12.21.2005

best songs you've never heard

It's not really a Christmas song but it is fit for winter and was included on Target's R&B holiday collection this year. Refuge (When It's Cold Outside) by John Legend, from his debut album Get Lifted, is a phenomenal tribute to the gift of love during hard times. Legend's voice is soulful yet bittersweet and tinged with a bit of pain, while the thick R&B beats and melody emotionally carry you from sorrow to joy and hope. Refuge, much like the rest of Legend's music, is colorful and well written. It is both modern and traditional, reminding me of 70's era R&B prior to hip-hop's influence. While there are a couple emcee guest appearances on Get Lifted, the album primarily focuses on Legend's talented piano work and singing, backed up by tight production work and familiar yet creative lyricism.

12.15.2005

PostSecret

My father tuned me in to a blog where people send in a secret of theirs on a postcard of their creation. The result is artful, sometimes humorous, and often tragically heartbreaking. The postcards are sent in anonymously and highlight the darkest corners of human existence.

The secrets shared are those that most would never admit (unless we could afford a shrink). Child abuse, drug addiction, rage, lost faith, hopelessness, jealousy, abandonment, obsessions. They're all there.

I am somewhat happy with the way I turned out. No hidden secrets eating me away inside. I read the blog and feel empathetic, but never imagined I would find a PostSecret that I could wholeheartedly relate to. Until now.















OK, so I admit it. I am a bit of a music snob.

See more secrets at PostSecret.

12.13.2005

helps if you read the handbook

The average IQ of my coworkers isn't the greatest, but it's not that bad either. For the most part, they're just average blokes trying to earn their keep. We do have a couple of winners (and I mean "winners" in a negative sense) who's axe couldn't chop a roll of toilet paper, but it's OK. I can cope.

The greatest display of the collective lack in brain power of my fellow employees is in our parking lot. I have come to expect chaos and utter disarray in the parking lots of Walmarts and malls from east to left coast during the holiday shopping season, but not while trying to get to work. After a couple inches of compact snow and ice covers the blacktop, my coworkers begin to drive like circus monkeys and park their cars as if they've never seen a parking lot before in their lives. Logic and common sense are thrown out the window. (I'm not intentionally being repetitive, to some people logic and common sense are two very different things) It appears as if the skies have opened and puked up a bunch of scrap metal, let the cars fall where they may.

The general population of North Idaho is among the least likely to qualify for Mensa. Let me rephrase that... Most of North Idaho does not know what Mensa is. When it comes to the people I work with on a regular basis, I've gotten used to a certain level of dumbness. And I except their intelligence shortcomings as status quo. If you have read some of my earlier posts (thieves, Buddha and gas) you know what I'm dealing with.

But I expect more from our leadership. Here's an e-mail sent out to my department by someone who is more or less in charge of our department. It reads as follows:

visitors on the floor
From: Bhos S. Mann
To: My whole department + some


Hey Team,
Just wanted to reiterate that unfortunately we can not have any visitors on the floor whether or not they are employed by us or not.
We work with very confidential customer information and have agreements with the clients that this info will not be accessible by anyone that is not part of this account.
As beautiful as some of your children are and/or family and friends, you must visit with them off of the floor. Feel free to use the break room or lunch room.
Also, if you are on break/lunch and want to stay at your desk your welcome to do so, but if you are wanting to visit or chat, you need to take your break/lunch off of the floor.

Thank you all for your attention regarding this,
Bhos S. Mann
Operational type person in charge
Location - Company


At first this sounds like a simple and obvious request. However for those of us with small children, banishing them from the workplace is not always possible. As much as I would like to follow the advice and pleas of my superior, I just can't. Not only is it unfair to my wife and kid, his request is against company policy.

Here's a nifty little quote from our employee handbook.

"Visitors under the age of 16 are not allowed in the call center floor without adult supervision. Visitors over the age of 16 are allowed in the work area, but for a limited time and only if the employee's productivity is not impacted."

If my wife wants to sit at my desk while I finish up a spreadsheet or answer some questions when she picks me up at the end of the day, is that allowed??? Not according to the Mann, but let me check the handbook again. "visitors over the age of 16 ARE allowed in the work area." If my wife and son wants to come visit me, great! NO ONE is going to tell me they're not allowed.

Guess it helps if you read the rules.

12.07.2005

Baby, It's Cold Outside

It is a fitting title, despite being one of my least favorite Christmas songs. (especially the version that Regis Philbin recorded a couple years ago) Never the less, baby, it's cold outside. That song was on one of the in-store CD's while I worked at Old Navy, (or Old Slavey as I fondly recall) and every 90 minutes I was subjected to Dean Martin's sexual innuendos and probably the earliest reference to date rape in pop culture. Everytime that song came over the house speakers, I wanted to run out of the building yelling "please somebody put me out of my misery."

But I'm getting off the subject. It is REALLY cold outside. Despite my multiple layers (cotton knit and flannel shirts, fleece vest, hooded sweatshirt, leather jacket, and two pairs of pants) I still felt cold during my walk to work. I might as well have been wrapped in Saran Wrap. I've been inside for about four hours and I still can't feel my cheeks.

Considering the generous snow fall we received last week (see previous post) lack of decent plowing techniques (also in prior post) and the frigid air cast over the inland northwest, our roads, sidewalks, and parking lots make for interesting navigation. It's too bad I don't own a pair of ice skates, I could skate to work rather than walk. The mile long walk to work is rather slippery, however I manage to get through the ShopKo parking lot (and my employer's parking lot) with no problems. The road outside my apartment causes no problems. For the most part I have a safe and enjoyable journey, provided I have my gloves, and some good music to listen to.

Oddly enough, the only place where my feet lose grip on a regular basis is in the hospital parking lot. I don't know why, but that seems to be the slickest part of my 20 minute commute (walk) to work. Oh well. If I fall and shatter my tail bone, at least it will be a short trip to the ER.

12.02.2005

...

I make to much money to get help from the government
But not enough to consistantly pay the rent
I got beaten out by some one else just cuz he has a degree
Doesn't even matter wether or not he's better than me
Don't they realize I'm tryin to support a family
So I guess I'll starve if it keeps gas in the car
And a roof between us and the stars
It gets so hard I wonder if I'll go far
Can I make a mark if I'm not up to par
Or be an example for my baby boy
Am I a failure cuz I don't make enough noise
If he who wins is he who dies with the most toys
Then I can't ever die
I gotta work all day just to provide
And stay up all nite just to survive
'Till it's my time to shine
And they call that a life
That can't be right
I must be outta my mind
Let God be my guide
Cuz all alone, I can't figure it out

11.30.2005

we are being lied to

The Spokane/Coeur D'Alene area has been covered with a fresh blanket of snow. Actually, smothered with massive amounts of the white pordwery stuff would be a better description. Snow was expected but it didn't happen according to plan.

Now, I'm not complaining. I love snow - it's beautiful outside, and winter is my favorite season. It just didn't happen like we were told it would.

The original forcast called for 4-6 inches overnight Friday with scattered flurries through the rest of the week. We had a dizzle rain Friday evening and woke up to dry ground on Saturday. Sunday's forcast predicted light snow on Monday and Tuesday with minimal acumulation and then steady snowfall and significant (large) amounts sticking to the ground on Thursday. If the 6-8 inches we've recieved in the last 48 hours is "minimal," I'd hate to see what they mean by "significant."

And this morning, the wonderfull meteorwrongogist on NWCN said that there would not be any snow today and a slight chance of snow tomorrow. Needless to say, it has been snowing non-stop since I left for work this morning.

I'm sure that they're not intentionally lying to us, I just think they don't know what they're talking about. If someone tells me that meteorology requires years of education and scientific training I'd laugh. I honestly belive that news networks do not recruit educated people for their weather reporting.

Here's how I think it happens: A producer is walking downtown and sees someone dancing in the rain and thinks Hmmm, that person would look GREAT in a suit and tie. They should be a weatherman. Then the poor, unsuspecting fool gets slapped with the title of meteorologist and is thrown in front of a camera for a live broadcast. If ratings go up, the person stays. Due to the acuracy of reporting, I think news agencies might have better luck recruiting from the Psychic Friends Network.

As for local maintenance (now I am complaining) they plow snow here like they do in Boise. Instead of using a "plow" they use steamrollers, treating snow like asphalt. Take 6 inches of snow and compact it down into 2 inches of solid ice.

The radio this morning reported about a half dozen accidents and a couple multi-car pile-ups along I-90 recomending everyone to avoid the area if possible. Every accident, I'm sure, included an SUV with 4-wheel drive. (freaks think they rule the roads) Some may chalk up all of these accidents to inexperienced driving or not knowing how to drive in the snow. While that may be true, who can fault them when the freeway is slicker than any ice rink before the start of a hocky game. It's like driving a zamboni along a sandy beach - you can do it, but you will probably damage the zamboni.

11.29.2005

Sports... For those who don't know

Some definitions

Hockey: Like figure skating, with violence.

Figure Skating: ice skates + jumpsuits and tu-tus + boring music = something like ballet but I'm not quite sure

Cricket: A retarded British version of baseball

Baseball: One team takes turns running around a diamond shaped circle while the other team stands around and waits for something exciting to happen

Snowboarding: skateboarding with snow, trees, steep hills, and no wheels

Skateboarding: Surfing on concrete, usually in places skateboarding is not allowed

Surfing: oceanic version of snowboarding, with sharks

Football: two mobs wearing shoulder pads fight over an oddly shaped ball, occasionally they end up in a dog-pile

Soccer: Like football, but with a real ball and you can't use your hands

Boxing: A bar room brawl, but legal and with rules

Basketball: Kinda like square dancing, only everyone is REALLY tall and wears squeaky shoes, it also involves an orange ball and a lot of yelling

Nascar: A bunch of people drive cars plastered with advertisements for Walmart, Cheerios, and cheap beer, there's no point to Nascar except to entertain drunk rednecks

Pro Wrestling: Bad acting + predictable scripts + big muscles = excuse for white trash to get drunk

Sumo Wrestling: like pro wrestling with fat guys no scripts and no white trash

Golf: a fashion show where the lowest score wins, birdies are good, bogies are bad, and the fans have to be quiet

Tennis: like ping-pong... on a much larger scale

Rugby: a sick and twisted mix of football, soccer, hockey, wrestling (pro and sumo), boxing, keep-away, red rover, hot potato, a round of team-slayer in Halo, and a mosh pit

11.16.2005

starting from scratch... almost

I am stil working on my book, and probably will be for a long time.

However, the first person narritive that I started with was beginning to annoy me. So, over the past few days I have been rewriting the whole thing, changing everything from first person to third person.

It is not a pleasant experience, almost as annoying as people who refer to themselves in third person.

It has been a big fat pain in the rear end.








Kinda like hemroids.

11.01.2005

music/dance/poetry

"Music begins to atrophy when it departs too far from the dance... poetry begins to atrophy when it gets too far from the music."

Ezra Pound

halloween weekend

part one... "Saw II"
Bekah and I met some friends from work to see this movie Friday night. "Saw II" is the equivelent of cinematic vomit. It might taste good when origionally ingested, however, it burns when coming back up. The movie is well written and tells a good story, but is marred by the grisley imagery and strobe-like effects. Upon further consideration, the story becomes more implausible due to the fact it wants you to believe that a dying cancer patient who is physically incapable of getting out of his chair is able to commit such horrific crimes as dipicted throughough the movie. While the grime and shock works in some movies, Twisted Pictures takes "Saw II" into distasteful territory. Not for people with weak stomachs.

part two... Redmark
A good friend (former roommate and groomsman in my wedding) had a show in Moscow Saturday night with his band Redmark. So Bekah and I packed up the car and the baby and took a drive down to see them. One of Bekah's best friends lives down their, so we stayed with her family, while the band stayed at one of the frat houses at U of I. The band put on a rockin show at The Nuart Theater, a coffeehouse/theater/church that Bekah's friend works at part time. I saw Redmark perform last New Years Eve, and this show was exponentially better. Sonically, tighter, more passionate and energetic, and playing to a packed house. There will be another show there next spring, hopefully they'll be able to book a show up here in the Spokane/CD'A area at the same time. The bassist is dating my sister-in-law, so it's cool to have a personal connection to a band with such a potential to go somewhere.

After the show (and after the crowd had disipated and the band's gear had been loaded into the van) we hung out until nearly 1am, playing and singing worship, an activity I hadn't experienced with them since Drew and I were roomates nearly three years ago. It was peaceful, calming, and deeply spiritual. Once it was a normal part of my life, passing the guitar around between friends, worshiping God, enjoying each other's company, and not wanting the music to end. This weekend was almost like old times, a great break from my current stresses.

Mark my words. They'll be big some day, I'd say they'd be cool some day but they all ready are cool. I'll post their website in my links section in a couple of days, so bear with me. They also gave me permission to copy/distribute their promo CD, so let me know if you want a copy.

part three... carnival
Bekah (against my plees and wishes) dragged me to a church harvest carnival at some church out in Four Lakes. If you have no idea where Four Lakes is, there is a reason, it's the far side of Spokane tucked into the backwoods of redneckville. It was slightly more entertaining than the Halloween parties at the church I grew up in, but still not my idea of an enjoyable October 31st activity.

Gosh, I remember this one year on Halloween, Shane and I stayed home and played Goldeneye while passing out candy to trick-or-treaters. However, we didn't want our game to be interupted everytime the doorbell rang, so we left the front door open with the bowl of candy in the threshold and tempted fate with the honor system. One kid (dressed as a pirate if I remember correctly) asked how much candy he could take. Our answer - as much as you want. His eyes got so big, I thought he was going to run off with all of it. For ambiance, we had Korn and Rob Zombie playing on the stereo at full volume. A couple kids actually asked their parents if they could stay at our place and play games instead of finishing trick-or-treating. Solid proof that the Nintendo 64 was cooler than candy.

10.23.2005

special effects

Do you remember that one movie, the one with that little girl that spoke dead laguages and her head spun around.

The Exorcist, you say? Yeah, that's the one.

There's this one part where she... umm... she had some problems and decided to redecorate. I always thought that that whole scene was a nice bit of special effects, especially considering that the movie came out in 1973. But not humanly possible.

Christian has proved otherwise. I am now a firm believer in the possibility of projectile... well, you've seen the movie.

Here's the recipe: one cup cherry yogurt, one bottle of Sunny Delight fruit punch, a couple chicken nuggets and maderin oranges, top it off with an upset stomach. And presto, we now have pinkish carpet. I wonder where it all came from.

10.19.2005

all things

"I'm a thief, a liar, an angel in the fire. I'm a king, a drug, a push that comes to shove. I'm a freak, a star. I'm everything you are."
Our Lady Peace Made to Heal

"Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible... I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some."
I Corinthians 9:19 & 22 NIV

Are we as Christians out of touch?

In an article titled Relevance without Irreverence (How to Become All Things to All Men), Dr. Richard Pratt shares this story:

A couple of years ago I was riding in the car with my sixteen-year-old daughter. She turned on the radio, and one of her favorite songs began to play.

"Listen to this, Dad," she said with enthusiasm. "What do you think?"

I reacted without thinking. "I don't know, honey. I can't understand the..."

I stopped in midsentence. I was about to say, "I can't understand the words." I couldn't believe it. I sounded just like my parents twenty years before! Popular music had left me behind.

I made up my mind that day to catch up with my daughter's world. There's still a generation gap; I just can't "get into" everything that's new. Yet, I'm trying, and the gap doesn't take me by surprise anymore.

He continued "The challenge of evangelizing a changing world means that we must examine how we reach out as individuals, families, and churches. We must become relevant without becoming irreverent."

Are we changing with the times? The message is still the same, but are we trying to share that message the same way we were 20 years ago?

Dr. Pratt asks this question. "Take a look at the community around you. How should you give up your own cultural preferences for the cause of Christ? How can you adapt the unbelieving world's inclinations in music, art, literature, entertainment, or communication as a means of reaching them with the Gospel?"

9.28.2005

a different kind of safe

In light of Katrina temporarily wiping (flushing) New Orleans from the map, Florida's repeated hurricane spanking last summer (not to mention their inability to hold a valid election), the earthquake prone left coast, and some of the worst tornado seasons to date, Forbes magazine scientifically rated the safest and least safe cities in the USA. These calculations were based off of frequency of natural disasters of every shape and size. Disasters of the human variety NOT included.

The disasters include tornados, hurricanes, earthquakes, gale force winds, damaging hail, brush fires, and the ambiguous "extreme weather." Extreme is another word meaning "we can't describe it."

Of all things, Spokane made it to the top ten list of the safest cities in the US at #5. Now, I'm not a resident of Spokane, but CD'A is close enough. Other cities that beat us out of the top spot: Boise, Santa Fe, and Yakima. No suprises. But the number one spot was a bit of a shocker... Honolulu ranks in as the safest American city.

So I guess this might be a great place to raise a family.

In unrelated yet somewhat related news, Associated Press ran a recent statement, "The Spokane area seems awash in pedophiles."

So, that thing I said about raising a family... I was just kidding.

The number of registered sex offenders in the inland NW (Spokane/Cheney/CD'A/Post Falls/ Hayden/Rathdrum) is daunting as it numbers in triple digits. And highly disturbing when compared to other metro areas.

Sioux Falls, SD: 5 sex registered sex offenders. Marysville/Tulalip/Smoky Point (where I grew up): 1 registered sex offender.

Awash.

So, Spokane might be safe from mother nature, but we're swarming with pervs. What a comforting feeling.

9.26.2005

drama never ends

Albert Einstein once said, "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Cindy Sheehan proves his point.

Now, I'm sure Al (or E-Stein as I like to call him) was not speaking of Sheehan specifically, but people like her. After all, stupid people have existed since the beginning of all humanity. Think this present era is immune?... Here's your sign.

Now, I do sympathize with Sheehan's loss of her son, Casey. However, I feel her methods have made her the laughing stock of the right-wing and an embarrassment to the left.

Point #1. Her 26 day vigil near President Bush's ranch. She said that she would not leave until Bush agreed to meet with her and validate her anger... er... I mean despair. The meeting never happened. She left (something urgent came up) and Bush enjoyed the rest of his vacation.

Point #2. She got arrested. Sheehan led the way with multiple protests and demonstrations in DC over the weekend. That in itself is not news worthy, we as Americans have a constitutional right to free speech, including the right to publicly voice disapproval and dismay when we disagree with the political powers that be. What made it newsworthy was the ending of Monday's demonstration. It was the third protest over the weekend, and ended with Sheehan in the backseat of a cop car.

After a demonstration on the Mall on Saturday and a rally on Sunday, Sheehan and supporters marched around the White House. When they reached the front of the White House, some one thought it a good idea to stay there, sitting (blocking) the entry to the White House.

Naturally, police advised them they were breaking the law. In fact, police gave them THREE warnings that they were breaking the law. Associated Press reported that a total of 50 people were arrested, Sheehan being the first to go. As she was being hauled to the cop car, the crowd chanted, "The whole world is watching."

Yes, Cindy, the whole world IS watching you make a fool of yourself. If you wanted to use your grief to make a difference, there are better ways to do so, rather than beating your chest like a big dumb ape.

As stupid as Sheehan is, at least she's smarter than a fellow protester who jumped the White House fence to escape police custody, only to be arrested by a swarm of Secret Service agents.

I'm sure everyone would agree that war is not a good thing. I, as much as anyone else, would like to see this conflict resolved. Iraq is slowly becoming my generations version of Vietnam. The tremendous loss of life in Baghdad and the rest of the Middle East due to this war is saddening. You'd have to be heartless not to admit that. But there's got to be a better way than Sheehan's floundering method.

Now from a grieving mother to a grieving widow. Mitzy Kenny's husband died in Iraq last year. This Ridgeley, W. Va. resident speaks out. "I would like to say to Cindy Sheehan and her supporters: Don't be a group of unthinking lemmings (anti-war demonstrations) can affect the war in a really negative way. It gives the enemy Hope."

Well said Mitzy.

9.20.2005

of seagulls and children

During a nice little picnic lunch at the park with Bekah and Christian, I made a few observations I'd like to share with you.

First the birds...
1. Seagulls do not like to be chased
2. But they do like to be fed
3. They will eat anything
4. Seagulls do not trust humans
5. But if you feed them, they will follow you
6. If one lone seagull finds food, another dozen will appear out of nowhere

And the kids...
1. The shortest distance between a little boy and his mom is always through a puddle
2. Sunlight is good as long as it is not in your eyes
3. Kids will eat anything, even woodchips
4. You might think it's cute to shove a kid's head through a hole to pose for pictures
5. The kid doesn't think it's cute
6. One year olds can fall asleep while eating

9.16.2005

different kind of hero

Thanks to Regis and Kelly, the Guiness Book of World Records has a new world record. When I was younger these records fascinated me. Stuff like the longest baseball game in history, oldest living person, largest building under a single roof, fastest speed reached by a wheeled vehicle, tallest person ever, etc.

But as there years have past, the records have gotten more bizarre: largest collection of belly button lint, most piercing on a single person, longest time spent frozen in a block of ice, longest distance traveled on a pogo stick. It's the kind of stuff that normal people would never thing to try. Even slightly unbalanced persons (like myself) would never say "gee, I'm going to walk backwards the entire length of I-90 from Seattle to Boston." just to get into the Guiness book of world records. These newer records come from the imagination of some truly deranged lunatics.

Then there's this guy: Suresh Joachim. This dude holds 16 guiness records. 16! Holy cow! First thought... Cool, so did he like, circle the globe multiple times in a hot-air balloon? Did he successfully juggle 19 chainsaws? Did he climb the highest peak on each of the seven continents in a year?

No. He spent 69 hours and 48 minutes with his eyes glued to a plasma TV screen. Second thought... What?! That got him into the world records. I could do that. But then again, you have to be monitored. And since it was done as a part of Regis and Kelly's morning talk show, poor Suresh had to spend the nearly three days of television viewing trapped on a couch in a tiny room at WACB studios in New York. Worst part, he was only able to watch ABC programming, channel surfing not allowed. Never mind, I couldn't do it.

The funny thing is he beat the previous record of 50 hours 7 minutes. Third thought... You mean, someone else had set a record for watching TV!!! Are we really that bored and lazy that sitting on our duff for three straight days with the boob tube as our best pal sounds appealing?

But he does it for the kids, so I guess it's OK. His purpose is about as vague as it gets: to raise awareness of suffering children. Possibly children in some places don't have a television to help waste endless hours and rot their brains. The poor helpless children. These kids probably can't afford 100 strait hours bowling (another of Suresh's records) The cost of concessions and shoe rentals are atrocious at some bowling allies.

What other records does he hold? According to his website... Yes he has a website... The records are: 1. running for 1000 consecutive hours 2. balanced on one foot for 76 hours 40 minutes 3. traveled 225.44 consecutive km on an escalator 4. ran with a 4.5 kg brick in one hand for 126.675 km 5. 120 hour radio broadcast 6. 84 hour drumming marathon 7 & 8. 79 bridesmaids and 47 groomsmen at his wedding 9. longest bouquet 62.09 10. ran 100 km in 7 hrs 21 mns 40 secs on a treadmill 11. 100 miles on a treadmill 12. 257.88 km in 24 hours on treadmill 13. more running on treadmill 14. 100 hours dancing w/no sleep 15. played music w/a band for 42 hours 52 minutes 16. even more time on a treadmill. And finally 17. 100 hours strait 10 pin bowling.

This shmuck has no life. Oh yeah, I think he's married

9.15.2005

Judge Judy brings protest to Bush ranch

Waco TX

Taking her cues from previous protester, Cindy Sheehan, Judge Judy Sheindlin is setting up camp beside the highway near President George Bush's Crawford area ranch.

Sheindlin's demonstration has a very different focus however, as Judge Judy disputes President Bush's nomination of John Roberts for Chief Justice.

As Roberts faces the Senate Judiciary Committee today to answer questions about political and personal beliefs, Judge Judy holds a picket sign near Crawford, demanding an audience with the President.

After losing a bid for a prime-time slot for her show on CBS, she began to lobby for a Supreme Court nomination.

"I'm horrified," she says. "I'm not looking for a Broadway show to do next. This is my show. This is my gig. I'm not looking for anything afterward."

Supporters joining Sheindlin in Texas are her husband and fellow judge Jerry, a handful of plaintiffs and defendants who have received favorable judgments on her daytime TV show, and her bailiff Petri Hawkins-Byrd.

"I'm mainly here for security," says Hawkins-Byrd.

"I spent 20 years presiding in New York's family court," says Judge Judy. "All he did was private practice."

Both Sheindlin judges stress the importance of family values in politics and law.

"If you've looked at what I've done since I've taken the judicial oath, you would be convinced my rulings have continuously supported the health and welfare of the American family. We need a stronger moral foundation in our country, I would like to do my part to get there."

Roberts was a political power play as President Bush's choice to replace Chief Justice William H Rehnquist. Judge Judy is hoping to be considered as the President seeks a replacement for Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

"I would just like the opportunity to meet with the President. If he would take time away from his busy schedule, he would see me as the perfect candidate."

After the protest near the Bush ranch is over, Sheindlin plans on joining the relief efforts in New Orleans by handing out bottled water and lecturing looters.

When Roberts was asked of Sheindlin's desire for nomination, he said, "You and I agree that that's not the sort of person we want on the Supreme Court."

The White House press secretary could not be reached for comment.




Disclaimer: Judy Sheindlin and her husband are NOT in Texas. Some of the above quotes may have been doctored or completely taken out of context.

9.08.2005

So, you think you know the 80's

The 80's was a great decade to grow up in. Big hair, clashing colors, dorky glasses, and some of the worst fashion statements since Ziggy Stardust. We witnessed the birth and death of hair metal. (come on people, its dead. Admit it) Computers put roots down in American homes. We watched as the Challenger blew up and Gallagher smashed watermelons. Baseball cards were still worth something. Toys were constructed from metal and had sharp edges. All of the cool fast food joints had real playgrounds. (and I'm not talking about the hamster cages/ball pits that you see at McDonald's nowadays) There was no such thing as Barney or the Power Rangers. Kid's shows were humorous and movies were cheesy. (though it seemed so awesome back then)

Then there's the music. Fake drums, overwhelming synths, lots and lots of flair, and ambiguous lyrics. 80's music is like the crazy uncle that never seems to go away. He's your favorite uncle, but you'd never admit it. Try as we might, the songs of new wave, hair metal, bubble gum pop, and early hip-hop get in your head... and before you know it, Tainted Love is playing on an endless loop within your psyche.

I now look back at the 80's with a certain fondness and amusement. I still smile when I here 99 Luft Balloons. So here's to the artists that set the soundtrack to our memories. The Clash. Peter Cetara. Devo. Modern English. Phil Collins. Stryper. This is for those who still crank up the radio to sing along with I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles).

Take this quiz, see how well you remember the songs that defined a generation. I scored 73. (could have been higher if I knew how to spell cocktail) Post a comment to let me know how well you did. And hopefully you don't get Animotion's Obsession stuck in your head. I did.

http://www.yetanotherdot.com/asp/80s.html

9.07.2005

trials, tribulation

"We also have joy with our troubles, because we know that these troubles produce patience. And Patience produces character, and character produces hope. And this hope will never disappoint us." Romans 5:3-5a NCV

Hope is impossible with out difficulty. For the charmed who has never seen any hardships, there is nothing to hope for. They would not need to hope for anything, because they had never been in want. These people don't exist, we know that hard times come and go, and they affect us all (even the blessed.)

While I quote the Bible, this is not a message exclusively for those of Christian faith. Pain, suffering, trials, temptation and death are apart of life regardless of religious persuasion. Our faith, whatever it may be, dictates how we face our troubles.

This message is very real to me. My childhood was filled with the possibility that my father could be killed if ever an accident were to happen and he might not return home. I worked hard to overcome a learning disability, often refusing help from teachers and my family. We were poor. I had to learn to cope without many of the simple luxuries many of my friends took for granted. Both of my parents worked full-time, hoping to be able to provide me with more than the bare necessities while potatoes and scrambled eggs was the fanciest meal they could afford.

While my parents were here to visit over the 4th of July weekend, Dad and I got into a bit of an argument. He has wrestled with the thought that he is not a good father and that that his personal failures has caused irreparable damage to Mom, Aaron, and myself. Therefore, according to him, nothing he does is good enough, and that he must do something to right his wrongs. I told him that I forgive him for all of the s#!% that I went through as a kid. I am who I am today because of the difficulties we faced as a family when I was younger. My father is human, and like everyone else, he makes mistakes. I would be a fool to expect perfection from him.

Without those hard times, I would not understand hope. I can see the natural progession outlined in Romans 5. Patience learned from my troubles, I'm still not a patient person in general, but I can be when I need to. Character learned from patience, my father commends my character as well as my brother's. We have him to thank for our good character. Hope learned from our character.

Now, as my wife and I face trials of our own, I hope that my son learns patience and develops character. I only wish his discovery of hope isn't as difficult as was mine.

Life is fragile. Because of that frailty, I know hope.

"Lord, remember my suffering and my misery, my sorrow and trouble. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail." Lamentations 3:19 NCV, 3:20-22 NIV

9.06.2005

house warming... and F.B.C.

I am having waking nightmares of boxes and mountainous piles of clothes and... stuff. This weekend has been an interesting venture of pick stuff up, throw it in a box, move the box, then take stuff out of box. My wife and I have moved four times since getting married. Hopefully, we won't need to move again for a very long time.

The good news, we are less than two miles from my work, so I can begin walking. We're much closer to Bekah's school and Christian's daycare. So we will be able to do our part of protesting gas prices by driving less. There is so much with in walking distance. The video rental store, supermarket, Hastings, Shari's Restaurant, and a dozen fast food joints.

We also unpacked much quicker at this place than I ever have in any move. When we moved into our apartment in Sioux Falls, there were boxes I still hadn't unpacked from when I moved from Meridian to Boise while Bekah and I were dating.

The bad news, Christian and Psuchen left very different house warming presents for us. Christian has discovered how to bite, and has been biting everything he can get his hand on. Mamma's knee, mamma's arm, the baby gate, his crib, the coffee table, the TV stand, the arm chair, everything except for his TOYS! He also spent much of the last three days, whining as if he was hungry. His stomach is smaller than my fist, so I don't know where the food we feed him goes. Two sippy cups of milk, a cup of yogurt and a waffle for breakfast. Still hungry. Two fish sticks, a bowl of green beans and more yogurt for lunch. Still hungry. As soon as he woke from his nap, he instantly began to grunt and whine his "feed me" mantra.

(One of Bekah's best friends came to help us move and brought her son with her. He's only four months older than Christian, and when he wants something, he honks like a Canadian goose. Thankfully, God did not bless my son with that talent.)

What was Psuchen's present, you ask? We bought a kennel for him this weekend, so that he couldn't run free and chew/soil what ever he wanted while the humans of the house were away at school and work. After last nigh, I would be scared to see what our house would have looked like with out it. I opened the front door thinking get the leash, take Psuchen outside so that he can go potty. Too late. The funny smell hit me while walking down the hallway, and by the time I reached the bedroom, (the kennel's location) the pungent odor was almost enough to knock me unconscious. Almost. The dog looked like he bathed in mud and smelled like a mixture of ammonia and methane.

Oh how the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. We were ready to go to bed, but instead spent the next hour and a half cleaning. Scrubbing the paw prints out of the carpet, cleaning out the kennel, and the dog NEEDED a bath.

In entertainment news...

One of the headlines in my Yahoo start page announced Frances Bean's first interview at age 13. As some of you will remember, Frances is the offspring of grunge royalty Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love. I feel bad for the girl, normalcy was never a posibility for her and she is a textbook case of how kids get messed up. After losing her father to a drug induced suicide, she gets stuck with a basket case of a mother. Courtney's drama has been well publicized, multiple court cases both civil and criminal. Former versus Dave Grohl and Chris Novasellic over publishing rights to Nirvana's music. The latter due to arrests from drug and assault charges. When She appears in public, you never know what version of Courtney will show up, incoherent Malibu glamour, or incoherent gutter trash.

But, back to Frances. Only 13 years old, and she looks like a carbon copy of Kurt. That's probably a good thing, considering her mother is not an attractive woman. In the interview, Frances stated her desire to create her own identity, apart from her parents. She doesn't want to be known as Kurt and Courtney's daughter. Can you blame her? Again, I think that is a good thing.

There is hope for the hopeless.

8.30.2005

another spoiler

As promised, here's another sneak peak at the book I'm working on. Some backround info on J.J.'s hometown. (and mine)

Whisky Ridge received its name from local myths of a bootlegger’s operation during the days of prohibition. The validity of those stories had never been proven, but the name stuck.

The ridge has seen many changes since the 1920’s, even more over the last twenty years. At one time, the western side of Whisky Ridge was nothing but open grassy fields with scattered stands of pine trees. The first major change came in 1927 with a golf course, which at the time seemed to be isolated, far enough away from town to make a perfect weekend getaway.

A narrow road followed the crest of the ridge, starting near Sunnyside at the south and ending above the golf course at the northern end on Getchel Hill. A little further to the east, Highway 9 connected us to the nearby communities of Arlington, Lake Stevens, and Snohomish.

As Marysville expanded its limits to the north and east, large homes began to pepper the hillside, built by families who wanted more of a countryside lifestyle. They were blessed with a panoramic view that afforded city lights, seascape, and farmland.

Whisky Ridge provided a natural playground for local youth. Erik, Bryant and I used its fields for sledding when winter dumped its heaviest snowfalls, and rode our bikes on its trails and dirt paths whenever it wasn’t raining. Occasionally, when feeling rambunctious, we would feed golf balls to the cows on the farm across the street from the golf course.

The last few years has brought the most noticeable changes to the hills above Marysville. New housing developments began covering the ridge. The older homes, once intentionally lonesome, gained new neighbors. Freshly paved roads snaked their way across the hillside, winding from top to bottom.

Just below ridgeline, off one of those new roads is my place of residence.

It took me a year to establish myself as a real estate agent and quit my second job as an overnight desk clerk at a hotel on the Tulalip reservation. Five months later, my commission checks were large enough to place a down payment on a new house, at the time still under construction.

I went big. Not much thought went into the buying process, I wanted something flashy, expensive. The house is large enough to be seen from town with out blending in with the rest of the houses in the development. Situated at the bottom of a cul-de-sac, I have one of the best views available.

It’s a grand house, but sits empty.

8.29.2005

firsts

Today is a day of firsts.

My wife started school today. That in it's self is nothing entirely out of the ordinary, however it has made the last few weeks entertains. Shopping for school supplies and last minute necessities including everything is ready for Christian's daycare. (also a first)

That being said, today is Christian's first day of daycare. Thankfully, we know the daycare's reputation, since Bekah's mom used to work there.

We are also paying our deposit for our new apartment today. We're moving in on the first. Being able to rent out the in-laws basement for the last year has been a tremendous blessing, but I cannot stress how much we NEED our own place.

Bekah has been amusing to watch. Having not been a student for almost four years, she feels a little out of place and is trying to look as collegiate as possible, from the clothes to the bookbag. Her modeling, fresh from a shopping trip to Target was one of those had to be there moments.

Another first... I discovered a couple of grey hairs on Bekah's head yesterday. Just in time to make her feel old before college starts.

8.18.2005

illness

I hate being sick.

I feel like a fresh pile of bovine manure, scooped into a paper sack, set ablaze, then stomped out by an old guy wearing slippers.

8.15.2005

Hello, my name is "Genius"

I feel like such an idiot sometimes. While the main description of my job is "trainer" and my primary function is to teach other people how to do their jobs, part of my time is spent doing other things. And when there isn't a class going that requires my full attention, those other things tend to dominate my professional existence.

Some of those other things include administrative support, staff meetings, gopher, resource for agents on the phone, and being busier than I look. At times, I hide at my desk and listen to phone calls for quality assurance. Other times, I'm running from one end of the building to the other and up/down multiple flights of stairs just to make sure things get done. By the time I get home I'm either completely exhausted and collapse somewhere between the door and my couch or I'm so stressed I make my hyperactive dog look like a sloth.

The whole resource thing is an interesting concept all together though. The purpose is to provide immediate support to agents who have questions. However, immediate isn't always a viable option when there are only one or two resources for a group of about 50 agents. Some questions are easy (how do I put this guy on hold?) and some are more difficult (customer A is being billed for customer B's service and customer B doesn't exist, how do I fix it?)

For the most part I enjoy this aspect of my job, and usually it is also the most rewarding part. But, being recently transferred to a new department, I'm not as smart as I once was. There is a whole body of material that I am unfamiliar with, and more often than not I'm not 100% sure how to answer normally simple questions. So... I learn on the fly.

In my old department, I had a good understanding of almost everything. Other resources would come to me with questions that they couldn't answer. If there was a question that I couldn't answer, I usually knew where to look. While I had my weak spots and areas needing improvement, I felt secure knowing I could help with most situations.

But I can't go back there. After all this new department is a new challenge, and a new opportunity, one I should fully embrace. It's another step up the corporate ladder we all feared so much when we were younger.

There are questions that I can't answer. There are agents I have trained that know more than I do. It is all right to feel like an idiot every now and then.

Isn't it?

8.10.2005

Funny Memories 101

In the summer of '98 I took a road trip south to Portland and then east to Stevenson Washington for an annual music festival called Tomfest. Tomfest is a four day series of concerts featuring alternative Christian bands ran by a really cool guy named Mikee Bridges, former vocalist for Sometime Sunday and Tragedy Ann. When I say alternative, I don't mean the pop-ish alt bands like Newsboys and DC Talk; nothing against those bands, but they would not survive a weekend at Tomfest.

Tomfest is like the Christian version of Lalapalooza, multiple stages filled with cutting edge and underground artists a little too extreme to perform at other festivals like Creation. Along with the the stages, there were art galleries, jam sessions, tents for band merch, tattoo artists, and political activists like Rock for Life.

The music ranged from punk/ska/hardcore to metal, emo, and hip-hop. Tomfest also tore down the separative wall of artist versus fan. Musicians shared the same camp area as festival attendees, and there was no such thing as "back stage." Thanks to that openness and community feel, you got to meet the musicians as real people.

Here are a few fond memories...

Squad Five-0. Playing frisbee with Jeff and John Fortson on Sunday night.

Joy Electric. Watching Ronnie Martin complain that the monitors were not set up perfectly. And subsequently kicking a good friend off stage while working stage security.

Havalina Rail Company. (HRC) Sitting in a booth next to Matt Wignall while he improvised country licks on lap guitar and listening to him rant about how Christian musicians should not copy musical trends but should make innovative music and be copied by the rest of the world. Also, meeting Orlando Greenhill, realizing he is much shorter in person. (hope for us short people)

Soulfood 76. Despite seeing these local guys numerous times, seeing their final show was a moving experience.

90 lb. Wuss. The guitarist cut his fingers on his guitar strings and continued playing, despite the blood gushing from his knuckles. The drummer's son (5 or 6 years old at the time) came on stage to sit on his dad's lap and help bang the drums for a couple songs. You would never expect something so cute during a punk rawk show.

However, one of the funniest things to happen involved Sonny Sandoval and Traa of P.O.D. and their lablemate (prior to signing with Atlantic) MC Dirt. Throughout the show, Dirt was having the crowd do some hand motion called "shadow of the locust" where you had two fingers pointed up like a peace sign and the other two fingers and thumb pointed out, bobbing your hand up and down in time with the rhythm.

Close your eyes for a moment and try and picture this sight. Dirt was the only rap artist performing all weekend. Dirt, Traa, Sonny, and the other guys from P.O.D., and Orlando from HRC were the only musicians there with any ethnicity other than Caucasian. The audience was predominantly a punk and hardcore group, mostly white kids who had never been to a rap concert before. So there was an entire crowd (98% white folk) with one arm in the air bobbing with the beat (or as close to the beat as white people can get) with their hands in a ridiculous position.

I was standing in the back, near the soundboard, next to Sonny and Traa. Every time Dirt made the crowd do the "shadow of the locust" Sonny and Traa would start laughing. Also being at my first rap concert, I didn't see the humor. So I asked them, "What's so funny." Traa said, "Just wait, you'll see."

This continued through the half hour set. Traa and Sonny laughing at this crowd doing the locust. Traa telling me to wait. Finally at the end of the show, Dirt told us a story about his mom. She asked him what the "shadow of the locust" thing was about, what it meant. Dirt then told his mom that it didn't mean anything, it was something he did to mess with white folks' heads. As he finished the story, Traa and Sonny burst into hysterics. Traa slapped my shoulder and said, "See, that's what was so funny."

8.09.2005

Punk & Emo part 2

The Ramones created a career with three chord songs, album after album sounding nearly identical to the previous. The White Stripes have done the same thing but with only two chords. However, to call The White Stripes a dumbed down version of the Ramones is an insult... to the Ramones.

When when you compare the two bands it is apparent that Jack White is a rip off artist, and not even a good one. Both bands have members with identical (and assumed) last names referencing the name of the band. Both have standard attire, blue jeans and black leather biker jackets for the Ramones and any combination of the colors red and white for The White Stripes. Punkish melodies and nonsensical lyrics dominate both bands discographies. The formula only works for one of these two bands, and it's not the one that made Spin's list at #57.

2000's White Blood Cells is the musical equivalent to fingernails scratching a chalk board. Meg White's drumming is nothing more than 1, 2 rhythms and is the type of stuff that they teach to beginning percussionists in junior high band classes. And as for Jack White... I cannot think of a single musician with less talent. When my 5 year old nephew Ethan came to visit over the Fourth of July weekend he played my guitar for a while, absently strumming, hitting the strings as hard as he could, not even playing real chords. (his hands aren't even big enough to form chords) That was probably the second time Ethan had ever played a guitar, and he sounded better than anything I've heard from The White Stripes. And the singing? Picture a choir of adolescent banshees doing a bad imitation of The Who's Roger Daltrey.

I'm not surprised to see them on Spin's list. They've curiously received high esteem from traditional music critics. Personally, I wish they'd go away.

I still have six more punk/emo albums to discuss, but they will have to wait.

8.04.2005

Punk & Emo part 1

Today's look at Spin's top 100 stage dives into punk rock. The last 20 years in punk and emo was a bumpy ride with swells in unwanted popularity and scorn. Oh yeah, anarchy too.

Husker Du starts of the list at #13 with New Day Rising from 1985. I'm not a fan of Husker, but their music has been hugely influential on bands that I do listen to and enjoy. Husker Du, and frontman Bob Mould, brought an indie DIY attitude to the alt music world, quickly becoming cult favorites and changing the way punk and alternative music gets promoted.

Being a part of the grunge generation in the Seattle suburbs, I had a hard time getting into riot grrrl music. However in 1997, Sleater-Kinney caught my ear. They were from Olympia, so I felt a geographical connection to them, and who cared that they were all girls, they knew what they were doing with Dig Me Out, #24 on Spin's list. They started the whole riot grrrl thing and made every other grrrl act to follow seem talentless and unimportant.

#29 goes to Fugazi's 1989 effort 13 Songs. Probably not their best album, but picking a favorite from such a great band is difficult. Eventhough their formula sounds like guaranteed failure, they had a successful career. But what they did was the opposite of what their peers were doing. They sold their albums for cheap, usually less than 10 bucks, and their lyrics were respectful and nonviolent. They refused to play shows at clubs that were not all ages, most of their concerts were only $5 when most other shows cost at least four times as much, and they discouraged mosh pits - often stopping in the middle of a song if the crowd got out of hand. Fugazi is probably one of the most important punk bands recently, and the music industry needs more bands like them.

Green Day hits #44 with 1994's irreverent, rambunctious, and occasionally naughty Dookie. The album found a young audience (I was a freshman) and introduced a new mix of pop and punk. The style has been copied by almost every new punk band since, and I've come to affectionately refer to it as "pretty boy punk."

Well, I'll continue punk within the next couple days, until then... enjoy.

7.27.2005

Tom Cruise is Nuts

Sometimes it amazes me how such an inspired and talented actor can be completely off his rocker. While I enjoy films staring Tom Cruise, I can't stand seeing his public apperances. His rants annoy me (as well as a good many in our population) but I do like listening to him if he is playing the part of someone other than himself.

So to my surprise, I found a true gem while web surfing. There is a whole website devoted to Tom's insanity. Check it out in my links to the right. Enjoy. And laugh, laughter is good for you, it's like exersize on the inside.

Costello buys a computer from Abbott

The posting this following sketch is for my father-in-law, IT guru and perpetual computer junkie. I'm not sure who wrote it, but it is quite funny, and being a former computer salesman, this is a conversation I could easily imagine happening.

ABBOTT: Super Duper computer store. Can I help you?

COSTELLO: Thanks. I'm setting up an office in my den and I'm thinking about buying a computer.

ABBOTT: Mac?

COSTELLO: No, the name's Lou.

ABBOTT: Your computer?

COSTELLO: I don't own a computer. I want to buy one.

ABBOTT: Mac?

COSTELLO: I told you, my name's Lou.

ABBOTT: What about Windows?

COSTELLO: Why? Will it get stuffy in here?

ABBOTT: Do you want a computer with Windows?

COSTELLO: I don't know. What will I see when I look at the windows?

ABBOTT: Wallpaper

COSTELLO: Never mind the windows. I need a computer and software.

ABBOTT: Software for Windows?

COSTELLO: No. On the computer! I need something I can use to write proposals, track expenses and run my business. What do you have?

ABBOTT: Office.

COSTELLO: Yeah, for my office. Can you recommend anything?

ABBOTT: I just did.

COSTELLO: You just did what?

ABBOTT: Recommend something.

COSTELLO: You recommended something?

ABBOTT: Yes.

COSTELLO: For my office?

ABBOTT: Yes.

COSTELLO: OK, what did you recommend for my office?

ABBOTT: Office.

COSTELLO: Yes, for my office!

ABBOTT: I recommend Office with Windows.

COSTELLO: I already have an office with windows! OK, let's just say I'm sitting at my computer and I want to type a proposal. What do I need?

ABBOTT: Word.

COSTELLO: What word?

ABBOTT: Word in Office.

COSTELLO: The only word in office is office.

ABBOTT: The Word in Office for Windows.

COSTELLO: Which word in office for windows?

ABBOTT: The Word you get when you click the blue "W".

COSTELLO: I'm going to click your blue "w" if you don't start with some straight answers. OK, forget that. Can I watch movies on the internet?

ABBOTT: Yes, you want Real One.

COSTELLO: Maybe a real one, maybe a cartoon. What I watch is none of your business. Just tell me what I need!

ABBOTT: Real One.

COSTELLO: If it's a long movie, I also want to watch reels 2, 3 and 4. Can I watch them?

ABBOTT: Of course.

COSTELLO: Great! With what?

ABBOTT: Real One.

COSTELLO: OK, I'm at my computer and I want to watch a movie. What do I do?

ABBOTT: You click the blue "1".

COSTELLO: I click the blue one what?

ABBOTT: The blue "1".

COSTELLO: Is that different from the blue w?

ABBOTT: The blue "1" is Real One and the blue "W" is Word.

COSTELLO: What word?

ABBOTT: The Word in Office for Windows.

COSTELLO: But there are three words in "office for windows"!

ABBOTT: No, just one. But it's the most popular Word in the world.

COSTELLO: It is?

ABBOTT: Yes, but to be fair, there aren't many other Words left. It pretty much wiped out all the other Words out there.

COSTELLO: And that word is real one?

ABBOTT: Real One has nothing to do with Word. Real One isn't even part of Office.

COSTELLO: STOP! Don't start that again. What about financial bookkeeping? You have anything I can track my money with?

ABBOTT: Money.

COSTELLO: That's right. What do you have?

ABBOTT: Money.

COSTELLO: I need money to track my money?

ABBOTT: It comes bundled with your computer.

COSTELLO: What's bundled with my computer?

ABBOTT: Money.

COSTELLO: Money comes with my computer?

ABBOTT: Yes. No extra charge.

COSTELLO: I get a bundle of money with my computer? How much?

ABBOTT: One copy.

COSTELLO: Isn't it illegal to copy money?

ABBOTT: Microsoft gave us a license to copy Money.

COSTELLO: They can give you a license to copy money?

ABBOTT: Why not? THEY OWN IT!

(A few days later)

ABBOTT: Super Duper computer store. Can I help you?

COSTELLO: How do I turn my computer off?

ABBOTT: Click on "START".......

Spin's top country & folk

Oops, I forgot about yesterdays entry. Life gets kinda hectic with a family, a new dog, a real job, and pathetic attempts to get back into shape. (my wife's a good cook, I like to eat... more on the new dog later) Anyways, to days list is a short one. There hasn't been much innovation in country and folk music lately. Country artists are singing about the same broken hearts, crummy bars, pick-up trucks, ex-spouses, and farm equipment as they were 20 years ago. As a whole country music is what it is, those that try to change it get ignored. But you never know, with interests renewed in bluegrass and roots music, and interesting collaborations between people like Willy Nelson/Wyclef Jean, Nelly/Tim McGraw, and Kenny Chesney/Uncle Kracker, and rockers going hillbilly i.e. Kid Rock & Ryan Adams, maybe the next 20 years will be better.

Lucinda Williams ranked at #9 with her 1988 self titled album. Lucinda was (and still is) difficult to market. She's too rock & roll for Nashville but too country for the rest of the world. Some record stores will have her albums filed in country, others will file her in pop/rock. Her music is alternately captivating and grating. But she's achieved a lot during a career that has spanned a quarter century, not easy for a female musician whose had to do most every thing on her own with little label support. Her entry on this list is well deserved.

The only other folksy entry into the top 100 is 1994' Grace by Jeff Buckley. He faced comparisons to his father but strayed toward classic rock inspired folk. Grace was the only full length album released prior to his tragic death 1997. This album barely scratched the surface of what Jeff was capable of and his post humus album Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunk showed pure musical genius and raw talent, emphasizing what we will miss without him here to make more music.

Well that's it for today, more still to come.

7.25.2005

Brit pop & Brit Rock

This is the first post of several reviewing what Spin thinks should be the best albums of the last 20 years. And what I think about what they think. Brit pop is up first because that's where spin placed the #1 record. (boy was I surprised)

The top spot goes to Radiohead. 1997's OK Computer, according to Spin, is the best offering in the last 20 years. And they're not joking. They received another entry on the list with 2000's Kid A at #48. I have a slight problem with this. There are plenty other album much more deserving of #1, Why OK Computer? It's not a terrible album but definitely not as good as Kid A and far from their best. The song Karma Police was an aggravating single, like fingernails scratching a chalk board everytime it came over the radio. Howie Day did a much better rendition of the song acoustically, without the endless droning feedback. What Radiohead was trying to do on OK Computer was accomplished on Kid A and therefore Kid A deserves a higher ranking, however both albums feel overly ambitious and will prove vocalist Thom Yorke's need for therapy once the novelty wears off. Both are good, but not great, and neither compare to their first record.

The Smiths showed up at #5 with The Queen is Dead from 1988. Not as good as Louder than Bombs from a year earlier but still a worthy entry. The Smiths were an essential part of the 80's musical landscape. Along with The Cure, they made passionate laments that would have sounded like whining if done by any other band. Morressy's continued success post Smiths testifies to to the power of their music.

Next up is Oasis's 1994 offering Definitely Maybe at #28. Why Spin chose this instead of 1995's (What's the Story) Morning Glory defies logic. The latter of the two was the breakout album that gave the Gallagher brothers worldwide recognition. These two albums are the only ones in Oasis's history that mattered, Liam and Noel's constant fighting overshadowed their next album Be Here Now and every release since has been nothing but lackluster. While Definitely Maybe's songs are not as memorable as Morning Glory's, it did open the door to a flood of artists from the UK and renewed American interests in British music.

Pulp hit # 73 with 1995's Different Class. One of their better albums, though not their most popular. The band has been around forever, well since the late 70's, and they never seem to go away. Frontman Jarvis Cocker often dances that fine line between genius and insanity. I'm not much of a fan, but the do make great music.

Next up is Stone Rose's self titled 1989 debut at #78. Don't have a lot to say about them, their only lasting impact is the other bands they influenced, i.e. Charlatans UK, Oasis, Blur, etc. Those bands have achieved greater success and will have a more lasting impression, but owe part of their identity to Stone Roses.

After listening to the eclectic trip-hop band Gorillaz it is hard to imagine the groups creator Damon Albarn fronting a successful rock band, especially one like Blur. Blur's 1994 breakthough album Parklife, #87 of Spin's top 100, garnered moderate attention here in the states, but it was their 1997 album, Blur, that everyone began to take serious notice. By '97 inescapable tracks like Song 2 would take you by surprise and hit you over the head with a 2x4. Blur's punkish leanings were a brash contrast to the poppier tunes from their British peers. After that Blur got artsy and faded to obscurity. Now we have the indescribable Gorillaz.

Conershop finishes today's list the Brit pop from Spin's 100 best. This one truly puzzles me as they were nothing more than a one hit wonder, and not even a good one. If there was a need for a British one hit wonder, I would have gone with Space Monkey's Sugarcane, but I don't work for Spin. Brimful of Asha was the only single from 1997's When I was Born for the 7th Time (#98). The song did not make any sense, less when reading the lyrics. The rest of the album was equally confusing, sonicly bland and filled with eastern religion and reverse racial ideology. The only rational conclusion I can find to put this horrible album on the list of best albums from the last 20 years is that Spin was bored. You will find this to be an ongoing theme as I put out more posts. If Cornershop is the best we have to offer, we live in a sad world.

Tomorrow we will look at rock, or maybe punk. We'll see.

7.23.2005

Whatever happened to Rolling Stone?

The magazine, not the band. I know what happened to the band: they got old (really old) died then mummified themselves so that they could continue performing.

But the magazine?! Rolling Stone used to be a respectable magazine, essential reading for aspiring musicians and writers, and for anyone with even a passing interest in music. The monthly publication served as a backdrop for Cameron Crowe's stellar Almost Famous in 2000. There was an element of naivete and wonder that kept a mysterious edge to the rock and roll lifestyle. Most importantly, it focused on the music. You could tell that the people who wrote the articles were fans themselves.

Those days no longer exist. Gone is the mystery as Rolling Stone now takes a tabloid approach to the lives of its subjects. There is less focus on music and more on fads with more emphasis on what's cool for the moment, catering to the teeming masses. The pages are filled with sexual sleaze and political slant. The cover photo is less provocative with musical innovators and more so with shock value. From the cover to the feature story, phenomenal musicians and movie stars are transformed into sex objects as how they look becomes more important than what they've accomplished.

Their album and movie reviews are awful. The current writers have no interest in movies or music and it shows in the way that they give every new movie and new record a horrible review. (Unless of course the subject of review is also their cover story, in which case they have to play nice) The people who review horror movies prefer romantic comedies and those that review romantic comedies prefer non-stop action flicks. The same in music. The writer who most hates rap music is the one who write reviews for rap albums. And the country albums are given to those that can't stand country music. You will never get an accurate description of anything new because there is no objectivity, the cardinal sin of media.

And worst of all, politics dominate every issue. Small human interest stories have been replaced with pages and pages of liberal propaganda, enough to make Michael Moore seem conservative by comparison.

Rolling Stone is not the leading music magazine it once was. It is now a publication of what's wrong with the world today, peppered with eye candy. I just can't take it any more. It's been over three years since I've bought an issue. Periodically I'll thumb through an issue at a newsstand to see if there's been any improvement, part of me hoping there is. I want the old Rolling Stone back, but I fear it is gone for good.

Now I turn to Spin, Rolling Stone's irreverent little brother, for my reading enjoyment. Spin throws a wrench into to system by shunning the spoiled starlets that constantly grace the cover of that other magazine. They poke fun at themselves and pop culture and give attention to artists, musicians, books, and movies that would otherwise go unnoticed. Their editors care about music, and that in itself is refreshing.

The latest cover of Spin boasted the 100 greatest albums of the last 20 years with Dr. Dre, Bono, and Beck standing side by side, dressed in black. I couldn't resist picking it up. Being in my mid 20's, this is the music that I grew up with and the music that helped define my generation.

I have an opinion as well. So, over the next couple of weeks I will be picking apart Spin's choices for the top 100. I will be doing one of two things, validating those choices or ripping them to shreds. Like I said, I have an opinion, this is MY music.

7.20.2005

just go with it

My father has come to the conclusion - if you can't beat the cubicle, joint it... or improve it... or um... something. Here are his ideas.



Dang good idea if you ask me. If I had an office like that, I'd never leave. Then again, maybe that isn't such a great idea. My wife might not like that.

7.18.2005

Now, about those TPS reports...

It was an 'Office Space' type of day today. I work at Inetech.

The last few days, I've been running around my department, making sure that our agents are caught up on the new promotions and teaching them how to use a new tracking system. This software isn't replacing anything but is an addition to the multitudes of DOS, Adobe, Java, and internet based programs all ready in use. Not only do I get to train its usage, but also (to an extent) enforce that usage. Fun.

So, while typing an e-mail to send out floor wide stressing the importance and necessity of the new system, I had an epiphany of sorts. My place of employment is a clone of Inetech, Office Space's fictional programming company. Granted, my coworkers are not software programming gurus, rather they are customer service phone representatives.

However the needed elements are here: the confining and impersonal cubicles, the evil copy machine/printer that never works, constant seating rearrangement and relocation, new agents that are enough to make you second guess hiring standards, frequent requests for overtime, and of course...the TPS reports.

And the characters. These characters are prevalent in everyday life, and I’m assuming in every occupation. Peter Gibbons: the slacker who gets ahead. Bill Lumburgh: giant tool. Lawrence: the half-wit neighbor. Joanna: the muse. Samir Nagheenanajar and Michael Bolton: the everymen. Milton Waddams: the oppressed and ready to explode loser. Brian: the overachiever that no one likes. Stan: the guy that never should be given any power or authority but somehow gets it anyways. Drew: the jerk who thinks he's cool. Tom Smykowski: the dreamer who will never get there. And finally Steve (Orlando Jones is brilliant): the post tragic failure and closet savant.

Most of us wish to be Peter. The man thinks his girlfriend might be cheating on him, hates his job, and his employer is downsizing. Suddenly he decides he's not going to go to work anymore, but when he does he's late, dismantles his cubicle, guts and cleans fish on his desk, and blows off his boss. While this is happening, he falls for a beautiful and delightful waitress, and gets a promotion into management while everyone else is getting laid off. Human nature wants something for nothing and Peter defines that desire. "I did absolutely nothing, and it was everything I thought it could be."

None of us wants to be Milton. The one who's always left out and pushed around, stepped over and about as volatile as a Molotov cocktail. Being looked down upon and treated like trash is humiliating. Enough pent up frustration after years of professional abuse will lead to destructive behavior.

But somehow, none of us end up at either extreme. Neither Peter nor Milton. We end up (or become) someone else. Preferably the friend who would do anything for another friend like Samir and Michael. Or even Steve, making the best out of a life that is less than what you always hoped for.

Inevitably some of us will become Lumburgh or Stan. It may be greed that gets us there, or maybe we're doing all the wrong things with good intentions. Some of us become Drew and Tom. Despite being annoying, the American workplace would be boring without them.

And, if worse comes to worst, we could be Brian and show off our "flair."

Above all, we need people like Joanna and Lawrence. Someone who challenges us and someone who makes us feel better about ourselves.

Here are some classic lines from the movie. Or maybe I just heard one of my coworkers complaining.

"What if we're still doin' this when we're 50?" A common thought throughout pop culture, media, and real life. I.E. Michael Rappaport's lament about Pete, Rizzo, and Sammy in Beautiful Girls.

"He was laid off five years ago and no one ever told him, but through some kind of glitch in the payroll department, he still gets a paycheck." Ah, logistics and payroll... The problems you can’t live without.

"We're bringing in some entry-level graduates." Keyword: entry-level. A call center is a great job but it's not for everyone, especially if it's your fist job. If we're trying to lower attrition, maybe hiring a bunch of high school kids whose only short term goals are to start school in the fall and no longer continue their employment after a couple months is not such a great idea.

"They've moved my desk four times already this year, and I used to be over by the window, and I could see the squirrels." I have moved five times since last September and will be moving a sixth time later this week. For a while, I didn't even have a desk because it was given to someone else.

"I can't believe what a bunch of nerds we are." How true.

"Sounds like a case of the Mondays." We all get the Mondays, please don't make it worse.

"I believe you have my stapler." As cheap and easy to replace as they are, staplers are a valuable commodity and magically disappear from people's desks. I keep mine hidden and deny its existence.

"Human beings were not meant to sit in little cubicles staring at computer screens all day, filling out useless forms and listening to eight different bosses." Unfortunately, as long as people need technical support, have difficulty reading bills, and want to order something from one of those infomercials during a long night of insomnia, there will always be multiple bosses, useless forms, and cubicles.

If you want to know what Office Space character you are, there is a random personality quiz on the web somewhere. (I was Stan, my wife was Milton) Google it.

Savage Chickens

I found this on my yahoo. Apparently, it's an on-going thing. It comes from a blog. Check it out, some of them are absolutely hilarious (I.E. the Star Wars series) http://www.savagechickens.com/blog/

7.11.2005

a mattress, a stairwell, and 2 stupid kids

During the 80's, my family lived in an old two story white house on 80th Street in Marysville Washington. The house was filled with character, hardwood dining and living room floors, huge picture windows that spanned two walls in the south west corner, a deep dark basement, and an endless maze of halls and rooms that had no purpose. My parents used the downstairs parlor as the master bedroom, there was a studio apartment directly behind the house (two or three steps from our back door) that we rented out to people who needed a place to live. The back yard was more of a dirt patch. There was a basketball hoop at the end of the driveway, and we had a problem with stray cats.

That house holds many memories for me. I dumped vegetables down the furnace vents because I didn't want to eat them and my parents wouldn't let me be "done" with dinner until I had a "clean" plate. My walk home from school was fairly short, but after a few inches of snowfall one winter, it took me over an hour to push home an ever growing snowball. It fit in my fist when I left school and taller than I was by the time I finally arrived home, waving to my worried mother. It was a funny story that later was written as an editorial in the local newspaper.

5407 80th St NE was a special place where I learned to ride a bike, played tag and soccer in the field across the street, and celebrated some of the happiest Christmas' in memory. I lived there at the ages where everything still seemed magical and wonderful, especially the stairwell leading to the 2nd floor.

The staircase was unique to most homes. It was steep and narrow (the exact width of a single size mattress). At the bottom was a door that separated the 2nd story from the rest of the house. My brother's room and my room were the only bedrooms up there, so we had plenty of free reign to play as we wanted.

The fact that a single mattress fits perfectly in that stairwell is important. Both Aaron and I slept on double mattresses, but lucky for us, there was a spare single mattress leaning against the wall in the loft at the top of the stairs. I don't remember if it was his idea or mine, but to this pair of brothers, mattress + steep stairs + a door to stop us at the bottom = hours of fun.

Now, you must remember, this was back when I still liked the taste of Pepto Bismal, Ziggy was my favorite comic strip, and New Years Eve was the only day in the year that I was allowed to stay up past 8:30.

There was just enough space on either side of the mattress to avoid friction with the wall and still allow us to swiftly slide down without bouncing between the two walls. One of us would hold the mattress at the top of the stairs and let go as soon as the other jumped on. If we were feeling adventurous, we'd both ride down head first together.

I can't begin to imagine what that sounded like to anyone below us, even now that I have a teenaged elephant living above me. But, for a few hours after school, Aaron and I had the house to ourselves, freedom to destroy the house, and hope no one noticed. Our mother finally put an end to our fun after unexpectedly coming home from work early one day. Boy, I miss those days.

I'm surprised we never broke that door.

7.07.2005

I'm so mean

As a general rule, I wake up long before my wife does. I'm not much of a morning person, however, the precious time I have while Bekah's still asleep in bed is well used. I watch the news for a little (probably the only chance I'll have to do so all day) catch the weather forecast to help decide what I want to wear that day, and try and center myself before I go to work.

Well, this morning, Bekah needed to wake up early and get out about the same time I did. I got up with the alarm and let her sleep through a couple pushes of the snooze button so that I could still get my ME time. Power on the TV in time for non stop coverage of the bombs in London's transit system.

The time comes when I have to wake up my wife, and she's usually difficult to wake up. So, I crawl back into bed with her and as she starts to stir I say "There's been another terrorist attack." I pause as her eyes snap WIDE open then continue. "In London."

It worked.

Seriously though, this morning's attacks to our British neighbors are cruel and tragic. My deepest sympathies go to the families who lost a loved one in those London blasts. As the UK mourned with us after 9/11, we owe them our regards.

7.06.2005

Fourth of Boo-Hoo

My wife and I have very different takes on holidays. To me it's just another day but for her it is a momentous occasion and cause for celebration.

The Christmas before we started dating was interesting. I had Jack-in-the-Box for Christmas dinner and spent most of the day in a recording studio with two of my best friends, Tommy and Steve. After that we went to the theater and watched a movie. (going to the theater on Christmas was my only Christmas tradition until the last couple years)

Thanksgiving? Let's go bowling. Father's day? Wouldn't have noticed if my wife didn't remind me. Birthdays? Don't ask me to remember your birthday, I have a hard enough time remembering how old I am.

There are two holidays I do enjoy. Halloween (my wife's least favorite) and the Fourth of July. Those days are about having fun more so than tradition or football games. Bekah on the other hand enjoys the rest. I would prefer spending holidays with friends, she prefers family. This Fourth of July, Bekah got her way.

Not that family is a bad thing, I like my family. Its just that with family there's certain impossible expectations. The whole day is spent running back and forth between home and the grocery store (because there's always one more thing that we forgot) making apple pie and homemade ice cream, barbecuing hamburgers, trying to keep the cats (kittens) from escaping and chasing them down when they do escape, negotiating a TV show that eight people can agree on, and trying to figure out which fireworks show we want to watch. By the time you get around to setting off your own fireworks, you just don't care any more and everyone is feeling anti-social. That's no fun.

On the plus side, my parents got to come visit (I haven't seen them since the last time I was in Seattle) and my six year old nephew from Cheyenne came with them.

I'm scared though. An old friend of mine was obsessed with holidays and she would decorate her apartment and throw parties for all of them. Including the random ones like Arbor Day and Secretary's Day and National Quit Smoking Day and... you name it. I went to the parties, had fun playing nerts and poker with everyone else, but I just don't want to be married to someone like that. I'm afraid that Bekah will turn into that type of person and we will be continuously celebrating yet another holiday, trying to remember where we put the St. Patrick's Day decorations after last year's party.

In other news, my six year old nephew is a sports prodigy and thinks I'm fat. (but not as fat as his daddy)

6.30.2005

Pilchuck

At a young age I discovered one of God's greatest gifts, the surreal beauty of the mountains. It happened on Mt. Pilchuck, a mystical pull that started in the summer of 1990 and captured me for nearly a decade.

The Washington Cascades is diversely abundant in beautiful scenery, and savage artistry of a Creator with some tricks up His sleeve. Driving along I-5 in Snohomish County you can feel as if you've been surrounded by guardians of a different realm. To the south, Mount Rainier, the largest of the sentinels, stands majestic and square shouldered. Mt. Baker rises mysteriously above the northern clouds. And on either side you can see the endless ridges of the Olympic Mountains and the north-central Cascades. Surely, God has placed around you a crown of snow capped peaks.

In the middle of the crest rising to the east, stands Mt. Pilchuck. Barren in the summer and snow bound in winter, it stands nobly above the Snohomish River valley. Growing up on 80th St. in Marysville, all I had to do was look to the east in between the trees that lined both sides of the road to glimpse Pilchuck's rugged peak pointing toward heaven.

The mountain was my high school's namesake, but long before the words college prep and grade point average meant anything to me, Mt. Pilchuck was my introduction into God's playground.

In the summer of 1990, my Sunday school teacher took our class for a hike in the woods. We piled into Suburbans and minivans early on a Saturday morning for the drive up through Granite Falls and Verlot to Forest Service Road 42. FSR 42 is a steep, windy, pot-holed road. To a bunch of fifth and sixth graders it is an exciting drive. The road ends at a sizeable parking area near the trailhead; at eleven years old the gravel lot seemed massive.

Don, our teacher and the leader of this youthful expedition, got out of his truck and pointed uphill to the top of the rocky ridge and said, "That's where we're going kids."

I stood in awe. My family had driven though the mountains several times but had never risen further than pass elevations. Now around me was the most inspiring and beautiful vistas I had ever seen. The air was crisper and cleaner, our hearts were bursting with excitement. Our destination, 2200 feet higher, was close enough to touch. Three Fingers, the mountain rising from the opposite valley, was a part of the standard panorama at sea level and a view I'd grown accustomed to; now it appeared more real than ever before.

William Blake once said, "Great things are done when men and mountains meet." That Saturday, I proved his thought was true. I was doing a great thing: climbing a mountain. This journey began a profound change in my character.

The trail begins as a leisurely walk through old growth forest, dips across a stream and then begins a steady and exhausting climb upwards. For three miles, we followed switchbacks, swatted mosquitoes, marveled at scenic viewpoints, and stripped away layers as the day grew warmer.

Half way up the hike, the trail blazes through a basin once used as a ski area. The basin is a fascinating venture, filled with boulders to climb, snow pack that hasn't yet melted, fresh spring water to cool off with, and the remains of the abandoned ski lifts.

For our group it was a good resting place, but for me, it was a place to explorer. It caught my imagination, and continued to do so as I returned in years to come. Here, the fire lookout on top of the mountain first becomes visible to the naked eye. Here, boulders the size of busses demand to be conquered. Here begins the final ascent to the top.

Near the peak the path becomes rockier until the final stretch where you find yourself jumping from boulder to boulder and climb a ladder into the lookout situated at 5340 feet.

Built by the forest service and maintained by mountaineers, the lookout on Mt. Pilchuck is an entertaining and educational resource. We signed the guestbook inside. We read the displays that points to and names the surrounding peaks, describes the local flora and fauna, and details the construction of the building in which we stand.

We ate our lunches in and around the lookout. I don't remember what I had to eat that day, but I do remember the thrill and excitement. For the first time I experienced the emotions felt by Sir Edmund Hillary, John Muir, Jim Whitaker, and William O. Douglas, names at the time that I didn't know but would learn about in years to come. They defined wilderness exploration and gave privilege to those that would dare to follow in their footsteps.

On the eastern side I stood on a precipice above a near 300 foot drop. To the west, I overlooked the world I knew. Marysville (my home town) and its neighboring communities spread out below me in an intricately woven tapestry. For the first time I realized how small we really were, and in what a great big world we lived in. My eyes opened to a new realm of possibilities. I was seeing new sights and feeling new emotions.

While most of the kids in our group went back to a normal summer, nothing was ever normal for me. I followed Don back into the mountains; he became my mentor as we hiked to Lake 22, Cutthroat Ridge, Mt.Si, Sauk Mountain, and Church Mountain.

Through the years Don and I became friends and hiking partners as we sought out trails from Mt. Baker to Mount Rainier and areas in between. We got rained on, got lost together, chased mountain goats and marmots, and shared many laughs. During our excursions we talked about life and God. Slowly, I discovered myself. I grew up in those mountains and became an adult.

Sadly, I was unable to share those joys with my father. He got to see the pictures, and showed the photos to his co-workers and clients. But, a 3500 foot elevation gain in an eight mile round trip was not a possibility for him.

In February of 1991 my dad fell backwards off of a ladder from 17 feet in the air. He landed flat on concrete, bouncing back into the air, and subsequently caught in the hands of an off duty EMT. The resulting injuries would forever alter his life and the lives of those of us close to him. Complications followed and still plague him, but he's alive and he can walk. I never asked for anything more.

The result was more than a bad back or a bad neck. It made simple things, like holding a gallon of milk, difficult. Before the accident, he was strong and active; it was not unusual for him to be playing catch or basketball with my brother and me. My older brother's passion was athletics. Since Dad played baseball in high school, that was a passion they got to share. My passion was hiking and climbing, an obsession my dad would have loved to share if he had not suffered his catastrophic injuries in ‘91.

He endured multiple surgeries (some with undesirable side effects), lost range of motion and mobility in his neck and shoulders, and beared constant daily headaches. But, the most tragic result of his fall was a restriction from activities that I enjoyed most. He wasn't allowed to forge mountain streams or swim in lakes created from glacial melt.

One Christmas, my brother and I took one of Dad's favorite pictures of me and enlarged it to poster size, a picture he still has mounted in his office. It's a picture of me standing on top of a ledge after a 30 foot vertical climb on the south side of Mount Rainier. It's a beautiful picture of a sunny day that represents the excitement that the wilderness offers, especially to my father who lived vicariously through the pictures I brought home with me.

Someone once asked him if he was worried I would get hurt or injured while climbing. With a proud smile that only a father could understand, Dad said he never worried, but wished he was there with me.

From a hospital bed after slipping on a wet floor, Dad turned his wishes into a promise and told me that one day, he would climb Mt. Pilchuck with me.

I've hiked the trail up Pilchuck many times, in rain and fog, in late spring when snow still covered much of the trail, and on crystal clear days coming home with sun burnt shoulders. Don and I have returned with guests from the Midwest, who have never seen a mountain let alone stand on top of one. I've watched, from relative safety, as a thunderstorm passed in storm clouds below Pilchuck’s lookout. And one time, I led my dad up that steep trail.

Good things happen when men and mountain meet. Good things happen when father and son trek together. Good things happen promises are kept.

It wasn't just a special time for me, but it was for my father as well. I could say more, but that really is his story.