Showing posts from August, 2010

The Count

I love counting, ah ah ah, I need something to count. Oh look, people on the National Mall, ah ah ah. I will count them … one rally participant, ah ah ah, two, ah ah ah, five thousand, ah ah, nine hundred thousand, ah ah, one million, ah ah ah

Crowd estimation is not an exact science. In fact it is so difficult that the National Park Service stopped counting crowds during events on the National Mall in 1997, in part because of the controversy surrounding most counts. Things are very political in DC – shocker, I know.

So I’ve heard many estimates of crowd size for the “it’s not really political” political rally Saturday. One reporter who I assume did not get a second opinion reported 250,000, which sounds like slightly less than the organizer’s figure. Their permit was granted for an estimated 300,000. A spirited Republican Representative said it was a million; that’s her story and she’s sticking to it. Hell, the Million Man March a few years ago didn’t even draw a million. Alth…

More Quotes 4.0

"Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true
wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is
true power."
-- Lao-Tzu

A bend in the road is not the end of the road... unless you fail to make the turn.
~Author Unknown

Our truest life is when we are in our dreams awake.
--Henry David Thoreau

Katrina - One More Post

It is hard to believe Hurricane Katrina was five years ago. There are plenty of TV news specials this week but here are two pictures that in some ways are worth 2,000 words.

This is a side-by-side comparison of my sister's block in New Orleans (left side is a year before the storm, right side is a few days after). The house we grew up in was sitting in ten feet of water for two or three weeks. It took us that long to get any real news about her street. We knew that the city was 80% flooded but we didn't know how badly till we saw this shot on the internet. The water is up to just under the gutter.

This is a more recent aerial view. As you can see, many lots are vacant. Many houses could not be rehabbed, so they were torn down and the owners either can't or won't rebuild at this time. My sister's house is the one in the center. It took two years of stubbornness and determination for her to get back into the house.

New Orleans is still hurting. I'm sharing…

A Guitar, Fire, Beer and Some Friends

Saturday was an awesome day for me, the best day since I played tour guide for a visiting friend a few weeks ago. It started around noon when I met up with several co-workers for a few hours of wine-tasting at a wine festival.

Then later, around sunset, I went to a party with some more co-workers. One of the guests is an up-and-coming country singer named Tyler Toliver. After some conversation and a few beers, our host’s husband lit the fire in this fire pit and Tyler played some songs for us. It was a cool, pleasant evening and just the right amount of friends.

I want every weekend to have a day like this. Am I asking for too much? Just wondering.

The Power of the Buzz

Logic as well as the experts will tell you that it is dangerous to text while driving. Radio and TV ads dramatically point out what should be the obvious … take your eyes off the road and you’re an accident waiting to happen. Texting while driving can lead to serious injury or death, yours or someone else’s. You might think you can multitask like that but you can’t.

I fully understand the temptation, however. It is difficult to ignore a cell phone on vibrate. It demands attention, often at the worst possible moment. Is that a cell phone in your pocket or are you just glad someone is calling you?

Twenty minutes into my fifty-minute commute this afternoon my pocket buzzes. Bzz, bzz. That’s the text message alert. I don’t text with that many people so I have a pretty good idea it is a reply to a text I sent earlier. I want to read it. Texts from this person are usually fun to read. Or it might be from another friend I regularly text and that could be a witty update on life in t…


This Saturday, August 28th, is the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s 1963 “I have a dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC. In many ways, this memorial is sacred ground, a regal tribute to a President whose actions eventually led to making the American dream a reality for all of our citizens. From those steps, as you can see in the picture below, you can see the Washington Monument, a structure built to honor our first President; a structure whose construction had been halted during the Civil War that nearly destroyed our country but a structure that was saved in part because of Lincoln’s determination to save the country. In the distance past the Washington Monument you can see the United States Capitol Building. The view encompasses a broad range of symbols representing what makes our nation great.

This Saturday there will be a rally on those same steps, produced by a radio talk show hack named Glenn and featuring a former state governor and wannabe…

We’re Traffic Wimps

I encounter a traffic jam nearly every day and I whine about it a lot. My commute is fifty minutes each way when there is no traffic; it is typically 60 to 70 minutes each way on a ‘normal’ day. The longest since I moved to where I live was just over three hours into work one morning a few years ago.

But that is nothing compared to the one in China this week. Actually, it has been underway for more than a week. This one is in its 10th day and the backup is 62 miles long! Those are not typos. Here are a couple of stories relating to the mess. The first has very peaceful music as a background. The second has more details.

Click Here for a CNN story.

Lyrics That Get Right To the Point

315 channels of nothing but bad news on
Well it might be me
But the way I see it
The whole wide world has gone crazy.
So baby why don´t we just dance?
-- sung by Josh Turner

Chillin and Grillin

I often spend so much time in climate-controlled environments that I forget how nice it is to be outdoors. With the exception of a pleasant evening on the patio of a restaurant in Chevy Chase recently, I haven’t had food or drink outside since spring. I regularly cook on my grill, but then I bring the food inside and eat in the den.

This afternoon I broke part of the pattern. Temps were in the 80s, the coolest it has been in all summer, and there was a cooling breeze, so I ate my meal on my patio.

Spending time outdoors was the norm growing up, even though I lived in the hot, humid deep south. Our house didn’t have air conditioning till after I moved out in college and our family cars weren’t air conditioned either. We survived with fans and open windows.

So today I took advantage of the incorrect forecast (they had predicted rain) and did some outside chillaxin’.

An Anniversary but NOT a Celebration

August 29th will mark the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s assault on the Louisiana and Mississippi Gulf Coast. I visited New Orleans six weeks after the storm to have a funeral for my Mother, who died right after the evacuation, and to help my sister clean up her damaged house. I hadn’t discovered blogging yet but I did start a journal and published the original entries on a family web site. As I searched for those notes today I realize I began my first blog six months after Katrina and I posted some Katrina commentary near the first anniversary of the storm. Here is a journal entry for one day and a few pictures I took that week.

After seven weeks of saturation coverage, much of America is tired of Katrina. The hurricane recovery is no longer front page news or the lead story. But in New Orleans the nightmare of her aftermath has just begun.

My sister owns and lives in the 50-year old house in Lakeview where she and I grew up. It is about a mile from the 17th Street Canal of lev…

Random Friendship Quotes

I’d explain why I’m so obsessed with quotes like these, but I don’t really have to, do I?

A good friend is a connection to life - a tie to the past, a road to the future, the key to sanity in a totally insane world.
~ Lois Wyse

Friends are those rare people who ask how you are and then wait for the answer.
~ Author Unknown

True friendship comes when silence between two people is comfortable.
~ Dave Tyson Gentry

You can always tell a real friend: when you've made a fool of yourself he doesn't feel you've done a permanent job.
~ Laurence J. Pete

Friendship isn't a big thing - it's a million little things.
~ Author Unknown

Friendship... is not something you learn in school. But if you haven't learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven't learned anything.
~ Muhammad Ali

The road to a friend's house is never long.
~ Danish Proverb

Advertising Lullaby

A friend who commented on yesterday's post said it reminded her of George Carlin. That reminded me of this Carlin monologue. I make commercials for a living and my team encourages advertisers to break away from stereotypes and clichés. Sometimes we play this video to make our point.

Carlin was a linguistic genius!


If you’ve ever wondered why English is such a difficult language for people to learn, read this … until the'll laugh! I don’t know the original source of this, otherwise I’d properly note it. A friend who knows I like this stuff sent it to me. I’m sharing.

This two-letter word in English has more meanings than any other two-letter word, and that word is 'UP.' It is listed in the
dictionary as an [adv], [prep], [adj], [n] or [v].

It's easy to understand UP, meaning toward the sky
or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we
wake UP?

At a meeting, why does a topic come UP? Why do
we speak UP, and why are the officers UP for
election and why is it UP to the secretary to
write UP a report? We call UP our friends,
brighten UP a room, polish UP the
silver, warm UP the leftovers and clean UP the kitchen. We
lock UP the house and
fix UP the old car.

At other times this little word has real special
meaning. People stir UP trouble,
line …

Fearless Women

Women all over the United States should be celebrating today. In fact, August 18th should be a National Holiday. On August 18, 1920 the Tennessee legislature became the 35th state to ratify the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution, giving women the right to vote.

Several things surprise me about this. First, the vote was close. The amendment needed to be ratified by 35 states to take effect. The vote in the Tennessee House was tied in the first two rounds. On the third vote, a young legislator changed his vote because his mother sent him a letter telling him it was the right thing to do. Of course it was!

Which brings me to my second surprise: why was this ever an issue? It is hard to believe that women did not have the right to vote for the first 140-plus years of the existence of this country.

My third surprise? That this right was granted in 1920. I thought it had been many decades before that. This means that women did not have the right to vote in elections in the earl…

Random Stuff I Wonder About

Car key fobs use radio frequencies to do what they do. What would happen to radio and TV stations if everyone in the USA hit the car open button at the same time?
If the postal service really does run out of money and stops delivering mail will trash collection and recycling companies also go out of business?
Do you know more about your co-workers from what they tell you about their lives in person every day at work or from what you read on their Facebook pages?
If you’ve already had your 40th birthday, do you remember how old that seemed on your 20th? Did your kids give you a cake with the words ‘payback time’ written on it in low-fat, cholesterol-free black frosting?
Is there really a baby boom nine months after a local multi-day blizzard? When did snow become an aphrodisiac?
Why do people who live only a few blocks from a gym drive there?

Crosby Stills Nash and Tom

The legends can still sing! Crosby Stills and Nash are on tour with Tom Petty and I saw the show last night. Good show.

What impressed me the most is that CSN can still sing those great harmonies, although the key is nearly an octave lower than back in the day. Stephen Stills guitar playing might be even better than back when. Boomers know all the songs but the overall sound has been modernized so it appeals to a younger crowd too. In this case, ‘younger’ is relative because the average age seemed to be mid 40s and I saw more gray hair than I see at most concerts. Even though their most famous songs date back to the late 60s through the early 80s, their show is not a throwback to that era.

Tom Petty has been around quite awhile too, but he keeps things fairly fresh. He recorded new music this year and played four songs from the new album, but the real audience response came when he played the familiar hit songs. The real hit song part of his career ran from the late 70s to the e…

Could You Handle It?

What would your life be like if you went from being a twentysomething living with your parents in subsidized housing in a mid-sized southern town to being financially rich beyond your wildest imagination in just under two years? Could you handle it? Would you have the discipline to remain the essential person you were before your newfound wealth? How would you react if you suddenly could have anything you ever wanted for yourself and your family and be surrounded by people who never said no to you?

This is not an infomercial nor is it the story of someone who became successful after purchasing a wealth-building program from an infomercial. The scenario I just described is the story of Elvis Presley.

In the early 1950s, he and his family were living in government-subsidized housing in a poor part of Memphis. Elvis held various jobs including driving a delivery truck. His passion, talent and dreams involved music, however, and he spent time on famous Beale Street soaking in the wide …

To Build or Not To Build

A friend who doesn’t usually discuss politics with me asked me recently what I thought about plans to build a mosque near the site of the September 11th terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York. I gave my usual complicated, multi-tiered answer: Muslims have a right to build it but it seems inappropriate, not because they are Muslim but because I don’t think there should be any religious structure there.

I hadn’t heard of the plan till she asked me the question. In the two weeks since, I’ve heard about it many times as it has grown into a polarizing Religion-Politics-Media story, with the usual associated misrepresented mixing of opinions and facts.

I just read an online article with the headline “President Obama Supports Ground Zero Mosque.” The article, however, quotes the President as saying he believes Muslims have the right to practice their religion and to build a place of worship on private property in accordance with local laws. I agree totally with that. But …


My rediscovered love of live music is reaching a new level in some ways. Since I started assertively acting on this, I have discovered artists I had never seen or in some cases even heard of, rediscovered some old favorites and found friends with similar interests. I have also broken out of my habit of only going to shows where I get free tickets as part of my media job. Now that I actually spend money on some concerts, I see a greater variety of live music, in both small and large venues.
I mentioned Farm Aid in my last post. There is a slight chance I’ll get free tickets to that one … very slight. If I buy them, they will be the most expensive tickets I’ve ever purchased. The nosebleed seats are $49 each and I’m not a fan of upper deck seats at baseball stadiums, especially at those prices; most seats for that show are twice that, plus service charges. Ouch! They go on sale tomorrow. I haven’t even made travel arrangements yet because I don’t even know if the event that is actually t…

Event vs. Event

So here is a collision of personal interests: there is a possible reunion of the original staff of a radio station I helped start in Milwaukee years ago. Tentative date is October 2nd. I just learned that this year’s Farm Aid Concert is also in Milwaukee on that same day. Their lineup includes regulars like Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp and Neil Young AND others I like a lot including Dave Matthews and Kenny Chesney. Chesney is not touring this year so that’ll be one of his few appearances anywhere. Norah Jones and Jason Mraz are also on the bill. Geez!

I really want to see my old workmates, most of whom I haven’t seen since the early 80s. And there is a chance the reunion will include a public thing for some of our old listeners, many of whom joined a Facebook group related to that station … specifically 530 have joined that group. I guess a few people remember us.

But I also want to see that concert if I can.

Decisions, decisions! I’ll keep you posted.

Let's Have Some Pun

When I don't have anything to say myself I reprint things other people say or send me. I don't know the original source of these, but the friend who sent them says they are winners in a pun contest. Enjoy!

1. A vulture boards an airplane, carrying two dead raccoons. The stewardess looks at him and says, "I'm sorry, sir, only one carrion allowed per passenger."

2. Two fish swim into a concrete wall. One turns to the other and says "Dam!"

3. Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly, so they lit a fire in the craft. Unsurprisingly it sank, proving once again that you can't have your kayak and heat it too.

4. Two hydrogen atoms meet. One says, "I've lost my Electron." The other asks "Are you sure?" The first replies, "Yes, I'm positive."

5. Did you hear about the Buddhist who refused Novocain during a root canal? His goal: transcend dental medication.

6. A group of chess enthusiasts checked into a hotel and were …

Random Friend Quotes

Keep away from those who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you believe that you too can become great.
-- Mark Twain

Life is partly what we make it and partly what it is made by the friends we choose.
-- Tennessee Williams

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”
-- C. S. Lewis

Another Silly Photo Thing

I shot a few random photos of my weekend. As usual, I tried to mix a little fun with the mundane stuff. Click here to see the other pictures.

It’s Starting To Work

I have been more determined about workouts and healthy eating lately and it is finally starting to show … a little. In the battle of the gym vs. the vending machine, the score is now Gym 21 - Vending Machine 4.

Food and psychology are often connected and I recently discovered that when I have some kind of emotional setback during the day, I instinctively head for the vending machine. On a good day, I hit the adjacent water cooler instead.

My weight today is the second-lowest this year. My lowest in twenty years was three days BEFORE Thanksgiving Day last November; I need to lose six more pounds to tie that number.

My overall shape is starting to improve, although if I were to use the words six-pack and abs in the same sentence, it would still be more about a certain liquid refreshment than about fitness. Time to get more serious about the cardio part of my plan.

Oh look, it’s almost lunch time. Gotta go. Spinach chick pea salad, here I come!

I Am A Lucky Man

Someone who is close to me and is soon to be not close had a scare this week. She found a lump during a breast self-exam. Naturally it scared the shit out of her and me too, despite the fact that I am driving the ‘soon to be not so close’ part. I’m talking in circles for privacy reasons. I reached out to two friends (and would have reached out further if needed because I have many awesome friends). These two female friends, both of whom are very special to me as friends, were supportive in positive ways I just have no words for. One is a breast cancer survivor and one is a very smart life survivor.

For two days the ‘close to me’ person went from her calm and investigative frame of mind to her “I’m trying not to be scared but I am” mood. I was as supportive as I could be under the conflicting circumstances.

The best phone call I got all week was the one from her this afternoon during which she told me it isn’t cancer. I immediately shared that news with the two supportive friends …

My Fave DMB Song

This man often writes lyrics that appeal to a dreamer like me. I am an unapologetic dreamer with a track record for bringing dreams to life. There are parts of this song that appeal to both my idealistic side and my realistic side. I can’t get enough of this song. Click play and watch it with me.

Wanna pack your bags, something small, take what you need
and we disappear without a trace we’ll be gone, gone
You and I, we’re not tied to the ground
Not falling but rising like rolling around
Eyes closed above the rooftops
Eyes closed, we’re gonna spin through the stars
Our arms wide as the sky
We gonna ride the blue all the way to the end of the world, to the end of the world.
You and me together, we could do anything baby


I have awesome friends!

That's all. I might explain what prompted this at some later date.

A Silly Photo Thing

I love photography. As part of my ongoing photographic skill development, I invent self-assignments. Last Saturday's task was to document a day in my life. I took my camera everywhere I went and took a few pictures. Most of it is pretty mundane, except for the Brooks & Dunn concert Saturday night.

The pictures aren't very good either, but in this case, the idea was to shoot the ordinary. This crappy pic is in the locker room at my gym. Check my photo blog for the other shots, most of which are better than this one.

Brooks and Dunn and Dave

My live music adventure continued on two of the past three weekends with concerts starring superstars from two different genres.

Sunday night I saw country music duo Brooks & Dunn on their final appearance in this area. They are calling it quits as a duo and are nearing the end of their farewell tour. I actually got to spend fifteen or twenty minutes with them before the show and I honestly do believe their press releases. The split is amicable and well thought out. They feel they have run their course as a duo and leave their twenty-year career at the top of their game, with a body of work that includes iconic hit songs from 1992 all the way into 2010. I can’t say this for certain, but my best guess is that we’ll see solo work from each of them someday and don’t be surprised if they continue their collaboration in the future.

The concert was awesome, maybe the best of the six or seven of theirs that I’ve seen. They were relaxed and clearly having fun. They performed a solid two ho…

Two Great Quotes

My Facebook friends are on a roll today with quotes. These were not actually sent to me but they definitely speak to me and I'd like to share ...

When the power of love is greater than the love of power the world will know peace.
-- Jimi Hendrix

‎'There's no reason to feel the least bit guilty about enjoying life. You are here to see beauty, feel love, and delight in all of it. There is also unique joy to be found in challenges and working through them. Fully experience the ups and downs that come from passionately following your purpose. The more you enjoy your own life, the more joy you have to give others.'
-- Ralph Marston