:54 pm]
[Current Music |Talking Heads - City of Dreams]

Was I the only one who hadn't watched David Byrne's True Stories until now? It's a musical pop-art movie about the American south in the early '80s (set in Virgil, TX, and filmed thereabouts.) As someone who experienced that culture as a kid, I'm in awe of the accuracy of the portrait. The buildings, streets, rooms, people - they really looked like that. Watching the movie, I could smell those places.

The movie was also an excuse to present the songs from the Talking Heads album in ideal settings. John Goodman sings People Like Us as a character who actually means the "We don't want freedom/ we don't want justice/ we just want someone to love" chorus, and City of Dreams, as music for the closing credits, could knock you over with a feather.

Its on Netflix. Consider this your anthropology homework for the week.
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3 music things [May. 30th, 2010|02:40 pm]
[Current Music |IAMX - Think of England]

1) I suddenly caught the lyrics in the first verse of Bauhaus' Endless Summer of the Damned, this morning, where it goes "So this: a form of patricide/ in which the children also die". I'm a geek for lyrics, and Peter Murphy is hit-and-miss, for me, but I like that one.

2) I finally got around to listening to IAMX's Kingdom of Welcome Addiction, and I really like it. They're one of those bands where I only buy their albums to encourage them to tour (they're high on my list of favorite live bands,) but this is getting closer and closer to something I'd buy anyway. With the tiny exception of the Sneaker Pimps' Bloodsport, I think every album Chris Corner has made has come out better than the one before it. That makes me happy.

3) In preparation for the move to Seattle next month, I've been getting rid of stuff as un-sentimentally as I can. I'm down to about a box of keeper books, and all of my furniture is getting adopted out, and the resulting pile of stuff to move is rapidly approaching something I could fit in a car. CDs, though, have been a problem. There's just no used market for them, now! I don't actually need them - my entire music collection is digital, and has been for years, but I really hate the idea of throwing away all of my CDs. I think the solution is going to be two piles: One for CDs that I want to have around, just as a collection, even though I don't 'need' them, and the other will be a sad pile of hard-living experimental industrial music that I'll just dump on Salvation Army in the middle of the night and be done with. Wish me luck.
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Meant to mention... [Apr. 25th, 2010|10:30 pm]

I did get hold of the new Tom Waits live CD, Glitter and Doom. If you're someone like me who just can't stand knowing there are Tom Waits recordings out there you haven't heard, go get it. Much as I love the guy, I don't think live performance is his strong suit. However: there is a performance of Dirt in the Ground that stands out. I grew up on the studio version from Bone Machine, but here he's turned it into this strange, mournful kind of sermon. It's weird magic, and I love it.

A quill from a buzzard
in blood writes the word.
And I want to know,
am I the sky or the bird?

Hell's boiling over.
Heaven is full.
We're chained to the world,
and we've all gotta pull.
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