Blog

Musical Renaissance

Dec 07

CDs Bought Per Year
Year # of CDs bought
2008 6
2009 0
2010 13
2011 28
2012 86
2013 59

I've been buying a lot of CDs lately. Well that's an understatement I think -

I considered myself to be in what I call a 'Musical Renaissance'. Sort of a great awakening of discovering new music. I've had two other of these events occur in my lifetime. One was in 7th grade when I discovered East-Coast rap like Puff Daddy, Mase and Notorious B.I.G. The second event occurred in the beginning of 9th grade when I discovered Punk & Ska.

This latest wave is similar to the last two in that it included new genres I've discovered.

Dark Ages

I consider the years I was in a relationship/married to be sort of 'dark ages' for me when it comes to music. I bought very little and made little effort to find new stuff during this time. This would be during the years of 2004 to 2010. During this time, I mostly listened the large catalog of music I already owned.

Something else occurred during this time as well that pushed me away. The 'scene' changed. The late 90s & early 2000s were my heyday for genres that I liked. Pop-Punk was on top with bands like Blink 182 making it big. Ska was still big during the late 90s as was Skate-Punk.

By 2004 though, most of those genres had run their course. It's easy to see just by looking at the Warped Tour lineup during 2005. It was all angry music such as Screamo or Metalcore.

2005 Screamo/Metalcore Warped Tour Examples

90's Emo

Emo, Canada

Thursday - Understanding in a Car Crash

I was a big Thursday fan in high school. Now I was looking to discover who came before them.

In the fall of 2011, some big changes occurred for me that pushed me back towards music. The biggest was: I started dating again, which I hadn't done in 3 years. Because of this I started feeling all of that pain that comes from dating all over again. Like other times in life when I had trouble, I turned to once more.

This time around, I was interested in learning more about the inspiration for a lot of the early 2000s Emo bands that I liked in high school such as Thursday, Taking Back Sunday and Senses Fail.

What I ended up doing was reading the Wikipedia article and using it as a guideline of what bands to listen to. After reading up on that, I ended up buying several CDs all at the same time. This would prove to be an important point in my Musical Renaissance.

Below are the first 5 CDs I bought in this genre. Two years later, these are all ranked very high in my collection.

90's Emo Examples

Here's some of my favorite songs from the genre. Most of the songs are slower, use chiming/non-distorted guitars and can go from quiet to loud as the song progresses.

Easycore

Defend Pop Punk

The Wonder Years - Hostels & Brothels

The Wonder Years made me realize there was a thriving Pop-Punk scene going on while I was on musical hiatus.

The next big Musical Renaissance for me would come the next spring in 2012. At this point, I had written off the genre of Pop-Punk as being dead and I hadn't followed it in many years. Little did I know, it made a comeback while I was gone. Starting in 2007, many new bands started releasing music which would later be called Easycore. Easycore is called such as it blends Hardcore-Punk music with Pop-Punk thus instead of being Hard, it's Easy or softer sounding.

While no longer an Easycore band The Wonder Years were first band to make me realize that Pop-Punk wasn't dead and that there was an active community 'defending' it still.

The important CD during this period was The Wonder Years' CD The Upsides, which you may recall, I reviewed a while back on my site. I was fortunate enough to see them live in 2013 down in Milwaukee.

Easycore Examples

Here's some of my favorite songs from that genre. The first song listed below was probably the first Easycore song to appear which was around 2006. Later it blended more elements of Hardcore Punk.

Effect Of The Musical Renaissance

Here's a chart showing CDs I owned - comparing Summer of 2012 vs Winter of 2013. I could probably pull older data but I already had this charted out a while back so it was easier to do. As you can see there's a lot more CDs in the late 2000s which is due to my interest in Easycore.

Number of CDs owned by release date

...View Comments (0)
Reply | View
Replies: 0 | Views: 6860

Opposites Don't Attract

Jun 25

Yin & Yang

Well it's been 9 months, 15 days since my last blog post. At lot has transpired since then. As you may recall, I was lamenting on my dating experiences at the time. Ironically it would be only 3 days after I wrote that post that I would meet the girl whom I've been with for the last 9 months, 12 days. I guess sometimes you need to give up, before you get what you want.

It all started when I joined the dating site OkCupid. I had originally discovered the site a long time ago due to their awesome blog, filled with demographic stats. It turns out it isn't a case of there not being enough fish in the sea, but that I was fishing in the wrong sea! On Match.com there wasn't anything I could do to get girls to communicate with me. On OkCupid, it was the complete opposite. The site primarily revolves around answering survey questions which then tries to match you to others who answered the same questions.

CatEyeGlasses85 & Guitar_Guy_85

I had communicated with a couple people and then I noticed a girl named CatEyeGlasses85 kept viewing my profile, so I decided to check her out. I found that we were close to a 95% match on the site. She was also into the same music, movies and interests as me. So I sent her a message -

The song Sick Boy was written about me

-Neal

So, 'Sick Boy' was written about you, huh?

-Hanna

Well...no but I do have two versions of the song in my music library if that helps :P

-Neal

That does help! I adore Social D.

-Hanna

As you can see, we started off right away with something we both like. Punk music. Hanna's a generation behind me so I frequently find songs I like that were originally done by bands of her era. As you can see it all started with these songs -

Social Distortion - Sick Boy

MxPx - Sick Boy

Life Without Opposition

My relationship with Hanna has been different than every other one I've been it. It's been without opposition. It's been without an opposite. While I've dated girls who we both shared some things in common, it was never anything substantial. With Hanna, whenever there's a decision to make, we always have the same answer as one another.

For example:

  • What do you want to watch on TV? (answer, the same thing! Dexter!)
  • Where do you want to eat tonight? (answer, the same place! Fratellos!)
  • Do you want to go see Mustard Plug in Milwaukee with me? (answer, Yes!)

More in common, more things to do

I've found that because our personalities match so well, it makes doing things together a lot easier! In the last 9 months, 12 days here's just some of the things we've done -

Hanna

Hanna

Hanna

Hanna

In Conclusion

Be picky, and look for people who share things in common with you, especially the things that you enjoy the most. It makes everything much easier and the two of you much happier.

...View Comments (5)
Reply | View
Replies: 5 | Views: 3742

What It Feels Like To Be Un/Attractive: My Match.com Experiment

Sep 10

Range of attractiveness

It's been exactly 7 months since I signed up to the online dating website match.com. During that period I contacted 11 girls who I felt I had quite a bit in common with. Of those 11, 2 replied, 9 ignored me and the 2 that replied ignored me on the next message.

I haven't really been too serious about dating until this summer and I wouldn't even consider it that serious (Yes I'm a hypocrite).

After a similar experience with two girls, whom I got their numbers from local bars, I began to wonder what life might be like if I were attractive?

Building My Fake Profile

Before building my fake profile, I decided to do an inventory of girls between 22 and 32 in an 80 mile radius around my region. Check out my data source for more on this. What I discovered from this data is what the "average" girl is like in my area:

Average Girl

  • Smokes: No
  • Drinks: Social Drinker
  • Religion: Catholic/Christian-Other
  • Has Kids: No
  • Wants Kids : Definitely
  • Marital Status: Never Married
  • Exercise: 1-2 or 3-4 times per week
  • Age: 25
  • Education: Some college, associate degree or bachelors degree
  • View my data

My Test Profile

With this data in hand, I created a male with all of these attributes:

  • Smokes: No
  • Drinks: Social Drinker
  • Religion: Christian-Other
  • Has Kids: No
  • Wants Kids : Definitely
  • Marital Status: Never Married
  • Exercise: 3-4 times per week
  • Age: 27
  • Education: bachelors degree

Picking a Profile Picture

I just discovered that one of the most important things on an online dating site is the profile picture. When I was creating my fake profile, my most important criteria was finding a series of pictures of an attractive male model, especially if some of the pictures are lower in quality and probably not done using a professional camera.

Fake

After scouring through modelmayhem.com search results (and being subjected to more pictures of shirtless guys than a guy should ever have to see in a lifetime) I found my guy.

Included with the picture to the right were numerous low quality, non-professional photos available for me to use. Excellent!

After running my main profile picture through Photoshop to degrade its quality and not make it look so professional, I was ready to move on to registering!

Final Result

Click on the image below to view the profile in its entirety.

The Results?

After creating the profile, match.com gave me some grief and rejected the username I had chose. I forgot about the profile for another couple weeks and then a few days ago I decided to check on its status and I was able to get it approved.

Again, I forgot about the profile for a couple of days and decided to check it again recently. I WAS STUNNED.

The fake profile had exceeded my own personal profile in every measurable statistic in a mere 4 days to my profile's 212 days. Based on those numbers, the profile I had created was 53 times better than my own.

By The Numbers

Out of single guy boredom, I decided to do a quick comparison of the two profiles. The first set of data below is a 4 day to 212 day comparison of the two profiles (essentially their lifetime). The purpose of this data is to show how the fake profile exceeded my own in a matter of 4 days.

The second set of data shows an apples-to-apples comparison of the profiles by using a weekly average.

Desirability of Match.com profiles (life of profiles)
Neal
My Profile
(212 days)
Fake
Fake Profile
(4 days)
Messages from Girls 1 message 9 messages
Girls Messaged 11 messages 0 messages
Girls Winked At Me 3 winks 16 winks
Girls Favorited Me 1 favorite 1 favorite
Profile Views 184 views 214 views
Desirability of Match.com profiles (per week)
Neal
My Profile
(per week)
Fake
Fake Profile
(per week)
Messages from Girls 0.03 messages per week 15.75 messages per week
Girls Winked At Me 0.10 winks per week 28.00 winks per week
Girls Favorited Me 0.03 favorites per week 1.75 favorites per week
Profile Views 6.08 views per week 374.00 views per week

Graphs!

From this data I created two nice looking graphs to illustrate how far away from attractive I am. The disparity is pretty obvious.

Interactions per day

And here is a graph showing profile views per day of the two profiles. Again the disparity is pretty obvious.

Profile views per day

Messaging Girls

I've had a heck of a time getting girls to read and reply to my messages on match.com. I only had 1 girl message me the entire 212 days and only 2/11 reply to my first message. With my fake profile, I had 9 girls messaged me within a mere 4 days. Two girls I replied to and one replied back within 15 minutes and the other the next day. It's obvious the girls are much more engaged with my fake profile than my real profile.

Lessons Learned

I was absolutely shocked by the disparity between the two profiles! I mean sure, the fake profile was probably close to the "perfect profile" but I don't feel like I'm the elephant man. I certainly don't feel 53 times uglier/less worthy than the fake profile, but that's what the numbers bare.

Range of attractiveness

I used to think that girls just didn't like interacting with guys much on dating sites, but I've now completely eliminated that theory. I also used to think that my profile picture wasn't all that important and that my profile information could make up for a less than perfect picture. Wrong! In my fake profile, I wrote nothing about myself and yet girls were grasping for straws trying to make conversation with me.

Finally, I learned that despite what we're told about girls (and their apparent priority of personality over appearance) girls care more about looks and are just as shallow as their male counterparts.

Forever Alone Closer

...View Comments (6)
Reply | View
Replies: 6 | Views: 8066

The Theory of Relativity

Aug 02

E=MC2 For a long time I've had a theory, or more appropriately, a method at which I view life with. I've jokingly called it my Theory of Relativity because it deals with relativity but probably not in the same way that Einstein did. Along the way, it's helped me out so I thought it would be worth writing a blog post about in case it would help other people out.

I first thought of it, when I was programming at work one day. I was dealing with some data that could be sorted from lowest to highest. In programming we'll often get the lower and upper bound of a range of numbers. This is essentially the lowest number and highest number in a series of many numbers. After I thought about it, I learned that pretty much everything in life can be organized by its lower and upper bound.

Happy vs. Sad: Happiness Range

Lifetime Happiness Chart

Probably the easiest way to apply this is after you've had a bad day. Say you had a bad day at work, or maybe you were delayed by traffic on the way to something. Regardless, these types of things can frequently put people in a very bad mood.

When something like this happens to me, I immediately create my dataset in my head with a range of positive and negative experiences. I'll think of the worst experience I've had (my lower bound) and then my best experience (my upper bound) and determine where my current situation falls within that spectrum.

For me personally, I consider the entire year of 2009 to be my lower bound and my trip out to Utah to be my upper bound. So while getting stuck in traffic might really suck, it pales in comparison to 2009. You see, everything's relative to everything else.

Empathy

Depending on your level of empathy, you may also be able to consider other people's lower and upper bounds. I think the majority of people struggle with this so I recommend sifting through your own history if possible.

The Rage Guy internet meme (coupled with a demotivational poster) illustrates a great example of what I'm talking about.

Rage Guy Perspective

Are You Experienced?

As I thought about my range of positive and negative experiences I began to think about how I reacted to events in the past. Say, you're in high school and in your first long-term relationship. For whatever reason it ends. For most high schoolers, they're simply devastated. Many adults will look at them and shake their heads as it isn't really that big of a deal but, those adults are forgetting something important: relativity. That break up is probably the worst thing that's ever happened to that high schooler.

Emo, Canada

Me being an Emo teenager in Emo, Canada. I'm an Emo adult now.

On the flip side, an elderly person has experienced a lot of things. Perhaps they've served in the military, or their wife or husband has passed away already. Regardless, when they look back at that high school break up, it's no big deal anymore.

The theory sounds simple, but when you hear people complaining about their day, it apparently isn't.

Other Applications

Another way I'll frequently use the theory of relativity is when I'm in a public setting with other people. Based on any attribute you can think of, there's lower and upper bound when you rank all of the people you're with. Some common attributes might be: age, height, attractiveness, body-mass-index or intelligence.

"I Work Out"

For example, when I'm at the gym weight lifting, I'm usually somewhat bored exercising, so the only other thing to do is observe all of the other people working out. Depending on the time of the day that I'm working out there may be a whole range of people working out. Sometimes, the gym is filled with people trying to lose weight who are usually overweight. Seeing as I have pretty much no fat on me, I'm essentially the most fit/muscular/etc. person in the gym at that moment.

If, in a few minutes later, a group of muscleheads walk in, I'm suddenly not even worth noticing anymore.

At Da' Club

The same applies if you're at a dance club or a bar. You might be the most attractive guy in the club on a given night, but then a group of Matthew McConaugheys walk in and suddenly girls wouldn't even give you a chance.

Neal at the club

Above, I dance with a couple girls while another guy watches in shame.

A/S/L

Finally, my last example of relativity is age. I find this one comes up quite often with people. Usually in small talk, somebody will say "oh you're still young...". While you may actually be young, age is 100% relative to the person considering it. If at work, you're the youngest employee, suddenly you're "young" to everyone else but if you're hanging out with a bunch of your younger cousins at a family get-together, you're old!. If you're 50 years old and visiting your 70 & 80 year old aunts and uncles you're young. If you're at a bar or dance club, you're likely going to be very old.

Final Thoughts

Nothing stays constant or fixed. Maybe you really had the worst day of your life. But I suspect that in a year, you'll look back and think how insignificant it was. Don't let your current state of mind scribble all over the big picture. And remember, everything truly is relative.

...View Comments (0)
Reply | View
Replies: 0 | Views: 4563

Freedom Like a Shopping Cart

May 20

Freedom Like a Shopping Cart

Song by NOFX - Lyrics

I thought I'd continue where I left off in my last blog post with another philosophical post. In this post, I'll be tackling the topic of "freedom" and what it means to me.

To the right I have a Youtube song embedded which is thematically related to this post. The song is Freedom Like a Shopping Cart by NOFX.

I've been listening to the song for the last 12 years, but the song never really meant anything to me until the last couple years when I started thinking more about it.

There's a specific line from the song that stuck in my head over the last couple of years, specifically the second half of this verse:

A Christian, an anarchist slash prostitute. Figures out the true meaning of freedom. Not freedom like America. Freedom like a shopping cart.

In America, it feels like when the word freedom is used, it's more of a political word than a personal word. I.e. people are free to vote, free to work at this job or that job, free to own property etc.

To me, freedom is more like a shopping cart in an empty parking lot. It's the lack of obstruction. It's doing what I want, when I want and how I want to do it.

Freedom Like a Shopping Cart

Freedom Is A Lane All To Yourself

I frequently think of the topic on my drive home on Highway 41. I swear, 80% of drivers occupy the passing lane as opposed to the travel lane. Why is this? It's because they don't like being obstructed by other drivers. The irony of this is, if all of the drivers are in the same lane, they're all obstructing one another leaving the right lane wide open and free.

I'll frequently go out of my way to secure my own lane, even if it means I have to drive slower than other people. To me, it's freedom. It's being able to pick my own speed. It's looking forward and backwards without any other drivers obstructing me.

I15, South of Salt Lake City

This analogy ties right back to life. I feel like everyone around me is in the fast lane trying to rush through life. Trying to check off all the stereotypical things a person is suppose to do in their life.

The Checklist

The majority of people around me aren't free. They're over-encumbered with "life". Let's face it, we've been brainwashed from day we were born: that we need to do certain things during the span of our life, or our life hasn't been complete. When an elderly grandparent dies at 80, people say "he had a complete life". When a 30 year old dad dies, they say "he had so much to look forward to, he'll never see his kids grow up". These are the subconscious phrases people say that lead to "do these things or your life went unfulfilled and therefore wasn't as valuable".

Checklist

As I see it, there's a checklist to life that a person needs to follow in order to win their big shinny medal at the end and have it labeled "complete":

  1. Graduate high school
  2. Go to college
  3. Find a job
  4. Get married
  5. Buy a house
  6. Have kids
  7. Become grandparents

Under Pressure

Life's checklist is a very rigid list. Nothing can occur out of order. Have kids before marriage? Fail! Work a couple of years before going to college? You're unfocused. Slip-up anywhere on the checklist and you're a deviant.

There's a tremendous amount of pressure on people to follow the list. Think about it, how many times have you heard somebody interrogating a young couple with:

When are you going to get married?

After that, it's "when are you going to have kids?" or "when are you going to buy a house?"

Source: tattoodjay Flickr

From my experiences, it seems like women have been brainwashed a little harder than men on the checklist and will typically be the ones taking the lead in a relationship or pressuring others to follow the checklist.

Personal Freedumb

I reject the list. It obstructs my freedom in life. It stands in the way of doing what I want, when I want and how I want to do it. Any here's why:

Dating and eventually marriage severally limits your freedom. On average, a person has roughly 50-55 hours of free time a week. Free time = freedom. Guess what happens when you enter a relationship with another person? That's right, less free time. Now you're hanging out with their family, seeing their friends and going to John Mayer concerts. Sure, you might be in love, but is this really what you want to be doing?

If relinquishing your free time wasn't enough, eventually you freedom will be imposed upon. Want to hang out with the guys Saturday night? Not before getting it approved and dealing with a bunch of drama. Want to watch the new Zombie move that just came out? Nope, sorry.

Relationships are a Direct Democracy, being single is a Dictatorship.

Once you're in a relationship, I'd estimate you lose 60-70% of your freedom.

Economic Freedom

Marriage also affects another type of freedom...economic freedom. Economic freedom, to me, means spending my money, my way. Want a new TV or computer? Sorry we're buying a new bedroom set and furniture.

The problem, especially in relationships is when one person makes significantly more than the other. All people have the same amount of wants and needs, but not all people make the same amount of money. When you're in a relationship with another person they will attempt to spend 50% of your income regardless of how much they contributed to it. Essentially you're losing money and your economic freedom by being in a relationship.

My money, before purchasing a car

Another way to exercise your economic freedom is to live debt free. Each loan you have is a commitment. It means you have to have a job. As we all know, keeping a job is no longer as easy as it once was. Student loans, car loans, mortgages are all things that limit your freedom and causes a tremendous amount of stress. By eliminating debt, you increase your economic freedom and release yourself from the shackles that loans place upon you.

Home Ownership

Home ownership is another thing that limits freedom. Homes are permanent, life is random. Homes do not allow for rapid change. Apartments do. Lose your job? Now you're stuck paying for that house for the next 30 years or until you can sell it. Good luck selling it. Get hired by Facebook? Now you can either pay for two mortgages or turn down the job.

Realtor Cards

Homes limit your choices and therefore your freedom by imprisoning you in specific location.

Maintaining The Status Quo

As you move through life's checklist, your number one priority will be to maintain the status quo. This means: keeping your job, your house, your wife and your kids.

These are all things you need to devote time and money to in order to keep. If you're unable to do that, be prepared to deal with a lot of unnecessary stress. Stress that you wouldn't have to deal with if you hadn't subscribed to the checklist. Giving up time and money means giving up freedom.

In order to keep your 3,500 square foot house, condo in Florida and 2012 Lincoln Navigator, you need to keep that $90,000 a year job. Lose that job and suddenly you're not able to maintain the status quo anymore.

Having these things doesn't give you more freedom, they make you a slave to your job. They make you work more hours, meaning less time to actually enjoy the things you've worked for. Remember more work = less free time.

The more "stuff" you have the harder you have to work to keep it.

Freedom Isn't Free

Korean War Memorial. Source: jepoirrier Flickr

Of course freedom isn't free. You will essentially be living on the fringe of society. Be prepared to be regarded as the old, weird single guy. Be prepared to have people constantly pressure you to "get into a relationship". Be prepared to almost never hang out with your friends again since they prefer to hang out with couples. You'll also be forced to witness others celebrate their accolades as they progress through each phase of life's checklist.

Obligatory Takeaway Paragraph

I guess if there's anything I'd like to get across in this post it's this: Actually stop and think about what you want from life. Not what other people think or what society thinks but what you want from life.

...View Comments (2)
Reply | View
Replies: 2 | Views: 9645