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Sunday, April 30, 2006

The move at work

We've been told that we are moving our offices (O.K., movers are coming) on May 12. Having been around for a few years, I would not be shocked if this actually took place a day or two earlier or a couple days later.

That said, my new mailing address will be:

SUNY Plaza
Corporate Woods Building, 3rd Floor
Albany, NY 12246-0001

For deliveries from FedEx or UPS or other vendors the actual physical address for the new location will be:

22 Corporate Woods Blvd., 3rd floor
Colonie, NY 12211

If you are mailing anything to me, I've been told that the items will be forwarded. Still, you might consider NOT mailing anything that won't reach me by May 8 until after May 15.

I usually give out my work mailing address for packages. It's not a matter of privacy. It's the fact that we don't have a mailbox at the house, we have a mail slot, and a small one at that. Often, packages are left on the porch.

I'm supposed to have the same e-mail address at work, but it will be disrupted at least temporarily at some point. You may wish to e-mail me at home pretty much from May 10 to May 16 if you really want to be sure that I read what you sent in a timely fashion. I tend to look at my work e-mail more, but I will make a concerted effort to pay more attention to the home e-mail that week.

Also, the main phone number, 518 443-5398, will remain the same, but I BELIEVE I'll have a different exchange, or totally separate number in the new place. Details on this, like so many other aspects of this move, are sketchy at best.
I was up in the attic bring down stuff we were going to pass on to friends of ours, parents of a daughter about a year younger than Lydia, when I came across a file with newspaper clippings. To my surprise, there was one I missed (!) when I wrote about it recently, the August 14, 1998 item. If you wish, you can answer here the question that the newspaper writer asked, which was about the worst TV show ever.
A couple interesting posts I read this week both about youth and class distinctions:

Rethinking ... The Emerging White Underclass

The TV show My Super Sweet 16, something I wrote about myself last October. Apparently, it's as obnoxious as ever.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Teaching the Bible in the School

There was a piece on ABC News a couple weeks ago about teaching the Bible in school, not in an attempt to convert, but rather as teaching about a book (or a Book, if you prefer) that has had great impact on American society. I found a 1974 article here suggesting that the Supreme Court rulings in the 1960s did NOT prohibit teaching about the Bible in school, only limited the manner in which it could be taught. This piece lays out the limitations as well.

There are a couple book publishers that provide textbooks for this purpose. This one has a self-proclaimed conservative agenda, while this one claims to be fair-minded.

So, being the curious librarian that I am, I was hoping that you can answer a couple questions for me:

1) Should the Bible, or Christianity, be taught in public schools?

2) Can the Bible, or Christianity, be taught in public schools objectively, without trying to "convert" the students?

3) What else should be taught in public schools? The Koran? Islam? Maybe some comparative religions course?

Friday, April 28, 2006


(Pet Clark in my head.)

I've been working in downtown Albany for the past 13 years. This is what I'll miss:

* Lunch with friends
* The variety of places to go out to lunch with friends: sandwich shops, Chinese restaurants, pizza places, diner-type places, bar food type places, the new sushi place, the place that sells gyros (a Greek woman I knew preferred the 2nd or 3rd pronunciation of the 2nd definition). That doesn't include the street vendors up by the Capitol half the year, with even more selections.
* Shopping at Lodge's, Albany's Oldest Store.
* The Farmer's Market, about 1/3 of a block away in the good weather, indoors and just up the hill in the winter
* Riding my bike to work when Carol's not teaching (and she takes Lydia to daycare)
* The gaudy Christmas lights on the State Street median
* My bank and my credit union a block or two away
* My eye doctor and my dentist a couple blocks away
* The vendors in the stores I got to know
* The buskers on the corners
* Watching the folks go to the nearby Arena and try to guess what event they were attending, strictly by the age and apparel of the attendees
* Donating blood every eight weeks, and at a place where everyone DOES know my name, such as Shirley, who runs the canteen
* The easy access to the walking/riding path by the river
* A quick bus trip to my doctor, Lydia's doctor, or Lydia's day care
* Several bus options home, rather than one
* The ability to stay later because I had so many options home, rather than one

There are probably more, but that'll do for now.
Akeelah and the Bee opens today. It's on my list of films to see.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Q's 50 Worst Albums

I read about this on Greg's site, and he commented briefly, but whereas he had only a couple of the "offending" discs, including a really dubious choice, Beck's Midnight Vultures, I have...several.

I should note that I think they mean worst in the sense that either the artists are capable of much more and/or it sold a lot. It's like when Ebert and Roeper picked Deuce Bigelow, European Gigilo and The Dukes of Hazzard as the worst movies of last year, they not going to pick some C-budget piece, but rather the studio follies.
There is an album on the list -
38. Chris Rea - The Road To Hell Pt2, which I realized I had confused with an album he did called The Road To Hell, which I couldn't believe was on the list. And it wasn't.

Albums I own on the list:

17. Bob Dylan & The Grateful Dead - Dylan And The Dead
OK, this IS a really boring album. "Joey" , which seemed long on Dylan's "Hurricane" album, seems interminable here. As one Amazon reviewer called it, an "unbelievable sloppy mess". Belongs on the list.

25. The Cranberries - To The Faithful Departed
This one that Greg and I both own. While not my favorite of the three Cranberries' albums I have, I thought there were some good, powerful tunes. Doesn't belong.

28. The Rolling Stones - Dirty Work
I have this on cassette. This isn't even the Stones' worst album, has a couple hits. Not great, but doesn't belong on the list.

31. Stevie Wonder - Woman In Red
I own most of Stevie's albums since 1970, but I must admit I seldom play this one I have on vinyl, which features the treacly "I Just Called to Say I Love You" and actually, I have no idea what else without actually pulling it out. Oh, there's one decent song, but it probably belongs on the list.

41. Paul Simon - Songs From The Capeman OST
I also have lots of Paul Simon, and this piece, a Broadway musical which tells the story about a murder, is one that I play the least, because it doesn't really have Paul's voice. It just didn't work for me. In its favor, some of the doowop and Latin rhythms. The song "Killer Wants to Go to College" refers to my alma mater, New Paltz. That said, probably does not belong on the list.

43. The Traveling Wilburys - Vol 3
I'm actually quite fond of this album. So it's not as good as the first one - it's still fun! No way it belongs on the list! I do so love The Wilbury Twist:
Put your hand on your head
Put your foot in the air
Then you hop around the room
In your underwear
Ain’t ever been nothin quite like this
Come on baby do the Wilbury twist

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Lydster, Part 25: Ouch!

As she grows, Lydia gets more bold. So, it was a bit of a tough month. She was having sleepless night, four in a row last week, one attributable to thunder, but the rest to I don't know what.

Then she was climbing out of her chair and landed face first on the floor.

Finally, she was running on the sidewalk outside and landed face first on the sidewalk. She scraped her knee and cut her philtrum and possibly her lip, as you can tell in some of these pictures. She looked like the loser of a pugilistic event.

But she continues to grow and develop. One day, I was trying to get her to cover her mouth when she coughs. I pretended to cough and covered my mouth. Then she started coughing, quite a bit. I asked her was really coughing or pretending. She said, "'tending."

She likes to dance...

...though it DID tire her out, not to mention her doll.

Here she's waiting for the bus. Which reminds me: we were taking the city bus to the day care, when the driver was complaining to another passenger what a "piece of s***" his vehicle was. But when we got off at our stop, the bus driver apologized to me. I appreciated that. She'll hear all sorts of language soon enough; right now, I want her to pick up the more standard English terms.

Happy 25 months, Lydia. I love you.
Since it appears on our church website, I suppose it's no longer a secret who our new pastor will be. Or more correctly, co-pastors.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


In college, my friend Candid Yam and I used to frequent the Plaza Diner, so named because it was located in New Paltz Plaza. There was only one shopping mall at the time in the whole town.

We befriended this waitress, an older woman, probably younger than I am now. We discovered that she was a singer with the Sweet Adelines. It's "barbershop quartet" singing by women.

CY and I decided to see her perform in Manhattan. Hitchhiking from New Paltz to NYC was easy in 1976. CY was going to be in Florida for spring break, but would meet me there.

I saw the performances, which were entertaining enough. And I even got to hang out with our waitress friend and her colleagues for a time. But no CY.

Here's the deal: I didn't have enough money to get home, as I was expecting to ride back with CY. I didn't own a credit card at the time, and I was too proud to ask my waitress friend for a loan.

Hitchhiking from midtown Manhattan to New Paltz in the middle of the night was impossible. (I must not even have had subway money, for if I had, I'd have taken the subway uptown, to the northernmost point -I think it's the 4 train.)

So now it's 1:30 in the morning and I'm walking around 42nd Street and 8th Avenue, when this waif of a young woman says to me. "Wanna go for a ride?"
I said, "Beg your pardon?"
She scurries into the subway entrance she's standing in front of.

But over the next few blocks, the women I ran into weren't so shy at all, offering me...well, all sorts of things. This was Times Square before the cleanup, before the Disneyfication.

Of course, I wasn't interested, but even if I were (and I wasn't - I think I mentioned that), I ddn't even have money to go home, let alone to go off with one of these ladies.

I crossed the George Washington Bridge. If you ever find yourself walking across the narrow walkway of the GW, please note that there were, at least at the time, gaps in the path, not big enough to fall to one's death, but large enough to get one's foot caught in the many gaping holes. It was a tedious and nervewracking part of the trip.

Finally, I get across, and now I'm in New Jersey, and I eventually hitchhike home, but it's an indirect route and the trip took about 7 hours, including the walking, compared with the hour and a half to get there. CY was delayed on the way back from Florida, and now I have at least a credit card that would avoid a similar situation.

The date I got home was 30 years ago today. I didn't remember that, but rather figured it out, for what I DID recall was that it was the night the clocks changed to Daylight Saving Time, which, in those days, was the last Sunday in April.

What reminded me of this was that that last month, I had taught a class on Marketing Resources in Schenectady, the neighboring city to Albany. I went out to State Street (Route 5) around 9 p.m. to wait for the #55 bus that would take me back home. I could see that the bus was about four blocks away. This young woman in her car motions to me. I thought that perhaps she was seeking directions. Instead, she asked me, "Do you ride?" Not "Do you want a ride?" but the very peculiar phraseology "Do you ride?" Had it not been for the previous experience, I'm not sure that I would have understood her intent, but as it was, I said, "No thanks, my bus is coming."

So every three decades or so, I get to run into women of a certain profession. At this rate, I should hit on again in February 2036.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Times Union's 150th birthday

My local newspaper, the Times Union, is celebrating its 150th anniversary. They ran a series of articles all last week, and will have periodic pieces throughout the rest of the year. Starting at the beginning of this year, they've sought assistance on the project:

"We're looking for people who have preserved moments from their own histories as told through the pages of the Times Union. Have a scrapbook of newspaper clippings? Saved a memorable copy of the Times Union? We'd like to hear from you.
"We'd also like to hear from collectors, historians and former employees who can help us tell our story."

You know I do have some clippings SOMEWHERE, and one whole newspaper (more on that anon), but I never got around to going up to the basement and scouting out what they wanted.

In an act of contrition, I went to their website and found all of the references to me in their archives. Ths was not as easy as it seems, for there is a member of the State Assembly named Roger L. Green, so I had to wade through clippings about him - and there were a lot, especially because he was forced to resign his seat over a travel reimbursement scandal, then got elected again.

Also, the archives don't start until 1986, so it is missing almost all of the stories for which I was quoted talking about the comic book store at which I worked, FantaCo. They used to do one of those "Pow! Bam!" stories about every two years, so there are at least two, and probably three or more stories from 1980-1985 not represented here.

Here's what I found:

MONDAY, May 2, 1988 Page: D1
Zeroing in on the zombie market, Screamin' Products Inc., a company that develops and sells model-figure kits, has found its market niche among fright-film fanatics. The company - incorporated in October - was founded by Albany natives Daniel Fay and
Richard Hamecher.
Complete article, 721 words
This is the one FantaCo story I did find. We sold a LOT of Freddy Krueger stuff, and I noted the character's popularity in our store/mail order.

Friday, May 28, 1993 Page: C10
Talk to me, folks. That's what I asked you to do, and you came through.
Complete article, 794 words.

I think I wrote a lot of stuff but they only used this:
Supporting Actor, Comedy -- Michael Richards of "Seinfeld" ("I realized how gifted he was in a commercial for NBC's Thursday night lineup when he was just being Kramer in his underpants and it cracked me up."). Variety -- "Saturday Night Live" ("got me through the election.")

Sunday, November 19, 1995 Page: I1
Complete article, 2206 words

I talked about my sisters, our neighbor and me lipsynching to Beatles VI.

Tuesday, November 21, 1995 Page: C1
Callers to Times Union's SourceLine overwhelmingly approved of the Beatles' reunion recording "Free as a Bird." The count was 123 to 10.
Complete article, 1166 words

I said nice things about it.

Saturday, August 16, 1997 Page: C1
Thanks to everyone who sent in reminiscences of Elvis and helped us pay homage to him today, the 20th anniversary of his death. We regret space limitations prevent us from running everyone's accounts. Elvis may be gone, but long live the King of Rock 'n' Roll!
Complete article, 3437 words

My section began, "My father hated Elvis."

Wednesday, October 1, 1997 Page: D7
The new TV season is only in its second week, but already there has been a noteworthy sighting of minutiae -- an insider's joke during the end credits of ABC's "Dharma and Greg."
Complete article, 753 words
I was going to watch this new ABC show at 9 pm, but just as I was getting ready, my friend Lillian called. So I quickly videotaped the show and played it back at 9:30. As I came to the end credits, I saw some words on the screen for about two seconds, too fast to read it all. I noted this to the TU TV reporter at the time, Rob Owen, and made a point to tape it the following week. My discovery was in the paper a full two weeks before I read about it in Entertainment Weekly. My claim to fame.

Saturday, October 4, 1997 Page: A6
It was more than a storm; it was a touchstone. The Capital Region has endured its share of severe weather, from blizzards to severe windstorms to even the occasional tornado and hurricane. This one wasn't even the worst.
Complete article, 2014 words

There was a freak snowstorm in Albany on October 4, 1987. Remind me to write about it on October 4, 2007. The TU could not be printed at their plant because they lacked power, so they took the files to the Troy Record and printed the paper there, in the Record's font. I have this paper SOMEWHERE.

Sunday, December 21, 1997 Page: I2
To the Arts Editor: Amy Biancolli's story about John McCarty ("Mad About Movies," Arts, Dec. 7), was especially interesting to me.
Complete article, 102 words

The book Splatter Movies, written by McCarty, was published by FantaCo in 1983. When St. Martin's Press reprinted it a few years later, Tom at FantaCo told me that we had registered the term Splatter Movies TM, so we got money for the St. Martin's edition.

Friday, August 14, 1998 Page: D1
SARATOGA SPRINGS -- The Emmy Award nominees this year are the usual batch of glittering names. David Duchovny. Helen Hunt. Jack Lemmon. Tom Hanks. Thomas Lewis. You heard right, Thomas Lewis. The racing crowd aside, Saratoga Springs and the campus of Skidmore College is about as far removed as you are going to get from Hollywood, but this professor is becoming a regular in Emmy circles.
Complete article, 723 words.
The sidebar piece was TU TV guy Mark McGuire following up on 'the worst TV shows ever question he had posed the previous month.
No consensus emerged, although 'Jerry Springer' received the most votes. However, the most inspired submission came from Roger Green of Albany.

"After the movie 'Animal House' came out in 1978, all three of the networks put out dopey college-kids-as-hedonists shows," Green wrote. "The worst, as I recall, was 'Co-Ed Fever'. (CBS) broadcast but one episode.

McGuire noted 'Brothers and Sisters' (less than half a season on CBS), and 'Delta House' (three months on ABC, with Michelle Pfeiffer).

Thursday, November 12, 1998 Page: D7
Maybe it's the water. Maybe it's because of the many colleges around town. Or maybe we don't have a clue. Whatever it is, Capital Region players do well on "Jeopardy!"
Complete article, 741 words.
This was about a woman named Linda Zusman winning $12,000 a couple months earlier, and, er, me winning $17,600 on a show that aired a couple nights before this article appeared.

Thursday, July 1, 1999 Page: P4
OK, OK, I'm overwhelmed by all of the secret Abba fans who have come out of the closet in the weeks since my "guilty pleasures" column.
Complete article, 1442 words

Don't remember what I wrote! But I do like ABBA in limited doses.

Wednesday, September 15, 1999 Page: D5
The Capital Region has this "Jeopardy!" thing knocked. A software engineer who is also a paramedic in Guilderland won $3,400 on "Jeopardy!" in a show that aired Monday night.
Complete article, 185 words
I called this guy, as I probably mentioned before. He was very disappointed that he didn't win more. But I told him that at least he can always say he was a J champ. Of course, the article had to mention Linda and me.

Friday, April 13, 2001 Page: D1
First, the good news: There could be no "Two Guys and Girl'' next fall.
Complete article, 717 words
Yet another local JEOPARDY! winner, and another recap.

Friday, June 1, 2001 Page: D1
Complete article, 889 words

Friday, April 12, 2002 Page: A10
As someone who works downtown, I was wondering what that bizarre noise was. Ah, the audible Albany crosswalk signals! (I did eventually figure it out.)
Complete article, 252 words

Letter to the editor about the new crosswalk WALK signs at Pearl and State Street in Albany. I also wrote about the dangerously stupid walk sign sequence just below the state Capitol, at Eagle and State Streets. Not long after that - maybe a couple months - they changed the WALK lights to a much safer sequence. Did my letter make a difference? I don't know.

Thursday, May 16, 2002 Page: P39
BEST LOCAL COLUMNIST (NOT WORKING FOR THE TIMES UNION, NATCH) Al Quaglieri, Metroland. Every week, Quaglieri finds a new way to incisively highlight life's absurdities and annoyances. What annoys us is that he does it so well writing his column only as a part-time gig. BEST GAME SHOW FOR CAPITAL REGION CONTESTANTS What is "Jeopardy!"? (7:30 p.m. weekdays, WTEN Ch. 10).
Complete article, 550 words
Yet another Jeopardy! recap, this in a "Best of" column.

Thursday, August 7, 2003 Page: P4
A few weeks ago, this column featured a collection of musician haiku poetry, and I invited readers to weigh in with a few of their own -- sticking to the traditional Japanese form of five syllables in the first line, seven in the second and five again in the third. As expected, the resulting poems were wonderfully diverse.
Complete article, 1140 words
Sarge Blotto, er, Greg Haymes has a column in the Preview (arts) section of the paper and wrote: "Roger Green captured the eternal hope of local bands with:
Where's the record guy?
Said he'd catch our gig tonight,
Make us all big stars.

Sunday, March 7, 2004 Page: C3
MONDAY MEETINGS Women in Business Committees WHERE:Kimberly's, A Day Spa, Route 9, Latham WHEN: 5:30 p.m. COST: Free CONTACT: 456-6611 or 785-6995 NOTES: The Guilderland, Bethlehem, Latham Area and Southern Saratoga Chambers of Commerce groups will hold a joint evening of relaxation and networking.
Complete article, 926 words.
I taught a class in marketing at the Learning Network that month; didn't know it was in the paper until I looked this up.

Tuesday, July 6, 2004 Page: D1
We don't blame Ken Jennings for what he's done to "Jeopardy!" But we do hate him.
Complete article, 664 words.
The Times Union TV critic Mark McGuire, had tired of the reign of Ken Jennings, so he called me for some quotes. (I noted that I was "bored" with him.) He told me later that he took some heat from some J viewers over that column, Ken fans who thought Mark was jealous, or worse.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004 Page: D8
"Sister Christian,"
Complete article, 755 words
I remember I made special mention of "The Men in My Little Girl's Life" by Mike Douglas, which went to #6 in '66 (666- sign of the devil). Also dissed "We Bilked This City" by Starship.

Sunday, May 23, 2004 Page: B3
Complete article, 1142 words

About two months after the fact.

Friday, March 5, 2004 Page: B1
Complete article, 41 words
I got some REALLY small check ($2.99 or so) for some record industry malfesance.

Glorious music ready for most joyous day
Churches will resound with sacred Easter sounds
Friday, March 25, 2005 Page: A1

A soaring trumpet note. The rumble of a timpani. The soulful flow of ancient lyrics chanted in Latin. For the Christian faithful, nothing expresses the joy of Easter's message of resurrection and light at the culmination of Holy Week as powerfully as making glorious music.
Complete article, 862 words
This is last year's Good Friday story I aluded to recently. Don't think I was mentioned, but the picture was captioned. Incidentally, a picture of several choir members, including myself, also appeared in the paper about three Advent seasons ago, but the individuals were not specifically identified.

Region gets a census surprise
Number of Hispanic-owned businesses drops 9 percent locally while growing in nation
Wednesday, March 22, 2006 Page: E1
The number of Hispanic-owned businesses in the Capital Region fell more than 9 percent from 1997 to 2002, even while it surged 31 percent nationally, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report released Tuesday. Local business officials expressed surprise at the findings.
Complete article, 477 words.

I'm quoted in this, as I'm sure I mentioned.

If for some obscure reason, you want more details on any of these stories, please let me know. Except for the haiku, for which WYSIWYG.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

The Presbyterian Way

I've been a Presbyterian for only three or four years. I grew up in the Methodist tradition, specifically the African Methodist Episcopal Zion tradition. It gave a lot of authority to the bishops. Later I was a United Methodist. Again, like the Catholics, bishop driven.

But the Presbyterians are more bottom up, with the Session, elected by the members, much more in control of selecting a pastor than any congregational board on which I served in the Methodist church. And I served for about 7 years in the 1990s.

My current church called a pastor about five years ago. It didn't work out, and he left after a year. I didn't know WHY it didn't work out until the pastor sent out a letter, explaining it. I found this all very fascinating. In my old church, there was always a massive rumor mill, but here, nothing. The Session took its responsibility in dealing with this personnel issue professionally and seriously.

So, then there was a year of reflection, and then we got an interim pastor. Interim pastors in the Presbyterian tradition are just that, a pool of folks who go from church to church filling in while the church gets ready for a new pastor.

Well, in this case, that involved doing a survey, and not a simple survey either. My wife was on the committee to select the survey tool before our daughter was born. Then they gave the survey to the members, had the survey tallied by the company that designed it, then the committee members set up times to discuss the results of the survey, not just one congregational meeting, but 6 or 8 weeks of neighborhood meetings in people's homes. (We missed most of these, being sleep-deprived new parents at the time.)

Only then can the Session put together a Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) to seek a new candidate. (There's a couple other little steps in there.) The PNC has been working feverishly hard, and confidentially. It was only last Sunday that the congregation learned the name of the candidate, who will preach at both the 8:30 and the 10:45 service today. After the latter service, there will be a congregational meeting to decide whether to accept the nomination of the PNC. If they don't, there will be a new PNC, and a new search. Or the candidate can choose not to accept the offer.

Last night, there was a pot luck supper, where the members got to meet the candidate, and the candidate introduced him/herself. (Since it's still confidential until the church and the candidate come to an agreement, I'm using the type of language the PNC has been using for months.)

Our interim pastor, Joe, has been here three years, and if the church accepts the candidate, and the candidate accepts the church, he'll likely be staying on until the transition this summer. In my time there, he's been in the pulpit more than anyone. I'll be said to see him and his wife Claudia go. If they go - won't know until later today.

I think Presbyterians really should be called Methodists, because they are so METHODical.
Steve Barnes, a reader of this blog, pointed me to his new political blog, Empires Fall. I told him: "Your website is mean, spiteful, and bitter. I'll be adding it to my weblog this weekend." He said, "Oh, I'm not bitter. This is the feeling formerly known as bitter. Now it's called schadenfreude."

Have you noticed that tongue-in-cheek doesn't always work in e-mail?

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Three Earth Day questions

The wife and child have been away a couple days visiting Gramma and Grandpa. I've been doing the bachelor thing for the last two days. So this morning, while I de-bach the house, I was hoping, on this 26th anniversary of Earth Day, that you would be willing to answer these three questions. I'm particularly interested in opinions from outside the United States, but don't let that discourage you Americans from replying. My answers will be in the response area.

1. How do you celebrate Earth Day, if you do? Did you used to? Was it an enforced thing, such as a school project?

2. Can what the individual does matter environmentally, or does industrial disease leading to global warming make the effort pointless and hopeless?

3. Who are your environmental heroes?
Earth Day Piques Interest in Environment-Related Searches. Shocking!
If you like the Beatles, but aren't that fond of Rummy and his boss, this may interest you. Requires sound. Courtesy of Socks.
Happy two to the fifth power, Kelly! You have to admit that, since you married Lefty, that makes you a tiny bit weird. But in a good way. Keep inappropriate items off his head, please.
Ken Jennings speaks!. Courtesy of LM. Ken Jennings will be in a special Monday sesquicentennial post, quite coincidentally.
Yesterday, Fred did his best Grantland Rice impression. Or at least Roger Angell. This is a good thing.
A list of animal adjectives. Who knew turdine was a real word?

Friday, April 21, 2006

"I Love Trash"

O.K., I don't, but I've dealt with it from time to time.

The very first Earth Day in 1970, the students at my high school, Binghamton Central, decided to pick up the grounds. For whatever reason, I concentrated on cigarette butts, maybe because I knew they were NOT biodegradable. In one day, I picked up over 1300 of them. My great pet peeve is people throwing cigarette butts out of moving car windows, for cigarette butts, according to this source, constitute the most common source of litter. It's also a drag to be hit by one while riding one's bike. And of course, there's a potential fire hazard, since we've been in an Elevated Fire Awareness Alert pattern for a while around here.

I was a janitor, twice, once at a New Paltz department store, once in Binghamton City Hall.

When I was at my previous church, I was very active in doing litter pickup around the building. Since I lived nearby for a number of years, it was part of my self-appointed neighborhood litter watch.

In anticipation of our (unwelcome) office move next month, I spent much of yesterday wading through years of paper items I've accumulated over 13 years, filling a recycling bin.

So, the fact that my desk is a mess - and worse now than usual - does not contradict the fact that I would never throw even a gum wrapper on the sidewalk.
I love this, Albany:

Free Shredding Day
Saturday April 22
9 am - 2 pm
6 Brown Road
Albany, New York
For information, call 518 459-2222

Twice a year, the first Saturday after the April 15 Federal tax deadline, and the Saturday of Columbus Day weekend, Schaap Certified Shredding Services in Albany provides free shredding of confidential documents for the general public. Individuals and not-for-profit organizations are invited to bring up to 200 pounds of paper to our facility and watch it being shredded in a matter of seconds. This is provided as a free public service in cooperation with the Town of Colonie Police.

Vehicles are unloaded under cover for patrons, so this event is held rain or shine.

After April 22, our next free shredding day will be Saturday, October 7. Please call us if you have any questions or concerns.

Coming from downtown Albany on WASHINGTON AVE.:
Turn RIGHT onto FULLER RD. 0.6 mile
Turn LEFT onto WAREHOUSE ROW. 0.1 mile
Turn RIGHT onto BROWN RD. less than 0.1 mile.

The webpage also has information about identity theft.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Lie

All this was inspired by the principle - which is quite true in itself - that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods.

It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation.

For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying. These people know only too well how to use falsehood for the basest purposes. ..."

One of the most significant books I ever read was Lying:Moral Choice in Public and Private Life by Sissela Bok, which I read in the early 1980s. It made me think about the "little white lie", doctors lying to their patients "for their own good". One of the Amazon reviewers writes: "I like that Bok concludes her book with a message of hope saying that it is possible to raise the expectation of honesty and raise the integrity of people in this country." I love the optimistic cast of that comment, but I'm not feeling it in the discussions we hear from our leaders. I'm hearing half-truths and distortions paraded as truth.
What I'm hearing, most unfortunately, more closely resembles what I quoted above, which is from this guy, who wrote it in his 1925 autobiography Mein Kampf (James Murphy translation, page 134). I find that VERY unsettling.
And speaking of lying, Scott McClellan resigned as White House press secretary yesterday. The initial conversation I heard from people from the Vulpine Alleged News Channel after the last personnel change, at the Chief of Staff position, is that the administration needs a better way to present its message. I suppose the thought that the message, not the messenger, needs altering would not occur to those folks.
It cannot be just a coincidence that Germany is releasing archival files on millions of Nazi victims the same week as Hitler's birthday, can it? The truth will out, even three score after the fact.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Last Time I Worked At Corporate Woods

It was 1989. I had just left FantaCo, the comic book store, after eight and a half years in November 1988. I was pretty burned out.

The time between leaving FantaCo and starting the new job was actually quite rewarding. My friend Nancy Sharlet was dying of cancer, and I got to spend a lot of time with her at the hospital, then when she went home, on the phone, before she died on January 1, 1989.

I started to work at an insurance company in February as a customer service representative. I won't tell you which one, except that it has a primary color in its name.

The first weeks were OK. It was in a classroom setting, learning about medical prefixes and suffixes, as well as customer service decorum. And, when we finally hit the floor, it wasn't so bad, at least initially.

Then things started to change. They had what I felt was an adequate software to process dental claims. Yet they changed it to something that I found totally incomprehensible, ordered because somebody's brother-in-law (or the like) had designed it.

The middle management seemed to like to ride one particular person who was processing claims slower than the rest. I had befriended this woman, and I was not surprised that she left to work in the relative relaxation that was the Postal Service. So they needed someone new to ride, and that was me.

About this time came the great purge. They laid off a few middle managers, but all of the clerks, who were runners for the customer service reps. I was never so disappointed NOT to have been laid off in my life. They ought to have fired the regional manager, who was making $600,000 a year to make bad decisions such as the dental software and this one:

The company wanted to change over to a new medical billing system at the end of the year. A customer service representative could have told them that they ought to process the 1989 claims on the old system, giving people 30 days to get all of those in, then start processing the new (1990) claims on the new system. Instead, they stopped processing claims on the old system on Christmas Eve. The transition took six weeks, rather than the two we were told it would take. The customers wanted to know, not so much about the status of their 1990 claims, as much as their 1989 claims that would help them work on their taxes.

The first call someone makes on a specific claim is handled by the customer service rep. Subsequent calls were placed on the supervisor call queue. By the end of January, about half the calls were supervisor calls. People just wanted to know if we had RECEIVED their claims, but since there were 40,000 envelopes in the basement waiting for this new batch processing system, I couldn't tell them. I was supposed to tell the customers NOT to refile, but got into trouble when I just couldn't do that.

Finally, in the beginning of February, the new system went up. However, no information was transferred from the old system to the incompatible new system regarding whether any of the deductible had been met. New claims were processed, often stating that the charge was applied to the already-met deductible. Thus, a whole new flood of irate calls came pouring in.

During this period, I looked out the window one day and saw an ambulance at the building we were about to move into. Then another one. Then a couple more. Then a bus. It turned out something was wrong with the ventilation system in that building and 13 people were taken to the hospital. Fortunately only a couple people were admitted, and those only overnight, as I recall.

But as soon as we made the move to this new building, I gave notice. And, even though I didn't have a job to go to, I left on March 1, 1990. March 1 was significant for two reasons:
1) it meant that my health insurance would last until the end of April (had I left a day earlier, it would have lapsed at the end of March), and
2) it meant that I would not be working there on my birthday (March 7)

There were 16 people in my training class. By the time I left, 13 months later, only three were still with the company. Coincidence? Sure.

But that's not the (only) reason I hate our upcoming move to Corporate Woods.
Blogosphere Doubles Every Six Months
"Countdown With Keith Olbermann" news from TV Week: In a further attempt to expand sampling of "Countdown," Mr. Olbermann's show will get an encore at 9 a.m. weekdays starting Tuesday, April 25. "It is, after all, a program about 'the stories you'll be talking about tomorrow,' so it should be a natural fit," MSNBC President Rick Kaplan said in an e-mail to the staff.
Hawaii may honor humuhumunukunukuapuaa

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Music: It''s Not That Hard Bein' Green

Inspired at least in part by Lefty's last mixed CD, which starts with Feel Flows, I decided to revisit one of mine. When I turned 50, I put together songs that were significant in some way in my life. This is that disc, except that I added four songs (noted in red) and dropped one (noted in purple). These are the original liner notes, with additions in red. This has gone out to the participants of Lefty's current exchange. (I've received three discs from that so far, BTW.) And no, my disc does NOT include what Tosy called one of the great performances (Bein' Green by Kermit), though I do have the inferior Frank Sinatra version in my collection.

This is NOT a list of my favorite songs, though I like many of them well enough. It IS a list of songs that, for a variety of reasons, resonate to a particular time, place and/or emotion over the years. - Roger Green, March 7, 2003

45 Men In A Telephone Booth (the Four Tophatters). I had intended to put this song first on the 2003 collection. I found it in a catalog of a Cadence Records collection, ordered it early in January, and waited. And waited. And waited. Finally out the disc together without it. The disc arrived in April 2003. One of my father's favorite singles.

Sorry , I Ran All the Way Home (the Impalas) - my father had a bunch of 45s of story/songs I listened to as a kid: Middle of the House (Vaughan Monroe), I'm A Yogi, country songs such as Who Drank My Beer When I Was In the Rear (b-side- Nine Have Tried and Nine Have Died) and Bargain Days, Half Off. Only two others had I heard since: Beep Beep (the Playmates) and Bird Dog (Everly Brothers).

Cindy (Johnny Cash with Nick Cave) - my father learned to play guitar in 1959, and this song was in the repertoire. (Not this version, of course, which is from the posthumous Unearthed box set.)

Quintet - my mother took us to West Side Story, the first "grown up" movie I remember seeing. I didn't know one could have several simultaneous melodies.

Roger Ramjet- Roger Green: easy name, eh? But, people always were putting an E at the end of Green. (And on our very short street, there WAS a Greene family.) My own grandfather spelled my name Rodger. And kids will always have their own nicknames for each other; some of mine were Mr. Green Jeans (from Captain Kangaroo) and later Mr. Rogers (from his Neighborhood.)

Drive My Car (Fab Four)- I was John (the smart one), sister Leslie was Paul (cute AND left-handed!), neighbor MJ was Ringo (she LOVED him), and sister Marcia was George (by default). We charged the neighbor kids two cents each to watch us lip sync to the Beatles VI LP. I read in some teen mag that Drive My Car was John Sebastian's (Lovin' Spoonful) fave song on Rubber Soul; EVERYBODY knew it was on Yesterday and Today. Turns out Sebastian was listening to the UK version (the Beatles' preference). An early lesson in fact checking that serves a librarian well.

Take Me For A Little While (Vanilla Fudge) - carrying groceries for Mom. One afternoon, I was home listening to the album. Mom came home. I retrieved groceries, and found the stereo off. The crescendo made her think the record player was broken. Another time I carried groceries for her after work (at 2 a.m., 7/4/72), I discovered the shoulder I had injured the previous week in a car accident had more or less collapsed; six weeks of PT followed.

Feel Flows (Beach Boys)- freshman year in college, this guy named Richie and I would hang out, listening to the Band and Beatles, and hitchhike to NYC to concerts. I totally lost contact with him after that year.

Gone Away (Roberta Flack)- when romance went sour, I developed a quartet of songs to play: Sweet Bitter Love (QoS), this, My First Night Alone Without You (Jane Olivor), and Stay with Me (Lorraine Ellison). Sometimes added Remove This Doubt (Supremes).

Fantasy (Earth, Wind, and Fire) - Schenectady Arts Council received federal (CETA) money to have an arts enrichment program in the schools. I did the books, but the secretary and I would take off to OD Heck and sing for the patients. The choreographer needed a partner to help teach the elementary kids some dances, and I got sucker..., volunteered to do that.

Spider-Man- my first day of college, I met this weird Piscean named Mark. He was into comic books! I got sucked in, and particularly liked the webslinger. Later spent about a decade selling the four-color product.

It's Love (the Young Rascals) - I bought the Groovin' album on vinyl when it came out in 1966. It had the hits A Girl Like You, How Can I Be Sure, You Better Run, and the title tune. It also featured this song featuring jazz flutist Hubert Laws. When I got a stereo in the mid-1980s, instead of the boxy record player I had had for years, I was dismayed that the automatic return prevented me from playing this song to the end; it automatically rejected when it got too close to the center label. Ended up having to buy the CD, largely for this tune.

Naive Melody (Talking Heads) - the '83 show was one of the best concerts I ever saw. This song is about rediscovery on the way to Cooperstown.

23rd Psalm (Bobby McFerrin) - Eric Strand came to town to be Trinity UMC's choir director. He stayed in the apt. of my SO at the time and me. Eric & I saw BMcF on the Today show, and I was so taken by the performance that I bought about six copies of the album to give away. Later, Eric transcribed this song, and choir members Bob, Tim & I sang at church. Eric gave me the high part, which I did almost entirely in falsetto. Someone came up to another church member, expressing concern that a "gay guy" was singing in church.

Harvest Moon (Neil Young) - about lost love. Also, about the only Neil song my ex-office mate Mary could stand.

Lullabye (Billy Joel) - the SBDC state meeting in Binghamton had an a capella group perform this song. The melancholy of the song (and the back story) parallels my melancholy about the state of my old hometown.

Church (Lyle Lovett) - when four of us were in tight office quarters, with very distinct likes (and especially dislikes), Lyle passed muster with all of us. Closing act of a great Newport Folk Festival at SPAC.

JEOPARDY! - an NBC daytime game that I used to watch with my Aunt Deana. I was chastised for writing that; "You lied! You included it because you were ON it!" True, I was on it, but no lie, I DID watch it every noon with Deana.

Now That I Found You (Alison Krauss) - THIS is the way a cover version should be done, recognizable yet distinct from the original. One of my wife's two favorite artists; oddly, both of them have last names beginning with KRA. We saw AK at the Palace in 2002. What I didn't mention was that Carol and I went out from the fall of 1994 to the spring of 1996, and I spent much of the next couple years trying to woo her back.

At Last (Etta James) - one of five great songs on the Rain Man soundtrack. Oh yeah, Carol & I danced to it at our wedding. If it is cliche, I don't care.

Baby Mine (Bonnie Raitt) - Well, nothing much has happened since the wedding. Oh, yeah, there IS that small person who's been hanging around the last couple years.

But I axed this piece as too wordy and too talky:
Woody Guthrie - my father was a Singer of Folk Songs, and became rather well known in the Binghamton area as "The Lonesome and Lonely Traveller". Eventually, Leslie and I began singing with him. This brace of songs I heard at the Cap Rep theater not long after he died were among his repertoire.

Now, for a limited time, you too can get this collection of songs from me, and they're free, free, FREE! Think of it as a belated birthday present from me. Just e-mail me with your name and address. But please do so before May 5 , for reasons that will become clear fairly soon.
Thanks to Lefty for his great theological album. Thanks to the participants in Greg's last exchange. Maybe some decade, I'll review them, but possibly not.
A new Beatles album - really.
Kurt Schaffenberger's Mutant Human Species. Click on the two-page spread to enlarge. Lois Lane fans will especially enjoy this.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Seven from Across the Pond

Purloined from Chris Black-

7 things to do before I die:

1. Visit every state in the United States
2. Write a book - a roman a clef about church choirs and congregants
3. Go to a World Series game
4. Go to England and bother Chris Black
5. Meet at least half dozen of the bloggers I read regularly
6. Go to Lydia's high school graduation
7. Go to Lydia's college graduation

7 things I cannot do:

1. Drive well
2. Keep my desk orderly for more than a day
3. Play a musical instrument, except a kazoo
4. Draw a straight line without a straight edge
5. Sleep 8 hours a night, unless I'm ill
6. Patiently stand in line, unless I have something to read
7. Zip up Lydia's pink coat - that zipper has it in for me

7 things that I like about my county

1. The beautiful views from Thatcher Park
2. The quaintness of Rensselaerville
3. The vitality of Lark Street in Albany
4. The information at the New York State Museum
5. The non-mall character of Stuyvesant Plaza, especially the independent book store, The Book House
6. The kitsch of the Tulip Festival
7. The peculiarity of Albany politics

7 things I often say:

1. "That's doable" Then I heard that Alexander Haig used to say it, and I stopped.
2. "Oy "
3. "I'm walking here!" Think Midnight Cowboy.
4. "I like THAT."
5. "What's your case number?" Work related.
6. "Where's your nose, Lydia?" (or other body part)
7. "I'm going to go to bed early tonight." (But I almost never do.)

7 books that I love re-reading:

1. The Good Book - Peter J. Gomes
2. Living in the Spirit- Henri J.M. Nouwen
3. The Gospel according to St. Luke- NRSV version of the Bible
The rest are books I reference a lot:
4. Top Pop Singles-Joel Whitburn
5. Top Pop Albums-Joel Whitburn
6. The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows- Brooks and Marsh
7. The World Almanac

7 movies I watch over and over again (well, more than once):

1. Airplane!
2. Annie Hall
3. Dave
4. Groundhog Day
5. Midnight Cowboy
6. Le Roi de Coeur
7. The Shawshank Redemption

7 people to tag. (Oh, I'm not going to tag seven people:)

1. Nat, are you still out there?
2. I won't tag Eddie, because I see he's busy replying to posts and making CDs.
3. Kelly, do this only if you want to.
4. Sarah, you might find it to be an interesting exercise.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Easter 2006

Stolen largely from here and here:
Does the above picture, taken last year, look like a mugging on the White House lawn?

Still, I like Easter. The tulips we planted a couple of autumns ago are starting to come up. The bicycle is on the road. Easter is hope. If you're not of the Christian tradition, there's that link to spring:

East and Easter are related in that they have a common Indo-European root: aus- 'to shine'. From this we get east 'the direction of the sunrise'. Our word Easter comes from Old English eastre (there's a macron over the first e), which, according to the Venerable Bede, derived from Eostre, the Teutonic goddess of the dawn. The Indo-European word *ausos- meant 'dawn' or 'a goddess of the dawn', and the names of the Greek and Roman dawn goddesses Eos and Aurora come from the same root.

But what does an Anglo-Saxon dawn goddess have to do with Easter? Eostre's festival was celebrated at the vernal equinox, and the commemoration of Christ's resurrection had to be a spring feast because of the connection with the Jewish Passover. The early Christian missionaries to Britain seem to have been practical folk and found it easier to attach the most important feast of the new religion to an already-existing spring festival. The rabbits and the eggs are, of course, also vestiges of the pagan celebration of spring and fertility. And the sunrise service on Easter morning? At pre-Christian spring festivals, there was dancing to greet the sunrise, and there is an old belief that the sun rising on Easter morning dances in the heavens. The custom of lighting the "new fire" at the Easter Even service also has its origin in pre-Christian Celtic customs.

In many European languages (the exception is German Oster), the name for Easter comes from Pesah, the Hebrew word for 'Passover': Greek pascha, Latin pascha, French Pâques, Italian Pasqua, and Dutch Pasen. From the Old English period until the 17th century, both Easter and Pasch (pronounced "pask") were used interchangeably to mean 'Passover' and 'Easter'. In the Peterborough Chronicle of 1122 we find: "On this geare waes se king Heanri on Christes maessen on Norhtwic, and on Paxhes he waes on Norhthamtune" (This year King Henry was in Norwich for Christmas and in Northampton for Easter). A 1563 homilist spoke of "Easter, a great, and solemne feast among the Jewes." Easter eventually won out for the name of the Christian holiday, though "Paschal" ("PAS kul") is still an adjective meaning 'Easter', as in "Paschal candle." In Scotland and the North of England, children hunt for "Pasch eggs."

In case you're wondering about Easter's status as a "movable feast" (meaning that its date is based on a lunar cycle), the Council of Nicaea in 325 decided that the festival would be celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox. That didn't settle the question by any means. The Roman and Celtic Churches argued for another 300 years before agreeing on a date. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the date is also determined by the full moon, but Easter must come after Passover, which is why it usually falls on a different date than in the Western Church.

Easter is observed on a Sunday between March 22 and April 25. The commonly stated rule, that Easter Day is the first Sunday after the full moon that occurs next after the vernal equinox, is somewhat misleading because it is not a precise statement of the actual ecclesiastical rules.

The actual conditions to determine the date for Easter are:

Easter must be on a Sunday;
this Sunday must follow the 14th day of the paschal moon;
the paschal moon is that of which the 14th day (full moon) falls on or next follows the day of the vernal equinox; and
the equinox is fixed in the calendar as March 21.

In the Western World, Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the first day of spring—unless the date falls on the first day of the Jewish Passover festival. In which case, Easter is moved to the next Sunday.

Got that?

Oestara Greetings! from friend Mark:

Indeed now is the Spring well-sprung!
The bushes bloom, the streams all run
free of ice-rime's glassy rind,
we've set our clocks,
revised our time.
The sun shines brightly
though cool the night;
the may flies swarm
to harry and bite.
A season new, though seen before,
so wash your windows,
fling wide your door!
Elán vital, the Life Force flows!
It carries us along
on its mysterious road;
we've trod this path
for years untold.

For our Lenten study last year, we read a book by the Rev. William Sloane Coffin, Jr. entitled A Passion For The Possible . It was inspiring to read the words of this long time peace activist, who was the inspiration for Doonesbury's Rev. Sloan. He died during Holy Week this year, which seems somehow appropriate.
Not a Good Friday for baseball

Saturday, April 15, 2006

That's Hardly Plenty

The first Pointer Sisters album I ever owned was the 1974 album That's A Plenty. It was the most eclectic album I've ever heard, Beatles' Revolver-type eclectic.

Bangin' on the Pipes/Steam Heat: nostalgic/novelty jazz; the only song my SO at the time didn't like
Salt Peanuts: rapid-fire vocalization of the Dizzy Gillespie song, featuring Herbie Hancock on the piano, which I remember them performing with Carol Burnett on Carol's show
Grinning in Your Face: straight-up blues by Son House, featuring side guitar by Bonnie Raitt
Shaky Flat Blues: poppish slow blues
That's a Plenty / Surfeit USA: Dixieland
Little Pony: a Lambert, Hendricks and Ross tune
Fairytale: the song won the group its first Grammy Award, for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group
Black Coffee: a gorgeous torch song, later covered by k.d. lang
Love in Them There Hills: my favorite: the slow, percussive funk by Gamble & Huff, which I used to listen to the volume up and the lights down.
The album got up to #82 in the Billboard charts. That same year, the group got named to Mr. Blackwell's worst dressed list, which I thought was silly; they were retro chic!

As they became more pegged as an R and B group, they had hits such as Fire and Slowhand. They really broke out with 1983's Break Out, with Jump (for My Love), Automatic, Neutron Dance, and a rerecording of I'm So Excited.

But it's that early album that really got to me. Wish I had it in digital form.

This trek into musical nostalgia was prompted by the news of death of June Pointer, the youngest sister, a few days ago at the age of 52. Sad.

Three Political Questions

In light of certain revelations, I was wondering about the mood of the people who stumble upon this blog. If you would be so kind, please answer these three questions:

1. Should the President be impeached? You may pick a letter (or more than one - the answers aren't all mutually exclusive), or come up with an answer not provided.

A. The President acted appropriately in declassifying materials. There is no issue here.
B. You liberals couldn't get him on some other issues, so now you're trying this one on. Give it up!
C. The President is probably on safe legal ground, but listening to his Press Secretary describing the justification is rather like listening to Bill Clinton parce "is".
D. It's troubling, but don't quote me. What's the status of the USA PATRIOT Act again?
E. That conversation about censure might be appropriate about now.
F. Well, maybe impeachment is appropriate, but after the Clinton impeachment, the country cannot afford to be torn apart like that again.
G. I've been reading over the Twenty-Fifth Amendment, and I've concluded: Can't we impeach the Vice-President first? After all he was still talking about WMDs "proven" to be in Iraq on Meet the Press four months after the Pentagon showed it wasn't the case.
H. From my reading of USC 50,
"Protection of identities of certain United States undercover intelligence officers, agents, informants, and sources," ITMFA.
(Now since this is a wholesome, family-friendly, column, I won't tell you what that means. But if one were to go to ITMFA dot COM, one would be shocked, SHOCKED to find out.)
I. Who the heck is Valerie Plame?

2. Will either the President or the Vice-President ever be brought up on impeachment charges, and if so, how far will the charges go in the process?

3. Some retired US generals have been calling on Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to resign. Will he, and if so, when? Should he?

BONUS: Have recent revelations made you more cynical about the political process, you were already cynical about the political process, or you are more hopeful about the process because information has come to light?

My answers will be in the reply section, but I may wait a bit in order not to skew the results.
Beatles set to join online music revolution. Beatles. Revolution. Seems that they had a song (or three) called Revolution.
Someone calls this "the best 9-11 documentary I've seen" - I've only started watching it. (1 hour, 20 minutes)
After the past week, I feel like the donkey in this video. Before AND after. (Only a couple minutes.)

Friday, April 14, 2006

Dear Candid Yam

When I returned to college at New Paltz in the fall of 1975, after having dropped out for a semester, it was a bit disorienting. Since I had been elected to the Student Government Association (SGA) Financial Council (by a handful of disputed votes – but that’s another story), I gravitated to hanging out in the SGA offices.
The SGA was not happy with the established student newspaper, The Oracle. It wasn’t that the Oracle was saying bad things about them; in fact, the paper was hardly saying ANYTHING about them, having been taking over by a bunch of folks who were concerned about prison reform and the United States policy re: Chile, to the near exclusion of local student issues. And there was one big issue that fall, the representation of students on some college governance committee that intended to cut student participation.
Because of its free speech concern, the SGA was loath to pressure the Oracle to write anything. Instead, it started a newsletter. A guy named David was the editor of the Wind Sun News, published every weekday. It was an odd name more suited to some environmental journal.
Soon, I started reading about some young woman I dubbed Candid Yam, for reasons I will explain some day, and her organization that opposed the governance change. I’d never heard of her, and I knew all the players in activist circles.
One day, I was in the office when Fran, the secretary, was talking to a young woman and called her by name. "So, YOU’RE Candid Yam!" I said. She was startled. Had she made some enemy from her newsletter exposure? No, and in fact we became fast friends.
Meanwhile, I got to be in charge of the events calendar for the WSN. The day before the big rally, I submitted the upcoming events. I was surprised to find that one of the events, some Bible study, I think, hadn’t made it into the galley copy. David took it out because it was taking place at the same time as the rally. I argued that we were the student newsletter and should put in everything that was submitted. This became an amazingly heated argument. Cheech, the Comptroller of the Financial Council, came in, took my side in the argument and shut down the WSN, effective after that newsletter.
The rally did go on that next day, with CY and I helping to lead the charge.
Later that semester, the WSN was reinstituted under the direction of my then and current friend Judy, and CY and I were staffers. It came out weekly, I believe.
For the following semester CY, a guy named Kevin, and I, nicknamed TR by CY, became co-editors of the WSN, which then came out every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Kevin named himself OP just so we could be collectively called CYTROP.
It was clear that CY was first among equals. She and I had a routine of working on the paper on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday nights, taking it to the printer that night, then later picking it up MWF to distribute, then go out drinking that night. Ah, the hard drinking journalists. Actually, some of the material we did was pretty good. I wrote about riding around in a village police car with a cop, which I liked and the cops didn’t hate.
CY turned 20 that semester, and was freaking out. A friend of hers, Pam, took her out to dinner, and Kevin and I got the paper to bed early, that is by 11:30 (usually it was closer to 1 a.m.. Or 2. Or even 3.)
She came back to the paper around 11:45, groaned that we were all there, figuring on work for her, so we were able to surprise her with a party.
During some school breaks, I went to visit her home in Westchester County. Mostly we sang. Her father got very angry once when we pooh-poohed our singing ability.
Ultimately, I graduated, but we were in regular contact, with me even crashing on her sofa for a few weeks in the fall of 1977.
I attended her graduation in 1980, and we managed to keep in touch.
Then a few years later, I called her and got her answering machine. This happened several times. Finally, I did get her and she said she’d call me back. Something in her voice said that this was untrue, though I didn’t know why. But I waited a few months, tried calling her again.
Finally, irritated, I sent her back the elephant.
The elephant was this huge, ugly orange and green and white stuffed animal she got as a child, and which she gave to me fairly early on. I figured this would anger her or hurt her, but it would generate a reaction. Nothing.
It’s been a long time now. I did try to track her down through the college alumni association but by the time the book came out, her address had changed.
One of the gifts I got being on JEOPARDY! was something called U.S. Search. I was surprised to find how many people had the same name and date of birth. Anyway, today CY is having a significant birthday. I always remember the date, because it's arithmetically significant. If she was freaking out at 20, Allah knows how she’s feeling about THIS one. Happy birthday, CY, wherever you are.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Dead Presidents: A Taxing Situation

Abe Lincoln was shot April 14, 1865 and died the next day. So we do "celebrate" the Lincoln assassination by forking over our pennies (and $5s) to the government?

Unfortunately, that got me to thinking Kellyesque weird thoughts:

What have we done for James Garfield, who was shot on July 2 (in his first months in office) in DC but didn't die until September 19? What did the country do? Chester Arthur was Vice-President, but the 25th Amendment, of course, hadn't been passed. Did Arthur take over anyway? Inquiring minds want to know. I discovered that if one types in Garfield in Google Images, one finds several pictures of the cartoon feline.

Then there was William McKinley, the only President assassinated in the state of New York, or indeed, north of the Mason-Dixon line, shot September 6, died September 14, 1901, with our youngest President, TR, taking over.

Maybe we can have a joint Garfield-McKinley Memorial Day. Yeah, right - how many Americans can even identify Garfield as a U.S. president? At least McKinley had served a term and has a mountain named for him.

Of course, JFK ended up on the 50-cent piece (not to be confused with the former Curtis Jackson). They changed the name of Cape Canaveral to Cape Kennedy, in honor of his vision of going to the moon. Then they changed it back.
Anyway, I didn't mind filing my income tax, back in the day when I was just using the simple forms 1040A or 1040EZ. Since I've been married, though, it has meant itemizing, which never fails to mystify me. I STILL don't know the difference between ordinary dividends and qualified dividends.

Then there is the Alternative Minimum Tax, allegedly designed to keep the rich from paying nothing, but which somehow has become the bane of the more moderate wage earners.

O.K. Question 45 is about the AMT, which requires that one needs to fill out a worksheet just to answer that one question:

2. Enter the
smaller of the amount on Schedule A, line 4 or 2.5% (.025) of the amount on Form 1040, line 38.

But my favorite is this:

7. Enter the amount from Form 8962, line 2

What the heck is Form 8962? I went to the IRS website, but this wasn't on the list of forms. Finally, I searched the site to discover that 8962 is a form for "Exemption Amount for Taxpayers Housing Individuals Displaced by Hurricane Katrina". O.K. Bottom line, I spent nearly an hour figuring out one question, the answer of which is ZERO.

Every year is just slightly, maddeningly different. When they came up with the 16th Amendment, which is comprised of merely 30 words, did they envision the monstrosity that the tax code has become?

Fortunately, we have a few extra days to file because the 15th is on a Saturday. Those of us to send our returns to Andover, MA get yet ANOTHER day, because April 17 is Patriot's Day in Massachusetts. And since I believe we're going to end up paying, we're going to s-t-r-e-t-c-h out the process as long as possible.
You probably heard that Katrina was retired as a hurricane name, but four other names were retired as well. If memory serves, Stan hit Central America around the same time as the deadly earthquakes in Pakistan, so it didn't get as much play as it otherwise would have warranted.
In his post of April 11, friend Fred noted that I corrected him over Hugh Hefner's birthday. In answer to that question I got, "How did I know THAT?", let's be clear here - I HADN'T marked Hef's 80th natal celebration on my calendar; I just happened to see a piece on CBS Sunday Morning. Why, I don't even BUY Playboy, not even for the interviews. And the next time I go to a Playboy mansion will be the first. Or doth he protest too much?

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


Despite what I said a few weeks ago, based on the ABC-TV website at the time, and contrary to what it says in this week's PARADE magazine, the next episode of Commander in Chief will NOT be on next Tuesday, April 18 at 9 pm Eastern, it will be on TOMORROW (Thursday), April 13 at 10 pm Eastern.
Someone pointed out that the two actors who played Hawkeye Pierce, Donald Sutherland on Commander, and Alan Alda on West Wing, are now playing Republican members of Congress. It doesn't seem to reflect their personal choices.

The Departure of MB

One of my library co-workers, Mary Beth, is leaving today. I'm sad about that, for a number of reasons, including the fact that she's become my friend, some of which is indicated here.

Beyond that, though, is the very real problem facing the remaining three librarians. We were having problems keeping up with the reference pile with the four of us. For three of us, it'll be that much harder.

Adding to the mix are these factors:
1) we're all going to a three-day program-wide conference next month, for which we're doing a presentation that still needs to be done
2) I'm going to a three-day conference next month, for which I'm doing a presentation that still needs to be done
3) The Move

The Move will get its own post mighty soon. Let's just say for now that I'm NOT happy.

It occurred to me that this will be the fourth major move in less than 14 years on this job.

The first place I worked was on the fifth floor of the old Delaware and Hudson building, commonly referred to as the Castle, the headquarters of SUNY Systems Administration, still usually referred to as SUNY Central, on Broadway in downtown Albany. When I first arrived there, I was in an entranceway, sharing a phone line with the fax, so that when I answered the phone, I wasn't sure whether I would hear a human voice or an electronically-induced painmaker. Eventually, though, I got an office, shared with one colleague for a year, and another for four. That wasn't bad, although someone did a building study, which indicated that our organization had the greatest number of people per square foot in the building.

Then we moved around the corner to 41 State Street, the mezzanine, which was awful, at least for me, due to someone's design that made my (shared) office a passageway between one set of offices and another. Difficult to get work done. I was there for about three years.

But then we moved up to the 7th floor of the same building, and it was great! My own office. No window, but that was OK. It's been quite civilized for the past three for four years.

And now, move number four, going from downtown to a place oxymoronically named Corporate Woods. As I said, you'll hear more about that soon. I'm trying to write about it so that it doesn't sound like a bilious screed. So far, it's not working.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Effa Manley

Last month, I noted that I was going to be reading about Effa Manley, the first woman in baseball's Hall of Fame. You'll note friend Fred's commenting on former ESPN anchor and current MSNBC commentator Keith Olbermann's ire at the exclusion of "baseball's greatest ambassador: Buck O'Neil". In that rant, he noted that:
"To honor the Negro Leagues, that committee also elected two white owners, J.L. Wilkinson of the Kansas City Monarchs and Effa Manley of the Newark Eagles, whose co-owner husband reportedly traded away at least one of the team‘s players because she was having an affair with that player."

Fred wished me good luck in my read.

So, what does James Overmyer, author of "Effa Manley and the Newark Eagles", have to say about these issues?

First off, I don't know that whether her sex life is a relevant issue, but I'll get back to that shortly.

On the other topic:

Late in her life...Effa claimed she was not only the illegitimate offspring of a liaison between a seamstress named Bertha Ford Brooks, and a man at whose house she worked, financier John M. Bishop. And since both were Caucasian, Effa in fact was a genetically white person who nevertheless spent her entire life living, without regret, in a black world.
In 1977 she said, "My mother was a white woman. Her first husband was a Negro by whom she had four children. In the course of her sewing, she met my father, who was a wealthy white man...and I was born as a result." Her mother's husband, sued the white financier for alienation of Mrs. Brooks' affection and won a $10,000 settlement.
Mr. and Mrs. Brooks parted company over the affair, and Effa's mother married another black, B.A. Cole. The family included seven childen, six whose black fathers made them definitely regarded as Negroes, plus Effa, about whom questions were frequently raised...
She could never offer a real reason for choosing to live as a black, even when the truth told to her in her teens [by her mother] might have caused her to abandon a life that would clearly subject her to bias, no matter how subtle...In her old age...she mused: "I've often wondered what it would be like to associate with white people."

So, she was "biologically white", whatever that means. But she passed for black, something one doesn't often find. Back at the turn of the 20th century, the U.S. government had very specific terms for mixed race people: mulatto, octoroon, and quadroon, and the Census enumerators were instructed to pay close attention to these distinctions.

Whereas, if she were filling out a Census form in 2000, or indeed for the past few decades, she would be able to determine what race she is. Regarding racial statistics, according to the Census Bureau: "They generally reflect a social definition of race recognized in this country. They do not conform to any biological, anthropological, or genetic criteria." So, if Effa Manley wanted to identify as black, then she should have been able to do so.

As for her sexual proclivities, Overmyer writes:

Recollections of Effa include accounts of her attraction to some of the Eagles, particularly the irrepressible Terris "the Great" McDuffie. Effa, [her husband] Abe [pictured above with Effa], and McDuffie took the facts of this alleged triangle to their graves...

In any case, whether someone had had an affair generally doesn't matter in terms of their suitability for baseball's Hall of Fame, although I believe there is at least one currently HoF-eligible player that has been kept out for that very reason.

I haven't even touched on how difficult it was for Effa to operate in the male-dominated arena. It's unfortunate that Olbermann's concern for O'Neil seemed to cast aspersions on the qualifications of Effa Manley to be in the baseball Hall of Fame.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Going 'Round in Circles

Got this e-mail entitled "Billy Preston medical intrigue" indicating that the keyboardist is very sick, and that there is a big fight between his family and his manager. The details of the story are largely confirmed here. I wish him well.

Pictured, my first Billy Preston album, on Apple Records, produced by some guy named George Harrison.
And speaking of George, The Capitol Albums Vol. 2 is coming out tomorrow, featuring stereo and mono versions of The Early Beatles, Beatles VI, Help! and Rubber Soul. Though I never got the first Capitol Albums, I may have to get this one, if only for the Help! instrumentals, and some of the false start bits on Rubber Soul. But what comes next? Yesterday and Today and Revolver, but then you have all of the albums that were virtually identical in the U.S. and the U.K. Will the next box set feature Sgt. Pepper and Magical Mystery Tour, trying to lure people to buy those songs, in that order, yet again? The only other Beatles album not released in the UK at the time was the Hey Jude/Beatles Again disc, but that was on Apple.


Stolen from Kelly:

Pure Nerd
73 % Nerd, 34% Geek, 43% Dork

For The Record:

A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.
A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.
A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.
You scored better than half in Nerd, earning you the title of: Pure Nerd.

The times, they are a-changing. It used to be that being exceptionally smart led to being unpopular, which would ultimately lead to picking up all of the traits and tendences associated with the "dork." No-longer. Being smart isn't as socially crippling as it once was, and even more so as you get older: eventually being a Pure Nerd will likely be replaced with the following label: Purely Successful.


Thanks Again! -- THE NERD? GEEK? OR DORK? TEST

OK, I admit it: I DO look up words I don't know. And I'm OK at Trivial Pursuit. Oh, yeah, I've gotten a World Almanac every year since I was 10. Is that so wrong?
Friend Sarah addresses our cultural obseession with violence, both in our TV programs (CSI/Cold Case-types) and in the news. I have similar feelings about this. We share a particular disdain for alleged newsperson Nancy Whatsherface, who seemed to wallow in the missing-teenage-girl-in-Aruba story. Don't know what's she's up to presently, for when I see her face, I change the channel.