Ahead of its Time

Trent Reznor - Pretty Hate Machine

When talking about albums that are ahead of its time, many people think of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, The Flaming Lip’s Soft Bulletin, U2’s The Joshua Tree, Radiohead’s OK Computer, Massive Attack’s Blue Lines, or David Bowie’s Low. However, one of my favorite that has withstood the test of time and still to this day sounds ahead of its time is Nine Inch Nails’s Pretty Hate Machine.

The day I first heard it was also the day I played my first first-person shooter. I played Doom on the Sega CD (those were the days) while listening to this amazing album. It heralded an era of consistently excellent releases from Trent Reznor over the years, all the way up to the latest album, Year Zero.

With PHM, I love every single song a lot, so ordering them is like a parent having to choose a favorite child. You love each one in a unique way, but you can’t really rank them. However, That’s What I Get and Down In It seem to get a lot more listens from me.

Here’s the song, That’s What I Get:

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The Album That Owns You

Every once in a while, an album comes along that completely engulfs you and prevents you from enjoying other albums. You know, you hit the repeat all button on your MP3 player of choice and listen to an album over and over and over again. When you try to deviate, it sucks you right back in, holding you tight.

The album that is doing that to me right now is Muse’s Black Holes and Revelations. I thought I was done with the album, I’ve moved on into 2007’s lineup of great albums. But then someone mentions he saw them live and suddenly everyone is talking about how great the album is. Now here I am, listening to the album, again.

There’s always the story of how a band or individual that sold their soul to the devil to play great music. I think Muse went one step above that and sold their soul to God to play such awesome music. Muse’s music owns my face.

Here’s Starlight from the album, it’ll melt your face, too.

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The Gadget Nerd in Me

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3

After having served me well for 5 years (bought in Feb 2003), I have replaced my Canon Powershot SD400 with a modern digital camera, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3. As I’ve been spending more time with family, and enjoying nature, I figure it was high time to upgrade to a new camera.

One thing I like with the new camera is the 10x optical zoom which is better than most digital cameras in its price range and class, and the fact that it records high quality movies at 848×480 for up to 30 minutes (on a 2GB SD memory card.) Not to mention pictures are higher quality and crisper compared to older generation digital cameras.

Which leads me into a line of thought I was thinking about the other day. I tend to adopt gadgets much sooner than anyone else does. My family always remark about the gadgets I’d show them, but eventually they end up getting them someday.

For example, I bought the first generation of digital cameras when they came out, they were big, bulky, had terrible battery life, the picture quality wasn’t that great compared to analog cameras, but the LCD screen, ability to store all pictures on a small flash drive, erase them on the spot, preview them, and so on really wowed everyone I showed it to. Fast forward a few years later and now I see everyone at our family gathering using a digital camera.

The same thing can be said for LCD monitors. I bought one when they first came out, even though they were expensive as all hell. A few years down the road and now people don’t even think twice about buying one; they even come default in every computer purchase from Dell, Gateway, Compaq, etc.

My aunt scoffed at my iPhone, saying it’s a toy with a touchscreen. But you just watch, all future cell phones will follow the iPhone philosophy in the near future. They will portable computers that does more than just make phone calls.

After all, I tend to be a barometer of the future in technology. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go try out the new hovertoilet I just bought.

My Dad, My Best Friend

My dad died a couple weeks ago on November 14th. He was 55 years old; celebrating his 55th on October 9th. I’ve been putting off writing about it. I guess I wasn’t ready to really get into it online. Not sure why, perhaps fear of losing myself again.

Before he died, in the post below this one, I’ve gotten numerous people giving me support and kindness, and many more through emails and phone calls when they had heard my dad was in hospice. One of the prevailing statements through it all was, “It’s going to be hard on you, but hang in there.” I didn’t fully understand the tough part, I thought I was doing well and I’d handle it alright. I was very, very wrong.

It hit me while at the hospice. I got there in time, too, because the day I got there was the last time he was able to talk, open his eyes, and tell me he loves me. The tumor was right under his eye, in front of his ear, and it was extremely painful for him. So he was on heavy pain medications. As a result he could barely stay awake for longer than a minute. He’d sleep, then wake up an hour or two later for a minute, then fall back asleep again.

During those precious minutes, I would hold his hand to let him know I was there. Everytime he’d manage a smile as best as he could, his eyelids half open/half closed as he made an effort to stay awake and tell me he loves me. He did this for my sister, Amanda, as well. He would grab her hand weakly, kiss it, tell her he loves her.

The next day the doctor told us that he could pass away any hour. We knew it wasn’t going to be long, but it was still a painful thing to hear. I was given a chance to talk to him alone. Even though he was asleep, the doctors said that he can still hear me. Walking in the room alone with just him and I, no family around, I let my guard down.

As soon as I came out with something to say, I just choked up. I felt my entire chest clench up, I couldn’t breath, and then it felt like I was about to burst. It was so painful sitting there next to him. A whole year of knowing he had cancer and was going to die still didn’t prepare me from such an intense feeling. I had no idea it can be that painful. That’s when I finally understood when people who had gone through a parent’s death when they say, “it’s going to be hard.”

When I was finally able to calm down enough to say something, I started off with thank you. Just thank you. You know — for bringing me into this world, for trying to be the best father he knew how even though he made mistakes, for giving me a beautiful and wonderful sister, and for loving me. I didn’t have to say all of those, because he’d know what the thank you was for.

I promised him that I am going to be a good man, and someday a good father and husband, the best I can be. That I’d look out for my mom and family. That I forgive him for all the wrongs he has done, and I hope he forgives me for the wrongs I’ve done. I kissed his forehead and told him I love him, very much.

The next three days, he never opened his eyes again. My uncle was there when he took his last breath. He said his face, filled with pain and weariness, then had a look of peace on him. He said he looked like he was on top of the world in his final two breaths. Like a signature of Heaven.

A month before he was admitted into the hospice, I spent a week with him, caring for him. As I was leaving to go back home, I knelt in front of him as he sat in the recliner that was also his bed. I hugged him, and I told him, “Thank you for being my father, and my best friend. I love you.”