Category Archives: Musings

Oh Joy. The 80s Live On…


Today’s Music: Phil Collins – In The Air Tonight
*Note on Today’s Music: Phil Collins? And Miami Vice??? Don’t get more 80s than that!

Up on the Concert Log/Music link at the top, you can see the quick mini review of Fitz and the Tantrums at Irving Plaza Sunday night.
They were fantastic.
But that’s not what I want to talk about today.

There were two opening acts. The first was Ivy Levan, who, I’m sorry to say, we missed. She only did a twenty minute set, and dinner was too good to rush (duck breast! braised short ribs! warm lava cake!).

My hair is richer than silly old lava cake.

My hair is richer than silly old lava cake.


We got there in time for the second act, and that’s the lead in to today’s post.
Ahem…

THE 80’s ARE OVER!!!

I’ve seen Duran Duran. They weren’t bad, and Rio has surprising legs this far down the road.
I’ve seen Depeche Mode, and while they aren’t my cup of tea (industrial angst? Really?), they did put on a good show.
I’ve seen Kiss, Psychedelic Furs, hell, I’ve even seen Heart and Huey Lewis and the News, and enjoyed them.
All in the last decade.

And a lot of 80s music is fun. In small doses, even the syrupy stuff is nice.
But I’ve never seen one band encompass everything wrong with 80s music in one shot.
Until last night.

Their name is Hearts. I haven’t been able to find out anything about them online at all.
And while some may think I’ve been letting this one fester under my skin until I could write this down, fortunately I have “of the moment” proof, courtesy of twitter.
I’m not sure what burned me about this band. I think it was the fact that there was nothing original. Every riff, every trope, every move was taken from bands that did it earlier, smoother, better.
I felt like I was watching a cheap imitation of something that had earned its place in our culture, and doing a poor job of it.
So here now, are the as-it-happened tweets of myself and TMWGITU under her twitter handle @FredWallaby:
Tweet0

Tweet01

Tweet02

Tweet03

Tweet04

Tweet05

Tweet06

Tweet07

Tweet08

Tweet09

Tweet13

Tweet14

Tweet15

Tweet17

I hope this suitably expresses how god-awfully 80s this band was.
If not, I’ll see if I can’t get Phil Collins to lay down a track to describe it.
As soon as Marty McFly brings his synthesizer sustain pedal back in the DeLorean.

Hey, Lay off, dude! I owe my career to the 80s.  And feathered hair.

Hey, Lay off Dude! I owe my career to the 80s.
And feathered hair.

Intro To A Blogger – My Beautiful Things


Today’s Music: Tori Amos – Take To The Sky
Note on Today’s Music: With the subject matter, you’d think I’d be inclined to use David Bowie – Suffragette City.
No. It’s anot appropriate here.
And David Bowie sucks.

I watched Wendy Davis, Texas state Senator on a live stream the other night.
For about eleven hours, she stood and filibustered a bill to restrict abortion rights in Texas.
I caught a documentary about the doomed Space Shuttle Challenger, carrying Sally Ride, the first American Woman in space.
I was doing some reading and came across something on Carrie Nation (not a favorite of mine), who was a big mover in the Temperance Movement that led to Prohibition after her death.

Be impressed or annoyed, but there’s no denying that these women showed the best (and most annoying) of humankind. And to think that around the world, there was a time when they didn’t even have the vote.

My Beautiful Things

My Beautiful Things


My Beautiful Things is a blogger who’s Great Grandmother was a suffragette in England. Her ancestor lives on in MBT’s Suffragette Garden.
She’s primarily a photo blogger. Her text gives context to the photos, and brief descriptions to make them a little clearer.
I’m not sure when I started following, or why (I’m actually kind of crass in real life, so I’m as surprised as you that I follow a tasteful, well presented photo blog), but I’m glad I did.
MBT just saw the 100th anniversary of a walk her Great Grandmother participated in – a Suffragette walk. She asked if I could lend some space to publicize it a bit, and I was more than happy to agree.
She recently took part in a commemoration of that walk, and took some great pictures!
She isn’t just about that one cause though. She will also spend time updating us on what her grandkids are up to, even as she celebrates what her great grandmother and her peers achieved.
And, as the anniversary of the Great Suffragette Pilgrimage was just a couple of days ago, MBT is inordinately proud! And fortunately, she had her camera with her.

So at some point,take a moment if you’re willing to. Pause and admire, and recognize, and thank incredible women for what they’ve done for the world. And then stop by My Beautiful Things and say hi.
Her connection with history is alive, her grandkids are beautiful, and her pictures are magnificent.
And she’s one of the nicest people I’ve been privileged to hang out with here in the sphere!

The Unbearable Lightness of Giving. (or Karma? Meh.)


Today’s Music: Shawn Colvin – All Fall Down

So this weekend, my girl and I spent a day volunteering for Sandy recovery.
We showed up at a church at 520 Clinton Ave in Brooklyn to lend a hand.

It only looks like a warm cozy environment.

We get there and spend 15 minutes waiting to sign in. We write our names on a piece of tape and stick it to our jackets. (The registration is so that we can be on the mailing list. Glad we weren’t wasting time…)
We go into the pen where we are to wait for the volunteer orientation, and we have a chance to look over the place.
Wow!
Towers of clothes, water, supplies, tools. Boxes of gear needed to clean up affected areas and give necessities to those that need them.
The entire operation was staffed by volunteers, and looked like a drunk walking – the rear foot constantly throwing the body off balance, the front foot catching it just in time, and repeat.

This is the inside of the church.


In fact, what I was most surprised by is how organized they were, and how people actually seemed to be in charge. Past volunteer experiences seemed to be more along the lines of “show up, and if you see something that needs to be done, do it”.
That seems to work well enough, since people that show up do want to help, and anyone that survives the turmoil for an hour or two becomes defacto leader until they move on and someone else takes over.
But it was nice to see an overall plan being implemented.

So after 5 minutes of sitting waiting for orientation, I learned two things:
– While I try to be open minded and not judge people on appearances, it’s very hard with hipsters.
– Especially when said hipster gets me to do something I’m not particularly keen on, and then offers encouragement wrapped around the word “jam” for the next 10 minutes.

Sitting in a chair with about 6 other people, groovy hipster comes over and shouts “Does anyone have cooking experience? We need help in the kitchen”.
Picture a simultaneously scowling and sneering El Guapo raising his hand.
While I cooked for a living for many years, it is not high on my list of fun things to do in a production environment. My girl and I had been hoping to lend a hand at the Rockaway Beach area. We surf there, and really like the neighborhood, so this would be a good “give back” kind of thing.
But this was also volunteering. And if they needed cooks…
So I said sure, gave a quick run down of my experience, and we follow the guy. Who must have seen my expression. Because i was subject to a litany of encouraging phrases along the lines of “It’ll be cool. You can make the cooking your Jam.” “Once you start, you know, you’ll be in your Jam.” “After your Jam is going, it’ll be great”.

Gee, and to think I’m not such a fan of people. Meh.

So my girl and I and one other go down to the kitchen. Sal is doing a bang up job as the chef, cranking out hundreds of meals from a small kitchen, with a 6 burner stove and 2 shelf oven to work with.
This isn’t gruel or slop. This is good food made almost entirely with donated ingredients.
But he’s weeded (ridiculously busy). And that small kitchen is hot.
Sal (after a moment of our recruiter trying to get his attention): EVERYONE WHO ISN’T COOKING SOMETHING RIGHT NOW, GET. OUT.”

Understood. He isn’t being a jerk. He’s trying to get a job done. Having been on both sides of that when cooking, I know where he’s coming from, and fade back into the small auditorium outside the kitchen, now a massive prep kitchen.
And start peeling a literal ton of vegetables.

The highlights:
– Try and donate potatoes larger than a fat thumb. Seriously. Almost more trouble than it’s worth to peel them.
– Try to donate carrots that aren’t flaccid. Also easier to peel.
– Donate peelers. Really. Having thirty isn’t helpful when twenty five of them are junk.
– Don’t slice your finger while opening pumpkins.

It was more embarrassing than painful…

– Listen to the conversations around you. At one point, Phil (a restaurateur from Connecticut) asked Heather (a Sandy regular from Vermont) about composting.
Heather launched into a detailed five minute explanataion of why they weren’t composting, how terrible it was that organic trash had been mixed with non-organic, the difficulties of finding compost pickup in Brooklyn, and how wonderful composting is.
Phil listened, and when Heather wound down, said “Oh, I don’t really care.” and went back to what he was doing.

Took me about a minute to stop laughing.

In the end, it really was a productive day. While it wasn’t my first choice of how to spend it, it was a useful necessary task. The people that will be getting the food will be very happy they did.
But next time, I think I’ll try to get in the group that’s clearing debris by the beach.

Oh, and the only sad part? After all that, I still didn’t win the lottery Saturday night.

Karma?
Meh.

(But in all seriousness, the organizers and volunteers all seemed to be working, and it was for a good cause for people that still do need the help.)

Friday Foolishness – Football Edition


Today’s Music: Snooks Eaglin – Sleepwalk
Days Til Spring: 44
(a note on today’s music – I absolutely love this song. I hope you do to. Special thanks to Nick Spitzer of American Routes on NPR for finally giving me the name!)

Weather Terrorist.


Well, here we are again. Another week, wasted at work…
Fortunately, I had the blogosphere to keep me company.
Sandylikeabeach posted a beautiful Happy Birthday message to her dad.
Merilee Mitchell alerted me to some sad goings on in a beautiful spot in the desert
Apparently, someone gave Eric Murtaugh room to do a guest post,
and Alex Autin made me talk like Steve Irwin. Fortunately, it wasn’t out loud.

You guys, and everyone else, are part of what I look forward to every week!

Last week, Guapola wanted to know about you and the State of the Union.
Here’s what you said (Commments in italics are mine)
it’s time to invest in a decent Blu-ray & enjoy my starwars boxset! Kanerva 🙂
(Ah, Star Wars. Another heart warming story of the relationship between citizens and the government…)
of the state of the crapper in my BR that is clogged again and useless lizziec
(An excellent political metaphor, lizziecracked!)
‘tics is a four-letter word, but politicians are too stupid to spell it. Red.
(I think they can only spell words with the letter “$” in it, Red…)
that they opposing party does not deserve a televised response time.
(Sometimes, I’m not sure the party in power deserves the television time.)
of sleeping through it.
(WE HAVE A WINNER!!!!)
That I had something more important to do in the other room. Like the dishes.
(Which is why, my fellow Americans, in the next election, I promise you, a dishwasher in every house!)
We have better writers on WordPress. – The Hobbler
(And you are one of them, Hobbler!)
being Canadian, I have to ask, What is the state of the union?
(Being American, I have to answer, not that good.)
What State of the Union?
(Are you Canadian too?)
That I damn well better start working for Obama again. The alternatives suck
(I really hope we don’t find out how badly they really do suck come November!)
alcohol can make anything entertaining. theworldaccordingtoscarp
(Entertaining. Or sad. So very, very sad…)
I try not to think too much. It hurts…
(They make a pill for that! Several, in fact…)
that I should watch it but got highlights from comedians on Twitter instead.
(That and The Daily Show are where I get most of my news from!)
The States of America, for this country is not United. – Rich Crete
(Dude, you are totally killing my buzz)
I’ve never heard of a state called ‘The Union’. Are there 51 states now? GingrSnaap
(Yes, it’s where the Veggies from VeggieTales live.)
American TV ran out of programming. Thank God for the Canadian channels. John Phillips
(What, you don’t love the Kardashians?!?)
State of the Union? Was there a State of the Union? Alex Autin….things I LOVE!
(In name only, Alex…)
There was a State of Union?? I think I slept through it. TEXT
(As did several senators, I believe…)
i LOVE Boehner’s new shade of orange barkinginthedark
(It’s like he’s diseased and irradiated!)

However, it seemed many of you just watched the event to Marvel at the size of Obama’s ears.
Hey, there are worse ways to spend an evening, I suppose…
And for those keeping track, there were 2 votes for BBRRRAAAIIINNNSSSSS!!! Thanks for keeping the dream alive!

This week (keeping with our topical polls of late), we turn our eyes to that game of games, the Superbowl!


Vote early, vote often! Poll closes next Thursday at 1159 pm.
See you next week. And to keep you busy until then, 2 things you’ve probably all seen before, but are still fun:
Matrix Ping Pong!!!

and Bill Murrays speech from the end of Groundhog Day.

Have a good weekend, see you ’round the bend…

Looking Sideways. And a Haiku!


Today’s Music: Iron Maiden – Run To The Hills
Days Til Spring: 57

From the inestimable Gary Larson. Please don't sue me.

Says it all... (From the inestimable Gary Larson. Please don't sue me.)

Wow. this is the 100th time I’m setting virtual pen to pixelated paper.
I don’t really have any ideas for this momentous occasion. Really, the only thing I have special for it is at the bottom, in the closing remark, and that isn’t even my idea. It came from the comments section of this post.

Mostly right now, I’m feeling more in tune with the post of another blogger, Sandylikeabeach in her post about prayer. (Though i imagine I could draw some excellent allegories from Hotspur too, but it would probably just go to his head.)
But that’s just because it was an exceptionally long day. This too shall pass I guess…

So, 100 down, god-knows-how-many to go. So far I’ve enjoyed myself. I’ve met some great bloggers, had some deeper conversations than I ever thought I would online, and mostly just amused the hell out of myself.
There have been limericks and polls (see the last two categories in the header), there’s been music every day (some of it good). There’s been some serious stuff, and a whole lot of silliness.
A nice blend, methinks. And if nothing else, a few days a week, I actually have to organize my thoughts. Doesn’t actually stay organized when it runs through my fingers, but still, it’s the thought that counts. (See what I did there?)

So stay tuned, keep the volume turned up, and put in as much or as little effort as you like as you browse.
Let me know what you’re listening to, or what concerts you’re going to see (I’ve updated the Concert Log page above), and what books you’re reading. I read all the comments (even the one that just said pornbeer.com and the other, posted by user1, I am the worlds best user!) and answer them too!
So, a bit of looking back. Some looking forwards. Mostly (and as always), just looking sideways…

And as promised, to commemorate the inanity of commemorating my 100th post, I give you
The Gopher Haiku
Did he ever get the girl?
The shorts look ridiculous
Welcome to Washington, Congressman.

PLUS!!! An older Dick Shawn and Bobby Short on the same cruise?!?

You’re welcome. Look on the bright side – the next 100 can’t get any worse!
(hehehe)

There Goes The Neighborhood…


Today’s Music: AC/DC – Long Way to the Top

I read a whole bunch of blogs. I started reading them when I started mine. There are some on food and writing, there are blogs on travel and music, there are blogs of folks just venting their spleens, or taking the mickey out of us all.
They are written by people with a similar perspective to mine, from different perspectives, the light, the right, the straight, narrow, gay, religious, what have you.

And I love every last one of them.
I think All of them are from a unique point of view, and all of them have something to say. Not that I don’t, but frequently, “Being Pointless On The Internet” is not just a tagline around here, it’s a way of life.

So imagine my shock when I was nominated for a Versatile Blogger award by 2 bloggers whose sites I enjoy a lot.

MINE!!!!! (bwahaha)

But with nifty logos come great responsibilities, and this one carries the following:
* Nominate 15 fellow bloggers.
* Inform the bloggers of their nomination.
* Share 7 random things about yourself.
* Thank the blogger who nominated you.
* Add the Versatile Blog Award logo on your blog post.

But, hey, look at that! I’ve already finished the last one on the list. Sure it’s out of order, but for those who know me, the fact that I got any of the requirements done will come as a shock.

Next, and more importantly, I’d like to direct you to the two bloggers who nominated me (yes, I’ve got the comments to prove they did):

First off, The Budget Cooking Blog. Dan McCullough not only knows how to cook, he knows how to explain a recipe. Which is kind of wasted on me, as I’m the guy who makes inedible cheese fondue soup.
Dan makes it look easy, and taste great.
And if you live in Chicago, he’ll tell you where to go for the food bargains. He’ll do this even if you don’t live in Chicago, but you’ll have to fly there so it might not be so cost effective.

The other nominator, in whose reflected glory I bask, is Pursuit of Happiness. Reading her blog is like hanging out in a good friends kitchen. I’m only sorry that I don’t have USB Scent Cannons (sharper Image, $79.95) for my PC to add those delicious cooking smells when I’m reading it.

Pick up the pace, buddy...I've got stuff to do...

I’m also supposed to send you to 15 other sites who I think are deserving of the Versatile Blogger award. There are some I won’t add on the list because they’ve already been nominated, and I don’t want them to be bombarded with these things. They lose their shine if you do that.
So here’s my list of nominees: (by the way, being nominated for a Versatile Blogger Award means you’ve won it. So Congratulations!)

Unintimidated By Convention In addition to his excellent entries, he is the keeper of the Bozo list. He also manages to keep going in the real world and prove it can be done.

Is It Possible To See It All. It’s a running commentary on Travel, Music and Canada. Now I may have said some mean things before to Canada, but his blog makes up for most of it. Go for the music, stay for the travel.

Call Me Quirky. This site is a lot of fun. A stream of consciousness, plus the sight that introduced me to the phrase Slutty McSluttums, and also to the concept of salad dressing in a hat. You can’t buy entertainment like that folks. At least not with a credit card under your real name. Or so I’ve been told.

The Flame Inside. She wrote a post that moved me, and that moved others. And sometimes, she’s really funny too. Quite versatile.

Linda Vernon Humor. Lately she has opined on Pottery Barn catalogs and ’30s cookbook fiction. Really.

Upsidedown Pineapple. She doesn’t post as often as I’d like (I’d like daily please), but I find her hilarious. And she’s got a mouth like a drunken sailor.

Old Dog New Tits. She started off contemplating a breast job and went to dealing with a lung mass with a lot of honesty and humor. And naked mole rats. You can find hte mole rat entries on your own, because I ain’t gonna encourage that kind of behavior. Blech.

Elle Tea Emm. She writes great poetry.

YoYo-Dyne Propulsion Systems: Reno Division. She’s been blogging for years, and it is a wonderful collection of posts form the ordinary to the sublime covering the gamut of the human condition. (Yes, gamut.). Even if she wasn’t a fantastic blogger (which she is), she definitely deserves it just for finding this. And she knows classic movies and music!

Whitney’s Soup. Because she knows how to answer the dreaded How Are You? at work, and how to act like a grownup.

Cannabalistic Nerd. Because where else will you find this?

Magsx2. Great videos, and every friday, a stack of jokes! Just pick any post from his site – they are all wonderful, like this or this.

Goradde. He captions pictures. They.Are. Hilarious.

Ashley Jillian. She’s probably gotten this like 9 times. Or should have. Really, where else are you going to get Cat Plates!!!

Bio Scientific Editing. Why a blog that strays from the silliness? Well, because thanks to her, i know a brief history of the U.S. medical profession. And I now know how to use a
light microscope.

Top of the world, ma!

And now 7 random things about me:
– I once ran under a moving truck because I didn’t fell like waiting for it to pass.
– I can say my pencil is green in 5 languages (thanks for the Finnish translation, Kanerva!)
– I know how to correctly use both a 20 sided die and a 44 Magnum.
– I was (a long time ago in a previous life) selected as my local bars’ best drunk driver.
– My current ear piercing is the fourth time I’ve had it done. It’s also the first time it hasn’t gotten infected, the first time it was done by a pro, and the first time I got one and wasn’t drunk. (I just have one – the previous three were all allowed to close as part of the healing).
– I make Kick. Ass. Whipcream.
– I expect my last word before I depart will be Oops. And I’m really curious what the situation will be. (But I can happily wait to find out!)

So there it is. I blog. I’m Versatile. Woohoo!
For all those blogs I read but didn’t nominate, let’s just say I’m saving your sites for myself. Because you won’t respond to my comments if you get too popular. Or if you get a restraining order…

So thanks again to Dan and Sush. Despite the flippancy,I really do appreciate it.

Is he done yet? Sheesh, next time just mail the award..


Don’t worry, I won’t let this go to my head…much!

The Uncertainty Principle


Today’s Music: They Might Be Giants – Particle Man

The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle refers to measuring the position and speed of tiny particles in the quantum physics world. It states that the more precisely one property is measured, the less precisely the other can be controlled, determined, or known.
For those of you expecting a waggish post relating to why I always lose socks in the laundry, or why I can never find my keys, sorry to disappoint. While those are both interesting topics deserving of further attention, I’m actually going to stick with physics here.

I’m not a scientist. My math skills are adequate but unimpressive. But science, and quantum physics in particular fascinate me. The search for an explanation of the universe, from it’s largest phenomena to it’s smallest appeals to the tinkerer in me.
And while I knew what the Uncertainty Principle said, I never quite grasped the meaning.
Finally, someone explained it to me in a way I could understand.

It's not really there...

Right now, you’re able to see this because photons (light particles) are bouncing off whatever screen you’re looking at and reflecting onto your eyes.

Now think about the size of a photon vs. the size of your screen. there’s no comparison. Your screen is bombarded by photons, but because of the size difference, the constant barrage makes no difference.

Now shrink it down. Say to the size of an electron.

Objects on your monitor are MUCH smaller than they appear.

The photon and the electron are not that dramatically different in size. In fact, they are close enough, that the momentum of the photon that bounces off the electron is enough to move the electron, like you being bumped in a crowd during, say, a rush hour train commute.

So, the Uncertainty Principle (simplified) says you can either know the Speed of the electron OR it’s Position.
If I figure out the speed of the electron, I’ve done this by bombarding it with photons. How fast the electron passes through the photons tells me how fast it’s moving.
But since each photon that hits the electron changes it’s position a bit, I don’t know exactly where it is. To note it’s speed more accurately, I have to hit it with more photons, bouncing it around even more.

Going the other way, say I want to know where the electron is. So I tap it with just one photon. That will give the least bounce against the electron. So now I know where it is.
But because there is only the one (or other very small amount) of photons, I can’t track the speed of the photon.
I can only know one or the other.
Still with me? No shame if you’re not. Honestly, I first heard of the Uncertainty Principle in high school, and it’s taken me to the start of middle-age before I understood what it meant.

The explanation that cleared it up for me came from Dr. Brian Greene’s eminently readable The Elegant Universe. Seriously, there is very little math in the book, and some of the analogies are hilarious.

So, back to the Principle.
Since only one condition (speed or position) can be known at a time, only the probability of the other can be measured. If the speed is known, then I can only say that the electron is between a probably range here and there.
If I know where the electron is, I can only say it’s going between a probable range of this fast and that fast.

Albert Einstein (the guy with the hair) famously said “God does not play dice with the universe”. He never agreed with the uncertainty principle because it relied on probability instead of a solid “it’s going this fast, and it’s here”.

Do I look uncertain to you?!?

Now, all these years later, I finally have some idea of what the hell he’s talking about.
How cool is that?

****EDIT – If anyone sees anything wrong in the above, please correct me in the comments and I’ll update the post!!!  Thanks.