Archive for September, 2005

“Help, Mom…

…There Are Liberals Under My Bed!”

My brain literally did a hard crash and reboot when I saw this.

Quality Education

It’s nice to know that our students are learning quality stuff:

A 4th grader’s response to the question, “Name the 6 states that border Pennsylvania”.


Is that new Sprint/Nextel commercial (“because if we were all the same… it would be creepy”) really freaking anybody else out? Because I get really skeeved by it. :)

Awesome game (scary!)

This game is awesome. It doesn’t tell you anything about the point of the game or why you’re there, but half the fun is figuring it out.

It’s not for the faint of heart, though. There are several moments where it’ll frighten you right out of your skin, especially if you scare easily. :)


Beautiful song…

I was driving home from work today and, as I usually do in the car when not listening to a CD, I had NPR on the radio. Afternoons mean All Things Considered, and like every news show that’s been on for the past two weeks, they were pretty much covering Katrina and not much else—though over the last couple days I’ve been relieved to hear them start covering the John Roberts hearings.

Toward the end of the show, they played a story about a song by Eliza Gilkyson called “Requiem.” She wrote it last winter, after the tsunami. I was a little skeptical for many reasons, including the fact that I’d never heard of this woman or any of her music, and I was about to write it off as some unknown folk singer writing an overly-emotional song about something with which she had had no experience or understanding. Naturally, they were doing the story on the song because of the rather apropos connection between what happened there last year and what happened on our own Gulf Coast this month. I wasn’t expecting much, but then something amazing happened.

They started playing the song. And God, was it ever beautiful.

It isn’t much—just a piano, guitar, cello and two voices (Gilkyson’s and her daughter’s). But this song just… grabbed me. It’s quite hymnlike, and while its lyrics are slightly overwrought, it’s got this amazing quality to it. I think that ultimately, its simplicity is what draws me in: the song is just two people singing, in what I instantly recognized as that mode that I get into when I’m singing in a church. It’s that feeling you get where you just feel like the music you’re making is going directly out the roof of the church and right to where it needs to go, if you get what I’m getting at.

I just couldn’t stop playing it. I highly suggest you give it a listen at the NPR site. If you like it, it can be bought at the iTunes Music Store.

New Updates

I never realized just how fun working with CSS can be. I made some updates to the formatting of the pages, getting rid of that nasty old tables code and using CSS in its place. The page for the Mozart’s Requiem performance has been updated with fluid CSS, which makes the actual code for the page about half as busy and about a hundred times less complex. I also added a little box on my main page to show what music I’ve been listening to, courtesy of AudioScrobbler and its neat little Winamp and iTunes plugins and RSS feeds. Now that I’ve got that working, though, I need to figure out if there’s a way I can include it in the sidebar for my LiveJournal, which is why I started working on it in the first place.

Also updated/added are some dynamic updates to my Music Page, not only with a few new songs, but also so that I can add a song to the list just by creating a page in WordPress, which is going to be a huge timesaver when updates or changes are made. It’s a nice little hack, if I do say so myself, because it allows me to create a new category (right now there’s just “Songs” and “Projects”, but I could add more if I felt like it) and auto-sort the entries into those categories.

I’ve also futzed a little bit with the text formatting so that it looks more the same in Internet Explorer and Mozilla/Firefox. Talk about a war, there, though: Internet Explorer’s text formatting using CSS is a real bitch, and just when you think you’ve got it right, you notice that the sizing for IE is about two times as large as the sizing when looking in a “real” browser like Firefox or Opera.

Blast from the past – MP3

More than ten years ago (when I was just a lad), I spent a weekend in November of 1994 with a family friend who had recording equipment and a computer recording setup. I was only fifteen at the time, and it was all so amazing to me, as I had never dealt with anything of this sort before. What came out of the recording sessions was a single song, clocking in at a ridiculously ponderous ten and a half minutes.

Despite its obvious flaws, I was quite happy with the result, and my family and friends loved it as only family and friends can do.

The song lived its life out on cassette tape for several years, until the MP3 revolution first started hitting. When I had my first website, I took the tape, hooked it up to my computer, and recorded it in. I cleaned it up as best I could with the technology available to me, and encoded it to MP3. At the time, MP3s weren’t encoded at super-high bitrates like they are nowadays, and the result was pretty audibly compressed. I always wanted to re-record it from the original DAT, but I found out that the master had been broken, and as such the only version of it that I had, digitally, was the one I had made. I suppose that if I can ever find another cassette copy of it I could copy from that, but I haven’t been that fortunate.

Fast forward a few years… I’d had the website for a few years by then, and I’d moved servers a couple times. In the process of one of these moves, I accidentally deleted the only copy of the file that I had. I didn’t have a single backup of my website at the time (and yes, I know how stupid that was). And just like that, I was sans MP3.

Well, I was looking through some old CDs I’d burned, and came across a backup I’d done of some of the files on my computer back in 1999, and what did I find when searching through an MP3s folder (it must have contained all of about 50 files tops–that must have been every single MP3 on my entire hard drive at the time!) but the file, in all of its super-compressed, 128Kbps glory.

So naturally, I’m re-posting it on my website. I will warn you ahead of time that not only is the quality not so hot, but having written it at age 15, it’s not very… let’s say it’s not very mature-sounding. It’s repetitive and a little self-indulgent at times, but if I can say so about my own work, I think that there are really some great moments in it. It’s also a little ponderous at a whopping 10 minutes and 16 seconds.

So if you think you can handle it, give Untitled a listen. Comments, of course, are welcomed.

A special note: This is my first LiveJournal post using my new blog software on my website, which syndicates to LJ automatically. I’m planning on doing all of my updates from my website from now on, assuming that it works okay, but there will probably be updates that I do on the website that don’t show up on LiveJournal. I believe that you can subscribe to find out if there are any updates on the website, and if you can’t do that, then I’m going to figure out a way to get that functionality.

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