Much egg nog has been drunk over the past few weeks. I mean as far as egg nog quantities go. The Horizon organic egg nog tasted much as I expected it to — the fairly standard egg nog flavor and consistency, except with the extra creamy richness that I always find organic milk to have. I was at first pleased, but then I tried Organic Valley egg nog, which has a much more pleasant consistency (sort of splitting the difference between normal egg nog and normal milk, perhaps similar to that of cream). It also possesses the organic richness in flavor and feel, but the other flavors are much more crisp. Distinct nog (I guess) and vanilla and nutmeg can all be tasted. Wow. (yes, really, that good). It turns out that Organic Valley is a much cooler company than Horizon anyway — quality oriented farm owned collective rather than a profit oriented corporation. Over the same period I have many times listened to Sufjan Stevens’ Songs for Christmas. Sufjan Stevens obviously makes great music, plus it’s fun to actually have seasonal music that I actually like. For those yet to catch the Sufjan fever, or those who don’t have Songs for Christmas, or maybe those who have people coming over and are just in a pinch to increase the old Christmas music library selection, “That Was the Worst Christmas Ever” is free from iTunes as the single of the week. I think it is a great representative song for Songs For Christmas — it is very beautiful with a sublime combination of chill indie rock, banjo, and what I assume is the exquisite backing vocals of the Brightest Diamond girl, though the title does seem unfortunately silly to me. Upon further thought, most of Sufjan’s song titles are a bit silly, perhaps stuck in the Enjoy Your Rabbit / A Sun Came! era, while his music has progressed much since that time. I suppose the titles don’t necessarily have to represent every aspect of the music, or maybe they are artistic in way that I couldn’t possibly understand, but at any rate titles are ancillary to just listening so that is what I will continue to do. The real point is that Songs for Christmas is not a silly title but is a good bargain at nine-teen bucks for five CDs, a songbook, stories, and stickers all in a convenient box. And these aren’t just five thrown together CDs either, but carefully crafted CDs made over the last five years. For more good Christmas music, Aimee Mann also has a new holiday CD, One More Drifter in the Snow. I haven’t listened to the whole thing, but her rendition of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” is available as a free download and so of course I’ve listened to that. It is oddly weird and serious at the same time, so while I like it, I’m not sure that it is quite as palatable as (or then again maybe more so than) the Songs for Christmas stuff. On a related note, John Hodgman has a new (perhaps old) book out that is titled, “The Areas Of My Expertise”. The abridged audio version of the book is, as you guessed, available free from iTunes, though it seems to be offered for some indeterminate period of time, rather than merely a single week. I have yet to listen to much of it, but it is read by Hodgman and the little I have heard is quite funny. I also found his funny blog. He seems to be a funny man. I’m not sure how funny reading the book would be, as his deadpan delivery is what makes so many of the jokes work. Even if I never finish listening to it, however, I am just really glad to finally have something in the Audiobooks source list of iTunes. It makes me feel like a more complete person and whatnot. Which is really the great thing about a computer. Its junk doesn’t lie around where I have to see it and get annoyed that junk is lying about. It just hides deep within the recesses of my hard drive, only seen when I want to feel complete. That way I can alternately fulfill my stuff hoarding materialist side as well as my stuff hating hippie side, and everyone wins. If you do download any of the previous and if I also failed to provide you with a gift then I would encourage you to not think of these downloads as provided free of charge by others, but rather as a gift from me. A lovingly and tirelessly chosen gift that I wore my fingers to the bone in searching for something to specifically match your particular tastes and for which you are very, very thankful. With regards to the intense discomfort which I am afforded by physical junk, I have been selling much junk on eBay. While it is certainly nice to be reimbursed for junk that I don’t want anyway, eBay is not without its hassles. Listing, packaging, shipping, and exorbitant fees are all compounded by dealing with bizarre people. One girl I sold a tea kettle to actually used that “Extra comments for the seller” field in PayPal that no one ever uses to communicate the following:
While I hate to reinforce stereotypes, this particular tea kettle was shipped to a yoga studio in a small town in the mountains of Colorado. :) I do appreciate the clever derivative of “Tea Totaller”, but I have yet to determine what it could actually mean. On the other side of the spectrum, I sold an old Bluetooth headset to a guy who, upon receiving it, immediately sent a message saying:
I am so happy about this kettle! Please ship it to me soon as I am a Tea Totaller! Thanks a bunch.
After exchanging a few emails, we came to the joint conclusion that things would go better if he actually charged the batteries before expecting it to work. It amazes me how some seemingly valuable things will sell for almost nothing and other things will sell for prices above their in store values. Bizarro world. If you are looking for weird people or almost anything kitschy, then I can guarantee, ITs on eBay. Of course, I did some Christmas shopping as well. I really tried to be good, to support local businesses, to shop in brick and mortar stores. I wasted time and gas driving all over Birmingham, suffered getting stuck in 280 traffic, and faced other malaise, only to find that the particular size, color, or brand I was looking for was sold out, never carried, or lost. In the end, I found 2 or 3 things locally and had to revert to ordering the rest of the gifts I was looking for online. I suppose having less picky friends and family could have helped, but being a civic minded shopper just doesn’t work out unless there is a really great local store. In addition to my shopping, I’ve been helping my mom look for a new house and other things. Of the other things, a new car was most interesting to me. After watching Who Killed The Electric Car, we had it narrowed down to the Mini and the Prius, so we test drove those cars. A lot of my friends from work drove Priuses and I really liked them but at some intervening point the bodies were totally redesigned and the new ones are a bit ugly. The Prius drove well but the redone body sports an interior somewhat reminiscent of the awful “Cab Forward” design promoted by Chrysler in immediately forgettable though haunting cars such as the Cirrus. Basically, this just means that from the driver’s seat, not a whole lot is visible. Definitely not the hood line or any sizable chunk of the area aft of the car. There are no Mini dealerships in Birmingham, so we drove over to Atlanta last Saturday to look at them. I knew Mini was owned BMW but I learned last Saturday that all of the engineering and manufacturing is done by BMW as well. I think they must have based the Mini chassis on that of the E30 because the Mini drove just like the really old 318i that I used to drive. Which is to say that the car feels somewhat underpowered but sticks to the road like glue when going around corners. Buying a Mini is fun because they are usually ordered instead of picked off of the lot, so you get to pick each of the options just as you want them, then the order is sent off to the factory which sends you little trinkets in the mail while you wait and you also get a number that lets you check up via a web site your car’s status as it is built. Buying a Mini vicariously is almost as fun. It was my first experience with the non-pre-owned car market. One nice lesson learned from Atlanta is that traffic in Birmingham, even on 280, is not really that bad. The day quickly waned while we were fighting through downtown Atlanta, so it was kind of late by the time we arrived back home. When I stepped out of the car, I heard loud talking and laughter coming from the back porch of the house on the next street over (their backyard is sort of beside my neighbor’s backyard, which is in turn sort of beside my driveway). I had never heard anything from that house before, but the overcrowded Christmas party was too obvious an assumption to think about it much. When I walked up the driveway to the front yard (the end of my driveway is sort of lower than any of the surrounding houses, but my front yard is more or less on the same level as the other houses) I began to catch whiffs and then wafts of some sort of smoke. The smell was at first hard to place — cigarette? no, too pungent, so maybe a cigar? except that it is just too sweet, so of course, a pipe? well only its… too earthy for that. When standing in my front yard, the smell was overwhelming. It was here that all doubt was erased, it was the smell that so pervades Golden Gate park. A smell I was familiar with, but not that familiar with. But it was definitely a lot of smoke quite a distance from the source. The garish talking and laughter was at least explained. Lastly, I would like to present Time magazine with the Creatively Lazy Magazine of the Year award. I mean seriously, I hate to break it to you, but even if you do use YouTube or whatever other social web application with user generated content, you are not the person of the year. Each individual contributes very little. These applications are only slightly interesting when many people use them. Not to mention the fact that most people who see their reflection in a Time magazine have probably never contributed to YouTube. So maybe Time could have called YouTubers the group who wastes more time than anyone of the year or perhaps user generated content could have been the technology trend of the year. I mean I would not even argue if they said Joshua Schachter, who is a single person, was the catalyst for much of the phenomenon we are now seeing, but even so, I’m just not finding person of the year material in any of it. For my money, I would have picked Elliot Spitzer. Actually, I don’t know that much about him, but I did see him on the Colbert Report this past week, and found out that is the governor-elect for New York. I did not even realize he was running for governor but then I remembered that he had been campaigning for something at a hotel I was staying at last March so I guess I should have payed more attention. He seemed pretty geeky when he was reading cue cards and what can I say, I like geeky people. At least if they are smart. And unless he faked his academic record, he seems to be. Plus, you can always trust a geek, right? From my Economist reading days I know that as New York’s Attorney General he put the kibosh on a lot of corporate corruption, which I say is cool. But maybe he was just trying to make a name for himself. I wonder if he will run for president. Anyways, I suppose that he isn’t really ready for person of the year either, but my excuse is that no one is paying me a salary to decide who really is the person of the year, so how well can I be expected to choose? Therefore, in the spirit of Time magazine, I will call “sticking it to greedy corporations that think they can get away with various forms of corruption”, which is obviously an action and more loosely a thing, my person of the year. Congratulations.
Why did you sell this junk it doen’t even work. Thanks I was looking forward to being too using it.