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Friday, May 28, 2010

Bike parts

This is probably sort of boring for you to read about, but I put about $300 into my bike in the last couple weeks. This includes:

-Overhaul of front and rear hubs
-New shifter cable
-New chain and rear cassette
-New bar tape
-New tires
-New 36-tooth front sprocket

The end result is a much better-functioning bicycle. The mechanic did the first four items for me, and the did the last three myself. I only realized I needed a new sprocket once I rode with the new chain and found it didn't fit well with the wear on the smaller front sprocket. So I got a new one and put it on this evening.

When I put the kevlar tires in late 2008/early 2009, I said that I'd report back on their performance. Well, they did perform well, as I only got two flats in a year and a half; one was on the way to Pittsburgh, due to a hard pinch on a tree root. The other flat was a few months ago. However, the tread on the tires didn't last quite as long as I would have hoped...I had to replace them because in addition to being cut up from glass, they had also developed some bald spots where the tread had come off to reveal the kevlar layer underneath:

Aron organized a bike trip this weekend with a larger group (7), doing part of the ride we did on the C&O Canal and Great Allegheny Passage last fall. Just three days, about 30 miles per day, but I'm definitely looking forward to it.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

New albums

Yesterday, thanks to The National, I spent my $50 store credit at Crooked Beat records. This is what I came back with:

> Frightened Rabbit - The Winter of Mixed Drinks (LP)
> Band of Horses - Cease to Begin (LP)
> Uncle Tupelo - No Depression (CD)
> Vampire Weekend - Contra (CD)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Songs of the Moment (An Occasional Feature)

> The National - Anyone's Ghost
> Caribou - Sun
> Toro y Moi - Blessa
> MGMT - Time to Pretend
> Neutral Milk Hotel - Communist Daughter
> Dan Bern - Estelle

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Cell phones

Maryland just enacted a ban on using a hand-held cell phone while driving. An online poll accompanying the Baltimore Sun article asks, "Will you stop using your hand-held phone while driving?" As of now, 25% of people have chosen the response "There's no way I can ever live without using my hand-held phone while driving."

On most other issues, a newspaper wouldn't dare pose the question, "Are you going to obey this law?"

Here in DC, where we already have such a ban, a guy pulled out in front of me the other day while talking on his cell phone. He was in a convertible, so when I passed him a moment later, I yelled "Hang up and drive!" This naturally earned a string of expletives from him.

We obviously have a cultural issue to overcome before we can get proper recognition of the danger (to you and others) of talking on the phone while driving.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


I went to the Megapolis audio festival in Baltimore this past weekend. Heavy on the sound art, but also a fair bit of radio documentary-focused stuff...I like both, and thought the festival was pretty cool on the whole. A few highlights:

WikiMixing - Eight people at the table, everyone gets a modified computer keyboard. Four channels of looped audio shown on screen, each with a bunch of parameters you can control (volume, speed, pitch, low end filter, etc.). In fact, everyone can control these factors simultaneously...if I turn it up while you're turning it down, we cancel each other out. Or maybe I turn it up while you're increasing the pitch. You can also change what loop of sound (bells, clanky plumbing, a guitar riff, etc) is playing in each channel. Mostly chaos, of course, but with moments of brilliance...a neat idea, and a lot of fun.

Book Odds Remix - A room full of people have 30 minutes to edit together 8 specific sounds into a short piece. (The audio is from The Books, selected for a contest that's part of the Third Coast Festival.) We listen to the results, and they're played on an XM Radio station immediately afterward.

Matt Sterling performance - Simultaneous manipulation of audio and video -- A/V DJing, basically. This was interesting because he wasn't just manipulating music and video tracks, but generating them in real time. The audio was constructed from various beats and such, while the video was constructed from combinations of geometric shapes and patterns. He was constantly adjusting knobs on the audio and video to keep them in sync as the composition evolved. (Pictured above.)

It was also cool to hear David Kestenbaum of NPR/Planet Money talk about his techniques for effectively presenting abstract financial news in a comprehensible way.

So, a great weekend. Susie was kind enough to put me up in her work-in-progress rowhome; she also lent me a bike, which enabled me to revisit some of my farmers market favorites on Sunday morning. Oh, curry pockets...

Friday, May 14, 2010

Blitzer and mascot

Here's a very brief Daily Show "Moment of Zen" clip, taken from a CNN segment commemorating Wolf Blitzer's 20 years at the network. For some reason, the Washington Wizards mascot is standing behind him, yet Wolf is trying to play it very earnest in describing his journalistic experience. The mascot tries to back him up on the earnestness.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Moment of Zen - Wolf Blitzer Celebrates 20 Years
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Good, bad, good

Good: I went to the Caribou show at Rock and Roll Hotel last night, and it was absolutely great. Riffs and patterns building up on top of each other, peeling off and coming back in again, all wrapped up in a bit of a psychedelic swirl. You can check out videos of them in the studio playing Yeti and After Hours off their previous albums, but where they really shined was in performing tracks off the new album.

Bad: My shifter cable broke on the ride home this evening, leaving my bike stuck in the highest gear.

Good: I stopped at Crooked Beat on my way home to pick up the new album by The National. I debated a while on whether to buy the CD or LP copy, and went with vinyl. When I opened it up at home, I found a certificate that said
Greetings to you, the lucky finder of this ticket. The bearer of this ticket will receive a $50 credit at the store where this CD or LP of The National High Violet was purchased.

I was a little skeptical at first, but on The National's website it says that "Many indie stores also have one special copy of High Violet which contains a Violet Ticket which is redeemable for a $50 store credit." Sweet!!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010


The NYTimes ArtsBeat blog had a post yesterday about Bjork DJing in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Offers some little Bjork tidbits, which are always nice, but also this piece of information:
She checked out another venue, the Market Hotel, which has since been shut down, but preferred Above the Auto Parts because it was rougher, said the promoter, Todd Patrick.

Market Hotel was the very sketchy (yet awesome) venue for the show that Alex, Shane and I went to in Bushwick a few months ago. Not too surprising that it has been shut down, since it didn't seem to have a certificate of occupancy, never mind a liquor license...