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.