Showing posts from December, 2009

Totally Random 3.1

• Slow Traffic Keep Right is law on the Interstate Highways in some states but merely a strong suggestion here in Maryland. One week eighteen months ago I noticed that I regularly encountered slow-pokes in the left lane when the right lane was open so I decided to keep track of how often that happened. As of tonight, the total number of nights in a row in which that occurred since August, 2008 … ALL OF THEM.

• Winter Solstice was just over nine days ago; the days are getting longer! Woohoo, break out the shorts, tank tops and flip flops.

• I will be up at midnight at the end of December 31st to bring in the New Year as I have every year since high school. I have a deep-rooted fear that if I don’t do this, the new year might not start and we’d be stuck with the old one for twelve more months. I can’t let that happen.

• I have some pretty remarkable friends. Sadly, I will not be ringing in the new year with any of them face-to-face. But I’ll be with each of them in spirit and with s…

Ho ho hmmm

OK, Christmas is done; reality is back.

My annual January-long process of looking back and looking ahead is starting early this year. It is the one time each year that I make no apology for over-thinking; that strategy serves me well.

I got a late start planning 2009 but the rewards were worth it. A transition began in May that will continue into 2010.

More later.

We’re All Kids at Christmas

I have few regrets, but sometimes I do regret not having children. That image bobs around the ocean of emotion I swim through during the holidays. Christmas is as much a family celebration time as it is a religious-based holiday and as adults, we often revert to traditions and rituals from our youth.

A few years ago I produced and co-hosted a one-hour radio show called “We’re All Kids at Christmas.” The show included songs that showcased some of the child-like qualities of the holiday, such as “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” and “Santa Looked A Lot Like Daddy.” My co-host and I also reminisced about Christmas time in our youth and we each had a conversation with “Santa” and told him what we wanted for Christmas as adults. (By the way, I did NOT get world peace but I did eventually get a bright red Ford Explorer).

The best part of that radio show was our conversations with kids. We got the OK from a local shopping mall to interview children standing in line to see Santa. We interviewed s…

Death Happens

Everyone eventually dies, yet is seems to surprise us when someone we know reaches the end of their life. Celebrity deaths often affect us in a collective way … it’s someone we ‘know’ because we see them on a screen and read about personal aspects of their lives.

Today a celebrity I actually know died. That’s a double whammy and it has me thinking about death, life and living in the moment.

George Michael was a legendary TV sportscaster here in the Washington DC area and was known by sports fans in other cities because of his weekly syndicated Sports Machine program. In the early 1990s he also did a weekly sports report on the radio station I work for; I spoke with him on the phone almost every week and I met him a few times.

We didn’t know each other well, but we had a few interesting personal conversations. He gave me advice on pursuing a TV career (gotta have thick skin because someone is always criticizing you) and he all but told me I was crazy for marrying a divorce lawyer (he was …

Gone in 2009

Today I saw a list of products, TV shows and people whose last year was 2009. Here are a few of them:

Kodachrome - remember film? This legendary slide film was around since 1935 and was my favorite back in my film days (which only ended 18 months ago). This film was known for rich color, expecially in warm colors like red and yellow. The best photos I've ever taken during a whole life as a photo enthusiast were in Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon, September 2000, and I shot mostly Kodachrome on that trip. I'll actually post these one day, when I can afford a slide scanner (unless that product disappears too).

Pontiac - I never thought I'd see Pontiac go away. The Pontiac GTO was one of my favorite cars of my youth. Pontiac also made the Trans Am, LeMans and Firebird. My sister drives a Pontiac Vibe, although that is mostly a Toyota with a Pontiac nameplate.

Saturn - This was supposed to be the brand of the future when it was introduced back in 1985. GM announced…

What Christmas Songs Are Played The Most?

Have you ever wondered what Christmas songs are played the most on the radio? According to ASCAP, the music licensing organization, these are the Top Ten this year:

1. "Sleigh Ride" played 118,918 times
2. "Jingle Bell Rock" played 118,601 times
3. "It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" played 101,614 times
4. "White Christmas" played 89,348 times
5. "Winter Wonderland" played 77,599 times
6. "The Christmas Song" (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire) played 74,360 times.
7. "A Holly Jolly Christmas" played 57,948 times
8. "Little Drummer Boy" played 55,617 times.
9. "Feliz Navidad" played 51,072 times
10. "Frosty the Snowman" played 51,068 times

Have a holly, jolly winter wonderland sleigh ride Christmas.

A Record-Setter

That snow storm yesterday set many record for snowfall amounts in Washington DC and the surrounding subburbs in Maryland and Virginia. It was the largest amount of snow in December and one of the five largest amounts on record for any time.

My neighborhood topped out near twenty inches.

This picture was taken in the morning when the snow had only reached eight inches.

The Blizzard of December 2009

It is snowing like hell today in the Washington DC area. These pictures are in my yard, taken at 9:00 this morning. Forecasters predict at least 15 inches for my county (northwest of DC) by late tonight.

Look to the left of this page for some webcam links.

A Decade Since

It’s hard to believe that in less than two weeks we will have ended the first decade of the 2000s.

Remember the Y2k scare? Were you just a little concerned that computers would stop working as 99 turned into 00?

Are you still deciding how to refer to the year? Is 2009 “two thousand nine” or is it “twenty oh nine”? What about next year? Two thousand ten or twenty ten? We didn’t call 1999 “one thousand nine hundred ninety nine” or even “nineteen hundred ninety-nine.” Come on, sing it with me … “party like it’s one thousand nine hundred ninety-nine.”

In 2000 did you think almost a quarter of U.S. homes would have cell phones only and no landline? Gasoline would cost more than $4 a gallon one summer? A woman and a black man would be among the leading contenders for President and one of them would win? Twenty men would simultaneously hijack four airliners and bring the country to its knees?

Could you have imagined Facebook? Twitter? Susan Boyle?

What do you think the next ten years …

Random Updates

My holiday depression … isn’t nearly as bad as I expected it would be. In fact, I’m feeling pretty good. Things that helped: a gentle wrist-slapping from a friend, a cool custom Christmas CD from that same friend, a stray comment from another friend, some decisions I’ve made recently and the return of my usual kick-ass attitude about not letting negative things bother for extended periods of time.

My diet … well, hell, it’s the holidays. I don’t think I’ve gained weight lately but I’m sure I haven’t lost any either. Don’t know because the scale battery died. I’ll get a new one on New Year’s Day.

My car … is back from the body shop, looking as good as it did the day I bought it.

My commute … still sucks. This morning is took me two and a half hours to get to work. Normally it takes close to an hour (which is also too long).

That’s all. Didn’t have much else to say today. How are you?

Louis and Christmas

This week a cool friend sent me a custom-made CD full of unique holiday songs. One song that popped right off the disk was “Christmas in New Orleans” by Louis Armstrong.

Armstrong, if you don’t know, was a legendary jazz trumpeter and singer in the 1920s – 1940s, who also had some pop hits in the 50s and 60s and one more in 1987, a remake of his own “What A Wonderful World” that was featured in the movie “Good Morning, Vietnam.”

His voice, phrasing and style are part of the unique mix of elements that makes up New Orleans music.

Do you have any idea what that does for a music-loving native of that city?! Probably not, so let me explain. New Orleans music is almost its own genre, borrowing from many styles but blending into a distinctive gumbo of rhythms and sounds. The instrumentation is spiced with hints of Dixieland jazz and Cajun zydeco, the vocalization features that “Noo Awlins” accent and often the drum beat is similar to the percussion of the ‘second line’ jazz funeral marchin…

It'll Be A ....

I was going to compose a clever post relating to the New Orleans Saints victory over the Washington Redskins a few days ago ... saying something about how I am normally a Redskins fan but for this one game a year I revert to my original hometown team ... about how the bumbling Redskins almost beat the unbeaten Saints ... etc., etc., etc. ... when I saw this cartoon that says it better than I could:

Discovering Live Music

In May I declared my keyword for the remainder of the year would be “play” … a one-word reminder to myself to have more fun.

Part of that fun includes seeing more live music, which I did. During the summer tour season I saw acts I had seen before, like Toby Keith and Rascal Flatts, and performers I had never seen, like George Strait, Paul McCartney and Dave Matthews.

Now I am stalking more of the non-hit acts, especially blues bands, and checking out the smaller venues, which I prefer to arenas and stadiums. Back in the 1980s I hung out at slightly-bigger-than-a-hole-in-the-wall bars like the 8x10 club in Baltimore, where I saw numerous blues bands. It turns out that some of those bands are still around and occasionally play in my area and others I didn’t see back then are also passing through. And my current venue of choice is usually the Birchmere, bigger and more comfortable than the 8x10, but still sporting the perfect vibe for music on the fringes of mainstream.

Last week I saw the …

Interesting Quote

Embrace your uniqueness. Time is much too short to be living someone else's life.

- Kobi Yamada