Ben Folds A Capella

Check out these guys – the Rochester Midnight Ramblers – doing the Ben Folds song Army. Man, they look like they’re having fun.
Actually Ben folds has been going around to college campuses and is coming out with a new CD this week titled Ben Folds Presents: University A Cappella, a collection of the best college A Capella groups doing his songs. Want a taste? Click here to download the University of North Carolina at Greensboro Spartones doing Not The Same. Awesome stuff.
This sounds like a cool disc and I’m planning to pick it up. Listen to what Ben said about it:

“I’m incredibly proud of this album,” Ben says, summarizing the year-long, coast-to-coast endeavor. “If this were Ben World,” he says, “this would be my greatest hits album. I’d rather this be my greatest hits record than someone collecting my masters and slapping on a photo of me leaning against a piano. This is a better way. I’m a songwriter, and these are my songs.”

Oh, and he had over 250 auditions for the project and I think they’re all on YouTube.
Fair warning: The CD carries a parental warning for language, so some of the videos are likely to have less than Christian language.
Via: Stereogum


On Twitter, I discovered an account for someone called ‘TheMime‘. If you understand Twitter and you know what a Mime is, well, you can imagine that mashup is pretty funny. For those of you who’s face wrinkled up and you head cocked to the side when I said ‘Twitter’, well, just know it’s funny. Imagine a mime with a blog. What would he say?
Anywho …
The guy who is ‘TheMime’ also tweets under the name LuckyShirt which is frequently funny, so I followed him. Taking the long way around to the point of this post, which is the following.
Today he posted on Twitter (or in geek speak, he ‘Tweeted’) a link to his blog with this insight for when you’re done with life, you want out:

Imagine The Unicorn shows up. That should be enough, right? But there’s more…
The Unicorn is in a giving mood, and offers you the opportunity to trade places instantly with anyone in the world. Trade bodies, memories, everything. Here’s the catch: it will be random.
Would you do it?
No. Way. I could end up in a war-torn country, or starving, or worse.
The Unicorn has to meet a quota, so continues…
What about trading with someone on your continent?
In your country?
In your state?
On your street?
Not even then.
There is a strange comfort that comes with loving my life enough to hang onto it under these conditions. How can I complain about anything if I wouldn’t trade what I’ve GOT for anything (even at random)?

I’ve got to say, I needed that this morning.
Everyone’s life is random to a degree. Why was I born in Ohio,or the USA, or in the 20th century, or a male? It’s easy to say “If I were Bill Gates ..” or whatever, but that’s not how life works. Bill Gates didn’t choose to be Bill Gates, it just happened. We get our lot assigned randomly, or at the very least without our input, that’s just how it is. No matter how bad things get, I can’t imagine many would trade their life for any random life out there.
Helps to put things in perspective, don’t you think?.

The Trivialities

For those who care (Mom 😀 ), here’s what I’ve been filling my time with:
My laptop screen went all crazy horizontal lines on me so I spent a couple of days taking it apart and putting it back together to re-seat the ribbon cable and then, when that didn’t help, searching eBay for parts. The new screen assy arrived earlier this week, but was not the resolution it was advertised to be. The seller’s on vacation, so I wait until next week to resolve that.
Maria and the girls are in PA, near Philly, at church camp so I’m a bachelor for the week. It’s been great having all my time to myself, but I’m ready for them to be back. I heard Cheryl Crow’s Soak Up the Sun on the radio yesterday and immediately saw Audrey grinning and singing along. It was her favorite song back when it was pretty popular. I was ready for them to be home then. They’re having a ball, except perhaps for Maria, who spent 2 hours on Sunday cleaning greasy pans from cooking 67 chickens for dinner. More on that when they get home, maybe.
I spent last weekend cleaning and waxing the Mazda. Been wanting to do that for a while, so I took advantage of the solitude. That’s about 3 hours of tar removal & cleaning, and another 3-4 hours of waxing and polishing. My arms were sore on Monday.
I hope to get some T’bird projects done too. I’ve spent a good amount of time just driving it last weekend. It got a new battery on Monday and I put it up on stands Thursday to begin the front suspension rebuild it needs.
Been working on my long threatened new blog layout. It’s coming along, but still has a ways to go. Maybe in a few weeks. 😀
Movable Type 4 is out in beta and I’ve been following the developments there. You can try it out your self for free by visiting where there’s an open, fully functional demo version set up. The MT community has been invigorated by it. It seems that several of my earlier rants have been addressed (not sure if I had any influence on that, but it matters not) and there’s real life being poured back into MT.
Dad and I went to the Good Guys show a couple of weeks ago. It was fun to have him along, usually he’s out of town. I’m working on the photos so I can get the gallery together.

Blue Collar Opera

Consider this your feel good video link of the day. I’m not a big opera fan, but listen to this blue collar, cell phone store worker sing from the Brittan’s Got Talent. No, It’s not a spoof or lip sync’ed.
He won, and I think they could have pretty much scrapped the entire season and just given him the prize after this audition. OK, then we wouldn’t have heard the 6 year old sing Somewhere Over the Rainbow, so it was worth it.
I guess his (former) boss is a big opera fan, throwing opera parties every year, and had absolutely no idea he could do this.

Away …

I’m in Tampa until late tomorrow night on business. Learning all about how to better use Pro|E, the CAD software I use at work. I’m hopefully going to come back with some real good stuff for the company to use. That way they’ll send me again next year. 🙂
Some travel observations:

  • Why does a $130 a night hotel need to charge $10 a night for internet access? OK, I know need isn’t the right term, but still. Many a $60 hotel serves up wireless for free, they charge double for the room and don’t include it?
  • Why can’t I take a regular sized deodorant on a plane? The helpful security folks confiscated my nearly new Right Guard gel at the security point. Maybe their plan is to make all the terrorists smell bad so they’ll be easier to spot. At least the $130 hotel gave me a free sample size of non-gel Speed Stick for free. I’d hate to be tagged as a terrorist on the return flight.
  • I got Burger King at the Tampa airport for lunch on Sunday. I didn’t even get to see the folks making my food. The burgers were slid down a rack to a slot in the wall along which you slid you tray, picking up your burger as you go by. Just in case mass produced paper wrapped burgers weren’t impersonal enough, now they are spit out like $20 bills from the ATM.
  • Going home tomorrow, I get to layover in Atlanta. For over 2 hours. The direct flight down was shorter than my layover. What was a 2:15 flight down becomes a 5 1/2 hour trip home. Argh.
  • I don’t think I’ve ever been to an airport that wasn’t under construction. Both Tampa and Port Columbus were. We’ll see about Atlanta tomorrow.
  • There was a mix up on my return flight, so I’m coming back a day before the conference ends. We looked at changing my flight – an extra $350. On a flight that was only $316 to begin with. Huh?
  • No, I didn’t fly Skybus, they don’t go to Tampa.

I hate flying. I tossed and turned Sunday morning as I heard thunderstorms roll into Columbus just before my flight. It cleared up before departure, thankfully. I haven’t had to use the little bags in the seat pocket in front of me yet, but I’ve felt like I was going to need one before. No matter how many times my mind tells my stomach that it’s normal for planes to shake and wiggle like that, it’s not buying it.
Wish me luck tomorrow. Maybe I’ll find some free wi-fi in Atlanta and post something while I wait.

Craig Ferguson

I’m a late owl, I regularly watch Letterman and I love The Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson which comes on after. Craig is very funny and a huge improvement over that other Craig they had on before.
One of the things I like about him is that he sometimes slips into a somewhat philosophical mode. A couple of months ago, he made some jokes about Pat Robertson’s comments on God telling him there would be a terrorist attack this year. He then slid right into a couple of serious comments on how you can’t have certainty and faith at the same time. Good stuff, actually, watch it here on YouTube.
Monday night, however, he didn’t just make a philosophical comment or two, he spent his entire 12 minute monologue speaking openly and vulnerably about his own life and past. He confessed that he had perhaps gotten carried away recently in ridiculing celebrities and their problems.
What brought this on? Well, this past weekend marked 15 years for him being sober and it also revealed a young mother of two, Brittney Spears, rather publicly fall apart. His comments were along the lines that he understood where she was and what she was dealing with and that, although plenty of jokes were being made, frankly, it wasn’t a laughing matter.
Good stuff, very good considering it’s late night TV. Check it out here on YouTube (CBS doesn’t allow embedding their videos).

Maximize or Satisfice?

Back in November, I wrote a slightly tongue in cheek post about Mike Cope’s first of three write ups on the book The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less by Barry Schwartz. At the time, I even joked about how nice it was for Mike to read the book for me, so I didn’t have to.
Then he wrote posts two and three.
In number 2, he lays out the differnce between the Maximizer and the Satisficer:

A maximizer needs for every decision or every purchase to be the very best that could possibly be made. …
The satisficer is someone who settles for something that works — something that is good enough — without fretting over whether or not there is something better.

Me a Maximiser? Guilty as charged.
He then lists 12 point questionaire where you rank each item bewteen 1 and 7 to judge whether you are a Maximizer or a Satisficer (see the questions in his post). He indicates that ‘extreme maximization scores’ – where you’re on the border of clinically depressed – are 65 or higher. Mine was 52. Ugh.
He wraps it up:

A maximizer is often wondering if there isn’t a better gift, a better church, a better doctor, a better vitamin, a better health club, a better cable option . . . . It isn’t just about high standards; it’s about a sense of discontentment (fueled, perhaps by concern for social status and the explosion of options).
For a maximizer, the overload of choice . . . is a nightmare. But for a satisficer, it does not have to be such a burden. In fact, the more options there are, the more likely it is that the satisficer will find one that meets his or her standards. Adding options doesn’t necessarily add much work for the satisficer, because the satisficer feels no compulsion to check out all the possibilities before deciding.

Boy, that really hits home. I find myself frequenty over analyzing my options, searching out reviews and opinions and then sondering later if I made the right choice.
In post #3, Mike gets to the practicals. In other words, what’s a maximizer to do?
He sums up the problem:

So much of happiness comes down to decisions we make to be contented. The problem with a maximizing approach to life … is that we’re never quite satisfied. They could have chosen (a car . . . a spouse . . . a church) better, perhaps, so they’re always looking over their shoulders and living in regret.

It’s about my choosing to be contented rather than choosing to be perfect. I mask it by saying I’m looking for exelence, but the reality is I want to be perfect, to make the perfect choice. Well, I can’t and as long as i prend that I can, I will not be content.
He then shares 4 of Schwartz’s 11 suggestions (You can read his elaborations on his site):

  1. Choose when to choose.
  2. Satisfice more and maximize less.
  3. Make your decisions nonreversible.
  4. Practice an “attitude of gratitude.”

As I said, I mentioned in my first post how it was great that folks like Mike actually buy and read the books, summing it up on their blogs, so I don’t have to. But his posts have made me think that this is a book that I actually need to go read.

Oh, The Irony

Watching the OSU/Florida game yesterday, I paid attention to the band at halftime. Me and 4 other people watched the 30 seconds each that Fox showed of the Gator and OSU bands. I was in marching band in High School and college and loved it, so I try to watch but they usually don’t show much. 30 seconds apiece was a treat, actually.
As I commented on in my last post, it seemed like the OSU band was playing the theme from Titanic and actually had formed a sinking ship on the field. Actually, there was no doubt about the music, my wife pointed it out and I recognized it as soon as she said so, what was unclear was the formation. The camera shots were simply too close. With OSU getting pummeled and down 34-14 at the half, I thought there’s no way this was really happening.
Well, thanks to YouTube, there is now no doubt. The video at right was shot at the U of M game, I think, here in Columbus. Unfortunately, there’s no sound, but there is clearly (about 2 minutes in) the Titanic, breaking apart, and sinking into a blue tarp sea.
Going into this game, OSU was widely regarded as unbeatable. Leaving port, the Titanic was widely regarded as unsinkable.
To be fair to the OSU band, this show is amazing, but the irony of seeing the Titanic go down as OSU went down was very, very sad. And very, very funny.


Uh, did OSU get lost on the way to the stadium?
Is this the same team that only allowed 10 points per game in the regular season?
Tessel goes for 4th and 1 at your own 29?
Smith fumbles in the backfield?
Come on Tressel, work you magic with these guys in the locker room.
Was it my imagination, or did the OSU band just do the Titanic theme complete with a sinking ship formation on the field? Tell me they didn’t. Please.
Who chose that theme for the championship game?!?
It’s over. OSU-14, Gators-41. Yikes.
OSU may not have brought their game, but the Florida defense just shut OSU down. Period.
I jokes with a Michigan fan at church that USC had put on a clinic against tehm, well Florida did the same fro OSU.
I feel especially bad for Troy Smith. He deserved to go out on top, but it wasn’t to be.
Oh, one more thing. You there, just off campus. Yeah, you. Please, don’t burn anything. Seriously. Please.

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