Uncle Roger's Notebooks of Daily Life


My life is, to me, ripe with frequent challenges, occasional successes, spontaneous laughter, adequate tears, and enough *life* to last me a lifetime. To you, however, it surely seems most pedestrian. And therefore, I recycle the name I used previously and call this my Notebooks of Daily Life. Daily, because it's everyday in nature, ordinary. These conglomeration of events that are my life are of interest to me because I live it, perhaps mildly so to those who are touched by it, and could only be of perverse, morbid curiosity to anyone else. Yet, I offer them here nonetheless. Make of them what you will, and perhaps you can learn from my mistakes.


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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Notes of Note: You got your Django in my concerto!

I was on my way to work and flipping through the channels when I hit KALW (or more likely, KCSM) and heard something incredible. I stopped and listened as not only was it amazingly cool, but I thought I recognized the piece. It was, once upon a time, a Bach concerto, but this was nothing like ol' J.S. ever imagined. It jumped. It swung. It laughed.

Naturally, I had to find out what the piece was and who the artist was. Turns out there was a group live in-studio promoting DjangoFest SF and the piece I'd heard was done by Django Reinhart himself with Eddie South.

Now, I'd never heard of Django Reinhart, but that one piece was enough to get me hooked. I looked up the piece -- Interpretation swing sur le premier mouvement du Concerto en re mineur de J. S. Bach -- and ordered the album. While the Interpretation is easily the best piece on the album, the whole disc is fantastic.

Django Reinhart, I learned, is a French gypsy guitarist from the early to middle 20th century. He started early, but injuries stemming from a fire left him able to move but two fingers on his left hand. Undaunted, Django taught himself to play all over again and he went on to make a lot of great music.

Although I have but the one album so far, I will certainly be looking for others.

[ Posted: 17:00 | comments: | print ]

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The fallacy of Vacation

So you've planned to take a week off to sit in the sun, relax, and recharge your batteries. Only, you've got a deadline to meet. The project you're working on is due the day after you get back and, even though your vacation was scheduled long before the project timeline was set, you still have to get your part done. Or maybe it's not a specific project, just the day-to-day fires you have to deal with but, since everyone knows you'll be gone, they're making sure you address their needs before you go.

Whatever the exact situation, you end up working twice as much the week or two before you leave.

Read more ...

[ Posted: 03:00 | comments: | print ]

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Notes of Note: Annie Lennox - Medusa

While I've enjoyed Annie Lennox's music, both with the Eurythmics and solo, I'm certainly no groupie. I do have one of the Eurythmics albums on vinyl, but none on CD. I did pick up the solo album Diva which includes the hit Walking on Broken Glass recently, but that was the extent of it.

Then I saw the album Medusa at the thrift shop. What really caught my eye was that it included Procol Harum's Whiter Shade of Pale. I love that song and was very intrigued by the thought of Annie Lennox covering it. So I bought the CD. Honestly, I thought it would be something I would listen to once or twice and then forget about, leaving it buried among the thousand other albums on my iPod.

I find, however, that I have been listening to the album a fair bit. It turns out it is an entire disc of covers and includes the Talking Heads' Take Me to the River, The Temptations' I Can't Get Next to You, and Paul Simon's Something So Right. Each one is very much Lennox-ized, if you will, but each one works. Annie Lennox is a very talented woman and she has selected a set of songs that really suit her unique style.

Oh, and her version of Whiter Shade of Pale? It's fantastic.

[ Posted: 17:00 | comments: | print ]

Friday, June 19, 2009

Notes of Note: New Orleans Edition

I picked up two albums that both feature the music of New Orleans and yet are both very different.

First off, Rodney Thibodeaux apparently comes from a whole family of cajun musicians; he and the band Tout Les Soirs (every night) play "Zydeco, Swamp Pop, Country, and '50s & '60s Pop." This is a pretty cool album and makes a great addition to our very eclectic library.

The second album I got called to me because of the name of the group -- it includes the name of one of my favorite places. It also includes the word "ramblers" which, as one brother-in-law pointed out, always portends coolness. The Russian River Ramblers are a group of experienced musicians from the area of the same name who play what I would call New Orleans Dixieland jazz. Their album, Let's Go To New Orleans, is a lot of fun. I'm hoping that we get a chance to see them in person one of these days, ideally up in the Russian River area.

If you stumble across either of these, I'd recommend picking them up, especially if you're into the music of New Orleans.

[ Posted: 01:00 | comments: | print ]

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Notes of Note

Lately, as I've mentioned before, I've been picking up CD's at a couple of thrift stores when I find myself in their neighborhood. The store near my office generally sells albums for three bucks, but, if they've been there a bit, they'll end up with a half-price tag. For twelve bits, I can experiment with groups that are unfamiliar. I especially love it when a disc isn't even in the FreeCDDB -- it means it's a rare find and it could be great or it could be awful. Either way, it's exciting.

Now, I've decided not to bore everyone with the details of every last CD I've picked up (and there have been quite a few,) but instead to highlight some of the cooler CD's I've acquired. So watch this space for news of select CD's that are interesting, especially good, or perhaps even amazingly bad.

[ Posted: 03:00 | comments: | print ]

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Five Things To Know Before You Go On Vacation

Summer is here and that means summer vacation. If you're planning on heading out of town with the kids, you need to be prepared. You've got to pack sunscreen, make sure you've got the right kinds of clothes, and find some place to stay. But there is more to being prepared than all that; there are a few things you really ought to know before you hit the road.

Read more ...

[ Posted: 17:00 | comments: | print ]

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Horrible, Hateful Man Raises Good Son

It seems that James von Brunn, the elderly white supremacist who fatally shot the security guard who held the Holocaust Museum door open for him managed to raise a son much better than himself. Erik von Brunn issued a statement in which he denounced his father's beliefs and actions, calling the tragedy "an act of cowardice." He noted that:

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[ Posted: 04:00 | comments: | print ]

Why I Care and Why You Should Too

Earlier this week and the week before, there was much buzz going on about Radio Station KRXQ in Sacramento and the hateful comments two of their on-air personalities made about transgender (TG) kids.

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[ Posted: 02:00 | comments: | print ]

Roman Catholic Anatomy Lessons

At this point, is there anyone surprised by another Catholic priest busted for his hands-on work with young boys? What's different about this case, however, is the claim that the priest was only giving the boy "anatomy lessons". Sure, uh-huh. Lessons that took place in his car on a bush track, at a pool, and even in his church.

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[ Posted: 00:00 | comments: | print ]

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Saying Thanks

Lest we let the companies that stepped up to take a stand in the KRXQ mess think they might have made a mistake, I've put together some business cards to give to employees when visiting these establishments. The cards say:

Thank You

I am here today because your company took action to say that child abuse is not a joke.

After DJ's at radio station KRXQ in Sacramento verbally attacked transgendered children and promoted both verbal and physical abuse of TG kids, your company made the decision to stop advertising on KRXQ.

Making the right choice should not affect your business. You are, in fact, getting additional business and increased loyalty because of your company's stand. Please share this card with management to let them know that doing the right thing paid off.

They're formatted for Avery Business Cards, but could just as easily be printed on plain paper or cardstock and cut manually. You can download the cards in PDF format and, if you like, you can flip the paper over and run it through again to print a list of the companies on the back.

[ Posted: 14:00 | comments: | print ]


Perhaps there is some hope for our species after all. After hearing about doctors being killed in the name of saving lives, rights being taken away because of a book most of its followers have never read, and education being stripped to the bone so that we can keep buying our big screen TV's, it's nice to see people -- a lot, apparently -- and companies doing the right thing.

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[ Posted: 13:00 | comments: | print ]

Priorities, People, Priorities!

What does it say about our society when, in times of economic hardship, the first thing we do is cut funding for education, children's services, and healthcare for kids?

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[ Posted: 04:00 | comments: | print ]

Sunday, June 07, 2009

High Regard

Sara, to Jared: "You know what I think of you? I think you're the best brother I ever wanted."

[ Posted: 03:00 | comments: | print ]

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Advertisers pull out of KRXQ

If you're not familiar with the KRXQ brouhaha, a couple of on-air personalities (hereafter referred to as the "idiots") decided to use their May 28th show to make fun of transgendered children. They didn't just stop with name-calling, however, but suggested that physically beating them is the proper way to deal with a transgendered child. Not surprisingly, this did not sit well with the TG community, nor with any other civilized members of our society.

It was comments such as "Dawn, they are freaks. They are abnormal. Not because they’re girls trapped in boys bodies but because they have a mental disorder that needs to be somehow gotten out of them", "You got a boy saying, ‘I wanna wear dresses.’ I’m going to look at him and go, ‘You know what? You’re a little idiot! You little dumbass! Look, you are a boy! Boys don’t wear dresses.’", and "f my son put on a pair of high heels, I would probably hit him with one of my shoes. I would throw a shoe at him."

There were phone calls made, e-mails sent, articles written, and boycotts planned. The radio station promised that the idiots would address the broadcast and their hateful remarks, but all they said, really, was "just kidding about the beating kids with a shoe part!" According to GLAAD, "While we appreciate hosts Rob Williams and Arnie States clarifying that they do not advocate violence against children, they ultimately failed to take responsibility for using dehumanizing and defamatory words to describe transgender children on last week’s show."

Of course, civilized people are outraged, but we all know that business is business and there's little room for sentiment in the business world, right? Wrong! So far, ten -- count 'em, ten! -- corporations have pulled their advertising from KRXQ in Sacramento. The first was Chipotle -- I sent them an e-mail thanking them and that evening, Jared and I both ate at Chipotle. I plan to eat there a lot more often now. They were followed by Snapple and Sonic. Now the list includes Verizon (KRXQ -- Can you hear me now?), Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and McDonald's. Makes me glad we use Verizon and Wells Fargo.

It just goes to show that sometimes businesses can make the right decision. I'm sure it was made so as not to lose customers, but still, it gives me hope.

[ Posted: 23:00 | comments: | print ]

Friday, June 05, 2009

Protecting My Marriage

Have you ever had someone try to help you with something and get frustrated because you don't need or want help? Have you felt somehow slighted because the other person thought you couldn't do it yourself? That's how I feel about my marriage right now.

I used to think that Rachel and I had a pretty strong marriage, an equal partnership based on shared goals and ideals, mutual respect, and, above all, love and friendship. While we certainly aren't perfect, I would never have guessed that we were in imminent danger of getting divorced. How wrong I was.

Read more ...

[ Posted: 01:00 | comments: | print ]

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

I Hate Prop 8 (Guest Post by Jared, Age 7)

I hate prop 8.

The governor should say "Equal rights for all".

I have a friend named Benjamin that has two moms that are gay and aren't married and want to get married. I want marriage equality to come back!

We should bring back marriage equality because it's fair and what's fair can make the state a better place!

My son Jared took it upon himself to offer his take on California's proposition 8, the controversial measure that stripped the right to marry from many citizens. This post is part of Blogging for LGBT Families Day.

[ Posted: 00:00 | comments: | print ]

Monday, June 01, 2009

The Ballad of John and Marco

John came from a fine family -- his faster was a respected businessman, his mother was active in the community, and they were all prominent members of their church. At school, John was a decent student and popular with the other kids.

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[ Posted: 17:00 | comments: | print ]

Straight Guys for Equality

If you're Jewish, chances are, the holocaust has affected you somehow. If you're Black, it's likely that Martin Luther King Jr. is counted among your heroes. If you're Cherokee or Choctaw, you know the history of the Trail of Tears. But you don't have to be Jewish, Black, or Native American to understand how wrong the Holocaust, slavery and discrimination, and forced relocation are. It seems obvious to us today, but I'm sure there are still those who see Jews, Blacks, and Native Americans as something less than human -- or at least less than themselves. Most people, however, know that it is "the content of their character" that determines a person's worth, not their culture or skin color.

Read more ...

[ Posted: 13:00 | comments: | print ]