Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Tickling (paca)

In case you were wondering...

Three thoughts on global warming (paca)

1) I'm pretty much a shmuck about global warming stuff. I'm one of those people who believes the science but hasn't done much about that belief other than to think that other forms of energy sound good. So someone should really get on that. I do have a high gas mileage car, but that's because I wanted to save money on gas, not save the environment. I could recycle, but I'd have to keep all these bags of bottles in my apartment and then lug them allllll the way to a recycling center. Pshaw. Yah, like I'm going to do that.

Then you hear that, since I live in Waikiki, my current home would be underwater if the sea levels rose. The university nestled in a mountain valley would become beach front property.

Maybe I should stop being quite so damn lazy. On the other hand, I could surf to my office.

2) This report on Think Progress (a web site I read a couple times a week) is ridiculous. They report that a congressman attended a party with the Director of National Intelligence Negroponte as a speaker. The rumor then got around that Negroponte had been forbidden to use the phrase "global warming." First of all, he's the Intelligence Chief and is not involved in environmental affairs or policy. Secondly, someone heard a rumor at a party? THIS is news?! The Bush administration does enough to sound idiotic about climate change that's truly bad. We don't need to worry about party rumors. Apparently, Cooper also heard that Jim likes Julie a whole lot but he's can't say anything because he already told Josie he'd go to the dance with her on Saturday.

3) Every time I hear about "An Inconvenient Truth" I think: You know the Green Party has only effected national politics significantly once in its history, and its accomplishment was to keep Al Gore from being elected President. Thanks.

The purpose of general education (paca)

There have been a couple interesting posts lately on The Moderate Voice by one of the co-bloggers Polimom about education. She lives in Houston, it seems, and some of the schools there have reached drop-out rates possibly over 50%. She says that one thing she's noticed in her conversations about educational reform is that people all have different ideas concerning what the purpose of universal education is. Here are her questions:

Is the goal a literate society whose citizens can support themselves? To participate in / understand the issues that affect them?

Or is it to compete in a global economy?

Is it to educate to some common denominator? Or instead, is it to take each individual to his/her fullest potential?

Am I way off base and it’s something else altogether?

So what do people here think the goal is? I don't have a great answer myself.

Here's what I came up with as a comment on her post:

"I agree that it’s very confusing, and I have no wisdom. The only productive thought I have at the moment is to distinguish universal government-sponsored education from education generally. Those should have different purposes. Education as a whole is a life-long endeavor whose endeavor is for people to reach their greatest potential. This might be through englightenment of the mind, but just as practically and importantly, it might focus on obtaining specific skills required for a certain employment. After all, we spend half our waking lives at our job, we will certainly be reaching our greatest potential if that employment is meaningful to ourselves and our community.

But the goal of universal education?

Not exactly the same. I think it’s something closer to giving someone abilities to make their own decisions in their society. So still student focused. If you can’t do basic math, read, or know how your society functions (history, gov), your choices are extremely limited. But at some point, usually around high school, the student has the ability to reason well enough to make their future decisions. When that happens, you are moving from universal education to personal education.

I don’t think this works, but it’s the best I’ve got right now."

What do you think?

UPDATE: For others who are interested in this issue, you might wish to link over to the commission's report that got polimom thinking. On the moderate voice blog, polimom mentioned that one of my comments there was similar to some of their recommendations, which means that these commissioners must be doing something right. I, however, have not read it yet, as the executive summary is 27 pages long. One more useful thought is: let's say you agree with the "radical" recommendations in the report. Do we have to wait for the President of the United States to agree before we do anything, or can something be done in the meantime, i.e., at the federal or state level? You would hope so. However, I fear that No Child Left Behind (and other Washington programs) have such control now over all local programs, that there's little that can be done. People can read the report and let me know.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Hawaii Trip Day Two

Note: Another post below this long one - and it isn't Puffy Amiyumi.

The phrase for Day Two on the Big Isle is: "Pit of Fire". To get the proper feel, you have to say it in the raspiest whisper you can muster out of your scratchy throat. You will see why that is the phrase as you scroll down.

Or you will see right now.

So Day Two was a big travel day. The gist was that we drove from the western Kona coast where we were staying around the south end of the Big Isle to the Volcano National Park.

Volcano National Park - Pit of Fire... OK, well, it's fun for B and I to say to each other.

Our first major stop along the way was at the Manukä State Wayside Park. It turned into a nature trail talk with exhibits of local fauna and wildlife.

Unfortunately, as we were going through our botany lesson, we were suddenly attacked by a foul beast!!

That's the King Kamehameha butterfly (we think) and is one of the two native Hawaiian butterflies. Fortunately, despite this horrific advance by an orange and black spotted beasty, we were able to fight it off with a pointed stick.

After surviving our ordeal, we continued around the southern tip and stopped at Punalu'u Beach Park for lunch. The legend associated with this beach is that a goddess (Punalu'u?) who takes the form of a sea turtle can also come on land as a woman, where she once helped save the children... or something like that. It kind of reminds me actually of the Irish seals who turn into people. Here is a little plaque associated with that.

The wonderful thing about this beach is that it is a black sand one. The first that we've been to. If you don't believe me, just look in the hand.

Even the goddess herself came up to say hello. She looks a bit tired.

After our turtle blessing, we had lunch on the rocks overlooking the ocean.

We also had a couple visitors in the form of Little Foot and Grandad (Land Before Time 1 - 12).

And then sat over the water to relax.

After lunch, it was off to the

PIT OF FIRE!!!!!!!!!!!

Did you catch that?

PIT OF FIRE!!!!!!!!!!!

This is the Kilauea Caldera. The last lava flow inside it was in the 80s, but it's still highly active. Here's a nice circle of steam coming up inside.

It's really a bit odd to walk inside a volcanic crater. Obviously no lava today, but there is the steam everywhere and at one point a random other tourist held their hand near a tiny crevice near a pile of rocks. The air coming out was hot enough to burn.

Inside the caldera the primary crater is the Halema'uma'u Crater.

If the fruit and leis are an offering to Pele, I can only guess.

There is lava coming out to the surface currently, but the only place at our visit was near the ocean, which was a 2-3 mile walk. We decided not to do that with B on my shoulders. You also need a flashlight and bottles of water, so we let it go. In the end then, we actually saw the


but that doesn't have quite the same ring.

You can stop by some steam vents as you drive along as well. The steam is about like a sauna - not hot enough to burn, but quite warm. Well, it's basically like steam.

On the way out, it was raining and B and N were pretty tired, so only I hiked down to the Thurston Lava Tube.

It's rather amazing that this forest rings the crater on one side, while arid terrain with cacti is on the other side. You'll see this again when B and I ring the northern tip on Day Four.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

La Leche League de la Balein (paca)

I hope that's how you spell whale in French. I'm too lazy to double-check. Maybe N will see it and correct me.

Anyway, I have some readers who quite frequently discuss nursing, breast-feeding, formula, and the like. Yes, I'm talking about you, -e and Kristy. Admit it. You do.

Anyway, they might enjoy this article, which is only one paragraph long.

200 lbs a day.... I'd hate to cart those formula bottles home in my backpack. The whale would need a pouch, I think. Was there ever a marsupial whale? Supposedly, however, there once were kangaroos who lived in trees. I have a hard time understanding how that would work. Did they jump at all? Maybe they jumped from tree branch to tree branch clinging with super curly toes. My older brother was once one of those people who could pick things up with his toes. We always called him a monkey, but maybe it should have been "tree roo". The Wisteria Wallaby. Jungle Joey? Actually, in my head, I do have kangaroos now swinging on vines with large knives clinched between their teeth. (For some reason, I wanted to write that as "teethes". Not a word, I don't think. But it should be. You need it. It's like peoples. The peoples of the earth. The teethes of the jungle roo.)

Going back to the blue whale and its calf, did you catch that they can come out at 30 feet long after 10-12 months of gestation. Think about that. They start off as a single cell, too. Just like you and me. And then in not much more time as we have to grow to 10-12 pounds on the big side, they grow to be 30 feet long. 30 freaking feet long!! That's a lot of plankton. I wonder if it's possible to crawl inside a whale's umbilical cord. Not that I really have much desire to do so. I'm just thinking about how much food is passing through there. I bet pregnant whales are super-ornery around food. You're her partner and you take the last shrimp in the school without thinking. She'll rip you a new blow hole. Send you to find some ice cream near the orca pod.

Apparently, tree kangaroos still exist:

Cute little buggers, aren't they? Tree Kangaroos

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Puffy Day Four - Theme songs

Note that this is my third post this evening, so there's more non-Puffy stuff for all of you who aren't into it - whom I believe to be everyone who isn't me.

The best way that Puffy Amiyumi is known in the U.S. is probably as the singers of the Teen Titans cartoon theme song. So here's a video for it.

Puffy AmiYumi - Teen Titans

Of course, they have their own show on the cartoon network, so a link to the opening of Hi Hi Puffy Amiyumi is here:

HiHi Puffy AmiYumi Show

Oddest search term so far (paca)

"pictures of naked women deer hunting"

That was a new search term which brought someone to this blog today. The good news is that wherever I am in the search list for this subject, it seems to be pretty low. How I'm there at all is a good question, though.

Never been so happy to spend $850 (paca)

Our poor little 2000 Toyota Echo has been a much abused and under appreciated car of late. It's got dents; it's got scratches; the trunk is crammed with stuff; the engine light has been on for a year; it had a scraping sound from the front left wheel; and frequently when the car is just starting off or going up a mountain, it has a real problem getting up for the job.

Of the important things, the engine light came on first about a year ago. To my credit, I actually jumped on this relatively quickly (for me) and took it into a shop. I've always wanted to find that little local garage that's cheaper than the dealer but know what they are doing. Anyway, I took it to a garage near the school and spent over $750 trouble-shooting the engine light. Nothing was working. I also became very suspicious that they were clueless on this car when one day after driving my car home from the garage, it didn't start the next morning. I had it towed back in and that afternoon when the car was ready they didn't want to charge me anything and picked up by tow bill as well. While that is nice in and of itself, the only reason a business doesn't charge a customer is when they did something wrong. What exactly did they not attach correctly? Anyway, I gave up on them and just drove the car for the next year with the engine light on, while slowly collecting new maladies.

Finally, a couple weeks ago the car didn't start again, so after the vacation, I took it into the pseudo-dealer garage - they only fix Toyotas and Suzukis. I reported four different problems and they wanted $400 just to look at them. Then today they call with all these new fees and problems to fix, but I approved them. I could tell this wasn't going anywhere good.

But I just picked the car up from them for a total of $850. Unlike the last time where I got largely nothing for a fee of $750, this time I seem to have new front brake pads, a new battery, and a new air flow sensor for $850. And the engine light is gone. If I have to pay most of my monthly salary to a garage, I like getting stuff in return. I'm ecstatic in fact.

I just hope the engine light doesn't came back on tomorrow.

On the good side of broken cars, I did get to have a lot of bus fun lately. Yesterday, as I walked from the bus stop home, I had my backpack stuffed with groceries with another bag of groceries tied to it and B on my head. That's a good 50-60 pounds of stuff hanging on my back.

Puffy Day Three - Asia no Junshin (True Asia)

Puffy AmiYumi - Asia no Junshin

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Puffy Day Two - Puffy de Rumba

NOTE: Vacation pictures are below this.

The whole video seems a joke. For some reason Jimi Hendrix is walking around in it. I think the choreographer was having some of those mushrooms before they filmed the thing.

Puffy AmiYumi - Puffy de Rumba

Day One on the Big Isle

Hey, this is like those home movies no one wants to watch! The main difference is that you have a Back button.

So, the word for Day One is "ear pop". Make that the phrase for Day One.

The flight from Honolulu to Hawaii is only about 35 minutes long, but somehow we managed to be picked up by the taxi at 6:30 in the morning and didn't see our hotel until around 2 in the afternoon. However, because of the short flight, it's a great trainer flight for kids. B ate practically an entire bag of cheddar rice cakes during the wait to board, but otherwise things went smoothly - until the plane ride. The plane didn't have three seats together for us, and N ended up with B near the back of the plane. I myself was in First Class sipping wine and eating caviar while damsels fed me grapes and wiped my brow with a moist toilette, or is that towlette. OK, so I was crammed in about 6 rows ahead of them.

Did you know that you aren't allowed to sit in an exit row if you are traveling with a child under the age of 14 even when they aren't sitting in the row themselves? When the attendant saw me waving back, she kicked me out.

Anyway, N apparently tried to explain to B that his ears might pop by going up and down in the plane. Apparently, B construed this to mean that they might pop off his head. So he spent the entire plane trip with his hands covering his ears to keep them from falling off. She mentioned that if you eat, in this case eat some M&Ms, that can help with the air pressure, so he gobbled the bag up hand over fist to help keep his ears attached.

After we managed to land in Kona with all our body parts still attached, we went to the hotel which is on the Kaeuhou Bay, just a couple miles south of the main town of Kailua. It's the Outrigger Keauhou Beach Resort and looks like this:

It sits right on the bay, as you can see, and turned out to be rather pleasant. The main hotel building itself is nothing to write home about, but, hey, it is right on the ocean and it has some very nice grounds. Here's a view over some sand and trees on the grounds.

One difference between Hawaii and Oahu is that you feel the presence of the volcanos there all the time. Lava is still flowing out of Kilauea as we speak, but moreover many parts of the island have quite recent lava flows that are plain to see. The Kona airport is built on this barren black desert like swath of land, which is an old lava flow. And here you can see the lava rock right at our hotel. Notice the ripples in the rock.

The hotel actually stands over a host of tide pools bordering the bay and you can see black crabs, fish, and such in them. They are also popular resting spots for the Hawaiian green sea turtle. There were a bunch on the other side of the pool each day we were there. The pools are also great for catching the reflections of the sea and sky into some really nice photos.

Another way that Hawaii beats Oahu is in sunsets. Even on the western coast here the sunsets are nice but never like this:

Monday, January 22, 2007

One a Day - Amiyumi style (paca)

This week the goatskin pants blog shall bring to you two things that the purveyors of this fine blog know the readers desire. 1) Pictures and stories from the vacation on the big island of Hawai'i. 2) A daily dose of Puffy Amiyumi. However, said and aforementioned purveyor is too tired after going through a bunch of Puffy videos to complete task number 1. So here you go with Ami and Yumi singing Boogie Woogie #5 with guest stars Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra. As you will discover as the week goes on, the only thing Ami and Yumi change more than their musical style is their hair. Or maybe it's the other way around.

Have fun, and the song starts at about the 40-45 second mark.

PUFFY AmiYumi - Boogie Woogie No.5 LIVE (Special Version)

Friday, January 12, 2007

New Year's Resolution number 12 COMPLETE! (paca)

I had a new year's resolution of taking a vacation for a few days this year without taking work with me. I didn't expect to fulfill this resolution in week 3, but it looks that way.

N is headed to the Big Isle for a work day next Wednesday, so B and I are going to hop on the plane with her. We will head off on Saturday morning and come back on Wednesday night. So, I will see everyone on Thursday of next week. Have a good one. And I will report on the Big Isle when I return.

Grease Beginning from EE

This post is for the Evil Minions. If anyone would like to try continuing the lyrics to this, feel free to do so in the comments. I will try to assemble a coherent picture if more than one person submits something. Again the original is here:

She had been walking in the park for about an hour when she stopped at a playground and settled absently into a swing.

She was a rounded, serious girl of about sixteen, with wire-frame glasses and sensible, straight brown hair that brushed her shoulders. Today she wore a hooded school sweatshirt and blue jeans to ward against the autumn chill. Her name was Jane.

Plain Jane, she thought, kicking her feet against the macadam to set the swing in motion. Who nobody talks to. Who nobody looks at. Who keeps her head down. Who's going to be alone for the rest of her life.

She swung higher. A brisk wind caught her hair and swept her cheeks. The forest around her seemed to hold still and watch. This was the good loneliness, that she could exult in; not the kind that came sidling along when she stepped into a crowd. This was quiet. That was alienation.

As she swung higher, she noticed winged creatures swooping toward her. She jumped from the swing to escape, but from the other side a troop of hideous beasts stormed toward her, crashing through the playground swinging axes and maces.

"Stay away from Princess Jane, you orcish orangutan!" a high sparkling voice squealed on her right.

"Orc can do alliteration too, spritely... thing," came the snarling reply on the left.

The orc chief turns to Jane as the bass line kicks in.

(To the tune of Summer Nights from the musical Grease)

Orc Chief: Argh lady, you come with me.

Jane: You've a pig face! Who could you be?

Orc Chief: Name is Splork and you be my queen.

Jane: I'm your queen? Just in your dreams.

Orc Chief/Jane: Come to park, drag her/me away, oh oh oh from her/my boring teen life.

Everyone: Well uh, well uh, well uh HUH

Orcs: We go now! We go now!
Orc 2: Before white wizard come.

Sprites: Come with us! Come with us!
Life with orcs is no fun.

Uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huhhhh


Sigh, I wasn't sure anyone would actually write more lyrics to the tune, but not a single EE person as I can tell clicked over to even glance at this blog today. Why? I wondered. Apparently, I didn't actually even spell my blog name correctly in my link. Doh. I could do a whole nother comment to fix it, but that's just getting desperate.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Valley of the Temples (paca)

On the windward side of Oahu (the side from which the wind (and rain) comes, in this case the north to north-east side), there is a Valley of the Temples. It's a cemetery. The primary reason to visit is a replica of the Byodo-In temple which is a several hundred year old temple in Japan. The replica was built here in the 60s to mark the 100th anniversary of the arrival of Japanese immigrants to Hawaii. The cemetery keeps people of all faiths and ethnicities, which is one of its charms to me. I won't title all the pictures this time. You can just look at them and enjoy as you please. Most of the small buildings you will see are private mausoleums. The sort of interdenominational church isn't all that great to look at in my opinion, but you can see what the architect had in mind if you look closely at the picture and notice that you can see right through the building. It's perched up on a hill with floor to ceiling windows on the other side so that you overlook the entire valley and right out to the ocean. The people in the pics are of course N and B. As an architectural tidbit, the entire Byodo-In temple, and its replica, are built without a single nail. That's knowing your joints.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

And we're off! (paca)

Today starts semester number... 6 of the old doctorate. In about 10 minutes I'm headed off to Elementary Probability Theory to see if they kick me out for not knowing enough calculus. The big challenge at the beginning of every semester for me is always not signing up for too much. Despite longingly reading the Korean 101 textbook last night, I managed to make myself not go to the class this morning. The next few challenges are Computation Intelligence, Computer Vision, and French for Reading. Will I audit? Will I take? We will see. I don't need any of them, but they are so cool! Then finally tomorrow we have the other certain class which is about using eyetracking techniques for psycholinguistic experiments. While all of these classes are interesting and useful, it is more useful to me in life to be doing comps and dissertation proposals. Eye on the prize. Eye on the prize. Eye on the prize. I must repeat that over and over today.

Probability, here we come.

Yet another... (paca)

It seems that hardly anyone else is submitting continuations over at EE because I had another one selected here. Fortunately for the Evil Editor minions, I haven't submitted anything else since I put in the last three all at once a week ago.

OK, you should read it before reading my commentary....




The most recent continuation was rather interesting to me as the author. I was a little suprised it was chosen at all, because I didn't think it quite worked. I liked the basic idea - some guy wasting his time on a smarmy magician instead of going after something more interesting like a beautiful partner - but the execution was... ho hum. You can tell I was right on this due to the ho-hum reaction from the commenting minions. However, I like the line: "David Copperfield. Nice." I also like the names Bootch and Chalmers. I can't ever come up with names when I write. Ever. And yet Chalmers and Bootch has a ring to it. Sort of a Starsky and Hutch kind of thing. Is it Chalmers and Bootch or Bootch and Chalmers? Or Kibbles and Bits?

I also have a very clear idea in my head about their two characters, which is weird, considering I just came up with a few mediocre lines about them. Chalmers is sort of a Charly Brown. Everyone likes him; he's nice; but he always screws up or gets taken advantage of. All of this has made him rather envious and greedy though. He'd go out of his way to show up Bootch, no matter the consequences. He wants to show that this time he's going to come out on top. But he never does. Bootch on the other hand is partly that guy we all love to hate. Arrogant, self-satisfied, things come easy to him. But at the same time, he's got the clearer head on his shoulders. He's going after things that are more important and, while Chalmers will screw up his life to get at Bootch, Bootch would never be so dumb. Actually, they kind of remind me of these two guys, well, at least in the competition.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Cajun cookbook recommendation (paca)

Does anyone have a Cajun cookbook recommendation for me? I want to start working on my Cajun Seoul creations, but I realized my Cajun knowledge is pretty slim, really. I'm from the Boro, not Lafayette. I used to have River Road (Baton Rouge Junior League, if I remember correctly) and thats what I grew up with. Do people still like that one? Do you recommend something else? Emeril, Prudhomme, Justin Wilson,.... I really don't want anything trendy. I just want to know how to make a decent jambalaya, tasso something, etouffee, and the like. Also, think broadly. It could be Cajun; it could be Southern; it could be Soul food. Just sort of traditional Louisiana dishes. Recommendations? Also, if you just think you have a killer recipe for Hoppin John or dirty rice or... (insert your dish here), I'd be stoked to hear that too.


Saturday, January 06, 2007

Yet more Evil Editor (paca)

I think there must be a dearth of continuation submissions over at Evil Editor, because I had another one selected today. Also, my old Crucifixion rock musical one was voted the favorite so far on the blog, which is neat. Most of my continuations I just write whatever I can think of, but I had to stew on that one for a while. How do you make crucifixion, particularly of young children, funny? I guess, for a strange person like me, you sing about it.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Safely back in BKK (Llama)

Hi all,

I'm back in the Land of Smiles. The trip back, despite being longer, seems to be easier for some reason. No delays, no events to report. Unless you think that the fact there were no delays is an event.

Of course, as usual, I haven't been blogging. I had pretty much given up the whole thing. But at Christmas my parents were thoughtful enough to give me this very cool Llama. It has inspired me. Well, perhaps "inspired" is too strong a word. Gently nudged is probably more appropriate.

Anyway, my Google news reader has been failing of late, unbeknownst to me, and so I didn't even realize Paca had been blogging up a storm. I just got into work and can't really take the time to go through all his great work, but I plan to a bit later.

Probably next week I go to Cambodia... to early to tell for sure though.

Happy New Year to all.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Memed - book quote (paca)

Bunnygirl was just tagged to do a meme with the following instructions:

1. Find the nearest book.
2. Name the book & the author.
3. Turn to page 123.
4. Go to the fifth sentence on the page. Copy out the next three sentences and post to your blog.
5. Tag three more folks.

And while I was not tagged, I'm going to do it anyway.

Now, unfortunately for all of you, the book sitting next to me was "An Introduction to the Psychology of Hearing: Fifth Edition" by Brian C.J. Moore. And my quote is the following:

"Since, on any given trial, some value of x must occur, the total area under the curve is equal to 1. Consider the situation where an observer is given a series of trials, on some of which a signal is present and on some of which it is absent. To describe this situation two probability density functions must be specified; one describes the distribution of values of x when no signal is present (this is often denoted by f(x)N, the suffix N referring to the "noise," either external or neural, which gives rise to this distribution), and the other describes the distribution of values of x when a signal does occur (often denoted f(x)SN)."

That's not too exciting, really. So I grabbed the book under it called Music and Memory, but that one turned out to be about event fusion in echoic memory. Then I was going to run off to find a book with a good quote, dammit! But I think that runs against the whole idea of the meme. However, by luck I was called into the bathroom to take over B potty duty (things you needed to know), and there I randomly found on the counter next to me "Only a Duke Will Do" by Sabrina Jeffries. And nowwww we have:

"You've been a fever in my blood for years. So I mean to have you. Lie to yourself and to me all you like, but in the end, you will be mine."

It's too bad we didn't start nearer the bottom of page 123 where "his tongue was doing things to her nipple that dragged a strangled cry from her throat." And in case anyone is wondering on page 124, we learn that she tastes like nectar.

Now, let's see if we can combine the two items into a new work "Only the Psychology of Hearing Will Do:Coc-lear Edition."


"You've been a fever in my blood for years. To describe this situation, two probability density distributions are required. Since on any given trial, a nipple will be revealed, the area under the curved bosom will always have a value of 'sweaty'. One distribution will model the times in which a tongue is present upon the nipple (often denoted as f(x)SC, where SC stands for 'strangled cry') and the other distribution models the times when no mouth is present upon the bosom (denoted as f(x)DH with DH standing for Dog House)."


Another EE continuation

Another EE continuation today. EE did some re-arranging, but otherwise it's mostly mine. However, he did remove comparisons between annal-city and annalspot.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Charles Smith and the Madness (paca)

Virtually every day now this blog gets a hit for someone searching for information about Charles (Claydes) Smith of Kool & The Gang due to my short token of appreciation to him here when he passed away. Since people are coming here so often now for information about the guitarist, I thought I would post a couple links to him from YouTube. Both are for the tune Summer Madness, a very peaceful R&B instrumental. The first is Kool and the Gang playing along with the studio record on Soul Train. Wow, do they look young.

Charles' quiet solo starts around 1:30.

Summer Madness - Soul Train

And then here we have the 10 minute version of the number from the recent House of Blues DVD. Charles takes over very soon after the horn intro, also around a minute and a half, and plays several verses.

Summer Madness - House of Blues

Finally, as a service to the visitors, here is the list of songs from my Kool albums in which Charles is listed as a lead author. I would assume he wrote the guitar parts to everything.

Light of Worlds
Winter Sadness
Lucky for Me
Love & Understanding
Cosmic Energy
Come Together
Take My Heart
Stone Love

What would life have been like? (paca)

I was glancing over at -e's blog again today, re-reading her moview reviews of 2006. And she had this one:

Click - standard cautionary tale. Man sees what his life would be like if he doesn't change his ways.

I haven't seen Click, but from what -e says here I am guessing that if hero doesn't change his ways, things will be bad. If so, then, yes, it's very similar to other things like A Christmas Carol and, one of my favorite movies, period, It's a Wonderul Life. Each of those is different, but in all three there is something negative to be avoided.

So I was wondering, are there any movies or stories in which the protagonist doesn't see a bad life if they don't change, but is instead revealed an even better life if they do?

Maybe there are. There are a lot of stories where people catch glimpses of what having a family is like, or a partner, or some such, and they amend their ways to attain that goal. But I wonder if there's anything where the person is basically already happy, but someone shows them that they could be even more.

If so, and if they are good, feel free to leave a title in the comments.

Of course, always wondering if you could be better than you currently are could be a huge trap in one's life as well. Never satisfied, always wondering what else they should have been doing....


UPDATE: I was thinking more about A Christmas Carol and It's a Wonderful Life. So in one way, it's the same idea - life is / could be bad, but it's not too late for you. But in many ways, they are very different as well. I think the reason that It's a Wonderful Life is so loved by some and viewed as cheesy cornball by others is that it's so terribly life-affirming. What George learns from Clarence the Angel on Christmas Eve is not that he needs to change his ways, but in fact that he's been an amazing human being all along. He's always been doing the right thing, and, while his brother Harry achieves glory by shooting down a plain and saving a hundred lives in war, George has saved the lives of hundreds and hundreds more simply by working relentlessly to do right by others, mostly through the savings and loan. To be honest, I don't really know why I love It's a Wonderful Life. I just know that I cry like a baby whenever it gets to the final scene with all the friends and someone say "Mary did it; she did everything," or something close. "To my brother George, the richest man in town!" Gets me every. single. time.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Brainstorming 2007 (paca)

I've been brainstorming possible goals and resolutions for 2007. Not to get carried away, but I so got carried away, and there's no way to do more than a fraction of them. I will work on figuring out which ones next. I also have this feeling I'm forgetting something very important on this list, and its absence will reveal more about the hidden paca than what's here. Anyway:

  1. Write article on Korean apologies with J-W.
  2. Article on pitch levels in discourse structure - format: English corpus work, English experiment, Korean corpus work, Korean experiment. Also with J-W.
  3. don't procrastinate
  4. teacher of a linguistics class
  5. sleep more regularly (unlike now where I started typing this at 12:45 am)
  6. More N and Paca time
  7. swim
  8. working paper - innateness and poverty of the stimulus arguments
  9. comprehensive exams
  10. dissertation proposal
  11. develop 10 decent Cajun Seoul dishes
  12. create 5-10 not completely embarassing songs in GarageBand
  13. keep the house neater
  14. write 2-3 more stories to complete a story collection; query it to at least one agent
  15. develop complete outline of Tira novel
  16. drink less soda
  17. eat more vegies
  18. Work on information theory interpretation of cochlear "fourier analysis" of frequency
  19. get an article published all refereed like
  20. 23 minute 5K event
  21. take at least a three day vacation where I take no laptop and no linguistics books - not even with the excuse that I like reading that sort of stuff. This would probably be on a neighbor isle - Kauai or Hawai'i most likely.
  22. find disseration funding and leave current job
  23. don't go broke

Yeah, I can do all that, no prob.

Cui Jian, Zheng, Pipa, and Erhu (paca)

The following is a clip of the most famous Chinese rocker Cui Jian. This is from the mid to late 80s and in many ways sounds like it. Even people who don't really do music the way I do may find the first 2 minutes of this pretty interesting. The song leads in with some amazing work on the traditional Chinese instrument called the Zheng. The whole band then joins in with electric guitars and the like. It's amazing how much power she gets out of that thing. (If you kind of like hearing the zheng in a rock context, just wait about 20 seconds through the interview (at around 3:00 minutes) and there is another song, which includes significant zheng work.)

Cui Jian

I was so inspired by the Zheng on the Cui Jian tune that I went looking for other examples of traditional Chinese instruments sounding amazing. I have a track from Peter Gabriel's Real World studio from "Arcane" called "Chinese Canon" which includes both the erhu and pipa, along with synths and guitar. I found that someone used this piece for their home movie of a visit to the Great Wall. Close your eyes and try to ignore the people talking and just listen to the music. I love falling asleep to this thing. Hard to find anything more peaceful.

Chinese Canon and home video

The erhu is the violin / cello like instrument. If you want to see what it looks like, here are a couple people practicing the erhu here and here. And you can see it in an orchestral context here. And if you'd like to see the pipa in action, here are two traditional tunes by pipa masters. Here and here.

Finally, if anyone is actually still following this, here is a whole bunch of traditional instruments in a pseudo-pop format of today.

12 Girls Band

Huh. You know, I started out just wanting to post a Cui Jian clip for all of you.