Matt Brundage

Archive for 2007

Thursday, 27 December 2007

Senior Citizen discounts

Poverty Rates by Age Put an end to senior citizen discounts. You read that correctly. No more 1/2 off breakfast platters at Denny’s and IHOP. No more $3 off movie tickets. No more discounted hotel rooms or plane rides.

The myth that seniors fall into poverty when they retire couldn’t be further from the truth, as a visit to the Census Bureau website will attest. In 2006, the percentage of seniors (those over 64) in poverty was a mere 9.4% — about 25% less than the national average. Minors (those under 18) were almost twice as likely to be in poverty, with a rate of 17.4%.

If an establishment must discriminate based on age, a “minor discount” or “under-18 discount” would be the most logical, as that age group has the highest levels of poverty. 45 years ago, though, seniors were the ones suffering the most. Sadly, they are still stuck with that reputation.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Curious George is not actually a monkey

No, you heard that right. Despite being referred to as one in the original books, multiple television shows, and the recent feature film, Curious George is not actually a monkey, but is more likely a stylized chimpanzee. A chimp is technically not a monkey but an ape. While the great majority of monkeys are tailless have tails, the macaque is a notable exception. George looks nothing like a macaque; the chances that his likeness was adapted from an actual monkey are slim. Curious George is not a monkey.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Musical arc

It’s been said that the music you listen to as a young adult will — more often than not — be the music you’ll be listening to for the rest of your life. I’ve been trying to evaluate that axiom in terms of my own listening habits; so far the diagnosis is still quite muddy.

Like most people, my taste has evolved slowly and steadily; lately I feel as though I am settling down — not in the frequency in which I acquire music, but in the rate that I fall out of favor with certain bands or genres.

In my early years, I never listened to the radio and didn’t own any music. Exposure came from lying on the floor in my parents’ living room with an old Sears hi-fi record player and headphones massive enough to cause discomfort after a couple LPs. My parents’ collection was spotty at best. Random John Denver and Beatles albums. At least three albums by the now-obscure Mason Williams.

In the summer of 1989, I received a compilation tape of Beach Boys songs from my uncle in response to my positive reaction to the song “Kokomo”. A year later, I remember wanting to own M.C. Hammer’s breakout album Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em, and dancing around like a total loser to “Ice Ice Baby”. During this period, I was discovering vapid early nineties pop and listening to oldies. A few years later, I developed an intense obsession of the music of Ace of Base (my first pop CD). Throughout high school, I took to mostly mainstream rock (Weezer, then The Smashing Pumpkins) and pop and listened incessantly to commercial rock radio.

By the end of the nineties, I was acquiring CDs at an alarming rate of one every four or five days. It was as if I were making up for lost time. In 2000, I rediscovered the Beach Boys while taking a music appreciation class at Montgomery College. I embraced them with open arms and became a rapid Beach Boys completist almost overnight. At the same time, I began falling out of favor with commercial rock, especially that which is played on the radio. I started listening to more “indie” bands, more obscure sounds, more classic country, more underground bands.

Small Image Which brings me to the point of this post: what (in addition to my own tastes) has changed? I’ll use Semisonic’s breakthrough 1998 album Feeling Strangely Fine as an example. If this album had been released nowadays, I would probably not even hear it, given my aversion to commercial pop and rock radio. If I did happen to hear it, I would probably brush it off, classify it as forgettable, and move on. But yet the album remains a classic in my own mind — dare I say, a minor masterpiece. I must acknowledge that I’m approaching the album with bias. I can’t evaluate it objectively because I continue to view the songs through a lens clouded with good memories: Buying my first car. The bittersweet relief of graduating from high school. The giddiness and elation of having a girlfriend. Becoming independent. Climbing up the lower rungs of the career ladder. Et cetera…

I look back fondly at music from my late teens, yet I recoil with disgust at some of the cookie-cutter “music” being released now. I used to follow the Billboard charts every week and know most of the songs. Now, I’m lucky if I can hum one or two songs in the top 40. I’ve come to realize that the deciding factor isn’t the music itself, but my emotional connection to it. I like to think that I evaluate music more objectively now, as a (mostly) level-headed adult. My appreciation of a new band or particular song won’t be influenced by frivolous things such as unrelated emotions. Or at least that’s my hope.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

A day in the life of Sniff

Annie’s written another solid article about Sniff.

Sniff Bun-Bun Brundage Two months have passed since we brought Sniff Bun-Bun home. It has been a lot of fun having him around. Here’s a typical day in the life of Sniff:

I let him out of his cage in the morning. He runs in circles around me and then he dashes over to the kitchen because he knows that’s where I’m heading. He usually beats me to it and if I’m too slow he hops back to escort me. He hops around in the kitchen and then runs over to the closet at the end of the kitchen whenever he’s hungry. I had set up an area for him with a rug, litter box with hay, food, water and his stuffed animal buddy, Doggie. I play with him for a little bit and then I go upstairs to work.

I give him more food when I go downstairs for lunch and play with him. He loves attention. He licks my feet while I’m making lunch. If I ignore him, he starts nipping me and if that doesn’t get my attention, he digs on my pants. Once I give him attention he calms down and licks my arm or feet with contentment. Other times he hops onto my lap if he wants to be petted or nudges my hand with his head. If I’m lying on the couch watching TV, he jumps up to snuggle me. Sometime he jumps with one leap onto the couch and lands in perfect petting position.

Sniff Bun-Bun Brundage I take him for a walk outside once in a while. One time I put his harness on too loose and it came off. He ran under a big bush and had a jolly old time digging. Luckily he hopped toward me when I called him. I grabbed him and brought him inside. I usually play chase with him so I guess that came in handy.

We put him in his cage while we eat dinner and let him out again when we’re done. We don’t put him back in his cage again until around 11pm. All I have to do to get him back in his cage is to put fresh veggies in there and he hops right in. I’ve given him different types of veggies and fruits. I thought his favorite would either be carrots or lettuce but he chooses kale over everything else.

He gets lots of love, attention, and play time. I think he’s a little spoiled sometimes but he deserves it. He’s a very good pet and he’s so cute!

–Annie Brundage

More recent pictures of Sniff

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

My cousin, the president

My mom has a family tree program in which she’s entered literally thousands of names, some dating back centuries. One of the benefits — if you can call it that — is that you start discovering that you’re related to famous people. For instance, my mom recently emailed me with the good news:

Dick Cheney is your 9th cousin twice removed.
Franklin D Roosevelt is your 7th cousin 3 times removed.
William H Taft is your 6th cousin 5 times removed.

In other words, one of Dick Cheney’s 128 great great great great great great grandfathers happens to be one of my 512 great great great great great great great great grandfathers. And so forth. Oh, and I’m also related to George W. Bush and John Kerry, both by marriage.

I’m thinking that, if more families researched their genealogy, most would find out that they too are somehow related to famous people. But then it wouldn’t be so special.

Monday, 24 September 2007

Death From Above

Medium Image Medium Image The two CDs to your right may have only cost me about $10 a piece, but they’ve proven to be a much more expensive investment in the long run. I recently caused permanent damage to my car’s factory-installed speaker system while blasting Death From Above 1979’s “Romantic Rights (Erol Alkan’s Love From Below Re-Edit)” on the way to volleyball a few weeks ago. The song is little more than tribal-style drumming, a throbbing, distorted bass, and keyboards that sound like twin turbofans powering up before a sudden burst across the runway of an aircraft carrier. An indulgent six-minute mess of noise with, as one Amazon reviewer put it, no “socially redeeming value.”

My once-acceptable Saturn L-Series speakers now have clearly audible distortion, but only at certain pitches in the lower register. Certain bass sounds are now replaced with a slight vibrato. Not exactly a clipping sound, but still a clear sign that the speakers are trying in vain to reproduce certain sounds.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Sniff Bun-Bun Brundage

Annie recently took the time to write a short report on our new arrival, Sniff:

Meet the newest addition to our home, Sniff Bun-Bun Brundage!

Sniff Bun-Bun Brundage After looking for a rabbit for about a month we stumbled upon Bun-Bun. He’s a playful Holland Lop bunny that we adopted from a nice family on Sunday.

His former owners had to find a new home for him because one of the family members is allergic to him. In addition to giving us their beloved bunny, they also gave us a nice cage, food, chew toys, litter, and a leash and harness. They also drove down to meet us halfway! We are lucky to have found them and Bun-Bun. A BIG and special thank you!

When we got him inside the house, we didn’t try to pet him or fuss with him. We gave him time to adjust. We put the cage in the living room so he wouldn’t be lonely. When it seemed like he had adjusted to his new environment, we opened the cage door and stepped back. We were both lying on the ground waiting for the bunny to come out. It took him about 20 minutes before he came out for the first time and then hopped right back in. A little while later he came out again and started looking around. Once he was more comfortable he started sniffing us and everything in the room. Matt named him Sniff Bun-Bun Brundage.

The first day he was here he was afraid to go into the kitchen and foyer because the ceramic tile and hardwood were too slippery for him. The first time he tried it, he slipped and it must have scared him half to death because he ran out of there as fast as he could. He’d follow us around the house but won’t follow us into the kitchen or the foyer. It has been three days and now he’s more comfortable in the kitchen. As for the foyer, he had learned to jump from the carpet in the living room to the rug in front of the door but he won’t go further.

Sniff Bun-Bun Brundage It wasn’t long before he started running around the living room and dining room. He would dash from one end of the room to the other. Sometimes he’ll do a little happy-go-lucky twisted jump. It’s a lot of fun to watch. Then he would run over to a wall or a piece of furniture, do a little side flip and lay down next to it heaving with contentment. His other favorite spot is by the vent with the cool air blowing out on him.

We let him out a couple times a day so he gets lots of play time. He has also been upstairs. He won’t go up and down the stairs by himself though. He runs around in the hallway and goes to the bathroom to pee in his litter box. He’s not allowed in the office because there are too many wires. We don’t let him out of our sight if there are wires around but we haven’t seen him even try to chew on any wires yet. We put a harness and leash on him and we took him outside for a walk. He was really cautious at first but once he got used to it — oh boy! We thought we were taking the bunny for a walk but instead HE took us for a run.

He likes to jump on top of us if we’re lying down. He also likes to jump through our arms and legs. Maybe he thinks he’s in the circus. He also likes to run in circles around us. He loves attention and loves to be petted. He would flop down when we pet him. He was a little uncomfortable about being held at first but now he just flops down for a good rubbing. He doesn’t stay long though. About ten minutes at most then he would run off and hop around again.

Sniff Bun-Bun Brundage He’s good about using the litter box for pooping and peeing. He hadn’t peed anywhere else yet and we’re hoping he won’t start. He had pooped on the carpet but not the same way he poops in his litter box. It’s usually just one dropping or scattered out in a line or circle. He would run around us and before we know it, a circle of scattered poop is surrounding us. We were a little confused at first since he was so good about using his litter box. In a book that we borrowed from the library and from online sources, it says that he’s just marking his territory. The poop is very small and dry and can be picked off the carpet without leaving any stain or odor.

We went to the vet today and he was well behaved. The veterinarian said that Sniff is healthy and confirmed that he’s a boy. She doesn’t recommend neutering him unless he gets very aggressive, which may have to be soon. He’s getting a little frisky.

That’s all for now from Sniff world! More to come later.

–Annie Brundage

More pictures of Sniff

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Favorites vs. Bookmarks

No doubt this topic has been covered before, but I’d like to delve into the semantics of Microsoft’s “Favorites” versus Netscape’s, Opera’s, Mozilla’s, and Apple’s “Bookmarks”. Despite Microsoft having used the name “Favorites” since 1995 — practically the fledgling days of the web — it never really caught on with the masses. The word just sounded clunky as a verb; people continued to use the verb “bookmark” long after they had dumped Mosaic and Netscape and embraced Internet Explorer en masse.

“Bookmarks” is elegant and descriptive in its specificity. The feature is implicitly defined by our prior knowledge of what an actual bookmark does. “Favorites” is bland and doesn’t really define the feature or what it does. “…a favorite what?”

I find it mildly disconcerting that the sites I happen to save within Microsoft Internet Explorer aren’t necessarily my favorite sites, yet the browser deems them as such. The nerve!

Sunday, 12 August 2007

The MoCo Agricultural Fair

a pig in its sty Annie and I braved the afternoon heat and took in the sights of the The Montgomery County Agricultural Fair. While I went more for the pigs, Annie was there for the rabbits. Lucky for you, you’ll see photos of both.

Monday, 16 July 2007

First impressions of The Boy With No Name

Medium Image Travis released their fifth studio album a couple months ago; it was only a matter of time before it found its way into my living room. From the beginning, I had a good feeling about the album, as it was produced by Nigel Godrich — the man who also influenced the sound on The Man Who and The Invisible Band.

Their previous album, 2003’s 12 Memories, can be seen as an aberration — it was more or less self-produced and was overtly experimental and political at times. The Boy With No Name finds Travis sailing into safer waters, both stylistically and lyrically. While inferior to The Man Who, TBWNN excels, thanks to expert work by guitarist Andy Dunlop. Listen to his imprint on “Selfish Jean.” The song is pleasing in and of itself, but sticks out like a sore thumb as the second track. It would have been more at home after “My Eyes”, Fran Healy’s tribute to his newborn son, Clay.

“3 Times and You Lose” is possibly the standout track. It’s similar to some of the better songs on The Man Who and makes for a solid lead track. “Sailing Away” is also quite strong, but is hidden as a bonus track, tucked away at the end of “New Amsterdam.”