Strawberry Fields Forever - Nothing is real

Friday, April 28, 2006

Cold turkey has got me on the run...

Really, I'm quite boring in many many ways. As many of you who know me personally, I never drink, never smoke, never do anything recreational with "chemicals", never even had a single cup of coffee! (and yes, I mean I don't mean it's rare - I just don't do it at all) That said, there are still some addictions and other habits of mine I haven't been happy with for a long time.
According to my parents, my first word as an infant was a baby-word for Pepsi. I've been drinking both the diet and regular varieties of sodas for pretty much my whole life. Indeed, in recent years, caffeine free diet Pepsi has basically been my nearly sole source of liquid in my "diet". To give an idea, I think it was 3 weeks ago when I estimated I took in nearly 300 ounces of diet soda over the course of the day. (between diet sodas ordered at fast food drive thrus, the cans of diet Pepsi, and bottles of diet soda at the gym and such)
2 years ago I decided to stop drinking regular soda, and I surprisingly found that easy to do (and today, regular soda tastes too syrupy to me). More recently, nearly a year ago I suddenly lost my appetite and found myself losing weight pretty rapidly. Since I was about 5 or 6 years old I had been at least somewhat overweight, moreso in recent years. However, thanks to the sudden loss of appetite which is still mostly the case, coupled with going to the gym (I still do!), I find myself not overweight for the first time in my "adult" life. I'm not exactly skinny, but according to medical definitions, I'm actually pretty much in the middle of "normal" weight, and amazingly I'm a good deal beneath the median weight for my age and height. (which really is more a comment on the median than myself)
Anyway, in many ways, both of those changes were easier than trying to give up soda. The regular soda wasn't a big deal since I didn't drink regular soda all that often. And the loss
of weight, as dramatic as it is (I've lost nearly 1/3rd of my body weight in the last year), was in large part a passive change that somewhat happened to me.
This last Saturday night, I decided to quit drinking soda cold turkey. Since then I've been training myself to drink water (scarily, I really wasn't at all used to drinking it, and I had to force myself on the 1st 2 days to take in enough liquid to make sure I wasn't dehydrating myself.
Well, it's Thursday night, and I'm holding up, and haven't had a single drop of Soda since Saturday night. The horrible headaches I had been suffering through seem to be subsiding. I'm not sure if those are some forms of withdrawal symptoms, or if they are stress related. I'm fairly sure they aren't from caffeine withdrawal since I often went days without it before (only drinking decaf soda) without any ill effects. Still, it was pretty miserable with the headaches coupled with a good deal of fatigue. Whatever the situation, it seems to be getting better.
I'm not saying I never will drink soda again - I imagine I will, but I want it to be something I drink on occasion, not on every occasion. I don't know if the stuff in diet soda is as harmful as some claim it is, but I do know that it can't be that good, and if nothing else, it's more expensive than water. (plus people look weird at me when I drink bottles of diet soda while working out... though that could be due to a plethora of other reasons)
Anyway, if this is what I go through trying to give up soda, I'm REALLY glad I decided long ago I would never experiment with drugs, smoking, booze or anything else. I have an addictive personality, and it's usually best for me not to get involved with that which brings no real positives.
What's the point of this post? Well, for those out there who are like I was: there is hope. If you keep forcing yourself to drink water, eventually you get used to it! Also, I'm getting a really inflated sense of self-confidence in so many changes in the last year that I seem to be keeping. Yes, I'm really lucky that this is the great obstacle that I am facing - I know many deal with far greater trials in their lives. My older cousins struggle with addictions to really heinous chemicals, and that's a good deal of the reason why I decided years ago to be "boring".

Friday, April 14, 2006

I need a fix 'cause I'm goin' down

Ok, no real chance of me going down. (sorry to get a few hopes up there)

However, I could use a fix. Indeed, a fix would be rather nice.

In today's world, a segment of the internet (and by extension the world) has been obsessed with the latest release from the Beatles, the 2nd volume of the American LPs. Mind you, this is the 2nd volume to a release I originally dismissed as rumor.

Well, it seems (like most Beatles releases of the last... well, ever) that the release was messed up at the factory where they used the wrong 'mixes' on 2 of the 4 discs.

In response to this, Capitol/EMI is suggesting that people who buy the flawed copies can simply exchange them back to Capitol/EMI when the fixed versions are available. (a process that will involve the consumer requesting a package to send the 2 discs to them with, the consumer receiving the package, then sending the 2 discs, then waiting for Capitol/EMI to mail them back the corrected discs)

This release is mostly intended towards fanatics and old-school Beatles fans who remember listening to the Beatles' albums on the generally inferior American incarnations. However, given how wretched the standard Beatles cds sound, and the fact that the cds do not (for the most part) offer both the mono and stereo mixes of the songs, there is some worth to this new set (like Volume 1). That worth is seriously diminished when the mono mixes are not in fact anything more than the stereo mix added together to make a mono mix though.

The Beatles' stereo mixes are worthwhile because (generally) they are cleaner, and show more detail to the recording. The mono mixes are worthwhile because for the most part, they actually had the Beatles themselves involved in the mix decisions, and were the mixes the most time was spent on. (up through "The Beatles" double LP)

This would be academic, but there are actually pretty striking differences between the mono and stereo mixes in many cases. "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" is a lot trippier in the mono mix. "Help!" has a different lead vocal. "Revolution" has a lot more muscle to the sound with the guitars mixed up to the hilt. You get the point.

Now, basically, I own everything I can get my grubby little hands on with the word Beatles on it. However, because of this, I am holding off buying this set. I'd actually like to get it. The American release of "Rubber Soul" is actually really nice. They substituted some of the harder songs on that record with left-overs from "Help!" and dropped other harder songs leaving a very acoustic/folk rock affair that's a really nice listen.

Something tells me that the same can be found on the internets mastered from vinyl that actually sounds a good deal better than the new cds, and actually has the proper mono mix of this record...

Until the fix is in, and the only version of the set available has the proper mixes for the discs, I think I may ponder the existence of these fabled vinyl transfers...

Monday, April 10, 2006

... If you took all the girls I knew when I was single, and brought them all together for one night...

In internet terms, I'm pretty old.

There are those who have been dealing with the good 'ol TCP protocols longer than I, but I do remember when the "web" was considered a fringe segment of the net, not for serious work. (and now my job involves maintaining/upgrading/fixing a web service... go figure?)

When I first got access to "the internet" (sometime between '93 and '94 I think) I connected via a terminal emulation session onto a Vax machine where I could access text-mode lynx for web browsing, or more usefully I could use gopher. On one hand that means I'm pretty comfortable around the lower-level workings of the 'net, and more familiar with the older standards (usenet, irc, more basic http/html, telnet, etc), but the newer protocols/applications/cultures throw me.

I resisted instant messengers for a while, knowing they would take up too much time (and indeed they do). More recently I attempted to avoid the social networking sites because they're a little too "modern" for an old-timer like myself. However, a few months ago (or was it a year ago?) I succumed finally and put out a digital shingle. (how's that for mixed metaphors?)

Generally I have been a bit freaked out with the entire culture associated with it... I still remember how things worked in the pre-internet computer bulliten board days (ok, they didn't REALLY predate the internet, but for me, they did). Back then it was largely collections of socially maladjusted ultra-geeky young males. (and yes, I was the leader of the geeks!) So when I get on the newer social networking sites, I find them to be... well, social. I was innundated with requests from total strangers to be added as friend. (apparently some bizarre computer algorithm decided I was a "cool new person" for a day or so and felt compelled to tell a lot of people) I'm adjusting better a bit, and I stay on mostly because I have younger cousins involved on such sites, and I want to keep an eye on them every once in a while.

Still, the experiences have afforded me some nice reunions with actual friends that I haven't seen in ages (as does instant messenger protocols for that matter), and today I accidentally found out what happened to my first crush. After all the melodrama, angst, sound and fury (all of which signified nothing), I can't say how good it feels to find out she's married, seems happy, and then realize that I'm really happy for her. So right now, despite all of the headaches, culture shocks, and other oddities I have experienced on such sites, I'll consider them to be a positive. (even if the knowledge that she's married makes me feel old!)

Yes, I really should have had at LEAST this level of emotional maturity... say 13 years ago... but right now I'll take solace in reaching it at all. (yay for lowered expectations!)

Anyway, it's not like learning what actually happened could "match my sweet imagination. And everything looks worse in black and white"

(BTW: I fixed a typo or two I noticed in earlier posts... the creator of the West Wing was Aaron Sorkin, and the lyric to "She Came In Through the Bathroom Window" on Abbey Road is "And so I quit the police department, and got myself a steady job"... the proper job line was from an outtake from the Get Back sessions if memory serves)