Saturday, December 04, 2010

In Defense Of The Status Quo

Sure, I know that you'd expect me to talking music here and that I'd be posting this to support the band.  No, I'm not, but that "Pictures Of Matchstick Men" was really covered well by Camper Van Beethoven.  I just wanted to take a moment and reflect.

The status quo is a shortened version of the Latin term "in stātu quō ante bellum erat" which meant the way it was before the war.”  By shortening it, we've left it to mean "the way it was."  This has some problems as it is currently used to talk about the way things currently are or (as defined) the existing state of affairs or state of things.  You hear about retaining the status quo, keeping the status quo and challenging the status quo.

A lot of what is said in the use of the phrase is in a derogatory sense noting a need for something different because the results of the 'existing state of affairs' aren't satisfactory.  That is where my sticking point begins.

If a bulb in a lamp goes out in your house, there are tons of options to yield a pleasant outcome.  You may turn on another lamp.  You may move the bulb from one lamp to another.  You may switch on a night light.  You may turn on an appliance or several.  You may grab a flashlight.  You may dismiss it as unimportant (as it may be daylight out)... but we are addressing moving away from the status quo -- which would be the new found darkness.

But the thing we are most knowledgeable is would be our status quo.  We wouldn't want to change it if were weren't entirely aware of what it was first.  Yet, often times we as a society do.  Our resolution to a perceived problem with the way things are would most definitely reflect our viewpoint.  Those viewpoints aren't always shared.  In that same household, one person may want the brightness to read a book, another may require that bulb they moved in another room and another may find a problem with turning on the other lamp as it may be a higher wattage bulb.  I'm sure there are many other viewpoints but not one is more right or wrong than another.

A full understanding the status quo could only yield a better choice.  But, sometimes it isn't the best choice.  And if one considers "the war" as the battle of ideas over resolving a light bulb going out... the "in stātu quō ante bellum erat" would be to replace the bulb with a new one.  Which I know most of you considered as the obvious choice in the first place.  I'm off to go buy a light bulb.

Friday, November 12, 2010

No, Really, I Don't Need An iPhone

If you've read anything posted in this blog or know me well, you'd wonder why I haven't embraced the iPhone yet.  I think about it here and there but I can say that the biggest reason is that I really like the coverage and service I get with Sprint.  I hardly get a dropped call and I have little trouble talking with customer support when an issue arises.  Another reason may be that I don't want a cellphone bill that rivals a car payment.  We have our 3 lines and of those mine gets a hefty amount of usage (and is the only one connected to the Internet.)  If I keep it minimal, it means that it becomes a tool more than a diversion.  (I've seen you Angry Birds addicts.)  A third reason would be that I have my 160GB iPod and don't want to choose what music I need to not put on an iPhone to make it fit.  I like keeping my music collection separate.   There are even more reasons but they aren't as important.

Anyhow, for the last... 5 years or so, I've been using a Sanyo Katana.  (Pictured above.)  Kind of Star Trek-ish in the flip-phone/clam shell style but it's been perfect for my needs for at least the last 4 years.  It was actually pretty funny that Kerry would purchase the Katana II (in pink) when it came out and she's still using it.  That leads us up to yesterday.  You see, for almost a year, the bar that wiggles to create the vibrate mode on the Katana II came loose and since has made a sound like two vinyl albums rubbing vigorously together when set to vibrate.  Can't just have someone crack it open and fix it.  Mine has been good but I do need to send more email while away from the home and office.  A sudden problem with the phone and its Internet settings finally got me to look into a different phone.

Still, I wanted to avoid a data plan, expand my ability to type on the go, broaden my ability to search for things, keep things minimal and stay with the same service.  -- Another thing really should be said here.  After 5 years, how much bacteria do you think can get deep down into the microphone area that you breathe into?  I mean, you can wipe the area but can't really get in there... just sayin'. --  After checking all our criteria, it led us to one device... the Samsung Seek.

The addition of a touch screen allows us to step tenuously into the future.  The slide-out QWERTY keyboard will allow me more versatility with my writing.  Oh, and no charge for the upgrade.  (That helps quite a bit.)  I got one just like the above picture and Kerry went with pink.  No costs, no service changes and no hassle.  The real test will be when they are in our hands in the next few days.  So, for a little longer... no iPhone for me.  And I'm pretty darn content with that.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Perception Of Success

Had a tough week. I like to take myself seriously when discussing music with an artist. Music means a lot to me and rolling around my head are those questions that ride the line between fan and journalist. But, possibly, my avoidance and ignorance of the personal lives of these people puts me in a different place all-together. I am a writer/historian/musicologist and I don't need the sensationalism that comes with trying to corner someone on a personal, sensitive topic.

So, why was it a tough week? Well, I had a chance to talk with a singer-songwriter where I could help him in promoting his new project and lead fans to his Facebook page (in a bid to increase pressure on a record label to reissue his long-out-of-print albums.) To record the interview, I had to go back to some PC technology that I abandoned for the Macbook earlier this year. We ran a test and everything went well prior to the interview. The very likable subject was amazing in the depth of his answers and the time he gave (over an hour.) I would even say that a friendship was made there. I thanked him and went off to edit the recording. It wasn't there.

So, here I felt that I lost a tremendous interview, let down my subject and breached some boundary as a journalist. I just wanted to curl up and get over the funk that overwhelmed me. I quickly sent an email off to the subject and let him know that I felt like I had ran over my best friend's dog. There is a big time difference between us but I heard back about 5 hours later and he had this "sinking feeling" when reading my email as he felt we had "lightning in a bottle" there in our discussion. He offered some time a few days later to re-record. It possibly went better the second time around and didn't come across rehearsed. Of course, we had some hiccups during the live airing of the show (which he stayed in the chat room and talked to our listeners) but in the end... it came out pretty good.

So, what can be said here is that success is a perception issue. I recall hearing that some of the biggest success stories in business came after at least 10 failed businesses. I can see that with relationships as well. What seems like failure sometimes are the steps toward success. Yes, having what you viewed as success ripped from your hands by technology or human error is heartbreaking but sometimes it is an unseen step towards something greater. It also helps to treat people with honesty and respect as they may just smile and say, "Let's try again."

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Bella And Tulip Show 3: Coos Bay

So, here we are on our Hennessy 2010 West Coast Tour. Our first video comes from our stay in Coos Bay, Oregon. Tons of trees everywhere you look. The in-law's place is surrounded by a veritable forest with winding paths that I have yet to explore. On the first day there, we followed Bella who enthusiastically showed us around. Tulip and David make some guest appearances.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Hennessy West Coast Tour 2010

As most of you know, I don't travel often. I think it's because I like not being on a schedule for all things. I break out of the box today as we head out for Coos Bay, Oregon, to get our son from his grandparents. We'll stay there a few days and then head north to Bremerton, Washington, to his other grandparents' house for 3 days. Then back down to Coos Bay for 3 days (and where I'll be able to record one of the episodes of Talking 80s Music live.) After that, we head to Sacramento to see my a bunch of family on my side. (My sister and I were born there before relocating to Vegas when I was 2.) Then to Reno to see my friend Tracy. After that maybe we'll have time to putter through Carson City and Virginia City before returning to Las Vegas.

Yes, it sounds kinda harried, but we will get a lot in and I figure that it will be a great way to show David two state capitols in one trip. We also have an odd plan for music in the car. We each have our iPods and whenever we stop somewhere we will switch iPods but only play songs on the Top Rated list. Should be fun and educating (well... maybe more so for David as he hears a lot of songs he wouldn't otherwise.)

Tons of technology coming with us on the trip. (It'll be a test of the GPS.) Maybe a few videos will be filmed while there. We will also be taking the dogs (as it would be like making a mortgage payment if we left them somewhere.) Should be quite an amazing journey and I can't wait. Still got the a little jitters about walking away from the known around me for so long.

P.S. - The exact points on the map may not be factually correct as it was rushed and I've never been to either state.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Life Update: 062510

I know, I haven't been keeping you up to date on a lot of things. I think it's just getting a bit mad over here. So let's start with some fresh stuff:

  1. Remember that video I posted for my niece Meagan? (Pictured above... a favorite photo of mine.) It seems that a few things happened. Wet Seal wasn't ready for the idea of social media driving people to the videos in their search for their next model. So, they went through and cut 25 instead and are down to 75. To get to final 25 (of which a winner will be chosen by Wet Seal), Facebook members can vote "once per day per person" at this link. Oddly enough, there is a Megan there... don't be confused. Look for the color photo to the far left about 5 rows from the bottom. It also looks like you might have to click the "Like" above on the page to get the vote to count. I thank all of you that voted and helped her get this far. Voting ends July 5th.
  2. Went to help my mother pack for a bit as she moves closer to my sister in Boulder City. Yes, I'm envious. Beautiful town and close to the lake. Her poor dogs were sick the whole time we were packing, so I think we got a lot less done that we should have.
  3. One week away from what I've been calling our West Coast tour. Going to see 2 sets of in-laws and then my grandmother, aunts, uncles and cousins in Sacramento before seeing Tracy in Reno and maybe visiting a few northern Nevada landmarks. Oh... and we are taking the dogs. We bought sedatives... for them (sigh.)
  4. The next few shows will be pre-recorded for Talking 80s Music to allow me to travel (and not bring a huge collection of gear in tow.) I wound up sending a last minute email to our featured act this week, Jon Astley, and wound up with the best non-interview I've ever done. Might splice it together to put with the text interviews at 80s Music Central. Very nice of him to do that for us.
  5. Bark Off. I know, you've seen the commercials and thought... that can't work. We decided to try it out. It took a few times but it definitely calmed the house down. Bella hated it enough to try to chew into it today. No fear we have 3 more ready and waiting.
  6. I guess there will be stress involved with going on a stress-relieving (or is it reliving?) trip. I'll just be happy once we are on the road. Should be doing a show live from Coos Bay, Oregon.
I'm off to get some more news writing done for this week's show but I hope all is well over there with you.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Help Meagan: Wet Seal 2010

I know. Usually, I say... "hey, look into this band" or "you really ought to look into this." It isn't often that I ask you to view a video on YouTube (despite the fact that I've been posting more and more to the site.)

Recently, my niece Meagan was accepted as one of 100 contestants competing to be a spokesmodel for Wet Seal for 2010. Her chance of getting to the next round entirely depends on how many views her video gets. I don't ask for much but if I can help my niece get to the next phase... I will have done all I can to help her. Help me, help her. View this video. Send it to friends. Ask them to send it along.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Bella And Tulip Show: BandT Park 2

We figured that it was time to bring in a few guest stars. Most shows have guest stars, right? We just stumbled on two other puggles that look identical (we would lose track of who was who.) Goes to remind us that even though most puggles look similar, there are always anomalies like Bella.

The Bella And Tulip Show: BandT Park

Since I'm going strong, here's our first episode of The Bella And Tulip Show: BandT Park. Who would have thought that documenting the regular goings on at a dog park could rank right up there with cutting your wrists?

David Tennis 053010

Remember when I said earlier that I felt bad about not posting anything recently? Well, I've been taking David out on the tennis court each week and decided to record a little of today's work out with you -- family and friends. It'll be good to give him something to look back on and say "I'm a lot better now, huh?"

Friday, May 21, 2010

Things Taking Shape

I often like to use the word 'projects' when discussing the future. Some of these projects in the past were the newsletter, website, show, blog and other things. Things have been so busy with the new projects that I've neglected you here. So, I'll mention just a few:
1. One of the biggest projects is learning how to use this thing pictured above. It's a fully-loaded 13" Macbook Pro. For someone like me, that has been around and put computers together for well... way too long, it's a major shift. Things aren't were they are supposed to be. You don't remove things the same way. You wind up hunting for items or options that are right in front of your face. It's getting better. Hard to assess the battery life as it keeps running down so much when I'm using it. May be something to address in the future. But, Kerry loves the thing. It requires her not being around to get a few moments alone with it. Yet, I now have a lot of the most important software installed.

2. Been working on taking Talking 80s Music mobile using the aforementioned laptop. The show is hard enough to get through sometimes with the technological unpredictability of using the software and hardware I've been using for the last 3+ years. You may then understand my trepidation... no, fear of changing to something that could be even more unpredictable. It has to be done, though. We'll make the attempt during the episode after this one.

3. Picked up a video recorder a bit ago. Had 3 to 4 ideas for video series that I wanted to create. (Which has me considering placing almost everything I've been doing under the umbrella of a self-formed media group.) I'm expecting the first of these to launch after we convert to mobile.

4. We stopped publication of The 80s Nuts Newsletter after 12+ years. Kind of... You see, spending that long focused on cooking doesn't make you stop watching cooking shows or fiddling around in the kitchen. The passion for the news continues and may not always pop up on the show. So we created a blog (hahaha... kinda fitting isn't it) that will collect all those articles as they get posted. The good thing about it is that when I mention a video coming out... I can show it to you. When a free download is available, you can just click a link to it. It's the step we should have taken 5 years ago.

5. Been spending more time on the tennis court. (For those that know me, you are probably shaking your heads.) I've found a renewed passion for teaching while working with my son. Looking at doing some charity work utilizing these tools and have a few ideas lined up for later this year.

....oh, there are more but I won't bore you with them. I also didn't want to leave you out of the loop so long. Everything is going well over here and I hope all is good there with you.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Saying Goodbye To A Decade's Work

Busy day tomorrow, but I wanted to take a moment and express my thanks to all those that followed the 80s Nuts Newsletter in its more than decade-long journey celebrating the music of a decade. Today, I announced an end to that journey. Not easy.

Maybe it's a sign of O.C.D. but when you start doing something weekly that people enjoy (and in your own head think: depend on and expect), you keep going. My problem is that I create ongoing projects. I do that very well, in fact. But, one has to expect an end in there somewhere. And after more than 520 issues of the newsletter, I'll be putting it to rest on Apr. 23rd.

It's not easy. It's letting go of an obsession for covering the information better and more extensively than anyone else. I also have to re-evaluate 80s Music Central and Talking 80s Music. The latter could still have a purpose as a series focused on specific recording artists each week -- sans the news.

The problem with having so many ongoing projects is that the new ones that I'd like to start are held back. There are a few new video series that I have in my head. I have a few charitable projects that I'd like to launch. Each take time and effort but won't be the same solo effort. Any of these future endeavors will be team Hennessy or nothing. It's going to take some time to adjust as it feels like I'm grieving but I see a bright future ahead.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Time To Make An Adjustment

Got a lot in my head right now. Been looking at my multitude of project ideas and my limited time to implement them. Some of it is because other ideas blossomed and took over big chunks of time. I'm not unhappy about that... and oddly enough, neither is the wife. She turned to me the other day and said, "You are always going to have a hobby." From the statement, it doesn't seem like much but, in the context of the conversation, she understands that I'll always have a project in my head that I want to take to the next step. Like a hobby, it keeps me busy through most of my free time but not enough to ignore family.

So, as I work out the logistics this month, I'll be shutting... well, probably more like changing the door on one of my longest running projects. Passions must continue but the also have to evolve some. We'll see how it all works out shortly.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

In This Corner

I was thinking about it yesterday. I was looking at David and thinking about what kind of turbulent love life he's going to lead. The crushes, the cold shoulders, the love notes and the less than amicable partings. They all take you somewhere though.

I say that because we all have a journey to find ourselves. (No, not in that existential or emotional retreating phraseology.) Some of us know early on and are literally blessed with self knowledge. For me, it was coming to terms with who I am, what I want and who I need to surround myself with and put in my corner for the biggest fights of my life. I chased, I flirted, I teased and I begged but, each time a parting came, I discovered a bit more of who I was. I'd look back and wonder, "What the heck was I thinking?" I started to try to make myself happy and not believe my happiness was the water that overflowed from my filling the empty vessel belonging to someone else. You can't go blindly throwing everything you have into a relationship hoping it will yield the same force back. That is... unless you find your cornerman or cornerwoman.

I'm up looking at the clock thinking... 2 years ago today, I made an amazing acceptance. I found an amazing woman. Her heart is open, loving and tender but it's ready to put itself into harms way for a select few. She strives to do better for her family. Her worries of letting people down prods her to go above and beyond. She would give up her own happiness to make her son, her husband or any member her family happy. And... she's much much more.  I can't express everything that she is to me but there is no need to catch overflowing water when your vessel is also being filled. There is also no blindness when you see the active force of love coming back at you. I'm blessed to have found you, sweetheart, and you make me all that I can be.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Only Garth

I know that it looks like I'm starting to promote Las Vegas concerts. You may be partially right there. My wife is a huge fan of Garth Brooks. I'm a fan but never saw him live before. She's such a big fan that she woke me up, from a dead sleep, excited with the news that Brooks would start performing at the Wynn in Las Vegas at the end of last year. We couldn't afford the tickets early on and waited. Our tax return and the timing of our anniversary made tonight's performance a must.

She had the purchase of the tickets all worked out. She would wake up early, set up a few computers and two phones with the intention to get through and get tickets. The excitement faded after a few hours. The venue had just launched their anti-scalping policy which pretty much locked up their servers and phone lines. The phones were busy and the window applet that said she was 'in cue' would just time-out. Frustrated, she told me that she was done and was going to her mother's house to feed the dogs. When she returned, she tried again... and got through. The smile on her face when she came to tell me "Guess what?" had replaced the tears from earlier. We were to go with our friends Jennifer and Ryan (but that is a long story that, to protect the names of the innocent, must be saved for my memoirs -- due out July 26th 2041 via Simon & Schuster.)

Getting the tickets there was a breeze and they even had refreshments if the lines got bad. The solitary guitar sitting on its stand on the stage, viewed when walking into the Encore Theater, tells you right-away that it was going to be an intimate show. It was. As you may know, I'm first and foremost a fan of music history more than a particular artist. Brooks takes you along his personal history and I'm sure more than half of the audience went home to Google the likes of Merle Haggard, George Jones, James Taylor, Simon & Garfunkel, Gladys Knight And The Pips, George Strait, Reba McEntire and Chris LeDoux (among others.) He teased with renditions of those songs -- laying the basis for what would become his own sound. Personal, laugh-out-loud humorous and thoughtful, you get to see a side of Garth that few do. He didn't let fans down that wanted to hear his songs either... you might have thought that from the description. He ripped into several classics, tested himself with a few songs the audience threw at him and brought out his wife Trisha Yearwood for a duet and her own hit single before winding down the show himself.

I have seen a lot of concerts. I don't review them often because the recorded medium and live arena are so different yet many just want to hear 'the hits' played just like on the album. That's not the way to judge a live performance. Of all the shows that I've seen, Garth Brooks' current low-key (a man and his guitar) set was quite possibly the best that I've ever seen. If you weren't a fan, you became one. If you were a fan, you got to know the man. And, I don't think that you can put a price tag on that.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Do You Want Another One? -- Happy Anniversary, Tulip

I figure that it's time to tell a dog story. This one takes us back to just about this moment a whole 365 days ago. It had been an interesting 4 months with our puggle puppy Bella. She was chewing on everything and excreting about anywhere she could. When we went to pick her up for David's birthday, Kerry and I discussed dog names and she said, "I've always wanted to call a dog Tulip." I told her that there was no way I would call a dog that. So, Twilight fan that she was... she had another name set aside. So when we put the puppy in the car, I asked David what he wanted to call her. He asked his mom what she thought was a good name... hence, Bella came into our home and vocabulary.

So it was now 4 months or so later and I'm sitting at work. My friend Corey came up to me out of the blue and asked, "Do you want another one?" Of course, my reaction is, "Another what?" So he goes on to explain that his wife has a bad habit of scanning the LIED Animal Shelter dog listings every night and she found another puggle. I didn't know what to think. If you asked me a year beforehand if I'd wanted even one dog, I'd have said that I didn't have the time, energy or room to devote to one. Now, I was entertaining the idea of a second dog. So, I told him that I'd check it out online and see if it was still there.

Kerry woke up when I got home early the next morning (as I usually do.) I was checking it out online and told her the story. We then both looked online and saw a very small photo. We talked about how another more mature dog could calm Bella down and keep her company when we weren't there. We decided that I'd go to the shelter the following morning and check out the dog just for kicks. I woke up early on March 5th and walked through the area looking at all the dogs. I didn't see this puggle anywhere and was heading back towards the car when I decided to ask someone.

When I asked about the dog, the man at the desk's eyes lit up. "You've come to check her out? She's such a sweetheart. We have no idea why she's been here this long. Here, let me get someone to show you where she is." She was there for well over a month (or about 3 if I remember right.) I guess, there is a viewing area and an area in back where dogs can go potty and sit in the sun a little... so I didn't see her. I used my cellphone and took a few photos of this shy little dog and sent them to Kerry. She quickly responded, "Get her! Get her now!" So, I didn't protest. We went to a little fenced-in grass area to see how she'd get along with me. She kind of kept to herself but was very calm. She would even hide behind the worker's leg. She'd been abandoned and that can't do well in the area of trust. "I'll take her," I said.

I sat there filling out the paperwork at LIED and it really hadn't hit me yet. The same man that called her a 'sweetheart' told me that because she'd been there so long, they'd let her go for... $25. Yes, that's right. After I got my jaw off the floor and handed him the money, he had me resume the paperwork. That's when he said, "You can wait to name her if you want and send the rest of the papers in later." If you know me by now, I don't do well with loose deadlines so I wanted it out of the way. That's when I remembered how Kerry really wanted a dog named Tulip. I started biting my nails. Was I going to break any manly oath that I'd made to myself to not name a dog after a flower and please my wife? You bet.

We were still a little concerned as to if she'd been fixed as she didn't have any scars or stitches but we'd later find out that she just healed really well. We hadn't told David and he was even more excited than before (as he'd been avoiding the little chew-monster Bella.) It was when I raised my voice at Bella, my heart first broke for Tulip. She peed right where she stood. Then she slowly went to the other side of the house. She thought I was upset with her and it worried me that this dog had to have gone through some really hard times. Never again! Never again without a home. Never again not knowing she belonged. I had to work later that night, but all I could think about was her adjusting to her new home. Kerry went shopping for a crate and extras on her way home from work.

So, this dog, that hops on our bed in the morning to snuggle near one of my legs, mini-howls when she's excited (usually around food) or licks me just because my hands are near her, has changed me more than I ever expected. We've always thought of Bella as Kerry's dog, as she follows her wherever she goes and snuggles up with her on the recliner at night. Sure, she's David's dog but emotionally, there is a bond there. And I have my own bond with Tulip. She makes me smile for some of the silliest reasons but she also has a piece of my heart that I will never get back. So, I'm thankful that one year ago today, a friend asked me, "Do you want another one?"