Saturday, December 30, 2006

I enjoyed watching the broadcast media and reading the print pundits this week. Usually not much happens during the holidays, and many in the business are on vacation. (Particularly radio talk show hosts, as ratings are not gathered during this period.)

Who anticipated the death of a former president and the execution of a well-known despot? Even with the 24-hour news cycle that permeates most Americans’ existence, these two events provide more than enough analysis and commentary.

I’ve written it before in this blog, and I’ll write it again. I’m glad I don’t work in that field any longer. I am thoroughly enjoying the slow pace of the past week and a half, with my family at home. It’s nice to have a life.

On a slightly related matter, yesterday while watching the Sun Bowl, CBS switched over to coverage of President Ford’s casket arriving at the church in Palm Desert. My 5-year-old daughter watched with a level of attention that was unusual for her, considering this was not a program on Nickelodeon or the Disney Channel. She asked what was happening and why the people were all dressed in black. I explained (very briefly) about the significance of a presidential funeral and mourning protocol. I am not sure if she will remember much about this, but who knows? I can remember December 1972, riding with my father (just a leisurely drive during the holidays) through the rural areas of Maryland and, most likely, southern Pennsylvania, listening to Harry Truman’s funeral on the radio. Or maybe it was just one segment in a memorial process that took several days. Either way, I knew this was something that didn’t occur often.

The things I can remember. That’s my noggin for you.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Busting my brain has an interesting story/chart regarding football ranking by state. Texas comes in at number one. The ESPN writers tag it with 10 Division I college football teams. Wonder if I can recite them by memory? (In no particular order.)

1) Texas
2) Texas A & M
3) Texas Tech
4) Baylor
5) University of Houston
6) Rice University
7) TCU
8) SMU
10) North Texas!

Exclamation mark added 'cause that last one took awhile. Nice brain exercise for this holiday period.

Where did Arizona end up? Don't ask.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

No like-eeee

I almost choked on my Christmas-evening ham sandwich when I read about this.

The Arizona pundit's opinion? Don't. Why should the team trade young talent for a man whose best baseball days are behind him? Need I remind everyone Johnson taking the mound isn't a lock for a victory (remember the 2004 season?). Not to mention the way he left town for the Big Apple. It's hard to say whether the Diamondback fans will forgive and forget.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas

The gifts are ready. The tree is ready. So is the fire! (Courtesy Channel 45.)

Hard to believe, it's 7 on Christmas morning and Geogal and Geoana are still asleep. I remember wanting to be up as early as possible on the Navidad mornings of my childhood. Then again, I am the only morning person in this household.

As far as I know, the gifts to the nephews and nieces made it to their intended destinations in time. And my iTunes Christmas playlist? As follows:

We Need a Little Christmas-- Percy Faith
The First Noel-- Frank Sinatra
Silent Night-- Johnny Cash
Up on the Housetop-- Gene Autry
White Christmas (1947 Single)-- Bing Crosby
O Holy Night-- Mormon Tabernacle Choir
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer-- Gene Autry
Away In a Manger-- Celtic Woman
Sleigh Ride-- Leroy Anderson
The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas To You)-- Nat King Cole
I Wonder As I Wander-- Jewel
Adeste Fideles-- Il Divo
Angels We Have Heard On High-- Don Grusin
Jingle Bell Rock-- Bobby Helms

OK, so some of these are newer, but they still stay true to the traditional arrangements.

Merry Christmas!!!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Happy Christmas Eve eve!

Woke up this morning to fog, an unusual sight around here. The heavy humid air was courtesy of a steady drizzling rain yesterday afternoon/evening. It was just one of those perfect days to sit inside the house, engaging in casual activities and drinking warm beverages (with and without caffiene).

Here in the Arizona desert those kind of days are rare. As Geogal commented, it finally felt like the holidays had arrived. Chilly, gray skies, and a warm feeling that can only take place inside one’s own home. The only thing missing was a fire. (The Geohouse has no fireplace.)


My relaxed feeling was aided by the knowledge that as of 11 a.m. Thursday morning, I completed ALL of my Christmas shopping, even the stocking stuffers. I cannot recall when I had the dreaded “S” word finished this early, save for out-of-town holiday trips.

The exchange of money for merchandise was fairly easy this year. More on that after the big day.


My last big project for Christmas? I will create a list of favorite Christmas-themed songs, download them from iTunes, then burn them onto a CD for easy enjoyment. So far, it will contain works from Gene Autry, Bing Crosby, and Nat King Cole. You may already have ascertained that I don’t care much for the newer stuff, and you’d be right! I’ll have my playlist posted here, probably by tomorrow evening.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

This Christmas season is somewhat odd for me. For the first time in I don't know how many years, buying gifts for Geogal is actually EASY.

She is, after all, one of the hardest people for which to buy. A lack of hobbies and general eschewing of "girly" things make gift-giving a difficult task for me several times a year. This time of the Christmas shopping season usually finds me having already entered and left several stores with a slowly-increasing frustration. Not so this time!

I should enjoy this feeling while it lasts. I don't know if I just got fortunate this year, or if I actually am improving on extracting genuine, affordable gift ideas from her. Probably the former.

On the other side of the coin, I shipped off the gifts for the nephews and nieces last Tuesday. Two families, two packages filled with wrapped presents.

Two families that received each other's packages. I'll never use that UPS Store again. Stay tuned for the resolution of this mess. If there is any upside to all of this, at least I sent the packages early enough for the switcheroo to be made prior to the Big Day. I'll just dwell on that for now. No need to raise my blood pressure at this time of the year. So there, family members! Don't call me Scrooge!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Just some random lazy Sunday thoughts

Arizona State could have done worse. After all, Erickson should have a solid recruiting base in the Pacific Northwest and he has a good track record in Pac-10 football.

That's pretty much all I will say about that issue. Since my alma mater is among the bottom-feeders of Division I college football, it is interesting to watch the actions of a school that has a strong local alumni base and extremely devoted fans. In fact, I interact with so many people who bleed maroon and yellow, I have to usually hold my tongue when I feel a need to express my gut-level emotions about ASU. (Hint: these aforementioned feelings tend to not be positive.)


I noticed this article, then this one, regarding satellite radio.

I'm not positive about a merger. Yes, the FCC likely will block it. However, I wonder if satellite radio (both providers) are presently lacking a "killer app." Something that will make it highly desireable to the general public. Remember how th e IBM PC was introduced in 1981, with Apple's version already on the market? While spreadsheets were the killer app for business users, the home user had no real counterpart until about 1995, when the World Wide Web took off. Suddenly even Grandma was buying a computer in order to get online. The corporate heads of Sirius and XM should both be thinking about what they can offer that nearly everyone would want. I'm sure it's out there. Time for some creative thinking.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

College Gridiron Contests: Out With A Bang

And I thought I was just going to passively enjoy some end-of-the-regular-season matchups. Without Texas playing for the Big 12 Championship, I wasn't too invested in these games.

But whoa! I got caught up in the USC-UCLA grudge match. While I did obtain a certain amount of pleasure in seeing the Trojans lose, I should admit my disappointment that they will not be playing Ohio State for all the marbles. That would have been a good game.

Still, I won't bog myself down in the Michigan-Florida quagmire. It may still be a good championship slugfest regardless of who is chosen. And a close game won't hurt, either.


Cooked two porterhouse steaks on the ol' propane beauty last night. Not grilling perfection, but not bad eating either. Geogal paid me the ultimate compliment by not reaching for the steak sauce. I look ahead to some more uses of the grill after this week, when I will have more time on my hands. (More about that later.) And yet again, the grilling tome did not let me down.

(It's good to be able to insert hyperlinks into my blog. I can't blame Blogger for this one. For some reason, the Safari browser does not give the hyperlink option in the menu. Thank the computer geeks for Firefox!)

Friday, November 24, 2006

The Day After, and Questions Answered

Watched plenty of football over the past two days. I did eat turkey yesterday, although I may go ahead and let the "dirty little secret" out: Turkey is not my favorite food. Probably had something to do with being served bone-dry and flavor-lacking white meat pieces at numerous family holiday functions. But, as with most things to my 10-year-old mouth, the gustatory limitations were remedied by a dose of ketchup. I can still recall the disgust expressed by various relatives.

What made me think of that, I don't know.

Yet the dark meat turkey I ingested yesterday hit the spot. Moist, plenty of flavor, and the side dishes weren't bad, either.

And the Cowboys won.


How did those beef ribs from a couple of weekends ago turn out, you ask? Not bad. Six hours on the grill was just about right. For next time I will need to marinate them overnight, as the flavor was just superficial. I have to keep reminding myself that perfecting these dishes takes practice. Plus trial and error.

How was Mexico? Pretty good. Neither of us got sick. No problems with U.S. Customs. The transportation was wonderful (I would definitely use those folks again!). And it was nice to be "unplugged," just sitting on the balcony, reading. No iPod, no background music of any kind. And no going to the computer every half-hour to check on the latest news. I still must reveal that it was still nice to return home and have all of these gadgets at the ready.

No need to abandon the world we live in on a permanent basis. And no need to stay in that world 24/7/365.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006 (not) making me wait

This morning, Geogal and I leave for a few days in Old Mexico. Just needed to take a few minutes and do some quick blogging.

Geogal, of course, read the previous entry. She agreed with my self-questioning, but added her thoughts that once one becomes a parent, the wanderlust usually subsides. Yesterday, as I was discussing this subject with a colleague who is, well, more mature than me. (I don't want to say she's older, although she is a grandmother.) She had the same conclusion as Geogal. And she encouraged me to just relax and have fun. It's nice to be reminded of the basics at times.

By the way, no photoblogging for this trip. I am taking the camera, but will leave the MacBook at home, along with my iPod. Two reasons. First, I don't want to risk these things being stolen, even though they were just at much as risk during the recent Texas sojourn. Second, it might behoove me to be less "plugged-in" during this journey, to allow myself to just soak up the local culture, and spend some time reading as I sit by the sea.

I'll have fun.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

...but probably no tequila and lime

OK! Gotta make time, sit down, do some writing.

What do I write about today? Elections/politics?


My latest gadget?

Negative. Don't even have one that I haven't written to death in this blog. Except maybe for my recently-purchased three-burner propane grill, which has been feeding the Geofamily well. Plus, my mom and dad gave me a tome: Weber's Big Book of Grilling for my recent b-day. I've already tried two recipes from it, with pleasing results. Today I am experimenting with true BBQ (which means cooking the meat slow over low temps). Beef ribs, with some hickory chips to provide a true smoky flavor.

I'll let you know how it turned out.

Something that is occupying my mind of late. Next week, Geogal and I will be going south of the border for a couple of days. (She has a work-related gig in Rocky Point, aka Puerto Penasco.) So why am I not excited about this, an upcoming road trip? I'm not sure. Am I becoming an old man, scared of change and finding comfort in the routine and familiar? Dear God, I hope not. Do I have trepidation about an international sojourn, even though this does not involve air travel or a return stop through customs? Maybe just a bit. Never mind that hundreds of Arizonans do it every day. And that Rocky Point, even though it's about 60 miles from la frontera, is still considered a border town.

I also need to remember that gringos head there to have fun. So why can't I?

And it seems just about everyone around here goes there. Case in point: Geogal just called me, as among her errands today was to go to the Alltell store to ensure our cell phones would have international service. The sales guy's response? "I was just there last weekend. (The coverage) is hit or miss down there."

I really should just relax. It's not that big of a deal. Not nearly the situation my brother-in-law faced some years back, which involved he and some friends getting ready to visit a Central American country, then a coup occurred.

I'm pretty sure that's a true story. Maybe I should get some more details from him.

As for next week, we'll be fine.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

All Hallows Eve

I don't remember halloween being that much work!

Work. Pick up Geoana. Head home, change into workout togs. Work out at gym. Return home. Prepare evening meal. Hope Geogal gets home soon. Take out pumpkin. Have Geoana use her markers and draw a jack-o-lantern face. Spread a great amount of newspaper. Continue to work on evening meal. Get old knives out of the garage and cut jack-o-lantern (not too scary!). Reserve the pumpkin seeds. Receive call from Geogal who says she's caught in traffic and won't be home for a while. Ask Geoana to separate pumpkin seeds from the top portion. Listen to Geoana get dainty about how her hands shouldn't touch the pumpkin slime that happens to be attached to the seeds. Get tired of listening to it, and choose to ignore it. Light the grill. Put beef kabobs on grill. Set the timer so I won't forget and burn them. Take clean dishes out of dishwasher. Start putting the dirty dishes in. Timer goes off, flip the kabobs. Ask Geoana to get her costume on. Hope to God that Geogal gets home soon. Get candy bowl ready. Take kabobs off the fire. Tell Geoana very firmly that she needs to get her costume on. Cut up beef kabobs for Geoana.

Lose sanity.

Actually, I survived it. Halloween went off without a hitch. Geogal got home, took Geoana trick-or-treating, and the rest of the evening was fairly relaxing. Sitting here writing is therapeutic, in that I am finally off my feet.

I hope Halloween gets easier as the child gets older.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


....that was a whiff. (See entry dated 10/21)

That's why I don't hang out in Las Vegas sportsbooks. Well, that, and I don't smoke, either.

The Cardinals. I am rather indifferent to them and like most Americans I didn't really root for either team in this Series. Didn't even watch much of the Series. My view today? Hey, at least it wasn't the Yankees.

But I already know who will win next year's Series. The Texas Rangers. Why am I so sure? Because they just fired manager Buck Showalter. He was fired by the Yankees, they win it all the following season. He was let go by the Diamondbacks, and...yep, you know the rest.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Back to a little sports bloggin'

So another team I like heads down the field in the final seconds. Only this time they make the field goal.

All things considered, I would rather have a Texas victory today instead of a Cardinals victory last Monday.


World Series? Don't know if I'll be watching. I'm going with the conventional wisdom on this one. The Tigers might just sweep. Or, at the most, it will go five games.

We'll see.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Am I becoming an optimist?

Yep, lots of hand-wringing and tears in the coffee this morning around the Valley.

See that game last night?

Actually, there's not much of the above going on right now. Remember, we're talking about the Cardinals.

In our home, I said to Geogal: "It's the end of the first quarter. Let's just watch something else, cause it just won't get better than that for the Cards." I was wrong. Better, than worse.

Yet, in the midst of all the sports talk this morning, did anyone notice that Matt Leinart looked really good out there? Just like he was back in a Trojan uniform. The offensive line did a better-than-adequate job of protecting him. The defense only allowed three Bear points. Yes, the Edge didn't get much yardage, but remember he was running against one of the best defenses this season, anchored by a guy from Lovington, New Mexico with the last name of Urlacher.

This is not the worst team in the league, and last night they showed potential to become better.

I'll stay in reality. The Cardinals won't be going to the playoffs. They likely will not have a winning season. But we've seen much worse in past seasons.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Lazy Saturday?

Ahhh. Cup of coffee. Backyard door slightly open. Somewhat cool temps outside. Dawn. Quiet. Just me and my thoughts.

I really should cherish times like these.

Summer is OK, and I am well used to the blast-furnace heat. Yet after a few months it does wear out its welcome and I'm ready for the slow change of seasons that is fall in the Arizona desert.


Now, you might be wondering how I can blog so close to my own backyard. Simple. I finally broke down last weekend and made the Geohouse wireless. Not with an Apple Airport Extreme, as I cannot find any at my friendly local retailers. Apparently the decision-makers at Cupertino can't manufacture these fast enough, as my local Apple Store always seems to be sold out. As is Comp USA. Order online? Only if I want to wait about 5-6 weeks. This product seems to be the Tickle-Me-Elmo of the techno-geek set.

So I visited Comp USA and purchased a Netgear router instead. (I had this option, as the desktop is a PC.) So far, no complaints. And it's always gratifying when I've done my homework and know more about the products than the salespeople. Hand to heart, one of them told me I might have problems with my MacBook recognizing and logging onto a wireless network that uses a PC platform. Should have seen the look on his face when I casually mentioned I had just taken it on the road and was able to get onto every wireless network at hotels and coffeehouses. Plus being able to log into my neighbor's unsecured Wi-Fi, which is most likely not Mac-based. Shut that guy up.

Anyhow, got to run. Need to take Geoana to gymnastics.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Post trippin'

How 'bout some Q and A?

Q: Geoguy, were you successful in all your Texas culinary pursuits?

A: Not exactly. I did get to partake of some good Tex-Mex, and the BBQ was decent. However, no chicken-fried steak met my standards this time around. (See the entry from Ozona.)

Q: Geoguy, I thought the purpose of taking your new laptop was to write entries from each of the cities in which you stayed. Why was there nothing for Midland-Odessa?

A: Remember when I indicated that all Wi-Fi is not created equal? The La Quinta in Odessa had a functioning network when we checked in, but by the evening it was down. The problem persisted into the morning. I then had the bright idea of using the Wi-Fi always available at Starbucks to access the Internet (yes, there is a Starbucks in Odessa, surprisingly). However it prompted me for a password, which I was not expecting. I just got frustrated, and decided it was better for all of us to just get on the road ASAP. Plus, the positive effect of the caffeine had not yet kicked in and I am known for not having the best mental faculties until that initial jolt of java.

Probably more of an answer than you were expecting.

Q: You make reference to Odessa. Did you drive by the high school from "Friday Night Lights?"

A: Yes

Q: Would you make this trip again, even though it seemed drawn-out toward the end?

A: Sure. Overall it was a very positive experience.

Q: So when's your next road trip?

A: Don't know yet. Sometimes they are dictated by Geogal's business trip happenings, other times they are in response to family-related events (such as the journey we just completed). Our own desire to go to new areas seems tertiary at this time. Hmmmm, perhaps that needs to change.

I think I'll get out the atlas.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Picture wrap-up

For those of you who live in verdant or tropical areas, these pics might seem stark and lonely. But for me, these were steady indicators that I was nearing home with each passing hour. I just wanted a good montage to illustrate what one sees heading west from the Dallas-Fort Worth area. (Remember, Fort Worth is known as the city "where the west begins." The things I remember from seventh grade Texas history.) And, for those of you wishing to be critical of the picture quality, just remember these were taken by either me or Geogal while the vehicle was pushing anywhere from 70 to 80 mph on the open interstate. The final shot is of the Organ Mountains near Las Cruces, where I lived for 7 years and where Geogal and I met and eventually married. Sadly, there are no pictures from the last day's drive (Las Cruces to Chandler), as all of us were tired and just wanting to get home as fast as possible. Besides, there's always the next trip.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Finally, the front door!

That's better.

Home. Nice to be here.

(I used to dread coming home from a trip. That was back in my much-younger days when "home" was an apartment, usually one that fell somewhat short of my expectations for a nice dwelling. But now, being a homeowner, sometimes the best sight in the world is my front door.)

As expected, the MacBook turned out to be an excellent road warrior. On the second-to-last-day of the journey, we powered it up at every Texas rest area (needing to stop at every one on the way that morning due to my penchant to indulge in large cups of coffee--but hey, it kept me alert and improved my mood to boot). Texas, perhaps like some other states, is equipping all of their rest areas with wireless technology. I was able to check the e-mail while Geogal and Geoana tended to business. I can only dream of what a road trip ten years in the future will entail. I'm reasonably sure it will include the ability to watch DirecTV or Dish Network in one's vehicle (while moving) with only a miniscule antenna magnetically mounted on the vehicle roof. And that will just be the start. Should be some interesting journeys in my family's future.

Just in case you were wondering, the final trip odometer reading was (drum roll please...): 2,691 miles. I would guess only about 100-150 of those were non-highway miles.

I'll start going through some of the pics we took over the last 2-3 days and post the ones we deem postworthy. Then, this blog will return to my usual rants about sports, culture, and sports. And technology.

Thanks for the nice comments, Geocousin!

Friday, October 06, 2006


Dateline--Las Cruces,NM

Just a few more hours...

...and we're home.

Some of the things I learned during this trip. Not all wireless networks are created equal. Free breakfast at hotels gets old after a few days. There's still no beating strong, good quality coffee.

And the New Mexican food in Las Cruces is still just as good as it ever was.

Once I return to the Geohouse, I will post more pics with some snark-laden commentary.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Big Tex and Big D

Dateline--Dallas, TX

Just a short entry for today. The entire family went to the Texas State Fair (a first for your Arizona pundit, even though he was born and lived much of his childhood in the Lone Star State).

A relaxing, refreshing, and rejuvenating drive from Houston to Dallas yesterday. The top picture was taken near Huntsville. Stopped there with the intent of enjoying small-town barbecue, but alas the place I found online was closed on Mondays. However, in the "life's not all bad" department, this same business offers a hamburger joint adjacent to its BBQ restaurant, so we did enjoy wonderful burgers that put any of the fast-food outlets to shame.

Geogal showed mercy on me and found a BBQ place near our hotel in Addison, Texas. Spring Creek Barbecue. A larger, urban operation, but it served its purpose. Good meat, although pork was curiously absent from their menu.

I'll share more thoughts about the Dallas area in subsequent postings. In the meantime, the fair activities tired all of us out. Hasta manana.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

My suburbia can beat up your suburbia

In the interest of keeping my health and well-being intact, I will make no disparaging comments about members of my family of origin. Why? I'm surrounded by them presently, and will be until tomorrow morning.

But seriously, this visit is mighty good, and I have no beef about which to vent. It probably takes a visit to Southeast Texas to refresh my appreciation for living in the Arizona desert (dry heat!). And I am using my accrued knowledge to remind myself that a visit to Houston does not have to lead to pathos (not EVERY time, at least).

The entire reason for this trip was to be present to celebrate a milestone birthday for my mother (the exact age will not be posted here). Today's picture is indicative of the classy nature of this party (took place last night) and everything went off without a hitch. Which is no small statement considering the presence of two small children amongst pricey china and Waterford crystal.

Onto other subjects: Namely, the title of this entry. In preparation for the festivities, Geogal and I (and numerous other family members) made frequent trips to the local grocery store. Grocery store. Something of a misnomer in this case. I've been in Wal-Marts that are smaller than this place.

(pause--Geoana slammed her fingers in a door and is wailing. Must go now)

I'm back, Geoana is OK, just one of those childhood occurrences (although they are known to happen to adults, which is when they are more painful and embarrassing).

Where was I? Right, starting my rant about really really large grocery stores. I believe the correct term is "Big Box," at least that's how they're known in AZ. This one, though, I think, is representative of how grocers are reinventing themselves for the suburban shoppers. I don't mind a large selection of items, but different kiosks with store employees wearing the Garth Brooks-in-concert microphone giving pointers on how to correctly cook this or that? Numerous other businesses offering their wares or services in the front of the registers? It seems to me this is better limited to the aforementioned Arkansas-based mega-retailer

Perhaps I should not be so quick to criticize. After all, this was just my first experience with this type of a grocer-retailer and they apparently don't exist in my corner of the world. Yet. But I am certain this is not the first Really Really Huge HEB store in Texas and this might just be another indicator of what suburban life is becoming. More offerings, bigger store footprints, more businesses under one roof. Soon these stores will offer more square footage than the larger Las Vegas casinos.

But overall, is there anything wrong with this? After all, the consumer is getting what they want. However, will these places lose the personal touch? Even though I know it's fake, I still like it when the employees of my nearby Safeway still take time to greet me and ask me if I'm finding everything OK. I guess I should enjoy it while it lasts.

Maybe I just need to spend more time in the rural areas to remind me that suburban living is really not so bad.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Two more shots

Just outside of Las Cruces, NM. The old stomping grounds, as both Geogal and I have degrees from New Mexico State Cow College.

This is a rest area, with the sweet smell of creosote. I had seen the roadrunner sculpture from far away, but had never really taken a close look.

Sure enough, it was made out of garbage!

Pictures as promised

Pics from a service station in Deming. Yes, a service station, not a gas station. The guy actually gave me the full service (which involves him pumping the gas and washing the windshield--these are actions I have not seen since childhood).

I take that back. I have visited Oregon, where it apparently is the law that a professional has to gas up your vehicle.

Geogal took a look at the pumps and had a similar flashback.

How occupied was I? Busy enough to not notice the Blazer for sale (?) in the second picture. Would have given it a quick look had I known.

For the reader, how long has it been since you saw a "Master Charge" (sted Card) sign?

If it wasn't for the gas prices, one might think we did a Marty McFly back to 1978.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

18 Wheelers, pump jacks, and local color

Dateline--Ozona, TX

Not the greatest wi-fi connection at the Deming hotel, that explains the double posting from this morning. We are staying tonight at a Best Western, which seems to have a far superior wireless signal.

The search for true, unbleached, cracked-from-the-unforgiving-sun Texas has begun. Found some of it at Chuy's Restaurant in Van Horn. Pretty good Mexican food along with sports-related items that canot be called kitsch, because this is a male-dominated eatery. Word has it that John Madden stops and eats there at least once during the football season. The owners of this West Texas restaurant aren't hesitant to mention this, and use Madden's name and likeness in much of their marketing.

The rice is really good. (And the rest of the meal wasn't bad, either. But that side item was definitely the standout.) We knew this was worth a blog mention as Geogal ordered her salad with the dressing on the side (which is her standard procedure, as to avoid salads that are more dressing than greens). The dressing came on the side. The bottle, that is. Not a generic restaurant-grade salad dressing bottle, either. A bottle of HIdden Valley Ranch, label and everything. The same bottle that occupies your grocer's shelf.

You just won't see that in Scottsdale.

The evening meal was sufficient, but not outstanding. I ordered chicken-fried-steak, shared it with Geogal. The crust on the meat was nicely flavored, but the cream gravy had never been introduced to pan drippings. The result? Let's just say paste has more flavor. So, the search continues...

Pictures in the next post. (Wait till the A.M.)

Rock and roll!

Dateline--Deming, NM

A good morning indeed!

Regarding my entry from yesterday, it didn't even take a whole 30 minutes. Just after writing that, I got back to packing and organizing and soon realized I was finished. Finished in the good way!

Geogal got home earlier than expected, and loading took little time. So, in about 10 minutes I felt de-stressed. It's nice to enjoy the drive.

So, on to some pictures. Due to the time we left Chandler, we drove through Texas Canyon just prior to sunset. It was one of those "happy happenstances," in which picture-taking conditions were almost perfect. I am no aspiring photographer, but I am aware that sunrise and sunset are excellent times to get out the camera, due to the angle of the sunlight on God's creation.

So...I asked Geogal to take some shots while we were moving. Geoana had conked out in the back seat, and we didn't feel like stopping at the rest area in the midst of this rock garden. So, enjoy these pics. I promise more tomorrow, as we anticipate totally during daylight hours.

Rock and roll!

Dateline--Deming, NM

A good morning indeed!

Regarding my entry from yesterday, it didn't even take a whole 30 minutes. Just after writing that, I got back to packing and organizing and soon realized I was finished. Finished in the good way!

Geogal got home earlier than expected, and loading took little time. So, in about 10 minutes I felt de-stressed. It's nice to enjoy the drive.

So, on to some pictures. Due to the time we left Chandler, we drove through Texas Canyon just prior to sunset. It was one of those "happy happenstances," in which picture-taking conditions were almost perfect. I am no aspiring photographer, but I am aware that sunrise and sunset are excellent times to get out the camera, due to the angle of the sunlight on God's creation.

So...I asked Geogal to take some shots while we were moving. Geoana had conked out in the back seat, and we didn't feel like stopping at the rest area in the midst of this rock garden. So, enjoy these pics. I promise more tomorrow, as we anticipate totally during daylight hours.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Just 30 minutes, that's all it takes.

30 minutes.

No, I'm not talking about a pill, although this does involve some pain relief.

Most of you will agree with me that the hours just prior to leaving on a trip lasting more than a day are the hours that tick by the fastest.

Gotta get this packed. Gotta make sure we have this on hand. Gotta remember to unplug nearly everything at home. And continually remind myself to not forget ANYTHING!

All of this, even though my family and I are on no real time schedule for departure. (Hey, we're not catching a plane or anything!) But still, the stress befalls me even though I have been doing this routine a few times a year for the past 20 years.

However, there is a sure-fire cure for everything aforementioned. Just get on the road. Get on with it.

For me, about 30 minutes on the road and I become a new man. More relaxed, very euthymic. All of the pre-trip stress is over.

So I just keep reminding myself: "30 minutes, 30 minutes. That's all it takes."

Monday, September 25, 2006

Cue the James Bond Theme, with steel guitar, please

The Big Trip is getting closer.

By a stroke of luck (actually, it was more Geogal's foresight to ask), we are borrowing a minivan for this particular sojourn. A nice one. A very late-model Chrysler Town and Country with some nice features (such as a built-in DVD player).

The in-laws brought it over yesterday to explain how some of the features worked. I had to resist all my urges to clown around with the gadgets on board while speaking in a British accent. (In my mind's ear, the male owner of this vehicle was sounding like Q, with numerous interjections to "pay attention, 007" while he explained how this latest miracle of spy-must-have technology was achieved by years of painstaking work from all members of Q Branch. Of course, that meant I would return it from the field severely damaged, if I even returned it at all. Maybe I'd just better stay in the real world.)

For numerous reasons, I am looking ahead to this journey with great anticipation. A wonderful vehicle, satellite radio from both providers, on-board DVD player with wireless headphones, plus our normal collection of ease the trip luxuries such as iPods, the portable DVD player, and the challenge I issued to myself to photoblog the entire spectacle.

But the excitement about what is ahead is more than the above. I am returning to an area of Texas I have not visited for years and am hopeful that I can share some recollections of my childhood years with my wife and daughter, neither of whom have much Texas visit time logged onto their brains. Driving through the verdant Hill Country; following the Colorado River from Austin to Columbus, eating at small-town establishments where chicken-fried-steak is the house specialty; seeing how many BBQ joints we can point out; huge oak trees; and sharing with them what has changed in these many years, and what has stayed the same.

That, and I promise Geogal and Geoana that I will not listen to too much country music along the way.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

the best laid plans....

Further adventures with the new toy.

First, decided to get the Apple Airport Express to create a wireless network in the house. It worked perfectly, save for the fact it is not a router. Which meant we still could have only one computer on the Internet at a time. (For those of you who are scratching their heads, we have a Wintel PC and the new MacBook. Therefore the PC is not wireless, unless I wanted to splurge for a wireless card which isn't going to happen...)

Easy enough solution, right? Pack up the Express, return to the Apple Store, get a refund and buy an Airport Extreme, which IS a router.

Except they were sold out of the Extreme and would not have more in stock until October.

The MacBook is still without a wireless connection, unless I want to be a dishonest, law-breaking Bad Person and use one of the neighbor's wireless network that they left unsecured. Nope, won't be doing that.

I'll just wait, as I, and the rest of the Geo family, will be on the road in a few days.

But I'll bring the MacBook, and an Ethernet cable to boot, to take advantage of the hotel's Internet options. And one of my projects today will involve seeing how well my digital camera will talk to the MacBook.

Maybe I will do some blogging (with pictures!) while on the road.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Monday thoughts and celebration

Why the celebration? I got a new toy!

A MacBook, to be precise. This is my first notebook computer in 10 years, and to say I'm thrilled with it would be a vast understatement.

Of course, the Mac OS X Tiger is a more sophisticated operating system then the ones used on the Macs during my college years (I was a fixture at NMSU's Mac lab during 1989 and 1990). The learning curve is a bit more steep than what I expected, but overall, it's areally awesome machine. Nice screen, too.

Just got it hooked up to the Internet this morning, and I'll have to scrape up about 70 dollars to get the Geohouse a wireless router for the cable modem. That's OK, I can wait a bit.

I will end this post now, as I'm still unsure about the current wireless connection.

Monday thoughts and celebration

Why the celebration? I got a new toy!

A MacBook, to be precise. This is my first notebook computer in 10 years, and to say I'm thrilled with it would be a vast understatement.

Of course, the Mac OS X Tiger is a more sophisticated operating system then the ones used on the Macs during my college years (I was a fixture at NMSU's Mac lab during 1989 and 1990). The learning curve is a bit more steep than what I expected, but overall, it's areally awesome machine. Nice screen, too.

Just got it hooked up to the Internet this morning, and I'll have to scrape up about 70 dollars to get the Geohouse a wireless router for the cable modem. That's OK, I can wait a bit.

I will end this post now, as I'm still unsure about the current wireless connection.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Bring it on!

Enjoyed most of the football I saw over the weekend. This, despite many of the games being the big school playing the smaller, weaker, sometimes Division II institution. For many squads, the REAL games begin this coming weekend. Ohio State visiting Texas will be interesting.

Speaking of the Longhorns, regardless of how they play this season, you must give them credit for having a starting quarterback with the name of Colt McCoy. I don't think central casting could have created a better name for a Texas QB.

Go Aggies (the NMSU variety), Cowboys, Cardinals, Longhorns, and anyone playing USC!

Thursday, August 31, 2006

That didn't take long...

Found it!

Phillips and the others involved should count their blessings that the comments didn't contain profanity or anything partisan. The absence of any scatological sounds also kept this molehill from becoming the proverbial mountain.

Of course, now all of us guys know what the women are talking about when they do one of their group bathroom breaks.

Now that WAS a hiatus!

Busy at work, that's all I can say.

On the other hand, I did not have much to say during the past couple of months anyway. These past few days have been entertaining, however. I think I'll spend some of my free time this morning scouring the web to see if I can find audio, or even video, of the CNN anchor making a pit stop while her mike was still on the air.

The Arizona Cardinals are still proving interesting. But the season hopes are still one big question mark, as we haven't seen the true demonstration of The Edge's talent, or how cohesive the offensive line is. Matt Leinart, though, does look like he'll be worth all the millions in his contract.

Glad to be back.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

It's just way too much fun to blog on days like this

So Ozzie Guillen uses slurs that no one (even in the sports world) should be using. Then he tries to backpedal. I almost expect him to issue a press release today stating: "Some of my best friends are gay."

If Major League Baseball had the fortitude to hit Marge Schott with fines for what she said, how is the Guillen situation any different?


A few days ago, I picked up the latest copy of my favorite high-tech rag, PC World Magazine. Their cover story this month is about the 100 Best Products of the Year. They included a sidebar listing the 25 Worst Tech Products of All Time. Number One on the list? AOL. In part, because of incidents such as this one. And don't give me that drivel about this being an isolated incident. You can bet their call center personnel are coached in tactics such as the above. I'm glad I ditched my AOL account back in 1997.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Father's Day musings

Yes, I am a father.

Been a good Father's Day. Got an iPod Nano from the little one (she probably got a little purchasing help from her mother). I look forward to listening to my choice of tunes and podcasts while I work out.


I'm not sure what the D-Backs need at this point, but they need SOMETHING. How could this be the team that swept the Braves in Atlanta four straight games before this downhill slide?

Hmmmm, their slump began when the Geo family got back from the vacation. Maybe we need to take another one.......


Some concern regarding the Valley's housing market. Yes, it was due for a correction, but is this actually an overcorrection?

I'm glad we moved here in 2002, before this insanity began. And, we hope to stay here for a good long while.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Get over it

That's my message to two Chandler City Council members.

The voters spoke. You guys are now in the minority.

It doesn't take a psychic to predict a lot of 5-2 votes for the next two years.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Barry could take a cue from this guy

Sadly, for the past day and a half, the Valley is the epicenter of the MLB universe (for the worst reasons).

I'm not saying Grimsley is a saint, nor am I inferring that he is a great player. In fact, this episode may ensure his name is remembered long after his career is over. Of course, his career likely ended yesterday. Regardless of his past behaviors and the spilling of his guts to the feds, Grimsley did the right thing by going to management and asking to be released, rather than drag out the inevitably lengthy process of fact-gathering and subsequent punishment. He actually put the needs of his team above his own interests.

Granted, Grimsley will not wind up in Cooperstown, as Barry definitely will. And Brad Paisley was correct when he sang: "When you're a celebrity, it's adios reality." As long as he is revered by the fans in the Bay Area, Bonds will believe he can behave with impunity.

But life's not all bad. While on my road trip, I picked up Monday's edition of the USA Today and read a blurb in the sports section about "Bonds on Bonds" being put on hiatus by ESPN. The writer (Michael Hiestand) correctly interpreted "hiatus" as "euthanized."

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

A Golden Vacation

So titled from being in the Golden State for nearly all of it.

Returned from a Geogal business-trip-that-we-grafted-a-family-vacation-onto. Did a road trip this time, in doing an examination of the high airline tickets for the whole family and the usual post-9/11 security-related hassles that are now just a part of air travel.

Compared to other road-oriented vacations in our family history, this one was noteworthy as it involved routes and destinations to areas that were new to me. Previously I have only been as far north (Californiawise) as Simi Valley. This time, I had the pleasure of seeing California's central coast, the Bay Area, and the Monterey-Carmel-Big Sur region.

I also had the displeasure of seeing Barstow, Needles, and Wasco. Oh, well. Gotta take the good with the bad.

Also enjoyed some great driving, including going past the highway junction where James Dean bought it in 1955. And add to all of this certain points of interest, which varied from Muir Woods to a honky-tonk of some note.

For now, I'm still decompressing from all the travel. I'll reflect more on all of this as the week progresses.

Friday, May 12, 2006

This is why we like Fridays

End of the work week, yes. Two days ahead of gratuitous free time, yes. Relaxation mode, yes!

Doctor Who on the Sci-Fi Channel, yes, yes, YES, YES, YESSSS!

(Admit it. You suspected all along that I was a nerd, just keeping my geekiness clevery hidden. Athough I can't be the full-blown nerd, since I was mostly unfamiliar with "The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy" up until this year, when Geogal added the feature flick to our queue. )

I'm sitting in front of a computer screen. Geoana is asleep on the couch in the family room (preschool took a lot out of her today). The house is quiet. Air conditioner humming.

This, dear readers, is true tranquility. I need to figure out how to etch it into my memory in order to recall it when needed, as in times of high stress.

The best part? It doesn't cost a dime.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

What a difference a litte time makes

I remember the period ranging from December 2003 to the summer of 2004. Dark times for professional sports in Arizona. First, Dave McGinnis (Cardinals head coach) was fired, then the ax came for the Suns coach. In the midst of that dismal 2004 season, Bob Brenley, skipper of the Diamondbacks, was given his walking papers.

All of the franchises were stinking up the place.

Not the best time to be a professional sports fan in Arizona.

Now we're in May of 2006. Not all that long, if you look at the grand scheme of things. The Suns are in the second round of the playoffs, having dispatched the hated Kobe Lakers. Mind you, the Suns are missing their star player (Amare Stoudemire) but do have the leagues' MVP on the court. The Diamondbacks, while not likely to go to the postseason, are holding their own. (With Brandon Webb shining every time he takes the mound.) And the Cardinals, the NFL's perpetual whipping boy, are showing significant signs of life. And are drawing a lot of interest from the public, to the point that season tickets are sold out.

Maybe now is the best time to be a professional sports fan in Arizona.

Before the ax falls. Let's be realistic. The Suns won't go to the NBA finals, much less win it all. The Diamondbacks, as mentioned above, will be going home come October. And the Cardinals may finish above .500, but that might be it.

Then again, considering the Cardinals, most folks here would be happy with a winning season. :)

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Some more thoughts on local broadcasting

So, finally I am able to think, be slightly creative, then sit down at the keyboard.

Even though I referred to it in a recent post, a picture is still worth a thousand bits and bytes.

While I work to clear the cobwebs off this site, I want to reflect on an article I read in this morning's paper.

My opinion: Not smart.

I think I know why the guys in secret underwear (a term used for the decision-makers at Bonneville that was coined by a contributor for are dumping a profitable format for a simulcast. To create an increase in ratings for the beleagured KTAR.

For those of you unfamiliar with Phoenix radio history, KTAR was, for many years, the undisputed news/information leader in The Valley, and for a good chunk of Arizona to boot. They had a large news-gathering organization and a very good radio signal that was heard by most of the state with little interference.

However, times changed, and KTAR was slow to adapt to the changes. Even to this day they still run Paul Harvey and just re-hired Pat McMahon. McMahon is an institution in The Valley, but his time is just about past. While other stations were running political-oriented talk shows, KTAR was content to run talk shows that in 2006 could be considered pure fluff. (Another joke that makes an occasional appearance on the Radio-Info Phoenix board is KTAR devoting an hour to the question: "Is it raining in your neighborhood? If so, give us a call.")

Since about 2000, KFYI, the closest news/talk/information competitor to KTAR, has steadily risen in the ratings, thanks to a frequency change and savvy hiring/programming decisions. I cannot recall exactly when they eclipsed KTAR in the ratings but it had to have been around 2 -3 years ago. Ever since, KTAR's ratings have been steadily declining.

This ratings slide has nothing to do with signal strength, or even the fact that KTAR broadcasts on the AM frequency. It's about content. Times have changed, listener tastes have changed, and simulcasting on the FM dial will not change that.

Not to mention dumping the hip-hop format that is profitable for KKFR. Granted, I don't like rap, hip-hop, or whatever else you want to call it. But if I were a station owner or an executive in a broadcasting group, I would want to devote at least one FM station to this format, as it is extremely popular with young listeners, who have plenty of money to spend....

Saturday, April 15, 2006

It's about time...two really different accounts

The two daily morning papers here are reporting on Phoenix becoming a much bigger player in attracting commerical airline service to Williams Gateway Airport.

There's this. And this.

It's about farkin' time. Maybe it's because I grew up in a city with two major airports (Houston), but the size of the Valley and the congestion of Sky Harbor combine to make a secondary airport sensible.

Plus, I am relishing the opportunity to fly out of the airport closer to me, with free parking to boot! I know, enjoy it while it lasts.


Saw this article the other day, courtesy of Geogal.

For those of you not familiar with Arizona geography, Eloy is almost dead center between downtowns Phoenix and Tucson on Interstate 10.

But there's more than that. Most folks in the Grand Canyon State have a perception (dead-on accurate) that Eloy is a poor, ugly, rough town.

That it should snag a Starbucks (the first stand-alone one in the entire area) just ranks up there in irony with.....

I need some help here. Geogal suggests the spectre of Glendale opening an NFL venue this fall.

OK, that might work.

I'll go in another direction here, since my humorist tendencies seem to be a bit lacking today. I've lived in Arizona since 1994. In just the last few years, extreme growth has taken some towns that might rank right up there with Eloy for "armpit of the state" status to new directions. Even my home of Chandler is still considered by some old-timers to be nothing more than a small cotton-growing town "way out there."

So what's next? A new mall in Gila Bend, with Neiman-Marcus as one of the anchors? A Six Flags park to be built in Yuma?

We'll see.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Clear the cobwebs...

No, I am not dead.

No, I haven't skipped out on the blogging world.

I've just been preoccupied for a while. There are other things in life and occasionally my life demands I give attention to matters that are not online-world related.

But I'm still here and still thinking.


Perused a copy of PC Magazine a couple of days ago. Their article about the car of the future was interesting. Don't tell me satellite radio won't be a part of the whole digital schema.


Coca Cola Blak.

I have only one thing to say. Remember Crystal Pepsi? You probably didn't until I mentioned it just now. I believe Blak will suffer the same fate. Look for Blak in your local closeout store in about six months time. American consumers don't seem to like their caffiene-and-corn-syrup-laden beverages to deviate from the traditional Coke and Pepsi.


The Diamondbacks should thank the game-scheduling gods. Their home opener was this past Tuesday. Can you imagine if their opener at Chase Field had been on Monday, with the large pro-immigration protest march taking place just blocks away?

A congestion nightmare.

Granted, their home-opening night game didn't draw a huge crowd, but it could have been much worse. Now the guys in the suits need to figure out how to draw some respectable type of gate this season.....

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Let election season begin...

Entry number 21 had me laughing out loud.


Who is my pick to win it all on Monday night? Hey, why not go with George Mason? On Sunday afternoon I told Geogal that watching the GMU-UConn game would be a waste of time and that the final score would likely be something near: Connecticut 78, George Mason 50.

Good thing I'm not a gambling man.


Self-destruction in action: The Bonds saga continues.........

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Returning from reflecting

This time around, the lack of entries for the past several days was due to me being out of state to attend a funeral (wife's family). There's nothing like spending some time in a cemetary to remind one of what's important.

I don't expect to ever lose that mindset. I am not, and never have been, a Type-A person. (If I was, this blog would have an entry each and every day.) Now that I think about it, Type-A's do not seem to run in my family on either side. I should be thankful.

Hope that didn't sound to mean for those that lean toward Type-A. But the world needs both types of people.

Where did that rambling come from? Spending too much time in my own mind, I guess.


The Arizona Cardinals sign a top running back in his prime. Terrell Owens becomes a Cowboy. Has hell frozen over?

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Anniversary, God's sense of humor, and The Edge

What a weekend!

A good steady rain on Saturday (as opposed to the torrents we usually receive). An awesome way to end the drought. Then the news that the northern areas of the Valley got more than a dusting of snow. Even today the mountains around the area are white rather than their normal earth tone. A pleasant change of pace. Don't tell me God does not have a sense of humor.....

This weekend also marked the one-year anniversary of this blog. I have but one pledge for the coming year: To continually improve the quality of my writing through blogging. And I invite my readers to leave comments as you see fit....

The weekend closed out with amazing news: the signing of Edgerrin James by the Cardinals. Even the naysayers (and there are tens of thousands of them where the Cards are concerned) are impressed. Can't blame them. James is still young with many good years ahead. Or.......

......the way things usually occur for the Cards would dictate this scenario: James sustains a season-ending injury in training camp and is never the same afterward.

We'll just see.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Some sports stuff

This was bound to happen.

The various sports pundits are correct: in the end, it's the win-loss record that counts.

But Evans is a man of honor and will land on his feet.

We're just barely into spring training and I predict........wait a minute. I've already done my prognosticating for this season.

Yeeesh. Now that's a time-warp kind of experience. Good thing my recall powers kicked in before I finished the above paragraph and looked like a fool.

I do wish Barry Bonds would just drop off the face of the earth. Then baseball could actually be a game again and not some kind of freak sideshow.

Yes, yes, I know that he has a God-given talent to hit a baseball. (It doesn't matter if you're juiced-up or not, if you can't hit a ball to save your life, you won't be sending white-with-red-stitching artillery into McCovey Cove on a regular basis.) It would be due justice if he is unable to pass Hank Aaron on the all-time home run list. Aaron remains a monument of dignity and discipline. Let his record be broken by someone who earned that right.

I'm waiting to see if the Arizona Cardinals are willing to spend money this offseason to address their weak areas. The team appears to have plenty of spending room under the cap. Will the Bidwell family cough up the bucks?

Just one entry this week

Yes, I know. Dearth of blogging this week. I could attribute it to me preparing for a new professional endeavor which will start next week. But, the more accurate reason is simply an empty creative tank on my part. I know this happens to all people who engage in original production but I still feel lazy. Shame on me.

Yesterday Geoana said that for Christmas this year she wants to go to Alaska because it snows there. A few weeks ago I would have used her desire as an excuse to head to The Last Frontier, but my desire to go there again has since waned. Still, I'll provide another picture today anyway. This was taken on a glacier cruise just a little ways from Whittier, in Prince William Sound.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Random thoughts for a Thursday

In case any of you were wondering, the picture in Monday's blog was taken at Chugach State Park, just outside Anchorage. Bet you would never know a city of 250,000 is less than 30 minutes away from that idyllic setting.

I also remember the mosquitoes were swarming. Praise the makers of Off!

It would be great if Phoenix could land this whale. I do have my doubts, though. Not the least of which is Texas pride, which would take quite a blow should Southwest bail on Love Field.

Speaking of that, Congress should repeal the Wright Amendment. It's an unnecessary dinosaur since DFW airport is in no danger of going out of business should normal flights resume from Love. There are no such restrictions on Houston's Hobby airport and the competition has had no negative effect on George Bush Intercontinental.

No doubt many folks are laughing at David Gregory today. However, if he really suffers from an alcohol addiction it should be noted that he is suffering from a disease. It's sad when a public figure's demons are on display for all to see.....

Monday, February 27, 2006

More obsessing about The Last Frontier

It's a conspiracy! Gotta be!

No, it's not enough that the Travel Channel shows programs about Alaska frequently. No... Now Fox Reality Channel is in the mix as well, showing a marathon of "Bachelorettes in Alaska" over the weekend. I'm willing to sit through all the drivel just to see the scenery (and I'm not talking about the women). Just further whets my appetite to visit there again.

Then Discovery Channel does its part. They showed the flick "Grizzly Man" last night. More beautiful cinematography of Seward's Folly.

At least this time I didn't dream about Alaska. Which was welcomed as I probably would have spent my slumber with visions of grizzlies, knowing my psyche. Not good for my time of repose.
In tribute to my memories of last summer, I will occasionally post some pics of the 49th state in this blog. Starting today.

Busy weekend. I actually am glad it's Monday. Made green chile for a cookoff with the men's group at my church. My dish went over well. Plus I was drafted (some weeks ago) to speak for a few minutes by means of introduction, as I am somewhat new in this church body. I hope I didn't sound too obnoxious or too loquacious. Initial feedback was all positive which is always an encouraging sign, even if the reporting parties are just being polite.

And I admit it. It's not too difficult to talk about oneself.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Bits and pieces

In case you were wondering, I was out of town for a while last week and have been playing "catch-up" with some other obligations lately.

Just ask anyone in my family of origin: I am a James Bond fanatic. Have been ever since the early '80's. So I took notice of the news reports of some fans not liking the choice of Daniel Craig as the new Jimmy. Roger Moore comes to his defense.

I'm willing to give Craig a chance. For me it is not the issue of the actor but the screenwriting. The past few movies have taken a darker, more violent edge to them. This is perhaps closer to the realism of being a secret agent, yet the earlier Bond films had the inclusion of humor (some movies more than others). It was this level of humor that propelled the Connery and Moore flicks to the stratosphere and makes them still enjoyable to watch today. I also want to see if the filmmakers will again stay true to the Ian Fleming novel "Casino Royale." A return to Fleming's works may also give the series a shot in the arm.

My prediction for spring and summer: The Diamondbacks will not do well. No contention for the NL West this season. They will stay just above the Colorado Rockies, who will dwell the cellar as usual.

Regardless, I will attend several D-Backs games this season. And I will take my daughter as well. There is still fun in attending a baseball game, even if the team is mediocre.


Doesn't he say this every spring?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Finally figured it out...

Yet another message from my subconscious this early morning. During this particular slumber I first was touring a house Geogal and I just purchased. What was noteworthy about this venture is that the house was located in Wasilla, Alaska. The temperature outside was already a bit cold. Then this reverie metamorphosed into me looking down onto an Alaskan creekbed and seeing a bear far below.

I did visit "The Last Frontier" last summer and my only regret was that I couldn't spend more time there. You better believe I'll visit there again. However I do have a mild lingering feeling to just move there. Flat out relocate.

But I won't give in. You see, I have suffered from this type of desire for nearly all my adult life. Visit a place, then want to live there permanently. At this time, though, I want to put down roots and the Phoenix area seems just the right place. Plus over the past many years I learned that changing my physical location does not translate to changing anything about my inner self. Just like the oft-used cliche: "Wherever you go, there you are." Oft-used because it's true.

And who's to say I cannot vacation there? Over and over?

Some others have this affliction. Some end up in places such as Arizona or Alaska due to these locales being so different from much of the U.S.

I also anticipate Alaska (even the Anchorage area) will not be suffering from the same problems with urban sprawl as are the Phoenix, Tucson, and Las Vegas areas (just to name three in my vicinity). Heck, I could always retire there. (Just gotta convince Geogal it's a good idea.) But in the meantime I took Geoana to a Valentine's Day party at her school, which provided me the opportunity to spend a little time at Border's. Perused a copy of this tome, which just adds to my Alaska thirst.

I can always go there in my mind.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Satellite radio, part 6 (The End)

Another icon decides satellite radio has a future.

Since 1981, when I found out I could pick up another city’s AM station on an table radio, I have been interested in the radio industry. As with many fields, radio today has undergone many significant changes in the past 25 years. Using that perspective there is no reason to think terrestrial radio will not adapt to the challenges posed by the satellite providers. Do you remember the latter half of the 1980's? By that time Top 40 music had all but vanished from the AM dial and FM stations were beginning their ratings dominance in most every metro area. Many, both inside and outside the business, were predicting that AM radio would be extinct in just a few years’ time, particularly when the failure of AM stereo in the United States convinced many that longtime AM listeners were quickly defecting to FM. Then a guy named Rush showed the public that AM radio could once again make a respectable showing in the ratings book.

FM stations now are being challenged not just by satellite radio but also by podcasting. Does this mean that the days of FM listening are numbered? Looking at the ability of the medium to adapt to the changing times, one is inclined to answer “no.” True, people being able to listen to their choice of music without being interrupted by commercial breaks or newscasts is undoubtedly one of the reasons XM and Sirius are continuing to increase their subscriber numbers. And with more people downloading music and converting their existing CD collection to the MP3 format it follows that a larger segment of the population will purchase not only an iPod but also car kits to allow them to enjoy their hand-chosen tunes while behind the wheel. Yes, I predict FM radio will survive but will change to accommodate the particular demands and tastes of the public.

In his outstanding book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Covey advances the concept that the pie is large enough for everyone to have a sizeable piece. Therefore we should avoid the stance that if one party benefits and grows then the remaining parties are somehow denied. If AM and FM broadcasters can recognize the marketplace and adapt accordingly, then the listening public is the ultimate winner without the need for the terrestrial broadcasters to “kill off” the satellite competition.

This morning was a good example of the above. Here in the Valley of the Sun, the buzz for the past 72 hours is regarding Operation Slap Shot. I tuned in to a local sportstalk station to hear the program hosts give their take on the subject. Not long afterward it was time to take Geoana to school. I began to listen to music on Sirius, but later tuned into one of the local AM stations for a traffic report. Back to Sirius for more music. Go to the gym to work out. Listen to terrestrial radio (on an armband radio) while on the treadmill. Listen to Sirius on the drive home. Listen to XM (via my DirecTV dish) while eating lunch. Listen to my iTunes on the computer while writing. You get the idea. I like my audio companionship and each has its place.

I can’t wait to see what the years ahead will give me regarding music, news, and talk, not just in my car but also in my home and on my computer. Not to mention the portable devices that will likely combine aspects of the above technology. I’ll be listening.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Satellite radio, part 5

10 million.

As of this writing, that’s about how many subscribers the two satellite providers achieved.

The reasons for XM and Sirius making inroads into the territory occupied by terrestrial radio since the 1920's are several, some of which I already have enumerated in earlier postings. Along with these aforewritten reasons is the “convenience factor.” I’ll define this by relating a conversation I had many years ago with two male friends. The subject of discussion was the installation of garage door openers. Both of these guys were attempting to install the openers in their respective houses. After hearing their gripes about trying to mount a heavy object onto a ceiling I laughed and said: “You guys have it all wrong. The trick is to buy a house that has an opener as part of the deal” (As you may have guessed, my home already had the opener installed when I bought it.) I probably didn’t further my fellowship with either one after that statement but my point was clear. Having someone else do the dirty work is almost always beneficial.

Whether it’s a plug-and-play system or an in-dash unit, having the required receiver and antenna already in the vehicle is undoubtedly a boon to the two providers. Nearly all new vehicle manufacturers (both foreign and domestic) have inked deals with XM or Sirius. Even “across the pond” automakers are catching on, as evidenced by Rolls-Royce providing lifetime Sirius service in their vehicles sold in North America. (But the suits at Sirius are aware this won’t result in a great number of new subscriptions...)

Perhaps the contribution to the increase in satellite subscribers due to the equipment being available on the car dealer showroom floor is best illustrated by my own mother and father. In 2004 they bought a Honda Accord which came with XM service. On their most recent journey out to my home (a trip close to 1000 miles) my father commented how having the satellite radio is handy, given the direct route takes them through many long stretches of desolate nothing. Certainly there is little desirable FM radio through that territory but having a diverse selection of music or talk without losing the signal helps the hours pass. I then noted that they chose to keep the XM service even though their free first year had passed. “A year?” my mother replied. Turns out they only got three months free after purchasing the vehicle. Apparently they decided it was worth the monthly cost to have satellite radio in the car. And, this is from a couple that has never been too quick to embrace new technology. (Sorry Mom and Dad! Please forgive me.)

So not only are new-vehicle buyers being exposed to the benefits of satellite radio, but the hardware manufacturers are also taking note of the increased interest in satellite radio technology. When I was in the market for a satellite radio receiver I was very surprised by not only the different receivers available, but also by the lower cost. In 2001 and 2002 when the services launched I looked over the displays at Best Buy but knew it would be years before I had anything like that in my own car, given the fiscal obligations of being a parent and homeowner. Last fall, when I began looking around the Internet for prices on plug-and-play units I learned I could purchase a unit for either provider for around $50 before rebates. Just as DBS TV such as DirecTv and Dish Network took a few years to reach real popularity (in no small part due to prices coming down), so also it will be for Sirius and XM. Bet on it.

Monday, February 06, 2006

The day after...

ABC's coverage of the game was OK. But for my money there's nothing quite like listening to the Super Bowl in Danish, Japanese, Russian, and Mandarin Chinese. Those were just some of the offerings available on the satellite radio. Geogal and I actually were impressed enough with the BBC's Super Bowl broadcast that it won out for our listenership while in the car to pick up Geoana from a Sunday evening event.

Speaking of satellite radio, no, I haven't forgotten or abandoned my series on why the medium will survive. In fact, I will post the last two segments this week. Promise. Cross my heart.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Further oddities

The final score: Seahawks 31, Steelers 21!

Or so it unfolded in my dream this early morning. But I had no actual chance to watch the Super Bowl due to other vague-and-never-defined responsibilties. As it went with just about all my slumber-induced brain activites, there was no logic or order as to the sequence of events. Yet they always somehow seem to make sense during my repose even though the moment I awaken I am aware enough to dismiss the just-concluded discord as "it was only a dream."

Sometimes that's a relief.

Truth be told, I have no real preference regarding tomorrow's gridiron contest. I have a difficult time rooting for or against either team. And I am willing to admit I really enjoy watching the Super Bowl just to check out the commercials. Just like most everyone else.

Regarding my previous post, it seems James Lileks has the same malady that afflicts both Mary Katherine and me. Read the paragraph about the ice cream.

And it seems I am not the only one who liked a particular variety of Kool-Aid.

Someone out there REALLY wants it still.

Could a trip to the Great White North be in my future?

Enough about that. If the game's final score is anything like the above, I probably better start paying more attention to my subconscious. Or head to Vegas.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

My own sense of bad taste

Mary Katherine Ham, writing on Hugh Hewitt's blog today, shared her affinity for the now-discontinued Vanilla Coke. After describing another failed product she enjoyed she had me laughing out loud with this sentence:

"Wow, Mary Katharine" you're thinking to yourself, "you must have phenomenally bad taste, since everything you like fails miserably in the free market."

I can relate.

Back in my college days I had many sources of enjoyment. Two of these were Campbell's Chunky Chili Beef soup and Purplesaurus Rex Kool-Aid. It was sometime just after I got married when I was grocery shopping and realized neither of these items were available any longer. Some of the other store patrons must have wondered what was with my dysphoric sigh.
But I can still remember opening a can of Chunky Chili Beef, adding some Pace picante sauce, and eating the spiked soup with a warm rolled-up flour tortilla. Now that was some good eatin'.

And, hey. I can always mix grape Kool-Aid and lemonade Kool-Aid and make my own Purplesaurus Rex.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Real life

...hit me square in the face yesterday morning. Put the key in the ignition, turn it, nothing happens.

You probably know the routine. Call the auto club, have it jump-started. Car starts but the problem persists as soon as the engine is turned off. Is it the charging system or the electrical system? And the more pressing question: How much is this repair job going to set me back?

So...I get to have AAA tow the thing to the repair shop today.

Oh, well. I guess if a vehicle is going to fail, there is no better place for it to quit than inside one's own garage. Suppose I should count my blessings. After all, it's only money.

There also is an amusing side story to all this. When little Geoana (age 4) found out that the car wouldn't start she offered the solution that I should buy a new truck. I think it's definitely time to begin teaching her about money and what things cost.

And no, I did not implant the new truck suggestion in her mind.

Darren Urban's piece in today's Tribune addresses the Arizona Cardinals choosing Larry Fitzgerald in the 2004 draft, passing over Ben Roethlisberger. The article is fair to Fitzgerald, acknowledging his Pro Bowl selection this season. Yet I believe that had the Birds picked Big Ben, the team would be no better today. After all, Roethlisberger has very good protection from his offensive line and the Steelers have a better-than-average running game. These are two things the Cardinals have lacked for at least two seasons. It's hard for any quarterback to throw touchdown passes when he is constantly hitting the turf only two or three seconds after the ball is snapped.

Monday, January 30, 2006

So many topics, so little time

It is a creed of writers that the frequent challenge in putting pen to paper (or in my case, fingers to keyboard) is not a matter of what to write, but what not to write. Novelists, of course, can avoid this conundrum by making their tomes 500-600 pages but the journalist, short-story author, and blogger do not have this luxury.

Do I reflect on this piece about rethinking and reframing your occupation?

What about weighing in on what is happening in the Middle East, particularly with Hamas winning elections? No, I'll skip that one. There's about 300 other bloggers who will offer better analysis than I could.

For today I'll choose topic "C," a discussion I had with Geoana this morning before I took her to preschool. She watched an episode of "Rugrats" that dealt with the wonderful experience of receiving injections at the doctor's office. She wanted me to explain why shots were necessary and what they were all about. In my wise fatherly way I attempted to define the concept of diseases and how medications that are available to us in the present day keep her and I from contracting these illnesses. She must have been satisfied with my explanation as she then focused her attention on preparing to leave for school. I took just a moment and realized my little pride and joy is growing not only in the visible physical way but also in her mind and intellect are now in full gear.

I'll talk to Geogal about this, but I think it's time we start teaching the little one about the value of money and having her earn some.

Yes I am a proud father. And Geoana is actually pretty good about getting shots.

Friday, January 27, 2006

A former broadcast journalist weighs in

One of Hugh Hewitt's posts today delves further into the journalism trade. Although I have not worked in that field since 1993 I could not agree more with the increasing evidence that many news people, whether print or broadcast, simply do not do their homework.

And yes, I hold a BA in journalism from New Mexico State University. As one might expect I knew many other people in the program. Part of my educational experience involved actual news work for both the university-affiliated radio and TV station. I could spend several hours at this keyboard relating stories involving my peers and their lack of knowledge of a certain issue, mispronounced names, inability to ask the right follow-up questions, and utter laziness in the pursuit of news-gathering. No doubt some of these students were starstruck and more interested in appearing in front of the camera rather than paying the reporting dues. Certainly I made my share of mistakes but always attempted to use the errors as a learning experience rather than blaming others.

Add to this the decreased amount of time students are taught how to pursue a story to its full extent. After my graduation and spending some time working as a professional in the news business I was invited to be a guest speaker for a radio news class. Several of the students in that class also had involvment in print media and I asked them outright how much time the news-editorial (i.e. print) journalism classes devoted to actual news gathering. The answer surprised me: none. Those students said the classes were devoted almost wholly to writing, writing, and more writing. Picture these students being hired for a small to medium-sized newspaper and not knowing how to do the basic work expected of a serious journalist. Now you have what we are seeing today. Sloppy and superficial work.

How did he know the future?

I'm much better, thanks.

My mood swings like that at times. Which means I am just like the other 5 billion or so people on this planet.

All week long I have been reading the comic strip "Fox Trot" with the above question in my mind. Given the hoopla over James Frey's book for about the last two weeks, Jason Fox penning his "memoirs" smacks of absolute perfect timing. If I recall correctly, daily comic strips have a deadline of about 3-4 weeks before publication. (Any of my readers may correct me if I am wrong about this.)

Maybe I should ask Bill Amend about some stock tips.....

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Thursday blahs

Don't know why, just have the down feelings. You know the kind. Nothing seems enjoyable. Nothing to look forward to in the foreseeable future.

That sums up how my day felt today. I do have to say I am feeling a little better tonight. Pulled out a DVD of one of my favorite movies and watched it with Geoana.

In this internet age, it's nice to know that I am not a total loser for enjoying "The Parent Trap." (The original, not that piece of trash remake with a young Lindsay Lohan.) It appears there are plenty of people out there that also like the movie. I just recall that in elementary school, to admit that you liked "The Parent Trap" was a scarlet letter of total loserhood. Granted, there are a couple of scenes in the movie that are a bit corny, but overall it still works for me.

So, take a favorite movie, view it with your child, and let some time pass. Seems like a good depression remedy for me.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

This magazine is reporting on NBC???

Took Geoana to her weekly science class this morning. While she is learning about the earth around us, I go next door to the public library and peruse periodicals. Picked up the current issue of Newsweek and read several stories. But this one really gave me pause. Not only is the magazine part of the GE-NBC conglomerate, but the bulk of the article appeared to take on an optimistic, glass-is-half-full view of NBC's fortunes. One inaccuracy: there already are two cable financial news networks. Bloomberg Television is the other.

MSM's quality continues to head downhill.......

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Satellite radio, part 4

In the realm of politics there is a term known as “flyover states.” For the uninformed, this moniker is used to refer to any area of the United States that is not New York or California. And so it goes with broadcasting. Listeners in the metro areas of the East or West Coasts enjoy crowded FM dials with a particular variety of format options. Yet it is not so for those who reside in smaller urban areas, not to mention listeners in the rural sections of the U.S. This is certainly not a new problem for small-town dwellers wanting more aural diversity. Some years ago on a radio-related bulletin board a person who was raised in the town of Show Low, Arizona wrote how he and his friends would eagerly await sundown, when they could tune into the high-powered rock stations from Los Angeles and elsewhere. (Bear in mind this was in the 1970's, when AM radio was still dominant and Top 40 music was a common fixture on many of these “blowtorch” stations.) And why should people be confined to just a few formats when musical styles and tastes are becoming more numerous than ever?

I write with some experience regarding the rural area and having few listening options. Many years back I had a job which required some travel time. Often I would put up with weak, static-laden signals just to listen to a particular program or a certain type of music. Not to mention listening to a station simply because it was the only one to be received while on the interstate highways of Arizona or New Mexico. I also am a person who enjoys the random nature of radio, rather than one who is inclined to listen to an I-Pod or CDs while in transit. Some of my fondest memories of certain songs stem from having heard the tune while viewing the landscape through my windshield or enjoying the anticipation of arriving at a certain destination. My Sirius system will not take away that experience, rather it should enhance it.

When satellite radio was introduced to the market in 2001 I remember thinking, “Man, every truck driver will want one of those.” I haven’t seen any research showing the buying trends of Sirius or XM units, but I can’t help but wonder how many truckers now enjoy the benefits of satellite radio. And it is no accident that both providers have a channel specifically targeted to over-the-road truckers. And big-rig operators are by no means the only folks who spend much of their salary-earning hours behind the wheel. Traveling salespeople, delivery drivers, and members of several other professions log great mileage each year. All of these are potential customers for satellite radio. All of them different people with different musical and talk appetites. All will find something on the satellite radio dial to help pass the time. And don’t think the research nerds working for XM and Sirius don’t know that.

In part 5, how satellite will increase its market share and how terrestrial radio will adapt.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Yep, I'm still here

With the holiday activity and coming down with what I thought was a cold but now think it's a sinus infection, I've been away from the blog for some time. Just as well, I didn't have much to say and the fogginess of my mind would have had my written word appear somewhat foolish.

Best laugh in several days came yesterday, when I told Geogal all about the NFL head coach firings. She replied: "Was it the day to fire head coaches named Mike?"