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Archive for July, 2009

For those of you as yet unaware of the situation, I have recently joined the ranks of the unemployed.

Along with the job, of course, goes the house we were gearing up to close on. Hard to pay a mortgage without an income.

I – and many others – have noted that it’s a very big ‘coincidence’ for this to happen JUST as we were about to tie ourselves down for a great many years. Better now than a couple of weeks AFTER we closed on the house and moved in.

We are doing our best to treat this as an opportunity rather than a loss. Obviously there is sadness (mostly regarding the house), and there is stress (mostly regarding the lack of income and health insurance), but we are looking forward and taking this chance to see what is out there. The money we had saved to cover a down payment and closing costs is mercifully still in the bank, and as such the situation is not dire.

It is almost certain at this point that we will be leaving Rochester, likely going quite a long way. California and Florida are both possibilities, and we are also thinking (to varying degrees) about the DC area, Oregon and North Carolina.

So yeah. Haven’t blogged much, and that’s why, but I wanted to make sure folks knew what was up.

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There are a few songs which most of us can identify within the first few seconds, and will be able to do so to the grave.

Love it or loathe it, the intro riff to Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is one of these. So is the opening to Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way”. REM made a huge splash with “Shiny Happy People” and “Losing My Religion”, both of which have immediately catchy riffs.

Axl Rose may have been bitten by a radioactive asshole when he was a young boy, but he and his G’n’R cohorts were no strangers to the great riff either. Will there be a day in our lives where we can’t place the first few measures of “Sweet Child O’ Mine”, “Don’t Cry” or “Paradise City”?

This phenomenon is by no means limited to rock. Since the day that Beethoven wrote the first measure of the Fifth Symphony, the immediate in-your-face intro has been a fixture of all styles of music.

However, this art appears to be… well, if not dead, then at least starting to smell that way.

Who, today, is creating riffs which can stand with Van Halen’s “Jump”, with AC/DC’s “Back In Black”, with Def Leppard’s “Photograph”?

This question is not rhetorical. I really enjoy songs that I can immediately get into, and would welcome any suggestions along these lines. Perhaps you, my faithful readers, will come up with more recent examples in such multitudes as to render this entire post invalid. Indeed, I truly hope you do.

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So the big news of the day is Sarah Palin’s resignation as governor of Alaska.

Supposedly, Palin has grown sufficiently sick of being savaged by the media as to warrant resignation. MSNBC is running a report that says she wants to be out of politics entirely, to take the time to raise her family.

Of course, many people are unwilling to believe that someone as fond of the spotlight as Palin would truly be getting out of it for good. Thus, the theories are flying – what does this resignation really mean? Especially regarding 2012?

One theory is that she’s pregnant again. All things considered, I’m not sure that would stop her from working or running – there were times when Trig seemed as much a campaign prop as anything else.

Another is that she is, in fact, doing this in order to free herself from any constraint on running for the Presidency in 2012. This, to me, seems somewhat illogical, since it gives all of her primary opponents the ammunition of ‘she ditched her state once her numbers dropped and oil revenues slowed down, how’s she going to handle the Presidency?’.

Last but not least, she may be planning to run for Lisa Murkowski’s Senate seat in 2010, thus keeping her in Washington and close to the power elite while she builds for a run at the Presidency in 2016. This would also allow her to avoid having to run against Obama’s re-election juggernaut, which is likely to be formidable, and allow some of her 2008 issues to fade from memory. Murkowski herself seems to be aware of this possibility, given that she slammed Palin’s decision before the ink was dry.

So what do you think, faithful readers? What’s going on behind the trademark wink?

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Happy Fourth of July to all my fellow Americans!

It still feels very weird to type ‘my fellow Americans’. Sort of like a new pair of shoes, which are very comfortable and look great, but due to their newness still seem a little awkward and tend to squeak if you turn around too fast.

Independence Day is upon us, and is perhaps the holiday about which one would expect me to be most divided; indeed, residual loyalty to Britain does at first glance assert itself.

(Never mind that King George, from whom America famously declared its independence, was about as British as Saddam Hussein – the guy was a German who was only King because his grandfather had once had the strongest of a batch of weak claims to the throne.)

However, for 233 years, America has shone a bright light into the future, leading the way where other nations have trembled and cowered. We – and I can now proudly count myself within this ‘we’ – have had our missteps. Times have not always been easy. We have weathered the storms of economic turmoil, of wars both internecine and international, of nuclear threat and terrorist attack, and we have come through it all carrying the same torch of Liberty and blazing a trail ever forward.

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Yesterday I said goodbye for the last time to a dear friend – one who was in my life for ten years, looked cooler than I ever could and was curvy in all the right places.

She was very much the centerpiece of my guitar collection, and never failed to catch the eye and spark conversation.

But I just wasn’t playing. I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve picked up a guitar in the last year, and at those times, she wasn’t the guitar I would pick up. (That honor went to a Washburn acoustic – the first guitar I ever owned and still the one I love best.)

So after a full two years without having played her, it was finally time; I’m buying a house and raising a child in an uncertain economic climate – and two thousand dollars is rather more useful than an expensive dust-gatherer.

It was the right decision, I have no doubt of that. It still feels strange and sad, though.

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Or at least, it may feel that way to one Harry Mason Reid, currently Senate Majority Leader.

With the election – at last – of Al Franken, the Democrats have the “filibuster-proof supermajority” of which much has been said.

However, I think such things as the recent House vote on Waxman-Markey (the ‘climate change bill’) show that there is no such thing as party unity within Team Blue. That vote saw some moderate Dems vote no due to its potential effect on their constituents, and some highly liberal Dems vote no because the bill was not progressive enough.

Surely the Senate is blessed (or plagued) with the same diversity of opinion.

Can we assume that Al Franken and Arlen Specter will vote the same way on… well, anything?

Reid has often said that if only he had a supermajority at his disposal, he could ensure passage of a great many bills on the Obama agenda – but does he, really and truly, have the votes?

In practice, the Dems may now be able to come together enough to force down the threat of filibusters, but the bills will still have to stand on their own merits, or fall on the lack thereof.

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