Personal Archives

August 24, 2004

Fire of Hospitality

It is good to be back on a college campus. There are several reasons for this (one of which I mentioned to the bigsteer alias in my TMGTW selection this week), but one of them is the atmosphere of a high-class, academic environment. Where else can I be exploring a building, and come upon a large, well-furnished room called The South Lounge, where there is a fireplace burning. Admittedly, it's a gas fireplace, but still. Nearby is a plaque, proclaiming the hearth as The Fire of Hospitality, lit in 1939 and has burned continually since, representing the hospitality of Indiana University. Awesome.

Things are seriously swinging into high gear in this town. Classes begin on Monday, and the whole town looks like St. Olaf during Week One on steriods. The campus dorms are already hopping, and on the way to campus this morning, I was seeing people moving in and U-Hauls all over the place. To say this is a college town is an understatement -- here, leases start when the school year does, the bus system changes their schedule at the beginning of September, and the police post billboards stating that DUI enforcement beefs up on August 27th.

Better run -- looks like it's going to rain and I don't have my umbrella.

August 26, 2004

Oh Yeah

In the midst of all the excitement moving to a new state and starting school and all, I've missed a few important dates...

Aug 24: Jen's birthday. Happy belated, friend. Was it really two years ago I made that mix CD? Glad you're still enjoying it.
Aug 23: My mom's birthday. Shoot. I knew I would forget this. The card's in the mail, Mom. Sorry!
Aug 22. Sigh. What do I call this day? The day my heart broke? The last day I knew true happiness? The day my life ended? Whatever. Anyway, it's been three years and you'd think I'd be over it. You'd think that, wouldn't you. You'd also have another think coming. It's a good sign that I didn't remember it until last night, I guess. Well, we'll keep hoping and see what this year brings...

That's all for now. I finally have orientation today, so it's off to make new friends. First day of school! I couldn't sleep last night, as usual. :) I love it.

September 9, 2004

Being a Player

I am the Rob Grace of SLIS at Indiana University.

(If you're reading this, Rob, please know I write this only with the utmost respect for you after getting to know you later on.)

Some of you perhaps remember Rob's behavior freshman year. I recall many a lunch or dinner in the old caf, sitting with some of the Kitt boys, and watching Rob walk by, tray held high, following or leading about 6 girls to a table. We'd wave him over, and he'd shake his head, with that little smile. What a mac daddy.

I never understood exactly what causes this behavior. I do know.

As previously mentioned, the gender ratio here at SLIS is heavy in my favor. Much like Kittelsby Hall at St. Olaf. So the chances of me running into and meeting girls here is much higher than the chances of me running into and meeting boys. It's not that I'm really expressly trying to meet as many girls as I can. I'm just being friendly and open... and I can't help it that I'm naturally going to gravitate towards beautiful women, can I?

So what is the result? One of my new friends here states that whenever she sees me, I'm surrounded by women. I can't believe this is true. But I'm gathering that perhaps it is. Not by any conscious doing of my own. Just by the combination of circumstances. When I think of the people I've met so far that I can name, I can think of nine that are female and three that are male.

Could this be what happened to Rob? He's a friendly guy, and certainly not adverse to the company of a pretty girl. And from what I know of him, he's not a player in personality. Could the same thing be happening to me?

Stay tuned...

September 23, 2004

Quote of the Week

Me: "I'm a picture of health."
Samantha: "You're a picture of somethin'."

October 13, 2004

The Passage of Time

Somehow it's the middle of October already. I'm not quite sure how this escaped my notice as it was occurring.

Continue reading "The Passage of Time" »

October 18, 2004

A New Muse

This is what dating an English major does to me, apparently...

Continue reading "A New Muse" »

October 21, 2004

Red Sox Win the Pennant

Last night the Boston Red Sox completed the most historic comeback in major league baseball history. As silly as this may sound, I feel privileged to be witness to this. If I ever have a son someday, and he likes baseball as much as I do, I am glad I will have stories to tell him about some of the amazing things that happened in the 2004 season of the MLB.

I can only imagine what it must feel like to be a Red Sox fan today. Here's to you, guys. <tips hat> Good luck in the World Series.

October 26, 2004

Quote of the Week 4

David: "Like the other day? When I wanted to find out more about midgets? I Googled it."
Me: <pause> "Did you find good information?"
David: "Not really. Mostly porn."

November 2, 2004

Election Day

I have done my civic duty. Please go do yours.

May righteousness prevail.

November 3, 2004

Post Election Day

I just read online that my preferred candidate for the presidential election has decided to concede his race despite the provisional and absentee ballots in Ohio not having been counted yet. That's his choice, I suppose. But it makes for a sad day here.

I realize everybody and their cat will be posting today about this. I don't have much to say that hasn't already been said, I'm sure. Samantha and I had a pretty extended discussion over lunch about this (referencing, among other things, Atlas Shrugged -- my goodness, this woman is smart). Maybe I'm just too tired to be angry right now.

I said something in jest to her ("For the next four years, I'm just going to ignore the fact that we have a president, and attribute everything bad that happens to extremely bad luck"), but thinking about it now, maybe it's a good idea. I know nothing about politics -- I honestly don't know if anything the president, as a single entity, does has a direct effect on me. I don't know if anything I do, as a single entity, can effect the course this country as a whole takes.

This dovetails nicely into another conversation I had with Sam today, about grades and how much one should be concerned with it. How much worrying about grades or national politics is really necessary? Wouldn't my time and energy be better spent on things that I enjoy and feel to be important, like my family, my girlfriend, my friends, my music, my interests and passions?

I'm not pleased about the results of this election. But I think I have more important things to worry about.

So why do I still have this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach? Hmm...

Not About The Election

For the most part, I've been pretty content with the content of my courses so far. (+10 points for use of homograph!) And I've run across quite a bit of stuff that's been chuckle-worthy. But none so much as this.

The idea of a patent is interesting enough in and of itself -- that you have come up with something so original that you feel a need to call the US Government on your side to protect your interests in it is cool. What other people gauge as being this important is a great source of amusement.

Case in point: Mr. Steven Olson, who I'm proud to say is from St. Paul, MN, and his patent, issued on April 9, 2002.

Yes, this is an actual US Patent, and can be located if searched for in the official patent database of the US Patent and Trademark Office. Just plug the patent number into the search interface, choosing Patent Number for your search.

As you peruse this patent (and please do -- take a look especially at the original documents -- they contain pictures), think about this. A patent needs to satisfy three requirements: it must be 1) original, 2) useful, and 3) quote-unquote "nonobvious" -- that is, it mustn't be obvious to those "learned in the art." That's the language of patenting, by the way -- those learned in the art would be experts in the particular field the patent falls into.

These additional details once again just serve to increase the hilarity of this patent, in my opinion. Not only did Mr. Olson believe that his "invention" satisfied these three qualities, but a patent reviewer for the US Government did too! Who do you suppose they talked to who was "learned in the art" that told them "Oh, no, this is definitely outside the realm of the obvious!"

Here's some more crazy patents for your perusal. The things I'm learning...

Quote of the Week 5

"I lost a kind of virginity last night." - Chris, regarding the election

November 15, 2004

Of Puffins and Condors

I need an aviary.

November 17, 2004

Quote of the Week 7

"Please explain to me why, as the School of Library Science, we cannot alphabetize the professors' mailboxes." - Samantha

November 19, 2004

"Haiku, Transform and Roll Out"

Thanks to my mom (surprisingly) for sending me this one.

It should be noted that many of these do not stick precisely to the 5-7-5 form of haiku. Perhaps they should be titled "Pseudohaiku." But perhaps we don't really need to think about this that much -- I mean, we're looking at Transformers-based poetry, here. Let's not get too picky.

Haiku from the Transformers
by Shaun Clayton


I am a small gun
Now I am a large robot
This makes no damn sense

Optimus Prime

I don't want to lead
I want to drive the open road
Country music, beer, yes.


Stuck as a Volkswagen
I am small, weak, easily beaten
Bots call me lil' bitch


I try take power
I scheme I plot I betray all
My parents didn't love me


Bitchez love my style
Metal hos by the dozen
Envy of bot homeys


Grimlock smash smash smash
Smash smash smash smash smash smash smash
smash smash wind is nature's ennui smash smash

November 23, 2004

Quote of the Week 8

"My car has a huge trunk." - David Beal
"Yeah? You could fit, like, three people in there." - Me
"I had seven Mormons in there once." - David

November 25, 2004

Andrew Sampler Vol. II

I like making mix CDs.

Continue reading "Andrew Sampler Vol. II" »

November 30, 2004

The Feast of St. Andrew

Today is the feast day for St. Andrew, the first-called apostle and patron saint of Scotland. I also share his name, in case you didn't notice. So happy name day to me. Here's some more info on my namesake and his feast day:

And finally, single women, take note! St. Andrew's Day holds the key to your future. Here are some "peculiar marriage-related superstitions" that have attached themselves to this day:

  • An old German tradition says that single women who wish to marry should ask for Saint Andrew's help on the Eve of his feast, then sleep naked that night; they will see their future husbands in their dreams.
  • Another says that young women should note the location of barking dogs on Saint Andrew's Eve: their future husbands will come from that direction.
  • On the day after Andrew's feast, young people float cups in a tub; if a boy's and a girl's cup drift together and are intercepted by a cup inscribed "priest", it indicates marriage.

Oops. Looks like the good ones were for last night. Oh well. If you consider yourself a "young person," try the cup floating trick tomorrow and tell me how it turns out. And also where you happened to get a cup inscribed "priest." 'Cause that just sounds cool.

December 13, 2004

You Are Being Very Loud

Need a little help silencing the irritating cell phone talker next to you?

Here you go.

December 20, 2004

A Picture

For those of you who have been begging to see a picture of Samantha and I (all none of you), here you go. This is the two of us in front of the big shiny thing in Millenium Park in Chicago. Excuse the terrible quality -- the Kodak technology used to digitize this image appears to be as old as the Windows 3.1 operating system. To see the actual analog picture (in which Samantha is even better looking, if you can believe it, and in which I don't look like a pixelated monster), you'll have to actually be in my physical presence.

Speaking of which. In 24 hours, I will be in Florida. (About time, too -- it got cold here in Indiana all of a sudden.) Then soon I will be in Minnesota. (It is also cold there, I'm guessing, but it has other qualities that make it advantageous over Indiana.) All of this maneuvering about means I may not be updating for a while. Tough tacos, as they say. So a Happy Holidays to you and yours, and I'll catch you on the flipside. Peace!

December 26, 2004

Box Office Poison

Suddenly there are a ton of movies I want to see. When did this happen? I hope 1) that there are some folks in MN interested in hitting the cinemas next week and 2) that Samantha will be interested in spending some of her financial aid before classes start. :)

Continue reading "Box Office Poison" »

December 29, 2004

Signing Your Life Away

If you're anything like me, you love signing your name. My signature at this point in my life has degraded from actually representing my name to being line art. Witness:

Signing things, like credit card receipts, always lends an air of authenticity. Apparently, though, I'm wrong. Check out one man's experiment. I was amazed and vaguely frightened.

January 6, 2005

Thoughts of Home

Home (n.): 1 a : one's place of residence : DOMICILE b : HOUSE
2 : the social unit formed by a family living together
3 a : a familiar or usual setting : congenial environment; also : the focus of one's domestic attention b : HABITAT

What does it mean when one refers to one's home? For example, I sent my mom a note that I had made it home after a long day of travelling. She wrote back saying that she did not think I was home. Apparently our opinions differ.

I and many of my peers find ourselves in the unenviable place of being in between homes. We no longer live at the place or places we called home for the first two decades of our lives. But many of us have not necessarily founded places to truly call home for ourselves or our new families. The word 'home' then becomes used in several oftentimes contradicting connotations:

Chris and I, random meeting: "Hey, Chris, funny running into you on campus." "Yeah! I need to run to work, though." "Okay, I'll see you at home." "Cheers."

SLIS folks and I, before break: "Where are you headed for Christmas?" "Oh, I'll be going home." "Back to Minnesota?" "Yeah, that's right."

Samantha and I, last Monday: "Well, we've done the Mall of America. Where to now?" "Should we go home?" "You mean back to Bloomington?" "No. Well, at least not today." "<laugh> Right. Back to Stillwater then."

Home appears to be contextual. The term is imprecise by itself. I could be talking about my parents' place back in Minnesota. I could be talking about the limestone house on N Walnut Street. I could also be talking about being in the company of the person who is most important to me, wherever that may be. This last connotation is perhaps the most vague, but also perhaps the most correct.

They say home is where the heart is. I think that's probably the best I can come up with today. Without a definite physical place to call home, I must resort to other definitions.

In any case. I am home, in Bloomington, now -- having arrived last night. The winter break was fantastic -- one of the best in recent memory. I will detail the Christmas-related loot once the final tally comes in (I am expecting one or two more small items yet). Samantha and I are looking forward to a relaxing few days before classes start again on Monday. More, including highlights from the Minnesota visit, coming soon.

January 13, 2005

Nostalgia City

This is the coolest website I've found in a long time.

This is literally an archive of the entire public web. I'm not kidding. It says so on the page. I found an ancient copy of the St. Olaf web page (from 1996) that is so dated, it's hilarious. I forgot that people actually used image maps at one point in time.

Warning -- this could suck up a very large amount of your time if you're a nostalgia fiend like me...

January 17, 2005

The Loot

The final count is in. This is what I received for Christmas:

  • Alison Krauss + Union Station - Lonely Runs Both Ways. From my parents.
  • Storyhill - Reunion. From my parents.
  • The Simple Life - Season One on DVD. From my sister Alison. I suspect this is because it was $6 at Target.
  • A small can of Old Spice Red Zone spray deodorant. From Alison. It seems small enough to be a trial size or perhaps a free sample. Alison was a thrifty gift giver this year.
  • A Minnesota Twins 2005 calendar. From my parents.
  • An orange t-shirt and a pair of boxers, both Banana Republic. From my family, although I have no doubt the idea was Alison's.
  • A $50 Best Buy gift card. From my parents. It has been used to purchase 4 DVDs: Almost Famous, Blazing Saddles, Grosse Point Blank and Ever After (for Samantha).
  • A toiletries carry case. From my sister Mary.
  • A book called Napoleon's Buttons: 17 Molecules That Changed the World. From my Uncle John and Aunt Marti.
  • A book called Letters From A Nut. From Joseph. We tend to find similar things hilarious. This is an excellent example.
  • A Nancy Pearl action figure. From Peter Pearson. Nancy Pearl was up until recently the executive director for the Washington Center for the Book at the Seattle Public Library. With Quick Shhh-ing Action!
  • A glow-in-the-dark Devil Ducky. From Peter Pearson.
  • A CD of They Might Be Giants Dial-A-Song rarities. From Peter Pearson. For those of you who are familiar with Dial-A-Song, this is an ultra-rare collection of songs from the Dial-A-Song service, recorded straight from the phone, many of which have never been recorded anywhere else. Wow.
  • A Storyhill T-shirt. From Samantha. Yes, you are correct -- these are not for purchase anywhere. She had it made for me. Yes, I have the coolest girlfriend in the world. :)
  • Season One of the Transformers original cartoon series on DVD. From Samantha. I will repeat the above sentiment.
  • Seven Brides for Seven Brothers on DVD. From my mom.
  • A Book of Common Prayer. From David.

I think I came away from this holiday season with a superb mix of classy and silly items. Thanks, everyone.

January 19, 2005

My Fate, Dante-Style

Not a bad place to be, chillin' with Socrates and Homer...

The Dante's Inferno Test has sent you to the First Level of Hell - Limbo!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:

Purgatory (Repenting Believers)High
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)High
Level 2 (Lustful)Moderate
Level 3 (Gluttonous)Moderate
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Very Low
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)Low
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)Very Low
Level 7 (Violent)Moderate
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)Moderate
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Low

Take the Dante's Inferno Hell Test

January 20, 2005

Wick the National Traveller

create your own visited states map

Next stop: Boston? Spring break is coming up starting March 11th and we need a destination, and that sounds as good as any, what with two friends in the area (at Harvard and the New England Conservatory). How's that sound? :)

EDIT (6/9/2005) - Just for my own edification. :)

EDIT (12/25/2005) - Again, for the southerly states I claimed during my August jaunt. I will have them all someday...

EDIT (3/18/2007) - This has been effectively supplanted by the Where I've Been app on my Facebook page. So n'yah.

February 1, 2005

Archive Updates

I've been tinkering with Movable Type (the software that makes this blog run) and I've finally convinced it to cater to my desires enough to produce a Master Archive Index, which lists all my posts by category. Check it out via the link in the left-hand column.

February 8, 2005

My Fantasy

I like baseball. Do you like baseball? If so, would you perhaps be interested in joining a fantasy baseball league? If so, drop me a line... I am definitely interested in taking my baseball geekiness to the next level...

PS - Opening Day is only 59 days away!

February 9, 2005

Here Come the ABCs

I just got my weekly They Might Be Giants update in the mail, and it included a link to a Flash site about their upcoming children's project. Flansy specifically said "We invite you to post it on your blog" so here you go. I think it's so cool that my favorite rock band is writing children's material. If you thought my kids were going to turn out weird as it was, just take a look at what they'll be listening to ALL THE TIME:

February 15, 2005

How To Fold a Shirt

Dang! Why didn't anyone teach me how to do this?

You can bet I'll be attempting this at my first available opportunity.

February 16, 2005

Quote of the Week 14 and 15

"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside a dog, it's too dark to read." - Groucho Marx

Conversation with Brian Winterman, librarian and rock star:
"Come on. You're a musician who writes evocative and sensitive songs." - Me
"Naw. I get those lyrics off the Internet." - Brian

February 22, 2005

Brownie Recipe

Here's the recipe for the aforementioned brownies. Quote Adam Ragusea: "These are really f***ing good."

2 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate
8 tbsp butter
5 tbsp margarine
3/4 c. Ghirardelli Ground Chocolate and Cocoa
1 2/3 c. sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 bag chocolate and peanut butter chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350ºF. In a medium-sized saucepan, melt chocolate, butter and margarine on low heat. Remove from heat when completely melted. Add ground chocolate and cocoa and mix. Add sugar and mix. Add eggs one at a time, mixing each individually. Add vanilla and mix. Add flour, salt and baking powder and mix (slowly!). Grease a standard 9 x 13 baking pan. Pour into pan, making sure it is evenly distributed. Bake at 350ºF for 25-30 minutes. Test with toothpick before setting out to cool -- if comes out clean, they're done. If comes out a little dirty, they're done well. :) (Optional: Sprinkle chips on top of brownies immediately after removing from the oven. Once melted, spread using knife.)

March 7, 2005

Finding Grumblecakes

The Internet is a bizarre and wonderful thing. As I was chatting with Samantha this morning, I did something I frequently do: quoted As I did so, however, I couldn't remember precisely which cartoon on the site it came from. I thought to myself (in typical library science major fashion), "I wonder if there's some sort of index or abstract for the site." After thinking this thought, I said, "Naw. The Brothers Chaps are too lazy for that sort of thing." But I typed the word (grumblecakes) into Google to see what it would find anyway.

What it found was a Homestar Runner Wiki. (For those of you unfamiliar with wikis, they are web sites that allow any user to make additions to or to edit any page on the site. Check out the Wikipedia, for example.) Of course the Brothers Chaps wouldn't, but there's an awful lot of people out there who have far too much free time and love Homestar Runner.

It's just so strange to have a thought about something, and then be able to call up some extremely detailed implementation of your idea -- as if it were somehow created in this infinite detail just as you thought it.

March 28, 2005


Clearly I'm not doing very well on my schoolwork. Alas. Here's a really long meme.

Continue reading "Procrastinating" »

April 6, 2005

Spring Observations

I love baseball. The Twins offense looked awesome yesterday. Sadly, John Smoltz's first game as a starting pitcher in years was awful. But I love checking the box scores and seeing the pictures and all that. Whee! And I'm finding baseball fans everywhere I turn around. This dude in my Coll Dev class was walking our way after class got out, and it turns out he was headed to Yogi's to watch the Cards. Awesome.

My Collection Development class is lame. I'm glad I'll be taking Nisonger's other class next spring. Maybe that'll make up for it.

Spring comes at just the right time -- after winter. It's been windy and warm here -- and Samantha and I have been out tossing a frisbee around. My feet are dirty and my arm is sore -- both good feelings.

Nickel Creek is coming to Bloomington. Again. Too much of a good thing. It's in the middle of finals week though... yikes.

My girlfriend is a cutie. And looks great in a skirt.

April 7, 2005

Chat with Mari


wick98: Wow. What interesting markings.

wick98: And freakin' huge ears.

Viol3: it's a savannah

Viol3: or a bengal

Viol3: i spend way too much time doing this

wick98: *chuckle* Looking at cats online?


Viol3: yeah

Viol3: oh my god


Viol3: i'm going to explode

April 11, 2005

Oh Yes

Optimus Prime!
Which Colossal Death Robot Are You?
Brought to you by Rum and Monkey

As if anyone's really surprised by this.

April 16, 2005

Public Intoxication Weekend

Apparently the Little 500 is the occasion for Public Intoxication Weekend at this school. Those of you from St. Olaf, think of Arbstrock. Or Cornstock at Concordia. I think there's one of these at every school? Feel free to comment with yours. For example, my driveway was blocked last night by a pickup truck and two squad cars, and three officers milling around with shirts that said Excise Police on the back.

Other observations:

  • My roommate Chris is playing his guitar outside while listening to rugby games on the Internet on his Wi-Fi laptop. Technology rules.
  • Paid rent yesterday -- only four months until I've been here for a year. Wild.
  • Twins have won five in a row. Awesome.
  • A card I received from my mother yesterday: A man sits at a desk and tells the man standing in front of him, "Down the fall, third door to your left. And I'm wearing women's underwear." Caption: The Too-Much-Information Desk.

Finally, a short bit of conversation as Chris and Dustin leave for the afternoon:

Chris: I think my Top Gun hat would be the best attire for the day.
Dustin: *nods solemnly*

April 18, 2005

Quote of the Week 16 - In Which Truth is Spoken

"Why do things have to be hard?" - Me
"Because life would be boring otherwise." - Samantha

April 22, 2005

Shakespeare at SLIS

Samantha and I have casted an all-SLIS production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. You probably won't enjoy the rest of this post if you are not also a SLISzard.

Continue reading "Shakespeare at SLIS" »

April 25, 2005

Quote of the Week 17

Sometimes I'll hear something that speaks to my sensibilites about faith and belief. Usually it's not the standard stuff that people throw out there when talking about their faith -- usually it's something more abstract, more non-specific... usually something that doesn't actually mention God.

Here's one of those things. For full effect, find a recording of Ralph Vaughn-Williams' setting of it.

Continue reading "Quote of the Week 17" »

May 5, 2005

Things That Did Not Stay in Vegas

And other hilarious lists can be found here. My new almost-endless form of Internet entertainment. Enjoy.

May 11, 2005

Bike Auction

The Spring Bike Auction is this Saturday (May 14). It's at the Jordan Parking Garage, lower level. Preview begins at 8 am and auction starts at 9 am. Cash and checks accepted.

I was supposed to tell someone else about this, and now I can't remember who. Someone help me out here.

EDIT: Oh, maybe it was Teri. Does that sound right?

May 12, 2005

Oh, Am I Proud

Ladies and gentlemen, I treat you to a very interesting article by the dean of my school. In it, he discusses blogs. Do read for a fascinating insight to the dysfunctional relationship our dean seems to have with his own school.

It should be noted that he is speaking about a subject that a good number of his faculty and students are actually actively researching. Way to show support there, Dr. Cronin.

May 19, 2005

Hello Slizzards

I'm now being aggregated (is that the right word?) by SLISblogs. Cool. Hi folks.

May 24, 2005

The Hotlist

So I've been listening to Yahoo's Launchcast Radio quite a bit recently. The fact that I pay the SBC-Yahoo conglomerate through the nose for DSL has a few added benefits, one of them being the "Plus" version of said service -- no ads, higher quality sound, etc. It's an interesting service -- once you log in with your Yahoo account, you can rate artists, albums and individual tracks on either a four-star or a 100-point scale, and the site starts building a profile on you. The algorithm has its issues (like any program of this type), but it mostly does the job -- mixing artists and tracks you've told it you like with stuff you haven't rated, but it thinks you'll like.

All this uncontrolled music assaulting my sensibilities is akin to a period in my life when I listened to radio program called Freedom Rock every week. The summer after my freshman year, I lived on campus and worked during the week and usually drove home for the weekend. Freedom Rock (self described as "an hour of imported, independent and underground music") played every Sunday night at 8 pm -- right when I was driving home. I discovered a few bands I really like thanks to that program.

During that time, I started a hotlist -- a text file sitting in the home directory of my Unix account that I could update with the name of an artist whenever I came across something that piqued my interest in them. It would be the list I'd go to whenever I was at a headphone station in Barnes & Noble and every once in a while spurred a CD purchase. But mostly it was just a list of people to "check out at some point."

Anyway, I think now's the time to start it again. But this time, I can force my music inklings on the world! Ha. So here we go. This is what I've got so far. This post will be edited many times, hopefully.

The Hotlist

Thea Gilmore
Eddie from Ohio
Matt Nathanson
Butterfly Boucher
Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers
Elliott Smith
Troubled Hubble
Greg Trooper

June 7, 2005

Quote of the Week 19

In which truth is spoken by a fictional character:

"It's an extraordinary thing about girls that they never know the points of the compass." - Eustace from C. S. Lewis' The Silver Chair

June 9, 2005

Insert Scott McCloud Comment Here

I've been wasting far too much time reading webcomics lately:

  • Penny Arcade: Video game humor and so much more. No continuity needed to enjoy.
  • Ctrl-Alt-Del: Video game humor with more characterization.
  • Questionable Content: Basically a romantic comedy. The characters make fun of popular trends and talk about indie music a lot. Features female characters with proportions that might actually be humanly possible. Lots of continuity.
  • Diesel Sweeties: I think the title of the page says it best: pixelated robot romance web comic. Continuity not really needed for enjoyment.

I'll prolly add these to my sidebar. Prolly. Prolly isn't a word.

Music Nerd Meme

1. Choose a band/artist that nobody else has chosen yet.

2. Answer ONLY using titles of their songs.
If I Could

3. Are you male or female:
Old Sea Captain

4. Describe yourself:
I am a Lover

5. How do some people feel about you/or have thoughts about you:
All I Need

6. How do you feel about yourself:
Holding On

7. Describe your ex boyfriend / girlfriend:
What Was Wrong

8. Describe current boyfriend / girlfriend / crush:
She Holds My Heart Out In the Wind

9. Describe where you want to be:
Back Home

10. Describe how you live:
Steady On

11. Describe how you love:
After Dark

12. What would you ask for if you had just one wish:

13. Share a few words of Wisdom:
Let It All Go

14. Now say goodbye:
Gone Away

15. Now send it to everyone to see what their answers are (and back to me)!

June 21, 2005

A Quiz

July 15th is:

a) my birthday
b) the day before Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is released
c) the Ides of July
d) all of the above

If you guessed d, you're correct. I will be turning 25 soon. If you are of the gift-giving persuasion (and I know you are), you may be interested in perusing my new, improved wishlist. Now with things that you can't get on Amazon!

Samantha and I will most likely be celebrating this day at an event in the Chicago area. Apparently Chicago is the hub of all things Harry Potter, because there are not one, but two large events in honor of the book's release. I'm not sure how much y'all out there know about such things, but I could use some advice as to which one we should attend.

And yes, it is kosher to call it the Ides of July. The Internet told me so. And everything on the Internet is true.

June 23, 2005

Survey This

Take the MIT Weblog Survey

July 4, 2005

Vote Torii Hunter!

Fans have the final vote for the last roster spot on the All-Star teams. Go now and vote for Minnesota Twin Torii Hunter, best defensive center fielder in the majors! (What, you don't want Derek Jeter playing, do you?)

July 20, 2005

Quote of the Week 20

In webcomic form:

July 21, 2005

InfoVis Stuff

This is gonna be such a library science nerd post. Is it okay to use the abbreviation if I've never typed the phrase information visualization before in my life?

Anyway. I've been playing around with a couple of interesting toys recently...

  1. Google Earth. A free (albeit extremely computing power intensive) standalone program that integrates millions of satellite images of the Earth's surface with Google's mapping and search information. The resolution is pretty inconsistent, but you'll generally find highly populated areas in the Western world to have good detail. There are also a number of independent sites to support and accessorize it. Wow.
  2. The Moodgrapher. If you're familiar with Livejournal at all, you know that you can add your current mood to your posting. This site aggregates data from LJ and produces graphs. Check out excited in relation to the release of the Harry Potter book on Saturday, and check out worried with the report of more blasts in London this morning.

July 26, 2005

More Than Meets the Eye!


*squees like a schoolgirl*

August 16, 2005

The Awesomes

I own Nickel Creek's new album. And it is awesome. Being so rudely reminded of Nickel Creek's incendiary awesomeness has caused me to add a link to their website and a couple others to my left-hand column. It's different from their first two albums, but in a good way. And it will appeal to more general pop/rock sensibilities. (Read: buy this now.)

August 17, 2005

Learning Hour: Schrödinger's Cat

Quantum mechanics is weird. It's difficult to understand and even harder to explain. Like, try this: the position of an atomic particle can only be described using probabilities. So the particle is never in any one place -- it is "smeared out" over a range of possible locations depending on its particular set of probabilities. It will never actually be anywhere until it is observed, at which point it seemingly "chooses" a location.

Yeah, I can hear you now: Huh? It's strange stuff to say the least. So a guy named Schrödinger came up with an interesting (and somewhat sadistic) situation to let this play out. He proposed (note: he proposed, he never actually did this) to place a cat inside a box, and place inside the box a machine that would watch the radioactive decay of a one atom of an element. And when the machine senses that the atom has decayed, it would break a vial of toxic gas, which would instantly kill the cat.

Now, the element has a half-life of one hour, meaning that at the end of the hour, there is a 50% chance that the atom will have decayed, and an equivalent 50% chance that it will have not. So after one hour, the likelihood that the cat will be dead will be exactly the same as the likelihood that it will be alive. But we don't know until we open the box and find out.

Here's the strange part: According to quantum physics, until we open the box, the cat is neither alive nor dead. It is in an indiscernable state, and depending on your interpretation of quantum mechanics, it's hard to say what exactly the cat is. But we do know that until we make an observation, nature will not decide; we must be the cat's executioner or savior.

August 31, 2005


That's about the best I can come up with right now. Today's been a strange day.

Many of you are probably aware that I could be conservatively called "a man of habit." As it pertains to the current topic, this means that I like to have a schedule. I don't really have a very good one right now. Though I now have three jobs (more on that in a moment), the schedules relating to all three are still up in the air. This lead to a day where I wasn't quite sure where I was needed and when I needed to be there. I haven't exactly done much of consequence either (except buy a bookcase).

Compound this with the images of flooded streets, looting, carnage, disaster, utter ruin from New Orleans I'm receiving from the media. Yes, I know, as Samantha said to me, Americans act like we're the first people that things like this happen to. But it hits a little closer to home to know that the destination for my next Spring Break trip is now lying under up to 20 feet of water and will not likely ever be the same city again. I'm just sitting here with a worried look on my face, not entirely sure what to do or say.

I feel kind of useless right now. My only (and completely lame) hope is that I'll feel better once I get into some sort of regular schedule. And I'm not sure why this is affecting me so.

Anyway. Hopefully a less depressing post soon.

September 23, 2005

Punching Bag

Upset at the president? Take it out by flinging his ragdoll-limp body through a nebulous grey void!

October 2, 2005

More Storyhill Nerd-dom

I found a Minnesota music wiki.

I bet you can guess what I spent the last two hours doing.

October 24, 2005

Dirty Laundry

Yesterday was laundry day for us. We pushed about four loads through the broken-down washers and dryers in the basement of our building. But the guy next door had his own dirty laundry to air.

Our bedroom window looks towards the south, where another house continues the line of residential buildings on the east side of High Street. It's not surprising to hear the occupants out on their front lawn every once in a while, but we were pulled from our clothes folding yesterday afternoon by an inordinate amount of yelling. We went to the window to witness a man saying very loudly to someone (his ladyfriend, we assumed), "Bring me the generator!"

He must have received a negative response, because he yelled the same sentiment again, this time with language I don't feel necessary to repeat. Suddenly he broke into a tirade about how the woman never did a bleeping thing for him, blah blah blah. He then gets into his late-model Cadillac, tears off of the lawn where he parked and north on High Street.

Samantha and I looked at each other, slighly uncomfortable at having witnessed this, and made a few comments about the quality of this particular Bloomington citizen. Five minutes later, again we heard yelling, and found the dude back again, all up in his woman's face, saying something about "you think you're so holy!" He said the word 'holy' several more times in a mocking tone, then mimicked his previous exit, only with more lawn being torn up and driving off in the opposite direction from the first time.

Samantha and I kept coming back to this whacko several times throughout our evening, and each time, it became more ludicrous and more laughable. Admittedly we don't know what the situation was that led up to this confrontation, but clearly this guy was off his rocker, as the woman was not yelling back, and three kids that were also milling around did not vocally react. And he's doing this on his front lawn, on one of the busier thoroughfares in residential Bloomington.

We are still laughing at "Bring me the generator!" Seriously. What a jerk.

November 6, 2005


I like singing. In case you didn't already know.

For ten straight years now, I've been singing in a choir of some kind. In high school, I sang in the choir. At St. Olaf, I sang in three of the faculty directed choirs and a variety of side projects (lab choirs, Russian choir, pick-up a capella groups). After college, I sang in one of the seemingly dozens of semi-professional choirs in the Twin Cities. I spent last year with one of the groups in the IU School of Music. Now I'm singing with the Bloomington Chamber Singers (somewhat inaccurately named, as the group is 60 members strong).

Needless to say, I've got a bit of singing experience. I am not and have never been a music major, but I have been very frequently mistaken for one. I've been called an "honorary music major" several times. I've been told I missed my calling as a conductor. I've been called a choir snob (the only snob title I will wear proudly).

All this is well and good. But I've never really felt like all my experience has amounted to much. I always felt out of place when hanging with the "Twin Cities choral crowd" -- the collective body of music educators and choral singers in the Twin Cities. I usually feel inferior to people with degrees and people who have made singing their vocation. I usually see them as more talented or more valid, somehow. I can sing, yes, but only because I've been doing it for ten years. I wasn't born with much talent -- what I have, I've developed through lots and lots of practice.

But last week I got the first unsolicited comment that has changed how I feel about this. Gerry Sousa, the director of the BCS and a man of clearly very high musical pedigree and talent, told me that I "have a very nice voice" and selected me as the baritone soloist for a carol in our fall concert.

The choir is not great (there's that choir snobbery again) and there probably won't be more than 150 people that hear me sing. But this is a first. It's a serious solo -- the choir's just backing me up. I think I'm gonna be nervous. Have I made it?

December 3, 2005

'Tis the Season

To be selfish, that is. Here's my wishlist. Oh, and here's Samantha's, while you're at it.

January 20, 2006

More Geekery

Sorry for more Transformers links, but I would be remiss as an obsessive fan if I didn't post this. It is widely being circulated as leaked test footage from the upcoming live action movie. However, several sources say that it's fake, which seems to be the prevailing opinion, seeing as the movie hasn't even been greenlighted yet. *shrug* It's still cool looking.

My second 401 session went well. They may even be learning something. I'll have to grade their homework and let you know.

Tomorrow is Samantha's first fencing tournament in about a year and a half, and my first fencing tournament ever. No, I won't be fencing -- just tagging along. But wish her luck.

I wish I had a laptop.

Pitchers and catchers report to spring training in under six weeks.

That is all.

February 4, 2006


(There's supposed to be a picture above. If you don't see it, it's because one of my webspace providers is down.)

February 14, 2006

A Little Library Love

Happy Valentine's Day. I'll post in more detail about the weekend and such tomorrow, but here's today's love in the library story (and no, it's not about sex in the stacks).

February 17, 2006

Quick - Eddie from Ohio

Much like Strat-O-Matic, I'm not sure how I got to this point in my life before becoming aware of Eddie from Ohio. They are a foursome out of Virginia who sing great harmony and play kinda folksy, kinda poppy, really funny and sometimes poignant music. Think a healthy blend of Guster, Moxy Fruvous and Caedmon's Call and you've almost got it. Clearly something I would enjoy.

Anyway, more surprising than this is the fact that none of my friends seem to be aware of them either, because for just about every song on Quick (the album I own), I can think of a friend who would like it:

1) Quick: Peter Pearson. He'd probably like all of it, since it's kinda folksy and heavy on acoustic instruments, but a song arguably about relativity? Yeah, that's him.

2) Let's Get Mesolithic: Joe. Something (err, everything) about this one would definitely appeal to his sense of humor.

3) The Best of Me: Jen, about three years ago. She's pretty happy in her relationship right now, but I bet she would have appreciated the bitter tone of this one. But she'd still like the verse with all the pet names.

4) Hey Little Man: Kelsay, who loves upbeat songs, a capella music and literary references.

5) Number Six Driver: Megan, for the introspective, wistful lyrics, the road-song aesthetic and straight-forward sound that is very reminiscent of Caedmon's Call.

6) One Thousand Sarahs: Me. I heart this song.

7) Monotony: Matt Kuhn would just be bowled over by the wittiness and sarcasm of this one.

8) Candido and America: Gillian, because it's just a beautiful and thoughtful song.

9) Abraham: The only one I can't think of anyone for, because it's pretty depressed and resigned, and I'm generally not friends with those kind of people.

10) Cantering On Fool: Steve Vandahm, for the finger-pickin' goodness of the instrumental.

11) Tommy the Canexican: Leif. The man who describes his religious beliefs as Cath-eran would love the outrageous wordplay.

12) Tom Burleigh's Dead: Samantha. Irish drinking song, somewhat sick sense of humor? Check.

13) Great Day: Anyone I knew from Wapo Bible camp, for the rollicking, joyful exultation.

February 20, 2006

Quote of the Week 22

"Maybe we didn't realize how weird some people are until we came up with the Internet." - Samantha

That's all I got tonight. More tomorrow, maybe.

February 25, 2006

Coulter and Kennedy

For those of you who care about such things, Anne Coulter recently came to IU. Naturally, hilarity ensued, not the least of which was some pretty rampant stereotyping regarding sexual orientation by her and IU College Republicans president Shawn Kennedy. Check out the IDS article and my friend David's hilarious and spot-on reaction (including a run-down of Kennedy's Facebook and Friendster profiles).

March 7, 2006

Double-you Bee See

Lots of baseball people have been trashing the World Baseball Classic, but it's hard to not enjoy this stuff. I mean, if you're on the Dominican Republic team and Santana's leaving after his requisite 65 pitches, who do you have to look forward to? Carlos Zambrano, firing 97 mph at you. Man. But Big Z has got Tejada, Pujols and Ortiz to deal with once he gets there.

March 10, 2006

Doughnut Burger

For further proof that baseball is the best sport ever, witness the brilliant creation of the marketing people for a minor-league team.

March 21, 2006

Transformers/Daft Punk

Recently I was made aware of the assertion that Transformers: The Movie and Daft Punk's album Homework sync up a la Dark Side of the Moon and The Wizard of Oz. Unfortunately, I have been unable to find any corroboration of this statement anywhere else. But if you know me at all, it should not be surprising that regardless this has made me extremely curious, to the point that I have had to restrain myself from running out and buying the CD. Mostly I just haven't had time to do so, nor will I really have time to attempt said sync up even if I did. But should any of my readers have the urge to burn a copy of Homework and send it along, I certainly wouldn't mind...

The first day of spring was greeted by 3 inches of snow here in Bloomington. Awesome. Feels like home.

Back to work... 8-10 page paper due on Friday...

April 10, 2006

The Hotlist Again

Last year when I was on a LaunchCast kick, I posted my hotlist. The music addiction now is Pandora, which (like LaunchCast) has its own strengths and weaknesses, but the situation is the same... there's music out there that somehow I've become vaguely aware of as being possibly interesting, and I don't want to forget when I stumble across it.

Here's the most recent version of the hotlist.

Matt Nathanson
Elliott Smith
Beth Orton
Duncan Sheik (really! I've heard his later stuff is awesome)
The Duhks
The Bobs
April Cope
Edit: Late Tuesday

May 3, 2006

The Price of Doing What You Love

I love to sing.

Continue reading "The Price of Doing What You Love" »

May 12, 2006

Stephen Colbert - Patriot and Hero

My life was made a little brighter last week when I witnessed a video capture of Stephen Colbert's speech at the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner a couple weeks ago. For those of you who are unaware, he is the star of the Colbert Report, a Comedy Central program where he parodies the political pundits on cable. And apparently he was to be the entertainment this night.

I certainly thought he was entertaining. However, many people didn't quite think so, as he delivered a blistering ironic "tribute" to President Bush, lampooning his policy, his decisions, his persona and everything else, it seems -- when the man himself was sitting not twenty feet away. Understandably, he played to a shocked and somewhat quiet audience, apparently several Bush aides walked out before he finished, and Bush himself had no smiles for Colbert when he was done. But he has since become the next Internet phenomenon, complete with C-SPAN demanding the removal of the video from YouTube and iFilm and a thank you site with tens of thousands of posts.

If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it. Although you may not

  1. appreciate the style of his humor (it's pretty deadpan and very satirical),
  2. share his political beliefs, or
  3. believe that he said anything that everybody else hadn't already,

maybe you can just appreciate the guts the man had to lambast the president from twenty feet away.

May 15, 2006

An Alphabet Meme

Accent: Not much, a little Minnesotan sometimes (especially on my O's).
Booze: I'm learning. Still not that interested in beer or wine, but I enjoy a Cap and coke, amaretto sours and the occasional shot of bourbon.
Chore I Hate: Washing dishes. Gag me.
Dog or Cat: Robert and Angus, the cutest monkeys ever!!!!1
Essential Electronics: My watch, the computer. My phone, to a lesser degree.
Favorite Cologne(s): No thanks.
Gold or Silver: Well, my cross necklace, my earring and my wedding band are all silver, so I guess that answers that.
Hagiography: (The meme was missing an H entry when I grabbed it, so I added this one. Feel free to change it to something more conventional, if you like.) All this Barry Bonds coverage by ESPN is getting pretty close to one, if you ask me.
Insomnia: No way. I get up too early to suffer from that.
Job Title: Autobot Commander.
Kids: None yet.
Living arrangements: A non-descript two bedroom apartment with my wife.
Most admirable trait: A sense of perspective.
Number of sexual partners: What is this, a physical?
Overnight hospital stays: None that I can recall.
Phobias: None, really. I don't like bugs that much, but I wouldn't call it a phobia.
Quote: I'll tell you my least favorite: "Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most." SERIOUSLY -- who still thinks that's funny?
Religion: The more liberal of the Lutherans.
Siblings: An older sister and a younger sister.
Time I wake up: Between 6-7 am.
Unusual talent or skill: I can juggle three balls pretty consistently.
Vegetable I refuse to eat: It takes a lot to get me to refuse food. But I'll usually pass on artichokes if offered.
Worst habit: Mouth breathing. I have a perfectly good nose, so why don't I use it?
X-rays: That's the lamest X word possible. Ben recently provided ten better ones, so let's try something different, eh? Xiphoid-shaped object: My letter opener.
Yummy foods I make: Oh, man, you name it -- excellent stir-frys out of the leftovers in the crisper, a broad repertoire of bean-and-grain dishes to satisfy the hungriest vegetarian (and provide leftovers for tomorrow), and I can follow most recipes with ruthless efficiency. Try my Beans w/Pesto Bulgur and Impromptu Peanut & Soy Sauce Stir-fry. I'm not as good as some people I know though (*cough cough* Mari).
Zodiac sign: Cancer, whatever that means, because zodiac signs are bogus.

June 1, 2006

Chili Dogs, Again

We had chili dogs again. We have improved immeasurably upon our first attempt. Samantha is a vegetarian, by the way, so it's not as easy as it sounds to make a good chili dog for us. But we have discovered the best vegetarian chili dog ever. Behold, and be amazed:

* 4 Quorn Dogs
* 1 cup Texas Pete Chili Sauce
* Shredded cheese of your choice
* 4 hot dog buns of your choice (whole wheat recommended)
* Chopped onion (optional)

Cook Dogs as directed. Heat chili sauce over medium-low heat. Combine ingredients as desired. You can thank us now.

June 5, 2006

Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring

Banana Phone! (Thanks to Pete for today's True Internet Weirdness™.)

On a whim Saturday, Samantha and I attended a baseball game. It was a beautiful day and I had been meaning to go see the Indianapolis Indians play at some point. Unfortunately, they lost, but that did not diminish the fun we had eating overpriced stadium food, making fun of some of the stranger names on the roster and just soaking up the outdoor baseball experience. I realized that it was the first time I had watched professional baseball outdoors (since my Minnesota Twins have played in the Metrodome for my functional lifetime).

We had fun and we'll probably go again when the Rochester Red Wings (the Twins' AAA affiliate) come to town for a four game series on June 26-29. Anyone interested?

Otherwise, my heel has mostly healed (ha ha, get it?) and we went rollerblading a couple times. I ate lots of beef on Sunday at the Lutheran Campus Ministry cookout. And our party is in five days. Woo-hoo! What's new with you?

June 8, 2006

With a Taste of a Poison Paradise...

Nickel Creek covers Toxic. OMG. Words fail me. Video, too. I had forgotten why they are possibly the best band playing today. I have been reminded.

They were in Bloomington last Tuesday, and sadly we just couldn't afford to go, financially or in terms of free time. I am doubly sorry now that I am aware they they might have played this.

But alas, we have more important things to attend to. Like my family and closest friends rolling into town tomorrow. We are so, so excited to show them the town we've lived in for the past two years and celebrate our marriage with them. This weekend is going to be great. So you'll excuse me if I'm AFB (Away From Blogosphere) for the next few days. In the meantime, just put that MP3 on repeat.

EDIT: I did a bad thing and linked directly to the MP3 instead of the blog post where I found this. And the site that it's from disallows that. Silly me. The link should take you to the site now, where you can hear the song.

June 22, 2006


Craigslist expanded this month, and now there is one for Bloomington! Woo-hoo!

September 5, 2006


Mari will be proud of us. For those of you who don't read her blog, the following post is an example of something she does all the time.

Lentil and Veggie Tostadas

Continue reading "Foodblogging" »

October 6, 2006

Who Am I

My name is Andrew. Some people call me Wick. It's my middle name.

I was born on a stormy summer afternoon in Saint Paul, Minnesota. I grew up in an old farmhouse in northern rural Washington country, not far from Stillwater, along with a couple sisters and various cats. I generally did well in school, passably well in social settings and not so well in romantic endeavours. I've improved a little since then.

I've been interested in a lot of things throughout my life. Some of the more pervasive ones are computers, faith and religion, science, and music. I'm pretty good at those things too. I never really picked one to excel in beyond the other three, which sometimes bums me out. But things have worked out well so far, so no real complaints.

I attended St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota for four years. I met a lot of cool people there, many of whom I am still in good contact with. My interests were, for the most part, fostered well there. I also realized that I like to help people learn.

It took a little while to figure out exactly what that meant in terms of a career, but I think I've got it now. So I left Minnesota and got a master's degree in library science from Indiana University. I had a great time being an academic librarian for six years. In 2012, for a variety of reasons, I jumped to the private sector, so now I work for The Man. It's long been blog policy not to talk about work, though, so that's about all you're going to hear.

While I was in Indiana, I met, dated, eloped with and had a wedding-type party with a wonderful woman named Samantha. She's joined me on nearly all of the crazy journey since then. In 2010 a third traveler arrived. She's pretty great, too.

What else? I like to sing. In choirs, mostly, though I'm not picky. I like good food, road trips, fun music and movies, winter, quirky humor, baseball (in general, the Minnesota Twins in specific) and spending time with friends.

I took a long time off from this blog and am in the process of rediscovering if blogging is something that is worth my time. So who know what you'll find here? Though I do plan to continue reviewing movies on the AFI's Top 100 list.

I like keeping in touch with old friends and making new ones. If you are one or the other, drop me a line sometime.

November 20, 2006

Sci-Fi/Fantasy Booklist Meme

Memed from Bill. The most significant SF/F novels from 1953-2006 according to Time (although I have yet to verify this with my librarian skillz). Bold the ones you have read, strikethrough the ones you read and hated, italicize those you started but never finished and put a star next to the ones you love.

Continue reading "Sci-Fi/Fantasy Booklist Meme" »

December 7, 2006

Call to Action!

For those of you who are unaware, I'm kind of a webcomic nerd. One of the many I read regularly is Diesel Sweeties (found at, written by one R Stevens. It's a distinctive comic, drawn in an unusual style (in low resolution "pixelated" art) and very, very funny. And, wonder of wonders, this particular webcomic is making the rare transition from Internet publication to print syndication. As far as I know, there are very few comics that have done this. It has the potential to be groundbreaking for webcomics in general.

But R needs your help. Papers will not automatically start printing his comic unless someone tells them to. So, if you are a newspaper reader and would enjoy seeing a hilarious, intelligent and saucy comic in your daily paper, read on! If you look at his news page today, he has information on how to contact your local paper and request his comic. He even has a bribe.

I am composing my letter after I finish this post. If you are like me and find that your Sunday comics don't deserve the name "funnies" anymore, here's your chance to make a difference.

December 21, 2006

Home for the Holidays

We are off to Minnesota today for eight days of sunshine and playing in the surf. Happy holidays to you!

January 2, 2007

Ships and Dip

Yes, we're back from Minnesota and happy new year and all that. BUT FIRST: I must tell you the following information.

For months now I've been hinting about our honeymoon plans. One might even say... taunting. And for what reason have I delayed so long? What nefarious plan? Well... umm. Err, no reason, really. Other than my own laziness. But that ends today. Very soon (in less than two weeks) we will be on our belated honeymoon.

We are going on a cruise.

With Barenaked Ladies and Guster.

Oh yeah.

I was aware of the existence of this event (called Ships and Dip) when it first was announced, but did not feel drawn towards it -- drawn as a moth towards a flame -- until Guster also signed on. Then it turned from "something that would be cool to do" into "a once in a lifetime opportunity." And that's what a honeymoon should be, right? We are beyond excited for this and have been for, oh, about eight months or so. We've scrimped and saved (and gone into credit card debt) to pay for it and now it's actually going to happen. So awesome. We'll try to break our longstanding block against taking pictures on trips.

Okay, you can make jealous comments now...

February 22, 2007

A Break in the Action

Sorry for breaking up my predicted posts, but I felt a need to post about this for some reason.

I read Penny Arcade, a web comic about video games that is clever and hysterical, but also crass and violent. I don't play video games regularly and haven't since I was in high school, but I have friends who do. Anyway, the writers of the strip tend to get on their soapbox about how the media portrays the effects of violent video games in an unfair and biased light. I'm not quite sure what I believe about this particular issue, but I can tell you what I do believe in: the power of amateur, personal web media (like blogs, web comics, tags, flickr, whatever) to change the face of media and do good things.

Case in point. This story ran on CNN three days ago. Kid does despicable act, violent video games are the culprit. Not unusual. Gabe, the artist at Penny Arcade, goes off. Also not unusual. Two days later, Gabe posts an e-mail from someone intimately connected with the case, who also happens to be a fan of the site. In it, she tells her side, and perhaps what's closest to the truth -- closer than the CNN story and closer than Gabe's rant. Millions of people will see her words now, thanks to PA's wide ranging audience.

This wouldn't have happened ten years ago. Fascinating.

March 5, 2007

Predicting Your Future Blog Posts Is a Bad Idea

Because you run into something like this and can't resist sharing it. So, so true.

June 14, 2007

Summer Vay-cay

We have five important things to do this summer.

  1. See Amy get married.
  2. See Jen get married.
  3. Go to the national ALA conference.
  4. Go to the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section pre-conference.
  5. See the Minnesota Twins beat the New York Mets.

So we decided to do them all at once. See you in 2 1/2 weeks.

July 11, 2007

Tina Dico

Okay, so I basically haven't posted in two months -- I know. And we got back from our Weddings & Conferences Tour '07 a week and a half ago and there's tons of things to tell you about that -- I know. But that's not what's on my mind right now. So let's talk about Tina Dico.

First of all, she's f'ing gorgeous. But beyond that. I picked up her newest CD release In the Red off the shelf at Borders just because the cover caught my eye. It turns out I liked the music too. I ended up buying it a couple months later before we went on our trip.

I'm kind of addicted now. She's Danish and In the Red hit No. 1 on the Danish charts over megabands like Coldplay and U2. She's one of those "didn't like how the big record company was going to market her and went her own way to success outside the biz" stories and it's easy to understand how -- she's quite a talent. Her myspace page says she sounds like Joan Armatrading and Joni Mitchell, but I don't know them enough to say whether that's true or not. I'm comparing her to Norah Jones or Dido, except darker, more vocally striking -- and better. What can I say? I've got a crush. Take a listen. She's got a couple videos on Youtube as well.

Anyway. I'll try and get some more newsy posts out here in rapid succession. Stay tuned.

August 1, 2007

35W Bridge Collapse

There's been a terrible accident in Minneapolis. Is everyone back in Minnesota okay?

This feels so cheesy, but you'll forgive me if I'm worried.

August 21, 2007

Andrew Sampler Vol. 3

My mix CD obsession has struck again.

Continue reading "Andrew Sampler Vol. 3" »

September 17, 2007

Robert Jordan, 1948-2007

Robert Jordan died.

I guess this means that Wheel of Time won't finish?

September 19, 2007

Avast Me Hearties

Hoist the sails and batton down the hatches -- 'tis International Talk Like a Pirate Day! Arrr. Here's wishin' y'all a happy one -- and by happy, I mean I hope ye won't be walkin' the plank.

October 11, 2007

Southern Baptists and Gender Roles

Okay, Megan and Melissa (and anyone else), thoughts on this?

They love to do their homework: At this Southern Baptist seminary, women who serve God also serve their husbands. Baking, sewing and laundry are part of the curriculum.

My thoughts: At first glance, I am enraged for several reasons. Not only does this sort of clear gender inequality rankle me on a basic level, but it also perpetuates the popular misconception that all Christian thought and practice is blatantly patriarchal and misogynistic. (Just to clarify to my non-churchy readers: there are several denominations that ordain women, including the ELCA and Episcopal churches, the two I most closely identify with.)

But taking a look a second time, I of course can't go around telling other people how to live their lives. If these women are truly fulfilled and feel that they are living the Gospel and following in Christ's example by living this way, who am I to argue? They probably get along much better in their backwards Southern communities this way. There's value in that -- albeit, at the expense of shaking up the status quo and perhaps working towards some true gender equality -- but in lieu of that?

Also, the idea of people learning how to keep a household is not inherently a bad idea. It just saddens me that this seminary recognized that their students aren't learning that stuff from their parents and larger family group (the best source of such knowledge) and need to actually offer formal instruction.

What do you think?

October 26, 2007

My Film Debut

The first year I lived in Indiana, I auditioned for the choral ensembles at IU and was placed in the Contemporary Vocal Ensemble. Note that if you peruse the previously linked page, you may find that the home page for CVE is nonexistent. This is not surprising given how much the music school cares about its choral program or about ensemble musicianship in general. You will never find the opera pages in such a state of disarray, however! Oh no, not them.

But I digress. CVE was a largely regrettable experience. I almost typed "forgettable," but it would indeed be difficult to forget. Our director, Carmen Tellez, is a scholar of the highest order and passionately committed to her cause -- performing contemporary choral music. Unfortunately, yours truly is not a very big fan of most contemporary choral music, because yours truly is of the opinion that most contemporary choral music is bad. Add to this the fact that Carmen's greatest talents don't really lie in conducting and her choir is mostly full of conductors, not singers, made the group a study in divergent singing ability meeting with bizarre and immensely difficult music. You add that up and tell me how it looks to you. I did meet some cool people, though, and it also was the source of my film debut.

One of the last projects I did with CVE was a performance of The Bells of Leopardi by Yehuda Yannay. It easily fit in with the other music we did that spring (the theme of the concert was something completely crazy like "Music in Space and Time"). In portions of the piece, a voice recites numbers in Italian while the choir sings marcato chords imitating a clock tower. So guess who was the voice?

Anyway, the performance then spawned a multimedia project! It was set in the semi-circular concrete staircase in the Musical Arts Center on campus, and involved a toddler with a book, a vision of beauty, a chorus in black and the insomniac poet himself, played by the man with the voice, yours truly. I can't really remember much of the explanation for why the video contained all this, since it was two years ago. But it was an entertaining day in the MAC, walking up and down stairs, staring at people intensely, and that sort of thing.

When it was over, Carmen told us that she'd be in touch when the post production was finished. I never heard from her again.

Fast forward to last weekend and my visit to Bloomington. I ran into Sara Schaeffer in Mother Bear's. When she saw me, her eyes got wide and she pointed at me like I was a ghost. (I get this reaction a lot.) And said, "You! Carmen wants to talk to you! The video is done!"

And so it is. It's pretty weird, as expected, but the production values are pretty good. To think I didn't even need to move to LA to see my name in lights -- err, I mean, in Youtube.

January 7, 2008

Cell Phonery

I like making up words that end in "-ery."

I'm bored with my phone. Luckily, my contract with my chosen cellular phone provider is up. I'm trying to decide if I want to just get one of the free ones they offer or if I want to spend some money and get a nicer one. Is there any advance in cell phone technology that is worth spending more than $0 on a phone? None of the free phones are 3G capable, for example. I've been looking at some of the nicer ones. No, I don't want an iPhone. Anybody have any insight on this decision?

In other news, kale is awesome. I was feeling a little veggie-deprived, so I made a stir-fry recipe that had a ton of fresh veggies in it, including kale. Turns out it's like the superfood as far as nutritional benefits. My mom always said the darker the green, the better it is for you, so I'm not surprised.

41 days until Twins pitchers and catchers report!

January 16, 2008

Toward a Normative Ethical Code of Facebookery: Part I

First in an occasional series.

It is posited:

  • That Facebook is rife with third party applications.
  • That these applications are mostly obnoxious and useless, but some may be interesting.
  • That many applications, both obnoxious and interesting, carry within them the seeds for their own transmission, in the form of interaction with friends that often require the friend to add said application to their profile.
  • That people's opinions about specific applications varies from person to person, so that one person's interesting application is another person's obnoxious application.
  • That Facebook has become an uncaring corporate monolith deaf to the pleas of its users.
It is therefore concluded:
  • That foisting the addition of an application on one's friend(s) merely so one can have another level of interaction with that/those friend(s) is ethically unsound.
  • That some friends may have already added applications of their own volition, in which case interacting with them with those applications is ethically sound.
  • That ethical Facebook users will not engage in any Facebook activity that requires addition of an application to a friend's profile that the friend(s) in question has/have not already added.
  • That ethical Facebook users are not perfect, and thus will occasionally erroneously engage in the unethical behavior previously described.
  • That Facebook will do nothing to help you prevent such behavior.
It is therefore resolved: that, before engaging in any interactive behavior using an application, ethical Facebook users must take careful precaution to investigate the targeted friend(s) for the appearance of the application in question.

February 4, 2008

Warning, Baseball Talk Ahead

2002 was the year the Minnesota Twins started winning again, after nearly a decade of futility. It was also the year my baseball fandom came alive again.

Continue reading "Warning, Baseball Talk Ahead" »

March 3, 2008

Song Lyrics of the Moment

Two lovers standing hand in hand
Powerless to choose
I's are dotted, stars are crossed
Alone against the muse

- The Apothecary, Enter the Haggis

March 16, 2008

Heinäsirkka, Heinäsirkka, Mene Täältä Hiiteen

Happy St. Urho's Day! May your day be grasshopper free.

March 19, 2008

You Win, Los Angeles

You win. I don't know when you decided that this was a fight, but I give up. You win.

I won't ride my bike anymore. I know you don't like it. Oh, you had me fooled for a little while there -- I was avoiding your traffic and it was avoiding me. We had a little system worked out. But you've stolen two of my bikes now. The first one I'll grant you, since it wasn't locked up. But this one was. Yes, I know it was stupid of me to spend $500 on it and only $30 on the lock. Not that it matters -- I get it now. I'll drive. Fine.

I know you didn't want us here, Los Angeles. Samantha knew that right away (she's the smart one). But she's gone, and I'm going, just as fast as I can. But you're gonna have to put up with me until your big brother New York gives me a job.

I know you hate me, Los Angeles -- I just wish you wouldn't make it so damned obvious.

April 1, 2008


Start yukking it up. An enterprising Twins fan did a little WHOIS research and found a couple conspicuously topical domain names registered to the Minnesota Twins. The punchline? We could be watching the Twins at the LOL in 2010.

I, uh, LOL'd.

April 11, 2008

Total Nerd Meme

Thanks, Steve!

$ history | awk '{print $2}' | sort | uniq -c | sort -rn | head
103 vi
84 logout
76 ls
63 cd
53 pine
36 cat
13 lsl
13 sed
9 cp
6 chmod
PS - If you don't get this, don't worry. In fact, not only "don't worry," be glad.

June 14, 2008

Swee Frolls

How much would you pay for this cinnamon roll? Looks awesome, doesn't it? Note that it's approximately as big as my head.

Think now.

$2.25, you say? Well, yes, that's how much money I gave to the nice lady at Panaderia in San Fernando earlier today. But that's not all I got. Here's the rest.

Some delicious pan dulce (which I have since devoured) and a tasty looking cookie. I think I've found my new favorite bakery ever.

June 20, 2008

Two More Baseball-Related Notes

1) Be sure to go vote for Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau for the All-Star Game. They are both second in the running behind Red Sox players and within striking distance -- especially Mauer, who has been far and away the best catcher in the American League this year. You can vote up to 25 times! Win tickets to a Twins game! What are you waiting for?!

2) I am basically this guy, except with less profanity. I have settled in 15th place in my fantasy league and, barring a miracle, am likely to stay there. I blame the entire roster of the Washington Nationals.

July 6, 2008


What is there to say? He's gone.

Continue reading "Angus" »

July 13, 2008

Things I Will Miss About California

In no particular order:

  1. The convenience of the weather. Contrary to what most people think, I will not miss the weather itself. But I can't deny that it makes life very convenient here. Here's the entirety of the thought process involved in going outside: "Is it winter? If it is, grab a light coat and your umbrella. If it's not, you're fine."
  2. The burgers. They do 'em right around here. I can name half a dozen places within a ten minute drive from my apartment where you can get a great cheeseburger, from the internationally-famous to the lesser-known but still high quality local chains to the really, really local joints -- oh, so ghetto, but oh, so good.
  3. The Arclight. I'm never going to be pleased with a movie theater ever again, unless theaters in Danbury also have no ads, reserved seating online and Häagen-Dazs ice cream in concessions.
  4. The friends we've made here. But that is true about every place I've lived and left.

A surprisingly (or, perhaps, not surprisingly) short list.

October 8, 2008

My Politics

I guess I don't talk about politics much here. Conversation about the presidential campaign so pervades every venue I converse in (home, work and Facebook are the big three) that I feel like my opinion on the matter has been transmitted, by some sort of ubiquitous osmosis process. But perhaps not.


I'm for Barack Obama. This should probably come as no great shock to most of you. I could go into a lot more detail, but you've probably heard plenty about him. Suffice it to say: I think he's the coolest and I'm pretty excited for the opportunity to vote for "that one" in November.

Having said that, I sort of wish Election Day was tomorrow. I'm a little tired of it.

October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!


November 4, 2008

Election Day 2008

As before, I have done my civic duty. Please go do yours.

It's my third presidential election and I'm hoping to break my record of not voting for the winner. Third time's a charm?

November 7, 2008

President-elect Barack Obama

I'm having trouble coming to terms with Barack Obama's victory in the presidential election. I mean this in a number of ways.

Continue reading "President-elect Barack Obama" »

November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

Here's your heartwarming Thanksgiving link for the day.

We're in Danbury for the holiday this year. Georgia was the planned destination, according to our customary rotation, but it didn't quite come together financially after the cross country move and the latest cat health crisis. But it's all good -- we're hosting Samantha's colleague Laura and her partner Sara for what I expect to be a fantastic meal. Maybe we'll take pictures with our new camera!

So a happy Turkey (or Turkey-less, in our case) Day to you and yours. More updates soon.

December 3, 2008

'Tis the Season 2008

To be selfish, that is. If you're so inclined to give gifts but are stuck for ideas, here's my wishlist -- newly updated!

I also accept cash.

April 9, 2009

Baseball, You Guys

Yay, baseball is here! Here are some baseball related things.

  • The Twins have a winning record so far. They're even leading the AL Central! I have to say this now in case it is not true for the rest of the year. Though honestly, I have no idea what will happen in the Central this year, as it is a pretty weak division currently.
  • Where we live, Boston or in New York are the two easiest options for seeing the Twins live without traveling extreme distances. Unfortunately, we won't be seeing them at all, because all of the games at both locations are sold out of moderately priced tickets. And since it's basically legal to scalp tickets now, there were thousands of tickets available online, but I loathe and despise the ticket resale industry and refuse to support it by buying tickets from a third party. So in all likelihood we won't be seeing the Twins in person this year.
  • Our fancy new flat screen TV has a VGA input, which means we can watch anything on the computer on it. Including Twins games via We watched a bit of last night's game this way and the picture's not bad for our mediocre DSL bandwidth.
  • This also means fantasy baseball has begun. I'm playing in my regular league, which is comprised of many friends from St. Olaf. It's an extremely competitive league and my draft didn't turn out as well as I would have hoped. I was feeling pretty down about this, so on a whim, I went and joined another league right before the season started. It's a rather shallow public league, and I anticipate that it will be a good antidote and confidence builder compared to the soul-crushing difficulty of my regular league.

And finally, my least favorite thing about baseball -- when a young player gets his chance at stardom snatched away before he's even had a chance to try. Rest in peace, Nick.

April 15, 2009

Miranda Sings

The current funniest thing on the Internet for me is Miranda Sings. Miranda is a singer from Tacoma, WA, who is just trying to make a name for herself using nothing but her talent, her drive for success, and some YouTube videos. Check out her rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner. You can even learn how to sing like her from her free voice lesson!

Before you click, though, I should warn you that her videos are not for the faint of heart. And by "heart" I mean "musical appreciation." Because Miranda is terrible. She can't sing on key, with or without accompaniment. Her vocal technique is cringe-worthy. Her musicianship is off the scale -- the low end, that is. My poor wife usually can't make it through 30 seconds of her videos.

But what isn't entirely clear (to many of the commenters on YouTube especially) is that Miranda is a joke: she's a character created and played, as best I can gather, by Colleen Ballinger, a recent Azusa Pacific University graduate in vocal performance. Colleen has some YouTube videos that display her interest in contemporary Broadway fare, and in them, she's just fine; she's even pretty good, if you like that sort of thing. But I'm somewhat sad to say that her future may be in comedy, because Miranda's lampoon of self-obsessed singers in the age of YouTube is spot on.

This hits my sweet spot for Internet weirdness for a number of reasons. First off, the videos in and of themselves are so bad you can't help but laugh. And once you understand it's satire, you add that level of humor (one that's particularly appealing to me, because I can't stand singers with an ego). But I love love love the reactions. The usual "OMG your terrible" ones are good, but there are people trying to correct her "advice" in the voice lesson, or telling her what she's doing wrong... they're all just so earnest in their criticism. And then there are the people who get the joke, who post the supportive comments! I love it. Plus, I have so many friends who really are professional musicians, and some of them are just as taken in as the broader public. Fantastic.

Go Miranda. And haters, back off. You're just jealous.

May 3, 2009

Bar Harbor / Acadia National Park

In February, Samantha and I discussed the fact that we couldn't remember the last time we had a vacation that wasn't also a trip for some other reason, like visiting family for the holidays or going to a conference or a wedding. So we made plans to fix that. And two weeks ago we had a lovely mini-vacation in Bar Harbor, Maine, and Acadia National Park.

I didn't know the place existed before February and now it's one of my favorite places ever. The town and most of the park are located on Mt. Desert Island on the Atlantic Coast and it's just beautiful country. Apparently everyone already knows this, as the place has been the vacation spot for the rich and famous for decades and does quite a healthy tourist business in the summer months.

Lucky for us, it wasn't quite the summer months yet and we almost had the place entirely to ourselves. We showed up at our chosen lodgings, the Coach Stop Inn bed and breakfast after a quick seven hour drive to find that we are the only guests there. Acadia itself only opened fully the day before, and the carriage roads were still closed to biking due to the spring thaw. Venturing into town, we found many of the local merchants still closed for the winter.

However I can safely say that very little of this had any effect on our experience. True, we didn't get to do any biking or kayaking, but if we had, I might have missed out on my favorite part of the trip: our two hikes.

I had never gone hiking in any serious sense before, and I'm sorry I've been missing out for so long. Friday and Saturday morning were spent on the trails headed up and down Gorham and Beech Mountain, respectively. Admittedly, they're not so much mountains as much as overgrown hills (525 and 839 feet), but they're the only mountains I've ever climbed, so I'll stick with mountains. Anyway, I had a great time following the trails, scrambling over rocks and trekking through forests. The weather was absolutely perfect (in the low 60s most of the time) and we barely spotted another soul out on the trails. Very peaceful and yet an excellent workout.

The workout part we needed, especially, after the three course breakfasts we were served at our B&B. Which were completely amazing. I think they called this Eggs Napoleon. I didn't get a picture of the blueberry fritters, their signature dish and the first course of each breakfast. That's probably because we were wolfing them down so fast. Samantha picked the place partially because of the excellent breakfasts, and they didn't disappoint. Overall we highly recommend the Coach Stop Inn.

Hiking and breakfast were the highlights for me, but the whole weekend was a smash hit. The weather cooperated beautifully the entire time. We enjoyed some less strenuous touring of the park and the island, driving up Cadillac Mountain, walking along the shore and across the "bar" at low tide. We even got some culture at a local Native American museum and did a little shopping. We had delicious food all over the place, sampling among the open eating establishments in Bar Harbor and a couple of Yelp-approved spots in Portland on the way there and back.

All in all it was a great trip. We felt recharged heading back home. And I have a new hiking addiction to feed.

July 3, 2009

My Storyhill Greatest Hits Album

If you're a regular reader here, you probably know that I'm an obsessive fan of Storyhill, a two-dudes-two-guitars band from Montana/Minnesota. How obsessive, you say? Well, I own a domain name which houses a sporadically updated fan site. But also, on the occasion of a friend of mine becoming a fan (thanks to me, of course), I decided to feed her growing interest by finishing a project I've had in my head for a while now: a Storyhill greatest hits album.

I sent it to her a couple weeks ago, so I figured I'd also post it here. The track list is in reverse chronological order by album, followed by the order they appear on the album. What do you think, Storyhill fans? Did I leave anything out?

  1. Give Up The Ghost (from Storyhill)
  2. Paradise Lost (from Storyhill)
  3. Seven Sisters (from Dovetail)
  4. What Was Wrong (from Dovetail)
  5. Angel (from Dovetail)
  6. All I Need (from Dovetail)
  7. Inside Emotion (from Echoes)
  8. Great Divide (from Echoes)
  9. Somewhere In Between (from Storyhill Live)
  10. Let The Wind Come In (from Storyhill Live)
  11. Steady On (from Storyhill Live)
  12. White Roses (from This Side of Lost)
  13. Mary On the Mountain (from This Side of Lost)
  14. Spaces (from This Side of Lost)
  15. Absaroka Air (from Clearing)
  16. Tremblin' Tracks (from Clearing)
  17. Loose Summer Clothes (from Clearing)
  18. I-90 (from Miles and Means)
  19. Parallel Lives (from Miles and Means)
  20. If I Could (from Miles and Means)
  21. Boulder River (from Miles and Means)

January 2, 2013

Quit Driving Your Car to Work

Yes, I know I said I’d do some catch up. But I was thinking about something while walking home today, and I said to myself, “You should blog about this!” You know, because I have a blog.

That "something" was precisely what I was doing. Walking home from work. Because I walk my commute rather than driving. And it’s something you should be doing, too: getting to work in some other way rather than driving.

I’ve always wanted to be able to avoid a driving commute. And for most of my working life, I’ve been able to do it. During my two years in California, excluding a brief period when my bike was stolen (curse you forever, Los Angeles bike thief), I did it. And for the three years I lived and worked in Middletown, I did it.

A commute is a requirement in my life. If you work and are not one of the lucky souls who works from home, it is probably a requirement in yours, too. And the assumption is that commutes necessarily have to involve a car. I freaking hate that assumption.

Why is this important to me?

  • My health. The current understanding of how health and physical activity are correlated suggests that any regular physical activity, even walking for 30 minutes a day, is beneficial to your well-being. Alternatively, there is growing evidence that sitting for excessive periods of time is unhealthy. I don’t know about you, but I spend a lot of my time at work sitting. If I have to commute, the last thing I want to do is sit during it.
  • Sustainability. Driving, alone, is one of the most inefficient modes of transportation available. Why should I burn gasoline getting to and from work if I don’t have to.
  • Thrift. Gas and automobile maintenance is expensive.
  • My safety. Cars are dangerous and the less time I can spend in one, the better.

I am not a car hater. I love road trips and I love driving. But there is something about the necessity of getting in the car ten times a week that I loathe. And I happen to think that this is why many people I knew in Los Angeles didn’t like driving to do social things -- because they spend all the time in their cars commuting. Of course they don’t want to get back in the car. That makes sense. But there’s no way I want to ever feel like that.

I realize that our infrastructure isn’t really built for this. Lots of people work in city centers and live in suburbs. Or your workplace is in a neighborhood you don’t want to live in. These are problems that aren’t easily solvable -- our cities aren’t designed for this. My point is that they should be designed for non car commuting. Support public transportation initiatives and bike lanes.

I also understand that there are good reasons why this won’t work for everyone independent of city design. You and your spouse’s workplaces aren’t close together. You own a house and it’s far away from your workplace. You have to take your kids to daycare on the way. But if these aren’t problems for you, what’s your excuse? Do you live less than 5 miles away? You can bike that in under 30 minutes. Do you have trouble fitting in time to get some exercise? You have to commute every day, right? There you go. Trying to save some money? How about not buying gas every week? (And don’t give me any excuses about the weather. That’s what thermal underwear is for.)

Mostly, I just want people to stop looking at me like I’m crazy when I tell them that I walk to work and that I like it that way. I mean, maybe they’re just jealous. Why don’t you join me? We’ll find out together.

January 10, 2013

The Hall of Fame Voting is a Joke

The Baseball Hall of Fame announced the results of the 2012 round of voting yesterday. It was the first time on the ballot for some of baseball’s most impressive modern day players: Craig Biggio, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mike Piazza and Curt Schilling. But guess what? None of these players were voted in. In the case of Bonds and Clemens, possibly the best hitter and pitcher of their generation, not even 40% of the voting body (the Baseball Writers Association of America, or BBWAA) deemed them fit to join the Hall. In fact, nobody made the cut this year.

The reasons for this aren’t mysterious, however. Rumors and allegations of steroid use have swirled around Bonds, Clemens and other players on the ballot for years now. And many writers are taking a stand that the players they believe used performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) do not belong in the Hall of Fame.

This is, in the most delicate terms, bullshit. Here’s why.

First off, the fact that many of these players actually used PEDs has hardly been conclusively proven. At no time during almost any of the players’ major league tenure did they test positive for PED usage. The lone exception is Rafael Palmeiro, who tested positive months before his last at-bat. To be clear, many of these player’s careers took place before 2004, when the new drug policy took effect and random testing started. Before that point, PED usage was disallowed but infractions were largely treated by looking the other way (more on this later). So all we are left to work with is a couple muckracking books, a witch hunt of a report (in which players are named with insufficient evidence to prove any wrongdoing), and a lot of anecdotes. This is the evidence with which we are to convict baseball players? God forbid anyone should be tried and convicted under such conditions.

Now, even granting the likely possibility that many of these players did use PEDs, there is hardly evidence to support the fact that performance enhancing drugs actually, you know, enhance performance. Once again, we can cherry pick single achievements like home run records. But the statistics used to measure performance in baseball are prone to statistical variation like anything else. How are we to tease out the influence of PEDs among differences in league-wide competitive levels, baseball park dimensions, opposing teams' defense and pitching, and weather conditions, to name a few? Go ahead and try. Take the list of players named in the Mitchell Report and the list of players who have been suspended for PED use and show me the evidence. I'll wait.

Now, let's grant both of these assumptions correct -- that players used PEDs and it affected their performance. Even after doing this, there are still problems with this stance.

  1. Steroids are the latest in a line of questionable things that baseball players have done to gain unfair advantage over the years. Corked bats. Doctored baseballs (the favored tool of Gaylord Perry, Hall of Fame class of 1990). Hell, steroids aren't even the only PED or even the most prevalent: amphetamines have been far more commonly used in baseball and for far longer than steroids. The BBWAA has elected dozens of players who most likely used and benefited from "greenies" to the Hall of Fame. Where is the outrage there?
  2. If this is a moral issue, spare me. The Hall of Fame is full of "multiple virulent racists, drunks, cheats, brawlers, drug users and at least one acknowledged sex addict" (thanks to Bill Pennington for his excellent and timely article). Baseball players are far from saints and what does that have to do with their baseball performance, anyway?
  3. It's patently obvious that no one involved with the actual business of running a baseball team and playing the game cares about players who have been found guilty of PED usage. Ryan Franklin, suspended for usage in 2005 and named in the Mitchell Report, was held in such low regard by the baseball community that he... um... went on to sign million-dollar contracts with the Phillies and the Cardinals and was voted to the All-Star game in 2008. Michael Morse, suspended in 2005. The horror! He signed a 2 year, $10.5 million contract with the Nationals last year and received votes for Most Valuable Player in 2011. Guillermo Mota, suspended in 2006. What shame! Was a valuable part of the 2010 World Series Champion San Francisco Giants. The modus operandi in baseball is players get caught, they serve their time and they come back again. No one cares.

Finally, the most infuriating problem with this stance is how bald-faced hypocritical it is. Baseball writers ate up the steroid era with a spoon. They loved it. Long paeans about the majesty of the home run chases and the explosion in offense. They were right there, in the clubhouse, face-to-face with the evidence of PED usage. Everyone benefited from it, from the players to the owners to the writers. How much did they care about all the cheating and the "immoral behavior" then? Enough to say absolutely nothing about it the whole time. And now they're going to stand as the guardians of honor at the doors of the Hall of Fame? The writers' refusal to take a stand when it benefited them the least entirely negates the stand they are taking now that it benefits them the most. It makes me sick.

The Hall of Fame is about baseball performance. Nothing else. For many years, the BBWAA had the sole vantage point with which to make judgments about the quality of baseball performance. But that time is over. Now it seems that the BBWAA wants nothing else but to make Hall of Fame voting all about themselves and the cockamamie storylines they build about Jack Morris pitching to the score and Jim Rice being the most feared hitter of his time.

Hall of Fame voting is becoming a joke and not a funny one. Jim Rice wasn't the most feared hitter of his time; that was Barry Bonds, who holds the all-time baseball record for walks. He belongs. Jack Morris isn't a Hall of Fame pitcher. Roger Clemens, with his seven Cy Young awards, is. He belongs. As do many of the other players who appeared on the ballot this year. The Hall would be stronger for including them. It's as simple as that.

January 18, 2013

Choirboy Problems

For the discerning choir nerd, moving back to Minnesota is a dream come true. There is a plethora -- one might say, a cacaphony -- of choirs in the Twin Cities area. Choirs of every size and shape exist, from massive symphonic chorales to GLBT-friendly show choirs to professional early music ensembles. It's an embarrassment of riches for the choral music lover. It's one of many reasons why we wanted to come back here and for years I have been looking forward to reengaging with the choral singing community here.

But I've just realized that I'm kind of dreading it as well.

I'm coming face to face with it right now and I'm trying to figure out why. I think there are a few reasons contributing to the feeling.

  • The wide variety of choices is a double-edged sword for someone who has difficulty making decisions (that's me).
  • It's the middle of the choral season (which tends to run from September to June like schools and churches). So trying to join a choir right now is not the usual process and I don't know how to navigate that.
  • My personal expectations have changed. It's been eight years since I've sung here and I've been spoiled by my experiences in LA and Connecticut. I want to join a top-tier choir and I'd like to get paid. But I don't know if my skill level and the odd circumstances of trying to join up in January really allow me to be that picky.
  • I don't really know who is top-tier these days. I've been away for a long time so my knowledge of the scene is rusty and I only have hearsay and websites to go on.
  • We're settled in so I don't have any excuses to put it off any longer.
  • Kantorei, whom I sang with from 2002-2004, is beating down my door to come back and for all of the above reasons I don't know whether to take them up on it or not.

I need to start making decisions and contacting people soon. Argh. Can all of the conductors in the area just have a pow-wow and decide where I should go? That'd be great.

January 25, 2013

Shame on You, Glee

Back in 2005 when I was still in graduate school, my wanderings about the Internet brought me to a delightful cover of Sir Mix-A-Lot's Baby Got Back by a fellow named Jonathan Coulton. (Here's the original for comparison.) Coulton reimagined the crass rap classic as a lackadaisical, folksy, and extremely white ballad, and it's brilliant. He wrote a melody and an arrangement and basically just used the words. I've long been a fan of out of genre song covers so this one was right up my alley. In the years since, Coulton has made a name for himself with fans of smart and geeky music.

Fast forward to last week, when this video came to the general attention of the Internet. It's a track for an unreleased episode of the television show Glee, featuring a cover of Baby Got Back. Take a listen. Sound familiar? Yeah, you're not the only one who noticed:

By the way, if it's not clear to you that Glee ripped off the cover, arrangement, melody and basically everything else entirely, please note that Coulton at one point changes the lyrics to say "Johnny C's in trouble" instead of "Mix-A-Lot's in trouble." You'd think maybe that Glee would avoid linking their version quite so closely to Coulton's, wouldn't you? But nope. That lyric remains unchanged in Glee's version.

There is no attribution to Coulton for the arrangement. Coulton was never contacted, was never asked permission and never received any compensation. The larceny is so obvious that many people were doubting if the Glee track was legitimate, and whether FOX would be so bold as to really do this. But the episode aired last night. And Coulton's been in touch with FOX about it. You can see from Coulton's blog that FOX says "they’re within their legal rights to do this, and that I should be happy for the exposure (even though they do not credit me, and have not even publicly acknowledged that it’s my version – so you know, it’s kind of SECRET exposure)."

Now, FOX may well be right that what they did was legal. From what I can understand from the articles above, the legality issue is still unclear. Still to be worked out is whether or not FOX actually scammed Coulton's audio track and used it in their recording. (The evidence in that department is pretty damning.)

But even if what they did was legal: sweet mother of mercy, really? How hard would it have been to ask the man and give him credit? He's a nobody compared to a major national network television show. And that's precisely why FOX didn't. Because they figured they could get away with it.

I watched the first season of Glee and enjoyed it for the most part. Eventually the terrible acting and plot lines drove me away. But this has pretty much guaranteed that I'll never watch the show again and will actively disparage it to everyone I know. Glee and FOX should be ashamed of themselves for blatantly and remorselessly stealing the creative work of someone else.

February 7, 2013

God's Work in the Westboro Baptist Church

You've probably heard of the Westboro Baptist Church, the small and stridently hateful anti-gay congregation from Kansas that tends to picket anything that will get them attention. In recent years, Megan Phelps-Roper, the granddaughter of church pastor Fred Phelps, gave interviews and was active on social media supporting the church's mission. But yesterday, news broke that she and her sister Grace have left the church. These two pieces, one an interview with Phelps-Roper since her departure and one a joint statement she and her sister have made, are worth your time.

I am completely fascinated by this. First of all, for obvious reasons; as a person of faith myself, I believe that the WBC is going about their Christian faith the wrong way, and hearing that someone who was raised in that church now agrees with me is satisfying. But beyond that, I found myself immediately sympathetic towards Megan after reading those pieces, and also immediately convinced that this was an important turn of events that was worth commenting on in a broader forum.

On the surface, this isn't really worth my time. The WBC doesn't deserve any more attention than they already get for a group of less than 100 people who spew hatred in wildly inappropriate venues. And having one of their fold renounce their hateful message and leave should be the expected course of events, right? Fringe hate groups are fringe for a reason; their beliefs are antithetical to normal human behavior for living in a peaceful society. We should just be nodding to ourselves that humanity is making forward progress, that a hate group is one step closer to going away, and moving on with our lives.

But this keeps drawing me in. One of the reasons why is the detail that Phelps-Roper shares about the church and their beliefs. She says that she regrets hurting people, that "[t]hat was never our intention. We thought we were doing good. We thought it was the only way to do good." This statement is difficult to believe given the obvious vitriolic quality of the WBC's rhetoric. But more comments about how church members are taught to distrust their feelings and that human nature is inherently completely sinful make the statement comprehensible. Disassociating one's self from one's own feelings in deference to a certain understanding of Biblical scripture would certainly make it possible to do the sort of things the WBC does without feeling morally bankrupt yourself, though that still strains belief.

So now I understand a little better why the WBC does what it does, and so my previous feelings towards the church -- anger, resentment and doubt that their actions are truly statements of faith rather than petty attention mongering -- are instead turned into pity and a desire for them to see the error of their ways. That's interesting.

But also I see Megan Phelps-Roper herself as someone who is in a position to do something remarkable now. She states that she wants to be "an influence for good" going forward. The reporter comments that "you may believe it or you may not." I do believe it. Here is a young woman who is well-spoken and media savvy. There is a spark of intelligence and wit in her statement that made me smile and made me think. She was raised in an environment with a single focus: to do what her community believed was God's work in the world. To do good. Now she has no longer subscribes to that community's beliefs. However, her innate gifts and seasoned skill in studying, communicating, speaking and writing, and most importantly, her desire to do good, all remain. I think that's a unique place to be in, and a place from which something may spring that truly is God's work. How wonderful -- and ironic -- would it be if the WBC had forged this young woman in a crucible of hate, but she instead goes forward to preach love and kindness and mercy instead?

I guess I just felt the Spirit moving when I read these pieces today. And I don't usually feel that when I'm reading random stuff on the Internet.

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This page contains an archive of all entries posted to This Side of Lost in the Personal category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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