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Archive for December, 2008

Tsunami Reveals Bizarre Marine Life

Posted by Peder on 29 December 2008

YouTube is fantastic, so is this video. After the tsunami ravaged Asia in December 2004 a cacophony of odd sea specimens washed up on shore. Dredged from the bottom of the ocean, some look truly alien. My favorite is whatever comes up at the 0:30 mark. What is that?

(Anyway, text is in German, translation after the video.)

Video text translation:

  • December 26, 2004
  • A tsunami wave was triggered by a submarine earthquake in the Indian Ocean off the island of Sumatra
  • A minimum of 231,000 people died in eight Asian nations
  • These marine animals were found days on land days after the catastrophe, after the water had receded …

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Posted by Peder on 26 December 2008

I had a real friend.
We ‘friended’ on Facebook, but
she just posts cat pics.

hi, I'm lame

hi, I'm lame

Posted in General Tech-ishness, Haikus | 2 Comments »

Online Holiday Fun

Posted by Peder on 23 December 2008

Xmas in Frisko

Xmas in Frisko

Happy holidays everyone.  We got another dusting of snow overnight in the MSP metro area, bringing the monthly total to something around 14″, making it one of the top 10 snowiest Decembers since they started recording that stuff.  Quite a reintroduction for me, as I’ve spent a lot of recent winters not in the Midwest, but it’s been fun re-learning winter driving techniques (think of a boat over the waves) and who could argue with a white Christmas?

I’ve been spending some more time with Soma FM and their new holiday stations. Xmas in Frisko has been great, with Christmas Lounge on the side for more traditional sounds.

I’ve also been spending some time with Google’s Book Search, which has been expanded and now includes an archive of old magazines on top of the archive of photos from Life magazine.  Very cool stuff.  I decided to look back at what was going on during my first Christmas on earth and found Larry Hagman smiling at me from the cover of a New York Magazine that boasted gift ideas for everyone on your list.  Being from the future, I was naturally drawn to gifts for “The Futurist,” where the Sony Walkman TCS-300 was going for $220. Of course, the ultimate winter outfit would’ve been nice: A reversible fuchsia and turquoise snowsuit that came in one size.  No doubt the $30 lighting rod was the epitome of class, but the four-function calculator and triangle vases would’ve still been pretty trendy in a world yet to experience New Coke, or would they?

Other highlights from that December 1980 issue include a story of a bunch of thirteen-year-olds who hacked Pepsi’s computer system to get cases of cola delivered to their school, questions as to whether President-elect Reagan will give cities the business (no, not the same business [0:39]), and a lot of liquor ads.

So Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Feliz Navidad and Happy Kwanzaa.  May Santa bring you everything you secretly hope for!



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Custom Design Woodworks [dot] com

Posted by Peder on 21 December 2008

My uncle recently set up a new WordPress and Flickr-powered website over at . They make custom cabinetry for the Lake Tahoe region.  My brother and cousin both work for him over there, too.  Great stuff guys, Happy Holidays!


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My Jingle Was Jiggled: Dance Band Rocks!

Posted by Peder on 20 December 2008


davechappelle-dancingfurcapdudeThese are the right first words to use when writing about last night’s headliners at the Turf Club, Dance Band.  I had a great time watching them rock out up on stage … it was almost as fun as watching the crowd rock out on the dance floor.  I swear the dude next to me spent the whole set doing the robot guy from the Chapelle Show.

From <a href=The fast pace was definitely set by the band and it’s four front-people.  The guitar player kept a series of spacey riffs and geeky tweaks cascading over the top of the pounding beats.  Never over-dominant, I’d look over and watch his fingers just fly over the fretboard.  The bass player had some of the fastest lyrical stylings I’ve seen since Atmosphere.  That’s right, besides funking the funk out, the bassist raps — and gives the band a good third sound when the two singers take much-earned breaks from their own intense rocking. These leading co-conspirators of the dance dance revolution consist of a short ball of brunette energy (fittingly adorned in a Christmas tree hat last night) on female lead, and a shaggy, over-bearded Caucasian of rock-persuasion on male lead.  As it happens that guy, Paul, is an old classmate from my younger, formative school years.  It was a real treat to see how he’s crafted his nerdy retro-rocker onstage persona, especially since I know he was a star running back on our freshman football team.  Armor chinked?  Check.

Self-styled “geekfunk” never had it so good. With song themes based on zombies, Sega video games and UNIX code you get the sense these guys don’t have to stray too far to find song inspiration. You can check out their website which links straight into their Myspace page.  For geeks, they should be doing a lot more online, but I was told they have these things called “day jobs” that prevent this from happening.  Dunno, I’m dubious.

Opening for them were the bands Estate and Mystery Palace.  Mystery Palace took a nice chilled, German laptop rock sound and built heavier, dissonant layers on top of it.  It worked, if not a little down-tempo for the night’s theme.  I spoke to their singer/keyboardist Ryan afterward and he talked about how they bring their jazz influences and traditions into their work.  I’ll definitely be watching the wire for any of their other shows in the area, though it sounds like they’re headed to NYC for a while.

So do yourself a favor and go see Dance Band, and shake your baby maker!

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A Visual Guide to the Financial Bailout

Posted by Peder on 19 December 2008

More by way of “2008: A Year in Review”

By, published on

A Visual Guide to the Financial Crisis

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My Top Albums of 2008 (and Podcasts too)

Posted by Peder on 17 December 2008

Photo by Mahesh Habarakada

Photo by Mahesh Habarakada

I was recently reading yet another magazine’s listing of the top albums of 2008 – this one from Spin – and thought it might be fun to see what new music I’ve been listening to this year. So I concocted a quick smart play list on iTunes and found the following list (in no particular order):

  • R.E.M.Accelerate – When I heard Michael Stipe say this album was politically charged I knew I had to get it.  And when I got it, it took me back to a happy place I once had with their albums of the late 80s and early 90s.  Style and substance:  It rocks, it has innuendo, it’s a great album.  The album plays so well as a set, but some of my favorite songs include “Accelerate,” “Mr. Richards,” and “Red Head Walking.”
  • TV On The RadioDear Science – Holy crap this album blew my socks off.  Like their previous releases, it gets better as it grows on you, but they way they go between percussive jet fuel and tender ballads made me a hard core fan on first listen.  Seeing them live was easily one of, if not the best, show I saw all year.  (Other big one was Radiohead at Outside Lands)  Fave songs include “Halfway Home,” “Family Tree,” and “Shout Me Out.”
  • AtmosphereWhen Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold – I didn’t realize how much I listened to this album until I checked iTunes, but I cranked it a lot.  I suspect some of that came from the fact that I spent a good chunk of the year prepping to come back to Minnesota and these guys are a local favorite, but the album is just good Rhymesayer’s hip hop.  Fave’s include “Puppets,” “The Skinny” and “The Waitress.”
  • BeckModern Guilt – Just good Beck, plain and simple.  I’m a fan of Beck, have liked most of his albums, and have seen him twice in concert.  This album was also a no-brainer for me to get, and it did not disappoint.  Fave tracks include “Gamma Rays,” “Modern Guilt,” and “Profanity Prayers.”
  • The NotwistThe Devil, You + Me – So here’s a sleeper pick, if not for the fact it’s a great late night listen.  For a band that’s really switched it’s style up a lot, this album stayed satisfyingly close to its predecessor Neon Golden, which I also love.  This German laptop rock just has a spot in my heart.  Fave songs include “Where In This World,” “The Devil, You + Me,” and “Good Lies.”
  • Vampire WeekendVampire Weekend – Early, early in 2008 I started hearing about this band from Columbia University and thought I’d give it a go.  So fun and upbeat, each song comes off with a youthful innocence captured by the clean guitar riffs.  Funnest songs include “A-Punk,” “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa,” and “Walcott.”
  • The Ting TingsWe Started Nothing – When a buddy told me to get this album I kinda laughed in his cyber chat face.  But then I listened — first calling it a guilty pleasure, then bringing others for the ride.  It’s infectious, upbeat and perhaps a bit overplayed on the local radio station, but that doesn’t mean it’s not good.  Guiltiest pleasures include “Great DJ,” “Shut Up and Let Me Go,” and “Keep Your Head.”
  • MGMTOracular Spectacular – I felt a bit late to this party cuz I didn’t really get into this album until after I heard them on the air and read about them in Spin.  But I’m here now and this is an album I don’t really go more than a day without hearing at least one of these tracks:  “Time to Pretend,” “Electric Feels,” or “Kids”
  • Kings of LeonOnly By The Night – Having been mildly impressed with their debut album, I picked up this album in a bout of drunken downloading and for once am happy with the results!  It’s well-produced and finally gives the singer the official position as band frontman, letting the guitar take its more appropriate role behind the vocals.  I love the songs “This Sex is On Fire,” “Use Somebody,” and “Be Somebody.”  I brought some other thoughts on this album to bear at the end of this post.
  • David Byrne and Brian EnoEverything That Happens Will Happen Today – It only came out recently but man is it good!  I’ve listened to these grooves a lot over the last couple weeks and have to put the album among my faves for the year.  Particular tracks I love are “Home,” “Everything That Happens,” “Life Is Long” and “Strange Overtones.”
  • Raphael SaadiqThe Way I See It – Waiting for a double half-caf Americano at Starbucks (You can take the boy out of California …) I saw one of those free iTunes download cards they give away there.  It was “100 Yard Dash” off this album.  Smooth, Motown melodies that call back to an earlier time.  Woah, we have something here.  Then I put it on when I helped my mom paint her laundry room and it was a hit.  Finally I heard an interview with the Raphael on The Sound of Young America and was impressed with the person behind this great sound.  Give yourself the pleasure of an album you probably wouldn’t have heard otherwise and get this one.  The whole album plays well, but I recommend “100 Yard Dash,” “Just One Kiss,” and “Staying in Love.”  Nah, really just throw that disc on start to finish!

Like I say, these albums were the ones with the highest play counts on my iTunes, which is an admittedly imperfect science.  That count doesn’t take into consideration what I played on my iPod, on CD in my car or on other people’s systems.  But they’re the albums of 2008 that have had a positive influence on this crazy, crazy year of mine.

2008 was also the Year of the Podcast for me, and I listened to a lot of these as well.  I can only see this “radio on-demand” technology growing and having an increased role in my life in 2009.  So, in alphabetical order, here are some of my favorite podcasts of the last year:

  • The Bugle – John Oliver from the Daily Show and his commedy partner Andy Zaltzman have a good English go at the lighter side of the weekly news.
  • Common Sense with Dan Carlin – A guy in Oregon gets political and *thankfully* doesn’t take sides.  “Your independent alternative to the partisan voices you normally hear.”  He makes a lot of sense too, and was a refreshing source of insight during this politically-charged year.
  • Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History – A fan of history rather than a professional historian, Dan has a very compelling way of sharing stories and insights from history to his audience in this, his second show.  He’s a lot more fun to listen to than pretty much all of the other history podcasts I’ve tried out.
  • Dear Amber – Insider’s Guide to Chinese Culture – Run by the school I used to teach for (proud much?) and, this podcast goes over Chinese culture from the perspective of expats.  Kinda fits me, and I love to listen and reminisce
  • The Moth – Stories told live without notes.  Very good, interesting tales.  The art of storytelling is not dead!
  • On Point with Tom Ashbrook – Part of the NPR network, On Point provides depth behind current news stories.  Plus Tom Ashbrook is a great interviewer, and it’s great to listen to him work difficult interviewees.
  • The Sound of Young America – I only recently discovered this one but love it for interviewing interesting people.  It’s where I learned a lot about Raphael Saddiq.  Score.
  • WNYC’s Radio Lab – This is a fun show that takes on a different random, interesting topic each episode.  They talk about it, interview people about it, make jokes about it.  And I really like their storytelling/interview style where they stick bits of commentary between parts of the guest’s interviews.  It provides context and adds to the impact of the interviews.  Guess that’s where the “lab” part comes from.

Here’s hoping 2009 will be half as cool as 2008 has been.  I suspect it will!

Edited to Add: I had a look back at my account (which I’m really not using anymore) to see what bands in general I had listened to in 2008.  Here are the top 10 bands I rocked out to, regardless of whether or not they had a new album in 2008:

  1. Arctic Monkeys
  2. Shiny Toy Guns
  3. The Notwist
  4. The Lovemakers
  5. Radiohead
  6. Boards of Canada
  7. Vampire Weekend
  8. TV on the Radio
  9. Beck
  10. Hellogoodbye

Posted in Music, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Military Corruption: A Feel-Good Story

Posted by Peder on 16 December 2008

Though I generally want to refrain from republishing news reported by others in this blog, I just had to share this very disturbing story of corruption in the Defense Department.  Published in Wired Magazine’s Danger Room blog, the story articulates how friends of then-Secretary of Defense benefited to the tune of $9.2 million through a program intended to show overseas troops that the American public supports them.

(Original Story, via Boing Boing)

Superheroes of the Defense Department (Photo from Wired)

The idea behind America Supports You was simple.  “If you’re serving overseas, and you watch the mainstream media coverage, sometimes you can’t tell if America knows you’re there,” said a program official.  The problem was that the troops were not the only ones benefiting.  Soon monies started funneling into “questionable and unregulated actions.”  Then directors of PR firm Susan Davis International started receiving salaries ranging $300k-600k from the fund.  Then Mitch Semel was given a half million dollars for web work.  Most of the money was laundered through the Pentagon-run Stars & Stripes newspaper.  Absolutely horrible.

In light of everything happening with the corruption surrounding Illinois Gov. Blogojevich and the general concern over the mishandling of the wars in Afghanistan, and particularly, Iraq, this story is really disheartening.  Problem is, with some of the other stories regarding no-bid contracts and general abuses as a result of the wars, this really feels like small potatos.

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Real Life: Berlin

Posted by Peder on 14 December 2008

Looking through some old stuff I found this photo I took about eight years ago in Berlin:

real life close-up

Real Life-Instructions (Jan 2001), originally uploaded by Peder with a D.

It reads:

REAL LIFE … Instructions

You should / not

  1. Burn your passport
  2. Destroy geography
  3. Accept statelessness
  4. Reject citizenship
  5. Jump national borders
  6. Abolish nations
  7. Ignore continents
  8. Dissolve cities
  9. Abandon republics
  10. Separate yourself !
I assume it’s a list of things not do do, or maybe it’s being ironic with the whole “should / not” thing.  Do I have a choice?  Also, notice it’s right outside a bus stop, imagine reading that everyday you head into work.  Heavy.
In random unrelated news, I was talking to my buddy last night as we were listening to the new Kings of Leon album.  I like it, but he says he misses the more guitar-centric riffs of they’re first albums.  “This album is a lot more polished than their previous efforts,” I offered.  “More singer-centric.”  He agreed, but like many indie rock purists, claimed the polished sound wasn’t what he wanted to hear.  Then, when the chorus started to hit on “Use Somebody” I had to pause and kind of laugh, “I guess the guitar build up is pretty cliched by this point,” I said.  “Yeah,” he says, “it really hit it’s peak with ‘Sister Christian.'”
That was the song I was listening to when writing this post.  “We’re lucky to bring them back, and please welcome right now, Night Ranger, with their new single … all right!”

Posted in Music, Stuff That Gave Me Pause | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Punta Gorda, Belize

Posted by Peder on 12 December 2008

Punta Gorda, Belize, originally uploaded by AcrossBelize.

Looks lovely doesn’t it?

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