Tuesday, August 31, 2010

August, die she must

Another month is about to end and with it I am watching summer slowly wind down. We’ve finally experienced a break in the 100 degree temps we’ve been dealing with most of the summer and we’ll see lows in the 50’s over the weekend. I’ll be taking down our super-cheapo pool Saturday and doing some mowing since the high is supposed to be a nice and cool 82.

I’ve really cut back on my writing here lately and that is due to how busy I’ve been. Between work and home stuff, there has not been a lot of time to write and when there has been time to write there have not been many clear thoughts to write about. Everything seems jumbled right now. I’m trying to visit my parents a bit more lately and get some stuff done at their house. Between that, our house and stuff going on, and things hopping at work, it’s hard to keep all of the to-do’s in order. By the time I get to the end of the evening, I have major computer fatigue and find myself sitting mindlessly in front of the TV more than I would like.

I’m going to recharge the brain for a day or two before I pop back up on here. There is so much to write about and I’ll leave it temporarily to the experts on such topics like the New York Times and TMZ.

Hopefully, I’ll be back on Friday with a new and exciting update.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Saturday preview

Why not write about Saturday at the start of the day instead of waiting until the end? What do I hope to do today?

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  • Relive the good ‘ol days. Fire up Retro Lightning 1979 at http://lightning100.com starting at 8AM central. Yes, if I knew then what I know now I just might have packed up my Underoos and taken the first Greyhound out of town!
  • Have the kids get up at a decent time so we can head down to Chick-Fil-A and use this Chick-n-Mini’s coupon I have since it expires today.

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  • Take my Fisher 19” television to Best Buy for recycling. Made in 1991, it recently developed lines across the bottom that is a symptom of “picture tube going-out-icus” syndrome. Like my cars, I run my TV until the end.
  • Take the kids to Target and say I am doing so because they want to look at stuff when really I am doing it so I can go to Starbucks on the way out. Shame on me.
  • Jump in the above-ground super cheapo pool one last time this afternoon while the water is still warm enough to get in. It’s funny how we go directly from burning hot to just cool enough at night to make the pool useless with no warning whatsoever.
  • Avoid anything remotely resembling housework.
  • Wash the cars for the first time in a month. I’ve been slacking.

That’s quite a bit for a Saturday. I hope to get in some reading (I may have to lock myself in the bathroom with a box of cupcakes to accomplish that) and maybe even catch up a little bit on the shows on the DVR. Of course, the kids will probably suck me in to a game on the Wii.

That’s Saturday – as predicted at 6:52AM.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thursday Music Flashback: Journey

Until tonight, I didn’t realize there were a whole group of remakes of the Journey video “Separate Ways” floating around.

Here is the most recent one.

Here is the original. Yes, it looks cheesy now but it didn’t in 1983. I can certainly relate.

Obviously it is impossible to make playing invisible instruments look cool.

fake

Monday, August 23, 2010

Gadgets

My 3rd Zune arrived today.

The Zune HD is actually a birthday gift from my mother who has seen my original big brown brick Zune (that I got the day after Thanksgiving 2007 for $99) over and over and wanted to surprise me this year with something obviously cooler than the pants or gift card that I usually get. She even got on the internet and ordered it herself with an inscription and the whole bit.

My 2 older Zunes still work but after many airplane flights and rental cars, my reliable brown Zune has started rebooting itself and I even hear the hard drive inside making noise every now and then. It’s done quite well considering it is used almost daily thanks to my podcast habit.

So, how does the Zune HD compare to my wife’s iPod Touch? To me, there is no comparison. I am more of a music person than an app person and the navigation through songs and podcasts is much easier with the Zune HD. The interface is also quite an improvement over the older models. The few apps it does have are pretty cool – bowling almost reminds me of Wii Bowling. My biggest surprise is how much better HD Radio sounds than regular FM. I thought HD was a gimmick but you can definitely tell the difference between HD stations and non-HD stations. I think traveling with the Zune HD is going to be quite a treat. Thanks, Mom!

In other gadget news, my eBay birthday gift from last year, my Sony Reader, is back out and being used again after I almost gave up on it and put it back on eBay.

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I had a very tough time embracing the e-book technology. I think it’s partly because I work with computers all day that I don’t want to have to deal with one at night and on weekends. But, my desire to remove some clutter has made me look to the Sony Reader for some of my light, throwaway reads where I don’t want to pay full price for a book that will just end up being traded at the used bookstore or given away. Right now I am reading “One Day” by David Nicholls. I guess Nick Hornby’s blog endorsement really worked. I’ll let you know how it turns out later on. Next up in the Sony Reader - “That Old Cape Magic” by Richard Russo.

So, I’ve got two gadgets to keep me occupied as I return to the road a bit during the month of September.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Fair

We made our annual trip to the Wilson County Fair last night and so did just about everyone else. After all of the rain this week, everyone took advantage of a dry night to get out and eat some of the most unhealthy food known to man.

My feet still hurt and my wallet is empty but it was fun. And, I survived the “Wheel of Death” again this year. Good times.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Rainy Wednesday

I had a great new backyard fountain for a while today.

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This is what you have to do when the pool fills up so high that it almost collapses. We had a bit over 3 inches of rain early this morning.

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By this afternoon, the gauge was a hair shy of overflowing the top (5 inches). So far, the predicted additional 3 to 4 inches have not arrived and we’re hoping they don’t. If school is closed tomorrow, I might have to pull out my last remaining hair.

That’s how today went. Work – listen to the pouring rain – work.

Tomorrow night, we will be knee deep in funnel cake and sweet corn at the fair if Mother Nature decides to cooperate. I can smell the grease already. Yum.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Cyber Purge

4square badge x

I’ve spent a lot of time eliminating unused objects around the house so it was just a matter of time before I started looking at all of the junk accumulating on my computer and my cell phone. Just because it doesn’t exist in some physical form doesn’t mean that it is not junk and the computer junk has a way of becoming a lot more time consuming than piles of junk sitting around the house. Foursquare was the most obvious thing to get rid of first.

I had “checked in” a lot across several states. But, when I am not traveling I end up just going to the same places again and again. In fact, I make trips to Walgreens, Walmart, and Baskin Robbins with almost depressing regularity. When I became the mayor of Walmart recently, I knew that this was not a feat I was too proud of. I consider going shopping a chore and not something I need to leave a record of for future generations.

So, last night, the Foursquare profile and the accompanying Twitter feed were both deleted. Then, I happily deleted the Foursquare app from my Blackberry. No more fumbling for the phone when I run by McDonalds for a Mocha Latte.

I also finally stopped posting my blog to my wall in Facebook. This means I will hardly ever update Facebook and that is ok. I would rather keep the writing hobby separate from Facebook and I really don’t want to force my writing on everyone which is exactly what posting my blog to Facebook felt like.

In totally unrelated news, we had another rainy day here. We almost went to the fair tonight but will shoot for Thursday instead. With the ragweed in full bloom, I’ve been having quite a time with allergies so I’m glad we stayed in tonight. I’ll have to blend up a Benadryl shake to drink Thursday night.

And that is all I’ve got for Tuesday. I’m going to curl up with a good e-book and drift off to sleep (I hope).

Friday, August 13, 2010

Movies: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

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I have been looking forward to the Scott Pilgrim movie for quite a while and it is quite the experience. Having read all 6 books (they are graphic novels – not comic books!), I was really wondering how they would pack everything in to two hours. How they did it was more fighting and less story. There are certain scenes in the film that really are true to the books and there are also twists and turns that are not as true to the books but had to be done to make everything resolve in one movie. I can only imagine the challenge of getting over 1000 pages of material pared down into a movie and what makes it more difficult is this being a graphic novel series means all of it is already basically storyboarded and all of the readers have a visual expectation.

From the opening Universal Pictures logo and theme converted into 8 bit sound and graphics to the pee meter (you’ll just have to see it) to the many fight scenes, you get the feeling that you are part of one big video game. The fights are nothing short of amazing and the movie is visually a sight to see. This is one that could have made full use of 3-D.

However, I enjoy the Scott Pilgrim books not as much for the fighting (and there is only a fight every 100 pages or so in the books) as I do the story. The cast here is impressive but we don’t see near enough of them or learn as much about them as I had hoped for. For example, we really don’t get a real understanding of why Ramona has turned out like she has in the movie. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is a great Ramona but the story has her staring into the camera or out in the distance too much. I had little buy-in with the movie version of her character. I felt like we learned a lot more about Scott Pilgrim’s relationship with ex-girlfriend Knives Chau (Ellen Wong) more than his current relationship with Ramona.

The 3 people playing the band members (Sex Bob-omb) should have gotten a bit more attention because they are fabulous. Mark Webber as “the talent” Stephen Stills and Alison Pill as Kim Pine should have gotten more time to shine. We could have used more of the background story with Kim Pine. Her “ex” relationship with Scott plays a major role in the books but is basically glossed over in the movie. I think Audrey Plaza’s role as Julie is more prominent to draw in laughs and this takes away time we could be connecting with many of the other characters.

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It’s just a matter of trying to jam everything into a very little amount of time. I am not a big action movie fan and the fighting got old for me at times especially when Ramona is portrayed as sort of a sad and helpless person. If you never read the books, there are times in the movie where you would wonder why exactly he is fighting for her since she seems so indifferent. But, when the movie goes back to the story and the fists are put away, there are many glimmers of brilliance from the great cast. The snowy backdrop of Toronto makes for some gorgeous cinematography. Also, I bought the soundtrack yesterday and it is great. The music is a major player in the movie and it was interesting seeing what they were going to play when.

I think the movie is a winner. The majority of people will feed off of the action but it was just a bit tiring to me. Maybe this is because I am old! It is original and fun and I’m sure I will buy the DVD. Be on the lookout for a little unexpected tribute to Seinfeld in there also.

Looks like I picked the wrong week to…

Ah, fond memories of Airplane!

It’s Friday already – just after midnight. Looks like I picked the wrong week to start drinking so much coffee. But, I finally get to go see Scott Pilgrim on the big screen in just 19 hours and that’s all I need to get me through the last day of the work week. I hope the movie lives up to the 6 books and the hype and the over-inflated ticket prices.

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Sunday, August 8, 2010

Weekend

Just another typical weekend around here.

The dog hid again and waited for someone to lick. I’ve fallen for that once and I will not fall for it again.

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After the tax free blitz, we had some Steak ‘n Shake and tried to blend in with the employees. How much older do you think Sara will get before she says no to putting on stupid hats in front of a camera?

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Finally, I made Lindsay a trophy and gave it to her. This one is for not beating up any of her classmates last week.

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Now we have another week of 100+ degree weather to deal with. This weekend is not even over and I am already ready for the next one.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

CNN2?

Here’s a look back into the archives today at the beginning of CNN Headline News. It was called CNN2 when it debuted at midnight on January 1, 1982. Chuck Roberts, who is the co-anchor of the first telecast, retired from CNN Headline News just last week after 28 years.

A couple of things I learned watching this – when news breaks, like wind, it breaks fast. They are also hung up on saying the word ‘fast’ an awful lot.

Why post this on the blog? Part one begins with a tour of this “state of the art” operation. It looks a lot like the set from the movie 9 to 5. The music and the graphics are so cheesy now but I guess it was cutting edge at the time. Check out part 2 (when the actual first newscast began) and hear the horrible teletype-like sound effect they played under the actual reporting. It is so incredibly annoying. I wonder how long they kept that. I would not know since we did not get cable until a few years later.

Oh, how far we have come.

 

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A thought for Wednesday

I received news this evening that another former classmate, Weston Ford, has left us far too soon. We both went to Western Kentucky University, we both got Music Ed degrees, and we both ended up in IT jobs. It’s funny how things work out.

Reading over the many thoughts posted on his Facebook page today by all of those he touched over the years, I kept thinking about the following quote. Weston was the type of person that this quote joyfully describes. He will be missed.

“The majority of us lead quiet, unheralded lives as we pass through this world. There will most likely be no ticker-tape parades for us, no monuments created in our honor. But that does not lessen our possible impact, for there are scores of people waiting for someone just like us to come along; people who will appreciate our compassion, our unique talents - someone who will live a happier life merely because we took the time to share what we had to give. Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have a potential to turn a life around. It's overwhelming to consider the continuous opportunities there are to make our love felt.”

~~ Leo Buscaglia

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

In My Diary

 

Sometimes, you just have to purge stuff. Aside from material objects that have some value (electronics, furniture, multiple crock pots, etc.), you also have to part with old school memorabilia, greeting cards, assorted gifts and passed down knick-knacks. For example,  did I really need the 1938 RCA Console Radio pulled from my great-grandmother’s house after she died in 1993 to remember her by? No. Yet it still sits in a storage shed at my parents house waiting for the unfortunate day that I will inherit it yet again and will have to get rid of it for real. My parents don’t share all of my views on purging! I do still have her rocking chair that I sit in daily – right up by the TV.

Out of the boxes of odds and ends I saved over the years, I now have only one tote of high school and college stuff and several photo albums and many of the photos I’ve shared on Facebook. I did recently mention that I had an anti-nostalgia phase several years back where I got rid of tons of old programs, newspaper clippings, movie ticket stubs – you name it, I saved it. There were also 100’s of pages of handwritten journals. I discussed this a bit with my mother last week and I found out that my great-grandfather shared in this passion of writing and even went a step further. He left behind quite a lot of journals with some incredible detail. I looked at some of the surviving journals last week. He wrote down everything and I mean all of it. Not only did he write about the people he worked with (“I fired Harvey today. He disrespected me.”), he also wrote quite a but about the weather (“Cold enough today to start a fire”) and made sure to note every oil change and maintenance on every car he ever had. He went as far as to record this stellar entry in 1938: “Changed the bulb in the kitchen today. Change bulb of same type in living room lamp.”

Exciting stuff, eh? Well, no. And the reason is that most of the journals containing the excitement were burned by joint decision (between my mother and great-grandmother) in 1965 when my great-grandfather died. Apparently, he also wrote a lot in detail about people he did not like and he held nothing back. He also wrote things down that were just “plain embarrassing and there was no point in leaving such things as his legacy”.

Most of my journals fall under the “plain embarrassing and definitely immature” category. I wrote in depth about relationships, work schedules, dumb things that happened at school, and dumb things that happened at work. None of it was really even worth re-reading and none could even be condensed into a decent short story. Maybe you could squeeze out some material for “Freaks and Geeks” but it is cancelled now. So, I decided instead of having my kids piece through it shaking their heads one day, I trashed them all but one on an afternoon several years ago.

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I started this one on July 8, 1990 and kept going until September of 1991. Yes, there are some funny and decent times recorded in there in the midst of some really unhappy times. I do like the very 90’s looking cover. I bought this at the Kroger store where I bagged groceries for a summer. The peace sign came from a store called Stone Mountain in Nashville. It was a hippie store with lots of incense and tie-dye. 1990 was the first summer I was old enough to drive and I spent a lot of time exploring the city in my old Chevy Cavalier.

All that is left journal-wise now is this blog since this last surviving hand-written journal is gone as of this morning. The trash containing it has been picked up. I saw no point in leaving it behind one day and I think holding on to it for 20 years is long enough. The only real lesson from re-reading it in the past few weeks is that I wish I hadn’t spent so much time worrying about what other people thought and wasting time on petty odds and ends. I’d rather share with my kids what I’ve learned with the wisdom (hopefully) of all of these years instead of letting 16 and 17 year old me do the talking. He was a bit high strung. He also had funny looking glasses and I believe he watched “Alf”. He disturbs me.

So, sometimes it’s good to let go of the old so you can make room for the new.

Since I began with a Moonglows song, I’ll end with another. I have an album (yes, an actual vinyl record) of the Moonglows that I got at the long gone Randy’s Record Shop in Gallatin, Tennessee many years ago. These guys were incredible. They put a lot of what is played today to shame. There was no Pro Tools in 1955 and this was most likely recorded in one take. Turn up the volume and enjoy!

Monday, August 2, 2010

School Days, School Days, Dear Old Golden Rule Days

The first day of school appears to have gone off without a hitch. We now have one in 2nd and one in 3rd. I just can’t wait until double trouble makes it to high school.

One more year closer to college I have to pay for and weddings I have to pay for. Ugh.