Sent straight back to Topaz

This is unsettling, at the very least.

Topaz War Relocation Center covered 31 square miles and housed about 9000 Japanese and Japanese-Americans during WWII. An interesting tidbit from Wikipedia about the name:

Topaz was originally known as the Central Utah Relocation Center, but this name was abandoned when administrators realized that the acronym was naturally pronounced “Curse.” The camp was then briefly named for the closest settlement, until nearby Mormon residents (with their own heritage of forced relocation) demanded that their town name not be associated with a “prison for the innocent.” The final name, Topaz, came from a mountain which overlooks the camp from 9 miles (14.5 km) away.

The 442nd RCT of the 100th Battalion was a military unit made up entirely of Japanese-Americans and became the most highly decorated combat unit in the history of the U.S. Army. Many of the boys in the unit returned from the war and were sent straight back to Topaz.

From War of Relocation:

Awful open mic performance


Last night I played the open mic night at the Empyrean. And, quite frankly, I was awful.

My first mistake was that I decided to play my twelve string guitar on stage. You know, to “liven it up” or something. Once I started playing, however, I remembered why that particular guitar sat in the closet for so long:

It sucks big, fat Yeti toe.

Half way through my second song, my hand was already hurting. A twelve string has twice as many strings as a standard Spanish acoustic guitar, and this particular one has a string action that makes it almost impossible to do barre chords at all. Even open position “cowboy” chords start to become difficult to play after a while. By the time of my third song, it was painful to the point of distraction.

By my last song, all I wanted to do was smash the guitar ALA Joe Strummer. I was so pissed that I wanted to throw it, smash it, break it. In hindsight, that might have been cool, but to a room of about 30 people expecting mellow acoustic music? Who knows. It might have secured my legacy.

That anger didn’t help my singing, in a real bad way. It’s hard to sing soft, mellow songs when you don’t feel mellow, and what normally would have been a routine performance turned into a disaster.

I decided, foolishly, to play a song I hadn’t rehearsed, and I totally spaced on the lyrics. That messed me up, and I was so distraught that I messed up the second song also.

Remember my guitar? Yeah, it turns out it was also tuned a half step too high, which I discovered when I attempted to play Bon Iver’s Flume. (That also accounts for a lot of the other discomfort in playing that stinking pile of strings and wood, although this was clearly user error.)

It was death to a song sung in a falsetto. I copped out halfway, and sang it an octave lower. Weak sauce!

For my last song, I proclaimed that I was gonna play a song that I could actually sing, which I did. But halfway through the song, I realized that I just wasn’t feeling it at all.

I had previously changed my song into one that is sung softly, kinda like Elliot Smith or something. But that wasn’t working. What the song was originally was loud, brash, and at the edge of my singing range in terms of pitch and volume.

Halfway through, I realized that I wasn’t enjoying myself, and I wanted to sing my song my way, pitch be damned. I think I spooked the soundboard guy, because halfway through the song, I jumped up about 20dB in volume from both my vocals and my guitar.

And you know what? It worked. I actually enjoyed the last two minutes of my performance, and I think the audience did too.

Two lessons learned: One, give your twelve string acoustic to your worst enemy. Two, sing with your heart. Forget trying to appease the masses at the expense of your own interest in the music, because nobody will end up enjoying it.

Moved my blog to Posterous

Ha ha. Yeah, about this post… I really do like Posterous, but since I develop using WordPress, I always need a place to be the alpha testing stage. So I un-switched. So shoot me.

I’ve been looking at it for quite some time, but I’ve finally pulled the trigger. My website/blog/home of the awesome sauce, dangayle.com, has now been ported completely over to Posterous. As a web designer, I love the fact that I could totally do whatever I stinkin’ wanted on my site. I could host images, I could scrap the design at will and start over (which I have done, just not recently). WordPress really is one of the best solutions for a lot of people’s needs. But, as it turns out, it’s not the solution to MY needs.

WordPress = Boring and old and crappy

The problem is that I’m bored with it. I’m sick of the micro-updates that totally jack up the website every three months because someone introduced a new bug into the system. The fact that they haven’t branched WordPress into a secure long-term support (LTS) branch and a current branch has ruffled a few feathers, including mine. I’m sick of having to deal with updates. And, quite honestly, I’m bored with PHP, the foundation upon which the WordPress empire was birthed. No offense to PHP programmers, but the language feels old tech. I’m not even a fully qualified programmer, but I can see it. It Python the be-all, end-all? Judging by the size of the stupid O’Reilly “Learning PHP” and “Programming PHP” tombs, Python must be a beast. I don’t want to learn it simply because I like the O’Reilly books, but I don’t want to heave those things around. Maybe Ruby is the answer. Anywho, I’m straying off the point.

Easier to post = more posting = better blog

And while I control it, I never post to it like I should. A blog that no one posts to is simply fruity. Posterous makes it easier to post to because it uses an interface that I use all the time: email. I’m always emailing stupid videos or interesting links or whatnot to people. What I like about Posterous is that I can simply add post@posterous.com to the recipient list, and BOOM! Tough Actin’ Tinactin. I mean, BOOM! Posted to my blog. Like this John Madden Youtube video:

In conclusion

There really isn’t a conclusion. It’s going to be an ongoing debate in my mind, and at my place of work, what is the best platform/what is the best programming language/etc. I honestly think that we should be able to accomplish anything we can think of at this point, and if it’s a language or a platform that is getting in the way, then it’s old tech. Time to bring out yer dead and toss it on the pile, even if it’s not quite dead yet. So, yes, Posterous. I like it. I got it set up, posts imported, domain transferred, everything. Less than an hour. Sweet.

Steve Krug – Usability Essentials

If you haven’t read “Don’t Make Me Think”, you’re an idiot. Ok, not an idiot. Just not-educated in web usability. I recently purchased his new book, “Rocket Surgery Made Easy”, which is his expansion his chapter on usability testing on a budget, and I’m excited to get through it.

I spotted this video on Lukas Mathis’s ignore the code blog, and I thought it was worthwhile re-posting it here.

How to block your IP from Awstats

Although Google Analytics is great, for the price AMAZING, sometimes you want to look at your site numbers a little differently. That’s why I like looking at my Awstats from time to time to get into the nitty-gritty.

One problem though, when you realize that it doesn’t exclude YOUR visits from the logs. (Wow! There are a lot of Macintosh users with Firefox in the Spokane vicinity looking at my blog! I must be popular!)

To exclude your IP or host from the stats analyzer, locate the following file on your server, and open it with your text editor of choice:

Locate this section in the .conf file:

Within the SkipHosts="YOUR IP AND ANY OTHER YOU WANT TO EXCLUDE" section, enter the IP address of your network connection, and hit save.

Voilá! You are now skipped from your stats. Apparently, this doesn’t work retroactively, so you should see your stats changes from this point on.

Canceled show at the Empyrean Coffee House

I’m a bit disappointed, but the show that I was supposed to tonight, Tuesday January 12, play at the Empyrean Coffee House in Spokane, Wa got, canceled.

The Pioneers of Prime Time TV and Courtney Marie Andrews were on their west coast tour, dubbed the “Famous Toxic Cancelled Tour” by Thomas, and they were supposed to roll into town here and we’d get our jam on.

My poster for the canceled January 12, 2010 Empyrean Coffee House show

My poster for the canceled January 12, 2010 Empyrean Coffee House show

I have a couple of new songs up my sleeve, and I’d probably have had Thomas and Jon accompany me a bit, since they’re awesome like that. Thomas and I go way back, and he’s like 1000% better than I am, so he could play what I was going to play probably better than I could, even without hearing it. And Thomas says that Jon is 1000% better than him, so who am I to argue.

But, as these things happen, the Empyrean couldn’t get its new location opened in time to play there as scheduled. (The irony is that they’re set to open the day after, on Wednesday.)

Given the long drive, they decided to find another gig in Seattle instead of driving across to Spokane, which leaves me out of the loop.

Oh, poo.

Anyway, here is a taste of what they would have sounded like:

Look at that weirdness: Jefferson Elliot painting on stage with the Pioneers. Way to go Jefferson!

Care Bear Stare

Horribly Photoshopped, found from the internet Care Bear Stare

Note, this isn’t me. That isn’t my mustache. It’s someone else’s body, found on teh intarwebs. It’s a fake mustache.

In reality, this is in response to someone who said to me:

Hehehe I’m sorry please don’t, er, whimper. Here, let’s go find a care bear okay? Would you like that? A big fluffy bear and a nice ice cream so the figure skater doesn’t have to cry. 😀 (okay okay I might be aSLIGHTLY sarcastic individual….;)

An appropriately mature response, I’m sure you’re sure.

Open mic night

I love open mic nights. No matter how crappy someone sounds, everyone claps. Everyone enjoys themselves. Word.

A brief note on HTML5 Semantics

The HTML5 people say that the new <aside> element is named such because <sidebar> is presentational.

To which I present a DICTIONARY as a counter argument:

side·bar (-bär?)


1. a short article dealing with a sidelight of a major news story and printed alongside it

2. a discussion at the bench between the lawyers and the judge, conducted outside the hearing of the jury


Coming from a newspaper design background, that is how I have always thought about sidebars.