crab hamster's notebook crab hamster's thoughts and ramblings on a variety of topics, ranging from web development to sports and entertainment to gall bladders. en-us Tue, 01 Jan 2008 6:06:51 -0800 Favorite Albums of 2013 Sun, 05 Jan 2014 11:11:41 -0800 /notebook/2014/01/05/top-albums/ Better late than never...

No. 10
In Solitude - Sister Cover
In Solitude
October 1, 2013
Metal Blade


Highlights: A Buried Sun, He Comes, Lavender

No. 9
Arcade Fire - Reflektor Cover
Arcade Fire
October 28, 2013


Highlights: Here Comes the Night Time, Porno, Supersymmetry

No. 8
David Bowie - The Next Day Cover
David Bowie
The Next Day
March 8, 2013


Highlights: Where Are We Now?, The Stars (Are Out Tonight), So She

No. 7
Neko Case - The Worse Things Get... Cover
Neko Case
The Worse Things Get...
September 3, 2013


Highlights: Local Girl, Ragtime, Wild Creatures

No. 6
Boards of Canada - Tomorrow's Harvest Cover
Boards of Canada
Tomorrow's Harvest
June 5, 2013


Highlights: Reach for the Dead, Cold Earth, Sundown

No. 5
The Ocean - Pelagial Cover
The Ocean
April 30, 2013
Metal Blade


Highlights: Bathyalpelagic I: Impasses, Demersal: Cognitive Dissonance, Abyssopelagic II: Signals of Anxiety

No. 4
Tim Hecker - Virgins Cover
Tim Hecker
October 14, 2013


Highlights: Virginal I, Black Refraction, Stigmata II

No. 3
Jon Hopkins - Immunity Cover
Jon Hopkins
June 4, 2013


Highlights: Open Eye Signal, Collider, We Disappear

No. 2
Deafheaven - Sunbather Cover
June 11, 2013


Highlights: Vertigo, Dreamhouse, Sunbather

No. 1
The National - Trouble Will Find Me Cover
The National
Trouble Will Find Me
May 17, 2013

Amazingly, I think this might be their best album...

Highlights: Don't Swallow the Cap, Humiliation, Pink Rabbits

Top Albums of 2012 Mon, 31 Dec 2012 19:19:56 -0800 /notebook/2012/12/31/top-albums/ Welcome back to the show that never ends (but pauses for year at a time). 2012 was an interesting job means less time to devote to obsessive musical pursuits. The year struck me as deep (I had a tough time cutting the list down to 10 albums), but not incredibly deep at the top (no stiff competition for number one). Here's my single post for 2012...if nothing else it proves I'm still alive.

No. 10
Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend! Cover
Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!
October 1, 2012


Highlights: Mladic, We Drift Like Worried Fire

No. 9
The Smashing Pumpkins - Oceania Cover
The Smashing Pumpkins
June 19, 2012
EMI/Martha's Music


Highlights: Panopticon, Pale Horse, Violet Rays

No. 8
David Byrne & St. Vincent - Love This Giant Cover
David Byrne & St. Vincent
Love This Giant
September 10, 2012


Highlights: Optimist, Lightning, The Forest Awakes

No. 7
Gojira - L'Enfant Sauvage Cover
L'Enfant Sauvage
June 26, 2012


Highlights: L'Enfant Sauvage, Explosia, Mouth of Kala

No. 6
Sharon Van Etten - Tramp Cover
Sharon Van Etten
February 7, 2012


Highlights: Serpents, Leonard, Magic Chords

No. 5
Purity Ring - Shrines Cover
Purity Ring
July 24, 2012


Highlights: Belispeak, Fineshrine, Lofticries

No. 4
If These Trees Could Talk - Red Forest Cover
If These Trees Could Talk
Red Forest
March 20, 2012
Science of Silence


Highlights: The First Fire, They Speak With Knives, Red Forest

No. 3
Andy Stott - Luxury Problems Cover
Andy Stott
Luxury Problems
November 6, 2012
Modern Love


Highlights: Numb, Sleepless, Hatch the Plan

No. 2
Baroness - Yellow & Green Cover
Yellow & Green
July 17, 2012


Highlights: March to the Sea, Back Where I Belong, The Line Between

No. 1
Flying Lotus - Until the Quiet Comes Cover
Flying Lotus
Until the Quiet Comes
September 26, 2012

Hunger is my favorite musical moment in many many years.

Highlights: Hunger, DMT Song, See Thru to U

Top Albums of 2011 Sat, 31 Dec 2011 13:13:18 -0800 /notebook/2011/12/31/top-albums/ Yep, it's that time of year again...time for my annual site update, or my favorite albums of the year. Weird year for me musically in that I probably spent 80% of the year listening to music from the 70's (like lots of Bowie). That said, there was tons of good music released this year and I thoroughly enjoy each album on this list.

No. 10
Thurston Moore - Demolished Thoughts Cover
Thurston Moore
Demolished Thoughts
May 24, 2011


Highlights: Benediction, In Silver Rain with a Paper Key, Circulation

No. 9
Mastodon - The Hunter Cover
The Hunter
September 27, 2011


Highlights: Spectrelight, The Sparrow, Stargasm

No. 8
Radiohead - The King of Limbs Cover
The King of Limbs
February 18, 2011


Highlights: Morning Mr Magpie, Lotus Flower, Give Up the Ghost

No. 7
A Winged Victory for the Sullen Cover
A Winged Victory for the Sullen
September 12, 2011


Highlights: Steep Hills of Vicodin Tears, Requiem for the Static King Part 2, All Farewells are Sudden

No. 6
Beirut - The Rip Tide Cover
The Rip Tide
August 2, 2011
Pompeii Records


Highlights: East Harlem, Port of Call, Vagabond

No. 5
Destroyer - Kaputt Cover
January 25, 2011


Highlights: A Savage Night at the Opera, Chinatown, Bay of Pigs (detail)

No. 4
EMA - Past Life Martyred Saints Cover
Past Life Martyred Saints
May 10, 2011
Souterrain Transmissions


Highlights: The Grey Ship, Milkman, California

No. 3
Tim Hecker - Ravedeath, 1972 Cover
Tim Hecker
Ravedeath, 1972
February 14, 2011


Highlights: Hatred of Music I, Hatred of Music II, In the Air I, In the Air, II, In the Air III

No. 2
St. Vincent - Strange Mercy Cover
St. Vincent
Strange Mercy
September 12, 2011


Highlights: Strange Mercy, Hysterical Strength, Year of the Tiger

No. 1
PJ Harvey - Let England Shake Cover
PJ Harvey
Let England Shake
February 11, 2011


Highlights: In the Dark Places, All and Everyone, The Glorious Land

Top Albums of 2010 Fri, 31 Dec 2010 2:02:18 -0800 /notebook/2010/12/31/top-albums/ This was by far the best year for music in recent memory. Normally I have to stretch to find that 10th worthy album, sometimes quite a few more than that. For the first time in the twenty-first century, I could've easily stretched this list out to 20 albums..but rules are rules (even if they're your own meaningless rules). In the end, this list contains a diverse mix that includes albums I didn’t want to like, albums I didn’t expect to blow me away as much as they did, and albums by constantly underrated bands who did what they do best as good as (if not better than) ever. With all of that said, I'm very hopeful that this might just be the first list I look back on in six months without regret.

No. 10
Broken Bells - Broken Bells Cover
Broken Bells
Broken Bells
March 9, 2010

I'm not a huge fan of The Shins or most of Danger Mouse's various projects, so imagine my surprise with how much I enjoyed this one. James Mercer's melodies and Danger Mouse's production come together perfectly. The album explores a wide palette of styles and seems right at home in each.

Highlights: The Mall & Misery, The Ghost Inside, Mongrel Heart

No. 9
LCD Soundsystem - This is Happening Cover
LCD Soundsystem
This is Happening
May 18, 2010

For better or worse, LCD Soundsystem is the most meta band I know. Sometimes the self-awareness grates on me just a little bit, but there's no denying the quality of every other aspect of their music. This is Happening gave me exactly what I would've wanted from them following the terrific Sound of Silver, with more emphasis on their electronic leanings...and, Dance Yrself Clean is the best album opener I've heard in years.

Highlights: Dance Yrself Clean, Home, All I Want

No. 8
Arcade Fire - The Suburbs Cover
Arcade Fire
The Suburbs
August 2, 2010

It took a few months for me to get around to giving The Suburbs a chance, partially because I disliked Neon Bible that much (loved Funeral, for the record) and partially because Win Butler creeps me out. Whatever the reason, I'm sorry I hesitated because The Suburbs is a great album. Cohesive in tone while not treading the same ground over and over again (which is a real concern with a 16 track album). Arcade Fire made me a believer again, but I'm still left wondering why they have to be so damn creepy.

Highlights: We Used to Wait, Sprawl (Mountains Beyond Mountains), Half Light I

No. 7
Spoon - Transference Cover
January 15, 2010

One thing Transference proved is how criminally underrated Spoon is by the mainstream “indie” media. Somehow Spoon finds a way to change things up with every album without sacrificing quality or their “Spooniness”, and Transference is no different. Quality song after quality song, all with a yet another new twist on their trademark sound.

Highlights: I Saw the Light, The Mystery Zone, Nobody Gets Me But You

No. 6
The Tallest Man on Earth - The Wild Hunt Cover
The Tallest Man on Earth
The Wild Hunt
April 13, 2010
Dead Oceans

The Tallest Man on Earth has got to be the best folk music being made today. It's easy to make Bob Dylan comparisons given the vocal style of Kristian Matsson, but that ignores the outstanding guitar work featured on nearly every track. The songwriting is superb and only dwarfed by the dynamic performance.

Highlights: Burden of Tomorrow, You're Going Back, Love is All

No. 5
Sufjan Stevens - The Age of Adz Cover
Sufjan Stevens
The Age of Adz
October 12, 2010
Asthmatic Kitty

There's something special in Sufjan Steven's compositions. It's rare when a pop/rock oriented song can be 24 minutes long without overstaying its welcome, but Impossible Soul manages to pull it off. The music is deep and complex throughout and sometimes it feels like maybe some layers could've been left out for the betterment of the music, but after repeated listens it all begins to come together.

Highlights: Impossible Soul, I Want to be Well, Too Much

No. 4
Four Tet - There is Love in You Cover
Four Tet
There is Love in You
January 25, 2010

Four Tet seems to be an easy artist to overlook in 2010. Probably because he's been releasing top tier music for the better part of a decade, though mostly inside the same box (granted, it's a box he created and is his alone). There is Love in You finds Kieran Hebden taking a step outside that box and setting the bar even higher.

Highlights: Plastic People, Circling, She Just Likes to Fight

No. 3
Beach House - Teen Dream Cover
Beach House
Teen Dream
January 25, 2010
Sub Pop

While I've enjoyed Beach House's prior efforts, those albums can't compare to Teen Dream. In the past I had to be in the right mood to enjoy Beach House, but here they find a way to take the listener to their music's distinctive place, regardless of the listener's mood. It's near impossible for me to single out stand-out songs because it's full of stand-out songs.

Highlights: 10 Mile Stereo, Norway, Zebra

No. 2
Flying Lotus - Cosmogramma Cover
Flying Lotus
May 3, 2010

Flying Lotus is one of the few artists doing truly fresh music today. Cosmogramma is an album, in the truest sense of the word. A number of the tracks may not stand out on their own, but each track leads into the next and contributes to the picture as a whole. It's a compelling mix of modern electronic, hip-hop, a diverse mix of elements from the past and each is fused perfectly together.

Highlights: Do the Astral Plane, Galaxy in Janaki, Intro//A Cosmic Drama

No. 1
The National - High Violet Cover
The National
High Violet
May 11, 2010

The National are on a real streak with their third straight near perfect album. I'm not sure this is better than Boxer or Alligator, but it certainly belongs in the conversation. I really don't know what to say about High Violet. The songwriting is impeccable. Matt Berninger's vocals (and you can't ignore the wonderful background vocals) make your heart ache. Bryan Devendorf's drum work transforms the songs. In short, it's spectacular from top to bottom, but that's nothing new for The National.

Highlights: Lemonworld, Sorrow, Bloodbuzz Ohio

Top Albums of 2009 Sun, 27 Dec 2009 4:04:14 -0800 /notebook/2009/12/27/top-albums/ Musically, 2009 ended up being an appropriate year to close out a decade without any coherent trend or movement in music. It was an odd year that was heavily front loaded with quality releases and seemed to quickly fall off the edge in the second half, which is represented here in this list.

No. 10
Dirty Projectors - Bitte Orca Cover
Dirty Projectors
Bitte Orca
June 9, 2009

I'm still struggling to fully “get” this album. Bitte Orca features complex composition that is skillfully pulled off on all fronts (most notably the guitar work and female background vocals). The music pretty universally feels avant-garde and at times that oddness can be grating. However, Dirty Projectors deserve some measure of credit for doing something different, and doing it well. I just remain undecided on whether or not what they're doing is worth listening to. A year from now I'll end up either regretting having included this album at all or wishing I'd placed it higher.

Highlights: Cannibal Resource, Stillness is the Move

No. 9
Dan Deacon - Bromst Cover
Dan Deacon
March 24, 2009
Carpark Records

Dan Deacon creates songs by taking layers of noise, random bleeps & bloops, and woody-the-woodpecker vocals and somehow gives us inventive electronic music that feels surprisingly epic in scope and is often undeniably fun.

Highlights: Build Voice, Red F, Snookered

No. 8
Neko Case - Middle Cyclone Cover
Neko Case
Middle Cyclone
March 3, 2009

Not sure what to say about this one. Neko Case's vocal ability is undeniable (a fact that clearly doesn't escape her) and on Middle Cyclone she's doing her alt-country thing as perfectly as she usually does it. Chock-full of quality songs, each of which is a perfect vehicle to showcase her extraordinary voice.

Highlights: This Tornado Loves You, People Got a Lotta Nerve, Magpie to the Morning

No. 7
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - It's Blitz Cover
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
It's Blitz
March 9, 2009

It's Blitz finds the Yeah Yeah Yeahs giving us an album heavily tinged with 80s new wave. The writing is stronger and more consistent than ever and their ability to stray from the standard verse-chorus-verse song structure at just the right moment keeps things interesting.

Highlights: Zero, Dragon Queen, Hysteric

No. 6
Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion
Animal Collective
Merriweather Post Pavilion
January 6, 2009

Animal Collective has always seemed to be a band that receives far more credit than they deserve simply based on the fact that their music is “spontaneous” and “different”, which for me has always translated into something largely unlistenable. With Merriweather Post Pavilion they finally manage to marry their idiosyncrasies with quality music.

Highlights: My Girls, Guys Eyes, Daily Routine

No. 5
Sunn O))) - Monoliths and Dimensions Cover
Sunn O)))
Monoliths and Dimensions
May 18, 2009
Southern Lord

What you'll find here is a brand of metal that requires a patient listener as it largely consists of slow, deep droning guitars that blend into one another and is largely devoid of rhythm. Patient listeners will be rewarded with striking compositions that are simultaneously sinister and beautiful.

Highlights: Alice, Big Church, Hunting & Gathering

No. 4
Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest Cover
Grizzly Bear
May 26, 2009

I can't help but feel that some of the magic found on Grizzly Bear's last album, Yellow House, is missing here on Veckatimest. Yellow House felt like some previously unexplored musical island whereas Veckatimest mostly feels more constrained and exists within a more common set of musical boundaries. That said, it is nothing short of magical how the band's voices come together to form such perfect harmonies.

Highlights: Two Weeks, While You Wait for the Others, Foreground

No. 3
Emm Gryner - Goddess Cover
Emm Gryner
February, 2009
Dead Daisy Records

Emm Gryner has consistently put out high quality pop music over the last decade or so, but Goddess finds her performing with an edginess not found on her previous efforts. Without a doubt it's a nice, subtle change of pace and it just may be my favorite album of hers.

Highlights: Killing Spree, Young as the Night, Empty Hole

No. 2
Mastodon - Crack the Skye Cover
Crack the Skye
March 24, 2009

Crack the Skye may not have the same relentless fury of Mastodon's first few albums, but it does feature the same exemplary musicianship the band is known for. The guitar work is fantastic and Brann Dailor's astounding drumming is a show stealer. While not as “in your face”, Crack the Skye is just as heavy as anything Mastodon has done before and it provides seven exceedingly well-crafted songs.

Highlights: The Czar, Divinations, The Last Baron

No. 1
St. Vincent - Actor Cover
St. Vincent
May 5, 2009

With Actor, St. Vincent gives us an exercise in contradictions. Just about every song features a level of whimsy reminiscent of old Disney movies which is mixed seamlessly with ominous and menacing guitars. Annie Clark writes with striking clarity of vision and inventiveness, and here she delivers a diverse album that oozes personality from top to bottom. No other album this year blew me away as consistently as Actor and it continues to get better with each listen.

Highlights: The Party, Laughing With a Mouth of Blood, Actor Out of Work

Top Albums of 2008 Fri, 09 Jan 2009 23:23:28 -0800 /notebook/2009/01/09/top-albums/ 2008 was a bit underwhelming for music. A number of solid albums were released, but none that really caught my ear. It was a struggle putting together this list because I generally feel indifferent to most of the music I heard from the year. Overall it felt like the albums were either consistently good (not great) or had a few great songs along with a few not-so-great songs. So, with that onward we go…

No. 10
Nine Inch Nails - The Slip Cover
Nine Inch Nails
The Slip
May 5, 2008
The Null Corporation

Maybe it's the freedom of not being on a label, or maybe not, but this is the first Nine Inch Nails album I've enjoyed in quite a while (certainly the best since The Fragile). Nothing ground breaking, but solid throughout.

Highlights: Demon Seed, 1,000,000, Lights In the Sky

No. 9
MGMT - Oracular Spectacular Cover
Oracular Spectacular
January 22, 2008

It took a while for me to warm up to MGMT, but it was so nice to hear those thick, fuzzy guitars that I kept coming back for more. Some parts sound a bit over-the-top and potentially ridiculous, but as the songs come together everything seems to fit.

Highlights: Time To Pretend, The Youth, Electric Feel

No. 8
Beck - Modern Guilt Cover
Modern Guilt
July 8, 2008

I was pleasantly surprised by Modern Guilt. Nothing on it is ground breaking for Beck, but there's not a bad song in the bunch. What you'll find here is more mature songwriting and more restrained production. The music benefits from both.

Highlights: Chemtrails, Walls, Modern Guilt

No. 7
TV on the Radio - Dear Science Cover
TV on the Radio
Dear Science
September 22, 2008

TV on the Radio is such a mish-mash of genres that on paper it doesn't sound like something that should work, but it does...somehow they meld it all together and create something unique.

Highlights: Halfway Home, Love Dog, DLZ

No. 6
Duffy - Rockferry Cover
March 3, 2008

A 60's soul album with a few really great songs and not a single bad one. The album features strong songwriting, production, and arrangement, but what really makes this album is Duffy's singing.

Highlights: Rockferry, Mercy, Distant Dreamer

No. 5
The Black Keys - Attack & Release
The Black Keys
Attack & Release
April 1, 2008

Here The Black Keys add a touch of the bayou into their blues/rock formula. Attack & Release lacks some of the consistency found on all of their previous efforts, but it's nice to hear a slight shift in direction.

Highlights: Lies, All You Ever Wanted, Psychotic Girl

No. 4
Deerhunter - Microcastle Cover
October 28, 2008

Deerhunter provides a very lo-fi rock feel that is very reminiscent of Sonic Youth. As such, it's taken a number of listens for the music to grow on me. The layers of guitar often provide a slow build to a climax that'll catch you off guard.

Highlights: Nothing Ever Happened, Agoraphobia, Twilight at Carbon Lake

No. 3
Department of Eagles - In Ear Park Cover
Department of Eagles
In Ear Park
October 7, 2008

A nice collection of concise songs oozing with subtlety. Many of the songs seem to find their way to an unexpected peak. In Ear Park is a deep album that takes a number of listens before it fully reveals itself.

Highlights: In Ear Park, No One Does It Like You, Floating on the Lehigh

No. 2
Portishead Cover
April 28, 2008

After a decade of waiting, Portishead returns with an album that sounds nothing like their previous albums (outside of Beth Gibbons' trademark vocals). They did a great job of making good music that sounds distinctly Portishead while achieving relevance in 2008.

Highlights: The Rip, We Carry On, Silence

No. 1
Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago Cover
Bon Iver
For Emma, Forever Ago
February 19, 2008

Simple music. Simple production. Simply beautiful.

Highlights: Flume, re: stacks, Skinny Love

…Where molasses happens Sun, 20 Apr 2008 22:22:08 -0700 /notebook/2008/04/20/playoffs/ In honor of this years NBA Playoffs I put together a new purple and gold header, the colors of the #1 seeded Los Angeles Lakers. You may also notice that a tiny bit has been revealed in what the fabled crabhamster looks like. The white silhouette (designed to mimic the NBA logo) works well for my purposes as I still have next to zero skill when it comes to using Illustrator, though I do think the claw portion turned out relatively well.

I guess I'll throw in my playoff picks:

Eastern Conference:

Round One

  • Boston over Atlanta in 4 (Boston in 7)
  • Detroit over Philadelphia in 7 (Detroit in 6)
  • Orlando over Toronto in 5
  • Cleveland over Washington in 7 (Cleveland in 6)

Round Two

  • Boston over Cleveland in 7
  • Detroit over Orlando in 5

Conference Finals

  • Detroit over Boston in 6 (Boston in 6)

Western Conference:

Round One

  • Lakers over Denver in 5 (Lakers in 4)
  • Dallas over New Orleans in 6 (New Orleans in 5)
  • San Antonio over Phoenix in 7 (San Antonio in 5)
  • Utah over Houston in 6

Round Two

  • Lakers over Utah in 6
  • San Antonio over New Orleans in 7

Conference Finals

  • Lakers over San Antonio in 5

Anyway, I just wanted to explain the new digs and brag about my home team…at least a little bit.

IE (h)8(eration) Thu, 06 Mar 2008 23:23:29 -0800 /notebook/2008/03/06/ie8/ Well, Microsoft released their first IE8 beta. This makes me simultaneously happy and nervous. Happy because it's another step towards having an Internet Explorer that actually renders web standards correctly (and another generation removed from IE6's rendering bugs). Nervous because it's certainly possible that this new release will, once again, cause a scramble to “fix” sites so they work in the latest debacle version of the world's (current) #1 browser.

I've been putzing around with it for about an hour now, just kind of checking out various sites and seeing how they behave. Here's a quick run-down of my first impressions:


  • In general, CSS support does seem to show a marked improvement over that provided by previous versions. I certainly haven't spent enough time nor done enough testing to say just how compatible it really and truly is.
  • It no longer takes 30 seconds just to open a new tab.
  • It passes the Second Acid Test.
  • The version targeting meta tag will be a life-saver for my company, which is beginning a complete system overhaul. As the lead developer, I have no interest in fixing all of our legacy systems so they are compatible with IE8 as they will all be obsolete within a couple years.


  • Most sites I've visited (including this site) have some rendering quirks in IE8, though they mostly seem to be minor.
  • Links defined as block elements (for example, the links in my sidebar) only activate on the text, instead of on the entire block.
  • I've noticed a few quirks related to hover properties being properly recognized.
  • Sites reliant on JavaScript are going to have a tough time, I fear, though version targeting should help in the short-term.


  • Gmail appears to run perfectly fine.
  • Hotmail does not.

I'll post more when I get a chance to do some thorough testing, but I think my first impressions validate my apprehension. While the browser does show improvements in standards support, it doesn't appear it's all the way there yet. Hopefully most of the problems are sorted out by the time IE8 sees its official release.

It's obvious Microsoft's browser team is making great strides in providing a standards compliant browser, but as a developer I'd prefer not having to code my way around three distinct, and bug-riddled, versions of Internet Explorer.

How'd you get your teeth so pearly? Fri, 29 Feb 2008 18:18:33 -0800 /notebook/2008/02/29/pearly/ So, after at least two years of hapless debating with the zeeebra, we finally pulled the trigger and got new phones. What took so long? Well, we had been with T-Mobile for quite a while and I didn't really want to be forced into a more expensive plan by switching carriers, but they must have the smallest (and least appealing) phone line-up of all the major american carriers.

The need to get new phones had finally come to a head as neither of our phones liked to participate in phone conversations lasting longer than 10-15 minutes. Unfortunately, T-Mobile still suffers from the same line-up they did two years ago, so both of us couldn't find a phone we wanted. We ended up switching to AT&T, and I'm now a proud owner of a BlackBerry Pearl (which, yes…I could've gotten from T-Mobile).

Previously, I was never interested in getting a smartphone as I barely used my regular old dumbphone. A recent shift in my working environment, where I'm not in the office a few days a week, made me think moving away from dumbphones might be a worthwhile thing to do. The biggest factor being mobile email as it'd enable me to maintain silent communication with my company while out of the office.

The Pearl took a while for me to configure, but that's probably just because I'm a compulsive futzer. So far I'm loving the apps provided by Google, particularly GooMaps and GooChat. The other really nifty Google app is GoogleSync, which allows you to sync your BlackBerry calendar with your Google Calendars. I've never made much use of calendars in the past, but this got me started. I've come to the conclusion that I don't really have much use for calendars, but at the very least it lets me have instant access to the Lakers upcoming schedule…and I'm so all over that!

Zap! Bang! PAU! Fri, 01 Feb 2008 23:23:55 -0800 /notebook/2008/02/01/zap-bang-pau/ I think my brain needed to reboot after reading that the Lakers had traded away Kwame Brown, a few non-essential players, and draft picks for Pau Gasol, formerly of the Memphis Grizzlies. I had resigned myself to the Lakers never being able to pull the trigger on a trade of this magnitude. I had also begun to resign myself to the Lakers falling apart in the face of an overwhelming number of injuries…just like last season. Instead, here we are.

What does this mean for the Lakers? In the short term, they should be able to better withstand the recent barrage of injuries to key players such as Andrew Bynum and Luke Walton. Pau gives them a quality seven-footer who can produce the points, rebounds, and inside presence they've so sorely missed since Bynum went down a couple weeks ago. In the long term, assuming that Bynum returns healthy, it makes them an incredibly scary team come playoff time.

It's also worth noting that the Lakers beat a fairly solid Toronto Raptors team tonight, which is impressive considering that, with the absence of the newest Grizzlies, they were even more shorthanded than they have been. They appeared to play more freely than they have since Bynum's injury and I can't remember Kobe Bryant having a better game this season. If merely the thought Pau Gasol joining the team inspires them this much, imagine what they'll look like once Pau has settled in. Tantilizing for Lakers fans. Frightening for everyone else.

I'm trying not to get overly hopeful here, but I can't help but imagine this trade making David Stern squeal like a little girl. The prospect of a Celtics/Lakers NBA finals has to make him positively giddy.