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16 October 2006 to 24 July 2006
Belinda: "Bella Traición" (1.7M mp3) (from Utopía)  

Maybe the year's best demonstration of the universality of J-Pop.
I'm not mechanically inept, but my range of experience in home-maintenance tasks is not large, and mostly clustered around either calling in experts to do projects that most people would not undertake themselves, or things involving adding or removing a relatively small number of nails or screws. I recently repaired, rehinged and rehung two shed doors without difficulty, that's about my usual scale.  

So replacing our water-hemorrhaging "food disposer" (didn't these used to be called "disposals"?), which involved both plumbing and electricity, seemed like the kind of task that could descend into total chaos about halfway through, when some minor piece of the replacement apparatus proved incompatible with some intractable facet of the existing environment.  

Somewhat to my disappointment, the replacement went really easily. The old corroded hulk gave way without much complaint, the new one slid in with equanimity.  

The only interesting part of the task was tracking down the source of a strange trickle of water that appeared to be coming out of a wall where there was, as best I could tell, no plumbing at all. It turned out that the old unit had been leaking water into the flex-pipe for its own electrical cables! Not only is this obviously bad, but the constrained space made it an interesting topological puzzle to get the several ounces of fetid water back out of the pipe.  

But even if the tasks were ultimately simple and only trivially grimy, and probably a Real Man would have sucked the water out of the electrical pipe without even turning off the breaker first, I note for the record that in this upgrade I have gone from a third of a horsepower to three whole fourths, and I think we can all agree that that basically reeks of machismo.
My sister asked me, as part of her wedding ceremony, to Say Something About Marriage. I've been married for over two years, so obviously I have way too much insight on this issue than could reasonably be fit into the middle of an otherwise fairly compact service, but with some effort, and some help from my wife Bethany, I got the list down to twelve potentially useful pieces of advice. These probably aren't the most useful twelve pieces of advice, but I think they're better than nothing. As delivered at the wedding last weekend:  

1. Your world is getting bigger today, not smaller! More history, more friends, more possibilities. Marriage is not the end of the search, it's the beginning of all the searches that are more fun to do together.  

2. Be the guardians of each other's solitudes. Not only do you need to give each other space, you need to make each other space.  

3. No difficult conversations after 10pm. Not only is it harder to solve problems when you're tired, but at least half the time being tired is the problem.  

4. The Dutch principle of Total Soccer means that any player can attack when there is an opportunity, and any player can defend when there is a need. In Total Marriage you only have two players, so this is even more important. Both of you should be able to do everything your team needs. You'll have your preferences and strengths and habits, but if one of you goes down, the other one has to be able to cover.  

5. Wedding rings don't really come with magic powers. You will learn how to take care of each other one insight at a time. And even when you're not sure how, show up and you'll think of something.  

6. Headphones; separate closets.  

7. If you aren't already the world's leading experts on each other, you will be soon. It is thus your responsibility to be not only the world's biggest fans of each other's best qualities, but also the world's staunchest fans of each other's weaknesses and flaws.  

8. Get pets. By far the easiest way to remember that you have to feed your shared life together is if part of it comes and stomps on you every morning.  

9. No ultimatums. Ever.  

10. Travel. Surprise and challenge yourselves. It's easier to have a world together if you have a world to compare it to, and part of the fun of getting to know each other is putting yourselves, together, in positions where neither of you know what you're going to do yourself.  

11. Committing yourselves to one another is one of the most mature, responsible, focused decisions you can make. Balance it out by being immature, irresponsible and playful together as often as possible.  

12. When people, especially your relatives, offer you long lists of marriage advice, just smile politely and nod until they finally shut up.
Stars of Track and Field: Movies of Antarctica (2.2M mp3)  

I'm still buying CDs, mostly, but I'm no longer making any heroic CD efforts when downloadable versions are more readily available and cheaper. Centuries Before Love and War, the haunting debut album by Stars of Track and Field, is available from the iTMS right now, and will be out on CD in "spring 2007". Spring?! It's not worth my mental energy to keep track of its future existence for that long.
Damone: New Change of Heart (1.5M mp3) and Stabbed in the Heart (1.4M mp3)  

I think we've found a girlfriend for Waltham.
There's really no excuse for bad discussion-forum software anymore. The worst current standard choices are at least adequate, and nearly all of the ones that haven't wisely jettisoned reply-nesting at least have some view that minimizes its damage to the coherence of the discussion. Chowhound.com was a notable laggard until very recently, a vibrant community of food-lovers wrestling with a discussion system of approximately Mosaic's vintage that made mine look positively futuristic.  

Chowhound was acquired by CNet recently, who began their stewardship by sponsoring the long-dreamt-of reconstruction. There are a lingering issue or two, but it has gone from being the most technically antiquated stop on my daily information rounds to being one of the more pleasing.  

And even if you don't really like good food, surely everybody likes to read snarkily over-written complaints about minor affronts in restaurant service...
Venus Hum: Yes and No (2.0M mp3)  

I listened to clips of the new Venus Hum album on iTMS and decided it didn't sound that inspiring to me. And then I bought it anyway, because I didn't like not feeling inspired. So am I now loving it because I want to love it, or because I want to love more music again, or because I am just willing to let it affect me? Am I manufacturing responses, or disassembling obstacles to responding?  

I'm pretty happy about it either way. "Yes and No", in particular, makes me feel not only excited about music, but excited about technology in music. And even excited about technology itself, although clearly spending 8 hours a day being excited about technology in my new exciting-technology job makes me more receptive to opportunities to be excited about technology in other areas of my life.  

Ah, how clever and wishful of us to come up with whole different words for "cause" and "effect".
I'm not saying Keanu Reeves is necessarily a demon, I'm just saying that the scenes of him running and walking in movies don't provide any clear evidence that his feet are not hooves.
It was a joke when I wrote about DinnerPeace, the social-networking site for aggregating your dinner guests' food allergies, but I contend that the business prospects for that idea are not qualitatively different from those of PawSpot, a social-networking site for bartering pet-care.  

For further ridicule, see the comment thread at BostonWTF.
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