July 14, 2005

25 Year Sentence.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 8:02 pm

OK, suppose you’re a 63 year old founder and former CEO of a huge telecommunications company and you’ve been convicted of overseeing the largest corporate fraud in U.S. history and sentenced to a 25 year prison term, which means that under the applicable sentencing guidelines you will be in jail until you are 85 years old. Let’s further suppose that you have three months before you have to report to jail.

What do you do?

Hellloooooooooooo South America.

July 13, 2005

Guitar Lesson.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 11:20 pm

My friend’s fifteen-year old nephew is up from Florida. In fact, he and his mom were at the Fourth of July Bash. Being the only fifteen-year old in attendance, he brought his guitar with him to occupy his time. His guitar is a Strat knockoff, but it played nicely and sounded OK through one of those tiny carry-around amps. The problem was that he really couldn’t play. Turns out that he is trying to learn some stuff from a book with no one to give him any pointers.

He’s a nice kid (and can draw and paint like a professional artist), but he’s very, very quiet and shy. So I sat with him for about ten minutes and showed him how to play a few basic chords. I said, “Too bad you don’t live up here, I could teach you how to play that thing. You won’t be Chet Atkins or Eric Clapton, but you’ll be able to play damned near any song.” Because he is so shy, he surprised me when he said that he would be here for three more weeks and asked whether I would be able to give him “a couple lessons.”

I said, “Of course, I will, but let’s not call them ‘lessons,’ because that sounds too much like school. How about we get together and play a bit, and I’ll show you some stuff.”

Well, tonight, I got around to bringing him over the house. After about two hours, I had him playing basic open chords and doing twelve bar blues tunes using bar chords. His fingering is still a little clumsy, but that will straighten itself out with more playing. He really wants to learn, so I am certain that this week he will play hell out of the stuff I showed him.

I’ve “taught” at least two other people to play well enough to drag the axe to a party and have fun with it. If you have an ear for music (you absolutely must be able to hear when you are screwing up) and a basic sense of rhythm, it’s not that hard to play well enough to get by. Once I teach him a couple basic hand positions and a few variations on that theme, the world will be his oyster. He should be able to play damned near anything.

I hope to have two more sessions with him before he goes home.

For what it’s worth, I think that it is better to first learn to have fun PLAYING the instrument and to be completely comfortable with it before proceeding with the rigors of real music study. I’ve never known anyone who had any fun struggling along following the notes to “Little Brown Jug” from a Mel Bay guitar instruction book.

I view the process of learning to play a musical instrument to be much like learning to drive a car with a standard transmission. Learning to drive a stick shift right off the bat is a bitch. It is better to first learn on an automatic so that you can become comfortable driving the car. Then, once you’re at home behind the wheel, you can concentrate on learning how to shift without having to worry about keeping the car on the road, stopping and the rest of the skills necessary to pilot a moving car.

I am determined to send that young man back to Florida as a passable guitar player. If he wants to proceed from there, he can find a real teacher.


Jersey and the Blogosphere — Poifect Together. (Updated)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 3:43 am

Peter Applebome has written a piece for the New York Times that puts the spotlight on The Carnival of the New Jersey Bloggers, the brainchild of Enlighten New Jersey.

The state is small enough that whether you live in Bergen or Hunterdon you still have an opinion on the best pizza or sausage and pepper sandwich at the Jersey Shore, drive on the same turnpike, and both contribute to the Jersey Joke syndrome and bristle at it. The politics are so obviously dysfunctional everyone shares everyone else’s pain. Everyone has an attitude. And over the past decades, almost without people realizing it, the pop culture New Jersey of Springsteen/”The Sopranos”/”Garden State,” etc., has changed the way people think about their state.

Yep, “attitude” is never in short supply in Jersey.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Hyperlinks have been added for all the blogs mentioned, including this one, thank you.

July 12, 2005

Thoughts from the Produce Section.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 9:06 pm

Produce aisle.jpgOn a recent stroll through the produce section of the supermarket, it occurred to me that by virtue of spending my entire life in Northern Jersey, I am agriculturally challenged. It is quite humbling to spend a lifetime buying fruits and vegetables, but having no idea about how they look to the person who grew and harvested them.

So, for the heck of it, I compiled a list of fruits and vegetables that I have seen while they are growing, and things that I have never seen on the vine, on a tree, or in the ground. As you can see below, I definitely am agriculturally challenged, but it is not quite as bad as I had originally suspected.

Fruits and Vegetables I Have Seen Growing
Note: All seen in Jersey, except the citrus fruits and coconuts, which I saw on numerous vacations to Florida.


Fruits and Vegetables I Have Never Seen Growing

Brussels Sprouts
Mushrooms (other than wild)
Casaba Melons
Honeydew Melons
Beans (kidney, lima, garbanzo, or navy)
Blueberries (and Jersey ranks second among the states for production of these)
Pineapples (and I was in Hawaii too!)
Grapefruits (missed those in Florida)
Cranberries (and Jersey ranks third among the states for production of these)

Seems I should put on shoes that I don’t mind getting dirty and travel a bit more to places where the things I like to eat are grown. I will, however, leave the farming to those who know what they’re doing. Besides, I have delicate hands, and manual labor gives me a rash.

July 11, 2005

New Guitar! (Updated with a Picture)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 8:42 pm

It was in the nineties here today, and I spent the day flailing away at golf balls playing golf in the heat. I drank copious amounts of water and afterwards had a couple “Transfusions” (vodka, ginger ale and grape juice in a cocktail shaker), but I still was ragged out. I had intended to come home and just crash.

However, I had forgotten that the new guitar was scheduled to arrive today, and arrive it did. So much for crashing.

It was packed extremely well, so for me, getting it out of the box looked a bit like a W.C. Fields routine. The effort was worth it, because it is a beauty. It has a great feel and a wonderful tone. It is everything Rob said it was and more. He offered to buy it from me, if I didn’t like it, but it is definitely not for sale.

Thanks again to Rob for hooking me up with this gitfiddle and to Rob’s buddy, Willy, of Music and Things for a level of personal service that one does not often encounter.

I’ll be doing a bit more pickin’ before I get around to crashing tonight.

UPDATE: A commenter asked for pictures. We aim to please.

I posted pictures of the guitar here, but they are small. Here is a larger picture that I found on the web.

July 10, 2005

Weekly Carnival in Da Garden State.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 1:19 pm

This week’s Carnival of the New Jersey Bloggers is up. This week’s hostess is Cripes, Suzette. The Carnival was created by Enlighten New Jersey, and it provides a place where Jersey Bloggers can strut their stuff.

Go read, and you’ll see that we don’t write with an accent. Well, most of us don’t, and, besides, we really don’t even have an accent.

Next week’s Carnival will be hosted by Sluggo Needs a Nap.

Attention Bourbon Drinkers.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 11:32 am

Ridgemont Reserve.jpgI have been happily sipping (neat, of course) 1792 Ridgemont Reserve single barrel bourbon, which was a Father’s Day gift. This wonderful elixir, which is named for the year Kentucky joined the Union, is 93.7 proof and is as smoooooooth as it is tasty.

In Kentucky, where bourbon is king, 1792 Ridgemont Reserve has been the official toasting bourbon of the Kentucky Bourbon Festival for two years in a row.

Jimbo gives it five stars.

July 9, 2005

“Free Car Wash”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 11:11 am

During a portion of my walk this morning that took me down one of the main streets in town, I saw, in a distance, two people standing on a corner, each holding the end of a white sign. As I got closer, I could see that the sign was homemade, and I could also see that the sign was being held by two very respectable looking teen-aged kids (one girl and one boy). I could also hear that they were yelling something at the passing cars and waving them in direction of the side street that runs into the main street.

As I got even closer, I could see that the sign said, “Free Car Wash,” and I could hear that they were yelling “Free car wash here” to the passing cars. Not surprisingly, they were not getting any takers.

I happen to know that at the end of the block to which they were directing people, there is a small Protestant church, with a mixed, young congregation, and I think it is a good bet that this was a fundraising effort inspired by the church Youth Group. I assume that the car wash is indeed “free,” but the “customer” would be asked to make a donation to the church. In other words, it wasn’t, in the ugly sense of the word, a “scam”. I suspect that the passing motorists didn’t know any of that, but I could not help but wonder whether knowing that would have changed anything.

I thought how nice it is to be young enough to think that people might actually believe that something is truly “free.”

July 8, 2005

Wanted: Moose Mavens.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 8:27 pm

Can this picture of a moose be on the level??? Holy cannoli!!!

I couldn’t find anything in Snopes.

Hey, what do I know? I’m from Jersey.

Picture shamelessly liberated from here.

Jersey Guy on the Scene.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 7:49 pm

EMT Symbol.jpgYesterday I was listening on the radio to various eyewitness reports from one of scenes of the terrorist attack in London. Not surprisingly, the interviewees spoke with a British accent, except for one man, who spoke with no accent a Jersey accent.

Sure enough, the voice turned out to be that of Sean Baran, a native of Westfield, New Jersey, a town that is spitting distance from the House by the Parkway. Sean happened to be in London finishing up a twenty-week business internship as part of his studies at the University of Richmond. He just happened to be on a double-decker bus yesterday morning, when he saw injured people coming out of the exit for the subway. Recalling September 11th, when he had been a junior in high school, he jumped off the bus to help.

Sean Baran just happens to be an Emergency Medical Technician, and he introduced himself to a physician on the scene, who assigned him to perform triage on the injured people in the immediate area and otherwise to assist with treatment of the injured, which he proceeded to do with approximately 60 people.

He said that he had decided to take EMT training after the September 11th attacks so that he would be ready “if there ever was a next time.” Turns out there was.

Nice going, Sean. As we say around these parts, “Ya done good.”

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