Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Happy Blogaversary to Me!!

Jumping in with both feet!

Yep, it's happening! After having lurked around a number of blogs, and hearing from others who are trying it themselves, I figured I'd better give it a shot myself! No promises here. Maybe alot, maybe a little. We'll see where it goes from here....

That was it.  My very first post I ever wrote.  Eight long years ago.  I missed the actual blogaversary, which was Saturday, but it's given me time to think about what's transpired in eight years. 

Lots and lots of new friends made.  More travels than in the previous 47 years combined.  Two deaths within the immediate family.  Two deaths within my online friends.  Lots of births.  Lots of graduations.  Some divorces.  Some weddings.  Lots of kids growing up in front of my eyes!!  Too much cancer.  Too many hospital visits.  Lots of eye-opening.  Lots of mind-opening.  An incredible amount of good. 

Oh, and boobies.  Lots of boobies.

Yes, it's been a good eight years!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Things That Irk

 Just some things that have gotten under my skin over the past few weeks...
  • Stick Figure Families - cute idea when they first came out.  not so much anymore.
  • Magnetic Ribbons on Cars - yellow ribbons, cancer ribbons, save-the-spotted-owl ribbons...
  • Convenient Patriotism - particularly after 9/11, but on occasion since then.  why such a rush to buy flags?  if you were truly patriotic, you'd have already owned at least one.  patriotism shouldn't be similar to following your current favorite sports team.
  • Political Ads/Signs - pretty much ineffective, in my mind.  the money spent on political advertising could be so much better spent in other ways...
  • Commercials Using Covers of Rock Songs - biggest offenders at the moment are really bad versions of "Footloose" (Chase Bank) and "Old Time Rock & Roll" (Shark Pro Steam Pocket--really???).  Kenny and Bob will spin in their graves for a long time (I know, they're not dead yet...).
  • National Rifle Association - this once well-respected organization is now being led by nutjobs.
  • Montana Senate Republicans - even though they hold the majority in the MT Senate, they have had a very public split between nutjobs and "Reagan Republicans".  unfortunately, the nutjobs are in the majority in that party, so be sure to check back to see what they try to get passed.  on the other hand, maybe the minority Republicans will side with the Dems on the really wacko stuff...

Friday, January 11, 2013


It's been brought to my attention by those around me that "jackass" has become my new favorite word.  I can live with that.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


This is my first post of 2013.  It should be an inspirational one.

But it's not.

Monday, December 31, 2012

The Highs and Lows of 2012 - The Highs

I actually found 2012 to be a pretty good year. When making these lists, I found more "Highs" than "Lows", and that's a good thing! Nothing surprising or earth-shattering though. Be sure to read the post below this one first!! It's my "Lows" list. Makes the "Highs" list much better (most have links back to posts).
"The 10 High Points of 2012"(from less high to highest of the high)

10. Symphony - I noted earlier this year that, in spite of my bitching about symphony stuff, lately it was about production glitches (and frankly, those have declined).  But none of my bitching had anything to do with the actual performances.  That's because we have been having great concerts!  I can't think of any performances over the past year (or longer) that we came out of feeling like we hadn't nailed it.  Without our really realizing it, our performances have been off the charts!

9. New Bathroom - I took far too much joy in this, but after six months of dealing with management about a leaky ceiling, it got repaired.  And because the carpet in the bathroom (yeah--ewww...) was ruined, I got a whole new floor!  It's the little things that please me.

8. iPad - A bout of late night web-surfing in January found me as the winner of a new iPad2.  I'd report about how wonderful it is (it really is), but I've found that I don't use it as often as most people probably do.  That would be due to the proliferation of other Mac/Apple toys around.  Still, I did become one of the cool kids that night!

7. Mahler 8 - I included this separately from #10, because it was an event all its own.  Mahler's Eighth Symphony is one of the largest-scale choral works in the classical concert repertoire, and is often referred to as the "Symphony of A Thousand".  We didn't have that many, but there were a total of about 450 singers and instrumentalists that performed this in May.  In my Symphony position, I was in charge of all sorts of logistics for this, while at the same time, working on producing the summer concert (see #3).  When all was said and done, our production team was praised for how smoothly things ran, as well as anticipating any problems that might arise.  Praise is a wonderful thing!

6. My 55th Birthday - I'm at that point in life where age is just a number, and as that number increases, it bothers me less.  But as I hit 55, I found out that there's numerous "senior discounts" that kick in!  I'm lucky enough that I don't look 55, so if I want to use them, I have to ask for them.  But that's OK.  A small price to pay to save a buck or two!

5. HNT - I believe this is the only thing that appears on both lists.  While I lamented the collapse of the community down below, there's no question that HNT provided plenty of opportunities to meet friends.  And with its retirement, I found that I had more time to do things in the middle of the week.  I really hadn't realized how much time it took to get OHNT posted, or finding ideas for HNT, or actually taking the pictures!  On the other hand, this week's HNT reunion was a nice bit of reminiscing.  All in all, HNT was a good thing!

4. TV Shows - For as little as I watch TV, especially network TV, I found that there were a couple of outstanding things that I could not miss.  First off would be "The Walking Dead".  I am hooked.  I have not missed a single episode (speaking of...Season 3 is on all night tonight!).  I even bagged Sunday night football to watch TWD!  Another bit of wonderfulness was "Hatfield & McCoys".  A fine little mini-series.  Neither of these could ever be found on network TV.  A few other dirty little secrets would be "Hoarders", "To Catch a Predator", and even a bit of "Intervention".  Always good to keep my own self-esteem high!
3. Summer Concert - This year's "Symphony Under the Stars" was a turning point for me.  It's the first one I've been involved with that didn't find me on stage playing.  Instead, I was the project manager.  The producer, if you will.  It was my show.  My decisions.  My organization.  A big-name guest artist, 17,500 audience members, a concert budget approaching $100K, and questionable weather conditions leading up to concert day.  Without tooting my own horn, so to speak, it all came off flawlessly!  Well, to the public eye, anyway.  There were a couple of things that happened that weren't quite the way I envisioned them, but that just gives me the opportunity to fix them next summer!  And yes, I'll be in the same position next year!

2. Yellowstone Park - I was reading something on Facebook in June, and come to find that BFD was going to be vacationing in Yellowstone in June!  That was only about 2-1/2 hours away!  In the state of MT, that's like a quick jaunt to the store to pick up a six pack of beer!  So I imposed upon her to see if she wanted to meet up for a quick afternoon, and after my asking her hubby if that was ok (it was like asking her dad for a first date), I met up with the family in the northern part of the park.  We hiked, we talked, we did all the stuff that normally happens when I meet bloggers.  She was everything I expected, and she's got a kick-ass family too!  The only thing that kept this meeting as #2, is that it was far too short.   

1. OsTour '12 - OsTour '12 took me west to Portland, OR.  It was a much-needed break from the summer around here, and particularly after the summer concert.  I headed out with no real timeline, and not idea how long I'd be away.  In the first days of the trip, I got to meet up with a couple of my very first high school students, whom I hadn't seen in thirty years!  Once I got to Portland, I met up with my best friend from college, and then a series of meets with HNTers, including the Bipolar Diva, Emmy, Addict and Audra!  I left Portland by heading up the Pacific coast of Oregon and Washington, then headed through Bigfoot country east of Seattle.  Other than meeting with the Washington State Police regarding my lead foot, it was a much needed break, and easily ranked as the best "high" of 2012!

There you have it. My "Highs" for 2012.

Many of you are probably already at parties as I'm posting this. I'm staying home and watching "The Walking Dead" all night. I hope that everyone is having a safe but fun NYE! Looking forward to a great 2013!!

The Highs and Lows of 2012 - The Lows

Once again, it's time for my annual recap of the year. In the greater scheme of things, this year was really pretty good. This is my eighth year of doing this, and as I've found in the past, it's hard to come up with ten real "lows". In fact, this year was easily more full of positives than the prior three years combined!  Of course, there were some terrible things that happened in the world, but I won't list those.  This list is filled with things that affected me somewhat directly. They don't necessarily mean they were bad things, or that life as I knew it changed. In fact, you'll probably consider many of these fairly petty.  That's the problem when you had a pretty decent year.  Just things that brought me down or perturbed me during the year. These are what make my "lows" list (the "highs" list can be seen above...):

"The 10 Low Points of 2012"
(from least low to lowest of the low)
10. "New" Blogger - I started blogging in 2005.  Blogger was in its infancy, and had plenty of bugs associated with it.  Enough to drive many over to Wordpress.  I, on the other hand, stuck with Blogger as it turned into a pretty decent and stable platform.  At some point, the geeks at Blogger/Google decided that they needed to make a major overhaul.  For those who were relatively new, it wasn't that big of a deal.  For old-timers like me, it was a fight to the death.  Finally, the last hold-outs were switched over to the "new" Blogger.  Was it a big deal?  No.  Bothersome?  Somewhat.  A pain in the butt?  Most definitely.  After all these months, I still don't like it...

9. Balcony remodel - OK, this one is just frustrating.  The owners of my apartment complex decided that all the balconies needed to be replaced.  Actually, there's some merit to this.  However, the final results are far less than adequate.  There's real problems with the lack of a roof on the top ones, and ceilings for the lower ones, making them fairly unfunctional.  Add to it the shoddy workmanship, and the property value plummets.  And I've found out this winter that the bottom of the door frame to my balcony door was damaged when they ripped out the original flooring.  I now have a half-inch gap where the sub-freezing temps and snow can all blow in...

8. Big Soul - That's the name of the soul band I've been playing in since 2010.  The band itself isn't the downer here.  It's the lack of playing opportunities.  One of the problems with a nine-man band.  Rehearsal scheduling is difficult too.  Sadly, we haven't played since March, and there's nothing on the horizon...

7. The Neighbors - Fortunately, I don't really have to deal with them.  The only time I really see them is when the fire alarm goes off.  Which happened three times this year.  Due to the poor cooking abilities of someone on the first floor.  What I've learned is that I now live in a white trash building.  I believe I might be the oldest tenant.  I know that not everyone who lives here is paying rent--there's more than one family living in a couple of the apartments.  And the ones upstairs have a toddler who has learned how to run.  From one corner of the apartment to the other.  Over and over and over.  Loudly.  An added bonus--I've heard this same running around from the kid at 2 and 3 AM.  Unfortunately, the rent here is some of the cheapest in town and it's not worth it to try to move...

6. Davy Jones - I found myself far more affected by his death than I expected or should have.  It made me reminisce about my youth, my musical influences, and the deaths of celebrities I grew up with.  More deaths are going to come--each one marking a spot in the road map of my life...

5. Health - Not really something that I blogged much about, but my health still consumes more of my time than I'd like it to.  The diabetes is being controlled, though it's a pain in the ass.  I'm in the midst of switching over to a different brand of insulin, so there's the accompanying tweaks to that.  My vision is not as good as it used to be, but that's probably more due to my advanced age.  In addition, my knees are causing all sorts of problems.  I think it's the arthritis that has been genetically passed down from my dad's side of the family.  Some days are good, some are painful.  It's bound to get worse, too.  All I can really do is neutralize the degeneration.  There are days where I wish I would have taken better care of myself...

4. Death of a Friend - Over the past couple of years, I've had to deal with deaths in the family, and the death of a close blogger friend.  This year was pretty free from that sort of thing until I learned that a high school friend had died in late October.  And not just any friend, but an old girlfriend.  And not just an old girlfriend, but the one that I learned about the boundaries of first, second and third base with (nope--no home run).  We hadn't actually spoken to each other in decades, but this news really caught me off guard...

3. Football - I'm rather embarrassed to admit that this one ranks so high (so low?) on the list.  In 2011, the Griz played in the FCS semi-finals, the Saints played in the NAIA Championship game, and my high school alma mater were the state champions.  This year?  The Griz had their first losing season in 20 years, missed the playoffs and lost to the Cats.  The Saints didn't win their conference for the first time since 2000 and missed the playoffs.  The Bruins backed into the playoffs but lost their first game.  It was a painful year as far as my teams were concerned, and sort of put a dark cloud over Helena...

2. HNT/OHNT Retirements - Interestingly, this ranked #2 last year, too.  But for different reasons.  Last year it was because of the unknown.  This year it's because of what was missing all year.  Many blogs I thought I'd continued visiting disappeared.  As did their writers.  Many people I thought I'd still be chatting with after a year disappeared.  Many people I thought I was closer to, I found that perhaps I wasn't.  Being the optimist, I'll take some of the blame on that part, but overall, the HNT community scattered to the winds, and I don't know if I'll ever experience anything similar...

1. Politics - Man, was this year a banner year for bad politics.  Negativity permeated the news at all levels, and social media wasn't spared.  Many FB friends were unfriended by others.  My Facebook friends list didn't take a hit, since I don't really care about the political stance of any of them.  But this meant that my newsfeed was filled with posts from the loonies on the left, the loonies on the right, and the loonies that didn't have a clue what they were talking about.  I saw more misleading graphs, quotes and polls that supported their points of view--even the same info supporting both sides!  The ignorance that was spewed by friends, friends of friends, links to "news"--it all was pretty sad to watch.  Outside of the internet, the commercials that ran for far too long were so full of lies that I couldn't possibly watch them anymore.  All in all, it was a disgusting display from all sides.  Sadly, it's bound to continue.  The MT Legislature convenes in a week, and there's already controversial bills being written up.  I can't wait...
So, that's the downer list for 2012.  Mostly not so bad. But as I said at the top, the year really wasn't monumentally bad. Fortunately, there were lots of good things that happened too! You can check those out in the "Highs" post above this one. Go. Now!

Saturday, December 29, 2012


Over a quarter of a century ago, I attended my first class reunion.  Our ten-year reunion.  There was a lot of hesitation, excitement and anticipation going into the weekend's activities.  Looking forward to seeing everyone and catching up.  Dealing with all the babies that had been born.  Remembering the small handful of classmates who were no longer with us.  Seeing how much we'd all "grown up" in the span of ten years.

As the weekend hit, expectations were pretty much thrown out the window.  Many of the people I expected to see didn't attend.  As I remember, the "committee" did all they could to contact people to let them know about it.  I remember that the popular cheerleader chose not to attend (even though she lived in town) because she felt she'd put on too much weight (which none of us could see).  I remember that one of the shy, quiet nerdy girls showed up and we hardly recognized her--she had blossomed quite nicely over the ten years.  We had a couple of people travel thousands of miles to get there, including and Air Force captain who arranged leave from Germany to be with us.  And there were plenty of other similar stories.  Of those who couldn't join in; of those who refused to join in; of those who did all they could to be sure they could attend.  We even had a couple who crashed that reunion--not sure how they knew about it, but I remember that we welcomed them with open arms.

So while it wasn't as well-attended as we would have liked, those of us who were there had a great time!  We all enjoyed seeing other, and catching up with those whom we'd lost touch with.  I tried to talk with everyone there, but time caught up with us, and some people were missed.  And frankly, there were a couple of people I didn't know that well in the old days--I might have avoided them, too.  For those I did talk with, it was a great reunion.  We reminisced about the good old days.  And we wished that many others would have shown up.  But there were no regrets, and I think everyone was glad they joined in!

Reunions--they are funny things...