Favorite posts of 2006

Lists. That’s what the end of the year is about.

It was a slower year on Ascent Stage than last, but as I’ve said I think the quality went up a notch. As the primary (sometimes sole) reader of this blog, I offer you my favorite posts of 2006.

“Mama, I gotta make my guitar louder”
“Today one of my colleagues noted that he was going to devote the next few years of his life to becoming as young as Les Paul. To this Les, in a room full of academics and museum-types, leaned back on his chair and mimicked taking a long drag from a joint. This man is 90 years old.

City of the Dead
“On this gray day nearly every mausoleum was stained about four feet off the ground with the puke-green demarcation of high water — a grim reminder that most of the bodies of loved ones were submerged during the weeks before the floodwaters receded.”

Turkish delight
“This is no massage. For one, you’re on hard marble. For another, these gentlemen are probably former interrogators from the Turkish military. Despite the presence of soap and a loofah glove the whole thing is like a wrestling match where you’re not allowed to fight back.”

“See, five blades does give a nice shave on the open fields of ones cheeks, but for actual styling or for navigating any kind of variance in facial topography it is simply too big. I have a goatee, so getting close in to the beard is key. If I don’t I look like a hick meth addict festooned with different lengths of hair around my mouth.”

“Only a specialist could point to what is original to the hall’s 1406 construction and what parts are copies installed since. This happens in the West too, of course, but the difference as I’ve experienced it in China is that it doesn’t matter. The originality of the building is the idea of it, what it represents.”

In which I offer a series of exciting thoughts about punctuation in the 21st century
“What it comes down to is only this: I am getting to the point where I don’t trust online writing that does not contain links. Just like you’re wary of the grocer who sells “apple’s” or the the writer whose sentences run on for miles without a period, I’m increasingly uncomfortable with writing that’s link-free.”

Bathroom ethnography
“The Stall Jiggler – This is the guy who won’t take no for an answer when he encounters a locked stall door.”

Urban scar tissue
“We were driving posts into the dirt for a fence on an irregular diagonal property border when we hit something solid that turned out to be a railroad tie. We later learned that the screwy lot line was the result of surface train tracks that once cut through the area, the remains of which we had dug up.”

Culinary turntablism
“What would this meal sound like if the zhuan pan were a recording?”

The Forbidden City: Beyond Space and Time
“System design verges on science fiction here as we move through the implications of a community space that exists on different timelines. For example what happens to the field trip group when some of your classmates decide to peel off for the 16th century?”

How to create a LEGO mosaic
“My daughter was born a few weeks ago and so naturally I went back to the Brick-o-lizer to create her mosaic. Imagine my horror to find out that it isn’t available anymore. How could I deprive my baby girl of her LEGO mosaic? Well. Obviously. I couldn’t.”

Zodiac desktops
“Not sure who first said ‘wallpaper makes bad stationery,’ but it was my guiding principle. Backgrounds need to be easy to work against, contrasting highly with the folders and files that live on it. Photos of children, hot rods, and (sigh) rocket ships generally don’t offer this.”

Wired up in my capsule to the moon
“A few weeks ago I went back to the tanks armed with a heartrate monitor in addition to the waterproof iPod. In I went, on came the album, and the simple EKG started logging.”

Ore consequences
“I struggle to list a hazard that this mine doesn’t contain so in the interest of having something to blog about I’ll here detail those that it does.”

Nike plus iPod minus Nike
“But I hate Nike running shoes. I think most people hate Nike running shoes. Well, this sucks. It’s like … Nike is locking people in to proprietary hardware just like … Apple.”

All it takes is one bad apple
“At one point in this process my wife asked nonchalantly ‘Is there any possibility that this will kill us when we drink it?'”

When the metaverse is your town hall
“You just try corralling talented, curious, script-wielding colleagues in Second Life to serve as virtual extras. It is like arranging toddlers for a photo shoot. Everyone wants to show off their latest set of wings or ability to make it rain.”

Party as a verb
“We were worried about the fire marshal and the ATF. The first because we invited way too many people and we don’t have a gigantic space. The second because, well, let’s just say the freeze-distillation of the homemade apple cider succeeded.”