Monthly Archives: October 2008

Halloween

My brother and I, Halloween 1991 or so.  I'm a cumulonimbus cloud.

My brother and I, Halloween 1991 or so. I'm a cumulonimbus cloud.

It’s Halloween again, which means it’s time to don a costume and run amok. It’s particularly helpful that it lands on a Friday night, and the weather is expected to be most excellent.

My plans for tonight? I’ll be headed back to Norm’s with Tom to commemorate the one-year anniversary of us being called nerds at one of the tables. We were both just not in the Halloween spirit last year, and so we spent that evening at Norm’s shooting breeze and downing pitcher after pitcher of cheap beer when the incident happened. I’ll be wearing something that deviates slightly from day-to-day wear; it’s not elaborate enough by any stretch to be considered a costume, though. (Photos will be forthcoming.) It screams “me,” though. See, I’m a big fan of costumes that really pull my personality out. The above photo is of my brother and I back in, oh, 1991 or so. I’m on the left. It’s my favorite costume ever; my mother turned me into a cumulonimbus cloud on my request. I’m not sure that there are too many other people who can say they were a towering supercell for Halloween AND won a prize in a costume contest. :)

What will you be doing tonight? If you’re not sure and you’re in Charleston, check out The Digitel’s Halloween roundup. You’ll find something. :)

Happy Halloween, everybody. Or, should I say — Happy Failoween.

Movin’ to the groovin’

the girl Riot asked over Twitter: “[W]hat songs -move- you?” Needless to say, I’m a sucker for “moving” music, and 140 characters can’t do my list justice, so here we go (with last.fm links to listen if possible):

  • Am I Ever Gonna Change? by Extreme. Yes, I fully realize this is the “More Than Words” band. However, this song defined the second half of high school for me. I identified perfectly with its introspective and at times turbulent tone of a person struggling with themselves. The emotion in the song overtook singer Gary Cherone so much that he sang a different lyric at the end of the song. The song is altogether calm, haunting, and jarring at the same time — truly one of Extreme’s best works, and goes far beyond what anybody in “hair metal” (lousy term) was doing at that point. (The entire III Sides to Every Story album is just incredible.)
  • All Systems Go – The Launch from James Horner’s Apollo 13 score. I love instrumentals, and I especially love it when an instrumental can tell a story, and do so in dramatic fashion. Horner nails it here, with the hopeful buildup to the triumphant climax — the launch — and the intense moments during the launch sequence (including when one of the engines failed in the second stage of the Saturn V). It’s an epic at 10 minutes, but it’s so, so worth it. The entire Apollo 13 score gives me goosebumps.
  • Would? by Alice in Chains. This was the defining song of my summer before college. The treatment of Layne Staley’s voice here in the chorus is incredible as he implores the listener to “try and see it once my way”, and Jerry Cantrell’s guitar work is solid and haunting.
  • Gravity of Love by Enigma. Enigma’s mixing in of Carl Orff’s “O Fortuna,” a sultry and powerful drum arrangement, and Sandra Cretu’s vocals make for a song that turns me into a conductor toward the end. I always find myself cranking the volume louder and louder as the song builds to its crescendo at the end. This song particularly inspires creativity and gets plenty of plays.
  • Event Horizon (Live Acoustic) by Blue Stone. The regular electronic version of this song is moving in its own right, but to hear it pulled out to the bare minimums with just the vocalist and piano accompaniment? Powerful. I tend to enjoy the acoustic version more than the electronic version, actually.
  • See What I’m Sayin’? by Boney James. This one moves me literally — I’ve been known to bounce around in the car to this upbeat, uptempo jazz arrangement. If I’m in a bad mood, I can play this once and instantly turn it around. (Yes, this song was once on The Weather Channel.)
  • If Only by Ryan Farish. Yes, another Weather Channel song. There’s something about the piano in the song’s chorus that just riles me up. The song does dramatic pretty much perfectly. Sure, it may not be the most technically challenging song in the world — I can play most of it on the piano and I suck at piano — but it’s still an intense song that gets me focused.

There’s plenty more where that came from, too — but there’s something to be said for brevity, after all. :) Now, I turn the question to you — what songs move you?

Temperatures plunge again

Temperatures are once again falling rapidly at this hour; locations inland a few miles such as West Ashley, Mt. Pleasant, and Summerville are already seeing temperatures dropping below the mid-40s. Chances are good for another frosty morning throughout the Lowcountry as temperatures are once again expected to flirt with freezing in spots. I definitely need to locate my windshield scraper for that morning commute! Temperatures will rebound into the lower 60s with copious amounts of sun, though, so make sure to get out and enjoy your Thursday a bit.

Another cold one

A brief check of the area weather stations confirms yet another cold morning in the Charleston area. Inland areas (Summerville, North Charleston) are just barely bouncing off 33 degrees; West Ashley and Mount Pleasant are technically a bit warmer, but the changes from 33 to around 35 aren’t much. ;) Downtown and James Island, closer to water, are a bit warmer (Downtown will typically run 5-7 degrees warmer thanks to the water); as of 7:49am, Downtown just reached a comparatively balmy 40 degrees (at the College of Charleston weather station).

Highs will top out around 60-62 today, making it more like January than October. Temperatures will slowly begin to recover tomorrow, and we should see upper 60s for Halloween. Stay warm out there!

Clearly, the Chargers are reading my blog

Ted Cottrell has been fired as the San Diego Chargers defensive coordinator. His replacement? Ron Rivera, who in his tenure as defensive coordinator with the Bears made their defense something fierce. I’m quite excited about this development and am optimistic that Rivera will give the defense, dead-last in the NFL against the pass, the kick in the rear that it desperately needs.

Stuff I’ve liked lately — the October edition

Back in July I put together a little list of “stuff I like.” It’s been a few months, so I think I’ll do another round.

  • FriendFeed Real-time. It’s friggin’ amazing is what it is. This launched a few weeks ago and it has helped increase my FriendFeed usage substantially. It partially fills the void that losing Twitter IM has created. I like to take the mini-window and stick it in my Firefox sidebar (a trick I picked up from Scobleizer at ConvergeSouth). Try it, it’s fun!
  • Qik on BlackBerry. I nearly cheated on my BlackBerry last week with an iPhone because of iPhone’s Qik capability (despite the fact that you still have to jailbreak it), but BlackBerry reeled me back in with its superior e-mail management, and Qik’s announcement of BlackBerry compatibility sealed the deal for me. The BlackBerry Bold is out on AT&T on the 4th — and my equipment discount eligibility begins the same day. It’s as if they timed it just for me. :) Qik is another one of those technologies I became quasi-obsessed with after seeing it in action at ConvergeSouth.
  • Pandora Radio. Being without my music library at work for a couple weeks has turned me back on to this service, and it’s utterly amazing how effective it is at picking what I like and finding similar music that I really dig. The record companies and broadcast industry are crazy for trying to kill this off, because I’m primed to buy a whole lot more music now than I ever would have if not for Pandora.
  • Tantric’s new single “Fall Down.” The song was originally recorded for the shelved Tantric III album; the III version contained a cameo by Nappy Roots, and I was lucky enough to grab an MP3 before the III stuff was scrapped. Tantric re-recorded the song with the new band, and I must say that it is a lot tighter now. I’m still a bit cool on the remake of “The One,” another Tantric III song that was recut for The End Begins, but “Fall Down” nails it. (I am REALLY BUMMED that I didn’t get to see Tantric when they were in Goose Creek last week.)
  • Internet Explorer 8. I am extremely impressed with the rendering work Microsoft is doing in the new IE. There are still some bugs and things that need improvement (and I’m bummed that MS is squandering an opportunity to push forward with CSS3 here), but IE 8’s new standards compliance mode brings IE’s rendering fidelity right on par with Firefox, Opera, and Safari moreso than at any point in IE’s history. Kudos to the IE team for the good work they’re doing.

Of course, this is just a short list of a lot of things. I like a lot of things on a regular basis, and you can keep an eye on my individual “likes” on FriendFeed.

What have you liked? Sound off in comments!

Some chillout music for chilly weather

The machine I use at work to stream my music over iTunes has been offline since I moved offices, so I’ve been taking a lot to Pandora in recent weeks. I’ve crafted up a pretty sweet station of chillout music, seeded with Enigma, Blue Stone, and BT so far. (I call the station Love, Sensuality, Devotion after the Enigma greatest-hits album.) Feel free to take a listen and let me know what you think — it’s been a fantastic soundtrack for the last couple weeks.

Chillin’ Out

Like many of you, I’ve been opening the windows the last couple days because of just how wonderfully crisp the air is; it’s been just the right temperature and absolutely wonderful.

Tonight, though, you may want to engage the heat. I’ve seen upper 30s being tossed around as lows, with highs reaching maybe into the mid-50s. It sure seems early in the season to get temperatures like this — indeed, I’m not fully prepared for this, I don’t think. Could it be a dress rehearsal for winter? Time will tell — temperatures are always funky here up through December, so it’s a tough call, but know that tonight and the next couple days will be chilling us right out before temperatures recover into the weekend.

Introducing Photographica, the jaredwsmith.com redesign

Somehow I found the energy, the sheer will, and a requisite dose of insanity to release a major redesign of jaredwsmith.com this weekend. I call it Photographica, after the fun rotating photos that you’ll come to see as you browse through the new look.

A lot’s changed on the site, because a lot’s changed in my life. In 2005, when the orange/gray look took shape, it was a very edgy, turbulent time in my life. I was taking a great deal of chances, and it still held a hint of that youthful carelessness as I went about foraging a new identity. That identity’s since been foraged, and has been polished and evolved over the last three years. I’m now about to embark on yet another chapter in life; one that is certain to bring a whole new level of challenges along with it; but it’s also one that I feel I’m heading into on firm, stable ground. That’s what this look says to me; it’s got elements of that stormy side of life (as evidenced by the clouds that extend well beyond the frame of the main content area of the site), but it also brings a calm cleanliness as only Helvetica Neue and the less-loud blues and greens provide. I also think it captures an important element that I’ve tried to reinforce in my life: Stopping to smell the roses and take the world around me in — thus, the rotating photos of the world around me. This is a small set to start with; fear not, as there will be many more down the road. Photos are only a part of drawing a more complete picture of “the world according to me”; thanks to the FriendFeed sidebar widget, I’m able to show you a wider spectrum of my thoughts, likes, and dislikes, as well as what people think of those thoughts, likes, and dislikes.

Photographica evolved from a process that’s taken basically most of the summer. I pumped out at least ten mockups of what the site could look like before one night I was struck with a little stroke of genius. I began to template this out in static HTML; this process lasted several weeks and really enabled me to get it into WordPress quickly over this past weekend. It’s by far my most CSS-heavy design, and really shines on recent versions of Safari and Firefox. I take heavy advantage of WebKit and Mozilla’s pre-release implementations of the border-radius property, so if you’re on those browsers, you will see that rounded corners are pervasive throughout. If you’re not on them, not to worry — this effect degrades perfectly and there is no effect on performance at all. And if you’re still using Internet Explorer 6 for some reason, at least upgrade to IE 7 if you can’t switch to Firefox; you’re going to miss out on the image rotation and a few other items because IE 6 is just incredibly behind the times.

As always, Photographica is a living look and is a work in progress, as all Web sites are. There may be some bugs and some areas to iron out; I’ll fix them. For now, though, enjoy. I think you guys will like it.