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

Reunion

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...

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

HNT...One Year Later

So I had this idea.  To ask people to post half-nekkid pics of themselves online.  Back in 2005, it was just a silly idea that I didn't anticipate lasting more than one or two weeks.  But what would happen if I were to ask again, seven and a half years later?  To be honest, I'm not really sure...

Things have changed quite a bit since last December.  I think that retiring HNT at that time was fortuitous.  I have no doubt that if it had continued, it would have withered away unceremoniously.  It could not have fully functioned for another year.  Yet, when I made the suggestion that we bring it back for a day, the feedback was pretty darned positive.  So we'll see who planned ahead, and who waited until the last minute and did/didn't join in.  This could be a great reunion or a big flop.

Two things have jumped out at me over the past year.  (well, three--I do miss seeing some of you half-nekkid)  First off--where did any of us find the time to do it on a weekly basis???  I have loved having my Wednesdays back (when I did most of my HNT work), but I still find myself with not enough hours in the day to do anything.  It's probably too much time on FB, but I used to juggle those two pretty well, back in the day!

Secondly, and more sobering--the loss of the community.  There are no two ways around it, the community is gone.  Sure, many of us are still in contact with each other, but just as many have disappeared.  Blogs have been neglected.  Blogs have been abandoned.  Blogs have been deleted.  This, in turn, has affected how the rest of us participate on our blogs.  It's discouraging to have so few comments, or comments from the same people time after time.  This is not said in a "comment whore" way--we'd all love to get at least some feedback!  There's a few who continue posting pics on Twitter (the toy of the devil), some who occasionally will post on their blogs, but for the most part, the novelty of posting half-nekkid pics has fallen by the wayside. 

Could HNT have started today?  I don't think so.  It was borne in a fun, innocent time when blogging was just beginning to take off.  I just don't see that it would take off like it did.  It was luck that made it all come together.  It was luck that unending friendships could be made through it.  It was luck that it lasted as long as it did.

Be sure to check the comments to see who's up (and if you're up, let us know!).  And also check OHNT to see who joined in, even though their blogs no longer exist (their names will be included with their pic).  And from me I hope you all have had a great 2012, and will have a greater 2013!!


When I suggested having a one-day return, one person immediately asked if we'd have a Mystery Guest as well.  Honestly, I hadn't even thought about it.  So of course, I was more than happy to take her! 

Since her last turn as MG, she's turned her attention towards horses, excelled as the mother of The Two Evils, and continued to fight the fight for the right.  And all the time, maintained her natural princess-like beauty!

If you haven't figured out who it is, she'll be revealed on Thursday afternoon.  And if you do, you know where to stop by and say hi!

Not much of a mystery here.  The MG is, of course, GucciMama!

Just for this one day, submissions to OHNT were accepted as well.  Be sure to stop by there and check those out!  There's also a couple of HNTs from people who chose not to do it on their own sites because they've been closed or just didn't want to do it on their own site.  Leave some comment love for them!

I'll hopefully get another post or two in before the end of the year.  I've done a 'best of' and 'worst of' post every other year, so I'm sure to get those in.  Maybe even more!!  Be sure to come back and check!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Stole this...

...from one of the many who have done it.

1. Eggnog or hot chocolate?
Neither are good for me anymore, but I buy some eggnog when it shows up in the stores.  I can have it (moderation, people!).  Even better with a touch or two of bourbon!

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just set the under the tree?
In my youth, he pretty much dumped them under the tree.  He started taking the time to wrap them all after awhile.  Anymore, I'm lucky to get them in the UPS box he ships them in...

3. Colored lights on the tree/house or white?
Only colored.

4. Do you hang mistletoe?
I haven't in years.  However, when in college, I'd pin some to the roof of my car above the driver's seat.  Generally was effective until about April!

5. When do you put your decorations up?

If I put any up, it's usually the weekend after Thanksgiving.  I'm generally busy with concerts during the first part of December, so if I don't do it then, I won't get it done at all.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?
Dinners tend to be nothing spectacular, but my family knocks themselves out with appetizers (usually making dinner unnecessary)!

7. Favorite holiday memory as a child?

Watching/helping Dad put tinsel on the tree.  ONE.STRAND.AT.A.TIME!!!  And playing the same stack of LPs of Christmas music, over and over for days.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
Don't really know exactly when.  I didn't ever 'learn' the truth.  Then again, I never really got the 'birds & bees' speech either.

9. Do you open gifts on Christmas Eve?
My sisters always did, but being the oldest, I would resist temptation.  Obviously leaving more for me in the morning!

10. What kind of cookies does Santa get set out for him?
Santa doesn't get cookies or anything else when he comes around here.

11. Snow! Love it or dread it?
A white Christmas is preferable to the brown Christmases we've been having recently.  However, it really doesn't have to be windy too!

12. Can you ice skate?
Not since I was in middle school.  Weak ankles have never been my friend.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift?
Sadly, I don't.  I'm sure there was something stunning at one point, but I couldn't tell you what.

14. What’s the most important thing about the holidays for you?
Family time.

15. What is your favorite holiday dessert?
Povitica.  Google it if you need to.  The finest povitica I had come from an old lady in Butte who would spend 12-16 hours a day, every day starting in mid-November to make enough for everyone who placed orders.  When she died, part of my Christmas experience died with her.  Sure, there's other old ladies in Butte who make it, but hers was the best!

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
In my college days, it was going out with a bunch of musicians and playing Christmas music on the streets.  Preferably near a bar...  More recently, it's been playing brass music for Midnight Mass, then driving around town at 2AM to check out the Christmas lights.

17. What tops your tree?
An angel that a student gave to me over two decades ago.  It used to light up, but they don't work anymore.  Still, it looks good up there!

18. What do you prefer… giving or receiving?
Giving, when I can.  Depends on cash flow each year though.  As for receiving...not really a major concern for me anymore.

19. What is your favorite Christmas carol?
"Angels We Have Heard On High" or "Joy to the World" for a carol.  For a Christmas song, I'd go with "Sleigh Ride" or "Carol of the Bells".

20. Candy canes…yum or yuck?
Not a big fan, but I don't dislike them either.

21. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
Not that I remember...

22. Favorite Christmas movie?
"White Christmas".  Or "Christmas Vacation".  Sort of depends on my mood.

23. Do you have a nativity scene?
I've got a beautiful crystal one that hasn't been put up in ages.  Might have to pull it out still.

24. What is the most annoying thing about this time of year?

People trying to one-up each other--decorations, gifts, food--whatever.  Causes far too much stress!

OK--it's 11:59 PM right now.  Merry Christmas everyone!!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Three Christmas Wishes (non)HNT 2012

OK, boys and girls! ONLY ONE WEEK UNTIL THE RETURN OF HNT! And really, even less than that, with Christmas just before then. In other words...plan ahead! Remember--if you're no longer blogging, or don't want to post anything half-nekkid anymore, I'll be opening up OHNT to host pictures. Just don't wait until the last minute!  And a personal request--if you want to send in stuff for OHNT, if you could get pics in by the end of the weekend, it will help me time-wise.  And if you're inclined to send in a regular OHNT (anonymous) pic, I'll be running those too!

In spite of the absence of HNT during the year, the Three Wishes theme deserves to continue, now for the EIGHTH year!  The premise was simple (or so I thought)--pick three bloggers/HNTers that you'd give Christmas wishes/gifts to, with unlimited means and resources. The catch--don't pick three of your closest blogger buddies. You'd be sending them ecards/chats/texts/emails to send your Christmas wishes anyway. No, the hard part here was to pick three that you might not even read, other than on Thursdays. Three that struck your fancy enough to let them know they're a hair above the rest of the masses. It also required a bit of research into that person's blog so that your wishes/gifts were at least appropriate. This was a whole lot easier in the old days when there were so many doing HNT.
That was the old days.  It's so much harder now, since so many HNTers/bloggers have abandoned their blogs.  So, since it's my theme, I can adjust the concept as necessary.  Ah, it's good to be Os!  So here's my three (in no particular order):

DaisyGirl - She's had less than a spectacular year on the relationship front.  It's been tough, and frankly a little painful to read about over at FB.  Even though there's plenty of friends online that love her to death, it isn't the same thing as having the flesh & blood version to wake up to.  So my first wish is that her knight in shining armor shows up this year.  Preferably unexpectedly and in storybook fashion.

Aughra - Back in 2005, Aughra was the recipient of one of my wishes.  For most of the year, we read about her unsuccessful attempts to get pregnant, so my wish for her was that her husband's swimmers and her eggs would all get along and make a baby.  Lo and behold, her son was born 9 months later!  I hadn't realized that I was that good!  So this year, I figure it couldn't hurt to send her a wish again this year.  In late July, she was diagnosed with cancer, requiring fairly immediate surgery.  But being the badass that she is, she's not letting this get her down.  Hell, she was walking on her treadmill three days after surgery!  And she's already run a 10K and a 4-mile Trail Run since then!  Even after her rounds of chemo, she's still more fit than most of us!  But my wish is that the cancer is totally gone by this time next year.  And that you pick out a great set of new boobies! (I was going to wish a subscription to Playboy so she could shop for the right ones, but apparently her hubby has already been contacted about that...)


Autumn - Autumn has been really busy this year, heading her local cancer Relay For Life committee, and raising her two boys as a single mom.  She posted in May that she had to face that unenviable moment when puberty and grown-up activities collided head-on.  As a never-married old guy, I can't even imagine what that moment would be like, but I had great faith that she and her ex would be able to navigate those troubling waters.  Then just last week she posted a picture of her oldest boy (15) and his date to the school dance.  Oh, man, is she going to have her hands full!  He's a very handsome young man, and he's going to have beautiful girls dripping off of him for years!  So my Christmas wish for her is a complete set of fly swatters to beat the girls off of him.  Multiple colors so that each girl will have their own designated swatter (always have to think of hygiene, you know!).  I'll work on upgrading them to the digital versions by the time the younger son gets to that age, so you can keep track of how many swats it took to get rid of each of them, how often you had to use it, etc. 

So there you go.  As for the rest of you that actually come by anymore, you get the wish of a very Merry Christmas!!  And don't forget to come back next Thursday to check up on the HNTs!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

10 Days to Go!

OK, boys and girls!  ONLY TEN DAYS UNTIL THE RETURN OF HNT! And really, even less than that, with Christmas just before then. In other words...plan ahead! And remember--if you're no longer blogging, or don't want to post anything half-nekkid anymore, I'll be opening up OHNT to host pictures. Just don't wait until the last minute!  And a personal request--if you want to send in stuff for OHNT, if you could get pics in by the end of the weekend, it will help me time-wise...

I had a whole post in mind about the shootings in Connecticut.  But what can be said that hasn't already been said.  Over and over and over...  Frankly, the misinformation from the media; the vitriol shown on FB between friends on both sides of the gun control issue; the ridiculous postings of Morgan Freeman's "quote" that 1) was not his quote, and 2) somehow seemed more noble because he supposedly said it; and the fact that it happened so close to Christmas--all these things have taken a toll on all of us.  I've got nothing more to add.

Except three things.

--I went to a Christmas brunch this morning with all the family.  To my pleasant surprise, the CT events were not discussed AT ALL.  Not even a request to not discuss them.  But I caught myself watching a little girl following her mother into the next room where Santa was holding court.  Cute as a bug, wearing her Christmas best.  And it hit me--she was probably 6 or 7 years old.  A sobering moment for sure.

--For as horrific as this was, the age of the teachers and probably most of the parents is under 30.  And to an old fart like me, they're still kids too.

--For the really old-time HNTers around here, you might remember Spinning Girl.  She's a junior high teacher in CT.  Whenever I hear about anything about CT, I automatically think of her.  So I emailed her on Friday, to let her know I was thinking about her as a fellow educator.  She replied that she actually attended grade school at Stony Hook Elementary, and the principal that was killed was a close friend of hers.  Sorta brings it home...

Christmas cards are coming in!! With any luck at all, I might get to reciprocate!

I think I'm going to do the Three Wishes non-HNT this Thursday. Just because we're not half-nekkid anymore, doesn't mean I can't make some wishes! I'll probably re-post the Favorite Christmas Movies and Music lists with updates. I can feel Christmas coming at me full force!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

T minus 3 weeks!

I can only say that for the next few minutes though. That's right! ONLY THREE WEEKS UNTIL THE RETURN OF HNT! And effectively, even less than that, with Christmas just before that. In other words...plan ahead! And remember--if you're no longer blogging, or don't want to post anything half-nekkid anymore, I'll be opening up OHNT to host pictures. Just don't wait until the last minute!

Just part of the 2011 donation to Toys For Tots!
Don't forget to head over to Ashly's "Toys For Tots" drive.  The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program has been around for years.  Ashly is in the fourth year of soliciting donations for this great event.  She's taking in donations until the 15th, and then heading out on her shopping spree.

The accompanying picture here is one of the many that she posted from last year. She photographs all the toys she purchases, so you know she's not just pocketing the money.  I know it's hard to just send cash to someone you barely "know", if at all, but if there's anything I do know, it's that she doesn't keep a penny of donations for herself!  She's also an avid participant in the process, spending plenty of her own money too!  Click on the link to go to her site and read her post.  She's got a donation link there, as well as lots of pics from the past three years of toy-buying.  Any amount helps--she's very good at balancing quality and quantity!  If you want to feel good this holiday season, donate a few bucks!  Or lots of bucks!  Go.  Now.  Do it!

I love just about anything written by Tchaikovsky. I love playing just about anything written by Tchaikovsky. I cannot put into words how happy I am not to be playing "The Nutcracker" this season! Sure, there's a financial hit I'm taking, but the lack of stress and enjoyment of the season is easily outweighing that concern!

My tree is up and lit and decorated! No presents underneath though. But it's the gifts that can't go under the tree that are the most important, right?

I've been looking back through my archives. Lots of surprises there! Did you realize that the first OsTour trip to Nashville happened SEVEN years ago this month??? Seems like yesterday...

Still trying to take care of the bet I had with Gucci on the Grizzly/Bobcat game. I won't back out of it. Just lacking inspiration...

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

No time...

I finally have some stuff to talk about, and no time to actually type it out. In other news--don't forget about the one-day return of HNT on Dec. 27th!!

justanotherrow

justanotherrow..

Monday, November 19, 2012

Some stuff

I'll start off with the pimping part of things.  First off, a reminder that HNT will make a one-day return at the end of December, marking a full year of retirement!  On Dec. 27th, we'll run it, just like the old days (I even have a MG lined up)!  Post on your site, let us know you're up, and go visit everyone else!  If you're no longer running your blog, or you don't want to post it there, I'll post pics over at OHNT too.  You can either have me post it anonymously, or I can list your blogname.  It's up to you!

Just part of the 2011 donation to Toys For Tots!
The second bit of pimping is for Ashly's "Toys For Tots" drive.  The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program has been around for years.  Ashly is in the fourth year of soliciting donations for this great event. The accompanying picture here is one of the many that she posted from last year. She photographs all the toys she purchases, so you know she's not just pocketing the money.  I know it's hard to just send cash to someone you barely "know", if at all, but if there's anything I do know, it's that she doesn't keep a penny of donations for herself!  She's also an avid participant in the process, spending plenty of her own money too!  Click on the link to go to her site and read her post.  She's got a donation link there, as well as lots of pics from the past three years of toy-buying.  Any amount helps--she's very good at balancing quality and quantity!  If you want to feel good this holiday season, donate a few bucks!  Or lots of bucks!  Go.  Now.  Do it!

So... The holidays are upon us.  I've already seen the Grinch on TV (the original, thankyouverymuch).  I'm actually looking forward to Christmas this year.  It will be a nice ending to a sort of depressing past couple of months.  Not to say I'm in a state of depression.  But it's not been the best autumn of my life.

Just look in the sidebar there and see the sad state of affairs for my football teams.  The total of losses from all three teams this season is more than the total of all three teams for the previous 6 years!  The Griz had their first losing season since 1985.  Carroll missed the playoffs for the first time this century, and ended their streak of conference championships dating back to 2000.  And Capital High was expected to play in the championship game this year, and barely made it to the playoffs, where they lost their first game.  Not that I am a super fan of these teams, but when they've been winning as much as they have, it's a downer.  Of course, I'm not thrilled by the fact that the Griz lost their game against the Bobcats.  That means I lost my bet with Gucci, so you know what that means.  Look for the result here in the next week or so...

Other things bringing me down?  A slight change in meds has been making a little tired.  I can nap at the drop of a dime, anytime, anywhere.  And I had a nasty 10 days after my August road trip where I had some sort of stomach flu that drained me.

Maybe it's because yesterday was the 2nd anniversary of my dad's sudden death.  Still seems like yesterday.

Maybe it's because I found out last month that a high school friend of mine had died.  But she wasn't just a friend.  She's the one who explored with me just exactly what "first, second and third base" are.  And we never went to a baseball game together, if you know what I mean.  Granted, we had lost touch over the years, but still...

Maybe because of the ridiculous amount of snow we got right after Halloween.  We broke snowfall records here, with one storm dropping 17" worth of snow.  Blew the old record of 5" right out of the books.  I don't really mind the snow, but that much this early??

Of course there's some things to improve my mood.  There's five full weekends between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and that's a wonderful thing.  I'm used to only having four, with two or three of those wasted away with symphony rehearsals and performances.  This year, we'll be done on Dec. 9th, giving me three entire weekends!  As an added bonus, we won't be doing the Nutcracker this season, so the additional headaches associated with that are gone!

Of course, since there's the maximum days possible between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, that means even more Christmas music!!

And then there's the new season of "The Walking Dead".  Ignore the grossness, the gore, the undead (all of which are excellent!).  The writing is pretty damned good, and they aren't afraid to kill off major characters in mid-season.  I'm not ashamed to admit that I shed a tear or two when Laurie died!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!  Even those of you who found it necessary to celebrate it last month!  If you're traveling, travel safe!  And be sure to take time out during the day to give thanks for the things you've been blessed with.  Then get back to the turkey and football!


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Change of Plans...

Remember the post from a couple weeks ago where I said it would be my only political discourse.  Well, things have changed.  Much of it is still the same and still applies.  Including the following:
"Anyone who votes a straight party ticket simply because of party affiliation should have their votes voided. Doesn't mean that it couldn't turn out that way, but base it on research and knowledge. Stupidity and ignorance should have no place in the polling booth."
But let me backtrack...

We are in the midst of "Montanagate" here.  We're talking break-ins at state offices, illegal campaign contributions, lawsuits, conflicting judicial rulings and injunctions, and in general, a return to late 19th-century politics.  And the timing of the main break-in seems to coincide with the broadcast of "Big Sky, Big Money" on PBS.   The PBS link will take you to the full video.  It's almost an hour long, but well worth watching.  It shows, in no uncertain terms, that in Montana, the election process is about as corrupted as you could imagine.  And the corrupt influence is well-financed by out-of-state money.  Primarily conservative money.  Not completely, but there's really no other place to point fingers at.  You really need to read/watch the link.  There's no simple and short way of stating things.

For weeks, I've been checking out candidate's positions and I've now decided that I will not be voting for a single Republican candidate.  Yes, I've done the research for the major candidates, but the local races are going to suffer.  I have a real problem with a Republican candidate for county commissioner coming out to say that they are against Obamacare and will do anything to bring it down.  WTF??  This is the way that most Republicans are campaigning around here.  Forget talking about subdivisions or emergency services or zoning law changes.  His only qualification apparently is that he opposes Obamacare, and thinks he can do something about it.  Sorry, that ain't gonna cut it.

I have re-evaluated the two major parties, and how they match (or differ) from my own views.  And the G.O.P. has lost.  Big time.  The Republican party has become party of bullies.  Hell, maybe they always have been, but I've never really had much of a political sense.  But from what I can tell, there's not a single one of them worth voting for.  And I'm hearing from many long-time Republicans that they're not sure what to do either.  They don't want to vote Democrat, but can't support the extremism that they're left with.  It's sort of a catch-22 for them.  As for me, I'm voting for Democrats, and a couple of independents. 

So I was looking ahead to writing some sort of monstrously long post, but found that someone wrote a blog post that said exactly what I was feeling, and much much more.  You can find his post here.  It's even more monstrously long than what I would have written, but written by someone much more knowledgeable and eloquent than I.  So if there's any of these links that you should check out, it would be this one, and go about halfway through it where starts with "1. I believe in fiscal responsibility."  From there to the end is a great read.  And I would add to his list that I could never vote for any Republican candidate that thinks that what is happening in Montana is okay, or doesn't condemn the actions of those involved.

After you read his post, go back and check the other links above.

And regardless of whether you agree with me or not, be sure you go vote on Tuesday.

And don't vote for Republicans.




Thursday, October 18, 2012

"The Return of HNT"

Sounds like a b-movie horror flick, doesn't it?  Appropriate, I suppose, for the season.

Yes, there's going to be a return of HNT!!  Don't get insanely excited though.  It'll just be a one-time appearance, marking the first anniversary of its retirement.

It'll be just like it always was, complete with the "I'm ups", the blog-hopping, and insightful comments. 

"But Os," I can hear some of you saying.  "I don't have a blog anymore!" or "I haven't blogged in so long I don't remember my password!" or "I've become a respectable mommy-blogger.  I don't do that anymore!".  Not to fear.  I'll post over on OHNT too, for this one-time return.  And you can do it anonymously over there like the old days, or you can have your name posted so that we know you joined in but can't do it on your own for whatever reason.  And if you want (need) to do both, I'm certainly not going to talk you out of it!

So circle the date--Thursday, December 27th.  This gives you two months to remember how to do all this again.  And be sure to make mention of it on your own sites (for those of you who still blog), as there's quite a few who don't stop by here anymore to get the word.  And because many of my friends on FB allowed me to be friends over there because "HNT" would never be mentioned, I can't make a general announcement there.  So spread the news! 




Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Long, overwritten post about politics...

I really loathe politics.  I don't understand why someone would want to be President.  Or Governor.  Or Mayor, for that matter.  Too many people that you have to play nice with.  On the other hand, being a king or a dictator is appealing, since you don't have to worry about getting voted in.  You either are born into it, or you kill the person and take over their position.  No campaigning, no ass-kissing.  Pretty much black & white.  No room for shades of gray.

What we really need is a group of space aliens to come attack Earth, like in "Independence Day" or "The Day the Earth Stood Still".  Nothing will bring groups of people together like a good fight against a common enemy (as opposed to each other).  However, I'm not anticipating anything like that. So during this obnoxious time, I've decided to state some opinions and observations.  Comment if you'd like, but don't try to sway me if you disagree.  :-)
Disclaimer:  I plan to vote both sides of the ticket.  I've done my homework.  I even have a third-party candidate I plan to vote for.  Don't attempt to figure out who I'm voting for--you'll probably be wrong!
No one person is going to enact change at any level of government on their own.  Nor can any of the woes or successes be attributed to one person.  I'm tired of the ads that say "I'm going to do this" or "I'm going to repeal that".  No you're not.  You might lead a fight, but don't claim that you're going to actually be the one to "save" the free world.

Negative ads have gotten so out of control that they've become fairly ineffective, I believe.  Sure, the hardcore party members and the ignorant will eat that stuff up, but it means nothing.  I'd much rather see ads that focus on what a candidate believes he can bring to the table.  Don't dwell on the "mistakes" of the opponent's past, but focus on the traits/beliefs that make you a better candidate for the position.  On a side note--the Republican candidate for MT governor has done that.  His ads are so damned positive that you'll actually listen.  His ideas are bunk, and his economic plan is all screwed up, but damn, his ads are a nice twist!

I'm also not a fan of the tactic of tying the name of the presidential/v.p. nominee to opponents in state or local races.  Believe it or not, those presidential candidates have never heard of either of you, nor do they care.

The Republican Party has lost control.  The ultra-conservative Tea Party has run amok and now is the "face" of the party.  No one in the G.O.P. has the balls to rein them in.  I seriously doubt that most Republicans (candidates or voters) share many of their views.  The Democrats have at least splintered into smaller liberal groups that will run their own candidates, making them a stronger party.

People spend too much time looking at charts and graphs and listening to statistics, figures and polls.  All of which are manipulated in such a way that it best suits the situation.  Any one report can be twisted and analyzed to benefit both candidates at the same time.  By the way, anyone can make a chart or graph and plug in their own numbers and post it on the internet.  For God's sake, don't believe anything you see on the internet!!!

Conservative commentators seem to have a more hateful approach towards issues and individuals.  To the point of focusing on nit-picky details that have no real bearing on an argument, and then not letting go of it.  Sort of like the snotty junior high girl in the hallways.  While Rush Limbaugh might be the biggest blowhole on the airwaves, he's far from the most offensive.

The incredibly high dollar amounts being thrown around when discussing the economy are beyond the comprehension of most people, including the top politicians.  Dollar amounts have become meaningless.  It's similar to a poker game.  Most people will have no problem throwing a blue chip into the pot, but if they had to throw the actual cash in, they'd give it some thought.

There is no such thing as the perfect candidate.  No single person will ever satisfy the characteristics of the "perfect" candidate.  And because of that, too many people focus on singular issues when it comes to the candidates.  Some focus on the economy.  Some focus on health care.  Some focus on women's rights.  Some focus on immigration.  Environment.  Military.  Education.  Science.  Arts.  Racial issues.  World domination.  Whatever.  Focusing so narrowly that any other issues become moot.  This is no way to elect your leaders.

After saying that, I do believe that the economy is the biggest issue in this presidential election.  It's a fairly no-win situation for whoever wins.  (At this point, let me say that anyone who thinks that this mess could have been fixed in four years is delusional.) I think that if Obama wins again, he needs to spend more time dealing with an economic/jobs plan than he has.  We could be far worse off than we are, but there's plenty of room for improvement.  If Romney wins, I hope he's not so naive/narcissistic to think that he'll fix things in four years.  And that he gets a mega-dose of social conscience. 

While there's not really a two-party system in our government, you wouldn't be able to tell by the media.  Case in point--why are the presidential debates between just two candidates?  Personally, I would very much like to hear the same questions asked of some of the others.  As long as other parties are treated as unimportant, we'll never have a third-party candidate make a credible run for positions in the higher levels of government.

Anyone who votes a straight party ticket simply because of party affiliation should have their votes voided.  Doesn't mean that it couldn't turn out that way, but base it on research and knowledge.  Stupidity and ignorance should have no place in the polling booth. 

It's sad that non-Americans seem to know more about the political nuances than many "average" Americans.

I find it interesting that there are so many in Congress and state legislatures who will fight tooth and nail for the unborn, yet are just as eager to cut back on funds to support them once they are born.

I also find it interesting that, in a country based on a separation of Church and State, so many people are trying to force their faith into the process.  There's a difference between believing in or voting for "right/wrong" or "good/bad", and claiming to do it as part of "God's will".
Regarding things around the state of Montana:
Montana passed a law over a century ago limiting corporate campaign contributions to an individual.  This was because of the influence the mining companies in the state had over the political process.  In other words, elections were literally purchased by mine owners.  The Citizens United case that the Supreme Court ruled in favor of recently effectively overturned that law, stating that corporations are people, and money is free speech.  As a result, hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent in negative (and usually incorrect) ads over the past six months.  From both sides.  The sad part--these ads are made without the approval of the candidate they're supporting.  The people of Montana don't need some super-PAC based in Virginia telling us whom to vote for.  Let US pick the person that represents Montanans!  Not who YOU want to see in D.C.!

Interestingly, for a party who believes that there's too much government intrusion, the Republicans seem to push for an awful lot of completely unnecessary laws.

They also despise the federal government imposing its will on the state.  Keep the feds out, dammit.  Except don't cut back on my farm subsidies.  And be sure that the FBI/DEA comes in to take care of them pesky pot growers.

There's an initiative/referendum on the ballot that would keep illegal aliens from receiving any sort of state services.  That's scholarships, driver's licences, food stamps, etc.  I'm not sure I know any illegal Canadians living here, but most of the Canadians I know are pretty decent people.  Not sure who they pissed off to get this on the ballot.  But it amounts to using state employees to do federal record-keeping.  Funny that the party that despises federal intrusion wants to push this thing.

In 2004, there was a citizen's initiative passed substantially to legalize medical marijuana.  The legislature dropped the ball and didn't come up with any decent regulation.  Things got out of control.  So rather than fix it, the legislature tried to overturn the citizen's initiative (a.k.a.--the will of the people).  Fortunately, the governor vetoed that.  So the Republicans passed over-regulation that, in effect (and admitted by their leadership) made it impossible for the law to continue.  It's been sent to the people to either overturn the legislature and go back to the 2004 law, or accept the unworkable regulation.  This is a Tea Party push, along with the backing of some very vocal "family values" groups.

There's a couple of other things on the ballot.  All unnecessary, all hopefully losing.
So there you go.  Vote early and vote often!  I refuse to say anything more.  Other than this...  In my family, we never discuss politics (or they do, and I'm never around, which is entirely possible).  But Mom has already sent in her absentee ballot, so I asked how she voted on the five state initiatives/referendums.  I'm happy to report that she voted exactly the same way I plan to (NO on all five)!  I am my mother's son!



Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Reminiscing...

With the spiraling demise of social blogging (at least among the circles I used to visit on a regular basis), I've been finding myself going back to old posts.  I miss it.  I miss it all.  I miss the different styles we each had.  I miss reading about the day to day stuff.  I even miss the trolls, to some degree.  Hardly needs saying that I miss the half-nekkidness.  I miss the comments most of all, I think.  Which means I really miss the 4+ years worth of comments that were lost when I was using Haloscan and they went tits up.  Ah, well...

Speaking of reminiscing...  Today (Tuesday) marks the 3rd anniversary of my near-death experience and subsequent health changes.  Fortunately, I haven't dwelt too much about the whole diabetes thing on here, but I suppose the three or four of you still reading might want to know how things are going.  Obviously, I'm still here, so that's a good thing.  And after three years, I'm still a diabetic.  However, I'm learning things on a regular basis.  Due to taking better care of myself (as well as support from my meds), all my tests have come back with progressively good results.  Blood pressure is finally back to an acceptable level after decades of being at a high level.  Not take-some-pills-and-relax high, but higher than doctors would like.  My cholesterol is quite average.  It's always been in the "average" range, but now I'm lower in the average range.  My triglycerides are also quite normal.  The blood sugar numbers have finally stabilized at an acceptable range.  After a year of being on the low side, I think we've gotten things to a happy place.  I still have some high spikes, but they work themselves out within 12 hours, so all is good.  My only bad numbers are my weight.  I've fought that for all my life, so it shouldn't be any surprise that I'm still fighting.

As for my lifestyle, I've found that I'm not going to go into a coma if I have a piece of candy.  I can go out for pizza and beer (in moderation) and not have to worry about it.  I've even found that I can have a meal or two without taking insulin, and not have any ill effects (though I've only done that maybe twice).  All in all, life is continuing on fairly normally.

Let's talk football.  It's not the year that any of my teams have enjoyed over the previous five.  In fact, they've had more losses combined this season already than they had combined for the previous three!  The good news--they should all end pretty well.  Not sure if my Griz can make the playoffs this season though.  They pissed away two close games in the closing minutes, knocking them out of the top 25 for the first time since 1998.  But I think they'll come back.  Gucci and I will probably still have a bet this year.  I hope.

I'm a bit more interested in the high school team this year.  My nephew, a junior, is playing varsity this year, and has done very well.  I went to see him play last week (the last time I went to watch this team play was for the state championship in '09--they lost).  I was excited to see him, as he's a kick returner and wide receiver.  The short story--they got hammered, 41-7.  The worst defeat since 1974 (my senior year).  Happy to report that things turned around this past weekend, as they won 54-31 (taking a 41-0 lead into halftime).  The nephew ran the opening kickoff back for a touchdown, and added two more receptions for touchdowns.  I'm not going to be allowed to watch him play...

At this time in years past I would have been encouraging everyone to support the annual Boobiethon.  They announce last year that it was to be their last.  Well, that's not quite true.  "They" were convinced to continue, but it's under a different format than before.  From their site:
"We are no longer pledging for Komen. If that is who you want to donate to, that's your choice.  Our choice is to promote Breast Cancer Action. I think we all can agree that everyone is aware of breast cancer. Now it's time to focus on prevention and the cure."
It's now also a month-long thing, so there's still time for you to check it out if you're so inclined.

Does anyone have any interest in doing a one-time HNT to mark the passing of a year without it?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

So neglected...

This poor blog has seen better days. Days when hundreds of people would stop by to read whatever drivel I had to spew. Not so much anymore. I don't really have a reason for its decline. Life was awfully hectic before that last symphony concert in early May, and then jumping right into the summer concert plans, then road tripping and getting sick in August. I'll use those as my excuses, in spite of the fact that they're pretty lame, excuse-wise. If you'll notice, my football teams are back up on the sidebar, so I'll at least be back once a week!

Speaking of football, you most likely missed last week's score updates.  For the first time in at least a decade, ALL THREE TEAMS LOST!!  The Griz lost to Appalachian State, which is tolerable.  They are two of the most successful programs in the FCS since 2000, so it was bound to be a good game.  And they only lost by a late touchdown.  But Carroll was BLOWN OUT by Montana Tech, their undisputed most hated opponent, by almost three touchdowns!  Hope that was just a one-time thing, since they had played quite well against Portland State in a losing effort the week before.  Portland State, who plays 2-3 divisions higher than Carroll (Carroll had a realistic chance of winning, too!).  Finally, Capital lost by one in triple overtime, failing to convert a two point conversion to win it all.  (I'll be paying a little more attention to this team for the next two years, as my only nephew is playing varsity now.  Sort of does everything!)  All in all, it was a weird weekend for my teams...

Autumn is scheduled to arrive this weekend. It's going to come in awfully quietly, as the current heat wave here is expected to stick around for at least another couple of weeks. With no precipitation. Bad news for a state that's extremely dry and suffering from a blanket of smoke from fires in Idaho. But honestly, I'll enjoy every 80°+ degree day we have!

I'm working on a political post (EEK!) for sometime soon.  My observations, for what they're worth.  I've already mentioned on FB about the nastiness that's hit there.  Friends unfriending friends, name-calling, etc.  And the graphs/gifs/memes/stories from supporters of both parties putting down the other (notice none of them really build themselves up, but knock the others down?).  It's going to be a long October at this rate.  Be sure to check back!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Picture heavy...

I've spent the past four days at home, sick. I'll spare you the disgusting details, other than to say I went through about three weeks of toilet paper in that amount of time. So here's (probably too many) pics from my trip (thank God I didn't get sick then!). Be sure to click 'em to big 'em!


Heading through northwest MT and northern ID--some of the prettiest land in the country!


The original reason for my trip--Alison Krauss & Union Station!



Coeur d'Alene Lake - my happy place


Met up with some of my very first students. From 30 years ago.


Mt. Hood - from the north, and from the southwest


Bipolar Diva and Emmy!


Sandy - bestest bud from college!


HNTers from the old days - Audra and Addict (mother & daughter)!


Cannon Beach, OR - GOONIES!


Aberdeen, WA - monstrously tall bridge
crossing the Columbia River into Washington


The beaches from a couple of locations in Washington.
I must move next to a body of water sometime soon.


One of my former college students - Kelly.



Various parts of Washington:
Early morning misty road near Everett (excuse the windshield bugs)
Parts that look like Arizona
Leavenworth - embraced an alpine theme in town years ago
Wenatchee - at the east edge of the Cascades


I didn't get a chance to take pics of Bigfoot's home turf.
Too foggy/misty/cloudy, but damned beautiful!
The rest of Washinton is flat.
Which makes it easy for the cops to catch speeders...

Congrats if you made it this far!!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Washingtonians don't trim their bush...

Thoughts and a pic or two from the past week, in no particular order:
  • With regard to the title--it was very difficult to read many of the highway signs, either on the interstate or the state highways, as most of them were hidden well behind the roadside greenery.
  • Three good things about coming home--my shower's pressure (why can't motels have that same wonderful pressure you could find in your high school locker room?), my own bed (though I might be convinced it's time for a new one), and the best gas prices (easily 40¢ cheaper here than Portland or Seattle).
  • Twitter--briefly considered signing up, just to keep my thoughts while on the road. Glad I didn't cave though!
  • Old-growth cedar forests--particularly in Oregon. Remember the scene in Field of Dreams where the players walk into the cornfield and simply disappear? The same effect must happen if you were to walk into these forests. So dark and thick...you have no idea what's back there! (keeps things pretty cool, too!)
  • Speaking of cool, part of the reason I headed west was to escape the heat of MT. Instead, I ran into the hottest weekend of the summer in Portland, along with all sorts of humidity that we don't get here. Ugh...
  • The humidity did provide some interesting mornings. The clouds from the coast stick around almost all morning, and the mist and fog over the lakes and rivers was downright eerie at times.
  • I took alternate routes for most of this trip, rather than interstate. I highly recommend it if you don't have a time commitment to keep. One of my routes took me directly through Bigfoot's neck of the woods. Seriously, there's no question that Bigfoot exists and lives somewhere along the U.S. Highway 2 corridor of western Washington.
  • Central Washington is ugly. Not South Dakota ugly, but ugly
  • Tried lots of beer that I've never heard of, including a very tasty homebrew that Emmy made!
  • Rush hour traffic in Portland & Seattle--pfffttt...I'm a Montana driver. No problem! Well, other than getting lost in downtown Seattle at 5:00-ish. Only because of an errant right turn in a construction area. Finally opted for heading to the area I knew best (the waterfront), but still took 45 minutes to get onto the interstate!
  • Actually, the worst traffic of all was from Sandpoint to Coeur d'Alene, ID. Two lane highway on the fastest growing corridor in the northwest. Toss in a major amusement park requiring a stop light to enter, and the northbound traffic was backed up for well over three miles. Fortunately, I was headed south, but I could almost hear my father's voice, had he been caught up in that line!
  • Coeur d'Alene, ID--I wrote in my FB that, while Montana may be home, CDA is my happy place. Always has been, always will be.
  • While in CDA, I met up with a couple of my students from my very first years of teaching. Pizza, beer and stories. I've learned that I have selective amnesia, and that's a very good thing.
  • My reason for even setting out on this trip was the Alison Krauss & Union Station concert in Sandpoint. A fantastic concert (as was expected), and I even snuck up to about 4 rows from the stage. Most impressed, though, with the volunteer corps involved at the site. I must figure out how they do it for my concert again next summer.
  • Teeth Cleaning--my sister is a dental hygienist. Short story...it's been an obscenely long time since I've had my teeth cleaned (think decades). So she scheduled me for 6:30 a.m. on Tuesday. She was mildly pissed off with me. Not because it had been so long, but because I have, as she put it, "remarkably healthy teeth". There's the lesson boys and girls. Pay attention to your oral hygiene!
  • Apple Store--I have to admit, I wasn't impressed. The front line workers are as knowledgeable as McDonald's front line workers. And I had to make an appointment to see someone at the Genius Bar?? No thanks. I've got a somewhat serious question regarding the newest OS, but I'll wait to see if it's fixed in the next update.
  • I didn't expect to see these, but I suppose they make sense.

  • I got a speeding ticket in Washington. Driving 73mph in 60mph zone is much different than driving 80 in a 75. They don't look kindly upon it.
There's more to say, particularly about meeting up with former student, HNTers and relatives, but you'll have to wait a bit longer. :-)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

OsTour '12!

That's right! I'm going on the road again! Seems like the first week of August is the time to tour for me. In 2010, I was on Long Island at BTExpress' pool party. Got to meet up with some others (Shizzle, Veronica, Hubman, Minority Report) on that trip as well. Last year was my trip to see Redneck Eskimo (and the McKnobs and Lola & Jasper) in Wichita.

This year, I'm driving out west. My initial reason was to catch Alison Krauss in concert. Then I figured that since I was already on the west side of the mountains, I should just continue on. I'll be meeting up with the officially-documented 50,000th visitor to my site (oh, so long ago!). I'll also be meeting up with a couple of old college friends, maybe a high school friend or two, all of my siblings (in a bizarre twist of fate), and a handful of students from my very first years of teaching! Most of whom I haven't seen in 30 YEARS! If I get a wild hair, I might even visit a foreign country!

I'll hopefully be posting a picture or two per day (no guarantees) on FB, and I'll definitely be adding to the list over there in the sidebar. It's gonna be a great time!

Friday, July 27, 2012

So how did the big concert go...?

The 'short' report--the concert went extremely well. Easily the biggest crowd since we took it over (used to include members from all the orchestras in the state). Probably close to 17K. There wasn't a cloud in the sky all day Saturday--literally. I've never seen it like that. Temps were a bit warm for my liking. Mid-90s or higher. Cooled to upper 70s as the sun went down. Fireworks were timed with the music about as perfectly as possible. I was nex to the pyro guy to cue him. Never been that close to big fireworks before. Actually got to see them in their 3D perfection. And they were directly above us. Sort of a culmination of a 55 y.o. wet dream.

That's the public perception of the concert. Personally, I'd grade it about an 82. The two things I didn't have control over were the weather and the volunteers. The weather was fine. The volunteers were lacking in numbers. Directly due to the girl that was hired to be volunteer coordinator (I had no say in it--she's the daughter of a friend of the conductor). Totally overwhelmed and unprepared. Figured she could get volunteers a week before the concert. Should have been lined up at least a month earlier. To her credit, she worked her bottom off (her volleyball shorts-clad bottom) on Saturday, and we got through it. Not sure if we'll use her again next year or not. Now that she's experienced it once, she might do better the next time. And she does have some assets, but there's also some liabilities with her too. We'll see. On the other hand, I was referred to a girl who just graduated HS to be my assistant for the weekend. No official duties--just to be a gofer, and be at my side at all times to take care of whatever might come up. Lordy, I hit the jackpot! I cannot sing her praises loud enough. She will be hired next year. Added benefit? She's a hottie! :-D

There were some other internal things that were problematic. Things that have been routine for years that went out of whack for whatever reason. Things that you can only shrug your shoulders at and hope that they get caught for next year's planning. But all of these things were things that the anal perfectionist in me didn't want to see. From the public standpoint, it was a fantastic success, and those higher up than me have said that this was the most well-run summer concert ever. So that boosted the ego. I hope they remember that when I demand twice the money next year.

The downside of being in charge is that I didn't have the time to take pictures at all. Which I'm bummed about. I did take my 35mm with me and took a couple of shots, but I still have pics with BFD on there from the first of the month, so I'm not sure when I'll finish the roll. There won't be anything earth-shattering on there anyway. But both the symphony and the college had photographers there, so you can see their pics:
Symphony photographer
College photographer

One of the great successes we had was the partnership we have with Helena Food Share. We started it three years ago when someone suggested that the public bring canned goods to hold down their blankets during the day (blankets start getting laid down 48 hrs before the concert!). The college doesn't allow stakes or rocks anymore, as they get left behind and ruin the mowers, or the stakes have punctured irrigation lines. Then Food Share collects the cans during and after the show. The first year they were totally unprepared, and got about 5,000 pounds of food. But they were happy. This year, they gathered 11,845 pounds!! That's almost SIX TONS!! We are their single largest collection event now. And talk about good PR for us!
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