Inkscape: open source vector drawing

If you like the GIMP, the open source replacement for Photoshop, then you should try Inkscape. It's a vector drawing tool, like Adobe Illustrator. I've been playing with it, and it's pretty fun. Here's a drawring I made:

Ubuntu 5.04

I've already talked about how much I like Ubuntu Linux. Last week was the release of the new version, code-named Hoary Hedgehog. I had been using Warty Warthog, the version that came out last fall. Upgrading was easy. I didn't have to download a new cd. Shoot, I didn't even have to reboot. I just told it to pull software from the new repositories and then typed "sudo dist-upgrade" on the command line. It took a few hours, but it worked great. When that was done I switched to the KDE desktop, which is a new addition in this version of Ubuntu. It's so pretty. If you want a little taste of KDE, then you can use this theme for Firefox, which is based on a KDE theme. Shiny.

New host

Sorry if the site hasn't been working too well recently. We're getting close to having the site migration done.


I've been thinking a lot about addiction this week, and I've come to the conclusion that we are all addicted to something, something that medicates and numbs us toward life--either in part or in full. Listening to "Lua" by Bright Eyes really made sense of it.

"And I'm not sure what the trouble was that started all of this
The reasons all have run away, but the feeling never did
It's not something I would recommend, but it is one way to live
Cause what is simple in the moonlight by the morning never is"

5 Reasons I Love the Radio

After almost 5 years of hearing Danny defame the existence of radio, I have decided to do something about it. (Okay, I'm just going to write some lame post, but that is something, right?) Unlike Danny and his cohorts, I had a great experience with radio growing up. The music and radio personalities helped me define my own definition of "good music" and led to more musical exploration. Yes, there are a few bad things about radio: light banter, repetitive song choices, corporate leaders who don't care about artists or the music, many political talk show hosts. In spite of this, I still love the radio, and here's why:

1. New music.
From the time I had my own radio (minus that New Kids on the Block stint in 6th grade), I have used the radio as a travel guide to new music. "Sara, meet Pearl Jam. Pearl Jam, Sara." Thus began almost a decade of borderline obsession with Eddie Vedder, his lyrics, the band's style, wearing flannel and combat boots....ah, the good old days. The point is, without radio, I might not have been introduced to a band that had such an influence on my musical tastes. Of course I did not take radio's word for it: I went out and listened to all I could, I researched, I proselytized. I'm such a tool. But seriously, many of the memories I have from jr. high & high school involve listening to the radio, or to CDs I found out about from the radio, pondering things I wasn't quite sure about through the minds of my favorite artists.

2. Radio personalities.
This one is going to strike a lot of people as stupid; so be it. I believe that if you look hard enough, you will find a radio station with a high percentage of personalities that you enjoy; personalities who agree with and increase your musical taste; who increase your awareness of the world around you; who love what they do and cause you to love it, too. Currently, my favorite is 96.5 the buzz, specifically, the Church of Lazlo. And this brings me to my next two reasons.

3. Mystery.
Radio is inherently mystical: you can feel completely attached to a personality you have never met and believe in his/her musical choices and ideals without ever seeing that personality. Radio is so great--you can look like me and still get airtime! I loved my time as a college radio host. I loved walking down the dark hallway to the pit, walking through the door and seeing the "On Air" sign lit up, looking through the file for the perfect song to fill my free spot. I loved the power: elementary kids calling in to request Eminem, me saying "I'll see what I can do". (Translation: not in a million years.) I loved finding little connections between artists, "this artist used to front this band, which is now on tour with such and such", because these are the radio conversations that peaked my interest when I was just a listener, and I was able to pass that on.

4. Special format shows.
A college radio station has a lot of freedom--it runs on nothing, with shoddy equipment, and guys saying, "uh, dead air, um, uh". So the format shows abound: an all-female artist hour, an hour of the Grateful Dead and like bands, Premium Blend (my radio teacher's special hour of bizarre recordings and commercials). Commercial stations have a bit more structure, to say the least, but they can still try (if they are all about the music). In high school, Sunday Over Easy was my favorite: 3 hours of acoustic music that you would never hear during drive time. Here, I was introduced to Elliot Smith, Tori Amos, Aimee Mann, Elvis Costello. (His "Allison" is still one of my faves.) Try listening to the radio at odd times: Saturday night, Sunday morning, the middle of the night. I'm sure you will stumble upon a favorite format show.

5. Okay, I give up. I could only think of four. If I wanted, I could take the time to separate some of these into another category, but I'm lazy. Maybe it is all radio's fault. In the words of Elvis Costello, "The radio is in the hands/Of such a lot of fools/Tryin to anesthetize the way that you feel".

Faster DSL

I called SBC today to ask a question about my bill. After answering my question the guy told me that I could upgrade my speed for only $3 dollars more a month. After grilling him with some questions I agreed to do the upgrade. My upload speeds will triple, which will great for my webserver. I may start hosting some more sites there. My download speeds increase by as much as 10 times. Not too shabby. Once it takes effect I'll do some benchmarking and post my actual before and after upload and download speeds. On a somewhat related note, if anyone wants to add a wireless router to their SBC DSL, I have a 2Wire Homeportal to sell. Someone cancelled their DSL and gave the equipment to me. SBC sells them for $50, but I'll give you a better deal than that.

Google Maps + Satellite

Google Maps was already a very nice website, but Google just can't leave a good product alone. They've always got to go improving it (thanks for the second GB of email space, by the way). Now they've added satellite images to their map service. The integration is seamless. The image quality is striking. For example, want to stalk my brother? This should get you started. Or take a tour of our nation's capitol. If you try to zoom all the way into the capitol building you'll find it blurred out (I assume to thwart terrorists who are too lazy to acquire their own areal photos). The White house is fair game, however. If you find anything cool, copy the link from "Link to this page" and post it as a comment.

School board election results

The school board election was yesterday. Here are the results:



Three spots were open, so the top three have been elected. Official results are available here.

Bright Eyes

I've been meaning to post about this band for a while. I use the term band loosely; it is the brainchild of singer and songwriter Conor Oberst, and is made up of whatever musician friends he can bring together at the time. Bright Eyes reminds me a bit of Wilco and Uncle Tupelo because of the twang, the depression and the preoccupation with alcohol. He's also got some protest songs and some un-sappy love songs. One of my favorites is "Road to Joy" which uses the tune of Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" (which you trombonists and tubas might remember from jr. high band) as a background for protest. He is wise way beyond his years (he's younger than I) and has powerful lyrics and a haunting voice. Here's a good example from "At the Bottom of Everything": "While my mother waters plants, my father loads his gun/He says, "Death will give us back to God, just like the setting sun/is returned to the lonesome ocean". Some songs on I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning feature Jim James of My Morning Jacket and Emmylou Harris. The coolest part is that Bright Eyes' label, Saddle Creek records, is independent, and Conor refuses to sign with a major label. In fact, Conor's collaborators are also opposed to big labels and ridiculous copyright laws: My Morning Jacket was featured on Wired Magazine's Creative Commons CD. (For more on creative commons licensing, search for "Free Culture" on our blog.) If you value my musical tastes at all (which I understand fully that you probably don't), you should take a listen. Oh yeah, and there are two free songs here.

School board candidate question three

Discuss your opinions on how the Adrian School district can improve,
both financially as well as improving the quality of the district (question submitted by Cole Young).

Steve Cooper: That's a tough one. To give an answer you really need to be involved with board. The financial side is based so much on the state's reimbursement program, therefore it's hard to judge without working with the board. As for the quality of the school district, it's simple. It's based on the class and caliber of educators you hire. A school is only as good as its educators.

Steve Lewis: We can improve the quality of the district by electing quality board members, with the best interest of the children in mind. We can improve financially by making good decisions.

Monte Johnson: Ensure that every Adrian R-III School District employee has the resources and budget needed to assist/challenge our student body to excel in all phases of performance, no matter what the challenge. I short, increase every student's academic achievements. In my opinion, the most important issue facing any school board today is dealing with funding/budget issues. Today more than ever, we need to use every resource we can receive and I think we need to possibly increase our bonds/bonding capacity to ensure we are taking a proactive approach to all issues. The issue with improving is that, a person that is running for school board will not know all the issues that come with change until they have been a school board member for a while and become informed/educated about all the issues.

Vanessa Tallman: no reply

Kellie Case: no reply

Jim Hester: no reply

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