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Amsterdarn's Journal
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Date:2007-04-23 00:44
Mood: nostalgic

A few pieces of news:

Okay the first one isn't really news to the Cornell people, but it's still new enough for me to get a little shiver of glee every time I fill my glass. SodexHo, shitty as it is (really, why would you ever give a bad catering company a 10-year contract?) has started stocking juice machines, one of which has Five Alive. I fucking love Five Alive.

Red Sox swept the Yankees in their first 3-game series. Aw, shit.

Good beer tastes good? I can heartily recommend both Bells' Third Coast Old Ale (dark, murky, complex as balls) and Rogue's Shakespeare Stout (Roasty, malty... pretty straightforwards but entirely and totally good. Dark as hell, too.).

I saw Obama speak at U of I today! He's a pretty charismatic dude, and got the crowd going well. Had lots of clever lines, but all the cleverness felt... disguised, in a way. There was a clear conflict between getting in some money lines and sounding properly populist and down-to-earth. Got me thinking about the "classic" great orators of politics past-- a Lincoln or even a Churchill today would probably get pegged as elitest and grandiloquent, and that's kind of a damn shame.

Anyway, those are the haps.

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Date:2007-03-26 09:04
Subject:Sheer, Unadulterated Partisanship
Mood: James Bond in a Towel.

I probably ought to be finishing up a paper on Hart Crane's "The Bridge" right now; I'm not. Instead, I'm celebrating taking a break by taking sides on issues multifarious, chosen mainly by the criterion of whimsy. Some might seem self-evident, some might seem cockamamie; they are in fact uniformly posessed of the quiet, luminous certitude characteristic of pure truth and mostly true things also.

Granola with or without raisins? WITHOUT!

Aristotelian or Longinian poetry? LONGINIAN!

The National or Clap Your Hands Say Yeah? THE NATIONAL! BUT I MEAN NOT BY A LANDSLIDE

Puppies or Kittens? OH MY GOODNESS KITTENS.

Subpoenas or Executive Privilege? SUBPOENAS! PARTICULARLY IN LIGHT OF CURRENT EVENTS also Leahy is a little bit my homeboy

Red Sox or Yankees? I don't even need to answer this it is so self-evident, guys.

Ezra Pound: Total Asshole? YES!



Steak: Rare, Medium Rare, Medium, Medium Well Done, or Well Done? MEDIUM RARE! (that is a play on words as well as a Truth because I am a vegetarian and accordingly don't eat steak very often)

That is all.

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Date:2007-02-20 20:14
Subject:Seriously, This Is the Most Terrifying Thing Ever.
Mood: ...Patriotic?


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Date:2007-02-19 16:30
Subject:I Am Thinking Thoughts
Mood: contemplative

I suppose we'll see if anything comes of them.

It's totally drawn a bit too big.

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Date:2007-02-19 01:12
Subject:So This Is a Pretty Badly-Written Post.
Mood: My Plate, She is Full

A few days ago I had that meeting with Chris Wiltgen about off-campus housing for same-sex couples. Chris Wiltgen is a creepily enthusiastic man.

In any case, though he was a bit careful in treading the party line, he seemed quite supportive of the idea of making a less discriminatory policy. We talked about what the current policy is (couples have to meet the Human Resources employee standards for Domestic Partnerships (Lord, do I have a few issues with that term), more or less, by having at least two of the following: joint bank account/credit card, partner legally something to your estate, and having been together at least one year), what the policy oughta be (totally non-discriminatory), what are, realistically, the minimum immediate changes that can and should be made (at least a mention of same-sex couples in the policy/email; having H.R. actually post their Domestic Partnership requirements online; catagorically recognizing legally performed civil unions), and issues that must be addressed in considering any policy changes (same-sex couples can live together on-campus; avoiding loopholes, especially for straight couples, because people already go hog-wild trying to live off-campus (apparently some lady was planning to get married just to live off-campus until she learned that she would have to get a pretty legit marriage); punctuation abuse).

It was an interesting talk. Some of the concerns he brought up were issues I hadn't thought of-- for example, the lack of specificity in the definition of "Domestic Partnership", the college's/state's current label of choice, includes straight couples, which Chris was getting a bit hung up on. My reply was that I also didn't like the label for about the same reason, seperate-but-not-in-fact-equal being pretty bogus and all.

So what this all lead to was a tentative Plan of Action: eventually, we'll have a meeting with him, me, a few deans, and possibly other students if I want to grab a few thoughtful, intelligent compatriots. First, though, he's going to contact various other private residential liberal arts colleges in the ACM and the Iowa Conference to see if any of them had a more equal policy we could adapt/adopt, and I'm going to contact private residential liberal arts colleges outside the midwest and we'll put together our results March 2nd. If someone else has already done our work for us, then sweet. If not, then I get to try to figure out a policy all sides can accept.

Also, I have a buttload of work for class.

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Date:2007-02-12 18:57
Subject:A Surprisingly Hilarious Reply
Mood: Treated.

I just got a response to my previously posted email (you remember, the one all full of zesty, righteous rhetoric). To whit:

Thank you for your email. This is not the first time we have considered the appropriate manner to include domestic partnership in our off-campus exceptions policy. As you suggested in your email, there are a number of potential challenges to overcome when including domestic partnership as an exception for living off-campus. Currently, we handle domestic partnership exceptions on a case by case basis, and require that of which the Human Resources Office requires for employee benefits of partners. This is a concern that I would love to address for next year, would you be willing to help me with creating more developed criteria? If you would like to discuss this further in the immediate future, please don't hesitate to set up an appointment with me by calling x4113.


To sum up: "Sweet, dude, I basically agree. Now put your money where your mouth is. Or rather, put your mouth where your mouth is, then move your mouth to some position of any practical use."

Also, though his full name, position and contact info followed, he actually signed it "CW". This is awesome.

And I really think I should take him up on his offer, because otherwise I'm just sort of being a punk.

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Date:2007-02-12 11:01
Subject:Inspired By (I Think) A Text Message I Just (Kind Of) Got

My cellphone's screen recently got busted to shit, rendering it really cool and pretty useless. Within 24 hours, my watch also stopped, so I'm chronologically pooched. But anyway, nobody bother sending me text messages for a bit if you want them to ever be read.

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Date:2007-02-07 17:13
Subject:My Response to the "2007-08 Off-Campus Housing" Email
Mood: The Hopeful Icon Was Fucked Up

Mr. Wiltgen,

I have a question regarding an issue which does not affect me personally, but which nonetheless concerns me. Specifically, I'm concerned about the discriminatory potential of making married students eligible for off-campus living, but not alternative family arrangements. This most directly would discriminate against students in a commited, long-term homosexual relationship equivalent to marriage. Iowa has no laws permitting equivalent same-sex unions-- gay students are then faced with the choice of flying to New England or California (assuming Cornell would accept civil unions as equal) or appealing on a "case-by-case basis" to the school. While this may seem superficially equal, straight couples do not have to justify their relationship to the school or submit it to administrative scrutiny. That would be unjust and an invasion of privacy.

There are potential problems, of course. Two underclassman same-sex friends could pretend to be in a relationship to gain unearned eligibility, and gay couples, having not actually faced the hard decision to get married, could overestimate the strength of their relationship. But straight couples can overestimate their relationships, too; the policy does not require a healthy marriage.

Obviously, without the power to change Iowa's laws, Cornell cannot enact a perfect solution to this subtle discrimination. But a simple semantic change, showing acceptance of gay couples who truly have for all non-legal intents and purposes the marriage they cannot get would pave the way for them to realize that their school, at least, accepts their identity instead of adding its voice to a chorus of discrimination.

It would be very easy for the school to leave the policy as it is-- to wash its hands of the responsibility to do the right thing because it is inconvenient and because our governments have not yet done so either. But this is not a question of convenience.

Thank you for your time,
Alex Birdsall

I hope something comes of this, but I suppose we'll see. Ought I forward a copy to the Cornellian? I'm thinking yes.

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Date:2007-01-31 05:29
Subject:Alex, Don't Even Try to Pretend Like That "Current Mood" Is Accurate.
Mood: ...Composed?

Representing the other side of the tossed off/labored over divide in my music creation, I just finished my final composition for Electronic Music Comp (I mean, it's no "Brandenburg Concertos" or "Pet Sounds", but I just put about 7 straight hours into this mofo, which is a couple.) For kicks, I also exported it to mp3 (a minor adventure) and posted it on www.purevolume.com/alexbirdsall. If you want, you can take a look! It's called, for lack of a better title, "For Instance".

As a bonus, I'm offering a cash prize of no fewer than 0.35 US dollars* to the first person to guess which two composers I most blatently ripped off (or "was inspired by," your choice!)! Except Catso, I think I told him already.

Anyway, it's past 6 AM, so I'm going the hell to bed.

*Offer void if I don't have any spare change on me. Them's the breaks, guys.

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Date:2007-01-24 00:20
Subject:At the Picador!

Man, Asobi Seksu puts on a good show.

Also, the week after my birthday Pelican, Jesu and Isis all have shows in Iowa City. I'm going to be all tired and hard of hearing for a month.

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Date:2007-01-04 15:30
Subject:Why Get Ahead When You Could Be Perverse (In a Uniform)?
Mood: contemplative

Yesterday's recording got me thinking. Now thinking is something I do a lot, usually not up to a very high standard, but these were thoughts of a more earnest sort. I'm finding that everything I record by myself ends up being very much a tossed-off sketch. I come up with something nice, I come up with a few other noises to flesh it out a bit, I record everything in one take, it's done. One one hand, I quite like the hazy, simple, kinda sloppy (sketchy, even) quality of these things, but I want to make music that's a bit more fleshed out. These things are nice, but after two or three listens you're probably not going to discover much new.

I think this is really just the result of making them by myself. I get lazy and I avoid over-dubbing and revision so I don't get caught up in some overly self-critical perfectionist trap and scrap the whole thing. The obvious solution is to make music with other people- it forces me to put a bit more effort in, and having other people involved makes it easier to maintain perspective. Besides, I've never felt any particular urge to break out of the band paradigm, which has and continues to produce my favorite music. But when I'm actually in a band, I find myself from time to time torn between respecting other people's input and wanting them to reproduce exactly the noises my brain is making. Also, I kind of want to play everything myself, and logistically speaking, that's sort of impossible.

On a barely related note, I really like "Cannibal Sea" by The Essex Green. I don't want to burn out on it, but I keep listening to it and it keeps being really damn good pop music.

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Date:2007-01-03 23:17
Subject:Words That Start With "thr" Feel Funny In Your Mouth

It's true! Also, I uploaded another song (which is not, strictly speaking, a song) to this guy. It's called "To Hooligan," because he is the dog who was barking in the background as I recorded it. If you don't know Hooligan, he's a great guy, even if he is a wuss who poops on the floor sometimes. The vocals kinda sound like crap because I'm developing a nasty hacking cough and also I recorded everything in one take on my laptop's built-in mic in my living room.

Also, I have "A-yo for Sasquatch" running through my head, mantra-like. I blame Ben and the Reagan administration, mostly, but for very different reasons.

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Date:2006-12-16 01:15
Subject:For Serious, Though
Mood: Scientific

Scientifically speaking, the greatest thing in the universe has got to be singing, "Is there li-ife on Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa-ha-a-a-aaaaars" very loud.

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Date:2006-12-15 14:48

Good decisions I've made lately:
1a) Buying a Dreamcast.
1b) Burning emulator CDs for said Dreamcast.
1c) Playing through The Legend of Zelda in Esperanto.
2) Impromptu roadtrip to Chicago two days ago. Dan Wall slept in by accident and missed the bus for a class field trip to the Chicago Field Museum. He showed up at lunch to borrow Nathan's car. 3 minutes and a pair of hasty decisions later, Devestatin' Dave Baur, Dan and I were on the road.
3) Walking through Mount Vernon neighborhoods between the hours of midnight and 1 AM listening to Tigermilk on headphones.
4) Choosing the right answers for my midterm. This might seem like a weaksauce thing to commemorate, but I aced the guy and that was nice.

Bad Decisions I've made lately:
1) Getting back from Chicago at 4 AM Thursday morning
2) Procrastinatin' on the research paper due tomorrow

Also, poetry? I'm starting to really like the stuff. Also, I finally actually met Glenn Freeman, and it turns out all those people who said he was cool as hell were telling the truth. Signs point to Modern Poetry with Glenn Freeman being a pretty okay class! Plus I achieve legal majority halfway through, which will be nice to have under my belt.

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Date:2006-10-17 21:42
Mood: contemplative

So I'm listening to the recordings of my band's (Casa Robo) first (and thus far only) performance, and I'm pleasantly surprised. When I first heard them, I could hardly listen without wincing-- we were woefully unprepared (we'd only practiced two days with our drummer and had had no warm-up), and the performance was accordingly ragged and full of screw-ups. Largely mine. Factor in the standard distaste for one's recorded voice, and you should have some idea of how I've felt about these recordings.

But with time comes distance, and listening again with more objective ears has been educational. For one, I've realized how much I actually like these songs. We've got some nice hooks, however mangled they were that night, and my last-minute slapdash lyrics aren't as painful as I've remembered. For another, listening to my singing now is showing me why exactly I'm unhappy with my performance, what I need to do better, and a few moments where I actually did well.

In other Casa Robo news, Willie the aforementioned drummer is transferring at the semester and has no drum set in any case. I recently bought a drum machine. Coincidence or providence?

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Date:2006-08-30 20:43
Subject:On Entering the Future:
Mood: Connected! Plugged in!

I finally did it! Which is to say, I bought a cellphone. It cost me $10.52 because it pretty much sucks. Which is great! I'm still waiting for my flying car, though. Or a robot that can teach me how to play drums and clean my room.

I also got new shoes, which is fun but not that significant. And then I called people FOR FREE.

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Date:2006-08-23 14:33
Mood: Also, new somewhat tight pants

So yesterday I went sailing on Champlain with two old dudes, one of whom was my dad. We did not see Champ, but we did eat some hearty whole wheat and honey pretzels and some Stovepipe Porter. It was-a very nice.

Today I mowed me some grass with a hand mower. I was very glad that I have an iPod now. Still am.

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Date:2006-07-17 17:00
Subject:Further Evidence
Mood: Cool enough to rock a $5 watch

Kim Possible is officially the hippest show on the Disney Channel. From today's episode (I'm home today on a day off, so don't be fooled into thinking I'm not still a camp bum):

Señor Senior, Sr. to Señor Senior, Jr.: "Junior, this is not a party. This is not a disco. This is not fooling around."

Uh huh.

Oh, and though this will mean nothing to most of you, my past 5 days have gone as such: campfire story (I got tapped with 1 day's warning), a three day trip with Bezark, and then running vespers. Pretty much totally awesomesauce, but holy moley did I need this day off.

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Date:2006-05-31 22:40
Subject:To a Squirrel at Kyle-na-no
Mood: Anticipatory

The other day I went for my first swim of the year in a mountain stream in Lincoln. Holy was it brisk (see also: awesome). I then played an epic game of croquet which encircled all of Zeb's house and a lot of frisbee and had a Wolaver's IPA. Basically awesome.

Also, tomorrow I leave for Work Gang, which will be immediately followed by Cert. Week, which will be immediately followed by precamp and so forth. Fairlee ho!

Also, http://music.hyperreal.org/artists/brian_eno/daroxy2.htm.

And I set up a purevolume page at www.purevolume.com/alexbirdsall. It's pretty bare-bones at the moment (one song, no pictures or info) and is looking to stay that way for a while, as I'm leaving for camp tomorrow. Deal, and then listen to the one song-- it's the one I was going to post on here.

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Date:2006-05-26 13:01
Subject:Who'da Thunk?
Mood: Packingy

Fun fact! If your music library is anything like mine, searching for the word "star" yields a startlingly good playlist.

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