Thursday, September 27, 2012

Curating a party playlist

For the last ... three hours? I've lost track of time. This is a blast. I get so jazzed from:
1. listening to music in general
2. reminiscing about whatever memories come up when I listen to music
3. selecting a bunch of tracks that will completely impress and delight my friends
I ought to get into DJing. Then I could learn how to make a list of songs that actually sound good together.

Of course you're interested, so the list is below. Comments welcome, especially "I am impressed and delighted!"

(I should also mention that if you're looking for more ways to admire my vast decade of musical knowledge you can also find me on This Is My Jam or my music lists blog.)

Artist, Name, Album
The Books, IDKT, The Way Out
The Books, I Didn't Know That, The Way Out
The Books, Free Translator, The Way Out
Beirut, Brandenburg, Gulag Orkestar
Beirut, Postcards From Italy, Gulag Orkestar
Beirut, Mount Wroclai (Idle Days), Gulag Orkestar
Alexis Gideon, Liophant, Flight of the Liophant
Shugo Tokumaru, Parachute, Exit
Röyksopp, Happy Up Here, Junior
Orbital, Otono, The Middle Of Nowhere
Charlotte Gainsbourg, Master's Hands, IRM
Maritime, Adios, Glass Floor
Bobby Birdman, Victory At Sea, New Moods
David Byrne and Brian Eno, Strange Overtones, Everything That Happens Will Happen Today
Jens Lekman, A Sweet Summer's Night on Hammer Hill, Oh You're So Silent Jens
Stars, This Charming Man, Nightsongs
Architecture In Helsinki, Maybe You Can Owe Me, In Case We Die
Architecture In Helsinki, Do The Whirlwind, In Case We Die
William Shatner, Common People, Has Been
The Rapture, Get Myself Into It, Pieces Of The People We Love
The Rapture, I Need Your Love, DJ Kicks: Erlend Øye
Uusi Fantasia, Lattialla Taas / Venus [Acapella], DJ Kicks: Erlend Øye
Justus Kohncke, 2 After 909 / Intergalactic Autobahn [Acapella], DJ Kicks: Erlend Øye
Erlend Øye, The Black Keys Work [Phonique Rmx], DJ Kicks: Erlend Øye
Holy Fuck, Red Lights, Latin
The Human League, Do Or Die, Dare
Jupiter, Saké, Juicy Lucy
Jupiter, Avalon, Juicy Lucy
Calvin Harris, Stars Come Out, Ready For The Weekend
Justice, Canon (Primo), "Audio, Video, Disco"
Justice, Canon, "Audio, Video, Disco"
Gui Boratto, Colors, Take My Breath Away
Air, Cherry Blossom Girl, Talkie Walkie
Junior Boys, In the Morning, So This Is Goodbye
Hot Chip, One Pure Thought, Made In The Dark
Talking Heads, Genius Of Love (Tom Tom Club), Stop Making Sense (Special New Edition)
Talking Heads, Girlfriend Is Better, Stop Making Sense (Special New Edition)
The Go! Team, Panther Dash, "Thunder, Lightning, Strike"
The Go! Team, Ladyflash, "Thunder, Lightning, Strike"
U.S.E, Look At The City, Loveworld
Junior Senior, Move Your Feet, D-D-Don't Don't Stop The Beat
TV On The Radio, Dancing Choose, Dear Science (Deluxe Edition)
Broken Social Scene, 7/4 (Shoreline), Broken Social Scene
Andrew Bird, Fake Palindromes, Andrew Bird & The Mysterious Production Of Eggs
YACHT, Summer Song, See Mystery Lights
Cansei De Ser Sexy, Let's Make Love And Listen To Death From Above, Cansei De Ser Sexy
Grand Buffet, Things That Go Hump in the Night (Ultimate Remix), Five Years of Fireworks
Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti, Bright Lit Blue Skies, Before Today
Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti, Round and Round, Before Today
Air France, No Excuses, No Way Down
Metronomy, Everything Goes My Way, The English Riviera
Stars, Elevator Love Letter, Heart
Metric, Sick Muse, Fantasies
Metric, Satellite Mind, Fantasies
Hercules and Love Affair, Blind, Hercules and Love Affair
Mylo, Drop The Pressure, Destroy Rock & Roll
Mylo, In My Arms, Destroy Rock & Roll
Midnight Juggernauts, Road to Recovery, Dystopia
Blondie, Heart of Glass, Parallel Lines
Madness, Our House, Madness
Robyn, Dancing On My Own, Body Talk
Metronomy, Corinne, The English Riviera
Tarkan, Dilli Düdük, Turkish Hits Vol. 1
Blockhead, Grape Nuts and Chalk Sauce, Uncle Tony's Coloring Book
Janelle Monáe, Dance Or Die (Feat. Saul Williams), The ArchAndroid
Janelle Monáe, Faster, The ArchAndroid
Janelle Monáe, Locked Inside, The ArchAndroid
Yeasayer, ONE, Odd Blood
Balkan Beat Box, Sunday Arak (Featuring Dana Leong), Balkan Beat Box
Spoon, Don't You Evah, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
Foster the People, Call It What You Want, Torches
My Dear Disco, Amsterdam, Dancethink LP
Dismemberment Plan, The Other Side, Change
Bat for Lashes, Pearl's Dream, Two Suns
Massive Attack, Man Next Door, Mezzanine
The Earlies, Burn The Liars, The Enemy Chorus
The Flaming Lips, The W.A.N.D. (The Will Always Negates Defeat), At War With the Mystics
DJ Shadow, The Number Song, Endtroducing.....
Republica, Ready To Go (Album Mix), Ready To Go (Single)
Gnarls Barkley, Run (I'm a Natural Disaster), The Odd Couple
Gary Numan, Cars, The Pleasure Principle
Crystal Castles, Courtship Dating, Crystal Castles
The Prodigy, Girls, Their Law: The Singles 1990/2005
Friendly Fires, Skeleton Boy, Friendly Fires
Crystal Castles, Not In Love, Crystal Castles ( II )
Grand Buffet, Born In The USA, King Vision
The Police, Can't Stand Losing You, Outlandos d'Amour
Scissor Sisters, Comfortably Numb, Scissor Sisters
Ratatat, Falcon Jab, LP3
Barbara Morgenstern, Der Augenblick, Fjorden
Banco De Gaia, Farewell Ferengistan, Songs From The Silk Road
Beach House, Master Of None, Beach House
DJ Shadow, Changeling / Transmission 1, Endtroducing.....

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Wealth equals richness minus worry

I am not sure if there is anything to this, but bear with me for a minute:

Wealth = richness - worry.

"Richness" is pretty self-explanatory. Traveling in a private jet is richer than traveling in a Greyhound bus.

Eating artisan chocolate is richer than eating Hershey's. Eating fine steak is richer than eating burgers. But eating asparagus can be richer than eating a steak (if you really like asparagus or dislike steak) and eating a Starburst could theoretically be richer than either.
Living in a fancy house is richer than living in a shack. But living in a small house in a city can be richer than living in a big house in the suburbs, and living in a closet in NYC can be richer still.
An hour with a close friend is (usually) richer than an hour with a stranger. An hour with a close friend is usually richer than an hour playing computer games. Playing World of Warcraft is richer than playing Angry Birds. Playing chess (assuming you're actually thinking about it and digging it) is richer than playing crazy eights.

Richness (here synonymous with meaning) happens when your life matches your values.

"Worry" is also self-explanatory, but a little subtler. Worry is anything that makes you think about anything that's not richness.

Money causes worry. This is obvious. When you have to think about money, you are not thinking about the richness in your life.
Transportation causes worry. The fact that you have to get from point A to point B. (there can be richness in your transportation, like if you're riding a bike and you like biking, but the fact that you must do it is a worry.)
Your bank sending you paper statements causes (a tiny bit of) worry, because you have to think about them. Grocery store reward cards cause worry. Policies like "20% off on Tuesdays" cause worry by introducing mental complexity into your model of shopping.

Worry happens when you're forced to expend attention on anything that's not your values.

Corollary: Technology (or indeed, anything) adds wealth to your life if it increases richness or decreases worry.

Cloud storage, for example, is a great technology, because I no longer have to think about which computer I left my files on, or if they're backed up. mp3s are great because music increases richness in my life. Fitbit adds some richness (I love looking at data) and a little worry (I might forget it); so far, it's a net positive.

Corollary #2: False abstractions are plentiful; beware of them, and don't underestimate the worry they cause!

ATMs are great. They work worldwide. However, while I was in Poland, due to my bank getting bought out and them shipping me a new card, I got stranded pretty hard. Not that we have much of a choice to avoid ATMs these days, and the balance is still positive, but a couple days of frustration and inconvenience is not nothing.

Corollary #3: Maybe instead of "wealth", I mean "flourishing" or "happiness" or "the good life?" Which makes this either more or less profound. In a sense, it feels like I've really unlocked something smart here, an evaluation for anything: does this increase richness and/or decrease worry? However, maybe this is a tautology; maybe I've just said "Goodness equals good things minus bad things."

Friday, September 14, 2012

Things That Are Good

Less interesting-things, more my-life-journaling. If you want interesting things, see what research I'm thinking about. Here are some things that are good in my life now:

1. The HCII. The people are amazing. The students, the faculty, and the staff. It's a community (especially the PhD students) that will hang out outside work, that all cares about each other, that just sort of accepts that everyone is friends and everyone supports everyone else. And everyone I've met (I'm doing a mental check right now but I think, yep, everyone) is very good at what they do.

2. Being in grad school in general. I love the freedom to do what you're excited about. I love feeling "in the club" and invested in something that I care about.

3. Having some easy tasks and some difficult tasks to do. We just finished an interactive projected directory in the HCII lobby; a difficult task (and one that took much more weekend time than we had) but we pulled it off, and how! We demoed it to the cofounder of Adobe, who happened to be around, so that was neat. Anyway, that task helped me feel somewhat competent, but I'm also busy at things I'm much less competent at, so that'll keep me busy.

4. My old CMU friends (who are more and more not-from-CMU), my new CMU friends, and my roommates' friends. Making interesting friends just happens here, I guess.

5. Bikes and no sugar. I feel physically great. The only downside is that sometimes I'm not sleeping enough because I'm just too wired.

6. Pour-over coffee. I've started making my own. It's not as good as at Commonplace Coffee yet, but I'm on the way.

7. Pittsburgh! Love this place.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

HCII week two: uh, equally manic?

Weird. I feel like a different person here. The kind of person who has all the energy to do all those things that I wish I could do if I had all that energy. The kind of person who can do all those things I wish I could do if I were good at doing things. I'm sure the honeymoon will wear off eventually. In the meantime, it's still a lot of fun.

In other news:
Hunter-gatherers don't expend a lot more calories than us; the reason obesity is widespread is that we eat more than they.
Becoming an expert: a lot of these tips (but not all of them) seem to be summarized by "beginner's mind." Stay humble and eager!
Here's one person's advice on managing work. I want to round up a dozen super effective people in my field and ask them how they work on a day-to-day basis. There's probably not a huge amount that they do similarly, but there may be some telling common threads.