Thursday, February 28, 2013

Notes and/or Observations

There is not a single Dunkin Donuts in the town of Lenox, MA. I find that very odd!

The traditions/rituals as to how we deal with death are varied and all interesting. I find that they serve as an excellent reminder of our own mortality and that we need to reflect about how we use our time.

I was so proud of John and Jane's kids, especially their son Andrew - watching that boy comfort adults, especially his mom - any parent witnesses that is gonna be in awe!

My driving endurance sucks! Quite frankly, it's beginning to worry me.

USPS gripe - They refuse to take responsibility for doing their job. I sent a package, they charge me a fee. With UPS and FedEx, every package is insured automatically for the first $100 in value, not true with USPS, you must pay for every cent of insurance - this is wrong. Worse, if the package gets lost, they not only don't insure the package contents, they won't even refund the shipping cost; this seems wrong! Isn't payment for the service to deliver a product to the listed destination a contract implied by payment of shipping cost? If they don't deliver, shouldn't at least the shipping cost be refunded?

That's all!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

5 Chairs and The Truth

edited on 2/28

I worked half a day today then left to trek to the town of Lenox, MA at the far west of the Commonwealth. My friend's Dad passed away and I wanted to pay my respects and be there for my friends during this time. I found a room at a place called the Wagon Wheel Motel. I'm not a motel type of person but it was really the only option for a number of reasons so I made the reservation which would allow me to attend the "wake" and the funeral services tomorrow morning.

When I arrived at the motel, I just resigned myself to it being a room with a bed and a shower and that I will get past it. It was odd though to enter the room from outdoors and to have a key that was, well, a key - as opposed to a card with a magnetic stripe. I swear I just got itchy typing this!

I only had a few minutes to drop stuff off and brush my teeth before heading to the church. I know, typically wakes are held in funeral homes, this one was in the same church that the deceased and his wife were married in in 1951 and 40 years later, my friends John and Jane (the daughter of the deceased) were married there as well. Aside from that, Mr. Farrell was clearly a popular wend well oved and respected man, the place was packed for the duration. the reception line never let up once until the very end.

During the course of the 3+ hours I chatted with a number of folks, admired how John and Jane's teenage son has taken to bow tie's (in honor of his grandfather), and later, other mutual friend from Brooklyn arrived after a long journey that included getting a bit lost on the small country roads in the small country town in the middle of somewhere.

After the viewing hours ended, many of us retreated to the church hall where there was some food and socializing. After eating and chatting, John and Jane mentioned a place called "5 Chairs" and that they were going to stop in for a drink. The place is not only on the way back to the Wagon Wheel but very close, and I hadn't spent time with my friends in a while so I agreed to go as well. A good initial crowd came over, we laughed it up a bit, told silly stories and just as another group came in, I called it a night and came back to the room to tell you all about it.

SIDE NOTE:
My friend John tells me that this Wagon Wheel Motel once had a reputation similar to that of the "Golden Gate Inn", a place in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn (where we grew up) that had a reputation as one of those places you went for "the humpty hump"; I got itchy again from that - grrrrrr!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Recipe: Dark Chocolate Cheesecake with Chocolate Hazelnut Ganache, Toasted Hazelnuts, & Sea Salt

I haven't made this recipe, I saw a friend had posted it to FaceBook and it just looks so beautiful. You know I like to share recipes so here it is:



Ingredients
  • 3/4 Cup FAGE Total 2%
  • 24 Ounce cream cheese, softened at room temperature
  • 3 Large eggs
  • 1 Large egg yolk
  • 10 Ounce granulated sugar
  • 1/4 Cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 10 Ounce 72% dark chocolate, chopped
  • 25 chocolate sandwich cookies
  • 1 Cup hazelnuts
  • 1/4 Cup butter, melted
Chocolate-Hazelnut Ganache
  • 4 Ounce chocolate hazelnut butter
  • 4 Ounce heavy cream
  • 2 Ounce 72% dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1/4 Cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped
  • 1 Teaspoon coarse sea salt
Preparation Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Grease a 9-inch springform pan.
  3. Place chocolate sandwich cookies and hazelnuts in a food processor and pulse until finely ground; add melted butter and process again until well combined and cookie crumbs resemble wet sand.
  4. Scrape into prepared pan and use fingers to press into the bottom and up the side of the pan, making sure the crust is even.
  5. Bake in oven for 10-12 minutes.
  6. Place on wire rack to cool. Keep oven temperature.
  7. Prepare cheesecake filling by placing 10 oz. of chopped chocolate in a double boiler until smooth and creamy. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes.
  8. In an electric or stand mixer, beat cream cheese and FAGE Total 2% Greek Yogurt until smooth and fluffy.
  9. Add in sugar and cocoa powder and beat again until smooth, then add in eggs and egg yolks; blending until there is a silky consistency.
  10. Fold in melted chocolate until well combined.
  11. Pour chocolate cheesecake filling over the cooled crust and smooth the top with a spatula. Tap a few times to release any air in the batter.
  12. Bake until center is just set and just appears dry, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  13. Do not worry if the cheesecake cracks while baking; this will be covered with ganache.
  14. Cool the cheesecake 10 minutes, then run a knife around the crust to loosen it.
  15. Chill the cheesecake a minimum of 4 hours in fridge, although overnight is best.
Chocolate-Hazelnut Ganache
  1. In a medium saucepan, heat cream over medium-low heat.
  2. Add chocolate hazelnut butter and stir until smooth.
  3. Add in 2 ounces of chopped dark chocolate and stir until melted.
  4. Pour or drizzle over the center of the chocolate cheesecake and spread to outer edges to help cover any cracks.
  5. Top with toasted hazelnuts and sprinkle with sea salt.
  6. Serve while ganache is warm or place in refrigerator to cool.
  7. Cut into 12-16 slices and enjoy!
Recipe by Monique Volz

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Charitable Giving Post

For those of you who enjoy a nice charitable donation here and there, I wanted to share where my donations are going to and why, in case they may interest you as well:

Hurricane Sandy Relief
These are the primary charities I am committing to in 2013. There are two that I've given to, both are solid organizations though I am focusing on the Robin Hood Fund for the balance of my personal giving.

1. Episcopal Relief and Development
2. Robin Hood Fund

National MS Society
My niece is participating in the walk on April 27th this year. The link below is to support her efforts.

Walk MS 2013

2013 Mass General Marathon Team
This is an annual effort at the Boston Marathon, this year on April 15. My friend's husband Mike is running to support the Mass General Team. Mike and Christina's very young son was diagnosed with leukemia in Nov. of 2011 and his treatment since then at Mass General has helped save his life. The fund being supported by the marathon effort make it possible for other young children to receive similar care,

2013 Mass General Marathon Team

Whether you decide to help out with one of these funds or not isn't nearly as important as whether or not you make some effort to donate to some high quality charity if it's within your means.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

2,000th Post-iversary!

June 24th 2004 was the day I took the plunge and typed my first post. Here's what is said:

Needless to say, after reading some blogs over the last few days, I've been inspired to give it a go. Holy Crap Batman! I'm blogging!

I thought I'd start with where the title comes from. I was first affected with this phrase by a song in the 80's called "Whisper to a Scream" by a band called Icicle Works (click here for lyrics).

I like the idea of extremes, especially the idea of one extreme to the other and the effect it can have when used in the context of various creative mediums such as art, music, poetry, etc.

Over the course of time I hope to share some of me with all of you and hope that in return I'll learn something about myself, you, and how or if blogging has any relevance in my never ending quest to discover the who, what, why, where, and how of me.

Until next time, May God Bless You All!

That was 3,167 days ago which works out to a new blog post every 1.5835 days over that period of time. there have been times where I've been almost silent for long periods, particularly during 2009 and 2010 while I was going through a divorce and really couldn't say much out loud publicly.

According to Blogger stats, as of this writing, there have been a total of 79,355 page views. In addition to here in the U.S., the blog has a good number of page views in Russia, Germany, United Kingdom, Malaysia, Ukraine, Sweden, France, Indonesia and Canada. I find this all so interesting as I sit here in my home office in Massachusetts.

In the earlier couple of years of this blog, blogging was the prime social media and there was quite a fruitful and wonderful community of bloggers. Many of us have gotten to be friends over the years and stayed in touch if not by blogs, through other social media vehicles that have become trendier. Blogging has been and continues to be for me such a wonderful experience and exercise. In my 1,000th post, on August 19th of 2008, I spoke of my friend Jill who is responsible for pushing me into this journey. In that post I congratulate her on her pregnancy, she's since given birth to two very cool kids and now resides with them and her husband in Portland, Maine - though I haven't been able to convince her to return to blogging, I am still grateful for her encouragement.

When I started this blog, my daughter was exactly one month away from turning 6 and now she's 14. The parenting journey has been just that, a journey and I suspect will remain one for some time. I recall being nervous about a number of things with a young daughter and I still find myself nervous about a number of things as she is a teenager.

I'm sure that if I thought hard, I could write thousands of words about how so much has changed, evolved, disappeared, and come about. I could talk about how the music industry has deteriorated and yet find some wonderful things to say about artists that didn't exist at the start of this blog. I could talk politics, but that wouldn't be fun. I could talk about the landscape of television and how not only the shows that have come and gone and changed, but how television has changed and is continuing to change. The whole video on demand, Netflix and Hulu stuff didn't really exist the way it does today. These are all "natural" progressions - it's normal to expect things to change over a period of eight years and eight months but having that period of time documented in some form serve as a living history book of sorts.

I'm grateful for so many things in my life. I have some good lifelong friends, I have a great kid who made me believe for the first time that I really did have a purpose in this life. through blogging, I've met some wonderful friends, including one that has changed my life profoundly. Thank you to all of you.

To anyone and everyone who has stopped by here and read my words and shared this space, thank you! I do wish that you would leave a comment every now and again but it's obvious you are coming by and for that, I am glad, especially to those who come back. I'll leave you with the music video of the song that inspired the title of the blog. Peace!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

LinkedOops!

I got a call from my boss this evening. He asked me if I knew that I didn't log off the computer in my office. Once I knew he was referring to the back office, I knew it was totally possible, I so rarely use that space and when I do, it's usually a hurried situation.

He then confessed to using it for the last few hours and in fact, while researching security systems for the library and some networking things, he had used not only my computer, but that he was so distracted that he was on my LinkedIn account for about 20 minutes doing searches and even posting a few things before realizing her was not on his own account.

The funny thing, I almost never logon to LinkedIn but had gone to it on Friday after getting an email that several of my contacts had "endorsed" me. I've already received one email from a friend, who also very rarely goes onto LinkedIn and then noticed I had posted an inquiry. So silly, but thankful it was no big deal in the end but I need to be more careful, I turned off the security lock out on that back computer because I never use it and it's in a private space that very few people have access to. Lesson learned.

Remembering Killer

 
I have no idea how I never posted this picture here or talked about this cat named Killer. My daughter and I like to have brunch (in this case named for the time of day rather than the meal) at a little shop called the Sherborn Sandwich and Pizza Shop. Our favorite item to order is the breakfast pizza but for a long time, our favorite part of the visit was to spend some time before and after our meal with this little guy, Killer the cat.
 
Killer was an old cat when we first met him, somewhere around 18 or 19 years old. Part of one of his earlobes and a good chink of his tail had been missing, probably in battles over the years. Dave, the shop owner, told us that "Killer came with the place, he's been here as long as I've been open." He also said in the early years, Killer had a mate and in those days was very protective of her, much less people friendly as a result. The Killer we knew was a sweet old boy who seemed to get to know us. We would get out of the car and call his name immediately - he would peer out from behind the bush in front of the store and begin pacing with anticipation.
 
When Vickie and I got the the front door, I would take a seat on one of the benches while Vickie would get down to play with Killer right there on the ground. After some time with Vickie, he would come over to me. Killer was such a sweet little boy, loved the attention and showed it, he was a fixture at the shop.
 
One day, after missing a Sunday at the shop, Vickie and I began as usual by calling Killer's name as we got out of the car. We were joking how he was playing hard to get or perhaps was out in the woods going to the bathroom (or hunting up something other than the cat food provided for him in front of the shop). We were hungry so we went inside without playing will Killer thinking we'd double down after breakfast.
 
Dave was behind the counter on this particular morning so we mentioned how Killer wasn't in his usual welcoming location. Dave went on to tell us that Killer had been "missing" for more than a week. He said that he and his wife had spent ample time searching the woods behind the shop and were unable to locate him and while they hadn't given up hope, they felt he probably had gone off to find a private spot to die.
 
Killer was never seen again at the shop and I was lucky enough to have snapped this photo of him just a few weeks before. I made a 5x7 print of it, framed it and gave it to Dave for the shop - this was a while back now, certainly more than a year ago maybe even closer to two years. Every time Vickie and I go back, we still talk about Killer and look at the photo prominently displayed on top of the deli counter.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Short Look at Today's Top 40 (Part 4)

And finally, the top ten:

10. Started from the Bottom by Drake - quite simply, one of the worst songs, I and I use the words songs very loosely, that I've ever heard; total crap!

9. Suit & Tie by Justin Timberlake featuring Jay Z - I love this song so much, except for the nonsensical Jay-Z part that makes no sense. I will a some point be creating a version that edits out Jay-Z keeping the absolutely perfect rest of the song.

8. When I Was Your Man by Bruno Mars - I like Bruno Mars very much. This isn't my favorite of Bruno's songs but like it well enough.

7. Locked Out of Heaven by Bruno Mars - the first time I heard this song I like some of it but overall, wasn't sure. By the third time I heard it I felt it, I love it now.

6. Ho Hey by The Lumineers - another very overplayed to the point where at times it's annoying to hear. It's a good song, I like the song, I just don't need to hear it 1,438 times per day.

5.I Knew You Were Trouble by Taylor Swift - I like Taylor Swift, I think she's got some great maturity as a song writer and I find her music, this song included, to be entertaining.

4. Scream & Shout by will.i.am & Britney Spears - This song sucks even more than The Drake piece of crap. Britney Spears has no place on the music charts, she's one of the most talentless people that have succeeded in show business ever - how is this the number four song in the country?

3. Stay by Rihanna featuring Mikky Ekko - WOW! What a great song, very worthy of its place on the charts. The haunting piano, the stunning vocal....perfect, beautiful ballad.

2. Thrift Shop by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Wanz - this isn't a genius song by any means but it's lots of fun and it just works.

1. Harlem Shake by Baauer - So poorly done, how is this number one?

A Short Look at Today's Top 40 (Part 3)

Here are #'s 20 through 11:


20. Carry On by fun. – Another fun song. I really like everything on their record – they too suffer from overexposure a bit but so far, not at the level of annoyance of some other songs/artists.

19. Love Me by Lil Wayne featuring Drake & Future – Dreadful for most of the way through, awful for the rest.

18. Try by P!nk – One of my favorite artists on the charts these past few years. P!nk kicks ass with great songs and great performances.

17. Sweet Nothing by Calvin Harris featuring Florence Welch – I’m kind of neutral on this one.

16. Beauty and A Beat by Justin Bieber featuring Nicki Minaj – I don’t like Nicki Minaj, I find her presence annoying and she makes this song way less listenable. The parts that Minaj is not involved in, Mr. Beiber sounds fine, the music here has some funk and new wave sensibilities and overall works pretty well.

15. F**kin Problems by A$AP Rocky featuring Drake, 2 Chainz & Kendrick Lamar – I couldn’t get through the first minute of this song.

14. Girl on Fire by Alicia Keys featuring Nicki Minaj – I have to ask, why does Minaj have to be involved? She adds nothing and more often than not takes away from an otherwise nice song with a strong vocal performance by Alicia Keys.

13. Daylight by Maroon 5 – Love this song!

12.I Will Wait by Mumford & Sons – I’ve not been as ambitious about Mumford & Sons as many others but the song is good.

11. Don’t You Worry Child by Swedish House Mafia featuring John Martin – I like this song. I wasn’t aware I liked it at first but then, I did. Confession – first eleven or so times I heard it I thought it was Nickelback.

A Short Look at Today's Top 40 (Part 2)

Here are a few words on #'s 30-21:

30. Home by Phillip Phillips – I was rooting for Phillips throughout his run on American Idol and despite his similarities to Dave Mathews, who I don’t really like all that much, I like Phillips and what I’ve heard thus far of his music. Admittedly, I’ve grown a bit tired of this song, something hard for me to do as I don’t listen to all that much radio but it really still gets an enormous amount of airplay, hard not to run into it when flipping through stations. I do like this song.

29. Wanted by Hunter Hayes – This is another overplayed song and more so because of it having crossed over from the country charts. It’s an okay enough song but I’m not sure I’d miss it if it were gone; that said, I might leave it on if I ran into it (or not).

28. Some Nights by fun. – Love this song, love the whole album.

27. Adorn by Miguel – I can’t say the song sucks, it’s not great but ultimately, the only thing I hear is a really poor imitation of the great Marvin Gaye. Just play Marvin Gaye instead and be done with it.

26. Gangnam Style by PSY – It was fun for a while. I suppose in the right place and time I won’t take issue with hearing it but overall, I think I may have had enough of it for now.

25. Catch My Breath by Kelly Clarkson – I dig the song, thing she’s a terrific singer and a breath of fresh air on these charts.

24. Mirrors by Justin Timberlake – I listened to the 8 minute album track, I assume there is a shorter single version for radio. I think this kid is super talented and I love the grooves a lot. The music on this song is a modern take on classic R&B while the vocals do have a taste of Timberlake’s boy bad roots, they are well recorded, well produced and overall, I enjoyed this song (though I see no valid reason to have an 8 minute version, the last 3-4 minutes are unnecessary and even take away from the song).

23. It’s Time by Imagine Dragons – This is a good song by Imagine Dragons! There’s something very familiar about the sound but it still has freshness to it. I really like this one, in fact, more each time I hear it.

22. Pour It Up by Rhianna – I always find myself not wanting to like a Rhianna song but there are times when despite that, I do like some of her songs; this is not one of them – this one sucks.

21. Diamonds by Rhianna – Here’s one of Rhianna’s songs I like. Her voice sounds nice and the music makes me feel something.

A Short Look at Today's Top 40 (Part 1)

I went to Billboard's web site, looked up the top 40 as it is listed today and here are brief takes from me on songs 40 through 31 (more later):

40. I’m Different by 2 Chainz (Based on a T.R.U. Story) – Dirty, raunchy and seemingly pointless. I wasn’t able to derive any value from this on my first listen.

39. Better Dig Two by The Band Perry – The melody may be familiar but the mandolin and Kimberly Perry’s vocal make this a pleasurable country pop entry into the charts.

38. Sure Be Cool If You Did by Blake Shelton – It’s exactly what you might expect from a Blake Shelton song; I like Blake Shelton. This is no masterpiece, just a nice ballad.

37. Radioactive by Imagine Dragons – This didn’t grab me on first listen but it didn’t lose me either. I’ll have to hear it more to decide whether I like it or not.

36. Somebody That I Used to Know by Gotye, featuring Kimbra – As this songs finds its way off the chart, its legs prove to be strong and the quirky nature of the song make it remain likeable (at least to me).

35. C’Mon by Ke$ha – The first time I saw Ke$ha was her performance on SNL doing “Your Love is My Drug”. I loved the catchiness of the music and the obvious, yet effective formulaic lyric patterns as well as the creativity of that particular performance. Since, I still find myself liking her songs but feeling guilty for some reason. I think having a young daughter who is pretty close to the demographic of her target audience, I kind of wish that sometimes the messages in Ke$ha’s songs were just a bit more wholesome – I don’t know if that’s right or wrong. This song has that same formulaic approach and as long as I don’t listen to her music for more than 20 minutes in a row, it works.

34. One More Night by Maroon 5 – I like these guys a lot. I really admire that Adam Levine himself will tell you all about the limitations of his range but there are few in the game that can maximize how to use the gift they have like Levine. I like this song, feel sound, sounds good.

33. Hall of Fame by The Script featuring will.i.am – I really like this song, it’s an increasingly rare example where the fusion of pop and rap work; it seems that fusion has purpose and it not done only for marketing purposes. I really dig this tune!

32. The A Team by Ed Sheerhan –  I like the song, like the whole singer/songwriter vibe on the pop chart. This is another one where I get a little funny feeling when I see teens singing along, the story is very heavy  - but the vocal is spot on, this is a good song from a music perspective and from only the ears perspective, this song deserves to be a hit.

31. Little Talks by Of Monsters and Men – I’m not yet sure why this song works but it does. There’s something unconventional about the music, there seems to be some kind of improvisational jazz influence about it – I enjoy listening to this song.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock by Sammy Hagar

This autobiography is an easy read, written very clearly in a rock and roll, no-nonsense voice. Hagar takes you on his Journey from his boyhood, early bands, Montrose, Van Halen, Chickenfoot and of course, his large body of work as a solo artist.

In addition to music, you learn of his business ventures, most notably his incredible success in the Tequila business and how he changed the landscape of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

I really enjoyed this book a lot, but I have to say, I've always been a big Sammy Hagar fan. I know most of his music, liked him way better that David Lee Roth as the lead singer of Van Halen and in general, think his work ethic was always pretty admirable.

If you are into rock music and have been a fan, eve a little of Hagar, you will enjoy the book. I read half the book on a flight from Boston to Chicago and the other half on the way back - it fly's by (pun intended, roll with it). There's a love story, maybe even two, rock and roll lifestyles, love gone bad, mental illness, business and finance, record industry tell all and music all wrapped up an a concise yet complete story of what I always considered an underrated and undervalued journeyman in the industry.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Happy 88th Birthday Mom

On this day in 1925, my mother was born. I wish I knew more about the early years but in a way, maybe not. My studies of the 1920’s have mostly been about the music, the art-deco movement, and the intrigue of organized crime and Al Capone. As the decade came to a close, during a time when my mom was just a young girl, the Great Depression hit and the depth of how difficult we've learned that period to be defines what I know of my mother's youth.

Of what I do know, she had to leave school in the 5th grade and she worked as a young girl in a crayon factory. It cracks me up every time I think of this because my sister insists that my mom used to bring her crayons from the factory, which of course is impossible but I understand those types of, what I will call "phantom memories"; I've had one or two myself. Circumstances beyond her control left my mom functionally illiterate but she had something that goes far beyond reading or writing, she had heart. Surviving a very difficult upbringing in a difficult home with a mother who was an amputee and left severely maimed from diabetes; her dad, as I know the story (not very well) was abusive and non-existent. Mom, and her sisters (and brother) managed to survive the very challenging times of their youth.

My parents married in 1955. My mother's older sister Catherine had been married to my father's uncle Tony. My dad fled Italy earlier that year after a life that included serving in WWII, playing pro soccer, working as a fisherman and Captain and what most would consider a successful life at the age of 29. Together, mom and dad, fought their way through the challenges in their life to make a home and in 1959, my brother John was born. There were three more pregnancies that were unsuccessful before I came along as 1964 was ending and soon after, mom had gotten pregnant again and gave birth to my sister in March of 1966.

There were a lot of things about our upbringing that was unconventional. For me and my sister, parents were 40+ when we were born, that wasn’t as common in the 1960’s as it is now. Most of our friends grandparents were in the same age rage as our parents, plus, with their particular upbringing, it was just, different. The thing is, we all had the chance to see the people that they were as they raised us and while it may have been unconventional to some, it was our life and both of them worked very hard to keep us fed, clothed and sheltered. They both made great sacrifices, not just for us but for others as well. I’ve seen my mom surrender her own plate of food so that someone else could have a meal and not just once in a while, it was just something she did.

For most of our lives, mom had health issues.  We used to love when we got to take the checkered cabs to/from her doctor’s office and would love to sit in those lift up seats. There was a general store at the corner of the street where the doctor’s office was and I recall going in there getting a treat sometimes before the ride home. Heck, if my memory cells are still fizzling on positive, I seem to remember her doctor, Dr. Cantor had a secretary named Virginia.

There are a million memories but I’ll share just one more; it may have been one I’ve shared here before and I know I’ve told the story to some of you before but it’s one of the ones that sticks with me. Mom had the idea to throw a surprise 30th birthday for me. This part I am foggy on but I seem to recall her asking my sister to ask me for all of my friends’ phone numbers. Rose, do you recall this? What I do recall is the day before, my mother said this to me, “I’m having a surprise party for you tomorrow, make sure you get here and are surprised.” That may not have been the exact wording but it was close enough and captures the idea. To this day I smile thinking of it – I am sure there was no thought of her ruining the surprise; I don’t believe that ever occurred to her. I really think in her head she was looking out for all the guests and wanted them to get whatever she felt they were supposed to get for being there and yelling surprise.

September 19th, 1996 was the last day of her life. The evidence left behind of her last day leave some very strong indications that she actually knew that it was her last day as she made decisions and seemed to live that day very methodically, but full. By that time in her life, those last few years after my dad had passed, mom spent at least half of her days in hospital beds. She even battled to have something of a life after dad went, by surprise to us all. Mom dug into her fighting spirit though, she wanted more time, more time with us and with her grandchildren. With the help of our cousin Janice, who moved in with her to help with day to day stuff, something we could never be more thankful for, I was out there on most weekends and my sister and brother made their trips out as well. Once she had to go under the knife for a very risky bypass procedure, a little over a year after dad’s death, while she managed to survive the surgery, her recovery was very difficult and her health was very compromised from that point on.

It was very rare if ever that you knew how much pain my mom was feeling or how much she was suffering. For her, it was always about thinking of the rest of her family. But during that last year or so, every time the phone rang, my heart would race. I was sleeping when I got the call and it was my Cousin Janice’s boyfriend, behind a wall of tears, telling me that mom had died. Minutes later I as on my way and never had 75 miles felt so long.

Mom missed a lot of things in my life. I know she’d be proud of some of my accomplishments but it pains me that she never had the chance to meet my daughter. My mom was pretty intuitive about people. Of all the people that have come into and out of my life over the years that mom never met, there’s only one who I really feel she’d have felt the same way I do about. Someone really special, someone I am so grateful to have gotten to know these past few years and someone whose had as much of a positive influence on my life as anyone I’ve ever known. Someone whose strength, courage and determination in all that she does and how she raises her beautiful children I know that my mom would appreciate.

Mom, it’s been 5,996 days since you left us and I’ve missed you for all of them. I love you.

Well Hello There, Doctor

Have you ever run into your doctor in a setting other than his office (or for some medical reason in a medical setting)? I was grocery shopping at BJ's this afternoon and as I am moving my wagon throughout the aisles, I spotted Dr. Chau and actually panicked for a second!

I know, it's totally silly. He and I are around the same age, he's been my primary care physician for years, and I was a little stumped about what to do, so I made the avoid maneuver.

I recall as a kid, grocery shopping with my parents having run into a teacher in a supermarket. I was mesmerized at the idea that my teacher had to go to the store to buy groceries and do "human" things. Then there's the move whenever you run into anyone you know at the market where you each do the once over on the contents of the wagon; you know that one, right?

This is a picture I found of Dr. Chau on the interwebs. He's not a particularly intimidating fellow and standing up, even less so. That's not an insult, it just is - he's a really nice guy and I think and really great doctor.

It cracks me up that me, at my age, felt funny about just saying hello.

Have you ever had a similar experience?

Back in MA

Weather conditions delayed my flight from the midwest back into Logan a bit but the exctended time I had at the airport, the flight, the drive from Logan to my house, and even after waking up, three times before surrendering to the couch for some lazy time (Oliver won't leave me alone - lol), made me realize that I have zero doubt where my heart is (not that I had any to start with).

I was just chilling out this morning on the couch watching some television and I suddenly felt so filled with emotions that they began pouring out of me, literally.

I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to travel, to spend time with five of the six people that consume a great portion of my heart and my thoughts, to have had a wonderful time, found a sense of peace I hadn't felt in a while. It was a rejuvenating and beautiful time away from the place I live.

I need to do some laundry and food shopping to prepare for the week ahead. I can't wait to see my daughter again. I'm talking gibberish because it's hard to put what I am feeling into words but I need to express a little so this is just that - blogs are good for that -

The idea in the Billy Joel song, "You're My Home", a song I've loved forever, really sang to me. "Whenever we're together, that's my home.", "Home is just another word for you." That piano piece in the middle, it just grabs at you.

Then there is this Bruce Springsteen lyric:

Your voice comes calling through the mist
I awake from a dream and my heart begins to drift
Tonight we're on our own
Tonight we're all alone
Oh-oh, tonight

Someday we'll be together
And the night will fall around us
This love will last forever
Someday we'll be together
Together

I can't sleep so I lay awake listenin' to the sounds of the city below
I get dressed and walk the streets but I got nowhere to go
Tonight it's you I miss
Tonight my only wish is
Oh-oh, tonight

Someday we'll be together
And the night will fall around us
This love will last forever
Someday you'll be mine

Tonight we're on our own
Tonight we're all alone
Oh-oh, tonight

Someday we'll be together
And the night will fall around us
This love will last forever
Someday you'll be mine
Woah-whoaaa
Someday you'll be mine
Woah-whoaaa (this love will last forever)
Someday you'll be mine
(Someday we'll be together)
(The night will fall around us)
(This love will last forever)
(Someday you'll be mine)
(Someday we'll be together)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Video Podcast: Brief Observation from an Undisclosed Location

After watching this twice before posting, it seems to me that it could come of and me being upset in some way. I wanted to assure you that I am not in any way. I have been able to gain some peace and some clarity and it was just an observation. I didn't say it as eloquently as I'd have liked in the end because I was talking off the cuff and am on a laptop and just don't want to edit or retake. However, I suspect that my curiosity might also get the better of me and I wouldn't be surprised if put in the same position, that my first response might be "where are you" or something other than what I hope it will be now that I've made this observation.

Peace and Love!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Cars (etc).

My plans for today included going to an auto museum and a naval museum. I started with the auto museum. I made the half-hour drive into what was close to the middle of nowhere, parked, got up to the cashier to pay my admission and realized that I had forgotten my wallet back at the hotel. I would normally me worried a bit because I had been leaving my wallet right atop the dresser and if the room had been cleaned, I'd be lying if I said I had full trust that it would still be there, or at least all of it's contents.
 
For the past few days however, I had found a peace. I wasn't even remotely upset or worried about leaving my wallet behind. I simply said to the cashier, "I'll be back." I then got back in the car, cranked up the radio and headed back to the hotel.
 
I arrived in my room and the wallet was not on top of the dresser. I remembered putting it in the drawer last night for what I planned on being a brief time while I had run down to the car to get the charging cable for my phone. I looked in the drawer though and didn't see it; I did at this point feel a moment of panic (but not full out).
 
My next move was to strip search my backpack, nothing there. Luggage, nothing there. SHIT! Starting to get a little more nervous but trying to keep cool.
 
I went to the closet and checked the pockets of everything hanging up, check the chair where I lay my jacket, under the bed, every inch of floor, the bathroom, all - nothing. I then opened the drawer that I previously looked in, the one where I knew I had put it last night and removed everything in the drawer and there it was, underneath the shirts; RELIEF!
 
I put everything back in its place and left, returning to the auto museum where I had a way better time that I would have guessed. I don't consider myself a car guy but every time I have the chance to look at cars, especially classics and vintage cars, I love them.
 
Here is only a very small sample (and I really mean a very small sample) of some of the cars I saw today:
This is a 1960 Shelby GT500
It was on sale for $165,998

It's quite stunning; and rare!
This is one of the Batmobile's used in the 1966 season of the Batman TV series.

I wish they would put that series on DVD already!

A 1968 Camaro R/Z28
Selling for $56,998

Quite a beautiful car. I love all of the late 1960's Camaro's - always have.
In addition to the car showrooms, there is an antiques mall. i saw this electronic baseball game there. I had this exact game as a kid and I have to say it was very tempting at only $15 but I am not really a collector and knew the joy would be temporary if I bought it and I'll always have the memory of running into it...I settled for a picture.
 
 
After my time here was through, I made a trip to a Naval museum. Along the way, I had hit my first patch of traffic (due to construction) and again, the state of mind I have been in these past few days was such that it was just no big deal. I knew that I couldn't do anything but wait so I got into the music and waited it out.
 
I made it to the naval base, drove around, but found no entrance to the property, no signage for the museum and after a while, I found myself in an area that made me feel like I might get shot at if I stuck around...I just felt like it wasn't to be so I left (in a hurry).

White Castle


From Facebook Thursday afternoon:
What a blast from the past that was. What I just ate 30 + years ago would cost under a dollar, today was a little over 6 dollars but worth every penny for the nostalgia. Now back to base.
Thursday at 12:57pm via mobile

Gene Angelos: Murder burgers, belly bombers. You'll wake up in the morning farting away. But there so worth it.

Chris Daniele: Gene, I'm loaded up an a regimen of probiotics designed to combat those sorts of effects - I guess they'll be put to the test! LOL!

Gene Angelos: Lol


When I was a young boy, I spent a lot of time at my Aunt Ann's house. when I was old enough (I don't recall the specific age but it was around 12-14), my mom would let me take the bus by myself. the bus trip required a transfer from the B3, the Avenue U bus to the bus line that ran across 86th street - the original route I don't recall but it later became the B1 as I recall.

At the point of transfer, there was a White Castle that looked like a castle! Without fail, I would stop inside and pick up a sack of 10 sliders, 5 regular and 5 with cheese was the most common combination (it occasionally differed), 3 small fries and a large Coke. The cost was around $2.50 ish (give or take a quarter or two). Super cheap. I would dip into the fries on the second bus ride (which was short) but would arrive at my aunt's house salivating, the envy of the dogs and ready to eat.

Thursday, as I was driving from northern Illinois into Kenosha, Wisconsin, I saw a white Castle on the other side of the road and almost immediately, the salivary glands remembered those old days of more than three decades ago. I've passed by a White Castle a couple of time in the last few years while visiting my brother but have not had the opportunity to stop in. Usually about once per year or two I will pick up the frozen White Castle burgers from the supermarket but they never quite hit the same spot.

I took a quick look at the time on the console and estimated that my trip to the two museums in Kenosha should leave me in a position where I can make this white Castle my lunch stop - this brought me a measure of nostalgic joy. My order on this day was much more practical, just enough to enjoy without the worry of the "what the hecck was I thinking?" later.

1 Original slider, 1 slider with cheese, 1 slider with jalapeno chees, 1 small order sweet potatoe fries with chpotle dipping sauce and a medium diet soda. Cost: a little more than $6 (would have been under a buck back in the day). Worth every penny.

Later in the day, I was driving in the Northern Illinois town of Gurnee, where I was staying and what do I see on the main road? Yes, a White Castle!  I smiled, but drove by - once was enough to get the fix.


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Paintings from the Penis

I visited the Kenosha Public Museum today and there was a very lovely older lady who was so eager to discuss with me what I would be seeing today and showing me the layout of the museum. She was explaining that the lower floor was pretty static but "the upstairs is changing all the time."

She first described a bit about the first floor then reiterated how the upper level is constantly changing. She then went on to describe what I will see upstairs (picture this in a Kenosha, Wisconsin accent):

"Up there right now is a series of paintings from the penis."

Startled and about to bust out with laughter hearing this little old lady say what I just heard, I said rather firmly with a confused tone, " From the what?"

She replied, "From the penis, you know the cartoon; the penis?"

I had no idea how to proceed so I thanked her for her help and proceeded into the lower level exhibit which featured a skeleton of a woolly mammoth (and chronicled the story of the archaeologist who discovered the bones).

Once I completed the lower level, I had to leave through the entrance and the first face I saw was this lovely little old lady and all I can think is how she was so excited to tell me about the "paintings from the penis."

I smiled in her direction but focused my eyes away from her, which led them to the very big staircase that leads to the second floor. I had to admit to myself that I was extremely curious about the enthusiasm of that sweet old lady with the prominent regional accent and found myself silently meditating as I slowly went one step at a time until I reached the top and almost immediately considered heading right back down for fear that I would not be able to face the old lady again, which would be required if I left through the front door.

I turned to my right and saw this:
I totally lost it, laughing uncontrollably with nobody else around (thankfully, or they may have opted to have me committed). She was saying "Peanuts" but with her accent (and I think a little from her dentures), it was sounding like penis. I couldn't stop laughing for I don't know how long but I was also very relieved.

I saw that to the left, there was what appeared to be an exhibit related to environmentally friendliness, green technologies that can be implemented in the home and many of which had been implemented in the museum. As that exhibit came to a close, it led to a small art gallery...and then I saw this:
This is a painting of the "Fountains of Peterhof" in Russia and as you may be able to see here, include countless numbers if penises (penii?). Again, I had to laugh - was it all a well constructed practical joke on the part of this little old lady from Kenosha, Wisonsin or just a remarkable coincidence of how the word peanuts sounded when affected by her accent? Either way, I couldn't help but chuckle once more and then I slowly made my descent down to the long staircase.

by the time I made it down the stairs, the laughter had worn off and I recognized just how charming the whole downtown Kenosha experience had been. The general area had a charm about it as had the people I encountered down the street at the Civil War Museum earlier and the folks here were very nice. I spotted the lady and was able to look at her with a straight face. I thanked her for her hospitality and asked her if I may take her picture as a remembrance of my visit. She was very flattered that I would consider such a thing and replied, "well aren't you a gentleman, sure you can." Then, one of the ladies behind the counter suggested that she take the photo so the little old lady and I could both be in the photo. Here it is:
Isn't she cute? Now, imagine for a second having a conversation with her and thinking you heard her say the word penis...three times...within a 20 second span of time!!!

What a truly lovely day!

Somewhere In America

Here's a picture of me from an "undisclosed location" in the U.S.A. (I've been having fun with this). I'm hundreds of miles from where I currently live but suffice it to say, if home is where the heart is, then I consider myself home and I'll leave it at that.

Time for a general observation:
It always seems to me that my cell phone battery is near empty and I am in "conservation/panic" mode while everyone else around seems to be poking, surfing, talking, smart phoning away without a care in the world as their never ending battery is never a concern. Of course there are always one or two who have one earbud in and one dangling down (pet peeve) talking with a self important look on their face while holding the power cord out in front of them as if it has magical power outlet sonar.

I have to complement the particular Best Western I am staying for some very thoughtful treatment and high marks for customer service overall. Everyone is super nice, the modest fitness center has complementary small bottles of water, a few little things and people who seem genuinely concerned about the quality of your stay; this makes me happy.

Later!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Travels

I don't feel like I travel a lot but I do feel like I've traveled enough to be better at it, to have learned from my experiences so that each time I do it I can maybe have some positive impact on the next time. Somehow, the night before I am traveling, I always feel like none of my experiences have made any difference at all and I find myself overwhelmed with too much to do, not enough time to do it and a little anxiety that I am going to forget something, even before I've had the opportunity.

One thing I have implemented is driving myself to the airport and staying in the long term lot. Getting to the airport is such a drag and from where I live, there aren't a lot of option. A cab is super expensive - between $75 and $100 for one way. There is a bus one town over but I'd either had to take a $30 cab ride to the bus or park long term at the bus depot which really isn't all that much less expensive than parking at the airport and in the case where a flight might be delayed, the possibility exists that the bus isn't running until the following morning and I am stuck at the airport for several hours waiting. then there's hitting up a friend and I just don't want to be a bother.

I once said that I hate the process of traveling but love it when I get there. Maybe the horrors of the process, which are infinitely worse since 9/11, are part of what makes the appreciation of being there.

Right now, instead of typing this, I should be packing and prepping for my early flight tomorrow morning. Hey, how's this for a bizarre coincidence... My old friend Rob posts to facebook this afternoon that he's at JFK, so I replied, "where ya heading?" Turns out he's flying into the same city that I am flying into tomorrow - crazy, right? We used to cause all sorts of hijinks and practical jokes so I couldn't help myself, I've thus far left two messages for him at the hotel he's staying at as characters from our past with silly, meaningless messages that contain decades old jokes that pretty much only he and I would really get.

I am going to get on to what I need to be doing now.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Disgusted at the Music Industry

In a landscape of far too many awards shows that almost render the idea of awarded meaningless, there is one holy grail of award shows in the music industry - The Grammys. Unfortunately, last night it became increasingly evident that even that one night, that one award show, has far less meaning than it should.

"A Grammy Award (originally called Gramophone Award) – or Grammy – is an accolade by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States to recognize outstanding achievement in the music industry." (WikiPedia)

The Grammy is about music, about songs and about singers who sing those songs. There had come a point, maybe a third into the show, where I realized that the night had been bastardized by the fictional perfection that some artists and/or producers prefer over the real product (which in many cases is a far better form of perfection).

I've shouted out many a time about lip-syncing and how I feel about it. I don't believe it should be allowed, ever, for any reason by a recording artist. Lip-syncing is an act of fraud against the public whom the artist has coerced a sum of money from implying that that said artist actually sang the song and a live performance is supposed to be just that, an artist singing the song live not playing a recorded version of the song that they are merely moving their lips to.

How dare the artists, producers, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and anyone else who approved such behavior to come on stage at the once sacred event in the industry and perpetrate such an offensive and blatant insult to the public. For shame!

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Blizzard Cleanup in Pictures and Movies



During a break,my daughter and I made this sign which I leaned up on the snowbank and the mailbox so passing cars can see it. I later thought of another funny sign, "Snow Clearance Sale" but left it at the one.
This is the town equipment rolling by to make a walking path on the sidewalk. I just stopped my snow thrower and waited for him to do his damage them move along. I would love to have that piece of equipment.

Blizzard Update (Not the DQ kind, the Mother Nature Kind)

The photo here was taken at 7:00 am through my front door. The estimates seem to be in the neighborhood of two feet with snow still falling.

It's going to be a long day of cleanup but I feel very at peace with it. I'll check in later after doing the work :)

I hope everyone uses their heads, sadly that isn't always the case, and stays safe.

Later for now.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

On the Precipice of A Storm

I used up all my creativity on the title of this post so the rest will be nothing short of a let down; sorry!

We are gearing up here for what seems to be a whopper of a snow storm, one we haven't really seen in a while having been blessed by the effects of global warming. However, we that live here in New England have to understand that it's cold here for a good chunk of the year and that we have snow. It really bothers me when people talk about how much they hate the weather here - yet they choose to live here. I know there's a difference in the level of complaining because under certain circumstance, even I will get a little complainy but never losing sight of the fact that I live here and that is the expected weather.

More nuts to be is that people completely lose their minds from the moment a storm is announced. Traffic backs up for miles and the supermarkets and stores are mobbed beyond comprehension. I suspect, based on past experience, were I to walk into any of the local stores that it would be near impossible to find milk, eggs or bread and most of the store will look as if a hurricane passed through. It's mind numbing!

If the storm is as bad is it looks like it's going to be, tomorrow and Saturday will be long days and there will be lots of snow moving. But I promised that I will not complain because aside from it being normal weather for winter in New England, we haven't had all that much snow to deal with since the winter before last.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Life Lesson #12763

While packing a book into a manila envelope today, my hand slipped and thus created a rather deep and painful paper cut. I immediately applied pressure and got the bleeding to stop pretty quick but as you know, those slices feel ouchy for some time after.

While I never forgot that it happened, there was a lot going on so within a few minutes, I had pretty much put it far enough out of my mind that I may as well have forgotten. But a reminder was about to happen that I never expected.

I had gone over to the doorway, where there is a Purell dispenser and with all the flu and norovirus going around, plus the general disgust of community college students, I took a squirt of Purell and began to rub -

AHHHHHHHHHHH!

Life lesson #12763, rubbing purell over a paper cut with hurt - a lot!

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Cover Shmover and Tip Shmipp

I hate cover charges of all sorts. In most cases, a cover charge represents a fee for entering a place in which you can then spend money. Most common in bars, and often called by other names at places like state fairs and the sort - a cover charge is about as insulting as I can think of.

I've talked here in the past about what I think of the whole tipping thing. Seems the tipping culture is constantly trying to spread itself where it doesn't belong.

Some things about tipping that irk me:

Whole percentage thing; makes zero sense. If I order a dish that has a $100 steak on it or an $8.00 salad. The effort on the part of the server to bring me either plate is exactly the same. Why should I give the server $15 for carrying the plate with the steak but only $1.20 for the plate with the salad? Nobody will ever convince me this is justified.

The whole tipping in restaurants has for years been justified by the idea that servers receive a bare bones salary, below minimum wage and that their "service" will be paid in the form of tips. I say this is primitive and that servers should be paid a fair wage up front and tipping should not only be eliminated, but outlawed. Tipping allows for social bias - if two people frequent a restaurant, over time, they become known by the staff for what kind of tippers they are and their service and treatment is often based on that; this is discrimination.

I have never understood the whole tipping hotel staff thing. I have never and will never leave a tip for the people who maintain the rooms, that is their job, it's not like they are going the extra mile to serve me - they are paid a wage in return for cleaning the rooms in the hotel.

If I go to a Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks or some other similar place, I don't want to see a tip cup there, it's demeaning to me as a customer. The people who work in these places are making $7 - $10 an hour to pour a $3 cup of coffee that costs less than a quarter to produce. Sorry, I don't think they deserve to get a little extra for pouring me a cup of coffee.

I do tip in restaurants but I don't like to, I resent having to do so. I do so because I know that the server spent time serving me and they are not being paid properly, so I feel obliged to pay for that service - i just would rather that service fee is built into the cost of my food.

Haircuts are another thing - can't for the life of me understand how (or why) there are tips involved there. I oblige, but hate it.

We need to change this whole tipping culture, I think it's bad for society. I worked in the service industry so if anyone wants to come at me with the "you have no idea" thing, I do. I worked a 10 hour shift in a party room and ended up with a $5 tip on an $800+ tab. My salary at the time as I recall was $1.60 per hour though it may have been $2.10.

And the mandatory gratuity doesn't work, it's even more of an insult and if you look up the meaning of the word gratuity, you would realize (and this is wording I heard Adam Carolla use, I agree and didn't think more appropriate wording so I'll use his) that a mandatory  gratuity is actually a tax (or a fee, or whatever you want to call it).

It's pretty simple, raise the price of the $10 menu item to $11.50. Give the $1.50 to the server and bring me my food.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Micro Viral

Last night, I had been thinking about someone who had an exam today that was very important to her. In thinking about wishing her well and sending good thoughts her way, I got this idea to start a "Good Luck Chain".

I created it as an event on Facebook and invited every person on my friend list setting the event time to 10:30 EST, which was the time of her test (source of inspiration, only made sense). here's what I wrote:

Here's something fun to do tomorrow morning (if you are awake in your neck of the woods at this time). At 10:30am EST (you can do the math for your time zone) - wherever you are and whatever you do - say "Good Luck!" I'm betting lots of people have something going on at that time and all the extra luck we put out in the world will only benefit them. One possible benefit, you might be having a rather bad morning and come that time you remember to send Good Luck out into the world for the benefit of others - I can almost guarantee, in short time, your day will get better because of it.
BTW, while the event refers to Framingham, it's only because that's where I'll be and it should sync up the time zones.


Despite the short notice, 36 people joined in and between the event and on their own timelines, there was something very real happening. People responded and there was a genuine feeling of good vibes getting sent into the world and coming back.

I have to say, this really moved me and was a great source of good feelings for me today. On top of that, she passed her test!!!

The Good Luck Chain has only just begun.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Blind Faith - A Lenten Devotion

Disclaimer: Before deciding whether to read this post or not - I hope that the religious inference does not detract you. The project stems from an annual tradition at my church where the people volunteer to write a reflection based on a bible reading for each day of lent. For the record, my inspiration is for the Monday, March 18th reading covering three pieces, one of which I ultimately used.

I don't talk religion here much and the main purpose of me posting this piece has no bearing on it's religious source but rather to document  the writing exercise. I chose to take the particular story below and rewrite it as a lyric poem (below the scripture).

While in my head, I do have a melody, I have not set it to music (yet) but may do so as a fun project (but, I may not). Regardless, I hope you enjoy it,

Jesus Heals a Blind Beggar Near Jericho (Luke 18:35-43)
As he approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard a crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They told him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.’ Then he shouted, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Those who were in front sternly ordered him to be quiet; but he shouted even more loudly, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Jesus stood still and ordered the man to be brought to him; and when he came near, he asked him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ He said, ‘Lord, let me see again.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Receive your sight; your faith has saved you.’ Immediately he regained his sight and followed him, glorifying God; and all the people, when they saw it, praised God.
 
Blind Faith

by Christopher Daniele

Inspired by Luke 18:35-43

Blind man begging by the road side
The crowd just passes by
He heard them speak of Jesus
And he knew he had to try

When he heard the healer’s footsteps
he shouted “Have mercy on me”
and though the crowd responded with anger
Jesus knew that he believed

The healer called out for the blind man
And asked him what would make things right
The blind man asked the son of David
To give him back his sight

Jesus said, “Your faith has saved you.
Your sight you shall receive”
And In the presence of the people,
The once blind man now could see

For those who had once doubted
For those who witnessed what had taken place
All the doubters now believers
And in God they offered praise
***********************************************

One last thought, I am not ashamed or embarrassed by my faith but I've learned that everyone has a different take on it, even my friends who are atheists and I'd rather have those conversations outside of this forum - in a more personal setting.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Bruce

I am a huge fan of Bruce Springsteen so it was with great anticipation that I delved into this biography. This is not a quick nor an easy read and to those who aren't big fans of his, it may not even be considered a good read. For the most part, I really liked the book. The start was a bit confusing as it dug really deep into some of Bruce's family life that seemed at the time to be a mistake on the part of the editor. By the end of the book, I'm still not 100% convinced that it couldn't have been edited a bit tighter but it did add to the storyline that is the complexity of who Bruce Springsteen is.

I think my deepest criticism of this book is that it tried to be two separate things, a biography of Bruce Springsteen and an accounting of his music career. I know that it might seem okay since this is a biography of a musician but really, they are two very separate stories and really should have taken place in two volumes.

As a big fan, it was hard to read about the guy (Bruce) who really wasn't all that good to his love interests, who was often a bit difficult to his friends, and seemed on occasion to be a real pain in the ass. However, somewhere along the way, the obvious hit me. Bruce Springsteen, like all superstars that we idolize and look up to, is a human being. Another sparkling revelation, I know.

Another criticism of this book - The author really got exhaustive about the details of the music and the process behind it. To a point, it was necessary in many cases to further the biography but there came a point where pretty late in the book he wasn't far enough into the career and it seemed the later part of the career didn't get the due amount of space; and I don't just mean physical space but where the book seems to drag through the first 25-30 years of his career, the last 10-15 seem to just be thrown in there in some abridged form.

I think the book has a lot of really interesting information and as a fan, I'm happy to have read it. There are certainly enough Bruce and music fans that will likely make this book a success but I can't help wishing it were done differently.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Tip of the Pastor

I saw this story on Yahoo (not sure how long the link will live for) the other day and was repulsed.

Apparently, a "Pastor" was appalled at the automatic addition of an 18% tip, which the waitress claims was "automatically added as a result of being part of a larger check and a party of 20". The comment left on the tip by the pastor refers to a "tithe", offering God 10% of his money and that he didn't feel the waitress deserved more than God.
I want to make it clear to those who don't know, I happen to be a Christian. However, it grates at me to see things like this. If the guy didn't want to leave a tip, he should just have not left one - there need not be an explanation and certainly, no need to bring God into it. What the heck does God have to do with this situation at all? Nothing!