Rebel Girl

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Something called this Melvins + with Teri Genderbender cover to mind this morning. It’s never a bad time for this song.


February 5, 2016

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Bill Wyman drops a loving review of the restored You and Your Sister on the New Yorker web site.

Here’s a song from that record performed in 2011.

And here is my four-part rumination on Dale Lawrence’s songwriting originally catalyzed by the release of Wide Awake in 2003.

Part One – Dale and the Gizmos

Part Two – Some personal history

Part Three – Taking a crack at analyzing the songwriting

Part Four – A track-by-track rundown of Wide Awake.

Dale Weighs In – Dale dropped a line after I ran the series with some corrections and annotations.


February 4, 2016


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(from Facebook)

Who dumped the recycling into the compost bin in the cold winter rain just now and had to dump it out to sort by hand?

That’s right, people! My competence is a thing to behold!

I’m glad I intercepted my first impulse which was to jump into the bin to sort it out without dumping it.

February 3, 2016

Worf Rodchenko, adoptee

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(From FanFare)

So, here’s a weird thing that has happened in my head over the past few years.

I made contact with my birth family in my mid forties about four years ago. I’m an adoptee who was relinquished at birth. Unlike Worf, the people who raised me are both of my biological species and share my general skin tone.

On initial run, Worf’s status as an adoptee always seemed like a throwaway gimmick TNG implemented for the obvious humorous possibilities rather than as a platform for the serious investigation of adoption, caregiving, identity-formation, and natal difference.

Over time, the character’s arc actually did begin to seriously examine many of these issues with intent, as a way of exploring his role as the known Other. This seems to mostly be without the intent of showing us adult adaptions to adoptive status – I would point at Worf’s disrupted relationship with Alexander as a clear example of this.

The show also valorizes Worf’s successful quest to seek identity-reintegration with his natal culture. This is in spite of some things that appear to be unambiguous about Klingon culture within the show, such as the culture’s reliance on and celebration of conquest and enslavement.

I do think both series at times successfully, largely by accident, illuminate American adoption in the late 20th century, specifically and primarily the adoption growth industry of the era, overseas adoption, but also with respect to the growing practice of birth-family reunion and open adoption as at least an ideal.

I suppose, given the character’s role, it’s only reasonable that we see little of Worf struggling with self-loathing or loathing of either of his cultures – that’s maybe more Spock’s gig.

Nonetheless, hey, that’s some solid SF-ing there, to build in social commentary about an aspect of your audience’s experiences without even meaning to do so, commentary that becomes visible only in retrospect. Or via retconning, I suppose, although I think reading themes is maybe not subject to retconning since the reading happens in my head, in the observer rather than in-universe.


February 3, 2016

Light shines through

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Yesterday I experimentally installed a twist-lock base 4-LED mini bulb as a replacement for a 50w halogen, and the new bulb was maybe twice as bright as the bulb it replaced, with a cooler tone. I found a pair of broken sunglasses and popped a lens into the fixture.

I’m pretty sure I’m doing energy efficiency wrong.

A theatrical gel would be the ideal solution. I did spend twenty minutes looking for a set of Mars Staedtler permanent markers i *knew* I had which would have let me make a gel by coloring a piece of glass or cellophane and adjust the colors. They were like an art director set of Sharpies – all the primaries and two steps between each with chisel tips, great pens.

As I was looking I came across a cassette tape. The J-card was really colorful and I knew I had used the Staedtlers to do the card art. I was excited, thinking that possibly the markers were near.

Then I realized I had dubbed the cassette and drawn the J-card before I moved to Seattle, back in Bloomington, before 1990. So presumably I had just spent thirty minutes, thirty logarithmically-fast-paced minutes, looking for a set of markers I last saw and used more than twenty-five years ago.

The sunglass lens works great.

February 3, 2016


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(from Ask MetaFilter, initial section verbatim)

Running again after six months off. Last weekly totals were in the 25 mile range. Can I start again at 10? Details follow.

As has been my tradition, I am returning to running the first week in February. I’ve done this on and off for about four years.

I stopped running in August after some sort of injury, don’t recall what, could be any number of things, see below.

I run barefoot on a treadmill.

I am a 50 year old man with no family history of heart issues, HWP (no really). However, I have a form of early-onset arthritis which likely impacts joint resilience. This arthritis is the primary reason I took up running, as a means to provide stressors to the joints.

In the four years I have been running, I have experienced any number of running-related minor issues, from tendinosis to baker’s cysts to some sort of Achilles inflammation. My primary arthritic site is my right hip; the kind of arthritis I have is within the constellation of symptoms that HLA-B27-positive folks have and is likely to become quite serious as I age.

I really want to restart at a higher weekly number than I have in the past, primarily because it takes so long to get to 25 miles a week at a 10% weekly distance increase. I did a trial run yesterday and had no difficulty whatsoever going 2.25 miles in about 25 minutes, with the exception of my impatience at the pace. I want to shot for ten miles this week. As soon as I post I’ll be taking a crack at three miles.

Can I jump in like this? Should I? What’s the recommended starting distance for someone who is effectively back at zero?

Thanks. Links to sources appreciated!


The preponderance of advice given was that ten miles is too fast a pace. As of the Thursday of the week I posted this (February 4), I was at 7.5 miles with no ill effects and the expectation of finishing the decade on Friday.

I did take a rest day on Wednesday, after a three-mile run completed in thirty minutes on Tuesday, and was very stiff. I have noticed a slight uptick in hip soreness at my inflammation site but no loss of mobility.


February 2, 2016


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(from Facebook)

Vernon Dalhart was kind of a hack, which is actually sort of great in a different way than this side is. Big Rock Candy Mountain. Dig the banjo on ‘trickling down the rocks’.

February 1, 2016

Above the ski slopes

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This week, David Bowie died, and that led to me writing on Facebook about an encounter with the man from my childhood.

When I was a teenager, my family lived in Lausanne, Switzerland for a year, circa 1981-2. Bowie’s most recent album at the time was Scary Monsters, which my sister had purchased on release (maybe in Europe? I do not recall, and she is more than 25 years gone, so I can’t ask).

My father’s gig came with school for the kids, either an English-language expat school based in Geneva (about 45 minutes away) or a French-immersion school in Lausanne. Some kids of one of my dad’s colleagues (people with a famous family member as well and thus here anonymous) had chosen to attend the Geneva school, which for some reason I recall as ending in 8th grade. I find this memory suspect, however, as I was offered the chance to attend an English-language school in Geneva which I have long thought to be this school but I would have been in 10th grade in that year, and so I must state that my recollections are suspect, distorted, and based on the viewpoint of a child.

We, as it happened, chose the Lausanne school, primarily because we did not have to board at the school.

That said, the school my father’s colleague’s kids attended was also said to be attended by the children of various wealthy notables of the era, only one of whom I recall: David Bowie.

So the kids of my father’s colleague were most assertive in letting us (and presumably other peers) know that they were attending the same school as Bowie’s son. I have no recollection of anyone telling me his name, but it certainly appears to have been “Moon” director Duncan Jones.
That year, my parents dragged us from one end of Europe to the other and more intensively from one end of Switzerland to the other. The Swiss-based forced marches of course included mountain sports, hiking and skiing and so forth. Hiking was fine with me, I knew how to walk aready.

Skiing was some fucking daglo puffysuit bourgeois bullshit though, and I was having none of it. I mean, not that I knew how to ski. But that there leather jacket (that is, the one I was wearing, having worked out some sort of scam to score enough cash to buy a leather motorcycle jacket in fucking Switzerland) was *deeply unsuited* to falling down in the fucking snow over and over again in front of rich motherfuckers.

I’ll cut myself some slack here as a 14 year old, OK? You might differ, but I’ll appreciate it if you will too.

Anyway, so we went skiing – just once, I suspect due to my loud disdain for the experience. I’m pretty sure the location was Chamonix, which is relatively accessible for both Lausanne and Geneva.

I had the largely terrible time I had concocted for myself, attempting to ski in total ignorance of the activity while wearing a black leather motorcycle jacket blazoned in carefully stenciled white and red spray paint with the Dead Kennedys logo and other trenchant ephemera of 1982.

I fell down a lot, and was cold, and I was wet, and I was hostile, and actually had a great time.

Eventually I found my sister at the foot of a hill and we sought the funicular to the top of the hill. Unwinding this memory now I think that my father’s colleague’s daughters were there too, which implies their father and mother as well. At any rate we kids, no parents, piled into the pendulous cable car. One adult, a male, adorned in colorful polyfill skiwear, also boarded. I paid him no mind.

Either my sister on her own or the girls that we were with made a determination to which I was not privy. The more I think about this, the more certain I am that the other girls were there, because I was looking out the window of the car, not at the other occupants. Someone poked me and hissed, not quite pointing: “That’s David Bowie!”

I was skeptical and wanted to know how they could tell. After all, the skier was nearly five feet away and wearing a puffy suit. “His eyes,” they hissed. I turned to look.

Bowie was looking at us and grinning like a loon. The girls elbowed me to go say something, to go be a fan, or to get an autograph. In my nearly-new and sopping wet Dead Kennedys leather jacket. Without a single Bowie badge or button. Jim Morrison, sure. Jimi Hendrix, yes. Sex Pistols, of course. But Bowie? Nope. Scary Monsters was just not as good as whatever it was I had heard before (on this week’s reflection, likely Changes One), too weird and ethereal, and what’s this stuff about Major Tom, a hero of the space age, being a junkie anyway?

What was I supposed to do, tell him his recent work sucked but that he should hook up with Jello Biafra and go hardcore?

In hindsight, of course, yes, obviously. That is precisely what I should have done. Instead, I was shy, as a fourteen year old may be, and turned away, shushing the girls. I turned back to the majestic geography out the window, sneaking a glance shortly thereafter. Bowie had turned to the window as well and the moment had passed.

I have reflected on this non-event over the years and have come to appreciate the inviting and open face that he showed us in that cable car that day. He was clearly welcoming us to make social contact with him as teenage fans and I, I chose not to act and influenced my cohort to maintain social distance as well.

I, I could be you. And you, you could be me. Nothing could bring us together, not for one day.

And that is the first time I have ever even tried to write that story down. It may bear some expansion and rework. I sincerely regret my inaction and reticence. I suppose it may have later influenced my choices later in life to self-consciously select for action instead of inaction, as a regret for an action taken is less bitter than a regret for an action left unrealized.

January 16, 2016