Monday, February 27, 2006

Exploring the neighborhood

I needed to get out of the house. The walls felt like they were closing in. So Saturday I hit the road.

I decided to explore a little of the countryside of the Willamette Valley off the Interstate 5 corridor. So I headed for McMinnville and plugged the iPod into the car stereo. While on my Saturday drive I found myself also exploring a touch of the blues music scene of Portland and the Northwest by listening to a podcast I'd downloaded called PDX Bluescast.

I've long enjoyed blues music, but am far from an expert on the genre. I know enough about it to hear its influences in other musical genres like rock, country, jazz and, of course, R&B. But I don't have an extensive blues collection. And to be honest, other than the Waterfront Blues Festival, which I got a chance to attend a few years ago on a visit back to Oregon from California, I didn't realized that Portland had a major blues scene. I'm just dipping my toe into that water.

One of the things I like about the PDX Bluescast is that on the accompanying Web site, you don't have to write notes about the songs and musician you are hearing, because you can go back to the Web site and get those details. I've already discovered a couple of artists and albums I may want to check out. And I've learned that there is a blues song about the small Eastern Oregon town of Baker City. Who would have guessed?

I don't know if the PDX Bluescast site qualifies as a blog, but I've added it to my Blogroll anyway.
As for what I saw on my little road trip? Well, maybe that's a topic for another post.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

iTunes exploration continues

In my last post, I mentioned that I downloaded the new NBC TV show, "Conviction" that debuts next week. I ended up watching the show on my iPod later, and was pleasantly surprised with both the picture quality and the show itself.

I could really see some value to downloading TV shows or movies to the iPod when traveling, although watching the video burns through battery power faster than listening to music only.

As for the show, if you are a fan of the show "Law & Order," you will recognize some of the same production qualities in "Conviction" as well, as they are from the same producer, Dick Wolf.

The show features an ensemble cast, and the pilot episode does a pretty good job of introducing you to the characters and some of the demons they may have to wrestle with in future episodes while telling multiple storylines.

I won't intentionally try to keep my Friday nights free so I can watch this show or "Las Vegas," which is also moving to Fridays. But if I'm home, I know I can at least hang out with these two ensemble cast for a couple of hours and pretend I have a life.

I spent some time exploring my iTunes software and the iTunes music store in a little more depth. I found some interesting features, like the fact that I could create my own mix of music on my iTunes, perhaps to convey a certain mood, and share it with others. For example, you could check out my mix, and if you like it, or even some of the song on it, you could buy the tunes for yourself. It's like sharing music across the miles in a fun, and legal, way. Very interesting.

I'm not sure if I will post any of my playlists or not, but who knows. I also like the Essentials feature, where you can look at recommendation on music from various artists, years or genres decide if you want that music for yourself. And if you do, you can buy the music one song at a time or the whole compilation.

I also plan to check out a couple of podcasts, one on the blues music scene in Portland and one on the Portland music scene in general. I like blues music, so that may be a great add. I'm not sure if the other one will fit my tastes or not, but I'm curious to know more about the music scene in this part of the country.

Maybe I'll listen to some of the podcasts this afternoon while enjoying some of the Willamette Valley scene on a little drive.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Coming to the really small screen

For many years I used to work a swing shift, so prime time episodic televisions was just not my things. Whatever the hot shows were in the early part of this century, I couldn't tell you because I didn't see them because I wasn't home.

Fortunately, that meant I never became part of the whole "Survivor" craze or any of the other plethora of reality TV shows that have become part of our country's pop culture identity. That doesn't mean I haven't seen an episode or two along the way, but I've never seen a whole season.

Thanks to cable and some innovative syndication deals I did become a fan of some shows like "NYPD Blue," "Law & Order" and "West Wing" because they were available at non-prime times on cable networks like A&E and Bravo. I could watch whole batches of seasons in a matter of weeks or months. Of course sometimes I was a season, or two or three behind the curve, but it was all new to me.

Now, I'm working a shift that allows me to be home for prime time viewing, but I my TV viewing habits have not really changed. I still tend to favor cable networks or premium movie channels over broadcast networks. There are some exceptions. I'm still a fan of "West Wing," now in its final season. "Desperate Housewives" has become a favorite. And "Boston Legal" and "Grey's Anatomy" are shows I try not to miss. But I certainly don't plan my week or my life around what's on TV on which days.

So why did I spend part of my evening tonight downloading a TV show to my iPod? I still haven't quite figured that out. When I bought my new iPod just a few short weeks ago I figured I would never use the video feature on the thing. I asked "Why would anyone want to watch a TV show or video on such a tiny screen?" And now here I am downloading a TV show.

But the price was right. It was free. I was tempted to download a few episodes of the classic Saturday morning public service announcements
"Schoolhouse Rock." Remember that series? "Conjunction Junction, what's your function? Hooking up words and phrases and clauses." Or "I'm just a bill, yes I'm only a bill and I'm sitting here on Capitol Hill." But they wanted money for those and I didn't want to see them badly enough again to pay for them.

But NBC is doing something really interesting. They are releasing the pilot for their new series
"Conviction" before the show even premieres on TV. You can download the episode for free through iTunes now and show doesn't broadcast until next Friday.

So, it remains to be seen if I will actually watch the episode on the really small screen of my iPod before the show debuts, or even if I will watch the show on the somewhat bigger screen of my television. But but the price was right. And my Friday nights are pretty dull these days. So, you never can tell.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Still poor

No, the reason you haven't heard from me in the last few days is not that I won the record Powerball lottery jackpot over the weekend. I'm still here. Still poor. Just too lazy to post, um, I mean busy -- too busy to post.

Yea, that's it.

That and looking through family records to see if I have any family living in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Hey, it's possible. Not that distant relatives would include me in their winnings, but it's still possible.

Have I mentioned how important family is to me, particularly distant family?

Go Huskers!

What the hell else is there in Nebraska that I can say positive things about? Not damn much. Well, there is the Oregon Trail running through there, but I doubt the Powerball Trail is going to lead to this Oregonian's door.

Selfish fucking Nebraskans anyway.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Home is where the fart is

I'm back and it looks like Brat took decent care of the place while I was away. And it's nice to see she didn't paint the walls and rearrange all the furniture, so I can still find my way around.

She got a little mushy there on that Valentine's Day post, but I'll forgive her that, especially now that I know it's OK to let'er rip with a hearty belch -- or fart -- now and again.

Friday, February 10, 2006


I'm so ready for the weekend. And Saturday's Powerball drawing of $250 million.

It would be great to wake up Sunday and start planning in earnest on how I will be spending my immediate retirement.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

It ended today and not in a good way

I quit quitting.

Yesterday I surrendered in my bid to kick the can. Tuesday night I bought a can of Copenhagen, and Wednesday morning I opened it and dipped into it.

Today was scheduled to be my last day on the gum, but in recent days I had fallen off the wagon. Saturday I had done so well. I think I had only 3 pieces of nicotine gum all day, with 6 hours in between pieces. I had planned to try to go 8 hours on Sunday. But Sunday my head was somewhere else and my will to continue was all but gone. I picked up a pack of cigarettes and worked my way through half a pack that day. The pack was gone by Monday and I got another pack.

I'm not sure how to explain why this happened. I'm not sure I even know. But I did make a conscious decision to give up on this bid to quit tobacco. I suppose I could try to justify my decision, explain my reasons, but the only thing I can really say is that when it was getting down to the wire I just couldn't visualize myself without some sort of nicotine crutch. At least not now. Not this week. Not today. My head just wasn't in the right place. My confidence in this, and so many other things, was/is gone.

I'm not proud of it. But I take responsibility for it.

This doesn't mean I'm giving up on wanting to quit. This effort when much smoother, overall, than my last major quitting attempt. And I had done much better at weaning myself off the gum this time. Last time I was smacking nicotine gum for about 6 months and never really followed a program or reduced my usage. So at least this time I got my overall nicotine use down.

I will try again. And I won't wait so long to make the attempt next time. Maybe a month or two. But one thing I realized in all of this is I definitely need something else to focus some of my mental energy on to have a better chance at success. I need something to fill that hole.

Now if I only had a clue what that might be.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Friends at always low prices

I blame Garth Brooks.

I know, I said I wasn't going to buy his new box set, and technically I didn't. But his only CD of not previously released music out of that box set, "The Lost Sessions" went on sale today at Wal-Mart, so I decided to get it. I didn't see any need to buy the box set, when I own all the other CDs in it, but I was curious about "The Lost Sessions" CD.

I haven't been in a Wal-Mart store in a couple of years. I got quite turned off to Wal-Mart when I lived in Southern California. The stores were always packed and you couldn't walk through the aisles with playing a game of human bumper cars. Then I discovered Target stores, and for most of the last 5 1/2 years I lived closer to a Target story and Wal-Mart anyway. So I just didn't go. There was no need to go and certainly no desire to go.

The last time I was in Wal-Mart was a couple of years ago. I was heading home for Christmas and was still a few gifts shy in my shopping list. Since my parents live out in the middle of BFE Eastern Oregon, the options of where to shop anywhere nearby are pretty limited. It was either Wal-Mart or 7-Eleven, so I opted for Wal-Mart.

So tonight after work, I went back to Hillbilly retail heaven. My plan was to buy a CD, one CD only, and leave. But I found myself cruising the aisles, half tempted to get a computer desk which was similar in style to one I'd been looking at but at a much lower price. And then there was the TV, a 27-inch just like I have been thinking about, for less than $200 bucks.

Then there were the CDs. I found the Garth Brooks one I wanted and several others I was interested in for less than $10. So I picked up 4.

And I realized while walking through the store that this was indeed a blue collar shopper's delight. The people milling around were the great unwashed, regular Joes and Janes, Joses and Marias. Common folk. My folk.

Yes, I was surrounded by my people. The same type of people I grew up with and have known all my life. Ordinary folks living ordinary lives.

The thing is, I don't care to much for my people. I have to look at my ugly mug in the mirror every day, why would I want to hang out with people like me? You know who they/we are, they/we are the people who know what NASCAR stands for, have actually owned a set of Kraco car stereo speakers, think The Clapper was a great invention, have actually given (or received) a Chia Pet as a gift, don't snicker when someone says Budweiser is the king of beers (but may argue that Coors or Miller is fuckin' better dude) and own household furniture that the bought in a box and assembled at home.

Damn that Garth Brooks anyhow! I don't need any more friends in low places.

Monday, February 06, 2006

When wildflowers lose their bloom

Somehow I missed the news. My friend Brat had to tell me. And apparently it's official. The engagement between Sheryl Crow and Lance Armstrong has ended.

Even though I confessed a major crush on Sheryl Crow a few months ago before her Portland concert and perhaps may have made a disparaging comment or two directed at Lance Armstrong, I can't exactly rejoice at this news.

For one thing, there is hardly a snowball's chance I'll ever meet Sheryl Crow, let alone realize the celebrity fantasy.

And for another thing, I can empathize with the situation Sheryl and Lance are going through. I don't know who is the wronged party here, or the more wronged party, but loving someone and not seeing that pledge of commitment fulfilled is painful. It fucking sucks.

And it can take a while to get over. I long while sometimes. So, I don't relish their separation. And I wasn't trying to curse their engagement in a
previous post where I threatened (in jest, well, mostly) to thump on Lance Armstrong.

However, if by some weird fluke I should happen to win the Powerball lottery (which is now up to $210 million) and in the jet-setting travels that would ensue, I should happen to meet Sheryl, and she needs a shoulder to lean on and an empathetic ear and heart to hear her tale of woe, I would graciously make myself available. Hey, sometimes you just need someone to cry with until you can laugh, and live and love, again.

I think Brat would understand. Wouldn't she? Maybe concert tickets and a backstage pass would smooth things over.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

One of those days

It's one of those days. One of those bad days.

There is no logic to it. I just woke up in a funk and can't shake it. Of course buying beer to drink while watching the Super Bowl was probably not the best idea, alcohol being a depressant and all.

I'm not sure that Seattle winning the Super Bowl would have even helped.

I hate days like this. I can't blame this one on the weather. The sun was out today, signing brightly. This is cause by some sort of internal storm. Some turmoil between the head and the heart where logic can't convince emotion that everything is OK, or will be.

It's one of those days. A dark, gray day in spite of the earlier blue skies and sunshine.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

No power in the balls

I didn't wake up rich.

I haven't checked my lottery ticket yet, but I know I didn't win the big
Powerball prize, because no one did. The jackpot for Saturday's drawing now grows to an estimated $180 million.

So, if you were planning to hit me up for a loan today, get over it. I may be hitting you up for one instead, so I can buy a ticket for Saturday's drawing.

And since I didn't wake up rich, I guess I better go to work. Damn, I hate it when that happens. And even worse, that damn groundhog saw its shadow, so supposedly we are in for six more weeks of winter weather. I really hate when that happens. Someone needs to take the little furry fucker out for forecasting such misery.

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