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April 11th, 2012


02:27 pm
      So, here I am on Spring Break from work. Since going full-time, I've had paid holidays, but never paid vacations, so I figured I owed it to myself to really do what I wanted, especially since the last week has been absolutely crazy with my head teacher going on leave, two class parties in one week, my new head teacher being sick during the last couple days of teacher transition...*whew*
      I have to say, the downtime's been nice. The first thing I've been able to accomplish is making great progress in my reading goals, Right now, I'm going to start a graphic novel called The Clockwork Girl, but I've managed to finally finish Terry Pratchett's The Color of Magic and read HG Wells' The First Men in the Moon from start to finish. 
      I've also really gotten to hang out with O-Ren, my new-ish digital piano. This is something I haven't had time or inclination to do for a while, and I think part of it is just because of work, but a lot of it is because I had to send her to a safe-house for a bit when I was moving, which can really alter developing one's relationship with an instrument. This is a block I'm so glad to have gotten over, because I'm having an absolute blast learning and noodling around on my own. It is, however, a very different ballgame from my beloved guitar and I still feel a bit like I'm just fumbling around, so if any musically inclined people around here have suggestions for chord dictionaries and exercise books that are geared toward adults, please hit me up!
       I've even had time to get on my skates today and get some real exercise for the first time in a great while. I was pleased to note that while the wheels are a little squeaky and starting to lose their shape, the bindings and linings are great, so it's nothing a trip to a sporting goods store for a replacement set won't fix up. 
       Finally, I've had the chance to write in here, which is something I've been meaning to do much more regularly. I miss you guys! 
       In the final analysis even though it doesn't seem like much of a vacation in that I haven't gone anywhere fabulous or anything, I am starting to feel pretty spiffy, and I'm going to be much more conscientious about finding ways to keep it up during the regular workweek...
                     
                                             Much Love and Cheers,
                                                                   Kai
          

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October 16th, 2011


08:18 am - I'm in Love with My...VTA Pass?
     So, yes. It's been a little bit since my last entry, and on this one, I think I'm going to stay away from the pop culture stuff and go with the personal. 
     My name is Kai. I'm 32 years old, and I. Don't. Drive. 
    When I tell people this, they automatically assume that I'm not physically able to. I tell them that I am; I can see perfectly well with glasses and contacts, and, despite my 4'11" frame, I can indeed reach the pedals. And that's when I get "But driving is a life skill! How could you not know how to drive at your age?"
    First of all, driving isn't the life skill; getting around independently is the life skill through which getting one's driver's license is attained. There are lots of other ways to accomplish this, whether walking on foot, driving a car, using public transit (my preferred method), or using a bicycle. I'm proud to say that with the combination of shoe-leather, train track, and bus-tire rubber, I can visit people, I can get my groceries, I can go to work, and accomplish everything I need to do during my day. 
     But why rely on someone else's schedule when I could just learn to drive, save up for my own wheels, and be on my own? 
      Well, that gets much more into the personal reasons for not driving. The first reason is, that, thanks to noggin-wiring provided by the good doctor Henry Turner, I'm just not suited to it. I have poor visuo-spatial skills. This means I have a very hard time looking down the road and anticipating the moves I'll need to make safe lane changes, safe turns, and safe traffic lights. These things are so, so crucial to safe driving, and if I can't be counted on to keep everyone (including myself) safe on the road, then it's best I don't get on the road at all. 
    The second is just temperament. I get very, very panicky behind the wheel. Now, maybe with enough driver's training my panic will subside, but do you wanna take that bet? I know I don't! 
     Next, driving is a very expensive proposition. Other than the car itself, there's insurance, there's gas (which is getting more and more expensive by the day), there's maintenance, the list goes on! I'd much rather pay my seventy bucks a month, get my VTA pass that allows me to use the VTA's trains and buses as necessary, and put the extra money towards my own place, for book-shopping excursions, clothes, coffee, and whatever else I want or need. 
        And as an added bonus, taking public transit is just better for the environment! Nifty, huh? How often have you seen cars on packed freeways with only one person in them? How much less clogged would they be if people were more willing to take public transit or took part in their school or office carpool? How much better would our air quality be?
         Now, I realize that the decision to not drive isn't for everyone, so I'm not intending this post to be an "I'm better than you" type thing. Driving is intricately linked to our human idea of independence and is a rite of passage for so many that I'd never denigrate it. Also, there are places in this country where not driving is Just Not An Option. For example, I'd never be able to survive in my old Southern California home without a valid license. All I'm saying in this entry is that driving is a privilege, and with that privilege comes a lot of responsibilities. The responsibility to keep other motorists safe, the responsibility to keep your vehicle maintained, etc. For those (like myself) who don't feel they can take on those responsibilities, then not driving at all is not only a valid choice, but the best choice.

                 Love and Cheers,
                           Kai

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September 26th, 2011


12:31 am
       So, every music fan goes through this with their friends. Your friends like a band that you Just Don't Get. 
      For me, that band is Rage Against the Machine. I appreciate the righteous anger that comes from Zack de la Rocha's pen and the inventive tones that come from Tom Morello's guitar. But there's something that prevents me from joining the chorus, and that is this: I  always thought it was more than slightly hypocritical to preach about bringing down the corporate machine from the podium of a major record label.
       One could be charitable and say, well sure they needed the oomph of a major to get their message across, nobody would pay attention to them (or their message) without the copious amounts of handling and packaging that bands that have signed with a major go through. You could also ask that I be heartened that a  message contrary to the political status quo is getting out at all, regardless of the conduit.
         These are valid arguments, but the thing that seems to counter them is that an artist like Ani DiFranco has the same progressive politics, and she's levelled much of the same venom at the powers that be (listen to a lyric like "May their souls rest easy now that lynching is frowned upon/and we've moved on to the electric chair").The difference is that Ani has run her own boutique label, Righteous Babe, since she was nineteen years old, and I for one respect her a hell of a lot more for it. 
         Running a successful business, let alone a record label is absolutely an exceptional achivement for anyone, especially when there's so much that's being pushed upon us by major music outlets, so I'm not glibly saying "Well, if x person can do it, then why can't y'? And I for damn sure am not attempting to set up a false "Indie v. Major" dichotomy, because I do firmly believe that heartfelt, left-of-the-dial music and commerce can co-exist successfully when people are willing to demonstrate that there's a demand for it. Also, there are so many other ways people are distributing and obtaining their music that the concept of indie-v-major will soon be a moot point. 
       What I am, however, asking, is this: Given that there have been artists who have had success going the independent route, (whether it's Ani on her own label or Ian Mackaye founding Dischord) and have put their money where their mouth was where the trajectory of their career was concerned, why is so much usted given to a band who appeared to be on much shakier philosophical ground than artists who embodied the same counter-cultural (however you define the term) ideals in a far more concrete manner? Maybe there's something I'm missing, and I'm more than willing to learn, so if anyone can chime in, please do. But for right now, it's late, I have to be at work early, and I'm tired, so I'll just sign of with my traditional
                                 Love and Cheers, 
                                                 Kai

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September 11th, 2011


04:05 pm - Hey Everyone!
   Hello! Welcome! 
    I'm back, if a few days late.
   This is the official launch of the new pop-culture blog Since this is the launch, I figured in this issue I'd just lay out who I am and where I want this blog to go.
    I am back at at work, happily ensconced in the first full time job I've had in much too long. For those that don't know, I was an MA student up until about two years ago, when I failed my exit exams and, quite frankly, got my ass bounced from the program.
   I'm now an assistant teacher in a Montessori elementary classroom, which explains really, really well why things have have been a bit too hectic to have kept to my anticipated launch date of the eighth. It's been a big adjustment, as I'm now working full days in a classroom of 25 rather than part-time in a classroom of 15. But it's an adjustment I've been all too happy to make. I'm looking forward to saving for my own place, adopting a kitty, and generally getting this adulthood show on the road. 
     As for the blog, my plan is to update weekly with thoughts on life, the adjustment to bona fide (if slightly delayed) adulthood, and pop culture. If you want to come along with me,or if you've stayed since this blog's original 2005 incarnation and like it, then please do feel free to say hello and comment. 
          
                    Much Love and Many Cheers,
                                                  Kai
      
    
Current Music: Hey Jack Kerouac by 10,000 Maniacs

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May 4th, 2011


01:19 pm - This is a Public Service Announcement-With Guitars!


           Just a place holder to announce that this blog will be going public again on September 8.  It is being renovated into a space dedicated to the discussion of books, music, television and movies. For a taste of what you will be in for, I offer a sample:

         
         A link to a PopShifter article I wrote about fetish art and feminism

          If you read those and they sound interesting, stick around-it's gonna be a gas...
  
                                       
                                                              -Kai

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