Monday, May 30, 2005

Just A Rasp In The Wind

I have been thinking. The more Bruce Springsteen keeps recording, the more he starts to sound like Bob Dylan. Even now the mumbling raspy whispery voice is becoming less and less understandable. And you have to say that both are creative storytellers when it comes to songwriting. It just scares me to think that this is happening and they haven't found a cure. Posted by Hello

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Life In The Fastlane

I had quite an unusual thought strike me today. There was a lot of press covering the 89th Indianapolis 500. Race enthusiasts might not have noticed but there was a whirlwind of buzz going on about 23 year-old rookie driver Danika Patrick. Some could say it is the controversy of some people not wanting to compete with a 100 pound driver. But most would say that journalists were circling the driver because she adds beauty to a sport that gets less attention than NASCAR. I was eating lunch and watching the race with a crowd of people. People would pop in every so often to ask how "she" was doing. You could hear mutterings of "Go Danika." Most of them were only watching her (which wasn't hard to believe after she led on 19 laps.) Yes, she finished in 4th but today something amazing happened. This sport has found its postergirl... maybe even their own Tiger Woods. Posted by Hello

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Gotta Be Hercules

Enjoyed a night at home watching The Aviator last night. It is actually rather funny to see all the weird little tangets that connect from the film. You see, my father became the head tennis pro at the Desert Inn Hotel & Casino in 1973. Howard Hughes would spend the last years of his life in his room atop the Desert Inn Hotel until his death in 1976. I wonder if he was able to see the courts where I grew up from his room. Years later, my mother would go to work for Summa Corporation (which was a consolidation of most of Hughes' holdings in Las Vegas.) Mom took another step later by working for Hughes Aviation which would propel her into the world of private planes and airplane hangars which would lead her to currently managing an private air center. So, after watching the movie, I started thinking about all the odd ways that this man has touched by life. I knew most of the history from growing up here in town but they did a great job on the film. A must for anyone interested in the history of aviation and film.Posted by Hello

Friday, May 27, 2005

Power Of The People

The U.S. Constitution is an amazing document. It has led us through over 200 years of our republic even with some minor adjustments along the way. But, I've long wondered about the change brought on by the 17th amendment which changed the way Senators are elected. Prior its passage, the Senate was elected by state legislatures which gave a balance in Congress with state and people's concerns being addressed. The 17th amendment was passed in 1913 to end problems they had since 1787 with states being deadlocked in their electing a Senator. But, essentially made them another Representative with a bit more voice (each state with 2 members.) Growing up, I always heard that there were 3 branches of government: legislative, executive and judicial which each had checks and balances. But, when you think about it, the executive and legislative branches are hired by popular vote. Seems a little weighted. The judicial branch is made up of people put forward by the executive branch and voted on (or sometimes not) by the legislative branch. So, popular vote seems to take away from some of the checks that were in place by our Forefathers which included state legislature's power to appoint or remove a U.S. Senator. I just find it interesting to be aware of such things but there are actually some people that would like to repeal the amendment. I can't say I'm there yet but the concept does make my head hurt. That's sometimes good.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

A Mini Voyage Into The World Of Robotech

July of 1999, a large alien spacecraft bursts through hyperspace and enters Earth's atmosphere, crashing on Macross Island in the South Pacific. Seeing this as a bigger threat than the current wars occupying our planet, a cease-fire is called and an official investigation is launched into a possible hostile alien threat. Macross Island becomes a bustling community of scientists researching the remains of the craft and much is learned about what would be called Robotechnology. As a better way of understanding what they have, the craft is repaired and rebuilt using what has been learned over the next few years. A permanent base on Mars is constructed in 2001 and the United Earth Government is formed in 2005.

In 2009, the official relaunch of the SDF-1 (the alien craft) is scheduled with a purpose of defending the planet, finding out more about the technology, discovering what shot at the original ship and learing where it came from. Luck would have it that the relaunch would be timed well with the arrival of the Zentraedi who wish to finish the job of destroying the SDF-1. An immense beam is fired from the SDF-1 as the Zentraedi are detected on the radar (a trap which was laid by the original alien craft's occupants) and the first Robotech War begins.

-- This is the beginning to what many believe to be the penultimate Japanese animation series ever created, Robotech, which first aired in the United States in 1985. It has possibly stood the test of time not only for Top Gun-ish fighting scenes or sci-fi elements but the human drama created which can only be likened to a soap opera. It is a rewarding series if you find yourself with the time to watch it.Posted by Hello

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

If Only Computers Came With Condoms

As we know, it is a crazy world when it comes to computers. Heck, I know someone that called me in a panic once because his computer said it "performed an illegal function" and wanted to report the error. He was expecting police at his door. Just recently, a virus was found that would lock away your text files, photos and spreadsheets with an encryption key and leave you a ransom note for $200 to get them back. There is also spyware that comes embedded in some free programs out there that people decide to install for one reason or another. With all these risks out there, it makes it difficult to know what kind of files are out there that you can trust. There aren't many. One of the most interesting new sites out there is Clean Software. The site gives great information about most non-malicious free software out there, links to download and a section for comments. Of course, there are no absolutes but this is a step in the right direction. Many people seem to get computers because everyone has one and they only know that clicking things makes things happen. Nice to know that maybe the next thing you install won't be the last before reformatting.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

this is a test of the ooops is doesn't work system

This was only a test...

But it seems Blogger is finally allowing me to get back on. Very weird. All I can say is that I think they found my comments from Jenn's blog and decided to mess with someone else.

Free Beer On Stage

The crowd was restless. The atmosphere electric...wait, no it wasn't but the tatoo fairy had been busy. It was nearing midnight as I gathered myself to the stage at the House Of Blues to perform. Several beers had already passed me by and I was feeling good. I chose to sing INXS' "New Sensation." Why? Well, in truth, the band really doesn't have a big list of songs they could do (about 120) but I knew energy was important. Ballads are for when places just open, when they are about to close or when you have someone giving you doe eyes all night. In a packed house that can fit 400 people, it's not a place to test out new material. This was my first time going up on stage with a band since my own broke up in 1997. I'd like to believe I did great. The people danced as if it was the last song. I heard it sounded great but... I couldn't hear myself sing. Usually they put monitors on the stage to help the performers keep pace and adjust to the music but that luxury wasn't available. I'll find out. My friend Mike filmed a few seconds of it with his camera. So, a few more beers later, I'm at home and thinking that I could have done a better job on "Proud Mary" or "Just Like Heaven." Oh well! Need sleep.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

The First Use Of The Eraser?

According to recent reports, a 12th century parchment that was used as a prayerbook by a Christian monk may have more value than the $2 million it cost an anonymous private collector back in 1998. It seems that the dried animal skins that it was written on was actually originally used in the 10th century to copy some long-lost writings of Archimedes. Much of this was discovered at The Stanford Linear Accelerator Center which used highly focused x-rays to make the iron in the previous author's ink writings to glow. Why is this important? Archimedes (who lived from about 287 B.C. to 212 B.C.) is considered one of the 3 greatest mathematicians of all time -- inventing integral calculus, creating Archimedes' Principle (which states that a body immersed in a fluid is buoyed up by a force equal to the weight of the displaced fluid -- explaining the buoyancy of ships) and being the closest at his time to approximate pi. They have uncovered 80% of the text already but it would be interesting to see what else he may have had on his mind. But, something about the whole thing has me slightly rattled. Even if Archimedes' theories and works weren't popular until much later, why were the writings being "erased" and reused for something else? Was it just so hard to find writing material that this monk cleaned up a 200 year-old text or have a lot more writings been innocently "lost"?

Friday, May 20, 2005

Physics For The Inner Chef

I love cooking. I only talk about it every so often. I have to give credit to two people who made it enjoyable. Above all is Mom who I spent a lot of time watching cook for the 4 of us kids. I was lucky enough to be her third hand when she would need someone to stir or make sure something didn't burn. You learn a lot from this. I still don't know how to cook half of what I love of hers but it is kind of difficult doing that when she cooked for 5 to 6 people and I don't. The other person that stoked my interests was Mr. Alton Brown who hosts Good Eats on The Food Network. I know, there are a lot of chefs out there and a lot of them make it look fun. But, watching Emeril and Wolfgang, I find that I don't understand why they throw items in a dish. Alton attacks food with a scientific eye. He shows how certain molecules react in a dish, why searing one side of a steak might not seal in moisture and egg whites are nature's glue all with a kick of humor and history. Cooking has always seemed like such an arcane art until I first caught the show. Bam! Kick it up a notch! But, I actually feel that I'm walking away with an education after every episode. If you haven't seen an episode yet do try. Posted by Hello

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Coming To Terms

It was 1993 when I started working at the big green building in Las Vegas. The use of the Internet was limited to the early adopters and would turn the corner shortly with the release of Windows 95. Since one of our bosses at work was working on a new system for scheduling shifts on his computer, he would ask me a lot of questions. It seems that I should have pushed friendlier verbiage more. Currently, when someone fills up a cart with baggage and unloads those bags into storage bins it has commonly been called "downloading." For anyone without a computer, it can be accepted easily.

There are actually two definitions for "downloading": 1) to unload or 2) to transfer from a server or host computer to one's own computer.

What this means is that to give baggage from your cart to a bin would be downloading but at the same time receiving them from a bin could fit. Hence the reason why, several people that I work with (who are very very very late adopters of computer science) have trouble understanding that you can give something and not be uploading or downloading something without taking it. It amazes me to think that terminology can stifle and stymie one's education.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Thank U 4 Lettin' Me Be Mice Elf

Even as a journalist, I have my gripes about the media. Somewhere it has been forgotten that getting news out to the populace isn't about pushing an agenda or getting a story out first (right or wrong.) There are times when I'm reporting (especially the Michael Jackson trial) that I find it difficult to constantly weigh the content but I try. Maybe it is my conscience and that when things are in doubt, I want to show both sides. Thankfully, I don't have to report on political matters during wartime. I don't have to worry about giving away the location of the military force I'm embedded in by saying the wrong things via satellite. I don't even have to worry about my country's soldiers as I use an unconfirmed report from a 'reliable' source to tell a nation of Islamic faithful that our military representatives are flushing a holy book they would die for down toilets. I wouldn't even have to feel remorse if the country that our soldiers helped achieve freedom turned around and slaughtered our men for such sacrilege. Even though, I still would. Thank God, Allah, Yaweh, Jesus, Buddha and Zeus that I'm only a music journalist and that there is never a bad time to run a story about a band getting back together.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Mastering Reality

I like to watch a lot of different types of reality television programs. I just tend to pick a lot of the unusual ones like The Biggest Loser, House Of Dreams, Trading Spaces, The Ultimate Fighter, While You Were Out, The Mansion, The Complex and The Swan. But one thing that I've started to do for the last few years has been to watch the Survivor finale. Why? Well, it's kind of like watching the cliffnotes version of the show and not having to get wrapped up in it. What I find interesting about the shows in this list that I do watch is that they are all shows with a goal of bettering themselves. Losing weight, putting a roof over their heads, decorating a room in that home, getting a dream job, home improvement/decor, home improvement/decor, home improvement/decor and the ultimate makeover. Am I addicted, not really. I just like good stories and several of these shows give me tips on things that I can actually do around the house. (Well, some of them.) Sure the shows are a certain amount of sensationalism and scripting but it is about the entertainment factor after all. Would I ever go on a show like those. Yes. I would have loved to have tried out for Rockstar: INXS (coming soon.) I'd love to send a tape in for Survivor but I also know that a month away from my newsletter, website and blog (and income that pays for all of them) might be a little too much for me. Even worse, it could be during football season.Posted by Hello

Congrats, Tracy!

Went to my friend Tracy's graduation party yesterday. (Yes, I've been going to a lot of parties recently.) It astounds me to see how she has grown up. I remember when she lived with me back in 1996 or 1997-ish and her self esteem was nil but she was a hard worker. She wanted better things for herself and didn't know how to go about them. Her relationships weren't generally good for her as she depended on those to prove her existence. It was with her marriage to Jason that I could see something different in how she valued herself. She would work while he finished schooling and then started school herself culminating in her new degree. She also has a beautiful baby daughter named Sonja (of course, I forget the camera this time.) I can't tell you how proud I am of her but to me she is already one of the best success stories I've ever witnessed. I've got to find more time to spend with their family.

Meaningless definition for the day:

"Potsie" scheme: Any get rich quick method promoted with an infomercial starring Anson Williams.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Hi Uncle Martin, I'm 3!

These were the sage words trusted to me by the beautiful little girl on the left who was celebrating her birthday tonight. We had Connor and Olivia's birthday at Ricardo's Mexican restaurant. Not only did all of our local family members make it out but so did all of my brother-in-law's family. I don't know how we fit into this little room. Got lots of hugs and tickled the hell out of Connor.

I did what I normally do, I brainstormed as I went through 5 different stores thinking about what two children this age would enjoy playing with, not hurt themselves or their surroundings with and would prove possibly educational. Well, the educational thing didn't work out. I looked for books but I think they are still too young for Judy Blume or R.L. Stein (although the absolutely love books and even cry if they can't find certain ones.) So I went with 2 plastic children's golf caddy sets and little Koosh-like balls that glow in changing colors when you press on them. Some day, I'm sure they'll get to try out the golf sets but I noticed they really enjoyed the balls and did their best to pull them back from the other children at the party. Overall, had a great time and got to spend the night with my family which always reminds me of how much I love them.Posted by Hello

Thursday, May 12, 2005

King Of The Road

Most friends of mine will be able to attest to my dislike of highways. You can tell when I ask for surface street directions even if you are quite a ways away. But, then I bought my house in the northwest section of Las Vegas about 2 years ago. For about a year, I would still take surface streets to work. I changed to an earlier shift and decided to attempt using US 95 and Interstate 15. I was pretty shocked at how easy it was. I still had my fear of traffic and have actually been late to work a few more times than when I lived less than 5 miles from work. Roadwork has been a major concern in Las Vegas and I've even started watching the news on TV before heading out just for any extra information about tie-ups. All good... yet, I have now developed an attitude on the road. From the picture you see posted, you can see there is a lane on the far right that is for cars that break down or bicyclists. I absolutely lose it when people decide that they are too important to follow the flow of traffic and stay in real lanes. I was in heavy traffic a few days ago and we were at a literal crawl. Some brain surgeons decided to use the breakdown/bicycle lane and then push their way back in line further ahead. After 15 minutes of this, I decided to straddle the lane which kept both lanes from progressing and received a lot of honking from the people who do not know what patience is. Further up the road there were signs in that lane much to my delight. But I wonder, why do we let these idiots back in the regular lane after they just passed everyone that was being patient?Posted by Hello

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Gradual Curveball

I was always the type that avoided showing my report card to my parents especially from Jr. High on. This was because I was an unmotivated student but we've talked about that before. For years, we have all used the A, B, C, D and F grading scale for an understanding of class performances. Some people have started to believe that we pressure children too much for getting a B instead of an A or even a C instead of a B. Pressure at this early of a formative stage in a child's life could lead to horrible diseases... like acne. Ok, I don't know why people are worried about pressure on students but the people who are have decided to make changes. According to Ohio's Akron Beacon Journal, their city will be adopting a more strict guideline for elementary school grades (A = 100% to 93%, B = 92% to 85%, C = 84% to 77%, D = 76 to 69% and an F = below 68%.) What does that mean for children that are already struggling with our school systems? Stress, confusion and a job at the quickie-mart. As a way to relieve some of that grade stress, some people have decided to change their grading system even more radically. Florida's Palm Beach Post reports that along with the normal Palm Beach County elementary school report cards will be a number 1, 2 or 3 next to their grade. "Under the formula, a 1 means the student is working a year or more below grade level, a 2 indicates the student is working less than a year below grade level, and a 3 means they are working at or above grade level." Many reasons for these changes are blamed on the grade-level expectations placed on teachers by the No Child Left Behind Act. I have even heard reports of changes that have brought about triangles, squares and circles as actual grades (yes, triangles just kind of look like A's, don't they?) Princeton professors are actually required to give a maximum of 35% of all their students an A. I've heard of grading on a curve but what if you really do have 50% of all the students in a class scoring amazingly high equal scores throughout the semester? (Ok, yes... I'd check for cheating, too.) All this makes me wonder, if we are so worried about how we critique and define our students, why do we still give pre-schoolers and kindergarteners report cards that say E for excellent, S for satisfactory and U for unsatisfactory? Why not start the kids off right and get them used to one way of being judged and throughout their academic career? Yes, I'm still confused with how a D could be below satisfactory and not quite failing but least I had something to judge my lack of progress by. When it all comes down to it, aren't we a little too preoccupied with evaluating performance on paper and not enough with the actual time a teacher can spend "teaching"?Posted by Hello

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Yes, They Really Do Deserve A Day Of Their Own

Celebrated Mother's Day a day early and went to an early dinner (never been fond of buffets but it really was the company that mattered) with my mother, father, sister-in-law, two brothers and grandparents. Was hoping to see my sister, brother-in-law and the twins but Corey's grandfather passed away so they had to leave town for the viewing earlier that day. A little bit prior to dinner, I popped a surprise of Willie Nelson tickets on Mom to which I could actually hear a bubbling of excitement in her voice. I picked up an extra ticket for my brother Michael (who came into town for Mom and it wouldn't be right for him to come out here only to have me drag her off to a concert.) I actually remember promising to take Mom to one of his concerts and this just worked out. The show was phenomenal (ok, it wouldn't have hurt if the lady behind us didn't spend the whole show talking to someone further back about how many of his shows she's gone to.) Heard a great new song that could be titled "Superman" but we'll see. I also got to check out my little brother's smooth moves with the women-folk to which I can only say that a mohawk can get you a lot of positive attention from women that are top heavy. We all had a great time and I left with a Dixie flag signed by Willie as well as a feeling that I did good. My mother has struggled with a lot in her life and a lot of that was raising us after her divorce. If anyone is deserving of her license plate "SIRVIVE," it is her. She has raised 4 children that have backbones, consciences and great health. Thank you, Mom. For all you gave and continue to give, I can only hope to brighten your days some.Posted by Hello

Friday, May 06, 2005

It's A Question Of Time

Waxing philisophical: You are rapidly aging and will not live another week. How are you going to spend those 168 hours?

Me, I would take my first day and go into work only to quit, destroy all my dirty magazines, give away my adult videos, clean files from my computer and remove anything else embarrassing. I'd probably take each day and have only my favorite food from my favorite restaurants. Day two, I would take some risks like skydiving and maybe look for a fight with someone bigger than me (they'd really have to be an asshole though... I have standards.) I'd spend day 3 figuring out how to pass on my website and newsletter as well as start stopping in and seeing the people that mean the most to me. Day 4 and 5 would be spent just visiting people and leaving good lasting memories. My last two days would be with my family but nowhere would I say anything about about my condition. I would want their last moments with me to be just as normal as ever. I internalize things well and I don't think they'd notice unless I broke down. Ok, maybe the last few days with them would also be so they can help me wipe myself.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Siete De Mayo

So this is what my Cinco De Mayo comes down to. It's not a bad thing. Roberto's is pretty much the best fast food Mexican in town (nearly 20 different locations) and this is under a 1/8 mile away from the house. The place was packed but it always is in there. It doesn't take much to entice me to eat Mexican food... above all, I prefer it. What I found funny in the newspaper were the announcements for the holiday celebrations. They were all slated for May 7th. Yes, Cinco De Mayo is being moved from Thursday to Saturday. I can understand that you can get more people out on the weekend but come on! If they just had one little party, I'd feel a little better about it. Although, it isn't my holiday to complain about (I'll reserve that rant if they move St. Patrick's Day.)Posted by Hello

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Play Nicely, Little DVD

Recent endorsement has come out for the new ClearPlay product which axes out excessive violence, nudity and language from currently 1000 popular DVD titles. Essentially, you will put a code on your new DVD player that will allow controlling of content.

I personally see this product in two ways. Sure, it's great if Billy is at home unattended and going through the family movie collection. You care about what images your children see when you aren't there. But, society has leaned on televisions too much as a babysitter and what the hell is Billy doing at home without supervision? Let's blame it on the content out there! Let's make 9 1/2 Weeks 8 1/2 minutes long! Sadly, we can't. New movies come out each Tuesday that might not be added to the ClearPlay software. What about obscure discs that aren't in print anymore? How many porn films are in that 1000 titles? Any chance Billy will find those? DVD burning software is out there. If you copied that movie (yes, it's not exactly legal unless you own the original) that you rented, would that be caught by the product? Burning software out there can even compress things differently to fit on consumer discs so it wouldn't be an exact replica. How far are we willing to go to try to control our children from a distance? Anyone buy those fancy new TVs just for a V-chip? It seems to me that this is just a manufactured crutch for woefully inadequate parental standards.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Sleep Writing Or Plagiarism?

When I used to write tons of poetry, I remember one morning waking up with a song in my head. Most of my music was metrical and was written with the idea of music but this one stood out. I called it "Embers" and felt it was my best work. It was only later that I found out that I'd just been dreaming about an obscure favorite song of mine called "Burning Flame" by Vitamin Z. Of course, I was embarrassed as all hell and thankful that I never tried to publish it. As bad as I felt, I found out later this happened to another famous singer/songwriter named Robert Palmer. He woke up one morning with a song in his head and jotted it down the best he could remember. He didn't remember it that accurately though. After recording it in the studio and sending it to his record label did he find out where he got the inspiration for the song "Some Guys Have All The Luck." Rod Stewart's version hadn't been released yet but Palmer believes that Stewart might have been in a nearby studio and he picked up on it that way. Palmer did release his version and rightly credited Stewart. How many times have you woken up with something in your head that you thought was original but was just a rehashed memory of something you overheard? Do you dream musically?Posted by Hello

Monday, May 02, 2005

I Don't Like, I Don't Like... I Do Like Mondays

In all actuality, I get one day off a week: Tuesdays. So why do I give up my other day off, Monday? Back about 8 years or more ago (I forget sometimes,) I started writing music news for friends which grew into something much bigger. Instead of accidentally rewriting some of the same articles in what would be the 80's Nuts Newsletter, I decided that I would dedicate one day to all my research. There was a time in my life that I cast it all aside for a few months and found that it was a greater part of me than I imagined. So I moved the day to Monday so I can focus on it better. Then a little over a year ago, I began recording that news for radio ( in a 2 minute weekday segment called the 80's Nuts Update. It became a bit more work than I expected but it is a great challenge. But for all the things that I could be doing with that one day a week, I'm happy in knowing that what started out as fun has become a quest for knowledge that hundreds of people and many radio stations have joined.Posted by Hello

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Michelle, Corey, Connor and Olivia

I felt like a family photo moment. This is my sister, he husband Corey and the twins Connor and Olivia. The photo is nearly 2 years old but I need to get some new photos. Sure, you can get away with looking cute picking your nose at 1 1/2 but when you get older they say that you are immature or have a coke habit. Posted by Hello