Sunday, March 27, 2011

Ch- ch- ch- changes... (to the blog)

...Turn to face the strange!

Okay, well, not that strange.  I just figured that, with a few other recent changes in my life (that may or may not appear here), it was high time to update the computerized version of myself.

I started with my computer's desktop.  I've never been able to leave well enough alone, including the look of my computer.  I've tried Samurize, putting html on the desktop, dual monitors, aftermarket Windows themes, and the like, but now that I'm down to one monitor for a while and pretty happy with the desktop slideshow feature and most of the Aero chrome of Windows 7, I decided to give Rainmeter a go.  Here's the result (for now / click to make it bigger):
It's the Elementary 1.2 skin, just rearranged a little.  The guy who made it did a great job, but I had to shift stuff around to get the clock and weather where I wanted them and add a "D" drive to the system monitor.  The little buttons at the top-right are from somewhere else and control Winamp.  Something is amiss with my Winamp install, or something, causing the song title not to show up, so I just left Winamp in "Windowshade Mode."  This lets me control the volume, too, which is nice.  I found the desktop image at Simple Desktops.

Now I'm going to move on to my blog / website.  As of this writing, if you go to www.mnthomp.com, you get a  really stupid looking page I through together with Google Pages.  It does what it needs to, I suppose, but it's pretty lame.  My plan is to move my "steaming pile" blog to mnthomp.com, since even though the blog is still kinda lame, it's to a lesser degree.  We'll see how it goes.  (I'm using this mashable article as my guide.)

Also, I went hiking yesterday, which was fun.  Would have been better if I were slightly better prepared for the snow and ice, but still good for the first one of the season.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Oh, NPR

You're still "National Palestinian Radio," aren't you?  I thought you had changed for the better -- moved towards the "center," if you will -- over the last couple of years.  Apparently it's all been an elaborate liberal hoax. 

As a relatively regular NPR (KUNC, more specifically) listener, I am well aware of their biases.  The editorial content is obviously to the left, but the straight news coverage has gotten much better than it was in the past.  The slant still shows up in the choices of stories they choose to cover and the depth / airtime each one gets.  Just how many puffy human interest stories can you throw into an hour of programming and still consider it "news?" 

Maybe it's more of a DC / East Coast bias towards that kind of thing that us out here in the West just aren't enlightened enough to understand. But with today's firing encouraged resignation of National Public Radio's president and chief executive, Vivian Schiller, and the accelerated resignation of their head fundraiser, (unrelated) Ron Schiller, over statements he made to a conservative activist, it's pretty clear that the liberal bias started at the top and trickled down.  Reaganomics style.  ;)

If they just could have kept their mouths shut over the Juan Williams thing last fall and quietly lobbied to keep their federal funding, it's likely none of this would have happened. 

Speaking of "public" broadcasting, -- NPR, PBS, etc -- what exactly makes it so public?  Other than the fact that some small portion of our tax dollars funds it, what makes it all that different than most other stations?  It's not commercial free, as they would like you to believe.  There are plenty of underwriting sponsors who have their copy read allowed several times an hour.  It's not public like a park where anyone can join the party.  It's a huge broadcasting corporation, just like CNN or Fox News.  So-called "community" radio is the closest most people can get to having their opinions and musical choices on the air, and they're in way more financial trouble than your local NPR affiliate station.  I'm still not sure that public broadcasting should be defunded though, if only for the sake of those local stations.  Maybe a little reshuffling of assets is in order. 

All of that being said, I will still probably be listening to NPR as I drive to work most days.  Partly because I don't need to hear about Denver traffic when I'm driving around Northern Colorado, partly because KUNC has got to be one of the best run NPR stations around [in spite of one unfortunate recent event], but mostly because I know enough to see the bias - and raise it some common sense. 

Monday, March 07, 2011

Remixes and Realizations

I'm not even going to mention how long it's been since I've blogged.  Whoops, I just did.  Oh well, moving on...

I'm totally obsessed with electronica remixes of vaguely folkish music.  And apparently YouTube is the only place to discover them.  Take this one for instance:

It's The Twelves remixing Fleet Foxes "White Winter Hymnal," and they're both kinda mainstream (as well as completely awesome).  This track was featured on The Twelves' BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix from Dec 18 of 2009, so it's likely available elsewhere.

However, I would have never found this gem if it weren't for the 'Tubes, and it is a beautiful work, worthy of radio time:

Some producer called Maffiss totally reworking the haunting, auto-tuned, vocal-only, four-line Bon Iver track "Woods" into some danceable awesomeness.  Looks like you can legally obtain all of his remixes for free at http://maffiss.bandcamp.com/.

Speaking of Bandcamp (the website, not the horrible joke from American Pie), there's some pretty good stuff on there.  Like Apple Juice Kid.  Look him up.

*

I've realized that I do need to actually work out a little bit, because as much as I love dancing, and as much as I do it (couple times a week, not as much as I'd like, usually), it doesn't really do much for your anaerobic fitness level.  I also realize that I'm probably never going to go to a gym again and I don't plan on buying a bunch of free weights, so I need something to do that doesn't take much (any) equipment and is a little broader than my usual crunches / push-ups action.

A few weeks ago I came across an article on Lifehacker about J.P. Müller's My System.  First published in 1904, it was apparently the Victorian version of South Beach - effective, but controversial.  Also, it's not a diet.  It's a 15-minute, zero equipment, core-strengthening routine that, even though it's 107 years old, seems pretty effective.  I found several scanned copies on the interwebs and decided to skip the intro, etcetera ("Why Be Weak?") and go straight to the workout, which is broken down into a five-week build-up to the ultimate 18 exercise routine on week six.  I'm on week two, and I can totally feel it in my "flanks."  I think I need to supplement it with extra push-ups to really get what I want out of it, but it's going pretty well.  [Also, apparently someone else was similarly inspired, but they decided to put it online.  www.mullersmysystem.com]

*

Along similar lines, I also have realized that my diet is in serious need of some help.  I think my daily caloric intake is somewhere around 1800, including a couple hundred worth of booze, usually, when it really should be closer to 2600, with less alcohol.  [Not that I am worried about my drinking, or even that I drink that much, average of a drink or two a day isn't bad, is it?]  Today I had some hot chocolate, some cereal, some ridiculously tasty oatmeal**, one slice of salami, and some "apple nachos."  Now it's 8pm and I would rather head out the door to go dancing than fix anything to eat.  I suppose I'll have a cookie and see if there's any free pizza available at Avo's when the kitchen closes.  And a beer.  Beer counts as food; it's basically bread.

But yeah, like I was saying my diet needs some improvement.

**Ridiculously Tasty Oatmeal:  So, a very nice girl, who has the shift after mine at Everyday Joe's, has gone through a lot in the realm of eating and being healthy.  She was anorexic and addicted to exercise, and therefore really unhealthy.  I don't know if she even weighs 100 pounds now, seeing as she's a pretty small girl and still extremely active, but she's apparently significantly healthier than she was.  Anyway, we were working together last week and somehow oatmeal came up in conversation.  I mentioned that I liked bacon in my oatmeal [you'll laugh until you try it], and she mentioned that she puts peanut butter in hers and loves it.  I had never thought of putting peanut butter in my oatmeal, but I love peanut butter, and I love oatmeal, so I figured I'd give it a go.  Oatmeal, brown sugar, peanut butter, a little jelly, enough milk to float it all, and five minutes in the microwave at half-power, and damn if that wasn't the yummiest thing to come out of that box in a long time.

Ya know, I think I may have some more of that before I go out dancing after all.  I can get there at nine instead.  Still not a balanced diet, but I'll worry about that another time.

*

There's more news, like the job I got, my constant truck tribulations, the super awesome balboa weekend, etc, but that may have to wait or be skipped.  Watch my twitter if you're really interested in what's going on day to day.