Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Apocalypse Cake

Tonight I was working at the library, and at one point I decided to go up to the break room because sometimes there is food in there, and I was a little hungry. Lo and behold, I forgot that there was going to be cake. One day every month they bring in a giant cake that's half chocolate, half white cake to celebrate the birthdays for that month. So there I was all alone with the still ample remnants of today's cake. My impulse control was poor. It was kind of like throwing a bucket of chum at a shark. I feel shame.

I haven't had much time or inspiration for photos lately, but I did sneak a few shots in last Sunday at a field close to my house. I just wish I had remembered my monopod. I'll have to go back.

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Junkies With Monkey Disease

I've been pretty busy trying to wrap up this school semester. I have a group project that is due next Thursday. Our group has to create a website for a museum with art objects of our choice. "Our" choice (definitely not mine but I was outvoted) was "cemetery art". Sure, let's pick the most depressing thing we can think of! I'm a little nervous, it seems like some parts of the project aren't coming together all that well. We shall see.

The Cat Power show has been rescheduled, but not until October. That seems like a long time to wait. My heart could explode by then or something.

I recently watched the DVDs of "Flight of the Conchords", and thought they were really funny. Their first official CD came out last week, and I bought it. It's all songs from the show, but a few of my favorites aren't on there. If you're into 2-man New Zealand novelty bands, you could do a lot worse. I was quite disappointed to learn that they are playing in Washington D.C. while I will be there, but the shows are already sold out. Dammit!

Here's a video from the show. Bret writes a song for his girlfriend Coco, and Jemaine helps out:

Leave these poor sick monkeys alone
They've got problems enough as it is.


Monday, April 21, 2008

No Cat For You (Well, Me Actually)

This morning I overslept because I pulled the ever-popular "accidentally-set-your-alarm-for-PM-when-you-meant-to-set-it-for-AM" gag. Man, that extra 2 hours was nice.

Saturday night I was supposed to go see Cat Power in concert. I have blogged about seeing her before. On Friday night after I got home from work I found out that the show had been canceled due to "vocal chord issues". I looked around online today and apparently Chan's doctor has advised her to give her vocal chords a rest for a little bit, so she's canceled about 6 shows. Supposedly they will be rescheduled later. I'm disappointed, but I definitely don't want her to ruin her pipes. And this is just a suggestion that I'm sure would be ignored even if she heard it - it probably wouldn't hurt to, you know, cut back on the smoking.

Saturday I worked at the library, and they let me man the non-fiction desk all by my lonesome for an hour. That's the first time I have been there by myself. It made me a little bit nervous, but I wanted to do it to prove to myself that I could. The thing that makes it a little nerve-wracking (for me) is also the thing that makes it kind of fun - you never know what someone is going to ask you. It initially puts me into a bit of a panic (I guess because I don't know the collection all that well yet), but it feels great when you help someone find what they are looking for. The first half hour of my time was pretty quiet, but it picked up a lot in the second half hour. I had this kid who was probably 11 or 12 come in looking for dinosaur books, and I took him over to where they were. He came back later with a basket full of books and then asked where to find books about Egypt. This time I actually thought to try and do a bit of a reference interview (which is what you are always supposed to do, but I'm still trying to get that part down), and I asked him if he was doing a school project. He said no, that he was just looking for interesting things to read about. A boy after my own heart! I was that nerdy kid who could never read enough about astronomy. He must have left with about 20 books. I also learned an important lesson - biographies of Stephen King and Martin Luther King have the same call number in our system, so make sure you pull the correct one!

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Friday, April 18, 2008

All Bruced Up

As I mentioned in my pre-concert post, I have never really considered myself to be a fan of Bruce Springsteen. In my younger years I was mostly into heavier music. I didn’t much care for music that had a saxophone or piano in it unless it was jazz. As I also mentioned, I did have “Born In The U.S.A” on cassette tape, but it never really broke through to be one of my favorite albums. I never really considered this before reading the hypothesis the other day, but maybe growing up in Texas played a part too? I mean, in New Jersey you probably have to sign a statement pledging your allegiance to Bruce before receiving your driver’s license, and in general I would say he’s more popular in the Northeast. Over the last few years I’ve come to know a couple of Bruce fans, one being my brother-in-law. And these people are really into Bruce. There’s got to be a reason that he inspires so much devotion, right? So when I heard that Bruce and the E Street Band were coming to town I wanted to go because just felt a curiosity to see if I could gain some insight into why his fans are so dedicated. I have to say that after the show I’m a lot closer to understanding it.

I thought the show was great. He played most of the songs from his latest album, and the songs are pretty good (metacritic page here). Of course a bunch of the classics were played as well. I have seen some complaints about the sound quality, but from where I was sitting the sound was pretty good for an arena show. That is one tight band, which I guess is to be expected considering how long they’ve been around. Bruce’s voice was in excellent form. I’ve been looking at the setlist and listening to the download I found, and I can’t even single out highlights because just about everything was great. I thought I might be distracted by seeing Little Steven and thinking about Silvio, but that wasn’t really the case (maybe it’s the bandanna). And Bruce? Well, I’ve got to hand it to him, the guy is good. The thing that stood out the most for me was that clearly this guy loves what he does. And while I think that can really help me enjoy a concert, I have still enjoyed concerts where the performers didn’t seem like they were having the time of their lives up there (there are other ways to give part of oneself to an audience). But it’s awfully hard to dislike someone who’s having so much fun. For me it’s impossible not to like someone who gets up there and gives it his all like that. And at age 58, no less. Clearly he could phone it in by this point if he wanted to. After all, the guy’s a multi-gazillionaire, he’s got nothing left to prove. But he still goes after it like he does. Which is awesome. The day after the concert it was all I could think about, and a bunch of the songs kept running through my head.

It feels like the bond between Springsteen and his fans is entirely mutual. He just looked like he was having a blast up there. He was high-fiving people, smiling and pointing at individuals in the crowd, playing to every section of the crowd, bringing a bunch of tweens onstage to dance. There just seems to be a real connection there. I mean, Mick Jagger at 60-whatever is still bebopping around quite impressively, but I don’t get the sense that he’s doing it for the same reason. Another thing about Bruce, the guy has the “it” factor. Charisma. He’s just a badass. He owned that “room” of 20,000 people.

In the end you can do all the analysis you want. But the bottom line is that this concert was just a great time. Hipsters can go on ignoring him since he’s too mainstream, too old, not relevant, too American, or whatever other crap excuse they throw out. Hipsters can also kiss my ass. Seeing this show has made me into a Bruce Springsteen fan. I am certain that if Bruce ever blows through town again that I if I’m able to, I will be there. Yelling “Brooooooce!”

Link to setlist
(Bands, this is how you do a setlist on your website: Links to lyrics for each song, indication of tour premieres, list of albums that song appears on, and an image of the handwritten setlist. Awesome.)

Video Excerpts
(To launch in a new window, hold down the Shift key and then click on the links):
Spirit In The Night (Sacramento)
Trapped (Vancouver)
Darkness On The Edge of Town (St. Paul)
Because The Night (Montreal)
For You (Portland)
Point Blank (Seattle)

One final note: I was saddened to hear that Danny Federici, who has been playing with Bruce for 40 years as a keyboardist and accordionist, died yesterday after a 3 year battle with melanoma. Rest in peace Danny.


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Do Over Day

You know how sometimes a day just doesn't go the way you want it to, no matter how hard you try? It was one of those days. Starting with the commute from hell. Why are people such shitty drivers? I mean really, it's not that difficult to pay attention and be careful. But someone had to act like they were in their own movie and cause utter gridlock. Things got better in the middle of the day and I was all set to finish my concert post tonight, but then the trip home annoyed too. And I can't finish that post in an annoyed state. So. It's actually appropriate that storm clouds are rolling in. I want a do over day tomorrow. Tomorrow will be better, but here are some photos of some funky ass clouds.

These are mammatus clouds. They usually form on the bottom of thunderstorms.

Some people call them fish scales.

This is known as a sky cameltoe. OK, maybe not, but it should be.



Tuesday, April 15, 2008

You Are Feeling Sleepy...

I had hoped to have a concert review up by now, but I want to be able to do the experience justice so I'm still working on it. In the meantime, here is a 60 Minutes report that aired a few weeks ago that I thought was really interesting. It's broken up into 2 videos, and they are kind of long at 13 minutes a piece but well worth a look. This is a topic that I have talked about before, namely that of getting enough sleep. I think it's one of the most important things you can do to stay healthy. In this video one of the scientists actually hypothesizes that lack of adequate sleep can make you age faster. The bit towards the end with the fruit flies is kind of interesting too. I know I feel like a real dumbass and like there's something wrong with me when I don't get enough sleep. If you don't feel like watching these videos, then you can always click on the most awesomest link ever!


Sunday, April 13, 2008

Stormy Weather

We had a bout of fairly nasty weather here early Thursday morning. It was about 4AM. I was asleep, but I heard it start to thunder and I knew that they were saying there could be severe storms overnight, so I turned on the TV and looked at the weather radar. Holy S, those little circles that they use to indicate rotation were right over where I live, and there were about 5 of them! I switched over to one of the local stations to hear what the weather man had to say and he said that there was a tornado warning for my area. And then right after that my power went out. I have a battery powered radio that receives TV signals, so I grabbed that and got in the closet. I couldn't have been in there more than a couple of minutes when they said that the warning was lifted. Yay, no tornado at my house! I went back to sleep and my power came back on a little later (I could tell since my ceiling fan started turning again).

I'm glad my power came back, because there are apparently still people in the Dallas area who don't have power as of today. Yesterday there was an article in the paper that said that the National Weather Service has determined that there were 8 tornadoes that morning in this area, including one about 8 miles down the highway from where I live. When I drove to work that morning I saw lots of signs blown down, including a McDonald's with the arches blown off of the sign. I'm very thankful that there was no damage to my house.

Switching gears, tonight I'm going to see Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band in concert. I'm pretty excited, I've never seen them before. I wouldn't say that I am a huge fan. I know 2 people who are really into Bruce, and mostly I just want to see what all the fuss is about. When I was a kid I had "Born In The U.S.A" on cassette, but I never had any of his other albums. But I definitely think the guy has something and I have a lot of respect for how he's still out there doing his thing at a high level. I think he's a great songwriter too. So I am definitely looking forward to it. I'll write a report at some point this week.


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Work For Free? Why Stop Now!

I'm getting pretty close to the number of hours that I am required to work at the library for my school credit. 120 hours. Last week my supervisor sent me an email and asked if I would be willing to continue working as a volunteer after I finish my assignment. I didn't hesitate very long before saying yes. I like working there (last night I worked at the front desk for an hour and I even liked that!), and I think it will be good experience for my eventual job search. I'll have more leeway with my hours. I shouldn't have to work 6 hours on Saturdays unless I want to. The only reason I had to do those long shifts this semester was so I could fit all of my required hours into the semester. The only hesitation that I have is that I don't like contributing to a phenomenon that is becoming more common in libraries - that they are relying more on volunteers and part-time workers over degreed librarians so that they can save money. Ultimately though I think the experience is too good to pass up.

And now apropos of nothing, I present cardinal photos.

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Sunday, April 06, 2008

Pass The Turkey Bacon Please

A couple of weeks ago I had some bloodwork done at the doctor's office. They called me back with the results, and apparently I now have high cholesterol. On one hand I was a bit surprised because I don't eat a high fat diet, and I don't eat much meat at all, especially red meat. On the other hand, heart problems run in my family. My paternal grandfather died at age 59 from heart disease. I'm sure he had high cholesterol, but back then I don't think they knew much about that and all the statin drugs didn't exist. My maternal grandmother died of a heart attack at 66, and my dad was diagnosed with high cholesterol when he was 42. So I guess there was a pretty good chance that this could happen to me.

So now I have another drug added to my daily dose. I'm sure my current candy-rich diet is not helping a whole lot either. I have just learned that apparently a high sugar diet can also lead to high cholesterol. Whoops! So I really need to cut back on the sugar. Actually the thought of candy right now makes me squirm in discomfort. Hopefully the medicine will help too. I go back in 3 months to get my cholesterol checked again. No more bacon smoothies for me!

This photo has nothing to do with the rest of this post, but I wanted to share it:

Hello Panda. For those times when Hello Kitty is just really getting on your damn nerves.
Actually these things are really good. They're from Singapore. You can get them at Asian groceries. Probably not recommended for the low cholesterol diet.


Tuesday, April 01, 2008

It's Time For Some Meme Payback!

OK. I’m way behind on a crapload of tags. No surprise there. But I’m going to try and catch up. This seven things about me is to pay off this and this!

1. School is driving me crazy this semester. In general I have liked most of the online classes I have taken so far. However, this semester I’m taking one class that is kind of a struggle. There’s just not enough structure for me. The prof seems kind of hands-off, and the readings aren’t very specific. For example we’ll have a link to a web page with a bunch of links about our topic and we have to pick something on our own. Some of them are really long and some are short so it’s hard to know what to pick sometimes since stuff that’s too short isn’t meaty enough to write about and the really long stuff is hard to condense. At least they seem to be grading fairly easy!

2. I hate working on Saturdays. The last few weeks when I’ve had to work on Saturday I’ve gotten a migraine either the night before or sometime Saturday. Obviously it’s my body reacting to something it doesn’t want to do. It’s not that I don’t like the library, in fact I do like working there. But having to work 6 hours on Saturday after having worked a full week just doesn’t sit well with my psyche.

3. Cara Cara oranges – I posted a photo of one of these a little while back. I’ve become addicted to these oranges. The inside is kind of a pinkish orange color – they taste like a cross between an orange and a grapefruit. I’ve been eating one of these a day. I know they will be out of season soon enough, so I shouldn’t get sick of them before then. I love oranges, but when I start getting a bunch of them that are dried out and mealy I get grossed out by them. That hasn’t happened yet with these. Does anyone know how to avoid those dried out oranges?

4. My aunt teaches elementary school kids. One time when I was at her house she told me how she teaches her kids to sing one verse of “Old MacDonald” when they wash their hands so that they scrub long enough. Now sometimes I catch myself doing the same thing. Hopefully now some of you will do it too.

5. When I was a little kid I had to have a nightlight in my room when it was time to go to sleep. Now I want it as dark as possible when I sleep. Kind of ironic I suppose.

6.I’m currently playing lots of retro video games. Ever since I saw that Donkey Kong movie my dormant interest in retro video games has been rekindled. I have some retro game collections on my PSP, and I’ve been playing lots of Galaga lately. A little bit of Pac Man too. Unfortunately there’s no Donkey Kong on the discs that I have.

7. Apparently I like strawberry beer. A couple of weeks ago I saw this beer at a local grocery store. Yep, strawberry-flavored beer. Abita makes one of my all-time favorite beers, Turbodog (also one of the best beer names ever), and I liked the pecan beer they came out with last fall so I decided to give this a shot. Beer flavored with fruit has a long tradition in brewing, especially in Belgium, and I’ve found that I enjoy many of these beers. This one is no exception. The strawberry flavor and aroma is subtle, and the beer doesn’t taste overly sweet.

I won't tag anyone. If you want to do this, consider yourself tagged!