Sunday, December 12, 2010

Snow and the Season ("it only *feels* like -7")

Last night was the annual Christmas concert with the brass band.  It was a cold night.  It was also windy enough that the fact that there were flurries coming down was practically lost by the fact that the wind was blowing them completely horizontal.

The concert included a second half of all Christmas tunes from the Stan Kenton band.  I love this set of tunes, first exposed to a few of them on the Canadian Brass album "Noel" from a few years ago.  While we were snug inside, playing our hearts (and lungs) out, the weather was deteriorating.  So much so that, after the concert and the hosted reception in the front lobby, by the time I gathered my stuff and approached the front door, I could see that the wind was still high and the snow still falling.

"Falling" is still the wrong word.  In fact, this was what I referred to in a Twitter update as "old-fashioned winter weather".  Bitterly cold (17 degrees) and amazingly windy (when I tried to take off my coat to get inside the car, the wind blew the door closed on me), it was a serious winter's night. 

I. Loved. It.

It was like being in a desert, because the snow didn't stick.  It wound its way through rapidly moving tux shoes as I crossed the parking lot.  It shifted over and around the other cars as we waited to exit the lot.  In the reflected light of the other headlights, you could see the long snakes of snow blowing across intersections, propelled quickly forward by the wind, but also moving slowly back and forth like a great ribbon stretched between points far beyond the hills to my left and right.

It was beautiful.  Driving home my spirits could not have been higher.  I was gleeful in my need to drive slowly and hunker over the steering wheel as I peered into the swirling darkness.  It was a lovely contrast to the much more typical night of ultimately-still snow dropping straight down and sticking. 

Lovely.  All lovely.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Picking up slack

I return from the land of wind and ghosts!

It was nice to take a little bit of time away from the blog.  It allowed me to embrace the falling temperatures and allow that to buoy me back to my normal "nearly manic" levels of optimism and good humor.  I learned that there are some modern "pop-y" Christmas songs that I really dislike.  If I never hear "Wonderful Christmastime" again, I wouldn't miss it.  And now that I know Bob Geldof hates "Do They Know It's Christmas", I too can stand in line behind him.

Luckily, Pandora Internet radio has been my refuge, allowing me to get the seasonal music I like without the treacle.  Perhaps you may think I'm being a music snob, to which I say: duh.  Learning more about anything allows us to make more informed choices.  Those choices aren't any better than anyone else's per se, but they are certainly involving a lot more thought and experience.  Whether or not that should be a factor is ALSO a good question.  I don't think anyone else has poor taste for liking "War is Over" -- it just doesn't say "Christmas" to me.  Though what says "Christmas" to an agnostic is a bit of a stretch, in any case. 

We'll see if I have more time for updating heading into the busy holiday season.  I had a couple of gifts already picked out before December even arrived, which is a bit of a record for me.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Four Weddings and now...

I'm jumping the gun a bit and going out of sequence.  My brother's wedding of two weekends ago should really have received an entry here already.  I've got it partially written, but it was becoming clouded by other events.  I'd prefer it to stand on its own.

Last night, the son of one of my college professors died.  He was seven.  To his service I will go on Saturday, to pay respects to a boy I never met.  And I won't be alone.  I expect most everyone from the Conservatory to be there, from professors and secretaries to students and graduates.

Friday, November 12, 2010

How do I start a campaign to have dinner with Jon Stewart?

This evening has been lovely thus far. I listened to a British news quiz I enjoy, got to drink a ton of water to sooth my throat, and I watched the 50-minute interview between Rachel Maddow (one of my favorite political architecture experts) and Jon Stewart (one of my favorite modern political philosophers).

I think the effect of Jon Stewart on my process of critical thinking has been profound. In the spirit of that, I offer this feed of the entire interview. It's 50 minutes long, but I think it says a lot of interesting things. Among the more shocking is that two ostensible liberals can disagree so much about what they are each saying. I also find it incredibly stimulating that serious discourse can occur in long format. If this were the 1950's, this entire interview would have been broadcast as "the show". Today, it's available "web only".

I give it my highest recommendation: at least 5 "hmmm!" per hour. Please watch it if you have an interest in modern histrionic journalism, or the learned discussion of same.

Now it's time to dig in to John Waters' memoir. Such a night of pleasures!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Back and working

My brother's wedding went well.  The trip home was a blast.  I'm back in Kansas City and working again.

I'm also working hard on the large entry that is relating to the wedding.  Part recollection and part reflection, it will also cover a fair amount of ground.  So much so that I'm having trouble getting everything into it I want to say.  I may subdivide into multiple parts, or perhaps I'll just try to keep separate topics apart. 

I'm not sure yet, but I wanted you all to know that I am thinking about it when I come home at night.  Hopefully I have something out before the weekend is finished.  If I take my car in on Saturday, I should have plenty of time.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

I'm leeeeeeaving on a wet train*

* but only if it...umm... rains tomorrow.  Which is isn't going to.  So it's a really tortured and ill-fitting song pun.

The time has come to head to 2010 wedding number four.  I may or may not update in the next week, depending on how much time I have to sit by myself.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Heatless of the weather

My mood improves with each passing day and each falling degree.  That's the basic "idle" level, for those of you playing the home game.  Separate from that is a strange melancholy that I also find satisfying.  There's something comforting about the melancholy, as though it's a stranger whose presence I feel inexplicably calmed by.

I still haven't switched on my heat.  Eventually, I'll prepare for it by setting the thermostat somewhere at the contractually obligated low temperature as specified in the Homeowner's Association agreement: 55 degrees.

Until then, I rejoice and revel in the open windows as the temperature dips into the thirties at night and the morning air is sharp in my lungs.

Yes, that makes me weird.  It's the balance benefit of having a body that runs at a high temperature all year.  While I flounder in 89 degree heat, I also embrace the lower temperatures as my comfort zone.

Monday, November 01, 2010

A Life and Death Perspective

Over the past few weeks, I've had it a bit tough.  I haven't made any progress on my degree because I'm working long hours.  Dealing with a couple of customers and vendors at work has contributed to my stress load.  The loan provider suddenly decided to start up full payments on my loans again, plus 15%.  Navigating through their call center succeeds only in raising my ire. 

My car is gradually dying a slow death, but I still need to replace a few parts on it to keep it going while I figure out what to do.  I still haven't had free time enough to get back to Chicago to see friends like I had promised... seven years ago.  I can't even find time to visit people who live in the same state as me (give or take a border).

My dating life has been largely "not promising" for a long time.  My friend recently admitted that while she has more odious choice in partners, I always managed individual dates that were more awful.  Hooray!   I'd like to thank the Academy...

While there is much that's going right, I have plenty to complain about.  Under the wrong sort of day, I might even grudgingly admit that "things are difficult" right now.

Now for some perspective...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Language barrier

I used the word "wherefor" and was misunderstood.

I used the phrase "wouldn't go amiss" to me that something would be welcome and effective, but everyone just blinked.

I got a brief "nobody understands you sometimes" talking to.

It hasn't been a very good week in my ever-persistent journey to use more than the bare-minimum 500 operational daily words.

Add to that list "suss", "risible", "serviceable", "candor", "gauche", "avuncular", "concomitant", "mollify", "accrete" (which I had to teach to my computer just now), "prodigal", and "furtive". 

I'm starting to see why people don't let me talk anymore.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Doctor Andy's Guide to Dating Doctor Andy, part XVIII

First, a disclaimer: there aren't seventeen other parts in this series, so if you were the sort of person who immediately thought to go looking for parts I through XVII, I apologize.

Second, another disclaimer: this is about real people.  Myself (primarily) along with various other people I've had varying degrees of relationships with over the years.

I started this entry for a good reason, but that reason was not "a step-by-step guide to landing Andy".  One of the things I've talked a lot about in this blog over the years is relationship philosophy.  That's why I titled this "part XVIII" -- it's a nod towards the fact that I'm sure I've given at least a dozen rantish pieces of advice over the years.

I decided to carpe some diems and write this off the cuff.  That probably means that somewhere in my archives is an entry that looks a lot like this, in both tone and content.  So consider this an affirmation of vows.

Or an update to the terms of service, for all you modern techheads.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

You can't tell very well from the reduced-size preview, but this picture represents the connections between most of my Facebook friends.  One of the things I enjoy most about social networks is the "network" aspect.  The interconnections between people and the realizations about how close (or far) unacquainted people are from each other. 

More discussion of this image after the break.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Silly Image

As someone who has played video games since before the original Mortal Combat AND one who received an "A" in the "Nordic History of Music" class a few years ago AND as a lover of bad puns, this picture makes me very happy.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Sum of My Yesterdays

She is quite literally my dream girl.

The only reason I met her is because I was at the museum.  She was leading a tour group of which I was a face, half listening to the memorized banter.  But in this case, the talking drew my attention because it wasn't memorized.  She spoke off the cuff with animation and feeling.  She threw asides in for her own amusement.  This was how I first connected with her: laughing at a "Hello Dali" joke she tossed aside as one might a comfy hat into an easy chair.

She's tall and dark-haired.  That's actually amusing, as I never really found myself attracted to dark hair.  When people would rattle off lists of characteristics, that was never something I thought about.  The tall part is fun.  When I walk, I can see directly into her eyes without requiring her to crane her neck.

When I spoke to her, I got incredibly embarrassed.  My face flushed and I could feel my brain trying to slow everything down so I didn't stumble over my words.  That didn't happen, but at least she and I were both smiling when I asked her if I could take her to dinner sometime.  I threatened to burst from smiling when she looked at me and said, "Of course," as though I'd just asked if she liked ice cream.

Still blushing like mad, I remember thinking "Man, I must be dreaming because she is amazing!"

I was.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Breaking Mews!

I stand corrected.  There was in fact a cell phone picture taken of the traveling kitten.  Here she is wondering why the comfortably dark cave formed by someone sitting on their heels has suddenly been compromised. 

To make matters even worse, there were paparazzi outside the cave, eager to get a candid shot.

Monday, October 04, 2010

A Kitten at Work

Today, the high school student who works part-time at the shop got out of her noisy diesel truck and came to the door carrying a tiny kitten.  Apparently, the kitten had been deposited unseen by the mother in a box in the bed of the pickup early, had sat there through a day of high school classes, and only been discovered after school.

The kitten was approximately a month old, still uninterested in solid food and mewling plaintively for mom cat to come and do something useful.  I got a chance to pick it up and cuddle it in my arms for a while, where it started to purr and ceased crying out.  So if you were wondering what's almost as appealing as a cat, it's the warm juncture between my arm and my belly.

It was funny how much having a kitten focuses attention.  Productivity in the office suffered as people had their own ideas about how to comfort it, feed it, raise it, or (in the case of an anti-cat person) feed it to the local wildlife.  Nobody had nothing to say about it, you'll notice!

Work continued at almost normal speeds once a box had been found that could be layered with the cutoff legs of a pair of pants from the worker (they were cut off for the summer weather, not that kitten).  Still, people made lots of trips past the kitten box just to be able to look in at the sleepy fluffball.

The most amusing part was having workers come up to me, start communicating on work business, then look down and trail off by stating, "Umm, you're holding a kitten..."

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Saying goodbye to everyone at the party

Last night was the first concert of the Fountain City Brass Band season.  Afterward, we went to a local house of ale, trivia-via-hipster, and cover bands to celebrate.  The party went on and good times and laughs were had by all.  As people start to drift away, those remaining offer "bye!" and waves from their seats in mid-conversation stream. 

Finally, it was time for me to shuffle home as well.  There were still enough people remaining that we still covered two tables, so I got up from the table I had most recently been haunting and popped in at the other table (where I started) to say a quick farewell to everyone.  One guy stood up to shake my hand, which was a kind of different-era moment, and out I went.  I had touched base with everyone and checked off all the boxes.

That's basically what Mike Celizic did as he was dying of cancer.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Never use an elipse to remove meaning is my homepage of choice, and I follow the news there every time I reload the page.  They've even started pulling local stories and placing them in the feed.  However...

When Yahoo prepares news headlines, they edit them to fit in the space allowed.  But with the local headlines, they don't bother (those are probably collected automatically).  So, the computer just puts in an ellipsis after a certain number of characters.

It's often funny and today was no exception.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

20,000 Visitors! (give or take)

My blog had it's 20,000th visit yesterday around noon.  The visit consisted of someone arriving from Google to find the entries where I mentioned the Aryan Nation couple who named their child after a certain Chaplin-mustached dictator whose name sounds like Anolf Spitler.

In a very real way, that's sort of a representative visit.  I get a variety of single-page visitors thanks to the indexing might of Google and other search engines.  It also allows people to arrive having searched for the afor-unmentioned German who then promptly search my site for "sex".  Words cannot express the curiosity I feel about the general web-surfing behavior of those individuals.

Returning to much more relevant things, I want to thank all of the you's who are reading this, as it's probably not your first visit to my virtual abode.  And while this statistic is definitely NOT completely accurate because I didn't start this counter with the beginning of the site AND it doesn't take into account every visitor, I still feel a swell of appreciation that I've had at the very least 20,000 visitors.

Now it's time to head in for a special Saturday edition of work!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

But it might just be me...

Women who apply the term "irony" correctly and use it unprompted are tremendously sexy.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Fine weather, at the very least

It's back to school time in the local area, and the various schools are just now putting things together for band programs.  It's a change from the district where I grew up.  Back there and then, I picked up a horn near the beginning of the summer, had classes with the retired band directors on the elementary school's front lawn in the hot months, then started the fall ready to fall in to band class.

It's done different in Olathe, and so the shop where I work is hopping lithe and madly as the world beats a path to our gate.  I'm on track for fifty-five or sixty hours this week, though part of that is the automatic hours from the holiday on Monday.  I still went to work, so it made for a long day between employment and then a three hour rehearsal following fast after. 

At least I'm not the educational coordinator: that guy is everywhere.  I don't feel so bad for basically forcing him to take most of today off, as he'll be at the local fair booth on Saturday in "balance".

I hear this should be finished by October.  The end of October. 

Of 2014.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

The Third Wedding, or What You Will

"I was adored once too."
--Sir Andrew Aguecheek, "Twelfth Night", Act II scene iii

This year's third wedding took place last weekend.  It took place on property owned by the groom's mother in the shadow of the Olympic National Forest in Washington.  The closest town is called Sequim (pronounced "skwim"), a town of a bit more than 5,000 people.  I learned that it is the lavender capital of North America -- though that fact didn't teach me as much about Sequim as it did about lavender!

The wedding was between my cousin (the elder of my mother's sister's children) and her beloved.  They were married in the field and the clouds were nice enough to recede and provide a natural backdrop of mountains.  THe weather was gorgeous, the food was amazing (wild salmon provided by the local Nisquali tribe), and the ceremony touching.

I'm fortunate that all my friends and family have such amazing and vastly different services, because it provides me no direct method for comparing them.  I can say that the setting was perfect for weddings and one could not ask for a better outdoor scene.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A frightening grief

It's 2:00am as I start to write this sentence.  I haven't been to sleep, though I've been in my bed for hours.  My brain is running at a breakneck pace through scenarios, future events, past tragedies, and the events of the day.

It's a lot of thought to devote to something that doesn't really have anything to do with me.  But death tends to caress everyone it passes and send them gently spiraling in their own eddies of self-examination.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

North to South, or West to West?

Let's talk about Gibson.  He's an acquaintance of mine from way back, and he's a genuinely decent human being.  I don't think he's malicious or cruel, and he spends a lot of his time trying to make sure that everyone gets talked to at a party.  He's a good guy who can be relied upon to volunteer to help friends pack house in terrible summer heat because he wants to be nice. 

Gibson really likes NASCAR.  He is amazing in the depths of his fan-ness.  So much so that the scale of his devotion makes you take a step back and regard his efforts with a surprising affability.  Rather as though your neighbor just ate his own weight in grape jam to prove himself to a radio show host.  Regardless of whether or not you approve of potentially harmful stunts or shock-jocks using people for their own ends, there is one thing you can say: that's an amazing amount of jam.  And that sort of consumption deserves to be... I think "lauded" is the wrong word.  "Noticed and studied" is more apt.

Still, it's a significant occurrence -- that cannot be denied.  And Gibson's enthusiasm for NASCAR is something that makes you say "wow, that sure is something."  By any method of measuring the thought-time consumed by a certain subject, Gibson and NASCAR set the par.

[At this juncture, I should step in briefly to state that Gibson's name isn't Gibson.  Also, Not-Gibson doesn't have NASCAR as a favorite activity.  I used it because it's something that's known to many people, but only excessively followed by a few.  It also has enough of a social stigma to mimic the environment surrounding the real activities of Not-Gibson.]

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Do Brangelinas Dream of Purple Jeggings?

Massive apologies to the memory of Philip K. Dick for the title.

There was a Yahoo news story today about the rise of "jeggings", which is apparently a cross between women's jeans and stretch-leggings.  Leggings always remind me of those unaware 80's films like "Weird Science" where women wear leggings and it was supposed to be sexy at the time.  It always looks horrendously dated to me (which probably has something to do with me not being old enough to care about women in movies when the 80's was happening), but I'm not on the cutting edge of fashion.  Perhaps the 80's are back.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

It may not be the heat...

I've noticed a lack of noticing sport motorcyclists tearing up and down my street in the dead of night.  They've been common in other summers, but not so much this one.  I attributed it to the heat, but if I'd actually thought about it, I'd realize that's silly -- it's always cooler when they ride.

Today, the local ABC affiliate has a possibly related headline:

Sports Motorcycle Thefts Surge

Hmm, so THAT'S why it's quiet....

Is my life a one-hour TV episode written by God?

This week, California's Proposition 8 was overturned by the federal circuit judge.  I'm not any kind of legal scholar, but my understanding is that the judge basically ruled that with regards to marriage, the "all people get equal protection under the law" provision of the Constitution trumps the abilities of even a voting majority.  In effect, the government should be "faith neutral" when considering civil marriages. 

It's intimidating to think of the volume of words being written about this decision across America.  This entry isn't an examination of society or values or rights of marriage.  It's about a couple of Mormons I know.  Proposition 8 is irrevocably linked with the Church of Latter-Day Saints, owing to the tremendous amount of money contributed by church members to its passage (estimated between 50% and 75% of all contributions).

But this entry, like so many others, is really about sex.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Girl, Uninterrupted

I went to dinner with a woman earlier this week.  I took a bit of ribbing for it at work, mostly because she called the shop after I accidentally answered my cell phone with my thigh the first time she called.  I was briefly teased about the "hot date", which may very well have something to do with why I don't bring that sort of thing up normally.  In this case, I didn't bring it up but I did answer some questions in the presence of workers who guessed what was happening based on my side of the conversation.

The two of us had a nice dinner, before which I did something extraordinary: I turned all the notifications on my phone to "silent".

She didn't say anything about that specifically, but the two of us did enjoy a great meal and serious conversation for two hours, which must have meant her phone was also silent.  I did receive a text message during that time, but had no idea.  It was work-related, but not critical.  I left the ringer on, so that if something terrible HAD happened, people would have been able to get in touch with me.

I know, for example, that if my mother were to fall down a well, she'd call -- she wouldn't bother to send texts or email.  Of course, my mom doesn't live near a well, nor does she have a cell phone, so this the greatest hypothetical situation I think I've ever conjured up.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

The Mercurial Sacred Cow

Consider Bethany.  There is no situation that Bethany cannot attempt to laugh at.  I don't mean that in the sense of trying to keep a stiff upper lip in the tides of adversity.  Rather that she has no qualms making fun of anything and everything.

She is so adept that she more-than-frequently puts propriety and "good sense" on a shelf before speaking.  I've heard her make fun of the handicapped, the mentally behind, the recently dead, rape, and other hilarious topics.  She doesn't seem to do it out of real malice, I think.  Instead, she seems to want people to pay attention to her, and the best way to accomplish that is to say something that will get everyone to pay attention to you.

Like joking about someone's parents dying.  Is funny, no?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Strangely, I think my personality changes when I'm at work.  In the general everyday at-home times, I'm mostly optimistic.  But in work transactions, I get a bit relieved when I find out how people are going to be terrible in each transaction.

I think that must be the definition of a pessimist, and I'm kind of at a loss regarding how I can make that switch unconsciously.  Perhaps it has to do with the sheer amount of unfortunate situations I find myself in -- ones where I can't afford to be taken advantage of.

That means I have to stay on my toes, continuously guarding against the tiniest puncture of the dyke.  Maybe if I were selling "Slip 'n Slides" during some hot summer of the early 80s, I might be able to relax.  At least then, I'd know that people would be falling over themselves to lay hand to product.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Now what will I do with all that indignation?

I came to this laptop intending to write a dolorous entry about life and hot weather and women and children and marriage and missed opportunities and deadlines and aggravations and short-for-times and woe-be-me's and not suffering fools gladly and a great galumphing host of that which we call self-pity.

Then someone turned me around with a sentence.

And it was all icing, kittens, and torn-up bills suddenly.  I got caught up the day's birthdays wishes and couldn't get the cheeky grin off my face.  I'm sure it will buoy me 'till I get to sleep.

It didn't remove the underlying melancholic episodes.  It just demonstrated how easily I bob back to the surface, given the slightest positive oomph.  I daresay that this is entirely what being "an optimist" is all about.  How extraordinary!

No doubt I'll have the other entry ready in a day or two, though I'll be even more disappointed with myself because I didn't get the good ideas out of my head while I had them the first time.  It won't be as good the second time around, but of course you won't really notice that.

Lucky you!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Insert token, retrieve Mercedes

This parking system is amazing. It's located in Budapest underneath a public square. Infrastructure rules!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The summer of our discontent

It's unpleasantly hot.

It's hot enough that its starting to effect my mood.  I slink from conditioned air to my car and suffer under the indignity of having hot air blown in my face for a while while I travel to the next cool box.  It gradually draws the joy out of everything I do.

And since it really hasn't changed to be markedly more warm in my lifetime, I can only assume that I've gotten to be a bigger complainer in the years I've been alive.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Views = Lots

As I write this, the visits counter stands at 18,999.  So by the time you read this, whoever you are, I know that you will be the 19,000th visitor!

Unless you come after that point -- then you're after 19,000.  Better luck at 20,000.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Dear Mr. Jefferson

Dear Mr. Jefferson,

I'm writing to you on July 4th, which is celebrated by Americans of today as having something to do with the Declaration of Independence.  You know this already, but most historians agree the actual Declaration was signed in August -- July 4th was the day when the final wording of the document was approved by Congress.

I'm writing this letter to just reflect a bit on this thing that is "The United States of America", 234 years after putting signature to document.  There's been a few changes since the days of the War for American Independence, or "the conflagration with Great Britain," as you might call it.  Speaking of which, one of my great-great-ancestors was running around at the time: you may have met!  Though because he was a Hessian mercenary hired by the British, I'm betting you wouldn't have been on the best of terms.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

The June Wedding in 2010

Now that June is over -- or soon will be, by the time you read this -- I feel like I should really wrap up my thoughts on the wedding that occurred a couple of weeks ago.  I've been having a hard time putting thoughts to screen, but I'm not sure why that would be.  It could be that I burned up all my good wedding commentary in my entry on the May wedding.

This is about the third time I've started writing about this wedding, so let's see if I can't get this one to stick!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The EVO that a Man Dwells With

At long last, I purchased a new phone.  Yesterday, I went to Best Buy and bought the EVO 4G from Sprint.  It ends several years of actively paying attention to the phone scene, trying to figure out what to buy.  It also serves as a final resting place after the false stop in January.

Let me give you some thoughts after approximately 24 hours with this newfangled "product of our genius".

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Do as I say, not as I say.

These two thoughts posted by the same person, almost at the same moment.  The person posting them apparently sees no discord.  I disagree.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Actually, Barbara, a mirror only has one face

A friend of mine recently signed up for a dating "something".  I'm not sure if it was one of those speed-dating events, or an internet website, or a guy dishing dates from the back of a truck.  What I do know is that part of it involved a questionnaire on which there was a question asking:

"What do people of the opposite sex first notice about you?"

She explained that she'd had to think through the question quite a bit.  Is it her laugh, or her hair, or her smile, or her breasts?  I think she eventually went with her smile, but threw in something about boobs as well, in a nod to realism.

It made me start thinking about how I'd answer that question.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Ruh-roh, Raggy -- Rammar Roblems!

Quick thought:

Reading when someone types out "How RU doing?", I invariably translate that in my mind to Scooby Doo talking.

Busy plus Mozart equals driving

Thanks to arriving in Kansas City after midnight on Monday morning after a weekend of drinking and sunburns, the whole week has been a little chaotic.  It's not any easier in the latter half: I'm currently in St. Louis, having driven out here yesterday afternoon.  I'm attending the Wednesday matinee of "The Marriage of Figaro" at the Opera Theatre then immediately driving BACK to Kansas City so I can be ready to go back to work on Thursday.

On Saturday, it's a birthday party two hours north of me and a wedding in the evening.  Sunday may be the day when I finally unpack and decide what happened in the previous week and a half.

Friday, June 11, 2010

New look

While I was up trying to pack, I updated the look of the blog.  Let me know if there are any problems, and I'll attend to them after I return.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010


Preparing for the Great American Brass Band Festival.  Long rehearsals after work -- makes Andy a dull boy!  Blog updates are spaced out for now, though I've heard a rumor that our bus will have WIFI?  talk about posh and futuristic.

40 tunes, tons of soloists, and three concerts.  Arms and legs inside the vehicle, kiddies!

This isn't a contest, so it's not something we can win.  Apparently, there are ways to lose, though -- more on that when we return.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Inedible Indian Spam

Just for clarity's sake, there was a spammer loose on my blog for several hours today.  The previous entry did have spam comments posted in it, which I eventually deleted.  So it looks like I'm having a strange one-sided conversation with myself.  The comments have nothing to do with the entry.  I was originally going to leave the "this message has been deleted" placeholder there to give some reference, but by the fifth spam comment I was only in a mood to eradicate them. 

Carry on!

Sunday, June 06, 2010

To my implacable foe:

I write this letter on what was almost the cusp of our latest battle.  It would have been a surprise attack, because Sun Tzu tells us that we should never cede even the smallest advantage to our enemy.  I have not enough foresight to provide oracular details of how the battle would have transpired.  It is equally possible that both sides would have sustained critical injuries.  In lieu of that conflict which -- up till this very hour, I relished -- I have decided to surrender.

I do not take this course because I feel obligated by a sense of decency or Ghandian desire for a less violent path.  Quite the contrary: recent actions against our person were as objectionable as the first skirmishes fought so long ago.  Just as vile.  Just as disconnected from that which is right and good and true. It is also likely that -- absent a taunting blow from me -- you will continue rampaging as you have been, terrorizing those who hold you dear and devastating the whole of your own kingdom.  The St. Georgian way would be to take sword to dragon and strive for peace for the good of all in the swath of danger.  Yet I turn from the sword stroke with disgust and loathing.

It is no victory to strike down a man who -- in his madness -- strives only to curse the wind for blowing.  Such a man already perceives the swells of the world's ocean as being purposefully malicious against him alone.  To fight against such an opponent brings no glory or fame.  Even the satisfaction of retribution is denied to the aggressor, for there is no satisfaction in besting one's nemesis in the form of a child at play.

Those wiser than I have already argued that to leave you alone is to grant you influence in absentia.  No doubt they are correct, as the near-term consequence of my surrender would have been to allow my momentum to flag and turn the advantage to your side.  What a blessing for me, they might say, that the battle was still unexpected by my foe.  But I have seen what you can not.  I have seen beyond the castles and the fields of our conflict.  The great world you seek to best me in?  It is like unto a sand castle in the desert.

So I bestow on you the victory!  My boon is my buried lance point.  I give way on the ground you hold dear, for I have no desire to clutch and spit and claw at one who feels betrayed by even the clothes upon their back.  The hostility that roared in me like a blacksmith's flame but scant minutes ago is utterly quenched, leaving only the cold and distant fumes of pity.  That is what remains of the great passion and furious anger -- nothing but a dim sadness for the diminishment of what you were and could have been.

I surrender the battle because it means nothing.  Not because I expect to "win the war", as the wags say.  No. For even the war itself no longer matters.  The world has changed.  You are left in the dreadful stillness of the closed theater, watching in terror as the lights fizzle out singly and the darkness swells deeper and higher, from all directions at once.

And I do not wish to watch.

For the first and last time, I say good bye.

Traffic Roundabout

Here's a graph of the incoming traffic to my site over the past year.  It represents the total site visits (in yellow) and the total number of page views (in red).  Basically, whenever someone loads a page on my blog, it adds a "visit".  If that same person closes the window and returns 21 minutes later, they're counted as a different visitor.  If that person visits and then moves their way through various other pages on the blog, loading each page less than 21 minutes after the last, those (and the initial view) count as "page views".

So a larger number of yellow indicates more visitors overall, while a larger number of red indicates more users who spend time reading (or so I assume).  The red is over and above the yellow number, since a single page visitor counts as both a yellow AND a red.  For reference, each colored background box in the graph represents 100.

Right now, I'm averaging 19 vistors per day.  You can see that I've been on an upward swing since November.  I'm not really sure what happened in November, other than my UK trip.  It might make sense if, because I was overseas and not updating, people may haven't bothered to visit, knowing I'd be gone.  Going through the post archive in the right column over there ------------------>,  I can see I wrote 7 entries in November 2009.  But I only wrote four in December, meaning it wasn't directly related to whether or not I actually published anything.

So far this month, I already have more than half the total number of visits from November, and we aren't even through the sixth day yet.  Also, somewhere between 5% to 20% of visitors each month are single-time people who fly through using the random blog button at the top.  Some of them stop long enough to do a search for "porn", "sex", "diapers", or "Bar Refaeli" before moving on.  Them's good people.  Now when they come through, they'll find this post.  Bwahahaha!

[It turns out that Bar Refaeli isn't an alehouse down the street from the Piazza Navona, but an Israeli supermodel.  She's received letters asking her to please avoid marrying a non-Jew for the good of Israel.  How touching!]

For all the rest of my visitors who don't arrive looking for pornography, thanks for coming!  I hope you continue to enjoy reading, and I hope you stay as far away as possible from porn-sex diapered supermodels.

The Old Man and the CDMA

I'm kind of disappointed that I'm never going to have that time in my life when I, on some future date, can look back on and say, "Well, I *used* to be cool, when I was your age."  I have never been cool.  And I'm still not, because of my phone.  It's old.  I've mentioned it several times on here and that may lead you to think that I'm continually thinking about it.

I don't, though.  The only time I ever think about it is when other people notice it.  This they do in increasing numbers.  Since God descended from on high and separated the cell phone people into tribes, there has been a serious identity associated with one's phone.  To put it into perspective, one of the big choices I had to make was whether or not it was important to have a color screen.  I decided it wasn't, what with this being in the days before cameras on phones.  If the camera had a calculator on it, it was considered to be "too showy" for use in houses of worship and dignified society.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Brain Peek

In no particular order and with no particular emphasis, here's what I'm currently pondering.

Monday, May 31, 2010

The best antidote to death is kids

I'm sitting at my parents' house in St. Louis as I write this.  I'm in the living room where I grew up, with its familiar green carpet and the framed photograph of Uncle "Lips" on the mantle.  It's not actually my great-great uncle, just someone who resembled him, according to my great-grandmother.

Somewhere else in the house are the backpacks my father and I took to Philmont Scout Ranch in 1992.  Mine is electric blue and black with a cool internal frame.  The packs have sat in the basement corner quietly for almost twenty years without me thinking about them, but I thought about them this weekend.

The reason I did was because one of the dads who hiked in my group died last week.  I found out about it when I arrived in town late last Friday evening.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Relationship Notes from the Last Two Months

This is two separate people and two separate stories.  The main character of the first story is me -- that story deals with involving my social group in my prospective relationship.  The main character of the second story is a woman I know.  Her story involves the perception of her by her social group.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

May 8th, Part the Second: Streetfighter likes my pinstripe

As I was saying before I was rudely interrupted by my gushing adulation of Christopher Lee, I was in the midst of commencements...

Saturday, May 15, 2010

May 8th, Part the WHOOPS: Doctor Andy and Christopher Lee, sitting in a tree

When we last left me on May 8th, it was still close to noon and my friend was picking nits through my love life.  I don't mind, really -- it's not often anyone bothers to ask about my love life.  It must come from being tall and scary.  After all, do you think anyone asks Christopher Lee about his love life?  And if they did, would you expect him to answer in any way other than:


Sunday, May 09, 2010

Fuzzy fox

This is a nine-week old red fox kit found in California.  I like his little stuffed animal.

He's cute, but I know that one day he'll grow up and be able to make the bone-chilling cry of the red fox.

WARNING: Turn down your volume before listening to the video, especially at night if others are sleeping.

May 8th, Part the First: Begun the Commencements Have

Yesterday was a day bursting at the seams with things that happened.  I tried describing it as a "busy" day, but that somehow feels like I was doing or working a lot.  Actually, I was mostly relaxed and not busy.  It was a constant stream of one activity leading into another leading into another from ten o'clock in the morning to ten at night.  Gather 'round to hear tell of the first part of the day -- the part where I talked to girls and earned money.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Such a day, that was!

It was a long day.  Three commencements and a wedding make for a long day.

A friend of mine paid me an awesome relationship compliment, but it took me ten hours, four beers, and 2 glasses of wine to actually think it through and appreciate it.  Did I mention the 10 hours of mulling?

The wedding was wonderful, but I'll have to cover it some other day.  Tired and 3/4ths asleep already. 

Also, I might die from hummus, lamb, and tzatziki poisoning.  But such a tasty way to go!


Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Dreams aren't supposed to be so... actual!

This morning -- quite early -- my brain and body both decided to conspire against my consciousness.

Here's how it went down:

Monday, May 03, 2010

Alarm CloACK!

I find my alarm clock to be very effective.  Mine's from the middle-80's and I'm not sure there have been many improvements to alarm clocks since then.  I need mine to make a sudden racket -- and it does.  In my current bedroom setup, it's sitting on the chest of drawers at the foot of my bed, requiring me to do a sit-up, get out of bed and take several steps to silence it.

The alarm is loud enough to pierce even my sleep habits, as one who often sleeps through storms and other nighttime rackets.  But as loud and effective as this clock is, I somehow find it EVEN MORE jarring when I'm already awake and thinking.  It never fails to startle me, even though I know that it's going to happen each morning at 7:30am.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Usually, my lunches aren't an experience

I like being able to get out of the office for lunch.  Often, some of the other workers will stay in the break room watching episodes of sitcoms while they eat their from-home lunches.  I like to get away.  I spend eight hours (or beyond) in the warehouse anyway, so when I have the opportunity to escape for a bit, I seize it.  So, when I bring my lunch, I escape to a park (or parking lot) and enjoy.  Otherwise, I stop in at one of the local establishments for lunch.

And today, the local establishment was especially interesting, in that it *was* interesting at all.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

My Do-Nothing Saturday

I went to bed last night at about 9:15pm, dog-weary.  Some time later, I awoke to the idea that there would be storms.  So I padded through my place, shutting windows.  Just before I fell into bed again (now secure against damp carpets), I noticed the clock:  11:24pm.  I thought for sure it had been 3:30 in the morning.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Fixing dinner is a sign of maturity

I don't want to jinx it, but I think I may be able to come home after work tonight and cook dinner.  It's been a while, coming off of the brass band's push towards contest.  That phase usually ends up eating all the nights, in addition to the fact that I've been working the days.  I mentioned to one of the Fountain City guys that I was looking forward to a weekend with nothing in it.  "It's not this weekend," I cautioned.  "But maybe next week."

Monday, April 19, 2010

Post-NABBA 2010

Fountain City was victorious.  We are the first band in NABBA's history to win four back-to-back victories, though that statistic doesn't have quite the luster it appears -- somewhere in the past, NABBA's anti-monopoly rule banning three-time winners from competing for a fourth consecutive time was rescinded.  But for now (and the next four years or so), we've secured a place in North American history. 

FCBB took first in the championship division with a combined score of 290.4 (sum of three judges).  We also performed well at the solo competitions, with Fountain City members placing in all four divisions.

Let's do a bit of a rundown of the good and band -- err, bad -- after a break.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Pre-NABBA 2010

Almost eight AM now and I've been cracking for a couple of hours.  Finally found a time to do laundry: pre-dawn.

Knocked out some work-related proofreading via email.

Packed uniform (except for the stuff still at the dry cleaners), packed suit, packed mutes.

Expect to be double-smacked with checked luggage fees today. Yay.  Let's see if I can keep the fees to less than $200 for the entire trip.  I bet no.

I get to bring three pairs of shoes.  Shiny black, matte black, and everyday.

Friendly rivalry with Brass Band of the Potomac slowly getting established.  Right now, it's being fought on my co-workers' Facebook pages.  Ahh, this modern era.  As Helen Tyler (our own UK specialist) archly pointed out, one of the charms of the competitive English spirit has been successfully (?) imported using the internet to bridge the vast physical distances between bands.  I remain skeptical.  So does she.

Let it be sung loud and long that our director, Joe Parisi, is amazing.  He is the not-at-all-secret secret to our success.  This must be what it's like to have a good coach at the SuperBowl that you don't want to let down in any way at "the big game".

I'll be back on Sunday, and soon thereafter I may have time to update the blog.  Either way, there'll certainly be a short update with results.  Should I fail, in previous years the NABBA has posted scores and results on this website:

EDIT (4/25/10)  NABBA seems to have forgotten about that site, so your best bet for a public listing of the scores is via the or via

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

'Twas Tuesday Before NABBA....

I've found that when I leave home at 8:15am and return after 10:15 pm, it doesn't really leave any time for laundry.  I'll be able to take care of it with a combination of dropping dry cleaning off this morning (for pickup tomorrow) while doing the home wash tomorrow after work and before lessons, then the drying after lessons and before rehearsal.

I did my taxes on Sunday (before rehearsal), and I my proposed tax burden for 2009 was more than 10% of my income.  I earned in the vicinity of $3,000: counting two jobs of lessons, money for musical performances, and investment income (which was negative this year -- what a surprise).  I owed about $330 in taxes, mostly in unavoidable self-employment taxes.  Of that, a full $300 was removed in tax credits, so I was left owing about $30.

Luckily, my current employment status allows me to pay that effortlessly.  Going by last year's rate, that would have been 1% of my yearly income.  I guess single people far below the poverty line without children don't have much to spend their money on, so we can afford to save for tax day.

I don't begrudge the government for collecting taxes -- I want nice roads, good schools, libraries, and police and fire protection as much as anyone, and I don't mind paying for them in principle.  But I'm much happier paying taxes now that 1% of my current income amounts to more than a week's worth of groceries (see last year's $30 figure).

I'm beginning to understand one of the problems with any proposed flat-tax system.  When I make $3,000 a year, $30 is a significant amount of money.  But if I make $30,000, then $300 is less intrusive, even though it's the same percentage.  And if I made $300,000 a year, a measly $3000 practically isn't worth paying attention to.

I suppose that's what Warren Buffet found so objectionable when he discovered that, as a percentage of yearly income, he paid less in taxes than his secretary did.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

NABBA Approacheth

Today's my last day without a brass band rehearsal in it before the North America Brass Band Association (NABBA) contest in Raleigh.  We have our usual Sunday PM rehearsal tomorrow, expanded to a full four hours.  Then on Monday, I work 9-5:30pm, then rehearse from 6-10.  On Tuesday, I work 9-5:30pm, then rehearse from 6-10pm.  And on Wednesday... the same thing happens.

But on Thursday, I finally break the working cycle and head to the airport. 

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Where does the universe keep its store of amazing wonderfulness?

And how can I get a regular supply?

A few days ago, I had a fantastic experience.  I was, through circumstance and helpfulness, in the company of a marvelous woman for a few hours.  Just me and her.  And we talked.  Talked in ways that are shockingly boring and uneventful to you, the reader. 

Public policy.

Comparative religious views on sin and the nature of humanity.

The essential core of modern people's desire for life, liberty and happiness.

You may or may not find this itemized repetition to contain topics you yourself are interested in exploring.  All I can tell you is that I was having the conversational equivalent of having a luxurious bath -- the kind you see in movies with scented candles floating in it and lots of petals strew around, inexplicably.  It was so ... comfortable.

And it wasn't just me talking.  I was being engaged -- challenged, even! -- by my compliment.  She was determined not to be outdone by my tendency towards proclamation and rhetoric.  A worthy partner.  I learned and she learned and we had a fantastic time.

Then it was over.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Friday, April 02, 2010

So much for spring. Plus, I've got a cold.

I dodged sickness for all of this winter (thank goodness!), but number has finally come up.  Now I've got runny nose, congestion, and sore throat.  Now -- when the thermometer tops at 80.  So annoying!

I'm going through facial tissue left and right, too.  Bleh.  But enough about me!

Let's talk about me!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Is it an apron? Or a smock? A tabard from my craftsman guild?

I got to use my protective covering at work today.

Thankfully, it wasn't like chemical suits or eye protection.  Ever since my first day, there's been a jean apron on my bench.  It was there when I first sat on my stool and sorted through paperwork.  It's remained there as I piled endless instruments and papers on top of it.  When I reach a certain stage in my work cycle, a part of the apron gets uncovered.

Today, I actually put it on.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

What does KU losing tell us about health care?

I've been fed up with my friends list lately.  For those of you who don't know, Facebook aggregates the comments and status updates of all your connected friends into one convenient list that scrolls chronologically.  For the last week, mine has been rife with two subjects:

1) Kansas basketball in the NCAA tournament

2) The impending House vote on the health care bill

These are incredibly partisan issues, each with a vast quiet middle group forced to listen to the extremes bicker loudly at each other.  This drama plays itself out in my friends list, but it will move into a different phase by this time tomorrow because of one thing that HAS happened, and one thing that will.  The former is that the University of Kansas -- favorite to win the NCAA tournament, ranked number one in the nation -- has been eliminated in the second round by a #10 seed team.  The latter is tomorrow's vote to decide the fate of the health care bill.

2010 Census

This week I, along with probably all of you (should you live in the U.S.) filled out the census form.  The only things I heard about the census was that it didn't have a category gay marriage, and that it had a crap-load of race choices.

As various friends would take the survey, they'd talk about it.  My progressive friends touted how quick and painless it was and weren't people crazy for not taking it, and my conservative friends made fun of it or feared it.

In my opinion, it's neither one of these things.  It's simply America taking attendance.  Remember, from elementary school?

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

"Be a dear and commit customs fraud for me."

As part of my job, I get to work with international customers.  We've got horns from our back room being purchased from around the world thanks to the magic of EBAY, and I've already sent emails to Singapore.  They speak English there -- better than most American university students I know.

All that globalism is fun, though it can be frustrating, too.  The person in Singapore really liked our horn design, but customs fees would have added another $150 to an originally $400 repair.  It's just not worth it when he might be able to find a local shop at much less headache, shipping-wise. 

But EBAY.  While it's fun to watch the numbers turn green and have people magically send money for stuff that's just sitting around gathering dust, there's some slimy people out there.

Monday, March 08, 2010

A good woman, who shall find? For her worth is beyond rubies.

--Proverbs 31:10

A string of mini-updates to my Facebook page invited people to comment.

Andrew Schwartz -- GOD AWFUL date night. Attempted to give self lobotomy with pasta fork. Largely unsuccessful, though the memory of my social security number is a little foggy and I can't explain the infield fly rule anymore.

Andrew Schwartz isn't going to know which way to look the next time he meets that woman, now that I've heard her incredible and uncredible story.

Andrew Schwartz thinks that women who have jobs and are sexually empowered are inherently to be mistrusted and feared.

While people found it exciting to apply all three of these updates to the same person, they're actually about three different women.  The first was a Friday night date (discussed HERE).  The second was the "colorful" personality (discussed HERE).  The third was actually an oblique reference to the story of the KU basketball tickets and the hoopla (heh, "hoop") regarding the recipient (discussed HERE).

It would make for a more interesting story if they were somehow connected, I won't deny.  At rehearsal yesterday, a friend of mine came over to discuss my dating.  She asked something to the effect of "do you just date random strange people?"

That's certainly not my intent.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Surely you aren't suggesting porn stars are real people?

A local headline runs  "Porn Star Got Free Tix To KU-KSU Game"

Given the fact that it was a news story, I expected to see pictures of said adult film star running naked through the crowd or otherwise behaving as a newsworthy story.

But no.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Do I live in a soap opera? I forget...

Recently while hanging out with some friends, a woman I didn't know stopped by our table.  She turned out to be a frequent contact with most of the others, and after introductions we (the whole crew) bantered friendly stories and laughs.  She seemed pleasant, if somewhat loud and aggressive.

After she left again, everyone turned on her, shaking their heads all the while. 

Friday, February 26, 2010

Week one be done

The job continues on swimmingly.  Everyone should be lucky enough to have some experience working (for pay) at something that doesn't feel like work.  I get more than 10 people's share of that by getting paid to play my instrument, on such occasions as I'm given the opportunity.  This job isn't quite so unfettered, but it's pretty close.  The people are fun to be around and everyone's helpful and interested in having a fair amount of fun.  There are episodes of work that occasionally break out -- there is a business trying to be run -- but when I can take a few minutes to watch one videos of one of the hornsmiths boxing matches or trade bon mot with the woodwind tech, it's approximately awesome.

Monday, February 22, 2010

My Third (or First) Day

I kept my hands busy, which is basically what I was hoping for.  Also nothing caught on fire.  Well, some things did, but nothing that wasn't *supposed to* caught on fire.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Chapter (N+1)

Were I writing the autobiography today, I wouldn't have any idea where yesterday would fall, chapter-wise.  I do know that tomorrow will be the first line in the next chapter.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Rite of Package

I live in a set of condos that has 20-odd buildings surrounding a "club house" containing the pool, exercise room, and management offices.  Most frequented by me is the mail room, where I have my own lock box, indistinguishable from the scores of others save for a small number.  These boxes are small and only nicely shaped boxes -- say, the size of a DVD case -- can fit comfortably inside.  Even then, there'd better not be any other mail.

Larger packages that get delivered by the US postal service get shuffled away to a little room by the office.  For the years I've lived here, fetching a package was as easy as stopping by the office during business hours.  Upon my return after the holidays, there was a sign on the mail room door: "Beginning January 4, packages can only be picked up between 4 and 6pm weekdays."  Kind of inconvenient for me, seeing as how I now had to think carefully about when to pick up my package rather than just toddling over whenever the spirit moved me.  Ah well.

At the start of this week, a new sign appeared.  "Beginning March 4, packages will no longer be accepted by the office."  Gee, that stinks.  I assume that means I'll now get a colorful piece of paper left in my mailbox, letting me know I have a package that can be picked up a specific local mail branch at such and such a time.  UPS and FEDEX drivers tend to stop by my individual unit door, so those packages won't be effected -- unless I happen to not be home.

Is it really so tedious to handle packages for residents?  I guess it must be.  I figured having a set time to pick up packages was a good solution, consolidating all the requests to a specific period instead of having people trickle in throughout the day.  It's even the maintenance man who does it, not the apparently-overworked front office lady.  But no.  This must be what it's like for people who grind their teeth and say "Things used to be nice here.  Gas used to be a nickel!"

This is relevant to me because a package I ordered got delivered today to the office.  I missed the pickup deadline because of lessons.  Tomorrow, I could be at the office at 8am, but they're no longer giving out packages at that time.  And I'll most likely miss the package hours again tomorrow.  Good thing I don't have anything going on during the hours on Friday.  I'll have to make sure I don't take a nap at the wrong time.  If I do, it'll be Monday before I can nab it.  

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Daily Show is Awesome

The first three minutes of this are spectacular.  Modern politics has learned nothing from what Admiral Ackbar has said!

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
The Apparent Trap
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

Google Buzz Scuttlebutt

At the heart, the only thing the Internet is really for is connection between people.  It's a way to bridge far differences between people -- either geographic or cultural -- and allow them to stand shoulder-to-shoulder.  This allows you to show your bank money to the book dealer to get stuff remotely, allows you to show the pictures from your vacation to your Pittsburgh-dwelling brother remotely, and allows you to receive group reinforcement from the group of people who have the same weird ideas as you do.

I've started a group to canonize Betty White and already have 137 followers!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Politics and Parsley

I was making oatmeal for myself this morning while I was listening to an excerpt from a political commentary show.   I reached into my spice cabinet and grabbed the cinnamon to add a few shakes just as the anchor (MSNBC's Rachel Maddow) was making her point.  While she was reaching her rhetorical crescendo, I was 99% paying attention, leaving me with 1% of my brain devoted to slowly unscrewing the cap.

I'd like to take a moment to say how grateful I am that my Italian Herb blend (in the same bottle shape as the cinnamon) contains a healthy batch of oregano and basil.  The smell immediately shocked my senses and made me aware that I was mere angular degrees away from making oatmeal alla toscana

The engrossing video after the break.  Contains a healthy dose of political opinion, so avoid it if you don't care for such dishes.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Flights of Fancy

In previous years, the spring contest involving U.S. brass bands has been held in Danville, KY.  This contest, operated by NABBA (North American Brass Band Association) has this year decided to start roaming around as a way of diversifying and "getting the message out".  The spring 2010 meeting, coming up in April, is in Raleigh, North Carolina.

And last night I bought my airline tickets.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Not-so Top Billing

I'm not a confrontational person, on the whole.  It takes quite a bit of incompetence to get me riled up enough to react.  This is the story of what happened over the last weekend and culminating today that pissed me off.

Friday, January 29, 2010

A Friday at Home

It's a quiet Friday for me.  It snowed a bit here this afternoon and evening and I was seized with my usual Friday snow-weather impulse: drive out to get pizza.  I love being out in the snow.

It reminded me a little bit of this past Christmas Eve.  The snow was much worse then, of course -- I was in the grip of a blizzard.  Tonight's snow was positively dainty by comparison.  Still, the roads and grass are covered, which is certainly the bare minimum of what something that calls itself a snowstorm should achieve.

But what most resembles Christmas Eve is that it's me, alone, looking out of the windows into the snowy night, feeling very much alone.

Monday, January 25, 2010

What is the sound of one hand e-mailing?

This morning, the first shred of news arrived from a university I applied to in December. From their music department, I received an e-mail from somebody who has a name that sounds vaguely sci-fi (imagine something like "Sul Kips"). It was a request to have an attached form filled out and returned.

At least I know they're actually doing something over there.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


No, it's not a word.

FRUS - ter - 'gray - tid, n.

1. A state of being in a colloidal system comprised of frustration and aggravation.  Characterized by a general feeling of dissatisfaction and grump, but without an obvious course of alleviation. 

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The World According to Pat Robertson

When I was growing up, I'd often see TV listings for "The 700 Club".  I always assumed it was a financial show (something like the "Fortune 500"), though my father never watched it on during dinner as we did with "Wall Street Week in Review".  It wasn't until college when I connected "The 700 Club" with some of the strange sentences coming out of Pat Robertson's mouth.

The only time I ever think of Pat Robertson is when I hear him say something unbelievably hateful.  I would think this would be a TERRIBLE situation for someone to be in who prides himself on being a "man of God", but it doesn't really bother him.

Monday, January 11, 2010

So if Hamlet had been a Sprint subscriber...

I've been thinking for years about updating my poor cell phone.  The numbers have worn off, the keys are starting to malfunction, the battery holds much less time than it used to, and it doesn't conform to the SMS (Short Messaging Service) standard which all the kids use to "text" nowadays.  It's old-scool, baby.  And after years of research and waiting, I finally struck out and bought a new phone.

In fact, it's sitting by my left foot right now.  A brand new state-of-the-art epitome of computing and communications technology -- the "released this year of 2010" Nexus One from Google and HTC.  It contains cutting edge technology like an AMOLED display screen, a top-of-line 1GHz Snapdragon processor, and even a rear-facing auxillary microphone designed only to capture the ambient noise and filter it out of the call.  It is a triumph of our collective genius and represents the newest vanguard in the smartphone war.

It's also getting sent back to the factory.  Unopened.

Friday, January 08, 2010

It's 2010, so that means it's the future!

Time to pick up the slack reins of blogging once again.

I had a great holiday break, filled with all kinds of things that I want to do.  I returned to Kansas City in the midst of a snowstorm which was how I left it on Christmas Day.  This pleases me greatly.  Last night the low here was -2 degrees or so, which is certainly cold enough for anyone.  It may kill my friend from Florida when she arrives -- if one can die from snow-anger and grumbling.