Entries by laze

“Cynicism … makes you into an extremely boring person”

Joseph Gervasi, who I met through Exhumed Films 16 or 17 years ago, recently did a short introduction to a double feature of Killer Klowns from Outer Space and Deadly Spawn. The show was a benefit for James Harris of docterror.com and the Horror Sexy podcast, who is battling Ewings Sarcoma.

It’s not what I would have expected to come from introducing such a double feature. You should watch. It’s really good.

It’s easy to malign or laugh at small subcultures or communities that form around niche interests (here, fans of horror and cult films). It’s easy to dismiss them as wastes of time. But in almost every case, these groups are so much more than collections of people with a common interest. They’re groups that can support and lift up members during times of need.

Additionally, he speaks on the importance of hope and generosity:

Cynicism, I think, is the worst possible attribute that anyone can have. It makes you into an extremely boring person, a very ineffective person, and someone who is in no way artistic or creative.

Be sure to also check out Joseph’s interview with James on episode 60 of the Cinepunx podcast.

(Update: Sadly, James passed away in April of 2017.)

2016: My Year in Review

Like most other folks I know, I’m ready to flip the bird to 2016 and move on. In April, I officially shuttered my tea shop, which was a tad depressing. It was a rough summer with kidney stones that never seemed to leave. September was about as eventful as could be. And we closed out the year on a somewhat stressful and less than healthful note. But there was a lot of good stuff, too. Made some big time breakthroughs on the family tree and connected with a lot of new family, did a lot of running, had a great anniversary trip with Huyen, and enjoyed some really fun times with our kids and dogs.

And now, the year past…

(Previous years-in-review collected here.)

The Year, By Month

January

February

  • Surprise birthday visit to Mom for her, uh, landmark birthday.

March

  • Sent Huyen off on a birthday weekend away with her two best friends from high school and experienced what it was like to watch four kids for a weekend.
  • Went to a Family History Center and scrolled through actual microfilm. I felt so old school.

April

  • Rasine v. Huyen in “The Mousing Cat” on the Odyssey^2
  • Saw Archie Shepp, Pharaoh Sanders, and others at the Jazz Masters Tribute
  • Officially closed up shop on Asacha

May

  • Took the kids to their first concert: Babymetal
  • PR 5k race time (21:51, 7:02/mile pace, 34th out of 399 overall)
  • Major genealogy breakthrough taking my maternal grandfather’s roots back deep into Lithuania

June

  • Caught up with my freshman year RA Sye for dinner
  • Mother-in-law arrives to start an awesome (really!) three-month visit

July

  • Completed our first Exit Plan escape room adventure in under 45 minutes
  • First kidney stone attack. “Oh, they’re just small, so don’t worry about the fact they haven’t come out.”

August

  • Trip to Philadelphia to dig through an overgrown section of Mt Moriah Cemetery for my great-great-great-grandparents (first pic below)
  • 15th anniversary trip to St. Thomas (stayed at an Airbnb)
  • Several more kidney stone attacks, in the middle of the night while on St. Thomas

September

  • Doc says, “Oh, hey. So that kidney stone? It’s actually huge.”
  • Kidney stone surgery. Never again.
  • Rasine’s Minecraft-themed party
  • Lee “Scratch” Perry concert
  • Boss and boss’ boss move on
  • Became “management”

October

  • Shepp pulls his back, resulting in a panicked late-night emergency vet visit
  • Digging for artifacts at the Ashburn Colored School community cleanup event
  • Dinner with BeFyne
  • Turned 41

November

  • The end of America is scheduled for January 20th
  • Family battles Hand, Foot, and Mouth. I come away mostly unscathed.
  • Saw Lakshmi Singh walking around doing a story about Poplar Spring for NPR

December

  • Thanks to thin walls, I hear an older gentleman getting a hernia check followed by a prostate exam
  • The kids and I fight various stages of walking pneumonia
  • More visits to the doctor and imaging centers than I’ve ever had in one month

RIP

Based solely on the folks I RIP’ed on Twitter (or FB). People (and “people”) I knew personally in bold. Dates are when I tweeted/posted to FB, not the actual death date. Lots of commonly-eulogized folks omitted.

  • 1/10: Mitsu Suzuki
  • 1/18: Iron Mike Sharpe
  • 1/27: Angus Scrimm
  • 3/8: Mr. Edwards (2 months late)
  • 6/22: John Reynolds
  • 7/20: Rose Dooley
  • 8/16: Bobby Hutcherson
  • 10/26: Bob Browne (three months late)
  • 11/8: America
  • 11/18: Sharon Jones
  • 12/29: Mini-Moo
  • 12/31: Huston Smith

Books I Finished Reading

Listed in order finished.

  • A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
  • Essays After Eighty by Donald Hall
  • Preserving Your Family’s Oral History and Stories by Thomas MacEntee
  • Sky Above, Great Wind: The Life and Poetry of Zen Master Ryokan by Kazuaki Tanahashi
  • Finding Samuel Lowe: China, Jamaica, Harlem by Paula Williams Madison
  • Ferdydurke by Witold Gombrowicz
  • Don’t Be a Jerk: And Other Practical Advice from Dōgen, Japan’s Greatest Zen Master by Brad Warner
  • I Travel by Night by Robert McCammon (novella)
  • The Jazz Loft Project: Photographs and Tapes of W. Eugene Smith from 821 Sixth Avenue, 1957-1965 by Sam Stephenson
  • Lotus of the Heart: Living Yoga for Personal Wellness and Global Survival by Tracey Winter Glover
  • Black Fire! New Spirits!: Images of a Revolution: Radical Jazz in the USA 1960-75 by Stuart Baker
  • The Ark Sakura by Kobo Abe
  • Organize Your Genealogy: Strategies and Solutions for Every Researcher by Drew Smith
  • Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin
  • Spoiled Brats by Simon Rich
  • The System of Dante’s Hell by Amiri Baraka
  • On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
  • Elliot Allagash by Simon Rich
  • The Good Nurse: A True Story of Medicine, Madness, and Murder by Charles Graeber
  • The Family Tree Polish, Czech And Slovak Genealogy Guide: How to Trace Your Family Tree in Eastern Europe by Lisa A. Alzo
  • Time Travel: A History by James Gleick
  • Letting Go: The Story of Zen Master Tōsui by Menzan Zuihō, translated by Peter Haskel

Total number of books finished: 22 (three less than 2015)

Books re-read: 0

Books written by someone I know or have at least spoken more than a sentence to: 1

Books featuring a footnote referencing a woman whose kids I used to babysit: 1

Physical / Ebooks finished:
13
9
Fiction / Nonfiction / Poetry:
7
14
1
Buddhism / Music / Preservation / Genealogy:
4
2
1
3

Books in progress at the end of the year: 2

Movies I Watched and Re-watched

Listed in order watched.

Number of movies: 54

Number of those movies I’d already seen: 9

Movies from this year: 10

Average year: 1993.76

Average rating: 3.60

… more fun stuff at Letterboxd

The Year in Numbers

Number of miles run:
901.67

Gallons of liquid consumed from 10/4-12/31 (approximately):
82.1875

Movies watched:
53

Books read:
22

Songs listened to:
11785

2015 Music Year in Review

(So, um, yeah. I’m a little late with this. I never quite finished it up last year, but I need to get it out there before this year’s end-of-year wrap-up sneaks up on me. I never quite finished all my commentary, but I figured it was time to just post it and I’ll fill it in later… someday.)

Since 2007, I’ve posted a year-end music wrap up that serves mainly as a reference for myself and a few other folks that like to see what I enjoyed (I wish more friends would do the same). I try to stick to new music, no re-releases. Here is this year’s.

Everything’s sorted in alphabetical order. (Note: My general rule of thumb is to try and link to the album at the location the artist will get the most money (Bandcamp, their label’s site), but there are still a few Amazon mp3 store links in there (and they’re affiliate links).

(See also: all previous years-in-review.)

Best of 2015

  • Abstract Rude: Keep the Feel: A Legacy of Hip-Hop Soul
    Solid grown-ass man hip-hop. “The Solution” with Brother Ali and Slug is excellent, as is “I Lived in a Time.” There are several massive posse cuts, large enough to be well beyond what you normally see in 2015.
  • Alborosie Meets King Jammy: Dub of Thrones
  • Aphex Twin: Computer Controlled Acoustic Instruments pt2 EP
  • Barrington Levy: Acousticalevy
    Barrington sounds as good as he ever has, his voice indistinguishable from his prime in the 70s and 80s. Occasionally the songs go a touch long and of course I cringed hearing autotune on “Times Hard” and “Only You” but otherwise: what an album. Deserved the Grammy nomination it received. (And thankfully, he seems to be on the mend after contracting Dengue Fever midway through the year.)
  • billy woods: Today, I Wrote Nothing
  • Chłopcy Kontra Basia: O
    This Polish future-folk was my favorite find of the year.
  • Dokkerman & the Turkeying Fellaz: Illegal Move
  • Fabiano do Nascimento: Dança dos Tempos
  • Guilty Simpson: Detroit’s Son
  • Ibeyi: Ibeyi
    An early-year contender for album of the year, the French-Cuban musical twin sisters create a ghostly masterpiece of minimalist soul. Beautiful.
  • Josa Peit: Constellation EP
    One of my favorite vocalists dropped this abstract gem of an EP this year. Hoping she’s at work on a full-length LP for 2016.
  • Kamasi Washington: The Epic
    The appropriately titled hours-long jazz project that goes from spiritual to free to funky and sounds solid no matter the subgenre. I love that music like this is still being made.
  • L’Orange & Jeremiah Jae: The Night Took Us In Like Family
  • Myka 9 & Factor: Famous Future Time Travel
  • DJ Ragz: Seasoned Bee Shark Steaks
    My mellow my man with his first solo release. Dope beats, dope guests, and, of course, plenty of zigga-ziggas.
  • Sadat X: Never Left
    Out of all the emcees that have been around since the 80s, Sadat’s got to be one of the most continually active of them. He does guest spots everywhere and still drops frequent solo albums. Never Left was an early year dose of classic hip-hop from one of the best and most distinctively unique voices hip-hop’s known. Super solid pairings with the UMC’s (both of them!!) and Dres from Black Sheep.
  • Scarface: Deeply Rooted
    30 years into the game and Face still puts out some of the most engaging solo albums out there. A solid listen from start to finish with no filler.
  • DJ Spooky & The Kronos Quartet: Rebirth of a Nation
  • Supastition: Gold Standard

Almost Best of 2015

  • AKD & Deepstar: Universal Language
    Darkish late-90s steez in this London/Australia long-distance collabo.
  • B. Dolan: Kill the Wolf
  • Curtis Fuller: The Good and the Ugly
  • eMC: The Tonite Show
  • Indigo Girls: One Lost Day
  • Joey Bada$$: B4.DA.$$
  • John Carpenter: Lost Themes
  • Natalia Lafourcade: Hasta La Raíz
  • Red Pill: Look What This World Did To Us
  • Sleater-Kinney: No Cities to Love
  • Zarelli: Soft Rains

Best of 2014 I missed until 2015

  • Anna Webber: Simple [released 2014?]
  • Otis Brown III: The Thought of You
  • R.esistance in Dub Meets Mad Professor: R.EChONSTRUCTION

My Daughter’s Favorite Tracks This Year

My daughter, now nine, has shifted into full pop gear. Which is fine because every so often she’ll obsess over something awesome like the original “Sweet Dreams.”

  • Adam Lambert: "Ghost Town"
  • Adele: "Hello"
  • Alicia Keys: "Girl on Fire"
  • Andy Grammer: "Honey, I'm Good."
  • The Black Eyed Peas: "I Gotta Feeling"
  • Boom Masters: "It's Always a Good Time"
  • Bruno Mars: "Locked Out Of Heaven"
  • Charli XCX: "Boom Clap"
  • DJ Snake, Lil Jon: "Turn Down for What"
  • Dove Cameron, Sofia Carson, Cameron Boyce, Booboo Stewart, Mitchell Hope, Sarah Jeffrey, Jeff Lewis: "Set it Off"
  • Ed Sheeran: "Thinking Out Loud"
  • Ed Sheeran: "The A Team"
  • Eurythmics: "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)"
  • Flo Rida: "Whistle"
  • I U 1 D C: "Im The Man"
  • Iggy Azalea, Charli XCX: "Fancy"
  • Imagine Dragons: "Demons"
  • Imagine Dragons: "I Bet My Life"
  • Imagine Dragons: "Warriors"
  • Ingrid Michaelson: "Girls Chase Boys"
  • James Bay: "Hold Back The River"
  • John Legend: "All of Me"
  • John Powell: "Coming Back Around"
  • John Powell: "Dragon Racing"
  • Juice Music: "YMCA"
  • Katy Perry: "Roar"
  • Katy Perry, Juicy J: "Dark Horse"
  • Kelly Clarkson, John Legend: "Run Run Run"
  • KONGOS: "Come with Me Now"
  • Kuana Torres Kahele, Napua Greig, James Ford Murphy: "Lava"
  • Lorde: "Royals"
  • Lorde: "Royals"
  • MAGIC!: "Rude"
  • Mario Bischin: "Macarena"
  • Mark Ronson, Bruno Mars: "Uptown Funk"
  • Maroon 5: "One More Night"
  • Maroon 5: "Sugar"
  • Maroon 5: "Maps"
  • Maroon 5: "Animals"
  • Maroon 5: "Sugar"
  • Michael Brun, Roy English: "Tongue Tied July"
  • Miley Cyrus: "Wrecking Ball"
  • OMI: "Cheerleader – Felix Jaehn Remix Radio Edit"
  • OMI: "Cheerleader – Felix Jaehn Remix Radio Edit"
  • One Direction: "Drag Me Down"
  • One Direction: "Story of My Life"
  • OneRepublic: "Counting Stars"
  • ortoPilot: "Sweet Dreams"
  • Owl City: "Shooting Star"
  • Owl City: "Fireflies"
  • Passenger: "Let Her Go"
  • Passenger: "Let Her Go"
  • PSY: "Gangnam Style (강남스타일)"
  • R. City, Adam Levine: "Locked Away"
  • Rachel Platten: "Fight Song"
  • Sam Smith: "Stay With Me"
  • Sam Smith: "I'm Not The Only One"
  • Say Hey to Single Life: "Geronimo"
  • Shawn Mendes: "Stitches"
  • Silentó: "Watch Me (Whip / Nae Nae)"
  • Soul Marathon: "Radio Active"
  • Survivor: "Eye of the Tiger"
  • Vance Joy: "Riptide"
  • Vance Joy: "Riptide"
  • WALK THE MOON: "Shut Up and Dance"
  • The Wanted: "Glad You Came"

My Son’s Favorite Tracks This Year

My son is three-and-a-half and this year started developing some favorite songs, so it’s time for him to get his own section.

  • The Emotions: “I Like It”
  • Natalia Lafourcade: “Hasta la Raíz”

Best Tracks of 2015

Here’s my list of favorite tracks of the year, along with a Spotify playlist of as many are available there. (Songs not available in the playlist are denoted with a * and a link is provided.)

Note that while the list below is sorted alphabetically, the Spotify playlist has been carefully organized to provide the Optimal, Cohesive Listening ExperienceTM.

  • A Place To Bury Strangers: “I’m so Clean”
  • A-F-R-O: “Definition Of A Rap Flow”
  • Abstract Rude: “The Solution (feat. Slug, Brother Ali)”
  • Aceyalone: “Ring Ding”
  • Afrobeat Orchestra: “Let It Flow Warsaw”
  • Alborosie: “Dub The Seven Kingdoms”
  • Anushka: “Kendrick (Too Hot Outside Edit)”
  • Ape the Grim: “Swipe da Funk (feat. Statik Selektah, Mr. Lif & Nabo Rawk)”
  • Apollo Brown: “Brass Tacks (feat. Chino XL & Finale)”
  • Atmosphere: “This Lonely Rose (feat. Blueprint & Aesop Rock)”
  • B. Dolan: “Stay Inspired”
  • Barrington Levy: “Here I Come”
  • billy woods: “Born Yesterday”
  • Blackalicious: “Blacka”
  • Brock Berrigan: “The Preacher”
  • Camp Lo: “Award Winning”
  • Cannibal Ox: “Blade: The Art of Ox (feat. Artifacts & U-God)”
  • Cassandra Wilson: “Good Morning Heartache”
  • Cattle Decapitation: “Mammals in Babylon”
  • Chłopcy Kontra Basia: “O Dziwożonie Zielarce”
  • Chill Rob G.: “Tell ’em (feat. R.A. the Rugged Man)”
  • Cicala Mvta: “Hi No Naka No Hi”
  • Claudio Simonetti: “Demon (Reprise) (Remixed by Leæther Strip)”
  • Congo Natty: “Jungle Is I and I (Hylu and Jago Future Dub Mix)”
  • Curtis Fuller: “Lyriste”
  • CZARFACE: “Sinister (Revenge of Yorgo Remix)”
  • D.Stroy: “Bravo (feat. Miri Ben-Ari & Clinton Sparks)”
  • Dizz1: “Mystify My Eye”
  • DJ EFN: “When I’m Dead”
  • DJ Krush: “Strange Light”
  • DJ Ragz: “Va Connect (feat. Tef Wesley, Mudd, Unown DC & Grussle)”
  • DJ Spooky: “Rebirth of a Nation: The Most Dangerous Woman in America”
  • Dokkerman & the Turkeying Fellaz: “La Casa En Llamas”
  • Duran Duran: “Pressure Off (feat. Janelle Monáe and Nile Rodgers)”
  • Dynas: “Who U?”
  • EMC: “The Monologue”
  • Erick Sermon: “Clutch”
  • Erykah Badu: “Dial’Afreaq”
  • Fashawn: “Confess”
  • Finale: “The Revival (feat. Invincible & Pierre Anthony)”
  • Fumaça Preta: “Apelo”
  • Georgia Anne Muldrow: “Ankles”
  • Ghostface Killah: “Death’s Invitation (feat. Scarub, Lyrics Born & Chino XL)”
  • Growbox: “O Tym Samym”
  • Guilty Simpson: “Radiation Burn”
  • GZA: “The Mexican”
  • Ibeyi: “River”
  • Illa J: “Perfect Game”
  • Indigo Girls: “Happy In The Sorrow Key”
  • J-Live: “Feel This”
  • Joey Bada$$: “Belly of the Beast (feat. Chronixx)”
  • John Brown’s Body: “Worldwide Dub (Mixed by Dubfader of 10 Ft. Ganja Plant)”
  • John Carpenter: “Night”
  • José James: “Strange Fruit”
  • Josa Peit: “Constellation”
  • Jr Thomas & The Volcanos: “Bumps In The Night”
  • JWP/BC: “Szaman”
  • Kamasi Washington: “Final Thought”
  • Kendrick Lamar: “How Much A Dollar Cost”
  • Kenn Starr: “Exodus (feat. Boog Brown)”
  • Kill Emil: “Out Of Town”
  • L’Orange: “Underworld”
  • Linda Oh: “Deeper Than Sad (feat. Dayna Stephens, Fabian Almazan, Rudy Royston & Jen Shyu)”
  • Mad Professor: “Cork Ball Dub”
  • Madchild: “Murder Mouth”
  • Maticulous: “The Same Way”
  • Meerenai Shim: “60.8% for bass flute and electronics” *
  • Method Man: “The Purple Tape (feat. Raekwon, Inspectah Deck)”
  • Milo: “Zen Scientist (feat. Myka 9)”
  • Mother Mother: “Get Out The Way”
  • Naru: “Heard Akua”
  • Natalia Lafourcade: “Hasta la Raíz”
  • New Kingston: “Conquer Dem (feat. Sister Carol)”
  • NTS: “Os Outros”
  • O.S.T.R.: “Ja Ty My Wy Oni feat. Sacha Vee”
  • Opio: “Tu Sabes”
  • PRhyme: “Wishin’ II (feat. Black Thought)”
  • Protoje: “Who Knows (feat. Chronixx)”
  • Quantic: “A New Constellation”
  • Red Pill: “Rap Game Cranky”
  • Redman: “Beastin’ (MCA)”
  • Run The Jewels: “Lie, Cheat, Meow (Prince Paul Remix)”
  • Sadat X: “Joe Frazier (feat. The UMC’s)”
  • Scarface: “Rooted (feat. Papa Reu)”
  • Scratch Bandits Crew: “Blank”
  • Sean Price: “Ni**erific”
  • Shawn Lov: “#FOH (feat. Pace Won)” *
  • Sleater-Kinney: “No Cities To Love”
  • Star Dexter Story: “Merkato”
  • STS: “Doin’ It Right”
  • Supastition: “Know My Worth”
  • SuperStefu: “Seksikkäin”
  • Talib Kweli: “Every Ghetto (feat. Rapsody)”
  • Tame One: “Hey DJ”
  • Tech N9ne: “Aw Yeah (Intervention)”
  • Tef Wesley: “Gametime”
  • Thao & The Get Down Stay Down: “Nobody Dies”
  • The Greg Foat Group: “The Eye of Horus”
  • The Polish Ambassador: “Crowd Control”
  • The Skints: “This Town (feat. Tippa Irie & Horseman)”
  • The Souljazz Orchestra: “Life Is What You Make It”
  • The Vaccines: “Dream Lover”
  • Your Old Droog: “Homicide”
  • Zarelli: “The Children’s Hour (feat. Leonard Nimoy)”
  • Zion I: “Lost In Translation”

My Top 15 Scrobbled Artists for 2015

1. Damu The Fudgemunk (85 plays)
2. Archie Shepp (83 plays)
3. Shawn Lov (68 plays)
4. Public Enemy (66 plays)
5. Lyrical Prophets (65 plays)
6. Dorothy Ashby (64 plays)
7. Rahsaan Roland Kirk (62 plays)
8. King Tubby (61 plays)
Charles Mingus (61 plays)
Half Pint (61 plays)
9. Ornette Coleman (60 plays)
10. Big Daddy Kane (57 plays)
11. Ibeyi (55 plays)
12. Eric Hofbauer (55 plays)
Common (55 plays)
Wayne Jarrett (55 plays)
Anitek (55 plays)
13. Ultramagnetic MC’s (53 plays)
J Dilla (53 plays)
Dennis Brown (53 plays)
14. Oddisee (52 plays)
15. Freddie Foxxx (50 plays)
Wojtek Mazolewski Quintet (50 plays)

Other Stats

Total tracks: 15142
Total unique tracks: 13309
Song Repetition: 1.14

(via)

Personal Preservation

I’m a big believer in preservation. Why else would I bother digitizing and cataloging old cassettes few people care about or a radio show from the 1990s? Obviously, cultural preservation is important to me. Similarly, I think institutional preservation is in companies’, non-profits’, and schools’ best interests so that they have an accurate, complete, and accessible archive available.

But, perhaps more important than any of these is personal preservation.

Personal preservation isn’t about backing things up (wait–you are backing things up, right? Oh, next month when you’ve got some free time? No. NOW. To a hard drive, to the cloud, and maybe to a second cloud or hard drive that you keep at someone else’s house). Personal preservation is about saving what you create, capturing your thoughts for the future, documenting your legacy. It sounds like something only a philosopher or politician might need to bother with, but let me tell you: I’d give anything to read my great-great grandmother’s 1800s equivalent of a Facebook update, even if it was just about how she was “feeling annoyed” because washing machines hadn’t been invented yet.

We have a tough time, in the present, foreseeing what we or someone else might find interesting or useful in the future. We may think we have a grasp on it and trust ourselves to filter things out in real time, but as far as I’m concerned, if it’s something you deem worthy of posting to Twitter today, it’s worth hanging onto for the future. Even if it serves no purpose other than rounding out a more complete picture of who you were during 2016’s presidential election, that’s enough.

Here’s what you can do right now to get started…

  1. Set up a folder on your computer somewhere called “Backups – social media.” Make sure it’s one that gets backed up (see above). Bonus points if it exists in a Dropbox/OneDrive folder and is backed up to something like Crashplan or Backblaze.
  2. Under that folder, create one folder for each of your social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram).
  3. Periodically download backups for each of those services and store them here. Make sure the filename you save includes your name, the name of the service, and the export date in YYYY-MM-DD format (ie. facebook-ryan_macmichael-20160929.xml). Bonus points for doing this on a schedule (monthly or quarterly should be plenty).
  4. How do you download backups for different services? (Feel free to request others and I’ll add them here.)
    • Facebook: Account Settings -> Download a Copy of Your Facebook Data -> Start My Archive.
    • Twitter: Settings -> “Request Your Archive”
    • Instagram: Try Instaport.me
    • last.fm: last.fm doesn’t let you do it natively anymore, so use this tool.
    • LinkedIn: Use their data export page.
    • Flickr: Bulkr seems to be highly respected
    • Google: Google Takeout lets you download your entire Google life (including things like Blogger and YouTube) or select parts of it from one spot. Be forewarned that your backup could be pretty huge if you include your Google Photos.
    • Pinboard: Export.
    • Pinterest: Try Pinback.
    • … what did I miss?

What should you do with all this stuff? Just hang onto it. Maybe occasionally peek at it to see what’s there. Make something from it… think a yearbook of your Facebook posts or Instagram photos. Having a physical object of something digital isn’t a bad idea, really. Or, if you’re looking for an ambitious coding project, make a compiled timeline view of the data.

The main thing, though, is to make sure people know where it is. If something happens to you, make sure there are some people that can get to it and that they’ll care for it. This can be informal or you could spell it out in your will (or, more likely, a letter of instruction referenced in your will).

Not convinced? Remember this:

No one else is going to preserve you for you.

Sure, the Internet Archive will grab blog posts and assorted tweet archives exist, but what if your Twitter account is private? What about Facebook? What about services that exist only as (or primarily as) mobile apps? You need to take responsibility. Be your own archivist.

Hey there.

While I’ve been pretty slack posting here over the last few years, but I feel like I’ve been even more neglectful of my long-time home on the web than usual. Partially, that’s because I find myself sharing less personal stuff publicly… but that’s not really an excuse. There’s plenty more to talk about.

I’ve got a handful of posts that have been sitting in partially-finished draft mode for months and I’ve continued to make a lot of quiet work on side projects. There are some new projects in the works and lots of ideas kicking around. Same as always, really.

Anyway, just wanted to say hi and say things are good. If you happen to spot this in your RSS reader (what now?) or by accident when googling me, take a sec to say hi in the comments. In the meantime, a picture from our recent 15th anniversary trip to St. Thomas.

My First Blank Tape

Back in 1984, I got my first blank tape. I don’t remember if someone gave it to me, if my parents bought it for me, or if I saved my own money to get it. It had a very distinctive smell to it (which lingers ever so slightly to this day) and ended up becoming the first tape where I recorded my favorite songs off of the radio and record (by holding my boombox up to my turntable’s speaker). This is the tape, a relatively unassuming Certron 90 minute cassette, scrawled with my horrible handwriting:

Certron Side BCertron Side A

For fun, I decided to throw together a Spotify playlist of all the tracks on the tape. I wasn’t able to include the “Michael Martian” version of “Thriller” (Michael Martian was an alien version of Michael Jackson that I drew, represented aurally by a 33 1/3 RPM record being played at 45 speed), which came after “The Stroke” on side B. I also wasn’t able to close out the mix with The Chipmunks’ version of “The Longest Time,” so I opted for Billy Joel’s original instead.

2015: My Year in Review

2015 was a year of preservation, of family history and otherwise. It was a year with its fair share of loss. It was a year where life moved forward, progress was made on some things but not on others, and the kids continued to grow. I turned 40. I saw lots of family and friends. I read more books, watched fewer movies, scanned lots of photos and slides, digitized hours of videos, and made absolutely no new music.

And now, the year past, with cold lists and numbers with a few photos and colorful graphs thrown in.

(Previous years-in-review collected here.)

The Year, By Month

January

  • First tweet of the year: “Ramsey informed me in a ten minute period that I: have a big nose, am hairy (I just had a dog hair on me), am “very, very, very creepy””
  • Ramsey decides to start dropping the F bomb, as in “These f’ing shoes…”
  • Acted as a mentor in a Loudoun Veg Vegan Pledge Program
  • Launched private family tree web site

February

  • Living Colour at the Tally Ho
  • Visit with vegan pledges to Burleigh Manor Animal Sanctuary
  • Cheered on 4th cousin Andrew on Masterchef Junior (he took runner-up)

March

  • Closed up shop on One Sentence

April

  • Adopted Ann

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May

  • Duckpin bowling!
  • Ran a race PR at the Poplar Spring 5k (7:33/mi) by a full 21 sec/mile, the 12th time I’ve run the race. I placed 28th out of 354 runners.
  • Twisted and sprained my ankle on a late-evening run, resulting in being out of (running) commission for three weeks

June

July

  • Ann went in for dental surgery and came out seven teeth lighter
  • Caught up with high school friend Amy for the first time in over ten years
  • Two (!) visits with my cousin Eileen, the first time we’d seen in each other in many, many years
  • Solved the Mystery of the Bricks with help from my mom

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August

  • A preservation question of mine popped up on the Extreme Genes podcast
  • Brief camping excursion in Maryland
  • Found my long lost copy of a Hall & Oates bio from the 1980s. Realized it’s going for $90+ on Amazon!
  • Started the archiving process of ripping on VHS tapes
  • Huyen’s mom in town for her annual month-long visit
  • Watched BIL and SIL do their first triathlon in Wildwood, NJ. Met up with childhood friend Lisa, who I hadn’t seen in 28 years (!) and her parents Alex and Mary (who I’d seen a little more recently). Also caught up again with Randy Senna (from the Daily Ping Fascination post and Hoarders).

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September

  • Dad turns 70!
  • Hit with a bogus $160 at Verizon Wireless in NY and an attempted $3200 charge for xray equipment. Result: yet another replacement credit card.

October

  • A question about one of my genealogical brick walls pops up on the Genealogy Guys podcast (and later)
  • Mom solved the long-standing mystery of my grandfather’s middle (possibly first?) name
  • Ran a personal best 5k time on a training run on my birthday morning (7:07/mile pace).
  • I turned 40.
  • Pepper the Hamster passed at nearly 4 years old.

November

  • Introduced Rasine to the Odyssey^2
  • Drove right by Gordon Ramsay filming an episode of “Hotel Hell” in Harper’s Ferry, WV after going on a short hike with the family
  • Visited the building from the Mystery of the Bricks

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December

  • Cable on White’s Ferry snaps a few hours after my morning commute.
  • Bought a $1 12″ at a used record shop in town that sells on ebay for $75-$90.
  • Big ol’ car accident in front of our house only a couple of weeks after we lobbied the town (again) to install a stop sign there.

RIP

Based solely on the folks I RIP’ed on Twitter (or FB). People (and “people”) I knew personally in bold. Dates are when I tweeted, not the actual death date.

  • 2/19: Seacobeck Dining Hall
  • 3/9: Sam Simon
  • 4/14: Percy Sledge
  • 5/1: Ben E. King
  • 6/11: Pumpkinhead, Ornette Coleman, Christopher Lee, and Dusty Rhodes
  • 6/17: Miss Kitty
  • 7/8: The Dissolve
  • 7/31: Rowdy Roddy Piper
  • 10/9: Laura Horvath
  • 10/19: Greg Reiter
  • 10/21: Pepper the Hamster
  • 11/8: Gunnar Hansen
  • 11/20: Jim Perry
  • 12/26: My parents’ last Camp Snoopy glass from the 80s

How I Did On My Goals

More detail on these here.

  • Release one (two?) albums of old material, including some stuff I’ve never put out into the world. Did not do. And questioning if I will.
  • Bowl a few games of Canadian 5-pin. Didn’t do this (because the trip to Canada didn’t happen), but I did squeeze in some Duckpin, so that’s a half-success on this goal.
  • Finish archiving SJAUG Candy Apple newsletters from 1990. Sigh. Did not finish these either.
  • Launch the Raw Deal Radio archive. Done!
  • Learn more about the nuts and bolts of digital preservation (and digital preservation of analog content). I’m going to say done, but this is something ongoing so I’ll be continuing to do so.
  • Play and finish “A Mind Forever Voyaging.” Finally grabbed the game and an emulator to run it on (that will let me save my game) at the end of the year.
  • Read up on the story behind (and impact of) the Attica prison riots of 1970. Read A Time to Die and really enjoyed it. Learned a lot and much of it absolutely still applies.
  • Finally launch my protected family history site for my family (with audio, stories, etc.) Done, and ended up redoing it partway through the year and adding a ton of functionality beyond what I’d initially planned.
  • Figure out the mystery behind my great-grandparents’ life and trip to the US. Did not finish, but not for a lack of trying! I learned quite a bit through my research, but have yet to confirm the details surrounding my great-grandmother’s death (no death certificate to be found!) or much more about their life in Lithuania. This will likely end up taking a few more years.
  • Run 1000 miles in 2015 So frustratingly close… if I had an extra week I could have done it (I hit 970). I blame the three weeks I was out of commission due to a sprained ankle, but truly, if I’d just been a little less lazy in April and May, I could have easily knocked this out.

Books I Finished Reading

Listed in order finished.

  • Ballistics: Poems by Billy Collins
  • The Wolf’s Hour by Robert R. McCammon
  • Kakurenbo: Or the Whereabouts of Zen Priest Ryokan by Eido Frances Carney
  • Kangaroo Notebook by Kobo Abe
  • The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami
  • Early Recollections and Life of Dr. James Still by James Still
  • “Don’t tell white folks” : or light out of darkness by James T. Still (pamphlet)
  • Will Travel for Vegan Food: A Young Woman’s Solo Van-Dwelling Mission to Break Free, Find Food, and Make Love by Kristin Lajeunesse
  • Myself When I Am Real: The Life and Music of Charles Mingus by Gene Santoro
  • The Seventh Day by Yua Hu
  • Out on the Wire: The Storytelling Secrets of the New Masters of Radio by Jessica Abel
  • A Kim Jong-Il Production: The Extraordinary True Story of a Kidnapped Filmmaker, His Star Actress, and a Young Dictator’s Rise to Power by Paul Fischer
  • A Time to Die: The Attica Prison Revolt by Tom Wicker
  • The Way of Tenderness: Awakening Through Race, Sexuality and Gender by Zenju Earthlyn Manuel
  • The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking by Oliver Burkeman
  • Photo Organizing Practices: Daguerreotypes to Digital by Maureen A. Taylor
  • Pursuing Preservation by Kevin Driedger
  • The Zen Poems of Ryokan by Nobuyuki Yuasa
  • Hear the Wind Sing by Haruki Murakami
  • Pinball, 1973 by Haruki Murakami
  • Bream Gives Me Hiccups & other stories by Jesse Eisenberg
  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (audiobook version)
  • Exploding the Phone: The Untold Story of the Teenagers and Outlaws who Hacked Ma Bell by Phil Lapsley
  • Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries by Maureen A. Taylor
  • The Last Imaginary Place: A Human History of the Arctic World by Robert McGhee

Total number of books finished: 25 (four more than 2014)

Books re-read: 0

Books written by someone I know or have at least spoken more than a sentence to: 1

Physical / Ebooks (incl. Kindle Singles) / Audiobooks finished:
20
4
1
Fiction / Nonfiction / Poetry:
7
16
2
Buddhism / Music / Preservation / Race:
3
1
3
5

Books in progress at the end of the year: 1

Movies I Watched and Re-watched

I started off the year on pace to hit 90 or 100 movies by the year’s end, but slowed down significantly in the second half of the year, as sometimes happens.

Listed in order watched.

Number of movies: 68

Number of those movies I’d already seen: 14

Movies from this year: 8

Average year: 1994.64

Average rating: 3.647

Genres

… more fun stuff at Letterboxd

The Year in Numbers

Trying a little something new this year…

2015 Year in Numbers

2015: The Year in Tweets

While my year-in-review and music year-in-review are percolating, some tweets:

Poorly Organized Thoughts On Turning 40

Turning 30 for me was absolutely no big deal. It didn’t feel like a milestone, I didn’t feel “old” all of a sudden, it was just another birthday. 40, though? Gotta admit: it feels different. It feels like a big number. For the first time, my idea of “old” didn’t shift along with my own age.

I know, I know. You’re only as old as you act, etc.

Despite feeling “big” in some undefinable way, it’s been difficult deciding what to write about turning 40.

I don’t feel like I have any deep wisdom to share, despite having learned a thing or three.

While I’ve clarified a lot of my own beliefs in my mind, I know they continue to be in flux.

A lot of things have happened during the last decade. Two kids and three dogs came into my life. I was vegan for the full decade (and then some). I was laid off, started a side business, and then took my second job since graduating college. Ran a few thousand miles. Yet, these things have nothing to do with entering my fifth decade. They just happened to happen.

I guess the only thing I have to share on the eve of my 40th birthday is this: I’m still figuring this all out. And I’ve got a ways to go, so I’m going to keep going.

Here are a few plans of mine going forward:

  • I won’t become the creepy old guy.
  • I don’t want to be the culturally or technologically out-of-touch old guy, but I also don’t want to be the old guy that looks like he’s trying too hard to hold onto his youth.
  • I will get over the hang-ups I’ve had since I was a kid that still haunt me.
  • I will embrace gray hair gracefully.
  • I will continue to look forward to New Music Friday. Forget this mess.
  • I will let my kids teach me.

As I was finishing this post up, I realized one thing I’ve gotten better at with age: taking things in stride (usually). And maybe that’s why I’m having trouble making too big of a deal about this birthday even though something deep in the back of my mind tells me this is big. Can a day be both monumental and just another day?

The mystery of the bricks

As I was going through some photos of my grandfather’s, I came across this great shot of him I presumed was from the 1930’s:

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Note the “With all my love” scribbled at the bottom. I’m guessing he gave this to my grandmother while they were still dating.

Naturally the question came up, “Where is he standing? Is there any significance to the location?”

I posted to Facebook and Metafilter to see if anyone had any ideas:

A few things worth noting:

  • Initially, I thought the “927” was an address, but I think it’s more likely the year (“1927”)
  • This was almost definitely taken in Philadelphia, PA
  • The brick configuration is unusual in that they’re all lined up [called a “stack bond,” I later found out]
  • Perhaps a church, given the cross, but the simplicity of the door may be more indicative of a church-related institution (like a school or convent)
  • My grandfather was Catholic, but that may or may not be relevant

I did some initial searches of Philadelphia buildings built or dedicated in 1927, but couldn’t find any images that seemed to match that unusual brick layout.

I got a bunch of good suggestions from the Ask Mefi thread that I followed up on: a company that does historic brick restoration in Philly (I wrote, they replied but didn’t recognize the building), the Philadelphia Archdiocesan Historical Center, [email protected] (tweeted at him, no reply).

Things went quiet for a while until I was digging through a large box of photos my mom had brought by for me to scan and archive. Digging through some very small prints, I came across one of my grandmother that made me pause:

Irene Chmielewski - March 28, 1937 - Easter Sunday - McAdoo - Front

No doubt, that’s the same building that my grandfather was standing in front of. To make things more interesting, the back had an inscription:

Irene Chmielewski - March 28, 1937 - Easter Sunday - McAdoo - Back

Turns out that my assumption that the building was in Philadelphia held me back from finding the answer. I’m going to let my mom take over the story from here:

I Googled “McAdoo” and found that it is a small town in Pennsylvania. I thought perhaps it was a place where mom’s oldest sister, Sister Albertilla, had been stationed. I searched for Catholic schools in McAdoo but couldn’t find any pictures. Then I searched for “Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth McAdoo, Pa” [Sister Albertilla’s order] and found reference to St. Kunegunda Parish. I looked at a biography we received from the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth when Sister Albertilla passed away and sure enough she had been stationed in McAdoo. It went on to say that “in the school and convent of St. Kunegunda, Sister served as principal and local superior. Here, too, she played the organ, gave piano lessons, and painted lovely pictures of nature in addition to her other responsibilities.” I did a search for “St. Kunegunda School McAdoo, Pa” and found a real estate listing for the building. Fortunately, it had a wonderful picture so we were able to compare the brickwork, doors, etc. After so many years the date was no longer visible [or they could have been standing in front of a different set of doors elsewhere on the building -ram] but we were pretty sure we had solved the mystery.

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I then did one more search and found a PDF of “A Brief Historical Sketch of St. Kunegunda’s Parish.” Next to the last paragraph on the first page this was written: “On Sept. 23, 1927, the new school was blessed: the following year, Sept. 23, 1928, the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth of Torresdale, Pa., opened the doors of the St. Kunegunda School to the increasing student enrollment.”

There was further proof! The year “1927.” It had to be the same building! Mom and Dad probably went to visit Sister Albertilla and took pictures of each other in front of the school.

What satisfaction to have finally solved the mystery of the building with unusual brickwork.

Well said, Mom.

Update: December 2, 2015

This past weekend as I was on the way home from northern Pennsylvania with my family, I noticed an exit sign that read “McAdoo.” “Folks,” I told them, “We’re taking a short detour.”

Less than five minutes later, we were parked in front of the former St. Kunegunda School and I was taking this photo:

DSC_0004

There are spaces I visit frequently (ie. my parents’ house) where my grandparents had also spent time, but being able to take this shot today sent some chills up my spine. My grandmother was only 18 at the time and my grandfather 24, so standing in that place 78 years later as a 40-year-old was a connecting experience for me. The older I get, the more these odd little moments of connection to the distant past move me.

(Thanks to Chuck and Huyen for taking the shots.)

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