Saturday, February 28, 2009

Poignant Video--Rocky Mountain News

I just watched a rather long and quite poignant video about the closure of the Rocky Mountain News. It's on the RMN website, at least it is today...the video is on the home page and all you have to do is click to start it. You'll need a high speed Internet connection to view and hear it; it's well worth watching.

http://www.rockymountainnews.com/

Friday, February 27, 2009

Deliriously Happy

I am as happy as a pig in shit.

Some of my favorite pieces of music are: Sisters of Mercy; Bird on a Wire; Democracy; A Thousand Kisses Deep; Here it Is; Suzanne; Tacoma Trailer; Dance Me to the End of Love; Who by Fire; Everybody Knows; Ain't No Cure for Love...I could go on. Imagine, then, that I will be able to hear at least some of those performed live in a concert venue in which I am just a few rows away from the stage.

This morning, I was able to secure two very expensive tickets to see Leonard Cohen in concert on April 3 at the Nokia Theater in Grand Prairie. That's a suburb of Dallas. I cannot believe it. Leonard Cohen is going to perform in Texas. Apparently, there are others like me out in the world. They've just been hiding.

For a person like me who finds celebrity worshop a disgusting practice engaged in only by very stupid people with very tiny minds, it's hard to understand the way I practically worship Leonard Cohen. I consider him one of the best poets/songwriters of all time. His songs, as hard to follow and as difficult to comprehend as they sometimes are, are works of art. Virtally every one of them is an astonishing accomplishment. His facility with words leaves me in awe.

And I've wanted to see him in person since first started listening to his music and reading his poetry. That was a long, long time ago. I don't know exactly when it was, but I know it was just around the time I went away to college, maybe just before. I started college in the summer of 1972. So it's been well over 30 years. And L.C. has not made a U.S. concert tour in about 15 years. And to my knowlege, he has never played in Texas. But this time, he'll play in Dallas and in Austin.

The world has changed. Leonard Cohen has enough fans in Dallas to warrant a concert?! How could I not have known? Who are these people? The only person I know in the D/FW area who appreciates Leonard Cohen's music is a guy who's involved in one of my client organizations. Most people I know either don't know who he is or have only a vague sense of who he is and his music.

I don't even like concerts. Never have. But this will be an amazing exception. This concert will add to my rare concert experiences that left me very, very happy. I remember seeing Gordon Lightfoot, Mason Williams, and Leo Kottke in concert at various times and being very glad I had the experience. I am sure this experience will be right up there.

L.C. is 72 or 74 years old. An acquaintance of mine said today, when I mentioned that I am going to the concert, "Isn't he a bit long in the tooth?" That comment reminded me that age is immaterial. Genius is genius at any age.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Something We Forgot

Oh. My. God. I was looking at my to-do list today, making sure everything was under control And then it hit me. It wasn't the bad day at the offce that got me upset today. Oh no. It was the simple fact that, despite conversations to the contrary over the years:

We forgot to have children!

Ah, such is life. We'll figure some other way to retire and have younger people pay for it.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

My Story, In Part

I'm back in Dallas, after a brief jaunt to Houston for a client board meeting on Friday and Saturday.

I'd planned on driving part-way on Thursday afternoon so I could spend an evening with a brother 3/4 of the way down, then finish the trip on Friday morning for a 1:30 pm meeting start. But, my workload was sufficiently overwhelming on Thursday that I didn't leave my office until after 6:00 pm and was unwilling to cope with driving south in or about the commute rush...in the dark. So, I headed out around 6:00 am on Friday and went straight to the meeting.

The two half-day meetings were routine and basically uneventful. That's a good thing.

After the Saturday meeting, I allowed myself to be put in the position of driving some meeting participants to Houston Hobby airport, which was far out of my way. That little jaunt reacquainted me with the horror that is Houston traffic. A 15-minute drive took closer to 45 minutes, then the drive into town to visit my sister briefly was another 30 minutes or so. Houston needs to clear out 60 percent of its population and leave the roads alone; they would then suffice.

After a brief visit with my sister, I headed north to Falba, where my brother and his friend gave me a brief tour of an under-construction 5000 square foot metal building which houses a 2500 square foot house on one side and a 2500 square foot workshop on the other. Above the house is 2500 square feet of attic storage space. Aside from a stone facade and wood doors on one end of the building, the big metal structure doesn't look like much, but the house is going to be a very, very nice home with the benefit of being adjacent to a structure where the owners (other soon-to-be neighbors) can keep their vehicles, tractors, tools, workshop equipment, etc., etc., etc. I like it. I want it.

My brother made spaghetti for dinner after our home tour...lots of sauce, combined with ground beef and a large package of Jimmy Dean bulk hot sausage. I gorged myself. It was fantastic.

He had just bought a 4-drawer file cabinet that was stuffed with Pendaflex folders and he offered to let me have as many as I might want, which was plenty. However, I left this morning (about 6:00 am) without remembering to take a bunch of them...and without remembering to take a CD some friends had given him. The idea was that I would copy the CD and return it to him; the CD is music by a friend of his who's been involved in an 11-year world tour on a green and blue double-decker London bus.

My trip home was uneventful and free of pesky things like speeding tickets which could have reasonably been given to me were there law officers on the prowl for speeders along the route. I needed to get home to be able to meet the DirecTV installer, who's supposed to come today to properly hook up the satellite dish so that our DirecTV receivers, as well as our DVD players, work. The first try, over a week ago, resulted in good satellite reception but I discovered, only after the guy left, that the DVD players were not installed. And when I tried to figure out how to repair the incorrect installation, I realized I was not meant to be an installer. So I called.

Aside from everything else that has happened in my life since I last reported in here, this is my story in part.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Immaturity at an Advanced Age

I told a client today, in anger, that I'm tired of micromanagement and fed up with dealing with people who don't have their own jobs to do and so they try to do mine. I had intentionally not responded to an email yesterday because I knew I would lose my temper if I did. So I waited until the morning when I thought I could be more calm and less stressed out. It didn't work.

I wish it had, but it didn't.

So, maybe I screwed up big time. I sometimes think I'm trying to sabotage myself. It's the coward's way out of an unpleasant situation. I should grow up and resign the fucking account and deal with the consequences or, if that's too ugly, just deal with it.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

February 14--In Love with Good Food.



We had a late burger snack about mid-afternoon today, after having burgers for a very early lunch. When we drove past Del's Charcoal Burgers (Polk at McKinney in Richardson) and saw that it was open, we just had to. You can't tell from the photo, but Del's is essentially all by itself in an isolated little pocket of Richardson. And we've never seen it open! So, to see it open just after 3:00 pm today was a shock. Despite the fact that we'd eaten at (I shudder to admit) Fuddrucker's for an 11:00 am lunch, we decided to pop in to Del's. We got one burger and one home-made root beer, cut the burger in half, and enjoyed ourselves immensely. The burger was very good (not the best I've ever had, but quite good) and the root beer was extraordinary...served in an exceptionally frosty mug that instantly froze root beer and foam to the glass.

Then, tonight, my wife made her out-of-this-world lassagna and giant bread sticks. Food of the gods. No question!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Happy V-Day

Happy Valentine's Day. That's all I have to say at the moment.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Spirituality in Me Takes Over

I took this off the CNN website this morning:

The most recent Gallup poll on the issue, conducted in May, found that only 14 percent of Americans believe that humans developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life. Forty-four percent believe that God created human beings almost overnight within the past 10,000 years, and another 36 percent believe that God guided humans' evolution from animals over a much longer period of time.

There is no hope for mankind. A plurality of the population believe humans were created overnight within the past 10,000 years? Forget being embarrassed to share a state with our ex-President; I'm embarrasse to share a species with 44 percent of the population.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Conversationalists

There's nothing of consequence to report. I want to converse, but the conversationalists are elsewhere. Or maybe they have things to say and they don't have an interest in the things I want them to hear.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

My Gloriously Creative Day

It was only 6-1/2 hours ago that I went to bed. I've been awake for well over an hour and have done my Sunday morning routine:
  • shower,
  • shave,
  • brush teeth,
  • get dressed,
    empty dishwasher and dish drainer,
  • load dishwasher with last night's dishes,
  • clean pots on stove,
  • make coffee,
  • check to make sure Matilda (the duck carved from the roots of a tropical tree) is still on guard in the back yard,
  • verify that Raul (the rabbit made from clay) is still vigilant,
  • and accomplish other miscellaneous Sunday morning tasks.
Then, after my wife arose, we had a breakfast of toasted bread (or, her case, toasted hoagie buns) coated with her special guacamole (crushed avocadoes mixed with salt and crushed jalape├▒os) and then topped with turkey bacon. Food of the gods.

As I contemplate these Herculean feats, it occurs to me that we (my wife and I) have a tendency to attach names to inanimate "pretend" animals. Maybe that's because we have no real pets. Despite my desire to have a pocket-sized dog.

I said just yesterday (or was it the day before) that I would blog only when I have something of import to say. My Sunday morning routine and our practice of assigning names to wood and fired clay does not qualify as having "import." So, to make up for this momentary lapse, I will examine, briefly, the state of animals in the U.S. today.

Too many people do not take seriously their responsibilities toward pets. Many people seem to obtain pets on a whim and quickly tire of them and then they either abandon them or take them to shelters. Most shelters have limited space and resources and cannot cope with the volume of animals that find their way to the protection of the shelter. And, so, the animals are euthanized. That is barbaric. Of course I understand many shelters have no choice. It's the people who abandon their pets who are barbaric. If someone truly cannot care for, or can no longer afford, a pet, that person should make it his or her mission in life to find a good home for the animal. It's too easy to dump the "problem" on someone else.

People who simply abandon their pets are far worse, though. Those people are heartless bastards who deserve to be staked naked to a steel pole in a hyaena habitat, after having been "softened up" with a broken whiskey bottle wielded by an angry drunk.

OK, now that's out of my system, at least temporarily, here's my plan for the day:
  • Take this miserable excuse for a notebook computer (Sony Vaio) to Micro Center to see if they can find out why it drops my Internet connection after a minute or an hour or two and then cannot reestablish it without me rebooting the computer;
  • Look at mini-notebook computers for my office...computers we could use on-site for client event, board meetings, and the like;
  • Stock up on fresh vegetables from Fiesta, where such things are 1/4 the price at Tom Thumb or Kroger;
  • Plan lunches for the upcoming week and, if I'm energetic, make them so I can be lazy in the mornings;
  • Consider buying several trees to plant in my front and back yards within the next couple of weeks;
  • Send a homeowner database for my homeowners association to the association president so SHE can deal with creating a new directory; and
  • Chill.


So, there you have it. Don't you?

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Hope? Change?

Last July, on another blog that I used to write but have ignored for quite some time, I wrote a scathing diatribe against Barack Obama, who I called a bastard for ignoring his promise to withhold support of the horrific abuses of the FISA law in which the Bush administration engaged. I got over it and I voted for him. But he ignored yet another promise and is behaving as if he is preparing to abandon his principles across the board.

His latest broken promise was the one in which he promised not to sign any law, except in emergencies, before giving the public five days to comment. Well, he signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (which I heartily endorse, by the way) with virtually no notice at all. He seems to think that he need not worry about giving the public time to comment if he feels his "base" will support the law. That's stupid, bad politics, and a broken promise.

Another Obama characteristic with which I have enormous problems is his irrational love affair with unions and his abandonment of good sense when addressing policies when those policies involve unions. Again, I'm in favor of unions in general, especially when the employers with whom they bargain on behalf of workers have behaved badly and cannot be trusted. But Obama is abandoning all sense of reason by engaging in a love-fest with unions that is economically dangerous and utterly anti-business. The so-called Employee Free Choice Act, which would strip employees of the right to secret ballots in deciding whether to have a union represent them, is one such dangerous move. Why, I wonder, do unions need to strip employees of their right to decide, in private, whether to be represented by unions? Could it be that they need to protect their intimidation tactics from the light of day? Why, when unions come out ahead in more than 60 percent of employee votes, do they need more help by requiring employers to recognize unions if only 51% of employees sign a "check card" in support of a union? Historically, many employees who originally supported a union in their workplace changed their minds when they voted in secret...that is a very telling fact.

Something else that bothers me today about Obama is the fact that he's utterly ignoring the public outcry for transparency in the "deals" that are being worked out with respect to his proposed bailout. This is the man who espoused integrity and openness as characteristics of a good leader and said he had those characteristics and would live by them in his administration.

When either party is in a lopsided power position, it cannot be trusted, nor can its leaders. I've spoken before of a revolution in this country to remove the career criminals and "favor-mongers" from the seats of power. I think that call was more appropriate than even I might have thought at the time. I so hoped for "change."

Well, I guess we got it. But it's not what I had in mind. I had hoped we wouldn't simply be trading in Republican corruption for Democratic corruption. Hope. Hah!

The Economy: I'll be Watching

I've been ignoring this blog this week, thanks to the distractions of Facebook and my own slothful frame of mind. That will stop. Despite the odd appeal of Facebook, it is fundamentally a distraction to me and a mindless one at that.

For the immediate future, I'm going to try to discipline myself to write in this blog on a more regular basis. Oh, I know, I shouldn't let the blog become my master! Not bloody likely. But I WANT to put my thoughts down so I can come back later and marvel at my self-importance and exceptional shallowness.

Like most people today, I suspect, the economy is on my mind. Questions about the need for a bailout, the proper structure of a bailout if indeed it is necessary, and the consequences of failing to either do anything or to do the wrong thing weigh on my mind.

I think the unthinkable. I ask the questions: what if the economy utterly and completely tanks? What if the economy goes into such a tailspin that the entities and organizations that provide basic services like electricity, potable water, etc. grind to a halt? I know the common response is that "they" or "we" or "the government" would never let that happen. I don't believe "they" or "we" or "the government" would know what to do to prevent it. Even if there are people who truly do understand the full framework of the economy and know just the right buttons to push to get it back on track, I believe those "buttons" would have to be punched in a slow and agonizing sequence and that, in the interim, most of us who are not at the head of the priority list would have to do without.

I'm not a doomsday sayer nor do I predict the imminent collapse of the economy, but I am not a pollyanna; I know the world's economy is too complex to be easily controllable. I think it's reasonable for reasonable people to consider whether they can and should act now to prepare for the potential of a cataclymic economic collapse.

If the electric power grid went down today, what would I do? How would my business operate? How quickly would grocery stores, which depend on power not only for their freezers and coolers but also to allow them to process credit cards, close their doors or run out of food? Do you have plenty of food to keep you alive until you can plant a garden and start to survive off of what you gro?

No stop lights in a city like Dallas could quickly lead to gridlock...but maybe the lack of power would keep people off the streets so that would not be an issue. But no power also means the pumping stations that deliver water to our homes and offices would stop working. How many of us have a long-term supply of potable water at our immediate disposal? And, of course, no power means no quick way to get gasoline out of the underground storage tanks at gas stations.

Let's assume, though, that an economic Armageddon does not hit us through the power grid. Let's assume it simply grinds most business to a halt. Then, we'd have to rely on our savings to get by...assuming we could get at our savings and that our savings have value in the midst of an economic calamity. And how many of us would have enough, even if the value of the dollar were to maintain some semblance of its current value, to continue to pay our mortgages, put food on the table, and cover other necessary expenses? If the economy went utterly haywire, how many more of us would lose our homes? And where would we go?

I would go on and on with horrific scenarios that paint a bleak picture of our lives if the economy were to completely collapse. We've grown so dependent on a fast-moving, consumer-focused, high-living economy that we don't know anything else. What would we do? How would we get by?

If I knew the answers, I'd be far more comfortable than I am and I would be sought after by the politicians who admit they don't have the answer. I'm just asking the questions and wondering if I should become a survivalist, starting today. Should I go to the store and stock up on cannned food? Fill up my bathtub with water? Buy a shotgun just in case things get ugly?

No, not yet. I'm going to acknowledge that I've long since put my life in the hands of people I consider to be self-serving idiots. But I'll be watching, and watching closely.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Good Night, OK?

Last night, I went to bed at about 11:30. By 3:30, I knew it would be one of those nights. I drifted off a few times, but as a rule, I was awake all night until about 4:30. Then I fell asleep. And I had a hell of a time getting up at 6:30. When I was jarred awake at 6:10 by my alarm, then at 6:15 by my wife's alarm, then at 6:30 by the show door slamming shut, I knew it would be Monday. In slow motion.

It's 10:20 now. I'm going to try to do tonight what I was unable to do last night.