Sunday, December 30, 2007

This Little Piggy Is Eating Roast Beef On New Year's Eve

I know. You are probably saying, "what the hell?" This isn't the piggy that went to market, not the one that stayed home but it's the one that will wind up celebrating the New Year on someone's table... as decoration of course. I couldn't help but adopt this photo from's blog as it serves multiple purposes and topics at once.

I'm doing very well on my low-carb diet. I do well on these for a few main reasons. I can become obsessive about intake. Eating small high protein meals every 3 hours (to boost metabolism) gives me a chance to entirely focus and plan something that I just did on whim -- eat. What I do notice is that I am able to clear a lot of odd things out of the freezer that were there for a long time. Like some turkey bacon. (Never really thought about it but it uses white turkey meat for the areas that look like fat on regular bacon. Tricky. But it must have saved a pig named Babe, Wilbur, Piglet, Snowball or Napoleon.) Anyhow, I'm 2 weeks in and dropped 10 lbs. I plan to stay on this until the wedding as it has always worked well for me. (Might as well look good for photos, right.)

The secondary purpose is that I wanted to post a picture of someone celebrating the new year. The pig? Well, in February it will be the end of the 'year of the pig' -- fire pig to be specific. (I was born in the year of the metal pig but yet I'm not a huge Black Sabbath fan... go figure.) I'll be at work until an hour after (unless the fates make it easy for me to leave early but... I'm not expecting it.) My resolution? To organize 80's Music Central and its media branches into a legitimate business model -- possibly an LLC. More on that in the new year. Anyhow, I want to take this time to thank all of you and express my heartfelt wishes for a 2008 that exceeds your 2007. If it doesn't, the backup plan is to urge Santa to give you a karaoke machine for that Christmas. (Ours came in pretty handy there, St. Nick. Kerry does a mean version of Paula Abdul's "Cold Hearted.") Have a very prosperous new year!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas 2007

We just returned home from dinner with both of our families. We are doing that again tomorrow (with present opening) and a breakfast. I have no problems driving around a bit during the holidays because it is to spend time with family. It's harder if we had to schedule most of our friends in as well. As a gift (or curse) to you who read my rantings, I am posting the best photo that I've had taken recently... and it just so happens to be with my new little family. So, here are myself, Kerry and David.

Not good enough? Damn you! Well, here's one of my favorite Christmas songs for your scrutiny and enjoyment.

To each and every one of you, I wish only the best this holiday season.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Is It Really A Gift?

This has always been something that has bothered me and I figured that I should get it posted before Christmas for obvious reasons: the commercials showing a husband or wife being surprised by their spouse with a new car as a gift.

It looks really innocent. It also looks overly generous. But is it really a "gift"? I could see the 'giver' picking it up the day before for a 'test drive' and putting the bow on it (I guess sells them specifically for cars) only if Billy or Betty have been nagging said giver about needing a new car and having a certain make and model in mind. But, is it a gift if the 'receiver' must continue to make payments on it? Isn't the 'giver' just signing you up for payments for 5 years? When I see those commercials, I figure that the advertiser really doesn't understand that not everyone can plop down $20,000+ on a loved one this holiday season/birthday/anniversary. I also expect to see an accurate commercial where the 'receiver' turns to the 'giver' and asks, "How much are the payments?"

Mind you, I have considered similar gifts in the past. I love my Tivo and my Sirius radio but, if I gave it to someone as a gift, they must make monthly payments of $12 or more. What kind of crappy present forces a 'receiver' to pay for it?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Premium Blend

I think that I've told you about my father being a health nut. Well, several years ago, when we lived together, he would make protein shakes/smoothies about 3 times a day. (Talk about a liquid diet.) The problem we had was that his constant use of the product burned the motor out within the year. A burned motor smells similar to burnt hair with burnt plastic mixed in. I can still remember the smell as it seems he went through about 3 of them before we re-thought our process. We both go to Costco and the last one of those we decided to get there because they have a great return policy. During the return, they had someone in the store showing off the Vita-mix and it was a no-brainer purchase.

Sure it is a bit more costly. Feel free to go to the above link to see the video samples they have up there. Essentially, it's industrial grade as it is used in TCBYs, Dairy Queens, Applebees... actually there is a long list but I don't remember them all. The 2 HP motor creates enough friction to pulverize almost anything that gets put in there (and has a variable rate for chopping, shredding, etc.) as well as boil water. (really) Ever had something in the blender sticking to the sides and you couldn't push some of the stuff toward the blades? I tried to fix that with a spoon or two and regretted every attempt. The tamper they give you reaches close to the blades but not far enough to interfere allowing you to push ice and other solids toward the bottom to be mixed when necessary. You could even purchase an add-on to allow you to make bread dough (from whole grain.) Dad got pretty creative with his concoctions as he would put his protein powder, juice, peanut butter, berries, flax seed oil and many other things in. And they didn't taste bad at all. So I vowed to purchase one for myself when I got my own house.

Those blenders have been on my mind for years now. They tend to be cheaper during these sales events at the store ($350 as opposed to $449 on the site) so I've been on the lookout for the last few years. Heck, I think I even stared at one that Teri and Lloyd had. I told my friend T.J. that if he saw one on sale when he goes to Costco to call me and let me know. So last week, I had to run to the store with Kerry and after turning the corner from frozen foods... there they were. David drank one sample there quickly and we both wound up having one of the berry ice cream samples (cabbage and carrots were hidden in the mix but tasted great.) I looked at this as a sign that this was the time to purchase it (as a pre-wedding gift to ourselves.) It is sitting at Kerry's house right now and has been through one experiment already. Frozen strawberries, a banana and broccoli (which was David's idea). From the first test, a whole banana is too much. I expect we will have a lot of time to create a favorite or two. Thankfully it comes with some starter recipes.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Party For A Day

I had to use this picture. It sums a lot of my topic up here as it comes from an interesting Web site that explains Nevada party registration. I'm sure they are hiding knives.

If you've read some of my posts in the past, you may remember that I'm a registered Libertarian. I do agree with their economic policies but find myself slightly disillusioned with the rest of their platform. That isn't to say that any other party screams "I'm the one!" but after reading what you might have read on that Web site mentioned above, you will notice that going outside either of the two major political parties limits your participation in voting. With all that in my head... this happened today:

I was approached at my main job by representatives of a union to which I belong. The union is wishing to show major support at Nevada's Democratic caucus. They have approached many of their members in an effort to create an overwhelming turn-out showing the strength of the union behind the candidates (or a particular one.) Anyhow, they asked me if I would change my party affiliation for the caucus (allowing me to attend) and that they'd quickly switch it to whatever I wanted afterwards. You may guess that I find this fraudulent.

I think what upsets me more is that with as much thought as I put into what party I wish to register, I am asked to change momentarily for the glory of worker solidarity, a chance to attend a caucus, a chance to be on television or just a whim? Maybe I'm taking it too seriously. I mean, it's only an election... sure, a presidential one. But, honestly, I do hold my core values close and may even take an affront to my views personally. But, how much would it take to get you to change your party?

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Tech Mumblings

I decided to leave that post up there for a bit to savor the moment. Now back to your regularly scheduled babbling. If anything, you know that I've had my issues with software running on my new system. The early adoption idea may have bitten me in the butt here and there but I am finding some work-arounds.

Although, iTunes does not support the 64-bit version of Vista, I wound up connecting two dots. The issues that I had with trying to burn discs seems to have surfaced in iTunes. The main error message that I was getting talked about problems with burning discs and importing music. During a bit of searching, I discovered a driver that some people were using as an alternative. No more errors.

Things were looking great. But we all know that when things are going well... hide the cutlery. I believe it was an update to FireFox that caused the new issues. What issues? When using the browser (which is what I use for 98% of my work) the bookmarks are missing. If you have the program running right now, feel free to click on your bookmarks tab and see what it shows. The only options shown are manage and organize bookmarks. The bookmarks come back once I click on one of the two options but only for that session. Next problem is also with the bookmarks as once they show up, you can't click on one to open it. Which makes them useless. Then, after closing the browser, it remains running in the processes not allowing it to be reopened. Lastly the bottom of the browser (maybe about an inch and a half) is grey and just takes up space. My solution... I just stopped using it and imported those bookmarks to Internet Explorer. Takes some getting used to again but it'll work until I discover a fix (as reinstalls didn't help and going back to an earlier version might create problems with other saved files.)

Of course, for those of you that haven't looked into Vista, there is something called User Accounts. They are pretty interesting as a level of protection similar to a firewall but they could be too good. You see, Microsoft doesn't give all the information on the new operating system to people writing software to be used by it. One program (which allows me to start Talkshoe where I record the podcast) will not get necessary updates if the User Account is turned on. So, I must turn it off to start the show. I don't know how many other programs have this issue but it's a pain. But, no major technical issues with the show in the last couple months.

Lastly, in a non-computer tech issue, my stand-alone Cyberhome DVD burner went kaput. I discovered that as there were a ton of fuzzy lines on my screen during Sunday football. The only fix was unplugging it. It's not like I don't have another burner and now the player on the computer works.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Queensryche - Take Cover

Queensryche have returned, after closing the Operation: Mindcrime storyline, with a covers album. Recently, there has been a trend of 80's recording artists releasing albums of their favorite songs that they've re-recorded. According to vocalist Geoff Tate, many of these were songs that they had played around with during soundcheck during their tour.

We don't often review cover albums. But, we have a few reasons to break with tradition here. Queensryche have given some of these songs an 'extreme makeover.' Pink Floyd's "Welcome To The Machine" is the first single and opens the disc reaping the rewards from a change in arrangement. Likewise, "Heaven On Their Minds," from Jesus Christ Superstar (written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice) gets a new intensity and may be one of the more drastic and pleasing updates. I found myself taken aback, on "For The Love Of Money" by the O'Jays, as it comes across darker and even funkier yet fresher. I also found myself pleased by versions of The Police's "Synchronicity II" (I think I paid attention to the lyrics more) and Peter Gabriel's "Red Rain" (sound-a-like vocals early on had me doing a double-take but they slowly evolve amidst a very clean soundscape.) Their version of Queen's "Innuendo" adds depth, texture and atmosphere while paying tribute and not offending the original. The group's live recording of U2's "Bullet The Blue Sky" sounds terrific but goes nearly 11 minutes due to a spoken-word rant that starts about 3 minutes in and appears again after an instrumental segment. A few of the other tracks weren't as memorable but didn't have me going for the skip button. The addition of "Odissea" (from the Italian opera) could possibly give them a hit in Italy but had me scratching my head slightly.

I do believe that cover albums are a great way to pay your respects to the music that got you where you are. Most bands have to start out playing other people's music in clubs before they are allowed to perform originals. On Take Cover, the band tackle some favorite songs by bringing their performance style and fresh arrangements to them. Overall, the band are successful here and get to show off skills outside their own compositions and fan expectations. Well worth picking up for fans.

3 out of 5

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Kerry Unveiled

I figure that I've mentioned Kerry a few times here and there but really haven't talked about her. I met her when she was working in my department at 'the hotel' before she headed over to work at the wedding chapel. It was a detour for her as she needed to stay full-time and the position she wanted wasn't open. She likes to remind me that it happened for a reason.

There isn't often that I meet someone that makes herself as vulnerable to the people she loves. I always held my Grandma Hennessy up as one of the sweetest people that I've ever met and she gives her a good run for the title. Well then there are those moments her 10 year-old son David brings out of her but I count those as motherly responses that she has an obligation to let surface.

The photo that you see above was taken on Saturday evening. Hard worker that she is, she was awarded a stay at the hotel and dinner at their top notch steak house. I don't like taking photos but this one came out alright. (Dark hair, dark background... I look bald.) A few of the other ones came out funky because I either looked tired or squinty but I probably wouldn't have taken them if it wasn't because Iga, a friend of the family, was there taking photos in that restaurant at that time.

The photo actually has become rather important, though. You see, later that night, I asked her to marry me. Of course, this is a big step. Kerry was not expecting it. I actually had been thinking about it for a few weeks. Remember her hospital stay before Thanksgiving? Well, the night before we took her to UMC QuickCare, I had a dream that I had proposed to her during Thanksgiving dinner in front of our families. The problem with that dream was that both of them were under one roof (but we had two separate celebrations) giving thanks for our many blessings. You see, she is one of mine. In reality, I even pulled my brother aside after dinner and told him that I was thinking about it. My plan was to embarrass her by doing it at her work (where the magic happens) in a surprise move. I wound up surprising myself as it just came out in conversation before going to sleep. (She didn't sleep too well, though, and had a guest list to show me when I woke up.)

So to make a long post a little -- a lot shorter than it could be, we are taking our time working out details as, being a professional wedding planner, she told me "just give me a week's notice." We expect this to take place in the spring and for some reason, I have a vision of my niece Olivia and nephew Connor playing violin at the ceremony. All I know is that I don't want to think about all the details. It's like a fog in my brain that I want to wade, not run through. But, yes, I think everything happens for a reason.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Adopt An Opinion

I've been holding a few posts back. You know how an idea pops into your head and you don't have time to sit down and really think it through? No? Well, it stinks. It just sits there as you work on other projects until finally you get a few minutes before going to sleep months later and can blog about it. The thought that has been waiting its time patiently is about adoption. Feel free to look at the Wikipedia definition.

You see, I find the word to be a strong indicator of how one feels about responsibility. Some people use the phrase at the drop of a hat. Adopt a highway, adopt a classroom, adopt a platoon, adopt a rainforest, adopt a stream, adopt a college... heck, there are tons of these that actually have Web sites. But most of these programs are essentially not an honest undertaking of responsibility for the said item but to help and assist. So, the idea of animal adoption tops my list of this phenomena.

I started thinking about it when we had the Ellen DeGeneres' pet adoption issues in the media. You see, we tend to humanize things. Granted, a pet is supposed to become a member of the family and warrants more scrutiny than a highway, classroom, platoon, rainforest, stream or college. Many of these animal adoption agencies take it just as seriously as placing a child. And a child is the first thing the Wiki-definition intones. I know, someone out there is already saying, "Martin, my Fido is my baby." That may be true. But in the DeGeneres situation, she gave a baby that she was screened for to a family that wasn't. These animal adoption agencies take it very seriously and if it were a child, someone would be fined or possibly arrested if the process didn't involve a lawyer and the family court system. I personally know someone starting an agency and many of these animals have been abused mentally and/or physically and a specific home is usually selected to help overcome those hurdles to give it the best life possible.

I believe DeGeneres' tears over the situation were real. I believe she has learned that she made a mistake that has hurt more than one family and given people something to think about when it comes to 'adoption.' Let us hope that other people start to take the term more seriously.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Classically Martin: A-ha - The Sun Always Shines On TV(1985)

I was showing this video to Kerry prior to the hospital escapade. Sure, many people will say "Take On Me" is the best example of A-ha. I would entirely disagree. But for those that can't get past it, you have a good reason to look at this video which concludes the storyline from "Take On Me" and proves that it didn't end happily ever after. "The Sun Always Shines On TV" was their follow-up which also made the charts.

The video is beautiful and elicits some of the charm of the song: intense build-up to the chorus, strong backing vocals, catchy lyrics, amazing keyboards and Morten's amazing vocals. (One of those songs that I get shivers during.)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Life Update: 111507

So much to mention. Haven't had a chance to post for a bit as some issues popped up recently. So many things to do but not as harried as previously.

  • The open house went great. Had several people come in and look around (as well as a bunch of neighbors that were extremely curious.) Oddly enough, the house is extremely clean still as I haven't slept in the house until well... actually tomorrow.

  • I took 3 extra days off this week. I figured that it was going to be slow on two of them at work and the other made doing the newsletter on Monday easier.

  • Kerry's son David celebrated his 10th birthday on Tuesday. We picked up a few extras for him on Monday night (a few books, light weights, clothes and a core balance board.) Kerry even made a version of my sister's Ooey Gooey cake (which is a cleaner name for the Better Than Sex cake.)

  • Kerry had been experiencing some chest pain during the last month. We decided to go get it looked at while the cake cooled on Tuesday morning. UMC Quick Care didn't take any chances and had an ambulance take her to St. Rose Dominican Siena Campus. While they moved her, I finished topping the cake and wrapped the presents. Needless to say, she spent the next 36 hours under professional supervision and I left only long enough to charge our cell phones. They said her heart is in great shape after the tests and now they are still running tests on her blood while she is out.

  • Sadly, this meant she wasn't able to spend the day with her son. This upset her more than anything. David did get to stop by a little later at the hospital after she was admitted to a room. He understood but of course didn't want to leave his mom. I tried to cheer him up by telling him that 10 years ago that day, he was in a hospital with his mom... and he was again now.

  • It is going to be interesting to see how much her part of the bill is but most important is knowing that her heart is alright and hopefully the source of the chest pain will be found soon.

  • Kerry didn't want to scare anyone and didn't want me to tell anyone what was going on at first. It was pretty funny because her mother grilled me as soon as I said that she was undergoing some tests, etc. I don't lie well. I didn't talk to anyone else but her work... word spread quickly. One of the funniest things was when someone from Central Christian church came by. Then another. We figure her brother Joe (who goes there) told them but we hadn't talked to him yet. Feels weird having people ask you to pray with them but it's very thoughtful. We are spreading a rumor that we left before a third one showed up.

  • You would expect healthier food at the hospital commissary. Fried mozzarella sticks, chicken wings, fried battered fish, pizza, hot dogs, chili, french fries... and the like. Sure, there are deli sandwiches but I've never been a fan of them. I opted for the unhealthy chili cheese dogs that I considered comfort food. Ok, the split pea with ham soup was better than I thought.

  • I'm expecting that we will be spending the next weekend at home taking it very easy. Usually, weekends are kind of precarious as she usually works late on Saturday and Sunday is the only day we get to spend together. Hard to really plan anything but until we hear back on the rest of the blood tests (she has to have more blood taken on Friday.) Kerry and I both head back to work today. Her co-workers called in a conference call to wish her well while she was in the hospital.

  • We figured that her small veins were pretty difficult to find as they tried 7 to 8 times to put in a catheter. They then drew vials of blood about 5 to 6 times. What made that funny was that when she checked her messages when she got home, there was a call from United Blood Services asking her to come and donate.

  • On a lighter note, it took me over a month to finish Atlas Shrugged. I was shooting for an exact month but things couldn't be helped. I can understand why people tell me it is their favorite book. Someday, I'll read it again... or hear the audiobook. It fits amazingly well in my reading list as Communist Manifesto came before it and Marxism follows.

  • My friend Tracy just told me that she has been advised that her question may be taken during the CNN Democratic Presidential Debate tonight. I hope they take it as her specialty is the Las Vegas Valley water condition and treatment. (update: Watched it but she didn't get time to ask a question. I think the questions asking a direct "yes or no" went long.)

  • I picked up a few exercise bands the other day. I figure that they are more portable than my bulky rebounder. I'll be looking around online for different ways to use them while clearing things off my Tivo.

  • I guess my rantings about Las Vegas here and there in the blog inspired someone to seek me out as an expert. Silly isn't it. I guess this company (similar to needed someone to write better articles than they had previously. The pay looks interesting but I don't see it happening. I have too little time as it is.

  • I also had another offer from a ticketing Web site about placing a link on for their services. I've always avoided placing any unrelated ads on the site. This is an interesting one that I need to make a decision on soon. Sure, money is involved but on a yearly rate. I'm pretty sure that I could do better but then again, I don't want to promote dating services, poker, condoms, Viagra, the liberty dollar, Pokemon... or anything that doesn't have to do with what the site does.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Open House Preparations

Ok, lots to do and very little time. On Sunday, an open house is planned. This means, I have to get my butt busy cleaning. Well, I would have started sooner but it's Murphy's Law that my ceiling fan in the bedroom would break an internal switch (which I couldn't purchase a replacement for.) Sure, the house could be shown without any light in the bedroom but... if you see something wrong somewhere, you are sure to look for a follow-up. The new ceiling fan goes up tomorrow. Then, I need to replace a brick in the wall, replace a dead bush, use the blower on the front and back yards, clean off the patio furniture, remove all the solar screens (no need for them now and they don't impress), prune burned bushes, prune backyard bushes, clean bathroom floors/ceilings, vacuum and remove any stains that will stand out. Rearranging some things is in the works too. Been spending too much time watching reruns of Sell This House.

Of course, there is other stuff in the way. I also need to finish the updates to the Web site, do podcast prep, work and email two companies that want to advertise on the site. I might just be able to do all of it. It also means that I have to be away from the house between 10am and 3pm. This is going to be tough. My team plays at 1:15pm. I can do one of a two things. I can do some prep-work for the newsletter (which I usually do while watching football here) at Kerry's house. Or, I can drive around and stop in and visit friends and family. I'm leaning towards the last one. Meaning that I'll need to bust my butt to make it all work. Oh, I also need to clean off this freakin' desk. Not cool to have it the only disorganized area in the house. This is because too many projects that got by-passed but optimistically sit there in my face, are well... just sitting there in my face. Several are albums that were to be reviewed and others are discs that were supposed to be added to my iTunes account.

Why haven't the others been added to iTunes? There's a pretty easy answer to that... Apple sucks my left $&#@! Ok, I got that off my chest. You see, the new computer system that I had built for me has a few drawbacks... well ok, Microsoft sucks too. I'm currently using Windows Vista Ultimate x64. What that means is that it allows programs can run a lot faster (64-bit speed) as long as they are written to support it. Most of the 32-bit programs (which are pretty standard) can run on the system when installed, just not as fast. Yet, iTunes was working great when I set everything up. But, an update that came to help support the iPhone screwed that up. So it's on my computer but warns me not to import music or try to burn it to a disc. The official Web site states that it just won't work for x64. My issue is that it did work, probably could but likely isn't a high priority for Apple. Such is life.

Anyhow, thought I'd take a moment, breathe and get a post off before I get insanely busy. Well, first I'll go to sleep. I'll sort the rest out in the morning.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Deborah Harry - Necessary Evil

Deborah Harry, the voice of Blondie, has returned with, her first new solo album in 14 years, Necessary Evil. Most notable is that this disc hold 17 tracks that are mostly written by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member. This would have been a double-album more than 14 years ago.

One can't help but be sucked in by the tantalizing first track/first single, "Two Times Blue." But don't expect to hear 16 similar songs. Harry throws some absolutely beautiful ballads at you with "If I Had You," "Needless To Say," "What Is Love" and the etheric "Paradise." "Deep End" is an outstanding track that merges a great melody with layers of tangible textures reminiscent of Siouxsie & The Banshees. The stark drum machine and handclaps lead one to believe that there isn't much to the beginning of "Love With A Vengeance" but the rhythm builds in the process adding a haunting little bass hook creating a brooding dance song. The fun really surfaces on the tracks "You're Too Hot" and "Dirty And Deep" as they ooze sensuality and frustration. Sure, there are other similar moments on "Charm Alarm" and "School For Scandal" that hint to the darker edge of sexuality but bringing back the chorus from "You're Too Hot" into the following song "Dirty And Deep" is brilliant and makes the listener question if it really is two songs. "Jen Jen" was written by Chris Stein with all instruments performed by him. The song's aboriginal groove could seem out of place but on this diverse collection it adds another layer while allowing the following track, "Naked Eye," to shine.

The production values on this album are impressive and Necessary Evil is exactly what the title says for fans and dance music aficionados. Harry delivers on so many levels here and reaffirms her diva status.

4.5 out of 5

Monday, November 05, 2007

Getting Fluid On Liquidity

Ok, I've taken a few seconds from working on the newsletter (yes, Pinky, every Monday I regurgitate music news for the masses... and plot my takeover of the world) to talk about home loans. What makes me the sage of loans? Absolutely nothing. That would actually be my brother Matt Hennessy. He can be found here.

Anyhow, I stumbled upon an article yesterday that he wrote for back in August (helping explain what you have been hearing in the news about liquidity and the infusion of $24 billion from the Federal Reserve into the banking system) entitled How A 'Liquidity Crisis' Can Directly Affect You and I thought I'd share it with you.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

We Are Spirits In The Material World

Do you remember the song "Grandma Got Ran Over By A Reindeer"? There is a line in there at the end that says after the whole ordeal "... as for me and Grandpa, we believe." I had my believer's moment in 2001 when it comes to the supernatural.

My grandmother was in town during a rare visit. You see, this trip would be on of the first where she was able to meet up with her brother-in-laws. Father Frank and Father Jack worked in the Catholic church back home in Vancouver. They were all getting up in age but it was a time for me to get to see all of them in the same setting for the first time. My brother arranged a tour of the strip in a limo and we had a dinner at the Palace Station. It was during dinner that I thought to ask something that had been in the back of my mind for some time.

Dinner was already served and I turned to one of the fathers (my great uncles) and mentioned the recent re-release of the film The Exorcist. I asked him how he felt about the film. He said, "They usually aren't that violent. But you might want to ask my brother as that's his job." My jaw dropped. Sure, if I went to church and heard that, I'd expect it of someone that wasn't family... but not this. Especially with an answer with the calm demeanor of someone not phased by the question. I also didn't think the church would want him to be that open about it.

So, I talked to him for a little bit. He mentioned that he was being called out to a lot of nearby Canadian Indian reservations to help these spirits make their transition. When many of these cultures pray and praise the spirit of the wolf, eagle, dog, horse, snake, bull and all manner of beast, some get lost on the way. Anyhow, that is when he told me this story.

A man leaves work early and comes home to find his wife in bed with his best friend. The husband was shot in the process and died. The widow and former-best friend are now living together. It was after a few he moved in that things started happening around the house. The gate leading to the house would open and close (with no wind in the area.) The doors in the house would not stay shut. This would happen every time the new man of the house would come home. The wife was in a panic and it wasn't helping their relationship any. The father resolved this one rather easily but told me that sometimes a spirit stays in a place it held most dear and only wants to not be forgotten. Of course, my interpretation was that he was asserting his ownership of the home by reminding the 'man of the house' that it wasn't his upon his arriving there.

There are a lot of ghost stories out there and I've written a few myself. But, having confirmation from someone that works in that area for a living... helped me accept it more. Of course, I find many people have personal experiences with the supernatural. Usually, I just listen, smile and think back to talking with Father Jack and Father Frank Hennessy on a random topic and getting an answer that I didn't expect. I guess as for myself, the fathers and a few others out there, "we believe."

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Classically Martin: Hoodoo Gurus - I Want You Back

Don't let the haircuts and the unusual video make you question yourself. The Hoodoo Gurus' song I Want You Back is an example of pure pop rock.

The Australian band did a little better with their song, "Come Any Time," on the U.S. Modern Rock chart but I have always felt chart placement is pretty subjective (especially when one includes radio, doesn't include single, includes ringtones, doesn't include club play, etc...) Great guitar here, strong hook, personal lyrics and the answering backing vocal just rocks.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Inside The Boiler Room: Being A Lifeline

I wasn't able to really discuss what happened until it aired but now I can give an inside look at what it is like being a phone-a-friend. This was actually my second time. You see... you are allowed only 5 phone-a-friends to be listed when you are a contestant on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. You can only be a phone-a-friend two times in a season. To be eligible, you must be at the phone number (land line preferred) for the entire taping of the show. The production team call early in the morning in a conference call with all that contestant's PAFs (we'll abbreviate that from here on) to give instructions on how to answer the phone, when to expect a call, etc. And then you wait.

My good friend Daniel was on the Oct. 19th and 22nd episodes of the show (which was recorded some months ago.) The plan was to have a call center (with several of us in on one call) and a few other PAFs. Daniel and I set up a system for my house with a speaker-phone (with microphone taped) to be left in my bedroom near the computer while the person answering the phone would remain in the kitchen area nearby. This would allow all 3 to hear the question and respond right away if they knew the answer with the fall-back option of having one person on the computer that can search for an answer -- and relay it to the extra person over to the phone-man. Make sense? Ok, our plan had myself on the computer (because I type really fast and search for things constantly), David on the phone, Kevin and Dan's girlfriend Robin inbetween.

What they tend to say about best laid plans is entirely accurate. David was driving into town from Utah when the production team called. I told them that the person to be on the phone isn't here yet. Because of the rules and instructions given at the time, the 'phone-man' needs to be there for this call. So, Martin became the 'phone-man'. I told my cohorts this when they arrived. We sat back and watched the Game Show Network with pizza to munch on. We had to change my ergonomic keyboard at the computer station to help David in his searching but after a few tests of the phone system (which we had to turn both on at the same moment) we were ready. That was when Robin (who has a very important job needed to go out to her car for a conference call.)

As you can see from the photo, that is when we got the call that Dan was in the 'hot seat.' We sent someone to let Robin know and patiently awaited the call while everyone got to their battle stations. The call came sooner than we expected and Robin hadn't come back yet. Everything went well up until we heard the question. None of us knew it off the top of our heads. That left David to searching, Kevin to run the answer to me and I needed to stall for time. So I asked him to repeat the question. Suddenly, I heard Kevin coming around the corner and I relayed it into the phone. I then heard a click. We regrouped at the computer and told them that it sounded like it got through. David wasn't too sure of the answer that he relayed, though. So I hopped online and searched for a bit. (You see, they told Daniel that they purposely write the questions so they will be hard to search for as they know it will happen.) We found we gave him the wrong answer.

Moments later, Robin returned and we told her what happened. In my head, I'm thinking... "Did I sound too sure that that was the right answer? I hope not." Well, if any of you caught the show, the phone cut off right after he repeated the question. You see, Daniel had a plan that he didn't tell us about. He didn't expect the search to work in time and if we didn't know it right away, he'd move on. We spent several hours thinking we cost him $25,000 and a chance at more but later (as seen on TV) switched questions. Quite an experience. Congrats, Dan!

Page Turner

I am slowly coming to the realization that it will take me more than a month to finish reading Atlas Shrugged. I really thought that 1184 pages would go by quicker than this but it's a damn good book.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Life Update: 101807

I feel really bad that I haven't gotten back here to post recently. Things have been a little crazy. Hopefully, it'll be smooth sailing after the end of the month.

  • Thinking of buying a humidifier in the next few minutes (before going to work.) Been having a weird continual issue of dry mouth/throat in the mornings which feels similar to having a cold or sinusitis. Should help... (fingers crossed)
  • I was notified by my neighbor across the street that I had a fire. Of course, I'm thinking that this is going to ruin any chance of selling the house. Essentially, the bushes under the pine tree in my front yard went aflame. She thinks that someone tossed a lit newspaper between them and the neighbor's trailer (yes, there is a trailer in their front yard.) I'm thinking the burning bushes were waiting for me to get home to reveal my purpose in life. I'm just hoping they will recover soon as they look pretty sad right now.
  • I told you about my friend Daniel going on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. Well, that airs on Friday. I can't say anything until it happens but I'm thinking there is a definite blog-post about the behind-the-scenes is in order.
  • The Marty Hennessy Junior Tennis Foundation held another fund-raiser on Sunday. I stopped in and talked to a few people (Tony Bennett, Rudy Ruettiger, Jack Jones and a few others) and scrammed before dinner was served. I gave blood earlier that day and I wasn't feeling so hot. But I am finding it funny that many news outlets are calling it the Marty Hennessy Jr. Tennis Foundation. As, I loathe being called that and that it's about junior tennis and not about Jr. Heck, most of them didn't spell Hennessy right anyhow.
  • There is something about my dress shoes that always causes blisters. Doesn't work well for a job that I need to be on my feet.
  • I decided to go to to see what my cholesterol level was from my previous blood donation. It didn't look good (really bad actually) but I was told that those are usually off as a fast prior to testing will give a better reading. Anyhow, it's urged me to have oatmeal every morning and give up indulgences like these.
  • I heard that we got a few calls on the house but no visitors yet. In a market like this, I expect it. What I also expect is that while the value of my house drops, so will the one that I purchase next.
  • Got a lot of prep-work for the podcast to do tomorrow. So little time. This week, is Bangle-focused. I feel bad that the interview with Debbie Peterson didn't work out (wasn't able to record the call.) But she's fun to talk to and I'm hoping to get another try when they release their next album.

Otherwise all is great. I gotta run and get that humidifier now.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Classically Martin: Johnny Diesel & The Injectors

Johnny Diesel & the Injectors -  Johnny Diesel & the Injectors

Again, it all started by seeing one video that wasn't really played often. It was for the single "Don't Need Love" off their debut album. Australia's late 80's act Johnny Diesel & The Injectors were led by a brilliant guitarist/vocalist named Mark Lizotte (who also recorded as Diesel.) This beautiful album is the bar that I judge Blues/Rock groups by. It includes an amazing cover of "Since I Fell For You" that I personally believe has no equal. Might as well start with the video for that one (oddly enough the only version I could find on YouTube had scenes from the Dr. Who spin-off Torchwood.)

Upon searching for videos for the songs on YouTube, I had no idea that so many were used to express a gay relationship. I can see why though. These are powerful and intense performances. The previous video alluded to a relationship between characters of a show I have been recording but haven't watched yet and this following one does something similar (between twin brothers) from an anime series. It might be more worthwhile to open another tab or browser and listen to the song in the background... or even close your eyes. "Don't Need Love" don't need no stinkin' video.

Lastly, as a shot of testosterone, you get to see a more recent live performance of "Looking For Love" (all 3 songs posted here are from the same album.) Lizotte has actually been honored as one of Australia's most revered guitarists. Heck, I wish they had more of his real videos to show you. But, well worth searching for a copy of this self-titled release (pictured at the start of this post.)

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Penny Candy

I know. You are looking at the photo and thinking that I really like my M&Ms. For awhile, I'd grab a bag of them (gotta have the peanuts in there) at work for desert. Anyhow, I was at work one day when a co-worker brought up an idea that's been circulating which will get rid of the penny. My biggest issue with the idea is that someone will gain or lose more in every transaction while rounding up or down (when adjusting values to the nickel.) The co-worker was mentioning to me that it costs more to make a penny than it is worth... so why not replace it with something else, like an M&M, as they'd be cheaper to make.

Definitely on the crazy side, when it comes to ideas, as inflation eats at the value of our money but children would be tempted to nibble on your change when they find it. They also go bad, crack and break (as the blue one in the picture on the left.) Yet, that wasn't my response to him on the idea. I just asked him what we would do with the two-cent pieces.

He was kind of shocked when I asked it and said, "There aren't any two-cent pieces." I replied, "There would be. There are conjoined twin M&M's that occur fairly often." To prove this, I collected two week's worth (one bag per day) and they are pictures above. Yes, in ten packages, I had five of these anomalies. Whether our money gets adjusted in the future, I don't see it becoming candy.

Ken Hensley - Blood On The Highway

Keyboardist, guitarist, singer, songwriter and producer Ken Hensley has returned with his new concept album, Blood On The Highway: When Too Many Dreams Come True. The album is a companion to a book of the same name that also tells the story of the rock & roll dream as recounted by former Uriah Heep member Hensley.

If ever an album screamed "make me into a musical production" before, this warrants it. The appeal of seeing, hearing and feeling the rise of a rock star, the fears, the betrayals, the relationships that isolate, temptation, redemption... it's all here. The album sings to life with the opening strains of "(This Is) Just The Beginning." All rock bands start from the dream whether it's to play in front of thousands of fans, to put out an album or to write the perfect song. A line from the song says it all: "Give me five guys that can rock, who don't know how to stop. Send them ten times round the block just to add a little mystery. Give me radio with balls, someone to help us fill the halls. And we can grab ourselves a piece of rock and roll history." (Yes, this alludes to the 5-piece classic Uriah Heep and their manager Gerry Bron.) The track sets the stage for "We're On Our Way" telling of the group's touring and ascent. I'm not going to ruin the story for you but what I can say is that there are some tremendous performances on this album which grows on the listener quickly. Former Trapeze/Deep Purple/Black Sabbath member Glenn Hughes, John Lawton (of Uriah Heep), Jorn Lande and Eve Gallagher provide compelling vocals on the disc. Being able to step back from a song and allow another vocalist to step in really says something about the confidence Hensley has in the songs and humility in the concept.

Ken Hensley has presented the roller coaster that is rock stardom on Blood On The Highway in a package full of hooks, dynamic layers and deft songcraft. I can only wait to get my hands on the autobiography of the same name.

4.5 out of 5

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Generational Collegiate And Residential Thoughts

With almost all my projects finished, I turn to one of the many items that piqued my interest this week. I have a somewhat jaded view of our education system, as you may have noticed. So, upon hearing of Hillary Clinton's suggestion to the Congressional Black Caucus of providing a $5,000 bond to each child born every year to be used towards purchasing a home or their college education, I couldn't hold my tongue. Don't think that I'm using this as a means to slam a presidential candidate as the idea was implemented two years ago in Britain and brought up here in the U.S. by Time magazine.

When it comes to colleges, they already figure in the average amount in government grants when setting their per-credit costs. (In the last 10 years the cost of tuition and room & board rose 79% at public colleges and 65% and private universities.) This measure will not slow nor hold the price of education down but increase the speed it rises. The scarcity of funds for 4 million students to enroll will be lessened providing the limited number of universities reasons to raise costs. In 18 years, at a yield of 4.5% (which may be dependent on current economic factors when setting it up), you would earn $225 on the first year... in aggregate, it would more than double the initial $5,000 put in. (At 3% interest, the $5,000 baby bond would build to $8,512 by the time toddlers turned 18.) Of course, some stats show that only 25% of all children leaving high school will continue on to college (even though 94% of parents believe their children will.)

So, 75% will have to put the money toward homes. These new home purchasers will have a good chunk of their down-payment ready after high school. But, most will not have a sufficient job or credit history to purchase the home at a decent interest rate. Many lenders may see someone using only what was saved in the bond as a riskier loan. And, as any influx of cash into a market, the price of that home will inflate (which could be good news for some home sellers.)

Of course, I could be upset with the spending of $20 billion in tax dollars yearly (as well as several billion more in administrative costs) on what some people see as an entitlement to housing and higher education for the next generation. A chicken in every pot! But governments find ways to spend money. Programs that get started rarely get shut down for ill or lack of performance. I foresee fights over raising the bond that will be similar to minimum wage hikes. The problems I have with the program are with the unintended consequences. The creation of Social Security instilled a sense that one was provided for and didn't need to save for their retirement (most people have learned their lesson on this one.) The providing of tax dollars toward college tuition or house down-payment will likewise discourage saving for these areas and enlistment in Section 529 plans.

Of course, as with mentioning any entitlement, the immigration issue will come up and I'm not going to beat that dead horse... the bones are poking out and the flies don't even visit anymore. What I will say is that this allows the government to assist another country's citizens in their competition with your children in attempting to go to college or buy a piece of the American dream. I also wonder what government agency the money goes if one can't purchase a house (credit or other reasons), decides not go to college or sadly, dies before either become possible.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

My Last Projects... At This Address

I went across the street to take this picture over 4 years ago. You see, I was looking for my first house and had just agreed to purchase this. I had to get a photo as soon as I heard the good news. The house has changed a lot since then. I've mentioned that I've been busy recently but now, I'll explain things further.

In less than a week, the house goes on the market. Sure, it's not exactly the best time to do so but then again... it's not a good time for the people I'll be buying my next home from either... so it's a wash. So that project with the bathroom, the one with the wall and several others have become my main focus. Just moments ago, I put stain on the kitchen cabinets and master bedroom cabinets... polyurethane goes on tomorrow. Sunday night, I finally got the tile up in the bathroom with grout tomorrow, sealant to follow as well as caulk. At some point... I still need to talk to the neighbor about restraining his dogs so I can re-set the bricks in the wall. And there is even a little touch-up paint and a small painting project to throw in there.

What I do need to say is that I wouldn't be anywhere near being this close without Kerry's help. While I worked on the early part of the newsletter on Sunday, she sanded the cabinets, returned some products and purchased other products that I needed to complete these projects. Of course, she wants me to sell the house as quick as possible (as much as I do) as she has placed her condo on the market. If everything goes well, it looks like we'll be moving into a house in a nice little gated community in the southeast part of town. (No more traffic issues with the freeway on the way to work.) But of course, it's all forward looking as things have to get done first. Off to sleep and back to work.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Classically Martin: Tin Tin/Stephen Duffy

There are a lot of things I can say about Mr. Stephen 'Tin Tin' Duffy. The first thing to note, which isn't obvious from these examples, is his 'lyrical genius.' I don't use the phrase lightly. One of my favorite example phrases comes from "She Makes Me Quiver": "Well, if I can't be debonair, I'll just be gaunt and gothic." Still a lot of cheese on the first album but it was the early 80's. Songs like "World At Large Alone" and "I Love You" are personal favorites (probably to be played at some point on the podcast.) Maybe it is some of the some of the pining and heartbreak found in songs like "Darkest Blues": "A marriage made in heaven, we don't suppose. But, who on Earth informed you, heaven knows. I am the one that you ignore. You are the one that I adore. Won't you come back again..." Or in "But Is It Art": "Can I ever be the one you want? Can I ever be the one you love? What if the tide against us proves too strong? We'll have to wait until it gives enough."

Anyhow, here are the videos for his biggest hit "Kiss Me" and another single, "Icing On The Cake," that came off his 1985 debut album, The Ups And Downs. He also found success with his other band the Lilac Time but will always be known as the original vocalist for... Duran Duran. (Don't hurt your brain trying to place him in their biggest hit videos though. Just doesn't seem right and he left before recording anything.) I think I'm happy things went the way they did, though, as what he recorded may never have seen the light of day. He even recently reunited with Nick Rhodes to record an album under the name, The Devils.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Sign In, Check, Sign Out And Repeat

During the last week or so, I've become enamored with the program Trillian. There aren't many that I get excited about but right now, this is it. I have about 6 different email accounts that I keep track of (one for the talkcast, one for the website, one for my bills, one for junk mail, one for an AOL account I don't use anymore and another junkmail account.) Usually, when I check my email (usually 4 different times a day), I am jumping in and out of accounts just to see if anything new is in there. Keeping track of passwords is a pain.

Almost all of those email accounts have messenger programs (Yahoo and AOL) which I use very very sparingly. The reason for that is that whenever I seem to get talking with someone, I feel like I have all the time in the world to chat... I know that I don't. I haven't been doing half of the things here at that house that I should. Yes, I love talking to people but I keep thinking that I could spend 5 minutes on the phone for every 15 typing.

Anyhow, a while ago, I heard about Trillian. It sounds like a perfect program as it allows you to juggle multiple instant messaging accounts. It was after I started looking at it seriously that I remembered that I didn't want to be tied to my computer with IMs. So, I bypassed it. Until recently. You see, it also juggles your email accounts. So, here I am looking at my email addresses and when an email arrives, I'm notified as to what account it's at and can double-click the account to open it to check the mail. Yes, it's the free basic version and I'm sure the pro version probably has a lot more options but I'm just delighted with the functionality of the program. I am still not going to be going IM crazy but I may be enticed to type out a quick hi here or there.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

The Pop Eye Interview

One of my favorite bloggers, Beckeye at The Pop Eye, went after guinea pigs... I mean, kindly asked for volunteers to be interviewed. She has a sarcastic wit that I enjoy immensely and it's well worth checking out her homepage. Anyhow, I agreed to the challenge which meant defending my town, considering my 80's music love/research, getting creative and talking football. How'd I hold up under pressure?

P.S. - She promised to post dirty pictures if more than half of you think I did well.

1. They say that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Being a resident, can you explain then what happened with Panic! At The Disco? How the hell did they slip through, and can you please take them back?

Heard one of their songs but can't say they are amazing. I will say that if everything that happens here, should stay here... the Killers, Slaughter, 702 and a member of Korn would be flipping burgers. I believe that the Las Vegas City Council will resign before designating an official Panic! At The Disco day.

2. Like me, you’re a big fan of the ‘80s. However, the decade wasn’t all sunshine, lollipops and Brat Packers. What was something about the ‘80s that you don’t miss at all?

The memory of the January 28, 1986 space shuttle Challenger disaster. The risk of space travel became painfully aware to millions and I think I saved a few of the newspapers from that day (as I was a paperboy at the time.) I'd gladly have that erased from history. Otherwise... Grease 2.

3. How do you feel about the proliferation of reunion/nostalgia tours by ‘80s bands? Totally rad or bogus and sad?

This is a touchy subject as I've interviewed a several of these bands for my talkcast and website. I think reunions of original band line-ups are a blessing for kids that either weren't taken to concerts by the acts or they lived in an area the act never toured. There is something about seeing a band that made a profound impact on your musical tastes. Classic line-up reunions can be great also as some acts really didn't gel until later in their careers (I mean, how many really would like to see the Beatles with Pete Best on drums? Didn't think so.) There are also single members of bands touring under the name of their original band. If they wrote and sang the majority of the music, I can understand that but some are purely offensive. Some bands are fighting over the name of the act (L.A. Guns, Gene Loves Jezebel and many others) leaving fans unsure who they are actually going to see. With the passage of new laws in more than 20 states, less bands are able to tour under the name of an act without having an original member on stage with them. This is good as it killed the act FGTH several years ago who claimed to have Holly Johnson's brother singing in his place because of his illness as well as a former roadie (FGTH... Frankie Goes To Hollywood.) So... the answer to your question is if there is a 'true' reunion, yes, it is totally rad.

4. Hasbro has approached you to create a new trivia game. What’s your pitch?

Who Did It? The game is a boardgame with DVD use. Players start from point A on the board working to get to point B first. To move, they have to name the performer of a random song performed on a multi-DVD set. As the song goes on, 3 hints will be displayed lessening your movement for each hint given before a correct answer. An incorrect or non-answer moves you back a space (only as far as point A.) What will keep this from ever happening is song licensing but the idea is there.

5. You consider yourself something of a football expert. Without pissing me off, give us some predictions including what you think the Steelers chances are this year.

I love all pro football, not just my team, so let's focus on yours for now. I can honestly say that the Steelers will do better this year. They have all the players they need (sure, Porter isn't there but youth is good for the position.) Willie Parker, Hines Ward and Heath Miller are studs. Pittsburgh's most recent Super Bowl season came with a limited quarterback playbook for rookie Ben Roethlisberger and a run-heavy offense. The following season, Roethlisberger had a bigger playbook following his motorcycle accident and concussion which was an abrupt change for the young QB. I believe that 'Big Ben' comes into the season with a little more time in training camp this year, a clear head and a playbook that will build with the season. I'm not going to predict how many wins they will have but they will do a lot better and, yes, possibly playoffs. Pending injuries, of course.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Classically Martin: New Monkees - Burning Desire

Everyone has skeletons in their closet. The New Monkees are one of mine. I remember being told by my friend Phil about them when I was in junior high. I didn't get to watch enough of the television series to really make a decision on it but... the music was good.

I actually bought their self-titled 1985 cassette in about 1988 and upgraded to CD when I got the iPod. Songs like "Affection," "What I Want," "Boy Inside The Man," "Carlene," "Whatever It Takes," "Do It Again," "Corner Of My Eye"... actually, I can't really think of a bad song but do yourself a favor and search out the album after you check those YouTube links as they have many videos from the show.

I've actually been thinking that Marty Ross (the one singing here in this video) would be an interesting interview. He's still writing and puts free downloads at his site.

It seems a reunion is planned for December of this year and more information can be found at:

Friday, August 31, 2007

On The Charts

Some of that darkness you felt in that last post was lifted yesterday when I received an email stating that TalkShoe now has a chart for their Top 100 Downloaded Talkcasts. Why would that lighten my spirits? Well, last week, I noticed that we had a huge surge in downloads (we're talking 4 times the normal amount.) I have no idea why. I guess it must be timely as that week they decided to track the downloads for charting. So, Talking 80s Music with Martin Hennessy came in #66 out of more than 1,400 shows. I felt some affirmation that I'm doing the right thing and that with more experience, I'll only get better at doing the show. I believe, the publicity from being in the top 100 created some interest/curiosity which increased the downloads another 22% (and the week isn't finished yet.)

This has driven me to try and fix a few of the shows which, due to bitrate, played slow or fast in the flash player. I feel a little better about it now as I keep adding new parts to it. Sadly, they also have a Top 100 Live Talkcasts... which I don't forsee such a surge. I think it has to do with the show itself. Sure, people can chat (type) to each other live while there or listen to it live but it's hard to be a patient live guest if the host gives 30 minutes of news. I'm thinking of letting people know that the phones will be more available at the second half of the show. Maybe that may retain more callers.

Update: In week 2, the show just broke into the Top 50 at #49 with a 56% increase in downloads. I'm expecting this might be where things peak.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Fall Of A Co-Worker

It's been a very weird week. Yes, I took notes from the concert and plan to tell you all about that. The motherboard on my new computer took a dump on me on Monday (yes, the day that I need it most.) Just got it back a few hours ago. But there is something that's been bugging me since I got a call on Sunday afternoon. And of course, this place is just another form of therapy for someone obsessed with music research.

I think by now that you know from my posts, I love children. My nieces and nephew mean the world to me. You even may recall my post about the inequity when it comes to teacher/student relationships. Yet, this whole week, I've felt the world was just a haze and even struggled with a little nausea after the veil was lifted on the life of a former co-worker.

I did consider this person a friend. (I'm being pretty vague here but you'll understand why shortly.) Had him over to the house and talked to him often. A lot of it was political as he liked to share his correspondence with Harry Reid over immigration. A little effeminate, he would often mention being unhappy with his life. I'd tell him, "Be the alpha-male." Things changed during the last year as he met a woman at friend's party. She was actually upset that he didn't come introduce himself, so a second meeting was scheduled by a mutual friend. He'd call her during his lunch break each night. His new girlfriend has a young daughter and they went on several vacations together. A date was set for getting married next year and he asked me if I'd be willing to go to Jamaica for the event (I told him, I'll be there if you do it in town.) A back injury, after getting hit by a taxi at work, had affected his ability to work. He'd mentioned to me that he wasn't able to do the job much longer because of it. (I expected him to file for disability.) So, I wasn't to worried when I heard that he resigned last week after over a month on leave of absence.

Then I got that call on Sunday afternoon. I was told to look up this co-worker's name at the Clark County Detention Center (pretty good to know that you could do that.) It seems that he's been there since early July... on charges of lewdness and sexual assault of a victim under 14. (Yes, that nauseas feeling!) Of course, he has only been charged but being held on the charges for so long... probably means it's a strong case. What I have less facts about... rumors are that the girlfriend's 6 year-old daughter had a rash and she was taken to the doctor. The little girl told them what happened. My co-worker tried to drive to Hoover Dam to end it all. His brother(s) called to report his intentions and enforcement were able to stop him before he got there.

I find myself shaken in a few different ways over this. The act itself is horrifying. I also find myself questioning my judgment. Can you really know someone well enough to deduce they won't do that? That child is going to need a lot of help. Her mom will be less likely to trust a man again after making such a bad choice. I guess that I've also wondered how I could have considered myself his friend. I'd love to tell that child's mother so many things... I'd love to tell that child that stepfathers and fathers are supposed to love you for being yourself and don't be afraid to tell your Mom anything. I'd also like to smack my former co-worker around a bit and ask him, "What the hell were you thinking?" I don't think there are any just resolutions after something like this when, even on the outside, you just want it to go away.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Time Crunching & The Lost 80's Live

You may ask many friends of mine and they will pretty much tell you the same thing, "Martin doesn't like to schedule things." I take this moment to entirely agree and go one step closer to clarifying it. I'm happier haphazardly enjoying myself. When I start setting days and times aside, I start freaking out. It could be that I become a bit neurotic about it all. So, those same friends that know how I like to 'play things by ear' also have a system. The idea gets thrown out there and usually a day or so ahead of time, things will get confirmed. (Of course, there are sometimes things that can't be confirmed due to work schedules until last minute which makes things additionally difficult.) Understanding friends are an amazing asset.

This does cause problems though. Scheduling Mondays for the newsletter made weekends a little better because I wasn't preoccupied with getting it done on a Friday night (usually very late forcing me to sleep in on Saturday.) Now, I just spend some time on a Saturday after the podcast or Sunday doing some prep work to ensure it goes out by 4pm. I guess the idea of partitioning off sections of my life makes me hesitant to agree to much. Sure, work takes up about 9.5 hours a day (some driving time included) for 5 days. Mark off Monday and some of Saturday or Sunday for the newsletter. Saturday morning until 2 or 3pm disappears for the podcast. With those as constants, there is additional updating the Web site, blogging, yard work, watching the news (cutting out the commercials helps), reading the news, catching up with the Tivo and cleaning the house.

Mentally, I stack all that up and it looks like a young boy's messy room with toys, books, clothes and whatnot. I still recall losing a day during my weekend, every so often as a child, staring at my messy room as I was not to leave until it was clean. For some reason the task seemed Herculean. I see that many children have this issue when asked to clean their rooms. I think that I may have carried it over to organizing my time (those little appointment books scare me more than any of this.)

So, I mention this because I've just scheduled a concert. If you think you have tomorrow night free, I'm dragging Kerry to go see The Lost 80's Live. I know, you are probably wondering if that's a cover band. It is actually a collection of acts (many that don't tour often at all.) Among the acts are Dramarama, A Flock Of Seagulls, When In Rome, General Public, Real Life and Gene Loves Jezebel (Michael Aston not Jay.) I don't expect them to play large sets but it'd be good to feel like I've seen them at some point in my life. Should be fun as it is at Mandalay Bay's Beach area where you can wade into the water looking up toward the bands as they play.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

BBC America And Originality

Usually, my raves are about a specific television series but I'd like to focus on a network today. Many of you may have no idea of what BBC America is. It's actually a smart idea. Take the shows that are popular in England and re-air them here (sometimes as much as year later.) If you think of it, U.S. television has gotten pretty stale. So bad in fact that they have been taking U.K. shows and recreating them here. I think it goes at least as far back as the 1988 debut of Dear John but we've been regurgitating their shows here: The Office, The Weakest Link, Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Supernanny, Hell's Kitchen, Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares... the list is still growing.

Why does it seem like I'm a fan of what we don't have here? I think it goes back to being a child and watching old episodes of Dr. Who and Star Trek (one from another country and another canceled before its time.) I remember growing up not knowing a single person that watched either or both. My family did go see the Trek movies but I guess it's more acceptable to watch when you have to pay per head, right. We have tried to keep Star Trek alive here in the U.S. with next generations, S.D. 9's, Voyagers, Enterprises and the new film project currently kept under wraps. Thankfully, someone saw the gap decided to breathe new life into Dr. Who to fill it. In it's third season (here in the U.S), the show is amazing and remains fresh with great writing. It even has its first spin-off, Torchwood, heading here shortly. Heck, a recent episode dealt with witches and included two J.K Rowling jokes (not to mention the current Dr. who played Barty Crouch Jr. in the Goblet Of Fire film.)

I think I've mentioned Gordon Ramsey before. Both of his original shows are still airing on BBC America as well as his Gordon Ramsey's The F Word. I could go on about Ramsey, he does grow on you, but I think it is the creative minds behind their science-fiction fantasy series that really draws me. They've reinvigorated classic characters Robin Hood and Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde for the a newer and younger audience that expects more from television. I wish I had more time to watch another series called Hex, also.

Sure I'd urge you to go out to buy or rent the first few seasons of Dr. Who but better yet, be aware of what comes from where and why. I really think we are starting to run out of as well as ruin good ideas here in the States. We have some brainless game shows taking over on the major networks. (Yes, I can see some good in watching something and not engaging brain cells to pick a briefcase. But not every evening.) We also have tons of reality shows. These aren't all horrible but some are useless (like that bad version of Survivor on a pirate ship.) Ahhh... the why! There is a looming strike coming and if a bunch of writers for shows walk away... you can keep your schedule full with game and reality shows. Set For Life, Power Of 10, Identity, Deal Or No Deal, Don't Forget The Lyrics, The Singing Bee... and more to come. Also, if you already have a script for the show (comes from the U.K.) re-acting and directing it doesn't require the same work as authorship. Something worth pondering.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Personality Type - ESTP

Click to view my Personality Profile page

I don't take many of these but Lora and Barbara made it look interesting. I do find description of being informal, adaptable, personable, tactical problem solver and "here and now" realist with excellent people skills pretty darn good. Handling criticism and risk-taking may be the only areas that I may question. I do find the list of possible jobs interesting as among these are:

  • Agent
  • Auditor
  • Carpenter
  • Comedian
  • Computer Tech Support
  • Computer Technician
  • Craftsman
  • Detective
  • Driver
  • Engineer
  • Entrepreneur
  • Farmer
  • Firefighter
  • Laborer
  • Marketer
  • Military
  • Network Specialist
  • Paramedic/EMT
  • Police
  • Project Manager
  • Sales Representative

I don't see me jumping into the sales, auditing, driving or engineering areas but it's nice to have a lot of options there. No journalism... doh! Guess, entrepreneur will have to suffice.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

DIY: Bathroom Renovation - Update

Ok, I found that post that I believed Blogger ate. I have to apologize to it as it seems that I posted it in with my CD reviews. I guess that's the problem with running too many blogs for multiple reasons. So for your amusement:

I think you may remember that I mentioned my bathroom renovation project in March. I decided that it would be more work to rip out everything to convert it to a shower than to just fix the offending area. Moisture was definitely getting behind the wall as you can see from this picture. The studs there don't look too healthy (two running vertically), the board that was back there was in pieces and it was rather moldy. This is the cleaned up version. I hit the area with a 50/50 mixture of bleach and water. I was amazed at how well that worked.

Now, I have a room full of supplies to finish the work. The hardest parts will be sizing the green board to cover the most area and drilling the green board into the studs to get the most support. The most boring will be cleaning the mortar off the old tiles with a Dremel and carbide tip. In retrospect, I could have just tried to cut some of the grout out and re-grouted the area but I'd feel dishonest selling the house if the problem persisted. Should be done with this project in a few weeks as I don't have the time to sit there and mess with it quite yet.

Prince - Planet Earth

To tell you the truth, I'm a fickle fan of the 'purple genius.' His hits have always been creative and have been my main interest in his composing. So, breaking from my preconceived notions, I'm diving head-first into a pool of Prince album tracks to explore.

The album opens with the epic album title track. "Planet Earth," builds from beautiful piano twinkling like a star in the sky to a groove about conservation, discrimination and peace on to a ripping guitar meteor shower. At nearly 6 minutes in length, it may be too long to be a single but you never know. The first single, "Guitar," is what you'd expect here. Pomp, strut and attitude with layers of P-Funk and possibly Eddie Van Halen after too many energy drinks. "Somewhere Here On Earth" is a planet away from the first songs as it is horn and piano driven with a soulful delivery. The energy steps up with the playful "The One U Wanna C." Pure seduction oozes "Future Baby Mama" which is one of the more surprising songs on the album. While, "Mr. Goodnight" features a lot of name-dropping, it gives him a chance to offer a near-rap vocal less syncopated than on his hit "Gett Off." Expected to be the second single, "Chelsea Rodgers" is meant for the dancefloor with big horns, extra female vocals and throbbing bass. I don't know what happened by the time "Lion Of Judah" and "Resolution" popped up but they aren't memorable moments.

The water was amazingly warm and I found myself enjoying a majority of this album. If there is any criticism, it is that the end begs for the beginning as it is top heavy with strong tracks. I did have to deduct for having no album credits in this version (heck, the disc and the case didn't even list the song titles or track order.) But, Prince really shows his versatility as an artist here and Planet Earth is as diverse and possibly misunderstood as the third planet from the sun.

3.5 of 5

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Then To Now: 17 Years In Photos

I'm not big on having pictures of me taken. I don't know why. It may be from being in a photo lab during one of my first jobs and the camera people needing fresh subject matter. Anyhow, I recently mentioned finding some old photos of myself and decided to put them in a sort of timeline.

Mom found this one and gave it to me as part of my birthday gifts. Here I am 1990 prior to senior prom. Yes, that is a mullet. I spent the next few years growing the front out even longer before getting a job requiring that change. The photo was taken at our house by Mom. For some reason, I think that I look tired and too thin... that's probably just me.

My date that night was my friend Pam. I think this was taken while we were at dinner at the Geisha Steakhouse but then again both of us have copies of this polaroid (I warned her that the photo was going up and she remembered having it also.) I had a good time but still feel guilty that we didn't leave my prom sooner so she could see some people at hers (I went to Bonanza while she was at Clark.) We saw her classmates leaving as soon as we got there.

This is my first and only self-photo. had to be taken about 8 years ago. I was still wearing a lot of black. Still my favorite color but I dress for comfort at home more often now. For some reason, I believe I was on my way out to karaoke at a place called Bob's Paradise (which was just a few blocks away) to meet some friends from AOL.

Mafioso? Well, that's kind of how I felt wearing this suit (left the jacket off for the photo.) Dad took this one. We were at our room in New York prior to attending Tony Bennett's 80th birthday party. Possibly one of my favorite trips. Maybe I still enjoy wearing a lot of black.

Anyhow, I hope you enjoyed this then-to-now view of my photo history. Someday, I'll probably retrieve my favorite photo back (shows my hair at its longest and my gray-green duster.) So, for those who have wondered what I look like, the veil is lifted.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

No Logic In Technologic

As many of you know, I'm a huge fan of Tivo. Sure, I have a DVR also but that would be a Tivo if the new HD channels coming to DirecTV would work with the new HD Tivo. I digress. I also mentioned my issues with my Tivo recently. So, a little IR education and then something to make you scratch your head.

What you see here is a wire that runs from the back of the Tivo to your satellite or cable box. When you press a button to change channels on your Tivo remote, it sends a signal to the infrared lights at the end of the line telling the box to change channels (as if you changed them with the remote for the box.) This is very important to have working well. If it doesn't, Hell's Kitchen will not record because the box doesn't get the message from the Tivo that it needs to change channels. Instead you get an infomercial or something that ticks you off. The covering on the bottom picture is called an IR tent. If you have fluorescent lights in the room, having one of these will block the light from interfering with the signal.

What you see here is the setup in my bedroom. Satellite box on top of the Tivo on the first shelf and DVD player/burner on top of the VCR one shelf down. As you can see, the IR cables and tent aren't hooked to the front of the satellite box currently. I gave up trying to fix it as it wouldn't change to the right channel or sometimes not even change channels. Tivo decided to send me a new set of IR cables because they can't be purchased at retail stores. In the meantime, to record a show, I'd have to set the receiver to one channel before going to work so it would record a specific show that evening. (Sure, I could set it up in the living room but I watch a lot of TV in my bedroom while on the computer.) Well, I found that the IR cables were still sending a signal changing the channel away from what I had on there when attached. Hence, I missed Hell's Kitchen and will watch it on Kerry's Tivo.

Now, go back to that picture. See the little cables dangling off the shelf to the right. Those are the IR cables. I decided to just pull them off the receiver until the new ones came so it wouldn't affect my recording (manually changing using the receiver remote) and draped them over the right side so it wouldn't have a chance of changing channels on me. (Zoom in on the photo and take a look and you should see two wires dangling from the Tivo over the side.) Here's what I find myself unable to fathom: it now works this way...without the light from the IR facing the IR sensor on the satellite receiver. All this trouble trying to line up the light coming to the sensor from the two bulbs at the end of the wires were useless. Essentially, it is like having problems with your home phone, you unplug it from the wall and it works fine this way. There is no sensible reason for it to work as the light needs to hit the sensor and it isn't RF (radio frequency.) I received my new cables from Tivo in yesterday's mail. I don't want to mess with something that is working even though, logically, it shouldn't. Those cables are going to sit for awhile. Freaky, I tell ya.