Happy New Year from Ann Arbor! Had a nice NYE-eve dessert and movie with Jon and Marian and tomorrow we'll rent a couple of movies and pick up some nice food to fondue for a special NYE. Then I'll haul back home to enjoy the last few days off and continue working on my page redesign - yes, it's taking longer than I thought - big surprise. Mostly it's that I've had too many fun things to do while here and when I have had time, I so easily get bogged down in details of design. I'd like to be proud of the results.
Happy Xmas! - Back just now from another great Xmas breakfast at my dear neighbors, Ken and Kim's. Joining us were my friend Kurt, KB9RTO, and his girlfriend, Wanda - pleasure seeing Kurt and meeting Wanda.
Now my goal for the remaining time off for the rest of the year is to plonk down in some cafés here and in Ann Arbor with the new WiFi card and redesign the site. Don't know if I'll get done before the new Year, because I'm learning software on the job, so to speak, but I'll try.
Word is in from The Avenue Online that the Alan Parsons "reunion" tour is not happening. As a couple of the other Roadkillers have said, it's really sad that this didn't come to fruition, but it would have been really difficult to coordinate vacation and funds to go to Europe on short notice. I'm hopeful that it may come together in the future.
Another wonderful holiday party at the beautiful home of Emily's employer, Mark H. Amazing food and cheer and a concert of holiday music from his daughter's choral group, The Jills. Now if only the holiday spirit I'm feeling was matched by progress on the gift front - things are gonna be late, folks. Between work and late T'giving, I'm way behind. Happy Holidays to all!
Then Sunday "morning" we awoke to news I never thought I'd see - "We got him" - Hey Saddam, the Karma, it is a bitch, no?
Finally got to have my mother, Joan, and Emily meet for Thanksgiving weekend and all the traditional feast. We had a really nice holiday.
At the last minute, I was able to surprise the Roadkillers and join a big bunch of them at the Ameristar Casino for two Alan Parsons shows at the Bottleneck Blues Bar. The welcome I received was a great moment in my life. The shows rocked and Alan's American touring band: P.J. Olsson on vocals, John Montagna on bass, Godfrey Townsend on guitar, Steve Murphy on drums, Manny Focarazzo on keyboards and Alan himself, are a great band to see live. It was much too short a time to spend with all of these folks, but I'm so grateful for the opportunity.
Thanks to Andy for the Abbey Road post card! I wish I could have been there! The Poe show was a huge hit among the fans who got to attend the special showings - I wish I'd been able to go and meet writer Eric Woolfson - the other half of the creative force of the Alan Parsons Project. I so enjoyed hearing about everyone's experience in London and talks with Eric and family.
--- Gina and David came up and joined Emily and me for another great Al Stewart concert. We all enjoyed some great times together and the show was great. I didn't even have to yell for my favorite song, 'House of Clocks' from the latest album, 'Down in the Cellar" - he opened the show with it. I've implored before, but go see Al if you ever get a chance. He makes you laugh, educates with a non-boring history lecture, takes chances live, playing requested songs from his vast catalog that he only barely remembers, yet forges on, leading often to sympathetically humorous moments, and dazzling virtuoso guitar and singing that thrill, even if you don't know the song.
Thanks to Gina and David (and Emily) for letting me spend a little time doing the ARRL Sweepstakes on Sunday - 53 contacts, mostly unique sections and a lot of fun - 65 watts and a wire in the attic.
I know I've been remiss - Emily and I have had some very nice weekends here and work has been the usual ridiculous 4th quarter race to finish a year's worth of work in one month, only to accomplish a leap through an accounting hoop.
Most of the anticipation outside of career has been the possibility of a "reunion" of Alan Parsons with much of his long time recording band in Europe starting in January. If it happens, we're there. It's getting advertised like it will happen, but Alan has yet to give imprimatur, so no non-refundable tickets have yet been booked. I really hope it will - it promises to be a great show. As most of the band still live in Europe, I doubt this show will come here, so, we'll go there. No problem.
Meanwhile many of the Roadkill fans are in London as I type this to see the opening of Eric Woolfson's Poe at Abbey Road Studios and, yes, I'm quite jealous. They all pass back home through Chicago today and hopefully will return to Chicago next weekend for a couple of Al Stewart shows at Shuba's next weekend. I'm looking forward to another Al show and hearing how Poe went in London. The e-mails from London have been quite positive.
It's over, but thank you Cubs, thank you Ron Santo, Pat Hughes, Steve Stone and everyone at WGN radio and TV. Ron said from home in Scottsdale, that this was the beginning and I hope that is true. Get well soon, on your schedule, Ron. We'll do it for you when you can be there.
The Marlins deserve this win, they beat our best - good for them.
I had the most wonderful weekend in A2 with Emily: apple picking (and eating) and an amazing sushi dinner. Next up on the good column, she comes to visit for Sweetest Day - lunch/dinner at Cheesecake Factory in Schaumburg.
WTG Cubs! - what a series! On to the Marlins -
Spent the day, a beautiful fall day, with Jeff and friends out at the Buffalo Rock outdoor shooting range in Ottawa, IL- Really fun day - my first experience with skeet shooting and I did ok, got the first three targets, but was about 50 percent overall. I'll post a pic or two when I get the camera out and see if there is anything worthwhile.
I worked about 20 stations in the California QSO Party on the way to and from Ottawa and two stations in Great Britain from the car - always fun.
Next up, some time in A2 with Emily after a grueling week. Perhaps the Henry Ford Museum, and/or an orchard for the apparently famous Michigan combo of cider and doughnuts.
And now it begins... as I write this, the Cubs are in the middle of a very exciting first playoff game. We'll see how it goes from here, but I've allowed myself to fall into all the excitement.
Emily came in on rented Mustang and we had some fun driving the bright red car around - the car attracts more attention than it deserves speed-wise. As a rental, of course it's an auto and I suspect it'd be a much better car as a manual (what wouldn't be?). It's fine in first gear, it gets up, but feels sluggish after that. It burns gas like it owns oil futures too. We did get to listen to the Cubs secure the division while driving around out west and it was fun to hear.
At tonight's game against the Mets, it was announced that Ron Santo's #10 would be retired at a ceremony on Sept. 28th. This is a fine piece of news for Ron and it choked both of us up. Ron, who was inexplicably passed over this year for the Hall of Fame, said in a post announcement press conference that this meant even more to him and I believe it. I only wish that Harry could be here for this season - from here it's gonna get very exciting.
A great weekend in Ann Arbor! Besides (sort of ) escaping the crowd celebrating with the 111,726 people forming the largest crowd ever to attend an NCAA football game (Well done, Blue), Emily and I explored the Nichols Arboretum (having a picnic of Zingerman's parmesan-pepper bread, red grapes and Jarlsberg cheese), Forest Hill cemetary and a few unique neighborhoods, including Ridgeway St., which borders the Arboretum and has some of the most unique and expensive real estate in the whole town. We caught the last half of the game at the Red Hawk - all on foot for about five or six miles and a very nice walk.
She's selling the town to the choir.
After a couple of nice weekends with Emily here, I'm catching up on e-mail and come to find October's AP show in Sheboygan is canceled by the promoter. I was looking forward to seeing the big group of fans and friends as much as the show - so sad.
Arlington Park is offering free umbrellas to the first 5,000 fans tomorrow - just as well, as it looks like it's going to rain. Though I hate handicapping on a sloppy track, I may go anyway.
Just back from a day of food and libation at Milwaukee a la Carte at the Milwaukee Co. Zoo with Andy Burnett - we caught a short-notice concert by Alan Parsons and his new American touring band and had a nice chat afterwards. The band are gearing up for a busy fall with dates out west, India and South America. A big gang of us are headed up to Sheboygan in October, where Alan and the band will be performing a benefit for victims of the I-43 fog-related crash of about a year ago. We're all looking forward to the show and to seeing each other again.
Update: Cal Crader's FF pictures are here - Thanks, Cal!
Sara Motley's FF pix are here - thank you Sara!
Well, I didn't think they could give me a coronary two years in a row, but they did. Scott and Sandra Holder, who host FanFest every year for my dearest friends at the Dauphine Hotel in Bonnots Mill, Mo, had a surprise guest: Mr. Ian Bairnson, my guitar hero for 26 years. Ian spent the weekend with us, regaling us with stories and guitar playing and generally making tons of dreams come true. I cannot overstate what a thrill it was to sing Blue Blue Sky with the other fans on stage with Ian playing. There is nothing one can do to prepare for such a moment - it just happens and to try to take it in and revel in what a moment it is. Thank you Ian - we'll all never forget it.
Emily joined me for the Alan Parsons FanFest 4.0 and it was so nice to have her along to meet my friends, and of course, our special guest. It was so great to see everyone and I hope you all didn't feel like I was rushing to leave on Sunday, but we had to get to the airport and it was a good thing we left on-time because we got stuck in a several mile-long tie-up on I-44 due to a fatal accident.
Then after seeing Emily off from Lambert, I got to spend a really nice evening with Jim and Ann Brooks and their lovely daughters, watching some of the videotape, relaxing in the hot tub under moonlit skies, specked with occasional Perseid meteors. Then Jim and Ann and I got to sneak in nine holes at Raintree before I ripped it back home.
I cannot wait for next year - FanFest never fails to be the weekend of the year.
Vegas was great, and hot. Dinner at Emeril's was amazing. It was a wonderful birthday, my thanks to Emily. Back to reality and desperate struggle to learn a few guitar solos for this weekend's 4th annual Alan Parsons FanFest. Much more time for updates after the weekend in Bonnots Mill.
Back from a very nice and relaxing weekend in A2 with Em. We walked for miles around the citywide annual Ann Arbor Art Fairs, with all kinds of art from the whimsical to the bizarre: my favorite piece was a life-size grizzly bear made of nails. We played darts at Leopold Bros. and as usual, she showed great aptitude for new things. Can't wait to play again - Got to meet Scott Leopold, one of the owner/brewers, and discussed some of their future plans - it's a great place.
Then we had Marian and Jon over for a great laughter-filled evening. Thanks to Marian for the Grand Marnier-soaked strawberries with orange zest - quite delicious. We watched a couple of episodes of the hilarious new "makover series" from Bravo, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy - highly recommended.
Next up - Em and I go to Vegas for the 1st anniversary of my 39th birthday with dinner at Emeril's New Orleans Fishouse. Yummy. We're gonna see Liz Phair at the House of Blues, go to Hoover Dam, tour the casinos, see a show, perhaps play a little poker and who knows?
Happy Independence Day! It's hot and humid - perfect summer day. I've been showering the garden and taking care of chores here and there and practicing my guitar and vocal parts for the AP FanFest 4.0 in Bonnots next month. Nice relaxing day. Missing Em though.
ARRL Central Section Director, George R. "Dick" Isely, has put up this fine page - good info for midwest hams and props to Clay E. Melhorn, N9IO for the design and maintenance. Among other reasons, as hams are occasionally needed for local (or greater) emergency communications, it's good to stay plugged in to the regional scuttlebutt. Dick and his vice director, Howard S "Howie" Huntington, K9KM, are active and one and/or the other attend nearly every hamfest I've been to. Come on out and meet them and thank them for their important service.
This weekend was amateur radio Field Day weekend and I spent a little bit of time out there in Panfish Park with the Wheaton Community Radio Amateurs and contacted hundreds of other hams doing the same thing all over the US and Canada. My thanks to Peter, W9UF, for the use of the 20m SSB station and I hope to make an entire weekend out of it next year. Emily came out with me and met the club and got a taste of what Field Day is all about. She and I also went to my friend Jeff's 40th birthday party in the evening and had a really nice dinner - thanks to Sherry and Jeff.
Happy Birthday to Dad and Amy!
Andy came up this weekend and we spent it out at Arlington Park. Better than a hot stick in the eye and perfect weather. I'd love to say I'm in profit on the season, especially after cashing six consecutive profitable across the board bets on Sunday, but I can't say that. Still, what a great weekend to watch the horses run. I need to get back to Champaign and spend a nice weekend down there soon. My thanks to Andy for all the fun, laughs and generosity.
Em was here for the weekend and she worked tirelessly on the garden. Hopefully the backyard will bountifully provide tomatoes, peppers and a few other salsa ingredients later this summer.
As a radio guy, I listened to the Belmont on AM broadcast on the way to pick up Ken and Kim from the airport - very exciting - a triple crown will have to wait.
Well, Belmont day is upon us, let's see if Funny Cide can go for the 5 mil and the first triple crown in a generation. Chores prevent me from going to the track today, but I'm going there tomorrow after the Hamfest in the morning. I'm way overdue.
We are back after logging many miles: In Bonnots Mill, I spent a great day with Scott and Sandra, Andy, Gina and David, Jim and Ann - did some rehearsing - I wish we weren't all hundreds of miles apart - I enjoy playing and singing with these guys. Then back to St. Louis with Em, where the Tyler family held their reunion. Then I took Em back to Bonnots Mill to see the Dauphine for her first time and we spent some time with Scott, who cooked us a fine dinner.
The next day, we took back roads through Missouri, Illinois and Indiana, finally resorting to Interstate travel to get to Kalamazoo for Dale's 60th birthday party. Then Em and I were off for Saugatuck and South Haven, staying for Em's birthday at the charming South Haven B&B, Martha's Vineyard. Proprietor's Pamela and Paul really set you up with a beautiful and romantic place, wonderful food and grounds filled with flora and fauna. Highly recommended.
Our vacation nearly over, we headed back to Chicago for Jim's 40th.
Sending Em back home on Amtrak, I discovered how not to pull back into a parking space in front of a police officer at Union Station. I was certain he was gonna staple me to the wall, but he let us go. Must be the charm.
Em and I are off to a whirlwind vacation - several hundred miles: Birthdays, family reunions, band rehearsal. Pix and other details when we return.
Alan Parsons' take on the SACD of 'Dark Side of the Moon' seems to match our amateur opinion: It has its moments, but the quad mix is quite an experience. I hope time allows another listen this weekend in Bonnots Mill -preferably as a soundtrack to the Indy 500.
WTG Funny Cide! Didn't see *that* coming, but nice race.
Happy Derby Day!
Another Derby Day to be homesick - I got it bad. The weather looks nice down there in Louisville and I wish I was with my Ma and Bro. Thank goodness for the TV coverage, however. It's nice to be able to watch the under card and all the side coverage. My early pick of Ten Most Wanted is getting all kinds of attention all of a sudden and will probably go off as an underlay. No matter, I don't have any real money wagered.
Satellite TeeVee nit pick... For Cubs games, being a radio guy, I've always liked turning down the volume on the TV and turning up the AM radio guys on 720 KHz, WGN. I've done this for years and I'm not gonna stop. Pat Hughes and Ron Santo are the current crew and they do a great job. I just prefer the radio perspective (no disrespect to Chip Caray and Steve Stone - they are great too - at Chip's grandfather Harry's funeral, he shook every hand of every mourner, along with his father, and I'll never forget it - I was moved). The issue is: the radio is three or four seconds ahead of the satellite. By the time I see the action, Pat and Ron have already told me what happened. The 22,000 mile several round trip signal path combined with the decoding delay of the MPEG-2 signal make for quite a delay, while the AM signal is traveling by surface microwave, I suspect. In my old cable or broadcast days, the delay was rarely more than 3/4 second and barely noticeable. It's gonna take some getting used to.
Em and I made a little weekend trip down to St. Louis to see Jim and Ann (and Sara and Amy) Brooks and hang with some of the midwest friends and do a little critical listening to Dark Side of the Moon on SACD. Here's a picture or two.
Please welcome Brandon, KC9DNH, to the ham ranks - we're glad to have you and I'm sure your Dad is proud beyond words.
Jeff and Sherry joined Emily and me for dinner and some billiards at Dave and Busters, Addison, IL - Some great shooting by certain people who expressed doubts about their talents on the pool table - we won't be fooled again.
Jeff is about to complete his degree and has my sincerest congratulations - I don't get to see Jeff and Sherry nearly as often as I'd like, something I hope we can fix here now that we live in the same town.
It ain't brain surgery, but it adds a whole level of scariness when it's your "brain" - I successfully added a Seagate Barracuda 80 gig drive to extend the life of my aging Dell Dim 4100 this weekend and my pride knows no bounds. There was enough "dust" inside that thing to knit a whole new cat.
First of all - my heartfelt support for our underpaid, under appreciated troops. Good luck to all of you - please treat those you encounter as you would be treated.
Thanks to Emily for my Benihana gift certificate - I blew my gift certificate on a monster lunch of sushi -MMmmmm.
Next, just in from the backyard, where I had visual on the International Space Station and attempted to contact with a handheld radio. All aboard are ham radio operators and were I aboard, I know how *I'd* pass my spare time. It was a pretty orange color as it passed out of daylight at 8:11pm, 36 degrees over the horizon.
Lastly, my old boss, gee, let me rephrase, my young and former boss, Leslie, has demanded more and newer pictures. I'll get right on this, even though I no longer report to you. Building a new computer is a project on the board and a new digital camera would mean a lot more new content here. I'm hoping for both, but I'm also trying out a new budget as a dress rehearsal for life as a full time student and both seem extravagant at the moment. In the meantime, I'll do what I can. Em will be here this weekend so I'll get out the camera.
Rolling Stone magazine passes in and out of relevance for me - a big part of the transition from still hip, young adult to aging hippie for me was letting my subscription lapse (British music magazine, Q still rings mostly true for me), but this article is right up my alley: Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon turns THIRTY. Here are engineer Alan Parsons' reflections. Hearing this album at the Alan Parsons FanFest in quad is an annual pleasure that I may never tire of. 'Shorter of breath and one day closer to death' is a lyric that may finally have gotten me off my dead ass and made me decide what I want to do when I grow up. More on this later as it develops...
And just back from a nice weekend in Ann Arbor... Thanks, boss, I got Friday off and that made my arrival a lot more timely. We had Cajun blackened steak Friday, after a pint at the Old Town Tavern with Em's co-workers, Alexandra, Devon, Kim and Marian. Wish we could have all hung out longer, but my thanks to them for joining us. It was nice to see them again. Went to a production of Pillow Talk at the Ann Arbor Civic Theatre on Saturday - very well done and deserving of the good reviews they are getting in the local press. Spring has finally sprung in the midwest and Em and I took a nice walk through her neighborhood before I took off for home. On the way home, I worked a few stations in the Virginia QSO Party.
Homestyle, my friends Stu, Ted and Jim's band played their first gig Wednesday and it was really great. I got to shoot some video on Ted's video camera so, I got to sit in the front row, sweet - hope it came out ok. Nice to see Laura and Jane (yes and Jane's date Michael ;) and Joan and others come out and support the band.
Just back from a weekend in Kalamazoo for twenty hours with Em while the 'rents are away on vacation (snicker). Had brunch with Jen and Jason, and Kristi, good friends of Em's, all of whom I've been waiting so long to meet and we'd finally gotten together. Yummy brunch at Food Dance this morning, yummy dinner at Pasta Pasta last night. The folks at Pasta Pasta have a lovely dining room and I'd have been happy to dine there, but I had my mind set on take out and they didn't even blink. They were helpful and the food was great. Next time, we eat there. - Great folks running the place and good eats.
On the way home, I played radio - Wisconsin QSO party! I slapped the 40m whip onto the bad ride, to allow relatively short range communications into WI on the trip back from MI to IL. Got 14 of 72 counties on the three-hour trip. Well below my goal, but logging all of this in motion is tricky and one is somewhat subject to conditions. Great fun, though, and made the trip so much easier. I also worked a special event station, celebrating the bicentennial of the statehood of my birth-state, Ohio - KO8HIO.
Hey, my friend Jim and his band, Homestyle, are playing Lyon's Den on Irving Park Road on Wednesday, March 12th at 9pm. Be there, I will.
Not much happening this month, but work and sleep, and the latter could be better. Friend and coworker, Jeff Petersen sends this picture of his pal Sedgewick - cute! Also planning a couple of big birthdays for Em and me and a few others as well. Aught-Three continues to spin out of control...
I follow the space program probably closer than anyone who doesn't work in the industry. I had set the alarm this morning for 7:55 CST and ambled sleepily into the shack to tune in NASA-TV to watch what we all hoped would be a routine (if anything can be routine about space travel) landing. My TV warmed up just in time to hear the last radio transmission from Columbia. Obviously, it took time to realize what had happened, but by five minutes past the scheduled landing time, I was chilled to the bone and awoke Emily, telling her that I thought something horrible had happened. My heart goes out to the families of the crew of STS-107.
Just back from what has become a (sort of) annual trip to Generations in St. Louis to see Al Stewart in concert. Al put on his usual fantastic show. He signed my recently eBay-acquired Year of the Cat songbook and joined us all after show to drink some Nostrodamus beer brought from Belgium by one of the fans. It was good!
My thanks again to Jim and Ann Brooks for putting the same cast of crazies up for the night at their ever more spectacular home SW of St. Louis. Jim scares up one mighty fine myocardial infarction-on-a-plate breakfast... MMmmmmm.
Spent the weekend in Michigan and went to the Detroit North American International Auto Show with Em and her parents, Dale and Pat. My first auto show, it was a lot of fun. Got to sit in some pretty cool vehicles. Even though I'd like to squeeze another 100 kilomiles out of my '92 Celica, here is my short list of what I'd have liked to drive home: The Mitsubishi Eclipse convertible, the VW Beetle convertible, the Nissan 350Z, the Saab 9-5 convertible and the Toyota MR2 convertible.
Getting Around Here