**UPDATE AT BOTTOM**

I haven’t done a music post in a while (a very long while) and was inspired to do another one by my friend @BrainLemon (check out his music post).

The other day, I was looking for more “workout music” because I’ve been doing that sort of stuff for a while (check out my running blog). I just happened to come across a few new bands that I think might be of interest to some of you and one I’ve been meaning to show you guys for a while now.

First, Of Monsters and Men. I actually scolded my twitter followers for failing to tell me about them sooner. Their album “My head is an animal” is great! It’s a bit Mumford but not so bluegrassy and it’s kinda whisper-y like Bon Iver. But that’s not really accurate either, they’re sort of hard to explain, they’re an indie-pop-rock group, kinda (does that make it any more clear?). But here’s what I’ve learned so far: They’re from Iceland. Won a battle of the bands contest in 2010. Landed a record deal in early 2011. Released their first album “My head in an animal” later that year in Iceland. They released the album in the US in April of this year.

The first song I heard was “Little Talks”. I believe I first found it on Cities97.com’s Studio C (<– that's a great live performance. Meaning: it sounds just like the studio version, if not BETTER. You don't see that very often). It's catchy and poppy (totally my thing) but it's also kinda sad (not my thing, but I love the contrast).

After listening to the album twice now (remember, that’s the rule, you MUST listen at least twice before making any judgments. Unless that song is “Whistle” by Flo Rida, then you can judge it instantly) I think my favorite song is “From Finner.” The lyrics are a little confusing (is it a giant metaphor or just strange a LSD trip?) but the music is wonderful, especially Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir’s vocals (she looks like a reincarnation of Bjork but prettier, and yes, I C&P’d her name). They’re amazing.

(Favorite part of the video, aside from the performance: “hahaha… spilled your beer…” It made me chuckle.)

You can quote me on this: they’re going to be big.

The Lumineers. I’m torn on this group. I’m just not a HUGE folksy-roots fan. That said, I’ve had a few of their songs literally stuck in my head and I just can’t be upset when I listen to their music. Most of you have probably heard “Ho Hey” on the radio, and while it’s a great song, I think “Stubborn Love” is far better.

My only gripe about that song is the stupid lyric (at 1:15): “It’s better to feel pain… than nothing at all…. The opposite of love’s indifference…” it feels like they tried way too hard to add something profound there, and that’s annoying. But overall the song is wonderful.

little hurricane (not a failure to capitalize properly, that’s actually their name). This is a band that my dad suggested I check out after I made him listen to The Black Keys. They’re kinda White Stripes meets The Black Keys with some more poppy-rock mixed in (same format as WS: female drummer, male guitarist-vocalist). I love this group. Hope they get HUGE!

If you have any suggestions for music to check out feel free to leave a comment, or send me a tweet.

Got this band from my Twitter friend @DIVx0, She Keeps Bees. You guys MUST check them out. They’re like bluesy-soul-rock-awesomeness. I don’t know how to explain this duo, but, just listen (you can listen to all their self-recorded/released music on their website).

(I wish more bands did that ^^)

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The war on everything

April 13, 2012

Did you folks know we’re at war? No, I’m not talking about Afghanistan or Iran or The War on Terror, I’m talking about a war on literally everything. And everyone is a target.

There’s a War on Religion.

There’s a War on Women.

There’s a War on Moms.

There’s an impending Race War.

There’s a War on Jobs.

There’s a War on Obesity.

There’s a War on Grilled Cheese Sandwiches.

There’s even a War on Salt.

I understand that using catchy little phrases is easier than actually explaining what is really going on. I understand that we live in the Twitter News Cycle now, and every single person can only use 140 characters or less to explain very complex situations.

I also know that NO ONE LIKES WAR. So, what better way to get people to come over to your “side” than to whisper, “Yo, there’s a secret war being waged and guess who the target is? YOU!! That’s right, there’s a War on You! Join us and help us fight back. Also, please donate to [Random Politician]’s campaign.

I know what you’re thinking, “Well, shit. If there’s a war on ME then BRING IT ON!! I’m going to take these guys down… wait… huh? I’m just sitting at my computer drinking my 4th cup of coffee this morning and reading headlines on Twitter (because I’m much too busy to actually read the whole story)… where’s this war? I don’t see it.”

Like any good political operative will tell you, you’ll never see it. By the time the general population notices, it will be too late. The damage will be done and your inactivity will be to blame.

We have almost 8-ish months until the November election. That means there’s still time for more wars and more victims to be gathered more fighting back. It’s time to pick up your weapons and ensure that your side wins the most victims voters.

Politics is dirty. No. It’s beyond dirty. It’s a soul-destroying pit filled with hundreds of years worth of liquefied animal manure and people willingly swim around in it. Now you too must jump in and do your part. For America.

Losing stuff

March 29, 2012

I’ve spent my entire morning looking for something. The thing isn’t important, but it’s important to me. The search began earlier this week and after a fruitless excavation, I gave up. I started looking again this morning, even before I finished my first cup of coffee (that means it’s really important).

Last week I was looking for my car title. I know it exists but it wasn’t with the other important documents, as it should have been, so I literally tore my house apart trying to find it. I also started looking in boxes in storage. Nothing. I did, however, find a bunch of picture frames, one contained a picture of my deceased grandma. So, it wasn’t all bad.

Yesterday, since I was going to the DMV anyway, I got a duplicate title. That cost me $20.

Before that I lost a pair of jeans. Only worn once.

After looking for those for a few days I came to the conclusion that someone had stolen them from the laundromat since I couldn’t find then anywhere. Then I remembered on laundry day I was going through some clothes and I found a pair of Levi’s that I remembered didn’t fit and I threw them in the garbage (I didn’t try them on). “Weird,” I thought, “my new pair were Levi’s…SHIT! You idiot, you cut the other pair into shorts last summer!! My God you’re stupid!!” (Ok, I wasn’t that hard on myself, but I should have been.) When I realized what I did it was a few days after “garbage day” and it was too late. They were gone. At least I had closure but I was still down $15 (they were on super-sale).

Before that I lost a sweatshirt. One of my favorite hoodies. Turns out it wasn’t lost, it was just the trunk of my car for the past few months. I’m assuming it was put there some time in the fall and I “found” it a few weeks ago. WIN!

Back to today, I have given up my search. I sat down with my computer and in a fit of frustration I did a Bing search for “finding lost stuff.” Turns out there’s a “self-help” site that tells you how to systematically track down your lost crap.

I did all of those things and they didn’t work. With my luck habit of indiscriminately throwing stuff away, it’s in the garbage. So, I’ll have to grab the bag out of the can and start digging. (Just kidding, it’s not THAT important.)

Now, I’m going to do research and will hopefully find a way to place trackers on all of my stuff, all 20 billion objects. I want to be able to type in “right shoe, black wedges,” then a map of my house will show up and a Siri-like voice will say, “I found your shoe right here *red dot*, two feet away from your face, you moron.”

That would be awesome.

I broke down and bought a new pair of running shoes.

My run on Tuesday was the last straw. I had horrendous blisters on both heels. After a bunch of google/bing searches I found out I probably, more than likely, have a deformity on my feet.

Ok, it’s not a major deformity, but it’s enough to cause problems.

The technical name for my self-diagnosed deformity is “Haglund’s deformity.” It’s basically a boney bump on my heel, next to my Achilles tendon.

You can watch this WebMD video to see what it is:

http://women.webmd.com/video/high-heel-pain

The only difference is, my deformity wasn’t caused by wearing high heels, it’s more than likely hereditary and/or my high arches (which causes it’s own set of problems with shoes).

So, in order to find shoes that won’t rub on my deformity, I had to find shoes that don’t have a plastic heel support running up the back of the shoe. Some shoes only have the support going halfway up, which only makes the problem worse. I checked at least 30 pairs of shoes and found exactly 3 that didn’t have the plastic insert in the back of the shoe. One of the pairs was the New Balance 730.

I tried on one shoe and it felt great. I tried on both shoes and ran down a few aisles (because you can do that, y’know). I wasn’t sure I wanted them, so I took a drive over to the Nike Outlet looking for the Nike Free. I found it, but it doesn’t have a normal tongue, it’s attached, so you have to slip your foot in. I have high arches which make the top of my foot ridiculously high so I couldn’t get my foot in. I went back and bought the New Balances.

I haven’t run in them yet, I plan to give them a week or so trial before writing more about them. For now I can tell you what I think:

They weigh nothing. Well, almost nothing, New Balance says each shoe is just over 5 ounces.

The heels are fabulous!! There’s no rubbing, no plastic inserts to stab into my boney deformity and cause terrible blisters. The toe area is nice and roomy. Just doing some walking/hopping/bouncing and my foot has room to expand without rubbing up against the side of the shoe. My old shoes were wide-ish, but with every step I could feel my pinkie toes pushing out on the sides.

My only concern is the soles. They’re pretty thin. Which is what I expected from such a minimalist-ish shoe, but I’m used to the severely overly-padded shoes so it will be interesting to see how my feet feel after a run.

I plan to test them out later today, I’ll let you know, more than likely on Twitter, how it goes.

During my job search today I came across a blog post titled, “The need to be certain causes paralysis.” It just hit me, SMACK! It wasn’t a new idea, as this is something I’ve always struggled with, but it was the smack-in-the-face reminder that I needed.

For as long as I can remember I rarely make a move without being 100 93.25 percent certain of it’s outcome. I don’t just get nervous, like normal people, I literally (well, figuratively) become paralyzed with fear. I’ve let countless opportunities pass me by because it pushes me out of my comfort zone and scares the shit out of me. I’d rather be safe, in my own little world, with my little laundromat/post office life and just… be.

Last year I took a massive leap of faith and took a job I feared was above my head and was going to just destroy any confidence I had in my writing and social media skills. It didn’t. Unfortunately, my year as an actual paid writer for one of the biggest websites in the entire world hasn’t given me the “You can do anything you put your mind to!!!” confidence you’d think it would have.

Instead I’ve spent the past three months trying to be the perfect future-writer. “I’m going to learn everything I need to know and start applying it to my blog posts (I haven’t, clearly). I’m going to actually pay attention to how/what I’m writing and edit my blog posts with the proper grammar and punctuation. I’ll even use the semicolon properly (Nope.). I will write every single day, practice makes perfect!!!(Hogwash!!)”

I’ve done none of these things, well not consistently anyway. Why not? I’m not sure.

It’s probably fear. Mostly the fear that I’m not even a barely competent writer. Fear that I’m just wasting my time working on skills that may not even be utilized. Fear that I might not even want to be a “writer.” Fear that if I decide that I don’t want to be a writer, then what? I don’t know.

What does that even mean, anyway? Writer. Pshh… well I know I will never be a journalist. I’m barely a blogger. I can tweet. And lately I’ve even failed hard at that.

I can write words. I can put my thoughts into a semi-coherent post that sometimes conveys what I actually intended it to.

It all boils down to passion, and right now, I have none.

I guess you can say, I’ve growing apathetic and paralyzed.

No.

I am apathetic and paralyzed.

I used to be filled with the desire to connect with people and new ideas. People and new ideas outside of my comfort zone. People who shared similar values/interests/hobbies, people who opposed everything I stand for, people… in general. Now, I’ve found myself in my own little world. I interact with the same people every day. I read the same Twitter lists, which haven’t been updated in ages. I even listen to the same damn music over and over and over again. Why? Because I know it.

Everything is just safe and stale right now.

I’m not going to bullshit you guys and say, “So… on that note, I’m going to turn this shit around and snap the hell out of it.” I respect all 8 of you more than that.

I will say this though, I need to figure out what the hell I’m going to do, and fast, before I’m stuck in this apathetic space forever.

If you remember, I wrote that I plan to start running. Well, on Saturday the weather was great and I figured I might as well start now. So I did.

I didn’t buy new shoes, and I knew it would be a bad decision as I started my run/walk. But I wanted to do it to see how difficult my mission to 5k was going to be (this is my training plan).

I started with Day 1 – Week 1, “Brisk five-minute warmup walk. Then alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes.”

I downloaded an app to help track my progress. (If you’re looking for a great one check out RunDouble. I haven’t tried any others, so my review is severely biased.) I think the app is great, I can pick one of my playlists, and hit start. Then I just listen to what the lady tells me.

First I started off with my “brisk 5 min walk.” Then a voice comes over the Foo Fighters and says “start running now.” So I did. A then the women said, “Slow your pace to a brisk walk.” And I did that too. This continued for a while, and the woman said, “You are halfway done.” So I turned around and went back toward home and continued with my run/walk and a 5 min cool down walk.

After my run, I felt fine. Nothing hurt except my heels where my shoes apparently rubbed off all the skin. Aside from that, I was feeling good.

I woke up on Sunday and felt like I had been hit by a bus. Ok, it wasn’t that bad, but it was pretty awful. My legs were sore. Mostly my shins (the outside) and my knees were a little achey on and off throughout the day.

Of course I started searching the entire internet to find the cause of my sore shins (aside from my shoes, because that’s an obvious conclusion). Apparently when I run I hit the ground heel first, and thus causing my shin pain (to get an idea of the pain: just put your feet flat on the floor and leaving your heel on the floor, raise your toes as high as you can and wait for the burn now hold it for like a minute. Yeah…it’s unawesome.) Ok. So I need to stop that because I’ve always had this problem.

There’s all kinds of hippie crap about barefoot running and blah blah blah injury free blah blah blah, but I’m not running barefoot. So I skipped over all that nonsense.

Then I came to the pile of “midfoot” crap. Now, it’s not really crap. I did try a few running steps through my house to see the difference and it clearly doesn’t hurt my shins to land on my whole foot. So, that’s a bonus. But that’s also being mindful of every step (I took 5) and that’s clearly not something I’m going to do while running a mile or two. However, it does make sense to shorten my stride (it’s not very long to begin with) and lessen the impact on my heels.

Anyway, I plan to see if I can modify my running form to be less of a heel striker and more of a soft midfoot lander. I think it’s probably a good idea to start now before I get too far into this 5k training and have to adjust it again.

Of course I’ll let you guys know how it goes. Also, I’ll let you know when I buy new shoes, that will make a big difference.

Have you ever been forced to join a union? I have. It happened quite a few years ago, but it helped shape my opinion against being forced to join a union.

Less than 10 years ago I applied for a job as an “employment specialist.” The job was to help adults with disabilities find work in the community. I went through the interview process and got the job.

After a few weeks of “training” I was told that I forgot to turn in my union paperwork. I had to turn in my stuff by the end of the week or I wouldn’t be allowed to work.

“Huh?”

I thought it was weird. I didn’t remember hearing anything about joining a union. Furthermore I didn’t remember being told that joining a union was a condition of my employment.

When I couldn’t find the paperwork I needed, I asked my boss, who gave me a tiny packet. At the end of the day I sat at my desk and looked through the stuff. I just had to fill out this postcard and check the box that says I allow union dues to be taken out of my paycheck. The most odd thing was the union I was joining was the Steelworkers union.

“What? I’m not a steelworker. I have never been a steelworker. No one in my position will ever be a steelworker.” I recall asking a coworker about it and she said something like, “The union covers more than just steelworkers.” That was it. That’s all I got.

I always thought joining a union was a choice. Freedom of assembly, or something. What the hell was this “forced membership” crap? I forgot to turn in my stuff on Friday and on Monday the following week my boss said, “I need your union paperwork today or I’ll have to send you home.” So I reluctantly handed it to her and went on with my day.

At the time, it bothered me. It bothered me even more on payday when I saw for the first time in my life “Union Dues” on my pay stub. How could I be forced to pay for something I didn’t want or even understand? I just sucked it up. I had other stuff going on in my life I wasn’t going to get bent out of shape over a stupid union. Also, I wasn’t being forced to attend union meetings or lobby for benefits or strike. Whatevs.

I eventually quit that job. Not because of the union, but because I really hated working there.

Now, I share this story with you because as many of you know, the Minnesota legislature is working on passing a “Right-to-Work” law. In my MN Politics list on Twitter it’s been a hot topic. Sure there are only a few people on the list, but I pretty much get a good idea of both sides of an issue from those people.

My bias toward the law comes not only from my experience above, but from talking to my family about their involvement with unions. My aunt used to be (or still is, according to the website) the treasurer for AFSCME at the Department of Revenue (employed for 20+ years). She’s very pro-union, obviously. My brother-in-law in part of a union at PepsiCo and has a love/hate relationship with his union. (Yes yes, the old “I’m not but I have friends who are…” thing…)

My argument against unions has only ever been, “Why does anyone HAVE to join?” I can wrap my mind around people who want to join a union, it’s the “you have to join” thing that gets me. In order for me to keep my job I had to give up money from every check to a union. Sure, I could have walked away from the job and gave the Big Union the big F-U. However, I had bills to pay and I NEEDED to join because I NEEDED that job.

I didn’t really receive any direct benefit from that union that I can recall. I don’t remember ever seeing a union rep or attending a union meeting. My pay was very close to or the same as the pay I would have received from a non-union job and my benefits were typical, nothing to write home about, if I remember correctly. I honestly couldn’t really tell you how being a member benefited me. I don’t know where my union dues were going and what services I was paying for.

Now, I’m not saying I didn’t receive any benefit, I just can’t tell you what those benefits were. It wasn’t like a manufacturing plant I worked at (but wasn’t a union member) with the union number posted on every wall in the building and with an on-site union rep making the rounds. There were posters saying “Call your union rep if: (list of reasons to call).” There were meetings, votes, benefits, seniority lists, pay, it was all tied to the union. There was nothing like that at this job. My dues were just taken out of my check and that was it.

I haven’t spent a great deal of time reading about “right-to-work” laws, specifically in Minnesota. But from what I can gather, the law essentially gives people the right to opt out of a union. Which, had Minnesota been a “right-to-work” state a few years ago, I could have saved a few hundred dollars in union dues. At the time, that would have been enough to pay my car insurance for the year.

Just some food for thought.