What to watch on Netflix? Four sites that recommend movies

"It may seem strange, but it's actually harder than you think to find great movies on Netflix Instant Watch.  There's a ton of great options, both well known and hidden gems, but you may find you don't just stumble upon them (The best of Netflix)."

My wife and I often spend too many minutes looking for a netflix movie before settling on something we only watch 35 minutes of. Here are some sites that help:

1. The Netflix Video Clerk  -- Broken into fun categories like -- The Weirdest Movies To Watch On Netflix Instead Of "The Expendables 2" and The Most Insane Sci-Fi Movies On Netflix

2. Flicks to stream -- Weekly updates with top movies in multiple genres

3. The best of Netflix -- Top movies on Instant View

4. Netflix Movies That Don't Suck -- Name says it all. Blog about the author's favorites.

Music I listen to while riding -- an 8tracks playlist

Bizarre and Crazy Craigslist ads -- Used snuggies!

1. 20 most bizarre Craigslist adverts of all time (The Telegraph)

2. 15 Ridiculous Craigslist Ads (Smosh)

3. The Craziest Craigslist Ads of All Time (Huffington Post)

Music: New Circa Survive album -- Violent Waves

The new Circa Survive album, Violent Waves, was released yesterday in digital form from all the major online sites (Amazon, Itunes). While all hard copies have been delayed, digital downloads are still available as scheduled. It's on their site still for only $5 and can be streamed for free on Soundcloud (below). I got mine. I've been to busy to listen to it yet, but I'm excited nonetheless!

Interprocity, co-dependence, and spouse sharing

Earlier this week I wrote a post that referenced the benefits of our complex society. Mainly, that specialization and interdependence have resulted in options and experiences available like never before. As a thought exercise, what would happen if we took this further? What if everyone specializing in a specific role was completely interchangeable with someone else in this same role? Wouldn't it offer growth and experience to those being switched in and out like pieces in a machine?

Image if your current role was that of a janitor, but when you arrive at corporate parking, you take on the role of parking attendant for the day while the former attendant takes your place in the office to clean. Similarly, two janitors passing each other on the way to work could switch job locations and work closer to home, both learning from the experience of a new work environment.

This thought initially spawned from trying to find a better car pooling method to save time and gas as well as the thought: "What if instead of driving to and from a destination you are able to stay at the destination and fill the role of someone just arriving at your origin?" In this scenario, a digital update of your new role would be immediately accessible to you. Is your new role that of a married wife, trying to raise a son, working two jobs? What must you accomplish in the week before you leave on a trip and are replaced by another? What can you learn to push the collective data held by this shell forward so the next guest can better support his family?
If technology continues to progress unimpeded, this type of lifestyle will eventually be possible with computer to brain data transfers. Forget gay marriage, interprocity will be the hot topic of the future.

Music: Jace and Elissa

So, my sister, Elissa, is in a couple kick-ass bands. Mainly: Molly Rhythm and Hot Brush, but also some new band I got to hear on a recent trip to PA. Her boyfriend, Jace, is the lead singer of the band Alright Junior that recently opened for the likes of Incubus, Our Lady Peace, Cake, and others. Still waiting to hear them on the radio in TN. Here are some links--

Hot Brush:

Alright Junior:

Molly Rhythm:

Zombie Song:

Interesting: On having no head

I recently read an interesting essay on perspective in which the author confessed the startling realization that he has no head. He looks down and sees feet, legs, a stomach, and chest, but where his head should be is the whole world. There are trees and a sky and all types of other amazing things. He muses that if he has no head he can hardly be human.

Certainly, it's just a thought exercise, but a healthy one I think. It's an exercise that can better lead to life in the moment, to looking at things in a new way and a departure from what is so imbedded. It reminds me of the first time I was able to convince myself that my eyes were projectors as opposed to cameras and that everything I saw was being created by my own mind. It may sound silly to those who aren't accustomed to thinking about things in a different way, but really, there is no more proof that the world is being interpreted instead of being creating. Everything we know, after all, is only reactions in our brain regardless of our opinion on what is really happening.

Typically, we think of the brain as a computer interpreting what it gets through its camera (eyes), ears (microphone), and other senses, but it can also be looked at as if our eyes were not a camera but a video screen and the brain was projecting what we see, hear, and feel. Both perspectives are true since our brain interprets sound waves and lights rays much like a computer interprets code before coming up with an end product.

Think of how differently people perceive things based on their mental abilities, their knowledge and attention to detail. The level to which I pay attention and remember is based on what else I have going on in my life such as upcoming travels and bills. This is why it's so important to fine tune ones brain in a desired manner.

Opinion: The machine(s) we have created

     The hard strip of pulverized rock and chemicals I drive on allows me to work over 65 miles from where I live. The machine I drive serves the same purpose. If it weren't for these two structures, my employment options would be severely limited. I would have to choose between working locally or living off what I could grow or hunt. 

     The machines on the pulverized rock also bring food from all over the world to a nearby building where I can trade my time and labor (represented by paper) to get this food. The machines also bring things I buy on the internet with my work paper directly to my house. Mainly, they bring entertainment for when I'm not working, but also tools to make working on other things I bought easier and quicker. These tools save me time so I can either make more work paper (repeat purchase options above) or spend more time being entertained with what I have purchased. Sometimes I buy books which are both entertaining and educational so my life can be even more entertaining, efficient, and fulfilling in the long term (whatever that means). I also stockpile my labor in assets which give me a sense of long-term security and improve my day-to-day feelings and attitude.

     In short, the machines we have created compile to create a much different system of living than has existed in the past. We recognize this complexity, particularly through comparison to past decades, but often we fail to realize how optional it all is. There are now more machines and technology, more options and systems, more paperwork than ever, but our needs have not changes. If managed incorrectly, the benefits of the new life are lost on us. We have so more information and experience available to us through options and technology, through co-dependence and specialization, but if we take on too much and unable to manage this "new life" we are unable to realize these benefits. We may as well go back to a way of living that requires making everything for oneself directly with limited resources.

     The more you have, the more you are dependent on others to maintain it. The more you have, the harder you have to work and the less time you have to enjoy what you have. One can dedicate decades to becoming fairly wealthy only to find oneself caught up in a nightmare of maintenance, paperwork, and assaults on all sides-- the insurance, taxes, car repairs, lawn maintenance, hair cuts, restaurant menus, schools, interior decorations, pets, motorcycles, boats, vacation houses, rentals, and oh so much paperwork. Is it worth it?

      I want to see where all these machines take us as a collective-- but are we happier? If we could get the government to spray seeds from helicopters instead of bug spray, I'd be content to roam the earth, hiking in the woods, playing on a swing-set, having long discussions with other roamers. But this contentment is only possible now that I know what I know as a result of our machines. Would I really want to revert? I think not.

Bios tree urn -- become a tree after death!

This is how I want my ashes dispersed!

Not only does it make the dying feel that their body is directly contributing to a future life form (along with encouraging hopes of living on through this life form), it also creates a living monument for use by the living. Could be unhealthy if the living took it too far, but so is the case with most things. [More detail and pictures here]

Final meals recreated in pictures

The last meal of Peter J. Miniel eaten on October 6th, 2004: Twenty beef tacos, twenty beef enchiladas, two double cheeseburgers, a pizza with jalapeƱos, fried chicken, spaghetti with salt, a small fruit cake, half of a chocolate cake, half of a vanilla cake, cookies-n-cream ice cream, caramel pecan fudge ice cream, two Coca-Colas, two Pepsi-Colas, two root beers and two orange juices. [More here]

Mixtapes, facebook, and modern courtship

 It's amazing how dating and courtship have changed through technology. I'm not referring to the evolution within ritual (mixtape to cd compilation to mp3 playlist), but that new rituals like the playlist exchange and facebook status update now exist at all.

Before computers, someone would be wooed through conversation, witty letters, and mementos. There wasn't an equivalent to bundling up and preparing such a big part of yourself and then handing it over. There wasn't anything quite like the Facebook status update to immediately reveal how serious things were or weren't. It happened over time as news spread and you took your boy/girlfriend home to meet the parents.

"the cassette mixtape served a more significant purpose for the relationship-obsessed: an important and often scary stage in courtship. The analog audio equivalent of "pinning" or "going steady," the creation of a mixtape meant things were getting serious (for at least one of the people involved, anyway)." (From Mixtape As Courtship Ritual: A Case Study

A quick search on dating and mixtapes shows all types of tutorials and tips, but growing up we didn't need the help. It was important to start off with something peppy, putting the best tracks around 3 or 4 then dropping it off a bit, picking it up on 7, and ending slow-- to recreate the curve we'd heard again and again on tapes and cds. You'd make sure to include a variety of tracks that would showcase the scope of your diverse tastes and personality. Throw in a couple romantic songs that express what you had been too afraid to say in person.

Quick Quotes 16: Airplane travel

You define a good flight by negatives: you didn't get hijacked, you didn't crash, you didn't throw up, you weren't late, you weren't nauseated by the food. So you are grateful.
-- Paul Theroux

Airline travel is hours of boredom interrupted by moments of stark terror.
-- Al Boliska

Airplane travel is nature's way of making you look like your passport photo.
-- Al Gore

People come back from flights and tell you a story like it’s a horror story. They act like their flight was like a cattle car in the 1940s in Germany. That’s how bad they make it sound. They’re like, ‘It was the worst day of my life. We didn’t board for 20 minutes and they made us sit there on the runway for 40 minutes.’Oh really? What happened next? Did you fly in the air, incredibly, like a bird? Did you partake in the miracle of human flight you non-contributing zero?’  
-- Louis C.K.

Politics: Ron Paul too honest for America?

I think these videos are worth watching together. Video 1: How Paul is ignored, discredited, and treated like he's crazy. Video 2: Paul's "crazy" message.

Artist: Henrik Vibskov

"Henrik Vibskov's work is considered part of the "New Nordic Movement", a term to describe 21st century design in various media as practiced by designers from Northern European countries." (Wikipedia)

Excerpts: The 55 Concepts by Michael Cavallaro

Found this book at my mom's on a recent visit to PA. I disagree with Cavallaro's use of the word "real" when he writes "emotions aren't real" since they certainly exist and have meaning to the individuals experiencing them, but I like his overall point about caring and belief systems.

The 55 Concepts: A Guide to Conscious Living by Michael Cavallaro

Emotions are not feelings, but we do feel our emotions --  Some people have lived their entire lives believing that their emotions are real; most believe they are something innate that they are born with as humans. Many believe that being unemotional is something inhuman or cold and uncaring. But that fact is that emotions are not real!

Feeling puts you touch with you heart. Feeling puts your intellect in touch with your intuition. Feeling is the only way to know what is in your heart or innermost being that needs to be resolved. Learning to feel is different than thinking what you feel. Thinking your feelings avoids that which you do not wish to feel and allows you to believe you are in control.

Emotions are reactions or responses to belief systems. Your beliefs unconsciously tell you something is happy, sad, depressing or joyful. If emotions were real, then everyone would feel the same about everything. For example, there are places in the world where death is celebrated and places where it is mourned. There are places where eating a dog or cat is normal and others where it is horrible.There are places where you can eat cow and others where you would be offending God to do so.

Although you experience emotions as real, they are only real to you. This is not to say that thay are good or bad, only that you create them at some point in your life and believe them to be absolute. Therefore, if you do not like your beliefs, change them and you will feel and experience your emotions differently.

Music: Never Say Die (dubstep compilation)

I downloaded Never Say Die Records' 2012 compilation for a recent long drive. Some of my favorites from the cd: 


Python -- Dodge and Fuski

Still Getting It (Zomboy Remix) -- Foreign Beggars

Headrush -- 501

Excerpt: The Count of Monte Cristo

From The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas

“I possessed nearly 5000 volumes in my library at Rome, but after reading them over many times, I found that with 150 well-chosen books a man possesses a complete analysis of all human knowledge, or at least all that is either useful or desirable to be acquainted with.  I devoted three years of my life to reading and studying these 150 volumes..."

"Learning does not make one learned: there are those who have knowledge and those who have understanding. The first requires memory, the second philosophy...Philosophy cannot be taught. Philosophy is the union of all acquired knowledge and the genius that applies it"

The importance of belief

As people, our actions are most often no more than responses to our beliefs. Consider how differently you would act if you believed differently, if you believed everyone around was a robot set on your destruction or you were allergic to plastic. We feel as though we choose our actions, yet very few of us act counter to what we believe. Likewise, emotions are dependent on belief. If you believed, for example, that god chose to kill people as a reward and that mourning their death was wrong, you would hardly feel sad when a friend died and might even wish for such things.

For this reason, guarding and honestly defining belief is one of the most important tasks we undertake. Governments, religions, corporations, and others will fight to control this belief but we are born with the tools to sort through the information.

What do you believe and why do you believe it? Anyone who lives their entire life under the beliefs they were handed as a child without questioning is forfeiting what makes them human.

Start at the beginning. You're born with a brain that interprets the world around you. You think. What else do you really know for sure and why? If you decide to accept something on faith, why are you doing so? Through the internet and inexpensive transportation/delivery we have access to experience and knowledge like never before. Take advantage of it to be someone like never before.

Art: Barbara Kruger Aug 20th at Hirschorn

Barbara Kruger, as simple and insightful as ever. Her exhibit "Belief+Doubt" will be at the Hirschorn in D.C. through 2014. Definitely worth a look. If not in person, at least here




Know: Religion and money

It's easy and fun to mock religious hypocrisy (see picture below) but to be fair, the politic/financial side of religion has very little to do with the faith of the average believer. The monetary pull of each organization is still worth knowing about.

1. Income by Religious Belief
2. How the Mormons Make Money
3. America's Biggest Mega Churches

Excerpts: Marilyn Monroe and the newspaper/cheesburger connection

Just finished John Irvin's A Prayer for Owen Meany on my quest to finish  BBC's The Big Read Top 100 Novels. Besides the annoyance of Owen only talking in capitals-- good stuff.

“When someone you love dies, and you're not expecting it, you don't lose her all at once; you lose her in pieces over a long time -- the way the mail stops coming, and her scent fades from the pillows and even from the clothes in her closet and drawers. Gradually, you accumulate the parts of her that are gone. Just when the day comes -- when there's a particular missing part that overwhelms you with the feeling that she's gone, forever -- there comes another day, and another specifically missing part.” 

"Newspapers are a bad habit, the reading equivalent of junk food. What happens to me is that I seize upon an issue in the news—the issue is the moral/philosophical, political/intellectual equivalent of a cheeseburger with everything on it; but for the duration of my interest in it, all my other interests are consumed by it, and whatever appetites and capacities I may have had for detachment and reflection are suddenly subordinate to this cheeseburger in my life! I offer this as self-criticism; but what it means to be "political" is that you welcome these obsessions with cheeseburgers—at great cost to the rest of your life."

“Never confuse faith, or belief – of any kind - with something even remotely intellectual.”
“If watching television doesn't hasten death, it surely manages to make death very inviting; for television so shamelessly sentimentalizes and romanticizes death that it makes the living feel they have missed something - just by staying alive.”


My childhood baseball card collection-- sold for one night's bar tab

I shipped my childhood baseball card collection away to an Ebay buyer last week-- over 5,ooo cards. As I packaged and addressed, I remember the hours spent sorting these cards as a kid: brand, year, team. I remember the time my little sister and cousin got into about 3,000 of these sorted cards and decided to see how big of a pile they'd make. I remember saving my allowance for the various sets including the complete 1993 Topps box set ( $35 was a lot of cash for a little kid). The set had a Derek Jeter rookie card. I had Ozzie Smith cards and Ryan Sandburg cards from 1979. I also figured the longer I saved them, the more valuable they'd become.

What did I make on ebay nearly 20 years later? $56.

It's interesting how things gain, hold, and lose value. My great-grandfather collected coins. He invested each year in bronze medals released by the Franklin Mint that commemorated historic events.  He had an entire box set of these. 200 coins, $3 each. I'm sure he collected them for fun, but he also probably thought they'd have value. You can buy the sets on Ebay now for around $200.

To make the baseball card situation worse, my wife just sold a Littlest Pet Shop charm bracelet on Ebay. It had 10 charms. She sent away for the charms using box tops as a kid. Selling price-- $125.

Know: Hackers from Disneyland miss their books

Articles of interest:

1. The Bookless Library

"They are, in their very different ways, monuments of American civilization. The first is a building: a grand, beautiful Beaux-Arts structure of marble and stone occupying two blocks’ worth of Fifth Avenue in midtown Manhattan. The second is a delicate concoction of metal, plastic, and glass, just four and a half inches long, barely a third of an inch thick, and weighing five ounces. The first is the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, the main branch of the New York Public Library (NYPL). The second is an iPhone."

2. Hackers: Special report

A whole collection of interesting articles and info on real world hacking. I'm still reading this myself.

3. The Secret World of Disneyland

"Disneyland may look like a straightforward theme park. But there’s a secret world hidden behind the balloons, castles and cotton candy – a place where wild cats roam the park at midnight, Mickey Mouse hides in the wallpaper, and movie stars sip martinis behind closed doors."

Art: Palindromo Meszaros

This photograph by Palindromo Meszaros is not Photoshopped. The color on the trees is from a toxic waste spill in 2010.

Subway offering vegan options in limited markets

With the exception of Taco Bell, which hasn't been the same since I quit eating animals, I rarely eat at the big fast food chains. I don't like sticky floors. The people depress me. The food makes me nauseous. I was glad, however, to see that Subway is testing vegan options in the Washington D.C. area. It means the vegetarian market is growing. Other restaurants may follow along. People may try some of the of the soy or black bean sandwiches and like them.

I'm hoping to stop by and try one soon.

Fake Meat Never Tasted So Good: We Taste-Test Subway's New Vegan Subs, and Like Them

Creative Writing: "Blue Poles" by Leland Sapp

A little something found in my files recently. I edited it down, but hopefully it's near enough to the original to be enjoyed. Without further ado--

Blue Poles

By Leland Sapp
(Mar, 2008)

“Something has to change,” I thought as I lay on the bathroom floor barely conscious, right cheek throbbing.

I could feel my eyes blinking like a caution light only faster and more erratic, like our political leaders when they try to explain why we’re still in Iraq or that TV preacher from the big church in Texas as he proclaims a castrated gospel. “Does blinking really blind us from the inconsistencies spewed forth from our churning souls?” It seems to work for most of them. Light, dark, light, dark, light, dark, my eyelids opened

Quick Quotes 15: Travel culture

I've met the most interesting people while flying or on a boat. These methods of travel seem to attract the kind of people I want to be with.
-Hedy Lamarr

In the middle ages people were tourists because of their religion, whereas now they are tourists because tourism is their religion.
- Robert Runcie

Never go on trips with anyone you do not love.
-Ernest Hemingway.

Various questions

Some artists and writers periodically burn their incomplete projects to start fresh-- should I?

Why do people make (or not make) their beds?

In January 2006, Hemant Mehta, "sold his soul" on ebay for $504.  Nothing (or nothing tangible depending on your belief) was exchanged, though Mehta did agree to attend some worship services.  How much money would it take for me to do this if any?

How important is the level to which we realize the fact that we will eventually die?

Music: Starflyer 59

After raising more than twice what he was requesting on Kickstarter for a self-produced album, Jason Martin has released a song from the upcoming album: Bicycle Rider

Opinion: Evil

Animals have speed and teeth. Humans have intelligence and the advantage of shaping the world to our vision. It's our ability to outmaneuver, to persuade, to seduce that puts us on top. We are animals to the very core with a goal of survival and propagation through control and dominance. Take away the pretty wrapping and mind games necessary to dominate in our modern society and you have the sheer joy of crushing an opponent, mind and body, to nothing-- the Stanford Prison Experiment, Rawanda, concentration camps. "Evil" is nothing more than the last resort of a survival instinct-- a lashing out from fear of being snuffed out first.

Throw some genuine mental illness into the mix and you have quite a bit to misunderstand and fear about "evil". If there is a spiritual evil present in the universe, it's a necessary player and shouldn't be given such a bad wrap.

Interesting: Removing the labels

This is related to the previous post. I don't think I'll dedicate time to doing this, but it's interesting.

"Look around in your kitchen and bathroom. There’s probably a graphical vomit of colors, typography, and garish images intruding your home. Our homes are miniature highway billboard galleries of questionable taste, especially our cupboards and bathrooms."

[Article Here]

Interesting: The Stuff of Families

I find this study fascinating and revealing. Definitely worth reading. My wife and I have been decluttering our house recently. We're not ones to store things up, but it's amazing how much crap even we have. [Full article here]


"The Center on Everyday Lives of Families at the University of California, Los Angeles, recently released a study on the home lives of 32 middle-class, dual-income families in L.A. For four years, a team of archeologists, anthropologists and other scientists observed these families and their "material culture"—that is, how they related to all of their stuff.
The goal: to better understand the priorities and rhythms of American family life. The researchers made catalogs of every visible possession in each house, took 20,000 pictures and videotaped 1,500 hours of family activities."

"Most time at home was spent indoors, despite a profusion of backyard pools, hot tubs, swing sets and outdoor furniture.
Less than 40 minutes a week: Average backyard use by children   
Less than 15 minutes a week: Average backyard use by parents"

The stuff of families