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Showing posts from July, 2011

I Want My ...

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Tomorrow is the 30th birthday of MTV, the cable television channel and concept that changed the entire music industry. MTV were the initials for Music Television and the original channel played music videos 24 hours a day, hosted by VJs, some of whom had been radio DJs.

The first video aired on August 1, 1981 was “Video Killed the Radio Star” and there were predictions that videos on TV would kill off radio. Clearly that didn’t happen; the two work well side by side. It is interesting to note that Bob Pittman, the original MTV programming format creator, came from radio and now, 30 years later, is back in radio. He is an executive with Clear Channel Radio and is the person behind the re-launch of that company’s web and wireless product i Heart Radio and the upcoming i Heart Radio Music Festival that you might have heard about on several of your local radio stations.

Videos are a routine part of music performance and marketing now. MTV and VH1 play very few videos now but they are avai…

Following My Gut to the Edge of the Cliff

Sometimes we say yes to things for reasons that are not directly related to the thing we agree to do.

I just said yes to a project that will challenge my time-management skills, my confidence and maybe my sanity, but will also increase my positive standing within my company and make my job just a little bit more secure. For a few weeks it will increase my visibility with part of upper management and if I live up to the expectations of those who recommended me for this assignment it will firmly place me in a somewhat elite group of people in my company who do what I do for a living. It will also add to my work load and challenge my diplomatic skills every time I am asked to revise something at the last possible minute before some already barely realistic deadlines.

And I can’t even explain to you what the hell I am talking about just yet and even if I did, you might not understand or care. I am quite geeky about what I do on the job and my peers would understand.

But you will be able …

Keith and Jake … Awesome

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Keith Urban has everything a music superstar needs: good looks for the ladies but men like him too, for completely different reasons, he’s a great songwriter, awesome guitarist, a showman, friendly and sincere, puts on a rocking show and changes it up every year so it’s fresh each time you see him. His genre is country but he rocks it. He also does ballads and has a smoking hot wife for love song inspiration (actress Nicole Kidman)

I saw him tonight for the third time. This year’s tour focuses on audience participation in a unique way. He gets out into the audience several times, with minimal security, he brings people up on stage, once to have a picture taken and another time to have three different fans sing along with him (karaoke with 15,000 people cheering them on).

His opening act this time was Jake Owen, a successful but lesser know country singer, who is also very engaging with the audience.

Here two songs from Keith and one from Jake. Google them and find some others. You’ll …

Fitness Update 2 - or is it 3, maybe 4

Nothing major to report, but I do have a couple of observations. My weight is stable – wish it was going down but at least it’s not going up. I’ve been hitting the gym two to three times a week for several months, which is my goal. I took a week off after surgery and another for my recent vacation.

The vacay fitness plan was interesting. I went on two multi-mile barefoot beach walks in Virginia and a multi-mile hike in the mountains of western North Carolina. The hike was on mostly groomed trails with some sloping ascent and descent. Some of the terrain was rocky but not too difficult.

If you’ve been following along, you know I have a dream of hiking into Grand Canyon. I know I’ll need to be in great shape to do that and I learned during my moderate NC hike that I have a long way to go to be fit enough for the Bright Angel Trail. At the end of my hike I was not sore; just a little ache in each calf that went away the next day. I was fine on uphill rocks and stairs but very tentative a…

Another Interesting Life Quote

The Dalai Lama was asked what surprises him the most, he replied: "Man- because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then he dies having never really lived."

Do People Still Read Books?

I went to the first weekend of the Border’s Books going-out-of-business sale Saturday. Yes, it’s true, they are closing, some time in September, all stores and online.

If you need proof that people still read books made of paper, go to this sale. The only time this particular Borders has ever been this crowded was when new Harry Potter books came out. The checkout line stretched to the back of the store then across a few more aisles. Surprisingly, it only took twenty minutes to get to the register.

Countless stories and my own observations made it seem like nobody has time to read any more and when they do read, it is usually online or on a digital device like a Kindle or a Nook. But the hundred or more people I stood in line with were buying books … all kinds, paperback, hardback, magazines, every topic. Music and DVDs are also on sale but those were not selling as well.

The ad that alerted me to this sad event and sale claimed up to 40% off. There were a few items with that discoun…

The 27 Club

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Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison (the Doors) and Brian Jones (the Rolling Stones) are part of what seemed to be a trend of well-known music people who all died at the age of 27. Those four died in the same two-year time frame (1969 – 1971). Kurt Cobain (Nirvana) was 27 when he died in 1994. Drugs, alcohol and suicide were the real or possible causes of each of their deaths.

Today the club has a new member, British singer Amy Winehouse. Drug overdose is the suspected cause. Her career was hot for several years but her erratic behavior began to interfere with success lately.

I won’t pretend to understand what negative forces lead to the drug and alcohol use that seems to be part of so many music careers. The demands placed on successful artists can be overwhelming and the temptations hard to resist. Music people on stage seem to have so much confidence but insecurity is a common denominator among many people in the arts and performance is one way many overcome their insecurities…

Souvenirs and the Vacation Effect

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I’ve been back home from vacation for eighteen hours and am still enjoying the vacation effect. That is the calm, serene, peaceful feeling created by being away from the often stressful scene that currently defines my “normal” life.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have enjoyed several great road trips during the past few years and each has produced this effect. The memories and souvenirs from each of those good times sporadically punctuate the “normal” and help me survive it in a better frame of mind.

The temporary souvenirs of this trip are funny. A lingering sunburn reminds me of an afternoon beach walk with my cousin. Swollen ankles and a brown stain on my favorite khaki shorts caused by a sweaty leather belt bring back the joy of a hiking adventure with a great friend.

My more permanent vacation souvenirs usually consist of hats, t-shirts or coffee mugs but I purchased none of those this time. The real reminders are in my head and in my photographs. Random glimpses: a white w…

More Road Trip

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I'm home but I wish I was still on the road.  Just spent the last few hours looking over some of the pictures I took.  Here are two.  Click HERE for a few more.




Awesome Vacation Randomness

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I’m just wrapping up a week-long road trip, my fourth in the past two years. This one involved beach time and mountain time. My normal tendency when blogging about these vacations has been to rank them; but these are all tied for number one. Each has been as unique, memorable and enjoyable as the previous for different reasons. The common thread is the set of family and friends and the variety of experiences.

Here are a few random examples of what I’m talking about:

- I spent two nights with cousins at their beach house near Virginia Beach. My cousin and his wife are educated, fun and great role models for aging.

- Highlights of the beach part of the week: a four-mile beach walk one day, a two-miler the next, a three-hour boat ride on a river and in the Intracoastal Waterway, I drove the boat for awhile, hours of conversation.

- Hours of chatting about family, ancestry, the medical profession, politics, children, cats, cars.

- Food note: no beach food. Had grilled steak and zucchini f…

Interesting Quote from an Unexpected Source

Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius.  And it's better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.
- Marilyn Monroe

The Arc

Growing up in a traditional family you learn that there is a certain arc of circumstances and events that mark how your life is supposed to be … school, career, marriage, kids, retirement, grandkids, nursing home. I learned somewhere near the end of the first of three marriages that my arc was more like a long curved highway over rolling hills.

I went to school but didn’t finish (yet), started a career in which I really do get paid to do what I love (I’m lucky), three failed marriages, no kids (was in the plan in the first two marriages but didn’t happen), retirement? What’s that?, grandkids? (see ‘no kids’), nursing home … I hope not; my Dad spent his last 6 weeks in one and my Mom lived there for her last 4 years. Or to use her words, she “existed” there, but didn’t “live” there.

So my friends from high school all finished college, all worked in the same general field for most of their adult lives, all got married (only once each), all but one had kids, some are in the shadow of ret…

Cut the Crap

Every time I read some Facebook comment claiming that opening up domestic oil drilling will solve the country’s energy crisis I get pissed. That is NOT the solution. To be fair, I also get pissed when I see comments claiming that electric cars will end the energy crisis too. That isn’t the solution either. Doesn’t it take energy to produce that electricity? It seems to me that the solution lies in a combination of those AND other factors. Maybe the beginning of the solution is to open up some of the drilling rights at the same time as funding more research into alternatives.

All of it comes down to politics, doesn’t it?

Same thing with the budget, deficit and debt ceiling debates currently making news. Dems and Repubs at it again, defending their respective party lines instead of finding a balance of solutions. Mr. President, we don’t want new taxes. Mr. Speaker, we don’t want to cut important social programs and we do want to fund necessary infrastructure initiatives relating to heal…

Vacay

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The typical amount of paid vacation in the United States is 13 days. That is a disappointing statistic here in the land of plenty because it is less than half the amount of several other developed countries. The average in Japan, Canada and Korea is 25 days, Germany has 35 and France has 37. Italy tops the list with 42 paid vacation days on average (my ancestors have the right idea).

Numerous studies indicate that workers need time off to relax and recharge. Paid vacation can be expensive for a company but there is a huge return in improved worker productivity. We all need a break from the routine; it often helps us appreciate what we have (that job, for example).

I have had my job for a long time so I get much more than the American average and I take every day that is coming to me. I’ll never have it this good again so I take full advantage of this benefit. My job is often stressful and I need the time off. I’m not sure how I would do it without the breaks.

A few years ago I started …

Transitions

One of my recurring themes on this blog involves talking about people who chase their dreams. I just found a former co-worker’s blog in which she chronicles her current summer adventure on a grad school research project in Bali. That’s a big change from selling commercials on radio stations, which is what she was doing when we worked together. It was obvious from conversations we had at the time that she had other plans for her life and I’m happy to see her making progress. This could be an inspiration to other friends of mine who are making transitions in their lives.

Click Here to read more.

Other transitions among my circle of friends:


- Quality Control Specialist to Pet-Sitting Service Owner and animal rescue volunteer
- Telecomm Consultant to community volunteer and radio talk show host
- Bartender to Psyche Tech to Nurse
- Hydro engineer to writer

I collect dreamers. Makes sense because I’m one myself (Sporting Goods Salesman to Radio DJ)

100 Years

I’ve said many times that I expect to have a 100th birthday party. I’m just over halfway there and today I was thinking about how much has changed in the world in the past 100 years. Here are a few random observations on 100 and 50 years.

100 years ago – 1911

Arizona, New Mexico, Alaska and Hawaii were not states yet.

Powered flight was only 8 years old.

There were no radio or television stations.

Women did not have the right to vote.

There weren’t very many cars. Cars had kerosene headlights. The 1st Indianapolis 500 was held in 1911.

The typical house did not have indoor plumbing or electricity.

50 years ago - 1951

Alaska and Hawaii were still not states.

Power steering becomes an option in some luxury cars. Turn signals were still optional on most cars. Gas was 19 cents per gallon. The interstate highway system wasn’t even thought of yet.

Computers are available commercially for the first time. They were huge, expensive and not very useful.

Television was still a fairly new thing and…

College and Gridlock

I knew during high school that I wanted to make a living in radio or television but I was undecided what education path to take, so I changed majors several times in college. One of my choices was Urban Studies. I was and still am interested in how cities develop and what can be done to make intelligent planning choices. However it does not take a college degree to see that most urban areas developed haphazardly and overall regional planning nearly always takes a back seat to individual jurisdictional considerations.

All it really takes to come to that conclusion is to experience traffic gridlock in the afternoon commute between a work place ten miles northwest of Washington DC and a home 42 more miles northwest. The specific gridlock I refer to is my 2-hour drive home today. That’s how long it took using an alternate route because the main route, I-270, was completely shut down due to a gas main break at a construction site.

The reason I bring up planning issues is because that stret…

So Now What?

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Forty two years ago this month the first humans stepped onto the moon. That was during the first of six lunar landing missions between 1969 and 1972. It’s hard to believe we never returned. The next major NASA program was the space shuttle, which began ten years after the last lunar mission and will end its run later this month when Atlantis returns to earth.

Following the early space flights, especially the ones to the moon, are among my earliest and happiest childhood memories. I watched every launch live on television and followed the progress. I knew the names of the astronauts. Splash downs received plenty of media coverage and there were huge parades after several of the early flights. I was a space geek and I remember a lot of this stuff like it was yesterday.


Space flight became routine over the years, even though there were only 135 flights in the shuttle program. (Random fact: the Atlanta airport sees that many flights every two hours).

To those people who question the amou…

Difficult Friendships

So what do you do when a friend becomes very selfish over time and turns the friendship into a very one-sided relationship? A good friend of mine is in that position lately with a friend of hers and I’ve been in similar situations myself. That’s a tough one, isn’t it?

I assume in my friend’s case that the two of them started out in some kind of mutually supportive scenario; that’s usually how people become friends. There is some kind of connection socially or through common interests and two people help each other out or listen to each other’s problems or whatever and a friendship develops. People who mostly care about themselves, perhaps at the exclusion of others, may eventually turn that friendship into an “it’s all about me” relationship; they might not even realize they’re doing it.

The friend who is being used –that’s what it really is, isn’t it? – can become resentful. They might try to change the balance but in some cases that won’t ever happen.

My friend did not actually ask …

Skin Update

Today I had my one-week follow-up doctor visit regarding my skin cancer surgery. The incision is healing, closed up actually, and my new set of bandages is much smaller. If the bandages don’t come off on their own by next Thursday I can remove them myself. The scar might take a year to go away but this particular surgeon did a great job minimizing the cosmetic effects of the cut and after some minor swelling goes down the scar will be barely visible; that might take another couple of weeks.

All surgery is serious, as is all cancer, but this whole experience was relatively routine. It does give me an even greater appreciation for what people endure with more serious medical conditions. Health is very important to me and I have very few bad health habits. People live forever in my family so I plan to be around for a long time; I don’t want preventable health issues to get in the way of that.

Sensational

A ‘not guilty’ verdict does not necessarily mean she is innocent.

I did not pay that much attention to the Casey Anthony trial because, well, I didn’t/don’t really care. But nearly everyone in my office did follow it; in fact we ended a meeting early today so we could watch the verdict live on CNN. Even though I don’t care, I do have some opinions and observations. Shocker, I know.

The jury found her ‘not guilty’ on the serious charges relating to whether or not she killed her daughter. That does not mean she is innocent, it does mean the evidence did not completely support the charges. It was probably a ‘reasonable doubt’ situation. The jury was not completely sure, based on the evidence. Sure, it looked like she did it and even if she didn’t, there are mysterious and contradictory circumstances surrounding the death.

My lack of interest stems mostly from my observation that this whole case played out more like a bad reality TV series or a Jerry Springer show. It reminded me and othe…

Happy Independence Day

Random Quotes About Dreams and Success

This is one of my favorite topics and I'm in a quote sharing mood today.  Enjoy and be inspired.

Keep your dreams alive. Understand to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination and dedication. Remember all things are possible for those who believe.
- Gail Devers

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember you have within you the strength, the patience and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.
- Harriet Tubman

Believe in your dreams and they may come true; believe in yourself and they will come true.
- Unknown

Cherish your visions and your dreams as they are the children of your soul, the blueprints of your ultimate achievements.
- Napoleon Hill

There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure.
- Colin Powell

The difference between the possible and the impossible lies in a person’s determination.
- Tommy Lasorda

Reverse Thinking

Somebody sent me this. I won’t even set it up. Just watch it and listen all the way through and you will be amazed. It is a very worthwhile minute and a half.

CLICK HERE

(The embed code wasn't available so you'll have to click on the link)

Small Town America

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New York, Washington and Los Angeles are probably the most well-known American cities to people outside of our country. Dallas might also be on that list because of the television show in the 1980s. But many people believe the “real America” can be found in small towns like the two I live near. One of them, Middletown, Maryland, has roots going back to the days just before the United States declared the independence we celebrate this weekend. It was established in 1767, was visited by George Washington before he became our nation’s first President, and played a critical role as the site of medical care after one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War.


Small towns seem to find a balance between modern American life and the slower-paced traditional agricultural era. There are still working farms at the edge of Middletown and I believe there is even one inside the city limits of Frederick, the nearby county seat. Frederick’s city population is under 70,000 and Middletown has around 3,…