Monday, December 27, 2010

Music Monday: Birthday

Duke Ellington at the 1956 Newport Jazz Festival
song: A Train
Starting at 1:25, this song absolutely rocks. Great album.

Herbie Hancock: Empyrean Isles
My affection for Cantaloupe is already documented, but the whole album is very fine.

The Drums (eponymous album)
Fun, light stuff.

Big Boi: Sir Lucious Leftfoot: The Son of Chico Dusty
I don't listen to much rap, but Big Boi gets it done.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Music Monday: Kid British

These guys are fun. When I saw and heard them, I immediately thought of The Specials in the 80's, then saw a video in which The Specials came on stage with Kid British and said they thought the same thing.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Web Stuff Friday: Sargent Mashup

Guy Sargent is an amazing photographer.
Mashup Breakdown is just wonderful. The aforementioned B-Sizzle let me know that Girl Talk has a new album out. It rocks. When I checked out Girl Talk's Twitter feed (@therealgirltalk), I was introduced to this site that shows the mashup visually.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Web Stuff Friday: My Chrome Setup

If you haven't tried Google's Chrome browser, I think you should check it out. It's not perfect, but it is fast, portable, and has some really smooth features and add-ons.

The interface is pretty minimalist, but still provides quick access to your most visited sites as well as your bookmarks.

I have three add-ons installed that I see as small icons to the right of my location bar.
  • URL shortener. With a single click, I can take the URL of the page I am on, shorten it, and copy the short URL to my clipboard. So, if I see a great article, I just click the button and paste it into an email or IM window. Very handy.
  • Chrome to Phone allows me to send links to my Droid phone. If I'm on my computer when someone sends me a link about a great android app, I just send the link to my phone and I can check it out later.
  • Chrome It Later integrates with Read It Later, which I love. When I see an article I want to read somewhere and somehow, I just click the button and it's saved to my reading list. I can then access my reading list from any browser or from my phone and they all stay in sync.
I live lots of my life in a browser window, so I care about what I use for my Web stuff. Chrome is a good thing.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Ramble: Autumn, Part I

Dew evaporates off the meadow grasses lazily. The resulting mist hangs low enough that the clear autumn sun is unhindered. A 4-point buck stands on the bank of the stream, striking a pose like he is auditioning to be the next model for the Hartford logo. Everyone I see nods in mutual appreciation of the serenity that is this perfect morning in the Glade Stream Valley.

The big, perfect dear watches me plodding along and seems to wonder how I can put out so much effort, yet move so slowly. My top speed when I "run" is more of an amble, but it's not about speed for me. It's about feeling healthy and connected. Activity helps me feel healthier, while mornings like this help with the connectedness.

While raking leaves in the backyard just before dinner, I pause for a moment to look up at the stately oaks towering over me. They still have most of their leaves, so I will get to live this day again in a few weeks. Most excellent.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Music Monday: Jonsi Skull Root Spree

Cool stuff, but he's a "raw-food vegan"? Holy cow!

Dre Skull
If this doesn't make you bop your head up and down, then you are broken and I can't fix you. Gets weird near the middle, but recovers nicely.

Rusted Root
In this video, they remind me of The Polyphonic Spree. They look like a bunch of hippies. Speaking of the PS...

Polyphonic Spree
Gotta love the hippies.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Ramble: Planning How to Spin My Next Loss

From a comment on the Language Log blog:
Reminds me of an apocryphal tale of an officer-enlisted football game where the enlisted men win. The next day, the command plan of the day reports: "Officers power through to a second place finish; enlisted men barely manage to come in next-to-last place."
Man, I need to use that line soon! Maybe next time Girl Kid is racing me somewhere.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Web Stuff Friday: War Golf Titles

Here are a couple interesting videos:
And here are some suggestions for Better Book Titles that can save everyone lots of time.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Music Monday: Kill Weather Raconteur Stripes

I like following musical trails. When I find an artist I like, I like to look for other artists with whom they have worked and keep on following the trail. Here is a sample trail:

The Kills (video: Cheap and Cheerful)
I shared a CD of various stuff with a (now former) colleague. Now that she has spare time, Sunshine finally listened to it. When she heard the Ting Tings, she thought they reminded her of The Kills.

Dead Weather (video: Treat Me Like Your Mother)
Alison Mosshart of The Kills is in Dead Weather.

The Raconteurs (video: Steady, As She Goes)
Jack White and Jack Lawrence of Dead Weather are also in the Raconteurs.

The White Stripes (video: Seven Nation Army)
Jack White is half of The White Stripes, which is a man/woman duo like The Kills.

Phew. Not sure how often I will be able to bring it around that like, but it's great when that works out.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Web Stuff Friday: First Cousin Once Removed

WolframAlpha rocks, but the coolest thing I have seen recently is alluded to in the WolframAlpha blog: My Cousin’s Cousin’s Niece’s Grandfather Said to Just Ask Wolfram|Alpha. Now, I know what to call the woman who is my uncle's granddaughter.

Bonus: Missing Cat by David Thorne is sublimely funny.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Music Monday: Dancing Grizzly Volta

This post started out almost a month ago, and I finally have a third entry. Sorry for the huge delays in posts, but life happens sometimes.

You! Me! Dancing! by Los Campesinos is being used in this Budweiser ad, but the original video is interesting (and, of course longer). I have had this tune in my head for days now, which means I watch too much football. Shazam on my Droid absolutely rocks. I love being able to identify every song I hear.

Grizzly Bear: I have spent most of the past days at work listening to Horn of Plenty and then Horn of Plenty - The Remixes. Wow. I love the remixes. The remixes album is a nice accompaniment to document reviews. Nice groove. Here is a link to the Remixes at

I checked in on my Google Reader for the first time in ages and saw Chris Hanaka's There Was Talk of Joy Division. Now I am kinda obsessed with Mars Volta. Here is a Mars Volta Mix at YouTube.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Music Monday: Holy Dodos

I am starting to draft this post almost a month before it is scheduled to post, which makes me wonder if I need to start a separate music blog.

Holy Fuck
Their name is a bit salty, but the music is a kick.

The Dodos
Videos: Fools, Winter, Ashley
Wow, I like these guys. The energy is wonderful.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Ramble: Kyran Pittman (AKA Tip My Rank Tan)

Here is a recent IM exchange between me and Mrs. Kid:
Mrs. Kid: i found a new favorite blog passage-- i think you might be disguising yourself and changing genders around to fool people
Mrs. Kid: Rita Rudner said, “Whenever I date a man, I think, is this the man I want my children to spend weekends with?” I swear, there were days that the only thing holding me back was the thought that my pain-in-the-ass husband would be an even bigger pain-in-the-ass ex-husband. And I would have to have to put up with him, because of the children. As long as I was stuck with him anyhow, I might as well keep him close enough to take out the trash and help with bedtime.
me: lol
Mrs. Kid: right?!
me: who wrote that?
Mrs. Kid: kyran pittman
me: yeah, that's me. Kyran Pittman is an anagram for "Tip My Rank Tan" which was the name of the imaginary band i played in when i was a kid.
Check out Kyran Pittman's blog Notes To Self (which really is quite good). You can also check out the Internet Anagram Server for endless fun with words.

Oh, and for the record, I know that the only reason Mrs. Kid puts up with me is because she knows that if either of us leaves the other, then my Mother will find and shell out big money for a great lawyer to represent whichever one of us was wronged in her eyes.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Music Monday: Me Music

I know it's morbid, but I can't stop thinking about the music I would like to have played at my funeral. There are two parts to this.

Funeral/service: I need just a few songs that will work with an organ, acoustic guitar, or string quartet.

Vince Guaraldi: Linus and Lucy video (check out this Hey Ya Peanuts video just for kicks)
This is the easy one. I love jazz, cartoons, and Charlie Brown Christmas. If you asked any math student who had me first period what they remember about me, I have no doubt that they would remember me playing this tape before class for the entire month between Thanksgiving and Christmas. If this song can't put a smile on your face, then I'm sorry.

U2: Where the Streets Have No Name video (still working on this one. Could be replaced with a Beastie Boys song or some old school rap)
I want something completely recognizable here. This one isn't about a deep message as much as it is about a collective moment of recognition. In this day of iPods and DVRs, we have so few synchronous moments of experiencing music together.

The Specials: Enjoy Yourself video
This is the uplifting, message-laden send-off. Love the song and love the lyrics.

Repast/wake: Coming up with a playlist for the repast/wake is a longer-term challenge, but equally important. I want three hours worth of music. The first can be jazz/mood music that I love (Miles, Coletrane, Herbie, Bill Evans, The Adderleys, etc.), but the second and third hours need to be full of songs that make people who knew me smile. Must-have artists include Led Zep, English Beat, New Order, Talking Heads, Richard Cheese, The Beatles, The Beastie Boys, and too many others to name.

BTW: I want to be cremated and have my ashes spread at any location Boy Kid and Girl Kid want to visit.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

MathEd: New Blog Idea: Real Math Applications

Here is an idea I have had for a few months, but am finally getting around to putting it out there.

How about a new blog that is all about how REAL math solves REAL problems. I am not talking about word problems. I am talking about people documenting ways that math helped them solve real problems. Note that this is not about finding applications for all the math in the course you are teaching or developing right now. This is about finding a way for people who use math to solve problems to share these problems and solutions.

Here is a statistics example from my office:

The Problem: A Project Manager at my company came to me asking how he could present data about variances from planned budgets in a way so that the big variances (both over and under) from budget wouldn't distort the data. When he used means to display the data, a few outliers over stated the degree to which early budgets varied from the final numbers.

The Solution: I first suggested that he look at a trimmed mean, but the solution that ultimately worked was using medians. Medians are less influenced by outliers than the mean, so using them got the job done.

The goal with a blog like I am proposing is to provide a rich repository of ideas for educators and learners to see how math is really used. Note that the problems don't have to come up in office settings. Some might come up at home or in sports or any other context, but in each case, math needs to be used to solve a real problem.

Any interest? Has it already been done? I think we need a set of contributors for this endeavor. I am fine being a contributor, but couldn't take the entire burden on myself.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Ramble: Seedless Watermelons Are Evil

OK, so maybe the title is a bit of hyperbole, but this is a moral issue. So-called "seedless" watermelons have taken over and I can't stand them.

First, just because a seed is white doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Saying that white seeds are OK but black seeds are not reminds me of the unfair sentencing guidelines for crack versus powdered cocaine. It's morally reprehensible. White seeds and brown seeds are all still seeds and should be dealt with properly. We can't give the white ones a pass while vilifying the brown ones. Calling watermelons with white seeds "seedless" is like calling a Wall Street investment bank "criminal free." Just because they snort coke instead of smoking crack or fleece high-brow investors instead of knocking over liquor stores doesn't make them guilt free.

Second, the idea that a seedless watermelon is even desirable is not something I can accept. I get that seedless oranges and grapes have their place, but they don't have seeds that are nearly as much fun as real watermelon seeds. Spitting watermelon seeds is a summer pastime that is now a thing of the past thanks to these genetic freaks with anemic white seeds that dribble out of your mouth. I want real seeds that I can send flying through the air.

In short: I like my watermelon seeds like Mrs. Kid likes her man: plump and brown. We all need to rise up and protest the de-brownification of our watermelons.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ramble: Why I Do This

This blog is certainly a great exercise for myself, as well as a way of sharing with however few people read it. But another reason I write this blog is so that Boy Kid and Girl Kid can read it and have a feel for who I was in this time of my life. If I get hit by a bus tomorrow, how would they know who I was? Mrs. Kid could try to explain and other family members and friends could try as well, but I want a direct avenue and this blog is it.

Some people address this need by writing a memoir. I have no interest in delving into my past. As The Hours say in Ali in the Jungle:
... it's, not, where you're from, it's where you're at, ...'s, not, about the things you've done, it's what you're doing, now,
What are you doing, now?
Amen. This makes my blog very self-serving, but I'm OK with that.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Music Monday: Herbie Is More Than Rockit

There are some artists who have a body of work that is far better and deeper than the average person knows about. They end up making a splash with a song that is wildly popular, but far from representative of their work.

Like many of my age, my first exposure to Herbie was with his groundbreaking song RockIt. I don't mean to minimize the importance of RockIt (which won Grammies and spawned a generation of break dancers and music that used technology in new ways), but that was a brief phase in Herbie's amazing career.

The Miles Davis Years: So What
My main MO for finding great jazz musicians is to start with Miles Davis and work my way out. He played with amazing people who went on to have stellar careers. Herbie's work with Miles was a great beginning.

Post-Davis Bop (Maiden Voyage and Empyrean Isles): Cantaloupe Island
These two albums are musts for anyone who wants to dip their toe in the jazz river. The hook in Cantaloupe Island is tremendous.

Fusion: Chamelion part 1 and part 2
Headhunters is accessible, funky, and fun.

(relatively) Modern Work
Rockit (love the video)
With Wayne Shorter: Aung San Suu Kyi (part 1 and part 2)

Herbie has done a ton of work since the 80's, so I have lots of work to do catching up with him.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Race Bait: Slideshows From The Root

A friend from work sent me a link to one of these slideshows from The Root, but I like them all, so here you go....

Would a Black Person Get Away With This?
This is the one she sent.

I remember seeing this some time ago, but I still like it.

Nice list.

BTW: How do you like the prefix for this (and future race-oriented) post?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Ramble: Prefixes

I am going to start pre-fixing more of my posts. For instance, this one has the prefix "Ramble." I already use some other prefixes:
  • Best-of-Craigslist
  • Web-Stuff Friday
  • Music Monday
To this list of prefixes, I will add prefixes to connote more topics such as:
  • MathEd
  • Geek
  • Politics
  • Race
I might try coming up with more interesting prefixes than these, but am making no promises. The point of the prefixes is to make it easier for folks to decide what they do and don't feel like reading. Most people have blogs that are more focused than this one, but I am going to keep on with my broad rambles. It's who I am, but adding prefixes should make it easier for folks to pre-judge their interest in the topic for each post.

For instance, Mrs. Kid already ignores all the Music Monday and Web-Stuff Friday posts. Now, she can easily avoid all the MathEd and Geek posts.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Girl Talk Sample Guide Videos

I like Girl Talk. Not the idle chatter of the fairer gender, but the mashup dj. His samples are wide-ranging, but it's that range that makes his stuff really work.

You might be wondering: This isn't Monday, so what's with the music post? Well, this isn't really about the music as much as it is about the video series.

I was looking for a YouTube video of some Girl Talk music to send to a friend, when I found a series of videos called Girl Talk Sample Guides. Wow. Thats' a really nice display of visual information. I think he misses some samples, but the idea is still an interesting one. I'd like to see this for any mashup and for a fair number of rappers.

The Sample Guide made me think back to the Paul's Boutique Samples and References List (which is tremendous accompaniment to one of the Beastie Boys' best albums). Having a list of where all the pieces are coming from is great, but the visuals in the Sample Guide is even better.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Geeking Out With Frink

A friend and former student tweeted a link to Frink, which seems interesting. According to creator Alan Eliasen, Frink is...
... a practical calculating tool and programming language designed to make physical calculations simple, to help ensure that answers come out right, and to make a tool that's really useful in the real world.
So as a math guy, it seems relevant to what I do. I'll check it out, but the fun part is reading the documentation. Check out the Sample Calculations section of the documentation. Feel free to ignore the math. It's all about the narrative he wraps around it. Really amusing stuff. Here is a very small sampling of Alan's comments/quips.

Sure, he's a great guy, and, sure, he's the Defender of Truth, Justice, and the American Way, but can't he find a better use for his super-powers than schlepping some shiksa into the stratosphere? Shovel my walk, he could, in 3 seconds--and me with the sciatica.
Fart jokes. Sheesh. If Frink isn't a huge success, it's not because I didn't pander to the Lowest Common Denominator.
The ramifications of the most famous of Einstein's equations:
Unbelievable. The energy in a teaspoon of water, if we could extract it, is equal to burning more than 3 million gallons of gasoline.
The amount of heat emmited by a human body in a day:
... your average power and/or heat output is slightly less than a 100-watt bulb. (Note that your heat is radiated over a much larger area so the temperature is much lower.) Many days I could be replaced entirely with a 100-watt bulb and have no discernible effect on the universe.
Anyway, check out the documentation. It's fun stuff and did a great job of getting me interested in using the tool for exploring quantities all around me.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Music Monday: More From The Sixty One

I listen to The Sixty One when I want to hear new stuff (which is pretty often), so here is another volume of stuff to check out:

Paul Bailey Ensemble: Retrace Our Steps, Act 2
Interesting stuff. The instrumentation and operatic sound work for me. Seems to be influenced by Philip Glass (which is a good thing in my world).

How I became the Bomb: Killing Machine
This song feels good. Nice groove. Simple. There is something about the bass line and use of the high hat that work for me.

The Upstairs Room: I Am Oz
This might be where my taste goes a bit wonky, but I gotta love the Renegade sample. First Girl Talk, now this. Maybe Styx is poised for a big comeback!

Gotta love a good mash-up.

Now to see if I can develop a system for pumping out regular updates.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Web Stuff Friday: Teacher Blogs Worth Reading

I have found a group of math teachers online who have made a really strong online community. Together, they are questioning, innovating, and making positive change happen and then sharing through blogs and tweets. It's incredibly inspiring. Anyone who is a new math or science teacher should read these blogs and follow these folks on Twitter. Get into the discussion.

Honestly, this is the best use of blogs and Twitter I have seen yet. These folks rock the house.

That said, here is a list of some of my favorite math teacher bloggers/twitterers:

Dan Meyer (@ddmeyer)
Blog: dy/dan
Dan has been featured on TED, so lots of people know who he is.

Kate Nowak (@k8nowak)
Blog: f(t)
Hers is the best subtitle out there. I will make you click the link to read it. Go ahead. I'll wait....

Sam Shah (@samjshah)
Sam's post on the Blogotwitterversphere is great, and attaining mention on his Favorite Tweets page is a goal for every math teacher tweeter.

Matt Townsley (@mctownsley)
Like me, Matt is a former HS math teacher turned curriculum dude. His focus on assessment is a good thing.

Jason Buell (@jybuell)
Jason's ideas about assessment are important (and by "important" I mean that he and I agree on some key points).

BTW: To get plugged in to the flow of the conversation, check out the mathteachers list maintained by Jackie Ballarini. Great, diverse list of folks.

Note that I have left a ton of people off this list. Check out the blogs and the teacher twitter list and start roaming to find more.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

My Favorite High School Teachers, Part 2

Here is the liberal arts part of my stroll down memory lane.

My mother was a math teacher at my high school. In August before my Junior year, my mother looked at the master schedule and decided that she thought I'd have a problem learning from one of the American Civilization (AC was an interdisciplinary English and History class) teachers. As a result, she wanted me to switch to a different course. All my friends were taking AC and it was supposed to be a great course, so this was a tough sell. I agreed to the switch, but only on the condition that I could have Tim Isaacs for English and Dave Roush for History.

My interest in history can be traced directly back to Dave Roush. He was funny and smart and inspired my interest in history enough that I took almost enough history in college for a minor.

When I was in college, writing was never a big problem for me, and now I earn a living writing and reviewing. Still, the dominant legacies Tim Isaacs left me with are 1) my penchant for reading existentialists such as Sartre, Kirkegaard, Camus, etc. and 2) my memory of such minutia as the meanings of litotes and consonance.

Thanks Dave and Tim. You two rocked and the influences of your teaching have stayed with me to this day.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

My Favorite High School Teachers, Part 1

I meant to post this on Ada Lovelace Day, which I learned about from a colleague who sent me to Finding Ada. I pledged to blog about a woman I admire in the fields of technology or science. Because I am incredibly lame and this Spring got away from me, this post is months late.

Mrs. Rowe was my Algebra II/Trig teacher. My mom was a math teacher, but it was Mrs. Rowe who turned me into some semblance of a mathematician. I still vividly remember the first day of trig when she drew the unit circle on the board. I used that same basic lecture when I taught the course years later. Mrs. Brown (Algebra 1) saved me from mathematical oblivion. Mr. Berry (Geometry and Computer Science) helped me see that learning and teaching math could be fun, but Mrs. Rowe drove it home. She batted cleanup and hit a triple. After her, Mrs. Penkunas (pre-calc and calc) had the easier job of tightening everything up. She did hard work, but all of it would have been for naught if it weren't for the sweet woman with the southern drawl who was affectionately known as "The Crusher."

Of all the courses I ever took (at any level and in any discipline), the one from which I remember the highest percentage is AP Biology. Mrs. Breznick (now Casio) taught me that course and it is thanks to her that I remember such things as rough endoplasmic reticulum (it's the ribosomes that make it rough) and the difference between xylem and phloem. It's really ridiculous. Why is it that I can still remember the cellular respiration handout she gave us that describes how we get ATP from glycolysis and the Krebs cycle? Why do I still remember the roles of FSH and LH? All credit goes to Mrs. Casio.

A heartfelt thanks to all my high school math and science teachers for training me up and (more importantly) for fostering my love of learning and sharing. I was really, really lucky to have you all as teachers.

This was supposed to be just about women in the fields of science and math, but then again, this was supposed to come out months ago. Still, I'll stop here and post tomorrow about the non-math/science teachers (both men) who influenced me the most.

Monday, July 5, 2010

TwitTalk: Who Do I Follow?

I have been doing the Twitter thing. The folks I follow fall into a few main categories.

Math teachers: This crowd will get a post to themselves, but suffice it to say that there are a bunch of innovative math teachers out there and they are blogging and tweeting and it is a very good thing.

Comedians: Some comedians write good movies, some are best with short stories, and some are good at standup. I have found several for whom 140 characters is plenty.

Sports guys: I have been disappointed by most athletes on twitter, but some columnists are pretty good.

Friends: I also follow a handful of friends & colleagues. They are fun, but their tweeting frequency isn't as high as the masses of others I follow.

George Lazenby: Yeah, he gets his own category. When reading this guy's tweets, I generally feel as dumb as a box of rocks. Still, I follow because every once in a while he recommends a great book or makes some comment/reference I actually get.

To check out all these tweeps, go to  my twitter page: @RestonKid 

Monday, May 24, 2010

Music Monday: I Love Me Some Bari Sax

Listening to someone rock out on a bari sax is really special. It's like watching Lindsey Vonn slalom on men's skis. It's not supposed to be possible, but it's this wonderful combination of finesse and power that is irresistible.

DJ Kool: Let Me Clear My Throat
That bari sax line is great. It gets stuck in my head and I can't get it out.

Menomena: Weird
I like these guys. They are especially good live: In Juan's Basement and in Paris (the dancing kids are the best part).

Charles Mingus: Moanin'
Ronnie Cuber brings it with the bari that opens this tune.

Stan Kenton's band (Greg Smith on bari): A Smith Named Greg
Skip to 2:15 for the good part. The beginning is lovely, but it's not until 2:15 that he starts kicking it.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Video Series: Look Around You

I have seen many educational videos in my day, but these are the best. The series is called Look Around You. Here are some examples:
  • Maths: The round curve that meets up with itself (if it only had a name)
  • Germs: The mitotene germ incubation
  • Music: "Number 9 of the series" (nice Beatles reference)
  • Iron: "We are working with AC/DC because it's heavy metal"
I am so much smarter now. Other topics include Ghosts, Sulpher, Brain, Calcium, Water, and Computer Games.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Music Monday: Running Music

Someone I follow on Twitter (@samjshah) asked for suggestions for workout music. I don't workout in a gym, but I go for runs in the woods by my home. Here are some of the songs I am listening to while on my runs:

Start with:

In the middle:
The English Beat: Ranking Full Stop
Vampire Weekend: A-Punk
Naughty by Nature: OPP

The big finish:
Animal Collective: Peacebone

BTW: I now have some great running headphones (Sennheiser PMX80). They have good sound, never slip even a little bit, and are washable.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Extended Tweet: Clarence Thomas and Blackness

Here is an attempt to expand on a discussion that started on Twitter. Here are some quotes from the back and forth we had:
  • hemantmehta: Black people don't really claim [Supreme Court Justice] Clarence [Thomas]. Just saying.
  • dcox21: Why's that? Must one think a certain way to be considered 'black?'
  • hemantmehta: I think that's what a lot of the black community would say, but you'd have to ask them!
  • dcox21: Am I the only one who sees the irony in that? "You're different from us so we exclude you." Seems like we're moving backwards.
  • me: There is no irony in folks disliking a judge with politics that are opposite theirs. Thomas is conservative. Most blacks are not.
  • dcox21: But aren't most blacks conservative when it comes to moral issues?
This dialog kept on for a while, but eventually I decided that I needed more than 140 words for my reply.

Let's face it, when we look at the Supreme Court, diversity comes up as an issue. White people make mention of Thomas' blackness as if it is a nod to racial diversity on the court. In my opinion, this is very superficial. The value of diversity in any governmental entity is not to have a group picture that looks like The Mod Squad. The value of diversity is to represent a broad range of values and perspectives.

When hemantmehta indicated that blacks don't claim Thomas, he meant that most blacks don't believe that he shares their values. When it comes to anyone in government, that's a pretty important consideration: Do people in power share your values? Thomas is pretty conservative, but most blacks are pretty liberal. It's true that many religious blacks have some morally conservative inclinations, but overall, their politics are still liberal (regardless of the race of the candidate).

Does this mean that blacks exclude Thomas from black society? No, he's still a brotha (even if he's a hypocritical one), but it means that blacks will always bristle at the idea that he represents us in any way on the Supreme Court. I know that justices aren't supposed to represent any constituency, but the fact is that he was selected because of his skin color, yet his jurisprudence doesn't reflect any values to which most blacks can relate. Trading Marshall for Thomas was a pretty brutal downgrade.

Music Monday: Guess the Title...Wrong!

Some songs have odd titles, but some of my favorites are the songs for which most people assume that the dominant phrase from the chorus is the title, but it isn't.

The Clash: Train in Vain
Most obvious (but wrong) title: Did You Stand by Me
Neither "Train" nor "Vain" appear in lyrics at all. Heck, "in" only appears once and it's a freakin' preposition! Heard this song today on Slacker Radio and it motivated me to finally write this up. The seed of this post was planted during the Super Bowl halftime show when I heard The Who perform ....

The Who: Baba O'Riley
Most obvious (but wrong) title: Teenage Wasteland
Neither Baba nor O'Riley appear in lyrics.

Simon and Garfunkel: 59th Street Bridge Song
Most obvious (but wrong) title: Feelin' Groovy
No bridges or streets are mentioned, but I get this title. It's like a pastoral piece. Still, If I played the song for 100 people and asked them to name the title, how many would name it correctly? Certainly not many who were born after Kennedy was shot.

New Order: Love Vigilantes
This is added to the list mostly because I love Iron and Wine's rendition of the song.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Music Monday: A Couple Good, Crude Musical Women

Recently, I have been listening to a fair number of rocking women. Here are a couple that really caught my ear. They both make me smile.

Dahna Rowe: I'm Drunk, You're Ugly (audio at
This is rather crude, but makes me laugh every time I hear it. The country sound with the crude lyrics is a contrast that adds to the amusement for me. If you can't relate to the lyrics, then you were never a twenty-something single.

Lily Allen: Fuck You (video at YouTube)
I know I generally keep my posts clean, but this one has great lyrics. Give it a listen. I like the juxtaposition of her sweet voice with the directness and strength of the lyrics and the crudeness of the chorus. Lily Allen is like a younger, edgier, less mature version of Dido. I like them both, but would like to hear Lily do an acoustic album so her lyrics and sweet voice can stand out in even starker contrast.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Horrid Movie; Great Poem

I recently saw Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanimo Bay. I liked the original Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, so I figured what the heck?

The movie was spectacularly bad, but had two good parts to it. Here is a guide to watching the movie if you have it on DVR or some other linear medium that does not allow scene hopping, but does allow fast forward.

Start the movie and immediately hit fast forward. If you have 3 fast speeds, choose speed 3. If you allows yourself to hear the beginning of the movie, you can't say I didn't warn you. It starts out rather vile, then generally oscillates between being nasty and banal.

When you see the men in white sheets, get ready to hit the play button. Once Harold and Kumar start flagging down the little red/orange car, hit play. The scene is a bit ribald, but only thanks to some language. Neil Patrick Harris is great as "himself" in both Harold and Kumar movies. If you are clever with searching YouTube, you can find the two clips that combined make up NPH's time in the movie. One has "Takes Shrooms" in the title and the other has "Brands a Ho."

Once NPH exits the brothel and is done trying to get in the car (you will know when his attempt is done), go back to fast forward.

When you see Harold and Kumar falling from a rather high place, get ready to hit the play button. When the groom walks back up the aisle and past the bride, hit play. Here is the good part and here is the text of the poem: The Square Root of Three.

That's it. You have seen the best parts of the movie. Actually, you could probably same some effort if all you do is watch the clips at YouTube, but suit yourself.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Another Sick Day: Steve Saves the Day

A couple years ago, I posted about playing Tiger Woods on my PS2 while sick. Today I was sick, but actually did a fair amount of work. I was in meetings and reviewed some documents, but during a couple times when I felt particularly miserable, I turned on the TV. I was looking for Jerry Springer, but couldn't find him. On a total lark, I tried the Steve Wilkos Show.

I had never heard of this guy, but figured I'd give it a try. Turns out Steve is the guy who used to run security for Jerry. His show is pure gold! It has the freshness that Jerry had 17 years ago. Here is an IM exchange I had with a friend from work:
RestonKid: today's episode: "Best Friends, Who's the Dad?"
Tex's Mom: LOL
RestonKid: results of DNA tests
Tex's Mom: those are my favorite shows
Tex's Mom: the "baby daddy" shows
RestonKid: "Brandon, you ARE the father."
RestonKid: "when are you gonna grow up?"
RestonKid: "you better stop now! stop bringing kids into the world you aren't going to take care of"
RestonKid: "ok, my young friend with your cocaine troubles and not being able to keep his ____ in his pants can get off my stage."
RestonKid: immediately followed by a plug (with Steve's voiceover) for
Tex's Mom: LOL...i need to stay home and watch some daytime TV
Tex's Mom: i am so missing out
RestonKid: this has renewed my faith in mankind
RestonKid: you need to send me updates on the Steve Wilkos Show when you are out with Tex
RestonKid: upcoming episode: Moms Confront Prostitute Daughters
Check out his Ask Steve page on the Steve Wilkos site. This guy is the best. I know this says really shameful things about me, but so be it.

If it were a documentary or a news story, it would make me mad or sad. As a matter of fact, I have friends who have had crazy situations in their romantic lives. Frankly, if they lived in trailer parks, some of them are crazy enough situations to fit in with Maury or Jerry or Steve's shows. For my friends, I truly have nothing but sympathy and compassion. But when people go on a show to air their issues, I just sit back and enjoy. Context is everything.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Note to Frances: Thanks for the Hernia

Marvin caused me pain. I share an office with 11 people, so when a coworker sent this to me, I may have caused myself permanent injury when trying to suppress my laughter.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Facebook as Surrogate Spouse

Mrs. Kid is in Grand Cayman with her sister for a long weekend. I'm happy that she is able to take this time to recharge, but when you leave me in charge of the kids for four straight days, you have to accept a lower than usual level of competence.

When things started falling apart (which they did instantly), I turned to Facebook. I posted when Girl Kid (AKA Her Royal Highness) puked.
Wife out of country for 4 days. Rain on forecast for weekend. 5 year-old puking. Good times.
I posted when Boy Kid helped HRH drink WAY too much Pedialyte in the morning (which ultimately led to an orange coating over much of our Family Room).
When kids got up this morning, "helpful" [Boy Kid] poured Pedialyte for the Princess until she sucked down 2/3 of a quart (temporarily). Lots of orange laundry to do now and need to head out for more Pedialyte.
I posted when my mind started turning to mush as a result of too much PBS Kids.
I'd have The Man In The Yellow Hat arrested for letting that little chimp terrorist run loose.
Anyway, thanks to my Facebook friends who commented on my status updates and filled the role of listener and sympathizer while Mrs. Kid was gone. Thanks also to those who laughed with (and more often at) me during this weekend. You all helped me keep my sanity.

One more thing. All this weekend, I tended to the kids' needs. I cleaned up puke. I comforted the sick. I made waffles. I nursed HRH back to health. What did I get in return? Did I get a "thanks for keeping us alive all weekend even though you are so clearly the second string and totally out of your depth"? No. All I got was this little gem of a quote from HRH:
Your belly looks like you're pregnant.
So morally wrong.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Web Stuff Friday: thesixtyone

thesixtyone is a music site that is designed to help you discover new music. If you want to listen to Pandora's Rush Radio ('cause you love you some Geddy Lee), then this site is not for you. If you want to discover new music that you will love, then thesixtyone is for you.

First of all, the site starts by playing music for you. You can skip any time you want. On the other hand, if you like a song, you can find out more about the artist and if you really like a song, you can "heart" it after listening for 60 seconds.

My new favorite feature is the "Quests." The site gives you tasks to complete such as listening to 7 different new songs or listening to some of the Mood channels (another cool feature). These quests are an interesting way to get people into new music and to learn the features of the site.

The only thing I am not wild about is sometimes not being able to dismiss popups, but once I figure that out, all will be groovy.

Anyway, if you like being exposed to new music, check out this site. It is quite worthwhile.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Fun Wedding

Mrs. Kid and I went to a wedding this weekend. It was a lovely ceremony in which the bride's niece stole the show with her cute ride down the aisle while being coaxed to toss flowers. That is, she had it stolen until the groom's elementary-age kids got up and sang a duet. The ceremony was lovely and the bride and groom looked great and happy.

The fun continued at the reception. First of all, a co-worker happens to be a childhood friend of the bride (who is a high school and college friend of Mrs. Kid), so it was cool seeing her and her uber-cool mom. Seriously. This was one really, really cool mom. I can only imagine what it must be like to have a mother who is that cool.

Most importantly to my happiness in the evening, our table was fun. The rest of Table 4 were cool people who knew The Bride from a mix of travel, high school, college, and grad school, so it was cool talking about different aspects of the bride. Things really got fun when the music got going. Cherry Blossom String Quartet did a lovely job with the standard classical and baroque fare through dinner, but after dinner, it became a game of "name that tune." Their playlist included the Love Boat Theme, as well as songs by the Bee Gees and Journey. It reminded me of earlier posts My Funeral (sorry Mrs. Kid), Acoustic Guitar Versions of Familiar Song, and Love Vigilantes and More Accordion Music.

The music and people made for a fun evening. I don't remember the last time I closed out a wedding reception, but this one was big fun.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Music Monday: New Stuff (to Me)

I recently watched the first hour of the video for Glastonbury 2009 (Palladia on HD is wonderful). I discovered a couple new artists and found a great video of a group I have loved for years.

The Ting Tings
The energy works for me. Any pair of musicians who got together because of their mutual love of Portishead can't be all bad.

Lily Allen
Video: The Fear
Here is the (less kid-friendly) version from Glastonbury.

The Specials
The original studio version is kinda slow. Every live version I have heard is far better than the studio version. More speed. More energy. Amazing that these guys are still rocking it so hard after all these years.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Web Stuff Friday: Friction

Gimme Friction: The math in this is interesting. I haven't read the instructions, but find it fun anyway.

Taberinos: This is a really fun game.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Release the Kracken: Arch Campbell's New Phrase

Arch Campbell was on Tony Kornheiser's radio show last week and he had a segment that had me laughing out loud.
There is one thing I like about Clash of the Titans. I believe that it will contribute a phrase to the lexicon: "Release the Kracken." I have prepared some examples of Release the Kracken:
  • I have a new Calloway driver it's got a head on it about the size of a Russian Army boot. I believe when I stand on the first tee and take the head cover off, I will say Release the Kracken.
  • Let's say you're out with the dog and he tarries; he doesn't do what the walk is for. You turn to the dog and say Release the Kracken.
  • I believe that couples will date and decide that intimacy is for them and at that moment of intimacy, either the man or the woman will exclaim Release the Kracken.
I am ready to help popularize "Release the Kracken." It's a nice turn of phrase.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Web Stuff Friday: Publishing Ponies

The Future of Publishing video is clever. You have to watch it to the end (at least a bit over halfway) to really get the cleverness of it.

Singing Ponies is fun. Reminds me of one of Boy/Girl Kid's Reader Rabbit games.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Quick Push-up Update

I have heard that after reading this post, a couple friends of mine are trying the 100 push-up thing. As I have documented a couple times (including this post), push-ups are great for you.

Try the Push-up Challenge to see how you can do.

Monday, March 22, 2010

In Memory of My Dad-in-Law

Mrs. Kid's father passed away last week, so we had a memorial service today. Here is a copy of what I read on behalf of the children (Mrs. Kid, her sister, and brother-in-law).

Scotty was the cool one.

In our family, Scotty stood out not just because of his Scottish accent, but also because he made a living with his hands and his wits. The rest of us are over-educated academics who get to work jobs with air conditioning and soft chairs. Scotty stopped school at age 15, but managed feats many of us can only aspire to. He started and sold a company and helped put two girls through college.

Through the course of his diverse work history, Scotty was:
  • in the British Navy and the US Army (82nd Airborne)
  • a postal worker (where he met Mary)
  • a manager for an apartment building and for a bike shop
  • a salesman and a licensed hypnotist
  • an entrepreneur who started and sold a company that fixed the damaged tile roof of a tunnel near Norfolk
He was also a handy man who made toy boxes we still use and built a screened in porch that provided many hours of enjoyment. It always seemed to me that he knew how to do anything with his hands.

About the same number of people know and use Scotty's real name as know and use the real names of Sting and Bono. Only his siblings back in the old country called him Freddy.

Scotty was ornery from the beginning. He weighed just over two pounds when he was born at his home on a farm in Scotland in 1935, but still survived to be a strapping man. It still amazes me that such a small baby back then in Scotland could make it. The determination that made that possible showed up many ways through his life.

When he was in the hospital for congestive heart failure in 2001, the single nicotine patch the nurses put on his arm wasn't enough, so he hid two or three more on his inner thighs. Not only that, but he would constantly try to get outside so he could have a smoke. To keep him from getting outside for a smoke, the nurses posted pictures of him at the nurses' station saying "do not let this man on the elevator." It was like a wanted poster at a post office.

Scotty lived life on his own terms. He was fond of sailing his radio-controlled yacht at the marina, and he also had a real sailboat and a kayak. Still, he was no granola-eating outdoorsman. He was fond of Glayva (a Scottish liqueur), but Mountain Dew was his drink of choice (he'd even let Boy Kid sneak a sip). When he was being good, he switched from regular Spam to Spam Lite. His wasn't the healthiest lifestyle, but he kept living it his way nearly to the end.

As a father, Scotty was the cool one. When I was in college and it was finals time, my parents would send me a big tin full of popcorn (which was much-appreciated). When Mrs. Kid was in college, Scotty would drive down with a couple cases of beer and have a party with her and her friends. Her college friends all knew Scotty and would ask "when is your father coming back?"

This coolness was great for Mrs. Kid when she was in college, but leaving him in charge of the kids was a little scary. I was always a bit worried that he'd let them drink Mountain Dew and skip their naps. Still, he loved his grandkids and they loved him. He always had such energy and passion for them.

Scotty was great. Our family is much less cool without him.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Music Monday: What Is That From? Volume 2

My new favorite thing to do with my Moto Droid phone (of which Mrs. Kid is getting jealous) is to keep it nearby while watching TV so that when I hear a commercial with music I like, I use the Shazam app to identify the song. This often leads me to discover music by artists I have not heard of.

The Hours: Ali in the Jungle
This song makes me smile. The only tough part is that the version on the album has a couple F-bombs, so I can't listen to it with the kids around. Honestly, I like the version with "damn" in place of each F-bomb because the sound of it works better with the preceding lyrics. Anyway, I like The Hours, but this song has a particularly strong ability to stick in my mind.

Bajofondo: Pa' Ballar
After getting the album with this song on Mrs. Kid's iPod Shuffle, I went for a run. Much of the album was great running music -- I felt like I could run forever.

And here is a song by an artist I know, but enjoy listening to any time:

Lou Reed: Perfect Day
This is really bad running music, but great anyway. This is the type of stuff I want to crank up nice and loud while sipping a nice glass of red zinfandel. Lou's voice with the piano and strings behind it just beg to fill a room.

If you can identify the products for which these songs are being used, then post it in the comments. First person to do it successfully gets to pick the next set of songs.

Friday, March 5, 2010

A Friday-Monday Mash-up: Some Music Blogs

So, Friday is supposed to be the day for Web Stuff and Monday is for Music, so here is a day devoted to some Web sites devoted to music.

My musical self is like a shark. If it doesn't keep moving forward, I feel like it dies a little. These sites help me move forward musically.

Useful Noise is a blog about music of the aughts. I know the music isn't actually new, but much of it is new to me, so it counts.

Chris Hanaka has a blog that regularly opens my ears to great music. Tons of embedded songs, so I spend most of my time on the site actually listening to music--not reading about it.

Music Uncovered and Covered is basically a sub-site by Hanaka that focuses on song covers. I love covers.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Funny Combine Clip: Rich Eisen's 40

I watch the NFL Combine. I know it's stupid, but I like it anyway. Here is the funniest sports clip I have seen in ages.

Rich Eisen runs the 40-yard dash at every combine. When you watch this video, it starts off slow, but once he runs the 40, the fun really starts. Watching him "race against" the future NFL players is the best part.

Why do I find this so funny? Probably because Rich is just a few years younger than I and seeing this normal (but remarkably fit) guy get crushed by such sublime athletes invokes great empathy. There is no way I could run a 40 in under about 8 seconds, but I find the videos of him "racing" the athletes quite amusing. Wearing a suit is a really good touch. If he were in Under Armor performance clothes, it would be kinda pathetic. Instead, with him in a suit and tie, it is hilarious (and impressive).

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

In the Mind of an Engineer

T. Brian Jones has written some interesting stuff. For instance, check out:
I agree with him on most of this. In some ways, I behave like a quasi-engineer, but not entirely. Still, I have known several engineers in my day and many of his observations seem pretty spot on.

Another Jones article, Meetings & Multitasking Can Kill You And Your Kids, has some interesting ideas. In it, Jones includes a couple interesting links.
Finally, here is a bit of fun from Silvergames. Multitask is a Game that tests your ability to multitask. I scored a 22, then a 46, and need to see how far I can get.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Music Monday: A Few Hatchet Jobs

Back in the olden days of radio, some songs were shortened for radio play. Every once in a while, the edit was minor, but often, the result was a hatchet job that frustrated me. Here are a few examples.

Edgar Winter Group: Frankenstein
When this rock instrumental was released as a single, the record company hacked it back to a paltry 4 minutes. This radio version pales in comparison to the full nine-minute version. I also like the version by Marcus Miller's group.

The Chambers Brothers: Time Has Come Today
Compare the short radio edit to the original longer version (this is actually a bit shortened, but not much). The long version is one serious psychedelic trip, which is totally missing from the short version. I had no idea that this longer version existed, and after listening to it, I feel like I just walked through the Haight.

Yes: Roundabout
When I heard Roundabout on the radio back in the 70's, I often heard a version that was about 3.5 minutes long (which I can't find online now). This hacked up version stank when compared to the full album version. Every time I heard the song, I held my breath when it got to the cut point.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Tyranny of the Majority, Part 2

So, what other happening made me think about John Stuart Mill's idea of Tyranny of the Majority?

Mrs. Kid is the Vice President of the PTA at Boy Kid's school. Recently, it came to light that the PTA had an odd relationship with a Faith-Based Organization (I'll call them FBO) at the school. In order to make it right, the PTA had to either sever their relationship or formalize it.

Making trouble isn't really Mrs. Kid's general MO, but this situation got her going. Neither of us like organizations that are exclusionary and we are big fans of strong separation of church and state, so when the exclusionary FBO requires that the PTA essentially sign on to their charter, this caused a conflict.

The FBO parents got wind of the controversy and mobilized. There were lots of confrontational emails and meetings. Battle lines were drawn as Mrs. Kid tried to explain all the reasons that the PTA should not sponsor the FBO. Around the country, few schools sponsor the FBO; most sponsors are churches, which makes perfect sense. Note that I have nothing against the FBO. I just choose not to support them and would rather not support any organization that supports them. It's entirely inappropriate for a public school to support them

Eventually, the matter of formalizing the relationship was put to a vote of the PTA, so in the weeks leading up to the vote, scads of FBO folks joined the PTA. Probably 5 times the normal attendance appeared at the meeting (including bunches of members who joined on the same day as the meeting) for the vote to approve signing the FBO's charter. Many of the PTA's leadership were absent from the meeting, but Mrs. Kid stood her ground.

Only three people voted "nay" on the motion: Mrs. Kid and two other brave souls. As a result of this, it looks like we probably won't join the PTA next year and Mrs. Kid will not serve as President.

Boy Kid has no idea that this has been going on, but some day, he should be as proud of his mother as I am. She stood by her principles even though doing so was politically unpopular. She ticked off some of our friends (some kids on Boy Kid's soccer, basketball, and swim teams are members of the FBO) and has ended her relationship with the PTA. I am proud of her and hope our kids can someday learn from her story about standing up for what's right. I am pretty sure that John Stuart Mill would agree with me.

Note that I have avoided my normal level of linking out to pertinent info, but in an earlier post, I provided appropriate links to info about this FBO. Anyone who cares can search the blog for references to them.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Tyranny of the Majority, Part 1

In his 1859 masterpiece On Liberty, John Stuart Mill lays out an argument for personal liberty and for restraining government's power.

One aspect of Mill's argument that struck me is the tyranny of the majority. The idea is that strong democracy prevents tyranny by a single despotic ruler, but does not prevent the oppression of a minority group by the majority.
Like other tyrannies, the tyranny of the majority was at first, and is still vulgarly, held in dread,.... Protection, therefore, against the tyranny of the magistrate is not enough; there needs protection also against the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling, against the tendency of society to impose, by other means than civil penalties, its own ideas and practices as rules of conduct on those who dissent from them; to fetter the development and, if possible, prevent the formation of any individuality not in harmony with its ways, and compel all characters to fashion themselves upon the model of its own. (On Liberty, Introduction, Page 3)
So, what made me think about this? Washington, D.C.'s battles with gay rights. Some folks in D.C. wanted to put the city's same-sex marriage law (which was approved by the City Council and signed by the Mayor) to a referendum vote.

Ultimately, these people failed. Still, it worried me that they thought they had any chance. The idea that putting something to referendum is always the answer is wrong-headed. John Stuart Mill was talking about just this sort of thing. What if Lincoln had put the Emancipation Proclamation to a referendum vote? What about the Civil Rights Act of 1964? When the majority use a referendum to impose their opinions on minority groups, it is morally reprehensible.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Strong Spirit

A few months ago, I saw the documentary Five Years on Mars about the Mars Spirit rover. The story is amazing. Spirit was sent to Mars on a 90-day mission. Several times, it was in great peril, but it survived far longer than it ever should have.

The xkcd strip Spirit is a nice angle on the amazing rover. Having seen the documentary about the mission, it is easy to understand why someone would anthropomorphize the over-performing rover.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Music Monday: Reliving High School Afternoons

While working today, I have been listening to albums that take me back to afternoons in my bedroom after school was done. I didn't have much when I was in high school, but I had a Fisher receiver, a Technics turntable, and a pair of pretty crappy speakers. When I got home from school, I would crank the tunes.

As I look back on that music, I find that some albums still work for me, while others have a very small niche to fill. Here are some of the albums from that time in increasing order of their likelihood of my listening to them today.

Cheap Trick, Live at Budokan
Video: Surrender
When I went to an Episcopalian youth group retreat at St. George's Camp in southern VA, it was my first real introduction to rock and roll. My most vivid memory from that week before my Sophomore year in HS is everyone yelling along to Surrender at the top of our lungs.

Supertramp, Breakfast in America
Video: The Logical Song
These lyrics always worked for me. Mrs. Kid and I chose Supertramp's Downstream for our first dance at our wedding, but before I knew Even in the Quietest Moments at all (beyond the nice album cover), Breakfast in America had me with a handful of great tunes.

Led Zepellin, In Through the Out Door
My first Led Zep album was their last. It's not their greatest album, but I still like it. I liked that the inner sleeve for the vinyl changed colors when you wiped it with water. Fun gimmick for a fun album. After listening to Houses of the Holy and Physical Graffiti, and other more well-regarded albums so much in the last several years, coming back to In Through the Out Door is kinda refreshing.

Yes, Fragile
I still love this album. The opening track Roundabout was my favorite song for a couple years when I was in HS, but now I find much of the album still works.

Some time, I will post other lists of albums from my deep, dark past.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Web Stuff Friday: Am I a Gadget Update

Many of us have seen the Did You Know video. It presents a bunch of data about new media versus old media (that's a dramatic oversimplification, but you can judge it for yourself).

Did You Know 4.0 has some new data that are interesting, but it still leads me back to my post Am I a Gadget?

A Vision of K-12 Students Today is supposed to "... inspire teachers to use technology in engaging ways...." I'm not a Luddite, but I reject the idea that teachers need to follow every technological fad. I also have solid research on my side when I say that providing instruction in the format that a learner chooses is not necessarily better for the learner. Yes, teachers need to evolve and use technology appropriately. They also need to understand their students and the ways they use technology. That said, it is a foolish teacher who tries to pander to his students' every whim.

Education Today and Tomorrow has interesting tidbits. In some ways, it doesn't seem that different from the previous video, but I like it far better. It seems less preachy and more inspiring.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Seeing the Language of the Universe Through GeoGebra

Galileo once said:
The universe cannot be read until we have learnt the language and become familiar with the characters in which it is written. It is written in mathematical language, and the letters are triangles, circles and other geometrical figures, without which means it is humanly impossible to comprehend a single word.
Good stuff. Think back on the post Math Illiteracy and this becomes pretty distressing.

In all honesty, I was never much of a geometry guy. I like algebra and math modeling, but have generally avoided geometry, which has always seemed like stuff that was either obvious or magic. I never wanted to teach it because I never felt like I had a good enough intuitive feel for the content that I could convey to anyone else.

In the past several years, some software has helped me see the light of Galileo's wisdom. First, I liked Geometer's Sketchpad, but now I am digging some new (and free) software called GeoGebra. I think it is really cool stuff. If I had GeoGebra at my disposal when I was a teacher, I would have begged to teach Geometry. Software like this really makes the ideas of math come alive. Install it and give it a try. When you actually engage with the content, you can see beyond the onerous two-column proofs and begin to understand the language of which Galileo was speaking.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Am I a Gadget?

I rarely read book reviews. I rarely read books, so what's the point? Still, a Post review of Jaron Lanier's You Are Not a Gadget caught my eye. I know it's a bit ironic to be discussing this particular book in this medium, but so be it. As Lanier said in a recent interview:
... the Internet has become anti-intellectual because Web 2.0 collectivism has killed the individual voice. It is increasingly disheartening to write about any topic in depth these days, because people will only read what the first link from a search engine directs them to, and that will typically be the collective expression of the Wikipedia.
Some of Lanier's thoughts about this really work for me. I feel that we are losing sight of the value of ideas and real critical thinking. The Internet (really the Web 2.0 version) brings the focus to little sound bites and aggregations. We all have ridiculous amounts of information washing over us (RSS feeds, tweets, Facebook updates, news pages filled with dozens of headlines), but how much are we really absorbing? How well are we thinking about and synthesizing all this information? At times, I feel like we really are inching toward being stateless automata.

Don't get me wrong: I use Google Reader,, Twitter, and Facebook, but I try to review my use of all these services to see how they are enhancing my life. I am not interested in twisting my life to fit technology; I want technology to help me to
  • do things (pay bills, do work, store information for convenient, intuitive retrieval, etc.)
  • find voices that make me laugh or think (see the Blogroll)
  • stay connected to my family and real friends (Picasa, Gmail)
I think it is important that we all stay vigilant and assess how technology controls our lives. It's seductive and easy to let our gadgets and other technology take over.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Language Changes, but We Don't

My mother and I have some recurring arguments. The two main topics are math education (e.g., should Niece 2 have taken Calculus AB or BC?) and language (e.g., does one graduate from a school, or does a school graduate students?)

Anyway, my father has heard all these arguments and thus when he read this article in the New York Times magazine (Jan Freeman's Bierce's Bugbears), he thought of me. Language changes constantly, but that won't stop people like my mother and me from getting stuck in the past. I am already the fogey who insists that "data" is a plural. Oh well.

When he and I have an argument in another twenty years or so, maybe Boy Kid will read this post and make me re-read Jan Freeman's article. If I'm lucky, the article will be gone by then and I can pretend it just supported my point.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Music Monday: Love Vigilantes and More Accordion Music

Love Vigilantes by New Order (the original) versus Iron & Wine (and here is a nice live version)

When driving somewhere with Mrs. Kid, I heard the acoustic version by Iron & White on the radio. I proceeded to sing along with every line and Mrs. Kid was pretty confused. This was clearly a new-ish song and i am not a particularly hip guy. It was a driveway moment for me in that we were on our way somewhere and I wouldn't get out of the car until the song was done. Love this song -- both the original and the remake.

Follow-up on last Monday's post about the accordion-playing kid. I have been reading the Capital Weather Gang blog at They mentioned that Corey Pesaturo is a weather enthusiast who is also a world-champion accordion player, so I thought I'd check him out. Holy cow, Corey can play that accordion.

Corey's YouTube channel has lots of videos. Here are a few of my favorites.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Web Stuff Friday: Report and My Twitter

It's been a while, so I need to dig through all the cool stuff I have seen over the past month or so.

Dan Meyer's Annual Report is amazing. Very humbling.

RestonKid is now tweeting! If I actually get followers, maybe I will tweet with some regularity. No idea if the medium will work for me, but you never know. Follow me and see how it goes.

Come to think of it, I haven't seen that much cool stuff online. For the past month and a half, I have mostly been shoveling snow and going to community meetings. Oh well. Maybe someone will share stuff with the rest of us.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Slavery, Colonization, and Divorce: Buddha Nature at Work

In response to a recent post about big government, Jaeger commented that people in African countries that were recently colonies have no drive or pride, while those who live in huts and were not subjected to strong colonization live in mud huts, but have pride and drive.

The people in mud huts have stayed close to their Buddha nature. I know it seems like hokey, new-age stuff, but I really believe that when we get away from our essential nature, things go wrong.

When Africans were brought to America to be slaves, they were separated from their Buddha nature. When whites colonized Africa, they subjugated the indigenous people and separated them from their Buddha nature.

I am not going to go into a long diatribe on the topic of the ramifications of these departures from their Buddha nature. Rather, I think it's worth noting that the separation is a problem.

This plays out in smaller ways as well. For instance, I know some formerly married couples who are now divorced. In most cases, we outside observers thought they were an odd match in one way or another. Essentially, we all saw a disconnect between each individual and who they were trying to be. Most of these people have returned to type and are trying relationships that keep them closer to who they are at a basic level. This is a good thing.

The more we can understand ourselves and strive for careers and relationships that are consistent with who we are at a very elemental level, the more we can make good, stable situations for ourselves.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Music Monday: Shredding on Accordion

Now that Lawrence Welk is gone from the air and Judy Tenuta is no longer enjoying her 15 minutes, who plays accordion any more? Aleksandr Hrustevich plays and he is great.

Kid Shreds on Accordion: This kid is amazing.

Kid Shreds on Accordion Encore: Kid is still amazing. The pathos he puts into his performance makes it work. This one starts mellow, but picks up. Bear with it until 2:30 before passing judgement.

Kid Shreds on Accordion Final Encore: Starts strong, then gets mellow, then gets strong again. It's an accordion-fueled joyride.

Maybe Boy Kid will take up the accordion. He's just cool enough to pull it off.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Music Monday: Raul, Bobby

Raul Midon is wildly talented. All through these videos, I wanted to yell "just use one camera and keep it still!" With an artist who is this talented, I just want to listen to him and see his hands fly on the guitar. Anyway, give him a listen.
Videos: State of Mind, Sunshine, Everybody

Bobby McFerrin is best-known for a bit of pop that he put out in the 80's. Since then, he has had a marvelous musical career. This piece is particularly interesting and makes me want to check out more of his recent work.
Video: The Power of the Pentatonic Scale

Friday, January 1, 2010

Web Stuff Friday: Best-of-Craigslist Favorites, Volume 9

Still catching up...