December Mix: Goodbye 2008

December 29th, 2008

December Mix I’ve been slacking on mixes and never uploaded the last several months’ worth. I have a few of them lying around and at some point I’ll make them available. The tracks on this mix were all released in 2008. The theme is letting go of the old year and starting fresh in the new one.

This will most likely be my last post of 2008 and for the immediate future until I finish v3.0 of my site, which is under way at the moment. It could take longer than anticipated as I’m making the leap to Expression Engine. I’m hoping for a late January release. In the mean time, enjoy. As per usual the mix includes all tracks, an iTunes song list, as well as 150×150 and 300×300 versions of the art.

  1. Fucked Up - Son the Father
  2. Johnny Foreigner - The End and Everything After
  3. Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin - You Could Write a Book
  4. Women - Cameras
  5. Land of Talk - Got a Call
  6. Dead Meadow - I’m Gone
  7. Blind Pilot - The Bitter End
  8. Frightened Rabbit - Old Old Fashioned
  9. A Weather - Small Potatoes
  10. Jason Anderson - This Will Never Be Our Town
  11. Bound Stems - Winston
  12. Kaki King - Montreal
  13. Forest City Lovers - Orphans
  14. Arms - John Escalator
  15. Mount Eerie - Log in the Waves
  16. Cat Power - Dark End of the Street

Download December 2008 Mix (87.1mb)

Yes, Let’s

November 20th, 2008

I saw this op-ed today titled Let Detroit Go Bankrupt by Mitt Romney, and in spite of how much I think he’s a crazy nutjob I actually agree with most of it. American car companies are failing, and a bailout won’t do anything but give them more money to lose.

I recently bought a new car. I love it more than anything else I’ve ever bought, except for education. When I decided I was ready for a new car I had already secured a car loan, so I had few limitations. I try to buy local as much as possible, so it made sense to get an American car. I’ve only ever owned American; a Chevy Camaro, a Ford Taurus and a Ford Focus. I never had trouble with any of them, they all lasted a long time. The Focus was the only one I wasn’t thrilled about in the snow. My brother-in-law works for GM and every other day I read about plant closings in the news.

I was pretty shocked by what I found. Not only were there not any American cars that looked particularly appealing, most of them weren’t priced all that differently from their foreign counterparts, and in some cases were only a couple thousand dollars difference from a luxury brand.

Car Comparison

The prices shown reflect similar options and trim levels. These cars were basically the same, except the Volkswagen beat most of them on mileage and horsepower. If money were no object I’d want a BMW 328i or an Audi A4. So which of the cars pictured above looks the most like those two? And which of them had the most standard features comparable to those two?

Ding ding ding. If you said the Volkswagen Jetta you answered correctly. Most of the other cars more closely resembled Buicks. Now did I really buy the car because it looked like an Audi? No, but I did pick the car I thought looked the most elegant and stylish out of the bunch and was the most bang for my buck.

I opted for the limited edition Wolfsburg which had similar standard features to the Audi and BMW; a turbo engine, premium sound system, heated seats, defrosting side mirrors, auto-adjusting windshield wipers etc. Additionally Volkswagen offers 30,000 miles of free maintenance, something else BMW, Audi and Lexus are doing.

American companies are serving up Kmart when customers want Banana Republic. Their cars aren’t priced to compete. The design both exterior and interior are dull, and their brands are lackluster.* Mileage is a joke when GMC can call their Cadillac Escalde Hybrid “fuel efficient” at 18mpg. None of the American companies offer free maintenance. No wonder the industry is failing, it’s not because they don’t have enough money, it’s because they’re selling an inferior product. Maybe the car companies should hire Steve Jobs instead of begging the government for welfare.

*The possible interior exception would be cars including SYNC technology, which would be a whole lot more appealing were it not from Microsoft. I was a little sad how Volkswagen was lacking in the bluetooth and voice recognition department. Their navigation system was pretty archaic too.

Accessibility in Pop Culture

November 17th, 2008

I saw this Tylenol ad the other day while flipping through the most recent issue of Real Simple magazine. I snapped it indoors with my iPhone so the quality is pretty poor, but they show the keyboard shortcut for enlarging browser text on PC and Mac.

Tylenol Ad for Text Resizing

Granted not all people needing to enlarge browser text are older users, but I’ve often wondered if someone like my grandma would know how to resize text, let alone be comfortably recall a keyboard shortcut.

Karen

September 26th, 2008

My mom died two years ago on Monday. I thought the week would be very difficult, but thinking about her has made me more happy than it has sad. I’ve undertaken the monumental task of scanning all the photos from my childhood, it will take forever, but here’s one:

Losing one of your parents makes you feel like half your childhood has been erased, so this is my last ditch effort to save it. I am posting them all to Flickr, after looking at this one I realized I have her smile, and this one is my favorite picture of her and my dad.

Record Scores for September

September 24th, 2008

Remind me never again to get drunk at the Beachland and stumble into Music Saves afterwards.

  • Bears - Who Knows 7″
  • Bound Stems - The Family Afloat 12″
  • Neko Case - Blacklisted
  • Patsy Cline - Country Greats 12″
  • Creedence Clearwater Revival - The Concert 12″
  • Dear Nora - Curt & Molly Split 7″
  • Dear Nora - Dreaming Out Loud 7″
  • Dear Nora - New Year 12″ (Screened cover)
  • Dear Nora - We’ll Have a Time 12″ (this is a double if anyone wants it)
  • Deep Purple - Made in Japan 12″
  • Erase Errata - Tomlab Alphabet Singles Series 7″
  • Glove Puppet Zine 01 7″
  • Ladytron - Velocifero 2×12″ (White marble)
  • Lloyd Cole & the Commotions - Easy Pieces 12″
  • Lloyd Cole & the Commotions - Rattlesnakes 12″
  • Samara Lubelski - Parallel Suns 12″
  • Mamas & the Papas - People Like Us 12″
  • Midnight - Slay the Spits 7″
  • Mirah - Advisory Committee 12″ (Finally repressed!)
  • Nachtmystium - Instinct: Decay 12″
  • Neutral Milk Hotel - On Avery Island 12″
  • No Age - Nouns 12″
  • Pelican - City of Echoes 2×12″ (Silver)
  • Liz Phair - Exile in Guyville 12″ (180g reissue w/bonus 7″)
  • Red Sparowes - Every Red Heart… 12″ (Greenish brown marble)
  • Sleep - Sleep’s Holy Mountain 12″
  • The Softies - Loveseat 7″
  • Marnie Stern - In Advance of the Broken Arm 12″
  • Supremes - Baby Love 12″
  • Valkyrie - Valkyrie 12″

Ethnography Behind Intel’s Classmate PC

August 28th, 2008

The essence of this video:
Watch what’s happening and how it happens, don’t make assumptions about what people are actually doing. Ask questions, you won’t see everything. Then enhance the experience naturally.

This is how every UX project should be approached. Help people do what they want them to do, don’t force them down the path you want, or you think they want. Interview all stakeholders, not just the obvious users. It’s all about observing and listening, we are just the user’s humble servants.

  • Future Media Standards & Guidelines from the BBC. I particularly appreciated this point:
    1.1.2. If a user does not have the correct plug-in to access the enhanced content, or cannot easily access the content because they are using assistive technologies (such as screen readers) or Betsie to view the site, this should not detract from the user accessing the core content of the website.
    (2) 08.27.2008

New Mika Miko Video

August 27th, 2008

I saw this on Stereogum today and had to repost. The first time I saw this band (I think with the Gossip?) my initial thoughts were “Yeah I liked Kill Rock Stars in 1994 too” but I got a few of their records and they’re a solid, fun band.

The Work From Home™

August 27th, 2008

The Work From Home

One of the best things working from home has afforded me is getting to make myself real lunch food in my own kitchen. This sandwich is my lunchtime staple, and I’ve made it a variety of ways just using what was on hand in my house so feel free to make substitutions.

  1. Lay two slices of onion dill rye bread out on your foil-lined baking pan.
  2. Brush one side of each (the outward facing side) with olive oil. I use a garlic infused oil
  3. Layer a few generous slices of sun dried tomato turkey breast on one piece.
  4. Add two slices of prosciutto on top of the turkey.
  5. Grate 4-5 tablespoons of gruyere over top of the prosciutto, and season with pepper.
  6. Spread sweet hot mustard on the second piece of bread, and press it down on the gruyere (this makes everything stick together when it melts.)
  7. Grate about 3 more table spoons of gruyere on top of the sandwich, and season with more pepper.
  8. Bake on a foil lined pan at 375 degrees for 13 minutes.

You could easily make this sandwich in a panini maker or with a grill press, I choose not to because the prosciutto gets crispy in the oven. I’ve also used chicken and multi-grain bread. But the gruyere and the mustard really help give the sandwich a nutty flavor, so I recommend sticking with the swiss family of cheeses if possible. I also substituted sopressata for the prosciutto once, and it doesn’t really crisp up the way the prosciutto will. Enjoy!

Look at This Freaking Cake!

August 22nd, 2008

Happy Blood Day

Rachel made this for my birthday. It’s a shark attack cake, because I love shark week. Happy blood day.

Movies I Have Seen Lately

August 22nd, 2008

When I moved to Cleveland Heights I had the good fortune to move three blocks from the Cedar Lee, the local independent film theater. Monday is $5 movie night, and I’ve been trying to take advantage of it’s close proximity.

Since moving I have seen:

Read the rest of this entry »

My New Record Player: The Beogram RX2

August 20th, 2008

A while back I wrote about my love for Bang Olufsen and the Beogram. I regularly check eBay for them, but they’re always missing the stylus or the hinges are broken. Buying something I can’t test made me a little apprehensive as well. I recently came across someone on Craigslist selling a mint condition Beogram RX2 in Cleveland and couldn’t pass up the opportunity. He’d recently had it rebalanced, rewired and the stylus cleaned. With the addition of a preamp, it sounds amazing even on my crappy stereo.

Beogram RX2

The RX2 was the last of the Beogram record players. One of the best features is the automatic tracking, based on the weight of the record the player knows where to cue and at what speed to start. You can see my small Beogram Flickr set here.

When I moved I had to abandon my large Expedit from Ikea which had been housing my records. FYI, the large Expedits will not fit in a 17′ Penske moving truck. The records were residing in sterilite bins (perfect for moving vinyl, they are easy to carry and you can stack them without damaging your collection) which seemed like such a waste with the new turntable. So I painted a built in book case in my living room and got them all situated and out of bins. I had originally painted the whole thing white but I painted the back of the inside green to contrast with the yellow walls.

Newly painted book case

I considered the turntable an early birthday present, so on my actual birthday I went out and bought the following to enjoy on the earlier present:

  • Stereloab - Chemical Cords
  • Stereolab - Aluminum Tunes (3xLP)
  • The Black Angels - (3xLP)
  • Heart - Dreamboat Annie
  • Stereolab - Three Women (7″)
  • The Black Angels - Doves (7″)

Belated July 2008 Mix

August 7th, 2008

July 2008 MixThis mix is best served on a lazy Saturday afternoon. Rain for the first half is desirable but not essential.

Also appropriate for: driving to get dinner, Friday at 7pm, a trip to the book store, walking your dogs at dusk, dawdling and napping on the couch.

  1. The Skygreen Leopards - Places West of Shawnapee
  2. Bowerbirds - Hooves
  3. Grouper - Heavy Water / I’d Rather Be Sleeping
  4. Faunts - Memories of Places We’ve Never
  5. Pelican - City of Echoes
  6. Stereolab - Silver Sands
  7. Deerhunter - Never Stops
  8. Parts & Labor - Fractured Skies
  9. No Age - Sleeper Hold
  10. The Submarines - Swimming Pool
  11. Voxtrot - Long Haul

Download July 2008 Mix (62.3mb)

When I first uploaded this, the Faunts track was missing. It’s now in the zip file, or you can download it individually.

June 2008 Mix

June 29th, 2008

June 2008 MixEnjoy this mix in one of the following conditions: sunny + hot + humid, rainy + hot + humid, or rainy + windy + cold.

It also goes well with: long drives across town at dusk, trying to find parking in the evening, rainy Saturday afternoon naps, beers at a quiet table, the bookstore, reminiscing, and procrastinating.

  1. The Little Ones - Let Them Ring the Bells
  2. Fruit Bats - Canyon Girl
  3. Clinic - The Witch
  4. Vivian Girls - Tell the World
  5. The Submarines - Fern Beard
  6. Forest City Lovers - Sullen Seas
  7. My Latest Novel - The Hope Edition
  8. Our Lady of Bells - Adeline
  9. Sarah Harmer - I Am Aglow
  10. Frontier Folk Nebraska - Parker Browne
  11. Norfolk & Western - Terrified
  12. Seabear - Hands Remember

Download June 2008 Mix (59mb)

Hopefully My Absence is Over

June 22nd, 2008

Life hasn’t afforded me the time for a blog post in a while. Here’s what’s going on:

  1. I’ve been very immersed in my new job, I am working on some awesome things I can’t talk about now because of trade secrets etc, but billing and payments in online insurance are about to get much much better.
  2. My long term, live in girlfriend of four years and I broke up. This stuff is always hard, but new beginnings are nice too.
  3. I moved from the West Side of Cleveland to Cleveland Heights (the East Side.) I miss the West Side but am loving exploring this part of town and being close to the Grog Shop and the Beachland. Incidentally I’m only 5 minutes from the Apple Store now. I’m also really excited to have a dedicated office space.
  4. I’ve been doing a lot of freelance. I finished teaching my class, but I’ll be teaching another for Fall semester.
  5. I started seeing someone else who is amazing (and also a talented baker) and I’m sure I will gush about her to the point your RSS feed will make you puke and you’ll unsubscribe.

I’ve also been putting some serious time and (ugh) money into decorating the new place. I bought a new couch and loveseat, I’m still waiting for the couch to be delivered. I’m getting a new dining room table. I’ve done a ton of painting (with lots of help.) I am replacing all my bedding and towels. I am going to put up all new window treatments. Someone should bar me from Crate & Barrel. I’ve also been going crazy with the Martha Stewart collection at Macy’s, and ended up with Martha Stewart paint. The dining room color is called Mint Gelato. The list goes on and on, so I’ve made two photo sets on Flickr, a before and an in progress. Here’s a few highlights:


I also want to mention Room Service, a fabulous shop where I bought my throw pillows on Detroit in the Gordon Square Arts District. They were pretty reasonable and have a lot of pieces by local designers and artists.

May 2008 Mix (Belated)

June 2nd, 2008

May 2008 Mix

Long overdue, here is my mix for May. On June 2nd. I’m a little behind, give me a break I’m moving and completely drained.

Listen to this while lying on your couch with minimal lighting. Bonus points for incense and headphones.

There is also some album art.

  1. French Kicks - Abandon
  2. Annuals - Sore
  3. Ladytron - The Lovers
  4. The Sound - Heartland
  5. My Brightest Diamond - Inside a Boy
  6. Plants and Animals - Bye Bye Bye
  7. Brightblack Morning Light - Come Another Rain Down
  8. The Black Angels - Better Off Alone
  9. Mary Timony - Look a Ghost in the Eye
  10. Pete and the Pirates - Knots
  11. The Warlocks - Dreamless Days

Download May 2008 Mix (60mb)

This Week in Lists

May 23rd, 2008

Pros:

  • Naked Juice in the cafeteria
  • Netflix
  • Contemplating getting a scooter
  • A friend’s successful recovery
  • This article on blogging and personal privacy. Will resonate with anyone who’s ever had a LiveJournal.
  • Five cent HDMI cable
  • New upscaling DVD player
  • Desperate Housewives season finale
  • Ellen and John McCain
  • New issue of Martha Stewart Living has a bee cake on the cover
  • Scharffen Berger

Cons:

  • Auto Kerning
  • Packing
  • Gas prices
  • That Scarlett Johansson album
  • Frutiger Serif
  • Wishing I was going to Terrastock
  • Best Buy ripping me off on upscaling DVD player
  • Missing X show
  • Ohio taxes
  • People who wear lots of perfume/cologne and ride in the elevator
  • Lakewood contemplating ignorant Pit Bull ban

The Tremont Tap House

April 28th, 2008

Last night I finally stopped by the Tremont Tap House, billed as Cleveland’s first gastropub. From Wikipedia:

A gastropub is a British term for a public house (”pub”) which specializes in high-quality food a step above the more basic “pub grub.” The name is a combination of pub and gastronomy and was coined in 1991 when David Eyre and Mike Belben opened a pub called The Eagle in Clerkenwell, London. They placed emphasis on the quality of food served.

Gastropubs usually have an atmosphere which is relaxed and a focus on offering a particular cuisine prepared as well as it is in the best restaurants. Staying true to the format requires a menu that complements the assortment of beers and wines the gastropub offers.

Some describe gastropubs as the Anglo-equivalent of the French brasserie or the Japanese izakaya.

We had a great start with a pretzel and smoked cheddar stout dipping sauce. The pretzel was soft, and not too salty or greasy. I appreciated that the beer menu used color to easily identify what was on tap and which beers were large. Read the rest of this entry »

Tina Fey is Funnier Than Dudes

April 24th, 2008

Baby Mama

MSNBC recently picked Tina Fey as their funniest person. Though I would hardly call MSNBC the barometer of hilarity, it’s nice to see a woman in entertainment get respect for something other than her boobs. The best part of the article:

…women (along with other women in comedy) still battle periodic declarations by male performers and writers that women aren’t funny — from the notorious John Belushi bellowings of the late 1970s to a Christopher Hitchens essay last year in Vanity Fair. So being the first female head writer at “SNL” isn’t merely a “happened to be first” situation, but a victory over daunting odds.

So Tina Fey in a movie with Amy Poehler (second most hilarious lady on television) is basically my dream comedy duo. The only way this movie could possibly be funnier would be throwing Amy Sedaris into the mix. Baby Mama opens this Friday, watch the trailer.

New Music for Spring

April 4th, 2008

Pitchfork has posted a guide to upcoming spring releases.

In no particular order I’m excited for:

  • Acid Mothers Temple
  • Boredoms
  • The Breeders
  • Clinic
  • Envy (DVD)
  • Microphones (reissue & new)
  • Shout Out Louds
  • The Gossip (live)
  • Make Believe
  • Bellafea
  • The Black Angels
  • Free Kitten
  • Joan of Arc
  • The VSS (reissue)
  • Ellen Allien
  • Ladytron
  • Shearwater
  • Silver Jews
  • Tilly and the Wall
  • Liz Phair (reissue)

I’m probably most excited for the new Ladytron album.

Shorter Work Weeks, Offices and Productivity

April 3rd, 2008

I came across an article via Lifehacker about historical figures and productivity. I wasn’t surprised to see number one on the list is don’t work long hours.

Too often in the corporate world long hours are used as an indicator of productivity, which is totally artificial. Someone could sit here for twelve hours and do nothing, what is that really telling you?

When I started my new job I saw people were running off to the gym all throughout the day. I asked if they stayed late or came in early to offset their workout time, and they said not as long as the work is done. I asked my manager if it was acceptable for me to visit the gym on work time, and her response was basically the same, go whenever you want, as long as your work is done we don’t care. So I’m essentially working a 35 hour week, and I’ve never been more productive. Imagine what I could do in a 30 hour week? Read the rest of this entry »