Blogroll Engage

I’ve added a blogroll over to the right of all my favorite blogs; some are among the most popular on the internet, some are just friends who should be among the most popular.  Please check out a few of them if you have the time, just to edify me!

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You Don’t Know Me (at ALL)

Ben Folds has a new album!  It’s called Way To Normal.

The way I learned about this is through the modern technology of Tivo.  I’ve told my Tivo to record any show on which Ben Folds appears, and he was on Conan last week.  You can watch him perform “You Don’t Know Me” feat. Regina Spektor on NBC.com, though you probably have to watch a commercial first, then fast forward to the fifth section of the show.

Anyway, I picked up Way To Normal today and have listened to it twice so far.  It seems to be about Ben’s divorce and how to get over it and get back to normal and, as you can imagine from the post immediately below, you can see how that would resonate with me.

Anyway, so you should watch the performance.  Ben is my favorite musician and Regina Spektor is also on that list.

Money: It Ain’t Worth What It Usedta Be

Of late, I’ve been rereading the Neal Stephenson classic The System of the World, which is part of The Baroque Cycle trilogy (or octalogy, depending on how you count them).  This book of the series focuses a great deal on Isaac Newton’s attempts to refine and regulate the coinage of Britain: to make sure that each coin minted has the correct amount of metal in it and only that much, since that’s what coins used to be.  A “dollar” or a “pound” was a specific amount of gold or silver that was fixed by law.

These days, that’s no longer the case.  Our money is based on a fiat system and the least expensive possible metals are used to create our coins, which essentially means the government is creating value where there was none before, just by shaping that metal into certain shapes.

I had a grand plan to figure out what the various metals are that make up each kind of coin and then try to figure out what they’re worth in reality, but someone else on the internet already did it!  Coinflation.com has the “current melt value” of most U.S. coins.  This is a good thing because I can avoid work and my numbers would have been fixed (the site in question uses current prices for each kind of metal.)  I find all this very interesting: Pennies minted before 1982 are worth more than their face value and Nickels are holding their value rather well, but almost all other coins are worth a pittance compared to their face value.

I started thinking about this after obtaining some $1 coins out of the New York City subway system card vending machines.  These coins are cute and I am going to start asking after them at the bank like I do for $2 bills as well.  They look golden, but actually they’re made of mostly copper, with some manganese, zinc, and nickel.  They have some cool printing along the sides as well, instead of the normal grooved edges.  I hope to circulate as many as I possibly can, but that might involve buying some kind of coin purse.

Reading up on these coins on Wikipedia, I discovered that the mint is also offering some pure gold coins as companions to these coins: The First Spouse Program.  First ladies throughout history are being featured on these gold coins, which contain .5oz of gold.  While these coins are worth about $430 in fiat dollars, they are marked $10 on their face.  That’s because, when dollars were fixed to gold, one dollar was defined to be 1/20th of an ounce of gold.  Someone, somewhere at the mint must be nostalgic for those days, to be stamping these coins with that $10 number.

Gregorus Everywhere!

Inspired by Courtney’s post on her online shenanigans, I guess I’ll do one of my own.  If you want to get the full Gregorus experience online you have to visit all of these various venues:

Reddit Favorites:  This is one of two Gregorus-sources that just sort of springs out of my everyday activities: there’s no extra work involved at all.  The public news aggregator easily and succinctly tells you most of the interesting and funny random stuff I’d found that one day.  It even shows up on the front page of this blog, with just one click!

Google Reader Shares:  Also published on this blog’s front page, these tend to be a bit more serious.  Most of them are posts from the blogs I read every day and the shared posts are the ones I consider the very best.  It’s essentially a blog that I create just by reading what I read every day.  Also very cool!

Twitter: actually takes a little bit of work, but just a tiny bit.  I have to be inspired to microblog every now and then, and most of the people I know who do it do it much better than me.  Still, sometimes I post about things there that appear nowhere else.

Facebook: requires you to have an account to see, but I microblog there as well with my “status updates.”  Some people update twitter and facebook at the same time, but not me.  I try to consider my audience and the purpose of each tool and use them appropriately.

Grinnell Plans: I’m one of the few people I know who has their plan viewable by the whole wide world.  Hence, most of the people I’m responding to are unreadable, and responding is what I do there the majority of the time.  Still, though, sometimes I write updates about my feelings and doings there that I do nowhere else.

OKCupid: I rarely update this; I don’t think it’s been updated in months and months, but sometimes I do post there and it’s a factor in my online presence.

And then there’s this blog, of course.  If you’re absolutely obsessed with me, you’ll have to check all of these resources; sorry, but that’s the way it is.  I try to live in the future; all of you should too!  Join me in the Interwebs world!

Mushrooms in Dungeons…

My friend Nate dropped a link to this song on me.  He must know I have a penchant for songs where it’s just a guy and a piano.  Plus, the Nintendo theme linking back to my childhood ties it all together!

Sometimes I feel like I could write music like this.  I’ve never successfully done it, though.

High School Short Film: Dumpy

My friend monitron has been busy digitizing and Youtubing various videos that were produced by my “TV Production” class in high school.  The first one was the first “digital” video that was edited on the computer, called Dumpy.  This video would have been made around 1996 or ’97, when I was a sophomore in high school at the Barrie School.

The computer we had at the time was not powerful enough to do both audio and video, so it was made in the mode of a silent film, though music and narration were added later using a normal Betacam tape editor.  The music came from an old Buster Keaton film, and matches up brilliantly with the story: there are “home sweet home” and “horror” themes that show up at exactly the right times.  We used Buster Keaton to go with the silent film theme and also because even back then we were concerned with licensing issues! (the film we borrowed from was in the public domain.)

The film stars Sebastian, and if, against my better judgment, I post more videos from these good ol’ days, you will see him grow as an actor, indeed.  Monitron directed, and I was cinematographer and narrator.  The film’s themes are really rather grim, though it is meant to be comic.

Enough talk; with special consideration to John Fuller, our teacher, I give you Dumpy:

You’ve Heard the Voices… Now See the Faces

Sadly, the most well-known voice (who you’ve probably never seen) in movies and TV died recently: Don LaFontaine.

He was not without a sense of humor, however.  One of the many tributes I saw to him online linked this video, called “5 Guys in a Limo” which is quite amusing: