Monday, May 31, 2010

Another Fitness Score

The game continues. Current score:

Gym 7 - Vending Machine 2

I'm not sure all this exercise and paying attention to what I eat is showing but I definitely feel better. And using the vending machine that's ten steps from my desk only twice in nearly three weeks might just be a record for me.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Rolling Thunder

I experienced Rolling Thunder for the first time today; as a spectator, not a rider. It is an awesome event: part demonstration against some government inaction, partly a gray-haired hippie fest, partly a patriotic rally honoring military men and women who gave their lives in the service of their country.



Rolling Thunder began with a conversation between two Vietnam War veterans in a New Jersey diner about their concern that some prisoners of war and ‘missing in action’ were not accounted for and little was being done about it. That conversation grew into a decision to stage a demonstration in Washington DC in which Vietnam vets would announce their arrival with the roar of motorcycles. Approximately 2500 bikers arrived from all over the country for the first rally in 1988, which ended on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. Now the ride is an annual event on Memorial Day weekend and the "Ride for Freedom" ends at the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial Wall, with speeches and music on stage in front of the nearby Lincoln Memorial. One estimate puts the number of participants at more than 250,000.



Nearly anyone with a motorcycle is invited to participate, but it is clear that many riders are veterans of the Vietnam War or that era (1960s through the mid 1970s). My math skills tell me the youngest Vietnam vets would be about 52 now. (I’m a vet on the young end of the ‘era’ but my Army service was mostly in Texas).



Over the years, the event organizers have formed a non-profit organization with this as their mission: “All are united in the cause to bring full accountability for POWs and MIAs of all wars, reminding the government, the media and the public by our watchwords: “We Will Not Forget.”

Visit my photo site for more pictures.

More Info:

Organization site
Rolling thunder rally site.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Dennis Hopper

I’ve been aware of Dennis Hopper for as long as I’ve been aware of movies, but I didn’t realize just how many classics he was in till I looked up information after he died this week.

A small sampling: Rebel Without a Cause and Giant in the 50s, Cool Hand Luke and Easy Rider in the 60s, Apocalypse Now in the 70s, Colors and Blue Velvet in the 80s, Speed in the 90s, and Waterworld in the 2000s

Easy Rider


He was also a photographer, painter, sculptor and author. He had five ex-wives, including singer Michelle Phillips (they were only married for a few weeks in 1970). He was diagnosed with prostate cancer last year and that is listed as the cause of death.

Speed


If you don’t know his movies, you might have seen his Ameriprise Financial commercials:

Scrabble, Anyone?

A friend sent me this. Pretty amazing. Whoever first noticed these must be a hell of a Scrabble player.

PRESBYTERIAN:
When you rearrange the letters:
BEST IN PRAYER

ASTRONOMER:
When you rearrange the letters:
MOON STARER

DESPERATION:
When you rearrange the letters:
A ROPE ENDS IT

THE EYES:
When you rearrange the letters:
THEY SEE

GEORGE BUSH:
When you rearrange the letters:
HE BUGS GORE

THE MORSE CODE:
When you rearrange the letters:
HERE COME DOTS

DORMITORY:
When you rearrange the letters:
DIRTY ROOM

SLOT MACHINES:
When you rearrange the letters:
CASH LOST IN ME

ANIMOSITY:
When you rearrange the letters:
IS NO AMITY

ELECTION RESULTS:
When you rearrange the letters:
LIES - LET'S RECOUNT

SNOOZE ALARMS:
When you rearrange the letters:
ALAS! NO MORE Z 'S

A DECIMAL POINT:
When you rearrange the letters:
I'M A DOT IN PLACE

THE EARTHQUAKES:
When you rearrange the letters:
THAT QUEER SHAKE

MOTHER-IN-LAW:
When you rearrange the letters:
WOMAN HITLER

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Heyyyyy Macarena

Remember this song and dance from the mid 1990s? Saw it on a Facebook post a little while ago and now I can't get the song out of my head.



Multiple versions were released but this particular mix, with its additional lyrics in English, was a record-breaking hit around 1996.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Observationus Randomus

Interesting observation made by a friend on Facebook: YouTube is turning 5 years old. The impact upon our culture is profound. Now millions of people are instantly able to view cats playing the piano.

Speaking of birthdays, Pac Man is now 30 years old.

Speaking of Pac Man, Brad Paisley mentions it in his recent hit song “Welcome To the Future”:

When I was ten years old I remember thinking how cool it would be
When we were going on an eight-hour drive if I could just watch TV.
And I’d have given anything to have my own Pac Man game at home;
I used to have to get a ride down to the arcade; now I’ve got it on my phone.

While I was in a crowd walking through a giant cargo plane at the recent Joint Services Air Show at Andrews Air Force Base, I heard a pre-teen kid trying to tell her Mom how she felt about the show: “It’s superly awesomely awesome.”

I’m convinced that 90 percent of the time I hear someone use the word “less” they should be using “fewer.” I even hear it in commercials now. “There,” “their” and “they’re” are also often used interchangeably and incorrectly. Same with “hear” and “here.”

"Friend" and "text" used to be nouns. Now they are also verbs. “I’ll text you when I get home.” “You can friend me on Facebook.”

Monday, May 24, 2010

Book ‘Em, Danno

Boomers must still be in charge. Either that or Gen X is running out of ideas.

You’ll see evidence of those claims this fall on CBS with Hawaii Five-O. This new police drama is a remake of the popular 1970s series about the Hawaii State Police. Some of the characters are the same, most notably McGarrett, Danno and Chin, but they’ve been updated. The 70s McGarrett mostly wore a dark suit, white shirt, dark tie. During the whole week I spent in Hawaii in 1996 I didn’t see one person wearing a tie. The new McGarrett is much more casual.

The original series takes me back to my youth. This remake will look and feel more like CSI, among my favorite current shows. Either this will be the best of both, or it’ll flop like the remakes of Bionic Woman and Knight Rider did.

One possible reason for optimism … the updated theme song is pretty cool:



Here are some previews. Watch this all the way through to the very last three words.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Book Addiction

Can you walk past a bookstore without going in and buying something? I can’t. I usually buy books online, but sometimes I engage in old-fashioned physical book shopping.

My literary tastes are as eclectic as my music preferences. The picture below shows the books I bought yesterday. I really need a laugh this week so entered Barnes & Noble intending to buy one Christopher Moore book. His latest (shown in the picture) was just inside the entrance, in the center of a huge “50 percent off” display. I could have picked it up, turned left, walked ten feet to the cashier. Instead, I picked it up and walked through nearly every aisle in the store.



The other purchases were total impulse. Rogue Angel just looked interesting; I’ve never heard of the author. Italian At Home is a cookbook; I’m trying to connect with my family heritage. The Washington DC book will help refresh my knowledge of local attractions when I’m being a tour guide for a visiting friend this summer.

The irony is this: I already have several books on the shelf next to this computer waiting to be read. Dust is gathering on two Dan Brown novels, a history book about two Civil War generals, a Frommer’s guide to Tuscany and a book about radio DJs.

I’ll eventually read them all, but I might buy a few more before I do.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Fitness Scoreboard

Good results this week:

Gym 3 - Vending Machine 0

Went to the gym three times and did not hit the vending machine even once. And I'm down four pounds since last week.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

More Random Quotes About Life

We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.
George Bernard Shaw

Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they’re supposed to help you discover who you are.
Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon

And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.
Abraham Lincoln

Monday, May 17, 2010

A Salad and Cheese Fries

I am in great shape. That is a statement that used to be true, till I reached age 35. I've been in decent shape off and on since, but fitness is more challenging as we age.

Last fall I set a goal to lose twenty pounds. I lost the first ten but gained five back during the holidays and I’m still there. That represents progress, but not enough, so I'm trying again. Today I didn't hit the vending machine once, although I did eat ice cream for dessert tonight. Had salad for dinner Saturday; had cheese fries at the air show for lunch. No, I will not cut out everything I like, but I will manage and regulate; I’m pretty good at that when I try hard.

Fitness is a life-long endeavor and it is never too late to start. Cardio and weight-bearing exercise provide many benefits, including better sleep, more stamina and mental acuity and increased resistance to disease. And I’ll admit that looking in shape can boost self-confidence and ego.

I’m talking about this tonight because last year I said I’d keep you posted and because if I say these things out loud, maybe I’ll have a greater incentive to stick to my goals.

At one point in my early 30s I looked in shape enough to wear a Speedo at the beach and not get laughed at. That’ll never happen again, but at some point this year I might be able to repeat the first sentence of this post and mean it.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Air Show 2010

For the third or fourth year in a row, I went to the Joint Services Air Show at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington DC. This is an incredible display of military hardware from all branches of the service. There are dozens of plane on the tarmac, many of them open for walk-throughs. There are also aerial performances by various planes, helicopters, the Blue Angels, the Golden Knights parachute teams and others. And it's all free.






See more photographs at my photo blog.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Lyrics and Time

These two songs keep popping up on my radio and my iPod. The lines referring to time stand out. I have no idea why.

It’s a quarter after one
I’m a little drunk
And I need you now.
Said I wouldn’t call
But I’ve lost all control
And I need you now.
And I don’t know how I can do without you;
I just need you now.

Lady Antebellum



It’s 4:03 and I can’t sleep
Without you next to me
I toss and turn like the sea.
If I drown tonight, bring me back to life,
Breathe your breath in me.
The only thing I believe in is you
If you only knew.


Shinedown

Sunday, May 9, 2010

I Am All Of That Too

If your Mother is alive, call or visit her today. Tell her you love her. Tell her she is right about more stuff than you gave her credit for when you were younger.

My Mom died almost five years ago and yes, I’m feeling a little guilty about not visiting her more often. I’m wondering what her last hours were like as they put her and some of the other nursing home residents on a school bus to move them to another part of the state because three days after Hurricane Katrina devastated her area, there was still no electricity at the nursing home in suburban New Orleans. I wonder if she came out of her dementia at any point during the storm itself and realized what was going on. She died hours after arriving at the new location. She loved to travel and that was a hell of a last trip.

Mom was a story-teller and loved being around people. She liked knowing what was going on in other people’s lives and shared parts of her life with anyone who would listen. I’m convinced that if she was born in the generation after hers, she would have been a career mom who returned to work when her kids started school. But she followed her generational norm and quit work when she was pregnant with me and never went back even after my sister and I were in school.

I bet Mom was a lot of fun in her twenties. Pictures of her from that era always showed her laughing with her girlfriends.

Mom and Dad both bought into the typical ‘Dad is the boss’ attitude of their generation, but I get the feeling Mom was really the boss. They didn’t always agree, but Dad showed her plenty of respect and demanded the same behavior towards her from us.

Mom was artistic, curious, stubborn, accepting (eventually) and loved having conversations with small groups of people. It is only in the past few years that I realize I am all of that too and I wish she had lived long enough for me to share that observation with her. She probably would have laughed and then launched into a story about how she got to be that way.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

To Tip Or Not To Tip

To tip or not to tip, that is my question. I get it when it comes to waiters and bartenders. It is a way to grade their service. In fact, I probably over tip them, especially bartenders. My hair stylist? Doesn’t he already get a percentage of the fee? Well, OK, I tip him too because it’s customary and because he’s been dealing with my weird hair for 15 years.

But why is there a tip jar at Starbucks? Aren’t they just like McDonalds except the products taste better? I order a coffee, the person behind the counter pours it, caps the cup and rings up my order. I get 3 cents back. Do I throw the 3 pennies into the jar – that’s an insult as a tip. Do I come up with 15% of $1.97? That’s an insult to me. I could pour the coffee myself. Today’s coffee irony: I got my daily Starbucks fix before a meeting in downtown Washington DC, where my Grande costs 7 cents more. That means when I handed the counter person 2 dollars, she asked me for 4 cents more. As I fumbled for my wallet because I had no change, she told me not to worry about it. I can picture her telling her husband, “This guy in a sharp black suit and tie just looked at me with a goofy expression on his face and couldn’t come up with 4 cents. I had to take it out of the tip jar.”

I lived in Chicago once. I spent my first week there in a fancy hotel, paid for by my new employer. I understand tipping the waitress at breakfast and I sort of understand leaving a tip in the room for housekeeping. But why should I tip the uniformed guy who hailed me a cab? I can yell “Taxi!” just as easily. In fact, there are so many taxis in Chicago you can get one to stop just by looking at the driver.

This is on my mind today because I got my car washed on the way home. I stopped at the automated car wash at the gas station near work. I’ve been there before. Right before you choose your octane level, you can push the Yes button for a car wash, then choose the level of wash – I choose Express, the cheapest. Usually I then fill my tank with gas, drive around to the car wash entrance, enter my code and hope the machine doesn’t quit pulling my car through in the middle of soaping it. But tonight there was a guy at the entrance “pre washing” cars. He scrubbed the tires and applied some more soap to the sides of the car. No, he wasn’t just some random guy; he was standing next to the open supply room door with a brush and two buckets of some soapy substance.

So do I tip him? I go to this car wash so I don’t have to deal with anyone. I fill the tank, get the car washed by a machine and go home. This guy does an unnecessary pre-wash then enters my code for me. He flashes something vaguely resembling a smile and mumbles a thank you. Why do they want this guy there? His presence means the automated system doesn’t have a chance to try and sell me an upgrade to my car wash. And he didn’t try that either.

So did I tip him? Well, no. I can picture this guy telling his wife later, “This guy wearing a sharp black suit and tie, driving a soon-to-be-shiny black car with leather interior just looked at me with a goofy expression on his face and didn’t tip me.” OK, he probably wouldn’t phrase it quite that way, but you get the idea.

Waiter? Yes. Bartender? Yes. Hair stylist? OK, yes. Starbucks/McDonalds counter person? No. Human at an automated car wash? No.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Random Quotes about Friendship

Nobody sees a flower - really - it is so small it takes time - we haven't time - and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time. - Georgia O'Keefe

A true friend is someone who thinks that you are a good egg even though he knows that you are slightly cracked. - Bernard Meltzer

A friend is someone who understands your past, believes in your future and accepts you just the way you are. - Unknown

True friends stab you in the front. - Oscar Wilde

Much of the vitality in a friendship lies in the honouring of differences, not simply in the enjoyment of similarities. - James L. Fredericks

It is by chance that we met, by choice that we became friends. – Unknown

Friends are like bras: close to your heart and there for support. - Unknown

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Flooding In Nashville

Although I’ve only visited Nashville two or three times, I have a strong affinity for the place, partly because I work in country music, their main industry, and partly because I have a few friends who live there. Severe flooding is affecting Music City this weekend. My friends there have posted various Facebook updates about their own issues with power outages and difficulties getting home using flooded Interstate highways.

Here are links to some of the media coverage:



Local TV story.

A CNN story.

Please send some prayers or positive vibes their way.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Day Trip Into DC

I can get to the middle of Washington DC in just over an hour. I've been planning a photographic day trip there for weeks and finally did it today.



CLICK HERE for more DC pictures.

Complex In Its Simplicity

The Vietnam War ended in 1975 but it continues to be a significant, troubling and painful part of our history and stirs up a wide range of conflicting emotions within those who were around when it was being fought.



The Vietnam War Memorial in Washington DC was dedicated in 1982. Although I’ve lived close to DC since two years after that, today is the first day I actually visited the Memorial. I was surprised by my reaction as I stood next to the wall reading just a few of the more than 58,000 names of soldiers who died there: sadness and some tears. There is a chance I know some of those names.


The Wall is simple and black. Nothing on it or near it makes any statement about the War and the conflicting views regarding the War both then and now. It simply states the names of those who gave all because their country asked them to. The Memorial is understated, yet its placement is richly symbolic, located near the Lincoln Memorial and within sight of the Washington Monument. People walk quietly past, some taking pictures, some reading the names, some tracing names of someone they knew.


Nobody needs a Park Service sign to remind them that this is an important and respectful place.