Strangers in the Night...

...exchanging music...

Naked Came the Stranger

Mike McGrady, Known for a Literary Hoax, Dies at 78. The story behind the hoax is fascinating and entertaining:
That year, The Village Voice rapturously described the book as being “of such perfectly realized awfulness that it will suck your soul right out of your brainpan and through your mouth, and you will happily let it go.” 
First published in summer 1969, “Naked Came the Stranger” quickly sold 20,000 copies. Later that summer, Mr. McGrady and his co-conspirators came clean, and news of the book’s genesis made headlines round the world. By the end of the year, the novel had spent 13 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list. 
“What has always worried me,” Mr. McGrady told Newsday in 1990, “are the 20,000 people who bought it before the hoax was exposed.”
The last sentence of the article is the kicker.

Make Your Own Balance Bike in Fifteen Minutes or Less

If I'd known what a balance bike was two years ago, we would've gotten one for Huck instead of the traditional bike-with-training-wheels setup. I've seen three-year-olds effortlessly wheeling around the neighborhood on a balance bike, and it seems like a great way to get started.

Until this past weekend, I figured we'd get Gus a balance bike for his next birthday; but this didn't help Huck, who's been on training wheels for a couple years. I tried taking Huck's training wheels off last year, and it was not a good day. His disposition, and my lack of patience that day were an unhealthy combination. I was not looking forward to the next two-wheel trial. Then it dawned on me that I could turn Huck's existing pedal bike into a balance bike.

If you follow the three simple steps below, you'll save $150 on a balance bike and get your kid confidently riding as quickly as possible. By reversing Step 2, you'll then have a pedal-bike that should last another couple years (depending on how fast your kid grows).


Adam "MCA" Yauch died over a week ago. With Yauch's passing, a significant chunk of my generation's post-pubescent-to-college-aged memories have come bubbling up to the surface. These were our Wonder Years. Most popular accounts of Yauch's unfortunate and untimely death after a three-year battle with cancer seem to use his career as a prism through which to view the arc of the writer's own life. So, in that vein, here's my childhood, as told by the Beastie Boys' discography.

Licensed to Ill
I don't think I owned a legitimate copy of Licensed to Ill until it came out on CD. I know I owned a few copies of the disc over the years. In 1986, my cassette copy was dubbed off my friend Jen's original. Jen (actually, "Jenny" at the time) and her big sister Michelle had all the good music. Jen(ny) and I were in the same grade, and our families were closest friends, but she was obviously much cooler than I was. On Friday nights in middle school, I'd be at her house babysitting her little sisters and dubbing tapes non-stop while Jen was out at a party and our parents were out to dinner. "Was it 'high-speed' dubbing?" you ask. You bet it was!

I blame the poor quality of those dubs for the fact that I never really knew about 2/3 of the words on Licensed to Ill. I sort of knew the sounds and shapes of the words. My lack of cultural knowledge probably didn't help, either. I was re-listening to the album this week for probably the first time in a decade, and I could not believe the subject matter it covers. I can't comprehend the immense cultural and social vocabulary these three kids possessed in their early 20's. Where could a kid go to get an education like the one the Beastie Boys had?

As an almost-40-year-old suburban father of two (not-yet-beastie) boys, I take solace in how little of this album I understood when I was young, and how even-littler was its effect on my middle school mind and behavior.

My 8th grade year, the Beastie Boys played a concert in the DC area, at what was then called the Capital Centre*. I went to that concert with three classmates and our art teacher. I think we had a sense then, but I really appreciate now, just how cool this woman had to be to load us into her station wagon on a Sunday night and drive us into what must have seemed like Satan's Pool Room. Wikipedia provides some perspective:
...the Licensed to Ill tour[...]was a tour clouded in controversy featuring female members of the crowd dancing in cages and a giant motorized inflatable penis similar to one used by The Rolling Stones in the 1970s. The tour was troubled by lawsuits and arrests, with the band accused of provoking the crowd. This culminated in their notorious gig at the Royal Court Theatre, Liverpool, England on May 30, 1987 that erupted into a riot approximately 10 minutes after the Beasties hit the stage and the arrest of Adam Horovitz by Merseyside Police on assault charges.
We went later in the tour, and the erstwhile controversial hydraulic apparatus had been converted to a benign microphone. Nevertheless, could a teacher even consider doing something like this today without risking her job?

The concert was sort of predictable, since we'd already heard all about what happened in previous cities, but there were a couple things no 8th grader could be prepared for:

Timer Reviews

Forget Instapaper...this is Marco Arment at his best:
The problem with bathroom fans is that they’re inconvenient to use: ideally, you want the fan to run for a little while after you leave the bathroom. If you turn it off when you leave, it’s not very effective, and if you leave it running, you’ll probably forget about it for hours and waste tons of electricity. It may even be a fire risk.
I hope he keeps this stuff up as he continues to renovate, or whatever he's doing.

And, don't think I didn't notice that all the screws on his switchplates are parallel to the earth. I prefer perpendicular myself, but...tomato/tomahto.

We Had Joy, We Had Fun...

This quote sums up my current suspicions about solar/wind/etc. "renewable" energy:

"These types of projects are part of the dreaming that we do," he said.

It seems like it's all "dreaming" for now, and entropy ensures that we'll always be using some form of "non-renewable" energy to keep these "renewable" projects going. In other words, a solar array factory will never be powered solely by solar arrays.