Monday, January 31, 2011

Hello Dalai

A good friend sent me and some of her other friends a slide show featuring awesome photos and some quotes by the Dalai Lama. Here are four quotes that I like.

Take into account that great love and
great achievements involve great risk.

Live a good, honorable life. Then
when you get older and think back,
you’ll be able to enjoy it a second time.

Remember the best relationship is
one in which your love for each
other exceeds your need for each other.

Approach love and cooking with
reckless abandon.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Birthday Stuff

Two ways I wanted to celebrate my birthday were 1) listen to a live blues band (my favorite music) and 2) spend time with at least one friend. I did both. A few weeks ago I searched for local places that might have blues bands on my birthday weekend and found one in nearby Baltimore. I had never heard of the band, checked their web site and decided they might be fun. Then I asked a couple of old friends who live in Baltimore to join me and one was available.

The band was great, even better than expected. I can’t believe I had never heard of them before. The bar was insanely crowded, however, so we didn’t say all that long. My friend does event promotion consulting and knows many people in the restaurant business so she suggested a couple of other places for us to haunt. We met some other friends of hers at one of them and we all had a great time.

Something I forgot about Baltimore is how neighborhood-focused that town is and how many neighborhood bars and restaurants there are there. Some have been around for decades, like the one with the blues band, and other are relatively new, like our last stop. I had not been in either of the two neighborhoods we visited in more than twenty years, yet I still knew my way around. Some things never change.

One thing I have done for the past ten years or more is to reconnect with friends and family from my past. That kind of connection gives me perspective on my life, reinforces my need for an anchor and to some degree for purpose. I also like to see how people’s lives turned out, what directions their lives have taken since I last spent time with them.

Another interesting thing about this birthday is the quantity of well wishes I got on face book. I feel the love and it’s a great feeling.

Gifts, well wishes, texts, fun time with an old friend and live blues … I definitely had a happy birthday.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Why Does It Matter?

The number you get when you subtract the year of your birth from the current year is just a number. For most of us it is a two-digit number. My birthday is this week and my number is between 47 and 65, which makes me a ‘baby boomer’. My oldest friends know the exact number because they’re been in my life for a long time. Friends I’ve had for 25 years or less might be able to guess the number if it mattered to them; it generally does not matter to them. Friends I’ve made within the past ten years generally would not be able to guess; that’s my impression anyway.

I know the age of nearly everybody I know but the only people I ever say my age to are doctors and one fitness trainer who couldn’t understand why I would claim a higher number than the real one. Bless her. I have to admit that I am quite obsessed with ignoring my number. My mother had the same obsession and maybe that is where I learned it. She was significantly older than the mothers of my elementary school classmates but she only looked a little older. There was age bias even then and it definitely exists now. That is part of my hang up.

Certain kinds of behavior are associated with specific age ranges. It makes sense in some cases, teens for example. They are basically old children and are in a volatile period of their lives when they are learning to become adults. Forty-year-olds have achieved some kind of maturity and life experience and their behavior, manner of dress and attitudes are much different than that of teens, as it should be. Eighty-year-olds are at a point in their lives where bodies and brains are wearing down but in many cases they can do everything they did in their 40s, just at a slower, more careful pace.

Culturally there is a big difference between a 16-year-old and an 80-year-old. Few octogenarians will be in the audience at a Lady Gaga concert, for example. But what is the real difference between a 47-year-old and a 65-year-old, the bookend ages of boomers? Many at the low end of that range are just achieving their career goals while many at the other end are retiring. However, I have a friend who retired from her first career in her forties and I have a 66-year-old co-worker. Does the age number matter to either of them? I have a 50-something friend who recently married a 70-something man. Does the number matter to them?

American culture worships youth; we used to respect our elders but that is largely a thing of the past. Yet some of our favorite famous people are older than they seem. Some examples: Bono (50), Madonna (52), Kevin Costner (56), Pat Benatar (58), Bruce Springsteen (61), Diane Sawyer (65), Sam Waterston (70), Barbara Walters (80). None of them have retired. Each in their own way is a role model for aging; each defies the stereotype.

I defy the stereotype too, but I am still reluctant to say the number. I am not at either end of the boomer range but a 62-year-old lawyer recently told me I look 47. I’ll go with that because that’s how I feel and act. Of course, just saying that indicates that I also buy into some of the negative attitudes associated with age. But they are other people’s attitudes, not mine. I’ll get over this hurdle and one day people will be writing about me in an article like this one … in thirty or forty years.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Price of Stress Relief

Stress relief costs $129, plus tax. I'll explain in a minute.

The big weather-related story for the Washington DC area in 2010 was the blizzard of early February. Snowmageddon ultimately involved four feet of snow, breaking all records. Most movement in the entire region stopped, airports were closed, trains were not running, the local subway and bus system was shut down for days. Most roads were impassable for days.  Everybody has a story to tell about that week. Weather forecasters predicted that one accurately, from start time to snowfall totals. The storm was a slow and steady event and, all things considered, it was relatively easy for the general public and emergency officials to adjust to the conditions.

The biggest weather story around here for 2011, so far, happened yesterday. It was a quick but powerful storm dumping snow at the rate of 3 inches per hour. That storm started just a little bit earlier than the insanely long 'normal' DC area commute usually begins. As conditions rapidly deteriorated, the Federal Government and hundreds of local businesses decided to close early, all at the same time, dumping a quantity of vehicles normally travelling over a four or five hour period onto the roads all at once. Commutes that normally take 15 or 20 minutes took three or four hours. Some commutes that are usually an hour took six hours. Some drivers abandoned their cars, adding to the mess.

I attempted to leave work at 4:30, at the beginning of the road mess. Long story short, 45 minutes and two different routes later I was still less than a mile from the office. My usually 42-mile ride home takes more than an hour in afternoon drive time. I felt my stress level rising as I 'flew' down the road at a blistering 2 mph. "No, not gonna do this," I said out loud to myself and I returned to my office. I called the hotel next door, the one my company used to have a good relationship with, to see how much a room would be. They said $129, plus tax. That is more than I wanted to pay, a lot more than I did pay the last two times I stayed there but less than it could have been. A comfy room, free internet and no stress.

No snow in the forecast for today, I'm leaving work early and I get to sleep in my own house tonight. Low stress … except that it snowed 13 inches at home and unless a kind neighbor with a snow blower cleared some of my driveway I'll be digging out a Honda-length space with a shovel tonight. Ugh.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

State of the Union Randomness

Whoever decided to rearrange the seating at tonight’s State of the Union address should get an award. Intermingling Dems and Repubs was a symbolic showing of bipartisanship and my skeptical side laughed when I first heard about it. But the result actually appeared genuine and civil.

The President made his points and many of them signaled a willingness to deal with issues more than party rhetoric. The Republican response was almost as genuine. I found my off button long before the tea party whininess, uhh I mean 'response'.

All of that ‘in front of the camera’ civility and spirit of co-operation is great, but it remains to be seen if it lasts. My idealistic side says it will, my realistic side says it won’t.

For the past 26 years I have lived an hour’s drive or less from the Capitol but I have never been to a session of Congress. Shame on me. There is a public gallery and it is not all that difficult to get in. I think the process starts with a simple request to your Representative or Senator. As part of my job I have interviewed Senators and Representatives from Louisiana, Nebraska, Arkansas, Wisconsin, California and Georgia. I should have just asked one of them.

Hmm, I’ve been a registered voter in Maryland for the same 26 years and have never interviewed my own Representatives or Senators. I’m going to fix that this year. I also plan to ask one of them for an invite to a session.

I thought the President’s initiatives relating to education and infrastructure are on-target and necessary. The voice on my left side says that is something the government should fund. The little whispering voice on my right side wonders how we’ll pay for it.

The best part of all of this is that the American form of government allows for and encourages spirited debate of multiple points of view and as a country we usually eventually get it right. Sometimes I hate the debate and the crap that often comes with it, but I wouldn’t trade this for anything. God bless America!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Another Quote

Happiness comes of the capacity to feel deeply, to enjoy simply, to think freely, to risk life, to be needed.
- Storm Jameson

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Optimistic Randomness

- The sun is out today, helping to offset the 23 degree temperature.

- We’re just 29 days from the Daytona 500, the first Sprint Cup race of the NASCAR season.

- There are only two things on my agenda today: completely straighten out my home office and work out on my treadmill. If I achieve those goals, I will post pictures of both.

- OK, there is a third thing: I am trying a soup recipe a friend sent me. Maybe I’ll photograph that too.

- This afternoon two of the three guest dogs at my house are going to another house for awhile… fortunately it’s the two who make the most noise. The little bitty quiet one remains for awhile.

- I have awesome friends. Yesterday I reached out to two I hadn’t been in touch with for a few months and got quick replies to my email. One lives in Hawaii and was almost serious when she said it was cold there (all the way down to 64 last night). The other lives 20 minutes from me but has been busy helping her boyfriend recover from injuries. More reaching out happening later today.

- The Chianti I was drinking last night was yummy. More tonight.

A Happy Quote

The place to be happy is here,
the time to be happy is now,
the way to be happy is to make others so.
- from some silly little quote book

Saturday, January 22, 2011

This Song Is Playing In My Head

This song is not about sadness or depression, it is about suggestion and hope, living life to the fullest and not making excuses. I don't know about you, but I need to hear this every day.

Friday, January 21, 2011

What If You ...

What if you only had two months to live? How would you feel and what would you do with that time?

If you are a 40-something patient at one of the most respected hospitals in the country and the doctors tell you the cancer is back, it has spread to several places in your body, there is nothing they can to fix it and you will die within months, possibly as few as two, would you be in denial? Would you pin them down for a more precise estimate? Would you ask if the pain you're in now will get worse during that time? Would you ask if you can go home or travel or have visitors? Would you pray? Would you call hospice?

This is actually a current situation with someone I know, a friend of a friend. For privacy reasons I'll call the friend M and the patient D. D is M's best friend; they talk by phone for hours every day, as women often do. Even though they had a falling out at one point, they have been good friends for many years. M helped D through periods of surgery and chemo a few years ago. D knew there was always a chance the cancer could return but she hoped it wouldn't and she maintained a fairly healthy lifestyle to hedge her bet. But the excruciating back pain of the past couple of weeks turned out to be her worst nightmare. Today she got the official diagnosis.

D, of course, is distraught and angry. M is devastated and showing concern and emotion I have rarely seen from her. As I write this, I can only guess how D is feeling, but I know exactly how M feels because she sent me this note:

This is so depressing. They said she had, maybe, two months. Jeez. You know she's about 8 years younger than I am. I have never had a close friend die. I feel like I'm walking around in someone else's body, doing things, and just watching my hands do things. I look out over my nose, but it isn't my nose, it is just there, cast in stone. I can see my eyelashes, but they aren't mine. I can't even put makeup on, because I'll just cry it off. I can't think. And most amazingly, I can't eat. I just want to go to bed and pull the covers over my head, and hope it was all a very bad dream.

How would you feel?

I think I know how I would feel. I am sometimes so blindly optimistic that my first twenty questions would be versions of: how do we fix this because I am just not ready to die?! When they finally convinced me that there is no fix, then I would want a timeline. If I could survive on my own for at least a few weeks I would cash in my savings and book a trip to New Orleans, Asheville, Milwaukee, Kona and London, cities where the most important non-local people in my life live. If I couldn't travel, I would book trips for all of them to come see me.

It is easy for me to say all of this because I am not in that position. But the older I get, the more death I see and the more I think about my own mortality. I want to say I live for today, but I'm still learning how to do that. I am a history buff and a futurist; my present is often fuzzy.

However, the present is all we have, isn't it? Our future is the sum of moments in the present. We can and should plan for a long, healthy future but we should also live as if today was the last one. For some people it is.

The Ads You Won’t See

My fifth-favorite team (Green Bay) is the only one with a chance to even be in the Super Bowl this year so if I watch the game, it might only be to watch the commercials. I make radio commercials for a living, so I do have more interest in them than the average channel surfer, but so many are so bad that I often mentally tune them out even before physically tuning them out.

Commercials aired during the Super Bowl, however, are the elite, the best of the best. They are often created just for play during the game broadcast, produced at great cost and aired at even greater cost. Some are memorable and a few even get played again at some other time.

Some TV ads designed for play in the big game broadcast never air. They are rejected by the advertisers or the network. Reasons run from too edgy to too disrespectful to too distasteful. The two below were rejected because someone considered them offensive on religious grounds.

I happen to think they were done in good taste and poke only gentle fun at the religious side of things. You be the judge. And maybe step back a little from your computer … out of range of the lightning bolt.

CLICK HERE for an article with more info about these and others.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

It’s the Same Old Crap

As one of the new Republican Congressmen was casting his vote Wednesday, he said the American people voted the new members in to repeal the health care law. What f-ing planet is that moron on? The American people voted for candidates to bring about change, to fix problems with real issues and to stop partisan gridlock. So the first thing the new Congress does is to dedicate their first vote to bringing back partisan gridlock. They know a ‘repeal health care’ bill will not pass the Senate and even if it did, the margin would be small and, of course, the President would veto it. That takes time that the ‘new Congress’ could spend bringing about change and fixing problems, but instead there will be more senseless delays in getting anything done. Same old crap!

Most surveys I’ve seen say the American people do want many of the things addressed in the health care bill passed by the previous session of Congress, but there are concerns over how that is to be accomplished. If the ‘new Congress’ really wanted to do what the American people elected them to do, they would try to change just the parts of the bill that these same surveys indicate are of concern to many people, specifically provisions that involve plenty of government intrusion into private lives. THAT is what the American people want. Instead, we have the same old crap!

What about job creation? What about improving education, What about fixing our rapidly deteriorating infrastructure? What about eliminating earmarks? What about reducing the insanely out-of-control deficit which, by the way, was IN control at the end of the last Democratic administration? Oh wait, I’m being partisan here. Sorry. Not really.

Actually, it’s no secret I’m a slightly-left-of-center Democrat, but I truly believe most of the American people are centrists and the best of us listen to multiple points of view and base our opinions and decisions on a balance of unbiased information. That’s what the American people want our elected leaders to do, isn’t it?

But now we already see that we have the same old crap. Now the arrogant Republican bullies who are in charge are doing the same bullshit that the previous arrogant, bullying Democrats did. What happened to politicians paying attention to us, their constituents, the people who elected them to represent us? Why should I expect that? Hell, I guess I’m just one of the lowly ‘people’ who don’t really know what we want. Except I happen to have a weekly, issues-based show on five radio stations in Washington, DC. Hmm, maybe I should abandon my usual policy of keeping my opinion to myself and actually say what I think about some of this crap. I might be accused of lacking civility, but my response to that is I am following the example of our leaders.

My friend Linda’s suggestion to replace EVERY Congressperson and Senator sounds better to me every day.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Dream Randomness

Dreams are pretty odd things, aren’t they? I’m talking about the dreams you have in your sleep. Do they mean anything?

I am skeptical about dream analysis; I find it hard to believe the little movies that play in your head while you sleep are indicators of anything specific. They might contain glimpses of people or events in your life, present and past, but probably are not a predictor of any future.

My dreams are not as bizarre as a Tim Burton movie but they do have bizarre connections. The main character of one of my dreams might start as a real person from my life but then will morph into a different acquaintance or a total stranger. Sometimes the plot is close to my reality but characters from other unrelated parts of my life are in it.

During that first few seconds of waking in mid dream, I can tell how deep I was sleeping by where I am in the dream. If I was an observer of the action, I was not sleeping well. If I was actually IN the dream, as a character interacting with other characters, then I was in deep sleep. Is this normal? Do you have this experience?

Sometimes I have dreams in which I am falling or where there seems to be a stranger in the room. Those dreams wake me up, startle me in fact. But they have never been indicators of reality.

The oddest dream I ever had was also the first dream I can remember having. I was a kid, riding in the back of a yellow 1957 Plymouth taxi. A female angel was driving. Really! OK, nothing is real about that but I remember it vividly, as if it happened and as if it was yesterday and not decades ago. As a very young child I was a car geek (I can identify most car years and models made between the late 30s through the mid 60s, even though I wasn’t around for most of that time period) and I grew up Catholic, so angel stories were part of my childhood. But I don’t really believe in angels, at least not the white winged versions we were taught about, and I don’t know that I’ve ever been in a 1957 Plymouth.

I would tell you about recent dreams but I can’t remember any. I had at least two last night, one where I was an observer and one where I was a participant. Work friends were in the character mix as were a couple of non-work friends and some strangers. The memory usually fades within minutes of waking up. So why can I remember one I had as a child?

Sometimes I have wide-awake visions of possible future scenes but I’m not sure if I should call them premonitions. One way I make things happen in my life is to visualize outcomes; sometimes I write them, painting a word picture of a scene I want to experience. I should dig through my “life box” (it’s an actual box where I keep writings, journals and photographs) to see if any of my word pictures happened.

I planned to wrap up this post with a neat little reference to studies of dream interpretation. A Google search for ‘dream analysis’ produced 258,000 results. Jung and Freud were quoted and the feud between them was also noted. But my quick scan of Wikipedia (the Cliff Notes of real research) revealed nothing conclusive and you must be dreaming if you think I’m going to dig through the other 257,999 links to find a witty conclusion. Anyway, it’s almost my bed time, so I’m off to sleep. Sweet dreams!

Great Idea

This is too funny. I must share.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Let It

This song is in my head this morning. It won't go away. I was humming it as I spread ice melt on my sidewalk and poured the last drops of windshield cleaner into my car.

Monday, January 17, 2011


Today is the official Martin Luther King Holiday. The company I work for has always recognized it as a holiday of choice for anyone who chooses to take it but this is the first year it is a ‘close-the-office’ holiday. However I chose to work it, partly because I know I won’t be interrupted with new assignments and partly because I celebrate this great American’s legacy in other ways.

King Day has been officially observed as a holiday for all Americans since 1986 yet some people still believe it to be primarily an observance for African-Americans. The freedoms Dr. King fought for were primarily for black citizens at the time of his public life because that segment of the population was the most single-out for hatred and discrimination during the 1960s. But many groups were considered minority based only on skin color or religion, including Asian, Hispanic, Jewish and Catholic. The ‘majority’ white population of the era often claimed the United States as theirs exclusively, even though all of them/us were the generational offspring of immigrants.

Even though racism was all around me growing up, I always questioned it. I didn’t understand it. All the black people I knew before high school were friendly and caring … both of them. Sadly, that’s how it was in New Orleans then, before, during and after Dr. King’s era. Something I didn’t know about my hometown then was that the first black child to attend an all-white school was 6-year-old Ruby Bridges and that school was in New Orleans.

Her story is better told in this article I found recently. (click here) A few details: Parents and others surrounded the school and threw things at her. Local police refused to protect her, so federal agents escorted her into the building. White parents refused to send their kids to school if a black kid was in it, so Ruby was the only student in the whole school on the first day. Teachers refused to teach her, so one was flown in from Boston. This sounds like the plot for a bad movie, but it is all true and happened only fifty years ago.

But I don’t have to go through all of this today, do I? You know the details and feelings, either because you lived through them or you studied them in school. The question today is this: did Dr. King’s dream come true? Are people judged by the content of their character or by arbitrary us-versus-them factors? I think most people would agree that things improved for all Americans of all backgrounds. Today might be a good day to consider whether more should be done to realize the dream, not more regulation but more from our hearts.

In case you've never seen it, here is the complete speech ... 12 minutes well worth spending.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Cosmic Connection and other Random Thoughts

Are some people connected cosmically? I truly think so. It fits my beliefs about soul mates and to some extent spirituality. I have only had that connection with a few people in my life. I don’t know what it means but it gets my attention. It is more than just finishing each other’s sentences, it’s saying or thinking the same thing at the same time; sometimes it’s even about doing the same things at the same time in different locations. Freaky. But it happens.

You’ve heard the concept that some people believe they have a bad luck cloud hovering over them. I believe I have a good luck cloud hovering over me. There are countless examples in my life of things working out, success in the face of eminent failure, achieving things nobody thought I could achieve. I count on this good luck cloud. Sometimes people close to me benefit from the cloud cover.

Logic tells me astrology is myth. Decades of observation tells me there is at least some reality to it. Nearly every Virgo I know is critical, nearly every Gemini I know changes opinion on a dime (multiple times in an hour), nearly every Aquarian I know is a dreamer, nearly every Sagittarius I know is spontaneous and a little bit ADD, nearly every Taurus I know is extremely stubborn, nearly every Leo I know is some kind of performer basking in the glow of a spotlight, Cancers are moody and secretive.

I usually don’t believe in ghosts or in the idea that dead people are watching over us, but every now and then I solve a problem using an analytical process I “feel” with just a hint of my Dad’s voice in it. When that happens, is it a skill I learned from Dad or is it the ghost of my dead Dad watching over me? Spooky, isn’t it? (I should have posted this on Halloween).

I have questions about who or what God is and I make no apology for having questions. My most consistent answer is that God is the thing that connects all of us. Not necessarily a person, not necessarily an all-powerful and controlling entity playing with us like a marionette, but something cosmic or spiritual. Maybe it is chemical. Maybe it is something humans invented as a way to explain the unexplainable. I’ll accept all of those as possibilities. I will not accept any one religion’s dogmatic explanation as the only explanation. The organized religion I am most closely aligned to generally encourages its members to seek wisdom from a variety of sources. Works for me!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

New Signs?

Reading the daily horoscope is fun but few people really believe that those little paragraphs mean much. Digging into personality characteristics associated with various astrological signs reveals another outcome: those often seem to be consistent.

I am an Aquarius and I fit most of the traits I have read about that sign: original, inventive, humanitarian, independent, stubborn, rebellious and aloof.

My closest friends and acquaintances are mostly Sagittarius (independent, adventurous, positive), Pisces (compassionate, accepting, devoted, over sensitive), Virgo (analytical, reliable, fussy, inflexible) and Leo (confident, ambitious, loyal, domineering). Oddly, only one of those signs, Sagittarius, is among the ones I am supposedly most compatible with. Who knew?

But now there is news spreading across the internet that there are new dates connected to the signs and there is a whole new sign. WTF?!

Every Sagittarius I know is now an Ophiuchus. Uhhhh.

And I am now a Capricorn? No way! I have friends in that sign, but most Capricorns I know are moody and detached. Hopefully I am neither.

People who truly believe in this stuff are shocked. And maybe confused. If personality traits really are influenced by alignment of stars and planets, does this mean there will be new definitions of what each sign means? Will our personalities change? Will we discover that we are individuals after all and this stuff didn’t mean anything anyway?

Will older boomers have to rename the Age of Aquarius? I’m not so sure the Age of Capricorn makes for good song lyrics. What is the first word you can think of that rhymes with Capricorn?

I was tempted to post the new lineup here but I won’t. As silly as it is, I am sticking to the former sign names and date ranges. Remember I am both stubborn and rebellious.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Guns and Radio

There has been much talk this week about some possible connection between radio talk shows, weak gun laws and the horrific acts of a deranged shooter in Arizona.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know I dislike extreme radio talk shows and maybe you know I think gun laws should be stronger. Some talk show hosts are dangers to society, in my opinion, but they do have the right to speak their crap. Sometimes listeners believe what they hear on those shows and some may even engage in bad behavior they think the show host is encouraging. But that was probably not the case in Tucson.

Gun laws are generally weak, in my opinion, and there are enough loop holes that any nut job can get a gun as easily as any law-abiding citizen. I have fired guns, by the way; everything from BB guns to shotguns to 22s to M16s. I am fascinated by the mechanics. I am saddened by the general attitude that there is anything good about firearms. I will never own one. I will find other ways to defend and protect my family, friends and country. Weak gun laws probably did contribute in some way to the Arizona shootings but that nut job was quite persistent and probably would have found a way to do what he did even if the laws were stronger.

What really bothers me is that some people are trying to make political statements based on the acts of one mentally disturbed guy (I won’t call him a man). This guy needed help, appears to have acted alone and was not especially making any kind of statement. He is a nut job, plain and simple. What does bother me about the connection between radio, weak gun laws and tragedy is that there actually are ‘sane’ people in our country who are capable of those kinds of acts and media loudmouths combined with a gun-loving society can lead to senseless killing. But the incident in Tucson is not one of those situations, in my opinion.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

My New Fave

I love those GEICO commercials.  They are among my favorites.  But I have a new favorite TV spot that is not GEICO.

Enjoy ...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Anniversaries and birthdays mean a lot to me but not because of the numbers.  However I do pay attention to numbers.  I used to have an incredible memory for numbers, like the phone number for a car repair shop in my neighborhood in college.

Combinations of numbers often mean something to me.  Some examples: 092768, 120370, 071809.  By the way, none of those are passwords to anything.

I see numbers in color.  Psychologists reading this might be able to explain that to me.  My favorite number is 7 (which I see in dark green).  I'm also fond of 3 (yellow) and 5 (black).

And just for the hell of it, I'm going to attempt to post this silliness today, 1/11/11, at 11:11 AM.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Process Update 1.0

Good news/bad news about 'focus' and goal-setting … those strategies inherently mean prioritization. Assuming that all of the items can't be done, which ones are more important? Which come first? What are the priorities?

So the first thing bumped off my list for the next two months is my Italian Lesson. I was all set to sign up, filled out the form, started searching web sites for the text book and then … realized that I have so many things on my plate for the next two to three months that I can't really commit to that two hours every Thursday night for 10 weeks in a row without letting something else suffer. There are many priorities for this part of this year that are more important right now than learning Italian. It sucks. I really want to move forward with that. For now, however, it will have to wait. Next session starts in the summer. Hopefully I can start the lessons then.

One reason I want to learn Italian is ‘family heritage’ and another is a trip to Italy that I have planned in my head. I will enjoy that adventure more if I can speak the language a little. The trip is also on hold for now … damn priorities. I have also pushed back my Grand Canyon dream for now. That one requires being physically fit and I’m not there or even close.

But a recent text conversation led me to move another travel plan from third place to first place, partly because no fitness or language lessons are involved and partly because it is slightly more affordable than the other two. This one will also have to wait, but maybe not as long.


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Drummer Battle: Rich or Beauford?

This post is inspired by a co-worker's facebook post about awesome drummers. Any drummer will tell you Buddy Rich was one of the best. The peak of his career was the 1950s and 1960s but he continued to perform till right before his death in the 1980s.

Here is a Buddy Rich drum solo from 1970:

Somewhat more modern drummers on the ‘best of’ list would include Neil Peart (Rush) and John Bonham (Led Zeppelin).

But my contemporary fave is Carter Beauford from the Dave Matthews Band. You can tell he is inspired by Buddy Rich but his style is his own.

CLICK HERE for a Carter Beauford from a concert in 2006:

Buddy and Carter are each incredibly talented. Both seem to have fun while performing and almost make it look easy.

Sunday Randomness

The Saints, Redskins and Cowboys are my three favorite teams. The Redskins and the Cowboys, the two best teams in the NFL at one time years ago, didn’t even make it to the playoffs this year and the defending Super Bowl champion Saints played like crap last night and lost. Sucks.

I was a temporary Colts fan last night because of the friends I was hanging out with and the Colts lost too. So neither team from last year’s Super Bowl will be in this year’s big game.

Sometimes it appears I’m a big drinker but I’m not. I usually stop at two. Last night I stopped at four beers but I was in that bar for four hours so that is not unreasonable.

Although I’m not a big drinker I do want to find a bar where everyone knows my name, my own version of Cheers. The neighborhood joint last night was partly what I have in mind … friendly, not too big, not too slick, interesting food … the perfect place for watching sports events. But I really want a somewhat quieter place.

Part of that self-discovery journey I’ve been writing about for a couple of years involves expanding my social life. I want to spend more time with different people. As unfair as it may be at times, I study people. It’s my thing; nobody else really has to understand it. Last night was great because the two people in my party are so “studyable.” One is someone I’ve known for years but only spent social time with once before. The other is an acquaintance of hers that I’ve never met before. Both are interesting and complicated … great subjects for my amateur psychology interests. They were fun too.

The only specific thing on my agenda for today is to go to the gym. There are many other things I should do and have to do, but I’m feeling very lazy. Guess I’ll waste a little more time on this computer then I’ll get to that stuff.

Enjoy your day.

Saturday, January 8, 2011


Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday Elvis Presley
Happy birthday to you.

He would have been 76 today.  Maybe he still is.  One of the best lines in the movie Men In Black: Elvis isn't dead, he just went home.


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Random Stuff From the Past Few Weeks

Had three margaritas tonight. More than my norm. They were good. So was the company of four co-worker friends.

Still feeling good about my recent road trip. One of the best ever.

Totally enjoyed watching and listening to a good friend play Gershwin on an awesome piano recently.

A Seattle Seahawks fan friend wants to make a bet about the upcoming playoff game against my Saints, but I might have to admit to him that I don’t understand point spreads. I just want to bet on winner or loser. Hope this lack of knowledge doesn’t affect the point spread on my man card.

Had a great lunch with my best friend from high school during my trip. Haven’t seen him so happy and positive in a long time. Hope he can keep that attitude.

A work friend’s mother died a few days ago. It was a long time coming so she had plenty of time to prepare for her loss. So far she has reacted well. Should I warn her that she’ll probably have moments of deep, tearful grief, often when she least expects it? If I’m in her vicinity when that happens, I will definitely tell her that is normal.

One of my happy hour friends gave me a tour of her Blackberry tonight. I’m thinking about getting one. My current cell phone only makes calls, texts and crappy pictures. Yes, sometimes I am so 1999.

Another cool road trip moment: a long conversation with another old friend from high school, sitting on a lake-side bench enjoying scenery we often shared back then.

Work is crazybusy like always but remembering ‘focus,’ my keyword of the year, is helping me cope. I think I made a good choice of keyword this year.

Quotemus Randomus 2

Every end is a new beginning
- Proverb

For last year’s words belong to last year’s language, and next year’s words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning.
- T.S. Eliot

Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.
- Confucius

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A da Vinci Quote

"It had long since come to my attention that people of
accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them.
They went out and happened to things."

-- Leonardo da Vinci

Monday, January 3, 2011

Getting Weighed

This morning I got on the scale for the first time since November 15th. I’ve been eating holiday food, New Orleans food and stress-induced vending machine binge food and didn’t work out for much of December. My weight today is … exactly the same as it was when I last blogged about it, which is one pound more than the lowest in a decade. How did I not gain weight with all that eating? My shape did change a bit and the upper body muscle I began to develop relocated to mid section. But Since beginning my ‘process’ I have returned to the gym a couple of times and even hit the hotel treadmill once near the end of my road trip. I’ll be back in shape quickly. But I am seriously surprised that I didn’t gain weight.

Half Empty or Half Full

If you read this blog regularly, you know I am generally an optimist and a fairly realistic one. So these observations will not surprise you:

My New Orleans Saints lost yesterday ... but they are in the playoffs anyway and as unlikely as it seems, they could actually be in the Super Bowl again.

My Washington Redskins lost yesterday ... again! They have lost too many games this season, especially considering all the big changes they made. But as the announcer pointed out, most of their losses were by 6 points or less, many even only 3 points. That is a good sign.

It's back to work today after many holidays and vacation days and there are no more days off for a few months. Fortunately I love my job.

Yes, I really do refer to a glass containing 50% of it's capacity as 'half full'.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Orleans - The Cathedral

St. Louis Cathedral is the dominant feature on Jackson Square, the original center of New Orleans. I am not very religious but I do enjoy photographing churches. This one faces the square and is flanked by buildings that are now museums. The cathedral is an impressive structure with visually interesting architectural features.

The Cathedral-Basilica of St. Louis King of France (its full name) is the oldest Catholic cathedral in continuous use in the United States. Churches on this site date back to 1727. The original church was destroyed in a fire in 1788, a new building was completed in 1794 and extensive additions were built in the mid 1800s.

Click here for a more detailed history.

Visit my photo blog for more photographs.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

My January Process

Long-time readers might remember that I go through a ‘process’ at this time each year. Beginning on New Year’s Day and continuing till my birthday near the end of January, I look back at the previous year and make some plans for the coming year. This process incorporates the best features of resolutions and goal-setting, getting just specific enough to give me progress markers but not as specific as those New Year’s resolutions we all break every year.

Looking back over the twenty years I’ve been doing this, I made plenty of life progress using this technique. I found two jobs, significantly improved my professional skills, bought two houses, stayed in decent health, survived the emotional effects of losing both parents, took some great vacations, attempted a return to college, rekindled my passion for photography, reconnected with family and friends and found some love along the way. Every one of those accomplishments was the result of my January process.

Today I’ve been thinking about the past two years. I took two of the best vacations of my life, both road trips through the same cities. I made an awesome new friend and even though it is unfair to rank such things, I list her among my top two or three friends. I continued to grow a friendship that began back in high school; that awesome friend probably knows me better than anyone on the planet except maybe my wives. (Pausing for a moment while you laugh or roll your eyes).

In 2009 and 2010 my career made some big jumps in terms of responsibility and relative job security. I survived another major management change at work and became a team leader (which for me is better than an actual promotion to manager). I was elected to the local board for my union and I was invited to serve on a task force for a local service organization.

How do these things connect specifically with the decisions of my process of January, 2010?  Here is part of my post on that topic:

This year will be about finishing some things I started in the fall. It’ll also be about music, photography, travel, cooking, Italian lessons, hiking, friendship building, career networking and being totally me.

Results: That ‘thing’ I started in fall 2009 is still dragging, partly due to my own procrastination, but I recently made big progress in moving it along. Details coming later. Music, photography, cooking, friendship building, career networking and being totally me came along nicely. Without boring you with the details, I’ll just say I hit many of those goals and had fun along the way. Italian lessons? Put that off for awhile. It’s on the agenda again for next year. Travel? One trip but it was great! Hiking? Nothing happened on that one but I did hit the gym quite a bit; that was a parallel goal.

So what is ahead in my 2011?

That ‘thing’ I referred to will get resolved. My friends will hear an update within the next few weeks. It will be longer before I can explain that here. Music (concerts, bars and maybe even play some), photography (more than ever), friendship building (seeing my out of town friends more than once a year and spending more time with my local friends) are all on the list. Travel might be on hold for financial reasons but friends might be visiting me. I’ll be checking the web site for the Italian lessons right after posting this post.

In other words, many of my goals from last year are still goals for this year. But I am only on Day One of the process. There are other goals floating in my head and for this to work I need to spell things out a bit more specifically. I mentioned in a recent post that my keyword for the coming year is ‘focus.’ The keyword concept and my process concept work in tandem. My top focus has to be that ‘thing’ I mentioned. It is a gatekeeper action; everything else comes together after that thing happens. Nothing else is as important to me in 2011 as getting past that obstacle. I might explain that in greater detail later or I might not. It is personal and my closest friends know what I’m talking about.

So, there you have it. The process has begun. Updates to follow.

Thanks for visiting my blogs. Please leave comments. Tell me about your plans for 2011.

Happy New Year!!