NYE retrospective

I'm sure there won't be time tomorrow for a year-end wrap-up in my shortened work day, so I might as well get to it while I'm bored at home. 2007 wasn't the most eventful year of my life, but that isn't to say it was by any means a bad one. The year kicked off with me finishing up work on the new permanent exhibit at The Field Museum called The Ancient Americas; this job, probably my last in the Anthropology department for near future, was probably the biggest, most (hopefully) enduring thing I've ever taken part of. Hopefully The Ancient Americas will be around for many years to come, and will continue to educate the public about the latest research that has been conducted concerning the various amazing cultures that existed in the Americas before the coming of the Europeans.

After the installation of The Ancient Americas concluded, I was offered a job in the library at The Field Museum, which I accepted on the condition that I could delay my start date by a month because I was about to leave for Peru. During the month of May, I traveled through Peru with my best friend, Claudia; a fairly thorough account of my travels is contained in the first few posts in this blog, and also can be seen in these photo galleries of mine on Flickr:
Santa Catalina Monastery
Cañon de Colca
Lake Titicaca
Cuzco and the Sacred Valley
Machu Pichu

After returning to Chicago, I soon started my new job in The Field Museum's library, and my masters in library and information sciences through the LEEP program out of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This primarily-online program has allowed me to do the majority of my coursework from home or work without having to move elsewhere to attend a top school; on the other side of the coin, the on-campus visits have given me a nice, bite-sized taste of what it must be like to actually attend a big-ten university without having to stay there long enough for the novelty to wear off. Despite all this, it has become pretty obvious that library work isn't in my soul, so I have spent my time focusing on archival work, preservation, public policy and programs; I hope to get involved with the community informatics track within the gslis program, which focuses on targeting information needs in under-served communities and working with those same communities to make them self-sufficient. It was either focus on this, or drop out all together to go back for a masters in anthropology at UIC, which I might still do, but I felt that riding this out and finishing while making some connections and getting experience was the right thing to do.

This September marked Dan and my one-year anniversary. and things are going quite well. To celebrate, Dan and I did what any other overly-romantic young married couple, deeply in love, would do, and went to Detroit for the Paxahau 9 year anniversary - featuring Hardfloor, the act that first got me into the wonderful world of dance/rave music. For those of you who don't know Dan and I well, Detroit was where we initially got together (or at least realized we wanted to) during a trip to DEMF in 2004 and a healthy weekend of urban exploration, binge drinking, and techno. That's love...

The final stretch of 2007 included the Sadie Hawkins Day Race/Ride, which was a pant-load of fun. Again, big big props to Julie, Kisha, and everyone else who made this event a reality; a great time was had by all. I hope we all can look forward to a year 3 in 2008. Other notable events that happened in the final gasps of 2007 included a victorious weekend in lovely Green Bay, WI with my women's Nat. C hockey team, Team Glacier; our game against Michigan Tech was a particular treat - I think it's been about 10 years since I punched anyone in the face, so that was a real highlight. We'll be playing Tech again pretty soon here in Chicago, and I strongly urge any of you locals to come watch if you want some free entertainment.

That brings us up to the last few posts I've made here in Let's Rock, so I don't really think I need to recap. As for looking forward, here are a couple big things I'm hoping for in 2008:

  • First and foremost, good health to all my friends and family (hell, anyone good enough to have read this far deserves it as well)
  • Selling our condo and buying the house we've fallen in love with over in Bridgeport
  • Maybe getting a new job in the anthro department or the archives at the museum
  • Kicking some ass in the Fat Race
  • Kicking some ass at the Nationals with my hockey team in PA
  • There is a slim chance I may finish my degree by this time next year - getting my special collections certification would be an added bonus
  • Thinking of taking the GREs - maybe I'll get it over with this coming year
  • Add to that last one applying for a grad program in anthro at UIC as a possibility

Thanks to all my readers in 2007 - I will see you on the other side of a champagne countdown, and a mean hangover I'm sure. Be safe and smart tonight!


Playing with the boys

Tonight my brother and I are heading to our first Lyons Township High School Hockey Club alumni game; we've missed in the past for various reasons, so this year it's on. This will be the first time my brother and I have played together since we were both on the same men's league team about 4 years ago. Needless to say, it's going to be fun.

From the looks of the team lists, I think quite a few of the guys I used to skate with my Freshman and Sophomore years are going to be there, though those I skated with in my Junior and Senior years and fairly small in numbers; perhaps people closer to my age happened to have roamed a bit farther away from home or, like a few I can think of, sold their gear to buy drugs or turntables (same difference really). So, I am looking forward to a good skate, chatting with some old friends, and possibly being defensive partners again with my brother for old times' sake.

My team frosh. year of high school with my name misspelled (1995-1996) - I bet you can't pick me out of the crowd.

A dance to remember

For those of you who may have known Meaghan, there is going to be a dance party tonight at Streetside Bar and Grill (3201 W. Armitage) to celebrate her life. Meaghan was an avid cyclist, a supporter of the local dance music scene, and one of the nicest girls I have had the pleasure of meeting in recent memory; this time of year just reminds me of how I wish I had had the chance to get to know her better. So, come out and hear a sampling of her favorite music by local DJs and friends, and please remember to find a sober ride home or to take transit.


Mix Tape Master List

Update 3.24.08
Yes, we do have the master list still up on our site, but I encourage you all to go register/log in to the Internet Rave Archive because we now feature a music section where you can stream or download many of these classic old mixtapes. Go check it out; we are constantly adding content, so even if your old faves aren't up there just yet, they could be very soon. If you don't want to wait, go to our forums and add your requests to the request thread in the music section.



For those of you who keep finding this post by google searching for rave mixtapes or something similar: as of late January 2008, this list is still in existence, as is the collection. The problem is that right now the link to this information is associated with a site that is still under construction. Due to this, the second link below might be incorrect every once-in-a-while until I notice that things have changed and I am able to fix everything (I'm not the one working on the site, so I never know when these changes happen). I have been told that this is the permanent link, but let me know if anything comes up. As always, if you have any questions about the tapes listed (note that there are tabs on the bottom for two collection lists), please contact me through the site (first link) - I am user name 'blue'

Here is the original blog post::

Here is the link to our website (zines, forums, chat, games, vinyl lists, tape lists, and flyers): www.ravearchive.com

The tape list is here: http://ravearchive.com/tapes.htm

We're constantly adding content and moving things around, so if any of these links aren't working, please contact the site admin or post in the forum.

I still need to add my tape packs (Brockout! 95, etc.), and eventually want to split them up by genre, but this is how it is right now. Also, it bugs me as well that it's alpha by the first word in the artist's name, which means that sometimes DJ's names aren't in correct alpha order, but that's just the way it worked out in exel.. Anyway, here is the work in progress - the cumulative tape collecting efforts of myself, my husband, and a couple friends who wanted to find a good home (in the disused library card catalog cabinet pictured below) for their tapes. It might not mean much to international visitors, but there is a lot of Midwestern (and East and West coasts) rave history here:

Back to the grind

Nothing like coming off a 5-day holiday to sit at one's desk for hours trying to track down an obsolete vacuum part. Why on earth would anyone buy a vacuum that isn't from a company with a major U.S. presence? I understand that it's nice to have something that is really specialized, but it's not like I work in the Anthropology conservation lab where it's really necessary. Do we really need a 'museum vac' to clean floors and the occasional book? I don't even want to know what this thing is going to cost.

In other news, Blade Runner is playing at the Music Box theater for a week only; anyone want to go?


The Things I get Into When I have an Extended Weekend

Tonight/this morning seemed like a perfect time to catalog our mixtape archive. The grand total? 494 unique titles (this doesn't count the multiple copies we have of certain tapes, nor does it count tape packs, which I haven't cataloged yet). Eventually the spread sheet I put together will live on my husband's site, which also hosts some of the rips he's made of favorite tapes. So now, after washing a disturbingly-thick layer of black funk off my fingers, it is time to get some sleep. In the morning (well, I'm guessing it'll be more like afternoon) I will make a hearty breakfast of eggnog pancakes, eggs, and bacon, and then finish up my master list. Hooray for days off.


For those who didn't know

Fat Race is now up and running. We're still waiting for some stragglers to post up, but I know measurements and pictures were taken (at my place) last night. Place your bets, it's going to be a fight to the finish!


Real news

This story seems to have slipped under the news radar in the frenzy created by Brittany Spears's sister getting knocked up, but I feel that it deserves all the attention it can get.


The Lakota Sioux nation has officially declared its independence from the United States, withdrawing from all former treaties. Some I've seen discussing this think it's just a play for more media attention and aid from the government, but I, for one, am taking it at face value. I'm really interested to see where this goes in the next few months. Will the government ignore the situation until it becomes time to collect taxes and they don't comply? To be quite honest, I hope this goes somewhere positive; everything they've done has been according to U.S. law, apparently. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that Canada has given the Inuit autonomy and control of their own territories to the far north; I wonder if it's possible at all to have an autonomos native zone within our own borders.

More info at these links:

Lakota Freedom Delegation

Common Dreams.org

I knew there was a reason to hate going to the Dr.

So I guess I have to have some more testing done asap, and the only close date is the 26th (luckily I have the day off). That means I can only have clear liquids (broth, etc) the day before... that's right, Christmas day. What a bunch of B.S..
My wonderful husband, upon hearing this news, burst into laughter at my misfortune and asked if vodka qualified as a clear liquid. I know where he sleeps, revenge will be swift...

No update today because I had to go to the Drs office and now have to work my butt off to make up the time. In the meantime, keep your eyes on the fat race blog because today is the weigh in.


Blue day + Fugazi = marked improvement

Perhaps it is familiarity, or nostalgia, or just the need to hear some angry music when I myself am not in the world's best mood, but listening to Fugazi on the I-tunes network at work is my panacea today. I've noticed over the years that I categorize my music more by mood than by any other classification system:
Fugazi for angry, blue, and, funny enough, great mood
Portishead for blue or randy (not sure what that combo says about me)
Techno of any type for a good mood, driving long distances, or drinking heavily
The Smashing Pumpkins at just about any time of the day or mood
Classical or jazz for studying or relaxing
Ska/The Queers for summer days and road trips
Old school Jump-up Jungle for hot summer days and driving in the city
Funk for cleaning or entertaining guests
and so on...

It's funny how music has always been my safe place; somewhere I can turn to to invoke the certain state of mind that I wish to be in, or to soothe myself out of moods in which I don't want to find myself. I'm a little disappointed in myself that my actual accumulation of new music seems to have ended, for the most part, in the mid-90s. I heard something on This American Life once that we lose our sense of adventure for trying new things somewhere around the age of 23; after that point, we as individuals tend to revisit what is familiar and pleasant to us, and think of anything new as being inferior. Granted there are some people who never seem to stop wanting to push their boundaries, I tend to agree with this hypothesis; why else would oldies stations be necessary, or did our parents never seem to want to go with us to get Ethiopian food rather than Italian? I, for one, am waiting for the time when there will be 90's alternative stations and mega buffets that serve Asian, Middle Eastern, and African foods.

Wow, from music to food - hitting all the comfort zones today!


The other woman

Yesterday morning I wouldn't have seen this coming, judging by my ride in, but I do believe there may be another woman in my life - at least in the cycling sense. Just as many male cyclists reading this would probably prefer to think of the vehicle that they straddle every day as being a member of the opposite sex (though not in the 'odd Scottish guy in a hotel room' kind of way), I too would prefer to think of mine as a compatible companion for my own preferences. However, there is no denying that the Raleigh cruiser, my current ride, is a lady (insert Tom Jones doing a lusty 'whoa whoa whoa' here).

While I haven't gone so far as to give her a name of any sort in the few years she has been in my possession, I can't help but to really appreciate her generously-curvy design, little details that perk up her brown, rusty appearance, and the feeling of grace that I get when I'm out with her. I feel like I need to be wearing a long Victorian dress with a ridiculously big hat covering an equally-ridiculously big hairdo; I don't think I will ever be able to ride a step-through without this mental image.

At any rate, after a couple more rides with her, I feel like I should keep her around for the winter as my work horse. I can't deny that there are certain places that she is able to go that my usual ride wouldn't. I can rely on her weight and fatter tires to carry me over slush piles and accumulations of rock salt without the slightest fishtail - no small bit of comfort when traveling down one of the busiest lengths of road in the city. I think she and I will carry on this affair until the roads dry out again, the the obstructions and hazards have moved on.

Look at it this way, it really is for my guy's good, isn't it? Keeping him in the basement, safe and dry while I let my lady do all the dirty work, will preserve his paint and keep him from rust, right? I'll keep trying to rationalize this shift in allegiances; until then, I will try not to look like a complete tool hanging out on this dignified lady in winter bike attire, mess bag full of stuff, flashing lights, and a pink helmet.


Todays's forecast: slushy bike lanes and a light dusting of sexual harassment

(Note - this picture isn't actually me and my bike, but it's not too far off on how old riding the thing makes me feel)

Monday again, and back on the road, this time on my old Raleigh 'sport' cruiser. I always found it funny that the side of this massive, brown steel blunderbuss was emblazoned with the blatantly-false epithet 'sport' - about the only think sports-related about this ride is the amount of effort it takes to lift its bulk up stairs.

It's funny how a year away from an old ride completely changes how you feel about getting back on it. The ride in today felt like I had never ridden the Raleigh, even though it was my only means of transport last summer. Riding on a step through cruiser after a year of a fairly light men's racing road bike felt completely foreign to me - from the upright position, to the large seat and flat pedals that don't require clipping in. I never noticed how much when riding my men's bike I used the distribution of my body weight and posture to balance and steer; with this cruiser, I feel like the bulk of the bike itself, and my arms, do all the work. Needless to say, I can't wait to be back to normal.

In addition to feeling like a complete bike beginner, the roads were terribly maintained after our recent storm ; I normally ride up Roosevelt (a pretty large and busy street) because it gets a lot of traffic and tends to dry out quicker, but today the bike lane was completely covered in about 3" of dingy gray slush. I was then forced to ride IN the busy traffic on an unfamiliar bike whose unsteadiness under pressure brought back bad memories of my mule experience in Peru. On the plus side, having the wider tires and heavier bike added a bit more traction and stability; I was able to go over patches of slush that would have made me fishtail on my regular bike, so that was comforting. However, on the other side of the coin, being on the heavier bike made me feel like I was driving a large SUV through a snow storm in that it felt much harder to bring to a full stop - this was a bit nerve-wracking when going down the large hill at the end of the bridge on Roosevelt, which terminates at a stop light that I never seem to be able to make on my slower bike.

Finally I reached the footpaths by the museum, and began my slow and cautious descent towards the underpass (my nemesis). I was feeling pretty happy that, for once, the paths were completely snow-free (lord knows how), when I saw a pedestrian in the distance. Being in a decent mood, I said hello, and was greeted by a hoot and the lovely greeting of "big buuuuuuuuns. How you doin' big butt?' Great... just great. Judging by the leer, I guess it was meant to be complimentary, but it still makes me happy that Fat Race is just around the corner. Some guys just can't resist the sight of a corn-fed Midwestern girl riding a bike.

This flashback to all the comments I got riding over the summer in my bike shorts (usually from men in their 40s-60s) will probably be one of my main forms of inspiration. Damn it, if I'm going to get hollered at, it better not be for having a fat ass! No big girl sexual fetish niches for me, please.


Holiday shopping online

Nothing terribly exciting is going on with me, and I am stuck (wo)manning the reference desk today, so that leaves with with enough time on my hands to dabble in the dangerous activity of online shopping. Mind you, I am the type of person who HATES shopping (as in going to stores and dealing with real people in a real-life situation), so the advent of online shopping has seriously increased my frivolous expenditures over the years.
One place where this is particularly noticeable is in my Christmas gift shopping for friends and loved ones; in the past it was an issue of what to buy for them - now it's an issue of what NOT to buy. This dilemma stems directly from the movement of artsy crafty people who are also tech savvy and a bit ambitious setting up their online stores either independently, or through larger sites like etsy. Now I have loads of different places to go shop for unique gifts that I will know help pay for some poor hipster youth's next cup of Dunken Doughnuts coffee.
So, in the spirit of helping out those of you reading this who may be feeling the panic begin to rise about finding the perfect little gift for that special someone in your life, I will hook you up with some places I think are pretty awesome in terms of finding the right things to get at a decent price:

BuyOlympia - lots of nice handmade bags, wallets, belt buckles, jewelry, music, t shirts, other clothing (men, women, children, and infants), and more.
Threadless - a great place to find unique/hilarious t shirts that could make great gifts
Brandon Bird - I love this guy's art; one day I WILL buy one of his prints. His obsession with Law and Order, and Batman might even surpass my own. In the meantime, while I don't have enough money, I can always content myself if a set of note cards or some other scwag.
Vaya Bags - for the cyclist in your life, different styles of bike bags and mess bags, and other accessories made to your specifications.
The Handsome Sausage - Cycling hats and other fun stuff.
Herb and Ginger - Really great hand-crafted (and, I believe, organic) teas. Most are herbal and caffeine-free for nancies like me who can't handle it.
Miss Alison - Cute wallets, belts, and other goodies.
Orangy Porngy - Skirts and bags that are handmade from salvaged vintage fabrics. I met one member of this team at the Renegade Craft Fair in Chicago this summer, and he told me that if you contact them directly with your measurements, they'd be glad to make things that fit you specifically; that's a nice thing to hear for curvier girls like me, considering that most cute, boutique-style clothing is made for smaller girls.
Holland Cox - handmade bags and wallets.
Gerbera Designs - ipod covers, wallets, bags, and more.


Nothing interesting to report from last night's party, other than it was fun to hang out with work friends and see everyone get drunk. Today's ride in finished with a bang, literally, as my tube and tire blew on me as I entered the underpass under Columbus Drive. Unfortunately for me, I have a weird 27" wheel, so the tube a passing museum commuter offered me wouldn't work; I guess it's a moot point anyway because there appeared to be damage to the wall of the tire as well once I got the wheel off. The standing theory is that in wiping down my bike from the rain the other night, the back fender got knocked out of place a bit and was rubbing on my tire.
So now my poor, noble stallion is laying on his back, wheel detached and dejected in the corner of my office. When I get home from work (walking, what a peasant activity!) I will have to get over to the nearest shop to see if they have what I need. If this can't be taken care of before tomorrow, it looks like my trusty old cruiser might be called back up from the bush leagues. I think I jinxed myself the other day when I was in the basement and remarked at how I kind of missed the old gal.


Sorry for the lapse..

We here at Let's Rock apologize for the lack of interesting content this week (or ever, if you want to be harsh); the last couple weeks were finals time for me, so I didn't have much writing to do that wouldn't have amounted to bitching. Now, as of 9:30am this morning, after a very sleepless night of paper writing, my major project has been completed and I am almost home free.
That is not to say that the whole process was without a considerable amount of blood, sweat, and tears; that's just the way of a life-long procrastinator. A couple pots of tea, one offended mother with a poor sense of when to call asking loads of questions, one effusively apologetic phone call to said mother, and one relief-filled online paper submission later, I think I am ready to get into the holiday spirit.
In winter biking news, the weather has left much to be desired the last couple days, but at least I made it home in one piece. Last night was definitely the worst I've encountered so far, not because it was colder than normal (it wasn't), but because it was cold and rainy. Thankfully I was able to get home before the temperature dipped below freezing and the streets got icy, but the wetness made me consider that maybe I needed to get some kind of waterproof glove for rides like that, and that I needed to switch over to my new winter bike boots that lock out moisture better. Otherwise, things were OK because I had my rain jacket on over my thermals, so everything but my hands and feet were relatively warm and dry.
In other news, tonight is the museum's holiday party, and then a very icy ride home through the night, so I hope tomorrow will bring you all more interesting things to read from Let's Rock.


So I guess people are coming to take photos of our place today while we're at work; the whole idea of it seems pretty creepy and voyeuristic, but I think I can get past it. Hopefully they don't lock the cat out of his litterbox like I did one time by accident - I don't want him shitting on my pillow again.


In more important news -

we put our condo on the market last night, so wish us luck!

Nothing much to say this morning...

except that the security guard told me I could ride my bike in the museum to get from the door to the elevator (it's sort of a long way). I thought she was joking, so I asked 'are you sure?' to make sure it was really OK. She said 'yeah, as long as you don't hit anyone.'

Awesome. I always wanted to do that, but never thought I could get away with it!



It snowed from about 5pm last night to, well, right now here in Chicago. That means that I finally got to try biking in Chicago winter conditions today (well, I cheated, I tried that last Saturday as well, but not for very far). Things went really well on the roads; we live right in the center of the city, so the plows are always working overtime removing the snow and putting down salt. I was happy to see that, at least on my route, the snow wasn't piled into the bike lane or the side of the roads without them where I would want to be riding. The only problems I encountered came when I got close to my work. For the last part of my ride in, I generally cut through Grant Park at Harrison, over a bridge that crosses the Metra lines, through a underpass that goes under Columbus Drive, and up some winding paths that lead to a rear entry of the museum; this route went from bad to worse as I went along.

It soon became clear that I couldn't possibly take my shortcut that goes over grass because that was buried under a foot of snow, so I went the long way to the handicap access ramp to the bridge. When I got to the ramp, I found it was coated with a sheet of ice (tough for anyone on foot, but unimaginable for anyone actually in a wheelchair) which forced me to walk my bike over. From there, the bridge was decent, as was the steep hill I had been dreading going down (it had actually been reasonably cleared and salted). The underpass was ok, but the path leading up to the museum was cleared only very slightly, so it was a real pain in the ass to have to try to share it with pedestrians; I tried to bike over the snow to the side, but soon realized that my normal street tires just weren't made for having traction in piles of snow. After clearing the bottleneck up the hill, my path to the back was nicely cleared until I came to my final turn - that hadn't been cleared at all, so I had to slog through that foot of snow on foot, caking my wheels and bottom half of my ride in snow.

So, I got here safe and, provided the snow doesn't get worse throughout the day, will have an easier time of it on the way home (I'm sure the foot traffic and continued removal efforts will clean up the museum area). The difficulties in the off-road areas of my ride have convinced me that I need to look into buying some kind of studded winter tire to use for the duration of the season because all that mess really slowed me down and made me late. We shall see how it goes from here, but in the end, it was actually kind of fun this morning.


Question for winter bikers out there...

Nothing serious, but I was wondering if there were any tips for avoiding wind burn on the face; I'm pretty prone to it. I've started using a moisturizer in the morning after my commute, and again at night, and keep really hydrated, but I can already feel it starting on my cheekbones (about the only part of my face other than my eyes that is exposed when it's really cold out). Does anyone put anything on their skin when they're actually riding, or does everyone else basically do damage control after the ride is over? It's not too bad right now, but I know from experience that my skin get a lot more dry as the season wears on.


copy cat curiosity

I've noticed on my little user map thing that there are people who have checked this blog from a lot of different places. I have now reached the point where I want to know who you all are and what you're about. Cycling Phun, another blogger I read, asked people who view his blog to post a quick reply in the comment giving a name, location, and a link to the poster's own blog if they have one; if anyone on here reading this doesn't feel shy about doing so, I'd love for you to say 'hi' in the same way. Even if I know you and know that you read this regularly, feel free to take this chance to whore out your own blogs as well!