December 31, 2008

End of an Era

Colin McEnroe is off the air. Miss ya already, dude!

The Ballad of Colin McEnroe

In tribute to my friend Colin McEnroe's last show, a bit of folk music whimsy. I would NOT do this for anyone less beloved and respected than Colin, mind you.....

The Ballad of Colin McEnroe (circa mid 90's). Wav file here

Words by Mike Russell (who?) and music by Bruce Springsteen. (it's based on the song "Youngstown" from the Ghost of Tom Joad" album)
Guitar and Vocals by Mike Russell, Mandolin and Vocals by Jon Lewis

Colin played this on his morning show back in the day. I think he called it tedious. Ah well. Art isn't easy.....

In retrospect, a lot of dated references. Squids in the sound. Dubey and all those Barbaras. Dr. Laura (who grabbed his morning time slot, back in the day, this is not the first time Colin has lost a slot on WTIC). Tick inspections. Rush Limbaugh's ties. And Colin McEnroe circa 2008 is anything but equivocating, and has quite the backbone (back in the 90's he was a bit less sure of himself).

Backlog

It's a golden word in the manufacturing sector - having a backlog of orders to be delivered is like money in the bank. No discussion of corporate financial health fails to mention the state of the backlog....

So to wander into the last day of 2008, with the global economy lying in tatters, with a backlog of about 30 hours of work for one client (30 hours is a decent month's billables for this particular client) - well, not too shabby a position to be in.

I have muchg to be thankful for. Now, back to work. See if I can knock 4 or 5 hours off the backlog today so I can bill them in December.....

A Strong Desire for the Yoga

One of my long time clients sent a letter of recommendation to one of my future yoga teaching gigs:
Jude is among the top rated electrical (power) engineering consultants in the global medical equipment market but she also has a strong desire for the Yoga

Heh-heh. It's a nice letter and "A Strong Desire for the Yoga" is gonna become one of my favorite phrases, I suspect.

December 30, 2008

You May Say I'm a Dreamer


I often make my way down Cedar Street in Newington. Looking off to the right (heading into Newington) - once can see the abandoned shell of a radio station, WPOP was one of the first stations to "get" the Top-40 / music format that has become ubiquitous, which it mined from 1958 through 1975. A brief history here. The station call letters are still affixed to the building, and a small tower is visible towards the back of the property.



Being a bit of a dreamer (ask Zippy, I have Mitty-esque plans for everything and anything - a gay bar, a coffeehouse, a yoga studio, a local publication to overthrow the gynophobes over at Metroline, you name it, I've pondered it), I've often thought (as I drove by) it would be fun to buy a small radio station and run it right. Nothing fancy, some leftist talk, local news, some music radio at night. An arbitron nightmare, to be sure, but a grand romantic venture.

Over the holidays, I had the chance to socialize with Colin McEnroe (who at the time knew his fate but was not talking) as well as Susan Forbes Hansen (another local radio legend, sadly stripped of her WFCR folk show some time ago). With all this great radio talent hanging out there (Susan, Colin, Stan Simpson, Diane Smith, and I am sure there are other and will be even more) wouldn't that be a cool thing to do?

Sad day for Hartford media, sad day for the local arts, culture, and tourism communities - right up there with the Tribune's stripping of the Courant news organization. I only hope all parties involved land on their feet, find something rewarding to do.....

End Times Alert II

Colin McEnroe, Diane Smith Laid Off By WTIC-AM

I've known this was coming for a few days - but the public announcement makes it all the more real. And while I can understand things like ratings and demographics and market share and all, it sucks nonetheless.

Colin McEnroe from 3-6 has been one of the shining lights of life in CT for a long while now.....I hope he lands somewhere local so we don't lose him to some more exciting, cultured, and left leaning locale.

Colin, you are loved and respected by many (despite what the rabble has been posting on your blog and the Courant website) - and will be missed! Hurry back onto the air!

End Times Alert

Just in case you want something else to worry about this new years.....

Scientists eye unusual swarm of Yellowstone quakes

Yellowstone National Park was jostled by a host of small earthquakes for a third straight day Monday, and scientists watched closely to see whether the more than 250 tremors were a sign of something bigger to come. Swarms of small earthquakes happen frequently in Yellowstone, but it's very unusual for so many earthquakes to happen over several days, said Robert Smith, a professor of geophysics at the University of Utah.

I saw something on Discovery Channel a while back about "super-volcanos" - which identified the Yellowstone Caldera as the largest of such volcanoes on the planet. This website goes into some depth:

Scientists have revealed that Yellowstone Park has been on a regular eruption cycle of 600,000 years. The last eruption was 640,000 years ago…so the next is overdue. The next eruption could be 2,500 times the size of the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption. Volcanologists have been tracking the movement of magma under the park and have calculated that in parts of Yellowstone the ground has risen over seventy centimeters this century.

Poking around online, I find a significant number of websites filled with prophesy and bible code predictions about a significant eruption in Yellowstone. Pretty scary. Am I messed up for taking some solace that (a) the bible code predictions seem to be in the past (2004, 2007) and (b) the scope of the cataclysm as described in these events is significantly less (mere global disruption) than that in the Discovery Channel series (end of life as we know it on the planet).

Of course, the way we humans have been treating the planet in recent years, I would not be surprised if a little karmic payback came our way.....

December 29, 2008

The New Department of Motor Vehicles

Just renewed my auto registration via the web. It took about 90 seconds (including time to type in a credit card number).

The DMV has gotten a lot of bad press over the past years, much of it warranted. But the last few times I've been to the DMV offices, the wait was short, the lines well organized, and the amount of "stand in this line for 45 minutes only to be told I was in the wrong line" opportunities were minimal. In fact, I stopped the information desk person (who happened to be the supervisor that particular day) to say "good job".

Last time I renewed an automobile registration, I think ti was via mail. Which was handy enough. And now we can do it online.

Nice to see my tax dollars working efficiently and well!

December 28, 2008

Movie Madness

As 2008 closes out, I am catching up on movies as well as some movie related technology.

Today I headed to Cinema City to finally catch Milk. Yeah to everything I've read - Sean Penn's performance is award winning (just say Mystic River for the first time on AMC as well, so his acting chops in two very different roles are on my mind). An incredible story - I knew the basics of the Milk / Moscone murders but Harvey Milk's life, and the politics of San Fran at the time were both revelations. I admit to shedding tears a few times. Was a wonderful film.

On the technology front, I *finally* jumped on board the Netflix download bandwagon - I installed the PC software and then watched an old Marx Brothers movie last night (Monkey Business) just to test the technology, and today I ordered a Roku Netflix Player for the television. I cost-justified that by dropping my Netflix subscription from 2 disks at a time to 1 at a time, figuring we'd download more films than we bring in via mail. And with 12,000 titles online now, I suspect we wil not run out of movies to see anytime soon......

We're technology refuseniks here. We have basic cable (broadcast plus a few channels - AMC, TBS, CSPAN, Weather). We have no Tivo or DVR or Blu-Ray. No HDTV or flat screen (I bought my 27" Magnavox when I worked at Philips, circa 1990, and it's still going strong). We have an old VCR and a cheap DVD player. So this will be a jump in technology. From the looks of things it has a built in web browser (to search the netflix site for movies) and a WiFi connection (so we can glom onto the existing home wireless). $99, and unlimited downloads come free with our Netflix subscription. It seems pretty simple to use (a big deal for the Zipster who gets frustrated by complex technology).

Excited.

December 27, 2008

Christmas Wrap-up

Nothing deep or grand, just a little report of the day.

Christmas Eve I went to a wonderful party in WH with friends; met some really wonderful folks and had a surprisingly good time. Surprising because I am more likely to just go for an hour or so and hang out to be polite, but I really enjoyed the folks I met and talked to. YUMMY food, too!

Christmas morning, Zippy was in a mood - not celebrating xmas but not really happy to be left alone either. So we ended up fighting about something dumb (he was upset because I took a bath the night before and a shower that morning) and I ended up in tears.

Got that over with, and drove up to MA to visit my family. We had a lovely time - my sister wrote down a few "momisms" (funny things Mom says, especially when she is up on the prednisone) - the only one I can remember is that my niece got a gift card for a store called "Forever 21" and mom blurts out, aghast "Over 21?" but there were a few others as well. We cut back on gifting significantly; each adult got one name to buy for, as well as one person to "stuff the stocking" (small gifts and the like) but still there was plenty of gifting going on.

When I got home, Zippy was finishing up a dinner with AC and MP, so I hung out with them a bit. And then I wandered over to see friends.

All in all, a lovely holiday.

December 24, 2008

Little Red Wagon

So if you noticed someone pulling a little red wagon through downtown West Hartford this noontime, that was me.....

December 23, 2008

Last Minute Jude

Been that sort of holiday season.

Between business travel (2 trips to Tulsa and 1 to the West Coast) in the past 6 weeks and the short holiday season (Thanksgiving was late) - I just never got off square 1. Factor in tight money (I got a large check on Friday, but it still has not cleared, every other check from this client has cleared in 24 hours or so) and the recent weather, and I'm just not getting a ton done for the holidays. So be it. I have the basics covered, but I'm not gifting wildly (or even moderately) this year.

Some musings and reports:

* I hit the West Farms Mall* area yesterday (traffic madness). Was aiming at Border's but the traffic was too difficult to get through so I turned into Barnes&Noble - where I found everything I needed (some DVDs for nephew and niece, some books for nephew and friends, and a calendar for my bro). Bonus - minimal line, I heard one guy say he went over to Border's, drove around for 20 minutes looking for a place to park, then found the check-out line stretching around the store (I experienced that line last year). So good fortune.

* Where can you find jigsaw puzzles? I was looking for a puzzle for friends, and no place (B&N, Borders, Toys 'R Us) seemed to carry much. Then I trekked down to The Wooden Toy on the Silas Deane Highway - where I found a good selection plus tons of other really nice, educational, high quality toys. Definitely my "go to" place for kid (and young at heart) shopping. I also picked up a rather interesting puppet for another friend. Once again, no line, minimal traffic issues.

* I have a few stops to make tomorrow: The package store, for some wine. Some place to get a gift card. My office, to print out a gift certificate. Probably CVS if I decide I need some wrapping supplies. I'm hitting a yoga class tomorrow, the bank, and those few errands, and then sticking a fork in the holiday shopping madness - it's done!

* Even though I live about a mile from West Farms Mall and go to surrounding stores all the time, I think I average less than one visit every other year. Not my favorite place.

December 21, 2008

New Year's Eve Yoga

Just getting the word out - Nykki Poole will be be leading a Yoga Mala (108 Sun Salutations) on New Year's Eve from 10:00 pm to Midnight. West Hartford Yoga, of course. More information here.

I did one of these last year at Fresh Yoga in New Haven, led by Peg Oliviera, and it was pretty great. So come on out - no need to do all 108 sun salutations (and Nykki suggests wearing wrist support if you plan to) but it can be a sacred and meditative way to close out 2008 and welcome in 2009.

If you must party to make your New Year's official, perhaps come down for some Gentle Yoga on New Year's Eve day - I'm subbing for Sharon Smith so will be leading a Gentle Yoga practice from 12:15 - 1:15. Then go on and have a great time!

And if you really want fireworks, hit the children's fireworks show at Bushnell Park earlier in the evening - then come on down to WHY for some New Year's Eve yoga!

December 17, 2008

Oklahoma Farewell

At the airport - I bought some internets becuase I got here early and did not have time to do much this morning from the airport. When I'm in a hotel for a few nights, the room begins to feel like my luggage exploded - the desk is covered, the coffee tables, the 2nd bed, the bathroom vanity. I tend to spread out....so pulling it all back together and repacking for the return trip takes some time.

If I really planned ahhead, I would throw some paper and scotch tape in my bag and get started on expense reports on the way home. I'd also have a litle envelope in my briefcase labeled RECEIPTS and file them there, instead of having to dig 'em out of my purse, my wallet, my trip folder, and every other miscellaneous place I stash 'em. Like THAT will ever happen....I'm sort of a lazy traveler.

Yoga last night, at Inner Peace Yoga here in Tulsa, was nice. It was called Deep Stretch, and it was sort of a slow class - not really Yin, not really gentle. A bit too quick on the draw into forward folds for my taste (when I am not powering through a vinyasa or power class, I tend to like to warm up the creaky spine gently, my gentle classes often never get near a deep forward bend until the end of class) - but all in all it was a fine class - I got some ideas for my own teaching, which is nice. And if I get into Hartford on time tonight, I might sneak over to WHY for a round of power with Christine.

Oklahomans are, by and large, friendly people. Chatty even. I wandered into Walgreens yesterday to pick up batteries and I must have gotten a huge greeting from every employee in the place. The guy at the donut shop this morning, equally friendly. I ended up chit-chatting with the woman behind me at security.

I suspect I will be back here in 2009 (this is my third trip in 2008) - this seems like a good new client. As the principal engineer quipped yesterday as we were saying our good-byes "Where has she (meaning, me) been the last 30 years?"

Nice to feel appreciated!

December 16, 2008

Success

Last April, I visited Tulsa to look into some noise problems. Back then, I suggested some fixes, one in particular. It's taken the past 7 months to get these implemented; my trip out here this week was in part intended to see if my recommendations worked.

So when I clamped the leakage current, and found that the high frequency leakage current that ranged from 40 mA - 210 mA back in April had dropped to somewhere between 1 mA and 10 mA, well, big smiles all around. Making an "order of magnitude" improvement in ground currents, leakage currents, noise - not easy. So it felt like a win, like I have earned my consulting fee for the day.

My reward - a nice "Deep Stretch" yoga class this evening over at Inenr Peace Yoga. And a trip home tomorrow morning!

December 15, 2008

Frozen Tulsa

I'm in Tulsa. I rather stupidly assumed "south = warmer" and so I left my warm coat, gloves, hat, etc. in my car - I have a warm scarf (admittedly mostly for fashion) and a lightish leather coat. So color me beet red (in the cheeks and ears, anyway)

It's been bitter cold here - went from 60's to 20's on Sunday, and has hovered in the teens all day today. And Sunday night, we got sleet / freezing rain that coated sidewalks, streets, etc. with an icy coating that remains on the roads even now, 24 hours later. Apparently, there is not enough salt and sand in Tulsa to treat the roads, nto enough vehicles to deliver said ice treatment, and not enough municipal employees or subcontractors to drive said vehicles.

So it's been treacherous driving (although no hills, so not all that bad for a New Englander with a front-wheel drive car) - but the good ol' boys in their pick-ups are sliding all over the road. Pretty comical to see them, without sandbags in the back to weight down the drive wheels and gunning the engine so as to slicken the road and slide sideways. While I drive slowly around 'em.

I'm here for another day - then back home on Wednesday morning.....

December 14, 2008

Southwest Gate Area Chairs


If you gotta wait, do it in style...

Southwest has these awesome chairs available (in both Hartford and Midway, at the very least) that I have found myself sitting in. Note the little console with both AC power ports and USB charging ports.

More reason to LUV Southwest.....

Photo credit and thanks to BrettSnyder (aka CrankyFlier) who seems to have a Flickr account dedicated to air travel pics....

Blogging from BDL

All in all, it seems like a pretty nice day to fly - clear and cold but warming up. Bradley is prety quiet too - the lull between the holiday storms. I breezed through gate check-in and security. I'm heading to Tulsa via a circuitous route - Southwest to Midway and from there down to Tulsa. I had some SW credits from a cancelled trip that I needed to burn by Feb (or lose the funds), so figured this would be a good time, and besides, I kind of like Southwest. They tend to depart and arrive on time.... and no extra baggage fees (with my two bags, clothes and test equipment, most airlines would get another $50-$100 for the entire trip)

A semi long travel day - my travel bag is filled with time-fillers. Two recent issues of the New Yorker. Two issues of Yoga Journal. A couple of books (Iyengar's "Light on Life", a book of Rumi). And my MP3 player with some music to embed into my subconscious for kirtan.

This is the "real" trip that I took at the end of November, right before Thanksgiving. The equipment was not really ready for me back then, so it was more of a political trip (touch base, look things over, take meetings, etc.). This ought to be a more productive trip (i.e. - I can bring out my meters and scopes and get some things done). I have some work to do enroute - setting up some documents (tables and stuff) to expedite the measurements and data capture.

This time *I* am renting a car, so maybe I can sneak out to yoga some night at Inner Peace Yoga (yes, there is yoga in Tulsa). We'll see.....I brought my mat and yoga clothes so I'll practice in the hotel regardless, and I brought a swimsuit to maybe get a swim in (indoor pool) and/or a soak in the whirlpool.

The apartment hunt continues - the place I saw in New Britain last week that I kind of liked, I liked less in daylight. Mostly related to room sizes - the bedrooms were small, especially the one that I would use as an office, and the closets were miniscule. Would be OK if there were some storage space (basement, attic, crawl spaces) - but not much of that either. So I keep looking. I'm upping my rent window a bit, looking at a condo in Plainville and a 3 family in West Hartford. When I get back from Tulsa, I ought to have the funds to look in earnest....

December 12, 2008

Metro Meters















Scenic root special correspondant (and agent provacateur) who I've code named B has sent along some pictures of new parking meters on Capitol Avenue and Linden. Agent B reports "You can use credit cards, and it spits out a little ticket that you place on your dashboard. They are SO metro ..."

December 10, 2008

Boycotting Christmas

Reasons I am being a scrooge this year:

* I am moving into a new place, maybe as soon as Jan 1, and am not about to get too involved in the holiday if I am getting ready packing and stuff

* I am too darned busy, heading to Tulsa for work this Sun-Wed, and maintaining a engineering career, a yoga teaching career, and helping out around the yoga studio

* I pretty much gave up on xmas / holiday cards the last few years

* Zippy is not christian so we've never really done much in terms of tree, lights, etc. Maybe 1-2 years out of the 7 or so we have been together

* I am effectively broke right this second; I have a pantload of receivables which ought to start showing up any time now, but really, I'm too poor to hit the shops

* We're getting ready for a Dec 19th kirtan which ought to keep me pretty busy between now and then (when I am not working, teaching, or being in Tulsa)

So....catch me after the new year. I'm sleeping in this holiday. Will probably go visit my family in MA for the day, but other than that, I'm not doing much.....

December 09, 2008

Equal Time

The mystery does not get cleared by repeating the question,
nor is it bought with going to amazing places.

Until you've kept your eyes and your wanting still for fifty years,
you don't begin to cross over from confusion.

- Rumi

So What is Up with Bristol?

Cause there are a heck of a lot of apartments available in that town.....

Internet Scams: Craigslist Apartment Edition

Yesterday, I dropped an email in response to this Craigslist ad:
$700 / 2br - Beautiful Classic Two Bedroom w/ Lots of Character! (West Hartford, CT)

Seems pretty resonible right? The photos in the ad pretty accurately show an older, empty, two bedroom apartment. Here's what I get back:

***************************

Attn Applicant,

Thanks for the email. I own the house and also want you to know that it was due to my transfer to West Africa, Lagos that makes us to leave the house and also want to give it out for rent and looking for a responsible person that can take very good care of it as we are not after the money for the rent but want it to be clean all the time and the person that will rent it to take it as if it were its own. So for now, We are here in West Africa and will be staying here for the next 4 years in our new house and also with the keys of the house for rent, we try to look for an agent that we can give this documents and the keys before we left but could not find, and we as well do not want our house to be used any how in our absence that is why we took it along with us. I and my wife came over to Africa for a missionary work, so i hope you will promise us that you will take very good care of the house. So get back to me on how you could take care of our house or perhaps experience you have in renting home. Hope you are okay with the price of $700 per month.

This is the address of the house: 773 Farmington Ave, West Hartford, CT 06119

SO IF YOU ARE REALLY INTERESTED I WILL WANT YOU TO FILL THE
RENT APPLICATIONS FORM BELOW

RENT APPLICATION FORM.
FIRST NAME:__________?
MIDDLE NAME:__________?
LAST NAME:__________?
PROFESSION:__________?
PHONE:
(CELL)PHONE__________?
(WORK)PHONE__________?
(HOME)PHONE__________?
KIDS _____ (YES/NO), HOW MANY ________
PRESENT ADDRESS: _____________________
CITY: _______________
STATE:______________
ZIP CODE: ____________
HOW LONG? ___________IF RENTING
WHY ARE YOU LEAVING__________?
IF THIS HOUSE IS BEING GIVEN TO YOU,
HOW LONG DO YOU INTEND STAYING? ____________?
WHEN DO YOU INTEND MOVING IN? ______________?
IF YOU HAVE A PET,
NAME OF PET: _____________?
KIND OF PETS: _____________?
HABITS
DO YOU SMOKE ______________ ?
DO YOU DRINK ______________?
DO YOU WORK LATE NIGHT? ____?

Looking forward to hear from you with all this details so that i can have it in my file in case of issuing the receipt for you and contacting you.Await your urgent reply so that we can discuss on how to get the document and the key to you,please we are giving you all this base on trust and again i will want you to stick to your words,you know that we do not see yet and only putting everything into Gods hand,so please do not let us down in this our property and God bless you more as you do this.Our house number is +234-806-113-3966 OR 011-234-806-113-3966.

Thanks and Remain Blessed.

***************************

Seem familiar? I thought so too.....

December 08, 2008

Man's Best Friend

Puppies save three-year-old boy lost in freezing Virginia woods

BY JANE H. FURSE / DAILY NEWS WRITER - Story here
"When I first saw him, he was like, 'Momma, I got cold. I slept in the woods last night. The puppies kept me warm.' He told me that ... the dogs slept up against him. And I'm sure the body heat kept him warm," said his mother, Sarah Ingram.

Billie Jo Roach, another member of the search party that found the boy, said the puppies refused to leave his side.

As the child was placed in an ambulance to be taken to a local hospital for examination, "The puppies were watching where he went.

What a beautiful story, with a happy ending. As someone who has a furry bed warmer and has noted the fierce loyalty of a dog, I'm not a bit surprised.

December 07, 2008

Tell Me What Life Is....

Enlightenment Intensive IV - I'm back. And voiding all the warranty requirements by hopping back on line so quickly and with both feet. Ah well, I am an old hand now, so I can bounce back faster.

Not gonna write a lot, but I like to set some markers to look back upon from the future (it was really sweet to go back in my blog for post-Intensive follow-ups, kind of reminded me of stuff). But some thoughts and memories:

* Life is large - me confronting the enormity of life
* Not having a headache all weekend (what was up with that? I usually get a honking headache)
* The planet (my first object of contemplation)
* Polar Bears and dead dogs
* The dead chipmunk and then the living chipmunk
* A reason to believe; waking up each day
* The beautiful and elusive woodpecker
* My left hand (my second object of contemplation)
* Building this hand out of bits of life that I have consumed
* The master plan in a single cell's DNA

I confess to spending much of the weekend in sadness and deep grief, contemplating the nature of life, the pain in the world, the immensity of the world, and the sureness of death. I did not have a direct experience of the truth (i.e - Enlightenment) which took me into some additional sadness and yearning, but it was a wonderfully cleaning and deep weekend nonetheless.

A most precious bit of work. Now back to the rest of life.

December 04, 2008

Off the Grid - New Age Style

I'm headed out this afternoon - so will be completely off the grid. No cell phone, no email, no texting. Heading up to Kripalu for an Enlightenment Intensive.

"Tell me who you are...."

December 03, 2008

Four Rooms

I'm supposed to be catching up on work this week, preparing for an upcoming Enlightenment Intensive, and in general, taking it easy. Instead, I got tapped to teach four extra yoga classes (besides my Monday night class) - a hot and gentle class last night, and an all levels class and an intro today morning. Teaching all this yoga is a bit tiring, but I'm flattered to be called in for sub duty, and pleased with my own ability to step in and teach at the last moment.

December 01, 2008

Heads-up: Heather Tiddens

Just a quickie for yogis - Heather Tiddens will be in town this coming Monday (Dec 8) from 6-8 pm - doing a Yin/Yang yoga practice with Barbara Ruzansky, at West Hartford Yoga. Regular class price too!

Not on the website yet, but this is one not to miss if you are in town.....