31 December 2015

Happy New Year!

Hello reader! Thanks for stopping by in 2015. I hope you have an excellent 2016.

Here is a video with a cat and a nephew and a 'sad companion' and a big pillar of fire. It is excellent.

28 December 2015

Not Bad, Not Bad at All

Courtesy Ruby's Dad (best pups) here is another pasty Irish ginger* doing some work in the kitchen. Another = another one besides me. That thing Bill Burr cannot identify is a pastry cutter.

If you were wondering what it looks like in my kitchen then imagine something a lot like this: a similar generous application of the f-word, but with more hair. And less crisco. 100% butter crusts or I don't know you.

* "pasty Irish ginger" is possibly redundant. The Irish are an island people but they are not a tropical people.

27 December 2015

Let Your Nerd Flag Fly

This was better than I would have ever expected. That Amsterdam flag is cool as hell. I want one. Most of the American city flags, not so much.

Design-by-committee is the worst. A camel is a horse designed by committee. Failure everywhere.

Two Friends are Boss

I'm pretty sure I have posted some sweet, sweet jams from Two Friends earlier on teh blogspace. These are some good-ass jams! Get down with these jams! This is some instant party shit right here. Cue that up for your New Year's Eve extravaganza. Or put it on when you have to clean up around the house. Same thing, pretty much.

25 December 2015

Dammit, Pie

Before the Issues
Happy Christmas! Me and Barry the Boss Bird are hanging out today before we do our Christmas Activities.

I made a pumpkin pie for Christmas day dessert. Didn't go well. First I couldn't get the right cookies for the crust. Hrrmph. No bigs I will work around it.

The crust started out promisingly but then it got weird (LIKE A RELATIONSHIP, AMIRITE? HONK). Blurgh. Okay whatever I can fix it. Let's make the filling.

Made the filling and I have wayyyy too much. Like, a whole extra pie worth of filling. Maybe make a second, backup pie? But I only have one pie pan. BLURGH.

Put pie filling in the pie, put in oven. :: forgets to turn off convection function, pie cooks extremely quickly :: Ugh EFF EM ELL. So the pie and I are at odds. Life goes on. In the mean time there are sweet pump-up jams and I am going to make egg nog. Can't mess that up, right? Good lord let's hope not.

22 December 2015

Log de Noel, Made Fresh

Plural of Fungus is Fungi
Here is a thing that I made in a baking class. I rate it okay. As these things go (things = "frosted cakes made from scratch with two types of buttercream frosting and meringue decorations") it is good I guess. Very alright. Above average, most likely. Not my cup of tea but if you like frosted cakes then you would probably like this. They are a chore to make so I was glad to be able to make it in someone else's kitchen space.

Officially it's called a 'buche de noel', and there are supposed to be some accent marks in there somewhere but I cannot remember where they go. It is a yellow sheet cake with frosting on it (amaretto buttercream frosting, in this case) rolled up in a spiral with more frosting on the outside (chocolate buttercream).

I enjoyed making the remarkably realistic looking meringue fungus to go on the cake. That shit looks real as hell! It tastes good if you like meringue. I stuck some chocolate stuff on there to give it some additional texture but the end result is only adequate. Not much for cake decorating over here; it requires an artistic skill and interest that I do not possess.

Anyway, if you want some tips on how to make a (pain in the ass, pretty-good-I-guess-if-you're-into-that-sort-of-thing) traditional holiday cake, I got you covered. Hit me up.

19 December 2015

Force: Awakened

I wrote some words about the new Star Wars movie back when the trailer came out. If you care to review them you can do so at your leisure. The important thing to know is that the new movie is really good! It goes a very, very long way towards pushing the awfulness of the last three movies into the rearview mirror.

In the fullness of time no one will remember the prequels, as they were not only bad when they came out but they have gotten worse with age. George Lucas is a porkchop clown disguised as an overgrown ewok.

Best thing about the new movie is Rey. Strong female leads FTW! The actor is believable and her character is the opposite of the typical Disney princess-in-distress trope. This is a promising development.

Worst thing is General Leia. Carrie Fisher has spent the last 40 years stoned to the gills on whatever combination of drugs she needs to get through the day and it SHOWS. It's not that she is old, it's that she is barely sentient. BB-8 enunciates his lines more clearly.

Anyway, it was a fun movie. Go see it.

Make Treats

Today I made 7 layer bars and also some fudge. Both things are very easy to make, although wrangling the fudge out of a big pot into the 9x9 pan for cooling is a challenge. It needs three hands because the pot is heavy and you can't hold and scoop. Since you have to candy sugar to make the fudge the pot is also very hot. I wedged it against my Surgery Baby and was able to mostly get it out of there.

Editorial Aside: As someone who regularly handles supposedly dangerous objects (i.e. firearms) without incident I make a special note to identify things that are truly, legitimately dangerous. I never fry food at home so the two most dangerous things in my house are the Cuisinart blade and candying sugar. I am as aggressively vigilant about safety around those things as I am about gun safety. Moreover, I'm not at all uncomfortable handling guns, but candying sugar makes me juuuuuuust a little big anxious. That shit is No Joke.

The Surgery Baby is the gut I developed after not being able to get as much exercise as I would like in the months following surgery. It is definitely not superb, but I'm middle aged so there's not much I can do about it in the short term. Good news is I'm back at the gym now, but my exercise program is restricted. Some stuff I can get back to doing eventually, but some stuff is off limits forever. Lifting weights? Okay, with limits. Walking or biking or swimming? All recommended. Running? Not so much. Not much fussed about it since I have never been much of a runner, but it is still kind of weird for someone to say, "Your running days are over." I'll have to find other ways to supplement my treat habits.

17 December 2015

But to Serve

Just in time for the holidays...

I cannot remember if I have posted already. Probably I have, because I have seen it before. Oh well. I laughed. 

Hot Jamz: CID - Like This (Original Mix)

This dancefloor destroyer has been out for a day, was picked up by some big DJs (which is why it landed on my page) and if this is the first time you heard it then it won't be the last.

It's got that irresistible dance feel that great 4x4 house tracks have. Enjoy.
Don't mind me over here, getting my dance on.

15 December 2015

Pretty Good, I Guess

[Edit: there was a video but it ran afoul of Bundesliga copyrights. Imagine something ridiculous in both concept and execution.]

First time I saw this goal I didn't use any actual words, just made a noise that sounded like the air being let out of a tire. 

Homemade Egg Nog is The Best

The Good Shit
Forget everything you learned from egg nog you bought in the store. That stuff is usually trash, occasionally decent, and never as good as the pure uncut good shit you can make at home. It cannot be as good, because it does not have the whipped egg whites and the nutmeg is going to become dull and bland. Yes you can put lipstick on a pig and dress that store-bought shortcut up a little with your own grated nutmeg but: come on, people. If you're going to do it then do it right. Go all the way.

Backstory: My peep got me a Game of Thrones mug ("Crows Before Hoes", with a picture of Jon Snow) for Christmas and I needed to break it in with something delicious, such as bourbon, egg nog, or the tears of my enemies. I'm not much for drinking alone on a weeknight and the tears of my enemies taste of ash and bitterness so I opted for some delicious homemade egg nog. Recipe courtesy Alton Brown.

It's pretty damn easy to make, especially because I threw caution to the wind and opted not to cook mine. Yeah I said it! I got those free range farm fresh eggs for $8 a dozen so those happy chickens (and their eggs) aren't bathed in their own shit. You gotta take your time though, because something something proteins and emulsions and blah blah blah. I love Alton Brown but sometimes I don't want a chemistry lesson, I just want to make some delicious goods and stuff them into my face.

So happy holidays, and make some homemade egg nog this year. You deserve it. 

04 December 2015

Hey What's New?

Nothing. Literally nothing is new. There are no new things. Yeah there are holidays and "Black Friday" but is any of that new? Nah. But this mix is pretty good.

Winter doesn't officially start until 21 December but I guess it is cold in other parts of the northern hemisphere so this is a "Winter-Mix" [sic]. I'm not feeling it yet. It kind of got cold here, and by that I mean I thought about closing a window. I didn't, but I definitely considered it. Instead I put a long-sleeved shirt on. 

26 November 2015

Give Thanks!

Apple and Also Pumpkin Pie, with Whipped Cream
Flying solo for thanksgiving this year. My closest friends are out of town or busy, and although some very kind peeps invited me to come see them they were either too far or I wasn't feeling it. Rather be alone by myself than alone in a room of acquaintances. Being the weird old single alone person is whatever. I do understand how stressful and annoying today can be for people with family so there's no guarantee that having something planned is any better. You know what is better? PIE. Ohhhh yeah. So much pie.

I knew I would be very not busy this year so I scheduled myself in a 'bake and take' class at a local spot. I made a pumpkin and an apple pie. It was fun and surprisingly easy. The only thing that felt wrong was that you don't have to clean anything up - they have assistants do that for you. It kind of weirded me out. I can't remember that anyone has ever helped me clean up after baking, probably because I am not fun to be around in the kitchen.

Already finished the pumpkin pie (burp). Going to give the apple pie away. I'm on a one pie per week ration and the pumpkin was my limit.

Might travel next year when my back is feeling better.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Artistic: LoL Art, Reinterpreted

This is videogame artwork re-interpreted in traditional Korean art styles. These works are a meter or more tall, which I think is amazing. Link to high-res versions of all the works here.

It is cool to see what supremely talented people come up with in their designs. I mean, look at this. That is awesome. So is this (redheads FTW).  

24 November 2015

Return of the Boss: Hummingbirds are Rad

The hummingbird feeder on my porch balcony outside area space continues to return superb value for money. I have learned things about hummingbirds. So many things! To wit:
- There are wonderfully many different types of hummingbirds (!!)
- We have similar dietary preferences (sugar)
- We don't like to share our stuff
- They are mean as hell (we do not have this in common)

I mention this because one of the smaller birds has claimed the entire feeder for his own. It may be the same bird that claimed it before (Barry the Boss Bird), or it may be the same species of bird but a different individual. I have no way to know. The Allen and Rufous hummingbirds are impossible to tell apart anyway. I am calling this new one Barry also, just in case he is the same as the old Barry. He definitely behaves like the last Barry.

Watching Barry defend an essentially unlimited source of food is very entertaining, not least because he weighs 2-5 grams, and his food source (not including the feeder itself) weighs, umm, 1105 grams, or 200x more than he does. It would be like a person defending a mountain of food that weighed 40,000 pounds. I'm pretty sure he is losing more food to evaporation than he actually eats. (For reference a gram is about the weight of a dime.)

Various other birds of either the same or different species will test him but he is resolute in his obstinacy. Occasionally they will overwhelm him with numbers - I have seen up to 9 birds on the feeder at one time. When that happens he just parks himself on the feeder and gives everyone hard looks until they leave. Woe to the bird that shows up by himself because he is getting shunned immediately.

Need to borrow a camera to get a proper photo of all the madness on the porchalcony. In the mean time photo credit to Joe Burgess.  

23 November 2015

Well Hello There

Yamaha XSR900
Long time readers know that I said goodbye to sold my motorcycles three-ish years ago. Haven't had one since. At one time I owned two very racey bikes that were gathering dust in my garage, as street riding on a racey bike is not at all fun and getting out to the track got to be too much of a pain in the ass. On top of that I was planning on moving and making some other changes so I figured I would catch up with another motorcycle later on that was more street friendly.

I need a bike with an upright seating position because I am old and my back hurts. Fortunately there are more cool bikes that meet this criteria than ever before. Scramblers for the people!

Ducati makes a scrambler, which they introduced to great fanfare. I like this bike! They are selling a 'lifestyle', which I can do without. You have to sell lifestyle to move units in the USA, because motorcycles are a luxury buy. So even if your bike is obviously shit (see: most cruisers) you can sell a lot of them because people 'identify with the brand'. It works!

Deus is the best example of the 'bike as lifestyle' branding. They started out building very cool, very expensive custom bikes in Sydney. They are now an aspirational and lifestyle brand that also happens to sell motorcycles all over the world. Mostly they sell a lot of apparel and "accessories". This is smart, because the volume and margin on apparel/accessories is much better than the actual motorcycles. (Harley Davidson figured this out a long time ago.)

All of which brings us to the new Yamaha XSR900, which is a restyled version of the FZ-09 aimed squarely at lifestyle. Look at the photos from Yamaha and you'll see a hirsute gentleman riding in jeans and boots and motorcycle-style jacket and in gloves that wouldn't protect your hands from a tipover in the parking lot. In other words: you will see a person that looks like a lot of people that buy and ride motorcycles.* I would ride this bike. 

This new XSR900 looks superb and when it comes out in 2016 I will have to go review it in person, maybe get back on a bike. That's assuming Yamaha fixed the fueling and suspension issues that plagued the FZ-09. We'll see.

* This is dumb as hell. You should wear a proper jacket and racing gloves all the time. Your hands are fragile. There are plenty of good jacket options available now. Also some decent options in kevlar jeans to keep your ass from turning to hamburger in a crash. Also plenty of good boot options too. Good gear is cheaper than the hospital.

21 November 2015

America Day

Once a year or so (schedule permitting) I take a day off from everyday things and celebrate America Day.

America Day looks like different things for different Americans. Make it yours! My America Day usually finds me at the range. I could do one of my other hobbies but I don't think "making desserts day" or "fallout 4 day" sounds quite as good. I have a better word for when I pursue those hobbies ('weekends').

Had my own little range all to myself and it only cost $30 (plus cost of the targets). That's good value for money.

20 November 2015

Hot Like Fire: Perdon by Nicky Jam (Argentum Remix)

Solo on espanol, obvs. This is a reggaeton classic updated with a 'tropical' feel. "Tropical" house has become its own subgenre. If you're not sure what that sounds like then this is a good example. If calypso and commercial house had a baby then that baby would be tropical house. Sometimes it's fun.
Sometimes it sucks. It's like a metaphor for life!

16 November 2015

Paris Attacks and Radical Islam: Sam Harris Tells the Truth

In light of the attacks in Paris that have left 130 dead (so far) with over three hundred injured, many of those seriously, I have been thinking more than usual about radical Islam, about war, and about loss.

Sam Harris does some very good work articulating the position that I feel the left should take in its approach to radical Islam.

"There is nothing so destructive that these people won't attempt it. The only thing that has prevented them from killing millions of people is a lack of technology, and we have to ensure that they they never get it. But the idea that our enemies are sufficiently like ourselves, and that they won't set the world on fire, is pure delusion. ...

It is not mere wartime propaganda, that we will one day look back on with embarrassment, to call ISIS a death cult, to call them barbarians, to call them savages, to use dehumanizing language. They are scarcely human in their aspirations. The world they want to build entails the destruction of everything we value and are right to value, and by 'we' I mean civilized humanity, including all the Muslims who are just as horrified by the Islamists and jihadist project as I am."

ISIS is Islamic: they self-identify as Islamic, their practices and beliefs are reflected and supported in the text of the Koran. Not all Muslims are members of and support ISIS, but all members of ISIS are Muslim. Moreover, the extreme beliefs and practices related to jihad are not controversial in the Muslim world, despite what you may have heard from Muslim apologists in the media.

Read Harris' full essay or listen to the podcast above (only 20 minutes) for an erudite summary. And let's start treating radical fundamentalism like the cancer that it is.

09 November 2015

REPOST: Cold War Kids - First

I posted this in March. It is still outstanding so I am posting it again.


Good friend Scott says that in my book reviews I tend not to like the endings of books. He suggests that it is maybe because I am sad the book is ending and I want to keep reading. I disagree but I thought it was funny.

08 November 2015

Back Catalog: Marc Aurel - The Sun (Dominator Remix)

Wrote a long post about how I ended up finding this song on youtube but it was boring.

Short version is this here is one of my favorite old trance records that I ever bought. Some kind soul just put it youtube back in June - it isn't even on soundcloud.

It's kind of two songs in one, and you can skip the second part. When I mixed it I tried to be in by about 40 seconds and out after the first breakdown (about 3:55). That's all you need; the vocal always felt tacked on to me. The synth sound was all the rage at that time, and although it became so popular that it wore itself out I still like this jam.

Sonically the song is very simple (sophisticated listeners will want to give it a pass), but in a small room with big speakers it will melt your face off.

One annoying thing about this record is that this was the A2 so cueing up the song was a bitch. Worth it though.

29 October 2015

Very Good Until You Get to the Last Chapter: The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

Finished The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell months ago but never got around to writing the review. It was very well reviewed by others (summary on the amazon page).

I thought it was very good for the most part but unfortunately the end was shite. The last chapter is so weak that I wonder if he wrote the story and then felt like it needed some additional exposition. Where was his editor?

The ending fails at a macro level (it is unnecessary and predictable) but the storytelling at a micro level also really falls off in the last chapter. It is repetitive and boring in the extreme, right up until the 'dramatic climax' you can see from miles away. Which is a shame, since what should have been the end of the book (the previous chapter) is riveting.

On balance I think it is a book worth reading, because the story is well told up until it takes a nosedive.

Recommended, with reservations.

25 October 2015

Boxing: Golovkin vs. Lemieux on 17 October 2015

Golovkin and Lemieux
I caught up with the Gennady Golovkin vs. David Lemieux fight over the weekend. Instead of paying $60 to watch it on PPV I watched it for free on my friend's HBO go account. (Thanks Jeffy!)

Boxing can be fascinating to watch. A good fight is an opportunity to enjoy watching two skilled athletes solve a difficult problem under duress. A bad fight is watching two mokes fumble around embarrassingly. Most fights are bad, because boxing is hard.

Some fighters are intelligent, delicate artists that excel at specific aspects of the trade. Floyd Mayweather is supremely good at not getting punched, and also a very accurate, precise puncher. He is also famous (infamous? famously smart?) for not taking fights against anyone that will maybe give him a hard time. (He didn't fight Manny Pacquaio until the latter fighter had been beaten by other, lesser fighters and was years past his prime, due in no small part to a Juan Manuel Marquez punch that probably would have killed anyone not a professional fighter.) Mayweather uses these two skills to win (mostly) boring fights. Occasionally he will deliver a sustained beatdown and KO finish against a wildly outclassed fighter (Ricky Hatton) but usually not. Mayweather is not a risk taker; he is all about protecting the brand. Which is too bad, because Mayweather is a jerk and serial abuser of women and it would be lovely to watch him catch a beating.

Other fighters are less technical, and (like Mayweather) get by on favorable (read: weak) matchups to pad their record and bully their way against opponents that are likely to succumb to their strengths and hide their weaknesses. David Lemieux , a 'model handsome' multilingual fighter is of this type: a strong puncher, but not terribly smart or strategic. The only thing he has in common with a fighter like Mayweather is that he has stretched his record by feasting on weaker fighters. That is maybe a bit unfair because he is certainly a good fighter so by definition most of his opponents will be weaker. Fighting mostly at home in Quebec he came into his fight with Golovkin with a record of 34-2, with 31 knockouts. This is very good indeed! According to the announcers he has the power to turn around any fight. A puncher's chance, as it were. More on this anon.

Then there is the rare fighter that is both technically sound and heavy handed. Enter Gennady Gennadyevich Golovkin. The hype train on Golovkin has been running full steam for years now, and with good reason. That's how you get a PPV fight with over 150,000 buys. (A pathetic number given Golovkin's qualities as a fighter and the fact that the Mayweather-Pacquaio shitshow got over 4.4 MILLION ppv buys. People are dumb.) His most recent fight was no different. Golovkin is a very good boxer. This fact is often obscured because he has legendary punching power.

Aside: In boxing circles you hear a lot of talk about how hard a guy punches. Any comments on this topic from promoters or managers are so inflated that they should be immediately and summarily ignored. This stuff is always overstated because people (including me) like talking about it and it sells tickets. It is not overstated in Golovkin's case.

The Golovkin - Lemieux fight itself was a 'great' fight only if you enjoy watching one man repeatedly punch another man in the face. It was certainly great if you are a Golovkin fan. It was decidedly less great for Lemieux's modeling prospects. It took only one round for Golovkin to imprint his will on Lemieux, via a sharp, accurate, punishing jab. Whenever I see a great jab I am reminded of one of the interviewees from When We Were Kings (I think it is Thomas Hauser) who says, "a jab is a punch in the face", and that getting punched in the face hurts. 

Golovkin took the opportunity to share this little nugget with Lemieux over and over and over again. As a casual observer it was difficult to watch. Lemieux had no answer for it, and was forced to lunge and reach and tip himself off balance in the hopes of landing a haymaker to turn the fight around. The obvious problem with this strategy against Golovkin is that whatever your 'puncher's chance' you do not punch as hard as he does. And so even if you exchange punches it is not an even trade. Watch what happens with Daniel Geale in this GIF: Geale lands a glancing blow. And then HOLY SHIT.

There were a few odd moments in the fight: Golovkin hit Lemieux after a he took a knee to recover from a body blow. He should have had more time to recover from it. The fight went on at least a round too long because Lemieux is a game fighter. His corner should have thrown in the towel after the 7th round.

Hamilton Nolan wrote some very good words about the fight. His summary of the footwork was astute. Lemieux was busy. He bounced around a lot but to no effect; it was inefficient. Golovkin was a model of efficiency and balance. If you are efficient you do not tire as easily, and if you are balanced and planted your punches land much harder.

So not a great fight, but a great performance from a very good fighter. Golovkin deserves his accolades.

18 October 2015

Star Wars is great, except for those three awful movies

Poor Trigger Discipline
(Updated this post because the image went missing. I tracked it down on ze interwebz. Too lazy to check the other links.)

Star Wars: Visions is a collection of artwork inspired by the Star Wars universe. Normally that kind of thing makes my skin crawl, but some if it is pretty gdamn cool. Darth Vader has been such a badass for so long that you forget what a great character he was. Han Solo was cool as hell, and so was Chewbacca. So I thought this re-imagining I cribbed from the Star Wars website was kind of fun. Han is dark, brooding, and also he will shoot you. If you got past Han then Chewie would rip your head off and eat it. Intergalactic hustlers, capable of taking on the empire. Han fired first. Fuckin' a.

Star Wars: Battlefront Looks Good

This game looks pretty good. I may have already logged some hours in the beta, and me and good friend Jeff talked about the game last night for a few minutes. He asked if I said I was going to buy it, and I said, "yeah man, the music". And he said, "hell yeah the MUSIC!"

Related: this is me in 1979 or '80.

Don't even try to fight it.

Good Parenting

Buckle up, readers. It's time to do some reportage.

I have a twin sister that I do not interact with and rarely speak about. She is a terrible human being. I have accrued many, many examples of her terribleness over the years but she reached a new low (peak?) recently that I want to share here.

Her awfulness has gone on for so long, and manifested itself in so many unique and wonderful ways, that over the years people who heard my accounts have questioned my veracity. I must be exaggerating, because no one could be that terrible. Au contraire, good reader. Keeping in mind that people do not remember what happened, but instead remember what they remember (two different things), I won't go into a lifetime review - who has time for that? Instead I will give a brief account of her greatest hits, which are easily verified and known by at least two people.

In the past 10 years she has (in rough chronological order):
Defrauded my (gullible) folks out of over $20,000 by convincing them to pay for nursing school, enrolling, and promptly dropping out and collecting the money they paid for tuition. The fact that this was not even a surprise to those that know her is telling and says a lot about how impressively naive my folks are (especially my mother). She had been in regular contact with them but after she took the money she disappeared for seven months. Following her return my mother, who has displayed judgment in these matters that is best characterized as "suspect", welcomed her back with open arms. Because she is stupid. (This will be a recurring theme.)

My sister got married and my stepdad set up her and her husband by financially backing them in a business venture. (Yes this is after my sister stole the twenty grand; I know I couldn't believe it either.) My sister saw that my folks were reluctant to continue to finance her directly beyond the business funding so she 'accidentally' got pregnant, thus ensuring that she could continue to receive regular cash payments from my folks for the foreseeable future. At the same time she was married and pregnant and had a baby she was carrying on relationships with at least two other people (per court documents). And she convinced my mother that she needed to finance her divorce and move so she kidnapped the child and left her husband one day while he was at work. She claimed he was abusive but was unable to prove it as part of the divorce proceedings, but she got what she wanted: she didn't have to work and the money kept coming in.

Special bonus: she sued my stepdad (the real victim of the original $20k nursing school theft/fraud) as part of the divorce settlement because he was a backing partner in the business that he had financed for her and her husband. At the same time my mother was supporting her financially because my sister has no education, no marketable skills, no trade, and no job. The grandchild is her meal ticket / ATM.

My folks supported my niece and, by extension, my sibling for several years after that. They could not give my sister money directly because it never ended up going where it was supposed to. At one point my mother ran out of checks because she wrote them all to my sister and when my mother called the bank for more they had to triple confirm that she was not the victim of identity fraud. You would think this conversation with the bank would give a person pause (Bank: You're out of checks already? How can this be?// You: I'm doing this on purpose, everything is fine. // Bank: Srsly? // You: Oh yeah. Perfectly fine. // Bank: Umm, okay.). But behind every great loser there is an enabler, so here we are.

Eventually my sister had her oldest child taken away by the state of Oregon for abuse and neglect. I know this because the state of Oregon asked me to take her before she went to foster care. My folks fostered the child for a while until my sister realized that if she kept my niece at her place and neglected her she would be making money and so she took the opportunity to weasel her way back into my folks lives and reclaim the child. While she was doing that she stole everything at my folks house that wasn't nailed down. (I guess it's a good thing I'm not trying to get engaged because my parents and grandparents legacy jewelry is now at pawn shops in the Portland and Beaverton area. hashtag silverLinings)

My sister sending her obviously abused and neglected child to school eventually got the attention of the teachers so they called in the social workers and my niece was taken away from my sister for a second time(!). That was about a year ago. You would think, if you were a reasonable person, that my folks (idiots though they are) would be able to get guardianship at this point. Hahaha you're funny! No.

Instead my sister is weaseling her way back into the child's life again, and doing it in the most awesomely manipulative way possible. Here is a summary I wrote for a friend:

My understanding was that my folks were the child's legal guardian but it turns out they are not. So of course my amazing sister is now back in touch with them after no contact for ten months. Kid had christmas and a birthday and nothing from her mom but now she is back on the scene and filling her ear with bullshit. Good parenting right there.

Here's my sister in a nutshell: she is working her way back into her (abused) child's life like a cancer, telling lies, saying she's going to do this and that, etc. So she says she is going to drive down and visit her daughter for the first time in 10 months. Talks a big game like she always does, promises the moon. So the day comes and she doesn't have gas money. So she asks [grandmother, aka my mother, aka the enabler, who is fostering the child] for gas money and [grandmother] says no, because my sister is a cockroach. And then my sister goes into a rage fit at her daughter, blames [grandmother] for not being able to come see the kid, and blames [grandmother] for encouraging her to promise things to the kid, and then breaking her promises. [grandmother] looks bad (and probably feels bad, because she is weak), the kid feels bad, and it drives a wedge between the kid and [grandmother]. Is that some next level manipulation or what? I confess I wouldn't even be able to imagine doing something like that. Hats off to my sister for being an impressively terrible human being.

How is it possible that my folks don't have guardianship of the child? They had to take the kid away because of child abuse! My sister is Hitler with less ambition. The fucking worst.

So that's where we are as of today. 

So far it looks like my folks will be unable to get guardianship. My sister is a world-class manipulator and she knows exactly what to say to the courts and child services in order to get what she wants. My folks are old and emotionally weak and my sister has already outmaneuvered them numerous times; they are no match for her. Best case scenario is she gets run over by a bus and her oldest kid won't be raised by a sociopath. We can but hope. Barring that we can hope that my folks and the courts will figure out a way to do right by the child. We'll see.

See you out there. Thanks for reading.

13 October 2015

Good Reading: The $12 Million Stuffed Shark - The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art by Don Thompson

(If you are getting bored with book reviews then just imagine how bored I am with nothing to write about but books. Someday in the future I'll Do Things again but for now this is all I got.)

This book is a superb (if somewhat dated) summary of the forces that drive the economics surrounding contemporary art. The contemporary art market does not make a lot of rational sense (just as art in general, and contemporary art in particular, does not often make rational sense), but that does not prevent the super rich from spending incredible fortunes on 'pieces' that are indistinguishable from garbage. Or are, in fact, made of garbage.

Thompson does a good job examining the subject without injecting commentary about the validity of certain art pieces as 'art', such as a leather jacket thrown in the corner that sold for tens of thousands of dollars. Instead he asks (and answers) probing questions of why anyone would pay millions of dollars for what is basically bullshit.

The short answer is that rich people are not like you and I, and they literally have more money than they can spend. As such the driving forces are ego and exclusivity, and also a market that is designed to continually inflate the market, protect the sellers and auction houses and continue perpetuating the illusion that any of this expensive useless garbage is anything but, you know, garbage.

Highly recommended.

11 October 2015

Easy Reading: Lock In by John Scalzi

Breezed through Lock In by John Scalzi over the course of a couple afternoons. It was a good, easy read.

It won the Hugo award, which is either an accident or a sign that it was a very thin year for candidates. It was a good book but not especially sophisticated. The best part was the well-realized near future world that Scalzi built for his story. I hope that he revisits it in future novels.


09 October 2015

Trying Times: Religion is the Enemy of Reason

This is a good read.

First sentence:

These are trying times for rationalist rejecters of make-believe celestial tyrants and human-authored “magic” books.


08 October 2015

Throwback Thursday: One Headlight by The Wallflowers

Is this track underrated, overrated, or properly rated? I posed this question to a (younger by 10 years) friend of mine a while back and she asserted that it was underrated, which is saying something for a track that has 24 million youtube views and is an insta-lock for any 90's era rock radio playlist. I'm inclined to agree.

Unlike the cut from last week I was never obsessed with this band. I just always thought this song was fantastic. Still do. I've had it in my back pocket for a TBT post for a while.

90's classics. That's how we do it around here. (Unless it's some of the new hotness from soundcloud.)

What Are You Reading? One Summer by Bill Bryson

In between watching LoL on youtube and flexing my dork on Destiny I read books, both before and during my convalescence.

One Summer is good reading. The summer of 1927 was transformative and Bryson seems to cover it well enough. Of course there were some things I felt warranted additional coverage but it isn't my book. Maybe it is bad history? No idea. I'm not a historian so you should read and decide for yourself.

It is very easy to read and Bryson has a dry sense of humor, which I appreciate. He shares enough detail to keep it interesting but also keeps the story moving along very well. Highly entertaining, and highly recommended. 

01 October 2015

Throwback Jam of the Week: Rain King by Counting Crows

Went to lunch today with Esteeb. He is going to the Counting Crows concert tomorrow night because he is a person that does Things. While we were at lunch this song came on and I laughed because I have not heard it for a while. Like, a long while.

He is not super pumped to see Counting Crows, and I don't much blame him, but only because I have heard they like to sing their songs in different keys and tempos during the live shows. I hate that shit. I'm not the kind of listener that pays good green American money to hear an interpretation from the artist. I want to hear the hits.

Anyway: Counting Crows. I used to love this band like no other, and when this record came out back in the day I listened to all the songs over and over again, learned all the words, sung along as much as I could (badly), and probably annoyed those around me with my unfettered enthusiasm. hashtag SorryNotSorry. Borrowing from Rembert Browne: "You couldn’t pay me a million dollars to relive a single day of it. I miss it so much."

Ended up having to go away that summer to a very, very unhappy situation. I try not to dwell on it too much, but this record was a joy during that (otherwise very dark) time.

At the time people were either very much in or very much out on the band. They were not cool, the lead singer caught a lot of shit for being famous(?) and whatever else. Steven Hyden (a professional music critic and also a fan of the Crows) puts it thusly:

I don’t think it’s necessarily the consensus opinion that Counting Crows sucks, because I know plenty of people who couldn’t care less about the band’s albums but will concede that “Round Here” is a great song. It’s just accepted that Counting Crows signifies a lot of what’s retroactively considered embarrassing about ’90s rock — the earnestness, the over-the-top emotionalism that veers into whininess, and the weird combination of sullenness about fame and the intense interest in crafting singles that are still played endlessly on the radio.

He's not wrong. Thing is, I still love this song.

You find a record where the record finds you. By that I mean the time and place, the set and setting, the way you consume the music will inform how you feel about the music for as long as you listen to it. Hyden goes long on this topic with a record that he thinks is better than August and Everything After. We can agree to disagree about that. For now, "She's been dying, and IIIIIIIIIIiiiiiiiii've been drinking, and I am the Rain King."

Thanks for reading.

25 September 2015

Long Time No Talk: What the Heck? / To Recline or Not to Recline on an Airplane (RECLINE IF YOU WANT TO)

Hello Dear Reader!
I've been away. Literally away, in that I had to go to Seattle again. That was productive and fine and work. Whatever. Also metaphorically away in that I had back surgery so I am not supposed to sit or stand for "prolonged periods". (Is anyone supposed to sit or stand for "prolonged periods"? Not really.) Entries will be necessarily brief as a result.

Should have some content hitting in the next couple days. It might even be interesting! Possibly. No promises.

As an aside, here are some thoughts on reclining vs. not reclining an airplane seat. People tend to feel very strongly. I am firmly in the reclining camp.

It is your inalienable right to recline. Anyone that disagrees, however reasonable, is wrong. I like to lean forward sometimes in my seat and this puts me at risk of a sharp blow to the face when the person in front reclines. That is not their fault!

This is a good and reasonable summary of reclining best practices, courtesy the internet and 'philmickelsonmantits':

If anybody claimed that a reclining seat would “crush their knees” and “make the flight agony” and “will leave them bruised for days,” I’d roll my eyes so fucking hard because that’s the most histrionic shit I would have ever heard.

Now, if a tall person asked me politely for a little extra space, I’d offer a compromise whereby I only recline halfway.

I don’t want to cause anybody discomfort, but that includes myself. So, while I’ll give a little to minimize the other person’s discomfort, I hope they’d be willing to give a little to minimize mine.
That said, I’d never dream of asking the person in front of me to not recline, even though it prevents me from using my computer comfortably. It is their chair and their space, after all.

14 September 2015

More Reading: Soccer in Sun and Shadow by Eduardo Galeano

This is a classic if you like soccer. Easy to read as the "chapters" are very short - each is only a page or two. There is a heavy emphasis on the history of soccer in Latin America, especially in the early half of the book. The florid and romanticized language is a contrast the the stark truths presented in the content: poverty, vice, and early death await many of the men (and they are all men) described in the books pages. Hence: Soccer in Sun and Shadow. Galeano does not shy away from the highs and the lows.

Highly recommended.

13 September 2015

Nice Piece

Bought this. Not sure what to do with it. Bit big for a paperweight. He is pretty great though, just sitting there looking mean. I moved him around from room to room to give him a feel for his new place.

Do not mess with the octopus. (Key included for scale.)

06 September 2015

Get Your Read On: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

This is a good book.

Consider reading it if you are looking for something good to read. (You can borrow my copy.)

Science fiction critics distinguish between 'hard' and 'soft' science fiction. (That these words are also used to describe pornography is probably not a coincidence.) These constructs are only useful when trying to assign arbitrary categories to objects so that we can organize them in our minds and conversations. In the grand scheme of literature they are useless except to marginalize certain types of fiction as more (plain fiction) or less intellectual (horror, science fiction, fantasy) than others. It's a lot of bullshit, is what I'm saying.

Anyway, hard science fiction roots the story in science; the science elements are an essential plot device. The Martian by Andy Weir is the most successful hard science fiction novel in recent memory. (That is a superb book, btw.)

Soft science fiction does not dwell overmuch on the science itself and instead focuses on other story elements. It is part of the story but drives the plot indirectly. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro is an example of this latter type. It is very obviously a classic type of science fiction story but Ishiguro resisted categorizing it as such (see second paragraph above for reasons), and when it came out some reviewers bought into the idea that it was 'difficult to categorize' and 'ethereal', to which I say: no, and yes. It was 'difficult to categorize' because if you want to be a Serious Literary Novelist and win Serious Literary Awards then you do not write science fiction. Even if you write a book about a dystopian recent past where people are being cloned, raised to adulthood and then used/farmed as donors. It is a powerful, disturbing, challenging book.

Station Eleven is a soft science fiction novel* that jumps back and forth in time to tell two converging stories in parallel. It is wonderfully constructed and very well told. Highly recommended.

* 'Post-apocalypse', because we have enough of these now that they get their own category. You have The Road if you want to go highbrow, The Stand if you want to aim at the mass market, and Left Behind if you have terrible taste and/or are brain-dead, plus too many others to list.

05 September 2015

Best $8 I Ever Spent

I bought a hummingbird feeder on Amazon for about eight bucks.

It is awesome. Are there hummingbirds in your area? Do you have one? You should buy one!

There are pictures floating around on the internet of this feeder covered in hummingbirds. That is definitely not the done thing at my place. One little guy claimed the feeder and he watches over it like a hummingbird hawk. If any other birds cruise by for a tasty snack he lets them know to buzz off.

Every once in a while it seems like he gets tired of hustling the competition off the food source and will allow one other bird to feed (briefly). But not two. Oh hell no. Two interlopers is unacceptable.

The Big Boss is maybe a Rufous Hummingbird? No idea. I would get a picture but he is somewhat camera shy. Also, no matter what apple says about the quality of their camera phones if you want to shoot something high-speed you need a real camera (and a tripod, in this case). Maybe someday.

01 September 2015

This Right Here

Busy doing stuff and also my back hurts so I don't feel like sitting down and typing much. Will get you all caught up this weekend though.

In the interim, this is rad. It starts slow so give it some time.

25 August 2015

The Classics: Be My Baby by the Ronettes

I love this song. I love a lot of the Wall of Sound songs (a lot of people do -they are really good!), which I recently found out featured the same session musicians as the Beach Boys songs that I also love. So that's fun.

23 August 2015

Weird Al: Not My Favorite Music but Super Nice Guy

Cute Pups is Cute
As part of this disturbing story about a girl that was bullied because she was a fan of Guardians of the Galaxy (me too!) and Star Wars (first three movies only, thanks) the local Garrison or whatever it's called of Storm Troopers made sure she got some custom armor, which is totally rad.

Weird Al was also involved in some way and it turns out that he is legendarily nice! Who knew?  This story moved me in a way that I did not expect:

When I was a kid I played the accordion. I wrote “Weird” Al a fan letter that was basically. 

We play the same instrument, we should be friends! 

A month later he sent me a note that said. 
We are not friends. We are brothers! With the note was a sheet music of all his songs. 

How great is that? That is the greatest and I love it.
People are terrible, but sometimes they are not. In summary: Ruby the Dog is the cutest.

I Went There: Seattle

View from the Hard Rock Seattle Rooftop Deck (Sunset)
(One in an occasional series.) 

One of the perks of my job is that when I'm not working from home in serious business clothes boardshorts* I get to fly around the western United States and meet with customers, do work stuff, stay in nice hotels, see the sights, soak up some of the local color (so to speak), take the occasional yoga class, eat free food, drink free drinks. It's not bad!

Very occasionally I will have time to catch up with friends and/or family. Seattle was one of these times: got my work done, and then I had time to wander around downtown and buy cool stuff (which I almost never do), enjoy some of the touristy spots, hang out with my peeps.

Pike Market is tourist mecca but it was surprisingly pretty good in person. Overpriced, sure, but there were actually a lot of delicious items for sale there, such as local produce and seafood. I went during peak summer season and it was crazy packed but when I was back in the evening after the happy hour at the Hard Rock it was just me and the junkies and other homeless, of which there were many.

I can confirm that the "original" Starbucks is a cool little coffee shop, which makes it the inverse of every Starbucks that has opened since the original. Funny how that works.

If you can make your way to Seattle for an all-expenses-paid trip then that is definitely a thing that you should do. If not then hit me up and you can come with me next time. :)

* Shirts optional, unless I'm on a call, because I need something to clip to my microphone. 

22 August 2015

Get Your Read On: The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu

Finished The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu. An epic story, very well told. Highly recommended.

The book reminded me of Bridge of Birds which is long out of print and, in my not so humble opinion, excellent.

Get them both on Amazon (or borrow my copies).

Could do an in-depth review but I'm busy. You're just interested in a book to read, right? Right.

In unrelated news I picked up some hummingbird feeders because this place could use some local wildlife and also they are savage little beasts

21 August 2015

I Went There: San Diego

 (One in an occasional series.) 

In seven short days earlier this month I was in Vegas (we talked about it), briefly home, Whale's Vagina San Diego, very briefly home, Seattle, then finally, happily home. It was a full week.

The view from my hotel in San Diego was good enough that I took a picture in the daytime and evening. Not a bad work environment, yeah?

This year was a lot better than last year, not least because I fired the lying slooze I took with me last year and also because nothing under the bed tried to kill me. Big win all around.

20 August 2015

Han Yolo

Scott send me this, because he is awesome like that. He sent it just before I went to Vegas a couple weeks ago and it was prophetic because that is the same brand and size of vodka that we ended up ordering. In summary: I love America.

18 August 2015

Cats are Great: Crossfit with Lucky

Baby Weights bc My Lower Back Is (Apparently) Made of Tissue Paper
Some people think cats are only okay. I get it. I'm on board with the concept, understand the sentiment. I think cats are great, but I also think dogs are great, and octopi are great. If you had a pig that was funny and did funny pig-things then I would think that is pretty great, too. I'm an equal-opportunity appreciator of animals. (Except 'toy' dogs - animals are not 'toys'. Ugh.)

So when Lucky the Cat made his gym visit the other day I made sure to take a short time out and greet him warmly. Some cats (or dogs, or octopi) would be frightened by the loud noise of weights being dropped and bars banging around and so forth. Lucky, in true cat fashion, strolled through the front door into a room full of deadly objects and ignored them completely, because he doesn't give a shit what you're doing. He wants to check it out, maybe get some attention if you're not too busy working on your cleans or whatever, maybe have a lie down. He decides when he gets there.

Anyway, that's the fat kid, and also a cat. It's the little things.

12 August 2015

Health Check: BMI

Company has us do a cursory annual checkup to get a 20% discount on our health insurance. I dread it because I have to give blood and that means I have to lie down while it happens because it makes me woozy. :-(

The other thing they do is take height and weight measurements and return a BMI result. Turns out my BMI is out of the normal recommended range, which means that I either need to lose some ell bees or the BMI reference range is... flawed? Probably both.

10 August 2015

Visual Aid

Visited with a friend of mine that is cat-sitting. One of the cat's people (the cat does not belong to you, you belong to the cat) is a graphic designer and she made notes in this style for all things cat-related. They are awesome.

The best part about this artwork is that the cat himself is not at all 'cute'. He is the cat analog of my friend Chad Wesley Smith: a triangle-shaped head planted directly on enormous shoulders, with no discernible neck. Yeti is a good name for him. The cat is not at all fat - he's more like a brick with four legs and a tail. But: super cute drawings!

09 August 2015

I Went There: Las Vegas (Surrender / Flosstradamus)

Vegas Photobooth is Best Photobooth*
(One in an occasional series.) 

Vegas is great in small doses - I can do everything I want to do in 24 hours and after that I just want to get the hell out of town. If you can't fit it all in in 24 hours then you and I are having very different experiences and you should come with me next time.

That said: Met some friends in Las Vegas for a quiet, introspective afternoon/evening/night/morning of dinner and light conversation. Our dinner reservation was at 8 PM, and I got back to my room at juuuust before 6 AM.

"Stayed" (read: stored my suitcase / showered / changed into my suit) at the Venetian, which is nice because Tao is a good option for dinner (you gotta eat(?)) and your club entry fee is included, should you decide to go to Tao.

We opted to get a bottle/table at Surrender so we could soak up the sweet hotness that is Flosstradamus. I described it as 'turnt as fuck', which was apt. Flosstradamus is on fire right now: They killed their set, and then they wadded it up into a ball and launched it on a rocket into the sun. Champagne was sprayed, fun was had, people were [REDACTED], and [REDACTED] and we ended up [REDACTED]. 

Caught my flight home, took a much-needed nap but didn't even put my suitcase away because I have to travel twice this week. Yeesh. I'm tired just thinking about it.

* I'm not in that picture - that is my friend Scozzo, last seen trying to kill me buying me drinks in Manhattan.

07 August 2015

Baby Sloth!

We love sloths around here. They are built to hug. Who doesn't love that?

This guy lives at the ZSL London Zoo, which is redundant because ZSL stands for Zoological Society of London. Whatever. Enjoy. 

06 August 2015

Cat Sitting is Fun. Ish. Fun-ish.

Thirsty Cat is Thirsty
You Taking a Picture?
When I babysit my friends socially awkward cat we have a pretty good time. She is the cat-analog of the last girl I dated in that our relationship improved dramatically when I learned she preferred to be ignored. 

Stella Cat wants to feel like she is stealthy (she is not at all stealthy). Best if you don't look at her. As long as I did not try to do something weird like pet her or sit by her or notice her directly then she will sit close by (NO TOUCHING, unless she sits and touches you), drink my water, or maybe rub her face on the camera when I tried to take a picture. Anything more than that and she gets uncomfortable. My friend's wife, who picked the cat out at a shelter, was hoping for a companion that would sit in her lap and be her friend. She gets none of that, and instead says, "we just have to find new ways to love her". Life lessons!

She is not the worst cat - she is harmless to anything but the couch, and although her social awkwardness is awkward she avoids all people equally (though she seems to like me well enough). She even lets you pick her up, after a fashion. We had some good times watching HBO and napping. Plus she made sure to get some cat hair in my work bag so I could wear it on my suit the last time I had a meeting. Good one, Stella Cat.

05 August 2015

Local Wildlife: Green June Bug, with Bonus Fig

This One is Mine - Get Your Own
I live in the cheapest one-bedroom-with-a-garage apartment in Eastside Costa Mesa. It's not that bad of an apartment, but as my good friend Mitch Broadsky once told me, "you know what 'not that bad' means? It means it's not that good, either." (This is a universal life truth that I love and cherish; they should print it on money.)

Looked at moving but the garage requirement and the fact that I prefer to put my money in the bank light my money on fire keeping my car running means I am better off where I am. You care. Anyway, one of the highlights of this dumpy-ass apartment with the shady-as-hell alley that runs behind it is the adjacent truly-shithole-of-a-triplex that fronts the shady-as-hell alley. That place is very definitely a dump but at some point in the distant past a resident planted some fruit trees: apricot, peach and fig, plus probably others that didn't thrive on neglect and have since given up.

The adjacent backyard is fenced, overgrown and filled with derelict trash. The fig tree is something of a minor miracle, situated adjacent to an alley that runs between a strip mall and apartment complex, surviving the worst drought in recorded California history, and literally covered with the most delicious figs you could hope to eat. In order to get to them I have to stand on a rickety-ass fence and maybe lean on another rickety-ass fence (of course all fences are unstable, bc: see previous descriptions of the units) and brave birds and bird poops, fig leaves (not for nothing, but: fig leaves are irritating as hell when they touch your skin), and green june bugs that are perfectly harmless but can be a bit distracting if they lift off in front of your unsuspecting face and/or you grab one when you are trying to get your mitts on a tasty fig, which: fucking hell, man.

Turns out another name for the green june bug is "fig beetle", which makes sense as these guys are all over the figs, as are the local birds and whatever else can get their paws/claws on them (raccoons, possums, rats, and etc). They are very beautiful - photos do not do them justice as they do not come close to capturing their radiant green iridescence. They are also only slightly more aerodynamic than a VW bus, and although lovely to look at they will bump into / land on your face if you accidentally harass them. Just clumsy or something more... sinister? Hard to say. Proceed with caution.

Note that they will not actually do anything to your face but if you want a big ass beetle strolling around on your gob while you stand/lean on two rickety ass fences then you should become an entomologist and/or stop by my house and see how it feels. To be honest, it's not that bad. And the figs are superb.

04 August 2015

Local Wildlife: Paco the Lizard

This little guy would fit comfortably on a quarter when I took the photo. I haven't seen him for a couple weeks so hopefully he is still kicking around, doing lizard things. There aren't many cats in the area but pretty much everything will eat a lizard that size, including other lizards. With some luck he is lurking around in the ivy downstairs, waiting for it to be less scorching hot so he can get out and hustle up some grub.

03 August 2015

It's the Little Things: Take Pride in Your Work

The toiletpaper fold is a universal at hotels. I usually do not take much notice but: look at this work right here. Look at it! How can you do better than this? You cannot. This detail-oriented employee took the time to make a perfect, crisp, symmetrical fold and then did the exact same thing a second time(!!). 

Towels folded? Meh. Sheets tucked? Whatevs. Anyone can do that. This origami is a triumph; the best of its type I have ever seen. I left a tip for the cleaning staff on the strength of this effort alone

02 August 2015

I Went There: San Francisco

Not Pictured: GG Bridge (at left)
(One in an occasional series.) 

I went to San Francisco (again). The weather is famously unpredictable-trending-to-bad but it was very nice again this time. Weird.

Hotel was the Westin St. Francis in Union Square. As before the problem with hotels in Union Square is that you have to walk some distance to find a decent restaurant. 

Best part about the trip was the view from my hotel room. It is easy to get bored and cynical about traveling when you do it all the time but the view, which was panoramic and stretched from the Golden Gate bridge to the west and beyond Coit tower to the east, was pretty sweet. 

01 August 2015

League of Legends: Piglet's Rekt Dance is Boss

Hello readers! Long time no read! I've been busy. I went some places, did some things. More on that in a future post.

When I'm not jetting around our great nation being awesome at my job I spend my free time wondering if my back will stop hurting watching League of Legends on YouTube. More fun than it sounds. Take my word for it.

I wish I were super good at something (anything) so that when I wrecked rekt foolz like Piglet* does here I could do a little dance move to remind myself that I am the shit. Keep your eye on him in the upper right corner.

Some players say that this is disrespectful. I think getting rekt under your own tower in lane is disrespectful. The dance is just to remind you that you got your ass handed to you. If you don't like the way that feels then play better. Plus the dance is funny as hell. Keep on being awesome, Piglet. LoL needs more of this.

* Yes his name is Piglet. How great is that? Pretty great. 

26 July 2015

All the Way to My Plums: Milk N Cooks Tasty Beats Vol. 7

Usually I listen to a whole mix before I post it here. No time for that right now. This one starts strong enough that I'm going to skip that step. If it sucks I will update this post to apologize. Or not. Not's good.

Working weekends is for the birds. 

23 July 2015

Careful Out There

One of the (few) things I remember about my father is that he was quite fond of the expression, "you fuck with the bull, you get the horns". This gif reminded me very much of that expression.

20 July 2015

Harley Davidson: faster than you from 0-20 MPH; after that, I hope you're not in a hurry

Harley Davidson motorycles are still slow and heavy.
My friend asked about this post so I resurrected it and re-posted the image of the data.

My own motorcycles are long gone but this data is still relevant: Police Harley's are slow as hell after 60 MPH. 


In a headline that I enjoyed (Michigan State Police objectively prove Harleys suck), hellforleather explains the tests that the Michigan staties (stateys?) did on some police models. Whether or not you think Harley's are cool is a matter of opinion, but you cannot argue that they are slooooooooow.

21 seconds to get to 100 MPH? Is that a joke? Yes! But also: No. Almost 25 seconds is a joke. Please note how the numbers are trending - the HD bikes are clearly approaching their top speed. That is pathetic. You don't necessarily need a motorcycle that gets from 0-60 in 2.9 seconds, or goes over 180 MPH (like mine does, supposedly, because I'll never know). But 100 MPH is not unreasonable. Unless it's made in America.

At least the Harley's have an edge in handling.*

* No they don't.

Incidentally, the Concours 14 probably gets from 60-120 MPH more quickly than my 1000 cc bike. That thing is a beast. Sexy Rexy is faster in the corners, though. (Unless I'm riding it. Chicken strips!)

12 July 2015

Limited Availability: Back Pain

I've been away from the blog for a while. Not for any good reason (like traveling), but because I hurt my back very badly in yoga class* and have spent the past two weeks either standing up or lying down. Sitting compresses my lower spine and is a no go.

Since I usually do some blogging on the weekend (seated), and I have computer work to do that requires me to stand up all day, I don't have much energy left over to share not-very-interesting comments about the weeks events. Standing in one spot for 8 or 9 hours is fucked. Doing it day after day with chronic back pain is super-duper-mega-fucked. I'm trying to incorporate more variety but that's where I am right now. As a consequence I also haven't been doing much. Work, walking around my neighborhood, watching League of Legends replays on Youtube, reading a book. All things that I can do lying down, except for walking and work.

I will make occasional updates in this space as time and ability allows. When I'm feeling better I will definitely get back on the blog horse with more regular posts. (That sounded awkward but I'm going to leave it.)

See you out there.

* I aggravated a chronic disc injury with some bending and twisting. Felt fine at the time, but a couple hours (and days, and weeks) later: not so much.

06 July 2015

Monday is Time for Pump Up Jams: Tritonal ft. Jonathan Mendelsohn - Satellite (BlueCollar Remix)

Universal Truth: Everyone needs a good pump-up jam once in a while.

Maybe you get down with some funky old school shit. Maybe you thought that Grateful Dead "reunion" show was the hottest hotness. Maybe you got Let it Go on repeat-offender lockdown. Maybe you like country music. Maybe you can't wait for Dre to finally finish the follow up to Dee Are Eee. Whatever. Point is: you need an anthem. This is today's anthem. Tomorrow, who knows? You get today.

Free download? Why yes. Yes indeedy.

28 June 2015

Let's Play Games: Unravel

This game was announced at e3 and the guy that did the intro was very sincere and nervous and charmingly relatable.

Plus the game looks great!

26 June 2015

26 June 2015: It's About Damn Time

Just Two Beautiful Men, Sharing a Moment
** Pictures look best if you narrow your browser window until they are stacked on top of one another **

I love America. This country is full of idiots and bullshit but if you are lucky (and I am very lucky) it can be a lovely place to live and work, because it is also full of wonderful people and places.

Today we got a long overdue reminder that sometimes the judicial system actually delivers a very tiny bit of sweet hot justice: gay people can get married in any state of the union, regardless of which backwards fuckwits think that marriage should only exist legally between a man and a woman in whatever backwater fuckwitted state they choose to call home.

Equal protection and equal rights under the law means everyone, all the time. If that offends or bothers you then you need to get over yourself or move somewhere your views are reflected in the law (I hear Saudi Arabia is lovely this time of year). The Supreme Court did not tell anyone what marriage is, they just said 'hey, treat everyone the same - the law cannot and will not discriminate'. If you think marriage is only valid if it is between a man and a woman then that's cool, get down with your bad self. Keep thinking that backwards shit! But you cannot legally enforce that view because it is discriminatory. (Sad faces.) Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Big shout out to all the dissenting justices (each wrote their own dissent) so they could go on record as flag-bearers for discrimination for future generations! It's like you all knew were going to be remembered as assholes but wanted to be remembered as unique assholes in your own special way.

If you, the reader, insist on pushing and enforcing your discriminatory views out into the wider world on religious grounds then you should just fuck right off. You are on the wrong side of history and the wrong side of human decency. (Which: what the hell? Why are you such a dick?) Someday people will look back on your views with regret and chagrin, and wonder what people were thinking. That day cannot come soon enough, and today was a big step on the way there.

America. Fuck Yeah. Finally.

Jim Jeffries and Gun Control

Big Cheese sent the attached video and asked what I thought about it. I had some thoughts, which I have reproduced here. It's a funny video!

He's not wrong.

Anti-gun advocates like to talk about Port Arthur because Australia enacted legislation and they have not had a mass shooting since then. There is actually a disturbing amount of overlap between Port Arthur and Sandy Hook, the two shootings that white people seem to care about. (Note that white people only care when other white people get shot - more on this shortly.)

Left unmentioned is that Australia, despite all its bluster, is a pissant country comprised of mostly empty space. And they had a lot of shootings! That place is fucked up. Australia has about half as many people as California, and less than 1/10th as many people as the US as a whole. Nice place to visit but it is basically Florida, with worse food. So, yeah: Australia banned guns! :: wanking motion ::

Setting aside the very real problems of scale: yes, constitutional arguments are dated and reductive and feeble in the extreme. It is just as bad as pointing at the bible when you are having a religious discussion; complete non-starter. Also the constitution has a proud history of being impressively wrong about important things: slavery, equal rights for women, booze, etc.

That a gun owner is more likely to use their gun on themselves than someone else is not an impactful argument against gun ownership. So what if they do? The people most likely to die of gun violence are either 1. Young black males, or 2. Older, unattached white men in their 50s and 60s. If you remove suicides from gun death statistics then the people most at risk are young black men, and it is not even close. When white men agitate for gun rights they are, statistically speaking, fighting for the right to shoot themselves. I'm fine with that. Free will is free will.

Guns are too easy to get. The recent massacre in South Carolina highlights this fact all too well. I think owning a gun should be like getting a pilots license. Everyone can apply but it requires a demonstrable level of proficiency and commitment in order to take one home. If you can get through the screening process and demonstrate proficiency then you should be able to own whatever gun you want.

As for Sandy Hook, no one gives a shit about the black kids getting killed around the country every day but when a mentally ill, mentally retarded kid uses a gun his mom bought him (legally) to shoot a bunch of white kids it is the end of the world. Soccer moms across the nation are afraid for their little angels, and the NRA says they should put an armed guard at every school. Both reactions are incredibly dumb. Your kids are not at risk, and an armed guard is just the first guy to get shot.

People want to enact legislation on anomalies. What cascade of legislation is going to effectively prevent a mother from buying an expensive gun and making it available to her sociopathic, autistic child? I suggest: none. That was a catastrophic failure on too many levels. Legislating and adjudicating for anomalies leads to extreme reactions that may or may not solve future anomalies but almost always have unintended consequences. (The militarization of the police in the US saw its genesis in large part as a result of the North Hollywood shootout. That was two guys, one time, and now we have a country literally overflowing with wannabe soldier-cops and provincial SWAT teams.)

Let's address the real epidemic: gun violence in inner cities and urban areas. It has been ongoing for a generation now and shows no signs of slowing or stopping. Let's address the root causes of the violence (poverty, lack of opportunity, the drug war) and instead of taking away guns let's see if we can find a way to give poor people a reason to stop shooting each other.