Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Faith in humanity is higher than usual

First, though, a rant. Who the hell designed those locks that are on doorknobs where you can turn the lock on the inside, close the door from the outside, and then realize you forgot your key? Who was this guy's manager that approved the idea? Who were the marketing geniuses that managed to sell to millions of people a product whose only added feature over standard deadbolts is the ability to lock yourself out?

So I locked myself out at about midnight-point-five or so while taking out some recyclables. Last time I recycle. My spare key is in a drawer in my cube at work, so I walked there, and waited for anyone to exit. Fortunately this is Silicon Valley, where people work 10am to 2am. I don't work 10am to 2am, people do. This dude let me in and even gave me a ride back home, since it was right on his way. He was clearly under the effects of large doses of caffeine and very tired. I am very grateful that he delayed his bedtime by a few minutes to prevent me from spending my entire night on a metal bench outside of my building.

So my faith in humanity is on an upswing. We aren't going to Hell in a handbasket, maybe we're going there in a warm... soft... bed...jadshf;f iueafjh;slj

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

All these haikus / the ridiculous, even / They're for the good ones

I must wear black ink
on the bottoms of my feet
So I remember

The places I've been
Some far, far too many times,
And go somewhere new

Friday, September 22, 2006

Something I Learned Today

Why am I so much happier today than the last few days? Nothing in my life has changed, really. I don't have anything big coming up soon to look forward to. What gives? I think I know: I listened to Hüsker Dü in the car today.

Well EXCUSE ME for not discovering Hüsker Dü (band ahoy... wtf) when they first hit the scene. I kind of wasn't born yet. And while Zen Arcade (not to mention the Minutemen's landmark Double Nickels on the Dime) was released in the year of my birth, I think 1984 was a bit early for the "play Mozart to your baby" movement; I don't think the "play hardcore punk rock to your baby" movement has yet taken hold...

As I drove to work
my ears made a connection:
early R.E.M.

"No shit," said teh 'webs
American underground
came from those two bands

Listening to my dad's R.E.M. albums back in the day I never would have made the connection between R.E.M. and anything resembling hardcore punk. But the similar melodies of the Hüskers made me think of other similarities between their loud, violent, rushed-together rock and the folky pop of R.E.M. And for some reason as I was running two songs played next to eachother in my mind, one each of my favorite songs from the two bands: Something I Learned Today and The One I Love. Both in minor keys (perhaps even the same key... my ear wants to say that, but hasn't heard the latter song in a really long time), both utilizing lots of III and flat-VII (I think you call it flat-VII still in a minor key, because regular vii implies that it's raised... meh, you know what I mean), both briefly flirting with the relative major, both almost completely diatonic. They feel very similar despite differences in volume, production values and vocal styles.

But there's more to think about in The One I Love. R.E.M. isn't telling a story like a folk singer/songwriter or pleading to a lover like a rock star. The lyrics, despite their haunting delivery, are hardcore through and through. They are in some sense distant, never addressing or identifying his love. They repeat themselves over and over again, expressing and then reiterating, to drive home the point, his lonliness and regret. And almost every line of the song is self-referential, alternately identifying and questioning itself. Play it faster, turn up the intellectuality and sarcasm and shout the lyrics, and you've got yourself a Minutemen song (What could be romantic to Mike Watt / He's only a skeleton . . .). Of course R.E.M. differentiates themselves from the hardcore crowd by not turning up the intellectuality and sarcasm, and just delivering the emotions of the song in a straight-up way that resonates naturally in the mainstream heart.

It was a long run, to be able to think all that, at the speed that I usually think while running. Actually, I think really quickly most of the time but repeat every thought 5 or 10 times, that's what it feels like. More times than that when I'm nervous or something. Running divides my rate of thought significantly because I also have to think about breathing and putting feet in front of eachother and that. Right. But actually I got through all that in the first six miles and the rest of the time (probably another 6 or 7 miles but I don't know exactly) I was pretty much either spacing out or playing music in my head, repeating each line like 5 or 10 times in a row, which just must be a habit because of how my brain usually works. I'm wierd. That's how I write music, too, except worse. There's no flow or continuity whatsoever, I think of a line and it plays through my head 30 times or so until I'm utterly sick of it, then I move on to the next one. By the time I finish writing a song I've heard all the good parts so many times I don't want to hear them ever again. Unless the good parts are really good, in which case I could hear them plenty more times. But yeah, after this run I looked totally bad-ass. People were looking at me funny. It was awesome.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

But I never did it because of concerns about global warming from the car trip.

In college I would occasionally have urges to go home, send a few important emails (One would go to my family, close friends, and people in the ECE department that I liked and respected, the other would go to everyone else in ECE I could think of... that reminds me, I need to send an email to my Anthro TA from whatever semester it was that I took Anthro... a pleasant email, but hopefully a thought-provoking one), grab a very few important things, bike to John's apartment, chuck my bike in the back of the Wügen, drive West until I couldn't stay awake any more, stop at the next town, and start over.

Today was kind of like that, except I'd be going East instead of West, and that I am not really angry enough at anyone here that I'd need to send more than one email.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

At Long Last!

Finally I got off my ass and finished "Living in Silicon Valley". I cheated on this one: I recorded the right- and left-hand piano parts seperately because I can't play them together (I am not very good at piano). And it still took me about a thousand takes to get it right. Well, I've been totally cheating the whole time by going back and editing over mistakes and stuff, and I also recorded the hands seperately for a small part of the last song, but this one I did the whole thing seperately so I could rock out on the bassline more. I hope that said rocking out makes up for the fact that I'm trying to play what's basically a 70s punk rock song on piano.


Saturday, September 16, 2006

I don't know what to make of this.

Just before I left Champaign I took a walk there and stopped at a Baskin-Robbins. I was served by a girl with braces that could barely speak above a whisper and looked like she was on the verge of tears.

Tonight I took a walk in Santa Clara and stopped at a Baskin-Robbins. I was served by a girl with braces that could barely speak above a whisper and looked like she was on the verge of tears.

Am I going to leave Santa Clara soon?

Friday, September 15, 2006

When he heard the faint sound of the ship's engines starting, he spoke to cover it.

I realized today while reading the end of The Restaurant at the End of the Universe that after I finish reading the rest of the Hitchhiker's Guide books I'll have to go back and read the first one and most of Restaurant over again, because I was reading the wrong way up to that point.

Saturday, September 9, 2006

Rainy Hamstring Miasma

First, can anyone guess the title reference? It's nice and obscure

Second, I am becoming a truly horrendous Ultimate player. Gah! And what is up with the upper part of my right hamstring? It hates me, that's what!

Third, I said I'd have a song in B-flat up soon, and... what can I say, these hips don't lie! No, that's not the song I played. This song, as one of the other posts probably mentions, is called "Justification" (or something about eighth-notes). It was originally conceived about 3 years ago as the second song in a rock opera about postal workers on bicycles (inspired by the U.S. Postal Service-sponsored cycling team that Lance Armstrong was a part of for several years, and also by an AIM conversation I had with Susan Schomburg that she probably doesn't remember). Had I completed the rock opera it would have set the world record for most eighth-notes ever in an opera, rock or not. The song has changed a bit over the years, and I think it's pretty much broken free of its strange roots.

I think that's all I have to say today. It's pretty much same as the last one,

Oh yeah, that's right, the title. The title refers to this item from the second greatest computer game ever, Kingdom of Loathing. The greatest computer game ever is triangular minesweeper.

Friday, September 8, 2006

The Dream Encyclopedia that Anyone Can Edit!

Last night my dreams were dominated by Wikipedia.

The dullest thing I read on Wikipedia was probably lifted straight from a Slashdot post that I probably read a long time ago, and was about the status of Linux printer drivers. LAAAAAME!

The wierdest thing I read on Wikipedia was in an article on moths, in the section, "Killing". "The most effective way to remove moths from your home is to pull their legs off with pliers, photograph them, and place the photographs around your home."

The moth picture is from some random website with lots of broken links on it. You couldn't pull the legs off that pretty thing with pliers, could you? Could you?

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Broadening my Horizons

Today, for the first time in my entire life, I put my wallet in my pocket fold-side second.


Now there's something I'll never do again.

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Running equals teh argh.

After last week's track session I thought I wasn't quite fast enough to run my 10k goal. After Thursday's disastrous long run and today's disappointing track session I know I'm not even close. I totally suck, teh boos!

After these stunning disappointments I've decided to revise my entire training plan: I'm now measuring all my runs in nautical miles, and my pace in knots. For example, today I did a down-ladder at the track, running distances of 3.24, 1.62, 0.81 and 0.43 nautical miles. My speeds, respectively, were 8.95 knots, 9.01 knots, 9.56 knots and 10.11 knots. It be slow sailin' today, mateys!

Oh yeah, and I'll have more music up when a day comes where my voice isn't totally wrecked from running. I decided to get rid of the "Secrets of Breakfast" songs because I don't believe in them and playing songs I don't believe in is taking steps backwards. Those two songs were in B-flat and G, so the two I will do instead will also be in B-flat and G.

In B-flat will be a song that should either be called "Justification" or "Oh God Please Make the Eighth-Notes Stop (Or Failing That At Least Make Them In Rhythm)!". I'm pretty sure there is only one place where they eighth-notes stop in that song. In G will be "Living in Silicon Valley", which I figured out how to do on piano, I think, and if not, I think I can do it with wierd synthy shit, which will take a bit longer.

Sunday, September 3, 2006

Al Dimond the blog post

I made a bad decision Saturday and decided not to try to do these songs that I didn't think were all that good, and instead try to finish writing this other one. But I was formulating a lyric that wound up making me think about how I only appreciate things as symbols, and always try to organize them into little boxes of meaning where they don't really fit. And my mind wandered off into the realization that this is what also is wrong with my music and why I can never get it to work quite the right way, except in brief moments where a flash of inspiration overwhealms the overall counterproductive tendencies of my malformed creative process.

Realizations aren't good for my getting anything done.

Saturday, September 2, 2006


I managed to get my recording going today, but with a little bit of difficulty. And my setup is horrendously noisy. I need to build myself a fanless computer for recording, and get a real soundcard with a bit more shielding than my onboard one has (which is practically none).

Through all the struggle to get it set up, get the levels anywhere near correct, and mitigate the noise as much as possible, I had pretty much worn out my voice by the time I finished with the test track, "Candy Says" by the Velvet Underground.

I wanted to use bittorrent, but I don't know how (I r teh lamerz), but I do know how to open a port through my router and set up a tiny http server. My IP address is not static, but for at least the time being you'll be able to grab my first recording at

(If you can't grab it there, bitch at me on AIM, Jabber or via email, or respond to a recent post on this blog and I'll fix it)

(For more info on Nambers go to If I wasn't so lazy I'd set myself up on one of those dynamic DNS sites, but then again, if I wasn't so lazy I'd learn to use bittorrent. Nambers and a miniature HTTP server are the Al Dimond Way.)

Friday, September 1, 2006

Phil the Penguin Music Studios International Presents

I was going to do some hardcore recording today with all of my incredible studio equipment (which is basically one keyboard, one computer, one microphone and my rather marginal singing voice). But my awesome studio was missing the plug that connects the microphone to the computer. In fact, I remember when I lost it, it was when I was flying back from San José to Illinois with my mom after looking at apartments; I always kept the plug stuck in my laptop's headphone jack to prevent it from beeping on boot, and it fell out of the jack and rolled away. So that plan will be postponed until I can make a run to Fry's, probably this weekend.

I was planning to do some rough drafts of "Candy Says" (a Velvet Underground song that I can sing better than most songs), and two songs I wrote that share the title "The Secrets of Breakfast" (there's a story there, and it's suitably silly).

Wrote a verse of a new song today while out running, I seriously have to do less starting and more finishing. It was inspired by faces of runners that I saw, but that's not what it was about, it was about Mitch Clem drawing his girlfriend's head "too football-shaped". And TYRANNY and OPRESSION! Honestly, I couldn't make this shit up, if I ever finish this one it will be even better than "Pretty Faces" or "Wyoming Love Tragedy", which I also have no hope of ever finishing, and which you therefore will never hear ever. Actually, it has this face theme going on, maybe I can merge it with "Pretty Faces" and finally make some headway on that beast.

(This is the blog post where the tip of my unfinished creation iceberg is seen.)

And I think that's all I can squeeze out of my day today into this here text box. *clicky*