12/27/2004

Note To Self: Check Holiday Schedule

... so that you don't show up to work on a Monday only to find that nobody else is around, because it's a friggin' company holiday. Hmmph. Well, at least I actually did a little work and sent some emails, so everyone knows how hard I'm working (even coming in on a holiday).

Now I'm home, and I've got some Marshmallow Peeps with my name on 'em.

Happy holidays everybody. :)

12/22/2004

What I was saying about it being cold up in New Jersey but not here in Houston?

Forget it.

Yes, those are numbers that start with 3.

I'm going to bed, wake me up when it's March.

12/21/2004

Back from NY

Took a lovely trip with Uberjam up to New Jersey and New York this weekend to visit with my mom, my sister, and my brother-in-law. Discovered that it is still VERY COLD up in New York. Remembered with stunning clarity why it was I moved to warmer climates.

Had a nice visit to the MoMA (so that's where they took our broken obelisk!). Had high tea at the Crown Plaza hotel. Saw a Scandinavian Christmas concert. Ate afghani food.

And now I'm back. Good night.

12/17/2004

Some photos

At last, a few long awaited shots. Awaited by me, that is.

Me before my trim:


Me after my trim, and subsequent bad-assing:


Uberjam, looking joyful:


Our lovely xmas tree:


That's all she wrote!

12/06/2004

Free the birds

So recently, out of my desperate love of all things burrito, I entered this little contest that Freebirds Burritos was having. You had to design a t-shirt, and the prize was a bunch of free burritos. Not being much of an artist, I pressed the bleeding edge of my Freehand kung fu to produce a silly design, and sent it in. And I came in 1st runner up! WoOt! So I get like 26 free burritos, which should last me almost a week. Check out the page about it on their site.



Now I just need to convince them to put a hyperlink to my band ... :)

11/25/2004

Happy t-day

I'm over at the in-laws, about to chow down on some veggie turkey (mmm) and all the associated stuff. It's nice to relax for a couple days. Hope you're all doing likewise.

11/24/2004

Skinny Logic

So yesterday, my beloved KTRU got an email from "American Patriot" explaining that if they don't stop playing skinny puppy, then the station will get boycotted, and will subsequently crumble from the financial pressure of the boycott:

In the past few months a band by the name of Skinny Puppy has slandered Bush. At several of their concerts over the Summer they have simulated an assassination of the president. On their current Fall tour they simulated a beheading similar to the ones happening in Iraq. When the vocalist pulls off their hoods he reveals the terrorists to be Bush and Cheney. This is unacceptable and I encourage you not to play their latest record, The Greater Wrong of the Right, that has been indicated by their record label as being played on your station. Conservatives are currently a majority of the populace now and we have voted into power a majority in every level of government. The people of this country have the power as evident by our boycott of the Reagan miniseries, the Superbowl, and the Dixie Chicks. If you still choose to play their music we have the ability to put financial pressure on your station through boycotts. Please remove Skinny Puppy from rotation or we will have no choice but to boycott your station.

Currently, your station is listed on the boycott list found here:

http://www.pabaah.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=717

If you decide to stop playing Skinny Puppy as well as consider changing the format in order to provide more fair and balance we will consider removing you from the list."
That's what we need around here. More fair.

I'm still chuckling at the thought of a conservative boycott causing financial ruin at KTRU. Did I mention I played 45 minutes of a dude banging on a pot the other day?

11/17/2004

Good lordy does that boy use a lot of mustard ...

So the new diet is going well. Did I mention I'm on a new diet? It's a modified version of the New York Body Plan. Modified in that, well, a) Uberjam and I don't eat meat, so we've substituted a lot of "fake" meat; and b) I haven't bothered with that whole "exercise" part.

Many shudder at the mere thought of fake meat. But honestly, there's nothing quite as nice as eating a big ol' slab of bologna and knowing you're not chomping down on something really gross. I mean, soy is gross, but not in that way. And for some foods, they've actually gotten pretty close on taste & texture. Hot dogs, cold cuts, turkey, bacon and sausage all have yummy meatless substitutes. Yummy, that is, from the point of view of someone who hasn't actually eaten any of those things in several years.

What does the diet prohibit? Um ... everything else. We've been eating veggies & lean protein pretty much exclusively for 2 weeks. The jury's still out on results, but I'm enjoying it OK so far. 'Course, a slab of pizza would be pretty nice right about now.

11/09/2004

Nice

This is one of those weeks where it's awesome to live in Houston.

This is the one week out of the year where it's awesome to live in Houston. The temperature is great, the skies are blue, it's not too humid, and the air just smells alive and good. I have been spending my time running around in circles outside, jumping up and down, and generally frolicing. Well, OK, actually I've been sitting in my windowless office all day every day, just like any other week.


But I know that it's nice out, and that makes me feel good. How do you feel?

10/27/2004

Homestar

Today I saw a post on the Google Blog about a recent trade show they were at. Nothing particularly revelatory about it, but if I'm not mistaken, the "head asplode" line is a reference to my Homestar Runner (the StrongbadZone game). If so, brilliant. (If not, I guess they need to spell check).

If you don't know Homestar Runner than your life could use some fixin'. Watch a few of the Strongbad Emails before you write it off. It's one of the funniest sites out there.

10/13/2004

My Favorite Local Blogger

Every once in a while in Houston, you find some hidden gem, some oasis of brilliance in a sea of mundanity. Pete is one of those oasises. Oases. Oasises? Oasii?

9/14/2004

Forgeries

So, I read a very convincing article about the recent purported Bush memos, showing how he was shirking his duty. They said that if you type the exact same thing in Microsoft word and overlay the images, they line up exactly. That would seem to be pretty damning proof, because the chances of that happening, even if a typewriter was capable of producing the same sorts of kerning, line spacing, etc, it would be SO unlikely that you'd get it on the nose like that.

So whoever did this: SHAME ON YOU. You've only hurt the democratic party.

Which got me thinking ... here's a totally off the wall, conspiracy theory idea. What if BUSH supporters created the memos, got them aired, and then turned around and showed they were fakes? That would dominate several critical pre-election news cycles with anti-Kerry feelings. Pretty tricky. Beyond them? Definitely not. Would they have thought of it? Not sure.

The mistake made here is that criticism needs to rest squarely on Bush. The burden of proof is on HIM to show he was there, not on the rest of the world to show he wasn't. In that light, I think this is a much more productive way to approach it.

9/08/2004

Go Garrison

So last week, Garrison Keillor came out swinging on the topic of politics. I think that I could not have better put my feelings about the country, or my dissatisfaction with a republican party that has abandoned its goodness and embraced the most base, cynical aspects of politics. Rather than just linking to it, I'm going to copy it here in its entirety.

-----------------------------
by Garrison Keillor

Something has gone seriously haywire with the Republican Party. Once, it was the party of pragmatic Main Street businessmen in steel-rimmed spectacles who decried profligacy and waste, were devoted to their communities and supported the sort of prosperity that raises all ships. They were good-hearted people who vanquished the gnarlier elements of their party, the paranoid Roosevelt-haters, the flat Earthers and Prohibitionists, the antipapist antiforeigner element. The genial Eisenhower was their man, a genuine American hero of D-Day, who made it OK for reasonable people to vote Republican. He brought the Korean War to a stalemate, produced the Interstate Highway System, declined to rescue the French colonial army in Vietnam, and gave us a period of peace and prosperity, in which (oddly) American arts and letters flourished and higher education burgeoned, and there was a degree of plain decency in the country. Fifties Republicans were giants compared to today's. Richard Nixon was the last Republican leader to feel a Christian obligation toward the poor.

In the years between Nixon and Newt Gingrich, the party migrated southward down the Twisting Trail of Rhetoric and sneered at the idea of public service and became the Scourge of Liberalism, the Great Crusade Against the Sixties, the Death Star of Government, a gang of pirates that diverted and fascinated the media by their sheer chutzpah, such as the misty-eyed flag-waving of Ronald Reagan who, while George McGovern flew bombers in World War II, took a pass and made training films in Long Beach. The Nixon moderate vanished like the passenger pigeon, purged by a legion of angry white men who rose to power on pure punk politics. "Bipartisanship is another term of date rape," says Grover Norquist, the Sid Vicious of the GOP. "I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub." The boy has Oedipal problems and government is his daddy.

The party of Lincoln and Liberty was transmogrified into the party of hairy-backed swamp developers and corporate shills, faith-based economists, fundamentalist bullies with Bibles, Christians of convenience, freelance racists, misanthropic frat boys, shrieking midgets of AM radio, tax cheats, nihilists in golf pants, brownshirts in pinstripes, sweatshop tycoons, hacks, fakirs, aggressive dorks, Lamborghini libertarians, people who believe Neil Armstrong's moonwalk was filmed in Roswell, New Mexico, little honkers out to diminish the rest of us, Newt's evil spawn and their Etch-A-Sketch president, a dull and rigid man suspicious of the free flow of information and of secular institutions, whose philosophy is a jumble of badly sutured body parts trying to walk. Republicans: The No.1 reason the rest of the world thinks we're deaf, dumb and dangerous.

Rich ironies abound! Lies pop up like toadstools in the forest! Wild swine crowd round the public trough! Outrageous gerrymandering! Pocket lining on a massive scale! Paid lobbyists sit in committee rooms and write legislation to alleviate the suffering of billionaires! Hypocrisies shine like cat turds in the moonlight! O Mark Twain, where art thou at this hour? Arise and behold the Gilded Age reincarnated gaudier than ever, upholding great wealth as the sure sign of Divine Grace.

Here in 2004, George W. Bush is running for reelection on a platform of tragedy - the single greatest failure of national defense in our history, the attacks of 9/11 in which 19 men with box cutters put this nation into a tailspin, a failure the details of which the White House fought to keep secret even as it ran the country into hock up to the hubcaps, thanks to generous tax cuts for the well-fixed, hoping to lead us into a box canyon of debt that will render government impotent, even as we engage in a war against a small country that was undertaken for the president's personal satisfaction but sold to the American public on the basis of brazen misinformation, a war whose purpose is to distract us from an enormous transfer of wealth taking place in this country, flowing upward, and the deception is working beautifully.

The concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the few is the death knell of democracy. No republic in the history of humanity has survived this. The election of 2004 will say something about what happens to ours. The omens are not good.

Our beloved land has been fogged with fear - fear, the greatest political strategy ever. An ominous silence, distant sirens, a drumbeat of whispered warnings and alarms to keep the public uneasy and silence the opposition. And in a time of vague fear, you can appoint bullet-brained judges, strip the bark off the Constitution, eviscerate federal regulatory agencies, bring public education to a standstill, stupefy the press, lavish gorgeous tax breaks on the rich.

There is a stink drifting through this election year. It isn't the Florida recount or the Supreme Court decision. No, it's 9/11 that we keep coming back to. It wasn't the "end of innocence," or a turning point in our history, or a cosmic occurrence, it was an event, a lapse of security. And patriotism shouldn't prevent people from asking hard questions of the man who was purportedly in charge of national security at the time.

Whenever I think of those New Yorkers hurrying along Park Place or getting off the No.1 Broadway local, hustling toward their office on the 90th floor, the morning paper under their arms, I think of that non-reader George W. Bush and how he hopes to exploit those people with a little economic uptick, maybe the capture of Osama, cruise to victory in November and proceed to get some serious nation-changing done in his second term.

This year, as in the past, Republicans will portray us Democrats as embittered academics, desiccated Unitarians, whacked-out hippies and communards, people who talk to telephone poles, the party of the Deadheads. They will wave enormous flags and wow over and over the footage of firemen in the wreckage of the World Trade Center and bodies being carried out and they will lie about their economic policies with astonishing enthusiasm.

The Union is what needs defending this year. Government of Enron and by Halliburton and for the Southern Baptists is not the same as what Lincoln spoke of. This gang of Pithecanthropus Republicanii has humbugged us to death on terrorism and tax cuts for the comfy and school prayer and flag burning and claimed the right to know what books we read and to dump their sewage upstream from the town and clear-cut the forests and gut the IRS and mark up the constitution on behalf of intolerance and promote the corporate takeover of the public airwaves and to hell with anybody who opposes them.

This is a great country, and it wasn't made so by angry people. We have a sacred duty to bequeath it to our grandchildren in better shape than however we found it. We have a long way to go and we're not getting any younger.

Dante said that the hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who in time of crisis remain neutral, so I have spoken my piece, and thank you, dear reader. It's a beautiful world, rain or shine, and there is more to life than winning.

------------------------

Wow. Here's an interview he did with Salon.com's David Talbot.

9/02/2004

No Aliens

Sadly, the rumor floating around the net yesterday about SETI@Home finding aliens was not true. :( It's such a cool idea, SETI@Home - a massive distributed signal processing computer composed of free processor time on hundreds of thousands of PCs around the world.

Anyway, if they did find an alien, this is what it would look like:

8/20/2004

Blegh

Last night, Uberjam and I joined some friends for drinks at the Stag's Head, a pub in the montrose area that we recently discovered. Between the 3 pints of Sierra Nevada I had (5.6% alcohol by volume, ahem) and all the smoke (yuck), I feel like a crapface today. What I wouldn't give for a nap.

Also last night, I got an email from my high school friend Jenn C (hi Jenn!). It was awesome to hear from her. Got me thinking about how difficult it really is to stay in "genuine" touch with folks you know. My friends-and-family address book (family, high school and college friends, former coworkers, band mates, etc.) has a couple hundred people in it. How do you regularly stay in touch with so many people in a genuine way? Mass emails are no good; I send my share, of course, but that isn't what I mean.

There's always blogs. I love it when my friends have blogs. It's like getting to spend a little casual time with them - the way you would at a bar, between classes, etc. - without needing it to be at any particular time, and without the pressure of having to get all the important, heavy stuff into one letter. I know what's up in, say, my friend Amber's life, but we haven't seen each other in years. When I jot off a note to her now, I don't feel distant.

But ... well ... blogs can only go so far, and they aren't the real one-to-one personal communication I'm talking about. When you get right down to it, it takes a big investment of time and energy to stay close with people who aren't close. I want to connect with people in the same ways that I knew them - individually, as friends. But writing a letter like that is an hour's work, and often gets lost in the flurry of more "pressing" things.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of listening to my good friend Dylan do a radio interview / performance. (He was in Connecticut, but I got to listen, thanks to that new computer magic.) Uberjam and I have a copy of his new solo album, and have been listening to it non-stop. I talked to him on the phone for a minute afterwards, and he was happy to hear that I'd checked out the interview.

I hope that in our lifetime, we see a trend towards even more "human" ways to stay in touch with our friends who aren't physically close to us. Maybe I'm fooling myself, but I think it will happen.

We'll see.

(Aside: What I want right now is a program that combines email history and your address book, in a way that tells you more about the individuals in your address book. Like, showing how frequently you email them (both individually and in mass emails), how long it's been, etc:



At least that way, could could see who it is you're most out of touch with. Maybe someday I'll make me some software like that.)

8/08/2004

Radio

I'm sitting over at KTRU doing my weekly jazz shift - got a couple long-ish pieces on right now, so I have a minute or two of down time. I didn't really want to come in today, because I was working on some projects at home, and I felt more like going over and getting in some practice. But now that I'm here, I'm having a great time. It really is fun to play music over the air and just get to sit and listen to it.

Also, I hereby send a shout out to Jerry - I played two CDs that came from you back to back; first, the Buddy Rich "Roar of 74" CD, and then the Bob Dorough "Devil May Care" CD. I also found a really rad John Zorn CD which featured Bob Dorough on a piece by Charles Ives. Now THAT is weird.

8/06/2004

Catching up, or not

I have been so behind lately. I try to get caught up, but all these interesting things keep coming to my attention. But I have so much to do.

What? You want to know more? OK, if you insist.

Work - it's been a busy time, and small stuff keeps coming in the way of big projects - minor requests, etc. I just automated a database mail merge to contacts at subsidiaries about rate changes to their employee 401Ks. Thrilling, no? And regardless, I gotta hang here 40 hours a week, which kinda cramps my style.

Practice - I have been totally neglecting doing any sort of instrumental practice. Not for lack of love; I enjoy it so much. But not having a piano at home, it requires going elsewhere, and sometimes, that just don't happen.

Email - Inbox at 250 and growing. Ugh.

Reading - My RSS feeds are stacking up, and I haven't read them in days.

Housework - Haha, what's that?

Plus I've got to get my car inspected, go to the gym, register for piano lessons in the fall, organize the weekly music mixers, help figure out the band finances, archive recordings of shows, communicate with fans, etc. And I've been in email conversations with a few folks about political stuff - conversations that generally take a lot of time and thought for me.

Maybe I should start doing yoga or something.

8/02/2004

Hello, world

After 35 minutes on the phone with web host tech support, my site is now up again. Ain't technology grand? :(

7/23/2004

Casiotone

Last night, Uberjam and I went to a really cool show over at Super Happy Fun Land (yes, that's really a venue in Houston). It was a low-fi/electronica/pop show. The two highlights were the Buddy System and the headliner, Casio Tone For The Painfully Alone. The Buddy System was one guy (ironic, no?) and was composed of really nifty, glitchy, shimmering, shifting soundscapes that he seemed to be controlling / morphing via the computer. Maybe he was just playing a CD and looking busy, who knows. We picked up a CD and it is indeed pretty cool. CTFTPA is a longtime favorite of mine - a dude who makes sad, introspective little songs using nothing but old vintage casio-type keyboards (complete with weird little casio beats and everything). The concept could get old, but the songs really don't. His live show was more loud/effects-driven than I expected, but it was really good.

And now I'm listening to internet radio (the only bastion of online music I've got since the control freaks at my office shut down our access to all mp3s) and some live Herbie Hancock is on. Almost makes me happy to be here. Almost.

Outage

Sorry for the brief outage yesterday. My web host account expired, and they took the incredibly thoughtful step of not emailing me about it.

7/14/2004

We Got Screwed

The friendly mechanic down at our neighborhood Shell station found this little bugger in Uberjam's tire today:



Public service announcement: please, everyone, keep better track of your screws.

Also today I had a visit from my friendly AAA road-side assistance guy, when a forgotten dome light in my van killed my battery. I guess it's been one of those tough car days. Not a really tough car day, just an annoying car day.

Victory, for now at least

The constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage has failed in the Senate. Phew. The most-idiotic-statement-ever award goes to Senator Rick Santorum:
"Isn't that the ultimate homeland security, standing up for marriage, defending the right of children to have moms and dads, to be raised in a loving environment," said Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, who was a key sponsor. "That is what this debate is all about."
Excuse me? So ... if we let gay people who love each other get married ... ah, that's what I thought. The terrorists have already won. Damn those gay terrorists!

Morons.

7/12/2004

You have developed into the worst blogger ever. Congratulations.

In the comments on my last thread, Nuje wrote:
You have developed into the worst blogger ever. Congratulations.
You're right! Mea culpa! I just got really busy at work suddenly a couple weeks ago, and, well ... you know how hard it is to get started when you've been out of it for a little while ... ah, excuses, excuses. Ya just gotta get back in the saddle.

So I'll come back swingin'. Here's a link you should all go to:

http://www.moveon.org/unitednotdivided/

The more conservative among you might want to flex those conservative muscles and conserve the fact that the constitution has never before been used to take away people's rights. Regardless of how you feel about gay people getting married, to make a constitutional amendment for something that is so clearly against the wishes of such a large portion of the population is not right.

6/24/2004

Media Reform Win

Some news today on the Media Reform front. A federal court told the FCC they had to roll back the rule changes they did last June, which had everybody's panties all in a bunch. The rule changes would have allowed more media consolidation than there is now (here's a history on this issue).

Regardless of what you think of the rule changes, the FCC's behavior on this one was total crap. They held only one official public hearing, and didn't let the public see the proposed rule changes until right before it voted on them. That's lame, and the federal court told them so. More than anything, this is a win for open government. Is it so hard for us all to realize that big money needs to be kept away from government decisions? It's called corruption, folks.

6/22/2004

Kerry Rocks

We interrupt this regularly scheduled stream of open minded political musings to bring you this important news flash:

John Kerry played in a high school band that put out a record!

They were called the Electras, and Kerry played bass. They sound like ... well ... a high school band. But still, that makes me feel more like I am voting for Kerry, instead of just against Bush. No word yet on whether they'll get back together for a reunion tour.

There's also a cool shot of John Kerry w/ John Lennon. No word on whether he is, in fact, the 5th Beatle.

6/16/2004

What is conservatism?

Thanks for all the comments and suggestions on my last post. I figured I would get started with a couple of online explanations, and then move on to some heavier reading.

So to start, I looked up "conservatism" in Wikipedia. Worth a read, check it out. It's rather long, but here's my nutshell interpretation:

According to the Wikipedia explanation, to be conservative is to think that we shouldn't go changing things, because the way they've always been is best. This might include our patriotic traditions, our morals, our business practices, etc.; the traditions that have been handed down to us are "a source of wisdom that goes beyond what can be demonstrated" [Conservatism.com FAQ]. Put more succinctly:

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it." I can dig that!

Of course, if it IS broke, you SHOULD fix it; to be conservative doesn't mean you have to like the negatives (poverty, disease, etc.). The heart of the question is:

1. What's actually broken? Presumably, liberals think more stuff is broken than conservatives do.

2. How do you fix it? Even reasonable people can disagree on which solution is best.

For the first question (what's broken?), take gay marriage. A conservative might say that things are correct as they are - gay marriages are outlawed, because it's morally wrong. A liberal might say that morality in this area is a personal choice, and that things as they stand now are unjust for gay couples, so they should be changed.

For the second (how do you fix it?), take drug addiction (which everybody agrees is bad). A conservative might say things are working well - addiction is due to a failing of morals on the part of the addict, so they should be arrested, fined, and jailed (as they are today). A liberal might say the fix is to change things - legalize and regulate drugs so you can detect and prevent addictions (as a health problem instead of a crime), and focus your law enforcement efforts on only those who try to get drugs illegally for profit.

(I recognize that the way I phrased those examples shows my bias as a liberal - I'm sure they could be slanted differently by a conservative.)

The vast difference seems to be a willingness on the part of liberals to believe that intentional changes to social institutions can have a positive impact on mass human behavior, whereas conservatives are reticent to do this for fear of unintended consequences.

Am I on the right track here?

6/15/2004

Foundations

In response to some conversations with friends recently, I've been giving serious thought to my political bias. Anyone who's read this blog knows that I am a "liberal democrat". No surprise there. But I've heard it said of democrats - myself included - that we don't think through the consequences of our biases; that growing up and understanding the real world naturally tends to make you conservative (like this.)

I aspire to be open minded, and I prefer approaching every situation with the attitude of a child, ready to learn. Ultimately, I believe that through constantly refining our political structures, eventually, everyone in the world might be able to enjoy "life, libery and the pursuit of happiness".

Is liberalism a better way towards this goal than conservatism? My bias says yes ... but maybe that's due to my socio-economic background, my education, etc. So I am going to undertake a regular comparison of approaches, to forge a strong foundation for my beliefs.

I'm going to start by reading up on conservatism, and occasionally posting short comparisons between positions. That's as good a starting place as any, I guess.

Most importantly, I want to avoid the trap of partisanship. I am coming to believe this more and more: if you feel like you are exclusively on "the right" or "the left", you obscure the process of understanding issues. You're always looking for the way to prove that your side is correct and the other side is wrong. That's not what I'm looking for; I would be happy to find that "my side" is wrong, if only because it would mean I had learned something.

On that note, I'm off to to some reading.

6/07/2004

Co-Op

This past Saturday, überjam and I found a cool new thing in our neighborhood - Central City Co-Op. It's located at the Taft St. Coffee House, just a few blocks from us. Every Saturday, they have locally grown organic produce. And you can pre-order a big box of it (which we did for next week) for $15. Who'd have thought, in Houston?

6/03/2004

6/02/2004

Spinsanity

Recently found a terrific web site called Spinsanity. It's a non-partisan web site devoted to calling out unfair or misleading spin in the media. Today's example took several publications to task for taking a statement by President Bush out of context:
The event featured seven men who have each been given a prosthetic hand to replace one cut off by Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq. Bush shook the prosthetic hand of a victim, and then said "I'm honored to shake the hand of a brave Iraqi citizen who had his hand cut off by Saddam Hussein." Taken out of context, Bush's statement may appear to be unclear or garbled. But [...] it was actually perfectly reasonable -- the man has been given a new hand, and Bush shook it.

However, Slate's Jacob Weisberg ridiculed the quotation in his Bushisms column the next day, providing no link or context for readers, who were left to assume that the statement was a verbal stumble rather than a reference to a prosthetic hand. ...

Mocking Bush's verbal stumbles is one thing, but misconstruing his statements is another.

Indeed. And as much fun as it is to mock Bush (and he doesn't need much help there) it's much more important to have a site that takes ANYBODY to task for being misleading, whether they be on the left or the right or somewhere in between. Good for you, Spinsanity.

5/31/2004

Sunset

I'm sitting here on Memorial day, thinking about those lost in wars and hoping that my life might see the end of them. And I'm watching the best sunset.

It's been a beautiful day, and Uberjam and I have really enjoyed it. We went to the UH Olympic Stadium and worked out, then took a dip in their outdoor pool (complete with waterslide). We had lunch at Whole Foods. We watched movies. And I think we're gonna have milkshakes for dinner. Life is good.

5/28/2004

Aha! A revelation! Yahoo groups just started doing RSS feeds for all of their public groups. That means I can import the dang things into my RSS Newsreader and stop getting all the emails. That will be way easier for me, and keep my email flow down a bit.

The only trouble is, several of the more active groups I'm on don't have this option enabled, because they have their archives set to be viewable by members only. This is easy to change if you're the group owner, and I can't really see any negatives to doing so unless you talk about secret stuff on your group (none of the ones I'm on do). So I have written to the group owners of these lists (about 30 of them) and asked them to change that setting. We'll see if they do. :)

5/27/2004

1 Year of Blog

Today is the 1 year anniversary of me starting this blog. In that year, I've written 173 entries. That seems like a lot.

Over this year, I have learned a lot. But one thing I haven't learned to do is sing like this.

5/25/2004

Poster Contest

OK - I hereby issue a challenge to you all, my friends and readers.

My company (let's refer to them as "Integrated Widget Services") is holding a contest where employees' children draw pictures about how important job safety is, and the best (AKA most devoid of any drawing skill) are included in a calendar that's printed and mailed to thousands of employees nation-wide.

Wouldn't you like to have a picture in that calendar? Here's your chance! Draw yourself up a crappy kid-like drawing about safety, and I'll pretend it's from my kid. Here's the rules:

Safety Poster/Calendar Contest

Submit a poster to the Safety Department to be postmarked no later than July 1, 2004. The topic for the poster must be safety related, and can be anything from a picture with a slogan on it or safety rules, use your imagination and be creative. Each participant can submit only one poster and must include on a separate piece of paper the name of the child, their birth date, the parent’s name.

Prize

There will be 14 winners, one for each month and one for the front and back covers. Each winner will receive a $100.00 savings bond. Safety calendars will be designed for the year 2005 and each month will feature a picture of one of the winning posters. These calendars will be distributed to all company employees.
Get that drawing cap on! I'll showcase all entries here on my blog. Here's one by me, to get you started:


Have at it!

5/24/2004

Practice, my boy

You know that old joke? A man is walking down the street and asks a passing gentleman how to get to Carnegie Hall.

"Practice, my boy, practice."

I just spent a couple hours behind a piano practicing, and it was stupendous. It's the first chance I've really gotten to practice in I don't know how long. I mean, I gig all the time, but having time alone to work on ideas and let my musical mind flow ... that's amazing. I spent a good hour just playing "My Romance" in every key, with all sorts of variations. Not a hard tune, but I need to take baby steps while learning to transpose jazz harmonies into different keys. Tomorrow: Giant Steps. (For you non musicians, that's a joke. It's a difficult Coltrane tune usually played screaming fast. Certainly well above my abilities right now.)

I guess I was inspired to get back into the saddle by a musical gathering Jill and I went to last night, at the house of the lovely Paula Chase. Among the participants were Ken Ward and Bob Henschen, both excellent local jazz piano masters. After watching their musical vocabulary, learned and polished over a lifetime, I really felt how much I was missing out by being "too tired" or "too busy" to practice. I'm sure I'll be those things again, but it's always nice to have a kick in the pants that makes you want to be better.

5/20/2004

Shearing

So, looks like I'll be getting a trim in the next couple days. For reference sake, here's the current shaggy, fluffy me, looking fairly goofy:



Yes, that's one of those "hold the camera at arm's length and take the picture" pictures. Oh well. Anyway, hopefully the next one will show a much more reputable looking, less fuzzy person.

5/18/2004

Names

Via CrossImpact, here's a nify page on the Social Security web site about the popularity of names. You can look up your own name and see how popular it is. Ian's been hovering in the high 60s for the past few years (much better than I thought). Jill didn't place in the top 1000 since 1990, but Jillian is #137 this year. Weird. Michael was #1 for a number of years but slipped to 2nd recently. Some of the names that barely squeaked into the top 1000 during the 90s:

Storm
Kailyn
Stetson
Lexie
Ridge
Jonatan (oops!)

I refuse to believe that Jill didn't make the top 1000, but "Lexie" and "Ridge" did?

Compare and contrast with some of the names in the early 1900's that barely made the top 1000:

Cicero
Zoila
Boris
Drucilla
Okey
Otha

I ask you: where did we go wrong?

5/17/2004

Frog Season

Tonight after my radio show (my first jazz shift!) Uberjam and I went for a walk over to return a movie at Cactus and get some dinner. On the way, we saw a ton of frogs! It must be frog mating season. We counted 19 frogs and a newt. Oh, and some other forms of nature (we decided that from now on we'll just refer to roaches as "nature".) Two of the frogs were even mating right there on the sidewalk. Hey, it's spring!

5/14/2004

Freecycling

Found this cool group today called Freecycling. Basically, it's a listserv where people post items they want to offer or find - the only difference from other similar lists is that everything on this list is FREE. They have a Houston chapter & list with almost 1500 people. Today's items included:

Offer
- Coke bottles with astros ticket discounts
- An old lawnmower needing some repair
- A collection of kids books

Wanted
- Dog grooming supplies
- Massage supplies
- A laptop & some cribs for a church

Pretty neat concept, I guess ... I'll let you know if I find anything good on there, or get rid of any of my stuff.

BTW - For the second time today, the new blogger site has crapped out on me, losing my post. Not amused.

5/13/2004

Nicknames

So in the comments for that last thread about looking like Trey, my pal Amber reminded me that I was once nicknamed Schroeder. It got me thinking about all the many nicknames I've had over the years. I think people should have more nicknames. Here are a few of mine, in chronological order (leaving out such elementary school gems as "Gnarly Varley" and "Eeore"):

Sherbet - Randomly assigned to me by my good friend Anne Sawyer back at the New York State Summer School of the Arts (NYSSAA). We were all standing around one day, and she said "Can I nickname you Sherbet?", and I said, "sure." Probably my coolest nickname.

Schroeder - Presumably becuase of my terrible posture while playing piano. Or maybe it's after the German chancellor? I think I have a bit more personality than the German chancellor, though maybe not as much as the Peanuts character.

Erwin, Ethan, etc. - As a camp counsellor at Skye Farm camps, my favorite campers to work with were always the developmentally disabled group ("special needs camp" as it was called). One of my all time favorite human beings, Jimmy, was a high functioning older camper there. He loved everyone, and he couldn't quite get my name right, so he called me by a set of variations - Ethan, Erwin, Evan, etc. Now when I see my friend Karina, who was my co-counsellor that year, she still calls me Erwin, and I still call her Kawinter. :)

Ludwig - When I first joined the Bandersnatchers, Skidmore's male a cappella group, I impressed everyone with my music theory and arranging skills. So much so, in fact, that they cruelly tormented me. "Where is the new arrangement? Work, Ludwig, work!". Bastards.

Ace Freedom - My funk band superhero name. Technically, I was introduced at shows as "Ace Freedom, the Celtic Connection". This was in the band Beefstyle Tradition ... other band member nicknames included "Mercury Zephyr" (the drummer, named after my car), "Reggie Smash" (bass), "Starchild" (Jed, the afro-sporting jewish lead guitarist) and "Pericles Jackson" (Dylan, the latin major lead singer). "People, don't you fret - don't you know, we gonna free tibet."

Actually, now that I think of it, the nickname was first coined during my short stint in the avante garde prog metal band Facial Head. So there.

Liam - Coined from the scene in Spinal Tap when their rival band mistakenly calls their manager (Ian) by the name "Uh ... Liam?". That's what I'm known as by my pals in M Headphone.

Mr. V - That's what my students at Aim High called me. Made me feel like I was on Welcome Back, Kotter or something.

Maybe I should embrace the latest nickname that was assigned to me last night by Billie Ledbetter, the leader of a swing band I'm subbing in for. He didn't quite get the name "Ian", and thought it was "Iron", so he just started calling me "Iron Man". Close enough.

Any suggestions for new nicknames? (Keep it clean, this is a family blog.)

And what are your nicknames?

5/12/2004

The Red Pub

Found a cool new-ish paper in town called The Red Pub. Its tagline is "Houston's Only Writers & Artists Paper". I looked it over online, and it looks pretty nifty - they've got music features, they sponsor concerts, and they accept literary submissions.

Not to be confused with the Red Lion Pub, a great Montrose establishment that serves awesome fish & chips, but only on Fridays. Incidentally, there's a happy hour there next Thursday (5/20) sponsored by our friends at OneMoreBeer.com. Should be fun.

In other news, I should be in much worse shape today than I am. We had a couple folks over for dinner last night and drank a large amount of wine. We also got to play Uberjam's favorite, Kill Dr. Lucky. I should be asleep now, by all rights. But work calls ...

5/11/2004

You know who you look like?

So today at lunch, I was picking up some sandwiches at my favoritest new lunch place in Montrose. The dude behind the counter said:

"Hey, you know who you look like? That dude from Phish ..."



The ensuing conversation:

Me: "Whoa, really? I've never heard that before ..."

Him: "Yeah, you totally ..."

Me: " ... except for EVERY FRIGGING DAY! What are you gonna tell me next, that I look like Chuck Norris?"

He replied that Chuck Norris was too short.

I felt bad afterwards, he was just trying to be nice and conversational. But seriously, I had the exact same conversation last night with the dude at Mission Burrito. Do we really look that much alike?



I mean, not that I mind if we do look alike. I dig Phish, and I hear Trey is a great guy. But I mean, where are all the people going "Hey, aren't you that guy from Drop Trio?"

Um, yeah. Thanks folks, I'll be here all week.

5/10/2004

New Blogger

So Blogger came out with a new version today, as anyone who's a regular user already knows. I was a bit thrown off at first, cuz the interface is totally different. There are some things I don't like as much, but there are some improvements as well. On the "don't like as much" side, they've now totally separated the functions of writing new entries and editing past ones - it used to be that you could see 'em both on the same screen. No longer. I guess that's better from a functional point of view, because it's simpler, but I liked the ability to look down at previous posts without leaving the editor for my new post. Ah well. Also, there's one extra click to change between blogs now, which kinda stinks. But again, no big deal.

Among the nice new additions are keyboard shortcuts to switch from edit to preview mode, and to insert a hyperlink. Both very useful.

There are also a bunch of other new features (built in comments, permalinks, etc), plus some new templates to boot. I'll be playing with those soon.

OK, time to go back to doing something productive. Like, um, napping.

5/07/2004

Nerd Heaven

Hey, check it out! At the beginning of June, Houston will host the 3rd annual Arcade and Pinball Expo, which features over 70 full size classic arcade games in FREE PLAY mode. It's $12 per day, which is a bargain if you ask me. Who's with me?

5/06/2004

Song of the day

Here's the song of the day.

Not like I have a "song of the day" feature or anything.

5/04/2004

Local Show

I'll be doing my first guest installment of the KTRU local show tonight. I'll post back here with my playlist, for all you inquiring local bands. The show is on from 8-10pm, on 91.7 KTRU (or listen online at KTRU.org).

Update: I did the show, and it was a lot of fun. Here's my playlist. Also, for those of you following my varied radio exploits, I'll be switching from my regular Monday morning 4-7 am shift (gah) to a more manageable Sunday night 6-8 jazz shift. Woo hoo! My first one is this week, tune in if you're not napping and / or covered with spit up (you know who you are).

4/30/2004

Overdrive

This entire week has been a lesson in pushing myself too hard. Stuff with Drop Trio has been coming fast and furious, especially with Ron's baby (born last night at 3am!!) and the announcement of the Houston Press Music Awards (please vote for us!). I've been trying to get the word out about that, while simultaneously planning our upcoming shows, coordinating publicity & advertising for our current shows, and, oh yeah, working full time. Gah.

Wednesday night we played a show at the Rhythm Room with Tea Leaf Green and Plump. The attendance was less than stellar, but we had a good time anyway.

Last night I drove to Beaumont and hung with the super cool folks at the Art Studio. There's an interview with me that'll air on KVLU tonight at 9:55 pm (we taped it last night) in which we discuss Darth Vader, among other things. We also got to tour the venue (looks great) and grab some great pizza at Graffitti's.

This morning I got up to work out at 6 am because I AM TOTALLY INSANE. Tonight we're at Brasil, and tomorrow we're playing the Candu show. And maybe Sunday Jill and I will go see Amy Goodman speak.

And now ... I think I will go have lunch. Ha.

4/26/2004

Tiring Weekend

Weekend was busy!
  • Friday night, hit Cezanne for a smokin' show featuring Joe LoCascio, Warren Sneed, Eddie Lewis, David Craig & Bash Whittaker. It was great - I am continually impressed with Eddie Lewis, and Joe is one of my favorite musicians of all time. (Listen to a clip from a LoCascio composition on Sneed's album "Q"). Anyway, after the first set, I veered over to catch some of the funk jazz fridays show at Brasil with Stucco Fish, and they were great. Then I trucked over to Last Concert to see the New Monsoon show, and they were terriffic. Props to Tapir for putting that on.
  • Saturday, after a rare chance to sleep in on a rainy morning, I took some first steps towards editing Leap (the new Drop Trio record), in ProTools. Starting to get the hang of it, a bit. Some ill-chosen mexican food put me to sleep a bit early, but I got up late and did some midnight editing as well.
  • Sunday, I played the morning new music service at St. Stephen's, then spent the afternoon working on Echo. Had an evening rehearsal with Patrick, our latest Drop bassist, and then hit the sack...
  • ... only to get up at the crack of dawn on Monday for my KTRU shift (here's my playlist).
And now, back to the daily grind here at my recently sold office (the building was sold, not the company).

4/23/2004

Mostly Harmless

OMG, they're making a Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie. That's the best news I've heard since seeing the first trailer for LOTR and realizing how much it was going to rule. I can't wait until there's a trailer for this one. Martin Freeman (from the brilliant BBC comedy The Office) plays Arthur Dent. Chills.

4/22/2004

Gmail has arrived

So, I got to sign up for my gmail account (thanks Blogger!).



I was just in there playing around with it, and it's very well done. Blows Yahoo & Hotmail out of the water. I can recommend it to anyone who's using one of those services as their primary email provider, but I'm not going to switch over, at least not yet, for a few reasons:
  1. They show ads, and don't give you the option to buy an ad free version. Worse, they draw on the content of your email for the ad targeting. That may be the way of the future, and I know it's all automated, but I still want my private stuff to be private. I'd be happy to even pay for the service without that.
  2. They don't give you any way to spoof emails from your own domains, like me sending from ianvarley.com. So everyone would see the mail is coming from you@gmail.com. Like I said, if you're already using Hotmail or Yahoo, that's no problem, but I need to be able to send out from my own domains. I don't know how they'd verify that you actually own the domains; I guess that's the problem.
  3. They don't give you any kind of export abilities yet. If I want to switch away from my current IMAP provider, I just open Outlook and drag my messages to my new IMAP provider. If I want to switch away from Gmail ... good luck.
  4. It's very efficient web-top software, but it's still web top. I want it to integrate with fully functional desktop software. It's theoretically possible, but I reckon that's still a few years off (though who knows, maybe they'll open up XML APIs like they have on their search and then people can build such a client.)
That said, I think there are some really elegant things about it:
  • No deleting email. Finally.
  • Treat threads as single items all the time, and show the messages within the thread. Totally.
  • Searching is elegant, Google-fast and Google-complete. That can hardly be said of what I'm using now.
I think I would convert over if I could get points #2 and #3 above. I'll live with the ads if it's functional in the other ways I need it to be.

4/19/2004

KTRU Set List

I have posted my radio set list for today. Finally got to bring in some music of my own, so Righteous Buddha and Little Brother Project both made their KTRU debut. Woo hoo. I'm also working on reviews of these CDs (and a few others that people sent me) so they can take up residence in the KTRU library.

Sllllooooowwww Down, Beethoven

For my at-work listening today, I am giving an ear to 9 Beet Stretch. It's a project that took Beethoven's 9th symphony and digitally slowed it down (without changing the pitch) so that it lasts for 24 hours. It sounds sort of like new-age / ambient music, but with a strange edge, and more development than that music usually has. I'm about 20 minutes into the first movement (which, I guess, is actually something like 1 minute into the original). All I can say is: whoa.

4/18/2004

Filing

Here I am, on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. Am I enjoying the weather by laying out in the park? Am I going hiking or biking or waterskiing?

No, I am filing.

Our house - living room, study, dining room, even kitchen - has been, for some time, overwhelmed with stacks of paper that's "to be filed". Bills, letters, receipts, etc. We're always meaning to file them, but, well, we just never get around to it. But my new contention is that it's this glut of unfiled paper that keeps us from keeping the house as clean as we want to. Whenever we get in cleaning mode, we're stumped by the presence of large amounts of paper, and we stop, defeated.

But today, a friend asked if they could come by and use our printer. Which is currently under 3 separate stacks of paper. So I figured it'd be a good time for some filing. Whee.

4/16/2004

F'd Up

So I'm sitting here, at my desk, and it's 5:09 pm. "Ian," you might say, "what are you doing at your desk 9 minutes after you should have left?" That's a great question. I am sitting waiting for something to stop being f'd up with my IMAP provider long enough for me to copy my sent mail from my local IMAP outbox to my sent items folder. I did a windows update today, and my Outlook has been flaky ever since. But it seems like my Imap provider is also down. Whee.

Which reminds me that I've been looking for a new IMAP provider. Any suggestions? .mac is pretty costly and the email is capped at 200MB. I'd like to get a Gig or so, and hopefully have less downtime than .mac has (a day doesn't go by when I don't get a message saying my provider is "temporarily unavailable".) I'm not down with the GMail privacy invasion thing, but I'd love to get what they offer if I could pay for it and lose the peeking. The Gmail concept is exactly what I've been saying email should be for the longest time (without the privacy invasion part, of course.) C'mon Google, offer a for-pay version without ads!

Speaking of f'd up, did I ever mention my friend Mike Gardiner's idea about making a calendar called "f'd up trees"? He wanted to design and print a calendar where each month was a different f'd up, gnarled, weird looking tree. Like:



Never quite got off the ground, but I think it'd make a great calendar.

OK, it's 5:30 and my email's still down, so I'm going to go home now, defeated. Poopie.

4/15/2004

Good Day

Not only is it überjam's birthday today, it's also National High 5 Day. Rule.

And even though it's tax day, we're not stressin, cuz überjam already did our taxes! Does she rule or what?

4/14/2004

Musicians Meetup

So I am the host for tonight's Musicians Meetup over at West Alabama ice house. Should be an interesting experience - I have never hosted a meetup before, I don't know if anyone will show up or what.



The up side is that even if nobody shows up, I still get to go hang out at the West Alabama Ice House. :)

4/12/2004

Anger and no one can feel it

Man, today was such a busy day at work that I hardly had time to do anything; I barely even got time to post my KTRU set list.

On my way home, I was listening to a news report (on Democracy Now, of course) saying that the US Army has laid seige to Falluja, killing six hundred Iraqis (including many women and children) since the "ceasefire" was called - a "massacre", they're calling it, and if there's any truth to it at all it can't escape the major US papers for long. We all knew it was going to get ugly soon, with the resistance to the US occupation getting steadily stronger. The report had a young Iraqi boy talking about how his schoolmate was gunned down in the school yard by an American sniper. Hard to "spin" that one.

Don't you just feel so much safer? There's nothing like making an entire generation of people hate everything you stand for, to decrease the chances of future terrorist attacks. The "war" went great; the "post-war" war is a disaster. At least they found what they went in there for.

Have you seen this moving image? It's a mosaic of the faces of all American servicemen who have fallen in the line of duty. May they rest in peace and honor, they died fighting for our freedom, and they deserve our utmost respect (I mean this in all seriousness). May their deaths weigh heavily on the miserable failure who put them in harms way (I mean that in all seriousness, too).

Sorry, I'm in an angry mood, but I don't know how else to feel in light of all this news. Is this what being alive during Viet Nam was like?

4/10/2004

Taming ProTools

So, little by little, I am starting to get the hang of using ProTools at home. I'm working on editing our Leap sessions (saving on studio expenses).

The first step was just to get the band a full mix of the session, with all mics turned on the whole way through (the rough mix we had from John at SugarHill was "on the fly", and had parts coming in and out randomly). So after I finally got all the hardware (MBox and 80 GB Firewire drive) and software (ProTools LE) working together, I tried to do a mix of the first 60 minutes down to wav file. Unfortunately for me, the computer I'm using (our home iBook) is the lowest spec possible for running ProTools, so it occasionally just stops doing whatever it's doing and says that it didn't have enough CPU to complete the task. Not a big deal during editing or playback, but rather frustrating 2/3rds of the way through an hour-long mixdown.

Once I finally did get the 2 big WAV files, I discovered that iTunes wouldn't open 'em up, cuz they were either too large or the wrong bit rate, I'm not sure which. Arrgh. It's OK, though, b/c I would have had to break up the resulting WAV files anyway, and I don't know any software that does that cleanly on Mac the way CD Wave does on PC.

So instead, I opted to place "memory locations" at the individual track points in the ProTools session, and do individual bounces for each track to WAV. That's 22 individual tracks the way I have it broken up now (which is with more generous track lengths than I used on the last tracked-out version I made). So, 22 bounce downs and 4 CD burns later, I've got the thing where they can listen to it. Fortunately, from here on out, we can deal with individual tracks, not the entire thing, so it'll be more manageable. And now we get to the fun part of actually messing with the arrangements, etc.

4/08/2004

Boycott Lowe's

Seems that Lowe's hardware stores want to build a giant shopping center around The Backyard, a wonderful rustic outdoor music venue in Austin. They'd be doing serious damage to that incredible place, and they'd also be hurting the aquifers that feed Barton Springs and Austin's drinking water supply. In response, a citizen's group has take them to court, and they're asking people to sign the petition to boycott Lowe's.

I'm not against retail development - it's unavoidable, and great when it's done right. But giant megastores like this one ruin the geography they inhabit, and when that geography is a place we care about (as musicians and music listeners), that's not cool. So sign up and boycott lowe's!

4/07/2004

Carrie's Front Page Story

My good friend Carrie, who is a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, has a story on the front page of the paper today. It's about the Ultrasound business. Carrie is also 9 months pregnant and ready to give birth any day now, so she knows of what she speaks. Go Carrie!

4/06/2004

Da News

OK, today has been an insanely busy day for many reason (some related to work). But the cat is out of the bag on my band's big news - Solange Knowles co-wrote and produced a song with us and it's on the Johnson Family Vacation sound track, just released today. Here's the press release. Woo hoo!

Can I take a nap now? Please?

4/05/2004

So far, so good ...

You know, I've had this strange feeling of late. Maybe it's from not clearing out my email inbox. Maybe it's all the pollen in the air. Who knows. Whatever the reason, I've had this sneaking suspicion that I'm forgetting something important - as if, 2 weeks from now I'm going to suddenly realize I left my kitten in the washer, or forgot to eat several meals. I wish I could put my finger on it, it's drivin' me nuts. I feel good overall, but I don't want to get too confident because there's this feeling like I'm about to be taken down a few pegs or something.

Anyway, all things are moving apace. Friday night was a chill evening with some friends. Saturday was a cool private gig with Adrian on bass; Sunday was lots of cleaning and practice. This morning was my first radio show in a few weeks (here's my playlist). Tonight is an interview. Today is me trying to stay awake after getting up at 8am. Tomorrow is the big announcement (OK, not that big, but it's exciting anyway - here's a hint). And then ... ?

What am I missing?

4/02/2004

Not quite 30

Happy birthday to me! I'm not 30 yet! Hahahahaha!

Actually, today has been a very chill birthday so far. I woke up in my own bed with my own wife, which is always a plus (especially after driving home last night after a gig in Austin). I had lunch by myself (which I prefer, sometimes - I like being able to sit and reflect without being in a social situation). And Magnatune posted video of our Elephant room show, which I am very excited about. So all is well, as long as I can get me a little nappage this afternoon.

3/31/2004

Now with less time wasting!

I've been happily aggregating away today, and it really works! It cut down my news reading time dramatically. I may have to buy this program. What's better is that I feel totally up to date - I know immediately when things are updated, so I don't need to be contstantly watching or bouncing around to different sites.

Now I just need to get more efficient at the 18,754 other stupid time wasting things I do every day, and I'll be all set.

3/30/2004

RSS & Post titles

A good friend of mine asked me yesterday if my blog provides an RSS feed. Never having used it, I did some investigating, and yes, blogger does provide RSS newsfeeds. They're automatic for those hosting on Blogspot, but for those of us using blogger to publish to our own FTP site, they simply need to be turned on.

What's an RSS feed? It's basically a version of your blog that other programs can read directly and format however they want. What kind of a program would do that? Well, a news aggregator like NewsGator for one. I just installed it and put all my favorite blogs and news sites in there, and it rocks.

One thing I noticed is that if you don't use "titles" in your posts, it just takes the first few words as a title. Sometimes this doesn't really make sense. So I'm thinking about starting to actually use titles for my posts. I'm trying it out with this post, to see what it's all about.

Anyway, if you'd like to aggregate my blog, you can use the "RSS" icon on the right.

3/29/2004

The universe is in order.

überjam is back in town from the AWP conference in Chicago, it's almost my 29th birthday (gah), I cleaned the kitchen (and battled the weird and powerful mold monster in the 2nd sink drain, ewwwww), and ProTools is working on my machine now. The universe seems to be in order. So I am going to bed.

3/26/2004

ECHO Progress & New Blog

Finally got started working on my new event calendar idea last night: ECHO (Event Calendar HOuston). To keep myself on pace, I started a blog just for that. So if you care (no idea why you should), that's where you can keep up with my progress. Whee.

In other news, I am sick as a dog today. At least I came to work anyway. (groan). Remind me not to go see 8 bands in one night again.

3/25/2004

Nothing good to do ...

People say there's nothing going on in Houston. Nonsense, I say. In fact, there's usually so much going on (if you know about it) that it's hard to choose.

So last night, I decided instead of trying to choose, I would just go to every single event on my list. überjam was out of town, I had no committments, and so I resolved to spend the cover on several places, knowing I wouldn't be there long. I ended up hitting 8 different destinations and seeing some very cool stuff.

  • I started out at Brasil for dinner, where I saw Osama Raad setting up his drums for a gig with Mike Viteri and a couple other folks. I had some dinner with him over there (mmm, garlic bread), but had to leave before they started. Intended to get back for some of the music but somehow never did.

  • After leaving Brasil, I scooted over to Tropioca Tea House in midtown for Bad Art Night, a production of Cody from H-Town Blogs. Sadly, my timing was off on this one and I got there too late to join in the festivities. Apparently they didn't have a big turnout so they ended it early. :( Next time ...

  • My next stop was at a new place on Westheimer called Tha House. My friend K'Monte had invited me to come down for his open mic, so I figured I would check out the scene there. Jill and I had been there once before, for a Mary Magdalene poetry duo reading. It's basically a house that has been converted into a really comfortable, chill performance and mingling environment. Seems like the perfect place for an album listening party or something. Anyway, the featured performer of the evening was Jeremiah David (see a video interview with him). His songs were really moving and well written, and he's got a killer voice. I got a copy of his CD and it's great.

  • After being persuaded to embarrass myself by getting behind they keyboard for a couple minutes, I headed out over to the Proletariat to try and catch some of Lights Out On Sound, the live electronic music project of the Killers For Hire DJs (the Reprogram Radio guys). I missed them, unfortunately, though I was greeted from the roof of the Prole by DJ Samplistic and Travis from Damn You Drunk Rooster. I got to see a little bit of Go Spread Your Wings, which was very cool. I also got to talk w/ Matt, my KTRU DJ trainer. He told me not to forget the little people when Drop Trio gets big and famous. To which I replied "hahahahahaha". I also got to talk with Eric (CeePlus) about the state of the industry in Houston and elsewhere, and our feelings about performing at SxSW.

  • Towards the end of the GSYW set, I headed out to Industry Cafe, for the CD release party of Karina Nistal (aka "Diva Karina"), one of Houston's hottest singers (no joke). Her new 12 inch single just came out in LA, and this was her Houston record release. (You know you're big time when the first web sites that pop up about you on Google are Japanese). She gave me a copy of the thing on CD, but of course I wanted it in vinyl so I bought one (never hurts to support local artists, right?). The show was cool, I saw a bunch of good musician friends there as well out to support Karina.

  • After Karina's performance, I continued my long evening by heading over to the Last Concert Cafe to see Potroast. They were great - I'm glad to finally know some of the guys in that band (Brian, the drummer, and Eddie, the keyboard player). The crowd at LCC was totally off the hook - 2 or 3 hundred folks at least. I've never seen it so crowded. (I was particularly psyched to see a big old Drop Trio sticker up right behind the bar - thanks guys!) Many Drop fans were there (Teal, Hoopinman, etc.) and I made some new friends as well.

  • After chatting for what was probably far too long with a new friend, Pete, I headed over to Rhythm Room to catch Kirk M (the sound engineer) to try to grab a copy of a jam session we did over at his place in February. Transaction was completed, and I got to say hello to all the Goodtrain session guys (Jeremy & James from MG, Randy from Us & Them and the Hightailers, Teri "et tu" Greene, and a few others).

    That was pretty much the end of the night for me, but I did have to make the obligatory stop at Late Night Pie for a couple slices. Listened to Damage Control radio on the way home and heard a few bands I know (RMYC, SMUGGLAZ, etc.).

    There were even a couple I didn't make it to. Mike McGuire's poetry in reverse was going on at Helios, followed by my new favorite Houston musician Musak John. Also, the KTRU staff was having a CD reviewing party. I wasn't able to squeeze either of those in (for logistical reasons more than anything else).

    So who says there's nothing going on in Houston? This was a Wednesday for crying out loud! In any event, I'm gonna have to chill out the next couple nights if I want to stay employed. :)
  • 3/23/2004

    I've got a bit of a sore throat today. I wonder if that has anything to do with me getting under 5 hours of sleep for the past few days, running around in the rain, getting really stressed out, yelling at the top of my lungs in bars to people I'm trying to have a conversation with, and then eating nothing but a donut today.

    Stupid consequences!

    3/22/2004

    Back to the grind. SxSW was a hoot, as well as SxDE. Both were solid performances, and both totally fun in their own way. I was particularly psyched that überjam made it out to see us at SxSW - it's been a little while since we've had a show big enough to ask her to come out to. (If she came to all of them, she'd never get anything of her own done!)

    Now all that remains for me is to go through the hundreds of business cards I got and figure out who each one was from, and email them to say hello. No sweat.

    3/16/2004

    Today has been a totally hectic day, getting ready for SxSW. Making promo CDs to hand out, assembling samplers for industry folks who want them, making sure I've got places to stay, etc. I will sleep well tonight. Other than, you know, being totally nervous about the whole thing.

    3/15/2004

    Oops, almost forgot to post my playlist for today. Here it is. Not very inspired today, sorry. Some days you're inspired, some days you just show up.

    Did manage to get some obscure Houston music collections in there.
    Yay for new planets! Yay for Sedna!

    3/14/2004

    Happy Pi Day! (3.14) Go celebrate by having some pie (pizza pie is OK too). Today is quite an auspicious day, as it happens; it's also the birthday of Albert Einstein, and the 10 year anniversary of Wordsmith, a "word of the day" type list I get (I highly recommend subscribing - you can never know too many words!)

    3/12/2004

    Accidentally hit my mail quota last night and didn't notice until this morning. Doh! So I had a whole night's worth of email that bounced! Damn I hate when that happens. So unprofessional.

    Couple that with the fact that last week (and for a couple weeks before that) my ISP (Globat) was having spotty trouble getting emails through to me and some were bouncing. So basically, I haven't been up to snuff on the email front lately.

    But on Thursday, uberjam and I did go through the (long) process of converting her to use IMAP and Spamcop. So she'll have better email access and no spam now.

    It's funny, email is usually so transparent, and it's easy to forget about the maintenance it requires. But just like a car, if you neglect it, it'll break down on you.

    3/11/2004

    Terrible news today - Dave Blood, of the Dead Milkmen, committed suicide last night. I have been a long time lover of the Dead Milkmen - in fact, I even played one of their tunes on my show this week. Very sad. I hope his band mates and family are holding up OK.

    3/09/2004

    So, I got my new Bad Plus record in the mail yesterday. I am officially quitting playing music.

    OK, not true, but it's hard to feel like I have anything worth saying musically after listening to these guys. They are truly, totally phenominal. Everything I wish I could be doing musically, they are doing, with humor and panache and total rulingness. Wow. If you like my music, you had better run out and get theirs.

    3/08/2004

    So this seems to be turning into a weekly blog. That's not what I intended, but I'll take what I can get for now. The only thing that's been reminding me to blog is my radio show playlists (here's today).

    I'm sitting at my desk, inside a room with no windows, on one of the most beautiful days of the year. I didn't even go out for lunch, I'm just munching kashi at my desk. Sad.

    3/01/2004

    Dang, what a busy week. Work party Thursday, follwed by a Rhythm Room show Friday (watching, not playing ... seeing Goddess & Underground Nation, the latter of whom I missed - doh!); hosting Swirve @ Brasil on Friday night, followed by an all-night jam session at Kirk Madden's studio; show at Fitz on Saturday w/ Arthur (playing, not watching); recording session at Sugarhill on Sunday (which went exceptionally well); and radio show this morning (here's my new playlist).

    It's a wonder überjam hasn't killed me yet. This week will be significantly more chill, with a trip to Bolivar to hang with the 'rents on Saturday and a little down time between now and then. As long as I can manage not to fall asleep on my keybozzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    2/23/2004

    Just did my first radio show on KTRU this morning. Here's my playlist.

    2/20/2004

    You know what makes me upset? Creationists*. You know what makes me happy? The Creation Science Fair. Some entries:

    "My Uncle Is A Man Named Steve (Not A Monkey)"

    "Pine Cones Are Complicated"

    "Rocks Can't Evolve, Where Did They Come From Mr. Darwin?" - Anna Reed (grade 6)


    Brilliant. Big shout out to Cam for finding this and confirming that it is, in fact, a joke.

    * For the record, I'm not talking about folks who think that a higher power is / may be at work behind the nature and meaning of the scientific laws that govern our universe. That's fine, I tend to agree. I'm talking about the folks (and there are plenty out there) that go to great lengths to say that Evolution is wrong and to promote "Intelligent Design" as an "alternate theory" in schools. The kind that are so clouded by anti-intellectualism that they can't grasp the basic fundamentals of the scientific method and think that a dogmatic anti-logic approach is somehow defensible instruction for kids. The kind who, when you try to talk about logic and rational scientific thought, stick their fingers in their ears and say "na na na, I can't hear you". I wish we didn't live in a world where that's even an issue, but we do.

    2/19/2004

    "Does anything hurt you, Conan?"

    "Only pain."


    Ow. I've been working out a little bit lately at this place in my neighborhood. Yesterday I did weights, and I think I might have hurt my shoulder a bit. It hurts now when I lift my arm over my head. Is that bad? I'm sore all over, but everything is just soreness. My shoulder is actual pain.

    At least I have some new shoes.

    2/18/2004

    So, looks like this is the end for Dean's presidential bid. I guess it was the Iowa speech that really did him in - voters got so scared that he might melt down in the race against Bush and hand him a win that they bucked. That's understandable, but too bad.

    I still think he would make the best president ever. Please! He's a compulsive recycler, a family doctor, a penny pincher and a proven success in the executive branch. He actually loves his wife and family, and isn't one of the nasty career politicians who will do anything to get elected. He hides candy in drawers of his offices cuz he's got a sweet tooth. My heart is aching for what could have been.

    But the fact of the matter is, American democracy isn't well set up for that. Somebody who's quirky, smart, and real will always lose to someone who is more politically devious, more cut throat, and more "lowest common denominator". Dean lost to Kerry for the same reasons that he might have lost to Bush. That makes me sad, but that's life.

    Well, I think Edwards is a pretty stand-up guy, from all I've heard (well, other than being a lawyer). Maybe he'll get the nod, or maybe the VP slot. I would much rather see him go up against Bush than Kerry, who is the biggest special interest hog the the left side of the aisle and voted the wrong way (or didn't vote) on everything that's important to me.

    So, what's next? Well, there are 2 organizations (hopefully soon to be joined by Dean's new PAC) that I think are really making the voice of common sense heard in a big way today: MoveOn (2 million strong) and True Majority (headed by Ben from Ben & Jerry's). They harness the internet well, they stand up for stuff I agree with, and just like Dean's campaign, they're funded by small donations by tons of people.

    2/17/2004

    Spent the better part of my free hours today (of which there weren't many) catching up with my email. Down from 250 inbox to 50 inbox. Schwing! In the process, though, I sent about 85 emails. Which means that tomorrow, my inbox will be hit with redoubled fury, thus casting me deeper into the vicious cycle of email.

    Tonight I'm heading over to the Volcano for the weekly music business roundtable, with a special meeting tonight for bands interested in participating in the Houston booth at SxSW.

    2/16/2004

    Man, I've just been cranking all day at work today. I actually pushed out a full application in a very short space of time - it's called the Recordable Accident Tracker, or RAT for short. Lets users at our branch offices punch in data about recordable accidents directly on our corporate intranet. Whee! And it generates reports! Yahoo!

    OK, so my day job isn't very exciting. I'll take what small pleasure I can get in writing elegant code that solves problems for people, even if those problems do happen to originiate somewhere in dilbert land. But seriously - my new programming technique is unstoppable.

    2/11/2004

    I've had a crappy day. I'm tired and I'm coming down with a cold or something.

    But this made my day: The Moon Song.

    Thanks, überjam. :)

    2/10/2004

    Great new discovery today ... a weekly Prog rock radio show that's entirely archived on the web and available for download or streaming! It's on a radio station out of Milwaukee, WI. Mmm, prog rock.

    You know, it's funny, with my recent musical compatriots I've been getting more and more bold about admitting my deep and adibing love for this dorkiest of music. But the other day at KTRU when I was doing my first technical training, I mentioned the idea of doing a prog show and the DJs coming in for the next shift looked at me like I was insane. They proceeded to play lots of Decemberists and Spoon and stuff like that, which I love as well. But it is a reminder: prog is not, in fact, for everyone.

    2/09/2004

    Whew. So, I did it - I managed to wake up at 3:30 am and get over to KPFT, where I played with the New Jack Hippies. It wasn't too bad, I went to bed around 8pm. I guess I had better get used to it, since the KTRU slot I've been assigned is Mondays from 4-7am. Haha.

    Yesterday, I also went over to Bungalow Studio in the heights and played on a session for the new album by the Buddhacrush. Tim (lead singer) and Mark (engineer) were very hospitable, and like I've said before, the sound they're getting over there at Bungalow is excellent. Can't wait to hear what the record sounds like when it's out. I heard some of the tracks I did over there with Plump, and they sound rad.

    OK, so now it's Monday morning. Back to work. :-(

    2/08/2004

    Last night I went over to the 1 year anniversary party for the Free Press Houston. It's a little indie paper published here in town. Similar to the Houston Press, but more indie, more concise, more political, etc. Good bunch of folks over there, including DJ CeePlus, M. Martin (from Earthwire.net), and a few other notables. It was a good time.

    Tonight, on the other hand, I will be turning in EARLY. I'm trying to get used to the idea of starting a radio show at 4:00am on Mondays, so this week I'm going over to KPFT at that hour to jam with Guy Schwartz for his all night birthday jam. Gah.

    2/04/2004

    So I finally dug überjam's old Palm Pilot out of the storage bin it was in (affectionately known as the "gadget graveyard") and hooked it up today. Brilliant! Totally works, and now I've got all of my business contacts synced up to it. The sync process is a bit cumbersome - it involves deleting the contacts out, exporting from the Excel sheet I keep them in to a text file, and then importing them. I'll probably only do that once a week, but that's sufficient to my needs - basically, I just need a way to keep from having to print my whole damn list out every couple weeks and carry it around with me. This way is more compact, more secure, searchable, and ... well ... cooler.

    Now I'm looking into running the palm version of LifeBalance so I can have all my to-do items on there as well. That part should even be reverse-syncable. :)

    2/03/2004

    Ah, it's been a wild few days. Gig in Tyler, gig at the Rhythm Room (listen), quiet Superbowl sunday (my Aquarium duo gig was cancelled, thank goodness - playing jazz standards while people are watching the Super Bowl would have been horrible. Especially when there are nipples involved.)

    Tonight I have my first new DJ meeting for KTRU. I don't really know what to expect, but I'm thinking it's gonna be a lot of fun to do a radio show. Of course, I will have a graveyard shift. :( But you gotta pay your dues.

    Thanks to everybody who has been commenting lately. I just upgraded my HaloScan account so I can get emails when comments are left. That'll be nice.

    1/28/2004

    Had a fun gig at St. Arnold's Brewery last night with Thomas Helton and Richard Cholakian. We played (quietly) a bunch of funk and jazz tunes, while some 25-35 year old Rice alumni mingled and drank beer. And we got to drink free beer too. I can say with authority that: beer is good!

    And meanwhile, Dean comes in a strong second to Kerry in New Hampshire. That's as good as could be hoped after last week, and points to a Dean / Kerry matchup. I welcome that. I think when people look at Kerry in depth, they'll go for Dean, if they really want to have a chance at beating Bush. IMO.