Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Roomba Robots as Development Platforms

Evidently, the iRobot home robots (the Roomba and Scooba varieties, with emphasis on the former) are now being used as robotic development environments.

It makes sense. They're tiny. They're robust. They're packed with sensors and motors. On top of all of this, they've gone through a modern manufacturing process so they make for a nice little package. On top of all of this, iRobot provides a serial interface by way of a 7-pin mini-DIN on top of the unit (this pin-out is the same as an 8-pin mini-DIN, so it's not so difficult to find a cable to work with it).

How do you use all of this? Well, iRobot has a developer page to get you started. From there, you can find information about the serial command interface (SCI). From the resources there, it's pretty easy to hack together serial interfaces to get up up and running programming the internals of your robot . . .

. . . HOWEVER, RoombaDevTools has done a great deal of the work for you. The two apps that I think are the coolest are the RooStick and the RooTooth.

So RoombaDevTools gets you right up and running with documentation, hardware (including cables), and software as well as lots of other helpful stuff. PLUS most of the importnat software is either platform-independent (i.e., Java libraries made for the JVM) or provided for OS X, Windows, and more. IN FACT, a common application is to combine a Roomba with a control system built on top of a GumStix. That's WAY cool.

So there ya' go... The Roomba(+Gumstix, perhaps) -- the next affordable robot development platform.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

HyperRef Options for Proper BackReferencing with Figures Numbered Within Sections and Partial Roman Page Numbering

That's a really long title, I know.

I have a long document that has roman page numbering for its first four pages (i.e., its title page, table of contents, and list of figures). After that, the rest of the document has arabic page numbering starting at page 1 (so the first four pages of the document are i-iv, and the fifth page is page 1).

I have the option (via package amsmath)
turned on. This lets my figures be numbered by section (e.g., Figure 2.1).

I have backreferencing turned on (via hyperref) in my bibliography.

It turns out that hyperref won't get all of the links correct unless you massage it quite a bit. For example, page i and page 1 can get the same label (page.1) and so back references to page 1 end up getting sent to page i, which is clearly not correct. A similar thing can happen with Figure 2.1 and figure B.1; they both get labeled as figure.1 and so links to them get confused. There are lots of other pitfalls you run into as you turn on and off options to try to fix things.

Anyway, I had to dig through the hyperref and backref sources to figure out which options to set. These were the ones that I ended up needing. Things work as expected now.
NOTE: If you are producing a DVI rather than a PDF, if you want the links to work, you should probably use:
That's the same line, but the "dvipdfm" option was added in front.

You should also use pdflatex to build your document. You can pass pdflatex an -output-format dvi option to get it to produce a DVI. (note: you can also symlink pdflatex to latex to get it to produce a DVI) (ALSO: you can add -src-specials to the pdflatex line if you're into source specials)

Phew. That took a long time to figure out. I need a beer.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

People Ain't No Good

This song was in Shrek 2?!

People Ain't No Good by Nick Cave
People just ain't no good
I think that's welll understood
You can see it everywhere you look
People just ain't no good

We were married under cherry trees
Under blossom we made pour vows
All the blossoms come sailing down
Through the streets and through the playgrounds

The sun would stream on the sheets
Awoken by the morning bird
We'd buy the Sunday newspapers
And never read a single word

People they ain't no good
People they ain't no good
People they ain't no good

Seasons came, Seasons went
The winter stripped the blossoms bare
A different tree now lines the streets
Shaking its fists in the air
The winter slammed us like a fist
The windows rattling in the gales
To which she drew the curtains
Made out of her wedding veils

People they ain't no good
People they ain't no good
People they ain't no good at all

To our love send a dozen white lilies
To our love send a coffin of wood
To our love let aal the pink-eyed pigeons coo
That people they just ain't no good
To our love send back all the letters
To our love a valentine of blood
To our love let all the jilted lovers cry
That people they just ain't no good

It ain't that in their hearts they're bad
They can comfort you, some even try
They nurse you when you're ill of health
They bury you when you go and die
It ain't that in their hearts they're bad
They'd stick by you if they could
But that's just bullshit
People just ain't no good

People they ain't no good
People they ain't no good
People they ain't no good
People they ain't no good at all

The actual lyric in the song is "But that's just bullshit baby". They left out the important "baby" in the lyrics here.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Computer Camp Love

"Computer Camp Love" lyrics by Datarock
Artist: Datarock
Album: Datarock Datarock
Year: 2006
Title: Computer Camp Love

I ran into her on computer camp
Was 1984, not sure
I had my commodore 64
Had to score
(Not with a -- tramp)
She’s not a tramp
Her name is Judy
That’s a nice name
Yeah she’s a nice girl
Big deal
Did you get in her pants
She’s not that kind of a girl booger
Why, does she have a penis
Seen as supremus
You better know she’s a genus and a Venus
Tell me more was it love at first sight
That’s right this was god giving grace with a face you could praise
Tell me more did you put up a fight
I don’t think so but before we tour the chorus stall let’s all explore a more a
Computer cabin war
That right
I said before we explore the amore on my story do a dora
Computer cabin war
Seen as supremus
You better know she’s a genus and a Venus
Tell me more was it love at first sight
That’s right this was god giving grace with a face you could praise
Tell me more did you put up a fight...
I ran into her on computer camp
Computer cabin war
Hard core
It started like a boar ending up on the floor
Come on now tell me more
Seen as supremus
You better know she’s a genus and a Venus
Tell me more was it love at first sight
That’s right this was god giving grace with a face you could praise
Tell me more did you put up a fight...

Thursday, September 14, 2006

A news story about my brother

The Columbus d'Feet ALS Walk is this Sunday. Please visit my walk page. Make a donation or come and walk with me. Your support will be very much appreciated.

My brother Kenny and his family

Grove City man fights ALS with son's help
Local fifth-grader Sam Timmons has been knocking on doors recently asking residents in his parent's and grandparent's neighborhoods for money.

Sam is not collecting for a paper route. He's not selling magazines for school. He's not collecting money for a Boy Scout trip. He's asking people in Grove City to help his dad, Kenny, who has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

Fifteen people per day in the U.S. are diagnosed with ALS, or 5,600 new cases per year, according to ALS's Web site. Roughly 30,000 Americans have the disease. Seymour said there are 450 ALS patients in the 56 Ohio counties of the Central & Southern chapter of ALSA. No exact figures pinpointing greater Columbus are available, she said.

ALS patients gradually lose muscle control until they become paralyzed and the disease is eventually fatal.

"I couldn't hit a golf ball over 170 yards and I knew that something was wrong," Timmons said.

After the doctor's diagnosis, "I was devastated. She told me I had three to five years." Another doctor told Timmons, some ALS patients live more than a decade.

Timmons said he went through a hard period of anger and jealousy.

"I was angry at God. I would see other dads at baseball fields throwing a baseball or kicking a soccer ball with his kids and I couldn't do that. And I was jealous. I knew I shouldn't be. I thought why me."

After Timmons started attending healing services at Grove City United Methodist Church on Columbus Streets he said he woke up one morning, "I was down and I looked at my self in the mirror and and said, You can either live with this or die from it. Every day I get down on myself I tell myself that."

And his friends, he said, have been coming out in scores to help him.

"I don't know how someone could go through something like this without a support system like I've got."

Monday, September 11, 2006

Studio 60: Perfect for Aaron Sorkin Return

If you haven't heard, the upcoming Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip premier show is available for streaming from AOL.com (it will air on TV next Monday, the 18th) (see the news, and some short reviews). I watched it. You can too at the AOL site; however, because it uses WM DRM you'll probably need Windows Media Player 10, which is only available on Windows XP. That's right, you probably won't be able to watch it even on Windows 2000. That really sucks. But that's just how stupid Microsoft DRM is. Well, that's just how stupid DRM is. Additionally, STRANGELY it opened FINE with Firefox but there was a JavaScript error with Microsoft Internet Explorer, so you might want to try viewing the site with Firefox in order to watch the episode. I watched it (45 minutes) in full screen mode, and it looked fine.

I enjoyed it. I actually thought Matthew Perry did an especially good job. You can feel the similarities between it and the format of The West Wing. Music rumbles quietly in the background as title credits put a period on a tense scene at the beginning, for example (oh, and they brought Snuffy back to produce the music). However, there are major differences too. I think Bradley Whitford is trying very very hard not to slide into the Joshua Lyman typecast that actually started well before The West Wing (by the way, have you now noticed movies before The West Wing where he and John Spencer both had roles? (e.g. Presumed Innocent) This happens a lot with certain groups of actors. I wonder if this has something to do with having a shared agent. It makes me wonder about how much casting is actually done on pure connections and not primarily on merit). I think Whitford does a good job avoiding the Lyman trap.

Overall, I think it's great how this show is about two men (a producer and a director? Two producers? Maybe I'm slow, but I didn't catch exactly all of the roles that people would play) who are asked to return to a show that they were forced to leave earlier in life. This seems to parallel Aaron Sorkin's dismissal from The West Wing and his welcoming back for this show. There are some other very specific parallels to the Aaron Sorkin dismissal, but I won't ruin the surprises for you. However, I will mention that I especially like how at the end of the show in the final scene, when the two men march out onto the stage to make their first speech to the cast, and the cast welcomes them with clapping and cheers, the scene pans out and fades away as the final credits appear in the middle of the screen. Behind the credits all you can really see are the backs of the two men who have accepted the charge to take over Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and rescue it. What do those final credits say?
Executive Producers
Aaron Sorkin
Thomas Schlamme

(note: Thomas Schlamme worked with Sorkin on The West Wing)

Welcome, fall TV season.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Telephone telepathy study: some kind words

There has been a lot of criticism (from the popular media/lay folk) of the study that is the subject of this story. The study that asks each of 63 people for the telephone numbers of 4 different friends or family members and then randomly calls those numbers and has the friend/family member call the person back. Before the call is answered, the person is asked who is calling. You would expect that the correct rate would be 25%. However, it was 45%.

Telephone telepathy - I was just thinking about you
Each person in the trials was asked to give researchers names and phone numbers of four relatives or friends. These were then called at random and told to ring the subject who had to identify the caller before answering the phone.

"The hit rate was 45 percent, well above the 25 percent you would have expected," he told the annual meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. "The odds against this being a chance effect are 1,000 billion to one."

People who seem to have a problem with this study are saying that the sample size was too small. This criticism didn't make any sense to me. This wasn't a poll. They weren't trying to use a small number of people to estimate some statistic of a large number of people. This wasn't about estimation at all. Thus, I think 63 is not only sufficient, but actually really BIG. It's like the researcher says, the odds against this being chance effect are 1,000 billion to one.

Unfortunately, the criticism about sampling effect is even referenced in the article by the Reuters reporter who wrote it.
However, his sample was small on both trials -- just 63 people for the controlled telephone experiment and 50 for the email -- and only four subjects were actually filmed in the phone study and five in the email, prompting some skepticism.

This obsession with sampling size fascinates me. Was I overlooking something? You could certainly do the Bernoulli trials and calculate exactly what the probability of this being pure chance was, couldn't you? In fact, didn't the researcher do that specifically? That's what he was referring to in his quote, right? What was I missing?

So I e-mailed an ecology professor I know who does some really impressive things with statistics in his data. He's very humble about his capabilities, but we all know better. His response? (note: I think I told him 64 people instead of 63, if you want to check these numbers yourself)
An exact probability of 3.4x10-14. That's more unlikely than encountering Moses on The Oval. My criticism: the sample size was ostentatious.
I'll try to remember this example. Good for those teachable moments.

Yes, exactly! (note, "The Oval" is much like "The Quad" at other universities)

Now, I'm not quite sure exactly what he means by the sample size being ostentatious. That is, could this sample size be TOO large? Could that be causing problems? Or does he just think the researchers are being obnoxious and including far too much data?

Regardless, anyone saying that the sample size is too small needs to really think through what that would mean. Why is 63 too small in THIS case? What exactly is being "sampled?" If 1000 people are enough to poll the opinion of a few million people (or much more, actually), then how many people do you need to say something conclusive about the abilities of humans in general? (there are near 7 billion of them in existence now, but that number could change greatly with time)

It's not about sample size. 63 people is plenty.

If you're looking for something to criticize, look elsewhere.

Monday, September 04, 2006

She's 14. She should know about sex, idiot.

After discussions with her mom, Linda, right, and doctor, Amanda Zaborowski, 14, recently got the first of three doses of HPV vaccine.

For one, does the girl on the left look 14? Evidently I'm a dirty dirty old man.

Moving on, the story is about the HPV vaccine. That's right, it's an HPV vaccine. Sure, it can prevent cervical cancer. However, it's an HPV vaccine. Cervical cancer is linked to the pathogen HPV. Not telling your kids that it's an HPV vaccine is hiding something silly from them. They should know -- it's a vaccine for an STD. If they're 13 or 14, they should know about sex by now. If they don't, you're an idiot for not addressing it with them, and you're basically asking them to learn about it from their peers (which they'll probably do anyway). Additionally, all schools should have had sexual education by that point (unless you live in backwards Deliverance hickville land). Sure, they may not know about STD's yet, but if they know about sex, they're at least ready to talk about STD's with you.

From the story . . .

Cervical cancer vaccine changes 'the talk' for many parents
What they thought would be a routine physical for her volleyball team found 14-year-old Amanda Zaborowski and her mom facing a big question: Did they want Amanda to get a new vaccine that would protect her against the common and serious sexually transmitted disease HPV, or human papillomavirus?

What's the big question? Yes, you want her to get the HPV vaccine!! Are you an idiot?
This was a doctor that her mom, Linda Zaborowski, had trusted since Amanda was a child. She thought the vaccine sounded like a good idea. But she ultimately wanted her daughter to make the decision.

Huh? Are you an idiot?
Do they simply say it's a vaccine against cancer and leave it at that? Or should they also explain that HPV is a sexually transmitted disease that, among other symptoms, causes genital warts?

Are you an idiot?

The next section of the story is called "Growing up faster" and begins . . .
Linda Zaborowski says it was clear that she needed to give Amanda, her eldest daughter, more information than less.

Did you really need to think about that for very long? Concealing SEX from her when she's FOURTEEN is just SILLY.
She started to realize that when she sat in on Amanda's fourth-grade lesson on reproductive anatomy a few years ago and discovered that some girls were already menstruating.

Okay. Now you're really pissing me off. And now is when I stop quoting from the article.

Clearly Amanda was taught about sex in fourth grade. She KNOWS it exists. Sure, she may not know much about it, but she knows that one day she'll be having it. She may not know about STD's. So right now, without knowing about STD's, she thinks sex is just something natural that people do that doesn't have any consequences outside of maybe pregnancy (which, I'm sure, hasn't really sank in yet).

So keeping her from knowing about STD's actually seems to promote sex MORE than telling her about them.

Tell her about STD's. Tell her about all of the complications of sex. Give her information. Make her responsible. She's got an active reproductive system. That's just as much of a weapon as a car is. When she turns 16, you want her to be responsible in her car. Well, now that she's 14, you should give her all the tools to be responsible about her reproductive equipment. After all, women mature faster than men at that age. She'll be able to handle it.

The whole debate is stupid. Would you not give your child an MMR vaccine because the child protested against it?

The vaccine is just good sense. It will be nice when it becomes good common sense.

Steve Irwin is DEAD!

Stingray Kills 'Crocodile Hunter' Steve Irwin
Steve Irwin, the Australian television personality known as the
"Crocodile Hunter," was killed Monday by a stingray while filming an
underwater documentary. He was 44.

'Crocodile Hunter' Steve Irwin dead
Steve Irwin, the enthusiastic "Crocodile Hunter" who enthralled audiences around the world with his wildlife adventures, died Monday after being stung by a stingray while shooting a TV program off Australia's north coast.

Media reports say Irwin was snorkeling at Batt Reef, a part of the Great Barrier Reef about 9 miles (about 15 kilometers) from the town of Port Douglas, when the incident happened on Monday morning.

Irwin, 44, was killed by a stingray barb that pierced his chest, according to Cairns police sources.

Irwin was in the area to film pieces for a show called "The Ocean's Deadliest" with Philippe Cousteau, grandson of Jacques, Irwin's manager and friend John Stainton told CNN's "American Morning." But weather had prevented the crew from doing work for that program, said Stainton, so Irwin decided to do some softer features for a new children's TV show he was doing with his daughter, Bindi.

"He came over the top of a stingray that was buried in the sand, and the barb came up and hit him in the chest," said Stainton.

Wildlife documentary maker Ben Cropp, citing a colleague who saw footage of the attack, told TIME that Irwin had accidentally boxed the animal in. "It stopped and twisted and threw up its tail with the spike, and it caught him in the chest," said Cropp. "It's a defensive thing. It's like being stabbed with a dirty dagger."

I guess that means his daughter (a child?) was there with him? That's really sad. Well, it's sad either way.

Crazy marine life.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Once upon a time . . .

. . . I grew a beard. It was for a "mountain man" competition among some GTA's. We read about a similar competition held at a different school among a similar group of grad students. So we decided to try it ourselves. Unfortunately, I was also parting my hair at that time.

Take a look at the competition page. Personally, I think I won. However, Raj had the ability to puff his beard out with a comb before the final pictures were taken. In other words, he cheated.

This was years ago (2003). However, today someone did a Google Images search for my name and these images turned up. Thank you, Google, for keeping everything current. I think they call this the "long tail" effect or something.

So there ya' go. Bearded and hair-parted Ted.

I so won that competition. Damn you Raj and your fro pick (and puffy cheeks, I think?).

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Church of Brunch

Feeling secular, but also miss that camaraderie you felt with your old church peers every Sunday? Well, you can get that same Sunday social feeling without all the God talk at the Church of Brunch. Sounds great!

"Church of Brunch" on today's Weekend America
There was a time decades ago when nearly everyone spent Sunday mornings at church. Sunday services were so pervasive that the event became a place of community for the whole neighborhood. Now that religion is less prominent in some folks' lives, they are looking for that same type of community, but minus the God. One such group in Austin, Texas started their own church, the Church of Brunch. Alex Cohen tells us what it's all about, and if the hash browns are really divine.

Note: I don't want to give you the impression that this is just a bunch of people eating together. This particular church does churchy things. They have a few readings. They sing. But it's all secular and none if it is about how to live your life. Instead, it's about community and... happiness, maybe? It's really everything that people seem to like about church, just without the God. From their blog:
  • Group singing
  • Non-religious inspirational (or thought-provoking) readings
  • Quiet contemplation
  • Humorous interludes
  • Fellowship
  • Brunch!!!

There is apparently another Church of Brunch in SLC, Utah, and there's also a Church of the Barbeque in San Francisco, I think. It's hard ot search for these things since lots of churches have brunches and barbeques.

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Ohio Football Rain

It's raining right now. It's a type of rain I never saw in Texas. I don't think I ever saw it in North Carolina either. It's the type of mist that you'd expect from a greenhouse (or a supermarket?) right during watering time, except with the pressure increased a little more than usual so that the mist has a little bit of directionality.

Looking out the window, you see the image of rain you would see on a TV screen if you were watching a football game from a camera somewhere high in the stands with a wide angle lens... except out the window the rain is right there. It's just a light mist. Just a ripple in the fabric of the vision of the trees just beyond the parking lot outside the window.

It's good football rain. It should make for a good game later. It makes me miss going to games. Going to games when it is pouring sucks. Going to games when it's sunny is nice, but it can get hot. Going to games like this... There's something special about this. It's just a mist. You slowly get wet, and if you get out of it soon enough, you'll dry off almost immediately. There's something that says "midwest autumn" about the rain.

It's great.

I hope it rains like this all day. I wish my desk faced the window so I could always have it in the background.

Go Bucks. :)

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Friday, September 01, 2006

Bill of Rights

Look closely . . . and picture this on a shirt.


On a similar note as before . . .

Description: "Where's the best place to meet a hot sandwich? The club. Baby, I like it rye."

Hm. I would actually buy that shirt.

Practice Safe Lunch

I would never wear this shirt, but I love it.

Practice Safe Lunch: Use a Condiment

Columbus is my city, Ohio is my state . . .

Go Bucks. Beat Northern Illinois. :)

Thursday, August 31, 2006

CNN's Toilet Conversation

If you haven't heard, technical difficulties at CNN prevented them from turning off Kyra Phillips' microphone during Bush's Katrina gab on Live From. As a consequence, she was responsible for turning it off, and she didn't know that. Thus, we got to hear her chat about some "asshole", her husband, her brother, and his wife who apparently is a "control freak." It's pretty wonderful. Check it out.

US anchorwoman left red-faced after toilet conversation is aired

Of course, the video is available from YouTube and other sources. The one below is exactly as it was when broadcast. However, many others have added a third track involving fart noises and other bathroom sounds. Sometimes I hate people.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Manual vs. Battery-Operated (or "The Ignorance of Gillette")

In the latest Gillette Fusion advertisements, Gillette says that the Fusion is available in "both manual and battery-operated" versions.

If you're not aware, the battery-operated Gillette Fusion has a button that you press that will cause a 1.5V battery to drive a small DC motor that causes the blades of the razor to vibrate in a circular motion that lifts hair away from the face.

Now, if that's the "battery-operated" version, then I would say that a version described as "manual" would have a little button that you could press over and over again to cause the blades to do the same thing, except that they would be powered by your hand rather than the battery. That's what "manual" means. A manual transmission is one that requires me to shift the gears. If I get an automatic transmission, then it does the gear shifting for me. However, on BOTH cases gears are being shifted.

In Gillette's case, the "manual" simply strips out functionality. There's no way I can get the manual razor to do what the battery-operated one does. In fact, it takes different blades that do not permit this sort of motion.

So it's a really poor choice of words. Something more like, "Available in vibrating and non-vibrating versions" would have made more sense.

But instead they say "manual"... And it makes me mad every time I hear it. I think they purposely did it this way because any other way would make the "manual" version sound like it did less.

This is simply not The Best a Man Can Get.

A fun, sexy anthem that shimmies with cool confidence.

Under the Influence of Giants

Three Decades of Pop Music, Colliding at Once by Kathryn Yu
  • Song: "In the Clouds"
  • Artist: Under the Influence of Giants
  • CD: Under the Influence of Giants
  • Genre: Pop

On Under the Influence of Giants' "In the Clouds," Michael Jackson meets Prince meets The Bee Gees meets a significant chunk of the Billboard charts over the course of the last three decades. Students of pop culture and funky dance music, the band's members have created a quintessential summer soundtrack. Their colorful, crowd-pleasing sound seems made to serve as a backdrop for flirting across crowded rooms, wading through dance floors and rubbing up against an army of sweaty party people.

"In the Clouds" practically bursts with infectious energy, spilling over with disco beats and Vocoder-enhanced backing vocals, while singer Aaron Bruno unleashes a mean falsetto, evoking a younger and hipper Barry Gibb. The result is a fun, sexy anthem that shimmies with a cool confidence. Accessible enough for pop radio and savvy enough to span multiple eras of popular music, Under the Influence of Giants crafts a heady cocktail of soulful rock, slick party-pop and sly R&B. It's likely to get ubiquitous in a hurry, and it deserves the inevitable overexposure.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

5ives from Merlinn Mann

Another genius blog from Merlinn Mann: 5ives

Some recent samples:

Five things I’ll bet can be hard for pirates

1. getting decent disability insurance
2. rum allergies
3. sexual harassment from that fancy new bosun
4. irritable bowel syndrome
5. finding one-legged pants that won’t make your hips look too broad

Five people who are much more enjoyable if you imagine them as pro wrestlers

1. Ann Coulter
2. John C. Dvorak
3. Donald Trump
4. John Stossel
5. Tony Robbins

Five kitchen tools that sound kind of dirty

1. chocolate fountain
2. melon baller
3. meat baster
4. boning knife
5. corn holders

Five possible meanings of that Kanji tattoo you can’t read

1. “See Rock City”
2. “L.A. Law / Thursdays at 10″
3. “due diligence”
4. “Kajagoogoo4Evs”
5. “I fellate goats while sporting a tattoo that I was told says
‘Harley Davidson’”

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Too Much: Thompson Brings Two for One

Lisa Germano

Today NPR Song of the Day's Stephen Thompson brings us two songs, "Too Much Space" by Lisa Germano and "Woke Up New" by The Mountain Goats. The former is the song of the day and the latter is a companion piece that "picks up where [the song of the day] left off". You can stream Lisa Germano's song from the article or from her myspace page. "Too Much Space" describes the pain of having too much space in bed, making too much coffee, generally trying to adjust after losing someone special. "Woke Up New" speaks of exactly the same things, but it looks ahead to the future. Both of these are good songs.

Music for the Morning After, and Beyond by Stephen Thompson
  • Song: "Too Much Space"
  • Artist: Lisa Germano
  • CD: In the Maybe World
  • Genre: Folk-Pop

The Mountain Goats' John Darnielle has a similar gift for coming by emotional rawness honestly, and his "Woke Up New" (audio) picks up where "Too Much Space" left off, but with a few days' worth of reflection hinting at brighter days ahead. After winsomely brushing past the practical details of newfound solitude -- absentmindedly making too much coffee in the morning, for example -- he eventually comes to tentatively revel in the moment "the world, in its cold way, started coming alive." An ideal companion piece to Germano's song, it examines the morning after the morning after from a newfound and hard-won perspective.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Electronic Fountain of Youth? OLDIES?

The iPod, an Electronic Fountain of Youth by Annabelle Gurwitch
Actress and Day to Day contributor Annabelle Gurwitch has discovered an electronic fountain of youth -- it's called an iPod. But like most miracle elixirs, Gurwitch found that the personal music device has some nasty side-effects...

Annabelle Gurwitch (IMDB, Wikipedia) is 44; she'll be 45 in November. During the piece she refers to 80's music as "oldies." To be fair, there are a few Bowie songs from the 70's, but I wouldn't consider these "oldies."

Are "oldies" in the eye of the beholder? Can "oldies" to her be the same as "oldies" were to my parents (who are in their 60's)? I'm pretty sure that their parents didn't have "oldies," but I'm also pretty sure that their parents didn't have a culture that revolved around the radio for MUSIC in the way that ours does.

To me, "oldies" always reflects the music that was available on the radio when radio started to become a popular device for distributing music. That is, I think "oldies" should always be music from the 50's and 60's and some of the music from the 70's. After "oldies" we have "eighties music" and "nineties music" because, really, those decades had very distinctive sounds. I think that's fair. Isn't it?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

(for Anna) Album Review: Classics by Ratatat

[In some ways, this post goes out to Anna (a Ratatat fan) and is dedicated to her friend Damon, who unexpectedly passed last week. Today is the day of his funeral. Take care, Anna, and best wishes, Damon.]

Music critic John Brady gave a review of the new album Classics by Ratatat.

The Day to Day review spells their name "Rat-a-tat", but I've never seen it written any other way than "Ratatat".

The music is pretty groovy. This album is pretty killer. Check them out.

Losing All Control: My Song of the Day

Morning Edition this morning had a musical interlude that caught my attention, and so I thought I'd focus on it today as my own sort of "song of the day."

The song is called "Losing All Control" by Rooney off of their 2003 self-titled album Rooney.

21-Year-Old Brit Makes Me Smile

Lily Allen

NPR's Song of the Day: Lily Allen: Tomorrow's Pop Today by Bruce Warren
  • Song: "Smile"
  • Artist: Lily Allen
  • CD: Alright, Still
  • Genre: Pop

Fortunately, the disc is also massively appealing, mixing the pop fizz of Bananarama, the gritty storytelling of The Streets and the bouncily rocking ska of No Doubt. Her U.K. hit "Smile," a stylishly breezy pop song with a summery groove, functions as the perfect musical kiss-off to an unfaithful lover. It works on a number of levels -- an anthem for the jilted, a declaration of independence -- but it's best suited to serve as an irresistible filler of dance floors for many months to come.

You can stream "Smile" from the link above or get it at her myspace page or her website.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Lyrics: "Strangers" by Golden Smog

It doesn't look like these are available on the Internet anywhere (yet), so I'm going to post them here. I'm not saying these are the correct lyrics. These are the best I can do. I've identified where I got a little confused. Any help anyone can give would be appreciated.

Lyrics: "Strangers" by Golden Smog
Where you're goin' I don't mind
Kill my world and I kill my time
So, where do I go? What do I see?
I see many people coming after me
So where you're going to I don't mind
If I live too long I'm afraid I'll die
So I will follow you wherever you go
If your offered hand is still open to me

Strangers on this road we are on
We are not two, we are one

So you've been where I've just come
From the land that brings losers home (home??)
So we will share this road we walk
Mind our mouths and beware our talk
To peace we find tell you what I'll do
All the things I own I will share with you
If I feel tomorrow like I feel today
We'll take what we want and give the rest away

Strangers on this road we are on
We are not two, we are one

Holy man and holy priest
This other life makes me weak in my knees
When we get there in your place (place??)
Soon I fear you're going to carry us away
In a promised life you made us believe
For many man there is so much grief
In my mind despite the things we faced (despite??)
If I live too long I'm afraid I'll die

Strangers on this road we are on
We are not two, we are one

Strangers on this road we are on
We are not two, we are one

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SoaP is good clean fun

Snakes on a Plane picked up where the hype left off and actually built from there. It was satisfying in all sorts of ways. I'm very happy that this movie was made.

At first I feel like it's too bad that there are so many people who insist on not seeing this movie. I feel like it's sad that many of these people only picked up on the SoaP hype a month or two ago and some of them never heard any of the hype. I feel like if they were in on the joke, they'd enjoy this movie more, but because they weren't they feel like it's just another bad action (or even horror?) movie.

However, then I think about it and realize that this is a great B movie. That's all it is. Because of that, it's not going to do well in the box office. Additionally, it's only going to be appreciated by an audience that enjoys the subtlety that makes a B movie so special. (in this case, it's a spoof without being a spoof)

So this movie isn't going to be a cult classic, but how many B movies are? You must look at this movie through the B movie lens to really judge it. Through that lens, I think it's a great success.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Awesome Story: A Magician's Quest

A Magician's Quest for the Perfect Card Cheat
Dai Vernon, considered among the most influential magicians of the 20th century, could do just about any trick that called for sleight of hand. He was obsessed with learning the secrets of crooked card dealers. But there was one move he couldn't master.

He's referring to the "center deal." He tracked down one of the few people who could do this deal and learned it himself. Then he video taped instructions on how to do the center deal. You can watch the 1982 video at the story site.

It's really a neat story.

The Fall TV Line-Up

New fall TV shows
With the fall TV season looming, there doesn't seem to be a lot to get excited about. Here, however, are five shows that sound promising enough to at least not make me get queasy.

The list includes Studio 60, Jericho, Heroes, Runaway, "Gilmore Girls"/"Veronica Mars".

A real quick summary: (I recommend you read the link above for more interesting details)

Studio 60 borrows many of The West Wing characters (and Aaron Sorkin himself) to setup a show about the behind-the-scenes look at an SNL-type TV show.

Jericho is a sci-fi serial drama about a town in Kansas that loses contact with everything around it after a huge mushroom cloud appears over Denver that registers no radiation whatsoever.

Heroes is like a group Unbreakable. A group of people simultaneously realize that they have super powers. In fact, this probably picks up where Unbreakable left off (M. Night is a terrible writer). (in other words, the interesting part of Unbreakable was how the main character was going to deal with what was obvious throughout the rest of the movie; M. Night ends the movie at that point) (I recently learned lots of interesting M. Night trivia that shows he really is the most awful person in Hollywood)

Runaway has Donnie Wahlberg as the lead. It's about a lawyer who is framed for the murder of a beautiful co-worker thus forcing him to grab his family and flee.

Gilmore Girls is old, and some people really like it.

Veronica Mars is about a hot crime fighting high schooler, just like Buffy.

There is some potential there for sure.

How far will a dollar take you?

How about a round trip bus ride from Detriot to Minneapolis and back for only $5?

How far will a dollar take you?
A bus company in the Midwest has landed on a formula for success by charging as little as $1 a seat between Chicago and Minneapolis. But do you get what you pay for? Diantha Parker reports.

Fifty bucks is pretty good. But Hughes knows he could have done better:

HUGHES: I booked about two weeks in advance. I know a couple of my buddies from school booked about three or four weeks in advance and got $1 trips. So their entire round-trip from Detroit to Minneapolis cost $5.

That includes a 50-cent booking fee. Word of mouth has attracted about 100,000 passengers to Megabus so far. The British-based company keeps prices low by selling tickets online. That means no ticket windows, fewer employees, and no boarding passes. The bus driver just checks a list for your reservation number.

Their website is Megabus.com.

Supergroup Golden Smog: Happy Side Project

CD Reviews: Supergroup Golden Smog's 'Another Fine Day' by Ken Tucker
Fresh Air from WHYY, August 17, 2006 - Golden Smog is a side-project for veterans of rock bands such as Wilco, the Jayhawks, Soul Asylum, and lesser-known groups.

Golden Smog has put out three albums since 1992. The group's new collection, Another Fine Day, got our rock critic thinking about the pleasures and perils of musicians who moonlight from their day jobs.

I haven't been able to stream the story. It seems to be unavailable.

However, you can stream plenty of Golden Smog music from their MySpace page to start. Also, here is a Pandora station that I created for Golden Smog like songs.

For more information about Golden Smog, check out the Wikipedia page.
Golden Smog are a loosely connected group of musicians (arguably a supergroup) comprised, at various times, of members of Soul Asylum, The Replacements, Wilco, The Jayhawks, Run Westy Run, The Honeydogs and Big Star.

Doesn't that make your mouth water?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

An awesome wedding/anniversary idea

This is from today's Day to Day episode during their "A Hundred Bucks of Gas" series.

Eating Cherry Pie on the Way to Sleeping Bear
When radio producers Dan Collision and Elizabeth Meister decided to get married five years ago, they did it in a style that fit their mutual passion for roadside attractions and a diner pie: They hit the road and tied the knot in Teddy Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota.

Since then, they've pledged to spend every wedding anniversary burning up a little highway from their base in Three Oaks, Mich. This year, the car was pointed toward Lake Michigan:

Check out the story. The audio will be available around 3pm today; however, this story is fully available in text form. It has pictures from the most recent trip as well as links to the places where they stopped.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Sad story for the day

Bruno Kirby and Billy Crystal in _When Harry Met Sally_

Bruno Kirby Killed by Leukemia at 57
Recently diagnosed with leukemia, Bruno Kirby, well known for his parts in Billy Crystal’s comedies, “When Harry Meets Sally” and "City Slickers" and drama "The Godfather: Part II" passed away on Monday.

His death came as a great shock since not too long ago, he took a memorable turn on "Entourage" aired on HBO, playing a producer who becomes bedridden with grief after his Shrek doll is stolen.

In a statement Lynn Sellers, the actors wife, released on Tuesday, she expressed her gratitude to the fans and made the causes of her husband’s death, public, complications caused by leukemia.

Northwest to Employees: Dumpster Dive to Save Money

Northwest Airlines Advises Employees on Penny Pinching
Airlines have become experts at frugality. Now one has offered tips to employees, as well. Bankrupt Northwest Airlines has cut most workers' pay and has given some a booklet with "101 ways to save money." Suggestions included: shop in thrift stores, take a date for a walk in the woods or on the beach. And don't be "shy about pulling something you like out of trash." Northwest now says the tips were "insensitive" and has stopped distributing them.

Pandora Stations: Share Your Stations!

I was introduced to this via a comment on a recent post.

Check out:

The idea is that you submit a Pandora station to the website where other people can find it. Then those other people can vote on the station by "bumping" up its popularity. This will make the stations more visible. You can even post your new stations using a simple bookmarklet.

I'm surprised that Pandora doesn't have something similar to this built into its system. I think it's a good idea.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Teng's Flamboyant Contraption Takes Off

NPR's Song of the Day: Teng's Flamboyant Contraption Takes Off by Tom Moon
  • Song: "I Don't Feel So Well"
  • Artist: Vienna Teng
  • CD: Dreaming Through the Noise
  • Genre: Chamber-Pop

She has an interesting sound. (her myspace)

I setup a Pandora station for her (listen to it here) and it associated her with some other notables (I may update this throughout the day):

On a related note, Catman Cohen doesn't list Tom Waits (myspace) as an influence on their myspace page, but they must be shooting for that sound when they choose to sing songs with a low gruff voice accompanied by piano. Granted, they has other songs that are very different than this, but many of their songs sound much like a gentle Tom Waits. Am I making this up?

Also, check out the cover of Catman Cohen's How I Want to Die -- the Catman Chronicles 1. It's a steamy blurry image of an orgy (a multiracial 3-some actually). Pretty hot stuff--the blurriness lets the imagination make it even hotter, really. If Tom Waits were here, he might say that he was "getting harder than Chinese algebra."

How to Live Well Without Owning a Car

Los Angeles Living, Without a Car
Morning Edition, August 15, 2006 - Chris Balish is the author of the forthcoming book How to Live Well Without Owning a Car: Save Money, Breathe Easier, and Get More Mileage Out of Life. The talks with Renee Montagne about how to live without a car, even in Los Angeles.

It's not just about Los Angeles. Check it out. Well, probably check the book out, but the story is a good listen too.