I'm sitting here on Memorial day, thinking about those lost in wars and hoping that my life might see the end of them. And I'm watching the best sunset.

It's been a beautiful day, and Uberjam and I have really enjoyed it. We went to the UH Olympic Stadium and worked out, then took a dip in their outdoor pool (complete with waterslide). We had lunch at Whole Foods. We watched movies. And I think we're gonna have milkshakes for dinner. Life is good.


Aha! A revelation! Yahoo groups just started doing RSS feeds for all of their public groups. That means I can import the dang things into my RSS Newsreader and stop getting all the emails. That will be way easier for me, and keep my email flow down a bit.

The only trouble is, several of the more active groups I'm on don't have this option enabled, because they have their archives set to be viewable by members only. This is easy to change if you're the group owner, and I can't really see any negatives to doing so unless you talk about secret stuff on your group (none of the ones I'm on do). So I have written to the group owners of these lists (about 30 of them) and asked them to change that setting. We'll see if they do. :)


1 Year of Blog

Today is the 1 year anniversary of me starting this blog. In that year, I've written 173 entries. That seems like a lot.

Over this year, I have learned a lot. But one thing I haven't learned to do is sing like this.


Poster Contest

OK - I hereby issue a challenge to you all, my friends and readers.

My company (let's refer to them as "Integrated Widget Services") is holding a contest where employees' children draw pictures about how important job safety is, and the best (AKA most devoid of any drawing skill) are included in a calendar that's printed and mailed to thousands of employees nation-wide.

Wouldn't you like to have a picture in that calendar? Here's your chance! Draw yourself up a crappy kid-like drawing about safety, and I'll pretend it's from my kid. Here's the rules:

Safety Poster/Calendar Contest

Submit a poster to the Safety Department to be postmarked no later than July 1, 2004. The topic for the poster must be safety related, and can be anything from a picture with a slogan on it or safety rules, use your imagination and be creative. Each participant can submit only one poster and must include on a separate piece of paper the name of the child, their birth date, the parent’s name.


There will be 14 winners, one for each month and one for the front and back covers. Each winner will receive a $100.00 savings bond. Safety calendars will be designed for the year 2005 and each month will feature a picture of one of the winning posters. These calendars will be distributed to all company employees.
Get that drawing cap on! I'll showcase all entries here on my blog. Here's one by me, to get you started:

Have at it!


Practice, my boy

You know that old joke? A man is walking down the street and asks a passing gentleman how to get to Carnegie Hall.

"Practice, my boy, practice."

I just spent a couple hours behind a piano practicing, and it was stupendous. It's the first chance I've really gotten to practice in I don't know how long. I mean, I gig all the time, but having time alone to work on ideas and let my musical mind flow ... that's amazing. I spent a good hour just playing "My Romance" in every key, with all sorts of variations. Not a hard tune, but I need to take baby steps while learning to transpose jazz harmonies into different keys. Tomorrow: Giant Steps. (For you non musicians, that's a joke. It's a difficult Coltrane tune usually played screaming fast. Certainly well above my abilities right now.)

I guess I was inspired to get back into the saddle by a musical gathering Jill and I went to last night, at the house of the lovely Paula Chase. Among the participants were Ken Ward and Bob Henschen, both excellent local jazz piano masters. After watching their musical vocabulary, learned and polished over a lifetime, I really felt how much I was missing out by being "too tired" or "too busy" to practice. I'm sure I'll be those things again, but it's always nice to have a kick in the pants that makes you want to be better.



So, looks like I'll be getting a trim in the next couple days. For reference sake, here's the current shaggy, fluffy me, looking fairly goofy:

Yes, that's one of those "hold the camera at arm's length and take the picture" pictures. Oh well. Anyway, hopefully the next one will show a much more reputable looking, less fuzzy person.



Via CrossImpact, here's a nify page on the Social Security web site about the popularity of names. You can look up your own name and see how popular it is. Ian's been hovering in the high 60s for the past few years (much better than I thought). Jill didn't place in the top 1000 since 1990, but Jillian is #137 this year. Weird. Michael was #1 for a number of years but slipped to 2nd recently. Some of the names that barely squeaked into the top 1000 during the 90s:

Jonatan (oops!)

I refuse to believe that Jill didn't make the top 1000, but "Lexie" and "Ridge" did?

Compare and contrast with some of the names in the early 1900's that barely made the top 1000:


I ask you: where did we go wrong?


Frog Season

Tonight after my radio show (my first jazz shift!) Uberjam and I went for a walk over to return a movie at Cactus and get some dinner. On the way, we saw a ton of frogs! It must be frog mating season. We counted 19 frogs and a newt. Oh, and some other forms of nature (we decided that from now on we'll just refer to roaches as "nature".) Two of the frogs were even mating right there on the sidewalk. Hey, it's spring!



Found this cool group today called Freecycling. Basically, it's a listserv where people post items they want to offer or find - the only difference from other similar lists is that everything on this list is FREE. They have a Houston chapter & list with almost 1500 people. Today's items included:

- Coke bottles with astros ticket discounts
- An old lawnmower needing some repair
- A collection of kids books

- Dog grooming supplies
- Massage supplies
- A laptop & some cribs for a church

Pretty neat concept, I guess ... I'll let you know if I find anything good on there, or get rid of any of my stuff.

BTW - For the second time today, the new blogger site has crapped out on me, losing my post. Not amused.



So in the comments for that last thread about looking like Trey, my pal Amber reminded me that I was once nicknamed Schroeder. It got me thinking about all the many nicknames I've had over the years. I think people should have more nicknames. Here are a few of mine, in chronological order (leaving out such elementary school gems as "Gnarly Varley" and "Eeore"):

Sherbet - Randomly assigned to me by my good friend Anne Sawyer back at the New York State Summer School of the Arts (NYSSAA). We were all standing around one day, and she said "Can I nickname you Sherbet?", and I said, "sure." Probably my coolest nickname.

Schroeder - Presumably becuase of my terrible posture while playing piano. Or maybe it's after the German chancellor? I think I have a bit more personality than the German chancellor, though maybe not as much as the Peanuts character.

Erwin, Ethan, etc. - As a camp counsellor at Skye Farm camps, my favorite campers to work with were always the developmentally disabled group ("special needs camp" as it was called). One of my all time favorite human beings, Jimmy, was a high functioning older camper there. He loved everyone, and he couldn't quite get my name right, so he called me by a set of variations - Ethan, Erwin, Evan, etc. Now when I see my friend Karina, who was my co-counsellor that year, she still calls me Erwin, and I still call her Kawinter. :)

Ludwig - When I first joined the Bandersnatchers, Skidmore's male a cappella group, I impressed everyone with my music theory and arranging skills. So much so, in fact, that they cruelly tormented me. "Where is the new arrangement? Work, Ludwig, work!". Bastards.

Ace Freedom - My funk band superhero name. Technically, I was introduced at shows as "Ace Freedom, the Celtic Connection". This was in the band Beefstyle Tradition ... other band member nicknames included "Mercury Zephyr" (the drummer, named after my car), "Reggie Smash" (bass), "Starchild" (Jed, the afro-sporting jewish lead guitarist) and "Pericles Jackson" (Dylan, the latin major lead singer). "People, don't you fret - don't you know, we gonna free tibet."

Actually, now that I think of it, the nickname was first coined during my short stint in the avante garde prog metal band Facial Head. So there.

Liam - Coined from the scene in Spinal Tap when their rival band mistakenly calls their manager (Ian) by the name "Uh ... Liam?". That's what I'm known as by my pals in M Headphone.

Mr. V - That's what my students at Aim High called me. Made me feel like I was on Welcome Back, Kotter or something.

Maybe I should embrace the latest nickname that was assigned to me last night by Billie Ledbetter, the leader of a swing band I'm subbing in for. He didn't quite get the name "Ian", and thought it was "Iron", so he just started calling me "Iron Man". Close enough.

Any suggestions for new nicknames? (Keep it clean, this is a family blog.)

And what are your nicknames?


The Red Pub

Found a cool new-ish paper in town called The Red Pub. Its tagline is "Houston's Only Writers & Artists Paper". I looked it over online, and it looks pretty nifty - they've got music features, they sponsor concerts, and they accept literary submissions.

Not to be confused with the Red Lion Pub, a great Montrose establishment that serves awesome fish & chips, but only on Fridays. Incidentally, there's a happy hour there next Thursday (5/20) sponsored by our friends at OneMoreBeer.com. Should be fun.

In other news, I should be in much worse shape today than I am. We had a couple folks over for dinner last night and drank a large amount of wine. We also got to play Uberjam's favorite, Kill Dr. Lucky. I should be asleep now, by all rights. But work calls ...


You know who you look like?

So today at lunch, I was picking up some sandwiches at my favoritest new lunch place in Montrose. The dude behind the counter said:

"Hey, you know who you look like? That dude from Phish ..."

The ensuing conversation:

Me: "Whoa, really? I've never heard that before ..."

Him: "Yeah, you totally ..."

Me: " ... except for EVERY FRIGGING DAY! What are you gonna tell me next, that I look like Chuck Norris?"

He replied that Chuck Norris was too short.

I felt bad afterwards, he was just trying to be nice and conversational. But seriously, I had the exact same conversation last night with the dude at Mission Burrito. Do we really look that much alike?

I mean, not that I mind if we do look alike. I dig Phish, and I hear Trey is a great guy. But I mean, where are all the people going "Hey, aren't you that guy from Drop Trio?"

Um, yeah. Thanks folks, I'll be here all week.


New Blogger

So Blogger came out with a new version today, as anyone who's a regular user already knows. I was a bit thrown off at first, cuz the interface is totally different. There are some things I don't like as much, but there are some improvements as well. On the "don't like as much" side, they've now totally separated the functions of writing new entries and editing past ones - it used to be that you could see 'em both on the same screen. No longer. I guess that's better from a functional point of view, because it's simpler, but I liked the ability to look down at previous posts without leaving the editor for my new post. Ah well. Also, there's one extra click to change between blogs now, which kinda stinks. But again, no big deal.

Among the nice new additions are keyboard shortcuts to switch from edit to preview mode, and to insert a hyperlink. Both very useful.

There are also a bunch of other new features (built in comments, permalinks, etc), plus some new templates to boot. I'll be playing with those soon.

OK, time to go back to doing something productive. Like, um, napping.


Nerd Heaven

Hey, check it out! At the beginning of June, Houston will host the 3rd annual Arcade and Pinball Expo, which features over 70 full size classic arcade games in FREE PLAY mode. It's $12 per day, which is a bargain if you ask me. Who's with me?


Song of the day

Here's the song of the day.

Not like I have a "song of the day" feature or anything.


Local Show

I'll be doing my first guest installment of the KTRU local show tonight. I'll post back here with my playlist, for all you inquiring local bands. The show is on from 8-10pm, on 91.7 KTRU (or listen online at KTRU.org).

Update: I did the show, and it was a lot of fun. Here's my playlist. Also, for those of you following my varied radio exploits, I'll be switching from my regular Monday morning 4-7 am shift (gah) to a more manageable Sunday night 6-8 jazz shift. Woo hoo! My first one is this week, tune in if you're not napping and / or covered with spit up (you know who you are).