Here’s to the future!

There’s a lot we take for granted in our circles, I think, like the idea that guys want to have kids by default and that women want to be mothers. Maybe it’s just my friends that aren’t of these circles, or the rather interesting conversations I’ve had with those pretty much opposed to the idea that every man’s goal is to be a father and every woman’s to be a mother, but I don’t really take that for granted at all.

See, I want to get married, settle down, and have kids. In that order, thank you. First the marriage, then the settling down, then sometime later – who knows how much later – kids. Plural, of course. It’s a disservice to children to have just one, unless you have to.

So here goes. A year-end list of my favorite baby names. I know, I know, I should get my testosterone levels checked out, but I’ll do this anyways. There are ten: five for the boy, five for the girl.

1. Sawyer
2. Joseph
3. Charles
4. Christopher
5. Owen

1. Alex
2. Trinity
3. Mackenzie
4. Emma
5. MaryBeth

And if you can’t figure out which is which, well, you should probably not have any kids yourself.

Now, a few of these have designated second names picked out for them. Charles, for instance, will be Charles Xavier (a homage to everyone’s favorite bald man). Owen Xander fits well. Christopher Grant is another. Mackenzie Nicole. MaryBeth Rebecca. And that’s all I’ve got.

dan (just a note… I only have ten names because I like making lists with ten things on them… not because I want to have ten children)

Waiting

Well, I seem to be in a creative mood today. Here’s a little something more for you to listen to. Again, it’s just a rough cut, so don’t be too harsh on me…

Anyhow, for those of you who are interested, this song took 22 takes, about three hours to write, two hours to record, and two cups of coffee. Also, there are no loops in there, and I haven’t adjusted any of the levels. Basically what came out of my mouth and piano is what’s there. Also, no effects.

If you were wondering, yes, I’m in the market for a new vocal mic. Any advice would be great.

Waiting

Lyrics:

Friday, and I was forced
like a wild wet seed into the ground
with the dampness and the warmth
of the loam fingers wrapped around
my inertia.

Friday, and I was borne
like a wild white seet on brother wind.
In a slipshod summer storm
I am finally born, buried again
in hybernation.

Waiting for something;
waiting for Monday.
Oh, I’ll grow at the corners of the wall.

Friday, and there’s the wall
with the dawning day heaving overhead.
The morning had found me tall
in the shadow of what I never said
at germination.

Waiting for something;
waiting for Monday.
Oh, I’ll grow at the corners of the wall.

Almost above the wall.
Almost above the wall.
Almost above the wall.
Growing at the corner of the wall,
it paralyses.

Waiting for something;
waiting for Monday.
Oh, I’ll grow at the corners of the wall.
Oh, I’ll grow at the corners of the wall.
Oh, I’ll grow at the corners of the wall.

dan (creating like a banshee)

Chorus

Here’s a little something I threw together tonight… it’s a little wierd, but bear with me. I was just fooling around on the piano, and this came out.

Note: I do not sing on this song. So bravely soldier on.

Chorus (the song)

dan (get back to me through the grill, yo)

Ten albums I listen to all the time.

I haven’t been around much lately, I know. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t listen to music anymore. Because that’s just silly. I was thinking, as I drove home from Ancaster, that I should start a taxi service. That got me thinking about what music I’d play in my taxi. Which of course led me to the “If I were trapped on a deserted island with only a CD player, an everlasting battery, and ten CDs, what would I play?” Which led inevitably to this post. Let me begin:

1. Godspeed You! Black Emperor, “Lift Yr. Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven”.

Although not widely regarded as their best album, it certainly is their most symphonic, and I really appreciate that sense of reaching into the past and modernizing the sounds while keeping the forms. Of course, where Beethoven would have used an orchestra, Godspeed uses overdriven, screwdrivered, bowed, and detuned guitars; strings; static; found sound, and field recordings; and no vocals whatsoever. I’ve listened to this album at least a hundred times. I kid you not.

2. Caedmon’s Call, “Long Line of Leavers”.

There’s only one weak song on this album, but it’s offset by Derek Webb’s scintillating tragic loves and losses, and of course the wonderfully different horns on track one. Beautiful, wonderful album.

3. Jars of Clay, Self-Titled.

If there ever was a disc that could be played over and over and over again, this is it. Not only that, but it has the sort of staying power that makes its siblings look dated in comparison. Every time I hear these songs they seem fresh, and original.

4. Chasing Furies, “With Abandon”.

Again, if there were ever an album that has exsquisite listenability, this is it. Simply amazing stuff that has no precursor or follower in the Christian music market, period. Sadly, it’s CF’s only album, though it’s probably better that way.

5. Radiohead, “Amnesiac”.

Another disc not widely regarded as the best of the twin albums (Amnesiac and Kid A), there’s something about the unintentional brokenness and inherant instability of the meandering stylistic influences and subject matter that speaks just as well to Radiohead’s latent paranoia as do the songs themselves.

6. Earthsuit, “Kalaidoscope Superior”.

Although I think I’ve botched the spelling on that big time, this is probably the only rap/rock hybrid I’ve actually enjoyed as long as I’ve owned it. Still sounds amazing after all this time.

7. Sarah Masen, “Carry Us Through”.

I’ve liked a lot of the stuff Charlie Peacock has produced, but this disc just rises above the rest. It’s pretty much a shining example of everything you can do right for a coffeeshop artist. 75 Grains of Sand in particular. If you ever want a great, great pop album, buy this one.

8. Switchfoot, “New Way to be Human”.

I loved their recent song “Meant to Live”, though the album “The Beautiful Letdown” wasn’t all that exciting. Probably because it hearkened back to a time where Switchfoot’s glistening melodies surfaced from under crunching distortion or swooning guitars. This is also on my “Purchase Again” list.

9. The Shins, “Chutes Too Narrow”.

Indie music as a whole is a collective of parts disparate and diverse, but one thread that runs through its framework of wierdness and wariness is the bright pop melodies and rough production of bands like The Shins. Combine that ear for melody with insightful lyrics and the marvelous lead vocalist, you’ve got a winner.

10. Deepspace5, “The Night We Called it a Day”.

Lo-fi to the point of seeming scratched onto vinyl by hand, this is the first hip-hop collective that struck me as really funny. In fact, these boys, when they get together, really are one of a kind. Maybe not so much funny as just deeply playful, their wordplay on the song “Elementary” is enough to carry most of the album. But then, it never has to.

dan (music fan extraordinaire)

Married Life

OK, this is Dan’s blog, so some of you may have had a heart attack just now when you read the title. Rest assured that Dan isn’t writing on married life. My name is Chris, I’m an aquaintance of Dan’s, and several weeks ago now he invited me to guest post on his blog. It’s only tonight that I’ve found the time to write that post… but I guess that’s part of the story.

Several times over the seven-and-counting years of our marriage, people have asked how the marriage is going, what we’re learning. And as I think over it, I can point to one huge thing that marriage (and to an even greater extend, having children) has taught me is this: I am selfish. Now, I’m not one of these six-nights-a-week-are-mine-and-leave-me-alone-woman selfish types, but I can’t begin to count the number of times that I’ve had to squelch that inner voice that is asking “why the heck are you doing this right now? wouldn’t you rather be spending your time doing _____?” And often the answer is that yeah, for me, I would like to be doing something else. But what I’ve come to observe and learn is that my time is much better invested in my wife and daughter than it is in me.

This brings us to today. It’s Friday, a normal workday for me would have me at my place of employment from 7 AM to around 3 PM. But about 8 my wife called and said she was sick, throwing up, and could I come home and watch the kiddo? (The kiddo is Laura, our 16-month-old.) So I left work and headed home. It wasn’t exactly how I wanted to burn a day of vacation, but it needed done. It ended up being a pretty decent day, though. I got to spend the day with Laura. We went to the mall to finish Christmas shopping. Becky got a bunch of sleep. Tonight she went to sleep early, which is allowing me the time to finally guest post.

So tonight it hits me: this is what married life is all about. OK, so we don’t want every day to be like today, but a day like today provides opportunities to serve, to love, to grow. God uses it to make me more like Jesus. And that’s what it’s all about.

— Chris
House of Cakeboy

The Ten Sayings of Dan

1. If you don’t actually wear petticoats and high-necked dresses all the time, you shouldn’t pretend to hold to the same sexual or moral ethic that Victorian England did. And if you feel like I’m giving the Victorians a hard rap, remember that I don’t do the same thing for the Puritans or for Isaac and his particular sporting spirit. It’s not that I don’t like Victorian culture. And it’s not that I think people should be dogging it all over High Park like a pack of coyotes. But at the same time, if you want to act like something doesn’t exist, try not making it sex, but instead fruitcake. Really, who likes fruitcake?

2. The odd thing about the youth culture we have nowadays is that it’s self-perpetuating. Even magazines that purport to step outside the culture or into the counter-culture – like Adbusters does – are part of the problem. No, wait, they are are the problem. Did you ever wonder why they’re now peddling a shoe? And a Media Freedom Kit? Because rebellion is business. And Adbusters – suprise! – is a business. They sell things, like a magazine, and a shoe, and a kit. They perpetuate the very thing they fight against by perpetuating the same tired attitudes of rebellion against authority, manifested in tattoos andreally cool hoodies.

3. What is a team? A team is a collection of individuals with a common cause. Is the common cause more important than the individual cause? Who knows. Functionally, these things don’t have to be different but often are. Individualism, of course, is a silly modern idea, but still, we are individuals all functioning in a group setting.

4. Christmas is the stupidest and most annoying season of the year, and not because the season is about Christ. No, it’s because the season lasts so darn long, and while it obstensibly about Christ, it’s tacitly about the final heaving surges of consumerism the year has to offer before we begin all over again on January. It wouldn’t bother me at all if we had numerous month-long advent celebrations: they tend to be low-key, and all you need is a few candles and maybe some evergreen leaves. But instead we have this malarky of elves and Santa Claus and giving overpriced presents to assuage our aching consciences. Christmas has been turned into a time to do pennance for the evil of the year; we spend time with the family, donate to charity, and give gifts. Of course, when the month is over, we abandon our families, the fatherless, and the widows.

5. Back to the individual: we need a social conscience. It’s painfully obvious that if some people feel free to drive around a Hummer with on person in it all day while other people carpool in their Ford Focus, something is being done right, and something is being done wrong. Are we, men and woman of the consumerist era, ready to forgo some freedom in order to give a shot at responsibility? Think about it. Maybe you can take the bus. Maybe you can replace some lightbulbs with energy-efficient ones. Maybe you can recycle as much as you possibly can. Who knows? But at least do something.

6. CSI has become excruciatingly boring. It’s a gimmick show, build around a rapidly aging device. That’s right, CSI, you need drama, mystery, and suspense just like every other show since Shakespeare. Not just some extremely cool shots of the inside of a human brain colliding with a bullet, or some gooey human remains in a trunk. Yawn. Boring. People have been killing eachother since Cain. You’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all, until Nick gets trapped inside a box with ants and a bomb. But the good guys always win, right? And goodness knows, the CSI staff are the good guys. Annoyingly good.

7. Either you believe in free will, or you don’t. It’s that simple. Everything is connected, right? Well if everything is connected, then you either control the whole bag of tricks down to the smallest building blocks, or you don’t control anything at all. And since I don’t believe in free will, due to reading scripture and whatnot, God must control everything. But that brings online a whole slew of other questions, such as the question of evil and sin and pain and suffering. I trust my mind is too small to actually understand these things. That makes it easier.

8. Getting back to crappy modern thought, how’s feminism doing these days? Oh, not too well? Darn. But did you ever wonder what feminism is really all about? So did I, and it turns out it’s quite simple: feminism is about merging the public and private spheres in order to “empower” and “liberate” women. The thinking goes like this: the public sphere is a man’s world, and the private sphere is where the woman has been trapped in her gender role as mother, housekeeper, and maidservant for those horrible, abusive, testosterone-crazed men. So instead of trying to give men wombs and breasts – which is pretty darn expensive – so that they can be the mothers, the thinking is that the public and private spheres must be merged to give as much opportunity as possible to the woman, who can then break out of her maternal chains. Then we can feminise men and convert the family to a wonderful power-sharing commune where the father and mother have equal authority and there’s no such thing as veto power. Even better – get rid of the vestiges of the patriarchy by redefining family altogether! Okay then. Y’all do that, and I’ll use the heat of your burning cities to roast marshmallows.

9. Privacy is important. It should be important to every Christian. And the Bush administration’s rush to take away personal privacy in the name of preventing terrorism will do more damage in the long run than a thousand people a year killed by carbombs.

10. I hate typing on this computer. Consider this little document finito.

Programs I can’t live without.

I’ve realised lately that there are several programs I simply cannot live without. And considering how often I use them, I’d like to share with you what these programs are so that you may go forth and Google them and use them and fall in love with them.

1. Firefox. The little browser that could is my launchpad for the internet, and of course the application platform for all those little niceties that keep my browsing experience so pleasant. Extensions: Forecastfox, FoxyTunes, Adblock, PDF Download, and Sage. Themes: Saferfox, and Aquatint.

2. Azureus. Although it’s not the smallest Bittorrent client ever – it has to load Java into memory – it’s certainly the most useful. And I’ve never even used at least 80% of the options and plugins. Would be nice if they could figure out how to make a smaller footprint for that thing, though.

3. OpenOffice.org. Great, free office suite. Again with the memory footprint thing. If you’re thinking of running OO.o and Azureus and Firefox at the same time and you have less than 1gb of ram, think again.

4. Picasa and Gimp. For simple photo-editing, Picasa is a charm. For more complex stuff, the Gimp. At work, Photopaint, but never you mind that.

5. Skype. This one just made the list last weekend. Apart from the whole degrading my hd life by constantly polling it, it’s a great little program. Unfortunately, it’s a closed protocol and closed source, so no other clients connect to it and there’s little choice in the matter. Use Skype, or use nothing at all.

6. Gmail. Web application, but nevertheless, couldn’t live without it. The zenith of webmail thus far (and yes, I know Yahoo has their own AJAX client, but I’ve seen it, and, well, was underwhelmed).

7. Google Desktop Search. Finding things has never been this easy. Also, it ties into Google’s websearch. Plus it can look inside OpenOffice.org documents if you have the right plugin.

8. VLC Media Player. Plays the wierdest codecs. Also plays SVCDs. Cool.

9. WinAmp. Although it’s getting long in the tooth now; if anyone has a reccomendation for a better media player that isn’t iTunes or Windows Media Crap, then by all means. (iTunes installs its own service in Windows, for crying out loud, and stays resident in my all-too-limited ram.)

10. I suddenly realize I don’t have a number 10. Too bad.

dan (giddy with geekiness right now)

Ah the wonders of technology.

I’ve officially got Skype on my computer… and it’s neat-o! (I’m such a geek…) So if you want to call me, my account name is danieljosphxhan… and anytime you want to give me a ring… just go right ahead!

dan (enamoured of this interned thing)

Getaway

I am such a major geek. The other week I recorded this tiny little snippet of an idea I had for a song – which, I might add, is still just an idea for a song – and played in on my piano. So I’m playing it back and I decide to add some vocals, but having no vocals, I just make these up off the top of my head. And they’re… stupid.

Then I think to myself, hey, let’s play with effects a little, shall we? After adding some (laughably bad) guitar to the mix and trying just about everything I could think of in effects, I stettled on just a couple, and this came out. Please note that I moved my voice to the front of the soundstage to hide the guitar, which re-emerges at the end as a sort of screaming something-or-other. I dunno what that is. You decide.

Getaway (it’s really, really short)

dan (always coming up with wierd little songs)

Wow.

I just took a look at my Azureus statistics pages, and I’ve downloaded 155gb of material with Bittorrent. That’s more than a large hard drive! And the great thing is that not only have I done that, but I have a share ratio of 1.23, which means I’ve shared even more than that.

Ten years ago, when I first started out on a 9.6k modem, such a thing would be unthinkable. The speed, people – the speed!

But worry not, RIAA and MPAA, the stuff I’m downloading is not, as you fear, every single new album and movie. Nope. Not at all. In fact, I spend my time trading concert bootlegs, independant Creative Commons licenced materials, indie movies and shorts, and generally anything I can legally download.

dan (goodness, that’s a lot of material)