Pre-New Year's Resolutions 1: Document My Life Better

Seems like every year — even in the blogging near-blackout of the last few — one of the handful of posts I manage to make consistently is the New Year’s Resolutions post. This year, I’m going to start early, and do them one at a time. First up: Document My Life Better.

I used to blog (we’ve already sorta touched on that one). I used to write in a private journal (still do, but sporadically). I used to take LOTS of photos, especially of my kid. Not so much anymore, and I intend to make that the main plank in my platform, and here’s why…

Over Thanksgiving, we went to visit my parents. Now that The Boy’s almost 6, he’s moderately interested in the other people in his life, and he wanted to see pictures of me when I was his age. So, I pulled out the old family albums and discovered something: if you removed one year’s high school prom pics (I went both years I was allowed to, though) and my high school graduation pics, a causual observer might think I died when I was about 11 or 12.

Now, I’m fairly naturally camera-shy (if you’ve seen me, you know why), but there are NO pictures of me from junior high and high school. I’m glad I have a handful of high school yearbooks still. Of course, I grew up before digital cameras and camera phones and Facebook and all, but, still. It was a little disturbing.

In addition to my not having any pictures taken of me during the later years at home, my parents have managed to lose or throw away even stuff like the official class pictures and t-ball league photos from my youth, not to mention the baseball trophies and Cub Scout badges and other detritus of the life of an American boy in the 70s and 80s. It’s a little weird to have no physical evidence (other than, you know, ME) that I existed then.

I also noticed while helping The Wife put together one of those slick iPhoto calendars from Apple for my mother-in-law that every year we take fewer photos of The Boy, despite our being a multiple-camera family these days.

So, I’m going to encourage photographs and video at every opportunity. At least one Christmas List item (a Flip Mino HD video recorder) should help that somewhat.

Next up: I dunno, but it’ll be up in a few days.

lane change

So, after working as a web designer/developer in the newspaper industry for seven years, I’m changing gears. Friday is my last day at the paper, and I’m taking my design & consulting business, kudzu design full-time. Yup. I’ve got business cards and everything! I’ll even have an updated and expanded site up on the business site by next Monday (the “official” full-time relauch of kudzu design. I’ll get to spend more time working on varied design projects and less time doing the sort of administrative grunt work that I’ve come to dislike intensely. Plus, I’ll no longer be working for The Man.

My friends and family (with a few notable exceptions) have been really supportive, especially The Wife. I have some really interesting projects coming up that I’m dying to get to work on, too.

In addition to the new and exciting work to do, working for myself will also allow me to structure my workday to allow for more time with family and time for regular exercise (which I desperately need). It’s going to be a very good thing.

And I hope to blog more, too. Stay tuned…

Last one in's a rotten music meme…

Okay, so Jack tagged me last week, but I just noticed it. I’m not sure how a post got past me, but it did. Anyway, here goes…

1. Total volume of music files on my computer: 4812 songs, 14.5 days, 23.97 GB, as reported by iTunes. I’ve probably got another gig or so on my machine at work that doesn’t overlap with this collection.

2. Last CD I bought: Hell if I know. Seriously. I’ve pretty much stopped buying CDs. I get my music from the internets these days, mostly from the iTMS. However, I think the last CD I bought was Joe Jackson’s Live 1980/1986, which probably puts me on some hipster list. It was either that or ‘Tis the Season for Los Straitjackets! by Los Straitjackets, “13 Rockin’ Christmas Instrumentals!” for my last Tiki Christmas Extravaganza, which proably removes me from that list.

3. Song Playing Right Now:“Lovers in a Dangerous Time” by Barenaked Ladies, which is a cover of a Bruce Cockburn song (and a really good one, too — I mean the cover and the song itself. This song has one of my all-time favorite bits of song lyric: “Nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight / Gotta kick at the darkness ’til it bleeds daylight.”

4. Five Songs (or Albums) I listen to a lot or that move me:

  • Ghost in the Machine (A&M 1981) by The Police: my all-time favorite album. Despite it being the band’s “experimental” album and being full of odd instrumentation, it sounds as fresh today as it did in 1981. I used up at least two cassette copies of it before moving to CD. It got me through a lot of shit, even at the age of 12 (how old I was when it came out).
  • Reckoning (I.R.S. Records 1984) by R.E.M.: a close second on the all-time list. I came to the R.E.M. party a little late (1986), but hearing the opening strains of “Harborcoat” literally changed my life on that rainy Spring day in 1986. I still come back to that album and marvel at the sounds of those songs: “So. Central Rain (I’m Sorry)”, “Pretty Persuasion,””(Don’t Go Back to) Rockville,” et al. An amazing record (and it has a cover by the late Rev. Howard Finster). This album and the murkier followup Fables of the Reconstruction play central roles in my personal vision of the South.
  • Bread and Circus (CBS 1989) by Toad the Wet Sprocket: I always thought the band did themselves a disservice with the goofy name. I think it had something to do with them being woefully underappreciated despite putting out five amazing albums (and a good collection of outtakes). And the thing about Toad is that each album is really different from the others, but still has a distinctive “Toadness” about it. Just the best, most intelligent guitar rock put out in the 1990s amidst all the grunge and boybands and shit that littered the American music scene during that decade. B&C was a tough choice and you could argue any of their albums as the “best”, but fuck it, I’m sticking with my answer. It’s the first and contains some transcendent moments like the odd time signature change during the guitar solo in “Know Me,” which is a weird thing to highlight out of all the possible choices amongst great examples like the line in “Rings” (from their last album, Coil), which using the metaphor of a tree keeping its whole history inside itself “Isn’t it strange / to see my life / you must cut me down /tolook inside.” I saw Toad up close and personal at Juanita’s in Little Rock on the tour for the following album, Pale, and they blew me away. One of the very best shows I’ll ever see.
  • “Throw Your Arms Around Me” by Hunters & Collectors, from their 1986 album Human Frailty. That song just rips me up every time. One of the best, weirdest love songs ever. I submit into evidence, the chorus: “We may never meet again/ So shed your skin and let’s get started / You will throw you arms around me”. H&C were a wildly popular Australian band who barely made a dent here in the U.S. An odd fact: their singer, Mark Seymour, is the brother of Paul Seymour, the bassist (and cover artist) for kiwi (and 1/3 Aussie) band Crowded House who have a great live acoustic version of this song.
  • “Oh, Lucky Man” by the Grapes of Wrath from their 1987 album Treehouse. Just a great example of some late-80s Jangle Pop: big chiming Rickenbackers, soaring harmonies, a driving rock beat. Another obscure gem.