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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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    Sunday, December 31, 2006

    Nervous Music Podcast 009

    This is the warmest December on record in Boston. I think we had about 17 consecutive days of above average temperatures until this weekend. So let's conjure up a bit of snow with my ninth podcast. I missed the seasons greetings window to get a holiday podcast up here. But I'm still able to squeeze one final edition into 2006. A safe and happy new year to you all!

    Nervous Music Podcast 009 (31 min, 36.2 MB)

    Saturday, December 30, 2006

    Coup Fourré!

    I totally forgot about this game until I stumbled upon this picture the other day. I loved playing Mille Bornes as a kid! These are the original cards I had. I wonder if I still have them?

    Mille Bornes cards

    Friday, December 29, 2006

    It's all about the social networking, meng

    A few weeks ago I attended a web conference in Boston. It's an annual thing, and this year focused on the emergence of the whole web 2.0 shamomo. Some of the speakers summarized the web 2.0 concept by talking about user-generated content, web services, improved interfaces and social networking. They gave numerous examples of successful sites that are participating in all of these things; Flickr,, and Google Maps, to name a few.

    When it comes to social networking, I'm surprised they didn't mention They've been doing some very interesting things lately. I've been using for about a year now and I generally thought it was neat when it first came out. Through the use of audio player plug-ins, your listening habits get sent to via a method that the company calls "scrobbling" so that others can peek at your playlists.

    I've always liked their website. It's clean, very functional and fairly customizable as it lets you rearrange parts of your dashboard just how you like it. But last night I discovered that has released a more dynamic application aptly called They say "with on your computer you can scrobble your tracks, share your music taste, listen to personalized radio streams, and discover new music and people." Sure, it does all of this but the interface it has is quite ingenious.

    I'm taken by its online radio features and the ability to share preferences with your friends. Through the use of tag clouds you can hone in on a particular station by artist or genre. If you're not interested in streaming radio, there's a tab that renders information about what you're currently listening to using Winamp, iTunes, Windows Media Player, or whatever your weapon of choice. then takes things the next step by allowing you to tag music you're listening to, recommend a song to another user, mark songs if you love them or want to ban them, and more.

    All of these features let you dig into the music further. The application connects your current song with tags, similar artists, and top listeners on So from there you can dive into the site deeper for more music. It's a great way to discover new artists and new songs from the artists you love.

    I know there's similar stuff out there like Pandora and Musicovery, but I'm just impressed with the route that has taken with their application. They went from a neat concept to something much more. It'll be interesting to see where they go next.

    [UPDATE: And of course, like every other website, has a badge you can stick on your site.]

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    Sunday, December 24, 2006

    Celebrating an overlooked pioneer

    Who knew I grew up in a town where radio really started? WBUR has the story. Sure, Marconi technically invented the concept of the radio broadcast, but all that he accomplished were some blips and bleeps when he transmitted morse code. But it was Reginald A. Fessenden who delivered the world's first voice radio broadcast from Marshfield, MA in 1906. And the broadcast took place 100 years ago today!

    There's going to be a little celebration around noon today to commemorate the broadcast. We might just try to swing by and dance to Handel's "Largo."

    Saturday, December 23, 2006

    Happy Festivus!

    Today's the day. Happy Festivus everyone! I'm off to rig up the aluminum pole, participate in the "Airing of Grievances," and battle it out in the "Feats of Strength." Festivus for the rest of us!

    Sunday, December 17, 2006

    Smart design + attention to detail = iHooked

    The iHome series of products, created by Sound Design Inc., really are marvelous inventions. Given the tasteless onslaught of iPod accessories and add-ons this year, the ability to cut through the glut of junk on store shelves and offer something of real value is impressive. Which brings me to the point of this post: I love the iHome iH7R.

    Sound Design promotes it as a "home system for your iPod" but it's basically an alarm clock on steroids. What I'm really loving about the iH7R is its fine attention to detail, like:

    The packaging is quite nice a la Apple products
    The ability to both play an iPod as well as charge a Shuffle at the same time using a second dock
    An expansion speaker to put on the other side of the room (or bed) to get a fuller stereo sound
    A handy remote control whose snooze button doubles as a dimmer button to incrementally dim the display at night
    A dual alarm so you can set each alarm time with your choice of buzzer, radio or iPod
    Date and time already set properly out of the box
    Line out and line in for various uses
    Auto-adjust to daylight savings

    And you're wondering about the sound quality, I know. It's surprisingly bright and clear. It has a built in EQ to adjust your highs, mids and lows. Of course it can't compete with the crystal quality of the Bose Sounddock, but it holds its own as an impressive little device.

    Computer and music stores have been riddled with iPod gadgets for a while now. Often the stuff takes up whole wall displays. Now we're finding that every kind of shop is jumping on the iPod bandwagon - I got my iH7R at Linens 'n Things with a 20% discount coupon (an early Christmas present to myself).

    If you're looking to expand the possibilities of your iPod but don't know how to wade through the iCrap, let me steer you in the direction of the iHome products. The combination of smart design and attention to detail has me hooked.

    Saturday, December 09, 2006

    Chilly when it's chili (wait, strike that, reverse it)

    One of our favorite spots to eat is the Sano Cafe in Worcester. It's connected to the healthy, organic food store Living Earth. We're there at least once a month and on the way out we always pick up the newest copy of their magazine Living Naturally! The latest issue has a super simple chili recipe which we tried out last weekend. It's such a lazy man's recipe, but it cooks up great. The steps are basically -- cut up some stuff, throw into a pot, cook. Here's the skinny:

    This makes four 1 ½ cup servings.

    2 19 oz cans of red kidney beans, drained
    1 large onion, diced (approx 2 cups)
    1 yellow pepper, diced (approx 1 cup)
    4 garlic cloves, minced
    1 28 oz can of tomatoes, chopped (with liquid)
    2 tbsp tomato paste
    1 ½ tbsp chili powder
    1 tsp ground cumin
    ½ tsp dried oregano
    ¼ tsp cayenne (adjust to taste)
    1 tsp salt

    Now the fun part. In a large pot, add all ingredients. Mix ingredients, cover and simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Difficult stuff, huh? Delicious, though.

    Monday, December 04, 2006

    Cold Stone craziness

    I'm such an idiot when it comes to choosing mix-ins at Cold Stone Creamery. The first time I ever got ice cream there, my combination was cotton candy-flavored ice cream with raspberries and Twix. I swore never to be that stupid again. But history repeats itself and tonight I got vanilla ice cream (tame, I know) with blueberries and Kit Kats.

    I'm an idiot, but at least not a big one. When I got home I discovered the hard drive on my desktop PC went south. I've got a backup. It's not exactly a current backup, but it's good enough. Anyone know any good deals these days for desktop Windows PCs?

    Sunday, December 03, 2006

    If it's not Scottish it's crap!

    I popped into Newbury Comics today for the first time in a long while. I picked up two albums on sale for $10.88 apiece (gotta love those Newbury sales). Both are from the early '80s, both are from Scottish bands, both are jittery post-punk, and both are quite good.

    Orange Juice (of Glasgow) and Josef K (of Edinburgh) are two short-lived bands who recorded around the same time as each other and defined the sound of artsy, independent music in Scotland. Orange Juice's The Glasgow School and Josef K's Entomology are each packed with 20+ songs. Orange Juice has received some attention lately from bands like Franz Ferdinand who've dug them up from their country's back catalog. But so far, I think I'm enjoying the Josef K album a little more.

    What I'm not enjoying, however, is the free CD that the woman at the register slipped into my bag. It's a sampler with new songs by Slayer, Helmet, and Sammy Hagar which just further reinforces the fact that if it's not Scottish it's crap.

    A pair of Scottish post-punk tracks for you:

    Orange Juice "Breakfast Time"

    Josef K "Radio Drill Time"

    Saturday, December 02, 2006

    What I've been diggin': (Yet another) five things

    Here we go. Another short list of items I've been really enjoying over the last few months. I've done this before. Twice actually. But it's been a year since the last time. So I thought I'd share with you a few things I've been diggin'.

    Chris & Tim's Atomic Energy mix: Friends Chris and Tim produced a wonderful mix in early 2005 and I just recently re-discovered it. Wow. What you see on Tim's blog just scratches the surface of the full mix which is much longer. From Wanda Jackson to Charles Mingus to Sheldon Allman, Atomic Energy bounces from the sincere to the silly. Woven between songs are samples from the U.S. Department of Civil Defense instructing you how to prepare for the "big one." A very enjoyable listen. Timmay, Chris, any chance the full mix can make an appearance online somewhere?

    Giftbox: I know I rambled on about this one before, but I'm using it again this year and it's keeping me sane during the holiday shopping season. Giftbox keeps track of your family and friends' purchases. Nice features include the ability to distinguish between what you've bought and what you have in hand (for those online buys). You can associate a gift with multiple URLs for the comparison shopper in you. Plus, you can keep track of gifts you want to receive and send thank you ecards after the holidays. I won't be using the ecard feature, but otherwise Giftbox has completely replaced the tattered shopping list that used to be crammed in my wallet.

    Candy Cane Joe-Joe's: I'm hooked on these Trader Joe's cookies and it appears every other blogger using Blogger is too. Trader Joe's makes a fine (more healthy) alternative to the Oreo in the form of its regular Joe-Joe. But they blew the doors off the dessert Datsun with this one and you can't beat the price at $2.99 a box. The crushed bits of peppermint candy cane mixed with the filling is what gives the Candy Cane Joe-Joe its pizazz. Disagree with me if you want. I'll be over in the corner stuffing my face with them. LogMeIn is a free service that let's you remotely access other computers. There are lots of products like this out there, but here's why this one's better than others like RealVNC. First, you don't have to fiddle with firewall ports and other networking settings, it just works. Second, the software is not bloated - no spyware, no advertising - and the local computer uses just a Firefox plugin (or Java applet) without the need of installing any client software. Third, the free version is just that, 100% free for life (well, technically my account says the license expires in 2010). Pro versions include lots of bells 'n whistles but the free version has been just fine for getting me out of jams at work when I try to help out remote staff. The local PC can be on any platform, but the target PC must be running Windows. Ahh well, you can't have everything.

    Firefox 2.0: Some browser power users continue to bicker about which web browser is king: Firefox or Safari? I enjoy both, but given that I hop daily between platforms, Firefox is my weapon of choice. Released in late October, the second version of Firefox introduced some slick new features that 1.0 lacked. I'm certainly no power user, but I'm spending a lot more time these days adjusting my browsing experience than I used to. Putting a web browser on this list is a cop-out, I know, so I'll stop here. On a related note, I could also go on and on about the wonders of, but I know I'm late to the game on this one too so I'll shut my mouth.