Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Magic 8 Ball and Other Assorted Tales

63 days from now, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Eve 2008 will all be in the history books and the first day of 2009 will be upon us.

The passage of time as time passes perpetually perplexes me.

I am almost somewhat semi-recovered from my adventurous Saturday.

I distinctly recall a time going trick-or-treating with my friend Mike and his mom. His little brother (now in his early 30's with 4 kids of his own) was still in a carriage! Yikes! Anyway, I recall wearing my cheezy costume which came in a single box featuring the elastic band from hell and placing my hand for just a brief moment on the handle of the carriage when a bird chose that precise moment to crap in that exact spot.

Got any trick-or-treat stories to share?

Monday, October 29, 2007

Marbles Returning to Mush Man

Saturday is now a memory and Sunday, believe it or not is a big fog. It was after 3am when I went to bed on Saturday and was awake at 7 on Sunday to meet commitments. While I should have napped, for some reason I was in something of an awaking come through most of the day and finally did force myself to bed early (about 10:30ish) on Sunday night.

I went back and read some of the emails and stuff I wrote yesterday and boy, as mushy as I am naturally, I was in high gear in my comatose state.

I missed not one, but two Halloween parties as a result of the reunion. The Jeffrey annual I have been to and am certain it was a gas. The other one, I know the players well enough - I'm betting there was a great time missed...I was at both in spirit.

I just didn't have the steam to do a podcast this week - sorry. I am off on Wednesday but I am not gonna force one. So, while there's an outside chance at one on Wednesday, next Sunday is the more likely target for the next one.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Reunited!

Class of '82 alumni: Standing l to r: "Big" Joe Palascio, Frank Montalti. Seated l to r: Paul Capezza, "Little" Joe Arancio, and yours truly.

There were classes from '67, '77, '87, and '97 as well as '72, '82, and '92 (maybe 2002 also, not sure). Our class, '82, was the most represented which made my night even more enjoyable. I was disappointed in the very low turnout of females however, I really wanted them all to see what they missed out on.

All kidding aside, it was fun reconnecting and taking a walk around the school and looking back on the years '78 through '82. I had a great time.

My big disappointment was my pal Annmarie not showing up. I had been in touch and her, Frank, and I were golden, or so I thought. I guess there's always the 30th to look ahead to.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Walden

I thought I would share the two best shots I got last week at Walden Pond; perhaps they can offer a moment of solace while staring at your computer screen. I've set this to "Auto Post" at 3:15pm - I wonder if that works?

BTW - These are full resolution shots - click on them for the whole shebang if you actually like them.



24

My next 24 hours, as they are currently scheduled, should be interesting and a bit nutty. Over the course of that time period, I will be giving a final exam, submitting final grades for the course, changing into dressier clothes, driving to NYC (200+ miles), attending my 25 year (aye caramba) High School reunion, driving back to MA (yes, another 200+ mile commute), and hopefully getting enough sleep to wake up for a Sunday morning commitment.

I'll be picking up a couple of shots of 5 hour energy - it's the only such product that seems to have some positive effect without the need for an visit to the emergency room.

During my adventure, I hope to get some interesting fodder for a post and/or a podcast, in the meantime all of you are in my thoughts and prayers.

With Love.

Update: 11:08am
The above post was written and posted before 7am. At this point, I've given my final, graded them, computer the final scores and grades for all students, informed each of them and uploaded the grades into the college database. I have also returned home, showered again and am dressed and ready to go. I actually can chill out for the next 30-45 minutes before I need to leave as the commute is a minimum of 4 hours in perfect conditions and since it's raining, and I'm headed into NYC, I assure you that the conditions aren't perfect. Still thinking of all of you.



Update: 8:00am Sunday
I survived! The reunion was fantastic, more on that later. I got home just before 3am and the alarm went of at 7 (OUCH!). I really thought I should at least try to meet several committments I had early today and now that I've showered and dressed, I am off...later.

Friday, October 26, 2007

TV: For Better or Worse

When I was a little kid, there was no cable TV. We had just a handful of channels (2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, and 13). Choices were simple, you had your soaps, cartoons and educational stuff (on PBS) and game shows in the day time, in the evening there was news, sitcoms, drama, Monday Night Football, and the occasional mini series; PBS has old fart artsy shit (which I now occasionally watch). Looking back and at what I watch now, and how I watch it (we didn't have a VCR until the early 80's and of course, there was no TIVO), I can't imagine how I survived (LOL).

The landscape of TV has changed so dramatically in such a short period of time but I wonder if the current version of the medium really is "better" than the old days. I clearly enjoy the vast array of choices but I know that I watch way too much TV. I constantly question if I would be more productive in other areas were it not for my TV essentials. Would I write more? Read more? Do things in the house that need doing?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Concert Going 101

(with a touch of how I enjoyed the Kelly Clarkson concert last evening)

I'll start with saying that as a concert performer, Kelly Clarkson is formidable. At the release of her second CD, I predicted superstar status and she proved me right in terms of record sales and radio play. Her third CD release was clouded with controversy but that is because of that old fart has been Clive Davis pulling his prick where he should have had no right to. Clarkson was in fine voice and clearly demonstrated her ability to command an audience and work a set list.

Now, for some advice to concert goers who wish to attend the same concerts as I do and ensure that I have a good time and not leave hating you. This many not be a complete list as I am shooting from the cuff but it will cover the fundamentals.
  1. Show up on time. Actually, a little early so you can go the rest room and the concessions and still be in your fucking seat when the lights go out.
  2. Sit the fuck down. Unless your ticket is designated for a standing room section, you are purchasing a seat, which may be somewhere in the vicinity of mine. I like to sit in the fucking seat I paid for and not have a bunch of pissants bobbing around blocking my view. Perhaps for the last song and the encore I'll allow standing and dancing but the rest of the show its sit down or piss me off.
  3. No cell phones! Get a fucking lighter, this worked forever before the cell phone thing. Have some fucking inkling for tradition.
  4. Related to number 3, no fucking texting. I could write a series of posts but I am saving the topic of texting for a podcast. Needless to say, i you prefer texting whoever the fuck over seeing the show, leave.
  5. Stay in your fucking seat. Unless your bowel and or bladder is about to leave your body, sit tight and enjoy the show that Ticketmaster and the concert gods have taken a weeks salary and your first born in exchange for.
  6. If the show is comedy rather than music, you are not allowed under any circumstances to tell any jokes before during and after the show. Don't repeat any jokes or tell any new ones, don't even think about being funny. In fact, shut the fuck up unless these are the two words you are about to say and I am included..."I'm buying."
  7. To the concert venue: we paid alot of fucking scratch to be here, clean up the place, maintain a comfortable temperature, and don't think it's okay to fuck me up the ass in exchange for a bottle of filtered tap water (fuck you Coke and Pepsi) and a stale pretzel with mustard flavored bacteria gel.
I think that's it for now, I need to go take my blood pressure meds.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A Brief Post

Hi, just about outta here to go see Kelly Clarkson in Boston (how's that for geeky?). Anyway, first of to my friend Jill...I know that you've been under the weather. I hope you get well soon - I love ya and am as close by as you need me to be.

If you haven't listened to yesterday's podcast, give it a go and let me know what ya think.

World Series is a major dilemma this year for me. I am a die hard Yankee fan so rooting for the Red Sox would be difficult. However, The Rockies are owned by Clear Channel, the corporate bastions of right wing censorship. FUCK!!!

Finally, a super cute video that I beg you to watch all the way through, you won't regret it and if you do, you might be dead inside. Peace!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Living in the Moment

Time for a new podcast.

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Friday, October 19, 2007

When Teacher Becomes Student

Last night, several students asked to speak with me after class. Turns out I've been overlooking something important and I am so grateful that they had enough trust in me to tell me. Teaching is far more than a job or a paycheck, it's way more than that for me. Now, I have the opportunity to make adjustments before it's too late for some.

You know, one of the toughest jobs a teacher has is to gauge the learner and their learning styles. It's so common for a student to either ignore their own learning style or hide it for any number of reasons. Of course, some are obvious but some aren't and unless a student asks for help, it's not only hard to give some, but in some cases inappropriate, unethical, and believe it or not, illegal.

There are plenty of teachers that would shun a meeting by an group of six students, all mature adults who were expressing concern mostly about another student who they are friends with that has a physical disability that makes it difficult for her to keep up with the computer lessons. For me, this is what teaching is all about, learning about your student so that you can do everything that is within your power to give them the best learning experience possible.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I'm an Actor Dammit

I decided to play tonight. I made three movies, featuring ME in Jib-Jab movies. Check 'em out...


It's me and I am starring alongside none other than Martha Stewart in my first Jib-Jab film. Enjoy!




And, here's my second starring role (which I actually made first). This one's a bit gory but funny a h - e - double hockey sticks...




Now, my final role (for now), in "Unnecessary Force".




Okay, So I got a little carried away. I had to end with a little funny dancing...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Bizarre Foods

Have you seen this show? It's called "Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern" and it's on the Travel Channel. The premise is quite simple, Chef Zimmern travels to some locale, usually "exotic" and dives into the culture from a food perspective. Of course, in keeping with the title, the particular foods he focuses on is the "unusual". I am watching the episode about Vietnam right now and as I type this, he's just taken a bite from a bull's penis! I've seen about a dozen or so episodes and each is more bizarre than the next. Give it a shot.

What's the most bizarre thing you have ever eaten?

I've had some good exposure to some (moderately) bizarre "foods" thanks to my dad in my youth and my occasionally adventurous adulthood. I have eaten: calf brains, squid ink, chicken feet, jellyfish, and an assortment of hearts and livers. Oh, I forgot tripe, which I love - you know, the lining of a cows stomach, that tripe.

Your turn...

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Recycling and Tivo - A Podcast

Time for the "weekly" podcast.

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Friday, October 12, 2007

Grading to Be Done

There's much grading to be done, especially for tomorrow morning's class so I thing I'll spend a few minutes procrastinating with all of you instead. Work has been pretty interesting of late because there are a number of new techno-initiatives that I am working with that are kind of neat.

Only three more Saturday's until the Saturday morning class is history and that'll be one less day the alarm sounds in the sixish a.m. range.

Happy Birthday to all those of you for whom birthday's are happening either recently past or near future.

I'm glad that Casey won fan favorite on Top Chef, I really wanted her to win the whole shebang but she blew it on the final.

My return to watching America's Next Top Model has been what I'd like to say disappointing,but all it really has done is confirm why I stopped watching it in the first place - Tyra is a racist. Fortunately, the girls are so darn whacky it still has some entertainment value - after all, a train wreck is a train wreck. While still dedicated to Survivor, this is one of those season's where I am just not connecting with any of the characters.

Time to get back to grading...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Tech Support Shenanigans


Here's what happened. I went to HP's website in search of some drivers for a computer issue at work. Every two seconds, an annoying pop-up appears asking if I want "Live" technical support. After the 19th or so (probably the 3rd in actuality) time, I said "Fuck it" and went for the kill with Leo, the live technical helper. What follows is a partial transcript which includes the shenanigans. You'll note that Leo totally ignores the shenanigans and only answers the strategically interspersed "serious" questions (mostly not displayed here).

...
Leo: May I know the Product line that you are interested in?
Guest: HP 3000dn printer

Leo: Will you be reselling this product?
Guest: Is there any advantage to doing so?
Leo: To make sure, will you be reselling this printer.
Leo: ?
Leo: We have separate department for personal, business and reseller, so that I can transfer you to the right queue.
Guest: I would like to keep it for a while first.
Leo: Thank you very much for the information.
Leo: The HP 3000dn printer has been discontinued.
Guest: Now that I think of it and refer to my notes it's the 3005dn
Leo: Are you looking to buy the HP 3005dn printer?
Guest: Yes, thank you very much.
all that hoopla about transferring me to the right queue and I'm still yanking Leo's chain.
Leo: You're most welcome! Is there anything else I can do for you?
Guest: My roommate put a pancake through the manual feed of my current printer and it ruined lt. Will this model endure such foolishness?

Guest: Can it print foreign language fonts such as Cyrillic and Japanese?
Guest: I just realized it's been a while since I had sushi. Do you like sushi?
Leo: The HP P3005 printer can support PCL Fonts - Total 103 (scalable TrueType fonts and includes Greek, Hebrew, Cyrillic, Arabic)

Guest: I am considering purchasing one of your care pack but am not sure just how much care I need nor how much care I will receive. You seem to care very much, if l get your care then I will buy.
Leo: One moment please...
I know, I am an ass - I thought he was going to get a supervisor. But back he came (trooper).
Leo: Thanks for waiting online.
Guest: I didn't realize I was online

Guest: Is your tech support US based or India (or some other country). Be honest now!
Out comes the hard hitting reporter in me.
Leo: Sorry, it is against our policy to reveal specifications on our location; however, HP does support operations in various places worldwide
Guest: l'm going to ponder my final decision over pancakes and sushi and I'll be back later Leo. Thanks for the help. Bye Bye!
Leo: It's been a pleasure assisting you . I would also like to know personally if you are completely satisfied with the help you received from me.
Guest: You've been quite informative and helpful even through my silliness, a good thing. Not sure about the tech support though.
Leo: Thanks for your feedback. Thank you for visiting HP Chat. Have a wonderful weekend!
Leo: Bye and take care J

Monday, October 08, 2007

Podcast:The Summer of Love and Email

I started this late, after 11 pm on Sunday. It is now 1:34 am and only now am I ready to post the podcast oficially.

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Saturday, October 06, 2007

Quickees

Teaching is rewarding but sometimes it's so darn hard.

There's Magic in the air, and I just can't stop listening.

Believe it or not, I am going to see Kelly Clarkson in concert on the 23rd of this month.

I'm hooked on a feeling, but not so high on believing.

I am so desperate to remain at a constant level of organization but can't yet attain that level, much less maintain it.

Jefferson Airplane has a song called "Summer of Love" and every time I have ever heard it it brings sheer and utter joy to my heart and soul; I almost always cry happy tears. In fact, I think I am gonna use it in my podcast tomorrow.

There is a picture in my mind
of a place I want to be
I want you there too
Will you come with me?

Finally, have you seen the clip where Danny Partridge beats the crap out of that worm Johnny Fairplay? I think Fairplay deserved what he got as he instigated the whole damn thing. Here's the short clip:



Peace!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Early Birds


On our campus, the library and computer lab share the same physical space and entry way. Our posted opening time is 7:45am, but I often arrive early and as a courtesy, will open the doors and allow students to come in. however, my generosity has created an unnecessary and unwarranted expectation amongst these people which has me bitching to all of you wonderful folks.
During the time before 7:45, I like to enjoy a piping hot cup of Dunkin' Decaf (despite the ridiculous Styrofoam cup, which I must admit does a bang up job of keeping said coffee piping hot for long periods) and perhaps a breakfast item while catching up on my email and sorts. It deeply disturbs me when someone asks for my help or even addresses me during this period of time.
I have at points in the past tenish years entered and locked the door behind me but the door is glass and everyone starts knocking and looking all stupid at me like it's their right to come in if I am there. Then there those who arrive even earlier than I (morbidly insane if you ask me) who camp out at the door and rush it once I unlock it. What I think I need is a key to the disability services area where I can sneak in the side door and be done with the fools.
Hopefully my "new" office area at the back of the library will be ready soon so that I could not only sneak in the side door, but also flee to my (semi)private spot in the back to relax without having to look at the gloomy and often pathetic stares of those desperate to get in and somehow craft an entire paper before their 8am class.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Johnny Dee Reviews the Boss on Opening Night

The great Johnny Dee has offered his review of the Opening Nught performance of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band's current tour in support of Magic. Thanks John.

My review of opening night of the "Magic" tour, Hartford Civic Center, October 2, 2007:

Cards on the table: I've seen Bruce, with and without the E Street Band, something like 15 or 16 times, in several different venues (MSG, Continental Arena, Giants Stadium, Shea Stadium, PNC Bank Arts Center, even Carnegie Hall). I have usually either been heads-up enough to get my bid for tix in early, or used corporate connections/brokers, to get better-than-average seats. (I deserve no less.) Let it be said that I had incredibly lousy seats last night, which ticked me off from the get-go, which contributed somewhat to what follows.

Let's start with a given: what Bruce and the E-Street Band (let's call them, collectively, "BEST"), does well, they do better than anyone else, probably ever. Their obvious chemistry, both personal and musical, combined with their ability to relate to and command an audience, is unmatched in my experience. Last night in Hartford, that was on display from the first notes of "Radio Nowhere," a song that initially didn't knock me over but since cannot seem to get out of my head. Had the energy and enthusiasm BEST displayed in the first 3 songs continued, or even if the concert had stopped right there, it probably would have been one of the best shows I'd ever seen.

The problem I had was in what came after, namely the New Stuff. Let me be clear: I've heard the new album, I like the new album, I may not agree with all of the politics on the new album but I think musically it's one of the best he's ever done. Also, I recognize and support their need to sell the new album. The problem with it in the context of last night's show is two-fold: first, the album hit yesterday, and the BEST true-believers out there (including me) haven't had time to absorb and personalize the stuff the way we do with Bruce's music. Which leads to the second problem last night, which was the timing/placement of the new songs in relation to the rest of the setlist. In many cases, the "Magic" stuff seemed to belie, or interrupt, or downright kill the buzz, of the other stuff he was playing.

Dig the setlist and I'll try to illustrate:
Radio Nowhere
The Ties That Bind
Lonesome Day
(JD: great start, huge energy.)
Gypsy Biker
Magic
(JD: Wounded, dead soldiers, and lying politicians, one in particular. Beertime.)

Reason to Believe
(JD: HOLY CRAP! Highlight of the show--bluesy, raw, totally different than I've ever heard it before.)

Night
She's the One
(JD: Fantastic 2-fer. Crowd on its feet.)

Livin' in the Future
(JD: Very catchy, good protest song, but as usual, could have done without the PSA. Essentially the same one you saw on the Today Show: cheeseburgers, motorcycles, bill of rights, wire-tapping.)

The Promised Land
(JD: We're back on track.)

Town Called Heartbreak
(JD: Have to say, wanted to hate it, Patty song done as a duet. Actually very effective and her voice did not make me want to plug my ears with hand-grenades as usual.)

Darkness on the Edge of Town
(JD: Always loved this one live. Still do.)

Darlington County
(JD: Here we go! Lights up, stalking the stage, great solos, everyone up.)

Devil's Arcade
(JD: Crashing back to earth. Maybe worst two-song segue in music history.)

The Rising
(JD: Ah, could we be back again? Great version, great energy, everybody singing....)

Last to Die
Long Walk Home
(JD: I stand corrected: above was the second worst segue, this was the worst. Getting painful now. PS, 2 excellent songs, as is Devil's Arcade, but following Darlington and Rising, just simply do not belong here.)

Badlands
(JD: Great set-ender. Brought us back to our feet.)
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Thundercrack
Born to Run
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
American Land
(JD: Absolutely great encore set. Bit of a funky mix. I may have been the only person in the place who knew "Thundercrack," but they nailed it, given the last time they played it, Max hadn't joined the band, which he did in 1974.)

In summary: I give them an A+ for execution, as always. However, pacing, choice of songs, and order in which to play them, I have to say C+. That said, it's the first night of the tour, and I'm still going to both shows in NYC. By then I'll know the new stuff better and it may just make better sense. Or he'll change it. That's the beauty of BEST.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Feel the Magic

The new Bruce Springsteen CD, featuring the E-Street Band, was released this morning. If you want to hear the songs, click on the picture and you'll be transported to Q104.3 NY's web site where they are currently streaming the entire CD.

While I did take a preview listen about a week ago, I sat down with the CD and the lyric book and really dug into these songs. All are brilliantly crafted songs. Bruce took his writing back the pop music fundamentals while still eloquently and emphatically stamping each with a signature sound not only of his own, but also the fabulous E-Street Band.

I did get a sneak preview of how some of these songs will sound live from the Today Show performances, I eagerly anticipate the full arena experience. Johnny D was scheduled to see the tour opener in Hartford tonight so I expect a review, which perhaps he'll allow me to share here, first thing in the morning.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Notes from a Podcaster's Journal

It's been fun reading everyone's comments here and at Airam's place in reaction to the podcast. It was great fun and a great learning experience. I have so many ideas running through my head and hope that time will allow me to execute at least some of them.

You should all know that at some point I'd like to have you all make guest appearances or participate in interviews, or have some input into my podcasts. I do need to spend some more time researching better recording methods for phone calls and I'd like to have the ability to conference at least a few folks at once. Long term goals!

This whole podcast thing kind of took me by surprise. I listen to lots of podcasts, mostly NPR but never thought I'd venture into that medium. It's just so darn fun though! Thanks for all the kind and mostly encouraging words. You all rock!

Interview With a Blogger:Airam

An interview with fellow blogger Airam. Lots of topics and of course, the Pivot questionnaire. If you've got 45 minutes or so, this Podcast is a great way to use them. Don't forget that you can download the podcast or subscribe via iTunes.

You'll note the date atop this post reads Monday, October 1st. Just to clear up any potential confusion, the interview took place around 8pm EST on Sunday, after the post production stuff and final publishing of the podcast on the Podcast site, which was just before midnight, this post here happened around 12:04, hence the day/date change.


Enjoy...

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