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What is your most tragic flaw?

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Holy shit!

Remember the days when 'social networking' websites were used TO meet people, not just keep track of everyone you have already met like they were trading cards? I miss that.
I can easily say that a good 90% (or so) of my current IRL forever friends were people whom I met online first (LJ, SG, MySpace, etc, etc), what happened to that sense of social adventure?

The internet is SO SAFE now, and now were all too scared (for some reason, because obviously we know at this point how to navigate the seas of random creeps online) to meet anyone off of it anymore. 

Why is that? 

I want a new site to hang out on, one where discovering, chatting with and maybe even meeting new people isn't a crime against humanity/internettiquette that ISN'T a dating site of some kind.

That being said, of course Facebook is there worst offender because when you send somebody an FR or if they send you one, and you don't immediately recognize them, our reactions are always, "WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU DO I KNOW YOU WHY ARE YOU FRIENDING ME".
Such hostility.

On that note, I've been doing some house-cleaning over there and I will definitely be scaling back my use of it. I'm hoping to just ween myself off of it completely at some point. It's turned into nothing but politics, pop culture and parents at this point. 

February 2012 photo-a-day challenge

So, just like last month, there was a photo sheet/list to go by and take one (or more) picture of the listed item for that day.
It ended up getting a little edited after I had already grabbed it, so #20 actually got later changed to "handwriting" as opposed to what is says in the photo.
This month was WAY easier to do than last month's, not because of the subject matter but because I think once you get over the curve of getting into the habit, it becomes almost second nature.
Also, the quality of my photos VASTLY improved. In just one month! That's so cool. I'm sure the photography class helped that as well ;)

My Canon to iPhone shots, I think, are exactly 50/50, which was totally unintentional, but still pretty cool.

But! Here they are, in all of their Instagrammy glory:

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Onto March?!

January 2012 photo-a-day challenge!

31 days, one photo per day based on a pre-set list of themes. I got one day behind one two or three occasions, but was always quick to make them up before it got out of hand. Here are 31 photos, one for each day of January 2012. Enjoy.
[The parenthesis below the photos are the amount of "likes" each one got.]


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Book Log 2010

I know it's only the beginning of December, but given my schedule for the rest of this month I doubt I'll be able to finish any in the stack I'm currently reading, so here is my first annual book log, a bit early.
These are all of the books that I read in 2010 (barring textbooks, of course), in the order in which I read them along with a rating, obligatory stats and a SHORT review.
I noticed that the reviews tended to get longer and more elaborate as I went down the list, so you'll have to forgive that, but I'm not editing it.

Endangered Pleasures: In Defense of Naps, Bacon, Martinis, Profanity, and Other Indulgences by Barbara Holland, NF, 2000, 192pp.
3/5. This is somewhat of a soft, yet decent primer in the art of idleness and the simple pleasures that we are generally conditioned into denying for the sake of efficiency and productivity, but since I'm a pretty advanced idler at this point, it was more like a review/reinforcement. Good for beginners and a quick and enjoyable read.

The Freedom Manifesto: How to Free Yourself from Anxiety, Fear, Mortgages, Money, Guilt, Debt, Government, Boredom, Supermarkets, Bills, Melancholy, Pain, Depression, Work, and Waste by Tom Hodgkinson, NF, 2007, 352pp.
5/5. Are you noticing a theme here, yet? And it's not as self-helpy as the title would lead you to believe. Anyways, Hodgkinson is hands down my favorite current author on the subject of all things regarding the simple acts of refusal, rebellion, resistance and finding personal freedom and general contentment even within the most oppressive of environments. This is a fantastic and even more thorough follow up to his first book, but can be read independently of it.

Pulp by Charles Bukowski, Fic, 2002, 208pp.
2.5/5. Now, I am a huge Bukowski fan. His other novels really got me through some rough patches and I think his work is some of the best of this century, but this one left me dissatisfied. Published posthumously, it reads more like a writing exercise that he never intended to see the light of day as opposed to a proper novel. It really started falling apart at a certain point and felt like he had just gone, "Aw, fuck it!" and starting making shit up. YMMV.

Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story by Chuck Klosterman, NF, 2006, 272pp.
3.5/5. I enjoy Klosterman's hilarious and overtly cerebral essays about pop culture and you probably do, too. This was his traipse into a pilgrimage to visit all the sites of the famous deaths of classic rock stars of yore and while it ends up being funny and insightful, it also ends up being ultimately pretty emo and kind of narcissistic. If you liked his other work, you'll enjoy this as well, does not disappoint.

John Dies at the End by David Wong, F, 2010, 480pp.
4/5. How do I describe this book? Horror? Sci-Fi? Fantasy? Comedy? General genre-eluding prose? It's all of these things. I should start off by letting you know that David Wong is the editor in chief of Cracked.com, if that's any indication as to the overall tone and attitude of this novel. So, right there, it's fucking hysterical from front to back. Story-wise, it is so bizarre yet ridiculously entertaining and thought provoking if you're into time travel, parallel universes, ridiculous shenanigans, a myriad of dorky pop culture references, beer and buddy stuff. Do yourself a favor and read this thing. It's the only way to grasp it.

The One Straw Revolution: An Introduction to Natural Farming by Masanobu Fukuoka, NF, 1975, 200pp.
3.5/5. I give this a 5 for content/substance, but 3 for its overall readability; it was a bit of a trudge through. The grandfather of modern guerrilla-farming and a retired biochemist, this is Fukuoka's personal manifesto in rejecting current methods of commercial farming practices and just doing things his own way, the caveat here is that his philosophy primarily revolves around the notion that by engaging in LESS labor, you're actually being more productive. Full of practical information that I ended up using in my own garden, it can also serve as a "zen and the art of farming" type of read as well.

Everything is Going to Kill Everybody: The Terrifyingly Real Ways the World Wants You Dead by Robert Brockway, NF, 2010, 272pp.
5/5. Do not read this if you're the paranoid type, like me. I enjoyed it, immensely; but I feel like for my own good that I shouldn't have read it because now I'm even more convinced than I was before that the hostile robot takeover is imminent and will bring about all of our certain doom. Divided up into neat chapters about each threat type, a ridiculous amount of horrifying research went into the ways we could potentially bring the apocalypse upon ourselves: robotics, lasers, space, natural disasters, diseases, genetics, the government, biotech, nanotech, energy, war, etc. Also written by a Cracked.com editor, so you know, amidst all THE HORROR, Brockway delivers it to you with a big ol' comforting side of fucking hilarious.

I'll Mature When I'm Dead: Dave Barry's Amazing Tales of Adulthood by Dave Barry, NF, 2010, 272pp.
3/5. If you're familiar with Dave Barry's work (I have read everything the man has ever published), then you'll enjoy this one as well. Essays in longer formats than his regular newspaper column allows (and probably subject-wise, too, but I don't know what the Miami Herald let's fly these days, so...), you'll find no departure from his trademark observational humor here. Literally laugh out loud funny, if Dave Barry is your cup of tea.

Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang by Chelsea Handler, NF, 2010, 256pp.
3/5. My favorite hilarious drunken whore, the world needs more women like her (man, as I'm writing this I'm realizing that I read perhaps a disproportionate amount of comedy...but I digress). Again, if you've read any of the author's past work, you know what you're getting into with her newest piece. If not, brace yourself because there's a little more shock value here, but I would recommend reading the other ones first, as this one is not as funny or awkward as her past pieces. But you SHOULD definitely get your hands on the chapter where she regales us about how she first learned to masturbate, that shit was hysterical.

Empty Mile by Matthew Stokoe, F, 2010, 390pp.
5/5. EASILY the best book I've read all year. However, it would be unwise to let your experience reading Cows color your perception of this piece (if you've read it) as it is a remarkably HUGE departure from his past exercises in shock value for shock's sake. This is an absolutely beautifully written novel, with way more depth, dynamic characters, complex storylines, layered plot twists and actual human emotion than the his other 2 in an almost baffling way. Each subsequent work Stokoe produces is richer than the last by huge strides, but don't expect the level of gruesome that you may be used to here. I didn't know that the genre of "Sierra Nevada Noir" existed (gold rush related storyline, though it takes place in present day), but apparently it's quite prevalent. This book is dark, redeeming, violent, sad, gorgeous, tragic, intriguing and totally solid from start to finish. Seriously, the best thing I've read in a really, really long time and I'm not generally a fan of much fiction.

You're a Horrible Person, But I Like You: The Believer Book of Advice
by Aziz Ansari, Judd Apatow, Fred Armisen, Maria Bamford, Todd Barry, Samantha Bee, Michael Ian Black, Andy Borowitz, Michael Cera, Vernon Chatman, Rob Corddry, David Cross, Larry Doyle, Paul Feig, Jim Gaffigan, Zach Galifianakis, Janeane Garofalo, Daniel Handler, Todd Hanson, Tim Heidecker, Ed Helms, Buck Henry, Mindy Kaling, John Lee, Thomas Lennon, Al Madrigal, Aasif Mandvi, Marc Maron, Adam McKay, Eugene Mirman, Morgan Murphy, Bob Odenkirk, John Oliver, Patton Oswalt, Martha Plimpton, Harold Ramis, Amy Sedaris, Michael Showalter, Sarah Silverman, Paul F. Tompkins, Sarah Vowell, David Wain, Eric Wareheim, Rainn Wilson, Lizz Winstead.
NF, 2010, 224pp.
2/5. Look at that list of contributors. Just fucking look at it. Its staggering. By all accounts, this book should be the funniest thing that exists on the planet, but au contraire! It had a couple of gems scattered throughout, for sure; but overall, nowhere near as funny as I had expected. Basically, comedians answer advice questions from readers of The Believer magazine, but somehow it just....kind of fails. Big time.

Lost Paradise: From Mutiny on the Bounty to a Modern-Day Legacy of Sexual Mayhem, the Dark Secrets of Pitcairn Island Revealed by Kathy Marks, NF, 2010, 352pp.
4/5. My Mutiny on The Bounty scholarship appears to have slipped me a bit this year, book-wise. That makes me sad. I think this book can hardly be counted as such (since the history inside of it is brief yet thorough enough for the non-naval history scholar), but regardless of your knowledge or interest in the originating story; this book was possibly the most fascinating piece of non-fiction I'd read all year. How do I describe this without seeming like a Humbert Humbert sympathizer? Hm. I may have to just chance it on this one. An isolated society partakes in sexual customs/behavior they would later come to learn that the rest of the modern world finds inappropriate, illegal and psychologically damaging...outside of that vacuum. Largely ignored by it's governing body for most of it's existence, Britain finally decides to investigate and the process is long, harrowing, bizarre, ridiculous and brings to light an awful lot of gray areas in our perception of human behavior vs. social customs vs. the law.

Sleepwalk with Me: and Other Painfully True Stories by Mike Birbiglia, NF, 2010, 208pp.
4/5. This endearing collection of awkward mishaps is as hilarious as it is heartbreaking at the same time, comedian Mike Birbiglia recounts a number of his past experiences a'la a David Sedaris format, but without all of the scathing social commentary and haughtiness. The book's title certainly lives up to its name, as some of the stories in here are literally painful to read because some of them are are so crestfallen, but he holds your hand and tells you jokes you along the journey with his delicate and charming humor and delivers every anecdote and its subsequent hilarious lesson without missing a single beat.

The Book of Idle Pleasures by Tom Hodgkinson and Dan Kieran, NF, 2010, 224pp.
3/5. [Warning: graphic design major and book store employee nerdery ahead] What really struck me about this book was not necessarily what was inside it, but having worked at a bookstore for 4 years, you can spot a beautifully crafted tome from a mile away. The actual physical construction of this book is what really grabbed me more than the the inscribed content. Gorgeously (perfect) bound in a sturdy and thick hardcover with the artwork printed on the media itself as opposed to a dust jacket, the paper is bright and thick with one side of every other page dedicated to a large hand illustrated block print for each topic (in which a number of the contributors from The Idler magazine write a paragraph or two (or less) about various simple pleasures and other aspects of idle living). Perhaps the tactile pleasure of a handsomely crafted book is ones of these idle pleasures...

EDIT: Oops! I forgot one!

The Death of Bunny Munro by Nick Cave, F, 2010, 288pp.
2/5. I'm going to keep this one quick because there isn't much to say about it. Hoping for the equivalent quality level of storytelling as his first book (published over 20 years ago and phenomenal), this one is disappointing. It reads like a thinly veiled guilt-laden confession that you just end up not really caring about. I LOVED And The Ass Saw the Angel, LOVED IT. And I am a hug Nick Cave fan through and through, but this was a pretty big letdown. Read his first one and leave it at that.

TOP 3 for this year:
1. Empty Mile
2. The Freedom Manifesto
3. Everything is Going to Kill Everybody

(currently reading: How To Survive The End Of The World As We Know It, The Secret History of the World, Captain Bligh and Mister Christian, and In Praise of Idleness) You'll get these reviews and then some next December. Enjoy.

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