30 December 2012

What I listened to in 2012.

Looking at my Last.fm charts is one of my favorite things to do - especially at the end of a year. Even though I know what I listened to (because, well, I listened to it), there are always some surprises that come from near-comprehensive data aggregation. If you had asked me what I listened to the most in 2012, I would have said new wave - I had my Depeche Mode Pandora station on almost every single day. But: That stuff wasn't aggregated. Only one related artist made it on - I guess when I'm deliberate about an artist or album, things turn out a bit differently. Maybe it's because that Pandora station perfectly captures the aesthetic, memory, or gestalt of some intangible thing that can only be accurately presented as a collection of songs. Anyway, here they are: my top 10 listened-tos of the year.

Top music of 2012

10. Two Wounded Birds. This was solely based on their song I Think The World Of You, which I heard playing in TopShop over the summer. It is the most beautiful epitome of moody Brit surf you will probably ever hear.

09. The Veronicas. This one really surprised me. I only play two of their songs, but I play one of them to absolute death. It's called 4ever, and is probably one of their more popular ones. I don't know much about these girls, except that this song was the theme of one of the most fun nights I had in grad school, involving my friend Carrie, wigs, a new bar, cherry vodka, sweater creatures, and the sound of McDonald's wrapper crinkling in the depths of my half-asleep consciousness as the sun rose.

08. The Hundred In The Hands. They came out with a new album this year I believe, but I still couldn't stop listening to their previous one. So moody and good.

07. Michael Jackson. What a surprise! He surprised me last year as well.

06. The Ramones. I got really into Bowery history this year, which had me tearing through dozens and dozens of Ramones tracks. I also bought a black motorcycle jacket at around this time a year ago, which drove me to them even more.

05. Metric. Surprise, surprise. I think they're still my top listened-to artist since I opened my Last.fm account in 2006.

04. Pet Shop Boys. I was introduced to some really stellar tracks of theirs through that Depeche Mode Pandora station, and I had those on repeat many a day.

03. Metallica. My favorite band of all time, which may sound weird to some but make perfect sense to others. This year, Orion was on heaviest rotation. If you're ever in a bad mood and have to go walk somewhere, put this on.

02. April March. My favorite discovery of the year. In 2010, I became totally obsessed with yé-yé. A friend spun her English version of Laisse Tomber Les Filles (Chick Habit) at a metal bar one night (I don't know, it worked), and I was hooked. I know it was in a Tarantino movie, but I have yet to see it. Chick Habit (the song and album) got the most plays of the summer. It's fantastic. Also fun fact: She was once an animator for Ren & Stimpy. What.

01. The Faint. They came back in a big way this year for me. This is the band that has probably made the most songs that I have played on repeat for hours and days, dancing around like an idiot. (Exhibits A, B, C, and D).

For more cowbell:
What I listened to in 2011 (blog post)
What I listened to in 2010 (Flickr)
What I listened to in 2009 (Flickr)

29 December 2012

Project 366: November

Well, it's after Christmas and I'm only getting around to this. Good one. ANYWAY. We only have one more month to go after this. Holy crap. Here's November --

Project 366: November

Here's my favorite shot:

314/366: balloons.

314/366: balloons.

9 November 2012

Saw a group of four friends strolling down the street this today, each carrying a different color balloon.

I was happy with that picture because the scene of a group of very cool looking people holding balloons made me smile, and I was basically crossing busy streets while taking pictures and trying to be discreet. And it came out, with happy sun rays in the corner and nobody being hit by a car.

Some other highlights: Began the month in Stockholm. Voted. Shattered my phone's display. Bought tiger slippers. Sent some snail mail. Went to Los Angeles again. Had a lovely family Thanksgiving. Went to Chicago. Got a case so my iPhone wouldn't shatter even more.

Not that eventful, other than the 4 flights I took ;)

18 December 2012

MintyBoost, part 1

I am building someone a portable iPhone charger for Christmas. It's called a MintyBoost, and you can buy the kit on Adafruit here. (It's a really good electronics project for beginners).

Here's where I am so far:

353/366: mid MintyBoost

I had to stop halfway through, because 1) I had to run into a meeting, and 2) I screwed up. I've had this problem my whole life - getting into a zone and jumping ahead of myself before reading all of the directions thoroughly, or skipping a step/overdoing it as a result. I soldered the diode (that black barrel toward the bottom-right) in upside down. Now I have to go out and buy desoldering braid to fix the thing.

Aside: Desoldering braid is hypnotizing. You put it over your screwup, put a soldering iron on it, and the braid sucks up the solder, essentially ungluing metal. So cool.

Hopefully the next time you hear from me on this, I'll have a working (AA battery powered, how cool is that?!) USB charger. To be continued…

EDIT: A request from Bud to see my soldering job --

MintyBoost progress, back

(I'm usually a messy solderer; this is a new iron so it may just be a good one!)

17 December 2012

My new alarm clock.

Yesterday I took a class at 3rd Ward called Solar Engines.

By the end, I had a prototype that uses sunlight to power two little motors.

New alarm clock!

When set on a flat surface, the motors make this delightful clicky, rattling sound.

I set it in my bedroom window to use as an alarm clock – it will make a cute noise on spectacularly sunny mornings.

Today was too dreary so he remained asleep. ;)

12 December 2012

British cold coffee

My friend Felix saw the words "British cold coffee" written in a note in my phone last night. He asked if I'd ever had Japanese cold coffee. I realized I had to explain.

For the first 20 years of my life, I spent a cumulative half year sleeping in various European hotel rooms. Every single morning, regardless of city or bed, I woke up to the same three things occurring simultaneously:

The television was on and turned to CNN Europe.
There was coffee brewing.
And it was cold.

pillows:1 / Johanna:0

This combination of senses - the sound of the accent and cadence of a British journalist, the delicious smell of coffee universally associated with mornings and waking up, and the feeling of cold that made me thankful to have a warm bed to sleep in - has throughout my life represented the absolute perfect, most ideal version of waking up, and I am determined to recreate it eventually.

It's difficult today, because I don't control the heat in my NYC apartment (built in 1900). So in the wintertime, at least, it is unbearably hot. I use a coffee press, and have no machine with a built-in timer that I can set up the night before. And I haven't yet downloaded a radio app that automatically turns on at a certain time (though I do listen to the BBC Global News podcast every morning, not by accident).

One morning I'll get it right.

03 December 2012

EFIT: 17 November

Julie and I hadn't done an EFIT in two years, so she pinged me about a weekend one. Needless to say, I was looking forward to it. Here are mine:

10.01: Woke up to my twinkly alarm. Kazu was sleeping in with me.
10:01 - I woke up to my alarm (a custom Lullatone ringtone), and found Kazu hanging out with me.

11.37: Had a train disaster and flew out the subway station to catch a taxi instead. Late to meet Laura!
11:37 - I was very flustered at this point, because an MTA worker led me astray and I ended up waiting 20 minutes for a train that never came. I zoomed out of the station and, panting, hailed a cab to take me to my (now late) meetup with Laura.

12.20: Coffee with Laura
12:20 - Coffee and lots of talking with Laura to start the day.

13.16: Approaching the MoMA Tokyo Avant Garde exhibit
13:16 - Member previews at the MoMA for the new avant garde Tokyo exhibit. My favorite pieces were by Nakanishai Natauyuki, and Akasegawa Genpei. I may write about them later. We were both terrified by an alien egg larvae type thing in a baby carriage installation. Complete with flickering lights.

14.11: Move the postcard side to side and the horse runs. I wanted it so badly.
14:11 - A postcard in the MoMA store that showed a horse galloping as you moved it from side to side. Boy did I want that thing.

15.42: Laura had a violent tomato craving. We got bloody marys and split a burger with tomato slice and ketchup.
15:42 - Laura had a violent and inexplicable tomato craving, so we took a train downtown to have bloody Marys and split a burger with ketchup. Delicious.

16.42: New Museum window display :: pop-up tattoo studio
16:42 - We wandered around a little afterward, and came upon a window display at the New Museum - a popup tattoo studio.

17.42: Pretending I know how to sew, assembling a package for a friend
17:42 - I spent the next few hours putting together a care package for a friend; this hour involved pretending I knew how to sew.

18.18: Still crafts; more of care package. I am better with washi tape than with a needle and thread.
18:18 - More work on the package, this time moving onto envelopes and washi tape.

19.18: Still working on that package! Now stitching together a playlist in Garageband.
19:18 - I stitched together a bunch of songs into a single-track playlist falling under a theme that I can only describe as iceland-pony.

20.30: Making myself drink water while getting ready to go out.
20:30 - I never drink water; I can't stand the stuff. I keep making myself drink glasses of it, though. This was while getting ready to go out.

21.51: Happy Birthday, Jack! He had people over to one of my favorite bars. I met some wonderful people and saw some old friendly faces as well.
21:51 - My good friend Jack had a small gathering at one of my favorite bars in Brooklyn for his birthday. This filter came out pretty amazing, which is a good thing because this photo (and the next) were originally pitch black.

22.39: Birthday shots. Dangerous.
22:39 - Birthday shots, I think they were Jameson. Oh boy. At least it wasn't as cold outside (at least, to me) by the time I left.

One thing I screwed up on was: I was so frazzled during the 11AM and 12PM slots that I completely forgot to take photos. I was horrified, and went back to the scene of each hour, and staged exactly what I was doing at those times. So I drank two lattes that day, and chased two taxis.

It was interesting to do this along with Project 366, and to think about whether there were going to be photo overlaps. Answer: no. Here is my Project 366 picture from the day:

322/366: Charles De Gaulle, on the waulle.

There was a huge numbered wall with little descriptions on it, and an adjacent wall with numbered photos to match them, outside of the TOKYO exhibit. That one was my favorite.

I did an EFIT a few days later for Laura, so expect a post on that soon!

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