Monday, November 28, 2011

Holiday Recap

There was eatin’. There was shoppin’. There was decoratin’. It was just another typical Tennessee Thanksgiving.

We found time to decorate the house Friday when it was still 70 degrees.

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We discovered that some people like to add their favorite restaurants to their Christmas villages.

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We took a trip to the Opryland Hotel and walked around with the holiday weekend mob.

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Two strange kids wouldn’t stay out of the revolving doors. We don’t have the revolvin’ doors out here in the sticks.

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We saw the Christmas Panda.

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We saw the Christmas Zebra.

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Another highlight of our holiday was our annual viewing of Snoopy and Woodstock in the cartoon version of “The Silence of the Lambs”.

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We all went back to work and school today just in time for the first snow to arrive sometime tonight. Since it only takes about a quarter of an inch of snow to throw our city into complete chaos, I am not looking forward to tomorrow.

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Summer is so far away.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I’m taking a holiday away from the tweets and the status updates and the Tumblr.

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Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Good song, weird video: “Hearts” by Marty ‘MacGruber’ Balin

I’ve been hearing “Hearts” again on the radio lately. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because it is 30 years old this year. I’ve always liked the song but I never knew much about Marty Balin other than that he was a member of Jefferson Airplane at one time.

I had also never seen the video for “Hearts” until I decided to write about the song and started looking around YouTube for it. That is when I discovered that Marty Balin just might be MacGruber or MacGruber’s father.

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At the very least, Marty Balin looks a lot like Will Forte.

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The video is absolutely horrible in a most hilarious way.

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At the start, I got the impression that Marty did something completely inappropriate with his guitar that is illegal in most states.

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The video ends with a terribly funny “fantasy” scene that seems to have inspired every movie they show late at night on Cinemax. It is also mixed with footage of a speedboat which the director seems to imply is an inappropriate metaphor for “getting’ busy” with the musical instrument that you are pretending is your long lost lover. It also reminds me of the episode of Miami Vice Season One when Crockett and Tubbs got Calderone.

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I was hard for me to concentrate since I keep expecting someone to yell “What do we do, Macgruber!?!”

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It might be best if you just listen to the song and keep your eyes shut because this video could ruin “Hearts” for you forever. I know that I’m going to look funny standing in the mall laughing the next time I hear this song over the intercom.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Spring is Back!

I know – I should not complain about it being 70 degrees in November when other people are dealing with minus 35 or worse. I like the warm weather. 

This whole “Spring in November” thing would be fine if it wasn’t for all of the stormy weather that always accompanies “Spring in November”. I don’t like the possibility of having to pick roof shingles up off of the lawn again.

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It’s the weekend. I’m tired. That’s all for now.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Guess what is back at Fred’s!

It’s time for creme drops. If you don’t have a Fred’s, you better get to a store that just might have them before they are all gone. Since I buy them six bags at a time, they might sell out and you’ll just be stuck eating a lousy candy cane.

ALLTHECREMEDROPS

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Good song: “Lawyers in Love”

The kids decided they wanted to go through my record collection Saturday night. They are interested in how we lived in ancient times. They seem to be amazed that music will play through a needle. They are also not impressed at how short albums are considering they can play hours of MP3’s on their players.

One album I came across was “Lawyers in Love” by Jackson Browne. I bought it in 1983 and I’m guessing I used birthday money to buy it since, being 10 years old, I wasn’t employed at the time. The album cover always stood out to me. It also makes me realize how much of the “personality” of albums that we have lost without them.

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The title song was always one of my favorites and I wanted to embed the video here from YouTube but, to my dismay, there were only two uploads of the song. One was just the song with a blank screen and the other was the video with someone doing karaoke and farting in the background. How lovely. I decided I had to correct this injustice against Jackson Browne fans everywhere so I downloaded the video and mixed the original music back with it. It took a while to get the timing right but I finally got it extremely close.

So, turn up those laptop speakers and enjoy the somewhat odd video for “Lawyers in Love” while I go hide from the copyright police.

Monday, November 14, 2011

A barn, not a drive thru

I’m about to get on a conference call this morning when I get a call from an insurance agent telling me that one of his clients has turned the storage barn at our church into a drive thru. Oddly enough, the driver had the same insurance as the church, was covered for property damage, and was not injured. The barn did not fare as well as the driver.

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I’m thinking our hoarding over the years may have saved the guy from injury. He was unable to make it through the whole barn since he ran into all of our junk. I’m thinking the thing would have collapsed on him if he had pushed the back out. This shows that hoarding may be good for us in odd and rare circumstances.

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I’m standing up by the road for this one. That barn is pretty far away. You would think he would have stopped or missed a gigantic barn. It was 4AM and nothing good happens at 4AM.

The rain is coming tonight so we’ll soon have a pile of wet junk to deal with.

In other news, I spent most of the weekend watching my new Hulu obsession, Doc Martin. It has the small town quirkiness of Corner Gas. I highly recommend it. I’m in season two right now.

Finally, the rain is fast approaching. If you believe the weather experts, we’re in for a couple of really soggy days. They’ve missed most of the rain predications lately so who knows what will really happen. It was almost 80 degrees today and I am starting to get tired of the ups and downs. Can’t we just have a nice run of the mid-60’s for the next, oh, four months?

Friday, November 11, 2011

IMHO? There are not many humble opinions on the internet

Every so often, I get on an internet tear. Something perturbs me and I feel the urge to comment on it even though it accomplishes zip. Instead of releasing the frustration and tension, I feel even more frustration and tension for adding my opinion to a cacophony of opinions from others who are also on an internet tear.

Case in point: The Poynter-Romenesko debacle that ended with the early resignation of media blogger Jim Romenesko. I’ve been reading Jim’s posts for years and I feel he was unfairly ‘attacked’ by a member of his own team (supposedly). You can read about it here. If you poke around, you might also see a trail of comments I left behind on Twitter, the Poynter website, and the Columbia Journalism Review. Looking back on the last twenty-four hours, I wonder why I would even be tempted to get involved at all. It was a huge waste of my time and I certainly get nothing out of having others read or comment on my thoughts.

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That’s the trouble with the internet. Opinions are bad enough when they are thought out but the internet gives us the ability to post these opinions in real time without even thinking them over. I used to write Letters to the Editor until I got so disillusioned with them that I stopped. I was foolish to think sharing an opinion was actually for the common good because most people who read opinions and letters to the editor are not doing so because they want to change things for the better. They just want to have something to get mad about.

I even posted several links to Facebook on the whole debacle. I was outraged over the treatment of Jim Romenesko and posted the story to a group of people who don’t even know who Jim Romenesko is. What a waste of bandwidth. When it comes to information overload, I am part of the problem.

In looking back on my Facebook and Twitter posts from the last week, I also let some comments fly about Penn State and the Conrad Murray trial. Why do I care? Don’t I have more important things happening in my personal life that I should be doing rather than writing about news stories that have absolutely nothing to do with me?

I believe that part of the problem is that Twitter, Facebook, and even blogging pressures us to post “universal ideas” for the masses rather than just focusing on the smaller sphere around us that is our day to day life. Should I write locally about what is happening in my community and leave the big news stories for CNN and the such or should I just use the internet as an online journal of sorts and only tell my own personal stories?

Won’t it get old if all I write about is a reflection of who I am and those close to me who are important? I’m certain it won’t be that entertaining and there is also the fact that personal writing might make me confront things that I am not completely comfortable sharing.

Also, there is the chance that I will just reveal to the world that I live quite the boring life. I didn’t achieve and maintain my status as the Foursquare mayor of Walmart by living some sort of glamorous life.

It’s days like this when I step back and reevaluate. Oddly, I feel much better sitting here tonight and writing all of this for myself than I did sitting here last night and posting my opinion on sites for someone else to judge.

Maybe Robert Browning was writing about the internet when he wrote “Less is more”.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sorry, Nintendo - Cartridges are so Two-Thousand and Late

The big Christmas gift for the kids last year were the Nintendo DSi’s. These were upgrades from the used DS models that we’d had for quite a long time and had suffered much abuse. The kids could play the games they had, the battery life was better, and now they had cameras and could even surf the net!

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Sadly, we discovered that the internet function is so clunky that it is unusable (a trait the DSi shares with the Wii Browser). Also, the clamshell of the DSi makes for a not so portable or functional camera. It’s fun for goofing for a bit but not for anything more. And, there is a stylus which seems more and more archaic as we embrace the touchscreen. The touchscreen on the DSi is just awkward and small enough to need the stylus for most functions.

The kids actually wanted iPod Touches last Christmas since they always played with the one my wife had. I thought that $249 was far too expensive for gadgets for 8 and 9 year olds. I was incredibly mistaken. The DSi is cheaper but cartridges are expensive and the kids get bored with them pretty quick. We have about 25 cartridges so I can tell you we have far more invested than $500.

On top of that, the iPod Touch is a phenomenal camera and video camera. Both kids love borrowing my camera. So, add the savings of buying a camera. Then, consider the savings involved in the thousands of  free and super cheap apps out there in the App Store. What isn’t free can be easily tried for free using the Lite versions of many games that are available. And, what ever app we do buy can be downloaded to every iPod in the house. For example, we all have all of the Angry Birds apps now and we have gotten hours of play out of these 99 cent apps.

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Sara got an iPod Touch for her birthday and Lindsay is getting one for hers. Now, I have no idea what to buy them for Christmas since there is no need for anything else. The DSi’s sit stored waiting for long road trips but I believe their days are numbered. The only things they have going for them is the long battery life and not needing an internet connection. A lot of iPod games like to reach out and touch the internet because all the free apps really want to sell you ridiculous upgrades. This is one thing you MUST be careful about with your iPod.

As someone who works in computers, I think the faster we can get our kids involved in and comfortable with technology, the better. Thank goodness my mother got me a TI-99/4A all those years ago because it fostered an interest in computers that has benefited me my whole life.

And, did I mention how fun Angry Birds is?

The only thing Nintendo can do to compete is a radical redesign of the handheld gaming platform that involves one big touchscreen plus a directional pad (the one thing the iPod Touch needs to be a truly awesome game machine). Get a decent browser and a killer camera and great speakers. Put together an online store that doesn’t look like it came out of the 90’s and have GB’s of storage on there for downloadable games with a cloud option for storage. Throw an HDMI port on there to allow games on the big screen and add Netflix and Hulu. Maybe add Bluetooth for multiple controllers.

And, take a hard look at the Wii. We rarely turn it on either. The cartoonish stuff has lost its novelty and the Wii U doesn’t look much better.

What ever you do, Nintendo, get out of the cartridge business yesterday. Do something quick or you will be the Atari of 2012.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

We interrupt this blog for a brief return to 1991

We started the week saying goodbye to Andy Rooney. Now we bid farewell to Heavy D and he was just 44.

I wouldn’t call myself a rap fan but this one was pretty catchy and I do have it in my music collection. It brings back fond memories of the year I graduated from high school and the video makes me wonder if we had a hardcore fear of rain back in ‘91. There are a lot of people wearing parkas in this for no apparent reason.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Thank you, Andy Rooney

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When Andy Rooney delivered his last essay on 60 minutes just a few weeks back, I was suspicious that something was up. I expected him to work until the last possible moment and I thought we were seeing just that. When news soon came that he had been in surgery and that there were complications, I thought that there was no way we would hear such news about such a private man unless his family realized that there was no chance of survival. Imagine the essay-length rant that we would have all heard or read if he had recovered. Sadly, he did not.

Andy has gone to a place where there is no impossible to open plastic packaging and no partially filled bags of chips or boxes of cereal. I’m not sure what he’ll write about there.

Here on Earth, we’ve lost a great voice that pointed out a lot of what is wrong. Sometimes he spoke of the minor annoyances of day to day life and sometimes he took on the great injustices that no one would dare speak of.

In the obit posted on CBSNEWS.com that he appears to have penned himself, three such injustices stand out:

“Native Americans demanded apologies when he belittled their efforts to stop sports teams from using names like "Braves" in 1995 and again in 1997 when he suggested Indian casino profits be used to support poor tribes. He reacted to the acquittal of O.J. Simpson in 1995 by offering a $1 million reward for information leading to the real killer - a reward he said he would never have to pay because Simpson committed the murders. His essay in 2004, in which he said God told him that the Rev. Pat Robertson and Mel Gibson were "whackos," resulted in 20,000 complaints - the most response any "60 Minutes" issue ever drew.”

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I feel like I’ve watched Andy Rooney my entire life. I always wanted to be a writer. I’ve just never figured out exactly what I want to write. I also loved that we saw his desk in his office during his segments. I like to see how writers write and what environment they do it in.

A lot of people said that Andy Rooney was a curmudgeon. He didn’t seem to respond to praise in the way a “normal person” would. He was turned off by it and sometimes appeared offended. I think he was just uncomfortable with it. I spoke at church last week for 45 minutes. It’s something I prepared for over a couple of weeks but the most difficult part of the whole thing for me was having to go to the door at the end and shake hands with everyone and be thanked. I know that sounds silly but it’s nice to know that Andy Rooney appears to have felt the same way.

I’m not sure I want to work until I am 92 but it would sure be nice to love what I do and be good at what I do all the way until the end.

Andy said it best and I hope he’s right -  “Writers don’t retire and I’ll always be a writer.”

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Cool and drippy

It sounds like a new dessert at Dairy Queen but it’s not. It’s the latest official forecast from the National Weather Service! I guess they are running out of ways to describe rain.

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Tom Turkey has returned and will be in charge of the front yard through Thanksgiving. Then it will be time to pull down the Christmas stuff. Ugh.

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This week started out so promising and now I have hit the wall of no energy and what energy has been around is all negative. I’m hoping to wake up tomorrow morning feeling positive no matter how cool and drippy it gets.