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March 30, 2006

A Better Way

fast bike

I'm blissfully (at times) over-employed now, so I don't have time to ramble, but I want to keep this blog thing up, so I will post a short list of "things I want to share but Tomoe is getting sick of me sharing with her - so I will share it with you". These are some things from today or over the weekend.

* * *

My latest iTunes purchase is Isobel Campbell: After Belle Comes 'Ballad'. From what I heard on NPR as I rode my bike home from work tonight, it's gonna be played a lot around here. Check it out.

On a similar note, Ben Harper has his newest album out (which I purchased a few days ago and recommend). Some songs will take a bit of getting used to, but some are instant hits (for me), such as A Better Way, which can be heard in it's entirety at All Songs Considered. I put it up there with his great "With My Own Two Hands" (Windows Media | Real Player | various) as a great inspirational song for anyone who wants to make what they do have some value in the world but, like me, just doesn't have a clue how. The videos for both songs can be seen at rolling stone. CHECK THEM OUT!

Ben Harper is the only artist I have ever paid money to see more than once -and I will pay again the next time he is ever in my area. CHECK THEM OUT.

There was one more group/singer that I had on my list to buy, but I can't remember now, and Tomoe's bugging me to clean the table or something or other now, so I have to go.... Maybe cleaning the table is the extent of the value I can create in the world.

UPDATE: Wait, wait... After writing that, I realized that I had also payed to see Maceo Parker twice.

March 23, 2006


It's a sad day. A very very sad day. Today I finally found out why Nellie McKay's new album Pretty little Head, which was supposed to be out in January, is not yet available on iTunes. Apparently she got in a fight with Columbia records (it just makes her all the more sexy) and the album that was all set for shipping has been put on indefinite hold.

Now, I don't want to admit to illegal downloading of music from file sharing networks, so I wont. I will say that this news hit me pretty hard, and when I did a search on the file sharing networks, I found a few of her songs were listed there. Judging by the names of the tracks only, if i were to download them, I am betting that there would be some gems, such as Columbia Is Bleeding (not about Columbia records, rather about Columbia University and their abuse of animals for testing). Another song that looked like it would sound really great was Cupcake which, if I'm not mistaken, is about gay marriage.

c'mon now honey stop denyin' or I'm forever gonna be a bachelor leave the steps of your house get down to the courthouse give me a G and an A, Y?!

If anyone is going to search the Limewire network for this song, I suppose (but have no way to know for sure) that the live version is better than the studio version, even if it is recorded from underneath some guys jacket.

March 22, 2006

Knox out


Haven't felt this good in ages. I am up to my upper-eyebrows in work, and all of it has to do, in some way or another, with web and design. In the past I have been deeply involved in the technical side of web-development, but never had a chance (or never followed the chance) the develop the "design" side. I'm not saying that my designing is extraordinary, but I learned more about photoshop this week than I have in the past year.

March 19, 2006


A New Home

Everyone should go to Kimya Dawson's web site and download (and listen to) her new song 12/26.

I have liked her music for a couple years now, but I guess I can't claim to be a "fan" because I only recently bought a second album of hers. I couldn't justify buying it before because, as great as they are, I really couldn't tell them apart.

After hearing her new song though, I will will surely get her new album.

From the songs I had heard of her in the past, I have held her up as my empathy-hero. While I try so hard to understand how other people look at or are feeling about a situation or issue, frankly I suck at it. Her songs though always make it so obvious (and always make me feel so deliciously guilty about how few real problems I have in my life.)

Some lyrics from 12/16, but you have to hear them sung to really appreciate them:

one of her babies is rotting in the sun And the other one was found drowned in the ocean Her mom and dad are in their van crushed and bloated And her husband was thrown from his fishing boat

So please give me a break from all your complaining
About who was mean to you and how your stepdad is a pain
I care, I swear, but I just can't take it, not today
All I can think about are tsunamis and earthquakes

Everything she's ever known is gone, gone, gone
Everyone she's ever loved is gone, gone, gone
The only reason she's alive is
She grabbed a palm frond, and held on
And held on

We'd have 12/26 tattoed across our foreheads
If something this atrocious happened on our coast instead
Well a tragedy's a tragedy no matter where it happens
Close your eyes really tight and imagine
That everything you've ever known is gone
And everyone you've ever loved is gone
And the only reason you're alive
Is you were lucky and you were strong enough to hold on
While you watched your family die
While you watched your family die
While you watched your family die
While you watched your family die

March 13, 2006

Stop drop and roll

Name That Movie

Before I am accused of plagiarism, the photo above is a photo I took, but I took it from my computer screen as I watched a DVD of a classic movie I rented to study the composition and what not. This is the only screen shot I got that doesn't totally give away the movie so I was wondering if anyone would recognize it. I think I will start taking a lot more photos of the movies I watch as I find that if forces me to pay more attention to how the scene is composed, and I learn a lot. I just wish I would use what I learn.

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This is part two of "How I spend my days" Especially for you, Ms. Write Again Soon. The rest of you are better off just skipping it.

Today was Sunday - wake up late (9:30), lay in bed until 10:00, stagger to the kitchen table for tea and Tomoe's ultra-healthy, sugar free, vegan, organic, local, macrobiotic, (and whatever else you can think of) breakfast cookies.

I spent the rest of the morning working on the content management system I talked about Friday. At 2:00 Tomoe and I went for a long walk to Koenji, a nearby neighborhood that is known for lots of used clothing and CD stores. We didn't buy anything there, but on the way home we found a used junk shop with a nice ume-boshi jar for only 300 yen. We're not sure yet if we will use it for ume-boshi or for nuka-zuke. Either way, it was a steal.

We also stopped at the Nakano library to return some books from two weeks ago, and get some more books for the next two weeks. The books I borrowed included Illustration magazine (Japanese version), two books from a series I have been going through following of Chihiro Iwasaki's watercolors, a Mapple of Hokkaido so we can plan our next bike trip, and an informative book about historical significance of some famous Japanese geographical features.

We got back around 5:30, and I was feeling a little anxious that i had not gotten done everything that I had hoped to over the weekend -including such things as become a master at Photoshop, create a simply kick-arse CMS for the client, take a lot of award-winning photos, make satisfactory mimics of Chihiro's watercolors, become fluent in Japanese, run many kilometers, push-ups and sit-ups, relax, re-plant my roof-top garden, write on the blog, catch up on my news reading, finish "Bourne Ultimatum" (which I totally lost interest in a few weeks ago), and a bunch of other stuff I can't remember now.

Anyway, when we got back we ate some great curry and bread made with live yeast that Tomoe has been experimenting with. I did a little more work on the client's web-site, studied some kanji, did some Photoshop tutorials I found on the web, and now I am writing this.

I'm sorry to say that the birds did not get their toes stuck in-between the keys of the keyboard (as has happened in the past) although Tomoe tells me that yesterday Klee was playing by the stove as Tomoe cooked, and suddenly fell to the floor and began rolling around and screaming. The closest we can figure is that she was on fire and stopped dropped and rolled.

March 11, 2006

How I Spend My Days


[Forgive the geekness of this, but Ms. Write Again Soon complained that she can't get a good picture of how I am spending my days. So...]

I spent yesterday trying to figure out how to customize Wordpress or MT some other blog engine to do what I wanted for my client's new super-simple web-site. I just want them to be able to edit the text of the files without going into the html, and to be able to add a simple "news" update without having to worry about ping and comments and trackbacks and blah blag blah. In the end I decided to just re-invent the wheel and make my own simple content management system (based on some old code I have laying around). Its not that I couldn't make Wordpress or MT do what I wanted, but it would have taken me almost as much time, and teaching the client how to use the bloated control panel would have been hell. Is there any content management system out there that only has three buttons - to create, save, and edit? If so, please let me know.

March 10, 2006

The Fantasy that Nags


So I should be traveling around Japan this month, taking pictures of the sunrise in Hokkaido. Instead I am stuck here in my beautiful kitchen, in my pajamas, with the birds sharing my breakfast of tea and fresh baked (actually microwaved) bread. Its raining today, which is one of the reasons I chose to work from home rather than ride my bike into the office (but the birds and the pajamas are a bigger reason). Even with the rain though, it is warm enough to open the kitchen window and look out over my roof-top garden - currently little more than a collection of dried bean stalks, but in it I see possibilities. I make a note on my to-do pad "plant more spinach".

I take comfort in the fact that Amy, who was selected to go on the cross Japan journey found out about it through a note I sent to the Tokyo Blog Dork mailing list. Still, I can't shake the fantasy of actually being there myself. I have had a similar fantasy for so long now - to ride my bike around Japan with nothing but a tent, a sleeping bag, a lap-top and a camera. Its a fantasy that is always there in my "well, if all else fails" contingency plan. The thinking goes that if I get fired and can't find any new clients, or if i get kicked out of the house and can't find an apartment, I can always ride my bike around Japan. Sometimes I think some of my more self-destructive behavior is a subconscious attempt to force me into that situation. Missing a work deadline, antagonizing Tomoe... maybe its better just to make the trip and get it out of my mind so I can come back to my comfy life in my kitchen with the birds and my garden.