What I Learned This Year

We all know that new years resolutions are basically meaningless. Yeah, sure you’re going to start hitting the gym 3x per week. SURE. And you’re DEFINITELY going to finish all those books you’ve started and pay off your credit card debt. I would say good luck but you probably don’t even need it!

I find it much more insightful to ponder the year that has been and take note of the lessons I have learned. That way you can (maybe) feel like you’ve made some progress as a human rather than lamenting the state of your six pack/bank account. Here are some things I learned in the year 2012:

1. Cruises are terrible/kind of fun/definitely terrible

In May I went on a cheapo 3 day cruise to “Mexico” (I say “Mexico” because the town we went to, “Ensenada” was approximately one hour south of San Diego, and as far as I can tell its only notable trait was its location south of the US border.) and it was, uh, something.

I mean, it was kind of fun to do all the cruise ship stuff you heard about growing up from your slightly wealthier cousins (Karaoke! Late night pizza! Comedians!) but on the realz, it was just OK. I’m guessing more expensive cruises are nicer and have more interesting ports of call, but it’s still going to be a giant boat filled with graduating high school seniors, nearly dead medicare recipients, and super gross hill people all waiting in line for the same mediocre-to-disgusting Mexican buffet.

On a positive note, I was able to purchase some allergy medicine for a VERY reasonable rate while in “Mexico.”

2. If you hate doing something that’s good for you, just do it long enough and you eventually won’t hate it

This year I realized that while I’m cool with riding my bicycle, I HATED running for any distance more than from my mailbox to my front door (and even then, only if it was raining). So, as part of a broader health initiative, I started running almost every night this summer.

And guess what? I HATED it. It was terrible. And then, at some point it became less terrible. To my great surprise I found myself LOOKING FORWARD to my runs. I had slowly become one of “those” people who try to figure out the exact angle of their over-pronating ankles and get super jazzed about running negative splits.

I have tried to apply this principle to things less obnoxious than distance running (weightlifting(?), getting more sleep, reading fiction novels) and I can definitely say that persistence is 90% of the battle when you’re trying to develop new (good) habits.

My next self improvement journey is to finally stop drinking Coke Zero all damn day every day, but I’m totally not addicted or anything JUST GET OFF MY BACK OK I CAN STOP AT ANY TIME.

3. Give up on wearing hats already

I’ve always really liked hats, and for my entire life I was convinced that if I just found the right hat, I could wear it and not look like one of those tragic progeria kids. Well, the cold and uncaring hand of logic has finally gripped my heart and I now accept that I just need to give up on the hat thing.

My head is small. Hats look stupid on dudes with small heads. Genetics have doomed me to a hat-free existence. NEXT LIFE LESSON PLEASE.

4. Learn to cook, dummy

At some point you’ve just got to stop eating PBJs and cereal all the time and learn to cook. It’s not that hard! Actually it’s really easy. All you have to do is follow a few very specific and simple preparation steps that are available for FREE on the internet. You can cook any type of food you want! Seriously! If you are over 25 and still making cold-cut sandwiches and  Doritos for lunch like a 7-year-old you deserve a smack in the head. Learn how to chop vegetables. Buy and use a garlic press. Buy and use various hot sauces. You’re an adult for heaven’s sake.

Also, when you make spaghetti, cook the spaghetti until it’s almost done and then add it to your sauce and let it cook the rest of the way. The first time you do this you’ll feel like an idiot for dumping sauce on watery, overcooked noodles for so many years like a total amateur.

5. The More You Learn, the More You Realize You Don’t Know Anything

This is kind of obvious, but the older I get the more comfortable I am with the amount of crap I don’t know. I accept that I will never be an expert on the cultivation and exportation of cranberries. I will never have a deep and working knowledge of entire fields of science, mathematics and engineering. Oh well.

As it stands, I probably already spend way too much time reading wikipedia for curiosity’s sake, learning just a little bit about a lot of different things—accumulating shallow knowledge just to check a box. Maybe I’ll try to dig a bit deeper into the crap that most interests me, and all the rest of the crap can just chill out for a while, you know?

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My Favorite Songs of 2012

Due to a change of employment I have have had a 40 minute commute for the past 8 months. It’s pretty much the absolute worst except for the fact that it gives me time to listen to mass amounts of music. In no particular order, here are some songs that I grew to appreciate this last year:

10. Jason Lytle: Last Problem of the Alps

Jason Lytle makes a very specific kind of mopey melodic pop-rock that seems pretty normal at first listen, maybe even slightly boring. BUT THEN you notice how interesting that weird synth part is, or how orchestral parts will pop in and out of his songs like someone scanning through the AM dial. Then after a while, you can’t stop listening to his albums over and over and you start slowly absorbing all of their sad majestic energy until you write long run on sentences about it.

9. The Wave: Miike Snow

Try to ignore the bizarre and slightly disturbing video (or maybe you’re way into it, in that case go nuts I guess) and just listen to this song. Writing catchy pop music that isn’t the same trendy noises over and over (synth heavy dance-pop lately) is something that not many people do anymore for whatever reason, so major kudes to these Swedish producer weirdos.

8. I’ve Been Loving You Too Long: Otis Redding

I’ve been listening to a lot of Otis Redding lately and I think there’s not a more indelible Otis moment than on this track when he sings “You are TIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRED and your love is growing cold…” The explosion of “tired” compared to the pathos of the rest of the phrase should be beaten into the head of every singer as proof that you don’t have to be trying to blow the doors off the barn with every word.

That being said, the thing about Otis that I love is that he just totally goes for it. He tried so HARD. In fact, I have this hanging on my wall at work and it provides more inspiration than a thousand photos of people climbing mountain peaks or whatever:

try-harder

7. Wood Ox: Jeff the Brotherhood

Jeff the Brotherhood make such willfully DUMB music that it makes me laugh sometimes. Sample lyric:

I didn’t mean to make you mad

I didn’t mean to make you sad

I heard he’s gonna kill me soon

I need to hide out in your room

HAHAHAHA. I still really like this band because their particular brand of early-Weezer-meets-Motorhead-meets-lazy-stoners is just the thing to listen to on a Tuesday morning when you really need a Coke Zero but are still 20 minutes from your exit.

6. Do it Anyway: Ben Folds Five

It’s pretty weird that Ben Folds Five reunited and recorded a new album this year. I mean, I grew up sort of idolizing this band and I figured since they never made it out of the 90’s that the book was closed (similar sounding Ben Folds solo work notwithstanding).

I was not really even looking forward to the new album, but this song in particular really won me over. When Ben Folds plays with Darren Jesse and Robert Sledge the songs obtain a certain jazzy bounciness that is curiously absent in Ben Fold’s solo stuff, and this song is a good example of that. If you close your eyes when you listen to this, it almost feels like 1998 again.

5. 48 Roses: Mariachi El Bronx

I have a friend that kept telling me about some punk band called The Bronx that decided to start playing Mariachi music and that it was really good, and I was all like, “OK.” And then eventually I listened to it and it was super excellent.

I mean, if someone told me that you could successfully combine punk and mariachi and not have it sound like some kind of offensive Mexican minstrel show then I would have thought just the opposite! But I would have been wrong.

4. Just What I Needed: The Cars

I’m sure I’d heard this song before this year, probably lots of times. I think I saw a band cover this song and I realized how just really, really good it is. I then learned how to play it on the guitar (it’s super easy, FYI) and that thing happened where you gain a weird inside-out understanding of a song due to the fact that you’ve played it a bunch and you like it even more and it becomes your go-to karaoke song.

3. Plumage: Menomena

It’s all about the massive FART of the baritone sax (2:08). I live for that kind of stuff.

2. Soda Popinski: Javelin

Sometimes I get weirdly attached to songs (or things) that while I know are pretty dumb on an intellectual level, they get me right where it matters: in the GUT. This is a stupid little song that mostly just samples an old NES score but it speaks to my gut in unexplainable and possibly immoral ways.

1. Apocalypse Dreams: Tame Impala

AHHHHHHHHHH THIS IS GOOOOOOOD. Usually when I hear music, even really great music, I can at least sort of understand how it was created. You write some chords, come up with a melody and some lyrics and boom; song. Sometimes though, songs are just TOO GOOD, and you can’t even think of how a group of humans sequenced all these sounds in the first place.

Am I saying this song was written by super-advanced musical aliens? Probably.

Probably.

Music to Christmas To

I made a Christmas playlist for you guys. Click here to download it.

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Track Listing:

1. Santa Claus is Back in Town – Elvis Presley

2. Merry Christmas Baby – Otis Redding

3. Jul det’ Cool – MC Einar

4. Christmas Ghost – The Raveonettes

5. Christmas in the Room – Sufjan Stevens

6. ¿Donde Está Santa Claus? – Augie Rios

7. What Christmas Means to Me – Stevie Wonder

8. The Little Drummer Boy – Johnny Cash

9. El Niño – Willie Nelson

I just got an interesting email, you guys

This is so weird you guys, I just accidentally got an email from Johnny Depp!

FROM: johnnycakes12@yahoo.com
DATE: Thursday, July 12, 2012 10:52 AM
TO: chaset@altavista.com
SUBJECT: RE: bracelets

MESSAGE BODY:

Dear sir, I am inquiring on my recent order of bracelets from your online store. I was very pleased with the order of 24 bracelets that I had previously purchased and would like the shipping information of my current order so I can estimate when my additional bracelets will arrive. I also anticipate ordering more bracelets in the future. Bracelets.

Sincerely,

Johnny Bracelets Depp

Crazy, right? I hadn’t even noticed that he liked bracelets so much in the first place!

This is just a really cool and timeless look


I’ve been on the lookout for some ideas for a new hairstyle, and I think I might go with this look. It’s classy and timeless. I think that in 20 years these kids will never look back in a haze of shame a regret and wonder why they let themselves be talked into having troll doll hair. No, they will look back and think: “That is a great hairstyle. It looked great then, and it looks great now since I STILL have that haircut because it’s THAT timeless.”