Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Make Your iPhone Play Nice With Your Blog

OK, I'm not trying to rub it in that I got an iPod Touch for Christmas... I'm shamelessly attempting to drive traffic to my blog by tapping buzzwords. So there. But seriously, Most of the reason I wanted this thing was so I could read and write blogs from anywhere. (I'm writing this post on it right now.). The only problem is that Blogger Dashboard and Google Reader are kind of ungainly on this thing.

Google to the rescue! I set up a third tab on iGoogle and loaded in a couple Google Gadgets. Google Reader and Blogger. The former gives me the skinny on the blogs I follow in a nice, iPod sized window because The Googles are like Santa and they know when I'm on my iPod. The latter gives me a nice clean interface to jot down a quick post. The formatting tools aren't available but if you really need to you can use a little HTML.

Of course Google has a gadget for their own blogging service but there is also one for Wordpress. I didn't test it but hey... Whaddaya want? Anyway, if you've been frustrated with having a broadband mobile device and not having an easy way to play blogs... there you go.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Holiday Spending

I already wrote this post once but lost it when I tried to set it up on a schedule. So here's the shorter, reconstructed version.

In the little bit that I listen to or watch the news I've caught an awful lot of one thing in the last few weeks. Holiday spending is down, retailers are nervous. Well, I'm here to offer up a resounding "GOOD ON YA!" to everyone who spent sensibly this Christmas. While the media furrows its collective brow and says, "Shame on you, consumer" for not helping stores that sell useless crap move their useless crap." I'm handing out a big pat on the back to anyone who saved their money for frivolous things like bills.

It's not our fault as consumers that the business model is unsustainable. I for one would much rather be able to support myself unaided in retirement than rely on my offspring to support me through Social Security (and five or six of my friends) because I was more interested in big vehicles and big TVs than in being fiscally responsible.

If it's going to take the collapse of the luxury goods market to get the economy fixed around here then so be it. At least we'll be ahead of the Soviets in that we're pretty good at keeping everyone fed around here. To them it's a miracle that we can get the food from the field to the table. Having a PS3 and a sofa sized TV to boot is a fairy tale to most of the world. Even with the advent of cell phones there are still three BILLION people in the world who have never made a phone call.

I grew up in the echo of the Great Depression. My grandparents made do and scrimped and saved. As a result they were quite well off in their later years and were able to help put half a dozen grandkids through college as a result. My parents grew up in that ethos and passed it on to me. Now, don't make me out to be all crunchy granola because I'm not. I like my internet and my iPod. However, my family eats like kings (food that's not killing us) on money that wouldn't feed a trucker at McDonalds.

So if a few people loose their jobs because you didn't up for that new plasma screen or three ton SUV this Christmas, that's really too bad for them. When you rest your head on the pillow of luxury items, you live with the fact that in one swoop the feathers can all fly out and you're left holding the pillowcase. What's really going to fix things in this country is people handling their money sensibly. So, one last round of applause to everyone who bought a house they could afford, who didn't melt their credit cards in the mall, and who are putting away a few bucks for a rainy day.

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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Holiday Blogging

I was really looking forward to having some time off this Christmas. It had crept up on me what an important part of my day checking in on the blogs I read has become. Unfortunately, the closer you get to a holiday the less time people have to spend on their blogs. I was picturing lazy afternoons at home, blissfully combing the interweb for the good writing of my friends. Not so much.

I can't say that I spent a lot of time posting myself though. Between the numerous family dinners and not actually having that much time off from work I've been less than prolific. Ah well, the days were at least lazy and this shouldn't be taken to mean that I don't enjoy time with my family. Despite bouts of getting kicked in the face at bed time it's pretty frickin sweet.

I guess that the hour or so that I spend reading blogs every day is just about the right amount of time though. Too much of a good thing and all. I will tell you one thing I stumbled on that's worth a read. Bossy's Family Photos. No sneak peaks, just go read it.

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Helluva Way To Post

OK, so it's a little tricky writing a post on a keyboard that's just pixels... but at this point pretty much any excuse to hold my new iPod Touch will do. More on that later over at The Mister.

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

More Humbug

More and more we've been taking a break from the outside world. Once again, we wind up looking like a bunch of crunchy granola heads, but really it's not like that. Yeah, I get all my news second hand, but the benefit is that I only hear about the really big stuff and don't have to deal with all the minutiae that clogs the airwaves.

I know who the Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus are, but I don't know what their music sounds like and I couldn't pick them out of a lineup. What are you? Some kind of hermit? you ask. But give a moment's thought and I bet you're a little bit jealous.

The really great thing about my lack of media input is that I'm not totally sick of Christmas advertisements. The only TV I catch is with the Short People for a couple hours on Saturday morning. They, of course, want every item from every commercial and I simply say, "I'll put it on your list." For once I'm not ready to gag on the constant barrage of tag lines for sixty dollar toys that only do one thing. Instead of a plastic doll that makes faux pee and poop on a plastic toilet, the kids have a wooden train set that they all love and share. The Missus and I have forty bucks left in the bank thanks to that manouver.

The thing that I'm really grateful for this holiday season is my near complete ignorance of the Trans Siberian Orchestra's date in Buffalo. Usually it's about nine days after Christmas and the commercials have me ready to shoot my radio. People think it's odd that a sound guy wouldn't want to go see a laser light Christmas rock show. I'd rather commit hari kari with a microphone stand. I'm still looking forward to singing Silent Night by candle light on Christmas Eve.

Anyway, it still seems a little strange to me how far from the beaten holiday path my family has wandered in the last few years. It's a pretty good place to be though. I'm constantly confronted with wide eyed stares when people find out that we've been done shopping for ages, aren't stressing about decorations and travel plans and are basically just having a time of it despite what the world around us is doing.

So Merry Christmas to you. Hopefully you're not overwhelmed by the season, and if you are I hope our foray off the beaten path encourages you to divert a little from the hysteria of it all and just have yourself a nice time.

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Simple Pleasures

I was totally starving this morning at coffee break. I don't make a habit of hitting the snack shop at the hospital, which is actually more of a diner. Usually I just get a cup of coffee from the cafeteria and get on with things. Today the special was eggs benedict though and I'm a sucker for some eggs benny.

As I rose to pay with my last three dollars the girl at the register took my ticket, and my money, then looked to her right and handed the money back. There was a woman at the first table looking at us. I tried to pay again and got waved off again. The woman was still looking at us. I thought maybe it was some hospital administrator doling out some holiday cheer. They do that I'm told.

But on closer inspection I finally realized that it was my dear friend V. The two of us used to practically live together in production meetings back in the heady days of concert promoting. Now we're both happily domesticated and we see each other in two minute bursts a couple times a year. She told me she was trying to remain incognito and just let me go about my business. Except for her new glasses throwing me off a little there was no chance of that.

I sat down for my happy two minute visit, got all caught up and went about my day buoyed up on a wave of friendly feelings and a belly full of eggs benny. Can I get a halleluja for Christmas spirit? Somebody in the back say amen!

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Blessed Sleep

I went in to be tested at a sleep center last night. I'm not sure if I have sleep apnea or what but it's time to see what the frickin deal is. I'm guessing that it's probably just that I'm not nineteen anymore and I need more than the five or six hours that I'm getting every night. But it's going to take doctor's orders to get me to do that so I may as well see if there's anything else wrong first.

The whole setup is pretty sweet. I drove to a nondescript building that housed the sleep center and the office of a construction company. The tech there checked me in around nine and got me started. I filled out some paperwork and got ready for bed. It was kind of like being on vacation. The room was set up more like a hotel than a hospital and there were no cats or short people.

The last stage was a little weird. I sat in a chair in my drawers and a t-shirt and the tech strapped me up with all manner of equipment. Bands around my check to monitor my breathing, electrodes on my head for my brain waves, more electrodes on my face neck and legs and then an oxygen monitor that went on my finger. After all that stuff was in place I had to get into bed and make sure it all worked. Blink, breathe, wiggle. It stopped just short of the Hokey Pokey.

Then I read for ten minutes and couldn't keep em open any more. It took a little while to get to sleep though. The equipment wasn't all that cumbersome, but the camera had a pair of lights that kept blinking. I could see them through my eyelids. It wasn't all that distracting but knowing that I was on camera kept tripping my brain up.

Two extra hours of sleep with no cats on me was just the ticket. When the tech woke me up at five I came swimming up out of a dream and actually felt like getting up. I had to do all the little tricks again to make sure everything was still working all right and then I went off to work. The only down side to the whole thing was having tape stickum all over my neck and spots of conductive gel in my hair. Those got plastered with ceiling tile dust pretty quick at work but that was about it.

So that's it. Not particularly exciting but a novel experience nonetheless. If you were ever wondering about getting your sleep habits checked out that's what it's like.

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Monday, December 15, 2008

I (Don't) Suck

Lately I've been wrestling with feelings of inadequacy and by lately I mean since first grade. I overcame being the geeky runt. Actually it just became somewhat cool to be a nerd. I amassed a host of skills in a variety of fields and I still feel like a faker who has suckered everyone into believing that I'm competent.

Most of the time being a jack of all trades is pretty handy. My rudimentary, self taught knowledge of everything I can get my hands on is often enough to get out of a jam. But every time I find myself working with professionals who have a single field I just can't get away from the feeling that I'm just a poser.

I've drywalled a few dozen houses but when I mud with guys who've done nothing else for twenty years, I'm not up to snuff. I've been wiring houses since I was twelve but working side by side with a union electrician just makes me look like some country bumpkin who kind of knows what wires do. And even sound work, which is apparently what I was put on this Earth by God to do, is just another example of something I taught myself to do and my knowledge base is sorely lacking when I get next to the big dogs.

I shouldn't complain, but for a guy who's never really been sure of himself it's a real mind fuck to have to try and eke out some semblance of psychological balance when the input I get is so widely differing. One week I'm hearing, "Man! You're the best sound guy I ever met!" and the next I'm getting machine gunned with criticism from a real engineer. "Our house looks so great." gets followed by "The room looks like shit". What's worse is getting the you-don't-matter brush off. The why-don't-you-go-sweep-or-something.

The thing that is really, actually bothering me is the project at work. It's about a 1500 square foot remodel that we had two months to do. The house crew is comprised almost entirely of guys that used to be in business for themselves in their respective trades. Brought in to speed things along are half a dozen union guys. The brass keep making changes and moving up the deadline while nobody's actually in charge up on the floor. Everybody's in everybody else's way, we're constantly backing up and re-doing. The union guys think their shit doesn't stink and that we're a bunch of hayseeds that should really be off plunging toilets and changing light bulbs.

The mad house I've been working in for six weeks is such a far cry from the well ordered method that I usually go about doing things that there's nothing to do but laugh at the impossible situations that we keep working ourselves into. The slogan the house guys keep telling the frustrated union guys is, "Hey... it is what it is." There's nothing for it but to just hack into the mess and try and get it done on time. The more grim they get the sillier we get, under the motto: Just laughin' to keep from cryin'.

Well, I think I may be feeling the tiniest bit better for having vented my spleen, thanks for sticking with me. Whatever it is you're doing this week, do it well... the first time. Somebody should.

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Saturday, December 13, 2008


I just watched "Good Night and Good Luck". It's a movie about Edward R. Murrow, a journalist at CBS in the fifties. The plot deals with the way in which he took on Senator McCarthy about the hearings on communists. That is a subject so far removed from the world I know today that I can barely wrap my head around it.

From what I know about the era, gleaned from conversations with my grandparents, my love for media of all types from back then, and the minuscule offerings of my high school courses, I can only form the barest outline of what life was like then. The political and media landscape and the way in which people related to it is just beyond me.

In a time when the common man was so insulated from the wider world the media had a heavy responsibility. Information flowed through a funnel with a tiny neck and what information eventually reached the public had to be good.

In a time when I could easily fit every episode of "See It Now" on my cell phone with room to spare for some hit songs and pictures of my kids things are different. The sheer volume of information that is available to nearly everyone has caused a severe devaluation of that same information. Real news is placed on the same table as entertainment industry gossip and news outlets must take what in decades past would have been a five minute piece and ramble on endlessly as the twenty-four hour cycles churn on.
"Just because your voice reaches halfway around the world doesn't mean you are wiser than when it reached only to the end of the bar." ---Edward R. Murrow
The thing that really struck me about the way the news was presented by Mr. Murrrow was the absolute precision and elegance with which he spoke. A number of times he said, "...so that we are sure that we say exactly what we intend to say." He did not waste a single syllable. Such a far cry from the endless prattling that can be seen on any news network today. One anchor after another pumping sources for any tiny shred of information or, more likely, speculation on the subject du jure.

In my work I have come to so value a succinct statement that I have spent considerable time training myself to give that sort of statement. As a lover of language I revel in vernacular and slang. I never tire of the peculiarities of casual language. But from my politicians and news people I crave the apparently dead practice of putting forth a well thought out statement.

When access to information has never been so open I cringe at the quality of the content that is put forth. When a person can broadcast to the far corners of the Earth from a computer or even a cell phone, that person should have a deep respect for the value of their words. Should have. My heart breaks when I open a novel by a famous author and find a typo. I cringe and leave the room when I see journalists so misuse language and so misunderstand some of the phrases they use as to send an English teacher into convulsions.

I have this left to say with no desire to detract from the value of a casual statement about a frivolous topic. I beseech those who put pen to paper, or fingers to keys, or lips to microphones to perfect their craft. If you seek to inform those who will pay attention to your media, have the common courtesy to refine your statements and the respect for your audience to speak intelligently.

And to the people who are out there paying attention, I ask you to go the extra mile and confirm what you ingest, seek out the information that completes the picture. I am the person that I am because I paid attention to things that were over my head and chewed them over until they no longer were. I, for one, do not require a dumbed down version of anything.

Good night, and good luck...

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

My iPod Speaks

I know, I know... lame to do another meme. This one is soooooo much effort but so very funy when you get it all done:

1. Put your music player on shuffle.
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.

“Berserk” - Suicidal Tendencies

“Cathy's Clown” - The Everly Brothers

“Burn It Down” - Altar Bridge

“Down To The River To Pray” - Alison Krauss

“The Lord Has Given” - Veggie Tales

“A Secret Place” - Megadeth

“Good Lovin Gone Bad” - Diamond Head

“Making Friends” - The Roosevelts

9) WHAT IS 2+2?
“Movin' On” - Bob James & Earl Klugh

“My Last Words” - Megadeth

“The Song Of The Cebu” - Veggie Tales

“Fame” - Infectious Grooves (David Bowie cover)

“Drunken Lullabyes” - Flogging Molly

“I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow” - The Soggy Bottom Boys

“Love Potion Number 9” - The Searchers

“Too Late, Too Late” - Motörhead

“Waves (The Rock)” - Falling Into Place (Can I get a HELL YEAH for that one?!)

“Another Intervention” - Down To Earth Approach

“Do The Sinister” - Infectious Grooves

“Sugar” - System of a Down

“When You Call My Name” - Christopher Hopper

“Spiritual Void” - Overkill

“I Can't Explain” - Scorpions

“Duke Of Earl” - Gene Chandler

“Let Me Clear My Throat” - DJ Kool

“Tear Ya Down” - Motörhead

“Good Mourning, Black Friday” - Megadeth

“Who Hah” - Busta Rhymes

“Feeding The Addiction” - Suicidal Tendencies

“The End Of Heartache” - Killswitch Engage

I don't know why this was so heavy on the Megadeth and the Mike Muir projects (Suicidal and Infectious) there's plenty of other tasty metal on my iPod. And Veggie Tales... myeah. It's impossible to retain all your cool when you've got short people.

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The Latest Thing

86 words

Speed test

Actually, I can type 96 consistently, but I always get eight words wrong at that pace.

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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Optional Meme

I saw this one on a friend's blog and decided to toss it up here quick. Everyone is welcome to do this one, no tapping or anything like that. If you do it, post a comment back here and let me know how many you got. I've done 60 of these things. Enjoy...

1. Started your own blog

2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneywor
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you're not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo's David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone's life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby (well... not me but)
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Seen Mount Rushmore in person
101. Learned to play an instrument

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