Posted May 28, 2008, 9:43 pm.


Sometimes, when I eat a massive Californian burrito vegetariano and drink a lime Jarritos all in less than five minutes, I get to feeling pretty full. Full enough that I can imagine my stomach bursting open and everything inside of me exploding outwards.

Summer is here f’real, and it’s doing me good. I am so lucky that something as simple as the 23.4° tilt of the Earth’s axis of rotation brings me such rejuvination. I’m back to work wrenching at the bike shop full time, I’m staying up late and waking early, and I’m returning to a schedule that brings me all kinds of health.

I’ve also started riding my bike again. Yesterday was the first day I had ridden in a little over 9 weeks, after getting approval from my physical therapist. “If something hurts real bad, don’t do it.” Riding my bike hurts, but only a bit. On my first ride back in the saddle I was imaging all these elegant ways of describing how good it felt to be cycling again, but by the time I got home all the words had melted.

But this is what it looked like, anyway.

Back to Bikes

Also, here’s another mix for the internet to enjoy. I think I’d like to make this a regular thing. This one is titled Sharp Warm Hands.

  1. Dukes Up by Modest Mouse
  2. Gone Gone Gone by Ghost Mice (feat. Eric Ayotte)
    {taken from video available at If You Make It}
  3. Heaven’s Gonna Be My Home by The Crooked Jades (thanks Diana!)
  4. The Coney Island Song by Hop Along, Queen Ansleis
    {taken from video available at If You Make It}
  5. Reeks and Seeks by Oh No! Oh My!
  6. Sing Songs Along by Tilly & The Wall
  7. Arpeggiator Demo by Fugazi
  8. The First Five Times by Stars
  9. WANDA WANDa from the Katamari Soundtrack
  10. Oh My Darling by Madeline Adams
  11. Portions For Foxes by Rilo Kiley

Posted May 25, 2008, 9:36 pm.

Phoenix Lander Landed

NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander touched down on the Martian North pole this afternoon. This is awesome. It was the first soft-landing of a craft on Mars since the Viking 2 landed over 30 years ago. Soft landings are awesome.

Entering the atmosphere traveling over 12,000 mph, Phoenix burned off some heat shielding slowing itself to nearly 900mph. A parachute deployed and in a few seconds the craft decelerated to a mere 250mph. It’s at this point that the little planet-hopping robot started scanning the ground below with radar and other instruments, and planning the rest of it’s own descent.

Around 3,200’ up, the lander disconnected from the parachute and began to free-fall again. Retrorockets fired to ensure proper orientation, and eventually bring the Phoenix lander to a soft landing. Awesome. The last time this kind of landing was attempted, by the Mars Polar Lander in 1999, the thing cratered.

So here’s what Mars looks like.

Posted May 25, 2008, 1:23 pm.

Habits of Motion.

As I work to regain flexibility and strength in my leg, I’m trying to learn how to walk again.

For the most part, walking around and balancing upright on two legs is performed without conscious control. We command ourselves forward and on we move, our legs smoothly keeping pace beneath us. So many muscles working in concert to propel us forward, always falling and catching ourselves with elastic bundles of fibrous flesh. .

As my leg is currently restricted in it’s freedom of motion and load-bearing abilities, the autopilot motion of walking is running up against some painful barriers. As a result my body has learned a way of walking. Partly the trained result of seven weeks crutching, and partly a reflexive aversion to pains, I’ve got quite the limping swagger. My left leg tries its best to keep rigid and straight, and my hip rises to allow it to swing out and forward with every other step. But this is no fluid gait and it does little to restore flexibility and muscle mass to my weaker limb.

So I’m trying to walk more naturally, even if it hurts a little. Making sure to bend my knee back, trying to match its swing with that of my stronger leg, these are ways I can override my body’s reflexive pain-avoiding limp. I mean, I can totally understand why pain avoidance is a useful trait for big careless creatures like myself. I just wish that I could command my leg to toughen up, get with the program, and fall in line.

There are so many motions we internalize and allow to drop below the conscious level, like walking, riding a bike, typing, putting food into our mouths. I say “allow” as if the natural state of things were that we controlled, sensed, and knew everything about our bodies and their interactions with the world, but this gives consciousness far too much credit.

Posted May 22, 2008, 4:41 pm.

More Mux.

Celebrating the last of my final exams for the semester, here’s another muxtape mix. Tracks are as follows.

  1. I’m So Tired - Fugazi
  2. Expect The Worst - Defiance, Ohio
  3. Body Below - Mirah
  4. Justin Destroyer - El Guapo
  5. Tiny Birds - Yo La Tengo
  6. O feed us! O fend us! - Chorused the Animals of Perfect Light
  7. Messes of Men - MeWithoutYou
  8. The Monkey’s Back - Menomena
  9. A.M. 180 - Grandaddy
  10. Either Way - Wilco

Posted May 19, 2008, 11:07 pm.

Phase Two.

I got my cast off this morning, after seven weeks. This is what the most recent X-rays show:

X-Ray of Knee in Profile

The patella (upper right) still clearly has a fracture running through it, but has begun to stitch itself back together. The doctor estimates it’s about 3/4 of the way to being as strong as it was before my crash. While there’s no longer any risk of my kneecap spontaneously tearing itself to bits, the doctor recommended I don’t crash my bike again for at least six weeks. Sure thing.

While my skeleton seems to be making progress, my muscles, tendons, and even my blood vessels are going to need some work. My leg has been locked in full extension for nearly two months and all of the normally exercised flesh has atrophied, stiffened, and constricted in neglect.

Currently, I’ve got about 45 of motion in my knee, at which point it starts to feel pretty sketchy. I’m learning to tell the difference between the kind of pain that tells me my muscles and tendons are unhappy stretching, and the much more severe pain that tells me by kneecap is unhappy.

Today alone though, in a few bouts of directed stretching, after a warm bath, and after walking around town for about an hour, I’ve already gained perhaps 5 or 10 of motion. I know that recovery of full mobility is going to take a long time, and that I shouldn’t rush the process, but today was encouraging.

So happy birthday to my new leg, may it heal and strengthen as as well as nurtured flesh can.

Posted May 14, 2008, 11:12 pm.

You can study this, or that.

I registered for my Fall ‘08 classes a few weeks ago and, suffice to say, I’m not going to be taking all the classes I wish I was. It seems as though all the classes I was so looking forward too, classes required by my major, are only offered on alternating semesters, the Fall semester not being one of them. This was only compounded by my relatively late registration appointment (upperclassmen get to register first), and only looking for classes I could schedule into a 30+ hour work week.

Over on the Adventures in Ethics and Science Blog, Dr. Free-Ride gives an academic perspective on ‘Why it’s so hard to get that course you need.

Maybe the problem is that faculty don’t teach enough classes in a particular semester? On paper it might look that way, but students may not be aware of the other requirements of our job (like scholarly output and committee work). These other requirements eat up time — and they make a difference as far as how we are evaluated for retention, tenure and promotion. Faculty who devoted themselves entirely to teaching to the exclusion of these other activities wouldn’t get to stay in the teaching pool for very long … at which point, it might be a while before their departments hired someone else with the appropriate expertise to take on the courses these altruists taught.

Until we get to a stage in our budgetary thinking where smaller classes are tolerated, there are going to be real constraints on how often required classes can be offered.

Dr. Free-Ride teaches philosophy at San Jose State U., and I can attest that the same budgetary concerns are on the minds of many faculty and students at CSU, Chico as well. The state’s budget for higher education is being renegotiated this summer, and cuts loom high.

That doesn’t explain why the classes I want to take are unavailable though. I’m special.

Posted May 14, 2008, 10:33 am.


I ought to be doing homework right now, but I’m listening to music instead. Here’s a short mix titled “reverse murder”.

  1. Objects Of My Affection - Peter Bjorn And John
  2. Dead Bodies - Air
  3. The Graves of Good Humans - Cicada
  4. Bright Red - Science of Self
  5. Bloody Knife #1 - The Robot Ate Me
  6. Knife - Grizzly Bear
  7. Pocketknife - Kickball
  8. Handpocket - Best Friends Forever
  9. Kept Our Hands Warm - The Robot Ate Me

Uploaded to my muxtape for your education.

Posted May 12, 2008, 12:14 am.

A Thousand Words

I couldn’t help myself. Despite this being the last weekend before dead-week and finals, I spent far too much of the past few days redesigning my website. What started as an interest in improving the typographic elements and repairing a few minor issues gradually grew into a lesson on .css and Wordpress styling.

I was aiming for something that lent itself a bit more to the typographic elements of a blog, and would be less dependent on big grey rectangles to convey organization. Hopefully the new design works, but if you see anything misbehaving please let me know.

If you’re interested in how I came to soil my hands with the blood of the internet craft my own stylesheet, read on!

I’m currently using the K2 theme, which is what generates all the functional elements of my site, like posts, pages, comments, archives, etc. On top of that is my own stylesheet named ‘Milk+Salt’ (after this photo), which is what determines the visual presentation of K2’s functionality.

K2’s ability to load different styles is rather unique for a Wordpress theme, and is part of what sets it apart. Whereas most other themes have a single built in to them, K2 is more of a framework upon which you can easily load many different style, without having to mess around with the core files. When you write a custom stylesheet for K2, it doesn’t need to define each individual element on the page, because K2 has a core stylesheet built in. Rather, you only need to define the elements that you want to change.

So the process of designing my own style consisted mainly of making changes to a clone of K2’2 core stylesheet, and altering the properties of one element at a time in order to see how they worked. What I ended up with is more the result of repeated trial and error than it is the product of a concerted creative effort.

While the end result isn’t exactly what I wanted, it’s close enough for me to stop messing around with code. It’s not uncommon for designers to leave comments within .css files to help explain what portions of the page specific elements control, such as “Resets font-size to 1.2em”, or “Requires cell spacing set to 0px”. Many of the comments I left for myself were more along the lines of “Adjust header height, maybe?”, and “Do not touch, breaks everything somehow!”.

I’ve found in myself a growing interest in typography, specifically on the web, and much of the inspiration for this redesign came from an increased awareness and appreciation of good web typography. I owe this interest almost entirely to the awesome type-nerd-blog I Love Typography. (Run by a Johno, surprise!) Other inspiration was certainly drawn from Jon Tangerine, Daring Fireball, Antipixel, among others.

Also, I just had to have a Colophon. All the cool bloggers are doing it, don’t you know?

Posted May 8, 2008, 3:09 am.


Mucking around with the latest revision of the K2 theme for Wordpress, I seemed to have botched my modified version of the fork style-set. Whoopsidaisy. For some reason the whole shabang didn’t restore from backup as kindly as I would have hoped, and it’s become apparent to me how ramshackle some of underlying structure of this site is.

I’ve been planning another redesign for the site for a little while, maybe it’ll come sooner than later. However, seeing as I have to be up for class in less than five hours, I’m going to stop trying to teach myself CSS and get some sleep.

Posted May 7, 2008, 6:46 pm.

Listen to Your Friends

In the earliest instance I can remember I was maybe thirteen years old. My brother and I were at my dad’s apartment in New Jersey, glued to a computer monitor as per usual, downloading music on Napster. In the years since, I’ve never really considered myself much of a CD collector. I listen to music on my computer, and that’s how I like it.

I’ve been a member of for over a year now, having the music I listen to on my computer automatically “scrobbled” and cataloged. Their benign data-mining makes answering the question “what kind of music do you listen to?” a fair bit easier, and allows me to see what my (participating) friends are listening to. Having confidence that we share tastes, this can be good way to find new music to investigate.

As a social network they offer messaging and the ability to post on your friend’s “shoutbox”, but this is pretty redundant and useless to someone who already has a relatively functional friends-list on another social network. Their tagging, loved-it, favorites, playlists, features? Whatever, I don’t even care what these do.

At the other end of the spectrum lies Muxtape, which is a very different kind of service. As described by the developer Justin,

Muxtape is a service for creating mixtapes.

You upload up to 12 .mp3’s which anyone can then stream them from your sub-domain. Look at mine for a simple demonstration,

Dead simple to use, Muxtape doesn’t suffer from the glut of features found on The few additional features that are present, like customizable header color, favorites, and RSS feeds, don’t get in the way of the uncomplicated design.

Cheers to elegant, inexpensive, and DIY methods for web music distribution.

Posted May 4, 2008, 5:44 pm.

Dreaming of Knives

I’ve been having especially vivid dreams lately, the kind that hook into your mind and ride the rising wave of consciousness as you wake and look around, startled to find yourself at home and in bed. My two most recent dreams have focused on knives.

In the first, I was confronted by a knife-wielding man of about twice my age who began to apologize as soon as he started trying to stab me in the chest. I found myself with another knife in my own hand, and eventually thrust into his chest. The only way to keep his blade from entering my ribs was to pull my chest backwards while pushing my arm further forward, and my knife deeper into him, all the while saying how sorry I was that I had to stab him. When the gruesome and rueful ordeal was over, I had an inch long incision between two of my ribs, but didn’t really worry about it. I knew that his knife had entered my chest, right by my heart, but I was sure I would be fine.

I woke up thinking my nonchalance was a bit peculiar. There are plenty of important things in one’s chest that are best not-punctured.

The second and more recent dream I’ve had involving knifes centered around me and a friend from high school, fleeing a gang of knife-wielding men and women through an amalgamation of my elementary school, middle school, and high school; a collective every-school. Chased down a narrow hallway, I gave my friend a boost up and through a window, and then followed through on my own. As my legs dangled behind me, one of our pursuers grabbed my ankles, and slowly cut through on of my achilles tendons. My friend and I continued to flee, but I had to remind myself that one of my feet would should no longer work, and would purposefully drag it on the ground behind me.

I mentioned these dreams to my friend Lee yesterday. A while ago Lee tore a major ligament in one of his knees, and had to go through some very intense surgery, followed by months of physical therapy and ongoing recovery. He recalled having many similar dreams about his knee, in which there would be something really simple he needed to do like kicking a soccer ball, which he would infuriatingly be unable to accomplish. Lee thought that these dreams reflecting a frustration with being unable to control your own body.

If my dreams reflect a conception of my current condition, it’s that the physical pain I’ve felt, which is almost non-existant, is seemingly unmatched to the severity of my injury. I’m quite able to walk on my casted leg, despite admonishment and the risk of delaying the healing process. I’m curious if the portions of my brain responsible for subconscious sensory awareness of my physical body are aware, in some sense, of my leg’s immobility. I wonder how much, if any, of my dreaming of injury is caused by conscious concern, and how much is unconscious recognition.

Posted May 3, 2008, 11:34 pm.

That Sunday Sensation

Today was busy; not too busy to be enjoyed, but busy with enjoyment.

I went to the Saturday Morning Farmer’s Market for what felt like the first time in a few months. I’ve managed to eat myself out of house and home these past few days so I decided I ought to stock up on some fresh fruits and veggies. Among other awesome edibles, I scored a pound and a half of dates, the last of the season, and have declared them my new favorite fruit. How come nobody ever told me such tender and honeyed fruits existed before? I also met up with some friendly face and made plans for later in the day.

Checking the mail when I got back to my apartment I was glad to find two packages I’ve been waiting on for a few weeks. Amongst their treasured contents was the Sigur Rós DVD Heima, of which I am such a fan that I decided to buy a copy of it. Little pirate pays due, amazing!

Salad for lunch; mixed greens, spicy asian peanut dressing, feta cheese, avocado, and sugar-snap peas. I was reminded of walking through my mom’s garden back in New Jersey, standing next to trellises interlaced with curling green vines hanging finger-sized pea pods. Those sugar-snap peas were also so crunchy, so sweet; just thinking about them brings back the smell that bursts out when you crack one in half. I remember sitting on the patio after dinner as the sun started to set, hearing little-league baseball playing on under electric lights on the other side of the train tracks, bats dipping into the sky from tree to tree, and walking barefoot across the lawn toward the garden with a green dessert in mind. Peas grown here in the valley are delicious, for sure, but the fruit of my mom’s backyard garden will always seem sweeter.

Early in the afternoon, Brad picked me up in his rattletrap of a truck and we scuttled over to pick up Ryan. The three of us made our way to S&S Produce to pick up some groceries for the cookout at Brad’s. Shopping for food with boys is fun.

When we got back to Brad’s house, Ryan set up his massage chair and started working on Amber, while Brad and I set up a bike stand and started working on Ryan’s bike. After a little hub adjustment, some brake adjustment, swapping out the old bars for a shiny new pair (of old bars) with the proper clamp diameter, straightening out the chain-line, a headset adjustment and repacking the bearing in one of his pedals, the bike was good as new. Better than new. Ryan’s bike has some undeniable style, and it was great to see his eyes light up when the rejuvenating overhaul was complete.

Brad fired up the grill eventually, and more guests trickled in as the ideal afternoon faded in to evening. Food upon food left us full, but high spirits, warm company, and hours in the sun made room for the ice cream float dessert.

Today felt like a Sunday in the way it floated past so nicely, and wrapped up so consummately.

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