Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Top Ten: Albums

Here are what I would consider my top ten albums of the year. Keep in mind, not all of these were released this year, some are older, but this was the first year in which I heard them and of all the albums I listened to this year, many of which I enjoyed immensely, these are my favorite ten..enough with the run-on sentence and questionable grammar, on with the music:

In no intentional order:

Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires of the City


Panic at the Disco - To Weird to Live, To Rare to Die


Pearl Jam - Lightning Bolt


Bastille - Bad Blood


Ray Lamontagne - Trouble


Of Montreal - Lousy with Sylvianbriar


Laura Cantrell - Kitty Wells Dresses


Sue Ellen - Sunday Hangover


Ages and Ages - Divisionary


Conor Oberst - Upside Down Mountain

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Top 10: Posts

Just because I want to go back and take a glimpse at the past year, I am going to pick one post from each month as my "favorite" and link it here (since I barely posted in November and December, I will leave those months out):

January: Mingles
This post just brings me back to some fun times with old friends.

February: Not My Valentine
I almost forgot about this story from last Valentine's day...lmfao!

March: Book Review: Don't Tell Anyone
This book was written by someone my sister-in-law is friends with and kind of fell into my lap and turned out to be really great.

April: Ladies and Gentlemen, The Mailbox
I chose this because I was so proud of accomplishing the task.

May: Friday
There's a friggin' picture of L&B Spumoni Garden Pizza in this post, need I say more?

June: Happy Tenth Blog-iversary
There were a few to choose from here but I have to go with this one; reading it again and thinking back to the early days of blogging and the great community of folks, several of which I have remained friends with, just makes me happy!

July: Tuning in To the Universe
Another month where there were several to choose from but this story still has impact - I remember it as if it happened today.

August: Got Milk?
Love the nostalgia.

September: Funny Flood
It's just so damn funny!

October: Recipe: Lasagna Stoup
It's freaking delicious - go make some now, you'll see!

Monday, December 29, 2014

33 Questions about 2014

This Meme seems to be an annual tradition, I always forgot how hard it is!

1. What did you do in 2014 that you'd never done before?
Visited Texas; Austin to be precise.

2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Not a resolution type of guy – did carry on with the pay it forward thing as I did last year, to a little lesser degree though. I also read a lot more than last year though that dropped of significantly in the second half of the year.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
No (I don’t think so).

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Al Antino, Phil Mineo and my cousin Danny.

5. What countries did you visit?
Remained in the U.S.A. all year.

6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?
This continues to be a very difficult question for me. It seems every year I do these questions I stop here and ponder and wonder how long I should ponder before just moving on. So for now, I will move on and if something comes to me, I will add it later.

7. What date from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Can’t say there was any one day that comes to mind. Back in March, I broke my consecutive days of exercise streak at 1250 because I realized that I was focusing more on the streak than the purpose of the exercise and as a result, was in a lot of pain. Nine months later, I am still trying to find the right balance of getting back into regular exercise.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Being recognized for my efforts in eLearning with a “Course of Distinction” award – this really means a lot to me.

9. What was your biggest failure?
(I just got a big kick in the ass from hindsight as I try to figure out how to answer this.) Seriously, I think I spent ample time thinking about this – not sure if it would be appropriate to post here. I will make a general statement though, I definitely didn't think through every single decision I made as carefully as I should have.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
No – thank God!

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Discovered Arm & Hammer Clump & Seal cat litter – great stuff!
Also happy with my cell phone upgrade, an HTC One M8.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My niece Lauren. Lauren graduated from college – I am so proud of her hard work, not just in school but she’s been so dedicated to charity work, especially cancer charities for kids. I am so proud of the woman she has become.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Not mentioning names here.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Kitchen remodel – done. Mortgage got a hefty chunk as well. A little more in plumbing that I’d have liked as well.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
The local farmer’s market. I spent a lot of time supporting the local market this year and it really was wonderful, especially “The Carve”, a fantastic food vendor run by two great folks.

16. What song will always remind you of 2014?
Vampire Weekend – Unbelievers   This song just rang through my head so much and I love it as much today as I did when I first heard it.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? Happier
ii. thinner or fatter? About the same, but definitely less fit.
iii. richer or poorer? About the same.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Exercise.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Complaining to contractors who made my life miserable for a third of the year.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
With friends, and some time with my daughter.

21. How many one-night stands?
None.

22. What was your favorite TV program?
Nothing that was over the top great but “Brooklyn 99” was a stand-out for the comedy/sitcom genre.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
No.

24. What was the best book you read?
Mortal Fear by Greg Iles                               Absolutely amazing!!!

25. What did you want and get?
Despite a lot of agony, grief and complication, my kitchen remodel is complete – I wanted that for some time and I was able to realize it this year.

26. What was your favorite film of this year?
I didn't see many movies at all and even less of this year’s releases. That said, I loved “20 feet from Stardom”, a documentary about background singers.

27. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I was visiting Austin, Texas for my birthday. This was a big one, the big 5-0!

28. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Less political hoo-ha. It’s just too fucking much!

29. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014?
As always, simple.

30. What kept you sane?
My daughter and just trying to maintain perspective.

31. What political issue stirred you the most?
All of them.

32. Who did you miss?
I missed my friend Tori more than anyone. I am so happy and proud of her for finishing her studies and graduating from nursing school. Help me wish her luck as she prepares to take the boards and get licensed! Tori is going to make a fantastic nurse.

33. Who was the best new person you met?
I don’t recall if it was during this year or last that Meghan and Jimmy joined The Road Dawgs, but they have changed that band for the better; the current lineup is just so incredibly fantastic and Meghan and Jimmy are really cool people!
That’s about the size of it.

And now for a current picture of me:


Sunday, December 21, 2014

In My Ears XI

Been exactly two months to the day since my last In My Ears post; here's what's been in them since that time:

Chris LeDoux - Whatcha Gonna Do With A Cowboy
A former rodeo cowboy, had been a recording artists since the 1970's but never achieved major success - until Garth Brooks mentioned him in a song and then championed for him. LeDoux passed away in 2005 but the music lives on.

Mark Knopfler - The Ragpicker's Dream
Mark Knopfler - Shangri-La
Mark Knopfler - Sailing to Philadelphia
Yes, just continuing to revisit the Knopfler catalog - it gets better with age.

Fountains of Wayne - Sky Full of Holes
Fountains of Wayne - Traffic and Weather
Fountains of Wayne - Utopia Parkway
Another artist whose catalog I am revisiting...such a fun band.

Bob Mould - Bob Mould
Bob Mould - Workbook
Ever since his WTF interview, I've been going back to his solo work. One of these days I'm going to revisit the Husker Du catalog.

Montgomery/Gentry - Back When I Knew It All
Been a while since I heard this one.

Sue Ellen - Sunday Hangover
I really interesting collection of covers. I stumbled across this on Spotify and love it.

Ramones - Subterranean Jungle
Just felt moved to hear some Ramones and randomly selected this one.

Against Me! - The Original Cowboy
Still learning about this band - late to the party but glad I got there.

Ace Frehley - Space Invader
Not brilliant by any means but it's Ace, so I had to.

Laura Cantrell - Kitty Wells Dresses: Songs of the Queen of Country Music
I keep referring to Cantrell as "authentic", here, she covers Kitty Wells, he definition of authentic as far as female country singers go; and she does so brilliantly.

Ages and Ages - Divisionary
Another find from NPR - watch the video, you'll wanna hear it too:

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Sorry for the Absence

Just wanted to check in reader, and say hi. Sorry I've been gone so long - but the road I was traveling through life left me without time or words for this space.

I'll probably have a few music based posts, some holiday reflections and perhaps a year in review type of thing and expect to be back in full force as 2015 draws upon us.

Thank you to all of you who have ever read my words and kept this space alive for over a decade.

Speak soon.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Missing in Action

Back on October 1, I wrote a post called 25 Beautiful Songs. You can click on the link to see it or go back if you wish. The challenge was to "as much off the top of your head as possible, no real intricate thought involved, list 25 beautiful songs."

The list that appeared in that post were the first 25 and of course, after publishing, a number of others came to mind - I think I wrote down another 15 or so.

I know those of you that read this blog aren't much for commenting, but I'd love to get you to participate and perhaps comment here with the one or two at most "beautiful songs" that come to your mind right away.

In the meantime...in the words of Ringo...Peace and Love.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Under a Texas Sky

I've never been to Texas and for a long time, I never really cared as the political landscape, at least as I perceive it, Texas was always too Texas for me. I have a great respect for some of the athletes and musicians that have come from there but it was not much of a big deal for me to visit.

Somewhere along the way, there had been a cultural movement, the hipster generation seemed to gravitate to the city of Austin and found some cross between the influences of the southern culture embroiled in the roots of the capital of the lone star state and created a cool hip vibe along with an interesting music scene to wrap around the wonders that mother nature gifted the landscape with; and of course, Willie Nelson got his two cents in on making that city cool!

In the last decade, I've had an increasing interest in visiting Austin and finally, that will happen next month.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Election Day

I just looked back on on this date back in November 2004, the year I started this blog, it was also Election day. On that day, George W. Bush was somehow reelected as our president. This year, it's a slightly less dramatic election as we are in midterms.

As I write this, it's too early to tell what the results will be, I tend to feel utter disgust though when a republican is voted into office.

Instead of waxing on about it all though, I want to address one of the ballot questions in MA; at least briefly. Currently, we have a five cent deposit on certain beverages, mostly carbonated. There was a ballot question to expand it to uncarbonated beverages such as bottled water and sports drinks, etc.

I didn't think this was well thought out, I think we can encourage more recycling in a number of ways, one might be additional types of beverages, another, a higher deposit - which may be a better incentive to redeem them. The biggest problem I have with the current laws, which was not addressed in the new movement - and is the main reason I opposed, is the ease of redemption.

Currently, most stores will only redeem deposit products that they sell. I don't think this is fair - I shouldn't have to bounce around from place to place, or make a special trip to one local redemption center (which I happen to be fortunate enough to live near). I think if we are asked to participate in the process of recycling, that it should be made as easy as possible, everyone that sells products in redeemable containers should have to redeem all redeemable containers.

I will leave it there,

Thursday, October 30, 2014

R.I.P. Phil Mineo

Last Saturday night i got home to learn of the passing earlier that day of Phil Mineo. Phil is my old friend Rob's dad, he was a great man who was always kind and generous to all of us in our friend group.

Some of my memories of Phil include how much he loved his baseball card collection. during my brief stint as a collector, Phil and I had some marathon conversations. When I got older and eventually got into a career in public education, we found more common ground as Phil was a lifelong teacher in the public schools; again, some great conversations.

Much love to the Mineo family and all whose lives were touched by Phil...he will be missed!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Real Email


The above is an actual email I received from the customer service department after I emailed them requesting some specs on a hiking boot made by the company (Khombu).

While the greeting is entertaining, being called Mr. Christopher (which is my first name), I really enjoy the combination of the name of the person emailing me as it is followed by the department in which they work.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Flight of the Concorde

I remember when the Concorde first came out, all the hype, all the talk, and look at it - it's quite amazing to look at; that was especially true for a teenage boy when it was first introduced to the masses.

I was super excited that I lived in NY because I knew with JFK airport so close, I would get to see one every now and again. I recall the first one I ever saw, I can almost feel my jaw drop the way it did that day and hear the sound it made at it passed over.

It amazing to think of the engineering marvel that plane represented considering it was conceived and designed in the 1960's. Can you even imagine a cruising speed of 1350 miles per hour? Here's a link to an interesting account of a then 18 year old: CLICK HERE.

I found this video that someone shot on board. It's a bit longer than it needs to be but interesting anyway;


Do you have any Concorde memories, ideas, stories, etc?

Bearded Wunderkind

Not too long ago, I made the decision to grow back facial hair after about a two year absence. The decision was influenced this time by my girlfriend, who asked if I would grow it back - I was happy to oblige.

I used to grow it around every year or so but had slowed down in more recent times due to the heavy graying.

What I've learned though, is that the graying isn't a problem, it's what I chose to perceive the graying stood for...aging, and aging alone.

The reaction, for the most part, has bee positive - many have indicated that I look "distinguished". A old friend mentioned that I look better now than I did 20 years ago.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

In My Ears X

Two in one day? Why not just one long one? Simple...the one that posted earlier was typed in about a week ago and somehow I set it to publish in the future, that being today. Today's list is today's list...the things I've listened to since that list.

Peter & Gordon - Original Hits
All the songs that are on the greatest hits I listened to a while back but more songs in addition to those. This is a more robust compilation and better produced recordings and masterings.

Twin Forks - Twin Forks
Described as an "Americana Folk Rock Band", and accurately so. I first heard them on NPR and wanted to check out the whole record, glad I did.

Dum Dum Girls - Only In Dreams
Dum Dum Girls - Too True
Another NPR find.- unique but clearly influenced by a variety of popular musical acts. Very different, but nice.

Laura Cantrell - Humming by the Flowered Vine
Just the album title alone would hook me. I wanted to hear more after the CD I listened to a few weeks back. Again, authentic, and terrific.

Jeremy Messersmith - Heart Murmurs
I hope you don't tire of me saying, "NPR find", it's a primary source of new music for me, has been for some time. Minneapolis based singer-songwriter that makes music worth hearing.

Fountains of Wayne - Sky Full of Holes
Love this band a lot, didn't discover them until they had been around for years but glad that I did. This is one of those artists whose work I am going back to rediscover.

In My Ears IX

Here's what I've been listening to of late:

Jake Owen - Easy Does It
Jake Owen - Barefoot Blue Jean Night
Jake Owen - Days of Gold
I've heard Jake Owen on radio, seen him on TV a few times but never really listened to his records, so it was time.  It was all prompted after hearing him perform a single from his latest album (Days of Gold) called "What We Ain't Got" (song links to the exact performance I saw).

U2 - Songs of Innocence
This is the "controversial" newest U2 record that magically appeared in everyone's iTunes library. I was happy to receive it for free. First listen was too casual, not sure what I heard, second listen made me appreciate it. For me, it sounds like a U2 record, and I think it's a good one.

Todd Rundgren - A Wizard, A True Star
This is a very different kind of record, and when Todd Rundgren is the artist, different means different! Released three weeks before Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon", this record shifts from experimental through pure pop and pays homage to a number of Rundgren's influences, most notably, The Beatles. Fun to listen to after so many years.

Mark Knopfler - Kill to Get Crimson
There are a few artists, Knopfler being one of them, where I am slowly revisiting their catalog. Knopfler's music ages as gracefully as any and it's always nice to hear.

Laura Cantrell - When the Roses Bloom Again
A Nashville darling - authentic!

Bob Mould - Body of Song
Another of the artists I've been revisiting - inspired after hearing his interview with Marc Maron.

Against Me! - Searching for a Former Clarity
Against Me! - New Wave
Against Me! - Transgender Dysphoria Blues
Against Me! - White Crosses
Though they have been recording and releasing music since 1997, I have only heard of them recently from hearing something on NPR's All Songs Considered. Wow! What I've missed all of these years - just great modern day American punk rock.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Reunion!

One of the thing I did this past weekend was go to our friends reunion. We haven't had one in about 3 years or so and it was really great to finally get back together and see everyone.

Instead of karaoke, there were some guitar players strumming, it was a nice change and lots of fun.

The kids are all growing so fast, but it was still fun watching them scamper around, and in some cases, mingle with the adults.

Oh yeah, the food kicked ass!

Much love to John and Jane who so often have graciously opened their home to us!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The "E" Word

Do you know the word I am speaking of? The "E" word...Ebola.

That word, Ebola, is everywhere you look, every day, 24 hours per day. Over the years, there have been many different times when such a word has had the same power of striking fear in the hearts and minds of everyone, everywhere.

Hard to imagine isn't it, that in this day and age where it seems almost anything is possible, that the mere mention of a word can stop us in our tracks.

It's a bit scary, isn't it?

I will tell you what concerns me even more than this disease, that is how the press has handled releasing information to the public. I think all of the fears and concerns and panic is because the information we receive is so sensationalized for maximum zazz, to attract viewers as opposed to being reported properly, in clinical terms and the simple interpretation of those clinical terms so every day folks can truly understand what Ebola is, what the real risks are and why instant panic only worsens the situation.

The Power of People

Sometimes, the most powerful experiences come from simple ordinary people that come together for a common purpose.

After reading that, I feel like a could write on an on and no matter what I write it will not be any more meaningful that that first sentence above this one; so this post will remain short, but all will have been said.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Post Script

The title of this post may not really relate to the content of the post but for some reason, the title hit me, even before writing this into, much lest the post that will follow - so I went with it.

I am serving on a search committee at work to fill a job position in my department. It's wild to see the variance in applicants and resumes. It's baffling that some have absolutely zero qualifications, and I say that just using the job description they are responding to, yet still apply and talk themselves up in their cover letter.I find this baffling!

At least the applicant pool is manageable. Only other search committee I served on had about 70 resumes to sift through, this one is less than two dozen.

This committee process we use is quite odd, first interview and these candidates are being bombarded by anywhere between 4 and 10 interviewers...daunting.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Follow Up and Something New

To follow up on yesterday's trash can thing, the morons who pick up my trash left it behind. before I continue, please don't think I just casually call them morons for one thing, they have proven time and time again to me and others in my town (as evidenced by posts on town discussion board) that they are indeed morons who take zero pride in their work.

For next week, I will put that garbage can inside of the larger recycle can and fill the rest with other recycles and it will probably be gone because they wouldn't have had to life one more item.
********************
I had a parent of an autistic student come to me practically in tears asking for help to recover a paper that may have been lost. I am meeting with them after lunch - she was almost in tears and mentioned that she is in the midst of chemotherapy and spend more than eight hours working with her son to do this paper and will do it again but wasn't sure where she would get the strength to do it.

I can only hope that whatever happened to the paper that it is indeed recoverable, I want to be able to do that, though I know there is only a chance that it is possible and I made it clear to her that the chances were possible, but not necessarily probable.

Really beautiful weather here today, if you too are experiencing nicer weather than you expect, enjoy it and be grateful!!!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Cat Got Your Tongue

Oliver, my cat, loves yapping. One of the times he gets particularly vocal, and this is a newer thing, is dinner time. Sometimes when my daughter and I are sitting at the dinner table, he'll go over to the basement door and start yapping until one of us cracks open the door so he can go down.

We have no idea what it is about the basement that appeals to him but we constantly joke about how he has a secret life down there, a girlfriend, perhaps he enjoys a workout...haha!

Today, as he torpedoed down the stairs, my kid yells (as the cat), "hurry, I gotta get to my daughter's recital!" Such laughter, I am only now catching my wind...so funny! 

Trash Can (No Picture)

I really think I should have snapped a picture of my trash waiting for pickup and then one post pickup to add a little (and I emphasize little) zazz to this post.

Last night, among my trash out for collection, I placed an old trash pail in hopes of it being taken away. Now, this is not a typical outdoor trash pail, I suspect that could be a bit tricky to dispose of, instead, it was an old (not very old, just older than the built in contraption in the new kitchen setup) step on the thingie and the top opens kind of deal. I just left the think next to the recycle pail.

There was a part of me thinking that some passerby may claim it, this has happened so often with other things I've left for trash, but as of around 7 am when I pulled out of the driveway, it was still there.

Of course, if it is gone when I get home, which is my hope, I will really have no idea if it was the less than competent trash people or some passerby who saw treasure in my trash. Ultimately, it matters not since my goal was to be rid of it but that will not stop me from some amount of wonder.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Scoop on The Stoup

I think I've mentioned "The Carve", and The Farmer's Market here on the blog. The Carve is a vendor, a food vendor that really had a big impact this year not only with their consistently outstanding food, but with the right attitude toward supporting the local community and by being good friends to those they served.

I managed to attend the farmers market in all but 4 Saturday's this summer and for each of those week's, I found myself indulging in food served from "The Carve" (except for the one week they ran out of lobster one customer before me - haha).

A few weeks back, I had the idea that in a show of gratitude to John and Marie, along with their staff, I would cook something and bring it to them. I knew what I wanted to do but it required time that I did not have, so I resorted to the "Lasagna Stoup" recipe (the one I posted yesterday).

It seemed to go over well, in addition to The Carve staff, I invited the "Birch Tree" bread company, who not only served as a vendor at the market all summer but they were also the source of bread products for The Carve.

It rained all morning and afternoon, attendance was low, but it was glorious nonetheless.

Thanks again John and Marie! See you next summer!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Recipe: Lasagna Stoup

The following recipe is by Rachael Ray. I saw her make it on TV a few years ago, banked the recipe but until today, never made it. In my next post, I will discuss the recipe further, any thoughts or tweaks, and why I chose today to make it -  but will offer a brief "definitely recommend" here.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1 pound ground beef sirloin
Salt and pepper
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and grated
3 - 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1-32 ounce container (4 cups) chicken broth
1-28 ounce can Italian crushed tomatoes
1 pound lasagna noodles, broken into jagged pieces
1 cup basil leaves, torn
1 cup whole-milk ricotta
Grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese, to pass around the table

Directions:

In a soup pot, heat the EVOO over medium-high heat.
Add the beef, season with salt and pepper and cook until browned, 3 to 4 minutes.
Stir in the onion, carrots and garlic and cook until softened, 5 to 7 minutes.
Stir in 2 cups water, the chicken broth and tomatoes; cover and bring to a boil.
Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 15 minutes.
Stir in the basil and season with salt and pepper.
Serve the stoup in bowls and dollop with the ricotta.
Pass the parmigiano-reggiano at the table.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Identity Theft

Let me start by saying that I did not have my identity stolen. On one website that I frequent they not only had to change my password, but now I am no longer able to use any of the passwords that I have previously used and they required me to answer not one, not two, not three, not four, but five different security questions.

The selection of questions to choose from was plain ridiculous. I am reasonably certain that There is only a very small chance that I will be able to remember the answer to any and/or all of these questions.

For me, there comes a point where there such a thing as being too secure and that the cost of that security may even be greater than the cost of recovering from the theft it is designed to prevent. I know for some that statement is a bit of an over dramatization, and in some ways, it is. However, I do believe that this at its core is true. There is a point where it is impossible to remember all of the passwords for all of the accounts we are required to maintain just to get by on a normal day.

I guess that's all I have to say about this for now.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

What's Going On?

Perhaps those of you who read regularly have noticed a little bit of a slow down in posting here. The last time that happened, it happened pretty dramatically, and it was during a rather difficult time in my life.

I can tell you that while the slow down this time in not nearly as slow, more important, the reason is far from grim.

I miss everyone and I love all of you!

Monday, October 06, 2014

Is there a Guide with That?

Doesn't it feel like nothing comes with a good instruction manual or guide book anymore? That feels like a bad sentence but I am not going to over analyze (or give a crap).

I wonder how many cool features of gadgets go completely undiscovered because they aren't so obvious to find and there is no documentation.

I remember way back when Word Perfect was "the shit', the primo word processing program for a PC. We used to sell it on 5.25" floppy disks; the package weighed about 20 pounds because in addition to the box containing all umpteen floppies, there were 19.25 pounds of books to go through. Now it's even an effort to get the software on some kind of media, it comes in empty boxes with a slip of paper telling you to download it from a website and put in a million codes to get clearance,

Have you ever discovered a something about a device or gadget or piece of software long after you've owned it?

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Blessing of the Animals

I don't have pictures to share, though if I did, you would enjoy them...unless you are not an animal person, then you would ignore this post.

Once a year, in celebration of St. Francis of Asissi, we have the blessing of the animals at church and boy, the unpredictability, even more than with young children, just makes for a fun and happy service.

While dogs are by far the most common, there have been cats, birds, hamsters, I believe a guinea pig and others. For those that can't, or prefer not to, bring their pet, a photograph comes,along with a a story...

It's just a fun thing!

Friday, October 03, 2014

Fatigue Friday

Dragged my ass for a part of the day, especially late afternoon at work, really hit the crash wall big time.

If you read and cared anything about my post the other day, the "Beautiful Songs", post - I've linked each to a you tube video so you can hear the song if you are unfamiliar.

I've also begun one more list, the songs that after I made the first 25 and I realized, hey!

Work was odd today, Friday is often not super busy but I was busier today than any other day this week! there's no end to the unpredictable nature of being a computer geek.

Trader Joe right now is all about pumpkin something, in every aisle...it's pumpkin with reckless abandon!

I am having the hardest time keeping my eyes open...I can't even procrastinate right now...grading will have to wait, bang out something at least....later.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

25 "Beautiful" Songs

My buddy Dan posted, as a reply to a challenge, a list of 25 "beautiful" songs - as much off the top of your head as possible, no real intricate thought involved. Dan of course challenged the rest of the planet and so being a part of this planet, here goes:


  1. Weak for Love - Daniel Lavoie
  2. Tonight's the Night - Rod Stewart
  3. Thunder Road - Bruce Springsteen
  4. Nobody Knows Me - Lyle Llovett
  5. Have a Little Faith in Me - John Hiatt
  6. I'm In Love with You - Steve Forbert
  7. Deep River Woman - Lionel Richie
  8. Colour My World - Chicago
  9. In Dreams - Roy Orbison
  10. Anymore - Travis Tritt
  11. She's a Natural - Rob Crosby
  12. Just as Long as I Have You - Don Williams
  13. Ribbon in the Sky - Stevie Wonder
  14. You Send Me - Sam Cooke
  15. Mary, Did You Know? - Mark Lowry
  16. Nikita - Elton John
  17. Landslide - Fleetwood Mac/Stevie Nicks
  18. Still in Love with You - Brooks & Dunn
  19. Shoot the Moonlight Out - Garland Jeffreys
  20. I Could Not Ask for More - Sara Evans
  21. Hurt - Johnny Cash (his version in particular)
  22. Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning - Alan Jackson
  23. The Dance - Garth Brooks
  24. We're All Alone - Boz Scaggs
  25. Chasing Cars - Snow Patrol
Feel free to take the plunge, no pressure from this guy!

UPDATE: Over the course of the next few days, I may consider adding links to YouTube for each song. The key word here is "may".

UPDATE 2: All are linked to YouTube :)

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Funny Flood

I had a new water cooler delivered to my office today to replace the unfortunately contaminated one. I put a new 5 gallon water on top, and set off to lunch.

An hour later, I returned to my office and noticed the water bottle atop the cooler was empty. I think the shock of it forced my brain to believe that the one dude that had access to the office for the last hour had drank 5 gallons of water. Before the brain had the one second it needed to realize how ludicrous that is, my feet were sloshing through the gallons of water in the office floor rug carpet squares.

I went to find the facilites guy, who brought up a shop vac, I was laughing my ass off at the whole thing. After sucking up some of the water, he looked at the cooler and thought that the reason for the leak was a few loose things inside that he tightened and said, "let's see now". 

We added some water, and almost immediately it began leaking - slower, but still leaking. He pulled on a plug and all of a sudden, the water began gushing out onto his arm. "The hot water works!"

By this time, I took a call from a teacher but I just started laughing so hard. I apologized, and the teacher asked what I was laughing at. I told her that my office was flooding with water and she was surprised..."you're in a rather good mood considering the circumstances."

We got the machine empty, sucked up as much as we could with the shop-vac, then decided to,call the new cooler a d.o.a., then brought up yet another new one. The good news, the new, new machine is fine.

Leaks

If you follow technology at all, it seems every day you hear of the next cell phone, the next computer innovation, the next whatever...but not just hear about it, hear very specific details about it that somehow "leaked" to the public.

During Apple's most recent press conference, one site had a live feed going through the list of all of the "leaks" that had been covered in the months preceding the actual Apple announcement and was reviewing what was delivered versus expected via those leaks.

I wonder if anyone actually believes at this point that those leaks are accidental. My belief is that the manufacturers intentionally leak the information to create excitement, demand, etc.

What are your thoughts? And, do you think it's all a bit overkill?

Monday, September 29, 2014

A Rare Moment of Class at Fenway

The send off and general reaction at Fenway of Derek Jeter was fantastic, classy and incredible. I suspect there were a lot of Yankee fans at the park but I don't want to discount the Sox fans for cheering.

The Red Sox organization and team, everything about the day, all just classy - and Mr. Derek Jeter, deserved nothing less than the best.

Players like Jeter don't come around often, the major league has probably had a handful or two at most and in my opinion, there is zero evidence there will ever be another like him.

The way I see it, the game will now always have to be different. I am curious to see how his ride of into the sunset will fare but I wish that dude nothing but the best.

Later C A P T A I N !

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Krystle Campbell 5K

These are pictures from today's 5K fundraiser. Krystle Campbell, an alumni of MassBay Community College, lost her life in the Boston Marathon bombings. We have created a scholarship fund in her name and honor and this 5K event is the primary fundraiser.


























Saturday, September 27, 2014

An Oopsie

I had planned to do some class related paperwork and in advance, printed off some stuff at the office yesterday which I had stashed on my desk under the scanner lid for safe keeping. This morning, I realized that I left the papers there, and it seemed less wasteful to go pick them up today rather than reprinting them from home.

I got a late start, though I woke up early, I stayed in bed for another nap and then watched some TV and just generally chilled out. I decided to check out the Farmer's market and have lunch at The Carve.

This is a little sandwich they call "The Gobbler", turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and their own twist...delicious. They also provided a sampler of their vegetarian chili which was quite yummy.

After leaving the market, I began driving toward the office when I realized, fortunately almost immediately, that I didn't have my work keys with me. I spun around to go back home to get the keys and once again, made my way to the office. There are a few good foliage spots driving to and from work so it was pleasant.

I get to work, the building and the area where my office is were all open, they keys weren't all that essential but I wasn't going to let that get to me. I went over to my desk and the papers were not there. I panicked slightly, then checked the drawers and then in my back office. Then, it hit me, I must have put them in my bag, which would leave them back at the house I went back to to get the keys I didn't really need to come all the way back here, where they weren't. Are you following all of this?

Head back home and sure enough, papers are in my bag and I am here spilling the beans to you. thank you for reading.

Election Day Primer

Oh no, is this going to be a political rant? I don't feel like reading about politics...help!

This isn't so much a political post as it is a reminder that participation in the political process is required. Everybody talks to talk about and complain about when they disagree with what is happening in politics but such a small percentage of people that have the right and responsibility to take part in the process of electing their representation actually do so.

Yes, there are flaws in the system, significant one in my opinion. The electoral college is not relevant, hasn't been for a very long time and has altered the vote of the people in at least one significant election.

I might also declare that when I refer to elections and the "political process", I don't only refer to that of the national level. It really is just as important to take part in the state and local elections as well, all of this has an affect on how you and your community get along.

I received a booklet this past week regarding the ballot questions that will appear on the ballot I will be voting with in the upcoming November elections. I suspect that wherever you live and vote, there are often questions to vote on as well. In casual conversation, I've learned that so many people never see those questions until the moment they are voting. Some of these issues that we are asked to vote on are complex and worded in such a way where making a decision right there at the voting booth is not that easy. I know it's not always easy, but I urge you all to try to get a hold of those questions in advance and do a little bit of homework, read what the people that support it say and what the people who oppose it say and think about how you feel; then, go into the voting booth knowing your answer.

That's all...thanks.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Marketing

Are you familiar with this item? Listerine PocketPaks - I've used this items for a while, pretty much since they hit the market a few years back.

The front of the package is pretty basic and unassuming. But something I noticed yesterday for the very first time, was the back of the package. I can't believe I missed this but it caught my attention and raised numerous questions that in the grand scheme of things, don't really matter all that much to me but I still have some fascination about what the real answers might be anyway.

I guess I should also provide a picture of the back of the package as well then, right? Okay, here goes:

Disclosure, I didn't think in advance to snap a picture of the actual package I had from the front, so the picture above of the from is from a Google image search. The picture here of the back is one that I scanned from my own package, the one that prompted this post.

First question, I need to know why they chose French as the second language on this packaging. Are they trying to imply that most native French speakers have breath issues?

Next, what's up with this due about to put one of these in his mouth? Am I nuts or is he a bit creepy? What the hell is he thinking that breath strip is going to do and who the heck is is staring at with those creepy eyes and even creepier eyebrows (yes, I noticed the slight lift of the right brow)?

I get the idea of the scene at the right where the two colleagues are working together, but one question I have about it is whether or not the creepy dude in the foreground is also the guy pointing out things on that chart (or whatever it is). Also, the picture implies that you might only wish to have fresh breath if you are working close to a member of the opposite sex. Are they also as a result implying that bad breath among members of the same sex is tolerable?

No longer a question in the overly litigious society we live in, but no less ridiculous is the warning about how the carrying case "may present a choking hazard". Also, I laugh because the expression "carrying case" just reads as an item larger than the (approximate) 1 3/4"x 1 1/2"x 0.25" actual "carrying case".

Finally, while I know physical space is at a premium, the use of the question mark to illustrate the included phone number is what you should call if you had questions seems lazy. There is clearly enough space above the phone number to include the actual word "Questions".

I guess I should stop here or you might be inclined to think I'm a bit nutty.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Equipment

On the gray table in the background, shot as a view from the desk I spend a lot if time at, is a (from left to right) electric pencil sharpener, electric three-hole punch and an electric stapler.

Yesterday, I watched a grown woman spend between 1 and 2 full minutes trying to figure out how to use the pencil sharpener; a pencil sharpener! This isn't anything fancy, there is a hole, the approximate width of a pencil...insert pencil, sharpen - that's it...but this was a major challenge for this student.

Neither of these three machines are complex for the end user in any way. I've intentionally used semester breaks and summer sessions, when there an unfortunate number of kids brought to campus - I've actually tested this equipment with kids and a very high percentage of the time, these little kids know exactly how to use all three of these items.

Here's the sad news, and I see it a ton, it's mind boggling how many adults and grown community college students are completely perplexed at these gadgets. really odd.

A Call for Consolidation

I just thought of this and I feel like I need to write about it before I forget it, but I wish I had some pictures - though any of you who shop in grocery stores will likely be able to picture it; unless of course, you ignore the yogurt section.

First off, remember the Columbo yogurt commercials? You know, ones with the two really old folks talking about how their container is bigger, at one point came with a spoon built into the lid (that was rad), and sometimes even used the cutesy expression, "Coyumbo". What the hell happened to them and to Columbo yogurt! You can read here about what actually happened.

While we no longer have the life work of the Colombosian family staring at us, the number of products in the yogurt section has gotten increasingly out of hand (in my opinion). There's regular, fat free, whipped, fruit on the bottom, then there is Greek and all of those varieties (and more) for that. 

There are some yogurts that have gone so far over the top that they don't even fit the illusion of it being healthy, then, there are some that seem that they are so darn healthy, it's like eating planet earth by the creamy spoonful.

It's mesmerizing in a hypnotic way to have so much choice. In my opinion, I think there needs to be a little bit of consolidation, so that it's not so overwhelming that the consumer just doesn't walk away instead of making a choice because it's so daunting.

From a business perspective, considering the financial value of shelf space in a supermarket, it surprises me that so many varieties can survive. 

Revisiting Some of the Music Podcasts

While I've kind of let the Podcast go by the wayside, there are some great episodes, especially ones that revolve around music. Here are some links to one's I particularly like, the link will take you to the Blog where I posted it - from there you can go to the Podcast site and download the episodes as MP3 files or you can subscribe via iTunes and get them that way (you can also listen to them right on the blog page as well - lots of options).

If you've never heard them before, I think many of you will find them interesting and hopefully, you will get turned on to music you didn't know or hear something you haven't heard in a while and missed.


15 Albums in 15 Minutes for 15 Friends - Part 1

15 Albums in 15 Minutes for 15 Friends - Part 2

15 Albums in 15 Minutes for 15 Friends - Part 3


Only God Knows Why-The Legend of Johnny Kool - Part 1

Only God Knows Why-The Legend of Johnny Kool - Part 2

Only God Knows Why-The Legend of Johnny Kool - Part 3


You Really Got a Hold On Me - The Series



Tenth Anniversary of Friends Reunion Disc - Part 1

Tenth Anniversary of Friends Reunion Disc - Part 2

Tenth Anniversary of Friends Reunion Disc - Part 3

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

17+

Five days ago marked my 17th anniversary as a resident of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. I've lived more than a third of my life here now.

There have been lots of ups and downs, but I do love it here. Things have been kind of nice of late, and it's about time.

I was looking back, it's been 9 years since my Hawaii trip - I forgot it was that long ago!

Just about a year ago, the series finale of Dexter aired and nearly destroyed 8 great seasons. It still bothers me just how bad that finale was. Odd in a way how so much of that series showed just how fragile life is and the last few minutes of the 80th episode nearly destroyed the impact of all 80 episodes and all the hard work that went into them.

Did I mention I got pulled over by a cop on Saturday? Fortunately, it was just to get a warning that a brake light was out. Thankfully, I was able to purchase the lamp on Sunday, for about four bucks, then go home and install myself.

If yellow was the chosen color for the first highlighter marker, why is it now that they've diversified the color palette of highlighters that all of the other colors get equal billing?

On With the Show

When Fleetwood Mac announced a new tour and that Christine McVie was rejoining the band, I was excited and proclaimed then how much I wanted to see them again. Once the tour dates were posted, and the exorbitant ticket prices, I was discouraged and upset and figured that the chances of me seeing them rapidly declined.

I planned to wait until the show got closer and just troll Craiglist looking for folks that had tickets long in advance and their schedules had made it such that they couldn't go. In my experience, especially as the concert draw closer, you can often get these at discounted priced.

The good news, I scored tickets to see them! I am looking forward to it.

Monday, September 22, 2014

In the Works

Hopefully, tomorrow I will be able to tell you I have Fleetwood Mac tickets. I haven't seen them in a while and this time, Christine McVie is back so it's gong to be special.

I forgot that Stevie Wonder tix went on sale until it was pretty much too late. Never say never though.

Need to wake in like 5 1/2 hours, I have no business being here typing this mish-mash.

Can't get rid of this freaking cough.

This post is almost pathetic.

You know when you've blown your nose so much that your whole upper lip kind of hurts? And then, you can't help but smile - and it still hurts, but you just don't care because it feels nice to smile.

I've decided that after a lengthy absence, facial hair will return this facial hair season.

New cell phone - HTC One M8...Only about 28 hours so far but so far, so good.

Goodnight.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Hanx Writer

The things you come across on NPR. Listening to an interview with Tom Hanks, yes, THE Tom Hanks... Turns out he's and avid collector of old manual typewriters.

His collection inspired him to work with a team to create an app called, "Hanx Writer". The app is a classic typewriter emulator. The sounds are authentic and it's pretty functional.

I fiddled around with this a bit, and it's super neat, super fun and I recommend playing with it.

As I write this, I realize I should have checked to see if it's available in multiple formats but I didn't, I can confirm the iPad app is available.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Betterish

Been down sick for a few days this week...still not 100% but finally the vice grips have been lifted. An friend recommended and interesting Asian potion by sending me a picture of the product. Here's what it looks like:

She sent this side of the box along with the other side that had the ingredients. I printed it, went to the Asian market in my town and showed them the picture and they had it. Pretty good stuff, all natural - its very viscous, sweet liquid but it feels really good and has been very helpful.

Spent the morning doing a bit of house cleaning, something I've neglected for a longer than I care to admit, I've made some decent progress, still some work to go.

Made a lunch stop at the Farmer's Market - since I didn't have breakfast, I went with a pretty robust offering of a grilled pork chop with mashed potatoes and swiss chard - super delicious.

I also made a pit stop at the annual town fair, it's called something else but same deal.

Waiting for a friend to arrive to go for a nice scenic walk and hang. Looking very forward to it.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

In My Ears - VIII

Here is a look at the music I've consumed since the last "In My Ears" post:

Bob Mould - Black Sheets of Rain
Fresh off an appearance on the WTF podcast, I felt like reaching back into some of Mould's work, all good stuff.

Fountains of Wayne - Fountains of Wayne
Still bothers me that I only discovered this band a couple of years ago, fun music.

Imagine Dragons - Continued Silence (EP)
All songs that made it on to the full length record that went nuts...solid music.

Of Montreal - Lousy with Sylvianbriar
Quirky album title from an ecletic band but for certain, this is a contender or my album of the year; amazing from start to finish.

Craig Campbell - Never Regret
If you like modern country music, listen - if not, don't.

Conor Oberst - Upside Down Mountain
Something magnetic about this dude's voice - love it.

Straight No Chaser - Under the Influence
An acapella group doing covers and featuring guest spots, sounds like a corny premise but it all works really nicely.

St. Vincent - St. Vincent
Anne Clark is a talented guitarist and avant-garde performer whose songs and art are captivating.

Roseanne Cash - The River and The Thread
Rootsy and beautiful.

Coldplay - Ghost Stories
What you might expect from Coldplay

The I Can't Sleep Post

If nothing makes sense from this point on, please allow me to blame the cold I am sporting that has knocked me on my ass. I felt crappy and sore throaty on Tuesday, but worked anyway and I guess that was probably not smart.

By Tuesday evening, I was feeling awful enough to tell my boss I wasn't going to be in on Wednesday and while I did have to go out briefly to drive my daughter to school in the morning, I rested for most of the day - in fact, I slept for 7 more hours over the course of the day which accounts for me being awake right now.

In fact, I've already let my boss know that today (it is after midnight as I type this), I will also be out sick. I hate to be out sick, mostly because it means that I am sick.

Hey, have you guys heard that Stevie Wonder is touring? And, the he's doing the entire "Songs in the Key of Life" record? Stevie is one of the very few artists still around that I haven't seen live that it matters to me that I haven't seen live. I hope I can get a ticket and not have to take a second mortgage to do so!

I just realized I didn't even tell you guys about my blast from the past email, I'll hit you up later with that - I am going to try to get some sleep.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Heirloom


At last Saturday's farmer's market, there was a table tasting and discussion of heirloom tomatoes. I approached the table and after seeing all of the varieties, and inspired by Ralph Kramden's "Knight out on a dog like this", I uttered what I thought was a quite clever joke...

"Oh look, an heirloom family" (carefully using the same cadence that we normally use to say family heirloom.

Dude in the had gives me a sneer and says, "Um, no!"

Odd thing is the very first time I ever did stand up comedy at an open-mic, I had food, including tomatoes, thrown at me. What are the tomato gods trying to tell me?





Monday, September 15, 2014

Hanging with Steve

My buddy Steve (along with his wife Jenn, another old friend of mine from the old neighborhood) moved out to L.A., so there are often long stretches of time that I don't get to see wither of them. Steve was in town this past Friday with his current gig playing guitar for the very talented Cassadee Pope. I was excited to be bringing my daughter along to visit with him, get the whole backstage experience and of course, watch him rock it onstage.

Before I put up the pictures, I have to say thank you to so many folks - first and foremost Steve, for allowing us to invade his work space, for being so gracious, and for being a great friend. Thanks also to Cassadee for being so sweet, Don for his behind the scenes work and all the guys in the band who hung out after and especially for making my kid feel so special.

I took these pics with my digital camera.

I found a nice glamorous spot for a backstage shit with my kid:

This is me and my daughter with Cassadee Pope on her tour bus. Cassadee is a really sweet young lady who has been nothing but generous with her time and her fans.

Our buddy Steve in the "Rock Star Silhouette" :)


 


               










Here is my daughter, with the whole band as we all had dinner after the show. So sweet of them for doing this: