Some Scattered Thoughts

I'm finding it a little difficult to focus at the moment. My mind is quite scattered, kind of like the way sunlight scatters as it passes through the atmosphere, producing the blue color we're used to seeing in the sky. So instead of a tight, cohesive, laser beam of an essay, today you get this dim, flickering candle of a post.

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I'm not nearly as good a poker player as I would like, as evidenced by the $25 I've lost so far playing micro-limit online hold 'em. Does this mean I'm going to quit? Of course not.

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I'm always a little behind the times, which probably explains why it was only this past week that I subscribed to my first podcast. At first I just didn't really get the point. For the most part, I don't listen to talk or news radio, so why would I listen to essentially the same thing on the Internet? Well, things have changed somewhat. Over the past few months the number of web comics I read has doubled, as have the number of blogs I regularly check. Text-only blogs led to video blogs and that, combined with my growing interest in indie music over the past year, led to podcasting.

The three main feeds I'm listening to at the moment are all from radio stations. KCRW, the NPR affiliate in Santa Monica, is well-known for its influential "Morning Becomes Eclectic" music program. That program was one of the few things I was sad to leave behind when I moved to San Diego, so I was delighted to find that they also stream it from their web site. And now they have two very interesting podcasts. The first is a collection of live sets from the show--only updated infrequently because they only include unsigned or independent artists--and the second is a "song of the day" list. The latter, along with a similar feed from Seattle's KEXP, have turned up some really interesting songs that I doubt I would have heard otherwise.

I also subscribe to the video podcast from Rocketboom but it has the irritating quality of failing to work from my office.

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Speaking of video blogs, I started watching Ze Frank's The Show last week and I really like it. I understand that Ze's vlog (yes, it's a stupid word, but that's what they're calling them these days) is one of the more popular ones out there, so you may already watch it. If not, I suppose you'll want a description. OK. If The Show were an ice cream sundae, it would be two scoops of making fun of news items, one of making fun of his viewers, liberally drizzled with fart jokes, and sprinkled with tidbits (mostly complaints) from his own life. And, of course, the cherry on top would be the project to make a sandwich out of the Earth.

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One of my good friends got her master's degree this past Sunday. A lot of thoughts and feelings were going through my mind as I watched her commencement ceremony--I felt proud of her for her accomplishment, a little jealous that I hadn't done it yet, and maybe a little hopeless at the recognition that I probably will never get around to grad school. But most of all I was struck by how boring the ceremony was. I mean, of course it was cool to see my friend walk across the stage, but that was the sole interesting thing about the entire two-hour event

I remember both my high school and college graduations quite well. Both consisted of what I think of as pretty standard graduation elements: a processional to "Pomp and Circumstance," the national anthem, the Pledge of Allegiance, some opening remarks by the principal/president, one or two student speeches, a faculty award or two, a keynote speaker, the awarding of diplomas, some closing remarks, and, finally, the recessional.

Actually, my friend's graduation was actually pretty much the same, except that some of the elements had been changed. Instead of having short opening remarks, for example, they had long opening remarks that mainly consisted of introducing a bunch of faculty and staff that I didn't know or care about. (Judging by the applause, some of them didn't even matter to the students.) Instead of having a valedictory address, they had some student get up and accept a diploma on behalf of the whole class. And instead of a keynote speaker, they had, well, nothing.

I had figured beforehand that it would be somewhat different from my college graduation, being a huge state university instead of a small, private college. I thought that meant that the boring part would be longer, considering there would be far more diplomas to hand out. I didn't expect the extent to which my prediction would hold true. On the bright side, at least I know what to expect should I ever get back to school.

In any case, as boring as the ceremony was, it doesn't take away from the magnitude of my friend's accomplishment. I really am happy for her--I mean, not only does she have a master's degree now, but she also has all kinds of free time in the evening. So congratulations, Mel.