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Friday, September 25, 2009

once upon a time is on my side of the moon dance with you make loving fun in the sun

Sunday, July 19, 2009



Ran about 10 miles last night. It was the latest at night that i've ever run.

The day before this run I was spending time with an in-law who was visiting from Guatemala. We were playing with my iPhone, trying to see where he lived using the Google Earth application. After a few minutes of squeezing and spinning and poking and prodding the globe, I began to think about things from a broader perspective.

Thought about how the earth, for the most part, spins in a constant motion day after day. Not only that, but the gravitational pull of the sun pulls the earth around it, year after year. I thought about how small I am in this entire scheme; while I might get anxious about things like being unemployed for three months or having to run ten miles on a broken ankle, the earth keeps spinning round and round without a care in the world. It has this constant pace and rhythm outside of everything in my life.

As I began my evening run the next day the sun was beginning to set. It was a glorious moment barely explicable with words, and it reminded me of the consistency and rhythm of the earth, how it turns and spins with it's own constant rhythm. I live here, i'm dependent on the earth and am a part of the earth, and so I decided to reach for the same rhythm as the earth. To somehow remind myself, mile after mile, that I too was capable of this tireless rhythm and consistency.
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Friday, July 17, 2009

Stockholm Pride Project

Taking a break during an all-night coding marathon, I analyzed my Twitter feed to find out "How Hetero" I was according to the Stockholm Pride Project.

The test was very easy, I just plugged my twitter handle into a form and, blahdow, I'm 66% Hetero. I used words like "karaoke", "crotch", and "montrose beach" in my tweets, and that influenced my score apparently.



Follow me on twitter here.





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Friday, June 26, 2009

My Thoughts on Michael Jackson's Death

I thought about quoting my facebook/twitter stream for reactions on the Michael Jackson death, but I'm sure you've already read plenty of your own, as it's hard to find anyone who hasn't updated with thoughts on his death. I was shocked and saddened for a few long minutes, he was a great talent who did contribute many things to pop culture. As a child I loved his songs and idolized his performances. But as an adult I began to see a different side of MJ. I learned that he was also a widely-reported prescription drug abuser whose closest relationships were apparently with a chimpanzee and a succession of young boys.

As a former child welfare worker I've seen first-hand the nastiness that adults can inflict on children. Since then i've never been able to look at Michael Jackson in the same glittery, legendary, light of fame and celebrity that seems to imbue all this recent fb and twitter output of one-sided panegyrics. I'm frustrated to continuously read updates that seem to completely ignore the more complicated aspects of MJ's life. For example, in 1994 he paid a family of a young boy $20 million so that they would keep quiet on allegations of child abuse. Yet again in 2005 he was acquitted of further charges of child abuse. The repeated allegations always made me question his motives and interest in children.

Death is sad, but it's also sad to ignore the life lessons that death leaves us. MJ had a prescription drug problem, and he probably would have lived longer and contributed even more to his incomparable musical legacy if he fought harder for a life of sobriety and wellness. He also exposed millions to the uncomfortable idea of child molestation, and made us wonder if even the most well-loved and respected members of our lives were capable of endangering our children.

Open your eyes, Intanet. While we may not have had to deal with the same pressures and relentless expectations of life-long stardom, and while we may not have had to gone to such extremes as MJ to find comfort or companionship in what must have been a very lonely world, we still have our own problems, and we still have to continue fighting the good fight in order to survive. Use MJ's death to remind yourself and your children of the slippery slope of using drugs, legal or illicit. For anyone who is dealing with suspicions or accusations of child abuse, remember that while MJ was well-loved and respected by everyone, so are most child abusers, as 90% of child abuse perpetrators are trusted friends and members of the family. Let's let MJ rest in peace, but let's not allow his sweet jams or unmistakable iconography tune out an important reminder of the everyday risks and dangers that you, I, and, most importantly, our children have to face everyday.
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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Dreams and bulldogs

There's this quote in this movie. I googled and googled it but I've resolved that I won't remember which movie anytime soon. A man says something like, "I've had the most interesting dream last night," and then his friend responds, "Dreams are always interesting to the party concerned."

I keep dreaming that i've returned to working at the job that I had 3.5 months ago. There was some trivial database error that was corrected, and suddenly i'm back to being gainfully employed. The vicious irony of these dreams is that not only am I loving the job (as I once did) but I am also highly welcomed upon my return and greatly appreciated for my efforts (which I never was, but who is, right?).

What sucks is when I have to wake up. When I do, I return to my unemployed reality, to my shattered ego state, and I spend a significant chunk of the morning trying to salvage the remainder of my sense of worth and pride. In my dreams I had somewhere to be every morning, some goal to achieve, there was a group of professionals that counted on me and I on them. I'm wary to think about how much my current reality contrasts with this scenario.

A dream is just a dream and it's really only interesting to the party involved, but what's with this vicious taunting recurring slideshow? Why am I being forced to be teased night after night like this?

Thankfully we have an English bulldog to lift my spirits. As I ate the breakfast my wife made me this morning, she regaled me with tales of our ceaseless source of amusement, Chomsky. Like most bulldogs, he has an aversion to any sort of prolonged activity. So oftentimes when we go to let the dogs back in after playing in the yard, we'll find him splayed out on all fours in the middle of our deck, motionless except for the panting and wagging of his tongue. This morning was one of those times.

He looks like a miniature bear rug laying in the sun, like he has suddenly lost all motor cortex functioning and is totally OK with that. There's really no care in the world for him and life seems to be mostly about finding the sweetest spot to lay out on the ground spread-eagle. All is simple and straightforward for our baby buddha. He probably doesn't dream or ruminate or have any regrets. No serotonin imbalances or family history of mental illness. The tiny, tiny brain buried somewhere in that fat cranium of his probably doesn't afford much more than a sense of smell, thirst, hunger, and the occasional boner. I guess sometimes in life that's all you really need.

On a related note, here's a link from kottke.org about five discoveries made while dreaming.
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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Halfway There

Yesterday I ran my longest distance since since shattering my foot and ankle in several places five years ago.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

100 Miles of Running


Today I logged my 100th mile of running since I started using the Nike+ system to log my miles ran. I started using it around the beginning of this year, when I had a 12'44" minute per mile pace.

Since then I've managed to break under ten minutes. My next goal is to get my pace below 9 minutes per mile, with an (impossible!) longer term goal of running under an 8 minute mile for the Chicago marathon.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Drunkest Nation


A map showing the drunkest nations of the world. Greenland and Nigeria seem the most surprising to me.

From The Atlantic.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

What You Need to Know About the Pork Flu

Today I planned to run 6 miles after a second round of interviewing for an internship position at the national headquarters of a highly regarded educational/non-for profit organization. The internship involved some research and web-related stuff, and there was also a need for English-Spanish translation. Let's just say that the pounding I received during this interview made running six miles seem like a walk in the park.

It's not like I wasn't looking forward to this internship opportunity, either.


The mission of the organization, which is to help espouse the educational success of students across the nation, seemed worthwhile to me. Also, it helped that the office was right next to the lake and my gym, and this would've been so convenient for my marathon training.

During my first interview the staff seemed nice, and the office well-run. Everyone I met was cordial and seemed like great people with which to work. I was very delighted and grateful to be asked to come back for a second interview a week later.

The second round of interviewing involved a test of Spanish proficiency. I figured, well, I double majored in the topic, so this should be do-able. Of course, I neglected to emphasize to myself that my Spanish studies ended five years ago, and that I might have had to realign my proficiency in order to meet the level needed for the internship. This became painfully, unsurprisingly clear during the middle of the test in the office.

There I was sitting at a laptop in a conference room taking an online Spanish proficiency test while a staff member, herself a native Spanish speaker, sat next to me, watching my every click. She was silent and polite, probably trying to mask her amazement at the depth and breadth of my displayed stupidity.

Once I finished and submitted the online test, my results were returned as "elemental." Now you might think elemental means the same in English as it does in Spanish. For myself, at least, I tried to - silently spinning the results in my favor. "Maybe this means that I have a great natural, elemental understanding of the language." But no, as it turns out, "elemental" proficiency in Spanish means something along the lines of "you have the proficiency of a caveman*"

After the online test came the written translation test, which was to be written out on paper. "Here," the staff member said to me, "you'll probably want to use a pencil, not pen." She handed me the test, which was to translate a two-page, single-spaced article from English to Spanish. It was titled, "What You Need to Know about the Swine Flu."

The SWINE FLU. FROM ENGLISH TO SPANISH. I tried not to panic - I just interacted with this webapp in El Mundo about the swine flu, so I was hoping for some leftover Spanish osmosis. There was none, and about a minute into the translation the staff member informed me of a ten minute time limit.

"HAMTHRAX" I wanted to write. What You Need to Know About El Hamthrax. I took a stab at translating the article from what I knew, quickly sewing together the first Spanish fragments that came to mind. What I wrote for the title will haunt me for the rest of my life....

"What You Need To Know About the Influenza de Puerco"

Influenza de puerco translates to "flu of pork." I must have written that ten or twelve times, "flu of pork" this, "pork flu" that. The symptoms of pork flu, you ask me in Spanish? Oh I don't know! Something about a cough! And there's this thing that hurts... (I forgot the word for throat in Spanish) ... this thing underneath your chin and inside your neck. I almost wanted to write it in Spanglish, like, "cuando se duele el throat, asi..." and draw little cartoon hands making a choking motion.

Speaking of choking, as soon as the hiring manager walked into the room for the follow-up some time after the test, I knew it was a no-go. She was so nice about it, way too nice. I told her that I completely understood. I was the jerk who should've mentioned that he had Caveman Spanish before wasting her and everyone else's time.

Back down the elevator and on my way back to the car, I swallowed a few lumps in that thing underneath my chin and inside my neck. Geared up in the car and hit the ground running roundabout Navy Pier. About four miles into my run, my right foot kind of started to go numb. Good, I thought. Enough pounding and no more feeling. No feeling = no pain. Give me a few more failed job opportunities and i'll be impervious to the worst of rejections.

Somewhere near the fourth mile Wilco's I Got You (At the End of the Century) came on the ipod and I thought of my wife. There was sand on the pier near Oak Street beach. I got you, I sang to her, and that's all I need.


I got you and I still believe
That you are all I will ever need.



*No offense to cavemen Read more...

Saturday, May 2, 2009

10 Miles

Pretty ordinary run this afternoon. Saw some ten year olds rolling a blunt on a park bench. Or maybe they were 12.

Made a "Grunge" playlist that included Presidents and PJ's Ten Redux. It's still going to take a lot more training to be anywhere near ready for the marathon.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Tomorrow's 10 Mile Run


I created this using maps.google.com. You can view the 10 Mile LSD Run in a larger map

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Snoring English Bulldog



This is a thirty second video of my snoring english bulldog. You can see his cheeks flapping as he snores.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Cool Runnings

Overall today's run was pretty nipply for the middle of April, although I did begin to warm up after a few miles. I was zipping my windbreaker up and down like a bored ten year old trying to make goofy noises with his zipper.

I saw a young teenage couple sitting on a bench as I made my way around Hanson Park. They sat next to each other quietly, with their heads down, possibly dealing with some incredibly melodramatic teenage crisis. After the 3rd or 4th time I passed them I began to wonder to myself, "Don't you guys have something else to do with your time? Really, come on you're only what, 13-14 years old? What could be so tragic that you have to sit here on the park bench rocking your hardest emo faces?"

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Pillow Talk

My wife and I were up late in bed last night, having pillow talk. For some reason I decided to profess my recent infatuation interest in Mexican pop singer Julieta Venegas. Besides highlighting her sultry voice and demure stage presence, I might've innocently tried to say something like I would tap that...



"You have crushes on everybody," she said, hiding her amusement. "Like who?" I said. "Well there's her ... there's Jessica Alba..." I interrupted and pointed out that while I may have dribbled on myself when her Leno promo came on TV that night, any person slightly attracted to a woman has had or currently has a "crush" on Jessica Alba. It's not my fault she's so hot, I wanted to plead, it's society's fault. I'm just the victim of society.

"Besides," I said, "You have celebrity crushes of your own."

I brought up the scenario a few nights ago when she had Dancing with the Stars on the television. It was time for some tall European with an accent to dance with his partner. He was impossibly chiseled and, of course, wearing a loosely buttoned shirt. "Take your shirt off!" she said just as casually as possible. I didn't say anything at the time but was sure to bring this up during our lively conversation. "I only did that for your reaction," she chuckled. Touché.

"Well," I said, "since I have so many celebrity crushes, who else do you have a crush on?" She thought about it for a second a said "Bono." Bono. Of course, Bono. "He's going to cure AIDS." An infatuation with Bono, like with Jessica Alba, is public domain - belonging to no one in particular and everyone all at once.

"Then there's Christian Bale," she continued. "Christian Bale? Are you kidding me?" I shrieked. "Did you see him take that chainsaw to the prostitute in American Psycho!?" "He's not like that in real life," she responded. I mentioned his documented tendency towards rage and wondered if he was even acting in American Psycho.

We laid there joking and teasing each other for the next few minutes. It was just what we needed to reconnect. She has been working so hard on her teaching internship and finishing up her Master's thesis and I can't begin to imagine the sort of stress that she handles everyday.

I was glad to break the ice with some pillow talk. We became intimate again. An intimacy far beyond any sexual implications. This was the intimacy of two children laughing and playing and tickling and teasing and kicking each others feet. This is why people get married. This is why they stay together forever.
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Sunday, April 12, 2009

FML

I've left my full-time job at Northwestern University in order to be able to focus more on completing my Master's degree.

The job was great on many levels. I felt useful and fulfilled. Ultimately, however, there would not have been many future career options for me in that department. I'm studying fairly technical computer programming topics that, despite the wonderful workings of Microsoft Excel and Powerpoint, required more complex thought processes (ie time) than work was affording me.

A part of me feels like I've shot myself in the peroneous tendon by leaving work, adding on to our current 8.5% unemployment rate. FML. I'm a little scared-balls at the prospect of looking for a job post-graduation, especially given the grim job forecast for now and the immediate future. While my wife and I do have savings that, when combined with a tax-refund, will cushion us for the near future, we've definitely got to make some significant spending curtailments. Also, I have been working full-time since the day I finished my undergrad, so being unemployed will definitely take some psychological adjustment. This means that we can not, under any circumstances, cut my beer money.

I'm telling myself that it's all for the better. Besides lavishing my schoolwork and studies with inordinate amounts of attention, i'll be able to develop my portfolio. Among the several projects I have in the works include web design and development for a family-owned construction company, preparation for an advanced computer programming certification, in-depth study of Flash and ActionScript 3.0, and other personal pet projects that have been aching for my attention. Also, fat with confidence from all of this extra time available to me, i've signed up and have started training for the Chicago Marathon in October.
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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Friday, March 13, 2009

Republicans blame Obama for stockmartket losses



Two-thirds of Republicans said they hold Mr Obama responsible for recent share-price falls.

Daily chart from The Economist

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Tiny Tetris

A link to the tiniest game of Tetris you will ever play. Below is a screenshot of the game on my desktop screen.



via kottke.org

Monday, March 9, 2009

Bill Gates: Save the Planet

story.jpg



Bill Gates and his wife Melinda have committed to spending all $30 billion of their Foundation by the end of 2100. This article from salon.com exhorts them to spend it on global climate change, as leading scientists predict we won't have a livable planet by 2100, unless major changes are made in our generation and consumption of energy.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Life after The Wire

In the past few years there have only been a few shows worth DVR-ing to me. HBO's The Wire and Arrested Development on FOX were two. Both were masterpieces of their genre, and Arrested Development went out way too early. Thankfully, Micheal Cera has signed on to make the Arrested Development movie. So there are still a few more hilarious moments to savor with the Bluth family back together again.

But what about The Wire? This article talks about life after The Wire. Will there ever be a show as important?

Things Fall Apart: 10 Years Gone

Friend Ivan has created an ongoing series in which he takes a look back at landmark films and albums released 10 years ago. This time, The Roots' Things Fall Apart gets treated.

The Roots had made solid albums before, but this was the album where they let their freak flag fly and their experimental side was fully embraced.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Friday, March 6, 2009

Now walk it out



lolrap.com

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Why don't Americans believe in evolution?

Darwin.jpg



A recent article from the Economist examines the impact and future of Darwin's theory of Evolution. Why do some people chose to deny evolution? From the article:

People are comforted by the idea of a designed and harmonious natural world, with themselves at the top. It is hard to accept that such a harmony has arisen as an accidental consequence of a brutal system with no principles beside the one that every individual is striving for reproductive success. It is depressing to think that life is purposeless and that evolution has no higher destination.


link

UPDATE: Time article on the Darwin-mania in store for 2009. link

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

a growing family


Besides moving into a new home and spending our first holidays together as a married couple, Ivette and I have gone through many changes in the past few months. One of the more happier changes is the addition of a new puppy to our growing brood.

We decided to get another dog for several reasons. One of the reasons was because Ivette has been wanting a new dog for the longest time. I was resistant to the idea because I always felt that we didn't have enough room in our old shoebox apartment. Of course this argument lost its support when we moved into a house.

The final straw was realizing that she was right about another thing; that our first dog Pugsly was in need of something to keep her entertained/occupied/exercised. I eventually capitulated on these grounds, agreeing that a new puppy would be a great thing for Pugsly.

After going through the whole rigamarole of adoption centers, shelters, and rescue groups, we eventually settled on a family-owned kennel in southwest Missouri specializing in bulldogs. There we found Chomsky, a chubby little eight-week old male pup. After about an hour on the phone with a homespun and friendly staff person, Chomsky was on his way to join his new family.













Yes he was expensive, and yes his breed offers more potential health issues down the road. He's also a puppy which means that he poops with complete disregard for human life. He chews on everything, including any and all exposed skin that may happen to be dangling from the couch. And his teeth. He has very sharp puppy teeth. And when I say sharp I mean that one bite from him is enough to trigger a rapidly uncontrollable ascension of the scrote up into the inner pelvic region. Louis Armstrong used to talk about the "blue note" on the trumpet, a note you could only hit by squeezing your buttcheeks together while blowing really hard.* One bite from Chomsky and you've got a symphony on your hands.

Ultimately Chomsky has been a wonderful addition to our family. First there's the Adorable Puppy factor and - while I know that it wears out eventually - I'm an absolute sucker for the smooshed-face, wrinkly adult bulldog look. Pugsly has been thoroughly occupied, entertained, and overall rejuvenated by her new baby brother. My wife is happy and really that's all that I need.

What's surprising me, though, is this sense of inner joy that I feel growing along with my family. Beyond just being another mouth to feed or a non-stop poop machine, this creature really has expanded the joy in our lives. He has given me just a hint of how growing a family can extend my capacity to love and to be loved in return.








*Note: I think I heard this on NPR. But to be sure I did spend about five minutes googling various phrases like, "louis armstrong blue note" and "butt hole blue note" I called a few musician friends and, although they were intrigued, they were clueless. I found something on the brown note, but that is a topic for an entirely different blog.

Friday, February 6, 2009

sup eddie

Sup man,

It's getting to be a year since you passed away. I was fucking around at work today and looking for this Fleetwood Mac song that was in my head all day. I didn't find it, but I did find this older video of Fleetwood Mac from way back in the day - around the same time that Santana used to open up for them. Santana, Fleetwood Mac, Grateful Dead, all them, they all used to jam out in the San Francisco Bay Area in the late 1960s. But you already knew that.



This song reminds me of something that we could've jammed out to man. It's got not one, not two, but THREE guitars. The first two guys are playing this sweet-ass harmony, so fucking beautiful man I am getting tears in my eyes just listening to it. So fucking sweet man you could play this for any girl and she would fall in love you. Any girl.

Fucking miss you, man. Man if only we could just sit together for a few more jams. i could play you this Fleetwood Mac song and you would learn it in no time, drums are kinda boring man but I'm telling you the guitar harmony is soooo beautiful that you won't mind at all laying down that simple beat. It will be me and Jon just harmonizing on the melody, just fucking playing those notes for hours and hours, trading solos like we used to do. I'll even call up Deandre and have him work the slide guitar. We'll piss off Matt by making him play the simple-ass bass line and then we can joke about it later.

We'll just keep jamming man, just like in your garage or in your basement. We won't stop we'll just keep jamming, round and round, solo after solo just float that shit man. We'll keep playing so long we will outlast time itself, the world will stop spinning maybe we'll start floating but we'll still have our instruments. No gravity, no heaviness. No hard feelings, no broken promises, nowhere to depart. No death, no disease, no loss, no suffering. Just the joy of the music, the innocence of getting lost together for hours. Just the old band, man. Just jamming away forever and ever.

Marty

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Smile and the Cries

Lowlights of 2008


  • Drummer and one of my longest-lasting friends died WAY too young

  • Something even worse and more unmentionable than that, but happening around the same time as above

  • Killer stress from full-time work and part-time grad school on top of that

  • Close calls with work and wifey from the emotional fall-out from above

  • Not as important, but still lost a nice chunk of my retirement account to the recession

  • Massive serotonin imbalances related to all of the above (see banner)

  • Lindsay Lohan ignoring my love letters and dabbling in lesbianity. But things are looking up according to the recent


Highlights of 2008


  • Got married in Chicago

  • Honeymooned in South America

  • Bachelor party in Vegas

  • Car insurance discount from turning 26


  • New job

  • Got that dent in my car fixed/li>


Afterblog


In college I got to know this guy from southern illinois, he was a friend of a friend. We were chatting on my balcony one night when he told me that he had recently broken up with his girlfriend of several years.

I told him on that balcony that he seemed pretty calm and collected about the whole situation, that he seemed to be handling everything very well. He flicked his cigarette off the balcony, turned to me, and said, "It's all about the smiles and cries, man. The smiles and cries."

The last time I saw him was five years later. He was leaning up against a wall just near the entrance of Nick's bar in Bucktown. There was a girl doing a handstand right in front of him. She landed her legs across his shoulders and wrapped her ankles around his neck. Then she pulled herself up using her abs and smothered his face in her bosoms. She seemed very agile for just another girl at the bar.

I smiled, gave a quick chin-nod of recognition to him, and walked past as they grinded to the music.