Monthly Archives: June 2010

Some Music

After telling my friend Erin that I’m writing a blog this summer, she requested that I post one about music. So here we go…

I primarily listen to hip hop music, and this interest sparked during high school when the underground hip hop scene in my hometown of Seattle, WA, started to explode. Seattle has contributed a lot to music over the last fifty years – from Jimi Hendrix to Sir Mix-A-Lot to Nirvana – and now Northwest hip hop is beginning to gain national recognition. It’s hard to talk about current hip hop in Seattle without mentioning Blue Scholars. The duo consists of Geologic (emcee) and Sabzi (producer), and is pretty well known at CC – they even played nearby campus my freshman year. They started back in 2002 when the two were students at the University of Washington. Blue Scholars are responsible for helping create the politically and socially conscious hip hop image coming from Seattle today.

I’m going to share some groups (and songs of theirs that I think are good introductions to their music) that kicked off my interest in the genre – both from Seattle and other places throughout the country – and some of my favorite artists now, as well.

This is a song called “North by Northwest” by Blue Scholars off their 2007 album, Bayani.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eKLgaLBhx68[/youtube]

Common Market is another duo from Seattle, consisting of Blue Scholars producer, Sabzi, and emcee RA Scion. The group formed in 2005, and this song “Tobacco Road” comes off their 2008 album of the same name.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t1MUpZAWuFI[/youtube]

Grip Grand is one of my favorite artists coming from the Bay Area. The song “Poppin’ Pockets” is really popular among my friends at CC.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmyIf3m-q3Q[/youtube]

XV is a relatively new artist from Kansas. This song is called “Losing the Signal,” and I believe it will be featured on his new album.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJKxBXCCUAg[/youtube]

Theophilus London is from New York City. “Humdrum Town” is his debut single off of Green Label Sound.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2jBlPml7N4[/youtube]

Here is a sequence of a few other artists on the rise from Seattle:

Grynch & Two Good Men, “I’m A Dreamer”

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-uBFTgbK0M[/youtube]

Macklemore, “The Town” (Sabzi Remix)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSH2hGEvLTU[/youtube]

J.Pinder, “Go Far”

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Db-M_W51Nac[/youtube]

Ryan Lewis (producer), “Fake Empire” (sampling The National)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MdoliLNRlHo[/youtube]

Anyway, I definitely don’t know everything about hip hop – by any means. But these are just some songs that I think are a fairly decent representation of what kind of music I like to listen to. Enjoy!

Moab!!!

Looking out into the dessert

I am sitting here in my cubicle on a Wednesday (a.k.a. hump day) and Moab crosses my mind. Pictures of amazing landscapes flash through my mind, and memories of a past visit take up most of my mental capacity. Moab, UT is possibly one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Arch

I am happy it was discovered, but at the same time I wonder how great it would have been to stumble upon such a place by mere accident while off-roading with my girlfriend or my brother. As you know from my past blog I am quite passionate about off-roading. There is something that I just can’t explain about the moment when pure nature meats pure mechanical engineering.

Colorado River from trail

People get in and out of cars everyday with out realizing what an amazing machine they are. Cars like nature have a structured existence. In nature you are born, you live, and you die. Like wise cars are made, used, and then they die. It is exhilarating to find two things so different in composition, co-existing together on an amazing off-road safari through the deserts of Moab. The last time I was there Margaux (my girlfriend),

Margaux

and I took a trip through some pretty wild roads and trails in the back country of Moab. The trip began with a 4 hr drive from Keystone, CO to Canyonlands national park. When we got to Canyonlands the ranger met us with a shotgun and advised us kindly to turn back as there were no camping sites available. Never mess with a park ranger. So we decided to take the dirt road back and camp where ever the road took us. We found a cozy little nook to set up camp in and spent the night looking at the stars and being afraid of bears naturally. The next morning we went hiking in Arches, and explored some off-road trails that got too narrow for my FJ to fit through.

Checking air pressure on ascend

We had to back up for about a mile and a half on a trail that was barely big enough for the car and had about 200 ft. drops on either side, kind of scary.

Narrow trail

However some of the most memorable moments of that trip came from that part when Margaux was trying to guide me through the twisting road making sure I didn’t back-up and off the cliff to certain death. After getting back from that exciting adventure we spent the night at a KOA in our tent. I know its not really camping, but we wanted a shower and a good night’s sleep free of bears. Margaux cooked some of the best spaghetti and meatballs I have ever had and we slept like rocks. The last day was probably the most exciting day. We went on a jeep safari trail that is advised for modified off-roading cars only. Being very confident that my FJ could do anything we took the trail and we had no idea what awaited us. Some of the climbs the old FJ had to do were over 25 degrees of inclination.

Steep Climb

For those of you who don’t know at 25 degrees the only thing you can see out of the windshields are clouds in front and the red rocks in the back. There were several guts of other cars that had attempted the climb and failed and left a muffler, a mirror, some headlamps or other body parts as evidence of the battle between nature and machine. Well we got through that climb just fine and I was begging for more action. After some easy dirt roads there came a descent with steps carved out of the red rock by wind and water that were about 4 ft in height each. The ground clearance of an FJ is about 2 ft if you are lucky. This was the hard part. My FJ is not modified except for the off-road package that Toyota offers, so off-road shocks, skid plates, and tires. As I went down the first step the opposite of what happened in the climb occurred.

Steps of red rock

All I could see out of the front windshield was rock. The old FJ handled it fine and we were on our way to explore some caves and old mining sites in the back-country of “god knows where” Utah. The “safari” took about 5 hrs to complete. That trip was evidence of how nature and machine can co-exist in a happy harmony. After that we were on our way back to CC for another block, with yet another amazing block-break that we will remember for the rest of our lives.

Cave in Moab

P.S. The you tube video is not in Moab, it is in Montezuma, CO FYI. [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qnI7Y-cKs8A[/youtube]

Until next time,

-Diego

Be Present

I spent part of the afternoon on Memorial Day spoiling myself with a yoga class. We began our practice in a seated position, unlike the more traditional ‘child’s pose’, and our instructor encouraged us to:

Sit still.
Slow down.
Calm our minds.
Fight the urge to fidget.
Examine the backs of our eyelids.
Focus on breathing.
Be grateful that we can breathe.
Find contentment.
Be present.

And, more simply,

to

just

be.

I found myself having a hard time with each task because typically, I don’t sit still. I like to GO, and I find that taking time to slow down bothers me. I thrive on productivity. I love having a schedule. I like making lists and I love crossing things off of them. And for me, sitting still was a tough task. But I know that I am not alone. And if you make a conscious effort to slow down and take time to focus on each of the suggestions above throughout the summer, the day to day will stop presenting itself as a race. My hope is that it becomes more of a breath of fresh air, because I would hate for you to miss this:

dew on spider web
[image credit]

santa monica shore
[image credit]

monastery window
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simonos petras monastery
[image credit]

havasu creek
[image credit]

bering sea sunset
[image credit]

now, go and enjoy your weekend.