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the valrus

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My Beautiful Gargantuan Sprawling Music Post [Jan. 28th, 2011|09:29 pm]
the valrus

Another year, another huge pile of music I listen to for every waking minute because the thought of spending even a single second alone with my own thoughts is simply too terrible to contemplate. So I'm feeling pretty good about this list! Are you excited? I'm excited!

Note: I do not claim this list is a Definitive List of The Best Music of 2010. It's just the music that made the biggest impression on me, the albums that I wanted to listen to over and over again. Take it with a grain of salt, but recognize that my music taste is probably better than yours.

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The old girl's showin' her age [Dec. 17th, 2010|01:56 pm]
the valrus

Note: Cross-posted to Facebook.

I took my bike in for what will probably end up being its last tune-up yesterday, and when I picked it up today I received a laundry list of parts that are worn and should probably be replaced. Since estimates for parts and labor total $407 — over 80% of the original cost of the bike — I think I need to try something else. As I see it, my options are:

1. Buy parts and install them myself. Obviously I will save on labor (assuming I can do it myself; I have a book that may be useful, and of course there's the Internet, but savings may be offset by my having to buy tools) and I may be able to save on and/or upgrade the parts if I put my Internet savvy shopping skills to work.
2. Ride this motherfucker into the ground and buy a new damn bike. As usual, the easiest and shiniest option but almost certainly the least cost-effective.
3. Ride this motherfucker into the ground while gradually acquiring parts for a new damn bike and building it myself.

#3 is appealing for a variety of reasons: I can customize the bike more than I could under either of the other options; I will have a more-or-less new bike for probably less than it would cost to buy it already put together; and I am likely to learn some things about how a bike works and how to maintain it along the way. Also, the piecemeal nature of it means I don't have a huge outlay all at the same time; I can buy parts as they come available and if I shop carefully, probably get good deals on a lot of them.

So, a few questions for anyone with bike knowledge...
1. Is it sensible for me to attempt #3? Am I correct in assuming it will be cost-effective?
2. What are the features I want to look for in a bike (or the components thereof) that I intend to use exclusively for commuting and fairly leisurely tour-type trips? As far as I know, this basically means I will generally value durability over keeping weight low. My only set-in-stone requirements are drop handlebars and no fixies. I'd also prefer thinner tires, but hybrid ones are ok. I will probably want some gears as well, though I don't have any strong opinions about how many.
3. What are some gotchas to be careful of when buying parts? I don't want to buy something and find out it's not compatible with other parts that I've gotten; how can I avoid this while still saving money?

Many thanks in advance to anyone who can give me advice!

Really though [Dec. 10th, 2010|08:49 pm]
the valrus
Scene: Jenn is doing homework, designing a scary monster for one of her classes. Ian is looking over her shoulder at her notes to herself.
Ian: "Tentacles — Just Not That Creepy." Hee hee. That would make a good motto for... something.
Jenn: You should use it as a song name. And the song should have accordion and bass in it, because I haven't heard you play accordion or bass in a while.
Ian: Hmmmm uh errrm. Uh.

TEN MINUTES LATER. Jenn has left for school.
Ian: Well, okay.

Destroy capitalism! [Dec. 2nd, 2010|12:31 am]
the valrus
Hey, remember "destroy capitalism?" Remember how we used to say that all the time at the gamer table? That was the best meme ever.

Remember how it wasn't actually something I kind of wanted to do? Me neither.

(no subject) [Nov. 2nd, 2010|04:39 pm]
the valrus
Bishop Jim Swilley of the Church of the Now comes out in a sermon.

Video. The congregation's overwhelmingly supportive response had me choked up several times.

let's talk about time travelin', rhyme javelin', something mind unravelin' [Oct. 15th, 2010|02:34 pm]
the valrus
Let me tell you something. My current front-runner for Album of the Year, yes ahead of Joanna Newsom, yes ahead of Owen Pallett, is a rap album by Big Boi (one half of OutKast) named Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty. This is not a lie. I have been writing about it and before too long I hope to post a Tour Guide to it for those who would like to know what the appeal is and how I was drawn into it. There is not a bad track on it.

Prior to this I had never really listened to OutKast (aside from the ubiquitous "Hey Ya!") and it has become abundantly clear that this is a major deficiency in my musical knowledge. So I got Aquemini, and it sounds like kind of a grower, maybe like Erykah Badu's New Amerykah Part I. Like it's kind of laid back and all over the place but over time it starts to gel and become something wholly unique and awesome? I am hoping this is the case. But what all this is leading up to is that, though Big Boi knocked it out of the park with Sir Lucious Left Foot and people are now saying his erstwhile partner André 3000 (a.k.a. Three Stacks) (long considered the more talented or at least more notable of the two) had better watch out because the underdog Big Boi is on a roll, well, I could listen to Three Stacks's verse on Return of the "G" on repeat all day. It is that fucking good. And every time he says "Get down," I get chills. What's cooler than being cool?

computer upgrade help [Oct. 3rd, 2010|04:04 pm]
the valrus
[music |Suite II Overture - Janelle Monáe]

So Jenn got one of these computers from a classmate who had no use for it because in a way it is a piece of crap: it comes with Vista pre-installed and only 512MB of RAM (what is this, 2002?), which is not nearly enough to run it well. We would like to use it to play PC-only games; it's not important to us to be able to play the latest and greatest, but Jenn has her sights set on (when she actually has some free time) Guild Wars (or 2) whose wiki says it "will be designed to be run on computers with mid-range gaming specifications." I bumped the ram up by 2G, but there is still the matter of a monitor.

Now my new iMac supports display input from an external source with DisplayPort output, and the eMachines box only has VGA output. I figure I may be able to get a video card with DisplayPort output without spending too much more than I would pay for a monitor, and then I'd have a nice big monitor and an almost certainly better video card to boot. I have never done anything of this sort before in my life, so I'm looking for any advice, suggestions, etc. that any of you who have used actual upgradable computers can provide. In general I would say cheaper is better, since this is just a very auxiliary gaming rig, but I'd be looking at $60 or so for a monitor anyway so I'm willing to go up to, say, 100 for a decent video card. Thanks in advance!

wow, really [Sep. 30th, 2010|05:55 pm]
the valrus
On the plus side, I have a new computer and it's ridiculously shiny and awesome. On the minus side, my backup hard drive apparently failed at the absolute worst possible time: between my getting rid of my old computer and getting this one. Some stuff I have on my laptop: software licenses, passwords, etc. Most of it I do not. While there is something appealing about starting with a nice clean hard drive, this is still very much a what-the-fuck-Murphy's-law kind of moment. Nevertheless, I don't think there's anything to do about but put it behind me (or pay $1500 or whatever for data recovery, which is not going to happen.)

The most distressing thing is the loss of the raw data for my music, but they're my songs, the mp3s are out there, and I can recreate them. I just have to want to, and it may be a little while before that's the case.

I'm going to go play with my somewhat-more-new-than-I-really-wanted computer now.

computer update [Sep. 22nd, 2010|01:01 pm]
the valrus
I rejected the offer from the recycling company and they bumped it to $111, which I accepted; previously I had decided to try to get what I could on eBay, but this is much easier and I wouldn't anticipate doing much better any other way without committing fraud. Next up: shopping.

alack, my iMac [Sep. 21st, 2010|05:22 pm]
the valrus
Well, my old (2006, which is not really old) iMac had been acting up for some time: I was experiencing graphical glitches and occasional random crashes, which I believe were a result of some overheating causing damage to my graphics card and/or motherboard. I sent it in to try to get it recycled and would have gotten $300 for it had it been in perfect working order; instead I got confirmation that the logic board is faulty and a revised offer of some pittance like $90 or something. I understand that Apple has not officially acknowledged this issue, though it seems to be fairly common, and repairing it will cost upwards of $600. This presents a number of problems.

1. I would like to replace it with a new Mac, but on the other hand this experience has left me not wanting to give Apple any more of my money. Also,
2. it makes me leery of using Apple products in the future. I've had a logic board fail before, and luckily that one was acknowledged and repaired for free under an extended warranty. I'm not sure why Apple seems to be unable to get it together and make hardware that will last, but I don't want this to happen again in a few years, because
3. I don't really need a new computer right now; the old one worked fine, horsepower-wise, for everything I used it for, but it's not acceptable for me to have to deal with a computer that might crap out in the middle of my working on something. Basically, I don't want another computer that will start to fail catastrophically before I've gotten as much use as I want out of it.

My options, as I see them, for trying to salvage some value from this guy are:

1. Take the $90 and run. This is not really an option, but I felt I had to include it.
2a. Try to sell it on eBay or Craigslist, mentioning nothing about the problems with it — which occur only intermittently and usually when the processor is in heavy use — and hope that I don't end up with bad seller feedback or someone coming to my apartment with a baseball bat.
2b. Same as 2a, but be up front about the problems; pre-install some fan software which generally keeps the temperature to acceptable levels if the computer's not doing any heavy lifting; and lower the asking price significantly. As it stands right now the computer is perfectly usable for email, Internet, and the like.
3. Sell it for parts. I don't really know how to do this or what kind of money I will get for it.
4. Just keep it and deal with the occasional crashes. I don't really want to do this. I have an album to finish and I don't want to have to put up with my recording equipment zonking out while I'm in the zone.
5. Talk to Apple and try to get them to help me out somehow. I don't have high hopes about this, but it may possibly provide some leverage to tell them I've been a lifelong customer and am now seriously considering never buying from them again.

And then after that, I have to choose whether to:

1. Suck it up and buy a new iMac, which tends to be about the level of computer I need for my purposes, and of course the new ones are shiny and pretty, but do I really want to be worrying about what's starting to seem like planned obsolescence kicking me in the nuts again in a few years, and will I feel like a whore for buying another immediately after my last one failed? Or I could
2. Buy a new Mac mini instead, since they're cheaper and, as I've said, I don't have huge horsepower requirements. But most of the above still apply, and "It's less money down the drain if it conks out in 4 years" is not a good reason for much of anything; though I haven't heard much about Mac minis having big problems, I haven't gone looking for it either. The Mac world is what I'm used to and I think it's still what I prefer, though, so my other option for that is
3. Buy a used or refurb Mac from a 3rd party. I imagine the only way to prevent my money from going to Apple is to get something used. Or I could
4. Buy no new computer; just use my laptop as my desktop. I don't really want to do this, I think. The things I do on my desktop (notably, recording) benefit from a larger screen and having a zillion peripherals and other things plugged in, and this reduces the mobility of a laptop. Then there's the dangerous, contentious
4. Go the hardcore converted best-friend-becomes-worst-enemy route, abandoning Apple altogether and getting a "PC" made by someone else, probably running some form of Linux on it (because I still don't trust Windows either, and I've heard trying to install OS X on a non-Apple machine is more trouble than it's worth), and never looking back, aside from how I'll still have this MacBook. This would be a big step and I'm not sure I'll ever like Linux as much as I like OS X, but I don't know how far Linux has come since I seriously used it last. It would require a lot of research and probably agonizing decisions. Not sure how I feel about it.

If you found all this interesting enough to read, you probably have some suggestions to offer. I'm all ears. Please, fire away!

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