Monday, August 30, 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. Although the Park Service doesn’t officially estimate any more, their unofficial guess was 300,000 – 325,000.

A professional crowd-count company hired by CBS estimated 87,000 and their own stated margin of error allows for the possibility that is was as little as 78,000 and as much as 96,000. I’m betting that was closer to the truth, but I also would not dispute 200,000. A million? That’s pure bullshit!

Metro ridership might be another indicator of crowd size. What I’ve heard: it was extremely crowded, but not as much as the first Clinton inauguration day and not nearly as much as on Obama’s inauguration. I’ll go with those. Ah ah ah.

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

Sunday, August 29, 2010

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 this as a reminder on a very personal level. Devastation can happen anywhere.

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.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

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 the deep south. Or it might be a text from work alerting me to a problem that needs my attention. Or it might just be a text from my dentist’s new appointment reminder service.

But I’m driving, slowly because it’s afternoon rush, but moving just the same. I have to actually argue with myself … should I reach for the phone to see who is texting me? Then do I read it? Is 20 mph slow enough to do this safely? Hell NO!!! You’ve heard the ads, you’ve seen the statistics! If it’s the first person I mentioned, the reply was hours after the original text so a reply from me can wait till I’m home. If it’s from the second person, that can wait too; texting with that friend is usually just a once a week thing. If it’s from work and it’s immediate, it would have been a voice call, which is slightly safer to handle while driving than a text.

So I wisely waited. But the temptation was definitely there. The power of the buzz is strong.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Insensitive

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 national political leader named Sarah. Sarah recently spoke out against the proposed Islamic center to be built two blocks from the former site of the World Trade Center complex that was destroyed by terrorists nine years ago. She said “…this is an insensitive move by those Muslims that want to build a mosque in this location … That feels like a stab in the heart collectively of Americans who still have that lingering pain from 9/11.”

A Facebook friend of mine made an interesting rebuttal to that. He says: “The insensitivity is accepting all Muslims to be terrorists.” Some Muslims are terrorists but most are not! Do we condemn all Christians as a result of the acts of that 'Christian' terrorist organization called the Ku Klux Klan?

Of course our Constitution allows freedom of speech, which means that a special place like the steps of the Lincoln Memorial can be the site for a civil rights rally in 1963, a “restore honor” rally in 2010 and probably rallies by Islamic groups and the KKK. They all have the right to say what they say and we all have the right to listen or not listen.

So I find this rather disturbing. There is a website with information for potential attendees of this rally outlining visitor suggestions for their stay in DC. Mixed in with restaurant recommendations and other practical information is the following notes about Metro, the DC area subway system:

If you are on the subway stay on the Red line between Union Station and Shady Grove, Maryland. If you are on the Blue or Orange line do not go past Eastern Market (Capitol Hill) toward the Potomac Avenue stop and beyond; stay in NW DC and points in Virginia. Do not use the Green line or the Yellow line. These rules are even more important at night. There is of course nothing wrong with many other areas; but you don't know where you are, so you should not explore them.

If you’re a regular on Metro, you’ll see that the areas they suggest avoiding all have predominately African-American residents. Draw your own conclusion; I’ve drawn mine.

This group’s brand of fear-mongering is an affront to my sensibilities but if Glenn and Sarah want to have their insensitive rally on the same steps of Dr. King’s speech on the anniversary of that event, let them. It is their right. I’ll be busy exercising my right to celebrate my freedom with some friends at a Maryland wine-tasting event.

God bless America! … all of it and everyone in it!
====================

Back to the Islamic Center near the WTC site in New York for a second. In case you didn’t know, the reconstructed part of the Pentagon, which was also destroyed on 9-11, includes a non-denominational prayer room dedicated to those who died that day. It is IN the Pentagon and open to all faiths. I understand there are two daily Muslim prayer meetings regularly scheduled in that room. Here are stories about the room:



And Click Here for an ABC story on the prayer room.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

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.

Monday, August 23, 2010

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

Sunday, August 22, 2010

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 levee break fame. The entire neighborhood was flooded and sat in 10 feet of water for more than 3 weeks. No home was spared, none are currently inhabitable and many will be a total loss.

My little part in the recovery effort is to help clean out the house.



The house after the first day of cleanup. This was just a small part of the flood-damaged contents.


The worst part is the smell. I could mention the devastation; describe the toppled trees, water-logged abandoned cars and mounds of ruined personal belongings piled next to the brown shrubbery. I could help you picture the water line as it painted stripes across the little white house a few inches below the top of the front door. You might share my tears as I bag bundles of wet clothes and muck-covered remnants of photos spanning five decades.

But nothing is worse than the odor.

The smell of wet decomposing leaves is similar but far more tolerable than the scent of a lifetime of paper, clothes, furniture and wet carpet that has been saturated with the muddy, brackish water of Lake Pontchartrain that spilled through the levee.

I smell it in the house, near other houses; sometimes a breeze sends it my way as I stand in the dusty yard changing into my clean clothes (hey, whose watching? I’m alone on this block today). The minivan interior absorbs the aroma during a 30-minute ride to my cousin’s suburban home where I promptly place the jeans and long-sleeve t-shirt in the washer. Last night I woke up with that scent in my nostrils. Just looking at photos of the house tricks my nose into acknowledging the stench.

New Orleans used to smell like magnolias, hot sauce and chicory. Now mold is the signature scent of this ghost town.





The kitchen after the water receeded. The china cabinet floated around then settled as you see it but many dishes remained unbroken. There is a table under that rubble.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

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

Friday, August 20, 2010

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 clich├ęs. Sometimes we play this video to make our point.



Carlin was a linguistic genius!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Linguistics

If you’ve ever wondered why English is such a difficult language for people to learn, read this … until the end.....you'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 UP for tickets, work UP an appetite, and think UP excuses.

To be dressed is one thing but to be dressed UP is
special.
And this UP is confusing: A
drain must be opened UP because it is stopped UP.

We open UP a store in the morning but we close it UP at
night. We seem to be pretty mixed UP about UP !

To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of UP, look UP the word UP in the dictionary.. In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes UP almost 1/4 of the page and can add UP to about thirty definitions

If you are UP to it, you might try building UP a list of the many ways UP is used. It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don't give UP, you may
wind UP with a hundred or more.

When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding UP. When the sun comes out
we say it is clearing UP. When it rains, it soaks UP the earth. When it does not rain for awhile, things dry UP. One could go on & on, but I'll wrap
it UP, for now ........my time is UP!

Oh....one more thing:
What is the first thing you
do in the morning & the last thing you do at
night?

U
P !

Did that one crack you UP?

Don't screw UP. Send this on to everyone you look UP in your address
book..or not...it's UP to you.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

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 early lifetime of some grandmothers and mothers of some readers of this blog.

The whole women’s suffrage movement began with a group of fearless women in Seneca Falls, New York in 1848. They had the radical belief that women were equal to men. Ya think?! We take that for granted now, at least most of us do, but the common belief prior to that era was that women were somehow lesser beings than men.

I think I’m just beginning to realize why my mother took Election Day so seriously during her lifetime. She was a strong woman privately, but always publicly deferred to Dad’s decisions, as was the norm in her generation. But in spirit and in behind-the-scenes actions and words, she was very equal. She just didn’t let anyone know it out loud. Maybe I sensed her strength and that feeling influenced me into adulthood. My boss is female and so is her boss. I am completely comfortable with that. It never occurred to me to feel any other way.

Another election season is upon us in most of the country. These are primarily local elections but maybe they are the most important. Exercise your right to vote; especially if you are a woman. And Happy Anniversary!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

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?

Monday, August 16, 2010

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 early 90s but he has never stopped recording.



This was a good solid show, but not the best I’ve seen this year. The bar is pretty high when it comes to my definition of what makes a great concert. My favorites from the past three or four years: Dave Matthews Band for the mind-blowing awesome musicianship, Keith Urban for the musicianship and connection with the audience, Brad Paisley for the same reasons, Brooks & Dunn for the profound simplicity as well as audience connection, Sugarland because they connect and they’re clearly having fun and Tommy Castro for the musicianship and fun factor. In looking back over all the concerts I’ve ever seen, however, nobody tops Springsteen’s shows from the 1980s.

OK, that’s all. No profound conclusion or witty ending. It was a good show.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

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 range of music being performed in that legendary part of town. He started singing in 1954 and by 1956 was the most popular and famous singer in the country.

Over the next twenty one years, he became an icon in addition to being a singer, songwriter, actor, father and walking health disaster. He owned houses, horses, guns, motorcycles, cars and an airplane. He acted in 33 movies. Early in his career he set records with record sales and in his later years his record sales decreased but demand for his concerts increased. And his addiction to drugs increased too; prescription drugs mostly. Nobody told him no.

By many accounts, Elvis was generous. He spent lavishly on friends and family. He did what he could to put on spectacular shows despite his mostly self-inflicted health problems. He still had hit songs and sold-out concerts into 1977, his last year alive. His estate is a major tourist attraction as well as a museum frozen in time; it will no doubt be crowded tomorrow, the 33rd anniversary of his death. Many rooms in the house are open to the public but the bathroom where he passed out and died is not.

Could he handle the fame and fortune? Barely. Was he still the essential person he began as? I think that deep down, he was, but there was so much spin around his life that it is hard to tell truth from image.

I am too young for his music to have been part of my formative years, but exposure to his music over the past couple of decades has led me to appreciate his talent. There is something authentic at the heart of his music and he lives on in those songs. If some network plays his 1968 ‘comeback’ special, spend some time with it; it’s worth watching. That was a better time in his life.

---------------------------------------------------
Here are two clips from sessions that eventually became his 1968 special. He has fun and makes fun of himself in the first one and shows a more serious side in the second.



Saturday, August 14, 2010

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 I do not see the President’s remarks as showing support for the mosque; I see his statements as showing supporting for religious rights as well as zoning rights. But the sensasionalist headline gets attention.

The same article noted the predictable reactions of Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich, who oppose the mosque by saying that building it so close to that site is an affront to the memory of those who died in the terrorist attacks. I totally disagree with their reasoning. Many terrorists this century have been Muslims but most Muslims are NOT terrorists! Their comments tell me that they think the Islam religion is responsible for the attacks and deaths. Not so. The responsibility lies with a minority of Muslims who have twisted the principles of their own faith to suit other needs.

So should they build it there? I say no. But I also say that no specific place of worship representing any specific religious belief should be built there. People who visit that site and view it as hallowed ground should honor it in their own private manner.

Should they be allowed to build it there? I say yes. Any developer who complies with zoning laws and building codes should be allowed to build there. The previous occupant of that property was a factory outlet store.

But if that Islamic group goes through with their plans they should be ready to face the inevitable difficulties relating to the sentiments expressed by Palin and Gingrich. While Palin and Gingrich make their points with words, as is their right, you know someone will try to make points using more violent means, a form of terrorism, for example, and it is likely those individuals will profess to be Christians. If that happens, my first thought will be that some terrorists are Christians but most Christians are NOT terrorists.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Meanwhile


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 the reason for a trip to Milwaukee is confirmed. I guess I have twelve hours to decide what to do.


Meanwhile, there are two big-deal concerts in my area this weekend. Both are at the venue I love to hate … a great venue once you get there but traffic is usually a nightmare going and coming. So I had already decided to pass on the country music show Saturday night because I’ve already seen the headliner and both opening acts and didn’t want to fight the traffic to see them again.


Then a co-worker said he had an extra ticket to the Sunday night show and invited me to go with him. There is also a pre-party with free BBQ and beer. Oh, who’s playing? Tom Petty and Crosby, Stills & Nash! Back in my rock DJ days I played songs by them hundreds if not thousands of times but I have never seen them live. I still turn the radio up for at least a few songs by each. And the invite includes a ride there so I don’t even have to deal with the stress of the commute, at least not as a driver.


Let the good live music times roll. I am very lucky. I’ll give y’all a full report next week.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

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.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

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 standing in the lobby discussing their recent tournament victories. After about an hour, the manager came out of the office and asked them to disperse. "But why?" they asked, as they moved off. "Because," he said, "I can't stand chess-nuts boasting in an open foyer."

7. A woman has twins and gives them up for adoption. One of them goes to Spain , they name him 'Juan'; the other went to a family in Egypt and is named 'Ahmal.' Years later, Juan sends a picture of himself to his birth mother. Upon receiving the picture, she tells her husband that she wishes she also had a picture of Ahmal. Her husband responds, "They're twins! If you've seen Juan, you've seen Ahmal."

8. A group of friars were behind on their belfry payments, so they opened up a small florist shop to raise funds. Since everyone liked to buy flowers from the men of God, a rival florist across town thought the competition was unfair. He asked the good fathers to close down, but they would not. He went back and begged the friars to close. They ignored him. So, the rival florist hired Hugh MacTaggart, the roughest and most vicious thug in town to 'persuade' them to close. Hugh beat up the friars and trashed their store, saying he'd be back if they didn't close up shop. Terrified, they did so, thereby proving that only Hugh can prevent florist friars.

9. Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot most of the time, which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very little, which made him rather frail and, with his odd diet, he suffered from bad breath. This made him (this is so bad, it's good) a super calloused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.

Monday, August 9, 2010

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

Sunday, August 8, 2010

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!

Friday, August 6, 2010

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 and got wonderful “I’m happy for you and her” responses.

If the news had been bad, it would have been awful for the obvious reasons and for reasons I won’t explain here. One of my conflicts was feeling a little guilty for the possibility that bad news could have interrupted the ‘soon to be not so close part’ of this story. I would have delayed my inevitable actions to help her through this, if that had been necessary. I felt bad for having the conflict but I felt good for knowing I would have done the right thing.

This scare reinforced two things for me. First, I am a lucky man to have the friends I have. The two I mentioned here will be among my best friends for the rest of my life and I love them both on so many levels. I feel the same way about the other friends I would have reached out to if the situation had developed differently. Second, that Tim McGraw song “Live Like You Were Dying” keeps playing in my head. The simple synopsis is this: carpe diem. Live for today. Live like it was your last day. Do the things you keep putting off because there might be no tomorrow.

I know I will continue to be a somewhat overcautious geek about some things. But my feelings during the last two days have reinforced the keywords of my self-discovery journey: play and simplify. I will do more of both and concentrate a little more on the idea that today could be the last day. If I knew I only had a couple of days to live, what would I do then that I don’t normally do? I’d drive eight hours east and south and plant a big, sweet wet one on the beautiful lips of one of those friends then I’d drive sixteen more hours south and do the same with the other, a friend I’ve had most of my life. It’s the most affectionate thing I know how to do and I wouldn’t over-think it for a second.

What’s going on here tonight? A couple of “I really mean it” hugs. That’s exactly the right action.

The main point of all this? I am a very lucky man to have such awesome friends.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

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

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Awesomeness

I have awesome friends!

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

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

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.

Monday, August 2, 2010

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 hours of hit after hit, showing off their singing, songwriting and sense of humor through every minute. The audience loved it all.


Brooks & Dunn run the whole gamut of country music, from ballads to rocking country to dancing country to spiritual songs. Their songs are about real life, in some cases their own lives, and tell songs about life, love, drinking, sorrow and joy. Their musicianship is outstanding but the stories and how they are told sum up their real strength.


Two weekends ago I saw a concert that was awesome on several completely different levels… the Dave Matthews Band. It was my second time seeing them but the first time accompanied by the dear friend who first convinced me to pay attention to Dave’s music. Seeing this concert through her eyes gives it a different perspective.


For me, the musicianship of DMB is what impresses me the most. They are f-ing awesome! I don’t know if I have a better way to express it. I have seen hundreds of live music performances in my life and I have never seen a group of musicians who can perform so solidly. Their music takes complex, intricate journeys across genre boundaries; it is wrapped in rock but shows off jazz, folk, South African, classical and a touch of country. They are the ultimate “jam band” because they can take off in many directions during an extended song yet end up back at the core of the song without missing a note or a beat.


I am only now beginning to connect with the lyrical side of Dave Matthews. Unlike country songs, where the message is ‘in your face’ simple, Dave’s songs leave you guessing or they chart a linguistic path that only his own mind and that of his most fanatic fans can ascertain. I’m OK with that; figuring out what the hell he is talking about gives me reason to listen some more. The songs that I do understand are very powerful (I even have a favorite now) and cover topics from social observation to love to sex. And some of his songs even paint pictures of possible futures for the subjects of the songs; painting dreams happens to be one of my favorite pastimes.


One more observation I made about the Dave Matthews Band to my friend after that show: these guys must be from another planet with superhuman powers. They played for nearly two hours on a stage at center field of a baseball stadium on one of the hottest days this summer but saved their most difficult song/jam for the end of the show. Twenty minutes of the most incredible jamming you can imagine!


There are several more concerts on my agenda for this year but I don’t how any will top these two.

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