Content from 2009-06

Brookrun and Bibio

posted on 2009-06-29 18:14:28

I've gotta say, I had a really good weekend. Part of that was due to the fact that I did very little "real work". I also got to hang out with two people I'm quite fond of. The other contributing factors were finding a delightful new album by a guy named Bibio and spending one very enjoyable evening at Brookrun Skatepark. In fact, I just happened to pick up 50-50s at Brookrun. Nothing to brag about certainly but it was nice to just try them and land a few after a half-dozen trys or so on some little box. Oh, and AT&T managed to repair my crummy phone I broke last weekend so I could put off buying a new one a little longer.

The next two weeks will not likely be as fun due to finals coming up. One class ends earlier than the others so its final is the 9th. It happens to be Data Structures, the most interesting and challenging of my courses. This week's crunch is all going to be Weapons of Mass Destruction and Computer Science. (Edit: I actually found out my last Public Speaking speech will be due the day before my Data Structures Final Exam and Final Project. Thrilling, add one to the crunch.) The week after that will be Software Ethics and Public Speaking. I have to admit, I'm less worried about the latter two. Good music should make a difference though and nothing helps listening to good music like good headphones. I'd previously owned a pair of Sennheiser HD-212s for a little over 4 years. They were definitely getting long in the tooth but I had no plans of replacing them until I accidentally left them at the bus stop back in May. There was a long search for an appropriate replacement which culminated in my purchase Saturday of some Audio Technica M50s. Thus far, I am quite pleased. They certainly make Bibio sound good.

Speaking of Bibio, the album is wonderful. I'm not sure how to explain it. It's a collage of different sounds, the guy has a very wide range of styles on display. Everything from hip-hop beat production to folk. I still really like tracks 1, 4 and 7. Seriously though, just give the title track a listen. It's lovely, isn't it? I'm also getting into Minus the Bear but haven't spent enough time listening to it to call out anything in particular. Well, maybe the song El Torrente. I've also decided to do a little bit of Rap and Hip-Hop mining to see what I can find that I like. I've always been partial to Aesop Rock and The Fugees...but that's certainly not digging deep or challenging myself. I believe Rap has more to offer. Potential listening includes: Edan, Madvillain, Ghostface Killah, The Roots, Cannibal Ox and Jay Dilla with smatterings of N.W.A., Public Enemy, De La Soul, Nas, Atmosphere, Gang Starr, Rakim, Notorious B.I.G., Madlib, Talib Kweli, Mos Def and A Tribe Called Quest.

I'll keep you guys posted on how it goes. I'm still really enjoying lisp. I intend to make it back to Haskell but I expect most of my "play code" to be in Common Lisp for a little while. I've got so many tabs open in my browser backlog that whenever I finally decide to do a linkpost it'll be positively massive. Maybe I'll try to break it up in chunks though, yeah? Anyway, that's all for now. Back to schoolwork. July 22nd can't come soon enough.

Battle at the Berrics 2 Predictions

posted on 2009-06-25 14:14:28

I said I'd do it. Here they are:


Off Every Wall in the Building: An Update

posted on 2009-06-25 14:11:15

Quick thought: It may be the saddest aspect of contemporary American culture that we pursue quick fame and riches over what is worth doing.

Things aren't bad over here. School is wrapping up in the next two to three weeks so I'm about to enter another pseudo-crunch mode and I feel like I just wrapped up midterms and Spring finals before that. My plan is to try and spread the crunch out so as to not kill myself. To that end, I'll be writing a short essay on WMDs this weekend, starting CS Project 2 and hopefully starting work on my portion of the WMDs group project and my persuasive speech. My persuasive speech is about IP Law, of course. There are so many good things to say when it comes to IP Law. It's more relevant than most of my peers realize. (Note: I don't rock music ringtones.)

Also, Brookrun really is an awesome skatepark. I plan to buy an annual pass and head over there at least once a week for a good while. Unfortunately, I busted my phone skating there last night. I bailed a backside 180 launching off some pyramid. Oh, well. I needed a new phone anyway. Now I just need an intermediary phone until I upgrade to a smartphone...which has me wondering, do I really need to upgrade to a smartphone? GPS and mobile Internet would be damn handy. Plus, they double as MP3 players and I could code for it if it was an Android or (presumably) Maemo phone. *sigh* Anyway, my running of two potential smartphones (Samsung i7500, Nokia N900) has widened to three (HTC Hero) as of yesterday's HTC unveiling. None of the damn things have release dates stateside though. Get it together US Carriers.

I've also been enjoying some of my music that I haven't listened to in a while. Old stuff, like Incubus. Seriously, Make Yourself is a quite lovely album as is Morning View. They probably qualify as summer music for me but then...I listen to everything always.

So here are four songs I've enjoyed rediscovering lately.
Modest Mouse - This Devil's Workday
Found at

Modest Mouse - 16The Good Times Are Killing Me
Found at

Incubus - Nowhere fast
Found at

Winterpills - A Benediction
Found at


posted on 2009-06-23 03:45:24

This is just going to be a quick post before I get back to work. Things rather suck lately. And when I say things, I mean summer school. I'm just not motivated about my work. I don't really feel like I'm learning and growing as much as I could be. I'm interested in doing what energizes me and spending time with the people I love, doing what I love. Unfortunately, I've got to make it to August before relaxation can become a priority. On the other hand, I have phenomenal support from most everyone in my life, I'm happy with most aspects of how my life is going and mom and I seem to be handling Dad's death pretty well.

So what have I been enjoying lately? Pixar's Up means a great deal to me and I've seen it 3 times now, Armond White be damned. I've been skateboarding a lot more and I finally got around to checking out Brookrun Skatepark with my good friend Burke, see? It's just 10 minutes away. Yes!

On the technical side, I've been playing more and more with lisp (I love it so) even though I can't stop reading the haskell reddit. Hell, Haskell is even about to wind up on the iPhone. I also have pulled down a bunch of Erik Naggum posts which I'd like to read and hopefully learn something from. Last but not least, I'm looking forward to getting a phone in the near future to replace my aging Nokia and I'm leaning towards an Android handset (the Samsung i7500/Galaxy) or a rumored Nokia running Maemo 5. Either way, it'll be August before I know for sure at which point I'll try to defend the reasoning behind my purchase.

There's plenty of other stuff I'd love to post but that's it for now. Hopefully, I'll have a chance to post more and dump some links out of the browser closer to the weekend. Back to schoolwork. :(

Chemical Brothers - Where do I begin
Found at

On John Glenn

posted on 2009-06-16 22:35:52

I might as well go ahead and post this. I'm unlikely to objectify or improve the writing and I'm unlikely to ever be satisfied with it. I can't seem to toss it either. It does show some facet of the story. Please don't take what follows as sufficiently capturing my father.

In so many ways, I am not sure I will ever be able to explain John Glenn. And how could I? To some extent, it feels like he'll forever be the inside scoop that belongs only to my Mother and I. A sort of eternal "you had to be there". This is, of course, not entirely true. We are far from the only people to have gotten a glimpse of the man John Glenn was as the testaments of others indicate. But there is, I think, no substitute for being able to observe him up close and without pause for nearly 20 years. And it's quite tricky to explain just how blessed I am for being privy to the view. Blessed. That's a word I don't use a lot. I'm not a very religious man, certainly not as religious as my Mother. Or my Father. Yet in this case I'm not sure the word blessed covers it. So how would I explain it? The best I've been able to come up with so far is this: My Father was a man so good that my Mother and I were able to let him die. Had he been any less of a man, we would've been unable to bear his departure.

It sounds crazy, doesn't it? You would think that the more wonderful a man is the more terrible he is to lose. My Mother has suggested in conversation that she and I did well to not be selfish (as we usually are) and act supportive of him in his final days but that thinking seems erroneous to me. I disagree with the notion that such strength or fairness came from us. Indeed, my good qualities of that nature I have not acquired, I have inherited. In fact, it may be more accurate to say I came upon them by osmosis but I'm getting ahead of myself. In the days following his death, people had a great deal to say about my Father and the kind of man he was. It was very kind but mostly prosaic. I (and perhaps Mom too) kept our mouths shut not because we had few words but because we didn't want to upset people with the radicalness of our speech. The truth is, John Glenn must have been out of his mind because after a period of prolonged observation he decided to join himself at the hip with both my Mother and I. And that was over 15 years ago.

Due to social niceties, people hear that sort of talk and laugh and try to progress the conversation. Unfortunately, it's the truth. When Mom and Dad met, Mom and I were both a wreck. We both individually had some problems but the two of us together were so messed up that you'd have more optimism about fixing corruption in politics. Lost causes, I believe is the term. None of this, mind you, seemed to phase John Glenn. He placed himself right into the center of our world as though he noticed a chair with his name on it and simply knew it was where he was supposed to be. He became our rock. He kept Mom and I from smashing into each other like two great asteroids and spinning off into the void forever. The way he did it is in large part the thing I can't explain. One of his college friends described him at the reception after the funeral as "constant". Though such a simple description falls short it has the right flavor to it.

No matter how turbulent Mom and I got, no matter how serious our disputes or misbehavior, no matter our rage, John was calm, John was patient. But above and beyond that, he didn't join our yelling, he didn't engage in our hatefulness and he wasn't indifferent to our points of view. Mom has referred to him as a saint many times but I don't recall any stories of saints going through as many trials, or any so difficult. Again, social customs will tell you to take this last statement lightly. If I were you, I wouldn't. Dad was there through military school, through wrecked cars, through run-ins with the law, through run-ins with schools, through years of squandered opportunity and irresponsibility, through years of disrespect and animosity towards authority which simply did not befit a man of his character and warmth. I don't know if I'd call that patience, it's starting to sound like it borders on masochism. Maybe he was out of his mind. Of course, masochists endure punishment in pursuit of their own pleasure. John Glenn was never preoccupied with his own pleasure. He had higher ends.

Through it all, you couldn't help but observe that he was still loving, still calm and still supportive. He was constant. He was still there, not about to quit. He was still putting in more than good a faith effort, doing more than his part, giving it more than just the old "college try". And you had to get the sense watching that he had the right idea. He was a lot happier than I in my misery and angst or Mom as a worry wart. Victory through osmosis. If you can't beat em, join em. John Glenn kept being the kind of person we all ought to be, until those of us subject to repeated exposure finally just came around. I'm actually not a little snot anymore and Mom is half-way to being as loving and patient as he was. That would be a lot for anybody but coming from where she used to be it's crazy. Just ask her.

It wasn't just that though. John Glenn made time for us. He worked from home so he could set his own schedule, so he could see us more and so that he could stop whatever he was doing to help us whenever we needed to talk to him throughout his work day. I'm honored to say I was in a band with him. That was in High School, you know, when your parents are supposed to be really lame. He played lead guitar, my friend played bass, I played drums. He picked up a dumb collectible card game with me in Middle School. In High School, I was supposed to read The Great Gatsby, The Scarlet Letter and Walden in a particular class so he got copies of all three and read them at night with me, highlighting interesting sections and discussing them with me later. Who does that? I mean, what kind of person voluntarily does that? He played video games with me and my friends. Not all of them mind you but he had a few. He'd try to know what I was interested in and even dabble or become passingly familiar with it to enrich discussion. And in later years we would go running at the park together. All that is above and beyond just putting up with me and my mother and keeping us from going crazy. That's the kind of man he was.

So when I say that if he had been any less of a man, Mom and I would've been unable to bear his departure, I'm not kidding. John Glenn didn't have an effect on our lives or treat us very well. John Glenn saved us. He taught us to love, to communicate, to wait for the right thing to come along, to have faith in ourselves, to have faith in living and just trying to do our best and make it. In the end, I think he benefitted from us to some degree but I can't call it parity. Of course, John Glenn was never watching the scales. I finally got my act together before the end and he got to see me thrive a little, thank goodness. Thanks to him, Mom and I are on excellent terms and won't tear each other to tatters. We can communicate. And as for Dad and I, well by the time the end was near in my mind there was no ground left to cover. No last minute questions or concerns. I didn't have to tell him how I felt the same way he didn't have to tell me. He had shown me.

Not my best day ever...

posted on 2009-06-13 19:13:07

So, I'm trying to be productive and having some difficulties. I've been low energy since Dad died and I don't think that's a secret. I'd really prefer a vacation to four accelerated summer courses and various other responsibilities. That said, this week was midterms and I've mostly survived. The grades won't be my best ever but I also don't think there is cause for much concern. Besides, I had a 3.76 GPA last semester bringing my cumulative (at SPSU) up to 3.4. I'll live.

I'm actually trying to wrap up the last midterm right now so that I can spend the remainder of my time between now and Tuesday working on Project 1 for Data Structures, the specficiations for which seem somewhat ambiguous to me. Anyway, back to work for now.

One quick note. Battle of the Berrics 2 has started. Make your brackets, people! I've made mine, I'll detail it in a separate post soon.

And a quick song:

Groove Armada/Richie Havens - Hands of Time
Found at

Silly Slime

posted on 2009-06-11 18:00:40

Recently, SLIME has been acting funny. I think it's since an archlinux update but I hadn't had time to look into it. When I used the ~ key in the SLIME editor window (not the REPL) was causing some debugger error. So if I wanted to write a format string like "~a~%" then I was hosed. I got fed up with it and using Emacs C-h k found that the key was invoking the "slime-sync-package-and-default-directory" function. Googling seemed to indicate this function was normally bound to "C-c ~".

At any rate, it shouldn't be bound to "~" so I went to the slime site lisp directory and ran grep -r "slime-sync-package-and-default-directory" *. Among the results was this:
contrib/slime-repl.el: ("~" 'slime-sync-package-and-default-directory))
Aha. So the simple fix was changing the "~" to "\C-c ~". All seems to be well now...but what an odd thing to have to fix in the first place. *shrug*

Back to studying for Data Structures...and maybe lunch.

The Occasional Mashup

posted on 2009-06-11 14:42:47

So, whether you like mashups or hate them I do think they can be original and fun. Case in point: Modest Mouse vs. Ratatat. Charming. The entire Modest Rat corpus can be found here. Scroll down to the Jan 24th entry for a link to the zip file with all the MP3s. Nothing like artists giving away music.

Whether mashing up pop (rap) acapellas and instrumentals a la Girl Talk is something that requires talent or is musically good or not I'll leave to others to debate. I thoroughly enjoy Girl Talk.

I will say that I wish there were acapellas and instrumentals for the more indie stuff I listen to. It's kind of sad, I'd love to sample Marvin Gaye's Trouble Man...but there's not an acapella of it anywhere. There are other Marvin Gaye songs...but my mind tends towards mashing up stuff that doesn't have acapellas. And DIY acapellas never do sound quite right. Maybe someone will eventually make software that can extract vocals properly...I'm not holding my breath.

Off to class for now, I've got a Computer Science midterm at 5, a Professional Practices & Ethics midterm due Saturday and then CS Project 1 due Tuesday. Those 2 CS assignments (midterm + project) make up 45% of my Data Structures grade. Good times. Back later. Probably will finally touch up and post something I wrote about Dad.

The Music

posted on 2009-06-06 20:17:59

Somewhere along the way, the music stopped.

It used to drift in from across the hall
in citrus hues and lilting arpeggios.
There was no exhaustion and sleep
was restful. We woke up, dogwood
blossoms falling from our lips,
sun streaming through the windows.
Sundays there was french toast
and the wind was always behind us.
Camellias and magnolias filled
our home and we moved about as though
buoyed by hummingbird wings.

But now there is no hall there.
So then there are no harmonies,
no gentle crescendos.
Once suffused by sweet melody,
we dim. Stars go out.
And just like that, the words all slipped
from my mouth to the floor.
I wish I had something more to tell you.
I don't. The music has stopped.

Better than TV

posted on 2009-06-01 17:06:02

Here are a few video lectures I've enjoyed that simply never could have made it to Television. Too much of a niche audience I suppose. They'll go from most comprehensible to non-nerds/programmers to incomprehensible to non-nerds/programmers. Soon I'll post up something actually productive or cool. For now, it's all school.

I still really like Giles Bowkett's RubyFringe presentation from last year. It really starts in after the musical presentation of the first seven minutes. It's good fun even if you don't program and you can see a glimmer of why programmer's would be interested in what it is they do.

I also fervently love "The Graphing Calculator Story" which I read in text somewhere before stumbling across this video.

Finally, I watched Zed Shaw's CUSEC talk last night and was forced to conclude that I both like Zed Shaw and very much like his talk.

Now, when you need a break, watch something.

Unless otherwise credited all material Creative Commons License by Brit Butler