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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Songs of the Moment (An Occasional Feature)

> Animal Collective - Brother Sport
> Modest Mouse - Edit the Sad Parts
> The Rapture - House of Jealous Lovers
> Death Cab for Cutie - Movie Script Ending [mp3]
> Neutral Milk Hotel - Naomi
> Soul Coughing - Soft Serve

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Trailer Trash

Cruising YouTube, I found this killer Modest Mouse performance of "Trailer Trash:"

It's from a show in Kentucky during October of 2001. Isaac Brock inserts some lyrics during the breakdown that I've never heard before: "And you spend most of your life / looking for the adult you are / And you spend the rest of your life / looking for the child that you were."

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Catskills trip

This past weekend I went to the Catskills with Alex. I took a couple days off, so it was an extra-long weekend. My only previous memories of the Catskills are a bit fuzzy because they're from a trip to the Catskill Game Farm with my parents when I was perhaps four years old -- the only things I know for sure are that 1) we fed a goat in the petting zoo, 2) there was a giraffe, and 3) the airplane carnival ride where you can push the stick to go up and down was highlight of my life up to that point. So this trip to the Catskills was bound to be different than my previous visit.

And it was great:
  • The Zipcar we picked up near Alex's place in Queens worked out well -- way, way easier than renting a car, and in this case, about the same price.
  • Storm King Art Center, a 500-acre sculpture park, was impressive both for its size and its excellent collection of modern sculptures. Maya Lin's new Storm King Wavefield was a bit of a letdown (it'll probably look better after the grass grows taller), but I liked just about everything we saw. Coming across sculptures while wandering the meadows and woods is conducive to appreciating each one, much more so than in a cramped urban sculpture garden like the one at the National Gallery. You see the piece first from farther away (at least for the large sculptures), and then reevaluate as you come up to it. The time it takes to walk among the pieces forces you to take more time to look at each one than you would in a museum environment, and many also play off their outdoor settings very effectively.
  • The Hudson Valley benefits from heavy traffic of well-off New Yorkers, who bestow its adorable small towns with excellent restaurants. We had several good meals, including a lunch in Rhinebeck (at a place called Arielle) that was among the best I've had in a long time, and not too pricey at that.
  • It was a bit colder than I expected at our campsite--it got down into the 30s at night. Cold toes in the morning in my summer-weight sleeping bag.
  • We hiked a vigorous 14 miles over three different peaks, which was a bit more than we meant to bite off due to some incorrect mileage info on our map. Great views, a bit more dramatic than down here in the mid-Atlantic part of the Appalachians.
  • The new High Line park in New York is really neat -- an old elevated rail line converted into a linear park with some very snazzy design touches. It works well as a public space, and was lively even when I visited in the middle of a Monday morning.
Didn't mean to be quite that talkative in describing my weekend. Anyway, pictures of most of the above can be seen on Flickr.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Featherweight match

As I was getting my stuff together before leaving work today, I saw a guy emerge onto his balcony a few stories up in the building across the street. He was brushing off a rug, and produced a white, fluffy wad...probably cat hair. He dropped the wad over the railing, but there was a slight breeze, and after falling for a moment, it drifted back onto the balcony next to his head. He grabbed the fluffball out of the air, and dropped it over the side again. He watched as it meandered around...and then came back onto the balcony. He hit it with the brush, pushing it outward, but it came back. He hit it several more times, it kept coming back. Then he grabbed it from the air again, walked to the far corner of the balcony, and stretched his arm out to drop it. The fluff came back through the bars of the railing. He snatched it again, and walked to the opposite corner of the balcony. This time, it momentarily threatened to drift back, but he watched as it slowly floated away. The guy was too far away from me to be able to see if he was frustrated or amused, but it was pretty funny to watch.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Monster caterpillar

I went bike camping with a few folks (instigated by Nils) up the C&O Canal for one night of the long weekend. We were lucky with the rain, which started as we were just about ready to turn in for the night, and held off today until after we were back in DC. Of note was the group at a neighboring campsite: a two girls, ages 8 and 11, camping with their grandfather, spent the day riding their bikes to DC, seeing the sites, and riding back to the campground. That's a total of about 45 miles, which is pretty impressive for an 8-year-old (or an 11-year-old, for that matter). They were from Pittsburgh, and when I mentioned that I'm planning to bike to Pittsburgh, the younger one said "Our daddy biked to Washington, but he says we have to wait until we're older." Heh.

The thing I really wanted to talk about, though, is the monster caterpillar we saw on the ride home:

A shot for scale comparison:

It was about 5 inches long! More than twice as large as any other caterpillar I've seen...watching it move was kinda creepy. So, what on earth does it turn into?

Friday, September 04, 2009

Emergency response

An article in the NY Times notes that in most cities, firefighters now spend a lot more time providing medical care than fighting fires.

It talks about a fire company in my own city, DC, as an example. A personal tidbit to add to this: My window at work looks out on the front entrance of a housing authority building across the street. It's not a huge place, 10 stories, probably less than 100 units total. Yet, I would estimate that the fire department responds to the building an average of almost once per day (and this is, of course, just during the workday). On only one occasion did I notice them doing things that indicated there might be a fire -- otherwise, they appear to be there for medical calls. In a building of no more than a few hundred residents, that certainly indicates deep dysfunction. It's hard to tell what portion is due to the medical system versus the pathologies of poverty in general, though...

Thursday, September 03, 2009


Reposting things from elsewhere is kinda lame, but this video from Fail Blog is amazing and hilarious:

Wednesday, September 02, 2009


  • The weather we've had the last few days -- lows around 60, highs in the 70s -- is glorious.  Steve remarked yesterday that he appreciates fall more after moving to DC.  Same for me...in fact, I think I now look forward to cool fall weather even more than I look forward to the first warm days of spring.
  • On my way home last night, I saw a trailer go by with a business name on the side: "Royal Scent of a Moor."  What?  Is this a perfume store for people from a loosely defined area of northern Africa?  Or a store owned by someone who wanted a cutesy spelling of amor and is unaware that "moor" is an antiquated/derogatory term for arabs?  Googling turns up a listing that shows it exists (in Greenbelt, a Maryland suburb), but no other info whatsoever.  Not surprisingly, this store is the only occurrence of that phrase in all of Google (until now, I guess).
  • I decided to stop tempting fate with my many gigabytes of un-backed-up pictures and other stuff, so I bought an external hard drive.  I know this stuff always goes down in price, but I was still shocked that I came back from the store with a 1 terabyte drive.  This will be handy when I get back into video editing, which I've been meaning to do.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Cross-cultural holiday

My calendar reminds me that this coming Monday, September 7, is a holiday:

Labor Day
Labour Day (Canada)

Things are different up there, eh?