Tag Archives: anecdote

Cheat To Win

Matt Fernandez (AIM) [7:29 PM]
Matt Fernandez (AIM) [7:29 PM] D=
Dan Dickinson (AIM) [7:29 PM] I did the same thing in 1998 against a girl I was playing Scrabble against online, using a program called X-Words Deluxe.
Dan Dickinson (AIM) [7:29 PM] I had bet the girl over the game; whoever lost would have to write the other an 8 page letter.
Matt Fernandez (AIM) [7:30 PM] I did not know this existed
Matt Fernandez (AIM) [7:30 PM] ahahaha
Dan Dickinson (AIM) [7:30 PM] I won, obviously.
Dan Dickinson (AIM) [7:30 PM] She wrote me the letter.
Matt Fernandez (AIM) [7:30 PM] That is so amazing
Dan Dickinson (AIM) [7:30 PM] A year later, I would admit to cheating.
Matt Fernandez (AIM) [7:30 PM] I am gonna hustle people at scrabble now
Dan Dickinson (AIM) [7:30 PM] She would hit me repeatedly.
Dan Dickinson (AIM) [7:30 PM] Three years later, we got married.
Matt Fernandez (AIM) [7:30 PM] =O
Matt Fernandez (AIM) [7:30 PM] That’s so romantic
Dan Dickinson (AIM) [7:30 PM] Shortly after that, I started working full time for the company that made X-Words Deluxe.
Dan Dickinson (AIM) [7:30 PM] I would tell my bosses this story.
Dan Dickinson (AIM) [7:30 PM] They would laugh.
Dan Dickinson (AIM) [7:31 PM] And that concludes Dan Anecdote Hour.

Biomusicology

I found myself this morning in a scenario I couldn’t have typically pictured myself in, but faced it anyhow:

I was storming – annoyed, livid, call it what you will – towards the office. Nearly three full weeks into the semester, I’ve admittedly grown more than a bit frustrated with small technical issues that keep piling up – no fault of any one party, but constantly there and things haven’t really smoothed out yet. Given the number that I was facing this morning, I was feeling myself start to slip from my traditionally calm mood.

This was compounded this morning by an “ongoing police investigation” that had screwed up service on roughly five subway lines, including mine. This means my usual office walk (four blocks crosstown, one block up) was considerably longer (four blocks crosstown, nine blocks up).

This was also compounded by the fact that [I was wearing a suit](http://www.flickr.com/photos/remydwd/45165255/in/photostream/). Sure, it was for a good reason, but it’s also still damn hot in NYC, and having to walk that far in a constricting suit is far from pleasant.

In total, these three disjoint items had formed a hell of downer. But as always, I found myself pulling myself back together through music. I drowned myself in a sea of unlike sounds: Kanye West transitioned into Clap Your Hands Say Yeah over to Japanese teenagers shouting hip hop onto Bloodhound Gang.

Sometimes, I worry about how much power music holds over me. I am running out of space on a 40 GB iPod, which I didn’t think was possible all those years ago when I started collecting. I fixate on songs, associating them with people, places, times in my life, or moods. I realize I’m not alone in this, that it’s a shared behavior the whole world around; that we all make these connections between the things we do and the things surrounding us when we do them, or the things that remind us of them.

Anyhow – [here’s my song for right now](http://www.tedleo.com/audio/Biomusicology.mp3). Lots of things I needed to hear said.

> Had we never come across the vastness of pavement,
The barrenness of waves and the grayness of the sea;
Never lost, or ne’er been misguided,
We’d have ne’er reached seas so shining —

> Or come from out of a hansom in Camden to a bar in the basement,
While all the while it rained;
Or come around to the friendliest of faces,
Handsomest in ugly places —

> Or come from out of the tunnels we dig in
To see that tunneling’s not living
And working doesn’t work;
Or come to find that loving is labor,
Labor’s life and life’s forever —

> Or come to see that keeping’s not giving,
You get what you’ve given,
You get what you deserve;
And in the midst of all of the action,
Maybe only there found satisfaction…

> Chasing sea-foam dreams around another dirty old town;
Parallel run streams toward the gray ocean from the green ground;
“Oed’ und leer, das meer,” but look beneath the glassy surface —
All the songs you hear: down there they have a purpose.

> All in all, we cannot stop singing,
We cannot start sinking —
We swim until it ends.
They may kill, and we may be parted
But we will ne’er be broken-hearted.

The Cat Is Stuck In Popcorn

Back in February, I detailed one of my few recurring health problems – bloody noses – shortly after I had it fixed. I wrote at the time that I had only two slightly bizarre health problems, and was otherwise normal.

I’ve been reminded of a third after events of last night; a health problem that I am not consciously aware of until it’s too late.

You see, my friends, apparently I talk in my sleep, in a somewhat hilarious manner.

My sister told me once long ago that one time when she was coming upstairs, she heard me repeating “TACO….TACO!!!!” in my sleep. I shrugged – and started sleeping with the door closed.

This isn’t a frequent thing – I’m not babbling every night, as far as I know. Then again, maybe I am and I just don’t wake up Katie half the time. After getting married, I do have someone who has to put up with me next to her each night.

Katie has occasionally mentioned that I’ll wake her up with some babbling, and annoyingly I seem to know how to shake her arm to wake her up while I’m asleep; one time while we lived in Ithaca, I woke her feverishly claiming that “the Chinese were coming”. This becomes problematic because when she starts shouting “WHAT?!” at me, I wake up – and my brain is fully in the context of yes, Kate, the Chinese are coming, yet I have no idea why or what it means or anything. So I sit there, wide awake, trying to explain what exactly I mean, only to inevitably get exasperated and tell her to just forget it.

Last night, I apparently shook Katie awake and uttered the words that will now haunt me forever:

THE CAT IS STUCK IN POPCORN.

Artist’s rendition of my wacked-out brain.

Katie’s retelling of this to me while I was on the phone with her this morning:

You shook me awake really hard, and your eyes were wide open, and you looked so scared, and just kept telling me, “THE CAT IS STUCK IN POPCORN.” I looked at the cat, and he was looking at me as if to say, “I don’t know what the HELL he’s talking about.”

So, needless to say – if you want hilarity, just hang out with me when I’m asleep. I am apparently a freaky laugh riot.

Leaky

When I was a young boy
I wanted to sail around the world
That’s the life for me, living on the sea
Spirit of a sailor, circumnavigates the globe
The lust of a pioneer, will acknowledge
no frontier

Back when I lived in Trumansburg, between my tender years of 9 (early 1990) and 21 (mid-2002), I lived in an old house on some farm land. The house was surprisingly modern compared to the barn structures that occupied some of the remaining 19 acres of land, but it had it’s, shall we say, quirks.

One of these quirks was that directly above the kitchen was one of the two attics we had. Squarely placed above the kitchen in said attic was a window that didn’t particularly like to stay closed. The winter in the Finger Lakes region is, of course, a merciless thing, and so we’d often get pounded with snow from November through April. Systematically, snow would get into the attic, sit there in a perfectly content state until the weather warmed up, and then using the powers of thermodynamics, melt. The melted water would then realize the party was downstairs, flow through the now well-worn wooden floor of the attic, and inevitable start dripping rapidly out of the light fixtures in the kitchen.

This happening once is shocking; twice is creepy; but enough times to lose count over twelve years makes it sadly mundane.

I remember you by, thunderclap in the sky
Lightning flash, tempers flare,
`round the horn if you dare
I just spent six months in a leaky boat
Lucky just to keep afloat

While in college, I found myself gathering my monetary might with nine friends to collectively rent a house senior year. The house at 133 North Quarry was pretty nice, all things considered – ten bedrooms, two kitchen plus an extra fridge, three bath. But like any house, especially in a college town, it had some “quirks”, to put it nicely.

The most notable one, at least as a one-time thing, was that when it started raining one night, we discovered a leak in the roof of the house. It was only a small leak, and ran down the wall of the person who’s bedroom it opened into on the third floor. What we weren’t expecting was that it then managed to carry on through the floor and down the bedroom wall of the person directly below them. What we weren’t expecting further still was this to occur again, leaving a trail of water going from the third floor all the way down to the first.

Aotearoa, rugged individual
glisten like a pearl
At the bottom of the world
The tyranny of distance
didn’t stop the cavalier
So why should it stop me
I’ll conquer and stay free

By this point, I think the story is kind of obvious in path, but let’s continue regardless.

Last night, around 11 PM, I’m sitting at my desk and notice a slightly repeated tapping sound coming from the bathroom. Slow, maybe once every ten seconds. I chalked it up to the heaters, which were just turned back on to accommodate the unusually cold April weather.

But in what was almost no surprise at all, when I went into the bathroom half an hour later when the click again bothered me (GET IT?!), I found a few drip points in the ceiling. Most of them were heading into the trash can, which was a hugely lucky break, but there was the larger issues. What was the cause? How can I fix it in the short term? Had someone moved my chair?

We still had some caulk kicking around the apartment, so I tried my hand with that. I have learned a number of valuable lessons from this:

  • Trying to caulk over something that’s already leaking is mostly futile.
  • Trying to caulk at the right angle of a wall while it’s leaking is even more futile.
  • Caulking a leaking right angle while wearing dark blue dress pants is a fantastic way to ruin said pants.
  • Any sort of futile experience with caulk will remove the portion of your sense of humor that finds it amusing that “caulk” sounds remarkably like “cock”.

I went to bed around midnight, mostly exhausted but also crossing my fingers that the jury rigged buckets, towels, and badly applied caulk would hold long enough to get to the morning when I could alert the landlords as to the problem.

Ah c’mon all you lads
lets forget and forgive
There’s a world to explore
tales to tell back on shore
I just spent six months in a leaky boat
Six months in a leaky boat

Luckily enough, it did hold for the most part. Sadly, new leak points developed elsewhere – not strong enough of a leak to flood anything, but enough to give the room that lovely faint smell of leaking water.

After failing to get in touch with the daughter of the landlords – who speaks perfect English and is usually our go-to on issues with the apartment – I went to the landlords directly and hit our standard language gap. English is limited to “problem”, “sorry”, “they come”, and “okay” and similar one word directives; most of the Spanish is too quick for me to run a base-level comprehension on; the common ground is gesturing and confused looks. Eventually I lead them to the apartment and showed them the problem, but they in fact already sort of knew; the leak appears to be on the second floor of the house, which means it would’ve dripped through them as well.
In the time it’s taken me to bat out this post, I’ve heard the repeated banging on pipes, and my checking every 15 minutes has showed at this point, the leaking appears to have stopped. I would imagine I’ll have to leave the pots out for the rest of the day, just in case. Katie’s going to come home early to check it all so I don’t have to burn all my personal hours today.

The real problem now is that every little crack and creak I hear, my gaze immediately shifts as I hunt feverishly to make sure there’s no new leak, especially not in any of the main rooms. Keep your fingers crossed for Buttons that he can keep this place together while I’m at work.

Ship-wrecked love can be cruel
Don’t be fooled by her kind
There’s a wind in my sails
Will protect and prevail
I just spent six months in a leaky boat
Nothing to it leaky boat.

P.S. Sixx Mixx 84 – Lowering The Barriers Of Individuality And Personality To Liberate You From The Burden Of Consciousness Edition is out.

All-Mix

One of the most frequent questions I get relating to my blog comes in one of the following forms:

– What’s “vj army”?
– What’s “vuh-jarmy?”
– Where did you come up with “vjarmy”?
– What’s “vjarmy” mean?
– Is your site about an army of [Viewtiful Joe](http://www.capcom.com/vj/)?

I figure it’s about time to reveal the “whole story” of the domain.

First things first: If you haven’t heard by now, I play a little game called Beatmania IIDX (that’s “two dee-echs”). IIDX is a “dj simulation game”, with some connections to DDR (both games are made by Konami). I’ll save the verbose descriptions of the game for another time, but one of the key reasons I play is the tremendously nice music. All the songs are around two minutes each, and the genres tend electronic (trance, techno, two-step) but also run eclectic (piano ballad, french bossa) and occasionally imaginary (cuddlecore, forktronica, techno chop). All the music also has an accompanying music video.

Having listened to a number of the soundtracks long before I started playing the game, I found songs I found pleasing and started listening to them like crazy. One of these songs was, of course, “VJ Army” by good-cool. The song was interesting to me because it crammed four genres (and tempos) into one song: drum’n’bass, techno, trance, and two-step. The genre for VJ Army is listed in-game as “ALL MIX”, due to the inability to confine it to one of the four genres. Even the video had four distinct portions, each done by a different resident VJ that works at Konami.

(I should note, a “VJ” is a video jockey – someone who does to video what a DJ does to music.)

If you’re wondering what VJ Army sounds like, you can listen to the mp3 from the Beatmania IIDX 6th Style Original Soundtrack.

When I was making the move away from my csoft account back in 2003, I had to start thinking about domain names and where I wanted my blog to be permenantly lodged. The domain name I had named my site after for a few years – remy.net – was taken in 1998 as a personalized page for a baby girl. So I was a little stuck for ideas, and the IIDX bug had me looking at song titles, wondering what would be apt.

It didn’t take long for the connotation to hit me like a ton of bricks with VJ Army and my site. Like the song, I have a hard time being confined to one genre or topic. Believe me, I’ve tried – it’s just too hard not to randomly jump from topic to topic to topic.

So that’s the story – VJ Army is an ALL MIX of music styles I enjoy, and my blog is an ALL MIX of my life. (cue fanfare)

As for the “Primary Vivid Weblog” thing – also a point of inquiry – it’s also a IIDX holdover. The game, like most Japanese games that tap into western culture, has a fair amount of Engrish. One of the games had the subtitle “The Primary Vivid IIDX”, and something about the phrase stuck.

And regarding the [Beatmania IIDX score site I run](http://vjarmy.com/iidx/) having the same name as the domain – that’s just a lucky coincidence that the name of the domain fit in so well with the ideals of the score site.

Any more questions?

The 2005 Valentine’s Anecdote

First, a little backstory, not really important but funny regardless:

Back in December, Katie’s birthday fell on a Saturday for once. Traditionally, I’ve ordered flowers for the day of her birthday, which normally falls within the context of the work week. But this year, it didn’t, and I got a joking call from Katie at about 10 AM: “What, no flowers?”

This made me feel tremendously bad, despite planning to pick them up on her birthday proper. A few calls later, we had hashed out some sort of weird understanding, where if I WERE to get flowers, there was a particular place near my office she wanted them from. A freak building evacuation provided a good opportunity to get over there, at which point I put in an order for a dozen roses and some orchids. When the guy taking my order said “it’ll be this big” and waved his hand above his head, I didn’t really pay much attention to this fact. But lo and behold, the arrangement was ridiculously huge, to the point where Katie almost hurt her back bringing it back to her desk. Additionally, I’ve been told it was so aromatic that a number of her coworkers wanted to inflict pain on me once their allergies stopped.

So, as for Valentine’s Day:

Knowing this florist has their shit together, I expected full well to be able to go into the store and pick up something, if not be able to get delivery. Happily, when I came in the door at 9 AM and asked if they could take one more delivery, the response was very much in the affirmative. We went to work putting together a nice arrangement (pink roses, purple fill), and everything was going fine…until one of the staff looked at my card and went “Wall Street? Uhhh…I think you might’ve missed the delivery van for that one.”

Everything came to a standstill, in a weird sort of time-freeze moment. I took a second to ponder how, at 9 AM, I’ve missed the delivery window for the entire downtown area, but I let that thought pass. I raised my brow and said, “If there’s no way you guys can deliver it, could I come back at lunch and pick it up so I can run it down there myself?”
Time resumed, they said sure, I paid the charge, and went off to the office. I made a point of not calling Katie, knowing that she was expecting flowers but not with any idea as to when. I knew I could take all of my lunch hour to get down to Wall Street and back, since I wasn’t eating today – had to save room for what would be a ridiculously large dinner.

At lunch, I took a package that had arrived with Katie’s V-day gift (the Katie fanclub will be amused to hear it was another handbag she had picked out), and trekked out of the building into a very cold rain, without an umbrella. I made my way to the florist and picked up my order. Annoyingly, it was still in a vase from the original assumption it was going to be a delivery – this made it very unweildy to carry both the package and the vase, but I trekked on west trying desperately to find a cab. I lucked out after a block and a half and we shot down towards Wall Street.

When I made it into Katie’s building, the guard on duty was more than willing to call up and say she had “a delivery in the lobby”. So this is what transpires:

I see the elevator open, and Katie looks very happy and is walking towards where I’m standing. I recall she looked at me at least a few times.

I say, “Hi!”

She responds, “Hi.”

I think, “That’s really weird, was she expecting me?”

When she gets about three feet away, she dead stops, eyes still focused on the flowers and the package.

She blinks.

She turns and looks at me for half a second.

She puts her head down on the reception desk and starts laughing – she had completely missed the fact that her husband was standing there with the flowers.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone.

Five Minutes And Ten Dollars Fix Fourteen Years Of Hell

I’m going to warn you now – this story is personal and a little gross in parts. But it’s been a part of my life for long enough, I figured it was worth sharing.

While I’ve been alive, I’ve been pretty blessed – no broken bones. No major illnesses. No organs removed. No cavities, last time I checked. I have consistently had a clean bill of health; even my blood pressure is on the low side.

But I have had two very small, very strange problems. One is that a couple times a year, my hands would get very peel-y, and it’s kind of gross. We used to joke in high school that this was caused by typing too fast. I’m happy to say this has gone away in recent years – this story is not about that problem.

The other problem was that from the age of about 10, I was very susceptible to nosebleeds. I think I was getting them about once a month, if not more.

Not from like getting hit in the nose or anything, but just from random other stuff – sneezing. Blowing my nose. Standing. Walking. Anything.

As the legendary story goes, when I was 13, I had two nosebleeds that were particularly bad – so quick that they filled my sinus cavity and the blood then began to very slowly come out of my tear ducts, turning my vision red. That really freaked the crap out of the school nurse – but it was a freak occasion and hasn’t happened since.

In any case, when I was 19, and a sophomore in college, I had one start one day that didn’t stop. It was a real slow bleed, but all the tricks and tactics I had learned over the years for handling them just would not stop it, even when I hit what my body knew was a stopping point.

I went to my doctor, and he gave me two options: go to an ENT specialist the next day, or go to the ER now. I opted for the ER. You get tired of this shit after a while.

Got to the ER, the doctor explained they were going to cauterize my nose. Not nearly as thrilling as it sounds, it’s essentially a Q-tip being stuck up your nose and the substance on the end being rubbed on the affected area, toughening up the tissue. There’s a real quick burning sensation, but other than that it’s painless.

Now, that day I had the left nostril cauterized, which my memory recalls as being the majority problem nostril. From that point on, for about 3 years, I didn’t have another nosebleed. Not a one.

But then, I started to get them out of my right nostril, on rare occasion – on days with sharp weather changes. Then eventually they started on days with sharp humidity changes. Last week, I had *two* in the same week. One was while I was at lunch with Katie when it was really warm; the other was at work because I was going under my desk, then above, then below repeatedly and I guess the elevation change just screwed things up.

Realizing full well that I work in a hospital (or at least, a college connected to a hospital) and that I have medical insurance, I immediately found an ENT specialist and made an appointment for Wednesday this week. The hope was that they’d be able to cauterize the thing, although my impression was I had to be bleeding for it to happen.

On my way up to the doctor’s, I realized this was my first real doctor’s visit of any kind in about 5 years – more or less, since the last nosebleed. I get there, I fill out my paperwork, I wait patiently even though they told me the doctor I was seeing (Dr. Carew, who is primarily a head and neck surgeon, I found out) was in surgery and would be running late, and then got sat in an examination room and asked a few questions.

So eventually the doctor comes in, and the conversation goes like this

Minute 1: Explain what the problems are
Minute 2: He examines my nose and ears
Minute 3: He examines deep in my nose to make sure there’s no major problems
Minute 4: He cauterizes my right nostril
Minute 5: He gives me some general instructions about what’s going to happen and not to itch my nose too much for 24 hours

And that’s it – suddenly I am making my co-payment and out the door, heading back to my desk.

It’s really sad that a lifetime of irritation, strange looks, and ruined shirts can be fixed in 5 minutes for $10. Wish I had known that sooner, though.

On The Existence Of Bagels

Since moving to NYC, one of the minor changes I’ve gone through is the change in bagel preference. Living in Ithaca, one gets very used to the Upstate-style bagel; thick, heavy, doughy, fairly chewy. New York City bagels, of course, are thinner, wider, lighter, and a little less doughy. Everyone sells bagels, and they are cheap and filling.

When we place a Fresh Direct order for groceries, we always tend to order a six-pack of bagels and some cream cheese, for the occasional time I want to eat breakfast. The ones that are delivered meet all of the above criteria for a NYC bagel, and also keep very well in the freezer. Strangely, though, it is impossible for me to prepare myself one without having a minor aneurism.

Why this intense pain in the head? On the packaging, the slogan and product name meld together one of the most mind-boggling sentences in human history since “If it weren’t for my horse, I never would have spent that extra year on college.”

The pitch reads:

BAGELS AREN’T BAGELS UNLESS THEY’RE JUST BAGELS.

Just Bagels, of course, is the name of the product. Still, even knowing this, I am forced to read this as: Instances of object X aren’t instance of object X unless they’re simply instances of object X.

Is this a blow against fancy things, maybe? Are they implying that were a bagel all spruced up with fancy seeds and flavorings, that it would stop being a bagel and turn into some other sort of bread foodstuff, such as a bialy? But they sell six varieties, including Just Bagels Everything. Surely that’s not just a bagel, as the combination of poppy and sesame and onion and garlic disqualifies one from saying it’s just a bagel.

Perhaps they’re speaking to the moral sense of the bagels – a sort of superhero bagel, upholding the standards and beliefs of our fair city. I would find this hard to believe, as they do not seem to have any superpowers to resist my desire to eat them, nor do I gain the ability to fly by eating them.

(At this point in the entry, I’m looking at the dictionary definitions for just in hopes of deciphering further. I would appreciate it if someone called for professional help.)

How about “by a narrow margin, barely”? That doesn’t speak well to the product, though, if it only squeaks by the qualification charts for what constitutes a bagel. Ignoring the disqualification of bagels conforming better to the specification, this throws us into even more mental anguish as we are judging the conformance of a bagel on whether or not it conforms to the state of the bagel.

One final possibility is that they are using “just” as a variant on joust. Perhaps these bagels ride into battle and try to knock each other over when…

Needless to say, this is why I often just go out to eat.