February 28, 2005

Funk Not Only Moves

Somewhere along the line, something in our trans-dimensional high-efficiency washing machine went horribly awry and ruined two of my favorite shirts. Though they were in the washer, I’ve Been to Duluth and Eden Prairie were gladly spared, but two other shirts emerged with horrible brown stains.

One was a cream-colored polyester shirt that I picked up at Ragstock many years ago, that went wonderfully with my Lucky Red Pants (note: pants have yet to be proven lucky). I remember that I wore ’em when a bunch of us camp counselors swarmed Valleyfair in ’02. The other shirt was a Hawaiian number featuring some cool Tiki gods, that I picked up at Pacific Sunwear during my Pamplemousse days back in ’98.

I suppose seven years out of one shirt isn’t a bad run, all things considered, but I’m still not happy. I’m a small guy. It’s tough finding clothes that fit. I get lost in the cushions.

I don’t know what’s up. I still haven’t gotten back in the groove since returning from Baja, and I’m still feeling pretty spaced out and miserable. I have no excuse for this. The place where I live is beautiful. I enjoy my job and love my co-workers, and I am in constant proximity with some of the coolest gear on the planet. I finished reading Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods, and am close to finishing Brian Greene’s The Fabric of the Cosmos. To read again is nice. I should consider doing it again.

I am able to pay the bills without needing to eat Cup o’ Noodles and Spam. I’ve gone for a two-mile run every day for the past week, and even today’s rain failed to curb my enthusiasm. The airline found my case of CDs that I left on the airplane in Las Vegas and mailed them back, reuniting me with such favorites as Primus, Love Cars, My Morning Jacket, Guster, Modest Mouse and Weezer. My iPod Shuffle is supposed to ship within the week. Apple lowered the price on the iPod Mini. My parents mailed me a copy of Napoleon Dynamite for Valentine’s Day, and it’s every bit as genius as I remember it.

I am in the market for a new digital camera. I got around to disemboweling my old camera, and by the looks of things I am certain that it will not be going back together again. For those who have never seen the insides of a digital camera, there’s only one thing you need to know: there’s a lot of it.

I really don’t know what my deal is. I’m in a funk for no good reason. I feel that the walls in my 9′ by 11′ bedroom are closing in; that I’m being chewed away on all sides. On Saturday I crossed over into Washington and drove to the general store in Trout Lake to buy a Henry Weinhard’s Orange Cream Soda. It’s a wonderful drink that one can purchase in any gas station in Hood River, but I needed the excuse to get out and think.

And think I did. I’ll be in Hood River for two more months, and in May I pack it all up to move back to Minnesota. I’ll spend a week in Minneapolis for a wilderness lifeguarding class, and then it’s north to the BWCA for a week of wilderness first responder training, followed by a week of camp orientation mixed with a canoe expedition into the wilds. And then I begin my summer guiding canoe trips, followed by an autumn of ambiguity.

And it was on that ambiguity I pondered, while basking in the weak afternoon sun on the front porch of the Trout Lake general store. I would swirl my orange cream soda in its bottle while listening to a group of boys build a wooden bench, and think of the path ahead. There’s a decision I need to make, and it’s not an easy one. It carries with it many facets, decisions within decisions, each one harboring its own risks and concessions.

Whatever choice I make, it will be insane to most and sensible to few. Then again, that’s nothing new. Nothing new at all.

February 26, 2005

T-Shirt Model Available for Work

Dane wearing his "I've Been to Duluth" t-shirt, dressed up in IBC rootbeer cases, pretending he's a raptor

UPDATE: Good news for all you Duluth aficionados! The I’ve Been To Duluth t-shirt is now available for purchase. Also, If you’re curious about the gritty details, you can read our semi-official press release about the event.

I like to wear shirts that don’t make any sense. While I was down in Baja I wore my “I’ve Been to Duluth” shirt, whose meaning is lost on most and misinterpreted by many. We first saw this shirt in the John Candy movie The Great Outdoors, worn by the fellow who runs the lodge. It made a brief appearance, only for a few seconds in a single scene, but that was enough to inspire our Duluth-based outdoor club to model one of our yearly shirts in the same style.

When I wear this shirt, people familiar with the movie will tell me that it’s the wrong color. The shirt in the movie was off-white, but we went with a sage green because we were rugged and it wouldn’t show dirt as readily, and also because we wanted a 50/50 cotton/poly blended fabric that would dry more quickly.

People who don’t know the movie (but know the town of Duluth) will typically say, “Hey, I’ve been to Duluth.” What typically follows is a conversation regarding our personal impressions of the town of Duluth. It’s a funny thing, though, that even when I’m down in Baja, surrounded by Canadians and Alaskans and Hood Riveridians who have never even heard of Duluth, they will typically respond to the shirt by saying, “I’ve been to Duluth.”

The first few times this happened I was taken aback, and would reply with questions demanding the when, why and how of their trip to Duluth. I quickly learned, however, that these people had never actually been to Duluth, had never heard of Duluth, had no interest in visiting Duluth, and were simply reading the shirt out loud. Nevertheless, it’s a great conversation starter. Especially when you tell them that the last time you were there it was 25 below.

Another favorite is my Eden Prairie little league shirt. Whenever I wore this shirt around Bend I kept running into the same creepy fellow who was from the Twin Cities Metro area. Up here in Hood River, no one knows what Eden Prairie is. With a name like Eden Prairie they think it’s a sort of joke. I assure them it is indeed a joke, but the punchline is far different than you might expect.

Eden Prairie is neither Eden or a prairie. It is a town of no consequence, a generic ritzy suburb on the southwest side of Minneapolis. It is so insubstantial that the city government floats all sorts of crazy laws and ordinances in an attempt to differentiate itself from the thousands of other suburbs in the nation. They have these city beautification rules, see, that set careful guidelines on what the city allows you to do with the exterior of your house.

For instance, if you wish to paint your house you must choose from a city-approved palette of colors. I have no idea what the penalty is if you choose to paint your house a forbidden color, or what happens if a bird flies over your house and dumps a gallon of orange paint on the roof, but I’m certain that the punishment is ruthless and painful.

Perhaps the only newsworthy item to ever come out of Eden Prairie occured a few years ago, when a new Mexican Restaraunt called the Picked Parrot opened up shop. In keeping with their Mexican tropical theme, they planted some palm trees around the building for the summer. The palm trees were destined to perish in the crushing grip of winter, this being Minnesota and all, but the owners of the Pickled Parrot found them to be a worthy investment; likened them to expensive landscaping features that must be replaced annually.

Well, I say let them have at it. I have seen people do far more foolish things with their money, things like buying ice sculptures or paying property taxes. Or paying property taxes so a city-wide bureaucratic regime can throw a fancy party with ice sculptures.

Needless to say, the city of Eden Prairie would have nothing to do with it. According to an obscure landscaping ordinance floated in the interest of preserving the widespread banality of the city, the Pickled Parrot was forbidden to landscape with palm trees. The city demanded that they be dug up and shipped to the dump. Or New Hope.

Now, I don’t recall the exact details of the story. It may have been that twenty years ago during a week-long coke bender, the city council wrote an ordinance that explicitly banned palm trees from private property. Perhaps the tall trees violated height restrictions, unlike the huge Telecom building across the street, which was a glorious five-story wonder of brick and mortar and property taxes.

I would guess that the palm trees violated some sort of minimum depression rule, that requires all private property within city limits to make a minimum contribution to the blandness of the community. Some funky palm trees certainly wouldn’t fit this mold. It’d be like planting a blue spruce in Mexico, and you know how up-in-arms those Mexicans would get over that. Cats and dogs running around naked!

So anyways, in a few days my “The floor is made of lava!!!” shirt should arrive in the mail. I hope the llama comes with it, because I don’t have my own llama yet. I think everyone, at some point in their lives, should have their own personal llama. And a couple of palm trees. And about sixty bottles of IBC rootbeer.

February 24, 2005

Accident Prone

Want to see something truly horrifying? Pull the drapes and put the kids to bed, because we’ve got head wounds!

Besides that, I promise I do have more photographs from my trip that are a bit more pleasant. I have pictures of the ocean and a rooster and cars churning through flooded streets. I don’t have as many pictures as I would like to have, however, as I managed to drop my camera in the ocean. The explanation of how that happened dates back to last August, perhaps as far back as January.

You see, in late August my friend Shane and I decided to hike Mount Bachelor to go snowboarding. As we trudged up the slopes (we decided to trudge) friendly people shouted encouraging words at us from the chairlift, speaking optimistically of how much snow there was on the mountain in August, and informing us of how large a bunch of douche bags we really were.

It was nice of them to say such inspirational things. There is something about chairlifts that will always turn regular people into loud-mouth cock suckers the second they leave the ground. It’s not as obvious during the winter because people must jeer into their coats to avoid frostbite, but when muscle shirts, chairlifts and the baked glory of August come together, an irresponsible social hell hangs from suspended cables.

Despite commentary, Shane and I found plenty of snow, and we hiked the crater a number of times so we could keep making turns. On one trip down I noticed something buried in the snow, so I hopped up to it. I found a digital camera laying in the snowfield and it looked like it had seen a rough life. The lens was beaded up with condensation and the camera body had rusty edge marks running down its length. Nevertheless, I tossed it in my pocket (the pocket of my board shorts, cuz hell if I was gonna snowboard in August in anything but board shorts) and took it off the mountain. Leave no trace, I always say.

I tried turning the camera on after getting it home, and nearly jumped out of my skin when it started making horrible noises. The battery was obviously powering something, but it didn’t sound like it was anything good. Nevertheless, I opened the camera and left out to dry. A few weeks later I powered it up again, and was greeted with what looked like a fully functioning camera. The lens opened, the LCD screen lit up and it was ready to go.

As soon as I tried to take a picture the battery died. Crap. My interest now piqued, I invested $30 in a battery charger and started to juice that baby up. In the meantime I removed the flash card from the camera and hooked it up to my computer, first to see if it worked, second to see if it had any pictures, and third to see if I could figure out whose camera it was.

The flash card worked, and it was full of pictures that seemed to document a father and son’s trip to Portland, the Gorge and Mount Hood Meadows. The last picture showed a bluebird day near the summit of Mount Bachelor, on the exact slope where I found the camera.

Something wasn’t right. There was far too much snow on the Sisters. There was way too much winter for this camera to have been dropped in August, or even July for that matter. The people were completely bundled up. There was snow in Warm Springs. There was snow on the Hood River Toll Bridge. Why, one picture even showed the two of them golfing in snow, in Portland.

From what I could fathom, I assumed that the camera had been sitting on Bachelor since January, eight months before I found it. When the battery finished charging I fired her up, and after a few minor protests she started working perfectly.

Amazing. How perfectly, you may ask? Well, you’ve already seen its pictures. Anything in the Photolog since September has been taken with a digital camera that probably sat in a snowfield for eight months.

At first I honestly did want to find the owners, poured over their photos to see if I could figure out who they were, and I found a video that they had recorded at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. When I played it back the audio was garbled, and at first I thought the video was corrupted, or playing backwards, or something. I watched the video a number of times and it slowly dawned on my that there was nothing wrong wrong with it, that the words I couldn’t understand were in Russian.

Having evaporated the possibility of reuniting camera and owner, I adopted it as my own. And like most foster parents, I beat the hell out of it. One day I threw my coat on the railing for the stairs to the basement, and a few seconds later heard a loud CA-THUNK, THUNK, THUNK, patter… My new camera had dropped out of my pocket, fallen ten feet and bounced down the remaining hardwood steps. Miraculously, it still worked.

Another day I took the camera mountain biking. After launching over the handlebars and rolling a few times I took it out, only to discover that the LCD screen was shattered. I was sure that this would be the final blow to my new camera, but Shane took it apart, Googled the part number for the screen, and found a camera forum that listed replacement information, prices, even phone numbers for the parts center.

I ordered a new screen and it showed up in the mail three days later. I carefully finished taking the camera apart (carefully meaning I lost half the screws in my carpet, and the ones I kept I failed to make note of where in the camera they came from) and replaced the shattered LCD screen with a fresh one. Again, when I booted the camera up it worked just fine.

Hardly satisfied and never responsible, I snuck the camera along to the lawless country of Baja California Sur. In preparation for my trip I had picked up a new flash card, bringing my total digital photo storage up to approximately 500 pictures. One morning in Baja, with thoughts and good ideas still leaking out the back of my head, I decided to go out for a spin in the kayak.

I got the kayak launched and everything, but after I clammored aboard I realized that I had been standing in waist-deep water. This wouldn’t have been a problem, except that my camera was in the pocket of my board shorts. Despite intuition to the contrary, salt water is not good for electronics, and a digital camera that has been immersed in salt water does not take photographs, and instead makes terrible hissing noises.

I took the camera back to my casita and washed it off in the sink, figuring I couldn’t do any worse than I already had. I removed the battery and flash card and washed them as well, figuring everyone could do with a playful bit of Montezuma’s Revenge. Over the next week I let the camera dry out (its lens was filled with beads of condensation, after all) and charged the battery, but nothing I did could bring her back to life.

Now that I’m back from vacation I plan on completely taking the camera apart and cleaning it, but this time around I really feel like it is the end. Of course, I’ve felt that at least five times before, too, and the damn thing always manages to pull through. We’ll see what happens.

In case you’re interested, the tough little guy is a Canon PowerShot S400. They no longer make the S400 model, not after that one got possessed by demons and went on a four-day killing rampage. If you can find an S400, I promise that it’s the perfect gift for the retard in your life.

February 21, 2005

Flesh and Blood Needs

After a long and wonderful journey I am back in Hood River. My remaining days in Baja were extremely pleasant. The haunting rains of yore never returned, so we enjoyed day after day of blessed sunshine. The wind continued to be a bit of a disappointment, though I managed to get in a kiteboarding session on Wednesday. Though short in length, the session was amazingly productive. I was making turns and linking my reaches together, and the white-knuckle terror with which I have typically approached kiteboarding gave way to a sensation of raw, unadulterated fun.

As promised, I got my stitches taken out on Thursday. Dan, a veternarian from Fargo, had to come over and take the stitches out of Wayne’s recently-spayed terrier, so after he doctored up the dog he went to work on the back of my head. The dog had to be held down by some gorgeous women, but I only needed to be muzzled. Yup, I got my stitches removed by a North Dakota vet. That’s the way things are done in Baja.

Ultimately, the wind was lousy enough that I only missed two days of kiteboarding because of my injury. That being the case, I’m almost glad it happened. For one, I now know that I’ve got my obligatory kitemare out of the way. For another, Motoshi and I now have matching scars. Most importantly, it really set the mental stage for my trip. The whole time I was in Baja I was simply thankful to be alive. To be alive in such an exotic place, surrounded by friends and neat people, was icing on the cake. The fact that I got to do some kiteboarding was total butter.

I still cringe when I think of that time I reached back to feel the back of my head, and found my fingers disappearing into a deep, slippery gash. For how bad it was, I’m glad that it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. If the fin was a few inches lower I would have had a slice through the back of my neck. A few inches higher and I may have been knocked unconscious. I consider myself very fortunate, and I know that there are better people in the world who have been dealt worse hands.

Anyways. Geez. There was so much to this trip that I can barely figure out what to recount. How to begin?

Randomly, of course! Where rhetorical flourish is absent and coherence is discouraged!

There was Luciano, Knox’s hot date one evening, who is an 85-year-young lady from Austria whose family lost everything to the Nazis during World War II. In any given night, Luciano will get up on stage and sing karaoke, dance the macarena, drink you under the table, and hit on 24-year-old guys. This I know.

Out in the ocean there were jellyfish and urchins and rays and dolphins and whales. Real stinkin’ whales, the biggest animals on the planet, who will jump completely out of the water because it’s the only way humans can comprehend how magnificant a creature they are.

Then there was this narcoleptic dog who would trot beside you, sit down to scratch his ear, stretch and fall asleep, all in the course of about two minutes.

Then there was this mountain town. During the gold rush it was home to 20,000 people, but now it holds a handful of families and a museum of pianos.

The food in Los Barriles was delicious. I frequented a particular taco stand where every time some people would sit down to eat, a gorgeous rooster would pop through the fence to peck for scraps.

After our kiteboarding session on Wednesday, I drove a dune buggy with Alaska license plates into town to grab some ballenas of Pacifico. Ballena means whale in Spanish, and ballenas is the classy Mexican equivalent for 40s in America. We didn’t have a bottle opener, so Jim figured out a way to pop open our beers on the barbed wire fence.

I had never even ridden in a dune buggy before going to Baja. Driving a dune buggy is a lot like driving an old Volkswagen Beetle, only rustier. You park it on the sidewalk in front of the grocery store, against traffic, next to the four-wheelers and motor bikes.

After two weeks in Mexico, the thing that I missed the most about America was folk music, bluegrass and Johnny Cash. Boot Liquor Radio describes it as American Roots Music for Saddle-Weary Drunkards. There’s elegance in that.

February 15, 2005


A few uncollected thoughts…

The Fayla Super in Los Barriles (Barriles is the correct spelling, despite my previous declarations otherwise) is a wonderful grocery store. You can get a can of Old Milwaukee for ten pesos, just in case you can’t get enough of that classic Midwest flavor. I have yet to find a venue that sells PBR.

It hasn’t rained since Friday, and yet the roads are still wonderfully flooded. The water is more than six inches deep in places. Walking out of our street requires that I squeeze through a bush covered in four-inch spikes. Wayne told me what kind of plant it was, and I believe the name roughly translates to green death.

The old lady at the counter behind me speaks worse English than the Mexican girl she is attempting to communicate with. According to her, the best way to speak with people who are familiar with your native tongue, but not you theirs, is to speak loudly without verbs or grammar.

I try my best to speak Spanish as much as possible, but too often I find myself getting involved in conversations far over my head. I don’t know Spanish. I know the horrible language of a rude little country whose citizens are affronted when you speak English, and are offended when you speak their native tongue. I hear that they respond really well to body language, though, like thrown punches and stuff.

Nay, right now I really wish I knew Spanish. Even the conversations I strike up with four-year-olds down here are making me feel self-conscious.

I have one doctor telling me to take antibiotics and abstain from alcohol, and another doctor telling me to drop the antibiotics and drink more tequila. I haven’t decided who to believe, yet, but I must say that both Leo and Martine make a fabulous margarita.

Today I went kayaking. It is fun to kayak in azure waters and play in the swell.

The back of my head is all but healed. The stitches are starting to itch, which means it’s just about time to get them taken out. On Valentine’s Day, I almost died from a broken heart while watching everyone else out kiteboarding. Thankfully, that night Kelsey and Jeanie treated me and Chris to a wonderful dinner of Alaskan salmon, mango salsa and fresh salad.

February 12, 2005


Baja is lovely. I am currently broadcasting from an internet-type place in Los Barilles called The Office, which in English roughly translates into the name of a type of fish or something.

It’s been cloudy (anc occasionally rainy) the last few days, but I still managed to get out kiteboarding on Wednesday and Thursday. My session on Thursday was cut short when the wind died, my kite hindenberged (that is, suddenly dropped out of the sky in a burst of flames) and I had to swim back to shore.

As I was diddling around trying to grab my kite in the surf, my board got caught in a wave and smacked me in the back of the head really hard. When I reached back to find a lump, I instead found a hole. An alarmingly large hole. In the back of my head. I hiked up the beach and found some of Wayne’s friends, who took one look and knew I would need stitches. Chris brought around the four-wheeler and drove me to the American clinic, which was closed. Instead, we went to the Mexican clinic. There were cow pies in the front courtyard, and a sign that said the doctor was away at lunch. This didn’t necessarily bode well.

Fortunately, as we were just leaving the door, the doctor pulled up in his red Pontiac Grand Am and told us to hold on a minute. He opened up shop, took me in, and proceeded to stitch my head back together. The cut was about two inches long, half an inch wide, and half an inch deep. Roman Soria patched it up with seven stitches, and gave me some antibiotics, serile gauze pads and Advil.

I am confident that he did an excellent job. Any gringo who has spent some time here has sent a friend to this clinic to get patched up. I don’t understand all the details of it, but it seems that the Mexican government plays a heavy role in training doctors. After a doctor has finished all his schooling, he is sent to a small town clinic (like here in Los Barilles) to run a general practice before he can go on to specialized areas of study. Many times, doctors enjoy GP so much that they stay with it, even after fulfilling their requirements.

I’ll be seeing Roman again next Thursday to have the stitches taken out. I am so exciteding! I’m in pretty good spirits about the whole thing. I mean, really. Far worse things have happened to far better people. Besides. Nothing breaks the ice and eliminates the anxiety about being in a foreign place, quite like putting a hole in your head. Scars are the best souveniers because they make such great stories.

In other news, yesterday it rained. Hard. All day. Apparently it’s been cloudy and rainy here for the last month. People say that this is extremely unusual, that this never happens here, but I believe that this is just a nice way of saying that people have very poor memories about these things.

Quite a few roads are flooded. Finding a way to the main street from my Casita requires navigating a maze of flooded roads and executing a few bouldering moves.

Hey, Max just dropped by The Office. Max was the fellow who drove me from the airport to Los Barilles on Tuesday. As far as I can recollect, Max was born in La Paz, but has lived in Los Barilles for more than fifteen years. He gave me the skinny on Baja politics. They had a state-wide election here last week, and a fellow from Los Barilles named Roberto got elected to state congress. Los Barilles isn’t a very large town (maybe 1,000 people by Max’s estimate) so everyone here is excited, and hopes that Roberto can help improve conditions in Los Barilles. Also, having been elected to state congress, Roberto is allowed to run for national congress in the next election.

Hmm. What else? Last night a bunch of us gringos got together and played poker. Today has been gorgeous. Yesterday’s endless rain finally cleared out the storm system that’s been dogging Baja for the last month, so today we’ve been enjoying nothing but blue skies.

Anyways. I’d better run. If the wind comes up I am to be the designated kite launcher.

February 8, 2005

Out to Launch

The staff of Brainside Out will be kiteboarding in Baja until February 21st.

The commenting system remains a disaster.

We request that you otherwise busy yourselves until our return.

February 6, 2005

Fever Dreams

Fair is fair. A couple days of being sick would be a complete waste if it wasn’t for the fever dreams.

Last night I was riding in the last car of a full train in the Minneapolis light rail system. A group of guys were in a cluster near the back window, and it was obvious they were up to something. One of them pulled a small metal disc from his pocket, pressed a button, and stuck it to the window. The guys nodded at each other, and as soon as the train slowed down to round a corner, they opened the door and jumped out of the train.

I didn’t want to be around when the thing blew up, so I followed suit and quickly dove out of the train. It was too late, and after a series of shrill beeps the device went off and filled the train and tunnel with a white poisonous fog. The effects of this fog were horrible, far worse than anthrax or VX or any chemical or biological agent doctored by man.

How horrible? Truly horrible! As I looked around, anyone who came into contact with the fog was covered in…

…wait for it…

…a cheap Halloween costume!

And not even a whole Halloween costume, but only the cheap makeup that you can buy in a kit at Wal-Mart. So there I was running around the light rail tunnel, in the midst of pandemonium, surrounded by a poison fog and people who were made up to look like skeletons, vampires and zombies!

Everyone evacuated the train and we started to run up the stairs of the nearest station, yelling and coughing into the fog. The CDC had quarantined the area, and had turned the bathrooms into an infirmary for treating the victims of this senseless act of terrorism.

I approached a doctor for my condition, and he told me the only way to cure my affliction.

The only way that I could be completely cured from the affects of the fog was to…

…wait for it…

…finish the costume!

He handed me a witch’s hat (me having been turned into a witch and all), which I filled with a clear goo and put over my head. The goo ran down all over my face, taking with it all the cheap Halloween makeup.

Meanwhile, in other episodes of insanity, I drove my Subaru off huge dirt jumps, had more nightmares about coding, and wandered around a college campus built amongst tall grassy mountains and criss-crossed by endless chainlink fences.

February 5, 2005


Classics. In honor of our four-year anniversary I have launched a new section for Brainside Out, that features some old stuff repackaged to look new.

Does this mean what I think it means? Yep. I finally got around to rebuilding Rubin Sez… and Leave it to Peter. More stuff may follow, but I leave for Baja in three days and I need to get packing. Also I seem to be falling ill, which will be great for my immune system as it reacclimates to Mexico for the first time in ten years.

I rarely get sick, so the timing on this thing is rather bizzare. I haven’t gotten sick since moving to Oregon, and then, a day after seeing The Aviator, I fall ill some sort of crud-achey-soar-throat thing. Can watching a hypochondriac make you sick? Doubtful.

It’s strange, but it’s not as strange as nearly being killed by a flock of wild turkeys. That happened yesterday. I also played a gig with Topsoil at the River City Saloon last night, so these things all balance out. The good with the bad.

I finally broke down and ordered my iPod Shuffle. I’ve also started regularly using iTunes instead of Winamp, which is something I never thought I’d do. The randomizer seems to work a lot better on iTunes, and from my existing collection I quickly built an awesome playlist with 6.7 days of music.

I don’t care too much for the large user interface on iTunes, so I usually run my music through its mini player interface. Maybe I’m just conditioning myself for the arrival of my iPod Shuffle, but I find that the seven buttons on the mini player offer more than enough functionality. And the display that shows the current track name, length, artist and album? M’eh. I minimize that as well. It’s my freaking music collection. I know the song, the artist and the album, and why do I need to know how long the track is?

There’s probably some profound observation to be made, here, about software design or engineering or human-computer interaction, about how we strain ourselves to build all sorts of additional functionality into a product, only to lose ground to a simpler, cheaper product with reduced functionality because it is, well, simpler and cheaper.

Profound things could be said, but I’ve been awake for an hour and now it’s time to go back to bed.

Please enjoy the classics as much as I enjoy Baja!

February 3, 2005

You? You Needa Mahgeeta.

Okay, we’ve got ourselves a minor problem. The site is currently pitching a fit, and I cannot vouch for the quality of comment functionality. I’ve been testing the comments tool and it seems to crash rather frequently.

This, this I don’t mind. I’m used to working with broken software. I’m building some broken software myself right now. I work on things until they explode, and then I piece together the wreckage to figure out where everything went wrong. Unfortunately the comments tool doesn’t explode, but rather implodes and takes any useful diagnostic information along with it.

It’s like looking at a black hole and tryin’ to figure out what may be going on inside, but you don’t have all those virtual particles and anti-particles constantly bursting into existence and annihilating each other. Those fellers are useful because every once in a great while, a virtual anti-particle will cross the event horizon and fall into the black hole, freeing up its paired virtual particle, which gets emitted out into the universe and can be detected by really expensive tools buried in old iron ore mines beneath Tower, Minnesota. In effect, it’s as though a black hole emits energy, without actually needing to emit energy!

But I’m not getting that. Instead I get useless warnings that say sumthin’ went wrong, and I should contact my site administrator. I know better than that. It’s his Friday night and he’s probably passed out in a dumpster somewhere in Hood River.

Anyways. That’s not what we’ve convened here to discuss. A couple months ago a new indie record shop named Mobius Records opened up here in Hood River, so over the last few weeks I’ve been chatting with Kyle and buying a lot of great music that I’ve meant to pick up for years. Recommendations? I definitely have at least one recommendation.

You should totally check out It Still Moves by My Morning Jacket. I got this album a few weeks ago and I can’t get enough of it. It’s one of those discs where it sounds great the first time you listen to it, but after hearing it a couple times it really starts to grow on you. After awhile, it fills such a huge void that you can’t imagine your life without it.

The mix on It Still Moves is absolutely huge, and just as warm. It sounds like they put the band at one end of Bend’s huge historic crane shed, set up the microphones at the other end, and fired away. The mix is so wet and echoey that the instruments and lyrics seem to bounce off every wall. Let me tell you, this album sounds amazing when you let it resonate through every room of a century-old Victorian house. Simply amazing.

The musical style of My Morning Jacket is a bit difficult to categorize. At first it sounds very emo, with mournful progressions and aching lyrics. Then you notice the optimism, the warm twang in his voice, and you start keying in on the deeper aspects of the music. You start picking up on patterns, and you realize that despite its modern sound, the songs are steeped in classic rock and roll, complete with old school rockabilly solos.

My Morning Jacket could almost be a sarcastic blend of old and new styles, of classic rock and country and emo, if only they weren’t so damned good at inventing their own sound in the process. So yeah, I’d recommend that you give Kyle a call and pick up this album. If he doesn’t have it in stock, he’ll special order it and ship it right to your door. And then, if the guitar solo on One Big Holiday doesn’t make you lose your freakin’ mind, I’ll let you punch me in the gut. While listening really loud to the guitar solo on One Big Holiday.

Yeah, I think that sounds good. How do you think that sounds? Of course, since comments are mostly broken you can’t let me know how that sounds. You see that? Yeah, I planned that.