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Showing posts from August, 2017

The Upload Project #8: Mystery Basement CDs

Yes, The Upload Project is back- because apparently, all I did when I was in college was burn CDs. When we cleaned our crap out of the Parentals' Basement I found so many burnt CDs. The vast majority of which are untitled- and all of which are a total mystery to me. The CDs that I went through in round one were like a trip back to graduate school in Mankato. These CDs: they're a trip back to my undergraduate years, if not before that and it's... weird.

But anyway, the Mystery Basement CDs have begun. Enjoy, I guess?

CD #1, Untitled, with five repeats
The Clash- Revolution Rock
Kanye West- All Falls Down
Remy Zero- Save Me
311- Amber
James Brown- Sex Machine
All-American Rejects- Swing, Swing
Steve Miller Band- Jungle Love
The Cure- Labyrinth
Bloodhound Gang- Mope
Janet Jackson- Escapade
Peter Gabriel- Games Without Frontiers
Dire Straits- Water of Love
Bruce Springsteen- No Retreat, No Surrender
Duran Duran- (Reach Up For The) Sunrise
Rush- The Spirit of Radio
Faces- Ooh La La
F…

The Bond Issue Endorsement

Hey, we've got a Kindergartener now! So that means that when it comes to these off year school board and school bond elections, I kind of have to do my homework and give a shit a little more than I have in years past. (This isn't to say that I didn't care before, it's just that now, I've got some skin in the game, as it were...)

$191.5 million is on the line on September 12th and the yard sign derby (i.e. the totally unscientific survey of yard signs as I drive through where ever I'm driving) seems to be relatively evenly split. I see 'Yes' signs and I see 'No' signs. It's hard to tell where this is going to land- there are a number of fault lines worth exploring here and whichever combination of factors can come together to swing this thing one way or the other.

There's geography. The center of gravity of the district is shifting to the northwest as North Liberty, Coralville and Tiffin all drive population growth. There's people fig…

Netflix & Chill #23: Cake

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Watched On: Netflix
Released: 2014
Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Adriana Barraza, Anna Kendrick, Sam Worthington, Felicity Huffman, William H. Macy, Chris Messina
Rotten Tomatoes: 48%
Pick: The Missus'

The Missus and I managed to sit down and watch a movie together for the first time in what felt like a long time and after some searching and discussion, the Missus mentioned that she had always wanted to watch the Jennifer Aniston flick, Cake so we found it on Netflix and gave it a go.

The movie centers around Claire Bennett (Aniston) who, as the movie opens is struggling with chronic pain in the aftermath of a car accident that killed her son and imploded her marriage. When another woman, Nina (Kendrick) in her support group commits suicide, Claire develops a strange fixation on figuring out why she killed herself- since Nina had a husband and a son.

Claire is unpleasant to her housekeeper, Silvana (Barraza), sleeps with the gardener, gets herself kicked out of her support group and dri…

This Week In Vexillology #226

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We're dipping back into the 'Lost Archives' for once again this week, this time zipping over to South Asia and one of my favorite flags, the flag of Sri Lanka:
Adopted on May 22nd, 1972 as the civil and state flag, it's known as- surprise, surprise- the Lion Flag, because, well, there's a big ass lion with a big-ass sword on it. The Lion and the sword stands for the bravery of the Sinhalese. The four Bo leaves in the corners that surround the lion stand for he four main concepts of Buddhism (Metta, Karuna, Mudita and Upekkha). The two stripes stand for the main minority groups- the saffron stripe stands for the Tamils, the green one for the Muslims. The maroon background stands for the majority Sinhalese. The gold border stands for the unity of Sri Lankans.

There's a lot of irony to be found in this flag, given what I know about the history of Sri Lanka. Honestly, the flag is sort of the ideal that should be striving for in many ways- given the fact that they&#…

Bookshot #99: Walkaway

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This was an incredible, thought-provoking book that's an actual science fiction utopia as a posed to a dystopia and more importantly described a future which is both believable and plausible to imagine. Science fiction always works best for me when it deals in ideas and Cory Doctorow is putting himself right up besides Neal Stephenson and Kim Stanley Robinson as a writer of ideas worth reading and thinking about. 
Walkaway imagines a future where, thanks to 3D printing, technology exists that can provide anyone with just about any material need they can imagine- including food. Given that, it's not surprising that an increasing number of people are choosing to reject the society of jobs and money and just walk away from it all. After Hubert and Seth meet Natalie, the zillionaire's daughter at a 'communist party', a techno-rave up in an abandoned factory where the young and hip print their drugs and toys and dance the night away, they get the idea to walk away themse…

Cloudy, But An Eclipse Nonetheless

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I took Sunday and Monday off sometime in January. I had a crazy notion to throw the kids in the car, drive to Omaha, crash with the in-laws for a night (on Sunday) and then Monday, drive a little further and put ourselves smack dab into the path of totality for the eclipse.

It didn't work out that way, of course. The Missus couldn't get the day off (the first day of school is Wednesday, and since the Elder Spawn is starting Kindergarten that's considerably more important than a mad drive halfway into Nebraska for a solar eclipse.) And then the fact began to loom in my head that it would be a lot of driving with a 5 year old and an almost 2 year- by myself. Then stories about traffic began to leak... it was going to be a gridlock! And did I really want to drive all that way for 2 minutes of totality the kids might, maybe, go 'oh cool' at and then want to go home?

I decided no. We were set to see 92% of the eclipse. I could get the Younger Spawn down for a nap, that…

This Week In Vexillology #225

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I'm dipping back into the archives this week for another 'Lost Week In Vexillology' this time featuring the last flag of Central America on my list- last, but very much not least, we've got the flag of Belize.
A relatively new flag, as flags go, the flag of Belize was adopted on September 21st, 1981 which was the country's very first independence day. From 1870 all the way up through 1981, the country was a British colony known as British Honduras.  It features the Coat of Arms at the center and the colors blue and red.

We'll get to the Coat of Arms in a second, but let's deal with the colors first. Belize (like the Seychelles and Panama and a few other countries out there I can't remember) struck a political compromise with their two main political parties at independence. The People's United Party (PUP) had colors of blue and white- which were originally proposed for the flag, but surprise surprise, the United Democratic Party wasn't about tha…

Time To Take Our History Back

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I've never lived in the South- but I've been to the South and while up here in Iowa and I'm sure a lot of northern states, the Civil War seems like a subject confined to history books, in the South, it's not. It's alive down there and it can sneak up on you in unexpected ways.

The first time I ever saw the Stars and Bars- the actual Confederate flag and not this dishrag- was in downtown San Antonio of all places, flying over a super old looking hotel. I had to do a double take at first...  was that? It was. Holy shit. It actually was. I didn't get it. I didn't understand it- especially in Texas, which seems to have a separate subtext entirely, namely: 'we were our own country once- piss us off, we could easily be so again.'

Then there was one of our trips to Atlanta. We met up with some friends of the Parentals. The Dad was a tropical disease specialist so they were doing a stint down at Emory and working with the CDC. We ate Cuban food at this nic…

Boozehound Unfiltered: Yipee Ki-Yay

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My Dad took a business trip to Utah a few months back and stayed in Park City at a very expansive and nice looking hotel (the perks of his job, I guess) but he also brought back a couple of bottles from Utah's only distillery, High West Whiskey and I was lucky enough to get to try some of this stuff a couple of weekends back and it a delight. I don't have much experience tasting blended whiskies, but however many they mixed together and aged to make this stuff, but they got it absolutely right.

Digging into the distillery itself reveals a fascinating story. High West is Utah's first legal distillery since 1870- writing a new chapter in Utah's distilling history. (I know: the words 'Utah' and 'whiskey' don't exactly seem like they should mix, but go figure.)

There's a lot to like about this stuff. It's a blend of rye whiskies- the exact ratio, High West keeps secret, but in terms of percentages they list one with 95% rye and 5% barley and ano…

Norks and Nazis

So.
In the past week, the President has tried to out crazy North Korean Dictator Kim Jong-Un and there was a straight up Nazi riot in Charlottesville, Virginia where three people died. This is not the 2017 I was expecting and it sure as shit isn't the future that I want for my children. I was hoping, hoping that maybe, maaaaaaaaybe that I could get through the majority of my life without having to worry about a straight up nuclear exchange. Guess that's out the window now. Ditto with Nazis. Haven't we had this argument? Can't we consign fascism to the dustbin of history where it belongs along with all the other shitty, terrible -isms that infect our daily lives?
Let's deal with the Norks first: Am I worried about war with North Korea? Yes and no. In the short to medium term, unless Kim Jong-Un says, 'fuck it, let's do this thing' and starts something, I doubt that we'll launch a preemptive strike. The status quo is what China wants to maintain and …

This Week In Vexillology #224

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Oh man, I'm really digging now. I went through the wiki-page on the flags of secessionist and autonomy movements and that's one hell of a rabbit hole to get lost down- but after some scrolling and some thought, I decided to settle on taking a peek at the flag of Tibet- the one used by the official government in exile based in Dharamsala, India. Here it is:
This flag just past the 100 year mark- it was adopted 101 years ago by the 13th Dalai Lama (the current Dalai Lama is number 14) in 1916 and has been banned by the Communist Chinese authorities in the Tibet Autonomous Region since 1959. If you like symbolism, well you've come to the right place, because this flag is chock full of it.

The yellow border/adornment stands for the teachings of the Buddha ("which are like pure refined gold and unbounded in space and time, are flourishing and spreading." ) The white triangle that dominates the bottom of the flag stands for a magnificent snow clad mountain, which repre…

Sportsyball!

Adopt-A-Team:
Well, after doing some consulting with Mr. Google and finding this article, I had my foursome for this season: The Ukrainian Premier League, Liga MX, Brasileirao and the Argentine Primera Division. (True story: I was surprised at how high the UPL was ranked in that article...  might just plan on doing them next season.) But anyway, after some random shuffling and slips of paper, I ended up with:

Argentine Primera Division!

And a visit to a random number generator with a minimum of 1 and a maximum of 28 got me number 9, which for right now anyway is Defensa y Justicia, so welcome aboard, boys! I'll be following your progress throughout the season and wish you a better fate than NEC Nijmegen who I followed around last season- they were relegated!

MLS Quest
You've heard me say it before and I'll say it again: I need to watch more MLS in the back half of the season! We'll see if I can make good on it, but for now, we've got the following teams in the race f…

Let's Talk About The Writer's Workshop

So, the Writer's Workshop has had an age discrimination claim filed against it by a rejected applicant and I'm just not sure how to feel about it. In fact, I have a very conflicted relationship (in my head, anyway) with the Writer's Workshop as a whole. Not because I wouldn't jump at the chance to be a part of that- because hell, who wouldn't? But because it makes my semi-responsible adult brain itch uncomfortably at the idea of paying a lot of money for something that I can do for free.

Don't get me wrong: I get it. You get access to world class facilities, instructors and you get your work critiqued by other amazing writer's and learn how to be a better writer and usually go on to do great and awesome things. It's a hell of an opportunity and if you get it, you'd be dumb as a box of rocks not to take it. But at the same time, I think it's either a young person's game (if you get in, you're making a huge down payment on your future pote…

Albums2010 #92: Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

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So, let's talk about Phoenix and their 2009 album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. The crazy thing is that despite having never listened to a single Phoenix album in my life, I had probably heard about a third of the songs on this album. I'm not entirely sure whether it's the band or the album, but this is one of those albums where you listen to it and you're immediately like, 'oh yeah, this song.' (Though in this case it was followed by 'I've heard this one before somewhere as well.'

I've come to accept that I'm never going to be one of those music people that lives on the cutting edge of the 'scene' and can write with expert poise and relative ease about albums both large and small, but for me, this album was sort of a revelation in many ways. Reading about the band, it seems my recognition of much of it's contents makes a certain amount of sense: According to that ever present Font of All Knowledge, Wikipedia, Phoenix had three studi…

This Week In Vexillology #223

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Well, August 1st was Swiss National Day, so that got me thinking- Switzerland has a pretty basic flag as flag's go. It's square, red and has a white cross on it. So, why not go deeper into Switzerland and take a look at some of the flags of the Cantons of Switzerland? And if we're going to do that, we might as well start with the trio of cantons that started it all: Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden.

How old is Switzerland? Well, prepare to have you socks knocked off because the first Federal Charter of Switzerland was signed in 1291...  that's right, Switzerland has been around in one form or another since 1291 and they've been kicking ass, taking names and being neutral more or less ever since. So let's look at the founding three cantons, starting with the flag of Uri:

First of all: where the heck is Uri? Well, it's in Central Switzerland- if you find Zurich and go south you'll hit it eventually- or, (more helpfully) if you find Lucerne and follow the lake …

Squawk Box: Riverdale

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My dim and limited experience with Archie Comics had me thinking that they were mainly about wholesome teenaged hijinks that seemed somewhat out of place in the modern world today and Archie the lovable redhead who was torn between Betty (blonde) and Veronica (brunette) oh, and there was someone called Jughead involved.

Turns out, I could not have been more wrong. A quick perusal of the wiki-page for Archie comics reveals that there are mysteries and drama and weirdness and Josie and the Pussycats are somehow mixed up in all of this- so the somewhat jarring translation of Archie to the small screen actually has some basis in fact, even though Riverdale takes a bit of getting used too.

As school is starting after an eventful summer which included the death of Jason Blossom, high school quarterback, Archie Andrews has discovered his passion for music and (scandalously) his music teacher. He tells his next door neighbor Betty Cooper about the first part, (but not the second part) which …

Let's Talk About The 17th Amendment

In the wake of the Senate's spectacular failure to pass Trumpcare or whatever the hell you want to call it these days*, there's been a minor internet bubble about repealing the 17th Amendment that I think is worth exploring for a second or two.

Now, the 17th Amendment if you're not up on your Constitutional Amendments is the one that established direct election of US Senators by the people and not by the state legislatures. There are some compelling reasons to consider the idea, but I'm just not necessarily convinced that's going to solve the underlying problems, which is the paralysis and the general uselessness of the Legislative Branch itself.

The original intent, if anyone can truly know that two centuries later seems to have been to give the states themselves more of a stake in the Federal government that they have now. Simply repealing the 17th Amendment would put the states back in the Senate as it were, but it's not that simple: in times past, the selec…