Thursday, December 22, 2011

Podcasts! Well, only two of them....

Ok. So, I've been aware of the existence of podcasts for some time now, but I don't think I really discovered them and started listening to any consistently until about a year and a half ago. I didn't really understand how to listen to them. Given resources such as iTunes, it is remarkably easy. It is essentially the ability to selectively listen to radio, lectures, and what have you for free whenever you so desire. If you are one of those people who has to spend more an hour in the car at any point, I highly recommend becoming acquainted with podcasts.

But where to start? NPR is a good place. If you like radio and there are certain topics you'd like to listen about, NPR has a wide selection to choose from. But if you want more than that, you can pretty much google any topic in combination with the search term 'podcast' and you're likely to find something that overlaps with your interests.

A couple of my recent favorites include the following.

The Skeptics Guide to the Universe.

This podcast looks at a wide variety of topics and issues from a skeptical perspective. I think the reason I like this podcast is because it is entertaining and exposes me to ideas and news that I otherwise wouldn't ever hear about. It leans heavily towards science, perhaps another reason I like it. It isn't for everyone, but I certainly enjoy it.

The Infinite Monkey Cage.

This one covers topics similar to those in the Skeptic's Guide, but obviously, as a BBC radio podcast, it is British and bit more accessible as it directed at a wider public audience. The podcasts are shorter, usually about half an hour, but they're packed with wonderful entertaining and informing tidbits. It is a combination of science and comedy. A good combination. The only problem with the Infinite Monkey Cage, in my opinion, is that they have very few episodes available. They had previous seasons on the radio, but none of those seasons seem to available anywhere. So, if any of you handful of readers discover the hidden stash of episodes, please let me know! I'd love to listen to them.

There are others, but those are perhaps the two I'm most interested in sharing. Clearly, I need to branch out more....

In a similar method I also subscribe to the show Mr. Deity. Which I recommend for everyone as it is highly entertaining and ridiculous. Let's see, here's a good example.

(Mr. Deity and the Help Meet)

Happy Winter Solstice!

Today, being the 22nd of December, 2011, is the Winter Solstice.

As we've approached Christmas this year I've not really felt that it was Christmas time. The feeling just hasn't been there. Perhaps because it has been ridiculously warm thus far this winter (no snow and it is 46 degrees F outside - chance of rain). Perhaps because it wasn't until 14th and 15th that our Christmas decorations went up (although they look quite beautiful now!). Whatever the reason, it doesn't feel like December and it doesn't feel like Christmas time.

That lack of feeling aside, I've still been enjoying some of the details of the season. For example, this year the garland around the staircase has bells on it. This is wonderful as every time I race up or down the stairs the bells ring and make me smile. An addition I very much enjoy. They're subtle and not over the top and they add just enough colorful sound.

I was wrapping some gifts and looking at the sticker tags that we had sitting in the wrapping supplies and I was reminded of a Christmas a number of years ago when I was little. I really don't recall the Christmas that well, but having been told the story since then, I still have the general memory of what went on. Essentially, my parents had the bright idea to add some variety to who the packages were addressed to and from. As in, from Santa, to Dasher. That kind of thing. The problem was that come Christmas morning, they couldn't remember who all of the packages were really addressed to. There may have been a method and pattern to the madness, but it got lost in the shuffle of everything else. I'm sure everything got sorted out eventually, but I haven't seen that idea repeated since then. There have been some slight variations, but while they've been more creative, they've also been clearer. Not quite so vague.

Anyway, good things ahead. :) I need to wrap some more presents....

Wednesday, December 14, 2011



This is how I'm feeling right now.

Not so much the video, which is weird, but the song, yes.

(Shiny Toy Guns - Le Disco (with lyrics))

Friday, December 9, 2011

Guy de Maupassant

A lawful kiss is never worth as much as a stolen one. — Guy de Maupassant

I, of course, imply consent.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Rational? No, thanks, I'll pass.

Most of the time I feel like a rational well-balanced individual full of optimism and fire. Really, a vast majority of the time. But sometimes, every once and awhile, emotion slaps me in the face like I need to be paying attention to it. I'm always surprised by it. Every single time. And perplexed by it.

Silly me....being human....

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Lost in Translation

So, I ordered two coats over a month ago on Etsy from a little family run business in China. They have a beautiful style that comes across in their clothing designs.

Upon ordering the two coats a conversation was started concerning what sizes I wanted. Based on my measurements, I'd asked for them both in the Small size. She then asked for my exact measurements so she could "custom" make my coats. I gave them to her and upon receiving them she recommended I go with a medium....even though the medium measurements seemed to clearly indicate that it would be too big. But, assuming she knew her designs and how they fit, I opted for her professional opinion.

At this point it was already pretty clear that there was a language barrier we weren't crossing very well. I would ask a question or say something and while she'd respond, she wouldn't respond to those questions/statements. She was attempting to be incredibly helpful, but not really being very helpful, mostly because she couldn't communicate with me.

But, all of that aside, and ignoring my concerns, I went with the medium. I really have no idea how big she thought I was, or if she thought I'd maybe skewed my measurements, but let me tell you, the mediums sure as heck don't fit right.

So, now I'm stuck with two beautiful over-sized coats. Which I'll take to the local tailer tomorrow. Who I am hoping can do something to reduce the general bagginess that shouldn't be there.

So, for all of you who may or may not be contemplating buying things on Etsy, I definitely recommend Etsy for the wonderful things that can be found there. But, if someone tells you to buy a size that you know isn't the right size, don't let them convince you to go against what you know!

Go with your gut!

Music Phases: French House?

I regularly go through music phases where I listen to certain albums or types of music in concentrated doses for awhile before needing to switch things up. I frequently kill music this way. But I continue to do it anyway.

Most recently I've been in love with Daft Punk and other similar music types. I'm not sure that I even knew who/what Daft Punk was until the most recent Tron movie. I hate to land too much in the following club based on the music being used in a movie, but to be fair, there's so much out there. Sometimes you just need another avenue to introduce wonderful things to your life.

Here are a few of my recent favorites.

Around the World (Daft Punk). This song isn't an overly complicated or deep song, but it is fun to listen to. I think it was watching the video that really made me fall in love with the song. It is so...interesting....the mummies are my favorite.

Daft Punk "Around the World" from Stephan Pilon Lectez on Vimeo.

(Daft Punk "Around the World")

Next is End of the Line, again by Daft Punk. This song appeared in the most recent Tron film. This is the version I like most, but below is a similar version that I was able to embed. Again, not an overly complicated song, but there is about it.

(Daft Punk - Tron Legacy Theme - End of Line)

Last, for now, is Carnival by Milan and Phoenix. The video below just throws you sort of into the middle of the song, but it isn't too bad. This song makes me want to move. To dance. To feel energy.

(Milan & Phoenix - Carnival (Original Mix)

I think that is good for now.

Tires (or the lack there of)

It is funny how all the puzzle pieces seem to fit so nicely together in retrospect. Or, as is often said, hindsight is 20/20.

Oh, well. Better luck next time, I suppose.

Shall I tell you about the escapades of Tuesday evening? Yes, I suppose I shall. Since this is my blog and, hypothetically (supposing anyone actually reads this besides myself), you are my readers.

Let's see. It started with me leaving just a bit early to go to a yarn shop in Newport. About twenty minutes early. I started to back out of my driveway and there was a funny *pop* and puff of smoke but I assumed, as I often do, that it was just me being a tad over enthusiastic shifting into reverse. Even at that moment I did consider stopping to check my tires, but I wasn't too worried about it.

As I headed in the direction of the freeway I did notice something was slightly off. Not very noticeably, but - I was noticing. A little farther along I pulled over and, sure enough, my back left tire was riding slightly soggy. I actually thought if anything had been wrong it would have been with the back right tire (as it has some funky bubbles), but apparently not so.

So, here's the thing. I've not got very much experience with flat tires, but I've got a fair amount of experience with soggy tires. My lovely little car has low profile tires that ride fairly thin even when they're full. While I was out and about in Utah I frequently had to have my tires refilled with air as they were soggy off and on. We never came to a good conclusion as to why that was happening, but the frequent trips to the car shops and the advice that low profile tires were to some extent made equipped to handle some sogginess ended up making me sort of indifferent to the sogginess of my tires.

And that's precisely how I approached my soggy tires this go around. Not a good thing.

I remained fairly alert to the sound of any unevenness in the driving and noted that there wasn't much to be heard the first thirty minutes or so into the drive. It was just as I was getting onto a busier stretch of freeway that I first noticed something substantially wrong. Unevenness (rather suddenly) in the driving, and lots of bumpiness. Not alerts, alarms, flashing lights or any of that. In my mind = meh...I'll be fine.

Not a good indifference.

As I continued on, the bumpiness became steadily worse and began to hear something funny in the way the tire sounded. As if part of it was hitting something else. I mean, come on! What else can that mean but that a part of the tire is coming off?! But in my inexperienced and indifferent mind I thought, "I'm almost to Brandon's. Only about ten or fifteen minutes further tops. I'll be fine."

Really, I'm freaking out at this point. I know there is something wrong, but I've no idea what and I know that there will be help if I just get a bit farther. Just keep going. Just a few more miles. Idiot. I should have pulled over as soon as I noticed any unevenness. Really, I shouldn't have ever gotten on the freeway.

And thus we see some of the consequences of living an easy and rather painless life. Where as any other person who has dealt with a gradual flattening of a tire like that would have easily connected the dots, I, in my naivete and lack of experience, did not. Or at the very least didn't want to admit the likelihood that my semi-worst fears were a reality. I just wanted to get from point A to point B. Come now, that doesn't seem so difficult does it?

On I went with a very unhappy car. All the way across the bridge and into Kentucky. And that's right about when my unhappy tire became no longer my unhappy tire. I actually saw it come off. I was in the middle lane (out of three...maybe four) and had just felt a very different shift in the unhappiness of my vehicle and finally admitted to my mind that I needed to pull over. So on went the left blinker, on when the hazards, and off the road into the middle median I went. Thank goodness I have a fairly narrow car. I suppose I probably should have gone off to the right, but I knew that any issue I was having was with the left tire and if I needed to change it, I wanted to do it as far away from the busy traffic as I could. Just as I was blinking into the far left lane I saw my tire come off and I pulled over about twenty feet from where my tire landed. The tire was actually originally a bit into the left lane but it got budged by a passing car all the way over to the median.

I can't explain the shock I felt at this point. Even though all of these blatantly obvious details had been staring me in the face, I just couldn't believe that what had happened had in fact happened.

First phone call: Brandon. "Help! My wheel's just fallen off! It's gone! Lying twenty feet back! I don't know what to do! I'm going to call AAA but will you come and get me?!"

(Note: When in a vehicular bind, I seem unable to properly distinguish between wheels and tires. I know which is which. But if I'm at all flustered or stressed (or both) and the subject matter revolves a certain vehicle or two, I'm likely to not properly distinguish between those two. As noted in the above plea for help.)

It took me three phone calls to AAA to finally make a service call. Three. The first two dropped as I tried to juggle the operators at AAA with other phone calls I was trying to take/make. The third one worked.

It was about this time that Brandon arrived in his car and parked it on the opposite side of the median from mine (our cars facing different directions, his North, mine South). It seems appropriate to mention that I couldn't have picked a much more awkward location to stop. I was past the bridge and past the exit just after the bridge, but before the on ramp. So the only way to come from the south and turn around to be on the same side was to go all the way in to Cincinnati on the other side of the bridge. Which isn't impossible, but is a bit mad. As to why Brandon parked on the other side of the median. I should also mention that this was perhaps one of the busiest traffic times for I-471 South. 5:30 to 7:30ish. Fast heavy traffic heading south. Whipping by my little car. In the dark. Slightly raining. Misting really.

So, Brandon arrives. I hop over the median and sit in the backseat behind him in the drivers seat (both of us as far from the racing traffic as we can be). I'm not really sure why I had Brandon come wait with me. I think I originally thought I'd need to be picked up. But I couldn't very well go anywhere until AAA got there. But I have to admit it was extraordinarily helpful to have him there to calm my racing nerves.

In my description of the problem to the AAA person I was dealing with I may or may not have once again been off when choosing to use the word tire or wheel. I'm fairly certain I gave the impression that I no longer had a back left wheel. As to why they sent a tow truck. We waited for about forty minutes for the tow truck to finally arrive and upon arrival our Mr. AAA was very helpful in fully inflating my spare tire and putting on my car. The latter part of which I've done before and probably could have done an hour earlier (if I'd had any idea what I was dealing with).

It was only a matter of moments after which I jumped back in my car and zoomed off to Brandon's. I should also note (I suppose) that the plan had been to visit the Festival of Lights at the zoo (a plan which has been postponed). We'd originally planned on that for Monday night. I'm excessively grateful to not have had this experience on Monday when it was raining buckets but instead have had this experience when it was simply misting.

Since our time had now been consumed sitting in the car chatting, we devoted ourselves instead to our homework. What that really meant was that we made a pizza, watching videos on wimp and then watched Princess Mononoke and then belatedly turned our attention to our homework.

Oh! And I almost forgot. I'd noticed some odd behavior on Brandon's part. Mysteriously going to check on something in his trunk while we were waiting. Parking in a different place than usual at his apartment and running in without waiting for me (I was still at my car even though I'd arrived back a bit earlier but I'd dumped out an entire set of dominoes and was attempting to chase them all down and put them away). Not typical behavior. And what was the meaning of it all? A cake. Not just any cake, but an ice cream cake with lovely letters curling on the top that read "Happy Birthday Geneva". It isn't every day that I get to eat an ice cream birthday cake especially for me almost a month after my birthday.


The drive home was rather painful. I tend to go about five over the speed limit at all times. With the spare I was instructed to keep it around 50 mph or below. Thank goodness for cruise control. I don't think I could have done it other wise. Sooooo slow. Those poor cars around me. Only once when taking the ramp from one freeway to another did a ca get stuck behind me. It was so frustrating! I was determined to maintain my speed, but I couldn't have changed lanes faster when I was finally able to.

Anyway, it was fantastic evening. My nervous/anxious/stressed energy in the car, once no longer stressed, bubbled up as pure energy a little later. Adrenaline let loose.

Firsts for the evening:
-Watching my tire come off my wheel.
-Parking (with a charming and attractive boy!) (in public!) in the middle median of a freeway.
-Climbing over the median (awesome.).
-Watching Princess Mononoke.
-Eating Birthday Ice Cream Cake almost a month belated.
-Maintained a speed 5 to 15 below the speed limit for over an hour.