Friday, November 28

Sufjan tunes

I had an Anywhere FM account and they were purchased by imeem. They said you can embed playlists, so let's try it with the Sufjan Xmas music I wrote about earlier today. Enjoy!

Thoughts on Facebook

+ One reason I haven't been posting over here as much.

+ Started to get near 400 friends, so made the push and got it. Madhu called me a not-nice name ;-)

+ It's such a great way to keep in touch with a lot of people.

+ The interface is great. I especially love the way status updates work and how easy it is to leave a quick comment.

+ And you thought weblogs were low-commitment and ADD: Facebook requires even less concentration and commitment.

That was the best Xmas album ever! [now with songs!]

Well, it's Xmas season and, therefore, time to start listening to my new favorite Christmas album(s) by Sufjan Stevens. Third Xmas I've been listening to them and they're still the undisputed champion.

(And, yes, I know I keep writing about them with basically the same title 1 2 ;-)

One of the first things I thought today on rolling them out was that my friend Guam Brad would really like them. One of the next things was: you might, too. So I copy my email to him for your use (lazy post ;-):
Sufjan Stevens?

have you heard his Xmas albums? 90% sure you'd love them. lots of plinky banjo. non-ironic treatment of church classics like 'O Come O Come Emmanuel' and 'Lo How A Rose'. ironic new songs that point up the craziness of family but still respect Xmas. totally lo-fi - recorded in his apartment for friends a number of years in a row. i'll refund your purchase price if you don't like 'em! ;-)
42 songs for 20$

Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing [] (ignore the pix if you want)
Amazing Grace []
The Friendly Beasts []

(note: i only like about 2 of his non Xmas songs, so if you're like that, don't let it put you off)

enough geeking out. happy Advent (starting Sunday)!

Update: Here are many of the tunes:

Thursday, November 27

Happy Thanksgiving

I am most thankful for Christine, Elizabeth and Wil.

Wednesday, November 26

Lord Gates Macbeth Fawkes cliches

+ I am so excited about Robert Gates staying on as SECDEF. Almost all of his calls have been right (as far as I can tell). Reading about him is impressive, too: His PhD is in Russian and Soviet history with his dissertation being on their relationship with the Chinese. He's the only CIA director who has risen from entry-level employee to director. Further, I'm impressed that someone who was career CIA, an organization that has never impressed me, should get so many things right.

+ I have a new problem: I'm reading through Dorothy Sayers Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries for the first time and once I start one I can't put it down. Read all of 'Clouds of Witnesses' yesterday. Peter Wimsey is so silly!

+ Also reading Macbeth with Jason, Mary Pat and Bill. Only finished Act 1 so far, so if you want to join us, there's still time.

+ Some links I save for you: Thirty Cliches You Should Basically Avoid (Going Forward) (Lifehacker): 10 from Oxford and 20 from the Beeb. From these lists, I especially agree with 'to be honest' and '110%'.

My own nominee for most annoying is the en vogue use of the conditional tense: 'That would be me.' No, honey, it is ;-)

+ Apropos of nothing, British chancellor (probably) unwittingly quoting Guy Fawkes. 'Remember, remember the fifth of November!'

Sunday, November 16

Dangeous T-Bone weight and tone

+ T-Bone Burnett is the man: so many great projects. The two I've enjoyed most recently have been 'O Brother, Where Art Thou' and 'Walk the Line'. Question: would I like 'Raising Sand'? I know plenty of people who have and I certainly like Alison Krauss. Not sure, yet. I've listened to some of the tunes, and they're fine, but nothing really grabs me, yet. Sure, I could get the album, but.... We'll see.

+ I am happy to report that I am actually following through on doing dangerous things with the twins (remember when I wrote about that?). A couple of weeks ago we went to a parking lot and they steered while I controlled the gas and brakes and last night we built a fire and they got to stoke the embers a little. First time either of them had struck a match or lit anything on fire. Next: pocket knives.

+ Weigh-in and push-update

Lost a half pound this last week. Better than nothing. My current pattern is to eat pretty freely on the weekend and count points M-F. Working ok. I'm slowly losing weight and, most importantly, not gaining weight!

Walter suggested I do more push-ups on my knees to fill out my sets and my friend, Paul, from church, agreed. So I did that Thursday night: 65 real push-ups and 35 knee push-ups. Also, I've gone backwards a little bit because I decided to go ahead and start doing better push-ups now. My main criteria is that my nose and belly both touch the floor about at the same time.

One nice result of all of these push-ups is the best triceps I've even had. Wholey moley. Even when I was doing triceps extensions with a dumbbell my triceps were not this burly. I'd say they're stronger and firmer than my biceps.

Thursday, November 13

Where have you been?

Well, I bought myself a new game: Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn. Painless way to relive my D&D days, cutting into my weblogging time. Still, I have saved up a couple of things for you:

BWJones linked this cool infographic:

+ Truly amazing NFL story this year: two teams with 1st time NFL head coaches and rookie quarterbacks and doing pretty well. Crazy.

+ Paul and I talked about reading Macbeth together (I'd say it's the only major Shakespeare play I haven't read). Paul, are you still in? Anyone else?

Sunday, November 2

Fall back, Sunday morning catch-up omnibus!

+ Did you see that Gmail has a bunch of smileys now? Pretty fun. I'll probably mostly stick with the old school smileys, but my daughter sure will like these!

+ Even better, for me, is you can now add your Google Calendar in the Gmail sidebar. This is already improving the quality of my marriage (Christine gets a little annoyed when I don't check the calendar...)

+ Benet joined the Quantum Library conversation. Her most-read book is East of Eden. Whoa.

+ I'm late on this link, but did you see The Christian Science Monitor will no longer publish daily. Whoa.

+ Can't resist the sarcasm: the Jews could write in 1000 BC!

+ Can resist sarcasm (barely): MTV has a YouTube-style website now with videos including embedding! For you, I pick MGMT, 'Time to Pretend':

+ Miscellaneous Obama stuff from the last week (and, at this point, if Obama's not your man, just go ahead and keep that to yourself, alright? This thing'll (probably) be over one way or the other on Tuesday):

Recent video clip. Nice tone:

The Top Ten Reasons Conservatives Should Vote For Obama (Andrew Sullivan, who Tom has me reading for him)

The Economist endorses Obama

Saturday, November 1

Talkin' with Macon

Macon left a good comment on Politics, esoterica and friends:
I have never understood the logic of comparing education spending to defense spending.

So we spend more on defense? So what? That critique has nothing do say about the quality of either.

But I can play the game, too: I spend more on Peanut M&Ms in a year than I do on jewelry for Kellsey. Now, tell me: is that bad?

The question around dollars and education and defense is: are we getting our money's worth? In defense, I leave that up to you, Sean. ;-) But I'd say being the most dominant military in the world means we might be getting some of our value out of the spending.
In public education? I think not, but I lay the blame squarely at the feet of a bloated bureaucratic superstructure and Teachers Unions, not because there is insufficient funding.
My reply (no caps b/c I started it in comment mode and then thought 'wait, this turned into a post!' ;-)
it seems obvious to me, Macon, that the comparison b/t defense and education is supposed to be a comparison of priorities (self-evidently bad priorities to those who make the argument). however, you make a very good point: it's not apples to apples.

we do have the world's biggest gun, and it is worth something, not only for our own defense but also for the elimination of great power war. no one is really challenging us as military superpower. China's growing their military, but they can't compete (eg, they have almost no expeditionary capability). Russia's trying to recapitalize, but the economic downturn and their Georgian aggression are limiting them somewhat.

(tangential point: at the same time, no, we're not getting our money's worth. taxpayer money could be invested much better, like all government enterprises (oh, wait. i'm playing right into your anti-tax hands! ;-))

the bloated bureaucratic superstructure applies to defense and education.

hypothesis: Sean's Law: more money is wasted the further away it gets from the taxpayer. discuss.

in my mind, the biggest problem with education is societal, especially the lack of interested, supportive, involved parents.