Saturday, December 17, 2011

Yes, but can it core a apple?

I was just in a Shop Rite checking out, and as the cashier was taking the money from the guy ahead of me for his order, he offered to give her a quarter in addition to the bills he had already given her. I believe the amount of the order was something-dollars and 23 cents.
Well, since she had already entered the amount of the bills into the computerized register, after momentarily looking like a deer in headlights, she told him that it was not possible because she had already entered the amount of the paper money.
I found it quite disturbing that we now live in a society where a teenager cannot comprehend giving back 2 cents and one more dollar than the computer says rather than the 77 cents originally calculated by a soulless machine.
Whether she thought it would screw up her register or that she simply was incapable of figuring it out is irrelevant (I'm guessing it was both). It just goes to show that youth today has come to rely too heavily on automation. They no longer have the basic skills that most of us learned at a very young age.
Remember years ago? Before the computer age? The three very basic skills we were taught were reading, writing, and arithmetic. Somewhere along the way we dropped two of those primordial elements of our life. The penmanship of most of the kids I've seen lately is absolutely atrocious, and they don't know basic math.
On a related note, I was floored to discover that many kids today do not know how to tell time on an analog clock! Are you kidding me?
Look, I understand that we've made great strides in technology, but does that justify an evolution towards complete dependence on it? Shouldn't we still be raising kids with the basic skills to be self-functioning in the event there's ever a situation where there are no machines to function for them?
Make no mistake, I am not one of those stubborn old fools that is resistant to change and advances in technology. In fact, I take advantage of it to the fullest. I am composing and posting this from a small computer/phone/media player/camera/video recorder/etc., while sitting in my car.
But here's the thing...if I didn't have this little device, I am capable of picking up a pen and paper and writing all this down in either legible printing or script (another thing that seems to have gone by the wayside).
I can also figure out taxes, tips and change without the use of any mechanical device. Hell, when I was in college, I worked as a cashier on a manual cash register where I had to add the tax myself. With the tax rate being 5% at the time, it didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out tax; but it's a basic math skill you'd be hard pressed to find in todays youth.

So, to paraphrase the question asked by Ed Norton to chef of the future Ralph Kramden, with all these fancy new fangled technological advances, can it core a apple?

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

45 Life Lessons (and 5 to grow on)

This has been going around email circles for almost 10 years now, and seems it's making the rounds again.

Written by Regina Brett who, contrary to the email's claim that she is 90, is actually 55 years old.

This is some really awesome yet simple advice.


Originally published in The Plain Dealer on Sunday, May 28, 2006

To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me.

It is the most-requested column I've ever written. My odometer rolls over to 50 this week, so here's an update:

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

4. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.

8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.

12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don't compare your life to others'. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.

16. Life is too short for long pity parties. Get busy living, or get busy dying.

17. You can get through anything if you stay put in today.

18. A writer writes. If you want to be a writer, write.

19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Overprepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: "In five years, will this matter?"

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive everyone everything.

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.

35. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.

36. Growing old beats the alternative - dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood. Make it memorable.

38. Read the Psalms. They cover every human emotion.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.

41. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

42. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.

43. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

44. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

45. The best is yet to come.

46. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

47. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

48. If you don't ask, you don't get.

49. Yield.

50. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Christmas 2011 -- Birth of a New Tradition

Just received this in email and found it thought provoking:

Christmas 2011 -- Birth of a New Tradition‏

As the holidays approach, the giant Asian factories are kicking into high gear to provide Americans with monstrous piles of cheaply produced
goods -- merchandise that has been produced at the expense of American labor.
This year will be different. This year Americans will give the gift of genuine concern for other Americans. There is no longer an excuse that, at gift-giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by American hands.
Yes there is!

It's time to think outside the box, people. Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box, wrapped in Chinese produced wrapping paper?

Everyone -- yes EVERYONE gets their hair cut. How about gift certificates from your local American hair salon or barber?

Gym membership? It's appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some health improvement.

Who wouldn't appreciate getting their car detailed? Small, American owned detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates.

Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plunking down the Benjamins on a Chinese made flat-screen? Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or driveway plowed all winter, or games at the local golf course.
There are a bazillion owner-run restaurants -- all offering gift certificates. And, if your intended isn't the fancy eatery sort, what about a half dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint. Remember, folks this isn't about big national chains -- this is about supporting
your home town Americans with their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open.

How many people couldn't use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by the American working guy?
Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom?
 Mom would love the services of a local cleaning lady for a day.

My computer could use a tune-up, and I know I can find some young guy who is struggling to get his repair business up and running.

OK, you were looking for something more personal. Local crafts people spin their own wool and knit them into scarves. They make jewelry, and pottery and beautiful wooden boxes.

Plan your holiday outings at local, owner-operated restaurants and leave your server a nice tip. And, how about going out to see a play or ballet at your hometown theater.

Musicians need love too, so find a venue showcasing local bands.

Honestly, people, do you really need to buy another ten thousand Chinese lights for the house? When you buy a five dollar string of light, about fifty cents stays in the community. If you have those kinds of bucks to burn, leave the mailman, trash guy or babysitter a nice BIG tip.
You see, Christmas is no longer about draining American pockets so that China can build another glittering city. Christmas is now about caring
about US, encouraging American small businesses to keep plugging away to follow their dreams. And, when we care about other Americans, we care about our communities, and the benefits come back to us in ways we couldn't imagine.

THIS is the new American Christmas tradition.
This is a revolution of caring about each other, and isn't that what Christmas is about? 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

An End Of An Era

Sad news, and all the more reason to not miss this one.
I am glad that they're not letting it just fade away on this past year's cancellation.

Official NEARfest Press Release October 17, 2011


In 1999, the North East Art Rock Festival was started as an effort to return progressive rock music to the area where it thrived back in its heyday. In the 1970s, the Philadelphia area was a well-known hotbed of fandom for the brand of rock music featuring exemplary virtuosity. With the re-emergence of progressive music worldwide in the early `90s, festivals became a novel way to feature both new bands and re-invigorate some from the past. A few festivals had come before, namely ProgFest (CA), the ever-present ProgDay (NC), BajaProg (Mexico), and the short-lived ProgScape (MD), plus several after, but none have taken on the notoriety NEARfest had achieved. In just a few short years, NEARfest became the "most prestigious progressive rock festival in the world" and has remained so for over 12 years.

From its inception, NEARfest has strived to merge extraordinary bands from the global Prog Rock underground and the devoted community of eclectic music fans on this side of the pond. It was felt that otherwise, never would the two meet, especially en masse. This emotional combination of musical dedication has produced many a weekend of musical bliss. Ask any former attendee of the festival and you will get a different list of highlights from years past, which is validation in itself of NEARfest's dedication to a diverse lineup of Prog Rock subgenres. Favorites will range from Camel and Keith Emerson to Sleepytime Gorilla Museum and Miriodor; from Steve Hackett and Banco to Echolyn and Hidria Spacefolk; from Magma and Univers Zero to Kenso and Kraan; from Eddie Jobson and Three Friends to Cabezas de Cera and Beardfish; from Porcupine Tree and PFM to Anekdoten and Änglagård. And that's only a fraction of the over 120 bands that have performed at NEARfest to date.

And now, the time has come to complete the cycle.

2012 will mark the final edition of the North East Art Rock Festival. NEARfest has always employed a model, for right or wrong, where lineups were typically anchored by legends of the greater genre and featured a plethora of world-class bands spanning the broad range of subgenres. Part of the success of NEARfest and its rapid sellouts was its ability to attract legendary progressive bands that had played only infrequently, if ever, on the East Coast of the United States. As time has marched inexorably, it started to become clear that this headliner-centric model would not be sustainable indefinitely. Too much of a change in the model and those dedicated to attending and supporting the festival may feel that it is no longer in the spirit of NEARfest itself. Therefore, we have decided to retain the marriage of our successful model to our NEARfest brand name.

After the unfortunate events leading to the cancellation of NEARfest 2011, we could not allow the legacy of NEARfest to end with a dark and empty stage. The festival has meant too much to too many, including us, to just disappear without at least making an attempt at a joyous swan song. Therefore, since the spring of 2011, the three of us have been conspiring to put together a final NEARfest, one true to its roots and special to its faithful. We are happy to say that this will indeed happen.

NEARfest Apocalypse will be held over the weekend of June 22nd, 23rd, and 24th, 2012 at its rightful home, the Zoellner Arts Center at Lehigh University in beautiful Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. This will be a true celebration of progressive rock music as well as a "raising of the glass" to everyone who has made NEARfest so special to so many of us over the last 13 years, including our outstanding crew and production team, the wonderful staff at Zoellner, and everyone who has ever bought a ticket to NEARfest. There are plans for activities beyond the norm for the weekend, which will be detailed as the festival draws closer. For now though, we can tell you that both Roger Dean and Mark Wilkinson will be involved in the artwork for this final special event. We will also do our best to make sure that both of these fine gentlemen are in attendance.

In the coming weeks, we will announce the entire NEARfest Apocalypse lineup live on the air on the Gagliarchives radio program. The exact air date will be determined shortly and announced online, our Yahoo mailing list, Facebook, Twitter, and Progressive Ears. Stay tuned!

We sincerely hope that you will join us for the final chapter of NEARfest. After all, the world ends in December 2012 anyway, right?

Most humbly, Chad Hutchinson Rob LaDuca Kevin Feeley

Links: NEARfest Website,

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Forever in our hearts and minds

It was an absolutely gorgeous Tuesday morning. Try to imagine a perfect day in your mind, and that was it. I was working for the Kraft Pizza Company; running my usual route in my truck driving on Rt 206 South in Hillsborough, NJ en route to the Shop Rite of Montgomery. Howard Stern was on the truck's radio, the first of a trio of daily radio shows I listened to, with the Radio Chick and Opie & Anthony to follow, respectively.
Howard was talking about Anna Nicole Smith when news came in that a plane crashed into the World Trade Center. Thinking it was some sort of errant bi-plane and as yet unconfirmed, it was quickly dismissed in favor of resuming the talk about the blonde with the big boobs.
Shortly thereafter, the news came in that a second plane hit the towers and Howard immediately said, "We're under attack."
It wasn't very long after that that the towers that dominated the NY skyline for 30 of my 38 years collapsed, forever to be a memory.
It was at that point that I started to feel a sense of being violated that quickly turned into anger and sorrow. I didn't know anyone at the towers, nor did I know anyone (closely) that lost someone there. Nevertheless, I felt that sense of violation that you feel when your car or home gets broken into, but obviously on a much grander scale. EVERYONE in the country knows this feeling. A feeling of helplessness and ensuing fantasies of hurting those responsible.
In the weeks that followed, we experienced an unprecedented (in modern times) sense of solidarity and patriotism. Any civil unrest based in race, religion, or politics was put on hold. It was US against them. There were no sides within our borders (save for the ignorance-based backlash towards anyone from the Middle East). The accessories common among everyone were American flags and FDNY hats and shirts.
As was to be expected, the car flags soon tattered and were not replaced. The FDNY hats once again became exclusive to very few other than actual fire fighters.
This is of little relevance. What matters is that most of us hold in our hearts and minds the true sense of unity and loss of that day. 2,977 deaths in 102 minutes. 9/11/01.
Never forget.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Tubes at Havana New Hope

So I saw one of my favorite bands from the 80's last night at a club called Havana in New Hope, PA last night.
It was only my 4th or 5th time seeing them, and one time was at a small bar about 20 years ago without Fee, so I don't even count that one. I first saw them on the Pier in NYC for their 1983 Outside Inside tour (same tour that was broadcast on MTV for their Saturday Night Concerts series if I recall), and again a couple times on the 1985 Love Bomb tour.
One thing I've always said about the Tubes is that they put on the best show of any band I've ever seen. That opinion has not changed (although Zappa was a very close second). Keep in mind that my idea of a good show is not only the music and musicianship, but also the visuals and overall energy of the performers.
Last night, the Tubes proved to me that a bunch of 60 year old guys can still put on a fantastic show filled with energy to rival bands half their age. As far as theatrics go, the limited size of the bar stage did not keep Fee from changing costumes to act out various classics from their vast repertoire. Another important thing to note is that unlike many other bands well past their heyday, Fee's voice is still relatively intact with only slight noticeable degradation. By contrast, lead singers like Ian Anderson and Steve Walsh (of Jethro Tull and Kansas, respectively) don't even sound like the same person they once were.

As far as last night's show goes, it was a show for their devoted fans. Either that or a show aimed at forcing casual fans to realize that there was The Tubes before MTV. Anyone who went to see She's A Beauty and Talk To Ya Later had to stay for the entire show, and even then would find that these "hits" were two of only three tunes performed from their 1980's output. The remainder of the set was all from their 70's pre-MTV days.

While I didn't write down the setlist, here is what they performed, sorted by original release:

From 1975's debut The Tubes:
Mondo Bondage
What Do You Want From Life?
White Punks On Dope

From 1976's Young And Rich:
Brighter Day
Slipped My Disco

From 1977's Now:

From 1979's Remote Control:
Turn Me On

From 1981's Completion Backward Principle:
Talk To Ya Later
Don't Want To Wait Anymore

From 1983's Outside Inside:
She's A Beauty

They also performed two cover tunes; a very soulful rendition of James Brown's It's A Man's Man's Man's World, as well as Jimi Hendrix's Third Stone From The Sun.

Overall it was a thoroughly enjoyable show, and I would not hesitate to see them again. As I said, for a bunch of 60 year olds, they've still got it.

I took a handful of crappy cell phone pics, which can be viewed here.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Google+ Gets a Leg Up on Facebook -

I'm liking Google+ a bit more every day.
If you already use most Google services (especially Picasa), and an Android phone, this is a no-brainer.

If anyone wants an invite, email me and let me know!

Google+ Gets a Leg Up on Facebook -

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

This Is What It's Like to Actually Use Google+, Google's New Social Network

Looks like Google is (again) throwing their hat into the social networking ring.
First there was the twitter-like Google Buzz, and now there's the facebook-like Google+.
In my opinion, much like Buzz to Twitter, I don't think this is going to be a threat to facebook.
The problem I see is that while anyone can use the various Google services, they cater mostly to dedicated Google/Gmail users. And while the number of Google/Gmail/Android users is surely growing, it is still not a big enough demo to compete with...well...everyone. Perhaps if EVERYONE who uses Gmail completely abandoned facebook in favor of Google+, then maybe it would have a chance at a hostile takeover. But I don't see that happening. If Google Groups (remember them?) didn't even become a blip on the screen of Yahoo Groups' radar, what chance does Google+ have against a behemoth like facebook?
Personally, I hope I'm wrong, as I happen to be one who is all in with Google. I frequently use gmail, google calendar, picasa, youtube, an android phone, google maps, google voice, and of course blogger. I would welcome a facebook-like interface that is seamlessly integrated with the rest of my e-life.

Time will tell.

Anyway, check it out:

This Is What It's Like to Actually Use Google+, Google's New Social Network

Monday, June 27, 2011

Restoring a positive mental attitude

Due to the fact that I recently got out of a situation where I was often berated and belittled, I've decided to leave the past behind me and focus on practicing a very positive outlook in my everyday life rather than let negative feelings consume me. Those of you who know me on facebook and twitter have surely noticed my posts of positive thoughts and just a general PMA. I've since noticed positive changes in myself as well as my surroundings. Things don't bother me like they once did. I see the good in people and the world again. I've even become a very calm and tolerant driver (those who know me know that this is huge). I've restored a self-confidence that a recently-removed-from-my-life individual constantly tried to demolish. In fact, after some reading and a lot of reflection, I now know that it is the person that does the berating and belittling that is the one that is sadly insecure. Positive and confident people do not put down others; it just doesn't happen. It is for that very reason that I choose to not waste energy on grudges and ill feelings. In fact, quite the opposite. I actually feel bad for this individual and hope that they can find inner peace. I have nothing but love and positive memories of them.

Anyway, I've been receiving emails from positive life coaches, and this is one I received today that I wanted to share because I feel it is very poignant and very simple.

Things better, people worse

There is this puzzle in most Western (and some Eastern) societies
that is really confusing. See if you can figure it out - we'll use the
United States as an example.

40 years ago...
  • The average house was 1000 sq feet, now it's 2422 sq feet
  • A McDonald's cheeseburger cost 30 min of wages, now it costs 3 min
  • There was 1 car for every 2 households, now there are 2 for every 1 household
  • Life expectancy has since gone up by an average of 8 years
  • GDP has since tripled or gone up 8.9 trillion dollars
So we live in bigger homes, make more money, and have longer lives.
If that is the case, how can we explain that in the last 40 years:
  • The divorce rate has doubled
  • Teen suicide has tripled
  • Recorded violent crime has quadrupled
  • And Depression has increased 10x - that's right ten times.
If things are getting better, why are people getting worse? There isn't a
one line answer to this paradox, but I'm going to offer a two part theory:
(1) We have been focusing on the wrong things to make us happy; and
(2) When something is wrong (anxiety, panic, depression) we only practice
reducing the negative feelings - we ignore increasing the positive.

Guess what? Happiness doesn't come from just reducing negative feelings.
In other words, if everything "bad" in your life were wiped away, you would
not automatically be incredibly happy. To live a joyous, fulfilled, and
meaningful life, you need to practice positivity. Yes, happiness takes practice.

One simple practice you can start with is called savoring. If you rush around
all day long from the moment you get up to the moment you hit the pillow, you
are probably not taking time to savor. Slow down and savor the good stuff.
Savoring has been scientifically researched to increase your well-being. Try
the exercise below.

Exercise: According to researcher, Fred Bryant, there are 4 effective
ways to savor:

Basking: Receiving praise and congratulations
Thanksgiving: Experiencing and expressing gratitude
Marveling: Losing yourself in the wonder of the experience
Luxuriating: Engaging in the senses fully

My request of you is that you pick one of these 4 techniques and sit
down to savor right now. Sit down for 5 minutes (if you're busy,
even 2 minutes will do). Think about one pleasant thing that happened
today (smell, touch, sight, sound, experience) and close your eyes and
enjoy it. Reminisce about what you loved about it.

As humans we are great at doing and moving and pushing through to
the next goal; but we need to also focus on enjoying, savoring, and
just "being". Remember, happiness takes practice, so make it part of
your day.

Love & Light,

Amelie Chance
Certified Coach of Positive Psychology

Thursday, June 09, 2011

An unknown (?) feature for AT&T wireless customers

A few weeks ago I was checking out my AT&T wireless account online, and I noticed a new feature that I had never seen before, and one that AT&T certainly did not email me to tell me about, and one that was not automatically enabled. I had to enable it.
Like most people, I have unlimited messaging ($20 for most people on the big two networks I believe), and what was newly listed right above this feature was "Unlimited messaging with Mobile to ANY Mobile calling."
The price? $20. That's right. Basically throwing in mobile to ANY mobile minutes for free.
Now, I figured there had to be a catch. I mean, why wouldn't AT&T advertise this? Wouldn't they want to boast something that their arch rival does not offer (to my knowledge VZW does not yet offer this)? VZW still offers unlimited data (though not for long I suspect) whereas AT&T does not. So it would seem that AT&T would want to have something unique to their service to brag about. At the very least enable the feature automatically and let their existing subscribers know about it. Sort of a "Hey, look what we gave you...aren't we awesome?"
Well, I'm here to tell you that there is no catch. Since changing that feature, my bill has not changed, and no mobile minutes whatsoever are counting towards my peak minutes. Between this feature and my A-List (Friends & Family on VZW), I'm barely using any minutes at all every month.
Okay, well maybe there is a "catch" of sorts (if you want to call it that). I have the 900 minute plan, and that is the minimum you need in order to have the option of the A-list (VZW has the same requirement for F&F). I'm not sure if the same holds true for the Mobile to ANY Mobile feature, but it wouldn't surprise me if it does.

Anyway, if you're on AT&T wireless, I would suggest you go check out your account online and grab this feature if it's available to you. If you're like me, you know a lot of people on Verizon that you'll now be able to talk to unlimited. Even if you already have a couple of VZW customers on your A-list, you'll now be able to remove them and free up some of those 5 slots for more landline numbers. :-)

Friday, April 29, 2011

Still amazed by technology.

When I was a kid, we had to rely on AM radio to hear the latest hits. If we heard a song we liked, we had to hope we heard it again when we had our tape recorder ready, and even then we had to be quick to not lose more than the first 10 or 15 seconds of the song before pressing the PLAY/REC buttons at the same time and holding the mono recorder up to the tinny radio. Even when FM radio started playing AOR, the technology wasn't much better. If you had affluent parents, you may have had a tape deck attached to a stereo receiver, or at the very least an all-in-one system. But even then, the process was the same, only you at least got a better quality recording. Oh, and even if you liked a song, the DJ didn't always announce the name of the song or group.
Of course, you could go out and buy the single 45rpm or even the whole album. You did have to be sure to save your allowance or your paper route money (yes, kids had paper routes) so you could maybe buy one album every week or so.
Then there was the issue of listening to your music outside of your house (did I mention that we actually left our homes and went outside?). This was a dilemma in and of itself. There were no iPods. Even the Sony Walkman didn't come out until I was 16, and again, it wasn't something that every Tom, Dick, and Harry could afford.
Hell, I didn't even start buying albums with any regularity until I was 16.
Anyway, in order to listen to music outside, you had to be lucky enough to have a portable cassette player (mono of course), or a transistor radio, or if you could afford it, a boombox. You had to carry this clunky thing around, and if you wanted to hear it while you played stick ball or something, you had to turn it up to the point where it was barely audible distortion. And as for mobility, I used to figure out ways to tie the radio to my bike's handlebars. It certainly wasn't fitting in my pocket.
Keep in mind that all of this was going on while we were outside with no form of communication (we couldn't bring our rotary or touch-tone phone from home you know), no way for our parents to get in touch with us, and no connection to anyone that we weren't actually with at the time.

Fast forward 40 years. Yesterday I'm watching American Idol (basically the Gong Show with less funny judges and host, but a more serious purpose) on a 20 minute recorded delay, in high definition surround sound, on a 52" flat screen TV, and a commercial for the new Mustang comes on, which has a song I think sounds pretty cool.

Do I hope I hear it again so I can get my tape recorder ready? Of course not.
I simply pick up a small thin device that sits in the palm of my hand that I can occasionally make phone calls with, I tap a few spots on the screen to open an app (what the hell is an app?) called SoundHound. I touch a big gold button on the screen after rewinding the commercial (rewinding TV? That's crazy!), and in literally 3 seconds I know that the aurally appealing song is 'Light Of The Morning' by Band of Skulls from the album Baby Darling Doll Face Honey.
But I know the song. I still have to record it somehow, or go out and buy it, no?
Don't be silly. From the same page on the device that gave me this information, I tap a button that says "Buy", and it takes me to the Amazon MP3 site (Amazon? MP3? site? Huh?) where I'm automatically logged into my account (an account eh? Fancy man are ya?), I click on "Download" (okay, now you're blowing my mind), and in a few seconds I have the song on my phone which, in addition to being able to browse the web (what, like a spider?), also happens to play and store music. Of course, I could have opted to stream it from the Amazon Cloud Player instead of downloading it (okay, now I know you're nuts. How do you play a cloud from a stream?)
Did I mention that before buying the song, I first clicked on the name of the song on my strange little device and watched this video?

The funny thing is, we are so connected today, that we take it for granted. How often do we stop and think how far we've come in the last 30 years? Can you imagine if we left our smartphones at home for a day or two? For some people, that would be like asking them to leave their lungs at home.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


A friend of mine emailed this. So amazingly accurate that I want to share it here. Gotta love Dave Barry; I even miss the TV sitcom about him. :-)

Let's say a guy named Roger is attracted to a woman named Elaine.  He asks her out to a movie; she accepts; they have a pretty good time.  A few nights later he asks her out to dinner, and again they enjoy themselves. They continue to see each other regularly, and after a while neither one of them is seeing anybody else.
And then, one evening when they're driving home, a thought occurs to Elaine, and, without really thinking, she says it aloud:  ''Do you realize that, as of tonight, we've been seeing each other for exactly six months?''
And then there is silence in the car.  To Elaine, it seems like a very loud silence. She thinks to herself: Geez, I wonder if it bothers him that I said that. Maybe he's been feeling confined by our relationship; maybe he thinks I'm trying to push him into some kind of obligation that he doesn't want, or isn't sure of.
And Roger is thinking: Gosh. Six months.
And Elaine is thinking: But, hey, I'm not so sure I want this kind of relationship, either. Sometimes I wish I had a little more space, so I'd have time to think about whether I really want us to keep going the way we are, moving steadily toward . . . I mean, where are we going? Are we just going to keep seeing each other at this level of intimacy? Are we heading toward marriage? Toward children? Toward a lifetime together? Am I ready for that level of commitment? Do I really even know this person?
And Roger is thinking: . . . so that means it was . . . let's see . . February when we started going out, which was right after I had the car at the dealer's, which means . . . lemme check the odometer . . . Whoa! I am way overdue for an oil change here.
And Elaine is thinking: He's upset. I can see it on his face. Maybe I'm reading this completely wrong. Maybe he wants more from our relationship, more intimacy, more commitment; maybe he has sensed -- even before I sensed it -- that I was feeling some reservations. Yes, I bet that's it. That's why he's so reluctant to say anything about his own feelings. He's afraid of being rejected.
And Roger is thinking: And I'm gonna have them look at the transmission again. I don't care what those morons say, it's still not shifting right. And they better not try to blame it on the cold weather this time. What cold weather? It's 87 degrees out, and this thing is shifting like a garbage truck, and I paid those incompetent thieves $600.
And Elaine is thinking: He's angry. And I don't blame him. I'd be angry, too. I feel so guilty, putting him through this, but I can't help the way I feel. I'm just not sure.
And Roger is thinking: They'll probably say it's only a 90- day warranty. That's exactly what they're gonna say, the scumballs.
And Elaine is thinking: maybe I'm just too idealistic, waiting for a knight to come riding up on his white horse, when I'm sitting right next to a perfectly good person, a person I enjoy being with, a person I truly do care about, a person who seems to truly care about me. A person who is in pain because of my self-centered, schoolgirl romantic fantasy.
And Roger is thinking: Warranty? They want a warranty? I'll give them a warranty. I'll take their warranty and stick it right up their ......
''Roger,'' Elaine says aloud.
''What?'' says Roger, startled.
''Please don't torture yourself like this,'' she says, her eyes beginning to brim with tears. ''Maybe I should never have . . Oh, I feel so......''
(She breaks down, sobbing.)
''What?'' says Roger.
''I'm such a fool,'' Elaine sobs. ''I mean, I know there's no knight. I really know that. It's silly. There's no knight, and there's no horse.''
''There's no horse?'' says Roger.
''You think I'm a fool, don't you?'' Elaine says.
''No!'' says Roger, glad to finally know the correct answer.
''It's just that . . . It's that I . . . I need some time,'' Elaine says.
(There is a 15-second pause while Roger, thinking as fast as he can, tries to come up with a safe response. Finally he comes up with one that he thinks might work.)
''Yes,'' he says.
(Elaine, deeply moved, touches his hand.)
''Oh, Roger, do you really feel that way?'' she says.
'What way?'' says Roger.
"That way about time,'' says Elaine.
''Oh,'' says Roger. ''Yes.''
(Elaine turns to face him and gazes deeply into his eyes, causing him to become very nervous about what she might say next, especially if it involves a horse. At last she speaks.)
''Thank you, Roger,'' she says.
''Thank you,'' says Roger.
Then he takes her home, and she lies on her bed, a conflicted, tortured soul, and weeps until dawn, whereas when Roger gets back to his place, he opens a bag of Doritos, turns on the TV, and immediately becomes deeply involved in a rerun of a tennis match between two Czechoslovakians he never heard of. A tiny voice in the far recesses of his mind tells him that something major was going on back there in the car, but he is pretty sure there is no way he would ever understand what, and so he figures it's better if he doesn't think about it.
The next day Elaine will call her closest friend, or perhaps two of them, and they will talk about this situation for six straight hours. In painstaking detail, they will analyze everything she said and everything he said, going over it time and time again, exploring every word, expression, and gesture for nuances of meaning, considering every possible ramification. They will continue to discuss this subject, off and on, for weeks, maybe months, never reaching any definite conclusions, but never getting bored with it, either.
Meanwhile, Roger, while playing racquetball one day with a mutual friend of his and Elaine's, will pause just before serving, frown, and say:
"Norm, did Elaine ever own a horse?''

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Things To Remember

A family member gave me a small plaque for my birthday a few years ago that had some of this on it. 
It means a lot to me because I realized that about 80% of it I had already been heeding for most of my adult life. I happened to look at it this morning and felt compelled to share it.

24 Things to Remember

Collin McCarty

Your presence is a present to the world.
You're unique and one of a kind.
Your life can be what you want it to be.
Take the days just one at a time.
Count your blessings, not your troubles.
You'll make it through whatever comes along.
Within you are so many answers.
Understand, have courage, be strong.
Don't put limits on yourself.
So many dreams are waiting to be realized.
Decisions are too important to leave to chance.
Reach for your peak, your goal, your prize.
Nothing wastes more energy than worrying.
The longer one carries a problem, the heavier it gets.
Don't take things too seriously.
Live a life of serenity, not a life of regrets.
Remember that a little love goes a long way…
Remember that a lot…goes forever.
Remember that friendship is a wise investment.
Life's treasures are people…together.
Realize that it's never too late.
Do ordinary things in an extraordinary way.
Have health and hope and happiness.
Take time to wish upon a star.
And don't ever forget…for even a day…
How very special you are.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Amazon’s Cloud Player Provides Music From Everywhere -

The fact that Amazon is often cheaper than iTunes, coupled with the fact that any purchases get stored on their servers for free, and are accessible from anywhere you have a data connection, would make me choose Amazon over iTunes any day.
Oh, and that Amazon plays nice with iTunes software (i.e. downloads automatically import into iTunes) doesn't hurt either.

Amazon’s Cloud Player Provides Music From Everywhere -