Thursday, June 30, 2011

Gone

My skin cancer is gone. Gone like a freight train, gone like yesterday. The doctor got it on the first cut.

I have pictures but I’ll spare you. I did email them to a friend in the medical field but she hasn’t given me her reaction yet. I don’t know if she laughed or was grossed out. I’ll bet she laughed.

Why can’t every doctor and hospital be as patient-focused as this place is? I have never had such a positive experience in a medical setting. From the person at the reception counter to the surgeon tech who got things started to the surgeon who did the procedure to the tech who wrapped things up, each person was friendly, positive, fully explained every step of the process and patiently answered my questions from the most serious to the goofiest. And the doctor did a follow-up phone call this evening to see how I was feeling.

So how am I feeling? Good, all things considered. The anesthetic wore off mid-afternoon and now my forehead alternates between itching and hurting. Tylenol helps a lot.

This experience is fairly routine and although all cancers are serious, this one is the least serious. I have friends and family who have and do go through far more difficult medical situations, dealing with everything from breast cancer to heart disease to diabetes to depression to a rare condition called neurofibromatosis; all of those things are worse than what I went through today. I am grateful for their emotional support and they know they can count on me if they ever need the same.

So I’ll go now. I want to read the brochure one more time to see how long I have to wait before I can have a glass of wine. Cheers!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Skin

Skin. Cancer. Sucks.

I think I mentioned in an earlier post that the sore on my forehead that wouldn’t heal turned out to be a form of skin cancer. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of cancer and also the easiest to fix. I’ll find out for sure tomorrow. That is when they do surgery on the sore.

In the past few weeks I have learned that three people I see regularly have all had this procedure. One is a cousin, a retired doctor, who had it about 15 years ago and has had no problem since. A guy I regularly interview on one of my radio shows told me he had it and he also has had no recurring problems. Yesterday the guy who cuts my hair every four weeks for the past 17 years told me he has had this surgery six times in his adult life. Geez. Get out of the sun. What are you thinking?

These three people, the surgery center’s brochures and several web sites have all said this surgery is relatively routine. That is encouraging, especially coming from medical entities, but for the past few days I have felt my inner voice ramping up, trying to scream something at me. I know myself all too well. I know that the logical, research-it-till-it-hurts side of me says everything will be fine. The deeper, paranoid side is trying to send a ‘you should be worried’ message. The battle between those two sides is churning in my stomach, competing for space with the shrimp and broccoli I just had for dinner.

I’ll point out that I almost never get sick, have been a patient in a medical setting other than doctor visits only three or four times in my whole life and I am very health-conscious. So I have nothing to worry about, right? Yet, I’m just a little jittery and can’t focus very well on anything but getting up early tomorrow morning to go get part of my forehead removed. OK, OK, it’s just a small part, but still … somebody is going to cut into my face and I am willingly going to let this happen.

Being the eternal optimist that I am, the picture I’ll take of myself with a bandage over my right eye should make for some interesting captioning. I’m already thinking up stories I can tell. I’ll probably make a contest out of it on my Facebook page. Yes, I will write about it some more here.

And in a few weeks I’ll be celebrating the success of the surgery by going to the beach for a few days. Maybe it’ll be cloudy. Maybe there is an SPF number higher than 100. Maybe I’ll buy a stupid-looking, wide brim hat.

I feel better now. Humor is the best medicine. I also have Tylenol at the ready. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Stuff

Gas prices are down. Woohoo!! Just in time for the holiday weekend. I won’t be going anywhere this weekend but it’s still nice to see prices way down.

This evening I had my last workout at the gym before surgery. I’ll talk about the surgery in another post later. Instructions from the doc say don’t do anything strenuous for at least a week after the surgery. Too bad because all this working out stuff is finally starting to show a little and I’m going to the beach a few weeks later. Of course I won’t be trying to impress anyone with my workout results but it would still be nice to look good with my shirt off at a beach. I’ll probably be able to get in a few workouts before then.

I’m still telling people how great that U2 concert was last week. I downloaded a few U2 songs I didn’t already have the other night. Great group!

My favorite blues band is back in town in a few weeks but this time it’s on a weeknight. Tough choice about whether to go or not. Hard to pass up though.

Spell check and grammar check tell me two of the three sentences in the previous paragraph are incomplete. Is that bad grammar or good style?

If you get a chance, visit my friend Eliz’s blog. She wrote an interesting and somewhat inspiring post today.

I can’t believe July starts in two days. Time is flying by at the same time my life is temporarily dragging. The balance is wrong. Must fix it.

OK, that’s all I got tonight. <--- more bad grammar??

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Who’s Going to Run the Country

A friend recently asked an interesting question … who is going to run the country in two years? I believe her question was born out of the frustration of watching endless media coverage of gridlock in Washington. Every elected leader from the newest member of Congress all the way up to the President seems to have plenty to say but is getting nothing done. Add to that the growing lineup of potential Republican Presidential candidates in the next election; the election is more than a year away but the campaigning has already begun.

Some pundits and many Republicans believe Obama will be a one-term President. It is difficult to unseat an incumbent, but it certainly has happened. Ask the first George Bush and Jimmy Carter. Presidents live with the cards they are dealt and sometimes frustrations of the American public are taken out on a President who can’t seem to fix the problems they inherit.

So what makes a good President? That doesn’t really matter. What actually counts are factors that get a President elected, including the mood of the country, the media savvy of the candidates and which candidate can be taken seriously as a potential President. The country as a whole was depressed during the Carter administration and Jimmy never looked comfortable in front of a camera. When Carter ran for re-election Ronald Reagan came in with optimistic promises and great TV presence and won the election.

When the first George Bush ran for re-election the country was ready for a change and Bill Clinton was much more interesting in the media. Bush was boring. Read my lips: Bush lost.

So back to my friend’s query: who is going to run the country in two years? Obama will certainly run for a second term. The present mood of the country is iffy; many people are frustrated with the ongoing down economy and the high jobless rate. Obama will get blamed for that but what Republican can capitalize on that? Which one is media savvy? And which one will be taken seriously as a potential President. In my opinion Palin, Gingrich and Trump would never be taken seriously. Tim Pawlenty and Herman Cain are relatively unknown to the general public. Ron Paul gets plenty of attention but some say he is unelectable. Michele Bachmann represents the Tea Party, which puts her on a more extreme end of the list, making it difficult to appeal to the mainstream middle; but she has media savvy and is quotable. Mitt Romney, who leads many straw polls, also has media savvy and can be taken seriously as a potential President. He is also palatable to many non-Republicans.

That all adds up to my prediction (guess). I believe the election in 2012 will be between Obama and Romney and I think Obama will win by an extremely small margin. Obama has media savvy and many people believe he can be taken seriously as a President who has done reasonably well with the hand he was dealt. Of course many people don’t see him as someone who can get us out of some of our messes. That’s why I think it’ll be close. I also think the economy will be better in the next year and the jobless rate will be lower and both of those factors will help Obama. And of course he is the incumbent. There is something to be said for the devil you know.

Quotemus Randomus 3

I'm in a quoting mood today.  These got my attention:

I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.
- Bill Cosby


Follow your heart, but take your brain with you.
- Unknown


Take it easy -- but take it.
- Woody Guthrie


In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on.
- Robert Frost


People spend a lifetime searching for happiness; looking for peace. They chase idle dreams, addictions, religions, even other people, hoping to fill the emptiness that plagues them. The irony is the only place they ever needed to search was within.
- Ramona L. Anderson


Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn't.
- Erica Jong


Good advice is always certain to be ignored, but that's no reason not to give it.
- Agatha Christie


Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson









Dreaming Quote

Saw this on Facebook; not sure the original source.  It's good advice.

Don't stop dreaming because you will stop
Living,

Don't stop living because you will stop
Loving,

Don't stop Loving because you will stop
Laughing!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Blogspot Sucks

Hmm, I wonder if the title of this post will get any attention.  Wondering why the Dreaming Quote post above, which I set to post tomorrow, Sunday, already posted this morning, Saturday, even though it shows the date and time as tomorrow, Sunday at 7:35am.  It did post chronoligically, however, and looks like it posted after THIS one, even though it has been on since this morning.

I know I shouldn't complaing about a free web site.  In fact I have several blogs.  They are great creative outlets for me and I even met one of my now-best-friends through this hobby.  But I still do expect this thing to work properly.

OK, whining done.  Thanks for visiting.

Where I Live Randomness

Do you like where you live? Would you live somewhere else if you could?

For almost 18 years I’ve lived at several addresses in what the demographers call the Washington DC suburbs and exurbs; and just a little further north in the Baltimore area for 9 years before that. My feelings about this region run the full spectrum from love to hate. As I begin plans to move again in the next couple of months I imagined where I’d choose if I could live anywhere instead of the forthcoming one-county relocation and I thought about the pros and cons of living here in the mid-Atlantic.

Places I seriously considered at various times in the past decade or two include Asheville and the Outer Banks, both in North Carolina, Dallas, where I lived before Maryland, Flagstaff, Arizona because it felt good the one time I visited, and New Orleans, where I grew up. None of those are practical for me at this point and maybe never. The two in North Carolina were both on my ‘early retirement’ hit list but I’ve been screwed out of so much money in the past ten years that I’m convinced I’ll never retire.

So, what about the DC area? First, the good stuff: it is the center of power in the universe, the capitol of a great country and the world center of freedom. The monuments are amazing and you feel a sheer sense of awe and living history as you walk around the National Mall. There is culture, sports, music, diversity; numerous stellar universities, medical facilities, museums and parks. We’ve got a team for every sport and two of the sports facilities are state-of-the-art. Metro rail.


The bad stuff: it is the center of power-hungry egos in the universe. Traffic is a nightmare. Many people are rude and many others are way too self-important. It is very expensive to live here, mostly due to unrealistically high real estate prices. The region is geographically spread out, which means it takes forever to get anywhere. A by-product of the sprawl and the traffic is that people are often too busy to commit to social activities or are so over-committed that they don’t have time to add another thing.

So why live here? For me, the good stuff outweighs the bad.

Would I live anywhere else? Yes, either of my NC faves, but leaving here for either would be a tough decision and is unlikely to happen. So I visit those whenever I can.

The part of all this I am most grateful is that I have the option to make this choice. Not all of us have that option.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Awesome People-watching Op

I spent some time last night in an environment rich with people-watching opportunities, an unexpected bonus to an evening whose original plan was a live music performance and dinner with a friend.


The setting: a weekly summer event called Downtown Bethesda Free Summer Concert Series, held each Thursday evening on a small plaza in downtown Bethesda. My goal was live music and I would have gone to this no matter who was playing but it was extra cool and unusual to hear a ska/reggae/rock band. Eclectic to the max, The Players Band’s instrumentation looks like the reject pile from the high school band … trombone, trumpet and baritone sax … but these guys make it cool. Their set list ran from originals to Jamaican-infused versions of songs by artists from other islands to a show-closing reggae version of the Peter Gabriel song “Sledgehammer.”




Random people-watching observations:


- Bethesda, like most of the Washington DC area, is a salad bowl of race, age, socioeconomic and generational people.


- A stereotype based on factual observation: old white men really cannot dance.  But some very young girls can:




- Saw a well-dressed 30-something man talking up a storm with a very attractive young professional looking 30-something woman. They both probably work in one of the nearby offices. Best guess: they met there, had an obviously flirty ‘get to know you’ interview-ish conversation, exchanged cell phone numbers, left together. Hmmmm.


- Crazed kids were running circles around a fountain, screaming and chasing each other while their clueless parents watched. Kids should be kids but parents should be parents too, and that includes teaching their kids to exercise some measure of consideration for the people who are there to see the band. Translation: “stop running, shut up, sit down, listen to the music.” I probably wouldn’t be much fun as a parent, would I?


- Senior-aged couple strolled in, sat at one of the tables, listened to the music. Their clothing and movements verified their probable age – 70-something – but the cool stereotype-breaking moment came when the man stood up, whipped out his iPhone and took a picture of the woman.


- More flirting: college-aged guy chatting up a college-aged girl. She seemed to tolerate his questions but he realized she wasn’t that interested and he left. She looked at me and smiled. If I wasn’t twice her age I might have chatted her up too but what would we talk about after discussing the band and Bethesda?


- Moments later a very attractive young woman dressed in a hot-looking casual black dress and flip-flops walked right up and sat down next to me and said “Hey, I made it.” It took me a second to realize she was the friend who was joining me for dinner. Damn, I have some great-looking female friends. She and the others are all “just friends” but the fact that they look so good is great for my ego. Fortunately she was the object of my people-watching for the next couple of hours of food, wine and conversation.


- One more thing … I saved the best for last … I just discovered that my little pocket digital camera can shoot video too.






So there you have it, two great staycation days in a row filled with fun and music. What’s in store for today? Boring house crap. Oh well. It’s still been a nice week.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

It's A Beautiful Day

U2 Randomness

I finally saw U2 tonight and it instantly ranks as the best concert I’ve ever seen. I might change my mind about that over time but right now, a few hours after getting home, I am still playing this one back in my head.



Here are some random thoughts about the show:


- The total show is amazing, with a 164-foot tall stage “canopy” and incredible lighting that does not get in the way of the performance like so many huge sets often do.


- This was the cleanest sound I’ve ever heard in a stadium show.


- They opened with “Even Better Than the Real Thing” and closed the main part of the show with “Where the Streets Have No Name” (which is my favorite U2 song).


- This concert was mostly about the music and an ego-free connection with the audience but of course there were political statements to be made too. You expect that from Bono. He kept in in balance, however.


- He dedicated “A Beautiful Day” to Representative Gabby Giffords, who is recovering from gunshot wounds, and her husband Astronaut Mark Kelly was featured on the video screen during the song; he recited some of the lyrics as the song played.


I call this the best concert I’ve seen, but that needs some clarification. Every concert has elements that connect with concert-goers and that combination of elements adds up to a ranking of the show. It’s probably unfair to rank though because I’ve been blessed to see many good concerts. For comparison, this one shares top honors in my head with the Dave Matthews Band, Bruce Springsteen and Garth Brooks. Each of those has a different set of elements … DMB scores the tops for sheer musicianship, Springsteen is #1 for stage energy and audience engagement, Garth has energy, connection and down-home emotion.


But the U2 show is on top of my list right now for sheer total impact. Awesome just isn’t a big enough word to describe it.


 
Visit my photo blog for more pictures.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

LOL Randomness

I’m in a laughing mood today. Here are a few quotes that made me laugh out loud. Some are from Facebook friends and the rest are from humor web sites.

Waste of Money: Designer Clothes for Babies -- The reason you don't buy a baby a $75 shirt is the same reason you don't but one for a college kid. They don't care either way, and will likely throw up on it.
- KJ

Reason #10- why I love summertime: I bet some of these grown folks wish they had thought about what their stomach and lower back tattoos would like in 10 years. Sheesh. I've seen so many unidentifiable images and so much scribble scrabble...I wonder if they notice..
- OS

All those who believe in psychokinesis raise my hand.
- Steven Wright


No man knows more about women than I do, and I know nothing.
- Anon


It takes only one drink to get me drunk. The trouble is, I can’t remember if it’s the thirteenth or the fourteenth.
– George F. Burns


I went to a restaurant that serves “breakfast at any time”. So I ordered French Toast during the Renaissance.
- Steven Wright


A gentleman is simply a patient wolf.
- Unknown

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Long One

Summer officially begins at 1:16 PM EDT today (that’s 17:16 UTC for my European readers).

I was about to tell you that today is the longest day of the year but when I looked up the sunrise and sunset times for my area I discovered that tomorrow is a minute longer. OK, it is still only 24 hours long but there is more daylight in the Northern Hemisphere tomorrow than on any other day of the year … and less in the Southern Hemisphere (G’day Mate, Happy Winter).

Specifically, tomorrow is 14 hours 52 minutes long here. Local sunset is at 8:35 PM, which means the opening act at the U2 concert in Baltimore will be done by then and U2 should be taking the stage right as sun goes down. That should make an awesome picture for somebody … not me because the only camera I’ll be able to get into that stadium is my pocket-size Canon. At least it’ll be a better shot than with my cell phone and I promise my U2 fan friends that I won’t let the battery die before the show like I did at Dave Matthews last year.

The sun has been up for two hours but I haven’t seen it yet because it is cloudy and drizzly here this morning. But the TV weather guy says we should see sun early this afternoon, maybe by 1:16. Wouldn’t that be awesome? Meteorological synergy. Or should I say sunergy?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Here's What You Missed

Continuing a bit from yesterday, a Bruce Springsteen show, especially during the 1980s, was an unforgettable event. I have been hoping for several years now to see him again but as far as I know there was no tour planned for this year.

Sadly, even if there is a tour, what would that show be without Clarence Clemons. Maybe there is a sax player somewhere who could mimic the Clemons sound but his presence involves far more than just notes on a horn.

Anyway, I ran across this video and thought I’d share. This compilation is representative of the Springsteen shows I saw back in the day. Enjoy.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Big Loss

Music in the 1970s was in a state of flux. The Beatles were over, disco was peaking and rock was meandering between Elton John and Led Zeppelin. In the middle of that came a scrawny New Jersey kid named Bruce, singing long, involved stories about coming of age in a blue collar town, accompanied by a big black saxophone player named Clarence. Saxophone!?

I have seen Bruce Springsteen live five different times, in facilities ranging in size from a half-full 3000-seat auditorium in New Orleans in the 1970s, when people barely knew who he was, to a sold out 50,000-plus stadium in Washington DC at the peak of his concert career in the 1980s. The shows were not mere concerts, they were events! Everybody in the band played and sang like it was the last concert they’d ever do.

But nobody in the E Street Band made a bigger impression in both size and sonic impact than saxman Clarence Clemons. He was an integral part of the band’s sound and stage show. It was clear from their interaction on stage that Clarence and Bruce had friendship, love, respect and brotherhood with each other.

The “Big Man” died this weekend from complications related to a stroke he had a week ago.

I mostly know of his work with Springsteen and that he played that killer sax solo in Aretha Franklin’s “Freeway of Love” but I learned a few other things about him today: he also performed at various times with Jackson Browne, Twisted Sister, the Grateful Dead and Lady Gaga. He released a few solo albums and appeared in several movies and TV shows.

That band and the music world will not be the same without him.

Here is a live performance of “Jungleland” with an awesome Clemons solo in the middle:



Here is an interview clip in which he explains his relationship with Springsteen:

Friday, June 17, 2011

Dad’s Day Randomness

Every year near Father’s Day I write something here about my Dad. Here are a few random thoughts:

My Dad had a very successful career as an engineer, first with structural design, later electrical and for the last 25 years of his work life he did plumbing design. He was a very behind-the-scenes guy but his plumbing design work can be found everywhere in New Orleans, from the fountain next to Riverwalk to the drainage ditches on the Claiborne Avenue exit off I-10 to the restrooms, loading dock drains and fire sprinklers at Oakwood Shopping Center. Not bad for a guy who didn’t finish high school; he got his GED a few years after I was born.

I am convinced he could fix anything made before the computer age. His hobbies included television and auto repair and his skill levels were on par with professionals. He taught himself how to repair watches and even made some money helping his mentor part time. Did I mention he built the house we grew up in? Literally every nail, screw, pipe joint and electrical connection. That house suffered some damage in the Hurricane Katrina floods and had to be rehabbed but the basic structure exists to this day and the contractors were amazed at how strong the house was.

Dad in his early 30s
Dad was stubborn and judgmental. He and I didn’t get along very well from my senior year in high school till I bought my first house in my early 30s. His tour of that house changed our relationship for the better. He finally accepted that my media career wasn’t a fluke and that I was more mature and sensible than he gave me credit for.

Benny led a very healthy lifestyle, always did the right thing, went to church every Sunday till he just couldn’t any more, then endured Parkinson’s Disease for the last fifteen years of his life. That might explain my cynical view toward religion. If you tell me the Parkinson’s was God’s will, I’ll probably smack you, verbally if not physically.

Dad and I were about as far apart as two people can be regarding beliefs on many things but we had similar approaches to problem solving… the same steps with different results. I didn’t realize the positive impact his sense of logic would have on me till after he died.

Even though he seemed like a conformist and a by-the-book man, he really did chart his own path in life. Hmm, I wonder where I learned that.

No matter how much you might try to distance yourself from your parents, you are always in some way a product of their parenting. Celebrate the parts you like. Time will erase the parts you dislike.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad. It’s hard for me to admit this out loud, but I miss you.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Thousand

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  Well, you can write them up for this shot. Those headline writers are, uhhh, clever.

I'd like to write something here about Congressman Weiner and his stupid actions of the past months, but what can I write that hasn't been written already? 

I am impressed that his wife has not played the 'stand by your man' role; in fact I don't believe she has made any public statement about the photos.  Oh, to be a fly on the wall in their house this week.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Perspective Is Perspective

A work friend and I were discussing work stuff this afternoon and the conversation turned into a couple of personal things including my tendency to hang onto stuff. I mentioned that I want to get rid of the clutter in my house but sometimes struggle with deciding what to toss out.

He began to offer some advice with this prelude, offered in an almost embarrassing way: “I know you’re older than me so don’t take this the wrong way and please tell me if you know this already or you don’t want to hear this from me.” I said, “Please tell me; perspective is perspective.”

He and I have had conversations like this in the past and he occasionally asks me for advice relating to dealing with his aging mother. He is right to assume I’ve had that experience with that situation. We are more than twenty years apart in age but have very good insight into these matters as well as work issues. He was somewhat apologetic when suggesting advice relating to my clutter issue because someone two decades older should have most of life’s answers and my gut instinct is to think the same thing; but I knew from past conversations with him that this kind of exchange would be good for both of us. A person’s age doesn’t automatically reflect wisdom or insight or lack of either. A person’s life experiences and personality play a much bigger role in providing perspective, in my opinion. It is refreshing to be reminded of that.

His advice, by the way … “let it go. It’s only stuff.”

That’s the same kind of advice I would give someone else but it is refreshing to hear it back. It also reminds me that even if we think we have the answers, hearing the same response from someone else adds credibility and gives us a chance to gain confidence in our own perspective on things.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Personal Randomness

Even though there is still a lot of crap in my life, I’ve been feeling pretty good lately. By “lately” I mean the past week. Sometimes I really do celebrate the little things in life. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and I’m pretty sure it isn’t a train.

I completely changed my summer vacation plans. There were no long road trips in either my original plan or my new one, but there will be some beach time in the new one. I usually avoid popular beaches in the middle of the crazy, over-crowded summer beach season but for a few days this year I’ll dive right in. It’s part of that pattern-changing I’ve been writing about this year.

I bought an awesome Cannondale hybrid bike more than fifteen years ago. Prior to this weekend I had only been on it once in the past ten years or more. Funny how some interests just go away but then come back. Yesterday I brought the bike down from the attic, cleaned it up, inflated the tires and took it for a spin in my driveway. All of that was prelude to a planned ride in a nearby park today but I decided in my driveway that my balance sucks even more now than years ago and I better practice some more before I go anywhere on that thing.

I often have an energetic, imaginative, barrier-breaking attitude about life. I often have a serious, boring lazy attitude about life. Finding the right balance of those two disparate personality characteristics can be very tiring.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Bottom Chef

You’ve heard of the TV show Top Chef. I should start one called Bottom Chef. I am out of practice in many aspects of my life but the one I’ll mention here is cooking.

I’ve never been a great cook but I’ve been cooking for myself since I was 19 so I know how to cook the basics. For the past few years I’ve been attempting some new tastes and new recipes. Many of the recipes are ridiculous, wrong, too complicated or too simple. A good cook can improvise or make corrections on the fly. Tonight I was successful with that strategy.

Dinner was Risotto Primavera. The recipe has at least two mistakes, one relating to quantity and the other involves timing. I was able to improvise just enough to make it all turn out OK. And there is enough leftover for two more meals, which is my usual weekend cooking strategy.

Tomorrow I attack my gas grill. I’ve actually been getting better at that and I’ll try something a little different tomorrow, if it doesn’t rain.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Music to share

Plenty of good music out there right now in all genres.  Check this one out ...

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Fitness Update

It’s been awhile since I updated you on my fitness plan. I have nothing else to write about tonight, so why not this?

My previous doctor told me several years ago that I needed to lose 20 to 25 pounds and I’ve been working on that ever since. My new doctor also told me to lose weight when I saw him a few months ago. I seem to have permanently lost the first ten pounds and at one time last year I was down fifteen … before the holidays … you can guess how that turned out.

Funny thing is this: even though the scale still says I’m only down ten I know it’s more significant than that because I’m two belt notches tighter and almost down a pants size. That’s progress.

Oh, and a friend noticed my biceps. Woohoo! Nobody would ever confuse me with a body builder but I know I’m in better shape than I was when I started this process.

On a slightly different but related note: the bump on my forehead that won’t heal, which I should have checked a year ago, turns out to be a form of skin cancer. Fortunately it is the most common and most curable type and I have an appointment with a surgeon soon. The most likely outcome is that he’ll scoop it all out (lovely imagery, isn’t it?) and I’ll be dealing with a bandage and eventually a scar. I will also be taking a short beach trip a few weeks after the surgery, which means I haven’t completely learned my lesson about sun exposure. What I have learned is to use sunscreen, which I already did but now I’m using a higher number and reapplying more often. And my extensive cap collection is getting quite a workout.

So, there you have it. How are things with you and fitness? That question is for both the friends who visit this blog and the total strangers. Fitness of some kind is important and if you’re my friend I will bug you about it. You’ve been warned.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Morning Person Randomness

I totally and freely admit that I am a "morning person". When properly rested I function better in the morning and I enjoy the morning, especially early morning before the world really starts cranking.

Sometimes I am a "night owl" too, which doesn't usually go well with being a "morning person".

I prefer sunrises to sunsets, although I love them both.

My work hours are somewhat flexible, so I recently changed them from 10am-6pm to 8am-4pm. One of my core job duties requires concentration and if I start at 10, I am constantly interrupted by "urgent" emails asking for me to solve some kind of problem or other. If I'm at my desk at 8, I don't even look at email till 10 or 11 and I frequently get more work done in those two hours than I used to in a whole work day.

Washington DC area traffic sucks even more at 6:30am than it does at 9:30am. Hopefully I will be changing address soon, which will reduce that issue for me.

Ironically, leaving work at 4-something makes the ride home slightly better than leaving at 6-something.

I recently blogged about making time-related choices in our crazybusy lives and I am fortunate to have this flexibility option. People should play to their strengths and this example of doing that with some success.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

That Song

I heard this song on the radio this afternoon and now I can't get it out of my head. Enjoy.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Random Time Quotes

It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?

- Henry David Thoreau



Time = life; therefore, waste your time and waste of your life, or master your time and master your life.
- Alan Lakein



If you want to make good use of your time, you’ve got to know what’s most important and then give it all you’ve got.
- Lee Iacocca



Time is the wisest counselor of all.
- Pericles



All that really belongs to us is time; even he who has nothing else has that.
- Baltasar Gracian



To do two things at once is to do neither.
- Publius Syrus



A year from now you will wish you had started today.
- Karen Lamb

Choices, part two

This morning I woke up with this thought in my head: the most significant choices we have to make these days are how to spend our time. That is perhaps the real point I was trying to make in yesterday’s post.

Every day we face time-based decisions and often the deciding factor is quality versus quantity. Drive to work, which takes less time, or use mass transit, which might take more time but is less stressful. Work on a report in your home office after dinner, which might help your career a little, or play with your kids, which improves the quality of their lives and yours. Spend most of Saturday mowing, edging and trimming your 1.5 acre property and cleaning your 2500 square foot house or leave your 1000 square foot apartment for an all Saturday bike ride with a couple of friends.

Our contemporary culture places a high value on multi-tasking, doing many things at once; in other words, on quantity. Accomplishment always seems to have a number attached. We attempt to hit numerous goals, personal and professional.

A wise old proverb, sometimes found in a fortune cookie, says “he who chases two rabbits will catch neither.” The culture that led to that quote places high value on quality. In other words, do one thing well.

Perhaps the compromise is to do a few things well and stop trying to do everything. Make a choice to spend time on fewer things but choose activities or goals that are important to you.

My meltdown yesterday might serve me well if I view it as yet another sign to trust my instincts, simplify my priorities, pick my battles and, well, chase one rabbit at a time. If you are a regular visitor to this blog, maybe you can benefit in some way from this observation too.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Choices

My favorite line in the Clint Eastwood movie “Dirty Harry” is this: “A man’s gotta know his limitations.” While I do believe most people can ultimately surpass limits, there are limits and it is healthy to know what they are. If you know how far you can go with something or know potential results of certain situations, then you can choose how to deal with it.

I had to make an interesting and frustrating choice today. First a little background.

Many of us Boomers, currently ages 47 to 65, are unprepared for navigating life in 2011. Our parents could not possibly have anticipated the complexity we face in every aspect of our lives, and could not teach us how to effectively deal with everything from quantity of product options to population density to traffic congestion to technology, career and relationships. In their era, the husband worked, the wife stayed home, the man had the same job for most of his life, their house had one phone, one television, one family car. A serious traffic jam might result in the man’s usual 15-minute morning commute lasting 25 minutes instead; that’s assuming he even used his car and not public transportation. Things were simple. Stress was something you read about in a magazine, not something you experienced. Parents didn’t prepare us for this stuff.

Another bit of background even my closest friends probably do not know about me: once or twice a year I have a stress-related temper meltdown. The result is not pretty. It has never and will never involve any violent behavior, but I do yell a lot and I’m sure my blood pressure goes up and I cannot possibly be my usual pleasant self. That’s embarrassing but it’s safe for anyone around me. Fortunately only two people in my entire life-long circle of acquaintances has ever seen me in that mood because I refuse to show it.

Today I had one of those meltdowns.

I was supposed to meet co-workers at the concert I mentioned yesterday. The venue is a stadium and our parking was at another site a couple of miles away. Instructions were to park in a specific place and take a shuttle bus to our site. My main job was to have been recording fans talking about music and the performers at the concert. I might have also had the chance to interact with some of the performers and I was set to meet with a former co-worker who now has a job with the headliner of this event. In other words, I was to spend hours interacting with people in my usual pleasant manner.

But I got lost trying to find the parking lot. I mean lost in a jungle of complicated, sometimes unmarked roads, in a neighborhood I used to know well before most of it was torn down and replaced with things I have never seen. I followed directions, looked for landmarks, turned on many different streets, snaked back to my starting point numerous times, texted and called at least two people who I knew were already at the destination, blah, blah, blah. Stress mounting, me screaming at the interior of my car, getting more and more frustrated, stressed and angry. After more than an HOUR of this crap (I’m getting angry telling this story. Geez!), I decided to get on the road and return home. Then I realized I was back where I started so I tried a few more turns, thinking maybe I was close to the spot. I still couldn’t find it. More stress. More yelling at my steering wheel.

A man’s got to know his limitations. I know from past experience that if I finally did find the parking spot and proceeded to my work site, I would not have been in the right frame of mind to interact pleasantly with people. I made a choice: find another way in, perhaps an expensive way like paying the exorbitant public parking rate at this venue, then knowing my story-telling habit, telling everyone I met my horror story, basically spreading negativity all over an otherwise positive place … OR, get on the highway and return home, open a bottle of wine, calm down … and write this story.

My parents never had to make choices like this. If they were still alive and I told them this story, they’d look at me like I was crazy.

So there you have it. Of course now I have to figure out a way to explain this to my co-workers on Monday. I texted the boss and another friend earlier, explaining that something came up and I couldn’t make it there. My story Monday will be something almost that non-descript. This situation is what it is and for me, it is embarrassing. But the choice I made to stay away from people was the right choice and I’d do it again. But next time I have to go to this venue, I’m following my original instinct and taking public transportation. And leaving much earlier to avoid all possible obstacles.

Those will be the right choices that day as these were today.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Chesney

Kenny Chesney's massive tour rolls into my area tomorrow.  Opening acts are Uncle Kracker, Billy Currington and the Zac Brown Band.  I'll be there all day and hopefull will see all four acts.  I might even meet some of them.  Actually I've met Kenny five or six times but only for a minute or two each time so he probably doesn't remember me. 

Here is a cool acoustic version of my current favorite song of his.  Enjoy.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Awesome Quote

I saw this on a Facebook friend's page tonight and decided to share. She did not know the author so I looked it up, especially because it seemed so familiar. Turns out it is the script for an Apple commercial. Awesome! Enjoy it! Think about it!

Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The trouble-makers. The round heads in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status-quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify, or vilify them. But the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.
- Apple Inc.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Totally Ransom 6.1

I passed up a "Slurpee break" invite this afternoon. The 7 Eleven is only a block from the office but I just didn't want to walk out in that heat again - had already done that for lunch. So I poured a hot coffee instead … at 4 PM. What was I thinking?

My favorite typo this week … co-worker Josh is scheduling a little happy hour thing at a local watering hole. He intended to type "drinks at Growlers" but, well, the "i" and "u" keys are adjacent and he missed. It came out "drunks at Growlers." Probably more accurate anyway.

Yes, this post is part of my 'random' series.  The typo in the title is intentional.

Sarah P and Donald T having lunch together this week seemed more like a SNL skit than reality. The thought of either of them seriously considering a run for top dog of the free world is scary, but less so than the possibility that either could win. I’m no Republican but I’m pretty sure that neither of them represents the middle of the right and it’s the middle that wins elections.

I make commercials for a living. I wish I had made this one. Very clever. Enjoy.