Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sharing Blues

I love blues music! One of my favorite blues songs is "Stormy Monday" and until I saw this on a co-worker's Facebook page today, I did not know that Eric Clapton has done it too. Maybe every blues performer has played or recorded it.

Here is his version. He is an awesome blues man!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Don’t Call Me Shirley

Actor Leslie Nielson died yesterday at age 84. During his 54-year acting career he played in more than 100 films and over 1500 television programs. He is best known for his deadpan comedy roles in movies like Airplane and Naked Gun, but he played mostly serious characters in the early years.

Airplane was a 1980 spoof on disaster movies but did you know he was the ship captain in The Poseidon Adventure, one of the more popular disaster movies of the 1970s?

There were many punch lines in Airplane. This is my favorite:

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Totally Random 4.5

When do you think “ginormous’ will make it into the dictionary? Maybe it already has.

Every man should learn how to do this: Prepare slowly, taking time to handle all the parts just right. When everything is ready, then it’s time to turn on the heat for several minutes, blending all the ingredients. With a mix of skill and good luck everything finishes at the same time. Then relax for awhile and savor the results. Much satisfaction is to be had cooking omelets.

My three favorite TV shows from the 1980s and 90s are Hill Street Blues, Homicide: Life on the Streets and NYPD Blue. Where are they now? Even constant rerun channels like A&E and USA Network don’t have them.

My cable channels include England’s BBC News, which I thought I was watching one recent morning because the lead story was about the Royal Engagement. But it was a local TV station and that story was on before the one about the arrest of a local county Executive and his wife on corruption charges. I don’t get it.



Tiger Woods has lost most of his advertising deals because clients believe he no longer has the sincerity to make his endorsements believable. I bet the Trojan brand would be interested.

Two different people told me recently that I look 45 or 46. I’m OK with that. Really.

Jimi Hendrix would have been 68 this week. How’s that for some perspective?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Random Subway Riders

Who are those people you see on the subway? Do their clothes and mannerisms reveal their true identity or is it more fun to guess?

I scribbled my guesses during a twenty-minute ride between Rockville and Chevy Chase two months ago and just found the notes in a pile of papers on my home desk. Here are my observations of three riders that got my attention that evening.

Self-conscious Girl.
What I saw: Quiet, shy, mid-20s, dark hair, average height, basic blue suit with an off-the-rack fit. She spent most of her time on Metro looking around but mostly avoided eye contact with anyone. She read the ad banners inside the car and the LED display of station names.

What I think: She is an administrative assistant in one of those drab, government office buildings in Rockville, Maryland and lives in Bethesda with two or three roommates because the rent is too high there to go solo on her salary. She is shy around guys but has had a boyfriend or two, but none now. Wants more in life but doesn’t know how to find it, yet. Self-esteem issues and lack of confidence hold her back but she has made progress on both fronts in recent years.

Active Grandma
What I saw: mid-60s, trim, fit, looks and dresses younger (except for the reading glasses halfway down her nose), moves with confidence. She was deep in her book for the whole ride.

What I think: She IS a grandma, divorced, lives alone, had money saved up for active, independent living but works part time at a book store. Lives alone but has many friends, two or more regular boyfriends, one is the age she looks and he doesn’t know hers.

Guy in the Hoodie
What I saw: Tall, white, upper 20s, wearing a hoodie like a 17-year-old, sitting across three seats (his two seats and the sideways-facing seat in front of him), drinking from an open cup (not allowed on Metro), music in his headphones so loud I can hear it five rows away.

What I think: Narcissistic. Dressing like “I’m not dangerous but don’t mess with me” to get some attention and to mask his day job as a suit-and-tie middle manager in an investment firm. He is going to a hot night club in a trendy DC entertainment area to score an equally pretentious girl. He exudes confidence but it’s part of his costumed persona. He’d probably pee in his pants if a taller black man wearing the same hoodie walked up to him.

Being curious and observant is part of my media job so I often pay attention to people around me. I also just happen to enjoy people-watching. I plan to do plenty of that during my upcoming road trip.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Dancing With Alaska

I do not like most reality TV shows because they generally are not very real. I also do not like most competition-based TV shows like “Survivor” and “Biggest Loser” because so many of them lace the competition with fake drama.

But this post is not exactly about TV shows.

I do not like Sarah Palin. She is dumb and annoying and I believe many of her public statements are as much about getting attention as they are about trying to make our country better.

But this post is not exactly about her either.

The 2-hour “Dancing with the Stars” finale was on TV Tuesday night and much to my surprise I watched the entire show. Bristol Palin, Sarah’s daughter, came in 3rd. That’s what this post is about.

More precisely, these observations are about what appears to be a real coming-of-age experience of a young girl who happens to be famous. Most “stars’ during the 11 seasons of that show are or were famous in some way before competing. Some are actors and singers who are past their prime, such as Michael Bolton and Marie Osmond. Others are famous in areas other than entertainment, like former astronaut Buzz Aldrin.

Bristol Palin is famous because she was the pregnant, unmarried daughter of an ultra-conservative former Alaska Governor/former Vice Presidential candidate. Her mother’s publicity machine must have something to do with Bristol even being on the show. I am convinced that Mom’s publicity team is behind the high scores in the viewer voting part of this DWTS season because the judge’s scores would likely have led to her elimination in the early episodes.

Regardless of the reasons, viewer scoring kept her in long enough for her talent to develop. She began as a shy, clumsy teen with self-confidence issues and finished as a fairly confident 20-year-old who now really can dance. That transformation is amazing and it seems genuine and real, unlike most back-stories.

My own conspiracy theory says Mom persuaded her to enter and she reluctantly agreed. The flashbacks from the first behind-the-scenes rehearsals and dance lessons revealed her ‘why am I even here?’ attitude, in my opinion. Other flashbacks also made it look like she was thinking “well I’m here and I’m just going to be myself and I don’t care if Mom likes it or not.” But then she started to learn the dance moves, gained confidence and seemed to realize that maybe she’d get to the finals because of talent as much as from Mom’s behind-the-scenes voter manipulation. To counterbalance this a little, she also said something about being in the competition to prove a point to people who hate her mother. Whatever.

It was clear that Jennifer Grey was a better dancer and that opinion was not influenced by her role in “Dirty Dancing.” A Palin win would have convinced me that Mom was behind it. But 3rd place represented a fairly true balance of all the factors.

And I’d have to give Crystal top score on the reality scale. Her drama seemed real. Grey’s was real in the sense that she was overcoming some physical pain but I thought the crying was largely an acting ploy. Kyle Massey was just fun all the way around. He was my favorite of the three.

Further evidence of Bristol’s “realness” came from her answer to a George Stephanoplis question Wednesday on Good Morning America. He asked each of the three what music video they would want to be a background dancer in. She said, somewhat sheepishly but without a bit of hesitation or irony, “I like country music, so I guess Gretchen Wilson’s Red Neck Woman.”

Kudos to Bristol for bringing some much-needed reality to “reality TV.” I wonder where she learned honestly and sincerity. Certainly not from her mother.

===========================
Here is a video clip of the 3 finalists on Good Morning America the next morning.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Beauty and the Bleak

A cold, rainy Thanksgiving morning can be depressing. But it can also be beautiful in it's own unique way. I picked up my camera a little while ago and shot some photos around my house. Here is one of them, a wind chime making the only sound I heard outside:



CLICK HERE to see the rest of this series of photos.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Randomness

Thanksgiving Thursday, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday … all terms representing the increased commercialism of holidays that began as celebrations rooted in survival and religion. Here are a few random thoughts on the season:

When did Thanksgiving begin? According to the History Channel web site: "In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies."

Turkey and pumpkin pie are two traditional menu items in contemporary Thanksgiving feasts but the ‘first Thanksgiving’ feast most likely consisted of deer, seafood and corn and probably no desert.

Thanksgiving was celebrated many times and in many ways after that but did not become an official American holiday till 1863, in the middle of the Civil War. President Abe Lincoln’s proclamation asked “all Americans to ask God to “commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife” and to “heal the wounds of the nation.”

On one hand we celebrate survival and community. On the other, we celebrate a culture that invaded a huge section of sparsely-populated land, ran off the existing residents as if they weren’t there and claimed the whole place as “new” and available for the taking. How would we feel if some country did that today? Just sayin’. We did turn out to be a great country, largely dedicated to human rights; but the price was pretty damn high, in my opinion.

People who experience holiday depression usually begin their suffering right before Thanksgiving Day. If they were lucky enough to grow up in a stable family with established holiday rituals and are now adults with instability in their lives, the mismatch between expectations and reality is sad and frustrating. It is natural to try and recreate their childhood celebrations. Sometimes it takes decades to finally find a way to accept the disconnect and to create new traditions.

The last time I went shopping the day after Thanksgiving was more than 10 years ago. Back then, 7:00 am was considered an early time to open. Now there are ads for 5 am, 4 am, even 3 am openings. But I just saw an ad for the one that now gets my WTF Award … Toys R Us is opening at 10:30 the night before! Take THAT Kohl’s, Macy’s and Penney’s!

This Thanksgiving will be especially awkward for me and my close friends know why. But I am determined to make the most of it and I plan to spend more time smiling than crying. My three incredibly awesome Border Collies will help in that effort.

I am thankful for good health, a great job and wonderful friends. All of my friends are great, but the three that stand out have helped me in ways I have trouble finding the words for. In this blog I can only call them Louisiana, North Carolina and Wisconsin, but they know who they are and they know I love them.

OK, enough of the sentimental stuff. If you are travelling for Thanksgiving and are planning to fly, CLICK HERE for some timely fun.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Fading History

I almost understand how my parents felt about the blank stares they got when talking about significant historical events that happened in their lifetimes. Their reference points were often centered on events relating to World War II … the Pearl Harbor bombing, Hiroshima and President Franklin Roosevelt’s death. They would talk about those things sometimes and I would listen but it meant nothing to me. Even after studying about those events, I only knew them as something from history.

Every American alive on September 11, 2001 will remember and talk about the terrorist attacks of that day and the weeks of fear that followed. Those in their 20s that day will be telling their children and grandchildren forty or fifty years from now about how citizens felt but those grandchildren will likely react with respectful blank stares.

So some readers of this post will look at their monitors with blank stares when I remind them/you that today, November 22nd, is a significant day in American history. Those of us who were alive that day might remember every detail … where they were when they heard the news (I was in elementary school), how their parents reacted (mine were shocked and sad), how TV and radio covered the developing story (wall-to-wall coverage replaced normal programming on every channel and rumors were flying).

That specific November 22nd resulted in collective American fear and shock similar to 9/11 but only one person had died. The thought that our country was under some kind of attack is common to both dates, but the 9/11 attack was obviously an orchestrated, multi-person plot; to this day, there is still uncertainty as to whether the November 22nd event was the act of a group or one man.

I have made peace with the reality that November 22, 1963 is just a date in a history book or web site for most people I know, but even though I was very young then, I still remember in great detail the day U. S. President John Kennedy was assassinated.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Yesss!!!

Wow, the Redskins won, the Saints won and Jimmie Johnson won his unprecidented 5th Sprint Cup Championship! And all 3 of the college teams I follow won this weekend. Let the good times roll! And let some positive energy spread into the week.

Random Sports Questions

As I am getting ready to go to my office this morning to do some work so I can have a few days off at Thanksgiving, I was thinking about some sports things:

Will Jimmie Johnson get enough points in the final NASCAR race of the season this afternoon to break his own record and win the Sprint Cup for the 5th year in a row? He's in 2nd place going into the race, but only 15 points behind. The top three are nearly tied. Anything can happen.

Will the Redskins lose another one? They had such promise at the beginning of the season. I guess it's another rebuilding year ... decade.

Will the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints win today? More importantly, will their game be on a TV channel on Comcast Cable in Frederick MD so I can watch it? Many Saints games were on Fox this season, but my local Fox station ran Simpsons episodes instead. Why?

LSU and Arkansas both won their games yesterday but both were hard-fought victories. Exciting games too! They face each other next Saturday. Of course I want LSU to win, not just because my college was affiliated with them and not just because half my Louisiana friends and family went there and continue to follow the games as if they were still students there. I want to win my annual bet with a friend who grew up in Arkansas.

And last but not least, will I ever get back to the gym? It's been a week. My fully loaded gym bag is looking way to comfortable in the trunk of my car.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Herding Cats

I regularly use the expression “it’s like herding cats.” When I say that, I’m usually referring to the difficulty of getting the highly creative type-A personalities on my work team to form a consensus about an issue. “Getting them to agree is like trying to herd cats.”

One of my team mates told me the other day that she had never heard that metaphor before. As she searched for information about it, she found this video. Enjoy.



And here is a picture of my cats during one of our weekly meetings.



We did actually agree on a bunch of things this week. These cats are awesome. And this picture makes us all look like the "before" examples in a diet product commercial.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Awesome Advice

I saw a few minutes of an interview with Bruce Springsteen this morning. Bruce recently turned 61 and completely defies the stereotype of someone that age. He is a great role model for aging.

My favorite quote from the interview clip: instead of running from the years, you gather them in.

That is awesome advice. I hope I feel that way when I’m that age. Right now, I’m still running.

Monday, November 15, 2010

All Is Fair In Love and War

Have you ever wondered why love and war are often connected?

That thought crossed my mind recently as I listened to Sade’s latest song “Soldier of Love.” The song begins with a military style snare drum cadence and some of the lyric content includes military imagery.

Another song I heard recently: Pat Benatar’s “Love Is a Battlefield.” In what way is love a military skirmish? I don’t get it.

Then there’s the old phrase about the fine line between love and hate. I think there is a Grand Canyon-sized line between love and hate. How are those two things connected in any other than they both happen to be emotions?

Love – caring, fondness, strong affection, warm attachment, maximum friendship, wanting the best for someone

Hate – intense hostility, maximum dislike, loathing, wanting the worst for someone.

How can you call the line between those extremes “fine”?

And then there’s the old standby “all’s fair in love and war.” That implies that trickery and deceit are allowable strategies to gain someone’s strong affection and to win a war. Maybe to the latter, not to the former.

Love is a precious thing we should all seek to find. War is something to be avoided except as a last resort. Love and war should never be connected.

Weight

I'm making more progress on the health front. Now down to my lowest weight in a year. One more pound and I'll be down to my lowest in a decade or more. Only five more to hit the goal.

Just wanted to share that and celebrate it ... because the food holidays begin next week. This year I am determined to survive them without a weight gain. Wish me luck (I'll need it).

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Feeling Lucky This Weekend

This weekend has been good for my favorite sports teams, so far. Here is the run down:

Maryland beat Virginia in Charlottesville 42-23. I am loyal to this team because I’m an online student at Maryland, unless they’re suspended me because I haven’t signed up for a class in two years.

LSU shut out ULM (Univ. of Louisiana-Monroe) 51-0. And it was LSU’s homecoming game in Baton Rouge. I have cousins and friends there who are probably still cheering this morning.

UA (Arkansas) demolished UTEP (Univ. Texas-El Paso) 58-21 in Fayetteville. I follow Maryland, LSU and Arkansas for various reasons and always want them to win … except on Nov. 28th, when Arkansas will lose to LSU. I think a bet is in the making on that one. I won the bet last year but still haven’t received the payoff. Hmmm.


One of eight touchdowns in the Arkansas game yesterday


Saints are off this week.

Redskins play the Eagles tomorrow night.

NASCAR – The race in Phoenix today is the 2nd-to-last race of the season. Jimmie Johnson, my favorite driver, holds the record of 4 consecutive championship wins. Can he break his own record this year? I say yes, although he is in 2nd place right now. He’s been in this position before. Time will tell.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Random Colorfulness

Feeling creative today! I engaged in a photographic self-assignment: random color statements. Dug through some of my recent photos that were already on my computer and did a little photoshop treatment on them. Here is one; click on the link below for the others.



CLICK HERE to see the others.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day

Today was pretty emotional for me. Some of it was good, some bittersweet.

The good part was a combination of things, including a great feeling about some audio work I did that helped make my radio station sound great all day. It’s a country music station, so interest is always high the day after the Country Music Association Awards show and Veterans Day seems to be extra special because this music genre has so many soldier-appropriate songs. I produced the ‘warm and fuzzy’ audio pieces that played around the patriotic songs as well as the CMA winner songs. In addition, I made the audio parts for our part of a company-wide all day fundraiser for Fisher House, an organization that provides housing near medical facilities for the families of injured military personnel. That all adds up to genuine positive emotion through the day.

The bittersweet part is the memory of my Dad, who died on this date nine years ago. We had an up-and-down father-son relationship but there was never any doubt about the love, even though he could rarely find the words. Eventually we found mutual respect too and I’m not sure I ever found the words to express that while he was alive.

It is easy to remember his death day because of the holiday but there is an odd irony to that. He and I are both veterans. He served two years in the Navy. He didn’t do anything outstanding during his enlistment but he did put his life on the line for our country a few times, partly just from being in Asia right after World War II. The war was over but there were lingering factions of people who didn’t want to accept that and American soldiers were always potential targets. His other dangerous situation resulted from being on a ship in a typhoon. Many naval ships went down during that same storm but his made it through. He was one of the radar techs so his job was fairly important.

My service was totally unremarkable. I don’t share details with many people and I won’t be saying much here. But I did serve in the Army and I have plenty of respect for our military. The most serious danger I encountered was from trying to stay awake on the long drive back from my hometown New Orleans to the base in Texas after the occasional 3-day pass.

I think about Dad every day, whether I want to or not. There is evidence of him all over my house, from the furniture hand-me-downs to the tools I inherited to the vision in my mirror every morning.

So every Veterans Day I dive into the emotion pool. Some years I nearly drown. This year, fortunately, I shed the occasional tear, crack the occasional smile, savor the good parts and accept the bittersweet parts. It was an emotional day but a good day.

======================================================================
Bonus … here is one the best country songs that fits today.

Blogger Plugs

Just sharing links to a few blog I visit regularly. Maybe you would enjoy them too.

Still Learning About Me – fun, interesting, a Gen-Xer who is approaching one of those zero-year birthdays. A blogger who is also an awesome in-person friend.

When the Muse Strikes – a novelist who blogs sometimes, most recently about bikers and Dave Matthews. Read her blog. Read her two books!

And so I write … - interesting observations about surviving some complicated life challenges

An Unconventional Life – the title says it all. One of a handful of great long-time in-person friends.

Sarasota Daily Photo – great photography from Florida.

The F-Stops Here – international photography. She has lived in Washington DC, Washington state and now France. Great photography from all over.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sharing A Secret

OK, after searching high and low to find the secret to staying young, I can honestly say that I finally found it. And I am sharing it with you in this post. Actually, my sister found the secrets and she emailed them to me. It is sort of the 11-step plan to staying young. Read these over and over till they become part of who you are.

1. Try everything twice.
On one woman's tombstone she said she wanted this epitaph:
"Tried everything twice. Loved it both times!"

2. Keep only cheerful friends.
The grouches pull you down.
(Keep this in mind if you are one of those grouches!)

3. Keep learning:
Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening, whatever...
Never let the brain get idle. 'An idle mind is the devil's workshop.'
And the devil's name is Alzheimer's!

4. Enjoy the simple things.

5. Laugh often, long and loud.
Laugh until you gasp for breath. And if you have a friend who makes you laugh, spend lots and lots of time with HIM/HER.

6. The tears happen:
Endure, grieve, and move on.
The only person who is with us our entire life, is ourselves. LIVE while you are alive.

7. Surround yourself with what you love:
Whether it's family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies, whatever. Your home is your refuge.

8. Cherish your health:
If it is good, preserve it. If it is unstable, improve it. If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.

9. Don't take guilt trips.
Take a trip to the mall, the next county, or a foreign country, but NOT to where the guilt is.

10. Tell the people you love that you love them, at every opportunity.

11. Forgive now those who made you cry. You might not get a second chance

Monday, November 8, 2010

Deep

Have you ever been deeply in love with someone? That kind of love that involves a total connection, finish each others’ sentences, read each other’s minds, reach for the thing the other person asks for before they ask?

When your connection is that strong, do you ever hide anything? If you are involved with someone so much that you share everything, do you really share everything? And should you?

Are there thoughts that should remain entirely yours? Little private pictures in your brain that are uniquely yours. You are not necessarily hiding anything from your significant other or anyone else, you’re just keeping some things to yourself. Those thoughts belong to you and no one else.

Is there anything wrong with that strategy? If you are that connected, is anything off limits? Does it matter if some things are off limits?

I have an endless curiosity about people. I often want to know their deepest thoughts, secrets, parts of their past. Some of my friends share amazing private things with me; others hold back. I can be trusted but, honestly, some things are really none of my business. The person I’ve shared the last sixteen years with has locked up whole segments of thought and feeling and has never shared the key. Other people I’m close with, for years or decades, have opened up to me in much greater detail but something is always held back. Human nature, I guess.

I’m an open book … up to a point. I want to know things about people that are quite inappropriate and I will often share the same about me; but there is a line. I don’t know how to define it in myself any more than I know how others decide where there line is and who is allowed to cross it. I have a great desire to be understood yet I hate having to explain myself.

The private thoughts I’m referring to are not topics like murder, robbery or cheating on an exam. I’m mostly talking about innocent things like embarrassing moments or complicated nerdy thought processes resulting in simple decisions or sexy daydreams or refusing to admit you didn’t know something that everyone but you seems to know.

Are there hidden thoughts, feelings or emotions relating to what you’d accept versus what you really want in a given situation? Do you find yourself outwardly professing a certain belief but inwardly knowing you could make huge exceptions under certain circumstances?

I don’t have much else to say about this. Just digging deep into a jar of food for thought and sharing a little with you tonight.

Elevators

Do you ever think about elevators? I didn’t think so. Next time you are on one, pay attention to the details and oddities associated with elevators. Elevators provide more than just effortless transportation to the upper floors of a building.

Here are some random observations and questions about elevators:

Which way do you face? Some (it seems most) people enter, push the button for their floor, turn and face the door and wait till they reach their destination. Others move to one side of the other with their back to the corresponding wall, which means they are standing with the door to their right or left rather than facing it.

Which way do you turn to find the row of buttons? In the building where I work there are buttons on both sides, but it seems that almost everyone turns left to find the buttons as they enter.

What do you look at? Do you make eye contact with other people riding with you? Do you avoid eye contact? Do you look at the display indicating each floor, maybe staring at it for the whole ride up? Do you read, check your cell phone, stare at your shoes?

Do you speak to anyone in the elevator? You probably do if it’s someone you know, but what, if anything, do you say to strangers? “Great weather.” “If you push 5 we’ll be stopping at every floor.” “How ‘bout them Redskins?” “That food smells great.” “Have a nice day.”

Do you know what an ‘elevator operator’ is? Elevators were not always automatic. There was a person in each elevator who was paid to operate the complex controls: Up, Stop, Down, Open, Close. You had to tell him what floor you wanted and (gasp!) he had to remember which floors to stop on.

Do you remember any specific elevators? I do. Three, in fact: the observation deck elevator in the Sears Tower in Chicago, which goes straight to the 103rd floor, the elevator in Chicago’s Hancock Building that goes non-stop to the bar on the 95th floor and the elevators in the Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles, which ride along vertical tracks on the exterior of the building.

My favorite perspective on elevators was inspired by the movie “Being There.” Peter Sellers plays Chance the gardener, who has never been out of the house where he grew up. He is now in his 60s and his entire knowledge of the outside world has come from watching television. His employer dies and the movie takes you through his various discoveries as he leaves the house and sees the real world in person for the first time. One of my favorite scenes is his first time in an elevator. From that perspective, an elevator is a small room. He even asks “what is this room?”

Think about it … you walk into it from one room, maybe a lobby, and the door closes behind you. If it is in an old elevator you might even sit on a bench. Nothing happens in that room except maybe a conversation with someone else who is in the elevator with you. A minute later the door opens again and you walk out but now you are a different room than the one where you started. How did that happen?



Ding! Six. My floor. Great chatting with you. Have a nice day.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Celebrate the Eclectic

If you are a regular reader or if you know me in real life, you know I have eclectic taste in music. My iPod on shuffle mode could yield this mix: Led Zepellin, Frank Sinatra, Kenny Chesney, Rachmaninof, Coldplay, Tommy Castro, Willie Nelson, Dave Matthews, the Beach Boys and Billie Holiday. It would all make sense to me. The playlist I’m listening to as I write this includes Santana, DMB, U2, Shinedown, The Cranberries and Elton John. It is not on shuffle; I made this one.

Most Boomers I know are stuck on one kind of music, usually songs they liked in high school. The funny thing is this: in the middle of the Boomer time frame, radio stations played a variety of songs almost as eclectic as my own taste. My earliest radio listening memories included a station that played the Rolling Stones back to back with Barbara Streisand.

I have always had the highest regard for people who are open to a wide variety of ideas. Eclectic is good and something that should be celebrated, in my opinion.

Music is not the only indicator of eclectic taste and openness of mind. Look around your home or work space. What is on your shelves or walls? Does your furniture match? If not, is it intentional mismatch?

My home office desk, where I’m sitting right now, is pure Office Depot, circa 1998. One lamp is a relic from the early 1960s, the other is 1930s style arts & crafts purchased last year at Target. The wall art: two poster prints purchased at the New Orleans Jazzfest a few years ago from the artists who created them.

Most of the other furniture is Scan or Ikea but there is an early 50s secretary in the corner (pictured at right). It belonged to my parents at one time. The art on the wall next to it are two of my mother’s paintings done in the 1970s and that 1920s looking portrait really is a 1920s photo of my great-grandfather. It is likely that the picture was taken in Sicily and the frame is of the same vintage as the photo.

A professional designer would likely say that none of it goes together but it all makes sense to me.

My friends are eclectic too. My closest friends range in age from 39 to 59; most but not all are female, most but not all are straight, most but not all are married. Hair color: brown, red, blond, black, gray. Geography: Maryland, Virginia, DC, Louisiana, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Hawaii, UK. Employment: education, media, mental health care, animal care, real estate, motherhood, retirement.

As I write about my eclectic friends and think about the variety of interests they each have, I realize one thing they all have in common: a love of music. Some of them have music tastes as eclectic as mine.

Well, that’s all for this post. No grand conclusion, other than that I encourage you to always be open to new ideas in all parts of your life. Celebrate the eclectic.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Smells Like

Here is another video mash-up of two unlikely songs. Enjoy.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Toby's New Song

I don't have anything else to say tonight, so here is some music. This is a special live performance of Toby Keith's latest song. I like this version but check out the audio CD version some time for an awesome beginning.

And the winner is …

The election results are in (mostly) and the winner is … to be determined.

The Republicans won back the House, Democrats still control the Senate and the American people will get either real compromise and change or worse gridlock than ever. It is much too early to tell. I am hopeful yet skeptical.

In my opinion, the election this week was NOT a mandate for the Republican viewpoint; it was a mandate for more change. That can be a good thing. One part of the traditional Republican stand that I agree with is the need for smaller government. Yes, registered Democrats like me can hold that view. Get over it. In fact that is one thing that backs up my belief that we do not live as Democrats or Republicans; we live as individuals with concerns about things that affect us on a personal level on a daily basis, like traffic jams and rude people at the grocery store.

One take away I have from all the television news election results babble this morning is that independents held the most influence at the polls yesterday. Those were the voters who looked at all sides and voted on issues and feelings more than party affiliation.

A Republican friend of mine who generally does not agree with me on party issues had one of the best pre-election attitudes: vote out all the incumbents! While I do not think that is necessarily practical and I would not vote against an incumbent just because they are already holding that office, I do feel that significant new blood in Congress is what we need right now.

Registering as an Independent is looking more attractive than ever and I think maybe it is time to think about term limits in Congress.

Here are my predictions for the next 2 ½ years:

Obama will be a one-term President. The second half of his term will be better than the first, but it’ll still be his only term. He’ll be blamed for things that aren’t his fault. If it plays out this way, he will consider resisting the urge to run for a second term but unless a dynamic potential Democratic candidate emerges in the next eight or nine months, party leaders will still look at him as the best choice and he may ultimately go along with that.

The Tea Party will eventually be exposed for what it is: the radical right. Sensible Republicans will take control of their party and nominate someone who can actually win. It will not be Palin, although she will be a powerful player. If I am wrong and it is her, and she becomes President,
I’ll consider moving to Italy for four years. Who is coming with me?

Congress will pretend to be getting along, but it’ll be the same gridlock crap as always. The House will try to repeal the entire health care bill, good parts and bad parts, the Senate will block it and the resulting compromise will be just as unclear as the current legislation. Meanwhile the economy will get better, which would happen anyway because that’s how cycles work; and of course the Republicans will try to take credit for the recovery. I’ll be the only person on the block who remembers that the crap economy began during Bush’s Presidency and that the deficit was almost non-existent at the end of Clinton’s second term.

The new Republican majority leader will be just as arrogant as Nancy Pelosi was on the Dem side but he’ll get away with it because arrogant Republicans are usually more fun than arrogant Democrats.

Fox News and MSNBC will continue to present obviously biased news coverage, far right and far left respectively, and I will finally stop watching either, mostly because I get a sore throat from yelling at my TV. My stress level is always lower after watching reruns of NCIS and Criminal Minds.

OK, enough of this for now. God bless America – we need it. Ciao!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Today’s PoliSci Lesson

So here is something I didn’t remember from Political Science class, or from the general knowledge we should all have as citizens and voters: House of Representative terms are two years and EVERY member of Congress is up for election every two years. Did you know that?

If it seems like your Congressperson has been around forever it might be because they keep winning re-election. There is no limit to how many terms they may serve.

Senate terms are six years long and one-third of the Senate is up for election every two years.

Presidential elections are every four years … I assume you do know that. The two-year election cycle for Congress happens in the middle of each Presidential four-year term; that is why it’s called the ‘mid-term’ election. Doh!

I should know this stuff. You should too. Just sayin’.

Class dismissed.

Quotus Randomus

And when you've found another soul, who sees into your own--take good care of each other.
-Jackson Browne

Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.
- Ghandi

You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life
- Winston Churchill

Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.
- Dr. Seuss

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
- Steve Jobs

Never give up on a dream just because of the length of time it takes to accomplish it. The time will pass.
- Not Sure

Who you were might explain some things but it’s who you are now that counts.
- I Wrote This One

Monday, November 1, 2010

Flip A Coin?

Tomorrow is Election Day. The right to vote for our leaders is a fundamental and precious right we have as Americans. It is the mid-term election, a time when many seats in Congress are up for grabs and in my state more singularly significant offices like state governor are also in the voting mix.

The challenge comes when you don’t like any of the choices or when you’re not even sure what you are voting on or why.

Among my choices tomorrow are Register of Wills and Judge of the Orphan’s Court. For one thing, I don’t understand why Register of Wills is an elected position and not an appointed position, or more realistically, a government job. And there is only one candidate running for that office, unless I want to write one in. Hmm, maybe I could be the Register of Wills. And that Orphan’s Court thing? I just don’t know anything about that, but I can vote for up to three of the six candidates. Or, you guessed it, I can write some in.

The three most important offices on my ballot tomorrow, in my opinion, are Maryland State Governor, U.S. Senator for Maryland and U.S. Congressional Representative for my district. That Senate choice is easy for me: Barbara Mikulski! She is smart, sassy, outspoken, loved by many of her constituents and appears to be immune to special interests. Representative? I’ll vote for the Democrat but mostly because I don’t like the Republican. But no matter who I vote for, that Repub will win; he usually wins by 70% or more. He will keep winning till he decides to stop running.

I do not like either candidate for Maryland Governor. The odd thing about this race is that the current Governor is running against the previous Governor. Unlike most candidates, both of these guys have a four year record of what they each actually did rather than what they say they would do. Neither was bad for the state, but I don’t think either was all that good for it either. And most of the ads for both blame the other for things that the Governor doesn’t have all that much control over anyway.

Even when the choices aren’t good or the delineation between candidates is unclear, the fact that we have a choice is the most important part and I will exercise that right tomorrow. Then I will probably high-five someone because I’ll be so happy knowing that the political ads will finally be off my radio and television.

I'm Bernie and I approved this message.