Monday, January 26, 2009

two disturbing discoveries and one unsettling experience

I came across two disturbing news stories today and one unsettling experience. This left me feeling, well, quite dissettled:

First, Iceland is bankrupt and it's government has failed. I had read that the country's banks were going bankrupt in October, but it seems as though things have really taken a turn for the worse today with the Prime Minister resigning and "disbanding the government". I don't even understand what that means - disband the government. This makes me sad.

Second, Steph and I are fans of celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay. Yes, he's got a bit of a foul mouth but his shows - Kitchen Nightmares and Hell's Kitchen - are fantastic, and the guy has a culinary gift. That said, recent reports seem to indicate that there have been some financial issues creeping up on him, including two years of back taxes past due and the imminent sale of two of his under performing London restaurants. The report goes on to stir up a storm about supposed marital infidelity, but the facts here seem a bit contradictory. All that to say, I wish the best for Gordon and his family and I'm hoping the reports error on the side of the sensational, and that he comes through all of this in weeks to come.

Finally, I ate at Taco Bell today. As I'm waiting for my three crunchy tacos a guy who has ordered a single burrito proceeds to start a hissy fit at the counter because his order was not placed on a plastic tray. He picks it up, goes to sit down at his table, and then returns to the counter with his wrapped burrito where he engages in an argument with the cashier about how "I ordered this for here and you're supposed to put it on a tray! I paid for a tray! So put it on a tray!!" He smacks the burrito down on the counter and waits to be given the greasy, brown plastic tray he deserves. The cashier proceeds to hand him a tray, and gingerly places the burrito on it. Weird.

Thanks for reading about my dissettling day.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

resolutions v2.09

I generally don't make New Years Resolutions, and I've never written any of them down before. But, well, I've got a few on my mind, so I'll jot them down and we'll see what happens over the next 12 months:

Resolution #1: Read 24 Books In 2009
I enjoy reading, but since college I've been taking a long sabbatical from reading books. I made a little progress here last year with the reading of "4 Hour Work Week" and "Surprised By Hope", but two books is certainly not enough reading. I also "discovered" audio books, and when I say discovered I mean I finally got myself over the mental hurdle that "listening to a book isn't really reading it". I still acknowledge that listening isn't nearly the same as reading, but I don't have time to read everything I want to, and listening is better than nothing at all.

So, when I say read I mean that I will either read or listen to 24 books this year. My hope is that this reading will be diverse - business, theology, fiction, etc. I'm part of a men's Bible study this year, and within that we'll be reading 6 theology books, so that's covered. Business books are easy to do on audio book - I'm currently listening to 'The WalMart Effect', and it's absolutely fascinating. I'll probably update on others as I knock them out.

Resolution #2: Work Out, Or Do Some Physical Activity, For At Least 5 Minutes Each Day
I just have to face facts. I'm basically the most lazy person in the world. And I know that 'working out' for 5 minutes a day is hardly working out, and I know that it's a really sissy thing to write down on this list, but I have to start somewhere. I've tried to make resolutions of sorts before regarding health and fitness, and I always fall far short of what I hoped for. Five minutes is intentionally an overly-manageable target, and hopefully it will turn into more than that.

Resolution #3: Go On A Mission Trip
Steph and I have been wanting to do an oversea missions trip since we started attending Grace a few years ago, and timing / finances haven't come together yet. But this year we're going to do it - don't know where yet, or how, but we will. In fact, Steph is filling out her application right now.. looks like I better find my passport.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

best albums of 2008

We're 7 days into 2009, so I better get this done before it becomes completely irrelevant.

Honestly, wasn't all that thrilled with the albums of 2008. There were a few stellar winners, but I was pretty "meh" on the rest of it. Here's my Top 10... and if I'm honest, #9 and #10 are stretching it.

#1. Coldplay - Viva la Vida
Finely executed, perfectly produced. A full album listen from start to finish, and in my opinion Coldplay's best effort yet. I'm particularly fond of "Lovers In Japan" and "Death And All His Friends". I pre-ordered this album on iTunes and received with it an acoustic version of "Lost" and "Lovers In Japan". It's rare that bonus tracks, when tacked on to the end of a record, flow seamlessly with the rest of the content, but with this one they did just that.

#2. Sigur Ros - med sud i eyrum vid spilum endalaust
My favorite Icelander's. This album wasn't necessarily a depature, but it was different than previous releases, starting with "Gobbledigook", the opening song that sets the tone and pace for the album. It's hard to describe Sigur Ros - anthemic, ethereal, epic, and moody are words I would use but don't seem to capture it. For me Sigur Ros is like going on a evening hike across a glacier in the middle of winter, north of the Arctic Circle, with the wind to your back and the Northern Lights to your face.

#3. Radiohead - In Rainbows
I called out a friend for including In Rainbows on his '08 list, but like I said, '08 was a little lacking, and since mass release via retail did occur in January 2008... well, it's on my list. This is another one of those great soundtrack-esque albums that sets a mood and demands to be listened from start to finish. "Reckoner" is a favorite of mine and reminds me of cloudy fall days, but I also have to mention the fantastic stereo guitar work on "Bodysnatchers" which must be listened to with headphones on.

#4. La Rocca - OK OKAY
Sophomore effort from La Rocca and it's pretty decent. They've got a good Irish flair to themselves like U2 and others, but it's not so in your face, and as much as I like soaring arena rock it's nice to tone things down a little bit with something more along the lines of The Frames. That's where La Rocca usually sits - more at ease in a pub than a stadium I'm sure.

#5. Low Vs. Diamond - Low Vs. Diamond
I've been waiting for this album for a while since Low vs. Diamond released a debut EP in 2007. I suppose it's along the lines of La Rocca as above, but probably a little more brooding and moody... the sort of thing that you'd hear at the climax of an episode on the CW... oh wait, that's where I heard them first.

#6. Ryan Adams & The Cardinals - Cardinology
Dang, this guy can crank out the songs, and somehow it doesn't all just sound like same ol' same ol'. "Magick" is probably one of the most different songs on the album, but I really like "Cobwebs" and "Fix It". The only thing missing on this album is Adams randomly shouting out "guitar solo!!" That should have been worked into "Magick" at some point I think.

#7. Jon Foreman - Spring
It was fun to be involved on this project back at EMI, and Spring is just 1/4 of a great series of "seasons" EPs released over the last year. I think Spring is one of the more diverse EPs he released, and delves into some very Sufjan-esque styling, such as on "March". As are all the tracks within the "seasons series", Spring is aptly titled with a collection of brighter, more energetic tracks... much needed considering my propensity for darker moodier music.

#8. Eric Hutchinson - Sounds Like This
This was a bit of a late discovery for me in 2008, thanks in part to recent radio success with the single "Rock & Roll". This album is just fun, with some great blues / funk / gospel / soul influences throughout. It's a little Marc Broussard, a little Jason Mraz, a little Robert Randolph.

#9. Killers - Day & Age
I was really looking forward to this album, so it makes the list more as a result of anticipation than actual worth. I love the radio single - "Human" is a great track, pulsing and driving, with some sort of '80s thing going on. Frankly the rest of the record was a little lacking. Maybe if Killers, Keane, and Snow Patrol just release a compilation together next time we'd be better off.

#10. Meiko - Meiko
I'm still listening to this album, not sure if it really should get the last spot on the Top 10 list or not... but honestly since I don't like Fleetwood Foxes and Bon Jov Iver like everyone else did last year I've got nothing else to slip in. From the few times I've listened to Meiko I like it though - has that laid back, singer-songwriter Ingrid Michaelson thing going on, but without the images of Old Navy sweater commercials running through my head.