Thursday, April 24, 2008

Wednesday night in Orlando

Two of my longtime musical favorites go together as Roger McGuinn, of the Byrds, joined Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band for what sound like very inspiring versions of both Mr. Tambourine Man and Turn, Turn, Turn, two songs from 1965. Parts of one and all of the other are on YouTube and it doesn't sound like some thrown together mish-mash. It sounds rehearsed. Lead vocals are duets or shared. McGuinn does take some extra vocals on lyrics that are from the original Dylan version, but were not part of the hit version. And as soon as I typed that Bruce joined in for:

"Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free,
Silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands,
With all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves,
Let me forget about today until tomorrow."

Now I must admit they didn't sing ALL of the song's lyrics, but after the song was over, Bruce talked about playing the first Byrds' album 200 times over in the dark when he was fifteen years old, night after night after night.
Still what struck me was how good they sounded. Of course, McGuinn sounds very distinctive, both vocally and with his twelve string guitar, and he is used to playing with anybody, but you must give the boys in the band credit for doing a great job with minimal preparation

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Question answered

The first real post on this blog was my "Unemployed or Retired?", a question no one, particularly me, knew the answer to. And it actually was more a relatively boring history of employment from 1969 until the end of 2007.
I have to be upfront about this. After I was fairly well recovered, say early in February, I very much enjoyed my role, which I viewed as "househusband", not some kind of life of leisure retired guy thing. Seriously. I looked forward to my workout, which I took very seriously. But then I did a whole load of household jobs. I vacuumed, cleaned toilets/bathrooms, did load after load of laundry, paid bills, worried about declining stock market, ran errands, you know, those things that normally create problems for people who work normal hours, like registering vehicles, dentist and doctor appointments.
But, it appears that I wasn't retired, just temporarily unemployed. I say that because I start my new job on May 1, next week. I am really hustling around, getting a bunch of things done- oil changed on both cars, new struts/shocks(yes, one of our cars has struts on the front, shocks on the back), and other odd jobs completed.
My new job appears to be quite interesting, and will have me interacting with far fewer felons. At least I'm assuming that is the case.
My new job is Academic Adviser for the Independent Study High School at the University of Nebraska. Kevin pointed out Saturday that we'll have the same employer, the University of Nebraska system. Although for some reason my title is not guidance counselor, that is what I'll be doing. I'll be the guidance counselor for over three thousand students around the world.
However, I'll never meet any of them in person. All my contact will be either on the phone, by letter, or via email. I'm guessing almost all of it will be email. I'll have the responsibility of evaluating transcripts, determining proper accreditation, and helping students choose the appropriate classes.
You may not be familiar with this school, unless you are Pam, who used to work there, or Emily, who interned there. This high school is fully accredited, is one of the oldest of its type in the nation, and has catered to a specific clientele since 1929, not that that specific clientele hasn't changed throughout the years. There weren't actually a large number of home-schooled students back then, but now that group makes up a noticeable number of our students. We also have students who are national level sports talents, or entertainers. We get children of diplomats whose post does not include an English speaking high school. I don't think it is classified information(I knew this before I interviewed), but both Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears are graduates of our high school. There is a long tradition of both athletes and entertainers who don't really have time for "regular" school to take our classes.
Of course, the delivery methods have changed over the years, with online opportunities beating out the old-fashioned correspondence by mail. There are no longer any full-time teachers on staff, although the skills of many people go into the curriculum design of the rather considerable list of classes, which, by the way, includes driver's education.
People who are not familiar with this school might think "diploma mill", but that is grossly unfair. The graduation requirements are as stiff as any high school, and the costs, while quite reasonable, are not what anyone would call cheap. It isn't like you can charge a couple hundred dollars and get a diploma in the mail. Our students make a regular thing out of attending elite universities and colleges.
It is important to realize I haven't started yet, may hate my little office and hundreds of daily emails, but from my current perspective, it is hard to think of a better job for me at this juncture in my life. I visited this week, and everybody seemed so nice, and excited for me to start, not that I'm sure what that means. No doubt there will be more later.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Wedding Update

T-minus a month or so. It's frantic. I am out buying mixed nuts; how many for nearly 400 guests? What about peanut allergies? Are we liable? Need batteries for the center pieces, 60 AA. Finalize the menu and re-work the cost issues. Champagne for the toast?

Tux in line, got a deal as Suzy Creamcheese forgot to charge me for the shoes, a cool $15 in the pocket. Several wedding showers down with a couple to go. Who will order the food for the wedding party, gawd we eat before the wedding. Taking pictures will create an appetite.

Wedding song for Father and Daughter still an issue. Daughter rejected first song, now I will give her five to pick from.

I have been told that I can't play golf all week before the wedding, I can't imagine why not I have nothing to do. I think we need medication.

Sunday, April 13, 2008


Just so we don't go too long without a post, a few items of potential interest.
Today, Sunday, Joe was published in a real newspaper, with a letter to the editor in the Lincoln Journal Star. Here:
Secondly, we are now two episodes into the first half of the last season of Battlestar Galactica, and the action, twists, and significant plot developments are coming fast and furiously. It will be interesting to see where they go, but I have a feeling the conclusion is not going to be as ambiguous as was the end of The Sopranos. I'm not sure that means a happy, peaceful ending on Earth(which they've been searching for since this version began).
In the somewhat bigger news, it appears that Joe has obtained a job. This would appear to answer the "unemployed vs. retired" issue. The start date is not until May, so we'll wait until it is a done deal to get into real details. Suffice it to say that it is hard to imagine a better job/employer at this time.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

End of a fifty year love affair?

Let's get it right out there right away. I am seriously thinking of switching my major league baseball allegiance away from the San Fransisco Giants. This must mean that I disagree with the spoken philosophy of Saw Doctor Leo Moran, who claims sports team allegiance is genetic. He once said this in an effort to explain his devoted following of the various Galway GAA teams. GAA stands for Cumann Luthchleas Gael, which is widely known in English as the Gaelic Athletic Association, the umbrella organization for sports in Ireland. All of Ireland. There is no northern Ireland in organized sport; it is the only way in which Ireland is still united. I do think Leo was joking when he said this, but it doesn't really matter to me.
I am not sure if I can do this, this wholesale switching of affections. Maybe it will be like quitting smoking, something I have no personal knowledge of, but something that appears to be difficult, something you have to really work at, but something that can be done, even with certain rare setbacks.
My fondness for baseball began in the spring of 1953, when I managed to catch two consecutive serious childhood illnesses pretty much back to back. I missed several weeks of kindergarten, but for much of this time I was not very sick at all. I imagine it will be hard for younger readers(do we have any younger readers?) to imagine a time when we not only did not have cable tv, but didn't have tv at all. We did, however, have a radio and on it was broadcast the game of the day, sponsored, if memory serves, by Gillette.
So I started listening to baseball games every weekday afternoon, instead of going to school. I was six years old and soon began playing the game. The league for the youngest players in Hastings was called peewee, and I faithfully attended summer mornings in early elementary years, learning the game(good name for a Buddy Holly song). Following summers were packed with pick-up games and even more interestingly named organized leagues (little, pony, senior, midget, legion).
The real tipping point in my Giants infatuation came in 1956, with the creation of the Nebraska State League, a Class D minor league. While Kearney had the Yankees, and McCook the Braves, Hastings had the Giants. Many of the players lived at the hotel where my Dad worked, so I kind of slid into the batboy job. I got to see 60-some baseball games up close every summer. I learned to swear from Leo Schrall, the mild-mannered coach of the Giants, and I learned a hell of a lot of baseball.
Over the four years this league was in existence, I met young men who were on their way to becoming big league baseball players, although not many. The NSL was a rookie league, and most all the players were 18 or 19 years old. Many had just graduated from high school, and were giving a professional baseball career that one shot. And for most, that shot was over by September. There were players from Cuba and the Dominican Republic who could barely speak English, there was a guy from New York who claimed to have sung on the street corner with Dion, there were southern boys who had never been away from home before, and there was even a guy from Lincoln, Bill Honnor, who now lives in Waco, NE.
So, since the last of the fifties, I have followed the Giants. I haven't followed them to a championship, because they haven't won a World Series since 1954.
When, in 1974 I moved to San Francisco, my mother said it was the Giants that drew me there. I don't really think that was really the case, but it was certainly a fortuitous coincidence.
I can't really tell you how may Giants' games I saw in those seven years, but it had to be more than one hundred. Here's how it worked for Kevin and Joe going to games. Kevin would call Joe at his office before noon; Joe would shoot over to the Powell St. downtown box office for tickets; and Kevin would pick up Joe on the way to Candlestick Park. Later in the 70s, this pattern got a whole lot better, when Bob Bizio, who used to work with Kevin, got a management job in the Giants' ticket office. Bob would let us trade the tickets Joe bought at noon for the best tickets available for the same price. We'd go from twentieth row down to about the third.
I will try to limit my memories. Kevin, Dick, and I saw the shortest nine inning game played in the last four decades, one hour and thirty-one minutes. Kevin snatched a foul ball off the bat of Roger Metzger out of Joe's hands. One day without Kevin there, I saw a no-hitter pitched by Ed Halicki. I probably saw Jack Clark sprint off the field after the second out about a dozen times. Jack apparently couldn't count to three.
But that is the past. I haven't lived there for 27 years, and I've forgotten most of the details of those batboy years. Should I switch to a different "favorite" team, I won't have to discuss Barry Bonds in the same manner I do now.
Now, I have to decide which team to cheer for, watch on tv, and rarely attend games in person. I could go about this logically. Whose teams games can I see the easiest on tv? Which team plays closest to my current location? Or I could go with emotion and choose a team that has a Lincoln boy starring for them.
But, no, I'm thinking about going with a winner. As this is being typed, the evening of 4/3/08, there is only one undefeated major league team. It's a long way until October but, as they say, hope springs eternal.
The Kansas City Royals have the best record in baseball and Lincolnite Alex Gordon is currently hitting two homers every three games, a pace that would suggest that, at that rate, he would hit over 100 homeruns this season. Of course, I can watch lots of their games, maybe even catch a game live a couple times each summer.
This decision is not final, but I'm going to seriously examine the whole situation. Stay tuned.