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Muxtape 2

"When New York Was New York"

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Roberto Bolaño, The Savage Detectives


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Moment of Zen


Moment of Zen (inspired by Tim's Koans)

Courtesy of Timmay

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    Friday, April 30, 2004

    6 wheels are always better than 4

    Finally, some nice weather in New England. The leaves on the trees are budding and I'm rolling in my new 6-wheeler with the top down this weekend. Care to join me?

    Those Duke boys are gonna be jealous

    Mania on the highway

    Universal Studios should develop a new ride and call it "Route 91." Every day I see the aftermath of at least two accidents during my commute. These unfortunate sightings are uncharacteristic of what you'd experience while actually driving this road. Like Route 190 that connects Leominster to Worcester, Route 91 is typically a well-groomed open highway that's a cakewalk compared to Route 95.

    This morning, however, I saw another overturned 18-wheeler. This time it was a Guaranteed Overnight Delivery (G.O.D.) truck that was being excavated by a team of cranes and backhoes. He delivered on time if a ditch at mile marker 14 was his final destination. Route 91 is also home to lots of "charred vehicles." Maybe it's those monkey snipers.

    I try to avoid all the commotion by staying in the traveling lane while listening to NPR or my iPod. This morning I got through most of Ramones Mania. It amazes me that, after 20 years of making music, the Ramones could survive on 3 guitar chords. How did they remember which ones to play for each song?

    Thursday, April 29, 2004

    My assistant's asleep

    A long night of work ahead, with no help from the peanut gallery.

    The peanut gallery sleeps.

    Wednesday, April 28, 2004

    No NESN, no problem

    I was a little disappointed last October when I discovered that Comcast doesn't offer NESN in West Haven. But we've already been over this. Aside from listening to the occasional Red Sox game on WEEI (which transmits poorly along the coast here), I've been forced to get my Red Sox updates online.'s GameCast was my weapon of choice for the last few seasons, until I recently stumbled upon CBS's Game Center. It's much faster than ESPN's Java-based molasses feed. I love the in-depth features and attention to detail like the "replaced" section showing players taken out of the game and the color-coded pitch count. But, most importantly, I love the layout. SportsLine has done a great job with using every bit of real estate so I'm not forced to scroll up, down and all around to follow the ongoing stats. *BooM* It's all right there for you, and you pay nothing.

    Game Center doesn't replace the excitement of live baseball, but what do I care, the Sox are up over Tampa Bay 5-0 in the 8th.

    Meatballs and modern furniture

    Clear out your trunk space and fill up your gas tanks because the New Haven IKEA will open soon. The dark blue behemoth is a stone's throw from I-95. The walls are up, the windows are installed and they're making daily progress on the 20 acres of land.

    I'll share the news of their grand opening (early June?), as I'm sure it'll cause a bottleneck on I-95 for weeks. In the meantime, start making your shopping list while I save one of the 1,200 parking spots for you.

    Tuesday, April 27, 2004

    Membership has its privileges

    As a Blogger user, I was offered the chance to beta test Google's new Gmail service, which I expressed my concerns about a couple weeks ago. Reservations aside, I chose to give Gmail a try. So far I'm pleased to see they have not served up any contextual advertising based on the content of my emails. In addition, Gmail's features are different enough from traditional free email accounts to warrant a few observations here.

    First, you get 1 gigabyte of storage -- that's huge for a free service. Plus individual message capacity is capped at 10MB, which is 10 times the size limit of a Hotmail message. Second, Google doesn't want you to throw anything away. Gmail provides a Trash feature, but with 1 GB of storage, you're likely not to run out of room quickly. They've developed a new organizational strategy too. Rather than use folders, you can create labels so a particular message can be cross-referenced against more than one category like "Personal" and "Summer Vacation Plans." This provides a little more intelligence to the way you save messages.

    Third, and I think this is quite cool, Gmail traps all correspondences with the same subject line into the same email. In other words, rather than click around your Saved folder searching for your reply to a particular message, Gmail's messages keep a running tally of the back-and-forth right within one message. When you're viewing an email thread, you can choose to expand or collapse these individual sections. Plus the interface for replying and forwarding is more intuitive than traditional email services because you find yourself getting things done with fewer clicks.

    There are many other cool features of Gmail like the ability to create up to 20 different filters for incoming messages, "advanced" spam filters, keyboard shortcuts, and a new "starred" feature so you can dog-ear messages to make them easier to find.

    Aside from my concerns regarding privacy, I think Google has built some strong competition in the email market with Gmail. I'll continue to tool around with my account to see if I can find more bugs (only one so far). Is Gmail revolutionary? Not really. Is it pretty cool? You bet.

    Monday, April 26, 2004

    Reflecting on Rothko paintings

    I must have electronic music on the brain today, so I'm going to share this with you. A user on the Microsound mailing list posted a clip of his own music inspired by the Mark Rothko exhibit at the Tate Modern in London. Being a Rothko fan, I had to check it out. If you're a fan of ambient electronic music, you should enjoy the Rothko Meditations.

    Enough blips and bleeps to last a lifetime

    I'm seriously considering attending this year's MUTEK electronic music festival in Montreal. The timing seems perfect because early June will be a breakpoint between two work projects. What better way to fill that time than with an insane amount of music in our neighborly country of Canadia?

    The festival's in its fifth year and last summer's event included artists like Coil, Senor Coconut, and Richie Hawtin (who will be headlining Friday night this year under his more popular alias Plastikman). Five days of electronic music seems a little much, so I'm entertaining the idea of the "weekend pass" to attend the final three days, June 4-6. The lineup so far is impressive, plus MUTEK always has surprise performances up their sleeve.

    Montreal is lovely in June. So, who's with me?

    Sunday, April 25, 2004

    Stay in school! Drink milk!

    Somehow I stumbled upon a gem of an album with Mr. T's Commandments. Yes, this is the same Mr. T of A-Team, Rocky, and Saturday Morning Cartoon fame. In 1984, he cut a 7-song album for Columbia Records. Why? I haven't a clue, but the results are priceless. It's a heaping dose of Mr. T's values and advice rolled into some sub-par hip-hop, synth ballads and a truly horrendous remake of The Bobbette's "Mr. Lee" called "Mr. T, Mr. T (He Was Made For Love)."

    No jibba jabba!

    By the way, for any sushi lovers who visit, we must go to Miya's Sushi in New Haven. Dare I say it was the best sushi I've ever had? Most definitely an eclectic menu with rolls stretching from fried okra to spicy mustard lotus root to avocado, dried apple and cranberry. And that's just a very small sampling of the vegetarian sushi. Plus you have to try the Chinese Firecracker Saketini -- a sake cocktail infused with lemongrass and chili pepper. Wee boy!

    Saturday, April 24, 2004

    Ooba Ooba Tooba

    A pleasant afternoon of errands and a *massive* grocery shopping run to both Trader Joe's and Stop & Shop. Just finished some homemade ginger snaps and tea, and soon we'll be off to Miya's Sushi for dinner. The menu looks good and we're definitely taking advantage of their vegetable rolls, the largest selection in the state, including spicy curried okra and spicy miso eggplant. If we're feeling adventurous, some ooba ooba tooba may be in the cards too.

    All in all, a fun food-filled day for us, while others slept.


    Friday, April 23, 2004

    Where's the monkey?

    Like seeing figures in the clouds, the British have found animals on the underground. Look at all of them! Plus you can grab some great desktop wallpaper.

    Has anyone ever tried this with a Boston area map? I betcha you'll find a duck-billed platypus -- a difficult creature to classify, found within a difficult city to navigate.

    Thursday, April 22, 2004

    Partly cloudy with a chance of glaaven!!

    The weatherman on the Channel 5 morning news is a little loopy, like a cross between Foster Brooks and Jerry Lewis. Granted, you need to show some enthusiasm to retain viewers at an early hour, but this guy is just nuts. At the end of each weather report, he usually signs off with some odd little non-sequitur. This morning he read off a list of CT viewers' birthdays that were happening this week. Not too strange except that there must have been at least 40 people on the list. By the end he was reading as quickly as that guy from the Micro Machines commercials (#5 on the list).

    The newscast then turned to the traffic reporter who was a little in awe of what just happened. She started in with her report as they showed clips of I-95 clogged with traffic. Suddenly you hear her break and say, "Scott, why are you standing over my shoulder making that face?" The camera cuts back to her with the weatherman standing in the back corner making silly faces. She asks, "What are you doing?" He replies in a creepy voice, "I just wanna look at you." She shudders and then he exclaims in his best Jerry Lewis voice, "I'm staring at the laaadddyyy!!"

    If every morning continues to be this good, I'm not missing the weather report ever again.

    Wednesday, April 21, 2004

    Apples to oranges, and back to apples

    Six years have passed since I last spent time with an Apple product. I broke that streak today when my iPod arrived. It seemed like yesterday when I made it through four years of college with my trusty Mac LC. From paper writing to IRC to Scarab of Ra, my Mac got a lot of use, and choosing a PC over a Mac last year was a difficult decision.

    Now I've indulged in the iPod frenzy, and so far I'm quite impressed. Has the packaging won an award? It should. I'm like a two-year old playing with the box more than the toy. Plus you can't beat free shipping from Shanghai to West Haven in two days.

    My iPod was in Alaska!

    Now I can load up on 1920s Hawaiian songs, Tuvan throat-singing and minimal techno. Earbuds will mean no longer scaring the neighbors with my nervous music.

    Tuesday, April 20, 2004

    Look at the size of that martini!

    Actually, it's just a very small pineapple. And it happened to taste better than most regular-sized ones. Who knew you could get that much flavor out of a "miniature pineapple"? Did we make mini-martinis? No. But we may soon knowing that this little guy packs a wallop.

    All the flavor. Half the size.

    Monday, April 19, 2004

    Nervous Music v2.1

    I was motivated to do a little sidebar shuffling on the website today. Accuracy is very important to me, and Nervous Music needed a little spring cleaning.

    People have asked me why can't they hear the music in the "now playing" area at the top of the page. Nervous Music doesn't have a soundtrack, so to avoid misleading readers, I've added a "Listening" box to the sidebar displaying what I'm currently listening to (usually within the last half-day). As a result, the posting area is now one carriage return higher. Oh happy day.

    Also, I've separated the "For The Eyes" box into two boxes: "Reading" and "Watching." Again, more accurate, no? Not that anyone cares what we're currently watching from Netflix, but if you're curious, it's there. The downside is that the "Moment of Zen" has now dropped below the fold and you'll need to scroll to see what's happening in that area. No biggie.

    If anyone cares to comment, please do. Otherwise I can understand why you think this post is mundane. I think the warm weather and the Red Sox series win over the Yankees this weekend made me giddy enough to make some website changes.

    Sunday, April 18, 2004

    Signs of spring: The Monk Parakeets

    Chicago Wilderness Magazine has captured some colorful photos of the Monk Parakeet and its nesting behaviors. Strange little birds, they nest in the oddest places, including atop telephone poles in West Haven. Allegedly a cointainer of these feathery pets broke open in the 60s in New York and they've since migrated to southern Connecticut.

    Nests are easy to find. The birds, however, are more elusive. Luckily, we spotted one this morning sunning himself on the power lines.

    Click for different angle

    Saturday, April 17, 2004

    Firebird, Firefox, FireFun!

    It's been a while since I've used Internet Explorer as my default browser. Lately I've been into Opera and Mozilla, especially the latter. I've had issues with Internet Explorer 6 off and on since last fall. So I decided to take the leap and see what else was out there. I'm very happy I did -- Mozilla is a great product, and I just discovered Firefox (formerly Firebird). Firefox is a member of the Mozilla family; it's a lightweight browser with some surprisingly wonderful features, including:

    - Popup Blocking (shouldn't every browser have this?)
    - Tab-Browsing
    - Better Accessibility
    - Extensions, like the CSS Sidebar to make instant style changes to any site

    All this plus it's one of the most standards-compliant browsers available. Downloading and installation is quick, painless, and free. And if you already have Mozilla, no sweat, Firefox creates a new profile that won't interfere with existing settings.

    Enough with the web browser computer talk. Off to get ready for some delicious dinner at Zinc and live jazz.

    Ohh ohh, ya see, the kids they listen to the rap music which gives them the brain damage, with the hippin' and the hoppin' and the bippin' and the boppin', so they don't know what all about! Ya see, jazz is like a Jell-O pudding pop, no! It's more like Kodak film, no! Actually it's more like the new Coke, it’ll be around forever, heh heh heh.

    heh heh heh

    Friday, April 16, 2004

    Page 23 - A little Friday fun

    There's a new blog meme sweeping the web called Page 23:

    1. Grab the nearest book.
    2. Open the book to page 23.
    3. Find the fifth sentence.
    4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.

    There's nothing in the instructions about revealing the name and author of the book. So let's see if you can guess:

    "For the moment a single sentence should suffice to cheer and sustain readers and translators alike, both as resonant reminder and typically Knightly invocation: 'Oh maniacal howlers that you are!'"

    Google is red, my love. Yahoo is blue

    I unintentionally put a bee in Basil's bonnet with my discussion of search engines and Amazon's new A9 service. Sorry Basil! For what it's worth I agree with you. However John Battelle puts his own spin on A9.

    If you dig a little deeper, however, you find there are some trends that can make the average web surfer feel a little queasy about the emerging features of search engines. For instance, Google's new e-mail service GMail, currently in beta, may encroach on privacy issues. Google is promoting GMail's good side with talk of revolutionary search features, unparalleled free storage, and zero pop-ups.

    I feel there's a darker side, however. NPR wrapped up its week-long report on the search engine wars this morning. The last installment discussed the future of internet search, namely the need to personalize in order to provide more accurate results. NPR used the example of china as a keyword. Today's search engine doesn't know if you're looking for information on the country or the dinnerware. To improve personalization now would require a court order to determine who the user is and what s/he is searching for. GMail is a sly approach to get at this issue. By creating an e-mail account, Google will be able to track your history of searches. Your query results for china will be more on target because your previous search was for silverware, not asia travel.

    What does all this imply? I'm not sure exactly -- it's still early. I do know that it's Bobby Vinton's 69th birthday, though. So when you see Bobby today, wish him well.

    Thursday, April 15, 2004

    I.R.S. = I'm Really Sleepy

    Hope your day isn't as taxing as hers.

    Is my refund here yet?

    Wednesday, April 14, 2004

    Search engines: All the cool kids are doin' it

    This week, NPR is reporting on the search engine wars that are quickly escalating. Google is clearly the leader right now, but they have some strong competition with Yahoo! and Microsoft gearing up for battle. Everyone's scrambling to get a piece of the advertising pie. Case in point, Amazon jumps into the fray with today. I think it'll eventually come down to Google vs. Teoma in a battle of technological wits. It's been said that advertising within the context of search engines (most notably Google's model) is producing more revenue faster than any other online advertising strategy.

    Maybe it's time to think about my own personal engine: McGoogle. Ack! The domain's already used for a movie about a burnt-out ninja.

    191 words on web standards

    Back in early December, I finished reading a wonderful book on the new generation of web design techniques, loosely labeled as web standards. Since then, I've pursued my interest in web standards by reading many more books and visiting countless websites. This exercise eventually culminated in the relaunch of this website which is, for the most part, standards-compliant. More and more valid and compliant sites are popping up all the time, including Basil's. This can only be a good thing because the use of web standards promotes semantic mark-up, the separation of style and structure, accessibility, browser compatibility, and that warm, cozy feeling you get after a terrific meal.

    Now that legions of web developers have adopted web standards, Digital-Web Magazine reports on the learning curve assocated with transitioning from traditional web design to standards-friendly mark-up. If you're thinking about diving in to this world of web development, Bobby van der Sluis's article is a very quick read to help propel you into the air.

    BONUS: If you're trying to persuade your boss to adopt web standards, arm yourself with MACCAWS' new white paper entitled The Way Forward with Web Standards.

    Tuesday, April 13, 2004

    Zero to hero

    As I sat in rain-drenched traffic on my commute home this evening, I wondered about the rules governing vanity license plates. For example, say you want a plate that reads: AUTO. If that's already taken, can you apply for AUT0 with a zero instead? Technically they're two different plates, but would the DMV office allow this? What would happen if bystanders witness a hit-and-run and mistakenly report AUT0 for AUTO?

    Monday, April 12, 2004

    I gotta have more cowbell!

    While in Boston this weekend, the topic of Christopher Walken's appearances on Saturday Night Live came up. For those involved in those dumb conversations, I found the transcript of the "Behind the Music: Blue Oyster Cult" skit featuring Will Ferrell's spastic cowbell playing. So if you're feeling under the weather this week, then watch the video clip and follow Mr. Walken's advice: Guess what? I got a fever! And the only prescription.. is more cowbell!

    Thursday, April 08, 2004

    And now for your Moment of Zen

    When relaunched at the end of January, I added a new area called "Moment of Zen." It serves no particular purpose other than to amuse you with some weekly nonsense. The image isn't clickable; it's meant simply to provide you with your Moment of Zen for the day.

    I know many of you out there have likely come across equally sublime and ridiculous images. So if you're feeling motivated, send them my way and I'll post them and give you credit. Now isn't that exciting.

    The only stipulation is that it needs to be viewable at a width of only 95 pixels (or less), which means don't send me a screenshot of your thesis.

    In the meantime, I'll be traveling this weekend to visit family and friends for the holiday. We'll see you next week.

    Wednesday, April 07, 2004

    I'm a little verklempt! Talk amongst yourselves...

    I'll give you a topic: Blogs and the commenters who love them. Discuss!

    Ocassionally a post here will set off a barrage of comments like Monday's discussion of the YES Network. The weblog Signal vs. Noise hosted by 37Signals mentioned an interesting phenomenon recently. The real meat of many blogs can be found deep within the attached comments. Yet no matter how enlightening those comments are, they'll remain buried, while the original post will forever hog the spotlight.

    Some folks have turned the tables on commenting by offering a blog with listings of comments they've made on other sites -- an intriguing approach. So far, though, I've seen no sign of comments making their way to center stage, but as we know from our exercise in Connecticut geography, you can learn a lot from a comment.

    Commenting. It's like buttah.

    Tuesday, April 06, 2004

    Sushi lovers and audiophiles unite!

    Looking for superior sound while enjoying yellowtail and edamame?
    The solution is sake. And when you're ready to upgrade, you can build yourself a sub-woofer the size of a basement.

    Bass! How low can you go?

    Blog bloat

    Last month I posted about RSS feeds. Newsreaders are slowly catching on, but many aren't warming up to the idea of needing to download and install software to organize their daily blog reads.

    No sweat. Now there are services like Kinja emerging. No installation required. Kinja seems to be a meta-blog: A blog about blogs. Bloggedy blog blog. So if you're itching for what some of the best bloggers are saying today, shuffle over to a site like Kinja or Blogdex or Technorati (membership required).

    Bloggedy blog blog.

    Monday, April 05, 2004

    Just Say No to Yes

    First of all, let me apologize to my friends in NY (and fans of 70s progressive rock), as I'm sure they're displeased with the title of this post. I'm just a little disappointed that my cable provider has decided on delivering the Yes Network rather than NESN.

    It seemed like only yesterday when I retired the rally cap. Here we go again. Not the way we would've liked to begin, but you gotta begin somewhere.

    Sunday, April 04, 2004

    I love laundry day!

    More warm sheets please

    And the card attached would say thank you for being a friend

    I received a *wonderful* surprise in this weekend's mail: A gift from my friend Natalie. The CD is pure genius. It's part sitcom, part drama, a dash of Knight Rider, and a heapin' helpin' of childhood memories.

    I mean, they just don't write 'em like this anymore:

    Now, the world don't move to the beat of just one drum,
    What might be right for you, may not be right for some.
    A man is born, he's a man of means.
    Then along come two, they got nothing but their jeans.

    Thanks Nat!

    Saturday, April 03, 2004

    Fall back, waaay back

    Attention most people of the world: Don't forget to set your clocks ahead one hour tonight! Or you could be like this guy and set your clocks waaay back instead.

    I'm just thankful I don't live in Indiana.

    Friday, April 02, 2004

    Door-holding etiquette

    This afternoon, I thanked someone for holding a door open for me. As I passed by, I said "thanks." He replied, "hey guy!"

    Is that an acceptable response? I remember back in college, after holding the door open for someone, my inexplicable reply to their "thank you" was "voice!" I make no excuses for this nonsense; it's simply what came out of my mouth.

    Therefore, I'm no expert on the etiquette of holding doors. However I feel strongly that "hey guy!" is not an acceptable response.

    No one ever said blogs are quality-controlled

    If you browse through the archives, you'll find that, from time to time, Tim and I appear to be on the same wavelength. I was just about to post Wordsmith's A Word A Day, but Tim beat me to the post.

    Well, my friends, you're going to hear about it again anyway: Petrichor.

    Like Tim, I never knew there was a word for the "pleasant smell that accompanies the first rain after a dry spell."

    There is such a word.
    It's nice to know "petrichor."
    Please stop raining now.

    Thursday, April 01, 2004

    To the moon, Alice!

    The media jumped all over an April Fool's mishap involving Google's job posting today. And for a moment, I was going to apply for that lunar position. I've heard it rains less often there.