Known Johnson

December 29, 2004

My first “random 10 from the Ipod” list

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom @ 11:32 am

I think I saw Spencer do one of these a while ago and I’ve been waiting to participate since then. The rules? Set your digital-audio player of choice to random and list the first 10. Mine’s an interesting list, seeing as I’ve only gotten up to about “C” in my collection transfer, with a few digressions outside of that for things I absolutely had to have on there:

1. Gorillaz – “Slow Country”
2. Neu! – “Sonderangebot”
3. Beastie Boys – “In 3’s”
4. Bjork – “Possibly Maybe”
5. The Beatles – “Taxman”
6. Can – “Outside My Door”
7. Gorillaz – “Dracula”
8. Rush – “Scars” (Fitting that it’s in my first random play, as it’s from the first CD I transferred to the Ipod.)
9. Rush – “Between The Wheels”
10. Praxis – “Inferno/Heatseeker/Exploded Heart”

The Christmas haul

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom @ 9:42 am

I have finally joined the club:

That’s my brand new 40 gb Ipod sheathed in its purty blue Iskin Evo2 (a protective silicone case with a very nice screen protector – the thought of banging up this pricey little unit is not worth the worry.) Not only am I such a blasphemer that I cover up the Ipod’s iconic white/chrome color scheme, I’m also not using the equally iconic white buds that come with it. Frankly, buds suck – I find them extremely uncomfortable and low-fidelity, plus they channel almost as much sound to the outside world as they do into your ears. Instead, I opted for a pair of Sony Fontopia EX51 “canalphones,” called that because they don’t just sit on or in your outer ear, they actuall go into your ear canal. With a set of very, very soft silicone . . . thingies . . ., they slip into the ear canal and, when properly seated, actually block out most outside sounds. Because they kind of seal up your ear, the sound is concentrated in your head and you actually get real bass response, and, even better, the sound feels as if it’s living right inside your head. You really have to experience it for yourself, but don’t go by the bad reviews on Amazon – the people who complain about poor sound quality weren’t wearing them right. When fitted properly, which make take a couple of ins-and-outs, the sound is utterly stunning, unlike anything I’ve ever heard before – this coming from someone who is very picky about sound quality.

File my wife and I under “geeks” because: for Christmas I bought Alissa a 20gb Ipod . . . and an identical blue Iskin Evo2. The only way we know for sure whose is whose is by the thickness (the 40gb being slightly thicker.) She looks prettier with it since it was accompanied by an emerald necklace that I also got her for Christmas.

The rest of the haul consisted of some badly needed clothes, since I’ve been wearing the same 5 or 6 shirts to work every week for many, many months, to the point where several are developing holes. Hey, I never kid when I say I hate, with a passion, clothing shopping and will avoid it for as long as I can.

I also made out on the CD front from both Alissa and the in-laws. Most notably, Alissa picked up on my very not subtle hints about how much I really, really wanted the newly remastered Can CDs comprising their first four releases (Monster Movie, Soundtracks, Tago Mago, and Ege Bamyasi, in addition to Can Live 1971-1977. She done good, because I haven’t really been able to listen to anything else since Saturday. I highly urge anyone intrigued by experimental music to pick up these remasters – for a reference, for those of you who don’t know them, if you enjoy Wilco’s “Spiders (Kidsmoke)” you will probably find something fun about these guy’s long, grooving drones (and you’re also encouranged to check out the band Wilco ripped off for “Spiders (Kidsmoke),” Neu!, who pretty much perfected Krautrock in two short albums’ time.) I also scored a couple of Ted Leo/Pharmacists CDs, the newest of which I really, really wish I’d gotten earlier in the year because it’s yet another great album deserving a spot on the best-of list (and for those who don’t know, Ted Leo kinda-sorta sounds like Ben Folds going punk.) Also on the music front: The Jam – All Mod Cons/This is the Modern World together on one disc, Calexico’s Black Light and “Spoke”, Billy Bragg – Must I Paint You A Picture?, The Police – Live (remastered,) Incubus’ Live At Red Rocks and Branford Marsalis’ take on Coltrane’s A Love Supreme (CD/DVD set, actually.)

This was also apparently the Year Of The DVD Set, as I came home with Ren & Stimpy Seasons 1 & 2, Arrested Development Season 1, Home Movies Season 1, The Office Specials, Ghosts of the Abyss (James Cameron’s apology for the cheesy Titanic,) and The Right Stuff Special Edition (one of my all-time favorite movies.) I also stocked up on a couple more books, Chuck Palahniuk’s Fugitives And Refugees: A Walk In Portland (yes, it’s a travel book about Portland, but told in Chuck P’s usual odd style,) and Created in Darkness by Troubled Americans : The Best of McSweeney’s, Humor Category – you are hereby urged to go check out McSweeney’s for some of the best humor and unusual stories on the internet. Not to be outdone, my parents bought us a TV with a built-in DVD for use in our exercise area, as walking on a treadmill staring at the wall for a half hour gets really monotonous.

However, the most unusual gift I got this year is the Chillow. If you’re like me and can’t stand a warm pillow, the Chillow is for you. It’s a half-inch thick, foam-filled thing that you fill with water one time, press out all the air, and then you put it in your pillowcase. When you lay down on it, wherever your body touches, the Chillow gets very cool. There’s some kind of magic going on here, because I can’t find any logical reason why foam and water would grow so suddenly cool, but the important thing is that it really works! It is a different sensation to sleep on, as the Chillow is thick and heavy, not squishy and puffy like your pillow is, but the cool is so refreshing that it really doesn’t matter. It sounds like a gimmick, but it really does work. And maybe it’s due to having the time off from work, or maybe it’s due to the Chillow – I’ve been sleeping better, even this morning when I awoke at about 4:15 due to an extremely heavy rain storm.

How could you ask for a better Christmas than this?

Unfathomable

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom @ 8:29 am

I’m left pretty much speechless after seeing the continually rising death toll due to the tsunami in the Indian Ocean. I can’t even begin to fathom the loss of 67,000 people in just a few short days time. Think of the sheer amount of people that is – imagine just one event taking out every single person attending any one of the many big football games. I can’t. I just can’t imagine that kind of sudden loss of life. We can only hope this region will indeed institute a tsunami warning system so they can at least try to prevent something like this from ever happening again.

December 23, 2004

Costello collected

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom @ 10:38 am

(So I lied – yet another post following my “I won’t be posting until next week sometime” declaration. Consider it a free bonus.)

My dad has expressed interest in Elvis Costello several times, knowing I’m a big fan. I was never quite sure whether to just burn him a copy of one of my favorite albums, as I don’t know that he’d enjoy everything on any one album that I picked, what with Elvis’ penchant for getting raucous and noisy every once in a while, so I decided to pull out my entire EC collection and pick out things that would suit my dad’s good tastes, but would likely not be too rancorous that he might want to skip tracks. The results are as follows:

Disc 1

1. Brilliant Mistake
2. Battered Old Bird
3. All The Rage
4. Country Darkness
5. Deep Dark Truthful Mirror
6. Either Side Of The Same Town
7. Little Palaces
8. Little Triggers
9. Love Field
10. My Little Blue Window
11. Nothing Clings Like Ivy
12. Our Little Angel
13. Rocking Horse Road
14. So Like Candy
15. Sweet Pear
16. Tart
17. You Tripped At Every Step
18. Pouring Water On A Drowning Man
19. It’s Time

Disc 2

1. I Hope You’re Happy Now
2. How To Be Dumb
3. Accidents Will Happen
4. Blue Chair
5. Busy Bodies
6. Forgive Her Anything
7. I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down
8. King Horse
9. New Amsterdam
10. Party Girl
11. Possession
12. Shabby Doll
13. ShipBuilding
14. That Day Is Done
15. The Loved Ones
16. Twenty-Five To Twelve
17. Watch Your Step
18. Why Can’t A Man Stand Alone
19. You Bowed Down
20. You’ll Never Be a Man
21. Turning The Town Red
22. (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding

The interesting thing to note is that this is how almost all the tracks broke down in Windows Explorer after ripping them – alphabetically. I moved a few tracks here and there to make smoother transitions between songs, but I left it alone because, somehow, these particular songs seem to flow from one to the next. Yes, no “Chelsea,” no “Radio Radio,” etc. – for one, I’ve heard them enough, and so has probably everyone else, and two, I liked other songs better (shock! horror!) I also noticed that there’s a heavy favoring of Elvis’ more “country”-esque numbers and songs that mimic 60s soul/r&b. And the discs themselves seem to be broken up between his more soulful numbers and his rockers – again, this is how Windows Explorer broke out the “Elvis Costello” tracks from the “Elvis Costello & the Attractions” tracks (with a few switched here and there, again.) The gods of alphabetizing smiled on me today, handing me an easy tracklist that makes for a very satisfying listen.

December 22, 2004

The Beastles

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom @ 8:08 pm

Oh, okay, one more post, only because I simply have to pass on this incredibly creative endeavor – mixing the Beastie Boys with The Beatles.

December 21, 2004

Santamas and all that

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom @ 10:31 pm

Well, as you few regular visitors probably guessed, the site’s been taking a back seat to that other preoccupation I have, living. So, yeah, there are a few things that need reworking after my comment-spam idiocy a couple weeks ago (like my comments page – real, real ugly CSS issues there,) and come next week that crap’ll get taken care of.

As of tomorrow at approximately 3:30, I am off from work for 11 full days. Let me repeat that: ELEVEN DAYS! My company gives us two days off for the Santamas holiday and since it falls on Saturday this year we get the two days prior to that off. And since we have one day off next week for New Year’s, I decided to just make a big vacation out of it by taking four of my own vacation days. That’s a pretty good bargain – using only four of my fifteen paid vacation days nets me over a week and a half away from work. You just can’t pass up a deal like that.

So what am I doing with my time? Nothing! I’ll probably be going stir-crazy by Tuesday, but that’s okay – that just means I’ve hit the top of my rest-curve and then maybe I’ll get somewhat productive. Tentative plans are to sit on the couch and watch a bunch of the music DVDs I’ve bought and never gotten to see, and then maybe to wax my car using the proven Meguiar’s three-step process (which results in a glass-smooth finish) – that takes quite a long time, as you can imagine (basically, it’s like waxing your car four times – once with a clay bar to remove nasty road residue that embeds into the old wax and paint, the second to strip your old wax, the third polishes, and the fourth is the actual wax.) There’s also a number of small project around the house . . . not to mention fixing up this here site. I’ll be busy, but I’ll make sure not to be too busy, otherwise I might as well have worked that week anyway.

As has been the case in the past, Santamas brings more excitement for me in giving the gifts to my family. I got some really good stuff for my loved ones this year (yes, I do know they’re reading this – and yes, I do love torturing them.) This ranks as one of the more fun Christmases I’ve had as an adult, actually. What more can you ask for? I mean, not only do I get to have fun giving these gifts that I stressed and slaved over, making sure I got just the right things, I’ll wind up getting some of my own. It sounds like typical holiday ass-kissing, but I really would be happy enough just giving. I give to myself plenty all year round. Ask me if I’ll refuse gifts, however . . .

And so, with that, I realize I’m probably posting for the last time before Christmas and will hopefully be back with a much-refreshed site shortly after that. Merry Santamas, everyone!

December 14, 2004

“Best of” blues

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom @ 10:27 pm

Nope, not a list of the best in blues for the year 2004 – I’ve been listening so intently to my top picks for the best of the year so intently that I’m actually getting a bit sick of them. I’ve had the same 20-30 CDs with me for a couple weeks now, trying to decide what can fit into the top 10. Ultimately, I realized I can’t number them after a certain amount – I enjoy them all quite a lot and can’t say why x should be #13 and y is #14. After a handful of the best of the best, they’re all just good. Try as I might to shoehorn in more to the top 10, like combining Nick Cave’s dual-release Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus and Lambchop’s Aw, Come On and No, You Come On into single entries by both bands (and why not, Cave’s came in one package and Lambchop’s were released the same day and share design – you can’t have one and not the other, in other words) I still find myself struggling to justify why this gets to be higher than that. And, believe it or not, I’ve actually been stressed about this!

And another thing that annoys me with the lists is that I can’t possibly have heard all of the year’s releases that I wanted to. I know for a fact that within the next few months I’ll likely pick up more than a few 2004 releases that would easily replace others on my list in the top 10. But I have to go with what I know and what I could afford . . . (yes, this is another teaser – the lists are coming soon, I swear.)

December 12, 2004

Up and at ’em

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom @ 10:41 pm

It was a harrowing weekend spent not really caring about getting the site back to normal again after some ill-timed editing to the backbone of WordPress. After a few hours spent messing around this morning I have things more or less back to some semblance of “normal.” There’s still a few problems here and there but I really didn’t feel all that much like dealing with it. There’s some ugliness to the site if you look in the right places, but, in the end, who cares?

The good news is that comment moderation has been lifted! (This due to some of the struggling this morning, having implemented two techniques that should all but eliminate my comment-spam problem.)

In other news . . .

Today officially marks the “almost-completely finished with Christmas shopping” point. All of the important gifts are bought and hid away; it’s just down to little straggler gifts now – stocking stuffers and the like. Strangely, the gift I’m stressing the most about is for my work team-lunch this coming Friday. It’s a “secret snowflake” deal with a limit of $10 for the gift. “Snowflake,” you ask? “Snowflake” is because “Santa” is both sexist and secular, of course. That’s the kind of thing you think might be a joke for a moment, but then you realize that this is a workplace and nobody dares make a joke like that with HR a phone call away. Suppressing groans of disbelief is one of the skills I am still learning, but I luckily kept the one inspired by this escapade deep inside.

I guess we actually combine a couple of holiday traditions – there’s both a secret gift-giver and a struggle over who gets to keep said gift. With 20 people on my team at the moment, we’ve had to limit the stealing of gifts to three times – the third to steal a gift is the lucky bastard that gets to keep whatever it is. Of course, most of the gifts no one will really care about – pen-and-paper sets, potpouri thingies, etc – but there’s always one or two gifts that everyone fights over. Last year, mine was one such gift – a “itty bitty Buddha.” Tell me you wouldn’t want that little dude for your desk. Buddhist or not, it’s hard to say no to a tiny, smiling fat guy. How do I top that this year? Especially when I’ve had as little mall-exposure as I have so far (and thank God for that – I was able to keep the mall-shopping to a minimum. Trust me, this is a very good thing – you don’t want to see me in a mall around Christmas. I am stressed out enough as it is with getting the “right” gifts – people cutting me off, bumping into me, needlessly meandering SLOWLY around in such a way that I can’t get past them . . . I just can’t handle it.) Unfortunately, it is now all too obvious that the mall is exactly where I’m going to end up. With only four days left, there’s only so many weird little stores I can hit to find that special gift that no one can say no too. I suppose, of course, that I could always resort to a nice leather playing card case that I saw the other day. I hear that “poker” thing is real big right now . . .

December 8, 2004

Pissed

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom @ 10:21 pm

Still no comments, but I made a little progress – at least the comment form appears now when clicked (the comment won’t post, however.) I’ve been trying to get some help from the WordPress forums but their suggestions are just to point me right back to the same thing that I’ve read through many, many times. All I’m asking for is a step-by-step set of instructions as to what code to change and specifically where. Step 1: open “filex.php,” step 2: find “blah” and replace it with “blahblah,” step 3: save, step 4: open “filey.php,” etc. Is that such a huge request?

And do you know what all this is due to? Some idiot out there using a program to find a specific file in WordPress installs on sites to plant links back to his online-gambling site, so that Google will see all these links to it and rank the page higher and therefore be able to charge more for advertising on his site – and the advertisers don’t seem to realize that this guy’s stats are totally false. Again I ask, how is it possible that spam raises profits across the board? At some point someone has to be losing out. Why is there no domino-effect all the way back to the originator of the problem, the spammer? Why does this continue when it can’t possibly actually be profitable?

December 7, 2004

Spam

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom @ 10:18 pm

Sorry – no comments right now. I’m in the middle of fixing some crap I did last night following some advice I found on the WordPress forums and they’re just not working. I hate dealing with code – yeah, I know, the irony being as I’m a graphic designer and all. I’m a visual guy, okay?

Having no working comments is about a million times better than attempting to delete one day’s worth of comment-spam – which is, in the case of the past 36 hours, nearing 500 comments. Fun.

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