As Far As I Can Tell

Realizations of Importance

I’m at work right now, wasting time because things are super slow on this pre-holiday Friday. Everyone contiguous to my cube is gone, leaving me in a hollowed out area, quiet from the lack of computer hum. It’s my last day of work before leaving for Europe on Tuesday, with Moped BBQ 10 sandwiched in-between then and now. I was about to spend my time reading an article entitled Developing and Creatively Leveraging Hierarchical Metadata and Taxonomy when I realized: “Hey—I don’t give a shit about this right now”. For the next three weeks (or more) I’m blocking all that crap out of my mind in favor of relaxation, exploration, and enjoying spring.

The Moped BBQ weekend has begun, with out of town members rolling in starting late last night. I wonder if it can actually get larger and crazier every year. I keep expecting it to plateau, but it hasn’t happened. I’m really excited about the race this year, which uses a different format than we’ve had in the past. The raffle and custom moped contest are nice additions too. I’m hoping that whoever wins the moped raffle is new — someone who took a chance and wouldn’t have bought themselves a moped otherwise.

I’ll try to post a few photos before leaving the country.



i really want to be there, and i really want to win the raffle. alas, i don’t think i can get someone to take care of my puppy.

Posted by: jim on May 29, 2004 11:03 PM

Have fun in Europe. Ill see you sometime when you get back.

Posted by: Isaiah on May 30, 2004 3:57 PM

Have fun in Europe. Ill see you sometime when you get back.

Posted by: Isaiah on May 30, 2004 3:57 PM

have a great mabbqx, and a great time in france.

Posted by: miguel on May 31, 2004 2:32 PM

Purple Dave

Miles is guest blogging over at The Unicorn’s Tear and related some stories about Purple Dave. He’s as close to a local icon as we have, and while no Shakey Jake, he’s a well known figure around town. An illustration of him even made it on the cover of the latest Kalamazoo Compilation, which features his new band, Purple Dave & Ugly Decibel Ride.

The last time I talked to Dave he told me a long story involving lots of personal information I’d rather not have heard and how his all-time favorite drinking spot is down by the railroad tracks behind Munchie Mart.



Wait. Let me get this straight. He has an album?

Posted by: miguel on May 28, 2004 1:53 PM

No — he just has a single track on that compilation of different bands. He is on the cover though.

Posted by: Simon on May 28, 2004 2:22 PM

Having covered many bands at Club Soda in Kalamazoo, I’ve met Purple Dave many times, I have some pictures of him and his band on my site

Posted by: Get Mad Baby on September 19, 2004 9:12 AM

Hey Simon! I had a Purple Dave tape featured on 365 days ( scroll down to November 11 It’s the creepiest one I’ve got from him.

Posted by: Chonk on April 21, 2005 12:23 PM

Tivo on the Radio

I’ve had a low opinion of Real Player for a long time. Their software tends to be bloated and annoying, with lots of preferences to change if you don’t want pop-ups and resource bloat. Regardless, I use it to listen to the radio streams that NPR provides and it works okay.

Recently I got a new laptop at work and had to re-install the latest version of Real Player. This update adds a great new feature called Live Pause. It works by continuing to download and cache your live audio stream when you press the pause button. This way you can pick up where you left off and not have to miss anything. You can also go back and re-listen to a segment you’ve just heard, sort of a radio rewind. This is prefect for me since I listen at work and I’m interrupted all the time by meetings and, well, work.

Real makes it a little confusing to get the free version of their software. Luckily they’ve struck a deal with the BBC, which provides clear and easy download links. Bookmark the BBC download page; it’ll come in handy later.



My eldest brother works for Real Audio.

Posted by: Brendan on May 22, 2004 12:13 AM

Haha. Yeah I have become so spoiled by Tivo, that when I am listening to NPR in the car I get really irritated that I can’t rewind if I missed something or couldn’t hear it or whatever. I no longer watch programs on television live because I can’t fast forward thru commercials. :-) And I don’t listen to any radio stations except for NPR because of the commercials also… and all of the cincy radio stations suck azzzzz.

Posted by: celine on May 26, 2004 12:07 PM

The Annoyingly Loud Duo

I really, really dislike my neighbors. Nearly all of this hatred comes from the sounds that seep through our shared ceiling/floor. It’s normally things like loud opera music, or ridiculously petty screaming matches. The relationship fights usually end with one of them peeling out of the parking lot in a huff and the other blasting The Bodyguard soundtrack in anguish. Overall, their aural output is annoying.

Lately they’ve been upping the ante by having parties late into the night on the weekends. To make matters worse their apartment has a loft area, bringing their bad music, annoying laughs, and screaming guests within 8 feet from my face.

Two weeks ago while trying to get to sleep at 3:30 in the morning I got fed up and stomped on the floor two times to signal my displeasure. Sure, I could have gone down and talked to them, but I was in a shitty mood, and it was clearly late enough that they should know better. Up through the floor came the most annoying one’s whiney voice screeching “I can have a party if I want to!” in reply to my displeasure.

Well I guess he can, and actually he’s having another one right now — which is why I’m not asleep. As I’m finishing this entry someone downstairs just started playing an electronic keyboard and drunkenly singing. Dear God.



I’ve had to call the cops on more than one occasion to get neighbors to shut the hell up. Don’t be afraid to exercise your tax-paying rights, esp. at 3am.

Posted by: vanessa on May 15, 2004 4:12 AM

dude. are you still in the firehouse?

Posted by: jim on May 15, 2004 9:01 AM

One time, at my first apartment, my upstairs neighbors were watching a movie incredibly loud at around 4 in the morning. I couldn’t stand it. The good part is that I knew that the movie was Fight Club and I knew that “Where is My Mind” by the Pixies signaled the end. After the movie I went up and knocked on their door. When someone came to the door, I politely introduced myself, told them I lived below them and asked if I could come in. Once inside, I asked them if they enjoyed Fight Club. They responded by looking around the room as if there were hidden cameras and then giving me the most freaked out look I’ve ever received. After that, it never happened again.

Posted by: jake on May 16, 2004 3:16 AM

Great story Jake. Jim: Yep, I’m still in the firehouse. Vanessa: I could call the cops, but I don’t want to start a war. When you call in a noise violation there is an automatic ticket because of “zero tolerance” laws. That means they could call in a revenge noise violation on me even if I wasn’t being loud and I’d get a ticket. I should just go talk to them like Jake did, but I that screamed comment through the floor shows they don’t really care that much.

Posted by: simon on May 16, 2004 12:05 PM

I have similar problems. But. You can’t call 911 here in Bolivia. It really just sucks all around. I hope it gets better for you.

Posted by: miguel on May 16, 2004 5:52 PM

jake: AWESOME. simon: i didn’t know a firehouse would have neighbors. can you slide down the pole into their apartment? also. i was considering Places to Live Closer to Canada, and thuoght of K-zoo. Now, you’re mission (should you choose to accept it) is to convince me. (also, are you goign to the AMC? it seems i missed the housing deadline. whoops.)

Posted by: jim on May 16, 2004 6:36 PM

i’m still waiting for pro k-zoo convincing.

Posted by: jim on May 19, 2004 10:50 AM

Truthfully I’m not the one to give pro-Kalamazoo pep talks. There are a few things I like about it, and a lot of my friends are here, but that’s about it. Kalamazoo can be a cool place if you’re already here for some other reason, but I’d be hard pressed to convince someone they should move here.

Posted by: Simon on May 19, 2004 11:00 AM

well, THAT’s not a ringing endorsement. you think i could get a teaching job at western?

Posted by: jim on May 20, 2004 6:02 PM

also, your friends are the shiznit, and being there with you and them might be reason enough. :-) plus, i could join the ranks of the swarmers….

Posted by: jim on May 20, 2004 6:03 PM

I’ll be moving in one year’s time. You could probably get a teaching job at Western because they have a huge shortage of teachers, particularly in the art department.

Posted by: simon on May 20, 2004 6:05 PM

Where are you moving to? Paris? I hear it’s nice in the springtime. I’d have to agree. The job market sucks unless you get tenure at one of the universities. But the people are great, it’s a wonderful place for friends.

Posted by: vanessa on May 21, 2004 3:14 AM

people always say the job market is bad but i sem to not have a problem. so yeah, where ARE you moving to?

Posted by: jim on May 27, 2004 2:12 PM

Still learning about screen printing

I’ve been working on various little updates here and there. The Moped BBQ 10 information page is now up on the Moped Army website. There’s a lot more info on that page if you’re logged in as a member, so if you are, then log in. I’ve also created a survey you can use to reserve a BBQ 10 t-shirt in a specific size and style. Please only do this if you plan on coming and eventually buying the shirt.

Last weekend I went down to Sturgis to make screens for these t-shirts and failed miserably. Dan went along, and we spent nearly 8 hours in the process of reclaiming screens, degreasing, emulation coating, letting them dry, exposing them — and then washing the under exposed design out of the screen. It turns out that every type of emulsion is different. The type you use and how thick you put it on all effect exposure time. Since my light table is low powered my expected time was already 30 minutes. I ordered the exact same emulsion I used before and I plan on redoing it this weekend using the process that my known exposure time is calibrated for. It’s frustrating to learn things the hard way, but at least it’s still learning.

Yesterday I updated the description of The Collective Unconsciousness Project. The old one was written three years ago and never refreshed after the newer version launched a year later. Annoyingly I also had to update the link on the homepage that goes to my Macromedia Site of the Day award. Macromedia has taken down their older award listings in favor of having a few selected highlights from past years. This is disappointing since I never received any sort of official documentation outside of the website. I expected the award notation to always remain there. I’ve linked instead to the Wayback Machine’s version from June of last year.

Following up on an earlier note, my brother ended up getting the job he was offered in Philadelphia. They flew him out for an interview on Monday and he’ll start as soon as he gets back from Italy. This is the sort of post graduation employment fantasy so many people are sold upon entering college, but which rarely materializes.



i know what you mean. my little brother signed a contract halfway through his final year for more than 50k. i think i went into the wrong profession. oh, no, i didn’t.

Posted by: miguel on May 12, 2004 3:28 PM

yeah i hadd many friends who had that experience, but they were all businessy and shit.

Posted by: jim on May 14, 2004 11:47 PM


I just finished watching Elephant, the new film by Gus Van Sant, now on DVD. It’s short, clocking in around 70 minutes, but incredibly powerful. The topic is school violence, and it’s approached in a more honest and direct way then any filmmaker to date has had the guts to.

The story is non-narrative, introducing you to a student and then following them around with long camera shots vis-ŗ-vis Russian Ark. The perspective is often literally following, with the view being the back of the person’s head as they walk. The camera’s gaze wanders off to follow other people, creating a loose knit awareness of the interconnectedness between characters. Most importantly it creates a mood. While watching, it felt like when I’m incredibly sleepy and seem to be outside of myself observing my own actions. It’s dreamlike, putting you almost inside the people you’re following. Van Sant has managed to take the first person perspective beyond merely the visual or metaphorically clique and into a feeling.

I donít want to get into too much detail since the anticipation and lazily built tension would be ruined. I just want to recommend that you watch it. School violence is a disturbing enough topic that it’s easy to push it aside and not think about it. This film brings it to the forefront without over generalizing or pointing fingers. Unfortunately it also doesn’t offer any solutions.



The Jesus Factor

I’d like to thank Matt for pointing me towards the eye opening PBS documentary The Jesus Factor. The creators take a historical look at religion in the life and politics of George W. Bush, and since the entire show is available online, I’d encourage everyone to watch it.

One thing I hadn’t realized until now is that Bush hasn’t spent his entire life as an evangelical Christian. He was “born again” at the age of 40 in an attempt to turn his life around and escape the grips of alcoholism. This fact makes me worry even more about his constant religious rhetoric.

I’ve been around religion my entire life. My grandparents were born Amish and as a child we attended a Mennonite church so conservative that the women covered their heads when inside the sanctuary. Religion was presented to me as fact, and I accepted it at face value until my mid-teens. My observation of religion in this direct context has given me the perspective I need to develop the following viewpoint: people who convert to Christianity late in life are more extremist and less tolerant.

Usually those who grow up religious, whether they accept it their whole lives or not, have a tolerance and pragmatism towards religion that’s lacking in late converters. For them it’s seen as a balanced part of life, and not as a tool for drastic change. If somebody’s faith is predicated on the use of their beliefs to “fix” their life then it can be tainted by their intertwining of spirituality and personal improvement. This direct relationship can polarize the issue, causing them to believe that abstract religious ideals were alone responsible for success in overcoming their problems. To them, religion wasn’t part of the solution, it was the solution.

George W. Bush is unable to separate these notions of religious belief and the betterment of our society. Too often he speaks as a religious leader, invoking God in ways that are incompatible with his position as a defender of the constitution. He appoints judges based on their ability to enforce “God’s laws”. His first executive order was the establishment of faith based initiatives. He continues to talk in themes of good and evil; black and white terms defined presumably by his own religious beliefs.

It is incredibly dangerous to believe that God has a “side” and that it’s yours. To believe that your political system or way of life is the one explicitly chosen by a divine power is strikingly reckless, and similar to the extremist groups that we’re at war with. I don’t believe that President Bush was out of character when he called our current conflict a crusade. It might have been a bad public relations statement, but not an ideologically inconsistent one.

I have every respect for an individual’s freedom to believe in a religion. It’s when those beliefs lose their context and begin to be seen as absolute and sole truths that I get worried. As can be seen in both his history and his campaign speeches, our president crosses that line.



I would have to say, in some of your words I agree, yet in others I do not. Religion is more than a belief system, it is a way of life. It is a basis of what is right and wrong in a christians life. It guides how you treat others, even other countries. Religion has a large context, it covers much of a persons life internal and external. You say ” Itís when those beliefs lose their context and begin to be seen as absolute and sole truths that I get worried.” Much of what religion teaches is very logical, and universal. The reason many people have problems is because of the structure, and also the mis-understanding of faith.

Posted by: Joel on May 5, 2004 9:03 AM

did i ever fully explain the lecture that i went to about bush and religion given by Dr. Anderson my professor? She talked about the beliefs and practices of his church, as well as his beliefs on his relationship between himself and god. In many ways he sees himself as a ruling through divine right, which is obviously scary for many reasons. I would like to see this documentary.

Posted by: meredith on May 5, 2004 9:40 AM

It seems to be that much of this commentary and or lectures are given by athiest speakers, and or, advocates for separation between church and state. I would like to hear it from the other side, from a christian speaker, who feels that bush is misplacing his religion into his justification for action.

Posted by: Joel on May 5, 2004 10:29 AM

I agree that it’s important to hear critiques from both the atheist and religious side. While I consider myself to be a religiously tolerant atheist I understand that my lack of belief will always inform my viewpoint. However, I would point out that atheism is not intrinsically tied to separation of church and state. One is a religious _choice_ offered to us by the law; the other is mandated by the constitution. Within the documentary on PBS there are religious leaders who speak highly of separation of church and state. They see it as a dangerous mix that hurts both institutions.

Posted by: Simon on May 5, 2004 12:03 PM

I also feel that they should be separate, but I do think that an individual senetor and or president can use his religion as a basis for his choices. I mean, You are what you believe in to be true, and if you reject that, then you are lying to yourself. Faith is hard for non religious people to understand, because logic and fact rules the world. I base much of my “worldview” on my religion. I also am shaped by it, in the way i treat others and how I deal with conflict, so in this, is it not right for bush to use this as one of the foundations for his descisions. But remember it is a democracy, and there are many other non-religious members that aid int he guidence of our country.

Posted by: Joel on May 5, 2004 12:20 PM

Like many others, I was born into my religion. And while for the first decade of my life I didn’t know it whatsoever. Only when my family moved halfway across the world to where we’re originally from did my parents re-discover religion. That’s when my tutelage began and for a while it was intrinsically tied into my view. For me, it’s always been part of and not the defining view. It changed years ago to today where I relate but do not identify with the religion I was born with - many questions unanswered and still going through my own understanding. There are many things I don’t agree with and that’s where the conflict lies. This is where I cannot fully believe in it. However, I have taken certain morals and systems from it and somehow still apply it to everyday life. Sort of odd, but for now it works.

Posted by: Naz on May 5, 2004 2:12 PM

My two cents: I agree that Bushs’s religious rhetoric is scary. Definitely. At least I’m glad he’s open about it. Some, like the Gores (who founded the PMRC) keep it more subtly hidden. As to the question of religion vs. atheism. I do think there’s often as much intolerance w/in members of the atheist camp as there is w/in members of the religious camp. Intolerance has nothing to do w/ religion; it’s (unfortunately) an all-too common human condition. As for separation of church & state: I agree w/ Joel, it’s not just an atheist conviction, many religious people (like myself) believe very strongly in it. It’s actually even a precept of Catholic doctrine going as far back as St. Augustine. Also, I do think that religious people can use their convictions in politics. After all, religious convictions are (in my opinion) no different than any other moral/ethical/philosophical beliefs. We wouldn’t argue that an environmentalist isn’t allowed to use his/her beliefs when proposing laws, would we? Or what about people opposed to animal abuse? In a philosophical sense, these types of moral convictions are no different than the moral convictions presented by religious people. Or we could all just become Randian objectivists …

Posted by: miguel on May 5, 2004 2:40 PM

Yes, politicians should be allowed to base their decisions on their own personal beliefs, religious or otherwise. In fact I doubt there would be an effective way to stop them from doing so. But there is a difference between letting religious ethics weigh in as part of your decision making process and using political power to further your religious beliefs. Also, I disagree that all ethical convictions are the same as religious ones. Too often region is presented in a “take it or leave it” manner that doesn’t allow for the sort of personal gray area that secular convictions can have. In particular, George Bush as a man, and evangelical Protestants as a religion show this kind of black and white attitude.

Posted by: Simon on May 5, 2004 2:51 PM

what specifically do you have problems with in terms of bush?

Posted by: Joel on May 5, 2004 3:21 PM

Bush speaks of his presidency as a divine appointment, he reduces complex issues to matters of good and evil, and he twists biblical phrases into political rhetoric. I’m worried that he bases his actions more on his perception of God’s will than the will of the American people. I think that his religious beliefs are so dominating that they limit his ability to have a flexible and holistic view of the world. Obviously this worries me most because his worldview doesn’t match mine. I understand that some people like his for these very reasons.

Posted by: Simon on May 5, 2004 4:55 PM

Forgot to mention - I agree with the idea that people who adopt religion (as an answer) later in life tend to be much more zealous. Like with anything found on one’s own, one takes to it quite easily. As for Bush - I feel as though he’s a puppet. Behind him though are people who seem to be of narrow vision, one way or the highway. Thus I also agree there, there’s not much lateral thinking. Which for a wrold leader is not a good thing at all.

Posted by: Naz on May 5, 2004 6:47 PM

hi, my name is mary and i just found your weblog and thought i’d join the debate. i was raised “in the church” (as they say). i’ve since become pretty frustrated with modern american christianity, but i still believe in jesus christ and i try to weed out what he actually said/did and what americans believe. i am freaked out that people believe george w. is a christian! he just says those things because it helps him get (re)elected. do you really think jesus would support any form of violence? american domination of the world? capital punishment? destroying the environment? big business? i don’t understand why christians buy into all of that shit just because he says “i’ve been praying about this”. its seems like a lot of christians are scared to question things like that. let’s not confuse jesus christ with confused humans who have completely messed up his compassionate message to love others.

Posted by: mary on May 6, 2004 1:19 PM

“Faith is hard for non religious people to understand, because logic and fact rules the world.” I am not a religious person, but you better believe that I think there is something more to treating people well than “logic and fact”. I grew up Catholic and now I call myself “between religions,” and I’m not sure about anything related to my spirituality, but that doesn’t mean that Logic and Fact are my gods. What about karma? I think I believe in that in a way, but I don’t think that makes me religious. I’m definitely interested in Buddhism, sure, but I’m not Buddhist. I’m wandering…the point is, it is as dangerous for me to say, “those silly Christians” as it is for someone to make it sound like people without religion are some sort of logical robots without emotion or morals. Because I hate to tell you this, but as a lot of genetic research has shown us, it doesn’t really make sense “logically” for us to treat each other well. And I think that shows that there is more at play here than cold, hard Facts.

Posted by: jim on May 6, 2004 7:09 PM

I watched this finally… It was disturbing. I can’t believe how much of an ego maniac Bush is. He is capitalizing on the christian constituency…no if ands or buts about it. It is absolutely sickening… ughhh… and I am sure you all heard about this:

Posted by: celine on May 26, 2004 12:10 PM

My brother the architect

Isaiah and Randy King, directly after Isaiah graduated from college

My brother Isaiah graduated today from the University of Michigan with an undergraduate degree from their architecture program. Along with the diploma he ranked top in his class and won numerous awards based on his projects, including first place in a prestigious contest earning him a huge cash prize and getting him a job offer. He’s worked ridiculously hard these last 4 years to get where he’s at, and deserves every bit of it. Good job Isaiah.

This last weekend was such a strange mix of emotions, going from a funeral home, to a rainy cemetery, to a graduation ceremony. I’m exhausted from it and emotional spent. Hundreds of people came to show their respect for my Grandma and our family. It was amazing to see how many lives she had touched — how many people one life can be connected to. I wish there was more I could do now for my Grandpa and Mom. They’ve spent every moment in the last year caring for Grandma. My Mom is so amazing for the way she’s taken care of both her parents as they need it. I can only hope to be that good of a son one day.

On a much lighter note I’m now in the final countdown until I leave for Europe. May is here, mushrooms will be growing, lilacs will be blooming, and mopeds will be ridden. I get to talk to Meredith on the phone tomorrow for the first time in nearly a week. It seems like so much longer than that.



Thanks Simon.

Posted by: Isaiah on May 3, 2004 3:54 PM

dude! top in his class! holy shit! it’s weird, i’ve never met isaiah but he looks OLDER in that picture. anyway, i fully approve of the northwestern purple of your color scheme right now. i hope to get to see you soon—are you going to the allied media conference this year? i mean, your truck could use some damage, right?

Posted by: jim on May 4, 2004 1:55 AM

Trust me, that’s all I’ve been hearing all weekend. I blame it on his height, and his facial hair. For the record, he’s 4 years younger than me. I don’t think I’m going to AMC this year, though I’m trying to talk myself back into it. I’ll be getting back from Europe just two days beforehand, and I don’t think I’ll be up for it. I’ve always had a good time there though, so we’ll see.

Posted by: Simon on May 4, 2004 8:55 AM

Way to go Ike!!! Yay!!! I can’t believe it!!! Man time flies! Last time I saw Ike he was a freshman at U of M and I about fainted when I saw how much he had grown THEN—about 3 feet! Hehe. Does he have a website up with any of his work? Maybe someday I’ll hire him to help me design my dream house. *grin* ruth celine smith

Posted by: celine on May 10, 2004 8:54 PM

As far as who can tell?

Chicago, IL

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