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Monday, September 30, 2002

Orange County Woodstock

Denise goes wild!


Jordon Cooper complains about some bad “natchos” which he was served in a local restaurant. As a smart-alecky Californian, I couldn’t resist that one, and was about to send him a kidding comment about how our deprived brethren above the border are so far removed from the land of the Nacho that they have to guess at the spelling.

Then I did a little research and discovered that it’s simply the way they spell it up there. For example, has a recipe for “natchos” So I was deprived of a chance to stick in the needle. Can’t blame a fellow for the influence of his culture.

Even though Google serves up many listings for “natchos,” it first asks you if you meant “nacho.” However, when you do a search for “nacho,” you are not asked if you meant “natcho.” So there you are, good Canadian restaurateurs. Better change those menus.

Sunday, September 29, 2002

Video Victuals

Sunday's here--the day when I abandon myself to the tube. Pro football and The Sopranos. A great double helping of violence mixed with poetry. Those who don't like pro football will wonder what the hell I'm talking about when I ascribe the quality of poetry to football. Those who do like it will know exactly what I'm talking about.

In addition, there are two new shows opening tonight, just before and just after Tony and Family--one with promise, one with question marks. Boomtown, crime stories told from four different perspectives, a la Rashomon, has been well received by the critics who have previewed it. The other, American Dreams, we'll have to wait and see. I'm hoping it will be well done, but I'm not holding my breath. It has all the elements of being a sugary misreading of history, into which TV drama can lapse so easily. I'm hoping my doubts are misplaced, however, because the show will likely have lots of great songs from the past. It's the story of a Philadelphia family during the 60's where the teenage daughter is trying to get on American Bandstand as one of the dancers. The father thinks Dick Clark is leading youngsters to hell in a handbasket and forbids his daughter to have anything to do with it.

Dick Clark is one of the producers of this new show, so there will be lots of clips of his old show. That will be a kick in the ass for old-timers like me. But the setup for the depiction of the generational war that was brewing at the time sounds pretty lame. I'll be amazed if they come close to an honest representation, but I'm rooting for'em. Dick Clark is nobody's fool. We'll see if his brain has addled or not. (For a personal reflection on the War-Between-The-Generations, see my post of May 8).

Other TV notes: most promising new show I've seen so far is Michael Mann's Robbery-Homicide Division. It has the usual Mann trademarks of high-gloss cinematic visuals combined with the backdrop of hip, throroughly up-to-date music which helps build the dramatic tension as well as enhance the impact of the cinematography. Having said that, it's no Miami Vice, Mann's original ground-breaking use of this formula. It lacks the magic of the chemistry between Crockett and Tubbs--played by Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas--one of the most serendipitous relationships ever to grace the tube. By the way, WTF ever happened to Thomas? He seems to have fallen off the planet. Here's one delicious tounge-in-cheek sighting.

Thursday, September 26, 2002

Reputation vs. Branding

David Weinberger gives us a great rundown on Tom Peters' talk on “self-branding.?Like Dr. W, I tend to cringe at this sort of nomenclature. But David eschews the cynical put-down route, takes a closer look, and comes up with some excellent insights. Of course, Weinberger coming up with salient insights is not exactly news.

He makes this interesting observation about Peters?talk:

I find it more useful ?given my wanting to hurl when I hear "branding" ?to think in terms of "reputation," a term that's begun to be used in place of "brand" in some corporate marketing departments. "Reputation" has three big differences from "brand": Reputations are earned, reputations are bestowed by others, and reputations can be rich and multifaceted.

Brand myself? Nah. Let me build a reputation. That's how I take Peters' talk of self branding.?

Post-Script To a Put-Down

This is a post that’s a pure pleasure to write. It’s a follow-up to my post of two days ago, “Accepting the Risk.” Little could I imagine when I received the put-down comment—which I described in that post--that things would take the turn that they have.

My accuser, Mary, had a change of heart and posted an apology. (I don’t know Mary’s last name. She hasn’t told me yet). As you can imagine, I was extremely touched. Mary also apologized for “the intrusion” I responded to her that if you’re publishing a public blog, there’s no such thing as an intrusion. And this inspired the thoughts that formed the basis of my post on Tuesday.

Mary’s apology would have been enough, but then she sent me an email expanding upon her original mea culpa and concluding with an expression of interest in blogging--asking how she might get started!

Is that cool, or what? I was only too happy to dispense some advice (e.g., Rebecca Blood; BlogSisters; Blogger; my blogroll).

You’re a big person, Mary, and I hope you jump into blogging with both feet and derive as much satisfaction from it as I have. I’m still knocked out by the turn things took!

Send Self-Addressed Coded Memo

My email box today contains the latest wrinkle in the never-ending cycle of spam stealth. There was a message to me from me, subject line “memo.” Since I occasionally send memos to myself through email, I opened it up, even though I couldn’t remember having sent it (an unreliable indicator since the reduction these days of my short-term recall continues apace).

It was an invitation from three ladies of the evening to spend some “relaxing downtime” with them (wouldn’t “uptime” be the more appropriate term?). If this devious technique becomes a trend, I guess I’ll have to resort to inserting codewords into the subject lines of memos to myself. Sheesh!

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

Accepting the Risk

The other day, I got a nasty reply from someone—a non-blogger—who somehow stumbled onto my site. She really let off a head of steam. Accused me of being “archaic” and a “know-it-all,” along with a reference to a body part (or a four-footed animal often referred to in the Bible. Take your pick)..

Just to be sure, I ran it by my number one bullshit and reality-checker, i.e., my dear wife, to see if, by some chance, my offending post had unconsciously been communicated from aforementioned body part rather than my heart and head.

Jill put on her psychotherapist’s hat, and pronounced, “pure projection,” —which, I assume is professional shorthand for the act of distorting external reality by confusing it with inner reality.

Thus satisfied, I was going to let it go at that. But on reflection, I saw that maybe my accuser had a point. Or at least there might be a lesson to be gleaned from this odd interchange. It made me look at blogging anew.

S/He who blogs makes a conscious choice to accept the risk of going public. It has a profound effect on one's relationship with one's self--at least it has for me, and for many of the bloggers with whom I interact. One thing that it's allowed me to do is to explore my personal sense of authenticity and to claim my own authority, which was under-developed for many years.

I suppose that, sometimes, in the course of this exploration and experimentation with authority-development, I over-compensate and risk coming across like a "know-it-all,” i.e., a smart-ass. I hope not, but if I do, it's the chance I take in writing a public blog.

Monday, September 23, 2002

Welcome, Ray

Ray Sweatman, one leg of the Triumphant Trio of Atlanta bloggers, along with Jeneane Sessum and George Partington, has inadvertently been absent from my blogroll.Thanks, Ray, for commenting to one of my posts. It brought this omission to my attention. You are now most definitely on the Roll.

Cell Mates

Frank Paynter jokes that AKMA and I are in danger of being rounded up by Homeland Security for expressing our anti-Bush views. Well, I’d be honored to do time with AKMA, especially if the RidgeBoys would allow him to select the Musak for the holding cell.

Thanks to AKMA, by the way, for his links to Duermer and the Kulikauskas piece. It’s depressing, but we need to keep reading this kind of input, and informing each other about it.

It reminds me of ’65 and ’66, when there was not yet a critical mass of sentiment against the war. There were days when one just wanted to turn away from the sadness of it all, and from the fearful contemplation of what was to come. But we resisted the urge to retreat and persisted in holding rallies, and gathering in bars, lofts, and coffeehouses to remind each other of the need to keep informing ourselves, and to empower ourselves to spread the word.

Where is that kind of energy today? Nowhere to be seen, except in some damn fine blogs. Of course, we're getting no help from the Democrats. They're scared shitless with the election looming. Bush has'em right where he wants'em--competing with him to see who can wave the flag the hardest.

Then there's another, less obvious but, I believe, more potent factor--the absence of a universal draft. God forbid we should start that up again. I've got two draft-age boys. The Army helped me to grow up, but my guys can find some other maturation process, thank you very much. The problem with an all-volunteer, professional military is that it doesn't hit home. Can you imagine if the boys down the block were being sent off to this insanity? Bush wouldn't be able to get away with it.

Sunday, September 22, 2002

Multiple Skewering

The sorry spectacle of the tail-between-the-leg Democrats--“Politics Over Principle”-- is the subject of David Broder’s excellent editorial in the Washington Post today.

Meanwhile, at the NY Times, Maureen Dowd is at her best. Some samples:

“Don't feel bad if you have the uneasy feeling that you're being steamrolled. You are not alone. . . Bush is like the guy who reserves a hotel room and then asks you to the prom.

. . . So former Nixon officials Cheney and Rummy are playing out their own "Four Feathers," rescuing the lost honor of the American empire in the sands of Arabia. They want to stomp on Saddam to exorcise the specters of Vietnam and Watergate — the ethical relativism, the lack of patriotism, the postmodern angst, the loss of moral authority, the feeling that America is in decline or in the wrong, the do-whatever-feels-good Clintonesque ethos.

. . . .The Cheneys, who have been known to invite dinner guests at the vice presidential mansion to sing along to "Home on the Range," think they can restore a sunnier, more can-do mood to our society. Even if it takes incinerating Baghdad to do it.

. . . .This is fine with W., who stayed 50's through the 60's and stopped liking the Beatles when they got into their "weird psychedelic period." He arrived at Yale and Harvard Business School just as the white male WASP ascendancy was slipping. He was in that small coterie of bewildered guys in wide-wale corduroy trousers, Izod polo shirts and Sperry Topsiders, surrounded by wild and crazy hippies protesting the war and smoking roaches.”

No More Fog

My wife is concerned that I've left the impression out in the blogosphere that I'm in favor of going into Iraq. It's true, I toyed with the idea for a while and expressed some of my ambivalence in a few blog posts. So I guess she's right. I need to clear the air. And it was the incomparbly clear air of New Mexico that helped me come out of my mental fog. Somewhere out on the broad expanse of the high desert, where reality is easier to grasp, I snapped out of it and returned to my senses. No incursion into Iraq unless it's strictly a UN operation.

Saturday, September 21, 2002

Marketing IQ

Thanks to marketing guru, Larry Chase for the link to Copernicus Marketing. They offer a very challenging “test your marketing IQ" quiz. I decided to give it a whirl. I didn’t score highly enough to make the guru category, but I did make the next rung down—seasoned professional.

That’s all well and good, as far as it goes. I certainly include the words, “seasoned professional,” on any bio or promotional communication about myself. But, to be perfectly honest about it, it‘s not really an accolade. You didn’t do anything to earn it other than put in the time.

The quiz employed by Copernicus is a great marketing tool. Not only does it tweak your curiosity and draw you in, they give you a detailed analysis of each answer, thereby showing off their marketing smarts in a much more interesting way than some dry, analytical white paper. I highly recommend the Copernicus site to anyone interested in marketing. They walk the talk.

On another marketing note, the noted Web marketing authority, Ralph Wilson, has decided to sacrifice half of his subscribers and switch to a double opt-in permission standard. That’s what it cost him to make the switch, but Dr. Wilson feels, with the horrific increase in spam, adhering to the higher standard has become necessary, both for one’s integrity and for avoiding future legal difficulties. Wilson is convinced that the day is coming when the government is going to require audits of marketers’ email lists for adherence to strict opt-in permission standards.

Let’s hope he’s right. Wilson makes an observation worth quoting:

“Selling an e-mail newsletter to a company that continues publication of that same newsletter may be a legitimate transfer of permission. But if the use changes, the permission is no longer valid. You can't take permission given to Company A for a particular purpose and then transfer it to Company B which e-mails different content for a different purpose. Then it is no longer permission but presumption!”

Thursday, September 19, 2002

Out Of the Blue

Out of the blue, a call comes in from my first wife. I haven’t seen or spoken to her in thirty-two years. Thirty-two years! I can’t recall ever having spoken to someone after that long of a gap.

She’s lost her mother and her husband in the past year and says she’s making the rounds of talking to people from the distant past as part of her therapeutic process. Fair enough. I’m happy to go along. After thirty-two years, the wounds and recriminations are so completely insignificant, they have the weight of an atom.

I notice that the very first thing that each of us wants to know about the other is not family, job history, travels, ups and downs, but “How’s your health?” We’ve reached the age where that’s the top of the list. Hers is fine, and so is mine, knock on wood.

What takes me aback is the voice. Intellectually, of course, I know that she’s in my age bracket. Emotionally, though, it just doesn’t compute that way. I’m hearing the voice of a woman who’s clearly in the last stages of middle age, or early senior-hood—depending on which way you calibrate it. I realize that I must sound the same way to her. It’s a sobering experience. She will always exist in my mind as a fiery young piss-and-vinegar colt.

We remarked on how quickly each of us seemed to grow up after we escaped the torture of mutual blame for our youthful miseries and frustrations in which we were enmeshed. We apologized to each other for having been such immature jerks.

All in all, a good experience. I salute her courage in making the call. Best of all, she seems to have enjoyed her life as much as I’ve enjoyed mine. There have been times when I wondered if things worked out OK for her. It’s nice not to have to wonder anymore.

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

Moore's Lore

Corante has added Moore’s Lore to its stable of blogs. This one is authored by the estimable Dana Blankenhorn--whose writing I've enjoyed for as long as I’ve been on the Web.

Hylton Jolliffe of Corante reports that Dana’s new blog, subtitled “the Pace of Progress,” “will be examining the applicability of the premise first articulated by Intel's Gordon Moore - not just to computer processing power but also to telephony, particular fields of science and a host of other technologies.”

Good move, Hylton!. Looking forward to it

Tuesday, September 17, 2002


I’m really getting with it in recent days! First, I finally got around to getting a Comments function installed. Now, after the umpteenth fumble through my disorganized blogroll, trying to find something, I’ve alphabetized it. What a difference!

I’m also making some additions to the roll. I’m a great believer in reciprocating links, and I’ve recently discovered three excellent blogs who have me on their blogroll: Whiskeyriver, David Lyttle, and Syaffolee. Glad to return the favor guys.

Don't Can That Spam

Mark Sakalosky writes a nice piece of satire today in Click Z. Seems he’s discovered the bright side of spam.

Monday, September 16, 2002

Difficult Ground

Mike Golby's having a bit of a brouhaha with some family members over things that he said in his blog. This is difficult ground. It’s all new and we're learning as we go. We can say anything we damn please, but there may be unintended consequences. We each have to draw our own boundaries, and there's nobody to teach us.

Send Mike a word of support. I know he’ll appreciate it.

Notes From a Sunday De-Briefing

49ers-Broncos: much as it pains me to admit it, the better team won yesterday. The much-vaunted 49er offense has been a phantom so far this year.

Fortunately, our area harbors another team closer to my heart, the bad-ass Oakland Raiders, still swaggering as in the good old days of John Madden. The Oaktown muggers did not disappoint last night. And isn’t that Jerry Rice something to behold? He’s having the time of his life sticking a finger in the eye of 49er management. When his uniform goes into the Hall of Fame, I’d love to see it be the Silver and Black. OK, Niner fans, send me your hate mail.

The Sopranos: no room for disagreement here. Was this worth waiting for or what? David Chase’s touch is better than ever, if that’s possible. And what can you say about James Gandolfini? He’s created a permanent icon.

I’m indebted to film editor and friend, Michael Chandler, formerly of the Saul Zaentz Film Center in Berkeley, and an Oscar winner for his work on Amadeus. We were at a dinner party together during the first season of The Sopranos, and Michael was almost delirious in singing the praises of the new series. I didn’t have HBO at the time, and Michael insisted that that state of affairs cease immediately.

“Don’t even think about the ten bucks per month. This is the greatest dramatic series in the history of television. You will thank me for getting you to subscribe.”

Michael couldn’t have been more right. And I’ll pass his words on to any and all who aren’t HBO subscribers. Actually, you can get the past Sopranos seasons on video. You don’t have to be a subscriber anymore. But you’ll miss that special crackle in the air when that stirring credit sequence comes blasting through the tube each Sunday night for the next live episode. Besides, HBO has so much other good stuff, it’s well worth the money.

Sunday, September 15, 2002

Slothful Sunday

On Sunday mornings, I like to roll over in bed, reach for the remote, and punch up CBS Sunday Morning. They usually do a nice job of covering what’s happening in arts and entertainment. Today, the rock music writer, Bill Flanagan, reviews some of the best CD’s coming out in the ensuing fall season. They include some old favorite artists of mine that haven’t been heard from very much lately. In fact I was beginning to fear that they might be fading from the scene.

Not to worry. Tom Petty, Mark Knopfler, and Sinead O’Connor will be coming our way soon --sounding, Flanagan opines, better than ever. In addition, he also cites the excellent new British group, Coldplay. But I’ll reserve my judgement on them until I’ve heard the CD.

It’s a rare day of wall-to-wall excitement on the tube today. 49ers vs. Denver Broncos. Then Raiders vs. Steelers. Not to mention the A’s and the Giants, both in exciting races for the playoffs. My remote is going to be humming all day.

As exciting as all of this is, however, it pales next to the TV event of the year—the long awaited beginning of the new season of The Sopranos. What a way to cap off a day of delicious sloth! In fact, we’re treating it as a mini-celebration. My older son, Aaron, is coming over with his girlfriend and we’re whipping out the wine, cake and ice cream to accompany Tony, Carmella, and Family.

I’ll be reaching for the Visine tomorrow

Saturday, September 14, 2002

Dorothea Spiffs It Up

Dorothea Salo has accomplished an attractive upgrade to her blog. She also has a new URL. . . . .OK, no sooner do I go to make my links, and I realize that this is hardly screaming news. It appears that Dorothea made this change weeks ago, just when I was beginning my vacation.

Oh well, I’m sure she won’t mind some belated kudos. Anyway, a reminder to update your blogroll link if you haven’t already done so. And if Dorothea’s not on your blogroll, get with it.

A Youthful Burden

After a three-week absence, I’m still struggling with catch-up—not only with blogs, but with personal affairs. In the meantime, back in Madison, Wisconsin, Jonathan’s year got off to a rocky start. A former team member of his from UW Freshman Crew, who had remained an occasional drinking buddy, was having a round of drinks with his old rowing mates, including Jon. He bought them another round and bid them goodnight.

The next day, he wasn’t seen by anyone, but no one thought anything about it. Another day went by. People assumed the guy was with his girlfriend, but on the third day, she called to ask if anyone had seen him. A roommate went up to the attic of the house and discovered his body swinging from the rafters.

No note, no troubling signs given to anyone. No drugs. No plausible explanations that anyone could offer. This was not the loner profile that you tend to associate with this ultimate act of self-destruction. He and his girlfriend had been making plans to move to New York together to begin their post-collegiate lives.

Jon took it pretty hard. He and his mates are at a loss to understand how something like this could have happened. I explained to him that these inexplicable kinds of suicides seem to be a staple of college life. I asked several people if they could recall similar incidents from their college days. They all could, including myself.

In my case, it was a grad student, a member of my social circle, a regular party guy with a sharp girlfriend, a biochemist with a brilliant career ahead of him. One night, he simply went home, no note, no nothing, and popped some poison which he’d lifted from the lab where he worked.

I told Jon that my theory about this—to the extent that one can theorize such mysteries—is that when you’re young you lack the perspective which older people have about the ups and downs of experience. When you’re mature and feeling really down—down to the point where the feasibility of continuing the struggle of living comes into question, you’re ultimately sustained by the breadth of your experience. It teaches you that feelings are transitory, like the weather. The fact that, today, life seems unsustainable has no ultimate significance. It’s just how you feel today. It won’t last. You’ve been there before. You’re able to trust that, sooner or later, your feelings will start to move northward.

Young people, however, have a particular burden to bear. For them, whatever way that life seems to be today tends to be the yardstick for how life really is--and how it’s going to remain. Result—occasional suicides for no outwardly apparent reason. That’s my theory anyway. It seemed to help Jon a little bit. At least, I hope it did.

Thursday, September 12, 2002

At Long Last—Comments Up!!

After months of frustration trying to get into the YACCS server to set up Comments, George Partington, bless his soul, has turned me on to HaloScan. He said that it was a cinch to install, and he was right.

Now, finally, you can talk back to me without having to email. I have to be honest, though. I find it a bit daunting to have all those goose eggs sitting out there at the end of each post. On the other hand, several people have bugged me about not having a Comments capability. You know who you are, so now that I’ve succumbed to your cajoling, I expect to see some action in the form of scintillating commentary.

George assures me that he’s had no problems with HaloScan. Hope I have the same experience. Many thanks to you, George, and to the folks at HaloScan for having servers you can actually access.

Tuesday, September 10, 2002

The Honor of Silence

The most appropriate way to observe September 11, IMHO, is with silence. I’ll post no entry tomorrow. I’m so sick of the media frenzy. The media is truly an ass—especially television, May a 1000 journalism blogs bloom.

An acquaintance of my wife’s was in a building directly across the street from the WTC and saw the plane hit. Only recently has she been able to return to anything approximating normal sleep. Now the friggin’ TV has stirred it all up again. She’s hopping mad and I don’t blame her.

It’s a disgusting spectacle of sentimentality--most of all the way that the Bush crowd is playing on the frayed feelings of the country--conveniently directing attention away from the state of the economy—just as election season gets underway.

The possibility of an illegal, horrible war, plus a return to GOP control of the Senate, is looming large. Meet me at the nearest cave. Meanwhile, I will respectfully observe the honor of the fallen ones with my silence tomorrow.

Which reminds me, none other than Laura Bush has advised that people keep their TV’s turned off tomorrow. Nice to see that there’s one person anyway with some class in that family.

Monday, September 09, 2002

Catching Up

It's going to be impossible to catch up on all the blogs I've missed while away for the past three weeks. But there are some things that will help. Corante On Blogging is a great resource for keeping current on what bloggers are saying about our medium. And then there's the one and only Doc Searls who somehow always seems to manage to provide a wide-reaching rundown on good stuff that's out there.

Many thanks to Doc and Hylton Jolliffe for their worthy efforts.

One of my first acts in the catch-up process will be to visit Frank Paynter for the Golby interview. I was disappointed to miss it when it was fresh. Then on to my other favorites, one at a time--probably doing a lot of skimming. Hope I don't jump over anything juicy..

Opportunity and Privilege

Back from a splendid vacation! This was my first extended absence from blogging since I launched the blog back in February of this year. I can't believe that it's been less than a year since I began. Blogging has become so much a part of me, I can barely remember not having been a blogger.

This intense relationship with blogging caused me some concern when I contemplated being away from the blogosphere for a protracted period. However, I'm a firm believer in the notion that one of the primary purposes of a vacation is to "vacate" everything connected with your everyday life (except your relationships, of course).

I was so absorbed in the wonders of the region Jill and I were visiting (Northern New Mexico) that I didn't experience one moment of wanting to sit down at a computer. "Blogaria will be there when I get back," was my attitude, and it was. But I wasn't back more than a few hours before the anxiety began to strike. "Omigod! I'm out of the loop. How will I get my readership back? How will I catch up on all of my favorite blogs? Will I be able to get my "voice" back? Etc, etc.

Well, there's no percentage in accommodating such petty thinking. The only remedy is to jump in. As I was sipping this morning's coffee, I realized that I was holding my return to blogging as a struggle. Then I recalled yesterday's superb match between Agassi and Sampras for the US Open title. Although I generally find tennis somewhat boring to watch, I knew instinctively that the matchup between these two marvelous veterans would be worth my attention. I was not disappointed.

The point I'm trying to get to here is that, although both men were fighting valiantly with much effort--pushing each other to the absolute limits of their strength and ability, they did not exude the slightest air of people who were struggling. They weren't bellyaching to themselves, "Oh shit! Why is this such a struggle?" Rather, you could clearly sense how much they relished being pitted against one another, how honored each felt to have the other as his opponent in a match of this magnitude at the twilight of their respective careers.

So, every time I start to feel sorry for myself because I fear a struggle ahead--especially in the area of blogging--I'm going to try to recall the spectacle of these two aging stars going into battle with the air of opportunity and privilege--not struggle.

Yes, blogging requires the discomfort of getting off my duff and zapping the thoughts that I can't do it. And, yes, it's an opportunity--an opportunity to be more than I would otherwise be. And it's a privilege--thanks to the people who create and maintain the software, and the people who comprise my blogging community. I'm really looking forward to being back among you!