I’ve started taking guitar lessons, consequently, some of my free time has been consumed by practicing rather than posting to my blog. This comes thirty-five years after I bought an inexpensive guitar in school and tried to learn it on my own. I was unsuccessful.

I plan to blog more as fall approaches, perhaps even about learning to play the guitar. Below is the Fender acoustic I purchased. I never knew Fender made acoustic guitars.


I can read music. From the 5th grade on, I played the cornet in school band. So I was able to skip the first three lessons where one learns the notes and the scale and proceed directly to learning the strings, fret board and notes on the guitar.

It’s actually turning out to be a lot of fun, and I would encourage anyone who has had the yearning to learn the guitar to take it up.

I am finding my coordination in fingering the chords and strumming the strings has improved greatly since I was a geeky kid listening to “Stairway to Heaven,” “Vincent”, and any other song with heavy acoustical overtones.

Sykes Songwriter Fest

Which brings me to the event I attended two weeks ago in Memphis; the Keith Sykes’ Songwriter Celebration held at the Delta Fair. The event was free except for the entrance to the fair ($8) and parking ($5). Still, one would pay that whether or not one saw the songwriters sing their songs.

I attended with a friend and we were fortunate to see Roger Cook, Todd Snider and Rodney Crowell. While all three were exceptional, Todd Snider http://www.toddsnider.net/ really stood out in my mind. I bought his recent CD at Barnes and Noble and have ordered two others. To hear an interview with Todd, go to http://isoas.wordpress.com/2008/09/05/todd-snider-interview-segment-1/

I’ve discovered other musicians as a result of my trip to Memphis, primarily by being introduced to them by my friend, including Paul Thorn http://www.paulthorn.com/ and Peter Bradley Adams http://www.peterbradleyadams.com/. Paul Thorn doesn’t sell a whole lot of CD’s according to Barnes & Noble, but his music is very good and worth a serious look-see. Peter Bradley Adams is somewhat mellow, and is classified apparently and surprisingly as alternative.

Anyway, that’s my two cents for today. Talk to you later!


Google has a introduced a new web browser named Chrome, which is currently a beta product, on Tuesday, September 2. It is an open source browser. Google developed the browser in response to many applications being ported to the web. These app’s need a browser to run in and Google wants to supply that browser.

Operating systems such as Windows are not as important as they once were, with many systems operating all the key functions and features users desire.

Google believes the browser should be less intrusive on the user experience, use less processor power and system resources to run the app’s consumers need while at the same time offering up a bullet proof architecture that should reduce browser crashes. If anyone uses IE 7, you are well aware of browser crashes. Many people using Internet Explorer have stayed with IE 6.

The architecture segregates each open browser into a separate partition in memory, which also has the side benefit of enhancing security through separating the activity of a malicious web site and restricting it from reaching outside the partition to harm any other processes taking place on the computer.

Google relied on open source development already pioneered by Mozilla. Also, the engine behind Apple’s Safari browser was relied on in developing Chrome.

Reportedly, it is very fast, exceeding Firefox in many instances. Simple in design, able to create application shortcuts on your desktop, and a tab system that is located at the top of the browser. A task manager lets you monitor which web pages or add-ons are consuming the most processor resources. The tabs can be dragged around to a separate area of the desktop. The search and address line have been combined into one.

Chrome doesn’t support the extensions in Firefox and there is no print preview feature. Still, it is an interesting development in the browser wars and may prod Microsoft into improving their browser with the release of IE 8, rather than just issuing a stock release that doesn’t have much feature enrichment.

I still like Firefox but will use Chrome occasionally to put it through its paces. I’m a geek, and will be looking to monitor its development down the road.

The upload link for Chrome is: http://www.google.com/chrome/eula.html?hl=en&brand=CHMG&utm_source=en-hpp&utm_medium=hpp&utm_campaign=en

This sucks. This sucks partly because I’m older than Bernie Mac. It also sucks because no one should die of pneumonia and no one should die at 50. I liked Bernie Mac, even though I’m not big on ‘raunch’ comedy but he had a decent comedy series on tv and he seemed like a decent guy. I thought he was funny most of the time.

I don’t get it, seems to me evolution f-upped somewhere along the way. I can understand cancer, somewhat. Cells multiply out of control, destroying neighboring cells, and generally ruining your insides. Defective code. Cells, like a machine out of control, spitting out too many copies, defective copies, like an atomic pile melting down that can’t be stopped.

Bacteria and viruses like pneumonia, seems like they are intent on killing their host organism. What’s up with that? Doesn’t make sense to me when viewed in evolutionary terms. Seems to me the perfect disease is a parasite; feeding on a living body but not killing it. If a virus kills its host, it dies too. What kind of evolutionary sense does that make? Of course they say a virus isn’t alive anyway. Still, if it kills its host, it fades away too.

There has been much news about antibiotics losing their effectiveness because bacteria has adapted into new resistant strains. In fact, there is a lengthy article in this weeks, (or was it last weeks?) New Yorker about drug resistant bugs. Scary. But why must they destroy a living organism? Where’s the guy in charge of evolution? Seems to me he or she has some ‘splaining to do. Shouldn’t these bugs have evolved to the point where they can ensure they own survival? Hey, they’ve had eons to work on this. Someone needs to be fired.

Getting back to Bernie, sorry ’bout the rant, but I still say it sucks. He had other health problems apparently, so maybe the pneumonia took advantage of the weakened defenses in his body. Still, it doesn’t seem right. No more Bernie, no more pneumonia. Pneumonia must be pretty damn stupid.

If anyone knows who I can complain to, please let me know.

I subscribe to The New Yorker magazine and have read it on and off since seventh grade, when I used to carry home The New Yorker and Time magazine from a couples throw away pile, whom I worked for, performing yard work for them, and would have carried off their empty Calvert whiskey bottles if they in fact hadn’t been quite so empty.

I never get the sense that The New Yorker is right wing or even right of center. They seem to me to be middle of the road with left of center tendencies. This is why their magazine cover that’s in the news this week is perplexing.

I wonder if it is a case of the marketing department run amok? Surely this will sell a lot of magazines, with collectors even hoping to put them back up for sale on eBay in a few years.

One of the regular writers for The New Yorker is Hendrick Hertzberg who recognized the passing of Jesse Helms in his blog for the magazine by writing this:

July 4, 2008

Dropping the Helmsman

Far too late for it to do anybody any good, Jesse Helms has died. He has done so on Independence Day, which, since he was born too late to own slaves and in too liberal an age to allow him to outlaw sedition, will forever be his only resemblance to Thomas Jefferson and John Adams.

It is rude to speak ill of the dead. Luckily, I did so ahead of time.”

I offer his quote as evidence that the magazine dishes it out to both parties and the members thereof.

I find the cover in bad taste, as a satirical vehicle, it lacks conveyance of understanding, and just plain ‘dirty pool’ as it were. Satire is only effective if you understand what they are trying to get at. Dunderhead that I am, I’m usually good at recognizing satire and love it as a form of comedic entertainment.

On the other hand, this seems to be proof that Senator Obama is the guy to beat in November. Everyone wants to expose the leading contender in politics, sports, business or whatever else is attracting the most attention at the moment.

A test of Senator Obama’s character will be how he responds to this. If I was him, I would announce that I would subscribe to the magazine just so I could have the pleasure of canceling it after the first issue arrives.

Me, I’m not canceling. Poor taste happens all the time, usually in combination with poor manners. I think it is a good magazine that just got a little off base this week.

My better half has become one of the 25,000,000 viewers of American Idol on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. It’s okay with me. She puts up with my watching reruns of Burke’s Law, the original Lost in Space, the Green Hornet and Supernova. I don’t watch House or Boston Legal or really anything on the networks prime time schedule. She says it’s to have something to talk about at the water cooler the next morning at her work.

American Idol

I can tell she likes the show, and that’s okay. It is popular because it gets people interested in a contest of talent. Seventy-four million votes were cast during the 2007 season.

The show was created by Simon Fuller in England in 2001 and was called “Pop Idol”. America, as it often does, brought, borrowed or copied the show the following year. Simon Cowell, a judge on American Idol, and the guy you love to hate, is actually a record executive, and was a judge on the original Pop Idol show.

Image: New Yorker magazine

The judges, Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson, rate people on vocal talent, song choice, presentation and miscellanea related to the overall performance. The judges don’t always vote the same as the people who watch the show.

Some of the singers who have made it big from the show include: Carrie Underwood, 2005 winner; Jennifer Hudson, eliminated midway through 2004 but ended up winning an Oscar for the 2006 film “Dreamgirls”; Chris Daughtry, finished 4th in 2006; and Kelly Clarkson, the winner in the first season.

What I find interesting is what happened a few weeks ago when Neil Diamond was interviewed during the show. You find out a bit about the artist whose songs are being sung during the episode, and sometimes on how they write the songs that made them famous.

My wife asks me to watch the show with her but I stay at the kitchen table with my laptop. When she makes a comment about a performer and looks over at me, I pretend not to be watching or listening to the show. Yes, it is a guilty pleasure. I don’t like the fact that I am paying attention to it and don’t want her to know, not yet anyway. Maybe it’s a bit of embarrassment. The show has brought me in by using a lot of tunes from the 1970’s, which I know rather well, a misspent youth or whatever. I usually know the original artists, the year and even a good portion of the lyrics.

For me the show is like watching Jerry Springer, which I don’t but have in the past on occasion. You want to peak in, take a look, see what’s going on, what all the fuss is about, but you don’t really want anyone to know you looked. So I listen to the show as I surf the internet, even watching it from time to time, but turning my head back to my laptop at the commercial break in order to preserve the fiction that I’m not paying attention.

So let’s see; it’s on Tuesday May 12 at 7pm and Wednesday May 13 at 8:00pm. She always asks me when it is on and I always have the answer. She hasn’t asked me how I know or if I looked up the listing. I may even try to vote this time. Shhh! Don’t tell my wife. When she outs me for watching, she’ll probably tell me she knew all along.

Many countries celebrate Mother’s Day. In the United States, the holiday was imported from Britain by Julia Ward Howe, composer of the song ‘Battle Hymn of the Republic’, and was intended to unite women against war. She wrote in 1870 the Mother’s Day Proclamation calling for peace and disarmament.

Though she failed, Howe inspired Ann Jarvis to work for reconciliation between Union and Confederate soldiers. Her daughter Anna Jarvis began the crusade for a memorial day for women after her mother died in 1907.

In 1914, President Wilson declared the first national Mother’s Day, as a day for Americans to honor those mothers whose sons had died in war.

Mother’s Day is the most popular day of the year to dine out.

Tom Rickard writes the comic strip Brewster Rocket. Below is today’s Mother’s Day themed, science fiction themed, (no that’s not an error) comic strip. I thought it was very funny.


The gas tax proposal as promulgated by Senators McCain and Clinton is a bad idea as shown in this Ben Sargent cartoon as it will: increase demand for a commodity that should be conserved, reduce funds available for repairing roads and bridges that the gas tax is used for, and increase the federal deficit.

The proposal to suspend the 18 cent per gallon tax for the summer while the average cost per gallon is currently $3.60 is only 5% of the cost. It doesn’t nothing except pander to the voting public and allow these two candidates to over hype the proposal like they’re delivering a windfall to the American public. In fact, since Senator McCain first made the proposal a few weeks ago, the cost of gasoline has risen over 20 cents per gallon, obliterating any savings the consumer may have gained.

However, the proposal seems to be resonating some with Indiana voters. I hope they will consider the trade-off of short-term relief (very short-term) versus the long-term damage the tax suspension will create. I would be more in favor of a small tax credit for low income tax payers rather than an across the board cut for everyone, including those with large vehicles.

I believe Senator Obama is on the right side of this issue. In informing us of his decision he is going against popular sentiment, however, we need someone to start talking straight to us. It’s tiring to hear those in or vying for positions of responsibility to make all sorts of promises only to conveniently ignore the same promises once they are elected to office. Let’s show Senators Clinton and McCain that we’ve wizened up a wee bit over the past few years.

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