Karate is one of my all-time favorite bands. Here is one of the few clips of them on YouTube — a song called “Caffeine or Me?”:

I really need to convert that Karate show I filmed in Seattle into a YouTube friendly format… the world needs more Karate.

brave, brave is a meaningless word // in the 20th century // save, save for the times that you heard // when it means stupidity // like, right now, if you could disappear // i know that you would // if you could start this year again // if you could, if you could

is this me or caffeine? // caffeine, caffeine, caffeine

and i can tell by your weight to the world // that you need to have it all // and i can tell by the weight of your words // that you call political // and i would beat you up if i could // make me feel like a boy again // you make violence feel so good // like it should, like it should

is this me or caffeine? // caffeine, caffeine, caffeine

excuses are okay // however senseless they might be // and senseless is to say // that they dont make sense to me // excuses are okay // however senseless they might be // excuses are okay

Yeah I am going there — mainly because no one else seems to be… and anyone who does even mention it in passing gives them a pass.

For those that don’t know, Refused was a Swedish hardcore band in the 90s. They put out 3 albums, with two on Burning Heart and one on Victory. So they were a pretty big deal. Especially their final album, The Shape of Punk to Come, which received critical acclaim and was even voted #13 in the top 50 most influential albums of all time by Kerrang! magazine.

Beyond the music, their lyrics focused on liberalism and anti-capitalism, packaged in a way that paid homage to bands like The Nation of Ulysses and Born Against. The lyrics and message were a big part of who they were and how people related to them.

I didn’t get to see them live (I did see International Noise Conspiracy, the band that came after Refused), so when I heard they reformed recently and were going to tour North America, I was super psyched.

Unfortunately, I am not going. Why, you ask? The tickets for the Toronto show (closest location to Buffalo, NY) were $38 ($45 after “convenience” fees)… can you say, what?!?

So much for anti-capitalism, huh? I even checked the other venues that offered pre-sale and the others were maybe $5 or $10 cheaper, if at all. So still really, really expensive.

Since a ton of bands from the 1990s hardcore scene seem to be reuniting these days, I even checked out tickets for other reunions. Much more reasonable — for example: At the Drive-In tickets in their home state of Texas were only $20. And I’d argue At the Drive-In were much more popular than Refused.

I’d pay $20 for Refused tickets. Totally fair and reasonable. That still seems expensive compared to the prices you’d pay to see these bands back in the day ($10 or less in most cases), but I can understand those kind of prices for a reunion.

So are they sell outs? Hypocrites? I’d say hell yes.

Does it matter in the end? I guess not, but it does mean something. That time in my life is important to me. It made me who I am today. I kind of feel like not being disappointed cheapens those experiences.

What say you?

I think I finally found a WordPress setup that allows me to use Markdown for writing posts, both in the browser and on my iPhone/iPad using the WordPress iOS apps.

A combination of two plugins:

The first plugin makes it possible for WordPress to save posts in Markdown format and display them on the front end. The second plugin replaces the WordPress rich text editor with a Markdown friendly toolbar. I even used the “Markdownify” setting that came with Quck Tags to convert my older HTML posts to Markdown in the database.

The whole setup works flawlessly!

If you write for the web, I highly recommend checking out Markdown. Once you get a hang of the syntax, it makes writing easy-to-read and easy-to-convert-to-HTML text a breeze.

Wow. January is almost over already!

I just wanted to post a quick update on my Love List progress.

Things I’ve done well so far:

  • Kept on top of my priorities. (27 days in my new Moleskine planner. Each day has a ton of crossed off to-dos. I’ve also not procrastinated on any important task this month.)
  • Exercise. (Almost every other day for most of January.)
  • Blog once per week. (This is my 8th post this month.)
  • Purge stuff. (We unloaded like 15 bags of stuff to the Salvation Army a week or so ago. More to come!)
  • Blog design. (Moved forward one step, as I re-launched blog on the platform I’m going to use going forward. Design is next!)
  • See more movies. (Movies in the theater, I’ve seen recently: Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, twice, The Muppets, Alvin and the Chipmunks, and Mission Impossible.)
  • Go bowling. (Took the kids!)

Works in progress:

  • Take more photos. (I’ve taken more, but not a significant number and mainly only the kids.)
  • Read one book per month. (I seriously need to get on this. I started off good, but haven’t read in probably 10 days.)
  • Re-connect with friends. (Another thing I started off doing well, but failed the last week or two. Changing that this weekend and next, hopefully!)

FAIL or Starting Later

  • Go to more shows. (A few good shows are coming up!)
  • Go camping. (Need to make reservations soon!)
  • Spontaneus weekend trip. (Nothing yet.)
  • Create an iPhone app. (Have an idea, but no progress yet.)
  • Meditate every week. (Totally failed on this.)
  • Move my career forward. (No progress yet.)

I’ll post a recap like this at the end of each month to update my progress. How are you doing on your goals or love list?

There are three choices in life:

  1. You can live in the past by dwelling on the poor choices, mistakes, or yearning for something you used to be…
  2. You can worry about the future by living through fear of “what ifs” and uncertaintity…
  3. Or you can focus on the present and make the best choices you can in the moment to enhance your happiness and the happiness of people you care about.
Recently Seth Godin took a quick look at why one of his favorite restaurants was special. He came to this conclusion:

I think it’s the hand-fitted gestalt of thousands of little decisions made by caring management out to make a difference.

And he expanded on that, turning it into the secret of success in business:

This turns out to be the secret of just about every really successful enterprise. Sure, you can copy one or two or even three of their competitive advantages and unique remarkable attributes, but no, it’s going to be really difficult to recreate the magic of countless little decisions. The scarcity happens because so many businesses don’t care enough or are too scared to invest the energy in so many seemingly meaningless little bits of being extraordinary.

I think it’s important to remember that basic idea in all aspects of life: invest energy in the little interactions you have with the people you care about. Whether it’s your significant other, your customers, your employees, or your kids. They add up — they create the magic that is a great relationship.

The question I’ve struggled with lately, though, is: when you are on the receiving end of these “little things”, how much do you read into them?

Take this example:

Got my Christmas present from work: lotto ticket & mini flashlight complete with corroded batteries. At least I won $8. — Jason Dettbarn (@endonend – December 20, 2011

On one hand “it’s the thought that counts”, right? I’m not entirely sure that’s the case — especially when it comes to giving obviously defective gifts to a good number of people. Is that gesture offensive or am I looking into it too much? I’d like to think a company would treat it’s employees a little better than that, especially when they just closed the warehouse in our site and fired half the employees. Many of whom stayed on until this month to help with the transition. Seems disrespectful, doesn’t it?

At the very least, it’s as Godin says: many businesses don’t care enough or are too scared to invest the energy in so many seemingly meaningless little bits of being extraordinary.

Maybe I am looking too much into this or maybe I just have high expectations. Another part of me thinks that this is a signal that it’s time for a big change. We’ll see.

Julien Smith asks 6 great questions for the New Year:

  • Do you know which five opinions of yours, right now, are 100% wrong? So the first step in all of this is to consider that it’s possible that you are wrong – not a little, but a lot– in fact, that you’re fucking everything up and that you need a wakeup call.
  • Hey, so how’s that method working out for you? Get out of your usual habits and do something different or you will get nowhere.
  • Do you know what effort feels like? When was the last time you felt that you had to do something, because you knew it was important, but it was too much work, too much emotional labour, and further, even if you did do it, you don’t even know how? Then, how did it feel when you did it anyway? Yes, exactly.
  • When was the last time you questioned your direction? Go do something you actually care about – trust me, I’ve had enough conversations with successful yet miserable people
  • How are you going to be changing the world? If you had to leave something behind, if you were going to die and be entirely forgotten but could change one thing, what one thing would that be?
  • Why would you work on anything else but what actually matters?

A great post to read if you are feeling stuck or sick of your resolutions failing every year.

To go along with starting, I think it’s very important to decide what not to do as well. To eliminate all the things that are not providing value or helping you focus your attention on the things you love.

I highly recommend reading Merlin Mann’s Better essay. Here’s my favorite part, where Merlin describes his process for eliminating all the things that don’t provide value or move him forward:

To be honest, I don’t have a specific agenda for what I want to do all that differently, apart from what I’m already trying to do every day:

  • identify and destroy small-return bullshit;
  • shut off anything that’s noisier than it is useful;
  • make brutally fast decisions about what I don’t need to be doing;
  • avoid anything that feels like fake sincerity (esp. where it may touch money);
  • demand personal focus on making good things;
  • put a handful of real people near the center of everything.

All I know right now is that I want to do all of it better. Everything better. Better, better.

What does that mean for me? Not quite sure yet, but I’ve already started to work through that process:

I am going to use the tags love list and better where appropriate, so you can follow my progress here on my blog. Stay tuned!