Friday, February 28, 2014

RIP "Big" Al

Funny the things you can recall that seem to have no meaning in the moment they were thrown at you. Fast forward 25 years or so and bam! Some time ago, my friend Joe owned a sneaker store in the old neighborhood. I worked for him on weekends not so much for the cash, though it was nice to have, but because him, me and a few others that either worked their or lingered had a blast.

Of all the bizarre memories, there was one time where Joe was mimicking his dad, "Big" Al, shaving; the way he would make funny faces trying to stretch the skin to get the closest shave. If you had any idea of some of the stuff we did as a group of friends in and out of that store, that memory would seem so random, trust me. For some reason, every single time I pick up that damn electric razor I chuckle a bit recalling that moment.

Pretty recently, Joe's sisters posted some pics of Al on FB as they all celebrated his 80th birthday (Joe is not on FB). It was great to see him there with his kids and grand kids. Sadly, even more recently, I learned of "Big" Al's passing.

The day after I learned of his passing, I thought about not shaving. But then, I did, and again, as soon as that razor touched my face, I chuckled...then, a tear, and I held up that razor to Al, a good man. Rest in Peace.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Viral Sensation!

There's been a growing trend in social media, particularly on Facebook, where you will see a picture of someone holding up a sign with some sob story about how they are looking for a long lost family member, or trying to get a bunch of likes for some goal, or just trying to tug at heart strings. I have no idea if any of them have ever been real but know for fact that many are phony, and some, even scams; they do all seem to go viral though, which puzzles me.

I thought I would parody these viral events by creating one of my own. The thing is, everything on my sign is true. When asked on FB by a friend why I told the truth I thought that the best way to parody something that is false by nature.

Go ahead, make it viral!!!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Sadness Overwhelming

The name of this picture is "Sadness Overwhelming" by Suzanne M. Hesse and it describes exactly how I felt this morning. After I had gotten ready for work I was just kind of chilling out on my couch and got extremely emotional and felt an overwhelming sadness.

While this is my space on the Internet and I can say what I want, I really don't want to go into exceptional detail, I ask that you respect that. I do feel that maybe just mentioning it out loud might help though, so that is what I am doing.

And yes, in case you were wondering, I was tempted to draw glasses on this dude in the picture.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Book Review: Ace Frehley - No Regrets

Subtitled, "A Rock 'n' Roll Memoir"; and that it is. Look,. if you are looking for some kind of brilliance or magic or historical relevance, let me recommend the Benjamin Franklin bio by Walter Isaacson. If you are a fan of Kiss, this book is for you. If you are a fan of Ace Frehley, this book is for you.

Unlike say, the Warren Zevon book I read (and reviewed) recently, I think the reach for this book is far more selective. Any stories related in any way to the band Kiss are a little suspect. Here, you have a founding member who over the years and through two terms of service with the band has had much public controversy on the words of others. In No Regrets, at least there is the opportunity to hear Ace speak his peace, provide his take, tell his story.

Of course, we also get the whole story, from birth to current, it's an autobiography, and that's the point and thankfully, we get some pictures! I hate when there are no pictures!

The quality of writing is not brilliant here folks. This is not a masterpiece, it simply is what it is. A simple telling of the story of a man who just happened to find his way into one of the biggest rock and roll bands of all time and still had to live a life and find his way through battling his own demons. It's a quick read and worth the time if you like this sort of thing and/or you are a fan.

The Fever is Gone

As you regular readers know, I was inflicted with Olympic Fever. I probably watched more Olympics coverage for these games than any other in the past. I suspect if I had to watch live, I would have watched much less, DVR-ing everything and picking and choosing the when and what really made it much better.

I got to thinking, it seems the best way to deliver coverage of the Olympic games is not the conventional network route any longer. I think it would be way better to make all of the coverage available "On Demand" so viewers can very easily go to what they want when they want it. It would seem to be way more efficient.

As much as I enjoyed the games, I am glad they are over and done. Time to move on.

If you had the change to participate or try any one Winter Olympic sport, what would it be? Forget about risk or any of that, assume all of that is non-existent and you can try anything without risk of injury or worse. For me, hands down it would be ski jumping. I love the idea of being in-flight like that. In fact, I thought about this so much this time around that I even looked into how one learns to ski jump. Sadly, the first requirement is knowing how to ski. But after that, the way it works is they start you out on a very small hill and as you learn and build the skill, the hill gets incrementally higher. Pretty cool!!!

So tell me, what would be your sport to try?

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Kitchen Remodel: Where it Stands Right Now

After I spoke with the all of the relevant people at the contracting company, I was basically left with one of two choices: I could keep the incorrectly ordered cherry wood cabinetry and proceed with the job. In return, I would be offered a "discount" on the cabinets and the job would proceed on schedule. Alternately, if I wanted the Maple, as originally intended, they would place the order for cabinets, which will take 4-6 weeks at a minimum, and up to 8 weeks to receive then pick up from there. Since the demo has already been done, they will put in a "makeshift" kitchen to get me through the wait.

In talking to some about this, some right away say that I should just go for the cherry and get it over with. "Cherry is nice, I have cherry in my kitchen" said my friend Sherry. then several others said that if the discount they offered were good, you should take it. I had thought about it and what would be the right number for me to make that choice. I racked my brains for most of the morning and then I left work for lunch.

On the drive away from the office, I had a moment of clarity. This isn't about a matter of convenience or inconvenience, this isn't a matter of whether or not I like the cherry wood well enough, this is a matter of what for me is a major kitchen remodel, certainly financially.  I worked hard for more than four years to save enough money to pay for this job and it will take every penny of that savings to pay for it. There is no do-over if I wake up a day, a week, a month or a year after it's done and decide I don't really like the cherry or I wish I had gone with the maple - I will have to live with it. When I placed the order for maple, it wasn't because I saw a small sample and said sure, that looks good. As I always do, I obsessively researched all of the wood species and took several samples of many sizes into my house to look at them at different times of the day. When I chose maple it is because I was certain that is what I wanted and there is no reason to settle for something different, despite the inconvenience and stress of another waiting 4-8 weeks and dealing with the "makeshift" kitchen. Once the job is done, and done with what I chose, that inconvenience will be in the past, the regret of settling for what I didn't choose would remain for as long as I own the house.

And so, there it is. I suspect early in the next week they will do the makeshift thing and this story will be on hold until the next thing happens. Either way, life goes on.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Book Review: I'll Sleep When I'm Dead-The Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon

When Warren Zevon's "Excitable Boy" album was released, I was not yet 14, but from the moment I heard the music on that record I was hooked (I had not yet been familiar with the two previous albums he released but knew that some of his songs were recorded by other artists such as Linda Ronstadt).

Hard to meet anyone who doesn't know what is probably his most popular song, "Werewolves of London" from Excitable Boy but the Title Track has an equally catchy hook and so many of the other songs just resonate with what makes music appealing (at least to me); I became a fan as soon as I heard this record (I'm certain that Dan O'Connor was responsible).

In the early 1980's, David Letterman had Zevon on and they became fast friends (I wasn't aware how close they became until I read the book) and Zevon had many appearances over the following two decades. After reading the book, I went back and viewed many of them on YouTube and while I recall some of them from seeing them when they aired, they all took on so much more meaning after reading this book.

This isn't any ordinary biography, it was written, more appropriately, compiled, by his ex wife and lifelong friend and mother of his children. The book takes us through a chronology of Zevon's life through the commentary of the people who interacted with Zevon, his friends, his confidantes, his family, his lovers, his colleagues and of course, Crystal Zevon. Throughout the book, all of the commentary is cleverly laced with entries from Zevon's personal journal - it really gives a full set of perspectives and really tells his story in all of it's detail - the good, the bad, the ugly and the very ugly. In fact, one of Warren's wishes left to Crystal was that she tell the story, "even the awful, ugly parts".

Reading this book brought me on a journey not just through the life of one man, but all of those that were along for the ride, no matter how far they traveled. I got to take that ride with them from the outside looking in, only I now got to hear what what happened on the inside. It wasn't always pretty but it was a human journey and shows that despite the glory of fame or the quest for it, we are all human and we make decisions, we must accept the consequences of those decisions, we ache, we love, we err, we want, we live and we die.

This is easily one of my favorite biographical books that I've ever read. In the weeks ahead I will dig back into the catalog of Zevon and listen to that music again knowing that I will hear it like I've never heard it before.

If you want to check out some Good Warren Zevon footage, check at "Warren Zevon Addict's" page on you tube, CLICK HERE to get there.

Kitchen Remodel - The First Nightmare

After I woke up this morning, in the light of the new day and the new perspective of slightly less anxiety over this remodel I sopped for a second in the kitchen and took a look and realized that something seemed wrong.

I started staring at the two cabinet bases for a while, the ones pictured in my last post, that I refer to how the "maple will really brighten things up" and it hit me, I ordered maple cabinets but realized these are not maple. As I got real close up, among the supplies/tools the contractors left behind for today were touch up pens and I noticed they said cherry - another gulp. I went out into the garage where all of the rest of the cabinetry is stored and looked at the manufacturer labels on the boxes - all cherry, no maple.


I placed a bunch of calls, sent a few email, got one email back and a quick call but either way, it's a bit of a nightmare. I am doing my very best to hold off an a full-on panic attack. My brain know that as much as this suck, as inconvenient as it is and will be, there are so many worse problems one can have, and many do. I wish that were enough to quell off the panic attack, maybe it will be. But for now - if you got a hug you might offer virtually (or in person), I'd appreciate it.

On a positive note, the back is feeling good.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Kitchen Remodel - Day 1 Results

Here's a glance at how things ended up after day one of project kitchen remodel. Demo complete, some foundation for new cabinets and the first two cabinets placed. That old stove is there as a guide, it leaves soon. To the left of the stove is a lazy susan type cabinet (Often curious about the expression lazy susan). The sink base sits next to the lazy susan; I'm most excited about that top piece that flips down and has a little storage thingy for sponges and the sort (instead of being a dummy drawer front).

Here's a closer up view, I think the maple will brighten up the place a bit.

Kitchen Remodel - Demo Shot

This shot is after most of the old cabinetry has been removed. They were pretty quick, to this stage took about an hour and a half.

I've been anxious all day but less as the day went on. I had some lower back spasms early this morning so I stood home from work. Of course I still had to chop away some ice outside so one of these guys doesn't take a header and get hurt (or sue me).

Kitchen Remodel - Before Shots

Here are the before shots taken just an hour or so before the contractors came to start work on the renovation.

In this first shot, to the left of the refrigerator, that closet is a pantry. Instead of demolishing that segment, I am leaving it in tact and will eventually replace the door with one that better matches the maple cabinetry that will be going in. 

The hood above the stove will be replaced with a microwave, The new stove has two ovens, including a convection feature (the microwave will have convection as well). All of the new appliances are stainless, which is all the rage. I personally am not in love with stainless but if I sell the house, it will make a difference.

Just look at that scalloped trim above the sink - ugh!
Not sure if you can see it here but around the point where the counter transitions from the dishwasher area to the peninsula at the left there is a crack; I call it the San Andreas fault.

The cabinet just to the left of the dishwasher provides access to the space to the right but it's really hard to access without basically crawling into the cabinet. In the new design, I have a cabinet being installed in reverse so that it opens on the other of the counter (picture below) - it will be at the left from the back of the peninsula and give easier accent to the space beside the dishwasher.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

You're Welcome Pet Peeves

One of my pet peeves at work is when I spend time working with someone or helping them and they don't say thank you. While it is my job to provide various services to my colleagues, I also work hard to go the extra mile and do the right thing. I don't think it's unreasonable that when I've helped them through something that they say a simple thank you, show a little freaking gratitude - it's not too much to ask.
In other news, we got hit with another blast of snow yesterday, much more than anyone expected. It's been a few years since we've has as much snow as we do now. At work, there are some piles of snow that are 6-8 feet tall. At home, I've been trying hard to keep up with it, especially since I have this ridiculous kitchen remodel beginning tomorrow and people are going to be coming in an out of my house (which makes me so ridiculously anxious).

I am deep into this book about Warren Zevon, I'll write a review here in a few days after I finish it but wow, what a wild story!

Another pet peeve, people who drive with snow on their car. I'm not talking just a slither but inches. I say if you've got more than an inch and a half to two inches of snow atop your vehicle that you should be stopped for a ticket. The dangers to everyone else on the road are immeasurable, I've seen it on the news and first hand. I know it's a pain in the ass but a few seconds of inconvenience may save a life.

One final pet peeve for this post, student who bring their young kids to school, especially those who are so young, they are incapable of sitting still or restraining themselves in any way for more than eleven seconds. As I write this, some jerk is so self absorbed in his school work that his very young boy is running willy nilly through the library, picking up the emergency phone, and making it hard for every other student to concentrate. The poor kid is just being a kid, and I totally understand the parental difficulty of child care sometimes but I'm sorry, if your kid is feisty and is causing a disturbance for everyone else, the right thing to do is to take your kid and leave, your child should be the priority.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

God Bless the Children

One of the harder parts of raising children is the increased awareness of other children in that age range and in particular, those who go through very difficult times. I look at my own childhood, and growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, I just never recall kids going through that kind of difficulty. I know of course there were touch childhoods but in today's world, it seems so much more intense and heart breaking. I wonder if perhaps it feels this way because I am a parent?

It's really hard sometimes to hear these stories and not really be ale to do something about it so much of the time.

Quickie (I Think) for Now

Since posting my crazy occurrence on valentine evening here and on FB, I have heard two more stories of late night door knocking by late deliveries. Mine was clearly the funniest since I was the only one who threw snowballs but all were definitely WTF moments.

Today is my mom's 89th birthday. I've written a number of tributes about her here and don't have the energy to do so at this moment. Suffice it to say, I miss her a lot and if they party in the afterlife, I hope she is having fun.

Still have Olympic fever, but last night had a really bad stomach thing. Thank God it went away, I was close to hitting up the ER, that's how painful it was. An odd combination of Tums and Pepto along with sipping seltzer and a few things I won't mention...along with a few hours sleep seemed to work it out.

It felt good to be able to help out my niece with something. She's such a great (I want to say kid here but she's 22) young lady and I am so proud of the woman she's grown to be.


Saturday, February 15, 2014

How to Fold a Fitted Sheet

I found this video a while ago and thought I posted it here. In fact, I may have but I couldn't find it. Regardless, here it is in its own post with it's own tag.

The moment I watched this I refolded all of my fitted sheets, it works!!!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Not My Valentine

If you are a FB friend, you read this already (if you read it when I posted it)

10:00 pm - Someone knocking on my front door - vigorously. This is pretty unusual so I take a peek before opening the door and see some dude with what looks like about a hundred red balloons. I have no idea what's up, I open the door and before I can say a word he says, "These are for you" and hands me a clipboard to sign.

He jets off to his van before I can tell him that it's 10pm and WTF! and I doubt that they were for me. I look at the envelope that housed the card and across it is the name CHRIS (in the ridiculous Comic Sans Font no less).

I really could not imagine who the heck would have sent me balloons, so with curiosity, I opened the card and it began..."My sweet Christine..." I almost peed myself and thought that before I have a fit of laughter, I better hail down that delivery guy who was just about to pull out of my driveway (one advantage of having a long driveway-though he was still sitting in his van for an almost creepy amount of time since 5 minutes had passed).

Long story long....I decided to throw a snowball at his rear window to get his attention instead of running on ice...he backed up, opened his window and said a curse word before I was able to communicate the error of his ways...he apologized and took back the balloons.

I wonder if Christine was expecting something from whomever sent them and was pissed for not getting anything by 10pm? I wonder if she'll call to apologize...they should be getting to her any second now.


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Book Review: You've Been Warned

The warning should be, skip over this book, it kinda sucks and I have plenty of others for you to read. I guess when you release as many books a James Patterson, there are bound to be clunkers every once in a while. Released in 2007, this was his 47th book, one of 6 released that year. I've read the 46 books that were released before this one and going on memory, this is the worst of the batch - only one I can recall not worth reading.

The book is billed as "psychological suspense" but never came off as anything but a story that might work for a cheesy Lifetime movie. None of the characters are strong, none of the devices are used effectively and absolutely nothing is believable about anything in this book.

I think the only redeeming quality of this book is that it is written the way that Patterson writes, so it reads quickly; at least you won't feel like you wasted too much time reading it.

Snow Day Today

I am speaking into my iPad in order to prepare this post, we shall see how many errors occur and how many I catch and correct.

Surprisingly, when I woke up I discovered that we had a snow day. Even more surprising, was when I look outside there was almost no accumulation of any kind. Now it would seem obvious that the call was made based on the future forecast for the day, but after so many poor calls, my confidence in the team that makes the calls at my school, well, just does not exist.

As I write this post nearly 4 hours later, still only 9:15 AM, there is definitely some snowfall and falling fast; I guess we'll have to wait and see where it all ends up.

Yesterday, in anticipation of this storm via the weather reports, almost nonstop throughout today every interaction with a colleague winds up in some quest to determine whether or not [no longer on iPad] we will have a snow day, if not, will we go home early, if so, what time. It gets real old, real fast.

Quite frankly, almost 100% of the time, I would rather go to work than have a snow day. I have to move the snow at my house, that is a lot of work and not in any way enjoyable.

Then, there are the complaints, the constant complaints. I sometimes even am guilty of the complaints and there is a time and place for a complaint here and there, it's not all unwarranted. However, there are some who complain with such anger that I question why they live where this type of weather is normal.

As I type this portion of the post, it is 12:42pm and I've had a pretty good day: watched a few hours of DVR'd Olympic coverage, read a good chunk of my book, social networked, worked out, showered and dressed, ate several meals and a snack, listened to music and podcasts and replied to student emails; I've managed to be productive and I feel pretty good. Looking outside, it's coming down fast an furious now and it's either very windy or I am having a stroke.

Y'all have fun!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Reconciliations: Billy Joel

I've made it pretty clear in this space that I'm mad at Billy Joel. I believe he has checked out and is just kind of milking it.

I've spent a lot of time focusing on the negatives, and they are there. It's hard for me to respect the way he's managed and presented his career to the public.

When he received the Kennedy Center Honors, I posted reasons why I thought he shouldn't get it, then rescinded those statements - sort of.

I felt I needed to go back and remember what it was about Billy Joel that captured me and so back in January, I began listening to the entire Billy Joel catalog. I've since listened to every damn thing he's released that I know of.

I remember what it is that I like so much and while I still hate the he bullshits about why he isn't writing or recording and feel like he's touring only for the cash...the fact is, as long as people want to see him, and as long as he's not ripping off his audiences by either super ridiculous ticket prices and/or short concerts, who the fuck am I to judge. I can feel however I feel but whatever he does he does - I can choose to go see him or not. In the end, I love his music and will continue to listen to it forever.

Sometimes, It's Not Good

I've talked about my "exercise streak", which as of today, is 1223 consecutive days. When most hear that, they are impressed and I guess there is something impressive about it but there is also something obsessive about it.

When I started, it was for a very specific reason. I had just been told I was pre-diabetic and I was definitely heavier than I wanted to be - it worked for me. The thing is, I know me well enough that if I didn't go for it every day, I'd have a hard time keeping up with it...resuming after a break in the action.

Shoot ahead a few years, I've lost my sense of balance, not literally, but balancing the workouts and the eating and all. So, while I have kept up the exercise, I've had to tone down the intensity because I've sustained some injuries and am trying to manage them without causing real problems.

I also had a bad stomach issue that took me away from my smoothie action and my diet in general has been considerably less controlled than it was. Of course, that means I've put a few pounds back on. Now the good news is that at least a couple of those pounds I think can be attributed to muscle, which is a good thing. However, only a few, and I know I need to carve a new path pretty soon - find some renewed direction so that I can get back on track. For now, I feel like I am sustaining and sort of maintaining but only on the edge.

I have a physical set for June. I would like to think that the nut inside me would want to get back into it so that I can be in better shape for the doctor. I know, nuts. I know that if the tests come back and show that my numbers are off in a bad way (cholesterol, BO, glucose), then I will get sad but also get back into it faster - but that is stupid.

My left knee hurts.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Winter Games

I've been a little addicted to watching these winter Olympics. I love the winter games, not so much the summer ones.

Love: Ski jumping, snow board stuff, speed skating (especially short track), singles figure skating.
Like: Bobsled, single person luge (two-person luge is creepy)
Intrigued by: Certain cross country ski events, especially the skiathalon - the last 5 minutes of those races were incredible,

Couldn't care less about: hockey, biathalon, curling

It blows my mind that a hundredth of a second can be so significant. I was watching the men's luge with my daughter the other night and less than a second separated first place from 23rd place - amazing.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Book Review: Crash and Burn

I happen to be an Artie Lange fan, I listened to just about all of his run on the Howard Stern Show, I've seen just about all of the movies he's made, seen his stand-up specials, read both of his books...I'm a fan. I think the mistake so many people might make as they pass this book in  the store or overlook it in any way is to think it can only be appreciated by a fan, by someone who knows who Artie Lange is; this couldn't be further from the truth.

I should warn you, this is a very dark book. One of the most amazing things about the quality of the writing is how you will find yourself laughing out loud, at times, busting a gut and while doing so, a brief moment of guilt might pass over you realizing that you are laughing at a book so filled with darkness. the guilt will only last a second before you recall this book was written by a comedian. Another thing this book will do is make you cry, that is, if you are a human being and have a soul.

More than anything else, Crash and Burn is a text book about addiction. this book will make you feel and it won't always be comfortable. I really believe everyone should read this, there is so much that can be learned.

I've always felt one of Artie's great gifts is his ability to tell a story and he does not disappoint in this book. I think the only part of the book I didn't like is that it is a true story. I so greatly wish that Lange did not have to wrestle with these demons but I am so happy to see that for now, he has them at bay and I hope more than anything, that he can do that for the long haul.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Reconciliations: Jay Leno

I hadn't watched Jay Leno in years except for the occasional time that I really wanted to see one of his guests. Before he was the host of The Tonight Show, Leno was known exclusively for being a stand-up comic, and a great one. I recall seeing him do spots of TV and also remember laughing both at his material and his unusual look.

I recall watching Carson with my dad, not often because he was on so late but on days before or during a school vacation and sometimes on Friday's, I was allowed to stay up. Eventually, I got old enough that I was allowed to stay up and then old enough to make my own decision to stay up. Carson hosted The Tonight Show for 30 years, from 1962 (before I was born), through 1992 (the year I turned 28).

When Leno was announced as the heir to the show, I had been a fan of David Letterman. I didn't know that I wanted Letterman to switch shows but when all of the hoopla over how Dave should have gotten that job started, I was kind of pissed at Leno. Mind you, I was only pissed at Leno because so many other people were, it seemed right and yes, I know that is stupid, but I am telling you how it was (I do stupid shit sometimes).

Regardless, I was curious as to how Leno would put his stamp on The Tonight Show and I was na├»ve at the time to the idea that he altered his style a bit and I don't even know if it's true other than I have heard this from listening to other stand up comics. It didn't matter, I thought he was fine at the time but did notice after a while that he did seem to "vanillafy" (I just made that word up) his work on that show playing to a more conservative audience while Letterman, Conan, and much later, Jimmy Kimmel, targeted a younger, hipper crowd.

As I said earlier, I just tuned out, only watching when there was someone special I wanted to see and I paid no mind. Then, there was the Conan thing. I won't elaborate here, you can Google it. I don't know why I got so offended and in hindsight, whether or not he was a dick really didn't affect me so much.

In the past month or so, I heard so many stories from comics and celebrities about how good a guy Jay Leno is. I watched his last show out of curiosity. In the end, I see no reason for me to harbor any ill will - it's just stupid. Either I watch him and am entertained and enjoy myself or I tune him out, that really is the extent of what my relationship with Jay Leno is.

I do hope that he doesn't pull any more crap and just moves on to whatever is next so that Jimmy Fallon can put his brand on The Tonight Show. I won't call myself a Jay Leno fan but I can be adult enough to not talk smack about someone I don't know. I won't jump on a band wagon that I don't know is running on truth.

In the end, it should be about entertainment.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Book Review: One Summer - America, 1927

I am a Bryson fan, I loved so many of his previous books, especially "A Walk in the Woods", which is just hysterical and brilliant.

In his "A Short History of Nearly Everything", Bryson offers what I heard others refer to as a "compendium of science for adults." It was a pretty exhaustive alternative to a textbook that I found educational, interesting and presented in a style that after reading many of his other writings, can only be attributed to him - which turned out to be what made it so wonderful.

When I heard that Bryson wrote a book about America in the 1920's, I was immediately drawn to the idea of reading it partly because I have had a fascination with that period in American history since taking a class called "The Jazz Age" in high school (props to my teacher at the time, Mr. Slow) and partly because I am a Bill Bryson fan and hadn't read him in a few years.

There is a lot of ground covered in this book as it focuses on the summer of 1927 but of course covers the surrounding years as they relate to the stories and people he speaks of.

This book was filled with a lot of interesting stuff and there were some wonderful moments of Bryson being Bryson, but it was long, the type face was smaller than I would have liked and as much as It pains me to say it, was just not as captivating overall as the other books I have read by him.

Among the covered are Charles Lindbergh, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Herbert Hoover, Calvin Coolidge, Al Capone, Al Jolson, the advent of Television and Film, the beginning of the stock market crash and more. It's not always an easy read but I don't regret reading it and would even encourage it if any of these subjects or the time period in general are of any interest to you.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Remember When...

...A consultant was a consultant and not someone attempting to cleverly hide their unemployment status?

...You had to get up off your ass to change the channel on the television; and this sometimes dictated what you were watching?

...Even when you did get up off your ass to change the channel on the television, you only had half a dozen or so choices?

...The cost of a concert ticket was the price of what we pay those losers at Ticketmaster (and such) in fees just for the privilege of purchasing the ticket?

...The news had prestige and integrity?

...You had those flash cubes on top of your camera that blinded you, but were super cool because they turned on their own and when you looked at the used flash, it seemed as if something very serious had to happen for your picture to be taken?

...You could take a walk with a friend, or sit down to a meal in a restaurant, and not be interrupted by a phone call?

It seems to me, and I think about this every once in a while, that while we often attribute advances in technology to making our lives easier, it more often seems that as the world around us becomes more complex, life itself is more complicated.

Is it possible that we could actually start to think about simplifying things?

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Potpourri for 1927 Alex

I am really sore right now. Unfortunately I didn't have to go to work today. However, the reason was a snow storm and a pretty good (or bad depending on your preference of how to use either word) one - this meant I worked anyway, and much harder than if at my job, moving snow.

I cleaned the whole shebang three times, trying to stay ahead of the accumulation and the eventual weighing down of the snow by water content. I did a good job - though I wonder where it's at for the morning...I did expect it to be adequate.

I'm reading the latest Bill Bryson book about the year 1927 in America. Interesting! Not as lively as his other books, all of which I enjoyed, but still good.

UPS ASShats! They are supposed to deliver something to me today and didn't because they claim the weather emergency conditions are beyond their control. I might consider being sympathetic if I didn't see half a dozen UPS trucks drive right in front of my house while I was out moving snow.

Here's the most amazing performance of "If I Were a Carpenter" ever; by the writer (Tim Hardin):

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

One More Thought on the Super Bowl, Bruno Mars and Yahooooooooo

I hadn't watched last year's super bowl and I think I even skipped the year before that. However, I've watched somewhere between 20 and 30 of the 43 Super Bowls played, a lot of them, and this one was right at the top of the list of the ones not worth watching (unless your are a Seahawks fan of course).

I have to give credit where it is due, the Seahawks came to play, clearly paid careful attention to who they were playing against and prepared perfectly. The Broncos looked like amateurs out there. If there was one saving grace to the Broncos, it was in the incredible display of class after the game by Peyton Manning.

Of the two stories I read, one speaks of how after dealing with the loss, the locker room, the press and so much more, Manning still took the time to sign autographs. Also, he actively sought out Seahawks CB Richard Sherman (who was a controversial figure since the the payoffs) to ask him how his ankle was doing. Sherman had to leave the game after injuring his ankle and despite the gravity of such a loss, Manning still reached out; what a truly inspiring man. On that day, after hearing of those two stories, Mr. Peyton Manning has certainly earned my respect as one of the finest professional athletes in the world; such a true demonstration of good sportsmanship and human kind.

Let's talk a bit about the half time show. I heard a lot of smack talk about Bruno Mars and quite frankly, I could not understand it. In his short career, the 28 year old Mars has done nothing but impress me, especially in the times I've seen him perform. As I had no doubt he would, he went on to give the only real great moment in the Super Bowl. For me, this was easily the best super bowl half time show since Bruce Springsteen in 2009 and maybe along with Springsteen, one of the two best in history; he was absolutely spectacular!
In totally unrelated news, I received word from Yahoo about a potential security issue and a strong suggestion to change my password. I don't know if you have a Yahoo account and if you do, if you received this warning and if so, actually changed your password. I am here to tell you that I did change my password and am suggesting you do the same.


Sunday, February 02, 2014

RIP Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Denver Broncos

Phillip Seymour Hoffman was a brilliant actor but it seems as if his demons won. I guess without a firm report, it's probably not a good idea to feed into the speculation. I guess without having confirmation yet I can still hope it wasn't an overdose. It's getting harder for me to give a crap about these assholes who have everything going for them and throw it all away with drugs. One thing is for sure, he is dead and I do hope his soul is at peace.

I was rooting for the Broncos in the Super Bowl. Mostly for Peyton Manning, a little for the head coach. Sadly, the team just didn't bring it on the field while the Seahawks so clearly did.

Nothing more to say.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

MEME: Saturday 9-I Gotta Feeling

Unfamiliar with the song this meme is based on?

1. What would make tonight a good, good night?
Almost anything would make it a better night, I am pretty bored this evening. Nothing could make it better than if I were hanging with the most important peeps I know.

2. In the song, he sings that he's got money and wants to "spend it up." How much cash is in your wallet right now?

3. The lyrics include "mazel tov," which means good luck or congratulations. What other Hebrew/Yiddish phrases do you know?
Zayt gesunt - which means cheers/good health.

4. The colorfully named Black Eyed Peas include Fergie (born Stacey Ferguson) and (William Adams) and Taboo (Jaime Gomez). If you could choose a stage name, what would it be?
Fergie. Oh, wait, that's taken. How about "Hee Dee Dee".

5. This song was crazy popular in Canada, debuting at #2 on the charts. Have you ever visited our neighbor to the north?
A couple of times. First time was in the late 1990's, I visited Toronto and Niagra Falls. A few years ago I visited Novia Scotia (Halifax, Prince Edward Island, Yarmouth).

6. When's the last time you laughed really hard?
Sometime in the last couple of weeks my daughter and I were hanging out and we both started laughing really hard, I just don't recall what we were laughing at, which makes it even more fun!
7. Who received the last text you sent?
My boss.

8. Which sounds like more fun -- skiing or skating
Skating. Nothing about skiing sounds fun to me.

9. Thinking of sports, are you looking forward to The Super Bowl?
Yes. Though I wish my Patriots were playing, I am rooting for Peyton Manning. On paper, it should be a really good game - I hope it is.