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Showing posts from January, 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.

Birthday Stuff

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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. S…

Why Does It Matter?

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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…

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. …

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 Represent…

Another Quote

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

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 …

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

This Song Is Playing In My Head

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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.

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 …

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 on…

It’s the Same Old Crap

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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 Congres…

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…

Great Idea

This is too funny. I must share.

David Sedaris on Letterman - watch more funny videos

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.

Race

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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 …

Cosmic Connection and other Random Thoughts

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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 critica…

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 …

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 an…

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 ...

Numbers

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.

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 th…

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 jou…

HBD EP TCB

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.

Thankyouverymuch.

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 v…

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

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

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'.

New Orleans - The Cathedral

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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.

My January Process

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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 abou…