July 1 – 2: “I am the man who arranges the blocks…”

On our way back from the beach yesterday,this song came on the mix cd we were listening to. It is seriously amazing – it goes through the history of the U.S.S.R., but is set to the music of Tetris, and a Tetris theme runs throughout the song.

The video is also amazing – go check it out:

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June 23 – 3: Pixlr

At school, I use Photoshop for various projects with my students, and sometimes I’ll bring pictures from home and use the software there to edit them. But I’m not enough of a photographer to need it very often, so I’m not willing to buy Photoshop to use at home. So when I’ve needed to edit out crazy dog eyes from my photos for this blog, I’ve been using Pixlr – a free online photo editing site. It’s not as robust as Photoshop, but for my pretty simple purposes, it does the trick. And seriously, how amazing is it to have a site like this available for free on the Internet?

June 23 – 2: Nostalgia

So as I was reading through my blog posts on my freshly created Inoreader account today, a couple of posts and links led me all the way down the nostalgia rabbit-hole to the Gap swing commercial, which as I think about it, seriously changed my life:

If this commercial hadn’t been on TV, then the whole swing revival movement in the late ’90’s might not have happened. And I don’t know what my high-school social life would have been like without it. Once my friends and I could drive, our social scene revolved around trips to go swing dancing at the Mercury Cafe on any Tuesday, Thursday, or Sunday night that we could talk our parents into letting us go.  My best friends at school were the other kids who were into swing dancing – who also happened to be in choir and honors classes with me. And maybe we would have been friends without the dancing, but I’m not really sure about that. All I know for sure is that I loved to dance, and it was a huge part of my identity when I was a teenager – and even into college. And as much as I may hate commercials sometimes, and what they say and mean about our society, I’m incredibly grateful that this one was made and that it influenced what my friends and I thought was cool when we were teenagers.

 

June 21 – 3: The pace of modern life

I love this xkcd strip – it elegantly expresses something that I have trouble articulating sometimes, but that I definitely agree with. People have always fretted over new technology destroying society, over how our morals are declining, over how kids act these days – and broadly, over how society is going down the tubes. But really, as I posted yesterday, human society is amazingly adaptable. We figure things out. And almost invariably, those who complain about the downfall of society are wrong.

(Of course, there are a few historical exceptions, but in those cases, the problems were less with society as a whole than with the society’s leaders – which isn’t really what the comic is referring too. Furthermore, once the leaders in those countries were out of power, society more or less stabilized itself and carried on progressing in more positive directions. But I digress.)

Society changes. That’s just the way of things. And change is always hard, and a little scary, and is inevitably going to cause people to feel nostalgic for the “way things used to be.” But most of the time, most of the changes are improvements – otherwise, people wouldn’t accept them and they wouldn’t be happening. 

So the next time you hear someone grumbling about how “back in my day, everything was shiny rainbows and unicorns” or whatever (or feel inclined to grumble yourself), just remember that society has always been changing and evolving, and it always will. And change is uncomfortable. But it’s also an inevitable part of humanity’s growth and development, which, overall, seems to be headed in the right direction.

June 18 – 2: WTMD

If you’re the kind of person who looks at tags on blog posts, you may have noticed that almost all of my music posts are also tagged “WTMD.” WTMD is the best radio station I have ever had the privilege of listening to. It’s a Baltimore NPR station, but unlike your typical NPR station, its focus is on current music. And I love  pretty much everything they play. If you’re in the Baltimore area, they broadcast on 89.7 fm, but even if you’re not, you can check them out online or download their streaming app. This station is seriously one of my favorite things about Baltimore – I can’t imagine surviving my commute without them.