Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Raul's Finite Playlist: November 2011


I actually got my playlist together very early this month, yet I dawdled in posting it. It's a great playlist, if I say so myself. It opens with the latest rousing song from Florence and the Machine. Florence is proof that it isn't what you say that matters but how you say it. The lyrics in "Shake It Out" are a bit clunky but Florence's full-throated singing glosses that over and delivers the inspiration.

The next two songs are a look at being young. The first, "We Are Young" by Fun. featuring Janelle Monae, is in the present tense, while "When I Was Young" by Nada Surf is in the past. I like the contrast between the two. One is exuberant while the other is bittersweet.

Alabama Shakes, Gary Clark, Jr., and the Black Keys deliver the bluesy heart of this playlist. I love these three songs and they are the ones that make me daydream that I'm a blues singer playing these mean guitar riffs.

Lana Del Rey is freaky to look at. Her lips must have their own zip code. Then there is the question of whether she's a manufactured indie act, but that really doesn't matter so much to me. A song like "Video Games" is immediately alluring, and I liked the song upon hearing without realizing that it was the Lana Del Rey I had read so much about. So, yeah, I impartially fell in love with the song.

Real Estate and Phantogram are probably going to get bigger in the next year. "Green Aisles" is my favorite song from Real Estate's album, "Days." Their sound is chill and relaxed but it's never boring. "Green Aisles" is simple but it's loaded with longing and wistfulness. It's gorgeous. Phantogram's "Don't Move" is just fun. I dare you to not move along with it.

Mayer Hawthorne is a purveyor of white soul, and the first time I heard "The Walk" I thought it was an old classic soul tune I had heard before. It's a great kiss-off song. Funny, fun, and feisty. I decided to follow up "The Walk" with a soul cult classic, Darondo's "Didn't I."

To close out the list, I threw in the FIeld's hypnotic "Then It's White." It may sound like a dull, repetitive song but there is a progression in it that makes it a mesmerizing listen.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Incase Update

The ordeal is over! I received a new case yesterday and there's nothing wrong with it. It's new, it has all the requisite parts. I think what they sent me before was a used/returned item. It had a lot of scratches as if it was dropped, probably causing the bottom part to break off. I imagine that someone decided to take advantage of the system. Their case broke, they bought a new one, took the new one, and then returned their purchase except they placed their old, broken one in the box. At the warehouse they picked up this returned one and sent it to me. I'm probably not too far off on my story.

The upside of this whole thing is that each time they sent me a shipment, they also shipped a package of screen protectors. I bought one originally because it was only $10 when it's normally $20. Well, they wound up sending me three packets. Maybe I should sell one online and keep one as backup.

In any event, my iPhone is now encased, or is that Incased?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Grrrr...But Not Really

I bought my iPhone 4S the day it came out, so I've had it for a month. I'm fairly happy with it and it has come in handy. I haven't downloaded Angry Birds yet, which makes me think I'm not using it to its full capability.

This post, though, isn't about the iPhone. It's about the case I ordered for it the same night I bought it. In short, the phone still does not have a case.

Let's go back. I paid $20 for a $40 coupon from Groupon or Living Social, I forget, towards an Incase product in anticipation of the iPhone I knew I would get. I like their design and wanted the best for my very expensive phone. As I mentioned, I ordered it the same night I got my phone. I expected it to arrive within a week.

A week later, a package arrived, it weighed practically nothing. I opened it expecting to find my case and the screen protector, but alas, it was only the screen protector and some crumpled up paper. But I'm a patient man, so I figured it would arrive soon.

The week ended and no package. I wait a couple more days the following week and still no case. I finally call Incase and spoke to a representative who was very nice. He couldn't really tell me with certainty that the case was even shipped but he told me he would ship one out again immediately. If the first one that may or may not have been sent comes to me, he said I could keep that too. Great, I thought. Two cases for practically nothing.

I wait another week. No case. I call again and speak to the same guy, Frank. Again he was nice, if a little evasive about whether he shipped the promised case or not. I asked him if he had a tracking number so I can see where it is in UPS's system but he couldn't give me one, which makes me think that he didn't. I really should have been madder, but I'm not a very angry person and Frank was very nice and apologetic so I just couldn't find it in me to be angry.

So I wait again. Sure enough a package arrived on Tuesday. Hooray! I open it and let out a laugh. Inside was another screen protector. No case. How could they mess this up again? As it turned out they didn't. I get an e-mail from UPS indicating that another package was arriving the next day.

I get home yesterday and find the package at my doorstep. This long ordeal was finally coming to an end! I open the package and find the promised case. As I'm opening it I debated whether I should call Frank again the next day and tell him that I finally got my case. We would laugh and all would be good.

That was when I noticed something was wrong. The case was supposed to come with a stand so you can sit the iPhone sideways and watch whatever video you want to watch. Should I complain about that? It's unlikely I would use that stand anyway. I was leaning towards letting it go, but then I noticed a bigger problem. The case was broken. Half of the front bottom portion was missing. I slumped in my chair and laughed again. It's comical how much trouble I had to go through just to get this case.

Well, I called Incase today hoping to speak to Frank so I can give him a piece of my mind. He must have sensed I would call because he didn't pick up. Instead it was a lady named Linda. I explained to her what happened and she couldn't have been nicer about it. She said she would ship another one right away, so hopefully everything will be fine with this one.

I still wondered whether I should have expressed greater anger at the situation. A month I've waited and I'm still caseless. Maybe if it goes into a second month I would definitely be more upset. Or will I?

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Race Report: 10.30.2011 Los Angeles Rock N Roll Half Marathon

Chip Time: 1:50:12
Pace: 8:25/mile

The Los Angeles Rock N Roll Half Marathon didn't turn out as badly as I was worried it would. It's far from my fastest marathon at 1:50:12. I should have pushed a little harder to get in under 1:50. Last year's time was five minutes faster at 1:45:23 but that was a different course. The lack of training really did me in, and it didn't help that I had gotten sick a week before. I had a couple of coughing fits during the race, but really the biggest issue was not getting the mileage before the race that I should have. By the 10K point my legs were feeling fatigued. I thought I might have gone out too fast, but considering I maintained the pace throughout probably means that it was just right. SInce I was in corral 2 I didn't have too many issues with having to swerve around people and I managed to run the first mile in 8:30 flat. In fact, I was consistently at 8:30 or under during the race. My slowest mile was mile 7 at an 8:36 pace. I can't remember anything unusual about that portion, but the reason for that being the slowest mile was probably due to a brief water/walk break. I thought the slowest one would have been mile 9 and its uphill climb up 6th Street bridge, but it doesn't appear that the bridge slowed me down too much. Mile 9 was accomplished in 8:19 and mile 10 was 8:32.

The race was mostly uneventful. The weather was fine until the end when it quickly warmed up. Thankfully the high rises of downtown provided much shade and the heat didn't trouble me. In the portion through Little Tokyo and towards Boyle Heights, though, there wasn't shade to be had, so the heat was a little more troublesome there. All in all it was a decent race. I didn't hurt too badly and I was able to finish. I doubt I'll run this race again next year, though. I don't like the new course. It's boring and not as fun as the old one that ran through Griffith Park, Silver Lake, Echo Park until finishing in downtown. Besides, it's been there, done that. Hopefully when I run the Pasadena Rock N Roll Half Marathon in February I will have trained better and be able to challenge my PR of 1:41 from four years ago.

As for the rest of the month, October was a slacker month for running. Including the half marathon, I only managed 84.1 miles for the month. Not good. The longest distance was the half marathon. I'm becoming a broken record, but I need to train more!