Living The Opaque Dream

By Eric Peacock

The Definitive History of Eric Peacock

Significantly rewritten over and over since one late night in 1996.

Includes geek terminology and gratuitous use of the English language. And it's pretty accurate.

December 1973:

1973… the height of drug use in rural America.
Penn Jillete

Knoxville, TN: Eric "Evil" Peacock is finally released from a rigorous nine month beta test and is unleashed on the world, just in time for 1974.

An older sister with her baby brother.
Not everyone was happy about the new baby. Also, check out that the fur in that chair. Wow.

The development team — known to the corporate world as Mom and Dad — are relieved that their second release is finally done and moderately bug-free.

1977:

Completely unaware that Disco exists, Eric begins developing his gestalt. A few occasional crashes slow debugging, but overall he seems to be functioning well.

Eric playing in the sandbox with his Tonka dump truck
Childhood always involves dump trunks in some way. Not shown: cat poop that was often found in my sandbox.

Eric grows up living twenty odd minutes from Oak Ridge Tennessee, a remnant town from World War 2 where US government scientists secretly engineered and built the bomb. You know the one I mean.

1980-1987:

Eric gets into personal computers, starting with an Atari 800XL. His friends with Commodore 64s laugh.

Atari advertisment
Most certainly not the author. However, that is definitely an Atari 800XL 8-bit personal computer playing Donkey Kong.

Eric exploits every feature of the computer, making lots of animated movies, sounds, and drawings of dinosaurs or robots with his drawing tablet.

Dot-matrix print of dinosaurs drawn with Atari 800XL drawing tablet
Dinosaurs as rendered by the author as a kid via an Atari graphics tablet and printed on an Okidata color ribbon thermal printer.

Eric also dabbles with programming in BASIC, trying to write games and pointless software such as "The Atari Self-Destruct Program".

When run, "The Atari Self-Destruct Program" displayed a large pixelated graphical countdown before invoking the use of low-level PEEK and POKE commands to lock the CPU into an infinite loop that couldn't be broken without physically cycling the power. Normally you could reset the machine via holding a specific keyboard keys, but since this would not work a complete computer failure was simulated.

Later Eric ported this to the Apple II as his project for 7th grade computer class. His teacher wasn’t amused by the virus-like ability of the program to save itself under a new name and then delete itself while still running in memory. Regardless, Eric didn't put much thought or time into further developing the program.

1988:

Eric Peacock falls in love for the first time. No, really! This takes about a year to settle in and debug and unfortunately results in emotional disaster. Major lesson learned.

Meanwhile, still in high school, Eric's gestalt finishes the last major add-ons as part of the ongoing Puberty 1.0 upgrade plan.

1989-1990:

Eric finds himself painting and making various artworks as an outlet for pent-up teen angst and depression, apparently a major side effect of the Puberty 1.0.423b software.

Spine, acrylic on cardboard
Spine — 1990, acrylic on cardboard

Fall 1991:

Eric acquires an expensive but life-changing Macintosh Classic and among many other things begins composing music with it and two tape decks connected via spliced wires. His friends with Commodore Amigas laugh.

Indian man using a Mac Classic
Nope. Not the author.

With this computer as the main tool Eric cranks out tons of low fidelity semi-melodic industrial noise. Occasionally he pulls off some electronic dance music.

He puts this work on an ancient and long forgotten recordable medium called cassettes and distributes them among a few friends who act polite about receiving something that makes AM radio sound pretty likeable.

An audio cassette of The HooKHeaD Project's Noise Prototype I
The first official short-playing double-sided cassette release still exists. It sounds awful, but it is kind of interesting as a work of art.

Spring 1992:

Eric completes the last leg of public school at Bearden High School and prepares to get as far away from high school as possible. In a nutshell, high school was academically boring and emotionally awkward.

After graduation all links to his previous API are erased and a new improved OS kernel is instated for the upcoming college development project.

A black cat named Otto-Mobile
The last portrait of Otto-Mobile, Erics’ cat until the summer of ’92. When Eric relocated to Washington state to attend college he had to leave this poor fellow behind. Not more than a year later Otto-Mobile would disappear without a trace. Note the skull painted on the vaccination tag which contained a notch for each "offering" Otto-Mobile left on the front door mat.

Fall 1992:

Olympia, Washington — Eric begins work on his new intellect update at The Evergreen State College. Within hours of arrival his new OS begins networking with other units and positive changes begin to take place. It's like a breath of fresh air. The whole process taxes his hardware and software but after the first year Eric emerges completely changed for the better.

Two undergraduate boys wearing skirts.
This is the author (right), with another student posing in borrowed skirts during the 1992 TESC Orientation Week "Skirt Frenzy".

Fall 1993:

Eric acquires his next computer upgrade, an Apple Macintosh LC475, fortunately at a student discount and with help from dad. His friends with real Macs laugh. "LC" stands for "low cost", which it was at the expense of not being as powerful as a geek would need. Eric continues composing weird electronic music, this time with the Mac's primitive on-board digital audio and a 4-track. Noise gives way to organic sounds inspired by world music as Eric takes an upper division class in Ethnomusicology. He also plays with The Evergreen State College's first Gamelan ensemble (which played at the NW Folklife Festival later on in the year). Not content to be in just one band, Eric is also a core member of another school-sponsored ensemble that plays Brazilian batucada.

Spring 1994:

Eric takes a job with the Housing Custodial/Maintenance Department at Evergreen working on weekends for extra cash. At the onset he meets and is supervised by a curious individual known as Jumpsuit Boy. Eric does fascinating things such as as unclogging blocked toilets, repairing/replacing faucets, and just about everything janitorial.

Jumpsuit Boy is still working somewhere on the Evergreen campus despite graduating, his powers growing year by year.

Fall 1994:

Eric does 23 credits of work by auditing classes in addition to studying music and dance. At Evergreen the maximum credits per quarter is 16. This wears him down and he wishes he could just move on to the real working world and simply just live his life. Nevertheless he stays at it.

As a distraction Eric purchases more audio gear and gets more into MIDI and digital audio multi-tracking. More art is made.

Fall 1995:

Thanks to years of saving every damn penny he could Eric gets a phat new "high-end" Power Mac 8500. His Mac-savvy friends follow him home and attempt to ambush him and steal it. Over the next year Eric hot-rods the thing and works on digital video as well as audio. This will eventually culminate in his very undgrad-esque group multimedia thesis, Anahata.

Meanwhile, at his job Eric now works with Jumpsuit Boy instead of under him as the "Linen Lead" for the whole of Housing. Basically that means that Eric and a motley band of raggedy undergraduates manage the gathering and cleaning of 700+ bed sets for foreign English studying students and summer conference guests.

Eric was promoted to this role because he was known for being thorough or "anal". The job is painful with long hours and almost no days off in the summer, but like parents always say, it builds character.

Spring 1996:

The final year of working on the 2.0 Eric OS update under the rigid foundation of the College API brings good times, love, hard work, and a break from previous years of torture. Eric completes development within the four year schedule.

He receives his Golden Master CD-ROM on June 14 after which he works all summer trying to stash as much cash as possible for the long hard job hunt ahead.

Summer/Fall 1996:

After staying to work post graduation, Eric completes his job with the Housing Linen Development Team, leaving the Linen 2.5 kernel complete and totally written in native microprocessor assembly.

The following winter he briefly returns on commission to fix bugs and train a replacement. At Housing everyone goes back at least once after they leave... Then, for the last time, he finally bids farewell to coworkers Jumpsuit Boy, Rasta Hacker, Polyester Woman, and his main development supervisor, P.U.T.Z.

Spring 1997:

In an effort to establish a higher consciousness, Eric agrees to move into a large eclectic house with The Prophet Elias, Rasta Hacker, and a crazy old coot called Vern Peanut.

Despite Vern's constant retching, Rasta Hacker's caffeine and beer injections and The Prophet Elias's vodka baths, Eric survives. The boys appropriately christen the house "Chez Kludge" and spend many a long night eating, drinking, watching movies or abusing a Playstation modified to play import games.

During this time Eric does occasional freelance work and focuses on making more music (The Forbidden Antithesis of Rock is released).

Tuesday, March 25, 1997:

While gorging himself with handfuls of chocolate chip cookies, Eric stays up late writing the first version of this definitive chronological history. The author knows it's not likely anyone is going to care to read it. [However it's been rewritten countless times since. -ed.]

Sunday, May 2nd, 1998:

[Seattle, Washington] After some mental strife from lack of real available jobs Eric Peacock relocates to the nearest substantial city where he begins freelancing through several temp agencies. His inherited automobile, the "Wonder Wagon" survives the short repetitive moving trips but is left reeling by the onslaught of Seattle traffic conditions.

Ford Fairmont Wagons Brochure CoverAh, American cars from the eighties… lesson learned.
1980 Ford Fairmont Miles Per Gallon
The 1980 Ford Fairmont gas mileage pales in comparison even to pre-hybrid cars.

September 22, 1998:

After a lot of temping and running around, Eric Peacock accepts a job at Weber Marketing Group as a graphic designer. That title holds little water as it's not long before he's more of the multimedia guy as well as the network admin and web monkey.

Even groovier is the fact that he won't waste any more time in traffic as work is now two miles away.

July 11, 1999:

The Wonder Wagon (aka "Bessie", "that damn car", "old woody") is clearly on it's last legs. Fortunately Eric has planned ahead financially and trades her in for a brand spanking new '99 Honda Civic HX. This doesn't help the lack of enthusiasm for dealing with Seattle traffic, but driving is a lot more fun and trouble free.

For the record Eric did not name this car "Bessie". His late grandfather referred to the car in this way. Bessie earned the respect of each family member that was worthy of driving her and on one occasion got Eric to and from the airport in heavy snow and ice.

Bessie: The final tribute

Unfortunately Eric's new Honda doesn't have wood trim. So attracting the attention of the opposite sex is much more difficult.

October 31, 1999:

Eric continues to compose and record music and release CDs in his "spare time".

For Halloween '99 Eric releases his 5th CD, which is part of a great massive purging of old and unfinished music that keeps one awake at night wondering if it's worthy or not. Peripheral to this, Eric once again starts buying audio gear with a brand new sampler.

January 31, 2000:

Eric releases his 6th CD and decides to take a break from music. So he backs off and revels in his newly purchased DVD technology by collecting and watching tons of movies.

Along with all of this the whole Y2K thing hits like a bomb. Panic ensues and lots of old mainframes are given dirty looks. Fortunately Eric is Y2K compliant.

August, 2000:

After almost 6 years Eric purchases yet another new top of the line Mac to add to his pile 'o tech. More art is made.

In all of this time the changes to his gestalt have been all over the map and difficult to document. Much has changed and continues to do so. And like any software there are always bugs to fix. Eric is definitely getting older, but no sign of (heavy) baldness yet!

September 20, 2000:

Eric hits his two year anniversary at Weber Marketing Group. He is on his way to becoming "old school".

December 2000:

Eric begins to collect industrial clothing and gas masks through various surplus suppliers on the internet. Eric wants them for sculpture and film props but nobody believes him. He is accused of having a hand in fetish culture or just plain being weird. The weirdness is probably somewhat true, in a harmless way.

He then gets an aluminum-kevlar fire suit for Christmas from dad. This novelty is great for parties and has excellent potential as a general fashion accessory for live performances.

May 2001:

Eric Peacock acquires his mothers elderly Burmese cat. Unfortunately she has kidney problems. She's also extremely cute despite being capable of an meowing loud enough to startle just about anyone or anything. Being a tiny little runt she spends most of her time riding around on Eric's shoulder.

Sabra

May 2002:

Eric begins production on two CDs after a two year hiatus from working on musical projects.

Being out of shape it's a slow warm-up to the compositional days of old. However slow, this new work is all completely based on new equipment that sounds oh so groovy compared to previous projects.

June 7, 2002:

Kathy in the grass

September 21, 2002:

Eric's cat Sabra is put to sleep when her kidneys start to fail. Sabra was roughly 17 in cat years and as cats go was a very unique and well-liked animal. Everyone misses her.

Sabra will be missed.

Unrelated but also slightly significant, Eric hits his four year mark at his job.

November, 2002:

A routine physical reveals that Eric's blood pressure is at excessively high levels - we're talking 170 over 90. His cholesterol isn't so good either. In case you hadn't heard, together these two factors can cut the average human life span short. Eric is classified as "high risk" and spends the next six weeks adjusting his mental well-being, diet and exercise to reduce hypertension.

Only weeks after the death of Sabra, Eric gets a new special guest cat on loan from his sister who is on sabbatical. His name is Ariel and he behaves almost like a dog sometimes. Unfortunately Ariel is highly neurotic and develops fatty liver lipidosis and has to have a nine inch tube surgically inserted into his stomach so that he can be manually fed a special mixture of lovely kitty-style digestibles three times a day.

This sucks. Do not try this at home.

Five or so weeks later in December, Ariel recovers and begins eating on his own again. It should be noted that Ariel is a he. Think Shakespeare, The Tempest.

With all due respect to the Chinese zodiac, 2002 has earned the title Year of the Cat.Eric, by Pete Hastings

Ariel & the author after the fatty liver lipidosis ordeal.

December 30, 2003:

Eric turns 29 – next year at this time he is no longer to be trusted by anyone under 30.

January, 2003:

Still running with higher than average blood pressure, Eric goes on medication for an indefinite time.

Eric's uncle dies of stroke after having a first stroke in 1997. Chaos works.

The added exercise and dietary care reduces blood pressure and as a nice little side effect dumps nearly twenty pounds. Cholesterol levels dip and level out at well below the acceptable norm.

Many of todays glorious workers talk about excess bloat from sitting all day at the job. In this case the bloat wasn't super bad to begin with, but it's prevention became necessary anyway. Public service announcement: stop bloat before it stops you. Or at least keep an eye on it. Educate!

September, 2003:

Five years at the same job. Still feeling a lack of accomplishment and a shabby portfolio despite having produced countless work for countless clients. Pangs of mid-life crisis hit early.

December 30, 2003:

Eric turns 30 - a huge event of enormous proportions by most cultural standards. As Eric hits his birthday, male pattern baldness escalates proving the irony of Eric's constant jokes about going bald.

OK, so it's not that bad. Yet. But mom's side of the family has bald ancestry all over it and so it is Eric's destiny to follow suite. It's a rite of passage. Or something.

Despite facing hair loss, the only spam Eric receives is for pyramid schemes, Nigerian investment scams and penile enlargement/enhancement. No miraculous baldness cures in site, just virility and getting rich quick. Despite being 30, all Eric's appendages seem to work plenty well, so there is obviously a serious misinformation problem with spammers.

May 2004:

Eric moves from the cave-like apartment he's occupied since coming to Seattle to a larger much better lit unit two floors up. It's a nice change brought about by many things, most of which are the need for the management of the building to completely re-do the plumbing in the cave-like unit.

Moving sucks though, as Eric has to completely disconnect and then rewire his entire studio. Artists with gear really aren't cracked up for moving.

September 23, 2004:

Six years at the same job. Not much has changed.

October 2004:

After over a year and a half, Eric is removed from taking Lisinopril, a prescription medication that lowers blood pressure. For the record, it is possible to reverse one's health by eating right and exercising. So hop to it.

Eric's family takes his uncle's ashes and spreads them in the same place his grandfather's ashes are. Closure and a little bit of clarity.

November 2004:

Eric returns to doing a large amount of paper collage after seveal years of doing it in trickles. Additionally he has been working on a great many video projects of his own, mostly music video, but that's OK as it's a good way to practice things and get ready for making larger movies.

Meanwhile George Bush the younger wins a second presidential term over Senator John Kerry in a close race. Right wingers gloat and Bush announces that his win is part of some "mandate". Many of the left-wing voters in the country get a big wake-up and proceed to opening claim that the other 52% of the country are "stupid" or "fucking stupid".

Eric feels really strange about the whole election, and hopes that the country can eventually overcome this huge division of it's people. In the meantime, things might get pretty rough.

May 2005:

Eric moves into a new apartment overlooking downtown Seattle and all the stuff taked on with his girlfriend of approximately three years. Nice place lorded over by another Greener alumni, great view and so on.

It takes a few weeks to get most of the studio re-wired and then the art picks up again.

Summer 2006:

Eric officially announces his eminent marriage to the stylish redhead that shares his apartment. A whole lotta planning commences and chunks of cash are thrown around to a photographer, jewelry designer, venue, etc. At least a few of Eric's friends are shocked while others simply say "I told you so".

The design I did for my wedding "save the date" post card.

May 19, 2007:

Eric marries Kathy Ulrich. It goes well and people seem to be pleased. The wedding even has it's own branded look and feel.

September 2007:

The honeymoon takes the couple to Greece, starting with Athens and moving inland to the mountain top monasteries in Meteora, then rounding out on the lovely island Skiathos.

March 2008:

Eric discovers that Kathy is pregnant. This was intended to happen eventually so now is as good a time as any to start expermenting with offspring. After years of pressuring the couple to "get to the nasty", Kathy's mother expresses glee so powerfully that remote third-world villages hear her joyous squeal for weeks after the announcement is made.

June/July 2008:

Babies cause all sorts of chaos as well as cuddles. For Eric the awkward economy coupled with an impending mini half-version of himself forces a search for a proper home to buy. One is found, offers are made and by the end of July the couple are owners of a nice 1941 house in the West Seattle area. The mortgage make Eric switch to an all stick and dirt diet.

July 14, 2008:

Due to the impending kid, Eric and Kathy blow years of savings on the purchase of a house in the West Seattle neighborhood. Eric resisted buying property for years due to the unrealistic costs of buying a home in the Seattle area. However, as the well-documented housing foreclosure crisis (and recession) roll over the nation, houses for sale that are still withint reasonable commute distance drop significantly.

As it happens, Eric and Kathy buy the first house they inspect - nothing else comes close in the low-end of the market and this is too good of a deal to pass up. The offer is made and soon the deal is done, closing on the date of this entry. The couple moves all development to the new space which is about three times the size of their previous apartment. Yowza.

August 5, 2008:

At the first ultrasound appointment (20 weeks in) Eric and Kathy discover that what was thought to be one large baby is in fact two moderately sized babies. Twins, a boy and a girl, are now in the future. This news prompts a whole new set of prepartions along with a subsequent freak out.

August 15, 2008:

Eric acquires another cat (a dog will come later, just so you know). A six month old female kitten named Charlie joins the Peacock development team and is hired to provide entertainment, piece of mind and animal conditioning for the upcoming twins. Charlie leaves a loving 3.5 year old boy who's mother can't keep her any more.

December 10, 2008:

The offspring is born. Angels play trumpets and trombones in a jazz-like fanfare and then hit their favorite bar to discuss and reflect. Gabriel and Olivia Peacock vacate their mother four minutes apart because like their dad they like to be punctual. The next four months are wall-smacking insane. Both Eric and his wife temporarily become irritable zombies while they feed and change the twins. Fortunately zombies don't like babies. C'mon, does any zombie movie show a zombie hassling a baby? I didn't think so.

Not long after the kids are born Eric's wife is laid off and the medical bills start to drop by for tea. Things get sort of wiggly in the financial department.

November, 2009:

Life with kids is fast. They weren’t lying.

So here we are with two nearly one year old kids. Eric and his wife have now officially survived a lot of poop at various levels of severity. They’ve also fought off the infamous H1N1 flu, but missed a lot of work to do it. The positive outcome: both kids are now fully trained ninjas with a rudimentary grasp of threatening baby babble.

December 2012:

Days after Christmas the family car is stolen, joy-ridden and stripped of its wheels an outdated iPod and oddly a handful of kid toys

...the struggle continues...