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.