Monday, April 30, 2012

April Out

I'm a bit at a loss, so I am stealing this simple idea - "What are your final words for April?"

This is rather easy, my final words will be, "I taste better when I'm toasted."

I think this simple sentence can be intrepreted in a number of ways, several of which could get me a one way ticket to the looney bin, others might attract a few river rats. Regardless, I am done; which now become my actual last words - not counting these ones, which are truly my last words - if I stop right here...

You know what, "I taste better when I'm toasted."

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Saturday, in the Park...

Okay, I was not at any time at the park. However, I did start the day earlier than I'd like for a Saturday with a 6am workout, and 8:30am class to teach, a minor BJ's trip, then a short stop at home before heading to the "Spring Fling", our church fundraiser (dinner, entertainment and silent auction).

This shot is Mark, the other MC who we all wished was the only MC. This odd shot was all just a timing thing but I think it's hysterical!

Amongst the entertainment were a few top notch local theater performers gathered by our own Kathy (centered in the photo above). From left to right, the fabulously talented Tom Frates, Connie West Ben, Kathy Larson Day, Tom Ostroski and our own Gerry Seixias who played the piano. The whole affair was great (except for one of the MC's who means well but just doesn't got it).

After the spring fling, it was off the Angry Ham's Garage to see "The Road Dawgs", here are a few pics:

This one is funny because I noticed the shot as I was readying to videotape the second set for the band as a favor. There's a bit of trickery where it looks like my right hand is firmly placed on Meghan's (second from left) right hip. However, that is actually Amy's (just to the right of Meghan) right hand; more careful inspection will reveal my right hand and the video equipment dangling above and to the left of the shot.

Rocking with the Road Dawgs

This dancing dude felt no pain. He did go around trying to collect tips, and was successfuly, then shared them with the band.

Anyway, I got home at one, woke up at 6 this morning, realized it's harder to do stuff like that but had super fun so what the hey!

Stick It Ticketmaster

I received a "presale" code from Ticketmaster that allowed me access to purchase tickets to the Gillette Stadium show in advance of the formal on sale date. While I wasn't yet sure if I was going to this show, I pretty much allowed myself to be manipulated by the offer and purchased six tickets; I figured it would be reasonably easy to ensure not losing money on the proposition.

Friday morning, I get an email from Ticketmaster announcing there was a security breach in their ordering and customer database that caused some issue with credit card numbers on file, and because my credit card was on file, I would have the opportunity to reverse any sales/charges that were made on that account within the time frame of the breach (which included the date I purchased these tickets) but I had to make my intentions clear by Sunday (today) at 3:00pm.

One of the main reasons I got tickets for this event was to go with my buddy JD and his lovely bride Jane(y don't ya lose heart) and then whomever else wished to tag along. Still uncertain of their availability by 2:00pm, I decided instead of putting to much thought into this, I am keeping the tickets - I didn't see any downside.

So, at around 2:30, I reply to Ticketmaster's email stating that I will keep the tickets and take ownership of the charges. At 3:34pm, I received the following from these knuckle heads:

Hello Chris,

Your ticket order has been canceled and the money refunded!

Order # xx-xxxxxx/NY2
BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, Gillette Stadium & August 18, 2012
$681.55 was put back on your credit card on April 29, 2012

It should take about 3-10 business days for the bank to process the credit.

What? I emailed them back immediately and panicked around 5 without a reply, I called and was unable to get any resolution other than a contact number I can call during "normal business hours." The problem though, once the refund was processed, the seats go back into the available pool. For kicks, I went onto Ticketmaster to see what was available if I were to purchase new tickets and all that's left are unappealing. Sons of bitches!!!

Looks like I may be trolling Craigslist for that show. Oh, and they've added a 2nd show at Wrigley Field in Chicago in September which has be already contemplating a return trip to that city before I've even made my first trip there (scheduled in late June).

Customer service!

UPDATE 4/30 8:00 AM: Just received two interesting email, one from Ticketmaster apologizing for the mixup. They "regret" that they are unable to offer me the same or even "comparable" tickets but they have "held back six seats in the best available section as of this writing" and are willing to offer them to me at face value with no added Ticketmaster charges. The seats are in section 337 row 24, which is about as far away from the stage as the guy in the Good Year blimp that will be floating above - only I wont have the same power zoom lens to see the action. However, there are a few good options on Craigslist that may pan out.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Master's Two?

This year will mark 19 years since I received my Master's Degree and while I've toyed around a number of times with the idea of going back for more, I have begun seriously exploring the idea of getting back into the classroom - as a student.

I've pretty much eliminated the idea of a doctorate. While it has some appeal, most of it is ego based and after so much analysis, I'd need to invest a significant amount of time, around 5-7 years, spend somewhere between 60 and 80 thousand buck and never really see a return.

I am looking now at a few different Master's programs because getting a second Master's is something I can do in a reasonable time frame (a total of 10-12 classes), 2-3 years or so, and get a decent return with a slight kick up in pay for the additional degree.

We'll see.

The Breakup Begins

After much procrastination, I finally took the all important first steps to breaking up with Bank of America. After work, I went to to locl credit union and opened both a checking and a savings account and moved some money from BOA into the new accounts.\

I also obtained a form to give to my employer so that I can switch my direct deposit.

Plotting phase two!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Toilet Paper Economics

Let's start with a very short article I read this afternoon:

The science behind Costco's No. 1 product
The big-box retailer spends a lot of time studying the quality of its biggest-selling item.
By Kim Peterson
Costco shoppers are very particular about their toilet paper. They post reviews online. They make funny YouTube videos about it. They debate endlessly whether Kirkland is better than Charmin.

Toilet paper is Costco's top-selling product, in fact. And the company takes it seriously. It even studies the quality of Kirkland toilet paper in its laboratory near Seattle, as the following video shows.

Costco sells $400 million worth of toilet paper every year. Any loss in quality can mean hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue. No wonder Costco scientists are so focused on it.

Technicians measure the whiteness of the paper. They squeeze the heck out of it -- breaking an old Charmin rule. And they pay special attention to softness and the way the paper bunches up in your hand.

I've never bought Kirkland. I always go for Charmin. What do you think, readers? Is Costco's toilet paper worth all the attention?

You can watch the story on video as well right here.

I think that for anyone that has ever questioned the value of the social sciences in business, this short article should clear things up. I can't help but envision some dude on a job interview to work on the house brand toilet paper quality control team. The staff meetings must be full of...

I had to stop myself, this stuff is very interesting to me.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

R.I.P. Holly

Holly was a student at the college. She wasn't a little kid but rather a late in life student trying to move beyond a very difficult and hard life and her past mistakes by getting a degree. I spent a fair amount of time helping Holly in the computer lab, she was the complete opposite of computer literate and was easily frustrated and on occasion, took those frustrations out on those who were trying to help (me included). Ultimately, I knew it wasn't coming from a mean place and nobody could ever accuse her of not being persistent or trying.

It may have taken longer for Holly than the average student but battling through all of her challenges, and her waning health, Holly graduated last May and had the change to realize a dream. Sadly, it came to our attention today that Holly passed away at the age of 58.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Password Please

Here's one for ya. For background, students at my school get four different computer accounts that initially, are all set to the same password but if they change their passwords within either of them, it only affects that specifc account, not the others. To assist with this potential for confussion, last year we rolled out a password reset tool that will change all four passwords to a single, user selected password at once.

The initial setup of the reset tool requires the student to select three questions and provide answers to them. Upon using the tool, the student is presented with these three questions and upon successfully replying to all, they can change their passwords.

Today, a student came to me saying he couldn't get into one of his accounts so I reminded him of the reset tool. He disappeared for a few minutes then returned mentioning that he forgot the answers to the questions.

Is this okay?
Should he get a free pass or does he need to be reminded that the purpose of the tool is for security and the idea is to select questions and answers that are easy to remember?

I know first hand how many passwords we are overwhelmed with in the modern world and I can't say that I've never forgotten a password.

What are your thoughts?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Scarlett and Matthew

I wanted to use this space to ask you all to keep these two kids in your thoughts.

Matthew was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of four and a half and has been in treatment for the last few months. Matthew is a fighter but this has of course been really hard on the family, especially with a younger brother and a baby sister who was born amidst all of this.

Scarlett was diagnosed at a very young age and until recently, had been in remission. Her relapse has been excruciating on her family and this past week, received a bone marrow transplant.

These two children have demonstrated bravery at a level I could never fathom. Please keep these two kids and their families in your thoughts,the road ahead isn't going to be easy for them but they are all determined to do whatever it takes to beat this.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

(Accidental) Library Lap Dance

I was at the library this afternoon and spent some time sitting in the lounge area flipping through a cookbook. A bit tired from waking at 5:30am, working out and teaching for more than 4 hours, I leaned back in the chair for a minute and rested the book on my chest, then literally closed my eyes. The plan was to stay awake and just sit back for a minute or two but I suspect I might have dozed off had something very unusual not happened.

I was beyond startled to a state of awakening far greater than when I had first sat down but was more shocked that there was a woman suddenly sitting in my lap. In my sate of shock, somehow the first thing that came out of my mouth was, "I've lost some weight, but I didn't think I was invisible!" This garnered a laugh amidst the "I am so, so, so, very, very, very sorry - I lost my balance."

"Are you alright?" said the woman. I replied, "that depends, but I am sure glad that I was wearing an adult diaper because you scared the crap out of me!" I got another laugh, albeit a nervous one because she might have been uncertain, at least for a brief moment, that I was joking.

I then got up from the chair, mostly to ensure that my legs were still working and then I walked away leaving the woman with one final comment to ponder, "I hope you weren't expecting a tip, I couldn't even get the waitress to bring me a beer." A brief moment of silence, then it seemed she had busted a gut and I still have no idea if she got my sense of humor or was so mortified that she just sat down on a human being that laughing was the only way to not completely die of embarrassment.

So, how was your afternoon?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Vaca Ends

While I don't officially go back to work until Monday, my week off is over and in fact, my alarm is set for 5:30 Saturday morning so I can get my workout in before going to teach my class.

I could easily come up with a list of things I didn't accomplish, but that will serve no good purpose and therefore, I'll treasure the time I had with my daughter, my brother and sister-in-law, my friend Johnny D, and the time I had for myself and sleeping without an alarm most days.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Johnny D, Pizza, a Phantom and another Johnny D

My daughter and I took a road trip to New York City yesterday and had ourselves an action packed day of visits, food and fun.

After the drive in, we parked the car and took a stroll through time square where we ended up meeting my pal Johnny D, pictured to the right, for lunch at John's Pizzeria.

It was great to hang with Johnny and my kid and to have a decent slice of pizza, unlike the food they refer to as pizza in Massachusetts, it's one of the things I miss about my hometown.

The main purpose of the trip into NY was to see a broadway show and Victoria really wanted to see "The Phantom of the Opera", so, we did.
I thought the show was good but my daughter went nuts over it and that made it worth the price of admission for sure.

When the show ended, the plan was to go visit my brother and sister-in-law but I wasn't sure my brother was going to be able to get out of working but was still jazzed to hang with my sister-in-law for a little while before heading back to MA.

We walked back to the lot where I had parked the car, planning in advance made the parking experience, or more accurately paying for the parking experience, almost pleasant. $15 for up to 6 hours of parking in Manhattan is a good deal! I left the lot, set up the GPS to get to my Johnny's house in Flushing (I had never been to this house), yes, another Johnny D. In the thick of rush hour, I was impressed with my GPS ability to detect traffic situations on the initial route - she yelled out, "severe traffic ahead, rerouting!"

GPS doesn't realize the complexity of being on the extreme right of an avenue in NYC then all of a sudden needing to make a left at the next corner and only being about 3-4 car lengths from said corner. Fortunately, I still have my NYC driving instincts and skills in tact and expertly maneuvered into the route which had me cross town rather swiftly, then over the Queensborough bridge while mentally humming Simon and Garfunkel.

I was very happy to see that my brother was in fact able to get the night off and the four of us had some quality time together and some Chinese food (except my sister in law who opted for pizza). We left for home around 9-ish and while the trip would normally be 3 hours or so, I had to stop a number of times along the way to ensure safe travels. All in all, a great day!

R.I.P. Dick Clark

I first learned who Dick Clark was in the 1970's. I was always around music and as you know, if you know me, music has always been a significant part of my life. Watching American Bandstand was a necessary for me as doing to school. While I always opposed Clark's insistence on lip-syncing on show that his company produces (I oppose lip syncing always), the guy is a legend and while his last few years have been a sad display of a man trying to cope with the after effects of a severe stroke, I don't think anyone could ever forget all that Dick Clark brought to the game.

I'm not interested in hearing at this point about any skeletons in his closet or whether or not he was a mean guy or a prick - if any of that is true, it should have come out while he was alive and could defend himself. I hope he wasn't a prick because I learned a lot about music by listening and watching him and New Year's Rockin' Eve was an essential staple. Rest in Peace!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Albany Road Trip/The Boss!

The road trip to Albany all began as kind of a back up plan. The day that Springsteen tickets went on sale for Boston, I made every effort to get tickets for that show using three computers simultaneously to grab the attention of those crooks at Ticketmaster. I won't go into too much detail since I already posted about it at the time, you can read that if you wish right here (just remember to come back).

Ultimately, I enjoyed the Boston show so much that I couldn't see not going to the Albany show as well, and since I already had tickets, hey, why not?
Along for the ride was my friend Chris, we hit the road a little before noon hoping to check out the city of Albany a bit before grabbing a bite to eat and then seeing Bruce and the E-Street band make magic.
This is the New York State capital building. I couldn't get the wide shot for several reasons, first, with the phone, I'd have had to walk at least another full block back to get the whole thing and second, to get to the building from where I parked required a several block walk that seems about four degrees short of straight up hill.

The building is impressive both outside and in as we hung out in there for about an hour. I found the hall of governors very interesting. There were a number of former governors, later presidents, that I was unaware of their service as Governor of NY.
There were a number of exhibits and memorabilia from people with attachments to New York State. Seeing this trumpet, played by the great Louie Armstrong reminded me of my friend Jeff, who is a trumpet player so I snapped the picture and posted it to FaceBook for him to enjoy.

After walking about the city for a while, the last place we ended up before dinner was the New York State Museum, which amongst it's many impressive archives and exhibits was a rather moving display of 9/11 artifacts and remembrances, it was hard to go through these but also an important exercise for me.

Dinner was, well, dinner but then it came time to hit the arena. A running theme seemed to be how inexpensive Albany was compared to Boston (where I live now) and NYC (where I grew up). For example, check out this event parking place just one block from the arena:
Are you kidding me? $5 to park a block away? Almost makes me feel silly for the $2.80 i spent to park a few blocks away. In Boston or NY this is a $40-$50 tab! The most expensive parking I found was the actual arena lot, at only $20.

Now, the show. Let's take a look at the set list as played (which differs from the one listed on Bruce's own web site, which reflects the originally planned set):

We Take Care of Our Own
Wrecking Ball
*Out in the Street
Death to My Hometown
My City of Ruins
*Darlington County
Jack of All Trades
*Murder Incorporated
*Downbound Train
*Shackled & Drawn
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
The Promised Land
Apollo Medley
*Janey Don't You Lose Heart
The Rising
Lonesome Day
We Are Alive
Land of Hope and Dreams
* * *
Thunder Road
Rocky Ground (with Michelle Moore)
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out

The songs marked with an asterisk are songs that he did not do when I saw him in Boston a few weeks ago, and a number of them were tour premieres, many from the Born In the U.S.A. record era.

I loved the particular sequencing of sandwiching Jack of All Trades between Darlington County, and Murder Incorporated and then Downbound Train and Shackled and Drawn...that five song sequence not only really felt right in the thematic context of Bruce's new material, it really kept the audience engaged (not that Bruce has ever had a problem engaging a crown) in a very unique way.

Janey Don't You Lose Heart is a great b-side that was a really nice surprise that came from a request sign and turned into a moving solo acoustic performance by Bruce, really special. Also new is the photo montage of Clarence Clemmons during the Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out tribute, made it an even bigger tear jerker.

The ride home was the toughest part but I broke it up with several rest stops and being goofy. At one rest stop was this vending machine:
Of course, delirum had set in, it was around two in the morning at this point, and Chris had this "great idea" that we should get one. So, of course we did and I insisted on wearing it. Here's the result:

The lighting was bad, my hair had been tossed around all day in the wind and is in desperate need of a cut, but the net effect in my opinions is something of an Albert Einstein effect, though some say Groucho Marx, which I can also see.

That was my day!!! Tomorrow it's off to NYC for a Broadway Show with my daughter after lunch with Johnny D and dinner with my sister-in-law and perhaps even my brother.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Happy Birthday Tori (and other, far less important things)

The first big thing about today is it's Tori's birthday. Anyone that knows Tori, even a little, knows just how special she is and how much better all of our lives are for knowing her. Therefore, it only seems right to offer a celebratory Happy Birthday using the medium where I first met Tori - blogging. Tori, you have a fabulous and fun day!!!
I had to get my daughter to her mom's early because they are closing a road for the Boston marathon that would have made it super difficult to do any later.

Me, I am gearing up for a road trip this afternoon into Albany, New York, to see Bruce Springsteen at the Times Union Center. If all goes according to plan, I'll get there with plenty of time to do a nice walking tour of the capital city of the state of NY and grab some food before the show. Of course, the dreaded drive back tonight will be "fun".

Last night I bought tickets for the Wednesday matinee of "The Phantom of the Opera" on Broadway, so that'll be another road trip. Phantom wouldn't have been my first choice of what's out there on the great white way but my daughter has first choice and Phantom is what she wanted to see.

That's it for now!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Fire Pit and Milk Thistle

Here's a few seconds from the fire pit last night. I had a great time hanging out with some good friends and other folks and I always love me a fire pit.

Class went well yesterday though my online sections this semester are quite the challenge.
Road trip to Albany tomorrow to see Springsteen.
Looking forward to not going to work all week!

Oh, pulled a fun prank at the party last night! I took one of the plants that was a centerpiece on the tree trunks out by the firepit and placed it in a friends bag, that previously only contained a pair of flip-flops. I would have thought the considerable weight difference would have given it away as they left but no...didn't hear any word of discovery until nearly 24 hours later...very funny!!!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Week Ends, Weekend Begins

This week had many ups and downs but for better or worse, it's over and not only does the weekend begin, but I have a vacation week next week, so no work for me!!!

Before I continue, I need to send my condolences to my friend Dan and his family. Dan's brother Kevin died after a long illness and this is just four months after they lost their sister. Please, everyone, keep Dan's family in your thoughts as they mourn these very difficult losses.

I just had a nice FB chat conversation with my dear friend Annmarie from high school. I am looking forward to my reunion next month - I hope we get a good showing from our class.

Met a very promising candidate for the Provost position today at the college.

Going on a road trip to Albany on Monday to see Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band, just weeks after seeing him here in Boston. Oh, he's also announce a summer date at Gillette Stadium...HMMM!

I really feel like a podcast is long overdue but I've been so busy except when I've been too lazy.

Cee-Lo Green quote of the week, "I can learn so much from your expertise and your veteranism."

Slimmer chance than I thought but a chance none-the-less that I may be making a New York City appearance on Wednesday.

Peace and Love!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Idol This Week

The Solo performances
Skylar – Choosing to perform a song by Idol alum Kellie Pickler, who made an appearance on last week’s results show, she once again proved her place in the competition isn’t a fluke and perhaps demonstrated just what we may see from her post Idol – regardless of where she places. It seems she’s learned from the mistakes she made earlier on in the competition, now she needs to stay consistent because if this contest has proven anything over the years, it’s unforgiving.

Colton – once again totally killed it. This guy has really honed his performance style, delivers a solid vocal and has a very clear sense of style. I think Colton has packaged himself very well and his performance of “Love the Way You Lie” was flawless.

Jessica – really amazing how such a young woman can have such vocal and performance maturity. I’m going to throw down a prediction here, Jessica Sanchez is going to be the next Mariah Carey – you wait and see.

Joshua – he almost got me to enjoy him last night and that was a first. However, I still think his voice isn’t nearly as good as the judges praise him for but the kid does know how to work the stage and the crowd. For me though, this guy is not a pop star and while this may sound mean, it’s not intended to be – I think it would be a total waste for him to win this thing.

Hollie – This girl can sing, I’ve said that before; she can hit the notes but she needs to take the time to learn how to perform. The best thing for her would be to get out there and gig like crazy and also hire a quality vocal coach to teach her how to maintain her voice long term. I think she has promise and can succeed as a singer, but she’s not ready for the big game just yet.

Phillip – First, I dig Phillip, love how he stays true to himself and just goes out there and makes it happen. I liked his performance as much as I’ve liked him in the past but I knew there was going to be a time where the judges pulled this crap, and I don’t think Phillip deserved the criticism he received. When I see Phillip perform, I see someone with a similar type of appeal to a performer like Dave Matthews, who is wildly successful and I think Phillips can garner a similar fan base and similar success. The judges are asking him not to step out of the box but to step out of himself and I applaud him for thus far not doing so.

Elise – she totally rocked that Gaga song. To do a song by an artist who is arguably the most culturally relevant performer in the modern landscape of popular music is a tall order and Elise pulled it off like a seasoned professional; fantastic job.

Duets (and a Trio)
Rather than critique these, I’m gonna expose Idol here, not that most of you didn’t figure this out as well though… these performances have nothing to do with the competition, they are there only to fill time so they can maintain a two hour broadcast and sell advertising in between. I think forcing these kids to come out and sing in a group setting on “game night” is unfair and irrelevant to the goal of the competition. Shortly, the time will come for them to sing multiple songs on their own, this makes more sense and perhaps it would be a better challenge to add the task of singing two songs in a row – a skill that is relevant to a solo vocal competition.
That being said, of the duets (and the trio) performed last night, they were all okay but did nothing to help or hurt any of the singers.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Photo Phun

Just messing around with an app on the iPad...

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tid Bits

Strong rumours that Kristen Wiig, Jason Sudeikis and Andy Samberg are leaving SNL after this season. That is a big chunk of the active talent roster to lose in one fell swoop but this isn't the first time something that dramatic has happened to that show and it always manages to forge ahead.

I just finished grading a discussion board assignment for both of my online sections and was sad to see that most of the students have no concept as to what an opinion is, either that or simply have no opinion but I am guessing the former (based on what was submitted).

So glad Mad Men is back. Three episodes into season 5, my mind is working hard on trying to process the full effect.

Hey, if you can do me a solid while you are here - I would appreciate you clicking on one of the ads, either to the right, or just below the first post...believe it or not, you just clicking on it gets me some credits which translate to cash. I know I am not going to get rich from this but it may buy a few lunches and perhaps a tank of gas over time.

Did you all get your taxes done?

Peace and Love!!!

Monday, April 09, 2012

Catching Up

This 5 am wake up call is starting to take a bit if a toll on me. I've yet or figure out how to play out my day not be super tired earlier rather than later.
This is a picture of the crowd at the fundraiser Saturday night. Large crowd but well-behaved and most important, there was money being spent and therefore, raised. Here's another pic of me and my friend Sherry, whose niece is battling Leukemia and the prime reason we are all at the fundraiser.

Over on the right, this photo is of Sherry and myself; the pic was taken with the front facing camera on my cell phone and it's a prime example of why one should not take pictures using the front facing camera. The angle and distance on the front-camera always tends to make the photo seem, well, awkward. This particular photo is so horrible unflattering in relation to the real thing...but I included it anyway because...I have no idea why!
Some things I learned as a result of this fundraiser that aren't directly related to the purpose of the fundraiser:
  1. Fall River is far away
  2. My Garmin GPS might have it out for me
  3. My technical skill are in demand
  4. Enough already with the front camera on the cell
  5. Fall River is far away
Let me explain each briefly:

Fall River is far away. I think that is self-explanatory but for me, a one-hour or more drive is the equivalent of asking me to watch a movie that's longer than two hours.

My Garmin GPS might have it out for me - it insisted I turn onto a bridge that was very clearly closed and seemed to have been for some time. I have free map updates for my GPS and updated it pretty recently. However, no matter how I tried to "trick" her, she kept trying to get me over this bridge. Finally, I had to pull out the cell phone and try the GPS on that, this got me to my destination.

My technical skill are in demand. Seems everywhere I go, I hear, "Can you do me a favor?", or "Can I ask you a computer question?" or the worst one of all, "I know you're not at work, but..." It was my pleasure though to assist getting the photo slide show to appear on the big screen TV from a laptop, despite the road block of an over-ambitious teenage girl who had just enough tech savvy to be dangerous...LOL!

Enough already with the front camera on the cell! Every pic I shoot with that front camera convinces me more that the designer is somewhere having a blast laughing at lots of bad photos.

Finally, Fall River is far away, even in the opposite direction!

Sunday, April 08, 2012

"It's Hard Not to be Romantic about Baseball"

I haven't watched too many movies this year thus far, less than a handful. In fact, for the first time in a long time, I haven't even kept track of them. While at the library yesterday, I saw "Moneyball" there on the shelf and for some reason, it was shouting at me..."take me home!" I took the DVD home with me and plopped it on the coffee table where it sat until this afternoon.

As much as I hate what has become of professional "sports", the game of baseball has always been something I love. The story of this film combines the game of baseball, along with another of my loves, statistics, and tells a very unique story, based on a real events in the early 2000's. The story was well told, the acting was terrific, even Brad Pitt, and despite cracking the two-hour barrier, which I automatically consider strike one for any film, it held my interest throughout.

Sadly, what it reminded me of, especially when I turned off the DVD player and the regular TV feed came back revealing a baseball game that sports has devolved into sports entertainment and it's very difficult to look at the participants as athletes first when really, they are some peculiar combination of business people and pawns in a bigger game driven by profits.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Idol Recap

Here's my recap of last night's performances on American Idol:

The Solo Performances
Deandre proved once again that he’s amongst the worst ever to perform in the top ten and for me, he’s less entertaining and far more annoying than Sanjaya; at least Sanjaya was real, Deandre comes off as an untalented phony but I’ll at least consider the fact that he’s just a kid.

Elise has become one of my favorites. It seems her attitude has improved and I think she did an okay job singing one of the most difficult rock songs to sing. I think her song choice was a mistake but she proved, to me at least, that she deserves to be where she is in this competition.

Phillip Phillips sang “That’s All”, by Genesis, a song I happen to love. I think Phillip has a great thing about him, I love what he did with this song and again, he shows like more than just a contender.

Joshua did a Simply Red song. I think Joshua has ability but like I mentioned on Facebook, he insists on overdoing it every time. It's like singing is a laxative and he's backed up every song....very unappealing and hard to listen to.

Jessica decided to perform a Whitney song, which is almost never a good decision but she’s really an amazing vocalist who did a great job. I think this girl has the potential to be a superstar but she’s very young and while has all the necessary confidence, she needs to be open to some direction and learn from all of her experience. The only thing I think Jessica needs is more stage time, she’s really very good. Also, I should mention that of all the contestants, she seems to have the best sense of style.

Hollie was the most disappointing performance of the night. This is a young girl who has a terrific voice but is very lacking in her ability to perform in front of an audience. As the judges spotted, the expression on her face constantly indicates that she’s calculating every note as if her she’s performing a complex mathematical equation, there’s no heart or soul and without that, she’s not going to make it in this business and she’s not going to get much further in this competition.

Colton pulled a rabbit out of a hat with a terrific performance of the Cyndi Lauper hit, ”Time After Time”. I think Colton modernized the arrangement and went a long way in proving that as a total package, he’s ready for the big time.

Skylar made a daring choice is singing “Wind Beneath My Wings” and managed to stage what for me, was a comeback after a few weeks of less than mediocre performances. Most people are familiar with the Bette Midler version, I am also a big fan of the Gary Morris version, also from the eighties and Skylar performed a version last night that I think could revitalize this song and be a hit on today’s pop and country charts – I felt this was the performance of the night.

The Duets
Colton/Sklyar – “Islands in the Stream”. My all time favorite version of this song is when my friends Jenn and Steve performed it. However, Kenny and Dolly’s version has its merit and of course, composer Barry Gibb has made it shine. This version was passable but nothing I would run out to buy or crave listening to again. I don’t know if it made any difference in anyone’s perception of Colton or Skyklar, though it did seem to get people interested in their personal lives – which is just weird to me.

Hollie/Deandre – “I’m So Excited”. TRAGIC and AWFUL are the only ways I can express this horrific version of the song made popular by the Pointer Sisters.

Phillip/Elise – “Stop Dragging My Heart Around” – I thought this was the best of the duets; they worked really well together and seem like a natural pairing for a duet. I love what they did with the arrangement and how they each added what makes them unique to their parts and both contributed nicely to the whole package.

Jessica/Joshua – “I Knew You Were Waiting”. Unlike he judges, I hated this performance. I think it lacked sincerity despite the vocal chops. Again, Joshua performed as if it was the only way he can pinch a loaf and it only brought down Jessica’s best attempts at keeping it real. I must confess that I am partial to anything that Aretha sings and I happen to really like Jessica but I just didn’t think this performance did anything positive for either singer.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Spooling the Frustration

At what point should it bother me? Am I wrong to be upset and frustrated? I have a colleague who is supposed to be a "peer", have a similar knowledge base, and a similar set of responsibilities.

The problem, dozens of times a day I get a call asking to resolve a very simple, basic thing that this person should know how to do. So, I need to spend a portion of my day helping this person do their job and still do my job at the same time; it's just not right.

I won't even get into the depth at which this person is borderline insane, one of the most annoying people I've ever known, and inappropriate on so many levels I am sick just writing about it here, much less have to work with it every day.

It seems all I can do about it is vent, fortunately I have this space to do so.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Adverts Here (and other Miscellany)

I've finally activated the Google-Ads on my blog. I resisted for a long time and two days in, regret having resisted so long, it seems they actually generate revenue.

Went for a walk at lunch tme today and got just far enough before the wind started gusting so bad that it made me realize it was a mistake to walk but I was too far away to turn back. I actually used the phrase, "I'm halfway to Whole Foods", which I kind of like.

I had a bit of a tiff with a Ricoh copy machine today at the school while trying to set it up to email on the network; I won!

Have you heard of keek yet? It's conceptually like twitter but instead of text, you upload video clips of up to 36 seconds. I haven't joined yet but it seems interesting...ish.

I'm reading "Walden", slowly, but reading it nonetheless.

that's all I got for now.

Monday, April 02, 2012

The Bathroom at Work

Caught up in work, I ignore the initial sensation to pee in favor of not breaking my concentration. The sensation was new so I knew there was time and I was on a roll. It was only a minute later that one of the trigger sounds made the need get to the point where I better get to the bathroom now or it's not going to be comfortable to be around me (or to be me).

The trigger sound this time was the sound of a soda can opening, other such triggers are a running faucet and the bubbles rising in a water cooler. Once the sound of the freshly vended can of Canada Dry Ginger Ale opening hit my ears, I instinctively got up from my desk and walked briskly to the employee rest room down the hall.

I arrive at the door, take a quick peek at the light switch outside of the rest room to see if there is any indication that it was occupied and when I saw the coast was clear, I flipped the switch on and entered the room. Immediately upon entering there was a burning sensation in my lungs as I inhaled what clearly were the remnants of an excessive overuse of an aerosol air freshener in a failed attempt to mask the remains of what obviously was no party for the last inhabitant of the room (or was it?).

The putrid mixture of air freshener along with, well, you know, was overbearing. My eyes were starting to water and my kidneys about to burst. I grabbed a paper hand towel from the dispenser to cover my nose and mouth then inhaled as deeply as I could hoping I could use the towel as a filter to get enough air to hold my breath so I can relieve myself without having to breathe in the toxic odors of a person that must be moments from deaths door. As I was taking care of the business at hand, I had to compose myself enough to plan my exit strategy as I would have to encounter three people in close proximity just outside the rest room; one of which is the most likely to have created this vile atmosphere.

As my bladder emptied, I exhaled very slowly and once ready, I opened the door abruptly, rushed out and walked almost as quickly out as I did going in while taking paced, deep breaths trying to get back to normal. I pulled out my cell and texted a colleague who used to sit near the room and serve as a monitor so that when the time came, I'd have a sign as to the safety of entering the bathroom, oh how I missed her today.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Pics and Some Words to go with them

As if there hasn't been enough about the Bruce Springsteen show here, this is a picture of (from left to right) me, Justin, Joe, Jill and Linda. We are at the Kinsale where we first drank beer, then had dinner, then went to the Bruce Springsteen concert.

This is a picture of my cat Oliver in nappy, cuddly mode from earlier this afternoon.

Palm Sunday service at my church is a production, the day starts off with pony rides for the kids, then a grand procession featuring one of the acolytes riding the pony as Jesus and the choir and rest of the congregation marching through the streets then into church singing and waving palms.

This is my daughter, holding up the banner,in a picture she's not happy with (sorry kiddo).

This is a picture of me and an old college pal, Bruce. I haven't seen Bruce, or as I call him, Fest, and a decade or so and yesterday, as I checked Facebook before leaving to teach my class, I read that he was MA bound. I messaged him, got some deets and after class, drove up to Lancaster to meet up, hang on the soccer fiend watching his son play, then went for a late lunch at a local farm stand. The only thing that would have made the day better is if Mrs. Fest, my old pal Suzanne made the trip up as well. Regardless, it was great seeing my old friend again, chatting and I hope it's not another decade before it happens again.