15 December 2010

2010 Mesmerizing Memes

With the exception of Bed Intruder (irresistible that one), I've tried to pick some internet "greats" from 2010 that may have escaped your notice. So if you're looking for double rainbow videos, sad Keanu, and Pants on the Ground go here.

Here are the Madhapa's 5 favorite overlooked internet videos of 2010. Let's count 'em down.

#5 - Will it Blend? Meets Old Spice Guy
Two great memes that taste great together.

#4 Video collage of Heaven and Hell
Video artist Marco Brambilla created a mash-up of movie clips to create a scrolling pastiche of heaven and hell. This one's actually... not funny. It's just cool. Marco Brambilla's Civilization.

(is that Michael Jackson?)

#3 60 Ghetto Names
This one I find funny mostly because of the response video - 60 Jewish Ghetto Names.

#2 iPhone4 (I don't care)
Android users will probably find this video funnier than iPhone users. Then again, the iPhone users won't care. Heh heh...

If you want to hear what conservatives (in the form of fuzzy animals) think about Quantitative Easing, or just like hearing people refer to things with a direct article (such as "The Goldman Sachs" and "The Ben Bernank") ...

Check out QE II explained. I think the best bit starts at 3min 19 sec.

#1 Bed Intruder Song
Bed Intruder has actually charted on iTunes (#3 on R&B and #25 overall).

Read the story of the Bed Intruder Song
- as reported by NPR so you can feel sophisticated about your obsession with Bed Intruder as an intriguing comment on society's insecurity with black poverty.

13 December 2010

Best of 2010 Mix

Here are my favorite tunes from 2010. I've included links so you could listen to each one, or you can download most of them via iTunes. I created an iMix so you can iListen to them on your iDevice.

I Died So I Could Haunt You - Stars
Don't let the title of this track turn you away - this is a catchy little number. Hey, these guys are Canadian after all.

If you like I Died So I Could Haunt You, check out Dead Hearts - or the whole album The Five Ghosts for that matter.

Go Outside - Cults
It starts off with a toy piano and the vocals remind me of The Langley Schools Music Project even though the vocals are probably done by some Swedish hipster(s).

Odessa - Caribou
Sometimes I like electronica for its creative and meditative powers. Sometimes I like songs that make you dance / tap your toe / grind your butt back and forth in the driver's seat.

If you like this track, check out Take by Soul Particles.  Take also has a disco groove, albeit slower; I'm including it because I think the rest of that Caribou album is shite.

Paul Valéry- Blue Scholars
The Scholars bring us a track about The Future - more specifically what we thought it would be in the 80's. Click the link above to download the track, or just preview the song / watch the video.

De Donde Vengo Yo - Choc Quib Town
This band is * kind of * like a Colombian version of The Fugees. The song title means "Where I'm From."

Cigarettes and Liquor - Murs and 9th Wonder
I like rappers with a sense of humor. Plus, it bangs.

Texico Bitches - Broken Social Scene
It's catchy... so damn catchy. You'll love singing along soooo much who gives a crap what this song even means?

If you like this track, check out Ungrateful Little Father from the same record.

Orion's Belt Buckle - Free the Robots
Why do I love throbbing beats so much? WHY?!?!? This song f-ing makes the doors rattle on the '95 Mirage. If you like this track, check out Fools Rhythm by Two Fingers.

Lovesick - Lindtrom & Christabelle
Damn Caddillac putting good music in a TV commercial shit. Grrrrrr. Make hipster angry.

Dark Shine - Smoosh
Asy and Chlose are teenagers now, can you believe it? The little girls from Seattle are 16 and 18 now. Their little sister (14) joins them on bass. The song starts out slow and at about 1min 35 Chloe brings in this wicked beat.

Not Like Any Other Feeling - The Thermals
The Thermals are the only pop punk band I need. The only ones from now on. Listen for the lyric "You Only Exist to be Replaced. Repeat. You Only Exist to be Replaced." Genius.

If you like this track, check out Never Listen to Me from the same album.

Best Cover Song of 2010
The MGMT track Kids covered by The Ooks of Hazzard. It's seven ukuleles playing the hipster groove and it's... kinda moving. Thanks to Smartwick for this awesome find.

Favorite New Artist
Lightsick- Zola Jesus
Zola Jesus could be Peter Murphy's daughter (musically speaking). Zola Jesus voice sings directly to the 16-year-old goth inside me. If you like this track, check out a slightly more upbeat track called Night.

We Used to Wait - Arcade Fire
This song really grew on me. I didn't buy the album, I just played around with their damn interactive music video for like a hour. Basically you put in the address of your home town and, using google maps, it integrates local photos into the music video. By the end of it I was hooked on the song. I guess this is proof marketing works, go figure.

Crash Years - The New Pornographers
No surprises here - The NPs put out another album that I love. Quite honestly though, I always love Neko Cases's songs the best. Her voice... brilliant - but accessible: just like a girl from the Pacific NW should be.

The Queen of Lower Chelsea - The Gaslight Anthem
I went totally apeshit for The Gaslight Anthem's last album The '59 Sound. I still recommend '59 as the best starting place for this band, but 2010's release American Slang is no slouch. The band continues their Americana straightforward rock, with Jackson Browne-esque ability to create an entire world in under four minutes.

Degrassi - Super Wild Horses
If I'm putting together a mix you know there's going to be a fuzzed-out girl band on here, well here ya go. This is a duo from Melbourne, Australia.

Love Cry - Four Tet
This track has the best drum beat I've heard this year. I'm learning to play this (slowly). This tune really stimulates my brain. There is a monotonous element that makes this track really meditative but in a creatively-attractive way.

Like what you've heard? Check out my favorites from 2009. Every now and then I find something that turns out to be a winner - last year I picked The XX and also Macklemore's The Town.

One that I picked up after publishing the "Best of" post last year was the very catchy track Little Secrets by Passion Pit. Let me know if you've got some 2010 indie or quasi-indie fav's that didn't hit my radar.

07 November 2010

I Love Hockey

It's funny how life has these little turning points. You're going about your business and then - WHAM - it takes a new course. I don't mean car accidents or finding out why you vomit every morning. Hey, I don't write this blog to depress the shit out of you.

A couple years ago, my friend Traci offered me some tickets: Anaheim Ducks hockey tickets.  I don't remember if The Ducks won this game or not. What I remember is: it was one of the most entertaining experiences of my life.

Growing up in Oregon, the Portland Trailblazers were my favorite professional sports team. Full disclosure: they were our only professional sports team. The Blazers... what can I say? If you are a Blazers fan you are no stranger to heartbreak. They'll have a series of great games and then when it counts - choke. During the "Jailblazers" years I strayed from following professional sports and never looked back.

Until that fateful night in Anaheim...

hockey penalties
At that point, I wasn't familiar with hockey other than: a bunch of dudes try to put the puck in the opponent's net. It was soccer on ice for all I knew.

Here's some of the more surprising things I learned right away:

  • Each team gets only one time out.
  • The player line-up changes about every 2 minutes.
  • There's no out of bounds.

Once the game gets going, it hardly ever stops. It's so great! In other sports, the game grinds to a halt every minute or so for a time out or because the ball goes out of bounds. In hockey they keep it going. Players go on and off the ice without having to stop play.

The constantly changing line-up is another great thing about hockey. No one player dominates the game -they're not on the ice long enough. The team really has to work together to maintain momentum. A group of five guys forms a "line" and those guys typically play together, but sometimes, due to injury or penalty, a different player has to jump in on the line. So, in other words, it's a very dynamic game.

Speaking of penalties and injuries: I cannot lie, the aggressiveness of the game is fantastic. You've gotta love a sport with penalties for: tripping, spearing, hooking and slashing. These guys get beat up more than any football player and unlike basketball there's none of that bullshit flopping. If a hockey player gets knocked down, he doesn't put on an act for the ref. He gets up and keeps playing.

There's also something called an enforcer. They tell me the NHL has discouraged the use of an enforcer in recent years, but The Ducks have one - George Parros.

Parros is 6' 5" which means when he's wearing skates: he's too tall to walk through an average doorway. I figured this dude has to be 40-years old and a bitter hockey veteran. Turns out he's about 31-years-old and a really smart guy (he attended Princeton) and does a lot of charity work for kids with cancer.

Anyway, George is our on-ice security. If the other team messes with our top goal-scoring guys too much - George sends them a message. He'll also go out an kick some ass just to motivate the team (and the fans). It's fucking magical. They'll play Rob Zombie or some butt-rocking metal music while he skates to the penalty box. Sometimes the crowd chants "Ref You Suck."

hockey player Satan
Something else I love: the player's names. You've got to hand it to hockey announcers. They've got to pronounce Slavic, Nordic, Finnish, Swedish, Russian and French-Canadian last names. Our Yankee mouths are not shaped to say things like:


Oh, and they even have a player named Satan. It's pronounced "Sha-Tan" but hey, it's spelled Satan.  That's so metal!

Other great things about hockey:
cup holder in bathroom stall at Anaheim Ducks Honda Center
  • The ref's (unofficially) stop blowing whistles with one minute left in the game. The game just keeps going no matter what.
  • Also in the last minute of play, the goalie of the team that's losing will leave the ice so the team can put an extra offensive player in: making it 6 on 5.
  • Sometimes (due to penalties) the teams play 4 on 5 or even 3 on 5.
  • Cup holders in the bathroom stalls. 

Before we go, I'd like to leave you with this short video from the game I went to on Friday. One of our top goal scorers (Bobby Ryan) checks this dude from Pittsburgh. It's a great hit. They show it a couple times, so watch until the end (it's only 28 seconds).

P.S. Portland used to have a pro hockey team. In fact, we were the first U.S. team to play for the Stanley Cup. The team was sold shortly thereafter and became the Chicago Blackhawks.

30 October 2010

Election Exhaustion

Is it me or is this election season the worst ever? Here in California it feels like I'm choosing between the lesser of two evils (and I bet Oregon can say the same).

That lesser of two evils platform seems to be the candidates' platform as well. Check out this Jerry Brown ad:

Basically he's saying, "vote for me because I'm not Schwartzenegger." Greeaaaat.

Honest to God I thought about writing in Clint Eastwood for governor. Hell, he was mayor of Carmel, at least he's got some experience.

A friend at work has a 19-year-old daughter and this is her first election. They were discussing how to determine the most qualified candidate. At one point, her daughter was so frustrated she said,

"Okay, who cares. I've decided I’m not voting for the lady that looks like George Washington! I’m voting for the guy who looks like a turtle."

At this point, the only proposition I've decided on is Propostion 19. The other ones are a freakin' mess. We even have two propositions about the same thing (who draws the legislative districts).

Okay, I realize that whining does no good, so I've come to a decision. I'm going to start my own proposition - one the people can really care about.

Here in the OC we have noise abatement at our airport. It exists because the rich farts in Newport Beach don't want those icky, loud airplanes waking them up. Wah, wah, boo hoo.  Flights are not allowed to take off before 7am or land after 11pm. So what happens if your flight gets delayed? You guessed it: they re-route you to LAX (which is an hour away). Oh, um, but this noise rule doesn't apply to private planes... only the commercial flights that scum like you and I have to use.

I'm going to start a ballot measure called WAKE UP AND SMELL THE JET FUEL YOU RICH BASTARDS. Why should that one city control the air travel of an entire county?

I can't wait for the 2012 election...

21 October 2010

Portland-Themed Playing Cards

A deck of cards featuring Portland landmarks - hell yes. This hipster needs $500 in funding (from a variety of contributors). Check it out...

07 October 2010

Sleater-Kinney Has Moved On - I Haven't

Corin Tucker released her first solo project album yesterday.  A review I was reading said four years have passed since Sleater-Kinney disbanded. Has it really been that long? It seems like just yesterday I was a teenager watching them at La Luna and falling in love.

Carrie's moved on to a TV show of all things. For better or worse it's a show about Portland. IFC is filming in town right now and the show is supposed to air in 2011. Carrie also writes in her closing post for NPR blog Monitor Mix that she's got a new band.

As for Janet, well, she remains one of the greatest living drummers as far as I'm concerned. Check out this video of her "drum battle" with Sara Lund (um, Sara's the drummer of Corin's new band). I think it's pretty obvious who wins.

Watch the video for The Corin Tucker Band's first single: Riley. Of course it was filmed in Portland, did you have to ask!?!

13 September 2010

Happy 25th Birthday Super Mario Brothers

What's the most successful gaming franchise of all time? Super Mario, of course! Super Mario Bros. celebrates 25 years of grabbing mushrooms, rescuing princesses, etc.

The video below shows an evolutionary timeline of the game. The first 2 min had me grinning like a fool. After that I was like, hunh?

For more Mario goodness, check out The Guardian's 25 fun facts about Super Mario Brothers.

05 September 2010

Drivin' Around the OC on Labor Day Weekend

I can't wait for Labor Day weekend to be over. After Monday, the summer tourist invasion will be over for the most part and I can go back to my favorite spots in Laguna!

In the meantime I'm cooling my heels, hoping to catch an afternoon showing of Machete and enjoying some really good fake meat we discovered called Gardein. Will it grill?

I'm also out and about running errands. Here are some pix I snapped yesterday.

On my way home from the gym I saw a guy in a cow costume jumping and waving at cards.

Temperatures were in the upper 90's yesterday. I can't imagine being in a mascot costume on a 70-degrees-and-cloudy day much less sunny and 90+!. Haven't these guys suffered enough?

(I didn't take this photo, it's from the interwebs)

My next stop was the grocery store.

Why do people leave grocery carts in parking spaces? Look how close this F-ing cart is to my car.

Okay, now look how close the shopping cart return area is.

What's the deal, people?

I've noticed this problem is much worse at "regular" grocery stores (as opposed to Trader Joe's).

Okay, last thing...

The approach path for John Wayne Airport is directly over the 405. Having a plane fly directly over you while driving down the freeway - never gets old.  I swear you can almost wave at the passengers.

04 September 2010

Music Video 2.0

Whether you're a fan of Arcade Fire or not, their new video is worth checking out. Using a mash-up of video, animation and google maps, "The Wilderness Downtown" video experience is different for every user.

The website will ask you for the address of where you grew up - this is where the Google Maps effect comes in. New windows will open up showing both aerial and street-level views of whatever address you've punched in.

wilderness downtown video

I used my folks' house to start and it said there wasn't enough Maps data to make the video run with its full effects. I'm guessing that the program wants to use both recent images and ones from several years back. That said: I tried several different addresses and got the same messages every time. I tried:
  • My house
  • The old Henry Weinhardt's Brewery
  • Hotel Laguna
  • Catalina Island Pier

None of these had enough Maps data. If anyone comes across an address with enough history let me know.

Okay last couple things...

The site will also tell you it works best with Google's browser (Chrome). I ran the program on my Mac running Firefox, it seemed to do its thing just fine. That said, here's a link to download Chrome if you want it.

When the video starts, multiple browser windows will appear - don't close them, just let it run. You should, however, minimize the main browser window.

Read more about it and see more screengrabs, or go to thewildernessdowntown.com to see what it's all about.

15 August 2010

Retirement, Social Security and Financial Masochism

While I was visiting home last month, Mom and I talked a bit about retirement. She hopes to be retired by age 66 - because that's when she gets full social security benefits (according to the government website).

For anyone born 1960 or later, full retirement benefits don't start until age 67. So, if you're 30 you get full benefits in 2046 or 2047.

I know what you're thinking: who knows if social security will be around that long?!?!

Well I have the answer - NO.

To the right is an excerpt from a social security document I received this year. Basically, they expect the funds to run out in 2041.

I know this isn't breaking news, but I was surprised to see it spelled out so directly. Well, at least my folks will see a piece of it.

So where does that leave the rest of us? Because I'm a financial masochist, I keep a close eye on my 401k and IRA. Occasionally I will opt for the special torture of a retirement calculator.

To retire at age 60 and have my current salary, I need to round up $2,573,000.

To reach this 2.5 million dollar goal, I must sock away roughly $2500 month. Sure, I have that lying around.

Hoo-boy is that some depressing s#it.

It gets better...I have this Roth IRA.

When I got laid off in 2003 I rolled my 401k into a Roth IRA. According to, well, everything they tell you, a Roth is this magical thing that will compound like crazy. If you start young enough (like in your early 20's, which I was), a Roth IRA is supposed to make you a millionare by the time you retire.

To date, I have made $750. Ouch!

Here's hoping the CA housing market turns around...

29 July 2010

Asian Family Olympics WTF

The Iwata Family Olympics take place tomorrow. I should be resting up so I can thoroughly pummel the Funatake, Matsumoto and other branches of the clan.

The family olympics are not what you'd expect from a group of several dozen Asian-Americans. When I think Asian family olympics I'm thinking: violin scales, math problems, maybe some SudoKo or whatever that shit's called.


It's going to be all american stuff like three-legged races and water balloon games. Dear God, we're going to be outside... running and throwing and running. It seems unfair because clearly the family group with the greatest number of white spouses will have the upper hand. Good thing I loaded up on carbs.

Now that I've just watched a video about women in Kendo (see below) I think bamboo sword fighting is definitely in order for future family olympic events. See you suckers in 2014!

Thanks to Ms. MoHawks at iheartsnow for sharing this interesting vid!

05 July 2010

Photos That Aren't What They Seem

The picture above: it's not a glacier. Sure, it looks like a glacier, but it's actually made out of sugar. The artist / photographer, Matthew Albanese makes fantastic landscapes from common household materials. Lighting, timing and talent fill in the gaps - transforming his dioramas into superlative-worthy photographs.

Take a minute to check out Matthew Albanese's images and behind-the-scenes shots.

30 June 2010

30 Songs for 30 Days - It's Done!

Today marks the last day of my quest to post 30 number songs in 30 days.

A huge thanks to JulieoftheSea, Carmel, Cary, AZecho, Rob, Bookbuster, Lena and everyone who sent in suggestions (I needed 'em). Sorry if I didn't get to all the ideas - I was punching in songs from Zion and Bryce National Parks for most of the "20's."

You can view the complete list on my Blip.fm DJ page. I am, of course, DJ madhapa.

19 June 2010

Best Spoof Movie Trailer Ever

After working as a movie projectionist for five years - I've seen thousands of trailers and hundreds of formulaic movies. Non-movie-nerd friends think I'm just grumpy, but the spoof movie trailer below says it all.

"Academy Award Winning Movie" is stunningly accurate (and funny too).

END OF POST (there is no "Read more . . .")

31 May 2010

Songs with Number Names - Blip for 30 Days

Since becoming a "DJ" on Blip.fm a while back, I've decided to go for the "level four DJ" badge. To do this, I have to post at least one song per day for 30 days. If I can do this, I'll become a "level 4 DJ," which - besides denoting me as a level five NERD - gets me a special badge on my profile.

While it isn't exactly resume-material, I'm thinkin' why not?

I'm starting tomorrow (1 June 2010). My plan is to post songs with names that correspond to the date. Yes, I know this is level-five musicnerditry, but I like a challenge!

So anyway, on 1 June I might post:
  • All Hands on the Bad One (Sleater-Kinney)
  • California One (Decemberists)

... but I need your help.

I've made a list of songs (1-30) but I have some weak spots / blanks.


Shoot me an email or post a comment if you have any suggestions. You can follow my progress on blip.fm.

Here's my original blog post about Blip.fm: I Became a DJ You Can Too.

29 May 2010

Purses Versus Pockets

I first discovered the purse conspiracy in my early 20's. I had just made a job change from projectionist to cubicle rat and was forced to wear something other than Levi's 501's.

Much to my dismay, the already loathsome task of shopping for work clothes became more challenging. Let me lay it out for you:

As a down-to-earth kind of girl, all I carry around with me are my keys, a wallet and some chapstick. Sunglasses get stowed on the top of my head and back then I didn't own a cell phone. I found it increasingly difficult to find pants with real pockets, but back then I could still fit into Juniors-sized Dickies so I didn't worry to much about it.

A few years ago I noticed something odd happening to my lower half. Things didn't seem to be configured as they once were. I didn't gain weight, things just moved around.

These days, I'm forced to buy women's pants and I gotta tell you: I'm not loving it. Where are the pockets, people?

I honestly think it's a conspiracy with the purse industry. The Man will do anything to get my hard-earned money.

I shared this theory with a friend last night (a guy) but could not convince him.

I asked, "would you carry a purse?" His answer was of course, "No."

I asked, "would you buy pants without pockets?" Again, he answered (logically), "No."

Guys wouldn't tolerate this sort of thing, so why should I? It seems un-feminist. I'm afraid I have to invoke the "F" word here, but it seems like a serious equality issue.

No, really - it gets worse:

Have you ever compared the prices on men's and women's pants? Our pants always cost more - despite being made with less material.

Seriously, go check it out. Try Gap.com or Banana Republic.com. You'll see similar pants (linen-cotton blend, for example) are $10 more for women.

Am I the only one who thinks this higher pricing and no pocket thing is total bullshit?

I know there are purse-less women out there. Can I get a witness?!?

22 April 2010

I Became a DJ - You Can Too

I became a DJ. Oh yes I did - on Blip.fm

Blip.fm is a website where you can post the songs you're digging at the moment. Friends can follow your stream of songs and you can follow their stream as well. It's super-easy to use and I've used it to discover a lot of new music in the past few weeks.

I've joined scads of these music sharing sites over the years and Blip.fm is a step above the rest. Basically whenever you find a song you like, you type it into Blip and it's added to your RSS feed. You don't have to upload anything and it doesn't need to sync with iTunes. I'm not exactly sure where the songs come from other than: the track has to posted on the interwebs somewhere. Whoever curates the database does a good job, I'd say 19 out of 20 songs I punch in - they have.

Friends can sign up for Blip.fm (hint hint) and "follow" the music you're digging. This really cool chick I knew back in the SMA days - who I haven't talked to in ten years - has a fantastically similar taste in music as me. It's been fun to see what she posts.

It has another use as well:

Every year I put together a best of [year] list. Here's my list from 2009, for example.

Typically I start with around eighty songs and reduce it down to about 18. A lot of them get thrown out for not being released that year. So, even if I listened to INXS's Suicide Blonde 17 times last year it doesn't belong on a best of mix for 2009.

Hey, I was preparing the mix for my 29 1/2th birthday. It required in-depth musical research.

So anyway, hopefully you get the idea. Listen to my favorite songs of late via my Blip.FM Channel, and/or start one of your own.

08 April 2010

Separated at Birth?

Will Farrell & Red Hot Chili Peppers Drummer Chad Smith

Thanks to Rats Off! For this discovery.
Photo from The Stranger's website.

END OF POST (there is no "Read more . . .")

05 March 2010

Johnny Drama and Ethan Hawke: Separated at Birth?

Separated at Birth?

Johnny Drama

Ethan Hawke
(in Brooklyn's Finest)

END OF POST (there is no "Read more . . .")

01 March 2010

Separated at Birth?

Separated at Birth?

END OF POST (there is no "Read more . . .")

27 February 2010

The Rosa Parks of Reusable To-go Containers

I lived a sheltered life back home.

In Multnomah County they keep the styrofoam beast at bay. Down here in the OC? Not so much. Every time I bring my leftovers home with me they're packaged in a styrofoam box that will last for eternity.

When I first moved here I didn't know what to do. I collected the styrofoam containers in the garage and scoured the internet for a place where I could recycle them - no such luck. In the end, the lady we were living with threw them all away when I was away for a work trip.

I've thought about bringing my own to-go container with me. Tupperware makes some colorful, collapsible containers (bonus: sold by a drag queen). Unfortunately, I always forget to bring it.

One of the great things about going out to dinner is that it's spontaneous. "Babe, I don't feel like cooking tonight."

Hooray! I don't feel like scraping cheese off a plate with a ratty sponge when we're done. Unfortunately, packing a tupperware kinda kills the spontaneity factor.

Also, full disclosure - I'm not sure if I can get over the nerdy-ness factor of whipping out a plastic tub at a restaurant. In Portland I wouldn't think twice about it, but down here it would be the first time in history anyone had done such a thing.

Not sure if I'm ready to be the Rosa Parks of reusable to-go containers.

Grist.org has a short n' sweet video about going green when getting take out.

That one seems easy enough - so long as

a) you tell the place in advance and
b) they understand WTF you're talking about

Tom Brokaw Explains Canada to Americans

On the eve of the gold medal game against Canada I wanted to share this very touching tribute about the relationship between the US and our friends to the north.

END OF POST (there is no "Read more . . .")

11 February 2010

What English Sounds Like to People from Other Countries

I work for an international company and behind the orange curtain this dose of culture is much needed. It's a real hodge podge of language in my department sometimes.
  • First there's the MexiCal slang that's part of the local culture
  • A co-worker from Italy has taught us how to swear in Italian
  • and we throw in some Japanese and Hawaiian for good measure
I know some "working" Spanish (thanks for holding, you're speaking to Sebastian, what's your store number?), but there's one language that alludes us - French. Usually I can get someone from our Canadian office to assist, or one of the really nice Swiss guys. Today I got skunked so here's what I came up with:

S'il vous plaît excusez-moi. J'ai utilisé Google Translate.

I never studied French, I have no idea how to form the words. What can you do? It got me thinking though how French has that lilt to it - so charming in all those Godard films but not-so-charming when you have an angry Quebecois on the line.

I also came across this: What English Sounds Like to People from Other Countries

The first video is a must-see. The American Idol from Bulgaria is pretty good too.
The Japanese kid and the short German bit aren't that interesting.


06 February 2010

A Change of Fashion

So, as you all know I've been wearing black for some time - almost ten years.

What most people don't understand is that I wear black - not because its my favorite color or its how I feel on the inside.

I wear black all the time because:

#1 I hate shopping
#2 I hate picking out what to wear in the morning
#3 Sometimes I spill coffee on myself and with black clothes no one can tell.
#4 I would rather spend money on travel

To be quite honest, if I woke up tomorrow and my closet was full of purple clothes - that's what I'd wear. I shit you not.

So, at Ladies Rock Camp last year there was this grad student from Canada. The whole weekend she rocked different cardigan / scarf combos. I was intrigued....

Since then I've invested in one black cardigan and one dark purple. Someone gave me a camel-colored one and I bought a matching scarf. So altogether I have three cardigans and three scarves. A few more and, Man, I'm set!

Not sure how this will work out in the long term. There are some 100+ degree Southern California days coming up this summer, but let's not worry about that just for a moment.

Is this cardigan-scarf thing really a lasting trend? Am I going to be, like, so 2009 in a few weeks?

What if I go old-school. I'm thinkin' Merchant-Ivory old school. Emma Thompson really worked those cardigans... but then again she has that lovely British accent - the perfect accessory, really.

I really wish someone would make a Queer Eye for the Straight Girl or for Tim Gunn's show to come back on. All I really want is a free trip to New York, $5000 and a gay man to show me what's up. Is that too much to ask!?!?

05 February 2010

Selling CDs on Glyde Versus Secondspin

This is a follow up to my post from last week: One Man's Trash is Another Man's Treasure.

selling CDs and DVDs on Glyde.com
Of the items I've posted to Glyde, I sold three in the first week.

results of selling CDs to SecondSpin
Of the 59 items I sent to SecondSpin they accepted all but one CD because it was a promo copy.
They're sending me a check for $172.81 and some additional reimbursement for shipping (media mail rate).

Here's where things stand:

Glyde: three items sold, average price: $1.04/item, total revenue: $3.13
SecondSpin: 58 items sold, average price: $2.91/item, total revenue $172.81
eBay: $0 (auction still in progress)

End of Post (there is no read more)

04 February 2010

Solving Problems and Staying Safe - Using 90's Gangster Rap

I was up in LA on Sunday and I ran into a problem... which I solved by listening to 90s gangster rap.

I found myself in Hollywood and wanted to take the 405 freeway home.

There was an accident on the connector freeways - which meant I had to either take I-5 home (which takes forever and is always backed up) or drive through South Central.

Since I visit LA only two or three times a year: I'm not very familiar with the area and where it's safe or not safe. Here's what I know:

California...knows how to party
California...knows how to party
In the citaaay of L.A.
In the citaaay of Watts
In the citaaay, the city of Compton
We keep it rockin! We keep it rockin!

Okay, that's a good start. What else do I know?

Only in Cali where we riot not rally to live and die
In L.A. we wearin' Chucks not Ballies (that's right)
Let'em recognize from Long Beach to Rosecrans
Bumpin and grindin like a slow jam.

I know Inglewood is "always up to no good" and I've heard Snoop et al mention Crenshaw a few times. I don't remember them mentioning an shit going down on La Brea Ave, so that's the route I chose.

At first I spend about twenty minutes driving through Koreatown. I feel totally safe rollin' in my '95 Mitsubishi.

From there I drove through Baldwin Hills (which seems really nice actually) and then into Inglewood. I put on TLC's Greatest Hits so everyone will know I'm just a cute girl who doesn't want any trouble (or Scrubs).

As it turns out, the part of Inglewood I drove through didn't look that different from the rest of LA. Apparently my idiotic sterotyping made everything work out just fine.

02 February 2010

My Car Qualifies for Wellfare - Woohoo!

I got a letter from the state of California today. They will give me up to $500 for (emissions-related) repairs to Little Red!

Poor thing, this is the second time she's failed her emissions test. The standards are more strict here than anywhere else and hey - if someone stuck something up your tailpipe and made you go at maximum exertion, you'd be grumpy too.

It's a pretty nice thing that the state offers some assistance toward the repair. Last time she had to get a new catalytic converter. That was a few hundred bucks..

The way it works is almost like health insurance: I pay $100 and then they pick up the rest (up to $500). The state will even cover the cost of the smog re-test. I'm not sure where the $500 limit comes from. Maybe the max value is determined by the blue book value of the car!

The car welfare thing is called the Consumer Assistance Program. It's been around for a few years but the smog station I'd been going to before never told me about it. I went to a different one that offered a coupon (thanks, Yelp) and they told me about it. Not sure if Oregon has something similar, but it's worth checking!

Turn Frequent Flyer Miles Into Gift Cards

I have 45,000 Delta SkyMiles and about 6,000 American Airlines miles I'm never going to use. It's kind of ridiculous because the miles are just going to sit there until they expire. I don't have enough to "afford" a free ticket and both airlines have really limited selection of award tickets anyway.

So I was very pleased to discover points.com

Points.com lets you swap frequent flyer miles between airlines, exchange miles with other people or redeem for gift certificates to Home Depot, Best Buy, iTunes, etc. Right now they work with Alaska, Continental, American, Hawaiian, Iceland Air and some other regional airlines.

For example, you can exchange

8,971 Alaska Airlines miles for a $25 iTunes gift certificate. It’s not that smokin’ of a deal, but if you’ve got miles on an airline you’re never going to use, then it’s better than just letting them expire.

There's also this stock market exchange kinda thing where you can post an exchange deal for other users. For example, for $30 I can swap 3,000 Delta Miles for 1,000 Continental miles. The $30 fee is charged by Delta. I think points.com charges a $7 transaction fee.

I haven't found any mind-blowing deals out there, but, for example I've got 45,000 Delta miles I'm never going to use. Delta has the nerve to route OC flights to Portland through Salt Lake, and I'll never make that mistake again.

OR END OF POST (there is no "Read more . . .")

27 January 2010

Best. Cover. Ever.

Obviously this isn't Neil Young, but holy crap it's a great impression.

24 January 2010

One Man's Treasure Is Another Man's Trash

I displayed them proudly in my living room - an external view of my internal soul.

To look upon them was to know the real me. The import singles, the special editions, it was all there.

I valued them more than money. If my apartment were to catch on fire, I would fill my arms with as many as possible, forsaking photo albums, clothes, even my stereo.

After selling off nearly 400 CDs and DVDs before I moved to California, about 200 CDs and 30 DVDs (the creme de la creme remained). This weekend, I decided to cut it to the bone.

To be honest, I think I waited too long on the CDs. I haven't bought one in ages and I don't know how many people still buy them? You can vote in my poll...

Do You Still Buy CDs?

At first I thought I'd put everything on eBay, but a friend of mine mentioned a new site called Glyde.com - it's like a kinder, gentler eBay. There's also a CD/DVD re-sell site called SecondSpin.com. You mail them CDs and DVDs, and they send you a check.

So I'm running an experiment. Which site will give me the most money for selling off my (formerly) most-prized possessions...

Glyde, SecondSpin, or eBay?

selling CDs on Glyde
Here's how Glyde works:

You type in an item description (All About My Mother)
You tell Glyde what condition it's in (New, Excellent, Good, etc)
Glyde tells you how much money you'll get, less their cut and the shipping cost.
Once the item is posted, you wait for someone to buy it.
When someone agrees to buy, Glyde sends you a pre-paid shipping envelope.

UPSIDE: easy to use, higher profit than eBay, item stays posted until it sells (no re-listing)
DOWNSIDE: waiting for someone to buy the item.

Here's how SecondSpin.com works:
You type in an item description
SecondSpin.com tells you how much they'll pay for that item
You add the item to your "sell" shopping cart.
Upon check out you get an order number and an estimated total.
You mail everything to SecondSpin, shipping costs are partially refunded for 5+ items.
SecondSpin checks in the items and mails you a check (or PayPal)

UPSIDE: you get paid right away
DOWNSIDE: SecondSpin reserves the right to reject CDs/DVDs for scratched discs or cases. They will not return rejected items. Profit isn't necessarily better than eBay.

If I still lived in Portland, I would just go to Everyday Music...

So Here's the Experiment:

First I went through all my CDs and set aside the ones that were scratched since SecondSpin won't accept them. Anything in good condition got priced out on the three sites. I quickly discovered that some of my most treasured CDs were worth, well, bubkiss.

Under the Pink - 25 cents on SecondSpin, 55 cents on Glyde

Living in Clip - 10 cents on SecondSpin
I guess today's angst-ridden teenagers aren't interested in the bi-sexual poet-folk of Ms. DiFranco.

Artists that are still drawing new listeners (such as The Gossip) fair a little better. For That's Not What I Heard. I get a guaranteed $2 from SecondSpin or I can wait for a buyer on Glyde and get $5.05.

I'm not done yet, but out of about forty CDs and two dozen DVDs, the only item that would do better on eBay is a collector's edition of Pulp Fiction. This item goes for $8-$10 on eBay and Glyde was only $7 and SecondSpin would give me a measly $4.

I sent about two dozen items up to SecondSpin.com today. We'll see how many of them they accept. I've also posted two dozen items to Glyde. We'll see how long it takes for them to sell.

So stay tuned for the results of the experiment, and check out Glyde. They have great deals on CDs, DVDs, and books too...

Update #1 - so far I've made $172!

10 January 2010

Palau Scuba Diving Trip - My First Liveaboard Dive Boat Experience

I'm back from Palau... and sick.

Not sure if I caught something from the airplane or one of the other divers, but man-oh-man...I haven't spent this much time on the couch in ages *hack* *hack*. On the upside, I've had plenty of time to finish my recap video. Run time is about 8 minutes, but I put the highlights in the first 1 min. 45 sec.

Please view in full screen mode.
(click the four white arrows in the bottom right corner - next to the Vimeo logo)

Also, please turn your speakers on!
There are some nice tunes from XX, Blue Scholars, and some old-school Jamaican Ska I hope you'll enjoy. Or you can mute the sound and just put T-Pain on repeat (Mom this is a joke, don't really do it).

Things that weren't captured in the slideshow:

Ascending from some of the dives... it was amazing to look down: coral as far as the eye can see. In other places I've dove (the Caribbean, Hawaii) there are patches of coral and sand in between. In Palau it's solid coral - not one patch of sand visible.

Some of the dive sites, especially down south in Peleliu, there were WWII artifacts. During the dive it would be all round-y organic shapes and then all of sudden - a perfectly square box 10 ft x 10 ft x 10 ft covered in coral. Sometimes the coral growth was so dense, it was hard to tell what mother nature made and what was man made.

I wish I could capture the sounds in the rock islands. It's the classic, movie soundtrack beautiful-and-a-tiny-bit-creepy combination of strange bird calls, trees rustling and water lapping. It reminded me of the river scenes in Apocalypse Now but no monkeys and not at all threatening.

The guide on our kayak trip was great. A native Palauan, she had a lot of interesting insights about growing up on a (somewhat) remote island. Besides being a great naturalist, she gave an interesting perspective on Palau's history as a territory of Japan, the U.S., and at last as an independent nation.

Big thanks to the crew on Palau Aggressor II and the staff at Sam's Tours. I hope to be back one day!