This summer was my last semester at UW-Milwaukee. I took three courses and finished my Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science. I will not be attending the commencement ceremony (which happened in May, I believe) and have little desire to celebrate this formally, but I am proud that I followed through with it, and I’m glad to be done.

Staggering Resolutions: Laugh if you must.

First of all, I want to say that giving up diet soda has been a piece of cake. I had one diet soda in August, and currently have no desire for another. Ever. Fuck ‘em.

Now, then. On to cigarettes. Yes, cigarettes.

I could feel myself getting a cold yesterday. To a regular tobacco smoker, a cold is at least twice as bad as it is to a non-smoker. So I jumped the gun on the September resolution, which is (you guessed it) to quit smoking. I’ve gone for about 26 hours without nicotine at this point, which means I’m about halfway through two-day, cold-turkey hell. It gets better from there, though.

Thanks in advance for wishing me luck. It’s going to happen this time.

Thoughts on Four Years at Fullhouse

As of today, I’ve been at Fullhouse for four years. That’s about twice as long as I’ve ever worked anywhere else.

To kick off those four years, I was asked if I’d like to “take the red pill,” becoming a part-time student and a full-time web developer. I was an intern at the time, and was taken aback at the offer. I’ll admit that I didn’t think it over much at the time and took the offer more for the money than anything else, but it did end up being a good decision. Fullhouse is a wonderful place to work.

My biggest fear in becoming a computer programmer was that I’d end up in a lonely, drab environment, writing printer drivers or doing paperwork, and not getting to work on anything that made me feel productive and engaged. At Fullhouse, my workspace is awesome, and I’ve had some incredibly cool projects come my way.

Five Albums

Semisonic: Great Divide
I listened to Great Divide while jogging every night for months. Even if it sucked (it doesn’t), I’d love it (I do). “Falling” is the can’t-miss track here.

John Mayer: Room for Squares
Back when John Mayer was good, he was really good. I wonder if the stand-outs here, “No Such Thing” and “Your Body is a Wonderland,” will stand up over time. Will I hear them on the oldies station when I’m an old man? That’d be fine with me.

U2: Pop
U2′s forgotten album, Pop is still worth a listen. Multiple listens. My favorite track is “Gone.”

The New Pornographers: Electric Version
My first New Pornos album, and probably still my favorite. “From Blown Speakers” is the best song here, but the first seven tracks are all outstanding.

The White Stripes: The White Stripes
I thought this album was a lot better before I imported it and tagged the tracks. The only songs here I’d seek out are “Sugar Never Tasted So Good” and “Stop Breaking Down.”

Five Pop Albums

Sufjan Stevens: Illinois
Everybody likes this more than me. Well, everybody who’s into indie music. I liked Seven Swans a whole lot more. But that doesn’t mean Illinois isn’t good. It is. The only track on it I can call out at this point is “Chicago,” though.

The Magnetic Fields: 69 Love Songs
Lots of good stuff here. Three albums worth of terrific pop in nearly all its forms. Favorites include “The Book of Love,” “All My Little Words,” “Asleep and Dreaming,” and “Busby Berkeley Dreams.”

The Beatles: Revolver
Having heard over and over that lots of what I like is Beatles-inspired, I went out and bought a Beatles record. I think I bought one that was ranked highly by some magazine or other. If you’ve heard all these tricks before, they don’t blow you away, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some good songs on here.

Brian Wilson: Smile
At this point, I’ve found Smile to be pretty disappointing. The production is great, and the music works in the background, but I don’t get much of a vibe from anything but “Good Vibrations,” which is a retread.

The Bens: The Bens
Ben Folds, Ben Kweller and Ben Lee’s four-song EP is bookended by strong, single-worthy tracks (“Just Pretend” and “Bruised”), but its innards aren’t worth much.

Five Neglected Albums

More imports. This time, it’s five albums I haven’t given enough attention to, but which I expect to like when I do.

Blur: Think Tank
I am a fan of Blur. And not just of “Song 2″ (though I love “Song 2″). But my Blur phase ended right around when I purchased this album, so I never gave it a chance.

R.E.M.: Murmur
A lot of people in my generation associate R.E.M. with their mid-career stuff, like Monster, Out of Time and Automatic for the People. My favorites were Automatic for the People and Up, so I can’t say I’m much different. But a lot of folks swear by R.E.M.’s earlier work, like Murmur, and I’ve been meaning to investigate it for some time.

Spoon: Gimme Fiction
Spoon’s Girls Can Tell and Kill the Moonlight were incredible. Gimme Fiction cannot compare. So not listening to this album much has been a result of (at least initial) disappointment. It deserves a chance, though.

Nada Surf: The Weight is a Gift
Did you know Nada Surf was actually a decent band? They are. The Proximity Effect was a great album. The Weight is a Gift is an album I bought and forgot about, because something else was getting my attention at the time.

Bruce Springsteen: The Rising
Eric loved this one, and cursory listening makes it feel more like Nebraska than like Born in the USA. That’s promising. We’ll see.

Five Albums

I’ve decided to begin transferring all my CD albums onto one hard drive, then boxing them up and sticking them in storage. The goal is to get all my music in one place (and de-DRMed, in the case of stuff I got via the iTunes store). That place will be my new Dell PC (“Toby”).

I’ll be doing transfers of five discs at a time, and, at the moment, it feels like a good idea to blog about the albums I’m transferring. Sharing is fun.

Bright Eyes: I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning
“First Day of My Life” and “Land Locked Blues” are two of my favorite songs. Like, top fifty, let’s say. So when I caught a glimpse of this while looking through the pile for the first five, I couldn’t pass it up.

Loretta Lynn: Van Lear Rose
I couldn’t pass this one up, either. I loved it when it came out, but managed to forget about it. It’s been years. Highlights include “Portland, Oregon” and “High on a Mountain Top.”

Ryan Adams: Demolition
Probably Adams’ weakest album, it still includes some good stuff, like “Cry On Demand” and “She Wants to Play Hearts.”

Beck: Guero
“Girl” is the highlight here, though pretty much every song on the album is at least a little catchy. Beck is impressive like that. The Information is the same way.

Fiona Apple: Extraordinary Machine
The album proper isn’t as good as the bootlegs of it that were floating around before its release. It’s not. To me. Because I like underproduced music. This is slick. That’s all I’m sayin’. Recommended: “Oh Well” and “Waltz (Better Than Fine).”

Staggering Resolutions: Bye-bye, Diet Cola

I’ve given up diet cola, due to shit like this. If that shit’s bad for you, I’m due to have three forms of cancer by age 30, but better 30 than 29.

I’ve been replacing it with V8, orange juice, and one Pepsi a day for almost two weeks now, so I figured it’d be an easy resolution for August.

September’s resolution will begin late, but will be worth the wait.