22 June 2007

what i do in my spare time

every now and then i check out thinkgeek.com to see what fun, shiny things i would buy if i actually sold stuff on ebay. i will get a friggin shirt from there eventually, i swear. they sell a lot of stuff from penny arcade and they used to have a nifty blanket from megatokyo. amongst their wonderful geekery is das keyboard. i coveted that thing from the moment i saw it. what geek wouldn't want to display her prodigious typing skillz after she's used a computer day in day out for the past 15 years? i would have snapped one up but for the price: 80 skins. yeah, a blank black keyboard is cool and all, but to pay $80 for it? hell, i thought, i could make a keyboard like that.

...make a blank keyboard, you say?

like anyone wishing to take on a project, i turned to the internet. i quickly found this little tutorial on a site called sane asylum from a guy who had experienced the same indignance when faced with das keyboard's hefty price. being the pack rat that i am, i had an extra keyboard laying around that worked okay, except the spacebar is kinda jacked and leans to one side. perfect for experimentation.

i followed the steps as well as i could. i started out in summer of '05, i believe, then lost the verve and put it away for a while. lately i've been bit by the project bug again, so i dug the old beast out again and finished what little i had left to do tonight. behold, the final creation.

having done the entire tutorial, i'd like to review/simplify/decant it here:

1. clean. pry up all the keys with a flathead screwdriver (be careful with the big ones, there's probably something extra keeping them tethered) and clean it all out underneath, preferably with compressed air. wash the keys if you have to, i know i did. use gloves for all your tasks.
2. sand. 150 grit sandpaper works great. cut it up into strips and wrap it around a cylindrical object. i found a spray paint can worked best for me. caveat: you can't do this for any keys that have bumps, like F, J and 5 on the number pad. i accidentally sanded down my F key before i realized what i was doing. now i feel kind of lopsided. you also can't do this for big keys, like the space bar and backspace. you just have to sand evenly by hand and make sure to keep a smoothly curved surface. another thing: make sure to sand in whatever direction you want the end product to be in. i sanded my regular keys vertically and my space bar/ctrl/alt/etc keys horizontally. it was easier and it looks better.
3. smooth. here's where i differ from sane asylum, but only by circumstance. he advises 600 grit sandpaper to smooth out the roughness created by the heavy-duty second step, but even at the hardware store, the highest i could find was 320 grit. no matter, it worked fine.
4. shine. ultra fine steel wool put a nice gloss on the keys (that unfortunately is hard to show in pictures). i forwent the pliers and just held the keys in my hand, working them against the wool. easier to keep a straight line that way. the more shine, the more satiny and heavenly the keys feel as you type.

i'm really, really digging my new, fully-funtional toy. the keys feel extra nice in a way i've never noticed in a keyboard. i'm finding i still look to know what key i'm pressing, like in a cut/paste situation, but it's as if i instantly envision it in my mind anyway. my only regret is that i didn't practice on my lone black kb first, cuz that would have looked ultra sweet. but this way, i can mod it with paint or glaze and not have to worry about priming it. now i have the confidence to experiment with other keyboards for some antiquated steampunk effects... muahahah.

19 June 2007

the creepy crawlies are here!

it's about damn time! i'm finally seeing cicadas, almost a month into the invasion of brood xiii. however, the weird thing is, i'm seeing them downtown.

see, the creepy red-eyed buggers (unless they've got blue eyes.. huh, reminds me of a new order song) are out in droves, but only in certain parts of the city and suburbs. beverly in the south? check. downers grove? check. park ridge? my coworker lives there and man, do they gross her out. but around my neighborhood, i've seen nothing. neither have a lot of city-dwellers.

the theory is that brood xiii cicadas kind of got displaced during their 17-year hibernation due to 1. lack of a thorough root system (they burrow into the roots of trees), and 2. increased construction and ground turnover. easily believable, with the amount of development i see in some places. so in my mind, it would make sense if the severity of the swarm was ringed out in the burbs where there's more stable greenery, then lessening and lessening as you get closer to the epicenter of chicago, the loop.

like i said, it's all theory.. which was blown out of the water yesterday when i saw a live cicada in my office building lobby, right outside the elevators. i actually nudged it with my shoe, not knowing what it was and thinking it was dead. since i hadn't seen one, i didn't know it was a cicada at the time. then today after work, i saw another live one crawling near an underground parking ramp. i went to take a pic, but i forgot my non-digital macro sucks, so it flew away before i got a chance. i saw two more on my way to the train station, their bodies mangled by traffic.

it's weird, but pretty amazing at the same time. i lived out in the burbs during the last cicada freakout, but i don't remember a thing about it. it either wasn't that great or i was living in the wrong burb. but now, i can say yeah, i saw cicadas. i was part of the process. why, though, am i seeing them in what should be a cicada ghost town?

17 June 2007


grrrrrrrrrrrrrr. so i had nothing going on this weekend, aside from some mucking around with my computer/tv setup. i haven't gone to the club for a while, so i thought, hey, why don't i go to the club? my legs hurt friday, so i put it off till saturday. and put it off.. and put it off.. until i was wide awake at midnight (damn iced raspberry mocha) and bored as shit. i figured, what the hell? i'd been jonesing for it for a few days, and they start the really good music after midnight as it is.

i got all dolled up and headed down to neo. little did i know i stumbled into an aftershow party for some band i've never heard of. seats were chained off. music was unfamiliar and worse, sub-par. worst of all, the dance floor was swarming, absolutely packed, with douchebags. it was as if they joined together to form one huge undulating douchebag. except they didn't undulate that much. i can't fucking stand when people get on the dance floor and don't dance. utterly foreign concept here. i don't care if you're drunk. if you're drunk you should be dancing more. and put that fucking sidekick away or i'm ramming it up your nose job.

goddamn. i go to neo to get AWAY from these fucking people. i could see goths around the fringes, watching instead of dancing. i wanted to walk up to someone and say 'wtf?' i left after about 25 minutes. was gonna walk home, but i could see the endless parade of soused yahoos shouting at me from beer gardens and threw in the towel. oh, and my cabbie was nice and creepy: after i got in, he sang 'pretty woman' in a very off-kilter voice. thank god he shut up after that.

$15 down the drain. left in my apt at 2 am to seethe and bitch. hey, craigslist is 24 hours, isn't it...

16 June 2007

right up there with the 'bag-o-glass'

in the spirit of chicagoist, i feel the need to recycle all the wonderful things i've seen on the internets lately. here's a blog post from a former associate editor of the aforementioned local website. i don't plan on having kids - i'd rather stick my head inside a hive of killer bees - but it makes me happy to see people like matt reproduce. we desperately need a new generation of well-read smartasses.

thomas the tank engine recall

but camo is SO out this year!

ran across this while perusing the online version of the fortean times:

A Berkeley watchdog organization that tracks military spending said it uncovered a strange U.S. military proposal to create a hormone bomb that could purportedly turn enemy soldiers into homosexuals and make them more interested in sex than fighting.

Pentagon officials on Friday confirmed to CBS 5 that military leaders had considered, and then subsquently rejected, building the so-called "Gay Bomb."

[...] "The notion was that a chemical that would probably be pleasant in the human body in low quantities could be identified, and by virtue of either breathing or having their skin exposed to this chemical, the notion was that soliders would become gay," explained Hammond.


we have got some SERIOUS FUCKING PROBLEMS with this stupid asshole country.

15 June 2007

the search continues

crushing on a guy. pretty badly, in fact. quiet, works hard, some would say boring. i would say he's got great eyes, a sharp tongue and a wonderful scent (a mixture of fresh laundry and burberry). single, too, an amazing rarity.

he's also moving to new york in two weeks and won't be back for a long, long time.

back to the drawing board...

04 June 2007

a white wedding

so my sisty ugler got married yesterday. if anyone out there knows my sister, you know she's the goofiest, least fussiest, bullshit-less woman out there. she married scott, a man totally her equal. their wedding totally reflected their personalities. yeah, there was some behind-the-scenes drama and whatnot (her blog has some of those details), and i had to deal with being in the same state as my estranged father and his wife, but even that wasn't as bad as i feared it would be.

friday kim and i were going to pamper ourselves at a salon. she was due for a massage and mani, i was going for a mani and pedi. i took friday afternoon off, aiming to leave beteween 1 and 1:30 to get to a 2:10 vet appointment, then jetting to the 3:30 spa jobber. work problems meant i couldn't leave till 1:30 when i wanted to leave at 1:15, making me about 20 minutes late to the vet. even though i called ahead, i spent 45 minutes in the vet's waiting room, with the actual appointment taking about 20 minutes. long story short, i got to the salon at 4:20, forcefully missing the pedi entirely. yeah, the mani was the real reason i went, but i was sooo looking forward for high-paid slaves to work my callused feet to a buttery pulp. the topper? they made me pay for the pedi i missed. yay. (i went and got a much cheaper one the next day.)

saturday i got a ride from annette, a fellow bridesmaid, up to illinois beach resort in zion, where the wedding was taking place. really nice spot, steps away from a windswept beach. we went thru the rehearsal (think herding cats) then did the chancery for dinner (think tomato lemon cream angel hair pasta with italian sausage). mm. scott and a bunch of his friends from maine hung out till the wee hours with booze, but i left them to their own devices pretty early.

sunday we got all fussed up with makeup and hair. after all that noise was done, we were greeted with a beautiful june morning. we flew through the ceremony (clocked at an amazing nine minutes), but not so fast i didn't get a chance to hear the waves breaking behind us and an opportunity to put my waterproof mascara to the test. then, suddenly, a married couple was presented to us, traipsing down the aisle to sonic youth's version of the simpsons theme. it was glorious.

asides: i've been dieting hardcore to fit into this awesome dress i bought for $10 at a garage sale that just happened to be the same color as the other bridesmaid dresses. with the right application of shapewear, i managed to pull it off...all except for sitting down. ugh. so the reception was a bit difficult. i still managed to pack away a decent amount of french toast and sausage. brunch food ftw. did i also mention aunt flo decided to drop by that day too? oh well. also, i'm extra super thankful to patrick for coming as my date even though he'd worked a double shift at bubba gump shrimp co. to make up for time off sunday. i didn't get too many pictures since i was in the bridal party, but i got one of each bridesmaid, as well as kim, mom and plenty of my bouquet.

i ended up taking today off, not because i'm hung over (although patrick did scare me up a mighty nice piƱa colada), but because my damn throat hurt like a bastard from allergies and talking so much. i must now rest, and by rest i mean play mortal kombat. kim and scott go to disneyworld (yes, disneyworld) tomorrow for their honeymoon. i desperately want them to come back with a picture of scott splitting a 40 with mickey.