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Saturday, December 31, 2005

Old Acquaintance


Leave all of those New Year's resolutions posts to others. I want to look back and note what was great (or not so great) about 2005, and what I want to look forward to in 2006.

What was great about 2005:

1. Lydia seems to be thriving in her new daycare. And they don't seem so fussy to find out that Carol and I are both off from work (as we will be on Monday) and that we're still dropping her off, so we can do things in the house and maybe see a movie.

2. I got reconnected through friend Rocco to Fred Hembeck, which led me to blogging, which led me to get to know a number of interesting people, electronically only some of which are linked within this post.

3. Singing in church choir. I need to do this.

On the other hand:

1. I need to find more time to exercise. Dropping off Lydia at day care has cut into racquetball time.

2. I need to get back to updating a web page I was working on.

Next year, I plan to:

1. Take off at least one day per month from work on a day that Carol is at work and Lydia is in day care to reclaim some Roger time.

2. Catch up on my periodicals or toss 'em.

3. Finally, probably in the summer, get to work on thast project that somebody asked me to work on months ago.

Feel free to make your observations in the appropriate location, if you feel so inclined.

Last week, on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, I was greeting a person at church after service, and she replied. "Oh, I don't celebrate Christmas." I hope I can wish all of you a happy and safe New Year's Eve without fear of offending someone's sensibilities. (Yes, I know it's only New Year's Eve on some calendars...)

Thanks for all of your cogent/silly/funny remarks over the last eight months.

Friday, December 30, 2005

The Democrats Should Pick This Man For Vice-President

I'm listening to 10 wonderful hours of Christmas music provided to me by good buddy Fred Hembeck. It reminded me of all the things I still want to do this holiday season: listen to these tunes, write a Three Kings Letter, connect the scanner, and post some things I promised myself I'd post.

To that end, the person I want the Democrats to pick is, in fact, the person I wanted John Kerry to pick instead of John Edwards. Since no one really runs for Vice-President (except maybe Dick Cheney), I don’t even know if he wants the job.

I want Bill Richardson of New Mexico.


One of the things I feared that Bush/Cheney would do in 2004, and they did, was to point to John Edwards’ lack of experience in international dealings. (That and the John/John remarks.) Bill Richardson has been U.S. Ambassador to the UN and Energy Secretary, as sell as New Mexico governor.

It would be disingenuous to ignore the fact that he is Hispanic. Regardless of that, he is well-qualified for the job, and would be an asset to the ticket.

Now, I don’t know if Russ Feingold even likes Bill Richardson. Moreover, I've learned that Richardson has Presidential aspirations himself.

I want Feingold on the top of the ticket because he's more aligned with my positions that Richardson is. Still, Bill Richardson as Presidential candidate would be more palatable than some of the other names knocking about.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Four


It's all the rage; even Fred's doing it: Meme of Four. If you do it, add your own categories. C'mon, it's fun! All answers are guaranteed to have come straight off the top of my head, or your money back:

Four jobs you've had in your life: janitor (twice), bank teller, ticket seller, customer service rep for an insurance company.

Four movies you could watch over and over: Annie Hall, Groundhog Day, West Side Story, Being There.

Four places you've lived: Charlotte, NC; Kingston, NY; Jamaica, Queens. NY; Schenectady, NY. Always in NYS, except for the four months in Charlotte in 1977.

Four TV shows you love to watch: Gilmore Girls, Everybody Hates Chris, My Name Is Earl, Boston Legal. (All Tuesday or Thursday shows; Earl moves from Tuesday to Thursday next week, when Scrubs returns!)

Four TV reruns I'll always watch: The Twilight Zone; The Dick van Dyke Show; Barney Miller; Law & Order (the original, with Jerry Orbach)

Four places you've been on vacation: Barbados (honeymoon on the JEOPARDY dime); Concord, NH; San Diego, CA; San Francisco.

Four websites you visit daily: Fred Sez, who attributes to Stan Lee devilish powers ; News from Me, who nearly killed Stan Lee; Gordon, who I probably stole this idea from; and Kelly Brown, who's most likely to steal it from me. (Yeah, Lefty, I look at yours, too, but she's been posting more often recently.)

Four albums you can't live without: Revolver-Beatles (UK); Spike-Elvis Costello; Pet Sounds-Beach Boys; Still Crazy After All These Years-Paul Simon. (Ask me again in four minutes and I'll give you four more.)

Four of your favorite foods: lasagna with spinach, carrot cake, Brooks' fried chicken, cottage cheese and apple.

Four passings I should have mentioned in this blog: great character actor Vincent Schiavelli on December 26, Roy Stuart from "Gomer Pyle" on Christmas Day, Obie Benson of the Four Tops way back on July 1, and Jaime Cardinal Sin of the Philipines, whose passing back in June I missed until the inevitable end of year obits.

Four comic-book stories you'll remember for the rest of your life: the EC story of the man who didn't salute the flag at a parade and ended up getting beaten to death (he was blinded in the war) - citation, someone? The Death of Gwen Stacy (ASM 121-122); Superman vs. Muhammad Ali; Luke Cage, Hero for Hire #1.

Four places you'd rather be: Savannah; on a massage table; on the beach; taking a nap.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

We Got Answers, the Browns

We have the stylish Chris Brown:

But before I forget (again), I should note that my submission appears in the Carnival of Bad History, which I got to indirectly through Mr. Brown.

1. What CDs are currently in your various listening devices?

Our choir performed A Ceremony for Carols by Benjamin Britten for our Advent vespers on December 4. I'm listening to a recording of our performance - it ain't bad! I had never sung it or heard it before, though I understand it's a popular choice for this time of year. Also, Frank Sinatra, Reprise box set. New Stevie Wonder, which I got for Christmas.
New Diana Krall Christmas CD which I gave Carol for Christmas. And the CD I made for Chris. I also got other tunes for Christmas that I want to play - two Christmas discs (Michael McDonald, James Taylor), the new Macca album Fred is reviewing someday, an old Clash album (Super Black Market Clash), Our New Orleans 2005: A Benefit Album; and the disc I just opened, 100% Santa Free from Eddie! Thanks, Eddie - hope you blog soon.

2. Who is your favorite Beatle?

As I've noted on December 8, I identfied heavily with John. Having said that, I have more solo albums by George between 1970 and 1980 than John, and Paul is second. I bought every other Macca disc, but almost every Harrison disc. Then after John's death, the count between George and Paul's about even. When George died in the fall of 2001 - a fact I remember only because it was about the first TIME magazine cover that featured anything other than 9/11 coverage since 9/11-

I was sad, but I knew he was dying. Later, as I remembered his life - bringing Indian music to the West, Concert for Bangladesh, I got very melancholy. George was a Pisces, so I related to him at some other level.

3. What's been your favorite book you've read this year?

It's Pajama Time by Sandra Boynton: "Pajammy to the left, pajammy to the right. Jamma Jamma Jamma Jamma Jamma, P-J." I'm no rapper, but I read it what I consider in rap form. Oh, you mean grown-up books? Can't recall if I've read any. Magazines and newspapers, yes, but books not geared toward children? I have looked at 1000 Record Covers, which is a book of, well, you know.
I start LOTS of books, such as Eats Shoots and Leaves (or is that Eats, Shoots, and Leaves?). I'm two-thirds of the way through American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush by Kevin P. Phillips. Will I finish it? Probably , but then the periodicals just pile up.
Oh, wait, I probably read Stupid White Men earlier this year. The book I read this summer was The Zen of Zim, by Don Zimmer, the former Yankee coach who looks like Popeye. He says appropriately mean things about Steinbrenner. He was a member of the "Boys of Summer", the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers team that won the borough's only World Series.

4. Have any "problem patron" library stories to divulge?

Our library is different in that the ultimate client we don't see or talk with. The clients go to one of our two dozen centers around the state, the advisor meets with the client and then contacts us. We really prefer that the advisor call us, so we can do what we librarian types like to call the "reference interview." Otherwise, we tend to get lengthy reference questions via fax or e-mail passed through from the client to us. We have received questions with 30 or more bullet points, (REALLY), and we are forced to imagine whether the client actually needs to know all of those items at this point in the business cycle. We wonder whether the questions make sense to the advisors, because if the advisor who has met with the client doesn't understand it, we, who try to parse this information from the narrative, probably won't. Also, with other advisors to serve, we often don't have time to work on questions with 30 or more bullet points, so we will make our determination as what we think is most important, or most accessible, and we don't want to be in that position.

The classic question came by fax several years ago. It described the business, who owned it, its financial difficulty, the client's ethnicity, lines of interesting text. What it lacked was a QUESTION. I took it off the fax machine and said, "That's nice, what does the advisor want us to DO to help the client?" We used to refer to ourselves as the Psychic Research Network, because we had to use our crystal balls to try to discern the question.

Yo, the inquisitive Kelly Brown-

1. If you could change one thing that you have done as a parent what would it be and why?

Nothing.

I mean, if I had my druthers, I'd have done it earlier. This parenting thing is a younger person's gig. I went to Christmas Eve service, and the father of one of the members was a year behind me at Binghamton Central High School. He has a 2-month old granddaughter while I have a 21-month old DAUGHTER.

We might have put her into a different daycare last year, but we couldn't get in.

So, it all happens for a reason, and I TRY not to sweat it too much.

2. If you had wings what would you do?

Molt. Well, I mean fly, as I do in my dreams.

3. What is the first book that you want your daughter to read on her own when she can?

Green Eggs and Ham. She IS a Green, after all.

4. Will you allow your daughter to have a blog if she wants?

Oh, yeah, but probably more anonymmously than I've been.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

We Got Answers, Gordon

Our first contestant is is the appreciative Gordon

1) Who put the bomp in the bomp shu-bomp shu-bomp?

Lessee, I'll go with the Marcels' classic version of Blue Moon, 1961, possibly my favorite song from that year.

And as a corrollary, who put the ram in the rama lama ding dong?

I recall that Paul McCartney had an album called Ram, his second solo effort, I believe. Somehow this ties into Fred Hembeck's theory back on March 31 that the Uncle Albert on the album is actually Herb Alpert. Whipped Cream and Other Delights, indeed.

2) Is there one particular author whose latest books you will read, no matter what the subject matter?

I'm streaky. For a while it was Russell Baker. I've read a lot of Bob Woodward (and I'm disappointed with his role in the Valerie Plame situation). Right now, it's Sandra Boynton.

3) Top 5 favorite movies of all time.

It'll almost always be comedies, musicals, or adventure films because asd good as something like Shawshank Redemption is, I don't know if I want to see it again soon after the last time.

Annie Hall, Groundhog Day, Being There, Young Frankenstein.

The fifth slot goes to whatever strikes my fancy- Airplane, West Side Story, Toy Story 2, Casablanca.

Gordon also wanted me to do this meme, and as I always do what Gordon says:

Your Personality Profile

You are elegant, withdrawn, and brilliant.
Your mind is a weapon, able to solve any puzzle.
You are also great at poking holes in arguments and common beliefs.

For you, comfort and calm are very important.
You tend to thrive on your own and shrug off most affection.
You prefer to protect your emotions and stay strong.


I'm a water sign, what can I tell you? Didn't cop Gordon's choice.

Monday, December 26, 2005

The Lydster: Part 21

Lydia's second Christmas, but the first she has started to recognize as an opportunity for presents: dump truck, blocks, xylophone, doll, books, not an overabundance of "stuff".

BTW, Lydia's fine, over the case of pink eye. Also over an intestinal distress that forced us to postpone a dinner with our friend Mary and "I-think-they're-dating" pal.

No new pictures, and no time to write what I was going to write, holidays and all, so here are some ones you haven't seen, from August through October 2004:







Sunday, December 25, 2005

A favorite Christmas recollection


1965: I had a paper route. It was MY route, and I was responsible for it, no one else, it was made very clear to me. But that year, 40 years ago, like this year, Christmas fell on a Sunday, and my father got up and drove me around on my route. It was very special to me, especially since I saw that Santa had already made his way to our house.

Merry Christmas, blogiverse!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Three Questions About Peace

I went to the Rodin exhibit at the Albany Institute of History and Art yesterday. Two-dimensional photos or film cannot capture the sensual nature of the work. If you live in the Albany area, go see the exhibit next week before it closes. If you live elsewhere, go see it when it comes to your town.

Which may or may not lead to the weekly query for you all:




1. What can we, as individuals, do to make the world a more peaceful place?

2. Will there ever be "Peace on Earth, Goodwill to All", or is that a myth, or just for the afterlife, or you really have no idea?

3. What IS so funny 'bout peace, love and understanding?

Friday, December 23, 2005

Chrismukkah


My friend Mark sent out this Christmas/Hanukkah merger e-mail thing, which Socks used on December 1. (Another piece on the holiday confusion is here.)

Subsequently, I read that the TV show The O.C., which I don't watch, has also suggested such a blending a couple years ago. The Yarmuclaus hat (above) is "sold out for the 2005 Chrismukkah season!" - and has been for some time.

So what to make of this blending, complete with Chrismukkah greeting cards?

It seems to tick off this person, who writes:
Chanukkah is probably one of the best known Jewish holidays, not because of any great religious significance, but because of its proximity to Christmas. Many non-Jews (and even many assimilated Jews!) think of this holiday as the Jewish Christmas, adopting many of the Christmas customs, such as elaborate gift-giving and decoration. It is bitterly ironic that this holiday, which has its roots in a revolution against assimilation and the suppression of Jewish religion, has become the most assimilated, secular holiday on our calendar.

Meanwhile, this also ties into what friend Daniel calls "the latest phony baloney distraction put out by the corporate media..."The War On Christmas." An interesting CNN debate can be found within this blog entry.

Now, Dorian, I'd like to agree with you on this one. Fact is, though, if you say it often enough, this "war" seems to become true for enough people. One of my relatives sent me one of those "Say 'Merry Christmas' proudly" e-mails, with instructions to not let "them take it away from us." The exact wording I don't have because I deleted it. Quickly.

My favorite Lutheran pastor notes that it isn't even Christmastime yet.

I must admit that the whole controversy surprised me a bit. I thought we had it all worked out: you have the creche, but the menorrah must be within 10 feet, and also some Kwanzaa colors, with the Christm.., holida.., the coniferous tree nearby.
Lots of people (I'd like to say most people, but...) know that there was no proof that Jesus was born on December 25, but it was a date picked by the church to co-opt those solstice parties. I've long theorized that Jesus was not a Capricorn but a Pisces. (What do YOU think?)

So Chrismukkah- place for the "merry mish-mash" of cultural diversity or an attack on both Judaism and Christianity? I think the term's a bit silly, but as a Christian, I'm not threatened by it, or for that matter, by saying "Season's Greetings." In other words, I support W's choice of Christmas cards. It was inevitable that I agree with him on something EVENTUALLY.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Madness of King George


"There are such things as roving wiretaps. Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so. It's important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution."

- George W. Bush, April 2004
***
As dumb as this story is in print, especially knowing Fred as I do, what's more irritating is the TV lead, something along the line of "Is local man a terrorist?" Truly idiotic.
***
Dan sent this from The Rude Pundit.
***
The I Word is out there. Yes, it is.
***
OF LOCAL NOTE:
Friday, 12/23/05, 5:30 PM, 3rd Annual Crossgates Mall T-Shirt Walk, Enter through any entrance at 5:30 PM and converge at the food court at 6:15 PM. Please car pool where possible. Wear black. Bring a message of peace written on a shopping bag or attached to your clothing. From Wendy Dwyer’s email proposing this action: "Three years ago on December 21 , nearly thirty of us walked through Crossgates Mall in Albany, N.Y. wearing Peace tee shirts ie: Peace on Earth, Drop Toys Not Bombs and Don't Attack Iraq. Most recall the arrest of Steve Downs in February when he and his son Roger bought a Peace Shirt FROM a vendor at the mall and wore it in the mall. 48 hours later more than a hundred of us and most local media converged on the mall to question free speech and the mall as the public gathering space. That weekend more than 300 people descended upon the mall and many were thrown out of the mall by Guilderland police, under threat of arrest. These events were reported in the media…all around the world…" Wendy also suggests, " When we reach the food court area.. ....sing all we are saying is give peace a chance...if people like this idea. THIS MUST BE PEACEFUL. IT IS CRITICAL THIS BE NON-VIOLENT. NO SHOUTING, NO ARGUING” … “ IMAGINE ALL THE PEOPLE............YOU MAY SAY I'M A DREAMER, BUT I'M NOT THE ONLY ONE, I HOPE SOMEDAY YOU’ILL JOIN US, AND THE WORLD WILL LIVE AS ONE”…John Lennon Wendy’s phone: 518-781-0071 or 518-542-4194

Twilight Tone


Rod Serling was president of the student government of Binghamton Central High School in 1940. I was the president of the student government of BCHS in 1970. When Serling came to give an address to the student body in 1970, it was incumbant upon me to introduce him.

His public speaking teacher back in 1937 was a woman named Helen Foley, a charming, ferocious woman who taught public speaking to me three decades later, and who died only a couple years ago. She also taught the late Richard Deacon, "Mel Cooley" on the Dick van Dyke Show.

Miss Foley helped write (or mostly wrote) this introduction I was to give to Rod Serling's address, how he was a paratrooper during World War II, and other such detail that none of the students cared about; he was the creator of "The Twilight Zone"(!), which often cribbed Binghamton-area street names and character names (including "Helen Foley") in his stories. I was in the middle of dutifully repeating my too-long monologue when Rod Serling just walked out on stage! I was mortified, of course, but in retrospect, he was right; the assembly was only for an hour, after all.

Later, he was in Miss Foley's last period public speaking class. I must have had a study hall and gotten a pass, because I got to be in the class, listening as the writer wove one wonderful tale after another, how being the on-air personality of The Twilight Zone wasn't his favorite thing, etc. What struck me, though, was that he was smoking his constant cigarette in the classroom!

Rod Serling would have been 81 on Christmas Day. Unfortunately, those constant cigarettes killed him in 1975.

Nevertheless (and despite the fact he was actually born near Syracuse), he was my hometown hero, who scared the bejesus out of me as a child, and continued to surprise a few years later.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Ask Me Anything

Once again, it's time for Ask Roger Anything. If you only knew the things you could ask.

There will be no pleading the Fifth, or "I don't remember". Unless I really don't remember, in which I'll fess up to that.

Sample question: Have you ever worn a black bra on your head like

this man?

Sample answer: Not to my recollection. Of course, those college years ARE a bit hazy...

Ask now, and I'll answer on December 27 or 28.

Jackie Robinson: Historical Role


Jackie Robinson's importance to sport and society is enormous. But when this site Eyewitness to History states that Jackie Robinson was the "first Black player in major league baseball", it is incorrect. As this site from the Library of Congress notes, there were Black players in the 19th century. Jackie Robinson broke "baseball's color barrier", as the Baseball Hall of Fame put it, but it was a wall that was once down, then rebuilt.

Wikipedia writes that Robinson "became the first African American Major League Baseball player of the modern era in 1947", and that would be correct, the "modern era" usually referring to the advent of the American League in 1901. However, Wikipedia's list of first black Major League Baseball players by team and date would be more accurate if it indicated "since 1900" or another qualifying term.

This in no way meant to dimishish the contribution made by and courage shown by Jackie Robinson.

(CREDIT: "Jackie Robinson comic book." Greenwich, CT: Fawcett Publications, July 1951. Vol. 1, no. 5. By Popular Demand: Jackie Robinson and Other Baseball Highlights, 1860s-1960s, Library of Congress. )

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Thing I get by e-mail...

...want to share, but have no overreaching theme:



And speaking of overreaching (I stupidly watched the press conference yesterday- grrr!), will W finally be impeached, or at least reined in?

The Constitution in Crisis, a 273-page PDF.
***
Most of us take those summons for jury duty seriously, but enough people skip out on their civic duty that a new and ominous kind of scam has surfaced. Fall for it and your identity could be stolen, reports CBS News.

In this con, someone calls pretending to be a court official who threateningly says a warrant has been issued for your arrest because you didn't show up for jury duty. The caller claims to be a jury coordinator. If you protest that you never received a summons for jury duty, the scammer asks you for your Social Security number and date of birth so he or she can verify the information and cancel the arrest warrant. Sometimes the crooks even ask for credit card numbers. Give out any of this information and bingo! Your identity just got stolen.

The scam has been reported so far in 11 states, including Oklahoma, Illinois and Colorado.

Martha Rhynes, a real jury coordinator in Grayson County, Okla., told KXII-TV, "We never call and ask anyone for their Social Security number, date of birth, or other personal information." Instead, the courts communicate with potential jurors only by mail and never by phone, including people who don't show up. Most states don't even have jurors' phone numbers until they have actually been chosen to sit on a jury. And even then, such information is sealed with the court records. Rhynes's advice? Never give out personal information over the phone to anyone.

"This (scam) is particularly insidious because they use intimidation over the phone to try and bully people into giving information by pretending they're with the court system," Scott Holste, spokesman for the Missouri Attorney General's Office, told the Missourian News.

The FBI and the federal court system have issued nationwide alerts on their Web sites, warning consumers about the fraud.


Being a cynic sort, I would not pass it on to you without verification: Snopes calls this one TRUE.
***
How Secure Are Shopping Data? Not very, I'm afraid.
***
For New Yorkers:
Gov. Pataki calls back legislature to revive broken death penalty! Assembly and State Senate are scheduled to meet Wednesday, December 21. Please act right now. Governor Pataki has a given us a lump of coal for Christmas. Please call your Assembly member and State Senator NOW.
Message- we don't need a death penalty to protect our police. The facts are
clear: the death penalty is not a deterrent and there are far better ways to honor and support our police than bringing it back.

Time is obviously extremely short. Telephone calls and faxes are needed NOW. Once again, in NYC, to locate your state legislators, please visit http://www.lwvnyc.org/TRY_find.html. (Outside NYC, http://www.lwvny.org/, Citizen Action Toolkit, My Elected Officials)

Please tell your legislators that we know that the capital punishment system is intrinsically flawed and unnecessary. Legislation which is thrown together, in ignorance and in disregard of the facts, dishonors us, our police and our government.

Please contact info@nyadp.org for more info.

***
And now, for something completely different (and disturbing):

One take on this odd phenomenon.

And another.

(The Last Two) Fridays on my mind

12/9: I'm lying in bed and my wife says to me, "Albany schools are CLOSED because of the snow!" Groggy, I'm thinking, "Yeah, that's nice. So what? We live in Albany, but you don't teach in Albany, we don't have a kid going to school in Albany schools." Had I been more awake, I would have picked up on the nuance; if Albany schools are closed, then virtually ALL the schools are closed. And indeed they were, including the two where Carol teaches. Except the school in Rensselaer, who went "Nyah-nyah" to everyone else when the storm wasn't as bad as many had feared.

This meant I could go to racquetball without taking Lydia to day care first, as her mother would take her.

We had a babysitter that night and went to hear the Albany Symphony Orchestra at the "acoustically perfect" Troy Savings Bank Music Hall. Friends at church, Philip and Marilyn, had tickets they couldn't use. The first segment was the world premiere of Dr. Michael Woods' "funk and jazz-inspired" "Places of Light". It was enjoyable, but it reminded me in places of 1970s and 1980s television detective show theme songs such as the Rockford Files and Ironside. The next part was Spirituals at the Holidays featuring 6 African American spirituals newly re-imagined by leading American composers and sung by young African American baritone, Nathan De'Shon Myers. Not only was he great, but the pieces were as well. The dialogue between the singer and the horn player in the last piece was tremendous.

During the intermission, I saw a number of folks I knew, many from church. Then there was this woman who looked VERY familiar, but who I could not place. It appeared she was having a similar experience. I told her my name, and she told me hers, then suddenly I knew EXACTLY who she was: she was, and maybe still is, the best friend of my ex-wife. We had a pleasant enough time, though, when my current wife comes over. Naturally, I had to introduce them. Carol says, "So how do you know each other?" The woman and I look at each other uncomfortably, before I said, "We have a mutual acquaintance." Almost immediately after that, I noted who the "mutual acquaintance" was. I'm not so sure why I was being so coy about it at first.

The second part of the sold-out concert was Beethoven's 5th. The tune is so well known as to invite parody. There's the Fifth of Beethoven by Walter Murphy that appears on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. P.D.Q Bach does a hilarious "New Horizons In Music Appreciation" that sounds like footbal play-by-play on this album. So the conductor took the first four notes quite fast, and the reply more elongated.

Even married folks need to date.

12/16: Carol's two schools are each delayed two hours, which means she only has to go to the latter. I check the listings and the day care is not on the list at 6:25. So, I take Lydia on the bus, only to find the day care, which was open last week, was indeed closed. The problem is that I have 25 minutes until the next bus home, and freezing rain's coming down. I thought to stop at the Dunkin' Donuts, but I had no cash. So I stopped at the drug store, put her in the cart, and rode her around for 15 minutes, buying nothing. We went out to wait for the bus in a fairly sheltered area, loitering in front of a not-yet-open shop. I drop Lydia off with her mother, try to get back downtown in time to play some racquetball, but it's too late, so I head to work. I call Carol at home and say,that I'll come home if she wants to go to her second school. But she's already decided that she doesn't want to go out if she doesn't have to in this weather.


And it's a good thing I'm at work, because others were not. This storm, with far less snow, was worse because of the ice, and some of the folks at work weren't making it in at all.

It appeared to me that the administrators of the schools that closed on the 9th felt so badly to lose the day that they stubbornly (and wrongly, to my mind) decided to be open on the following week, when it was far more treacherous.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Stupid Verizon

When last we chatted about this, Verizon owed us a check for $67 but instead, sent us a bill for $87. The good news is that the bill was inexplicably reduced to $22. The better news is that we got the $67. The bad news - you KNEW there was bad news - is that Verizon is threatening us with collection procedures if we don't pay them the $22, which of course we won't because WE DIDN'T ORDER ANY SERVICE FROM THEM ON SEPTEMBER 6, WE DISCONNECTED SERVICE FROM THEM ON SEPTEMBER 6.

I call today, lest our credit become besmirched. Apparently, the technician who came on September 6 was not the necessary authorization of the disconnecting of the second line, even though he disconnected the second line. That order didn't go in until October 31, when I had my last conversation with Verizon customer service.

In any case, I was told that it would be taken care of today. As if I actually believe that. If I mention this topic again, know that my blood pressure will have gone up 20 points.

What Should I Be Doing? Am I a Humanist?

It's the end of year, a time of reflecton. What am I doing what I'm doing with my life?
science
What career should you have?

brought to you by Quizilla


This is silly. I'd never be a scientist. I'm a splash of this, a jigger of that kind of guy, not an x milliliters of this and y cubic centimters of that.

I did have an old girlfriend to whom I would say, "She's tidied up and I can't find anything", because she used to tidy up and I COULDN'T find anything. She diddn't much like it when I said that, but then I didn't much like her hiding my stuff.

(That was NOT a total non sequiter.)

As for the meme below, don't even know where I got this. I went to Gordon's site then a link from that, then a link from that. Definitely a European, rather than an American perspective, which I liked...

Haymaker




You are one of life’s enjoyers, determined to get the most you can out of your brief spell on Earth. Probably what first attracted you to atheism was the prospect of liberation from the Ten Commandments, few of which are compatible with a life of pleasure. You play hard and work quite hard, have a strong sense of loyalty and a relaxed but consistent approach to your philosophy.

You can’t see the point of abstract principles and probably wouldn’t lay down your life for a concept though you might for a friend. Something of a champagne humanist, you admire George Bernard Shaw for his cheerful agnosticism and pursuit of sensual rewards and your Hollywood hero is Marlon Brando, who was beautiful, irascible and aimed for goodness in his own tortured way.

Sometimes you might be tempted to allow your own pleasures to take precedence over your ethics. But everyone is striving for that elusive balance between the good and the happy life. You’d probably open another bottle and say there’s no contest.


What kind of humanist are you? Click here to find out.

This is mighty interesting, since I'm NOT an atheist, merely "liberal" (whatever that means) theologically. But I DO relate to perhaps 50% of the first paragraph, the part about having a "strong sense of loyalty and a relaxed but consistent approach to your philosophy."

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Political Heroes


Something (obvious) that occurred to me today is that, as I age, an increasing number of people that I've admired will die per year, people with whom I grew up, figuratively or literally. Two that passed recently were
Jack Anderson, a reporter so tenacious in his incvestigation of Richard Nixon's Presidency that he made it onto Nixon's Enemies List, which many considered a badge of honor, and

William Proxmire, Senator from Wisconsin, whose savage attacks on goverment spending, especially the military industrial complex, and his entertaining "Golden Fleece" award.

I certainly won't note every significant passing, but these two giants, for this political science major, could not go unmentioned.

QB rating


You can always tell it's the holiday season: NFL games on Saturday. (Giants won!)

Some time ago, someone asked me, just how does that quarterback ratings thing work? Being a librarian in good standing, I had to find out. Since the regular season is winding down, I thought I'd share it with you.

But before I get to that, I want to be on record that I take no responsibility for this man wearing a brassiere on his head, just because I sent him two boxes of Royal gelatin, one cherry and one strawberry. Having said that, the headwear is quite becoming, and looks like one of those old-fashioned football helmets. It's likely to become a new fashion statement, a retro look. You read it here first.
Lefty Brown: trendsetter
Kelly Brown: there to capture it on film
Roger Green: innocent bystander

And now those QB ratings-
Since it was a while back (2001), the records may have changed, but the formula has not:

NFL quarterback rating formula
The NFL rates its passers for statistical purposes against a fixed performance standard based on statistical achievements of all qualified pro passers since 1960. The current system replaced one that rated passers in relation to their position in a total group based on various criteria.
The current system, which was adopted in 1973, removes inequities that existed in the former method and, at the same time, provides a means of comparing passing performances from one season to the next.
It is important to remember that the system is used to rate pass-ers, not quarterbacks. Statistics do not reflect leadership, play-calling, and other intangible factors that go into making a successful professional quarterback.
Four categories are used as a basis for compiling a rating:
• Percentage of completions per attempt
• Average yards gained per attempt
• Percentage of touchdown passes per attempt
• Percentage of interceptions per attempt
The average standard, is 1.000. The bottom is .000. To earn a 2.000 rating, a passer must perform at exceptional levels, i.e., 70 percent in completions, 10 percent in touchdowns, 1.5 percent in interceptions, and 11 yards average gain per pass attempt. The maximum a passer can receive in any category is 2.375.
For example, to gain a 2.375 in completion percentage, a passer would have to complete 77.5 percent of his passes. The NFL record is 70.55 by Ken Anderson (Cincinnati, 1982).
To earn a 2.375 in percentage of touchdowns, a passer would have to achieve a percentage of 11.9. The record is 13.9 by Sid Luckman (Chicago, 1943).
To gain 2.375 in percentage of interceptions, a passer would have to go the entire season without an interception. The 2.375 figure in average yards is 12.50, compared with the NFL record of 11.17 by Tommy O'Connell (Cleveland, 1957).
In order to make the rating more understandable, the point rating is then converted into a scale of 100. In rare cases, where statistical performance has been superior, it is possible for a passer to surpass a 100 rating.
For example, take Steve Young's record-setting season in 1994 when he completed 324 of 461 passes for 3,969 yards, 35 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions.
The four calculations would be:
• Percentage of Completions — 324 of 461 is 70.28 percent. Subtract 30 from the completion percentage (40.28) and multiply the result by 0.05. The result is a point rating of 2.014.
Note: If the result is less than zero (Comp. Pct. less than 30.0), award zero points. If the results are greater than 2.375 (Comp. Pct. greater than 77.5), award 2.375.
• Average Yards Gained Per Attempt — 3,969 yards divided by 461 attempts is 8.61. Subtract three yards from yards-per-attempt (5.61) and multiply the result by 0.25. The result is 1.403.
Note: If the result is less than zero (yards per attempt less than 3.0), award zero points. If the result is greater than 2.375 (yards per attempt greater than 12.5), award 2.375 points.
• Percentage of Touchdown Passes — 35 touchdowns in 461 attempts is 7.59 percent. Multiply the touchdown percentage by 0.2. The result is 1.518.
Note: If the result is greater than 2.375 (touchdown percentage greater than 11.875), award 2.375.
• Percentage of Interceptions — 10 interceptions in 461 attempts is 2.17 percent. Multiply the interception percentage by 0.25 (0.542) and subtract the number from 2.375. The result is 1.833.
Note: If the result is less than zero (interception percentage greater than 9.5), award zero points.
The sum of the four steps is (2.014 + 1.403 + 1.518 + 1.833) 6.768. The sum is then divided by six (1.128) and multiplied by 100. In this case, the result is 112.8. This same formula can be used to determine a passer rating for any player who attempts at least one pass.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

John Spencer


This story begins: John Spencer is one of those actors whose face you recognize right away, but the name might elude you. Before his portrayal of wrong-side-of-the-tracks lawyer Tommy Mullaney in the last four years of L.A. Law, a show I watched regularly, that would be true for me. He was on the Patty Duke Show in the mid-'60's as Cathy Lane's boyfriend Henry Anderson? I watched that, too, but don't specifically remember him. The curse of the working actor.

And spooky that his character on the West Wing , Leo McGarry, should suffer a heart attack, then John should die of one just shy of his 59th birthday.

He had a great fan base; in other words, he was a hunk to persons of a certain age. The picture above is from the John Spencer Estrogen Brigade. The inscription reads: "To my gals in the Brigade, all my best, John Spencer 1/02."

Three Christmas Questions


If you would be so kind:

1. Tell Me What You Want, What You Really, Really Want for Christmas
(Oh, no! I've been posssessed by 90's female singers. It's a week before Christmas. I need HELP!)

2. Tell Me What You Realy Are Most Looking Forward to Giving This Year

3. A favorite holiday memory.

My answers in the response section.

(The picture e-mailed to me by a comic book artist. Actually, he sent me a dozen, only two of which were clean.)

Friday, December 16, 2005

A (Very ) Few Links

Sometimes, time gets away from me, holidays and all. I'd planned a much longer thing. In any case, I really wanted to plug the second item, since it's time-sensitive.

Superdickery: A site dedicated to the proposition that a certain Man of Steel is a... - includes comic covers that I find often rather funny in the "what were they thinking?" way.

Liberal Coalition Lefty, who is a member, turned me onto this blog some time ago. From there I found Neural Gourmet, which is currently doing a Carnival of Bad History 4 Call For Submissions

What is bad history? From the home site of the CoBH, it’s bad history whenever:

History is badly presented. This is usually in TV, movies or books. For instance, if you see a Roman soldier wearing a digital watch then you can be pretty sure it’s bad history.
History is badly used. Ever known a politician to draw unjustified historical parallels or even outright lie about a historical event? No? Your cable TV must be out! You need to be reading the Carnival of Bad History more.
Historians behave badly. While it’s unlikely you’re ever going to see a Historians Gone Wild! video, historians are all too human. Plagiarism, corporate sell-outs, frequent appearances on TV talking head shows… All bad history for the most part.
Deadline 12/22

Greg and other historians, submit! (I mean "submit ideas".)

Golems of light endlessly toil and play,
waiting for instructions for another day.

Reminds me of what I think goes on this time of year at the North Pole.

Are electronic voting machines with proprietary software are inherently fraudulent? Probably.

Someone sent me this nearly year-old link about biometric payments only recently. The somewhat creepy animation got me thinking, though: How is


Piggly Wiggly different from



Porky Pig? It's in the eyes, or more specifically, in the shape of the eyes, the eyeballs, and the thickness of the lines around the eyes. They both like bowties, though.



How Swearing Works, dammit!

Friend Bill writes: They Might Be Giants wrote and performed songs specifically about each venue they played on their last tour. Click on the Albany link for something I hope you'll all get a kick out of. LINK. (As a bonus for all comix fans, check out the Dallas link for some Kim Deitch animation.)

The Official Reality Dot Appreciation Page

"You're ruining your reputation/ And I can give two reasons why..." Indeed.
Hope y'all can play an mp3:
Worst song ever- I swear I posted this before, but I searched for it and could not find it.

Now I'll go over to Burgas' site and follow the rest of the links he posted last week.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Ted Baxter


Dear Fred:

Really liked your story about you killing Ted Baxter. The Mary Tyler Moore Show is one of my two favorite sitcoms, along with the Dick van Dyke Show, another one of your favorites as well. (What is the commonality there?) But did you know that Ted Knight got started on television right here in the Capital Region, where you used to live, and where I still do? Check out this story.

I must admit, though, that I've NEVER seen the last episode of the Mary Tyler Moore Show! Now, I've seen clips - the Kleenex scene, for instance - but not the whole program. I've managed to miss it in reruns, even though it was on TV Land or Nick at Nite on New Year's Eve for a number of years. If you see it on the cable schedule, please let me know, O.K.?

Another confession: there was a period when I would confuse Ted Knight with another silver-haired fellow, Jack Cassidy, who was married to Shirley Jones. (Did you know that the Partridge Family was Gordon's guilty pleasure?) Jack was David's father, and Shirley was David's step-mom. Of course, a cultural maven such as yourself would NEVER make such a mistake, would you?

Glad that your reduced blogging schedule is working for you, though I miss those daily words of wisdom.

And where's the Macca review?

All the best, Roger

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Pink eye

It was very evident that some strange stuff was coming out of Lydia’s eyes. This was diagnosed to be the dreaded "pink eye", likely caused by a sinus ailment or allergy in her case. However, her eyes weren't all that pink.

One of the things some new parents don’t know are nuanced ways to accomplish certain goals in a manner less stressful for all concerned. For instance, we were told to put eye drops in her eyes four times a day, two drops in each side. Insanely, we took this to mean actually trying to get drops IN her open eyes, which involved sometimes 10 minutes and two of us holding down a 30-pound baby – she is VERY strong - before mentioning this difficulty to a couple people, who suggested putting drops in the CORNER of the eyes and working in the drops. This I can do myself in less than a minute, and it’s much less onerous for all concerned.

Truth is, in terms of available sick time, I should take off all of the occasions that Lydia is ill. Because I’ve been in the job so long, my sick days number something like 140, no exaggeration. But in terms of the effect of trying to keep up with our respective jobs, we try to be more equitable. So Monday and Tuesday, I was at home with Lydia, Wednesday, Carol was, and Lydia was back in day care on Thursday.

When we were in the doctor’s office, Lydia was playing with the toys in the waiting room. A white girl, about seven, went over to play in the same area. Her father whispered across the room, "Come here!" He told his child, "You shouldn’t play over there! Over there they have," and a slight pause. So what’s the punch line? "Sick children play over there." Well, yes, they do. So maybe I was being paranoid.

It was fairly cold out much of last week, but Lydia needs to get some air, lest she go stir-crazy. So on Tuesday, I took her in her carriage to the local grocery store. I saw this older couple. The woman was picking up eggs. The man, who was at the cart, said, "Make sure you get good ones!" Presumably, he meant getting ones that were unbroken. He couldn’t see her face, but I could, and her look suggested this monologue in her head: "Shut up, old man! I’ve been buying groceries for decades without your stupid help!" I’m guessing that he’s a retired guy, maybe a former middle manager, with way too much time on his hands.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

If I Were a Comic Book Character

Near-twin Gordon added me to the Avengers, and I pilfer him yet again with a comic character-related thing.

Your results:
You are Superman
Superman
80%
Hulk
75%
Spider-Man
65%
Supergirl
62%
The Flash
60%
Robin
54%
Batman
45%
Catwoman
45%
Green Lantern
40%
Wonder Woman
32%
Iron Man
20%
You are mild-mannered, good,
strong and you love to help others.
Click here to take the "Which Superhero are you?" quiz...


Well, I am a librarian, so I do like to help others, not to mention my obligation to truth and justice. but I always related more to Spidey. But I do look good in blue.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Rock Meme-Frank Sinatra


There was this local politician named Jim Coyne who as Albany County Executive had the Knickerbocker Arena (now known as the, ugh, "Pepsi Arena") built, went to jail for misappropriation of funds regarding the same, and is now back, renovating the Washington Armory, and bringing back pro (continental Basketball Association) basketball to the city in the form of the Albany Patroons, a team he supported back in the 1980s. Fitzgerald was wrong- there ARE second acts in American lives.

And what does this have to do with Frank Sinatra, you ask? Ol' Blue Eyes was the first performer at the Arena.

Artist/Band: Francis Albert Sinatra (b. 12/12/1915, d. 5/14/1998)
Are you male or female: Mack the Knife
Describe yourself: High Hopes; Good Life
How do some people feel about you: Call Me Irresponsible
How do you feel about yourself: Deep in a Dream
Describe what you want to be: The Best of Everything
Describe how you live: Nice 'N' Easy
Describe how you love: Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart; Tell Her That You Love Her Every Day
Share a few words of wisdom: When You're Smiling (the Whole World Smiles With You)
***
Now, it's also friend Gladys' birthday. She HATES Sinatra, but is OK with Dionne Warwick, who also has a birthday today. Happy birthday, GC.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Raunchy Richard and Clean Gene


I voted for Eugene McCarthy for President. Not in 1968, when his over 42% showing in the New Hampshire Democratic primary toppled a sitting President. I always felt sorry for McCarthy, who unwittingly became the stalking hose for Bobby Kennedy’s run for the nomination. But I was too young to vote.

In 1976, McCarthy was again running for President, but I did not get a chance to vote for him in the Democratic primary in New York, because the supporters of Jimmy Carter got him forced off the ballot. It was probably done legally – New York state election law is quite arcane – but I felt it was so terribly undemocratic.

So when the general election came up, and my choices were Carter, who admitted to having lust in his heart in a Playboy interview (which didn’t offend me as much as it seemed not very savvy) and Gerald Ford, the bumbling-seeming, Nixon-pardoning 25th Amendment President, I decided on a third way. I wrote in the name of the person I thought we most needed in a post-Watergate America, the scrupulous Gene McCarthy. Yeah, it was a quixotic gesture, not the last time I would "throw away" my vote, but I felt good doing so.
***

Richard Pryor’s 1977 TV series was "appointment television" in my household. That first show with the celebrated nude but emasculated comedian felt like truth, not just in terms of network censors, but also about race in America. Unfortunately, it was a short appointment, as the series was canceled in a couple months.

Peculiarly, my favorite bit on the show, didn’t involve Richard. The Pips were on doing "Midnight Train to Georgia"; no Gladys Knight, just her back-up singers. The camera would pan to an empty mike when Gladys’ part came up, then her brother and cousins did all of their “woo woo” parts, including the steps. I thought it was hysterical.

Subsequently, I also was a big fan of comedy specials by Pryor and Lily Tomlin. It seemed that each was the primary guest in each other’s gigs, and I’d love to see them and the Pyror series again to see how they held up.

I wasn’t always a fan of Richard’s more provocative language. He was very funny clean, and did a wicked impression of Bill Cosby, for one. But I also recognized that he brought truth to light, especially in his "concert" movies.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Three Baseball Hall of Fame Questions

These are the 29 candidates on Hall of Fame Ballot. The results will be announced January 10, 2006:

RICK AGUILERA: 1st year on the ballot…
ALBERT BELLE: 1st year on the ballot…
BERT BLYLEVEN: 9th year on the ballot…
WILL CLARK: 1st year on the ballot…
DAVE CONCEPCION: 13th year on the ballot…
ANDRE DAWSON: 5th year on the ballot…
GARY DiSARCINA: 1st year on the ballot…
ALEX FERNANDEZ: 1st year on the ballot…
GARY GAETTI: 1st year on the ballot…
STEVE GARVEY: 14th year on the ballot…
DWIGHT GOODEN: 1st year on the ballot…
RICH GOSSAGE: 7th year on the ballot…
OZZIE GUILLEN: 1st year on the ballot…
OREL HERSHISHER: 1st year on the ballot……
GREGG JEFFERIES: 1st year on the ballot…
TOMMY JOHN: 12th year on the ballot…
DOUG JONES: 1st year on the ballot…
DON MATTINGLY: 6th year on the ballot…
WILLIE MCGEE: 2nd year on the ballot and only returnee among 2005 first-year eligibles…
HAL MORRIS: 1st year on the ballot…
JACK MORRIS: 7th year on the ballot…
DALE MURPHY: 8th year on the ballot…
DAVE PARKER: 10th year on the ballot…
JIM RICE: 12th year on the ballot…
LEE SMITH: 4th year on the ballot…
BRUCE SUTTER: 13th year on the ballot…
ALAN TRAMMELL: 5th year on the ballot…
WALT WEISS: 1st year on the ballot…
JOHN WETTELAND: 1st year on the ballot…

My questions:

1) Who would you vote for (maximum of 10)?
2) Who WILL get in this time?
3) Who will get less than 5% of the vote and therefore will never be considered again?

My answers in the response box.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Blogging advice from Dear Abby

A letter from Dear Abby this past week read:

DEAR ABBY: Please warn your readers that their Web pages and blogs could stand in the way of securing a job! Just as employers have learned to read e-mail and blogs, they have learned to screen candidates through their sites.

Many people in their 20s and 30s wrongly believe their creations are entertaining and informative. Employers are not seeking political activists, evangelizers, whiners or tattletales. They do not want to find themselves facing a lawsuit or on the front page of a newspaper because a client, patient or parent of a student discovered a comment written by an employee.
The job market is tight, and job seekers must remember their computer skills can either help them land a position or destroy a job prospect. -- CHICAGO EMPLOYER

DEAR EMPLOYER: You have opened up a line of thought I'll bet a lot of job applicants -- and future job applicants -- have never considered. Googling a name isn't difficult, and it could lead to an applicant's blog. Most bloggers write to be read, and invite people to comment. Thank you for the reminder that those who blog should remember that they are open to public scrutiny, and that if they apply for a job, everything about them will be considered -- including their blog. Prospective employers are certainly within their rights to make decisions based upon what they read.


I think that's really good advice. For instance it would be really inappropriate to print this picture from Greenpeace

especially knowing that it is so inflammatory.

Oh, I also love the line in the letter, "Many people in their 20s and 30s wrongly believe their creations are entertaining and informative." So is he saying blogs from folks that age are NOT entertaining and/or informative? How about older people? Does he think they more entertaining or that they just don't blog?

Thursday, December 08, 2005

I heard it from Cosell


I broke up with my girlfriend at the time on December 1, 1980, a breakup full of drama. I’m not at all sure I would have remembered the date except what happened subsequently.

It’s not that she FORBADE me from watching Monday Night football, but it wasn’t something she liked to do, so I tended not to watch it that often. But with her gone, I practically HAD to watch MNF, just as I had to leave the dishes in the sink for HOURS before washing them, playing music that she hated, and so on.

So, it was in the throes of glorious "I’m watching football at 11 o’clock and you can’t say a damn thing about it" when I hear Howard Cosell announce that John Lennon had been shot and killed. Almost immediately, I flip on my radio station of choice, Q104, to hear what they had to say. The information, now well-documented, came out in dribs and drabs, as breaking stories usually do.

I had to call my friend Karen. Karen was/is my oldest friend, who I’ve known since kindergarten. She was a greater Beatleologist than I was. In sixth grade, she wrote a short story in our newsletter about meeting the Beatles which was very good, and not just by sixth grade standards. She’d been in the music industry ever since, from working in a record store to working for various record labels. She was thrilled that she would be promoting Double Fantasy, the new Lennon/Ono album that had been out for only a few weeks. But her line was busy.

I called my ex-girlfriend and told her the news, which she appreciated.

Periodically, I’d call Karen, while listening to the radio, but her line was still engaged. Finally at 2 a.m., I reached her. She heard my voice and just cried for ten minutes, then told me she’d call me back soon.

That morning, I went to the record store (Just a Song or Strawberry’s) to buy Double Fantasy, but there wasn’t a copy to be had. So I bought Rock ‘N’ Roll.

The following Sunday, Yoko requested 10 minutes of reflection at 2 p.m. The store I worked in, FantaCo, locked the door for those 10 aching minutes; a couple of the old-time customers who were Beatles/Lennon fans opted to be locked in as well.

That month, and indeed for several months thereafter, there were certain songs that were just too difficult to listen to. One was "(Just Like) Starting Over", the first single from the album that was rendered just too painfully ironic. The other was the song of the season, "Merry Xmas (War Is Over)". Whatever his failings, John was working for peace. In fact, it was rumored that in 1981, he would be working on the anti-nuke campaign. So his shooting death made the song unlistenable for a good long while.

The sudden deaths of people we don’t even know can have profound impact on most of us, different from the deaths we expected. We still can be surprised somehow by anticipated deaths, people slowly going into decline, and of course, we still grieve. But quick and violent deaths of people one has come to admire (for me, Lennon, ML King, JFK) always made me feel unsettled, as though life were just a random crapshoot.

As I indicated here, I had a great identification with John Lennon, more so than the other Beatles, more so than just about anyone that I did not know personally. So it wasn't just the death of an icon, or the end of my youth, or other such analyses that I read at the time. It ws as though a little of my own identity died.

There's a commorative publication that LIFE magazine put out recently of pictures throughout John Lennon's life, that I saw at the local drugstore rthis week. Many of the photos I had seen, but a few I had not. It was $10.95, and I almost bought it. But I really didn't need the reminder. Twenty-five years ago; I remember it as though it were 25 days ago.
***
Friend Fred, who was living just across the river from me at the time, also remembers.

Lennon covers to aid Amnesty International.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Too many Dilberts on this bus


From friend Anne:

A magazine recently ran a "Dilbert Quotes" contest. They were looking for people to submit quotes from their real-life Dilbert-type managers. These were voted the top ten quotes from the Dilberts we work for in corporate America, circa 2004:

1. "As of tomorrow, employees will only be able to access the building using individual security cards. Pictures will be taken next Wednesday, and employees will receive their cards in two weeks."
(This was the winning quote from Fred Dales, Microsoft Corp. in Redmond, WA)

2. "What I need is an exact list of specific unknown problems we might encounter."
(Lykes Lines Shipping)

3. "E-mail is not to be used to pass on information or data. It should be used only for company business." ]
(Accounting manager, Electric Boat Company)

4. "This project is so important, we can't let things that are more important interfere with it."
(Advertising/Marketing manager, United Parcel Service)

5. "Doing it right is no excuse for not meeting the schedule."
(Plant Manager, Delco Corporation)

6. "No one will believe you solved this problem in one day! We've been working on it for months.
Now go act busy for a few weeks and I'll let you know when it's time to tell them."
(R&D supervisor, Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing/3M Corp.)

7. Quote from the Boss: "Teamwork is a lot of people doing what I say."
(Marketing executive, Citrix Corporation)

8. My sister passed away and her funeral was scheduled for Monday. When I told my Boss, he said she died on purpose so that I would have to miss work on the busiest day of the year. He then asked if we could change her burial to Friday.
He said, "That would be better for me."
(Shipping executive, FTD Florists)

9. "We know that communication is a problem, but the company is not going to discuss it with the employees."
(Switching supervisor, AT&T Long Lines Division)

10. One day my Boss asked me to submit a status report to him concerning a project I was working on. I asked him if tomorrow would be soon enough.
He said, "If I wanted it tomorrow, I would have waited until tomorrow to ask for it!"
(Hallmark Cards executive)

Feingold for President


I’ve decided I will be supporting Russ Feingold for President in 2008.

You may wonder why I would support anyone this early, particularly someone who is not a declared candidate. But he’s making all those all-but-declared candidate noises, setting up means of collecting contributions and the like.

So why Russ Feingold? For one thing, he seems to make up his mind before consulting a pollster, unlike the 2004 Democratic candidate for President.

He opposed the war in Iraq at a time when doing so was not very popular, and he voted in the Senate against our involvement. When he spoke a few weeks ago on ABC News’ This Week, he spoke forcefully about how the administration’s case for war didn’t make sense. He noted, and I believed it then and now, that the war in Iraq is fomenting terrorism, not stopping it. He’s also been a proponent of finding a way out of Iraq before the recent flurry of "me-too"ism.

He stood alone in his opposition to the vile so-called USA PATRIOT Act. (And for information about the none-too-desirable reauthorization of the bill, which may be voted on as early as TODAY, check here.)

He is the co-author of the McCain-Feingold bill to try to limit campaign spending. If it has not been a complete success, with so-called 527s popping up to get around the bill, it seemed to have curbed some of the abuses.

He appears to be his own person. He broke with most of his fellow Democrats and voted for John Roberts for chief justice. But he hasn’t eliminated the possibility that he will be a part of a filibuster if Sam Alito turns out to be the kind of extremist that the early signs suggest.

If he runs, he’ll have some so-called negatives, among them:

He’s Jewish. That’s not a problem for me, but it may be an issue for some of the leaders of the Democratic party who fear offending some segment of its base.

He’s been divorced, twice. Nelson Rockefeller’s one divorce followed by remarriage really hurt him when he ran for President in the1960s, but Ronald Reagan’s divorce was hardly an issue when he ran in`1976 and beyond. How the situation affects Feingold, I just don’t know.

I came to my decision before I discovered one fact that is personally fascinating; he’s five days older than I am. Same month, same year, same astrological sign.

Of course, if he ultimately chooses not to run, I'll look elsewhere, but no one else particularly interest me, and I have absolute antipathy for some of the possibles bandied about.

Coming soon: my Vice Presidential pick.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Ice dancing, motherhood, and the American flag




It's rather like a soap opera with a dash of politics thrown in.

Tanith Belbin, resident alien, and Ben Agosto, U.S. citizen, is the team that provides the United States with the best chance of medalling in ice dancing at the 2006 Olympics in a couple months. Tanith, a Canadian, applied for U.S. citizenship in 1999, but the process is such that she wouldn't be an American until it was too late for the Games.

A member of Congress wrote legislation allowing Tanith's citizenship process to be expedited. However, the mother of one of the other competitors complains to her Senator, one Hillary Clinton, to the effect that a foreign national should not be given special treatment. Ironically, the only reason that the U.S. will have three ice dancing teams instead of two at the Olympics is that a team skating for the United States came in second at the World Championships. That team? Belbin and Agosto, of course. (The Worlds have different criteria for nationality than the Olympics.)

The legislation, which was attached to another bill, was defeated, but Tanith and Ben have hope that the item will revived and attached to another bill.

Will Tanith Belbin gain her citizenship before January 10, the deadline for picking the Olympic teams?

Will Ben Agosto recover from the painful injury that is keeping them out of competition in Japan this week?

Will Belbin and Agosto be on the Olympic team?

Will David Mitchell (the son of the complaining mother) and his partner make the team, with or without the competition of Belbin and Agosto?

Monday, December 05, 2005

Lost, the quiz

My near-twin Gordon did this on his page, and I thought I'd try it. Thing is:
I've never seen Lost. Ever. Well, for about five minutes when Julie Bowen appears in a flashback with Matthew Fox. So what does this really mean?

Kate
You are Kate. Breathtakingly beautiful, seemingly
pure of heart, and you can even sew your own
curtains! You listen to Patsy Cline anywhere
and know how to work a farm. Your past haunts
you. An accused criminal, are you innocent or
guilty? The only thing thing we know you're
guilty of is not giving Charlie the attention
he needs.

Which Lost Character Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Meanwhile, two stars of the show are arrested for being under the influence of alcohol, twenty minutes apart. I suppose living in a tropical paradise seems romantic, but the work and the isolation are starting to take its toll. I know Rodriguez started this season; how about Watros?

And in another sense of Lost, the usually apolitical Fred Hembeck who REALLY lost the 2004 election.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Hello Contest Winners

I had two (count 'em) two contestants for the World Hello Day contest. The first big winner is Gordon, who, not so incidentally mentioned me in a recent post. "Quiet dignity," eh? The second is Chris "Lefty" Brown, progenitor of his own awards event.

Gordon will receive a copy of a Dave Barry book.
Both of them will get a copy of my Hello CD (a bunch of songs with Hello or Welcome in the title), plus a CD I just whipped out from Hello records. Hello was a record label that put out interesting music. I have albums from 1993 through 1996.
The track list for this is:

Backstabbing Liar-Mono Puff
Cellar Door-Laura Cantrell (who I heard on A Prairie Home Companion just yesterday)
Your New Boy-You Were Spiraling
Red Bra & Panties-Will Rigby
Dark Green-the Coctails
Jack Hammers-Chaz and the Motorbikes
Prince of Orange-Andy Partridge (yes, the guy from XTC)
South Carolina-John Linnell
Sodium Mask-Hello, the Band
YeahYeahYeah (Atomic Mix)-Alaska
Our Lady of Oklahoma-Peter Stampfel
Happy-Go-Dumpy Summer-Brian Dewan
The Ocean-Kurt Hoffman’s Band of Weeds (yes, the Led Zeppelin son, done...differently)
The Whiskey Makes You Sweeter-Amy Allison and the Maudlins
Sinners of July-Spondee
Love Song 110-Spanish Fly
Don’t Let’s Start-They Might Be Giants (live)

And they get the other stuff too. The package goes out tomorrow.

Oh, the answers:
At first so strange to feel so friendly
To say good morning and really mean it
To feel these changes happening in me
But not to notice till I feel it.


Twelve-Thirty (Young Girls Are Coming to the Canyon) by the Mamas & the Papas, written by Papa John Phillips.

And not so incidentally, I used the Hello method with this woman on the bus I saw every weekday, and it WORKED. She had seemed a bit unfriendly and cold, but she now is quite happy to see Lydia and me. So say "hello" even on days that are not World Hello Day.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Three Christmas music ?s

I have about 100 Christmas CDs, but I always have to buy ONE more each holiday season. This list purports to indicate the best Christmas CDs of the past 20 years, only one of which I have (A Very Special Christmas).


So my questions:

1) Are any of the other CDs on the list worth getting?

2) What other holiday CDs that are still in print that you would recommend? (I mean I'm quite partial to a Julie Andrews LP from the mid-1960s, but that's not particularly useful.)

3) What holiday albums are, as Peter Noone mighht put it, a must to avoid?

BONUS: Some of your favorite and least favorite songs of the season. I'll answer the bonus question in the reply section.
***
And speaking of Christ (were we? I thought we were talking about Christmas?), Greg has an interesting deconstruction of Christianity. I don't agree with much of it, but it's provocative.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Vespers Service

A note to you local folks:

Please come on Sunday to an evening of beautiful music for the Advent Season, including an original composition by First Presbyterian Church music diector Victor Klimash.

The Chancel Choir will present a Vespers Service of Music for the Advent Season on Sunday, December 4, at 7:30 p.m at First Presbyterian Church Albany. The program will include A Ceremony of Carols by Benjamin Britten with a harp interlude. Soloists include soprano Deborah Rocco, alto Fiona Lewis and harpist Karlinda Caldicott. Also to be performed will be an original composition and arrangement, All my heart this night rejoices, by music director Victor Klimash. The piece was written especially for the Chancel Choir.

The church is located at the corner of State and Willett Streets in Albany, at the northeast corner of Washington Park. willett is parallel to Lark Stret. There is limited church parking, so park on the street or iin Washington Park.

I'm in the choir, if you didn't know.

What IS this blog thing?


At seven months in, I'm still discovering the point of the blog, not so much MY blog, but the greater blogiverse. I have this friend Daniel who REALLY needs to do his own blog, I keep telling him, and he will, he says.
He sends me political stuff, plus weird stuff such as this, about cornstarch and this about, well, "sin" and this, which is just bizarre.
One of the things he believes is that the mainstream media (MSM) has dropped the ball in terms of the administration's deception on Iraq. Daniel is someone I could safely categorize as "left of center". Interesting, then, that the website for Chickenhawk Express expresses the same disdain for the MSM, only he says they underreport the great progress taking place in Iraq. I found the Chickenhawk via the "Next Blog" method. I've "corrected" him a couple times; I'm sure he appreciates it.

I know I feel compelled to chastize the MSM myself occasionally. This article about the new American Community Survey is so unnbalanced it would be laughable, except that it's likely to be taken seriously. Where's the stuff about the confifdentiality that Census folks are under? Or the fact that Census doesn't really care about the individual response but rather the collective answers? Or that private industry IS interested in your individual private information that is far more invasive? To take one question, the time to work question is used for traffic maintenance, among other things, not to use to case someone's house for a robeery.

I believe Polite Scott provides a great public service when he disects (as it were) the medicine in comic books and television shows. Really. My friend the Hoffinator thought he did a fine analysis of the medical show House, a program that she watches (and I don't); there are people out there who take the medicine on fictional programs seriously. Also check out his post of 11/23, learn the meaning of the prefix yocto- and see Advent comic book covers.

You've probably read about the public service that Paul English has provided to get you to a human as quickly as possible on those automated phone systems most of us hate so much.

Marshall Brain has stats on consumer use of certain technologies.

Sometimes, the point of the blog is to be called out, in a most complimentary manner. Or in a mock confrontational manner as Sleestak and Mr. Hembeck seem to be doing over...Hayley Mills?

I find a lot of bloggers from Singapore, such as this one. Sure one finds the bizarre, or the blatantly commercial, on blogs, but perhaps also a greater understanding of the so-called global village.

For a variety of reasons, I've added a couple blogs to my list:
Big Fat Blog (BFB) was founded in 2000. "My original purpose with the blog was to point out just how insanely poorly fat people are portrayed in the media," the author writes, but it's expanded beyond that.
GayProf is a guy who just had a major breakup and REALLY wants to get out of Texas. I had this friend, Jennifer, who spent two or three miserable years in the Lone Star State. All of the straight men she met had gun racks, and she wasn't a gun rack kind of woman. She's now working for a great library in a great metropolitan area.
Finally, Church of Klugman- ya gotta love a guy with so much passion for the life of actor Jack Klugman.
Also added the TV.com website, with lists of shows old and new, audio interviews and local TV listings, that my late friend Tom Hoffman e-mailed me about...in 2001. Yet another Loganesque find.

(Geez, how did I miss the 70th birthday of Woody Allen yesterday?

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Vito


Vito Mastrogiovanni - I loved saying the name, as it flows so mellifluously off the tongue - was this guy I met when I first went to Binghamton Central High School. My group from Daniel Dickinson met up with like-minded folks from MacArthur and West to protest the VietNam War and fight injustice. Even a straight guy like me knew how good looking Vito was. My sister Leslie had a major, unrequited crush on him.

I kept in sporadic contact with him over the years, then saw him again for the first time in a long time at his 20th high school reunion in 1990. Actually, I don't know that he actually went, but the old group of us hung out together before and after the scheduled event. Vito, who was working behind the scenes in theater, both on and off Broadway, was extremely angry because he had AIDS. I'm happy to know that by the time he died the following summer, he was more at peace. Vito was the first person I knew personally who died from the disease, but was hardly the last.

Every year at this time, a part of the AIDS quilt comes to Albany, and I always go to see it. In fact, for three years, I was a "guide" at the event, helping people who might become emotionally distraught over seeing these representations of lives cut short. Today is the last of the three-day World AIDS Day Events at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center in Albany. The Memorial Quilt will be on display today from 9am-3pm, followed by closing ceremonies at 3pm.

(In spite of recent efforts, the number of HIV/AIDS infections continue to mount worldwide.)

Off the main page for the AIDS Memorial Quilt/The Names Project, here's Vito's quilt; he's represented in the upper left, quilt number 2409. It's simple design, and not nearly as dynamic as Vito was in life.