Thursday, June 29, 2006
I seldom disagree with my fellow Roundtablers, and I hope this isn’t grounds for excommunication, but I have to be honest about this.
Personally, I get a kick out of seeing 66 year-old Ringo Starr still playing the hell out of his drum kit, or 63 year-old Paul McCartney still wailing out “Long Tall Sally”. It inspires me to stay young-at-heart regardless of how old my body is. How is Mick Jagger keeping young musicians out of the business? Seems to me, there’s a surplus of nameless, faceless belly-button girls and head-wagging guitarists out there. If they don’t have the staying power of the older rockers, how is that Jagger’s or McCartney’s fault?
Besides, how about a little respect? We created Rock and Roll after all. Perhaps when these younger music fans are the old farts they’ll see things differently, but right now all I’m seeing is ageism and bigotry.
But the entry at Rustbelt Ramblings is a good one, well-written and funny, even if I disagree. That’s what’s great about being a Libra. I can enjoy someone’s opinion even if I don’t share it.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
I have absolute (perfect) pitch. Even as a small child I was able to pick out a harmony to a song and sing along with it, or sing it alone, with or without accompaniment. When I was five years old, my favorite music was by The McGuire Sisters, a trio in the 1950s who sang tight 3-part harmonies. Even then, I would take turns singing along with each part. I’m not telling you this to brag. One cannot brag about something that one was born with.
Lynette was just giving a voice lesson in the living room. This pupil couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket with a lid on it. What I want to know is:
- Why do some people have an “ear” and others don’t.
- What the hell is an “ear” anyway? I mean biologically. What causes some to have it, and others not to?
- If you can’t sing, what is it you hear when you try to sing?
- When you sing along with a melody, what keeps you from hitting the correct notes?
- Do people who have no “ear” know that they're not hitting the notes?
Thank you, Mr. Zimmerman.
I went out to the patio about an two hours ago with the intention of relaxing with a glass of wine. The neighborhood is really quiet this summer; besides ourselves, there’s only one other house that’s currently occupied, leaving five empty (read no students). It’s always nice on the patio in the summer, but it’s especially nice this year because there are simply no sounds. It feels like we’re really out in the country.
Before the party I hung three flower baskets, moved my two (now 3-foot) cedars from the front porch, and a bunch of other plants and flowers from inside the house. I set up the furniture, hung the wind chimes, filled the fountain, and made sure the fairy lights worked. Whoops. That’s what they call them in England. Here in the States we just call them “twinkle lights”, except that I don’t let them twinkle.
Anyway, it’s pretty nice out there. Because of the dry winter (I assume), there are NO MOSQUITOES this year. Whoot! Just as welcoming is that it’s usually in the high 70s to low 80s this late at night, and I haven’t spent any time out there this year. I poured a glass of wine and went out.
The first thing I noticed was that the fountain wasn’t working, so I set to making sure the pump wasn’t clogged. Still didn’t work. Long story short, I spent an hour trying to fix the damned thing. After I finally just gave it up, I wasn’t in the mood to sit out there anymore. I’ll give it an overhaul tomorrow.
I took today off, so now I have to get back to my various projects. I’ll also be paying a little more attention to this blog.
Sunday, June 25, 2006
Today, I’m exhausted, of course, but my relaxing Sunday in PJs is to be short-lived; Nettl’s father is taking us our to dinner. Actually, I think I’ll order a huge steak. Leftover breadsticks and veggies only go so far.
Friday, June 23, 2006
That list is a bit bigger than I thought it would be; guess I’d better get busy.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Here’s a question for you:
If you could live in any TV show house (past or present), what house would you want to live it? Assume that only you are living in the house, you don’t become a member of the family that lived there (they moved out), or get to appear on the tv show. You only get to live in the house.
My answer? I really like the apartment that Lucy and Ricky Ricardo had in New York. Here are some cool blueprints of a few TV homes. And here is the blueprint of the Ricardo apartment.
Saturday, June 17, 2006
First of all, it’s important to understand that trend-wise, no decade begins and ends exactly on the first or last day of the year. For example, what we call The Seventies didn’t begin on January 1, 1970. Through the five decades I’ve walked around on this planet, I’ve noticed a kind of cusp effect. I think The Sixties began with the arrival of the Beatles in America on February 7, 1964, and they didn’t end until 1975 when the war in Viet Nam ended. Within these decades there is a rainbow spectrum of fashions, cultural icons and fads, and I’ve noticed that people are being fed a kind of revisionist history in films, television, and in the printed media.
Let’s take bell bottoms. The first bell bottoms I remember were worn by Cher, then of Sonny & Cher, in 1966. They were very wide at the hem and tight at the butt, low (called hip-huggers), and were made of large floral or striped prints. I bought my first pair in 1966 at the Lerner Shop in Santa Barbara for $7.00, and I hardly wore anything else that year. In 1966-67 (with the Beatles’ release of Magical Mystery Tour) the psychedelic look came in and we were suddenly introduced to tie-dye, beads, and Peter Max colors–blue and green, pink and orange, red and blue. Paisley prints were especially popular. In 1968 Navy dungarees became wildly popular and most of us knew someone who could get us some. They were great because the bells were huge and the waist was low. Besides, they were very comfortable. (In fact, if anyone knows where I can get some, email me!)
Until the psychedelic look came into vogue, the predominant fashion trend was “the London Look”, typified by Mary Quant, Vidal Sassoon, Twiggy, and Yardley cosmetics. In 1976 Sonny and Cher debuted their television variety show, and that’s when I think the fashions took a real turn, with slinky fabrics, exposed midriffs, long silk headbands, wet-look knee boots, and extravagant hair styles. Actually, this part of 70s was nothing more than a glamorizing of the Haight-Ashbury fashions of the late 60s, the media’s attempt to “clean-up” the rebellion after the war was over. I best remember the early 70s for the midi skirts, GunnySax dresses (although I remember something similar making its advent as early as 1965), full beards (thanks to the Beatles), and the “Afro” hair style.
But there are some mistaken notions out there, and I’d like to clear them up.
The Sixties, not The Seventies:
* Lava lamps
* Big, bright flower power stickers
* Paisley prints
* Love beads
* Psychedelic-painted VW bugs and buses
* Peace sign (both the circle symbol and the “V” hand sign)
* White calf-high Go-Go boots
* Pudding Basin hairstyle
* Long hair, parted in the middle (mistakenly attributed to Marsha Brady)
* Polka dots (remember those godawful shirts the Beach Boys wore?)
* Madras shirts
* Levis’ powder blue cords
* East Indian influences over just about everything
* Mini skirts
* Pop Art
The Seventies, not The Sixties:
* The “Have a nice day” smiley face
* Platform shoes
* Beanbag chairs
* White patent leather shoes and boots
* Midi and maxi skirts
* Lace-up suede boots (not the fringed men’s mocs, the stack-heeled women’s boots)
So that’s all I can think of right now. Please feel free to add your own.
With conversation in my previous entry’s comments turning to Deni and me, I thought I’d post some pictures that were taken in our senior year. (Say it proudly: 1969!)
Me with another friend, Cathy
(I told you I looked like a Beatle)
Friday, June 16, 2006
Thursday, June 15, 2006
Lauren over at Life of a Franco-American in the UK has a theory that our first concert–who we went with and who we saw perform–says a lot about our personality. My first concert was the Beatles at Dodger Stadium in August of 1966. I went with my best friend, Cher. I remember the concert very clearly, but I especially remember the bad sound system and how tiny they looked as they stood on a stage at second base. I wasn’t one of the screamers though. I didn’t want to marry a Beatle, I wanted to BE a Beatle. I’ll leave the psycho-analysis up to you.
Go pay Lauren a visit and tell her I sent you!
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
From the minute I awoke it was one of those days when everything goes wrong, or everything is more work than it has to be. The first thing was being wakened by a phone call conveying bad (read expensive) news. Then, during my first cup of coffee, my son had to be taken in for emergency oral surgery. So went my day. The last thing that happened (I hope it’s the last anyway) was that I had to go down to the Satan*Mart to get a few things. (They’re the only place open after ten p.m.) Not too bad in and of itself, but the roads between here and there are so torn up that I had to take a detour that’s twice as long mile-wise, and after I got all the way home (a good 20-minute drive) I realized that the woman forgot to give me one of my bags. So I drove all the way back and got it, then came back home again. I walked into the kitchen from the garage and turned on the light and the bulb blew. Little shit, I know, but aggravating.
That’s what I get for going to bed early last night.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
My self-esteem has been pretty low for the past month or two. It started when I decided to rebuild this blog in WordPress. Having used the crutch of MS FrontPage since I made my first website in 1998, I never really even learned HTML; only the little bit it takes to insert images or links in forums and such. I’d just gotten a little of that down when the web started going to css, and I learned a little of that by helping my friends with their Blogdrive accounts. I liked it better, but I didn’t think I would be using it myself because I always had good old FrontPage to keep me warm, despite all of the garbage code it generates. Then php came along and I recognized that before too long I was going to have to change my methods of building web pages. Besides, I liked the look of css pages; the drop shadows, the seamless graphics…It’s like comparing a high definition television to a regular old tube job–not absolutely necessary to change, but wow! what a difference.
So Deni and I began working on this blog. I found a template I liked and she tweaked it according to what I envisioned. She worked really hard at it, in fact, and I knew that it was only a matter of time before I was going to have to assume responsibility and learn this new language for myself. I downloaded tutorials, but they didn’t help. I’m not that kind of learner. I learn by doing and by making mistakes, not by reading or by being instructed, and whenever I just thought about learning css, I felt overwhelmed and stupid. I’ve always been an autodidact and I could always teach myself anything, but this time I thought I’d finally encountered that One Thing that I couldn’t learn. That’s not easy on my self-esteem.
Yesterday morning I decided to rebuild my professional website and I thought that maybe I’d try to use a css template I’d downloaded a week ago. “What the heck? If I Mess it up,” I thought, “no one will ever know.” So I opened up the template and got busy at trying to learn. Fortunately, I didn’t run into any problems for a long while, so my confidence built up pretty fast, and by the time I did hit a snag, I had enough idea of what I was doing to figure it out. By noon, the space above my head was glowing with light bulbs and I had a new look for that site, and man, am I proud! Now I want to learn databases so that I can rebuild Nettl’s and my large content sites! Now I really have to get back to figuring out the database for the big project site I’ve been working on… Meantime,
Monday, June 12, 2006
I met Ville right before her 20th birthday way back in gobbledyglurpenfrrackerwitz and I don’t think I’ve missed one of her birthdays, except the two when we lived in different parts of the country. You see, Ville moves to wherever I live. That’s her job: follow me around. We met in California (our home state) and I later moved to Denver in November of 1992. It wasn’t two weeks later that she turned up on my doorstep informing me that she’d just moved to Denver too. In 1996 I went back to the coast, but she didn’t follow me because there was shit going down in her life that just wouldn’t allow it. Besides, I was in a relationship with a woman who just didn’t “get” whatever it is that’s between Ville and me. Ville then moved to Kansas City and I went back to Denver. Then I moved to Stillwater and guess what? She followed. Ville and I are like toilet paper stuck to each other’s shoes.
Anyway, Saturday night we went to her birthday party and I have to tell you I was amped to play hard. I walked in the door carrying my guitar case and wearing my old friendship bracelets just like the old days. You know the ones–those braided things we all gave each other in the 80s. Well, I still wear them and I still wear a lemon chrysoprase power bracelet for balance.
I told you I was an old hippie.
The problem is, I believe that I can drink like I did all those years ago. And I can. The problem is, the hangovers are worse than I remember. But we had a great time sitting in the back yard singing songs and making up stupid shit.
Ah! Is there anything more magical than the private jokes that old friends can come up with in situations like these? I confess that I live for this shit. Ville is a Gemini and I’m a Libra and when we’re on a roll there are very few people who can keep up with us. We’ve left a lot of people spitting our dust through the years. Sorry about that.
But back to the party: I didn’t mean to get that drunk. Really. I was doing just fine with my wine, then Ville had to bust out the champagne. She can’t drink it anymore–all she really wanted was the bottle–so she gave it to me. I gave a glass to Nettl and one to Lauren, but I drank the rest all by myself. Then when that was gone, I went back to wine.
I remember asking Nettl if I could spend the night and she was fine with that, and sometime in the wee hours I went to sleep on the couch. Around 8:30 I woke up and stumbled to the fridge for some water and for something to eat. You know how it is when you’ve been drinking. You don’t want a meal, you want some basic plug. Bologna works, or leftover cold spaghetti. All that was left of the BBQ was one lone hamburger patty, so I took a bite. Bad idea. I went back to the couch. Around 10:30 Nettl came over and woke me up, sweetly telling me that I should come home and go to bed. I gathered my stuff and we went outside to the car and that was when the first wave of nausea hit me. We turned the AC on full blast and drove home.
My sweet and darling wife! After I got in bed she went to the store and bought Fideo makings. If you’re ever hungover, this is the cure. After we ate, I went back to sleep and by 3:00 I was feeling fine again. I don’t know what I ever did to deserve Nettl. She simply understands that I work hard and then I play hard. She understands me, doesn’t judge me, doesn’t try to change me. She loves me just as I am–unconditionally. I never take her love for granted and not a day passes that I don’t thank the gods for her, or tell her that I love her.
Still, it’ll be a long time before I play that hard again.
Friday, June 9, 2006
Nathan and Heather are leaving this afternoon. Nathan is moving to Wichita to live with his dad and Heather’s going up to spend the summer as she usually does. Lauren is staying home because she’s grown out of the child visitation phase of her life and she has a job besides. Next June, after she graduates high school, she’ll be going to France for a year as an exchange student before enrolling in college. Heather will graduate in June ‘08.
For all my swagger over welcoming an empty nest, it’s sad, and if I didn’t have the hope of Vienna to look forward to, I’d be sorely feeling the passing of this stage of family life. When the kids first came to live with us they were still just kids and I wondered how I’d survive being the parent of a large family when I was used to a small one. I adjusted, however and now, as I see them going out the door one-by-one, I realize just how much I’ve enjoyed being a “Family Weird”.
Still, I’m looking forward to life with Nettl–just the two of us to come and go as we please–and to the times when the kids come visit us, and perhaps later, when they bring their own kids.
Ach! Let’s not rush. I’m not ready for that yet!
Wednesday, June 7, 2006
Tuesday, June 6, 2006
Billy will be missed, but I know he’s enjoying seeing George again and I like to think that they’ll be jamming together.
With musicians like Billy Preston, the music just never stops.
I’m trying to change. Really, I am. When I finally went to bed night before last at 5:30 a.m. I lay there cursing myself for how lazy I’ve become. What’s happened to me? I used to be such a Type A personality. I was in bed by midnight (10:00 on work nights), up by 8:00 (4:00 on work days), and I was busy, busy, busy. Cleaning, decorating, composing, writing, gardening, letter-writing (with pen and paper), playing any and all of my musical instruments according to fancy, going out with friends, going to concerts, cafe-sitting and working during the work week.
Then in 1992 I took on the role of my father’s caretaker during the last year of his life, and although I did it gladly, it took its toll on me. It aged me, in fact, emotionally, spiritually and physically. In photos taken of me in 1991 I looked no older than 30, but a year later I looked every bit of my 42 years. I always wondered how long I could milk looking 10 years younger–I’m one of those people that still got carded when I was in my thirties.
Then there was the abusive relationship.
Then I became my mother’s caretaker during the last four years of her life; that wasn’t a labor of love like caring for my dad was. It was a stressful and difficult period due to my mother’s difficult personality. During this time we also got custody of the kids and the financial stress really took center stage, not to mention the ravages of an undiagnosed disease that had been sucking me dry for years.
I wouldn’t say I’m retired, I’m just retired from the eight-to-five office grind. I still work, and although I work from home, I put in more hours in a week than I did when I was a member of the Commute Group.
It’s not physical aging that’s hardest on my self-esteem, it’s my lifestyle, and the other night as I tried to fall asleep, I chided myself for allowing myself to get lazy. I made a mental checklist of things that needed to get done and when I got up I spent the day doing them.
Last night I was in bed by 3:00 and this morning I was up at 8:30. I’m tired of sleeping until 10:30 (or later) and although I enjoy the quiet and solitude of staying up all night, I’m afraid that’s going to have to stop. I just don’t feel good with such an erratic lifestyle.
So I’m trying to turn over a new leaf. We’ll see how long it lasts.
Monday, June 5, 2006
“Everyday, we look at dozens of websites. The structure of these websites is defined in HTML, the lingua franca for publishing information on the web. Your browser’s job is to render the HTML according to the specs (most of the time, at least). You can look at the code behind any website by selecting the “View source” tab somewhere in your browser’s menu.
HTML consists of so-called tags, like the A tag for links, IMG tag for images and so on. Since tags are nested in other tags, they are arranged in a hierarchical manner, and that hierarchy can be represented as a graph. I’ve written a little app that visualizes such a graph, and here are some screenshots of websites that I often look at.
I’ve used some color to indicate the most used tags in the following way:
blue: for links (the A tag)
red: for tables (TABLE, TR and TD tags)
green: for the DIV tag
violet: for images (the IMG tag)
yellow: for forms (FORM, INPUT, TEXTAREA, SELECT and OPTION tags)
orange: for linebreaks and blockquotes (BR, P, and BLOCKQUOTE tags)
black: the HTML tag, the root node
gray: all other tags”
You can get yours HERE.
Sunday, June 4, 2006
Anyone else out there tonight?
Saturday, June 3, 2006
1. Driver’s seat or passenger seat?
Short trips around town: passenger
Long trips out-of-town: driver
2. What was the first car you owned (could have been purchased by someone else)?
A spanking new 1970 Subaru minibus.
3. What is the first car you paid for yourself?
See above. Off the lot, cash in hand, it cost me $1,100.
4. How many cars are currently housed in your place of residence? How many are still operable?
5. If money were not a factor, what kind of car would you own?
A fully-loaded, brand new Jeep Wrangler.
6. If a police investigation was not a factor, what kind of car would you destroy any time you see it? Why?
Those pickups with the rear four-wheel axle. Especially those owned by city guys with small penises.
7. Does driving in big city traffic fill your veins with adrenaline or your pants with something a bit worse?
No, unless there are other cars on the road.
8. What is your biggest pet peeve regarding driving and/or your fellow drivers?
Lack of consideration, including loud stereos, not using turn signals, etc.
9. What’s the most expensive traffic ticket you’ve ever received (could be monetary or jailtime)?
$120 for speeding. On the interstate. With no cars in sight. In the middle of nowhere. In Kansas.
10. What is the name you’ve given to your current vehicle (be honest, everyone names their car)?
Okay. Your turn.
stolen from Chasing Vincenzo