Monday, May 25, 2009

Great cover of a great tune

Not tooooo many people are likely to have heard this particular Dylan song, but it is great, and this guy's cover is, too. Well worth a listen.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Should read: Military agrees to not stage coup

USA Today carries one of the embarrassing stories about the potential abandonment of the don't ask, don't tell nonsense used by the military to keep non-straight people in check. But although the story is pretty silly in the big picture of civil rights (and seriously, if you want to go to war, I don't really care who your legal sex partners are, I'm just thankful you choose to serve), the headline and the point of the story are absurd:

Mullen: Military to comply if gay ban law changes.

And the Mullen in question, Adm. Michael Mullen (chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, if you're keeping score at home), says exactly that: The military would go along if the laws governing its rules change.

Well no shit, Sherlock. The only other option is a coup, which of course would mean the military is the enemy, which of course would mean all those "assault" rifles we're discouraged from owning would come in pretty damn handy.

What really blows my mind is that someone appointed to be the ultimate (OK, penultimate. Obama runs the place) voice of the military thinks it is necessary to explicitly state that the military would abide by the rule of law. Seriously, I'm pretty sure they're the people we need to be worried about the least.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Nielsens = no more cable

I like participating in market research. You want to know about what I think about your products and services? Just ask!

Seriously, I rarely pass on a chance to fill out a survey if it is legit, so you can imagine I was pretty pleased when the Nielsen people asked us to be one of their "families."

So, we got a little weeklong diary in the mail to fill out anytime we watched TV. Now, I know I don't watch a lot of television, but I do watch 24, Lost, Desperate Housewives, Chuck (my fave!), Grey's Anatomy and bits and pieces of Dancing with the Stars, the Amazing Race, The Bachelor, The Bachelorette and a bunch of other shows. Only I watch them, with the butterfly lady, online.

And truth be told, you can only get me to actually watch Chuck and 24. I mostly just hang out while the others are on. But make no mistake about it: I do watch TV.

Only, this week we turned on the TV just once, on Saturday after a major bout of gardening left me, my dear friend Chris and the BL needing some mindless entertainment. We channel surfed for a few hours, and that was it for our TV consumption. Today, the cable people dropped by to shut off the TV feed. Of course, we still buy our Internet service from them, but if we can live with this, I think we're saving about $600 a year and we still get the content we want.

Sound familiar? Yeah, to me, too. But hey, I make no bones about having used Craigslist - not newspaper classifieds - to sell two cars (they were old, but they sold) and a loom. Who wouldn't? It's free. It works.

I already pay for my Internet service, so I'm not exactly getting my shows for free now, and the people I'm paying are the same ones I was paying for cable, so I don't think this counts as freeloading, the way reading newspapers online for free does.

Maybe that was the big mistake newspapers made: not owning a delivery system that remains relevant. It's hard to see that as a mistake, really, more just the luck of the draw. If customers really wanted 15,000 of something delivered by hand each day, we'd be just the people to hook them up. I mean, unless those customers owned stamps.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Fare thee well, Harry G. Haberman

My grandfather died recently, just a shade shy of 99. His late personal renaissance, faith and service probably mean he's hanging around St. Peter's workplace, yakking it up and telling jokes.

Of course, nobody wants to say he needed the plaudits to get wings instead of a pitchfork, but to hear the old stories, he might have been puffing a cigar somewhere south of the ground if the judgment was just about interpersonal relationships.

He could be a tough guy, but I liked him.

He taught me to swim. (I was afraid of the water. His response was something like: "That's ridiculous. Get in.") He told the same stories nine times apiece, and that was just to warm up. (I do, too.) If he got a little wine (Mogen David, naturally) in him, he'd castigate the damn Nazis once more (I tend to be a little talky after the bottle, too). He had a good sense of humor, too.
In the same visit (on the occasion of my grandmother's death) this photo comes from, we were all sitting around the dinner table, the bunch of us, and the conversation had reached one of those inevitable dead spots. Grandpa was drumming his fingers on the tablecloth. He cast about us, meaningful-like, and said, "You know why I'm doing this?"

A pregnant pause. No reply.

"So you won't be able to hear the pin drop."

Yep. He could be a difficult guy, but he was one of the good guys.

High school. Hmm.

From a pal's Facebook page:

Fill this out about your **SENIOR** year of high school! The longer ago it was, the more fun the answers will be!!

1. Did you date someone from your school? --- Not really.

2. Did you marry someone from your high school? --- No way.

3. Did you carpool to school? --- I walked, less than a block.

4. What kind of car did you have? --- Car? Ha. Bike. Skateboard. Shoes.

5. What kind of car do you have now? --- '02 Honda CR-V. I still prefer shoes, though.

6. Its Friday night ... where are you? (then) --- playing D&D at Chris's house. Or pining after a couple of girls (see above).

7. It is Friday night ... where are you? (now) --- in the kitchen, maybe having a beer, maybe reading a book.

8. What kind of job did you have in high school? --- A temp job at Nordstrom, box clerk at two grocery stores, pizza maker at Sunshine Pizza Exchange, hand weaver.

9. What kind of job do you do now? --- newspaper city editor

10. Were you a party animal? --- no way. The closest was the time Chris and I bought beer at the grocery store we worked at and drank it up in a neighborhood. Pretty wild. One beer each.

11. Were you considered a flirt? --- One of my friends nicknamed me Mr. Carbon (bonds to everything), sooo.

12. Were you in band, orchestra, or choir? --- Um, no.

13. Were you a nerd? --- Usually, but see No. 14.

14. Did you get suspended or expelled? --- Yes, suspended, for fighting.

15. Can you sing the fight song? --- South Salem Saxons, that's our name! You betcha.

16. Who was your favorite teacher? --- Mrs. McGregor (that's just a joke for my dad). Actually Frau Maurer.

17. Where did you sit during lunch? --- I didn't. I stood in my kitchen.

18. What was your school mascot? --- Hello, Saxons.

19. If you could go back and do it again, would you? --- no fucking way. (sorry grandma, but if you knew what it was like, you'd probably say that, too).

20. Did you have fun at prom? --- I don't know how to answer that one. The girl who took me was one of my best friends, but not my lover, who took my best friend. But we did all go together and it was a pretty good time.

21. Do you still talk to the person you went to Prom with? --- Certainly, still my homie (she's a girl, but still a homie).

22. Are you planning to go to your next reunion? Probably, but it depends on my two best friends from high school. If they go, I'm rolling, too.

23. Were you a good student? Yes, especially for not cracking those books. (I'm copying my pal Vicki here)

24. What did you like most about high school? being done with it. (I'm copying Vicki again)

25. Do you still talk to people from school? --- Two, yes, in the real world. A few more online.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Closing in on 700 posts

But slowly, apparently. I sense Facebook and Twitter are gobbling up my time, but maybe I'm just occupied with preparing from someone's arrival. Who knows?

Anyway, here's a good cover of a Damien Rice song I like:

Tuesday, May 05, 2009


Yesterday, while preparing for a talk I'm giving at the Gravity Summit (a high-power social media gathering) at Stanford today, I got a press release from the interactive marketing guy at EMI. Here's what he sent me:

Travel, the first of three 6-song travel themed collections coming from the sonically spacious Future Of Forestry this year. Travel combines the intelligent rock ‘n roll fans have come to love from Future Of Forestry with thought provoking lyrics delivering a creative and vast experience to a listener. Future Of Forestry quickly made a name for themselves following the release of their debut album Twilight, taking fans on a musical journey with their bright optimism from sunny southern California mixed with their epic, sweeping euro-rock sound that has left fans wanting more from the group. On May 5th, Future Of Forestry unveils the next step in the journey with Travel - songs that will provoke contemplation, encourage day-dreaming, and deepen perspective on all things beautiful….sure to be a fan favorite and a perfect opener for a travel series we will definitely be hearing more of throughout the year.

Now, granted, the player came across screwy, but that may have to do with my blog. But this is better than average for the first full-service press release anyone's sent me to my recollection.

Pretty cool, huh? I got an .mp3, too, of the second track off the album. Now, *that* is a press release.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

This vacuum cleaner sucks

So. The Bissell PowerForce is great for vacuuming up typical household litter, including Newfy hair. It is even sort of effective for use in the car.

However, the cheap plastic construction is, well, cheap. Now I have had two Bissells with broken parts. Both failed in the same way. You know the handy little pedal you push to make the handle be not upright. Well, it's more important than it looks. Now I have a vacuum cleaner that's always lying down. Super annoying.

I'd recommend the vacuum if it weren't for that problem. Seriously, it is super for vacuuming, costs very little and is easy to field strip for serious cleaning. Alas, that's not enough. I guess I shouldn't expect more for something I bought at Wal-Mart for $50, but I'm still annoyed.