Dear Diary,

Today is Sunday. This is the first weekend after my first week at Work, which came after 8 months of funemployment. Did I use the 8 months well? I think so. I'm mostly divorced now, which was one big goal. I say "mostly" because it's still not done done. The judge has to sign off on our agreement and there's like 4 financial things left to do, which falls on me because the ex isn't exactly motivated. But it's basically done. Out of my hands. So that's good.

I ran a ton
I climbed a ton

I didn't travel, because I'm bound by kids and also just didn't feel in the mood. Did go to Cape Cod, where I swam in the Atlantic and saw Sven catch a tremendously big fish.

Trying to get out of the habit of hyperlinks and imgs. Real writing shouldn't require it right?

My dating life is a trash fire. I deleted all my online profiles and such a few months into my sabbatical. I thought online dating was going to be fun but it was horrible. So many first dates where I instantly knew it wasn't going to work out, because I wasn't attracted to the other person. That's really the minimum thing I'm looking for. If I'm not attracted to them why proceed? Anyway every aspect of it sucked but I have to get back on the horse because I'm a tad lonely. I've really enjoyed the solitude I now have, because I am at core somewhat hermetic, but I'm also hyper social and miss intimacy. Not to mention the obvious. So thirsty right now. The thirst, the thirst

This is a stupid entry but I need to start writing more so the key is to just write I suppose.

I would like to use "I" less. In order to do this I need to talk about things other than I. Warriors are kicking ass. Who cares. Well I do, but just for the length of the finals and just because they're so unearthly good. Arnab says Curry isn't the next Jordan. What does he know. I'm about to go over to East Bay for some hoopin'. Arnab says not to say that because it's embarrassingly not-real as a thing people say. But "shooting around" doesn't have the same ring to it.

With dating, I put it on pause too because I figured, "maybe I'm a hot mess." (I'm back to saying I a lot, you're going to have to deal with it.) I didn't have a job, I was going through an unpleasant divorce, maybe my vibe wasn't right. Although, I was in the best shape of my life and had so much time on my hands. Really was puzzled that NO cutie was interested in wandering the city in search of art and magic. Now I have a job and I'm gonna be less in shape and have less time. But I guess the ladies they like a man with a job.

I think my target market is another divorced mom. Surely there's a cool hot divorced mom out there? If you know of one tell them I am single and ready to mingle

So that's the major thing I need to sort out in my life. Otherwise things are going well. I got a job at Lyft which is a cool company and so far seems like it will be a pretty good place to work. My brain is unthawing as I relearn how to program and use bash shells and copy and paste from stack exchange and internal wikis. I feel like 90% of programming is copy and pasting in one way or another. Perhaps this is why I'm not a "10x" dev. I'm maybe 1.5x on a good day.

I didn't publicly post my resolutions this year or even privately assemble them. It just felt too daunting. But maybe I should try again because the #1 biggest most daunting thing was climbing out of my life of idle leisure (which involved a mad burn rate and dwindling savings account) and getting back to the 9-5 job existence. Which, done! You can pat me on the back or don't, cos what am I a low expectation havin' motherfucker? You're SUPPOSED to have a job. But I dug a pretty deep hole and thank god climbed out of it. I live a life of privilege but you can't accuse me of not taking advantage of it

It was great to explore the bay. I still feel a twinge of nostalgia when I look at Google Maps for SF and surrounds. Purisma Creek, Mt. Diablo, Wildcat Canyon, Castle Rock, everywhere on trailstompers, I got to go and I was out on the trails alone. Sometimes I'd see whales, deer, a fleeting glimpse of a fox. Often I'd go hours on the trail without encountering another person. It felt so free. The maximum opposite of being in prison.

I'm 39 years old, or as I like to call it "in my 30's"

I'd like to do a big trip or something for 40 but would people come? Everyone's so busy now esp. cos they all have kids

My kids have been the best thing in my life lately. Izzy is 6 and Asha is 4 and this is a really sweet spot age-wise. They are both adorable and they like me and think I'm funny and cool and vice versa. I imagine things will get hard as they become teenagers but right now I'm really enjoying the ride

I don't post endless pix of my kids because I'm not that kind of guy. But I do want to start making some videos with them. Did you know the new iPhone has a slow-motion feature? I plan to abuse this and use it so much that people tell me to knock it off

My hair is a trash fire. I got a cool haircut because I started going to this cool barber Viktor in this cool black barbershop across from my climbing gym. Well it's not an old school barbershop but it does seem most other people getting their hair cut there are black. ANyway I think if your barber is cool it's more likely that you'll get a cool haircut, stands to reason doesn't it? But Viktor has disappeared!! I can't get ahold of him via txt or website. So now my hair is like a 10 story building. I look like Kid from Kid n Play. I might have to get a new barber because this is a crisis situation

Why are peppers so nosy?
Cos they're JALAPENO business!!

it's been like a year since i wrote in this and it's too much ground to cover and i barely remember how to write, but no excuses or apologies because you should never apologize for writing. probably you shouldn't talk about not apologizing for writing either. but i think the best thing short term probably is to just type what's in my head. or, if it's too much trouble, convince myself that what's in my head isn't worth typing

RIP Mitch Hedberg. Of all the famous people who have died in the last x years, Mitch Hedberg and David Foster Wallace are the two I miss the most

"I like a escalator, man, 'cause an escalator can never break. It can only become stairs. 'Sorry for the convenience... we apologize for the fact that you can still get up there.'"

sometimes i think maybe i had my fun and now i'm just destined to be a monk. but then i think "stop being so dramatic". it seems like most people eventually find someone. and you catch your quarry by allowing it to escape. zen of not looking and all that. but i'm a 39 year old divorcee w/ two kids so that's not exactly a hot proposition for a lot of people. but like i said, i suspect there's some cool mom out there who's in the same boat and so my hopes are there. but these divorced moms tend to be pretty busy with their kids and such. certainly i'm not meeting them at my kids' school.


surely everyone has secrets they wouldn't want anyone to know. i think mine are no worse than the average person's

i was telling mikew maybe the one other issue i need to deal w/ is substances. i drink too much, etc etc. there's a lot in that etc but there are limits to what one can say in this day and age

i mean i know the NSA is listening but they dont care

lyft wanted my facebook but i didn't put it in. i figure the people i become friends with will find it but no reason to advertise it to the world at large

facebook is still an addiction but increasingly i don't get the Juice from it... it doesn't give me my fix

i miss the early days of it when it gave you this weird telepathy where you always knew what was up with your friends everywhere. you run into somebody, "oh how was your trip to mexico / operation / move / show?"

sidewalk chalk is my chief creative medium now

wc this_entry.txt = ?

too many words that's what

when google killed their RSS reader i feel like i lost half my audience (AKA 4 people... but they were important people!)

now the only way anyone knows if i write in here is via FB share. it's not ideal.

off and on over the years i've toyed w/ the idea of starting up a newsletter. like a paper newsletter. it still seems like a funny idea to me. like, who does a newsletter in 2016?

but people would read it! they'd at least glance over it before throwing it in the bin

i guess, if you're reading this, send me your address. if i get 50 addresses i'll start it

that's an easy promise to make because we all know i'm not gonna get 50 addresses

i need to generate "page views" by doing some "hot takes"

1. lebron is garbage
2. your mainstream musical taste sucks
3. i know trump is a fascist racist xxxist but... he might make the trains run on time. and he's rich so he can't be all bad
4. i'm not saying fascism is the answer, but did you ever think: what is the question
5. dandruff is a made-up phenomenon and also i don't believe in shampoo

is it gross to floss in public? don't answer i know what you think. but did you ever think.... you're wrong?

how about walking around the office with no shoes on? meghan don't answer i know what you think. (BUT did you ever think.... etc)

hot takes are exhausting. i'ma go eat the organic whole foods equivalent of a Hot Pocket and wash it down with a coke zero (tm) (no organic whole foods equivalent)


Best Grown Up Books 2015

1. China Rich Girlfriend (Crazy Rich Asians #2)

Delightful trash. A great beach read. Can't wait for #3.
Also looking forward to Crazy Rich Asians the movie!

2. The Beautiful Fall: Lagerfeld, Saint Laurent, and Glorious Excess in 1970s Paris

I enjoyed reading about the crazy lives of Yves Saint Laurent and (especially) Karl Lagerfeld. It was really funny to see the evolution of Lagerfeld's look over the years. Would have loved to have seen his various apartments and chateaus. The man has an iron will. At least, when he's not drinking 20 Coca-Colas per day and eating pounds of chocolate cake.

The one thing this book needed was more pictures. WAY more pictures. I'm sorry, I just don't have the capacity to visualize half of the crazy outfits described in this book. This book should have 100 pages of photos.

Shout out to the NY Times article which triggered my fascination w/ Lagerfeld:
The Jet Set Life of Karl Lagerfeld’s Favorite Male Model — for Now

NY Mag's incredulous reaction to said article:
Everyone in the Times’ Brad Kroenig Profile Is Gloriously Nuts

3. Cool Tools

This is a marvelous catalog of tools, in the broadest sense of "tools." It is opulently large-format. Will not fit in your bag. I enjoyed reading the thoughtful entries on A Pattern Language and Infrastructure: A Field Guide-- both of these classics are given the treatment they deserve. Oh also, in the cooking section they recommend the complicated rice cooker favored by Mike Williams and Angi Chau. How can a rice cooker have so many buttons?

A lot of people I know would love this book.

4. The Old Man Mad about Drawing: A Tale of Hokusai

Quite lovely. This is a graphic novel, but it's short... so not really a novel... it's a serious cartoon but also entertaining... I don't know exactly how to describe it because I haven't seen any other books like it. You should pick this up just for the art. It's a quick read and worthwhile.

5. Enduring Patagonia

Interesting guy, West Point to Army Ranger School to alpinist dirtbag

Does as good a job as any book I've seen on explaining the perverse appeal of alpinism

It still doesn't appeal though. Brr

Does make me want to go back to Patagonia. I've been but I feel like I never experienced "Patagonian weather" or anything like what's in this book

6. Iron War: Dave Scott, Mark Allen, & the Greatest Race Ever Run

This WAS a pretty epic race! Well told. Interesting digressions on how you can scientifically measure who can run through suffering the most. Average person quits when their mind says "you're exhausted." Iron-persons run way past that till their muscles are literally incapable of continuing. You can tell the difference by measuring "control entropy" which is how spastic their gait is. If truly spent w muscles giving out, gait becomes counter intuitively MORE regular (think when you get a cramp and have to limp-- you have less degrees of freedom, are forced to run in a particular way to compensate) Anyway, these guys are masters of suffering and after a 2.4 mile open water swim and 113 mile bike ride are able to run a marathon at a 6 min/mile pace. Just. Nuts.

7. Step Aside, Pops: A Hark! A Vagrant Collection

Kate Beaton is the best. I LLOL'd (literally laughed out loud) many times while reading this. Also: a while back I was complaining how there's way too many comics about angsty 20-something bi-coastal urban hipsters, and hardly any comics about INTERESTING people. Beaton is not guilty of this. her comics are about literary characters, historical political figures, Ida B. Wells, Alexander Pushkin... mwah.

Also I loved the extended riff on the nasty boy from Janet's Jackson's "Nasty". St. Jude's Home for the Nasty... hahah

8. Learning to Fly: An Uncommon Memoir of Human Flight, Unexpected Love, and One Amazing Dog

I don't condone BASE jumping, but this book spoke to me. I guess cos of where I'm at. Gives one hope. Post-script 4/28/15: R.I.P. Mario Richard

A Perfect Circle from steph davis on Vimeo.

9. Off the Wall: Death in Yosemite: Gripping Accounts of All Known Fatal Mishaps in America's First Protected Land of Scenic Wonders

Four stars for the data, one star for the writing. "And now, let's turn to some incidents that were truly... (dons sunglasses) off the wall." Weird moralizing about marijuana use aside, this is a fantastically researched and thoroughly fascinating compendium of fatal accidents in Yosemite, and obviously a labor of love.

Here's a chart that shows up at the end of the book, summarizing fatalities by category. I'm always amazed that people aren't more terrified by driving. Clearly getting in an car is one of the most dangerous things a human being can do.

The "homicide" chapter starts out with a bunch of Native American attacks against white people. I'd forgotten that Yosemite is named after the tribe that lived there! They weren't too fond of the newcomers trying to make a park out of their lands. It's weird to read about this bloody cycle of ambushes and reprisals that happened in the 1850's. 150 years doesn't seem THAT long ago does it?

If you're the kind of person who would read an encyclopedia of Yosemite fatalities, you will definitely enjoy The Hunt for the Death Valley Germans as well. It's a crazy, true story, told by this guy whose hobby is searching for the remains of people who got lost and are presumed dead, but whose remains were never found. ("Lost & Not Found," in the Yosemite book's taxonomy.) Contains the most chilling sentence I've ever read:
At this point they entered into a survival situation, but may not have fully appreciated that fact.
Trust me, in context this is terrifying. I still think about that German family sometimes, lost in the hot desert with their young kids. They weren't crazy; they made a series of reasonable but flawed decisions, which made the situation gradually worse and worse until it was too late to recover. Could happen to you.

10. Blobby Boys #2

Ever since Vice started publishing Schubert's Blobby Boys comics, I've really been into them. But if you asked me why, I couldn't really say. So it was nice to read Vice comics editor Nick Gazin's introduction to Blobby Boys #1, which I think hits it on the nose:

"Alex Schubert is one of my favorite new-ish cartoonists. There are things about his drawings that remind me of Gary Panter, like his poses and sometimes his lines, when he employs a ratty Panter line. There are things in his work that remind me of Clowes, particularly how everything in his panels is so clean, clear and intentional. I also similarities to Johnny Ryan in that he deals in characters who are fun loving misanthropes up to no good. Although his work reminds me of all of these great cartoonists his work doesn’t feel referential to them. His work references almost nothing we’ve known before. I mentioned that he shares Clowes’s intentionality. He creates everything he draws without referencing other people’s lexicon of pictographic shorthand.

For instance, in the "Cyber Surfer" comic he drew for me, me being me and the Vice website for which I serve as Comics Editor, the comic starts off with a few borderless panels of a stiffly drawn character. He then punches someones brains out and the way his brains comes out of his head is done in an entirely new way to me. Sure, he uses the cartoon cloud bubble but the way it’s portrayed is new. A few panels down from that he spies a trenchcoat and fedora lying on the ground. The way the coat is drawn is something I’ve never seen done before. He is making his own visual abbrevs.

Also, he is very funny and I love when his characters speak to each other. I realize now that I should have asked him to feature more of that in the comics he’s done for me/Vice. I think every comic he’s done for me has featured an isolated character talking to the reader. The sequence in the Blobby Boys comic book in which one of them oozes under a door to ask the inhabitant of the room if he wants to buy some drugs and the guy inside answers firmly but unsurprised, “No, who are you” kills me. So that’s why I like Alex’s work. I think he’s unpretentious, funny and his drawings are both good and original."

P.S. Schubert's other comic for Vice, Fashion Cat, is good too


Best Kids Books 2015

My daughters are 6 and 4. I read to them every night, and since I get bored easily I'm always looking for something new. So each year we end up reading a ton of books. These were our favorites in 2015. You should read these books to your kids immediately. If you don't have any kids, read them to someone else's. But don't accost a stranger's kids on the street! I mean like a niece or nephew or something. Common sense, people.

1. Fables

The fables in this book are almost like koans. They're not as moralistic and straightforward as in Aesop's Fables. Some of them left me scratching my head. All's well that ends with a good meal ???

Love the whimsical illustrations

Arnold Lobel is one of the greats.

2. Mr. Wuffles

If you've ever wondered why your cat ignores all the nice squeaky toys you give it and you always wonder why the cat is stalking around mysteriously after some invisible prey... answers within.

I like how terrifying the cat looks in this book, from the littler creatures' point of view. It's true! If you were tiny, a house cat would be very frightening.

3. President Taft is Stuck in the Bath

Funny cos it's true

4. The Fantastic Adventures of Krishna

Beautiful illustrations. Each page is a filagreed painting. I found myself transfixed by the imagery. The kids were rapt as well.

The wicked King Kamsa of Mathura has got to up his game, though. Every time he tries to think of a way to kill Krishna he comes up with the same thing! How many snake demons can you send before you realize, snake demons are not the right approach here?

Self-link (this still makes me laugh): The many faces of Krishna

5. Take Me Out to the Yakyu

This book implies that Japan is superior technologically to the US. The American dad wears a crap analog watch whereas the Japanese "ji-ji" has a state of the art digital (and also his tickets are on his cellphone, and also they ride to the game in a bus that becomes a train!)

Also Japan has better ballgame food

But the Americans live in a bigger house and they get foamy fingers that say we're #1

America: WE'RE #1 (in foamy fingers)

6. Would You Rather...

This book features Burningham's trademark light-hearted whimsical funny-but-you-can't-put-your-finger-on-why-exactly drawing style. It is a series of dilemmas such as, would you rather be made to:

a) eat SPIDER stew
b) taste SLUG dumplings
c) chew mashed WORMS
d) or drink a SNAIL shake

One of my favorite parts was "would you rather a hippo sleep in your bed? OR an eagle eats your dinner? OR a pig tries on all your clothes? OR an elephant drinks all your bath water?" We'd just come from the zoo, where we'd seen an enormous lazy hippo floating in the water. So the outrageous situation of a hippo sleeping in one's bed was chillingly easy to imagine. It would really be annoying! I think my kids would pick "eagle eats your dinner" cos yay, then they don't have to eat.

7. John Patrick Norman McHennessy: The Boy Who Was Always Late

Is John Patrick Norman McHennessy a big fat liar? Did a lion really tear away his satchel? Did a flood really ruin his clothes? Did his teacher really get snatched by an extremely large gorilla? So many questions. Very funny illustrations. I like when a kids book has an unreliable narrator.

Someday I'll make a list of 'ridiculous drawings of lions in children's books'. The lion from J.P.N.M.:T.B.W.W.A.L. will be in there.

8. But Excuse Me That Is My Book

I found this book very funny and as an avid bookworm/library user the story was right up my alley . Lauren Child has a way with dialogue. Lola (the younger sister) sounds breathless and verbose in a way that will be familiar to anyone with a kid of this disposition. Also, I like her illustrative style a lot, esp. the wobbly eyes and scribbly lines.

9. The Story of Little Babaji

The story is a crock of racist stereotypes-- the book was originally called The Story of Little Black Sambo, for Christ's sake-- but I cracked up at Fred Marcellino's illustrations. Very amusing. Each tiger robs Lil' Babaji of one item of clothing, then proclaims himself the grandest tiger of them all. They all look so pleased with themselves! Asha really liked this book and demanded it be read several times.

10. Jim, Who Ran Away from His Nurse, and Was Eaten by a Lion

Does what it says on the tin. Kids young and older will be entertained and hopefully SCARED STRAIGHT

suggestion: replace "nurse" with "nanny" if you live in the U.S. in modern times

11. Grandfather's Journey

This book tells an interesting story. I liked the depiction of Grandfather's journey to California, and return to Japan. Really lovely watercolor illustrations. The girls and I enjoyed this.

12. Mr. Bear Squash-You-All-Flat

This bear is a total jerk!

Resolutions 2015: Report Card

original list, 1/17/15

Wispy self-improvement: C

1. Be presentB
2. Cleaner living (less drinking etc)D
3. Cook moreC-
4. Teach kids (Izzy at least) to swim and ride a bikeB

Divorce: B

1. Sell the house, find a new place to liveA
3. Get through itB

Climbing: A+

1. Go roped climbing outsideA+
2. Go bouldering outsideA
3. Get more v3s and at least one v4A+
4. Get permanent belay cardA
5. Climb at all the touchstone gyms (east bay included)A

Stretch goals: F

1. Make a snowmanF
2. Take a bike repair classF

The times when I felt most present were when I was running stoned through mountains, forests or along the ocean shore. I started doing yoga again and realized that focusing on your breath is a good all-purpose technique for bringing yourself into the moment, whatever you're doing. (This isn't a revelation to the world at large but it's been very helpful for me personally to stop and focus on my breathing when climbing, running or just sitting). It was a continual struggle, and I failed more often than I tried, but I definitely tried. My mantra was "be here now"


2015 Trail Runs

When I think back to this period of funemployment it will be a lot of depressing and stressful memories, but also some joyous ones. Some of the best moments were trail runs I took in the day. These runs let me explore SF and surrounds without the madding crowds. I really feel like I got to know the area and get in touch w/ nature. And push my physical limits. I have big calf muscles for the first time ever!

Here are some of my favorite memories.

1. Seeing the whales, Mussel Rock State Park

Man it was such a beautiful day, hard to describe in words. The sun was out and the air was clear and it felt like you could see a million miles in every direction. The ocean glimmered and as I stood on the cliffs overlooking the beach I felt like I could take it all in with a single glance. Then I saw whales spouting. I thought at first it was a trick of my eye.

But using Andy's "pay attention to the periphery" philosophy I scanned back and forth until I saw them again. The ocean was vast but I could see it all and sure enough in the distance on my left I saw whales!! They did a bunch of behaviors documented on Wikipedia. Preening, blow-holing, ... prancing...

2. The moment when it was raining in the damp green forest and I was parched, and I sat stoned watching the mist everywhere and eventually stood up and tried to catch dripping drops from the redwood branches high above in my mouth. It was hard. The drops came down with surprising force. The forest was so vivid and beautiful in that moment and it was just me alone experiencing it

3. Falling out of a tree, stoned (Mt Tam?)

Don't climb trees stoned. Or do, I'm not your mother

4. Seeing all the animals of the trails. A hawk tracing circles in the sky. Scary antelope w/ big horns. Unsettlingly unskittish deer. A fox. Something else I forget what.

5. Looking down at the clouds, Montara North Peak

6. Land's End / Batteries to Bluffs / it's all a blur

7. Running cross GG and back, at a good clip! I seriously got to know GG park. Have you been to the:

  1. archery range
  2. golf course
  3. home where the buffalo range
  4. various lakes (I think at least 3?)
  5. botanical garden
  6. polo field
  7. fly fishing pond
  8. waterfall

Also got caught in Hardly Strictly Bluegrass which you'd think would be awesome but I hate the madding crowds. Maddening crowds?

8. Exploring Presidio in 2 parts. Lover's Lane is not all that. Presidio is not a park proper. I hate golf courses which on Google Maps look exactly the same as national parks

9. Various Redwood Gulches. Open spaces they're all a blur

10. too many hills. why do i always find myself climbing stairs. while cursing. i always curse.

11. running too fast downhill (you can go so fast if you're willing to risk injury)

12. mastering glen park

13. exploring graffiti in bayview park.

14. finally exploring the monument near candlestick park. the 13 (?) mile walk w/ raph was super fun.

15. interior green belt, mt davidson, sutro preserve, twin peaks. sf hill bagging

16. mastering philosopher's way (including a 3k date!)

17. fear at mt. diablo and driving home on 0 gas

18. running a mile on the track 6:22 ish?

19. open mic comedy in the woods

20. echoing shots from the shooting range at chabot.

21. trail running w/ the kids

22. mt davidson - note that google maps is useless for running. i frequently would be in an unmarked green space on the map with no trails listed on the screen, when clearly i was on a trail. they just don't do orienteering. it would be cool to have a version w/ walking running paths. IS THERE AN APP FOR THAT.

wide open spaces

Resolutions 2015

Wispy self-improvement

  1. Be present
  2. Cleaner living (less drinking etc)
  3. Cook more
  4. Teach kids (Izzy at least) to swim and ride a bike


  1. Sell the house, find a new place to live
  3. Get through it


  1. Go roped climbing outside
  2. Go bouldering outside
  3. Get more v3s and at least one v4
  4. Get permanent belay card
  5. Climb at all the touchstone gyms (east bay included)

Stretch goals

  1. Make a snowman
  2. Take a bike repair class

note: henceforth, i'm a try and come back to lists on this blog and update them. e.g. 'rap songs that sound like they were produced by early aphex twin' really needs an update. so all lists will be subject to change. i might add some 2015 resolutions later. will try not to delete any though. then again, if i get everything on this list done, that would be a pretty satisfactory 2015 already.

Best Rap Videos 2014

Standard disclaimer, many of these tunes make no sense if you're listening on MacBook speakers. You need a system with BASS-- headphones, or a car stereo or a home setup, doesn't matter just so long as it kicks. Otherwise you won't be able to hear some crucial frequencies. I recommend building a wall of subs and lying on top of it.

1. Snootie Wild (ft. K Camp) - "Made Me"

In 2014 the Dirty South still reigns supreme. This is exhibit A. The gorgeous instrumental was produced by "Big Fruit," who I guess drew the short straw on the day they handed out producer names. Nevertheless, it kicks as hard as anything from Mike Will Made It or Metro Boomin'. I love that moment at 0:40, when the bass kicks in amidst twinkling electronics-- sheer bliss. The music pairs perfectly with Snootie Wild's infectious drawl, which I dare you not to get stuck in your head. Snootie looks pretty fly in this vid, don't you think? Especially when he's rocking that crazy tanktop at the laundromat.

2. YG - "Bickin Back Bein Bool"

For a hot minute, everyone at the office was obsessed with this song. Like everything else on this list, it completely lacks any redeeming social value. But the beat by DJ Mustard is insanely catchy, and Y.G.'s swagger carries the whole thing. I like the way he folds his arms after sayin "better call the S.W.A.T.", and the Blood Walk he busts into while hanging in his friend's front yard. I tried to learn the dance by watching "how to blood walk" videos on YouTube, but to no avail. "Gang-affiliated walking" is probably some kind of HR violation.

If you're wondering what "bickin' back" means: Y.G. is affiliated with the Bloods (L.A. street gang.) The Bloods' mortal enemy is the Crips (another street gang.) Bloods express their hatred of Crips by crossing out the letter or sound 'c' and replacing it with 'b'. So "Compton" becomes "Bompton," "cigarette" becomes "bigarette", and "kickin' back being cool" becomes "bickin' back bein' bool."

This is all well and good, you might say, but then why doesn't he replace ALL the 'c' sounds in "kickin back bein cool"-- why is the song not called "bibbin bab bein bool?" Two reasons: 1) because "bibbin bab" sounds fucking ridiculous! come on even Y.G. has his limits. 2) the "c" sound is ok when generated by the letters "ck," because ck stands for Crip Killer. The More You Know

3. iLoveMakonnen (ft. Drake) - "Tuesday"

Makonnen is an ATL homebody who's definitely driving in his own lane. His shit blew up big time when Drake hopped on the remix of this track, blessing us with Drake-isms like "I think we gettin' too deep; shit I'm talkin' might be too true / Upstairs I got Xans in an Advil bottle, I don't take them shits / But you do / So I got 'em for you" Oh Drake, so romantic.

4. iLoveMakonnen - "Don't Sell Molly No More"

This is a weirder tune based on real life... Makonnen used to sell drugs, but the cops raided his ecstasy supplier, causing an MDMA drought. I like the warbly Metro Boomin filters and the washed out colors in the vid. Isn't it cool how weird rap is these days? Lil B, Soulja Boy, Gucci Mane all paved the way, now Young Thug, Chief Keef and a bunch of others are going sublingual, making up their own languages, singing nursery rhymes, abusing AutoTune in countless ways... it's really fun to see the new generation of rap kids run with the ball.

5. Dhananjay The First - "Let You Love Me"

OMG where to begin. This guy is a young exchange student from Indonesia who's going to Grinelle College in Iowa. He listened to a ton of R&B and rap and issued these covers out of nowhere. They were pretty popular on Worldstar! Would not have predicted that. Anyway dude is kind of gross in his sex rhymes, but I find him funny and charismatic and the vids are just ridic. Those Air Jordans! Lighting his candle in his dorm room with a blowtorch. The gimp that hands him a pencil to smoke. "I know you see the doo-rag... sorry baby if it hurts." Maybe I'm just thirsting for the Great Indian-American Rapper to appear... it's not this guy but it's the closest thing yet.

6. Dhanajay The First - "Say My Name"

The first shot where he's counting stacks while getting his head shaved by a dude in a mask... SO CINEMA! SO SOMETHING! Leaving a rack for Ganesh... wearing two different patterns of camo simultaneously... two iPhones... this dude is really the dude. Vice: Dhananjay the First Is Here to Steal Your Girl with No Remorse

7. Chief Keef (fet. Justo and Tadoe) - "Gucci Gang"

You know why Chief Keef's first two videos (the most popular ones, 'I Don't Like' and 'Love Sosa') are shot in his grimy ass apartment? Because he was on house arrest when those songs broke!! Isn't that crazy? Love Sosa has 16 million views. I do respect how Chief Keef completely eschewed the traditional music video route, where you pony up a decent chunk of cash and hire a director and all that. Keef has his own people and his videos are all resolutely DIY. But they're captivating still. At least, I think so. It's just a bunch of dudes jumping around in a room but somehow I end up watching it enthralled. Not saying this is his best vid but I like the low pass filters, his crazy sweater and the random Mexican kid in his gang. I'd say token, but I don't think he's a token exactly. More like someone's cousin's cousin.

8. Chief Keef - "How It Go"

Chief Keef is the rapper I was most obsessed with in 2014. Noisey (Vice music) is obsessed with him too, and their coverage is pretty exhaustive so I won't try to rehash it all. But if you want to talk Chief Keef, get at me, I could talk all day. About his circumstances, his avant-garde musical tendencies, the scary level of real life violence he's experienced and embodied, whether he's autistic or dumb or smart or some category beyond... anyway for this specific video, all that could possibly be said is said, eloquently, in this Noisey article: Chief Keef Just Released a New Video, "How It Go," and It's Amazing in So Many Ways.

9. Girl Talk & Freeway (ft. Waka Flocka) - "Tolerated"

Don't you want to give Waka Flocka a big hug, even when he's eating a mutilated human arm? "I pull up on you like a workout / Better pull that work out"

10. DJ Snake, Lil Jon - "Turn Down for What"

Asian-American protagonist. *sniff* we've come so far


My hands are getting increasingly f*cked up

I hope my mom appreciates that voluntary censorship I just did on her behalf. She always feels great shame when I curse on Facebook. (it's true, if you're a good parent your kids won't curse on FB, if they do it means you've failed somehow... probably because you didn't love them enough)

So, my hands. I have a blood blister, multiple "flappers" (what Nathan calls it when a divot of skin peels almost off, but not completely) and various scrapes/cuts. It's from going to Dogpatch Boulders, where I spend an hour couple times a week trying (and mostly failing) to climb V1s. I don't mind the hand damage. It's a physical reminder of time spent practicing something. Hoping with time my grip will get stronger, and I'll be able to get up more routes. I want to experience progress, that enjoyable sensation of gradual improvement over time. At the moment bouldering seems like the best bet for doing so.

Stuff is going on in my life, but I don't feel free to write about it here. Maybe someday. If you know me, you probably know. If not, feel free to let your imagination run wild. (Oh come on. No, I don't have ebola.)

The difficulty level for climbing routes at the gym goes from V0 to V10. There might be higher levels, but V10 is already pretty damn hard. It's the kind of climb where holds are tiny little smooth bumps, and the climb goes into an overhang and then becomes fully horizontal, so you have to climb hanging upside down from the ceiling. Right now I can only do V0s and some V1s. Michael can do V4s some V5s. Nathan is the best of our bunch, he can do V5s and did his first V6 yesterday. It's satisfying to have these problems (that's what the climbing routes are called, problems) where there's a precisely defined difficulty level. It means you can tell exactly where you're at on the progress curve-- either you can do problems at a certain level, or you can't.

To give you an idea of what world class boulderers are capable of, here's this guy doing the hardest bouldering route in the world, "Wheel of Life." Look at his rest holds! I think the positions he "rests" in are outlawed by the Geneva Conventions.

BD athlete James Kassay climbs the Wheel of Life Direct from Black Diamond Equipment on Vimeo.

I've also been getting the itch to try top roping-- it's the type of climbing where you rope up and have a belay partner, and you go really high. With bouldering you never climb higher than you could safely fall. At a lot of the climbing gyms around SF and East Bay bouldering seems like an afterthought; the focus is on top roping. The bouldering routes at such gyms tend to not go that high (maybe 15 feet). That's why Dogpatch Boulders is so nice-- the gym is all bouldering, and the routes all go way further up. You can still fall safely, but it's high enough that it's kind of scary, and if you don't fall right you could hurt yourself. But it's not hard to fall right. I actually enjoy dropping down from the top after finishing a climb. Once you've convinced yourself it's safe, it's quite a thrill.

Another thing that's nice about D.B. is that it's kid friendly. They have a kids climbing area and a pretty nice slide, and the kids also dig the relatively exotic, grungy, vastly padded location of the gym. Asha spends all her time running around and collapsing. Izzy enjoys climbing. Someone put it this way-- the climbing gym is basically a huge jungle gym. So it makes sense that kids would be into it!

Long term, I'd love to try climbing outdoors. I think what would be best is to go w/ some experienced friends would are willing to show me the ropes (no pun intended). I just need to figure out who these friends are first. In the meantime I think top roping indoors is a reasonable goal. I forgot how to belay but Michael said he can show me, it's not that hard.

This guy Alex Hunnold does a thing called "free soloing," where you climb unaided (no ropes belays etc) like in bouldering. But unlike bouldering you do it way way higher than you could safely fall. It's pretty nuts. If you look on Wikipedia a lot of free soloers are dead due to climbing accidents. That said, it is amazing that human beings can do stuff like this.