Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Book Review - “Rescuing Olivia”

A writer called me a writer! That is an awesome feeling. I’ll explain in a moment.

As far as I know, only three professional, working writers have visited this blog or its predecessor: Ian, an aspiring writer who has published at least one novel but who still has a ‘real job’ to support his family; my friend Carol, who writes many things, including magazine articles, and who first encouraged me to blog; and most recently Julie, a lawyer and novelist who lives in Florida.

Julie Compton’s first visit was to comment on my post about Dave Matthews. She is a big DMB fan and stumbled onto my rave review of his concert in DC in July. I responded with a comment on a post she wrote about meeting Dave and while I was on her blog noticed an ad for her recently published second novel. I read reviews on both of her books and decided to buy the new one.

So, my review …

“Rescuing Olivia” is a great psychological adventure love story drama, with twists and turns that often begin as a bit improbable yet develop into completely believable milestones on the road to complex character development.

I especially like the parallel story lines from the present and the past and how they ultimately converge, revealing and explaining intricate personality traits of the two main characters and at least seven more major players. Along the way, there are vivid descriptions of both geography and culture in widely divergent locations from Florida to New England to Africa. You’ll also find motorcycle riding, lovemaking, a bar fight, rich vs. poor and tests of loyalty and friendship.

The author keeps you guessing, too. Although I figured out the basic end before I got there, I loved all the surprises, right up through the last three sentences.

Buy the book! I used Amazon; her web site has links to more options.

Now the writer part … when I commented on Julie Compton’s Dave story, her reply comment included this ego-boosting sentence:

I remember you were a writer, too, which was ironic since I found your blog because of the DMB connection, not the writing connection.

I’m not sure exactly what gave her the idea that I am a writer but it certainly feels good for a real writer to say I’m one too. I am a writer in the sense that my full time job includes writing, although I mostly write radio commercials. I also write interview questions for a radio show, posts for several personal blogs and the occasional poem. Writing a book is on my bucket list.

However, I am definitely a story-teller and that is certainly where writing a book begins.

For now, I am happy to be corresponding with a writer who makes part of her living as a creative story-teller.

Moving Quotes

Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.
~ Unknown

We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.
~ Walt Disney

If what you are doing is not moving you towards your goals, then it's moving you away from your goals.
~ Brian Tracy

The present is the ever moving shadow that divides yesterday from tomorrow. In that lies hope.
~ Frank Lloyd Wright

Courage is not the absence of fear, but simply moving on with dignity despite that fear.
~ Pat Riley

If you don't design your own life plan, chances are you'll fall into someone else's plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.
~ Jim Rohn

Monday, September 27, 2010

Randomania

I’m usually a shoes and socks guy but I’ve been wearing flip flops a lot for the past few weeks. After wearing them most of Sunday I put on shoes and socks to go to the gym and it actually felt odd.

What the hell is that punch dub shit when you see a VW? Don’t ever do that to me, OK? And why do they think that ad strategy would lead someone to buy a VW?

Fall is usually my favorite season, partly for the color and cooler temps and partly because it represents a psychological prelude to recharging life. I am happy that it has arrived.

Rain is a good thing for many reasons; there is even a popular country song that lists them. Visit a friend’s recent blog post for a short, eloquent example of how rain also has a calming, therapeutic effect sometimes.

My favorite NASCAR driver won at Dover yesterday. Last year, Jimmie Johnson was the points champion for the 4th consecutive year, setting a record. No one expected him to make it five, but as of yesterday he is #2, which means he might do it again.

My mood has been in peaks and valleys lately, mostly valleys. Saturday night it was more like a smelly ditch. But Sunday I was in a pretty good mood; I don’t know why but I’m celebrating the little things in life. I am determined to make this a good week and to make progress on three things that are very important to me right now. Wish me luck … even though luck has nothing to do with it … the key to progress is determination and action. Luck doesn’t hurt though.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Some New Photos

I took this last Sunday at the Georgetown Waterfront Park. Visit my photo blog to see some more shots from that day.

Welcome Back To My Dream

For years I’ve been talking about hiking into the Grand Canyon. The idea first hit me ten years ago this month, during my only visit there. I remember my surprisingly emotional response to the sight at both the North Rim and the South Rim like it was yesterday. Words and pictures cannot adequately describe the sight and the feeling.

Most of that trip involved photography but I did walk about a half mile down one of the trails and decided right then to eventually hike all the way to the Colorado River. Life gets in the way sometimes and it has remained just a dream. At the beginning of my self-discovery journey last year, the dream resurfaced and I even set a target date for the adventure. For a variety of personal reasons that date has been pushed back again, but this morning the whole idea came into sharper focus again.

The stimulus for this dream rebirth was a video called Backpack the Grand Canyon, a DVD I bought two months ago but finally watched this morning. It ranks as one of the best 90 minutes I’ve spent this year. Watching the images and advice from real people who have hiked many parts of the Canyon inspired me to start planning again.

One of the most impressive aspects of the video is that the narrator and his hiking partners are all clearly over 50 and much as I hate to admit it, so am I. They are not professional athletes or even pro hikers; they are regular people who had the same dream I have and took the necessary steps to live it. They are realistic about the challenges of such a hike but also excited to tell of the rewards.

The two or three friends I would most like to share my adventure with are reluctant to join me; I appreciate their honesty. I do not want to do this alone, however, so I’ll need to expand my circle of friends over the next couple of years. That’s not a bad thing. I do have a co-worker who is interested but he is twenty years younger than I am and in much better shape. He is more of a risk-taker than I am, but things can change.

My specific vision includes hiking the Bright Angel trail from the South Rim down to Phantom Ranch, stay two nights in a cabin there and hike back out the same way I go in. The video participants were mostly backpack campers but my dream includes just a bit more comfort.

I believe in dreaming big and this is a pretty big one. My other big travel dream involves Italy. I will definitely do both, just not as soon as I’d like. Patience sucks, doesn’t it?

More updates later. CLICK HERE for more info about the video that re-energized my dream.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Random People – The Waitress

I enjoy watching people do their jobs, especially when they are good at what they do. I have been complaining about bad customer service for years and I pay plenty of attention to people who work in those fields, especially restaurants. I have been a bartender and a food server myself and I’ve been a DJ in many bars, so I know good waiting and bartending when I see it. In other words, I’m an annoying semi-expert on this topic.

Recently I had dinner and drinks with some co-workers at a restaurant/bar in Rockville (a DC suburb). Our waitress was especially good. She found us as soon as we seated ourselves at a table in the bar area; our original plan was to wait till our name was called for the regular dining area, but we decided to stick with the bar. Our waitress chatted with us, recommended menu items, took our drinks orders, did not rush us, took our meal orders, THEN told us her name. A very successful waiter I knew years ago told me that was one of his tip-enhancing techniques. He said customers are initially focused on the menu and don’t remember the waiter’s name if spoken then. But they are more likely to remember it and feel a connection if the name is mentioned after taking the order because that is when they are most focused on the waiter.

Ashley checked our table every time she walked by but did not bug us each time. She also made brief eye contact with each of us at various walk-bys, looking for indicators that we might want something. Through the evening, she smiled nearly every time she made eye contact with me, but it was clear she was not flirting (damn!). I saw genuine friendliness and attentiveness to her job, two things I always expect from a waitress and two things I often do not get.

She remembered things too. I passed on a third beer and offered the explanation that I had a long drive home. Thirty minutes later, when we finally closed out our tab, she said good night to each of us and reminded me to be careful on my long drive home. That was a little thing, but beyond the expected, especially considering how many tables she was handling.

And I will remember something too … next time I go to that restaurant I’ll ask if we can be seated at one of Ashley’s tables.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Random People - Counting Languages

Washington DC is truly an international city, partly because of the wide range of people whose family origins represent many countries and partly because this is a popular global tourist destination.

I spent a few hours on the National Mall last Sunday and decided to try counting the different languages I heard. My total was at least nine; there were probably more but I do not know enough about some similar-sounding languages to tell which is which.

Of course I heard American English. Someone whose native language is not English might think people from Maryland, Illinois, California and Georgia speak four different languages, but for purposes of this count, I’ll lump the various American English accents together as one. I did not hear British English that day but I often do detect that brand of the language on visits into DC.

Other languages I could identify during this daytrip: Spanish, German, French and Italian.

Some languages I heard were less obvious to me. I heard many people speaking various Asian languages. I do not know which ones but I could tell by looking at the speakers that there were visitors from at least three different Asian countries.

My best guess on three other languages I heard: African (not sure which country), Arabic (many languages derived from that starting point sound the same to my ears) and Indian (guessing at that one, partly because of the speaker’s clothing).

Learning more than one language is the norm in many countries but not in the USA. I have started to learn three different languages in my life but so far I still only speak English. I regret not paying more attention in my youth. If I had, I’d now speak Spanish and French. I began Italian lessons a year ago but dropped out because of time issues. I plan to restart that one next year.

Human verbal communication probably began in just a few places as just a few languages but has developed in hundreds of directions in the thousands of years since humans first spoke. One reason is because various cultures developed in isolation from each other. Today, however, we are connected globally and it would be great if there was a common Earth language. English may be the closest thing we have to that because it is often the second language learned in many other developed countries.

Fortunately there are two forms of communication that seem to transcend all language differences: laughter and a smile.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Random People - The Cop in the Shade

I saw hundreds, maybe thousands of people during my three-hour walk in Washington DC Sunday, but one person that stands out in my memory is the cop I saw in front of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

If you watch TV shows about police, you might think that their job involves constant action. They are chasing the bad guys, investigating murders and are always busy. That scenario probably represents a very small percentage of their day-to-day activities. Much of their day is spent waiting for something to happen.

During my photo and people-watching day I realized I take many of the same pictures over and over. I decided to seek different subject matter and at the same moment I saw the sculpture garden … and the policeman. The day was fairly hot and he was taking advantage of the shade provided by the many trees outside of the museum.

Our conversation was brief and all about the weather.
“Bet you’re glad it isn’t still July.”
“Oh yeah, that was awful.”
“Yep, I was down here with a friend on one of those hundred degree days.”
“Yes sir, today is much better.”

There are several police departments with a presence in Washington DC, including the DC Police, the Secret Service and the National Park Police. I didn’t notice which he was, but he was not the one with a summer uniform with light-colored shorts. His uniform included black pants, black shoes, black belt, black gun and a short-sleeve white shirt. Sweat rolled down his dark skin and he told me he was grateful for the shade; he would have been sweating a lot more without it.

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A note about the sculpture garden… there are a few on the National Mall, but this is the first time in years I saw this one. The picture above shows one of the sculptures. Visit my Photo Bernie site to see a few more.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Random People - The Couple from Chicago

I often carry my Nikon D80 digital SLR camera when I visit downtown Washington DC. Professional photographers usually refer to that model as a ‘prosumer’ camera, a consumer-grade camera with many features found on professional cameras. But often the average person who sees me adjusting the zoom lens while looking through the viewfinder thinks I am a pro. So I am frequently asked to take pictures of tourists with their pocket cameras because “you look like you know what’s you’re doing.” Who am I to argue with their assessment?

During my camera-and-people adventure in DC Sunday, while walking up the hill toward the Washington Monument, a couple walking down the hill stopped me and asked me to take their picture looking the other direction with the Lincoln Memorial in the background. I took two shots, one like they asked, then one a little closer so their faces filled the frame. That’s something a pro would often suggest. I framed it with the Lincoln Memorial between their faces; I know they’ll like it.

My friend who helped me break through my writer’s block suggested that during my photo adventure I should strike up a conversation with a total stranger, so I chatted up this couple for a minute.

In less than sixty seconds, I learned they are from Chicago (and after hearing me speak, they thought maybe I was also from the Midwest; not so, but maybe I sound like it). They were here for a wedding in nearby Virginia, this is their first visit to DC and they realized quickly that there was so much to see that they plan to visit again for at least a week. I pointed out the direction of five other nearby landmarks and the one that got their attention the most was the Vietnam War Memorial. We wished each other well and walked off in opposite directions.

I like to guess things about people by observing their actions, mannerism, clothing and appearance. So here is the rest of what I believe about them, purely from non-verbal cues. They guy is 55-62 years old, so the Viet Nam war era means something to him, even if he isn’t a veteran. He is physically fit and well-groomed, probably has a good white collar job, is a bit traditional and is a take-charge guy. His female companion is probably his wife, slightly younger than he is, not as fit, maybe more of a traditional wife. They didn’t mention kids and none were with them, so I think they might be empty nesters with kids in college or beyond. They might even be young grandparents. She might be his second wife. That is plenty to guess, but that generation tends to be more predictable so there is a good chance I’ve nailed the details.



Something I re-learned about myself during my DC day is that I am somewhat timid walking up to total strangers. I have no problem talking with people I don’t know, but my usual conversation starter involves a shared situation, like standing next to a total stranger who just missed the same subway car I did or standing next to someone in an unreasonably long line at a concession stand. Maybe next time I try this, I’ll specifically seek out strangers with no logical connection and attempt to make one. What have I got to lose?

And next time someone asks me to take their picture with their camera I’m going to ask them if I can take one of them with mine.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Random People – Georgetown Joggers

My writer’s block seems to be unblocked, thanks in part to a suggestion from a friend. The next few posts titled Random People are people observations; I spoke with some of these people and just watched others.

One of my favorite people-watching places is downtown Washington DC and today I picked Georgetown Waterfront Park as the starting point of my journey. There were two reasons for this choice: one, I had not visited this part of DC in more than ten years and two, it is the start/finish line for this year’s Kidney Foundation Walkathon. I am participating in that event in two weeks and I wanted to see if there was a convenient way to walk there from the nearest Metro station. There isn’t, by the way, unless you walk across a lumpy field under a freeway and run across a busy 4-lane street where there is no crosswalk – which I will do because that is still more convenient than trying to find a parking place anywhere in Georgetown.




The Georgetown Waterfront is part residential, part retail and entertainment and part business. The plaza in this picture is at the center of things, about halfway between George Washington University and Georgetown University, so it is no surprise that many of the people I saw at 9 this morning were college students. A few giggly girls provided the soundtrack inside the Starbucks and other college co-eds provided, well, how should I say this … ‘eye candy’ outside. Other people in my field of vision were cleaning crews scrubbing the brick walkways, restaurant staffers setting up outdoor seating areas for three restaurants, owners of the expensive boats docked next to the waterfront walkway and a few stray tourists.



After I finished my coffee, I strolled along the waterfront, dodging groups of joggers and bicyclists who share the pathway. The cross-section of morning athletes includes students, jogging club members (I read their matching shirts) and young professionals who probably live around here. In a way I am a little jealous that these people can do their routine daily activities in the shadow of landmarks like the Watergate and the Kennedy Center, with a view of the Washington Monument in the distance and the Lincoln Memorial around the next bend.

Kennedy Center, joggers, Potomac River



The Watergate Hotel, Condos and Offices



Coming soon in future posts: the Couple from Chicago, Counting Languages and the Cop in the Shade.
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Thanks to Eliz for the suggestions and encouragement that helped unblock my writer’s block. I was tempted to say she was my literary laxative, but that sounds so wrong!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Talk Like a Pirate Day

In preparation for Talk Like a Pirate Day tomorrow (September 19th), here are some pickup lines men can use tonight, copied from the “official” web site of this great celebration. Let me know if any of these work … if you survive a night of trying them out.


Top Ten Pickup lines for use on International Talk Like a Pirate Day
(In Dave Letterman style)
10 . Avast, me proud beauty! Wanna know why my Roger is so Jolly?
9. Have ya ever met a man with a real yardarm?
8. Come on up and see me urchins.
7. Yes, that is a hornpipe in my pocket and I am happy to see you.
6. I'd love to drop anchor in your lagoon.
5. Pardon me, but would ya mind if I fired me cannon through your porthole?
4. How'd you like to scrape the barnacles off of me rudder?
3. Ya know, darlin’, I’m 97 percent chum free.
2. Well blow me down?
And the number one pickup line for use on International Talk Like a Pirate Day is …
1. Prepare to be boarded.

And in all fairness, here are some pickup lines for the lady pirates to try. I’m sure you’ll have equal success.

Top Ten Pickup Lines for the Lady Pirates

10. What are YOU doing here?
9. Is that a belayin' pin in yer britches, or are ye ... (this one is never completed)
8. Come show me how ye bury yer treasure, lad!
7. So, tell me, why do they call ye, "Cap'n Feathersword?"
6. That's quite a cutlass ye got thar, what ye need is a good scabbard!
5. Aye, I guarantee ye, I've had a twenty percent decrease in me "lice ratio!"
4. I've crushed seventeen men's skulls between me thighs!
3. C'mon, lad, shiver me timbers!
2. RAMMING SPEED!
...and the number one Female Pirate Pick-up Line:
1. You. Pants Off. Now!

This year, September 19th is on a Sunday, which gives rise to another thought about this event: do any preachers attempt to speak their sermons like a pirate?

Pass me more of that grog, me hearties! Arr!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Writer’s Block

I usually have plenty to say. Ask anyone. People just can’t shut me up. But tonight I’m mostly silent. One reason is that I have so much to say that I don’t know where to begin. Another is that I’ve just had two mostly frustrating weeks but I don’t really want to whine about things in my life, at least not tonight.

I could post more quotes. In case you haven’t noticed, I like quotes and song lyrics; however, those tend to be a crutch, so I’m seeking other subject matter and writing forms.

I considered mentioning again how much I love my friends, but that feels like too much repetition and my friends know I love them. At least I think they do because I think I tell them often. Maybe.

What else do I blog about?

Music. Plenty of bands I like are coming to my area this fall, but I might only be seeing the ones for which I get free tickets (Sugarland, for example) and maybe not the ones I have to pay for (Tower of Power, Rusted Root, Jimmy Thackery, Buddy Guy, Robert Randolf, to name a few that are on my calendar). Maybe I can make a loan.

NASCAR. I’ll miss the September race in Dover again. Money and time conspire against me. And my favorite driver is barely in The Chase this year, even though he broke the record last year for most consecutive points championships. Jimmie, what happened?

Seasons. Talked about fall recently. More later, when the colors start to change.

Politics and religion? Naw!

Vacations. The vacation came to me this summer and it was at least as much fun as if I had taken one myself. But I didn’t go anywhere. I’m taking a road trip in December, but that doesn’t help me write tonight.

Holidays. I guess the next one is Halloween. Some years I really like that one, others I don’t. I do have a few goofy stories about costumes and parties I’ve been involved with. I’ll save that for next month.

Dogs. Actually, my oldest dog is not doing well at all this week, but that situation is a little too depressing and sad for me to write about tonight. More another time.

Hmm, I had nothing to say tonight and I just wrote 400 words to tell you that. Yep, ya can’t shut me up, can ya? Don’t answer that.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

More Quotes 4.1

My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant

I try to take one day at a time, but sometimes several days attack me at once.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant

The unexamined life is not worth living.
~ Socrates

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Jim

My current closest friends probably think I’m a decent friend, but my skills in maintaining a friendship pale in comparison with those of my high school buddy Jim.

From senior year in high school through two years past college, we were inseparable. We spent lots of time drinking and talking about important stuff like girls and growing up. Jim seemed to have a way with the girls because he had many girlfriends during that time period. I seemed to know how to keep relationships going longer because I only had two during that five or six year stretch. In the decades since, things may have reversed.

I always thought Jim should have been a writer. He has a wicked sense of humor and a knack for story-telling. He has a college degree in English and a hell of an imagination. But he spent most of the past three decades working as a letter-carrier for the post office.

Over the years since I moved away from New Orleans, Jim and I probably haven’t seen each other ten times. But he sends me a Christmas card and a birthday card every year. In fact, he has not missed one single year in more than thirty. I’ve missed at least three fourths of those years. Most of the cards are humorous and he adds more humor with hand-written updates about his life. I can count on at least one corny but hilarious joke in each card. And Jim finally discovered email this year so now I get examples of his observations and story-telling every few weeks.

In the first half of the email I got today, he told me his Dad died. In the second half he shared the progress he and his wife have made with their diets.

That combination of disparate stories is no surprise to me. What did surprise me was the eloquent way he told the story of his Dad’s last days and his own reactions and feelings about their final conversations. I so often remember Jim as the witty party animal from back in the day that I forget that he has a caring, sensitive side and an incredible mastery of the words to express it.

I am somewhat emotional about this tonight because I wonder what our friendship would be like if I had done a better job on my end. It is the kind of friendship in which we would have shared milestones over the years; we would have debated the meaning of life like we did in high school through the filter of life experiences along the way. We would have talked about girls. We might have argued about music or whether or not Diana Rigg, that hot babe from British TV spy series The Avengers, had aged well. If I called him nine years ago when I was in town to be with my own Dad during his last two days, Jim would have been there too. I didn’t call.

You just don’t get friends like that every day.

If any of my current friends wonder why I get a little obsessive about keeping in touch at times, this post might help explain it a little. And any current friends who don’t think I keep in touch enough, tell me.

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Oh, while I'm thinking about it, here are two pictures of Diana Rigg. Did she age well?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Remember

September 11, 2001 is a day that has shaped nearly every aspect of our lives for the past nine years. Each American remembers that day in their own way and each of us mentally and emotionally processes the events of the day differently. We remember and try to understand everything from the horrific acts of the terrorists to the heroic efforts of firefighters, police, medical personnel and ordinary citizens to the patriotic solidarity expressed by all of us. A complex set of emotions remain, fear, love and hate among them. The terrorists may have rattled us that day but they did not win. The American spirit prevails and our country continues as the greatest nation on earth. God bless America.

More Baseball

Before this year, I had not been to a Major League Baseball game since the early 1990s, specifically a Baltimore Orioles game during the first season of Camden Yards. This year I have now been to three Washington Nationals games. I guess I’m not their good luck charm, however, because they lost tonight (they won the first two I went to).

I took some work friends to this one. Had a great time.



And one of them caught a ball!! Actually, she grabbed it after it bounced around a few times, but the result is the same: she has it for her collection of stuff. I have been to dozens of games but never saw anyone I know catch a ball.



Now I’m trying to get tickets to some other team games around here. I’ll keep you posted.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

I’m A Man

OK, it looks like I’m at least 90% REAL MAN!

How do I know this? I saw it on the internet. I recently read a web site containing a list of ten factors that make a man. I did not really have any doubt about my manhood but validation from a totally scientifically researched pop culture entertainment web site is a good thing.

Here is their list and my own self-evaluation on each point.

According to TheFrisky.com, here are 10 things that make a man ...

1. He kills a spider (I DO)
2. He's not afraid for you to see him cry. (HMM, SOMETIMES)
3. He does the premenstrual tampons-and-Ben & Jerry's run. (BEEN THERE DONE THAT)
4. He has a trash can in his bathroom. (YES)
5. He knows his way around a kitchen and does 90% of the cooking. (MOSTLY)
6. He can fix stuff around the house. (YES)
7. He doesn't have more than four pairs of shoes. (I HAVE MORE, BUT I WEAR THE SAME 4 OVER AND OVER)
8. He lets you have the last bite of a shared dessert. (I HAVE)
9. He takes care of ALL of your car issues (oil changes, etc.) (I COULD)
10. He rubs your feet for more than 2 seconds (I’D LOVE TO)

So in case any readers had any doubt about my manhood, there’s your proof. Or was that spoof? Oh, the original list has 20 criteria but like many real men, I am lazy sometimes so I only went with ten.

Please pass me another glass of merlot, uhh I mean beer, would ya?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Guy Is An Idiot

This guy calls himself a pastor? A reverend? A clergyman? A man of God? What God? Certainly not mine!

He plans to burn copies of the holy book of another faith? I think he is a sick, misguided publicity hound trying to get some attention for his little church. Or for himself. And I think he is wrong to burn any book, but especially wrong to burn holy books of another faith in a country founded on the principle of religious freedom.

I also think he has the right to do this, even if it is the stupidest, most dangerous and divisive thing I’ve seen in a long time. Men and women have given their lives to give him the freedom to give an evil face to something that should be good … a minister. He is every bit as wrong as the tiny percentage of terrorist believers of the faith whose books he plans to burn. He is nearly a terrorist himself for his planned action, in my opinion. He will put the lives of American military personnel in jeopardy and will be responsible for some of their deaths.

Christianity, Judaism and Islam share, among other things, the basics of faith, prayer, history, ethics and more. There are more similarities than differences. It is one thing for someone to chose one brand of faith over another and to believe his/hers is the best one. It is quite another to defile the sacredness of someone else’s religion.

Actions like what this guy plans are what put our freedoms to the test. I think we will pass, but the whole idea is evil, in my opinion. I wonder if anyone will try to burn bibles in front of his church on Saturday.

Quotin' Stuff

‎I've probably posted this first one before, but it's worth repeating. I truly believe it.

"Laughter is the closest distance between two people."
– Victor Borge

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And I just think this one if funny:

“Let’s eat Grandma.” “Let’s eat, Grandma.” Punctuation saves lives.

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Monday, September 6, 2010

Must Be How the Rich Live

Do you play the lottery? Have you thought about what you’d do with the money, especially a big jackpot? I only play sometimes but I have thought up detailed scenarios for what I’d do if I won, plans at virtually every dollar winning amount. Aside from the usual things like paying off debt, buying property, helping friends and family and donating to charity, I would also buy expensive season tickets for area sports teams.



I was thinking about this today as I watched the Washington Nationals beat the New York Mets while sitting in the Diamond Club section at Nationals Park. These seats cost between $135 and $160 each. I got mine free from work because apparently no client wanted to go to the game on Labor Day.

These are no mere seats, these are in the first 25 rows behind home plate in a section where they scan your tickets second time and give you a wrist band for re-entry, should you leave the section. But why would you leave? The seats are great, you can order food, beer, wine and mixed drinks at your seat or spend time in the restaurant/lounge behind the section. That room has a great view and a bar with even more available libations and … this is the most important part … clean rest rooms with short lines. Oh, and this part is indoors in case the weather is bad.



Hmm, what else? The seats are padded. The fans who can afford to sit in this section aren’t falling down drunk. The conversation between the two guys behind me wasn’t about getting drunk or laid, it was about their days playing college baseball and about how the split-season ticket plan here is a better value that the full season because you get just the games you want and it only costs $12,000.



This must be how the rich live. Oh yeah, there was a baseball game too. The Nats won 13-3.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Fall

Something is different this September but I’m not exactly sure what it is. Growing up, Labor Day weekend was fun because of the family gatherings but dreadful because it meant school was starting up again. Decades later, I still had that tinge of dread at this time of year, right up through last year. But I don’t feel it this weekend.

What I do feel is a change in the weather. Sometimes I stop long enough to actually see my surroundings and I notice, without the aid of television news or a calendar, that fall is coming. There is less daylight, shadows are in slightly different places, the squirrels in my yard are busier than usual, geese are flying overhead and there is a slight chill in the air. True, this weekend just happens to be cooler … DC area weather forecasters declared yesterday that this was, indeed, the hottest summer on record - ya think?! … but the hot weather is predicted to return by Tuesday. Even when it does, I’m certain nights will be cooler than they were last week and last month. And there are already a few leaves falling in my yard.

Fall is usually my favorite season. I love the colors and the changes. I love the cleansing feeling that comes with stripping away during fall. This season begins nature’s annual renewal process, sort of like putting dirty clothes in the washer. It all comes out clean and fresh in spring.

Maybe what is different this year is that I will finally do something major that I should have done years ago (more on that later). My own process will emulate Mother Nature’s … I’ll strip away the ‘leaves,’ recharge and renew and blossom into the real me by spring. The past year has been a true test of my patience and that patience has more than run out. The self-discovery journey I began in earnest 18 months ago is reaching a destination. For me, ‘turn the page’ is more than a Bob Seger song or a statement by the President.

Returning to an analogy in the first paragraph of this post, maybe what is different for me this year is that school is not what begins Tuesday; it’s graduation.

What Do You REALLY Think, Jerry?

Some of my earliest memories include watching the Jerry Lewis Telethon on Labor Day weekend. I haven't paid much attention for the past couple of decades (although I still help MDA when I can) so I am usually surprised when I see Jerry in interviews. This clip says a lot about him and plenty about the current state of celebrity.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

My Current Favorite Commercial

I make commercials for a living so I know how difficult it is to create fresh, new versions of a successful theme. The ad folks connected to Geico seem to have found a way to do that. This one is my new favorite. The idea is great, the acting is awesome and the whole thing is funny. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Can’t Stop It


I just watched part of a television special called Boomers, hosted by Tom Brokaw. It is very interesting to see my generation played back to me in documentary form. I look at those gray-haired fiftysomethings talking about stuff I remember. Wait a minute! They’re old. How can they be talking about stuff I remember? Did I just read about those events, feelings and songs or was I actually there for some of it?

Boomers, who now range in age from 46 to 64, were and are obsessed with youth. Roger Daltry screamed the lead lyric in a famous Who song: “hope I die before I get old.” Daltry is 66 years old now. I wonder if he still sings that lyric. The definition of “old” has changed, but how much?

Youth-obsession isn’t exclusive to Boomers. I am surrounded by co-workers in their 20s and 30s. It keeps me young. My boss is 45, her boss is 36, their top boss is in his low 40s. This is the first time in history that the work place is populated by employees from three generations. Boomers still run the world, but we’re a vulnerable minority where I work so I keep my age to myself and rely on my youthful family genetics to keep people from thinking of me when they make their frequent unjustified assumptions based on age.

When it comes to race, religion and human connection, Gen X and Y are open and accepting in ways Boomers helped make possible. But age discrimination is rampant in those post-Boomer generations and it is probably the fault of Boomers. Maybe it’s payback for us being so smug about being in charge. Each generation grows to take over from the previous one, but Boomers aren’t letting go just yet. We’re too young!!

One takeaway from the TV special is this: most Boomers aren’t prepared for job loss or retirement. Thinking about it is a source of stress. Boomers who keep up with trends and technology stand a better chance of surviving aging in a down economy, but the future is still uncharted territory. Gen Xers don’t especially have role models for this stuff so they’re up next as players in the ‘stressful future’ game.

And it all comes down to dealing with our own mortality. We can’t stop aging but we usually don’t think much about it till we’re in the middle of it. Midlife is a bitch, ain’t it? Boomers aren’t/weren’t prepared for it and I don’t think X and Y are either. The ‘happy talk’ publications designed to convince Boomers that midlife is a time for renewal, for finally doing what we always wanted to do, miss the reality mark. What they say is true, but you need plenty of ‘buy-in’ from the people who are willing to pay you to do what you always wanted to do. That is a much larger challenge. Those folks are either Boomers protecting their own fragile situation or Xers claiming new territory.

I am usually an optimist about things like this and ultimately I always figure out solutions to problems, mine and other people’s. But mixed in with some of the happy feelings I got from watching Boomers tonight are sparks of dread.

The good news is there are plenty of resources and opportunities. It takes patience, a quality Boomers have in much greater quantity than the next generations.



Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Funky Liza Iz A Good Adviza

I posted something on Facebook recently about the then approaching 5th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and how I was still somewhat depressed over the lingering effects the storm has on my hometown New Orleans. My friend Eliz commented that I should think more about some positive aspects of New Orleans recovery and maybe have my own Mardi Gras party.

That thought and advice popped into my head this morning as I remembered that today is the 5th anniversary of my Mother’s death, partly at the hands of Katrina. I could easily have sunk into some depression over that but as I was grabbing for some CDs to play during my commute, I ran across my copy of Gumbo, a CD filled with New Orleans-style songs. (Hmm, I made the original CD for that same friend).

This afternoon, I popped that CD into the player and cranked it up to party volume. Funky Liza by the New Orleans Nightcrawlers is one of my favorite songs on the CD.

Click Here to hear the song (if I did this right).

It is hard to hear that song without smiling … and dancing (which is not that easy while driving on I-70). So thanks to Funky Liza and advice from my funky friend Eliz (hmm, almost like Liza), I’m in a pretty good mood and celebrating my Mother’s unique life rather than the sad circumstances of her death.

A Great Sermon