Playlist: Crown on the Ground

I have a Spotify playlist named stoof. It was the first playlist I started, back when I didn’t have a clue how I would go about Spotifying – hence the super-descriptive title. Actually…I just chuck songs into it so maybe it is fairly descriptive. To date it holds 210 songs. I added the first song on 2012-10-12 and the latest maybe an hour ago. I add songs infrequently and generally in spurts of a handful at a time. I listen to stoof in a similar way – not infrequently, but in spurts of a handful of songs at a time (before the damned commercials kick in and I go back to Pandora).

It occurred to me that a significant portion of this list – any playlist – has a personal story. Some of the artists are obvious (I’m looking at you, Violent Femmes). Some of the songs are obvious (Africa, anyone?) …but some of them have a much more specific meaning to me; they might evoke an emotion or make me recall a particular memory. This post is about one such song: Crown on the Ground.

I’m calling out Crown on the Ground because I remember the first time I heard it. I can’t say that about very many of the songs in stoof, percentage-wise.

I first heard this song on a family road trip to Myrtle Beach. Kate and I were in our car, my mom and sisters were in another. It was about a 12-hour drive, we were in the home stretch – maybe 3/4 of the way through – and we were a bit “lost”. Not lost in the sense of “Where are we?” so much as “What, specifically, do we have to do to get where we’re going with as little backtracking as possible?”

…and then Crown on the Ground came on the radio. It was loud. It was intentionally distorted to make it sound “bigger”, a difficult-to-achieve excellent sort of “Are my speakers blown?” effect that’s hard to describe without hearing it. It was this “crunchy” Wall of Sound coming out of my speakers and I was transfixed.

“Holy shit, we’re gonna listen to this!” I turned that shit up.

Kate turned it down. (She wanted to “talk” about “where we were going”.)

I turned it back up (I like my shit loud.)

Kate turned it back down, all “Did we miss our exit?” or whatever.

I don’t know how long this back-and-forth went, who “won out”, etc. What I can tell you:

  1. we got to Myrtle Beach
  2. as it turns out Kate liked the song as much as I did (IIRC she bought the album as soon as we got back home)

Anyhow…I think about that trip – that moment – every time Crown on the Ground comes up in the rotation…


Garganelli Board

Purchased. It doesn’t appear to scale well, but for making a pound of not-quite-penne I think it should do and for ten bucks I’m in.

I wouldn’t consider myself an “authority” but I have some experience in this arena and I feel fairly strongly about this: extrusion is for chumps. If you’re going to take the time to make your pasta by hand then roll it or cut it. Do not extrude it. I’ll buy penne from time to time (not fucking Bari**a. Never Bari**a.) for the same reasons that I’ll buy a frozen pizza – it’s not great, but it’s cheap and expedient. I’m not spending my time to make the dough and then waste it by extruding it. It’s slow, it’s more difficult than it should be, it makes crappy fragile pasta that doesn’t dry well, there is zero control over thickness or texture…shit, man, just don’t do it.

On a related note: JoJo is either a hero or a prick, I can’t decide which. Or maybe it’s his grandmother’s fault. Or maybe none of these are mutually exclusive. My point is this: I care a lot – perhaps too much – about the pasta that I eat and serve to my family, and I directly blame JoJo and/or his grandmother.

Example: I went to an offsite lunch for a couple of engineers moving on to other parts of the company last week. It was at an “Italian” place. (Side note: “Italian” requires quotes in the Bay Area as it pertains to food.) I should have gotten the lamb chops – because omg lamb chops – but I’m a little sensitive to ordering a $30 lunch in a party of 25 when I’m not paying, even if it is Silicon Valley. Someone else got the chops and I’m still a little jealous.

…I ordered a pizza.

I ordered a pizza because I don’t know anything about how they make – or, more likely, source – their pasta. Could be fucking Bari**a for all I know. Maybe that’s just paranoid but I wasn’t willing to take the chance, particularly not at an “Italian” restaurant whose menu featured two paella dishes. (wat?)

In short: I ordered a pizza because I would not risk the possibility of being served substandard pasta. Perhaps it’s limiting – even crippling – to my “restaurant” experience, but I just won’t do it.

At any rate I should have the board this week (huzzah for Amazon Prime!) We’ll see how it works out. :-)

These Motherfucking Laundry Baskets

I am the (proud?) owner of four laundry baskets.

One of these laundry baskets is at least 10 years old. It’s made of a plastic that…well…let’s just say it’s the Titanium of Plastics. It has under its belt 10 years of regular use (minimum: 3 loads of laundry a week). It has not bent. It has not cracked. It has not failed.

One of the baskets I purchased upon a relatively recent move – about a year and a half ago. One of the handles cracked and eventually came completely off. I use it no longer.

The other two are of identical make and model to the latter, purchased shortly after the failure of the original…perhaps in the hopes that it was some one-off manufacturing defect, or more likely because “it was at Target, it was cheap, and I needed a basket”. Their handles are cracked, they bend, and they are falling apart.

I could paint you a picture about the needs of apartment living, a scene in which in-home/in-unit washer-dryer is a thing of the past. A Saturday morning landscape with a hallway and a flight of stairs so narrow I trade knuckle-skin for clean clothes. I could talk about how sometimes my 2-year-old wants to come with me and happy to oblige I haul both her and a perilously-balanced and cheaply-made disintegrating piece of shit down that path.

But I needn’t.

My needs are modest, my requirements few. I just want a coupla laundry baskets that do not suck the peen.

So I turned to the Interwebitubes. Typically my savior in similar cases, Amazon has failed me in this. I started off with searching for “laundry basket” and eventually went so far as to look for the specific make and model of The One True Basket which I still possess. (Yes, the label is still legible after all this time – I guess In My Day they made things to last.) The brand still exists, the specific model does not.

Here’s the funny thing: pretty much everything I looked at had a rating of 3-or-4 stars – the expected meh distribution for something like a laundry basket. The hidden treasure is in the one-star ratings; almost to a man: “OMG the handles are cracking and falling off and/or it’s a bendy piece of shit.”

I enlisted my wife into The Hunt. She came up with some Ikea stuff that wasn’t bad…but too small. If you’re not bringing at least close to 2 bushels (~18 gallons, ~2.4 cubic feet) then you’re not even on my radar. She also found some new-fangled folding cloth jobby that seemed kinda sweet. By all appearances it was being marketed online by some Kickstarter-y Bay Area startup. “Item Currently Unavailable”. Imagine that.

At any rate, the motto would seem to be “Build a cheaper mousetrap and you’ll probably make a fuckload of money.” Well…I’m not looking for cheaper. I’ll beat a path to your door if you make me a better laundry basket.

2012: The Year In Which I Get Organized

I came across the (free!) Scription Chronodex the other day (thanks, Lifehacker!) and thought to myself “Hey! There’s a cool idea!” So today I printed it out and spent some time putting it together. I thought folks might be interested in how I went about it, so without further ado:

Step 1: Nail it to a board

nail it to a board

[Actually, I guess Step 1 should have been “Download and print”…] This might not seem like the most standard approach, but I assure you it ended up working out okay in the end. I spaced the nails out about 2″. Note that had I planned this out a little better, I would have taken into account how I was going to bind the thing. This actually ended up working out okay, but next time I’ll plan ahead.

Step 2: Trim the edges

trim it

Just getting rid of the extra junk on the sides…

Step 3: Binding


As I mentioned before, this is where things kind of got hairy. At first I was going to use some beading cord, but as I was wanking around trying to find a needle big enough and figure out how I was going to thread it inspiration struck. My mother-in-law gave me a packet of bobby pins for Christmas (kind of an in-joke), so why not use those? I had to widen the holes a bit to get them to fit, but a little patience and a lot of working the pins back-and-forth got them where I wanted them.

Once this step is complete, it should look something like this:


Notice that by sheer dumb luck the bobby pins happen to be about 2″ long, which makes them line up nicely. Not much to do now but…

Step 4: Make a bookmark


I really liked this idea, so I decided to go ahead and replicate it. I just cut out a bit of a manila envelope, notched it so that I could slide it between the sheets and up to the topmost bobby pin, and voila!

bookmark: in

Step 5: Use it!

That’s really it – just start writing shit down, folks. :-)

Cast of Characters

I’ve posted before about how I wish I had the drawing ability to be able to publish a web comic. Well, I haven’t exactly made any progress in my ability to draw, but I thought I could at least get my cast of characters down…
  • Kbar (aka “Kbardamus the Old”) – Guild Master, Main Tank*. Old as balls. Gets grumpy sometimes, especially when he hasn’t has his Elixir of Mastery (read: whiskey).
  • Jpedius – Off Tank, Melee DPS. My college room mate. Might actually be good at WoW, but it’s hard to tell since he plays a class that requires zero skill to play. (heh…sorry JP)
  • Aloranay – Healer. Mother of a couple of guildies. (Sorry, Nay – I know your kids’ names I just don’t know their names in-game.) Is likely to break your eardrums if you spend any amount of time on vent** with her.
  • Jarhead – Healer. Father of Marioo, Jasmama, and Quickkillz. Mexican from Chicago who lives in California***. One of the handful of guildies I’ve met IRL. He was a marine – can you tell? ;-)
  • Fhina – Healer. Is actually playing on a different toon with some weird-ass German-sounding name now, but everyone still calls him “Fhin”. Used to work with this guy.
  • Macdowell – Healer. Altaholic****. Folks who have been around a while know him as “Jak”, since one the  toons he used to play is named JakBauer.
  • Tomolak – Ranged DPS, Healer (sometimes). Russian Jew who lives in New York*****. Would have me believe that NFL football is better than NCAA football (it’s not), that soccer doesn’t kinda suck (it kinda does), and that fantasy hockey is a viable fantasy sport (it isn’t). But he’s a good guy, all the same. :-)
  • Khully – Melee DPS. QQs (complains) about “garbage” loot despite being #1 on the damage meters. Wins every roll, every time when a mount is involved.
  • Werzul – Melee DPS. Knows Khully from outside WoW.
  • Amyeez – Melee DPS. Target of a significant amount of ball-busting from Yours Truly, but since she’s one of the 3 people who read this (and I count twice) I’ll keep quiet this time. ;-)
  • Setekh – Ranged DPS. Significant Other of Amyeez.
* – While there are multiple types of characters in WoW, they really boil down to 3 primary roles – Tank (badasses with a lot of health whose job is to take all the hits from the Bad Guys), DPS (stands for “Damage per Second” – these are the ones responsible for killing the Bad Guys), and Healer (this one should be pretty obvious).
** – Ventrilo, a voice-chat application commonly used by online gamers.
*** – This is one of the weirdest sentences I’ve ever written, but I couldn’t think of a more accurate way to phrase it.
**** – People who play WoW have a main character (“main”) and might have one or more alternate characters (“alts”). Altaholics are people who spend a significant amount of time playing on their alts.
***** – Okay, I’m having a bit of trouble distinguishing “ethnicity” from “where one is from” from “where one lives currently” from “what one identifies with”. Doing my best…

Stupid Phrase

I don’t know why, but a phrase popped into my head in the shower this morning and I can’t seem to get it out of my head. I’m sure you’ve heard it before as it’s fairly common, as phrases go. You may not have heard it in a movie or on TV; it’s a fairly dramatic sort of thing to say, so it seems unlikely that you’ve heard it come out of the mouth of anyone you actually know…or at least I can’t think of anyone I know who’s said it.

“What is it?” you ask.

Well, it generally goes as follows: “I’m only gonna say this once, <insert super-important thing here>.” That’s it.

I’m only gonna say this once.

Now, I understand what the phrase means. It typically preceeds something of particular importance, presumably in order to add a certain gravitas. “This thing I’m about to say is so important that I’m going to notify you as to the specific number of times I’m going to say it to make sure you’re listening before you lose your opportunity” is the general flavor.

…but if you really think about it, it just doesn’t make sense.

Here’s the thing: If what you have to say is so goddam important, why on earth only say it once? It’s completely counter-intuitive.What if the person who needs to hear it doesn’t hear you the first time? What if they sneeze or something? Once you’ve made a statement like “I’m only gonna say this once” you can’t very well go back on it; you’ll just look foolish, repeating yourself when you explicitly stated that you weren’t going to do so. And I’ve got a hunch that the type of person who would say “I’m only gonna say this once” isn’t the type of person who takes looking foolish lightly.

Why take that chance? Why not say it a couple of times – ya know, to reinforce it a bit? Perhaps write it down? Shit, maybe write it down a couple of times.

What I’d love to see is a movie scene in which one of these pompous one-time-only asshats, every word dropping from his lips never to be heard again for fear that it might seem less important, walks up to someone and utters this phrase. Dude proceeds to give his spiel – doesn’t really matter what it is – to a complete stranger. Suppose it’s something about missiles or action or something – fate-hanging-in-the-balance type shit. The stranger listens in perfect silence, waiting patiently until Dude’s lips stop moving. At that point, Stranger signs to him “Terribly sorry, I can’t understand you. I’m deaf and I never picked up the knack of lip-reading. Have a nice day.”

Hmmm…perhaps Stranger could preface it with “I’m only gonna sign this once…”

Hindsight is 20/20

A friend of mine was recently “inspired” (his word, not mine) to blog because of me. (Check it out – tell him “B sent you”.) In his first post – Lessons of History – he writes about Occupy Wall Street. I thought about commenting, then thought better of it, then thought about it some more and came to the conclusion that while I have something to say I’m not sure I can sum it up in a short comment. (Besides, I’ve got my own blog to write here and words ain’t cheap, buddy! :-))

So I guess my main reaction – one which I typically have about any sort of protest of this size – is “What on earth is it that they’re actually protesting?” My friend seems to have boiled it down to “wealth redistribution”, but it seems like a larger and perhaps slightly more nuanced movement (if it can be called such) than that. As with anything, any time you get this many people together for a “common cause” it seems like the cause becomes not so common at all. This time is no exception. I hear everything from “I don’t want to pay any taxes” (no less ridiculous for being trite) to “We need to separate politics from money” (seems reasonable…but how?) to…well…to fuckers running around in Guy Fawkes masks. Not even sure how to categorize the latter.

What I do know is this: The protest would seem to be in response to some pretty fucked up things that have happened over the past few years and that people probably should be pissed off enough to protest. If the message – and as I said above, I have no idea if this is correct – happens to be “The system failed, but we propped it up and nobody seems to give a shit. Well, we give a shit!” then I reckon I can get behind it. If, on the other hand, the message is “I don’t want other people to have more money than I do”… well, I’m afraid I’m not on board for that. The truth probably lies somewhere in between, and the fixes probably lie somewhere in a relatively boring solution space that includes things like more-progressive taxation and better algorhithmic trading regulation.

I wasn’t around for a lot of the world’s historic protests, but I wonder if they had the same sort of confusion surrounding them; i.e., a solid core of ideas that got more and more fuzzy at the fringes. Was the civil rights movement viewed as “A bunch of crazy colored folk that wanna take over the world”? Women’s rights seen through the lens of “Just a buncha broads that don’t wanna wear bras any more”? The American Revolution as “Some upstart colonies that need to get their heads right”? Note that I’m not comparing these to OWS in any sense other than the one of “fuzziness of core message”. They say “Hindsight is 20/20”, so will I look back on this 20 years from now and say, “Oh, of course! That’s what they were talking about!”?

Tell ya what – I’ll let ya know in 20 years. :-)


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