End Chapter

You could say that the Hoboken chapter in my life has finally completed. Well, more appropriately, the 73 Adams Street chapter has come full circle.

It’s been rather odd as week by week I have fallen further and further away from a place that heavily defined my life for the past few years. Obviously signing a lease for an apartment in Montclair was a big step. But the first few days after we moved, I was still traveling back to pick up last minute items. Not until midway through that first week out here did I actually stay away from the Mile Square City completely. A week later I returned again to pick up my remaining mail. Lo and behold, my key no longer worked. Suddenly I was locked out of my residence of the past 4 years. Strange feelings indeed.

Not much else changed over the next couple weeks, however, as my new life began to take shape. There wasn’t any sort of higher connection with Hoboken, it was merely where I hung my hat for most of my twenties. In fact, the only night I felt a sense of longing was one particular Friday in which Lisa visited her sister for most of the night. Back in town that would have meant a quick trip around the corner to the Nag’s for beer, and maybe an order of those fantastic Wings-to-Go Andy and I were so prone to order. Instead I found myself drinking alone in our couch-less living room, watching an Eagles preseason game. Not a major tragedy, but not the solo evenings to which I had grown accustomed.

Well, this weekend the final ties were cut. On Saturday I checked my mail and, much to my delight, found an envelope from my previous landlord. Before I could get around to threatening legal action, they managed to slip me the security deposit. And, even more to my delight, it was in its entirety. I’ve been rather cash poor these days, and this was greatly needed money – the majority of it being owed to me. Aside from a check or two to be written – and a few more to be collected – the official documents are fulfilled and my life with Hoboken is merely one of acquaintences now.

On Sunday I will be returning for the semi-annual Art & Music Festival… as a tourist. Next year when Hoboken celebrates its 150th Anniversary, I will just be another drunken fool among the mass. Nothing wrong with that, but these chapter endings have a tendency to feel strange… not bad, just strange.

Baby Arcade!

I have followed Penny Arcade for quite sometime now. It’s amazing to see just how far those two guys have come, from a simply drawn strip about video games and violence with barely a note on their part to a full-time job and a site filled with news, reviews, and merchandising. Having bore witness to much of this growth, it almost gives me a sense of pride to announce that Kara, Mike’s wife, just had a baby boy. Rather fittingly, they named him Gabriel.

pesky parallels presidential politics

Mac over at pesky’apostrophe has put together a fine comparison of the presidential candidates based on *GASP* the issues. Each entry deals with a different area, with the latest being Bush and Kerry’s stance on Veterans and the military. They are even available in PDF format for those inclined towards more printable copies.

While it does lean towards Kerry, Mac has kept it fairly clean and given credit (on the few occasions) where Bush so deserves. For once, this appears to be an honest-to-goodness attempt at contrasting the real issues at stake here – not who did what back in 1972. I haven’t gone through all of it, but it appears to be an excellent place to start for people looking to become more informed.

(Thanks to Stupid Evil Bastard)

Home Alone

So the little lady is out of town. Lisa is helping her cousin with an impromptu move tonight. Tomorrow she’ll be heading to her parents for some quality time before they migrate South for the winter. Then Saturday she’ll be going to a friend’s baby shower. There’s a good chance that I’ll be spending the next two nights, and part of the weekend alone before we head down to my parents’ house for my sister’s wedding. Loneliness ensues…

Well, I can deal with it for a couple days. It might even give me a chance to work on somethings that I haven’t had time for. Not to mention the start of the NFL season tonight. Oh yeah, I got Steak-ums, onion rolls, spices, BBQ chips, beer, and some lettuce (for the guinea pigs). That should make for a real evening. Pretty soon my landlords will be wondering what they got themselves into by letting this maniac who screams at nobody in general at great injustices set upon by referees into their home. At least they don’t have to deal with the Eagles game this week ๐Ÿ˜› . Now if only I can get the new wireless connection working in the living room…

A nearly complete weekend

Something about weekends. I’m not online as much (I’m sure Lisa would disagree with that), and it tends not to bother me. Basically it means that each week I tend not to take a break from posting over the weekend. Of course, that means that I’m backed up come Monday and I can’t think of what topics to write first. That easily leads to procrastination, and now it is Wednesday and I have been silent since Friday. These three day weekends don’t help, either (not that I would get rid of them or anything).

This weekend was quite a refresher, because so many things worked their way towards completion. The apartment being on of them. The couch was delivered on Saturday, so we now have a working living room. Not that it was broken before, but we can both sit and watch TV there now. It certainly opens up the apartment more when you can start using all of the rooms. Inspired by such additions, I’ve packed away a lot of my crap that was still sitting around in milk crates. Unfortunately we now have a bunch of empty milk crates, but one step at a time, please. At the very least, I can see inviting people over in the near future.

The end of last week also brought several deliveries. I now have a 1 GB card for my Digital Rebel. That means that I can take close to 300 pictures without worries (or 130 in RAW format). Now I just have to go out and find photo-worthy subjects (my sister’s wedding this upcoming weekend may just be the first opportunity). On top of that, my new computer was delivered. Yeah, I was sick of how poorly my old one was handling USB 2.0, so I bought one of those barebone kits from Tiger Direct that included a nice new case, motherboard, Athlon XP 3000+ CPU, and added on 512MB of 400MHz RAM. Oooohh, you may all bask in my geeky glow! It has been reconstructed (aside from one or two minor components) and is running smoothly. I will be taking the leftovers from my old desktop and my current server to form a new server. By their powers combined, mighty they shall be!

I also went down to Philly Friday night for dinner with my family. We ate at a wonderful restaurant (The Continental), and enjoyed our usual witty repartee. The more time I spend in areas like Old City, the more I realize that I would rather live in Philly than New York. As much as you have at your fingertips in NYC, you don’t have neighborhoods that nice. Chances are I will never live in a city again, but I do imagine myself talking Lisa into moving closer to PA as time progresses. In the meantime, we will enjoy our life together in Montclair.

Apropos of Brains

Along with the redesign I keep claiming will take place, I also need to decide how to deal with links to other sites. As time goes on, I decide which of my regular reads need to be shared with others. After enough humorous or informative posts, I tend to add someone to the sidebar. Of course it helps if they top it all off with one that almost makes me piss my pants. Thanks for that one Jess, this link’s for you.

Take my Gmail, please

For the love of God and all that is holy, doesn’t anybody else want a Gmail account?!?! I get six invites, and give away three of them. Aparently that leaves me with six! Someone help me with that math. And on top of it, they keep moving the link around the screen and changing it’s colors as if to say, “please, invite more of those unhuddled masses into our restricted beta.” Even better is the fact that they put a link at the bottom of every e-mail message to invite that person. Pretty soon I’ll be inviting Netflix, Amazon, and a few mailing lists to Gmail just to shut them up.

So here it goes, I’ve still got 6 more of these Gmail invites. If you want one, just leave a comment here telling me how much I rock.

EDIT: I am now down to 5 invites.

My rights – your rights – their rights – our rights

Not long after the move, Lisa and I took a nice walk around Montclair to get to know the town a bit. Not too surprisingly, along the way I found various subjects to photograph. Some of these included the beautiful houses around us, the cracked old sidewalks, and the nearby museum. Some of these also included signs on the main road through town. Nobody confronted my or made me feel uncomfortable, nevertheless I became self-conscious that these days my activities would be included under the heading “suspicious behavior”. What really bothers me, is that people all over are being stopped for doing exactly what I was doing, enjoying a wonderful day outside and wanting to capture the moment.

A couple months ago I had read about one of these unforunate encounters and the resulting fallout. Today (thanks to kottke’s remainders) I found Ian Spiers’ complete recounting of this tale of a fear-driven, authoritarian nightmare. Reading the story in its entirety made my blood begin to boil. I will stress this right now: if what happened to Ian Spiers does not enrage you or bring any amount of sympathy, you’re missing the big picture. If you can read that account and feel that the authorities conducted themselves appropriately, then YOU ARE UNAMERICAN. That’s right, I said it. Anyone who condones such activities is as far from a patriot as you can get. As a matter of fact, they are signaling defeat to terrorism with ever law signed into the books.

The terrorists are not here to take control of the country. They are not overthowing our government. They do not desire to kill all of us. Rather, they wish to destroy our way of life. They want us to live in fear. They want us to surrender our freedoms in an attempt to feel safe. And that is exactly what the government is doing in the name of security. And this supposed security that so many conservatives cling to as reasoning that our lives are better and that America as a whole is better and that the rest of the world is wrong is a complete fabrication.

Stopping a photographer from taking pictures of a public place merely because his skin is brown is not security.

I’m am sick to my stomach thinking about such transgressions of civil liberties. I once respected people in authority. I never will again. With these current attitudes we are quickly deteriorating into the totalitarian regimes that we used to disparage, with their constant cries of “Your papers, please?” How can you possibly encourage these power hungray egomaniacs that are supposed “to serve and protect” instead to subjugate and humiliate? Wasn’t the ideal for our government to give power to the people, not take it away?

And so now I find myself googling for “photographer’s rights” , which quickly takes me to a lawyer’s handbook on the matter, complete with a downloadable PDF flyer. I have printed multiple copies (at least one to keep with each camera) and am now printing the ACLU Bustcard. No, they are not legal counsel. No, they will not protect me from the powers that be. Nevertheless, they will now be kept on my person at all times. They are my new “papers”.

I will now try to follow the truly important stories. Not this farce of an election (I have little hope that Bush and company will allow this one to slip out of their hands, no matter how much cheating it takes this time), rather what people like Ian Spiers and John Gilmore have to say. We already lost an important one with Dudley Hiibel, let’s try to stop the bleeding there.

Life in the Garden State

Do you realize how fantastic it is living mere blocks from a couple art house/indie movie theaters? It’s like a dream come true for me. Sunday night Lisa and I headed over to the Claridge Cinema to catch Garden StateZach Braff‘s magnum opus. Now I’m already a fan of his from his excellent work in Scrubs. He simply oozes that quirky and self-deprecating wit for which I have such an affinity. I can’t help but feel a connection with his character, and who he appears to be as a real person. So Garden State was a fairly big must-see for myself. And what can I say, Zach certainly lives up to his praises.

I don’t want to say too much on the subject, because it’s a film best experienced without the expectations that too much publicity heap on. It is an intimate journey of one man’s confused existence trying to understand, not just how he got there, but where that actually is. I’m sure that doesn’t really make sense, but that’s not the point. The point is to get you to realize that this film says something beautiful, and it does so beautifully. The Garden State isn’t a place that people choose to be – it’s where they’re stuck. But whether you want to run away from it or run with it is up to you, and ultimately it’s not location that defines who you are. We all become trapped in our lives in one way or another. That doesn’t mean we still can’t make the choices that will make us happy. Especially when all it takes sometimes is to look in the mirror and laugh at yourself.

On top of it being well-written and directed, Garden State could represent Natalie Portman‘s “re-breakout” role. This is the performance I’ve been waiting for from her since Lรฉon (aka The Professional). She is stunning, funny, touching, and oh-so realistic in her portrayal of the troubled Samantha. I can’t stress how perfectly she nailed that role and can merely close my eyes, click my heels, and hope that some sort of award floats her way.

So yeah, go see it. Now. I’m serious. ๐Ÿ™‚