Layout change

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I changed the width of my main post column in the layout for this blog. But the rounded corners are wrong now.

Anybody know how to fix?

Clearly, more travelling needs to take place

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Yes, I'm bored. Bored and bereft of creativity.

First photoshoot

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Sabrina 000a Here is a photo from my first photoshoot. It was nervewracking but ended up being cool. The model, Sabrina, was very easy to work with. I'd like to get more into photography and I think that working with different subjects will help me to improve.

There are additional photos on my flickr page. I'd appreciate any feedback.

Thanks!


MENSA bound

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Ran across this little gem today.



Who knew?

What occupies my time

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I haven’t been able to play LOTRO as much as I’d like lately. There are a few reasons for this. Foremost among them is that I really only enjoy playing when I can play with my friends. Lately they have not been on much for one reason or another. So even when I do log on, I see that nobody else is online and I log out fairly quickly. Perhaps we are just missing each other. Not sure what’s going on there.

Also, it seems like I’ve been pretty busy in the evenings of late. As usual, two nights a week I have music practice; and in the last few weeks, I had my orchestra concert, string recital, and I attended the CSU Stanislaus Percussion Ensemble performance. Tomorrow night I am doing the music for the vigil Mass for the Immaculate Conception.

My weekends have been full too. Last Saturday, for example, I had music practice with Carmelo, went to the Honda dealership to get my oil changed, had choir practice in the afternoon, and went to P. Wexford’s in the evening for the monthly Irish Sessuin. This week, I will be hanging out at Barnes & Noble all afternoon for a classmate’s book-signing, likely playing at the 5:30 Mass (for the last time), and hopefully going to see The English Beat play a concert downtown. Too busy!


Just a few weeks ago, I was noticing that my Tivo’s now playing list was getting rather short. Well, there has been a dramatic reversal there. Now I’m worried that it’s filling up too fast. So one of the things I have been doing instead of playing LOTRO is trying to watch these programs to take a bite out of my backlog. In a way, it makes me glad for the WGA strike. Less new content coming up to worry about. And, I have dropped Bionic Woman from my list of shows to record. It never really got very good and I won’t miss it at all.


And so, dear reader(s), I ask you: how are you managing your time during this final month of the year?

Ouch!

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I watched The Break Up last night. It was a little too real. I identified with both characters as I saw familiar traits and motivations in each of them. It made my heart hurt. One thing that continues to elude me is the peace they had with each other at the end of the movie. Hopefully one day.

As an aside, I like several actors in this film. Vince Vaughn, Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman, Vincent D'Onofrio, Jon Favreau, Justin Long.

MJC Orchestra Concert - 20 Nov 2007

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The MJC Community Orchestra had it's fall performance on Tuesday. There are some photos from the event on my flickr page.

Weekend recap in brief

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Let me just say that it was quite nice to have the extra day off work yesterday. The weekend was, on the whole, good. On Sunday, I attended a Veteran’s Day event at the Gallo Center. It really is a very nice place. I took several photos that I rather liked. Of course, I then promptly accidentally deleted them. Ah well.


The planned day of LOTRO that was to happen yesterday didn’t come together as I’d hoped. Suzanne, Danny, and I did some playing in the morning but Lance was nowhere to be found. Suzanne had to stop playing in the early afternoon to take her son to a doctor’s appointment, so Danny and I continued play with just the two of us. Mid-afternoon, Lance finally rouses himself from bed and is available to play. So now all we’re waiting for is Suzanne to come back. But that never happened. We cut her some slack, of course. She has a husband and two kids; one of which is a newborn. Lance, however, has fewer excuses.

But in spite of not being able to work on the specific tasks that I’d wanted to, there was a silver lining. Danny and I both hit level 38, and I made enough money to purchase my horse.


The MJC Community Orchestra has its dress rehearsal tonight. Then we have our performance next week. I took my tux to the dry-cleaners today. Modesto High instead of the Gallo Center. I expect you all to make the effort to be there!

Tomorrow, I have a Knights of Columbus thing in Escalon. Shouldn’t go late but it comes smack dab in the middle of the evening.

Thursday and Friday evenings I have music practice for the Thanksgiving Day Mass. It’s good to practice, but sometimes, I resent how much time it can take. I guess I’m not a real musician.

On Saturday, I am playing for a wedding. I still don’t know what I’m going to do for the psalm nor for the bride’s procession. I have to find something that will sound triumphant and interesting and all I have to work with is the chord progression. This will not be fun.
But, I do not have the evening Mass on Saturday so that frees up some time.

My dad’s birthday is on Sunday so I plan to call him in the afternoon.
Speaking of my dad; I have been, for several months, planning on traveling to Anchorage for Christmas. Goodness, gracious! but the prices have gone up significantly since I last made this trip. I sure hope that as the date draws nearer, there will be some last minute deals.


The Amazing Race remains difficult to watch. I get really agitated when the teams are stressed out and yelling at each other. The team to go was one that I wasn’t rooting for so that part was ok.

The Big Bang Theory has gotten a bit better. There were several moments that made me laugh last night.

Heroes last night was really good. Great scenes of Nathan and Peter flying and many questions were answered about what’s been going on for the past four months.

Flurry aftermath

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In the week since my camera arrived, I’ve constantly been on the lookout for opportunities to take pictures. I have found precious few. The thing is, I’m sure they’re all around and a better photographer would have trouble not seeing them. Now, obviously, much of that is innate, and a lot comes from practice, but what about training? I’ve never taken any sort of class that would give me any clues as to how to go about selecting a shot. I really want to.

The photos I have taken are unspectacular. Nothing I want to make a point of showing to anyone although I have no problem with anyone seeing any of them. Danny has been attending some seminars which sound pretty cool. Of course, there’s nothing like that around here. Nothing I know of anyway.

So for now I guess I’ll have to take thousands of photos to get a few good ones. This is starting to seem familiar. :)
At least with digital, I won’t be wasting film.


So it turns out that the Gallo Center isn’t going to happen. Bummer. We will be performing at Modesto High School instead. Ah, well. I must remember to get my tux dry-cleaned.

It seems that I was missing some information on my application to the College District in Sacramento. Maybe next time.

In other news, a classmate here at MJC made some noise about recruiting me into the History Honor Society at Stanislaus State. She thinks I’d like it. So I’ve got that going for me, which is nice. Thanks, Adria.
I’ve submitted my application and transcripts, now I just need to pay the fee.


What am I doing this weekend, you ask? Well, I suppose there’s no harm in telling you.
Tonight I have a bit of a music planning session at the church. After which, I will play some LOTRO.
Tomorrow is an undefined day. I have Mass in the late afternoon but naught else. Updates to follow.
Sunday, I have the usual slate of morning Masses and in the afternoon, I plan to attend a friend’s dance recital.

But wait, there’s more! This weekend I also get…
Monday is a holiday for Veteran’s Day. I hope to spend the day online with Danny, Lance, and Suzanne.

This week's swirl of activity

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Well, I have purchased my camera. I ordered it on Tuesday morning and I picked it up from UPS on Wednesday. I love it. I am taking lots of pictures and one of these days, I’ll take a good one. I’m in the mode where I don’t want to go anywhere without it so I can always take a shot at a moment’s notice. I guess I’ll get over at some point.
Anyway, it’s nice to put pictures up on my flickr page that I’ve actually taken. Before this week, I think all the photos there were taken by other people.

I also purchased a doumbek and a couple pairs of bones from Lark in the Morning. But I haven’t received those yet. Maybe when I get home...
I will be using the doumbek for the MJC Community Orchestra performance on November 20 at the Gallo Center. You’re all invited but it may be sold out already.

I applied for admission to Stanislaus State for the spring. I have to take one lower division class then 30 units of upper division work. I think I can be done in the spring of 2010. Maybe fall of 2009. We shall see. I guess I will go for a teaching credential after that.

Today I applied for a job at Los Rios Community College District in Sacramento. It was a spur of the moment thing and I don’t think my chances are very good, but nothing ventured….


And now, because I know you’re waiting for it, I will tell you my plans for the weekend.

Tonight, I will be meeting with some folks to discuss the music they want for a wedding on the 17th. Yeah, this isn’t very far ahead of time, but I was just asked to play the week before last. After my meeting, I will head home to get in some LOTRO time.

Tomorrow, I will be going on a nature walk along Dry Creek. This is something organized by the La Loma Neighborhood Association. For me, it will do 3 things. First, it will get me out of the house and walking around a bit. Exercise is good, right? Second, it will give me an opportunity to use my camera. Even though I’m not into nature photography, right now, I’ll take pictures of anything. And third, I may get to meet some neighbors.
In the afternoon, I hope to watch an episode of Survivor with Mary.
Then, in the evening, I will be going to P. Wexford’s for the monthly Irish sessuin. Several of my classmates are supposed to attend as well, so that should be fun.

Sunday, I only have one Mass, the 8:30. I’ve asked my former roommate’s step-father, Bob if he and his wife, Judy would like to go out to breakfast following Mass. I will find out Sunday if the answer is yes. In the afternoon, I will be attending the Journey in Christianity Fourth Day. More opportunity to see people and to take photographs!!
Maybe, just maybe, Mary and I will get to watch another episode of Survivor that evening.


Somehow, I still manage to be busy on the weekends…

Decision made

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I've decided which camera to buy. I'm going with the Nikon D40. Buying the less expensive of my options will allow me to get going sooner and put the savings toward the purchase of a better lens. So I plan on buying from Amazon on the 30th. Unless, at that time, it looks like Best Buy is a better choice.

So I hope to have plenty of new photos start appearing on my flickr page very soon.

Lord of the Rings Online, Book 11 torrent available now from Turbine

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Turbine has released the LOTRO Book 11 early as a torrent download. The changes will not be applied until Oct. 25th, but you can download and install the patch early to avoid having to wait on release day.

read more | digg story

Music at St. Stanislaus revisited

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A few weeks ago, I told the powers that be at St. Stanislaus that I wanted to stop doing the music at the Saturday evening Mass. I said that I’d continue through the end of the year but as of the latter part of December, someone else needed to step up. I suggested that perhaps I could alternate weeks with someone. So Cathy spoke to Kyle and Kyle agreed to alternate weeks with me. But, rather than wait for the end of the year, he was ready to start this next weekend. So, effective immediately, I only do the music every other week.

The Bad: This will mean slightly less income for the next couple of months. Sharing a Mass means that there is much greater chance for inconsistency to develop in the repertoire and so forth.

The Good: Some of my Saturdays will no longer be interrupted midway through the day. Maybe this will lead to greater cooperation amongst the musicians at the various Masses. I won’t burn out so soon.

Now if only Mike comes back to resume playing at the 8:30 on Sunday mornings, I can go down to one Mass per weekend again.

Lori's party photos

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As promised, here are some photos from my friend Lori's party.

Weekend recap

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So I had a really good weekend. On Friday night, I went out with about 20 coworkers to celebrate Lori’s birthday. People started to gather at Lori’s house at 7:00 and we had some drinks, appetizers, makeup checks, etc. At 8:00, the limo arrived and we took some final group photos and left for dinner. We arrived at Fuzio’s and met more of our party that were there waiting for us. Dinner was good and we made sure that everyone who walked by our group knew that we’d arrived in a limo.

After dinner (and more drinks) we piled back into our sweet, sweet ride and cruised around town for a bit. We hit several clubs that night and a good time was had by all.

On Saturday, I overslept and missed a meeting of the Parish Coordinators for the Catholic Legislative Network from our diocese. Oh well. I am happy to report that I was productive that morning, nonetheless. I straightened up my place, putting away boxes, thoroughly vacuuming the entire house, and putting a slip cover back on the couch. I even did some dishes. Mary came over in the afternoon to watch a couple episodes of Survivor (so now we’re only 1 behind!) and I showed her Pushing Daisies, which she liked.

I played for Mass, as usual and afterwards, went out to P. Wexford’s to enjoy the Irish Sessuin that occurs on the first Saturday of each month. My friend, Tawny and her sister met me there and we had a fun time talking and sharing stories.

Sunday, I woke up late and had to rush to get to church for the 8:30 Mass. I was on time but my voice was not ready for the day. I played/sang for 2 Masses but I had the 11:30 off because the Philipino group plays on the first Sunday of every month. I stopped at the taco trucks to get a burrito on the way home and bought lunch for a homeless guy, Mark. For the rest of the day, I played LOTRO with Danny, Lance, and Suzanne. Finally, in the evening I watched a little TV and stayed up too late playing Alpha Centauri on the computer.

Good times.

Lori's birthday

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My friend and coworker, Lori, turned 40 yesterday. You’d never know it to look at her. She looks no older than 30. The other girls in her office had a surprise breakfast for her in the morning. The office was decorated quite nicely and there were pastries, bagels, fruit, linguisa, pancakes, an egg bake casserole, muffins, and orange juice. There were also many visitors present and it was a really nice thing for Lori.

Tomorrow night, a bunch of us are going out to dinner downtown. We’re going to pile into a limo and party it up into the wee hours of the morning. This is a White Party so all the ladies will be dressed in white while the men get to wear slacks or jeans with white shirts. I expect that everyone will look great and it should be a lot of fun. Maybe I’ll have pictures to share afterwards.

The fall season

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One of the first things I do every morning when I get into work is to check my email. This includes my work email, MySpace email, and my gmail account; sometimes Yahoo email but almost never my SBC Global account. With MySpace, there’re not only messages to read, but bulletins from friends, new friend requests (from girls who are wondering why MySpace won’t let them post their sexy pictures) to mark as spam, and blog postings.

So I read a blog posting this morning from my friend Tawny. She was writing about her reaction to the fall TV series premier week. This made me realize that I need to let you all know about what I am watching these days. So here goes.

Mondays
A very busy night for the ole tivo. I have Chuck, Heroes, Journeyman, and Prison Break. There’s also a dumb sitcom called The Big Bang Theory that is pretty lame but the theme song is by the Barenaked Ladies. So I’m giving the show a shot in case it gets better.

Tuesdays
House

Wednesdays
Bionic Woman, Life, and a quirky little show called Pushing Daisies

Thursdays
Another busy night. Survivor: China, Smallville, My Name Is Earl, The Office, Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style. I'm going to check out Big Shots as well to see if it's any good.

Fridays
Stargate: Atlantis

Saturdays
Sundays
I don’t think I’m recording anything on these nights right now.


I’m not sure what night it comes on but I am recording Survivorman too. It’s more for something to have on in the background while I’m on the computer than a show I need to sit and watch.

Starting in the near to medium future, I will be recording Law and Order: Criminal Intent, 24, Lost, and Battlestar Galactica. And as I’ve posted about before, when they come back I’ll record Psych, Monk, Eureka, and Burn Notice.



Thanks to my friend, Tawny, for the inspiration to post this!

The next big thing (to buy)

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I am planning on purchasing a digital slr camera. Right now I’m trying to decide between a Nikon D40 and a D40X. The difference is about 4 megapixels and a couple hundred dollars. I plan on making this purchase the first week of December.
I’m kind of hoping that there will be some price cuts or sales happening at the time.

A coworker recently bought a D40X package from Costco. She got the camera body, a couple of lenses and a flash, I think. The price for this was $999.99 plus tax with an instant $50 rebate. I’ve placed both cameras on my Amazon wishlist. Compare and let me know what you think of the difference. And feel free to buy me something from the list. Items start at $.01.

LotR movie making inspires medical scanner.

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Pretty cool story about new technology.

read more | digg story

Letter to Fr. Arouje

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Fr. Arouje,

I wanted to express some of my ideas for music ministry here at St. Stanislaus. I have been involved with music ministry for over 20 years, serving at a number of parishes throughout the diocese, including 5 years as Music Director at St. Anthony’s in Hughson.


Ideally, I would like to see the following:

• One person overseeing the music for all Masses and celebrations of Sacraments (including weekends, weddings, funerals, baptisms, confirmation, etc.).

• A commitment to a common repertoire for the entire parish. I do not think it is a healthy thing that the various Masses can be so distinct and even different. We are one parish and people should be able to participate in the singing no matter which Mass they attend on any given week. There is some room for options but 85% of the music we sing at the parish should be from a common repertoire.

• We should be selecting music that reflects the seasonal nature of the Church calendar.

• In selecting music, we must adhere to the principles the Church gives us. Music must pass the Musical Judgment, the Liturgical Judgment, and the Pastoral Judgment. One or even two of the three of these is not sufficient. It must pass all three. And appropriate music from all times in the Church should be used. The best of what was composed hundreds of years ago, to what’s being written now, and everything in between, so far as it passes the three judgments.

• Music that is selected should be done so with the intention that there will be congregational singing. Occasional choir anthems or songs that are to be listened to but not sung by the congregation may at times be ok, but they are not the norm.

• Recruiting of musicians should be not for any one group, but for the parish.

• (I could go on, but these are enough.)


If for whatever reason we cannot, at this time, find an appropriate person to be the Music Director, I think that the current set of musicians should work as a committee to select music and plan for the seasons. We need to start planning for the time when we will have fewer Masses each weekend which in turn will mean, perhaps, fewer musicians will be needed. As we anticipate people from the six English Masses we have now being mixed together in as few as three or four English Masses after the new church is built, it is important that we be able to ‘hit the ground running’ once we make the move to the new building.

I am willing and eager to serve God, the Church, the ministry of music, and the people of God as we move forward over the next several months and years and I look forward to working with whomever is hired.

Sincerely,

Seán Fornelli

Director of Music - Who will it be?

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St. Stanislaus Parish is looking to hire a Music Director. I would be interested in the job myself except they want someone who will be full time and also direct the band at the youth Mass. Neither of those things suits me so the job is for someone else. I am curious about who we will get. Will it be a traditionalist who thinks that nothing suitable has been written since the death of Palestrina? Or perhaps a modernist who believes that all the music for Mass should be as current as the songs on the radio? More likely than either of these, the person will fall somewhere in between. But where?

I have a friend that would make an excellent candidate except for the fact that he is living and pursing a lifestyle that is totally incompatible with serving in a leadership capacity in the Church. There are some in the parish that would overlook my friend’s public and well-known indiscretions because he is talented. This guy is my friend but if he gets the job, I will have to stop doing music and may have to leave the parish. I will not help him to mock what the Church believes, professes, and teaches.

What I want is a musician who believes, as I do, that good liturgical music from all eras should be represented. From compositions by Bach, to hymns of the 1800s, to the music that was used in the 50s, to Glory and Praise selections, the music of Haugen, Haas, Farrell, Hurd, on through the music that is being written today. The Church gives us three judgments with regard to the music that is selected. 1) It must be good music. We musicians will disagree when it comes to this but a director is, by the nature of his position, in charge. 2) It must be liturgical. This is the biggest problem I have with so much of the music that is done at LIFE TEEN Masses. Also why I won’t do Marian hymns on most Sundays of the year. 3) It must be pastoral. In other words, is it right for these people at this time? This third point seems to be what youth Mass types hang their hats on. But we cannot ignore any of the three judgments. If a song only meets two of them, it should not be used.

Well, I look forward to working with whoever is selected. Or at least making the attempt.

On opining

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For at least the last 20 years, I can see that I have been pretty opinionated. In my late teens and early twenties, every opinion and point of view that I had was of equal value and equal importance. What validated these opinions? Little more than my own sense of righteousness and how smart I thought I was.

Over time, I think I have softened. Not that I don’t think I’m smart or righteous, but I understand now that not every opinion I have is equally important and valuable. These days, I can refrain from expressing my point of view on some things. Who cares if ranch dip tastes better than French onion? (It does.) Or which game is better, World of Warcraft or Lord of the Rings: Online? (LOTRO for the win!) Or who’s hotter, Jessica Alba or Jessica Biel? (Alba of course.)

In some cases, it’s because I realize that this is some of that small stuff that we shouldn’t sweat. Sometimes it’s because I really don’t care. And occasionally, it’s because it’s just not worth getting into the debate with the other person. “Believe what you want! Have fun being wrong!” is what I think at those times. And yes, it is satisfying to be right. But I am coming to know that often, there is no right and wrong, just different. This is a hard lesson for me. My overdue thanks go out to all who have helped me to learn it and my apologies to all who have to continue to assist in my education.

But there are things that are important; things that go to the core of what makes me the person whom I perceive myself to be. On these matters, it is perhaps more imperative to express my opinion, to engage in debate. Those are the times that I want desperately to change the mind of the other person. More often than not, I can’t. Blast!

So, from time to time you might catch me staking out a pretty inflexible position on some issue or another. Just be patient, try to understand what I'm trying to say, and above all, know that I am right.

Lord of the Rings Online : Book 10 Release Date Announced

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I'm always up for more content!

Turbine has announced that the release date for Book 10: The City of the Kings, the next free expansion for Lord of the Rings Online will be August 20th. The new expansion will feature a number of changes to monster play, as well as over 100 new quests, and the new reputation and barter systems.

read more | digg story

Weekend recap

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This weekend was the penultimate 3-day weekend of the summer before MJC returns to a 5-day, 8-hour schedule. While it’s nice to have Fridays to do whatever, I look forward to getting back to regular hours. With Fridays off, it feels like too much time elapses between the last day of work for a week and the first day of work for the next. Yeah, weird, I know.

So here’s what happened over the weekend.

Thursday night, I went down to the community center to observe the dress rehearsal for a friend’s dance recital. I had been asked to video record the performance and I wanted to get a sense of how it would look through the camera.

Friday, I got up late, played on the computer for most of the day and attended the dance recital in the evening. The dances were good and I enjoyed the show. The performance did suffer from poor lighting and there was an unnecessary intermission and WAY too much talking between dances, but these problems, rather than suggest to me that it was a failure, made me hope that these things can be fixed and improved. That can be a subtle difference but a significant one.

On Saturday, I hosted a Community Education trip to the Giants game. On my way to the school in the morning, I was rear-ended. Very little damage but it delayed me and even if it hadn’t, who enjoys being in an accident? Anyway, the weather over in San Francisco was pleasantly cool, maybe too cool, and everyone on the trip enjoyed the day despite the Giants' loss. It did eat up the entire day and I was able to spend only a few hours in the evening playing LotRO and watching tv.

I got up early on Sunday to go do music at the morning Masses. Jody’s daughter, Hilary, and Hilary’s new husband, Christoph sang with us. With the addition of Don, we had a crowded little space up there. Then I sang with the choir for the 10:00 Mass. It wasn’t bad, actually. I think if they discontinued using the microphones, they’d sound better, so I’ll work on making that happen. Kyle asked if he could come play bassoon with me at the 11:30 Mass next Sunday so that will be pretty cool. Then there was the 11:30 Mass which went fine. It was Mike, Christy, and me. The rest of the day was spent online with Danny and Suzanne.

Some of the tv I watched this weekend: Scrubs, Eureka, Flash Gordon, Psych (I love this show! It has all these obscure 70s and 80s pop culture references that the characters acknowledge are obscure references. Just my kind of thing!), Dead Zone, and Burn Notice. You might think this is a lot of tv, and you may be right. But I tivo everything and skip the commercials so that cuts viewing time by 20% or so. Yeah, yeah. Excuses, excuses. I like tv. Sue me.

I also found time to mow and water my lawns this week.

Busy times ahead! Proceed with caution.

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We are in the last throes of summer before the fall semester starts. Just 3 weeks to go! I’m looking forward to being fairly busy for a few months.

I will continue to take the water aerobics class on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I haven’t exactly seen results but it can’t hurt.

Immediately following class on Tuesdays, I will rush over to Community Orchestra. I’ll be playing percussion again and maybe viola as well. We’ll see if the stuff is easy enough to fake it.

I am also enrolled in the String Orchestra. This is the class that has music that I might actually be able to play. Class meets on Wednesdays and Fridays during the day. I’ll be taking a long lunch to attend.

On Monday nights I will be taking a beginning photography class. I plan on purchasing a camera in a couple of months so I thought it would be a good idea to start to learn about depth of field and composition and shutter speed and the like.

I am switching church music practice to Wednesday evenings and I will be attending choir practice on Thursdays on the weeks I am not attending a Knights of Columbus meeting.


All of this barely leaves time for online gaming and television, which as I’ve said before, really kicks into gear in the fall. Perhaps I need a class on time management…

Gems I've found

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Recently, I’ve spent way too much time looking for interesting blogs. I’ve spent even more time reading the ones I find. I say way too much because it can be so engaging that I end up doing little else. In the course of my meanderings, I have found a couple of posts that I want to share.

The first is from Twenty Sided, a blog that appeals to the role-playing gamer in me. There are two series of posts that I have really enjoyed reading here, DM of the Rings and a narrative of a Dungeons & Dragons campaign. You should check them out. But I love this post. It makes me wish I spent more time thinking about these kinds of things. (Yeah, I’m a bit of a nerd.) If only I were so creative!

The next blog is called AdSense Tracker. It is “for the purpose of testing Google Adsense ads to see if they actually work and if they actually pay off”. The blogress is friendly and helpful and she is WAY more Web 2.0 savvy than me. She references many sites and services and a poor newbie blogger like me has trouble keeping up. But, I enjoy reading what she posts, and like I said, she’s so helpful and friendly. She recently posted a list of guidelines for good blog networking. If you are new to blogging, I suggest you read through her archives to benefit from her experience.

Enjoy and let me know what you think.


The illusion of security

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Well, good news. I will not have to change departments for at least the next several months. I had a talk with my boss, the VP of Instruction, and she was totally ok with making no changes at this time. She was pretty cool and very easy to talk to about the whole thing.

So. For today and for this weekend, I feel pretty secure with my job. But as experience has shown me, that can be fleeting. I will enjoy it while it lasts and try to hold onto it as long as I can.

Where will I be working next month?

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I will never understand people who can embrace change. Perhaps they are like adrenaline junkies who need to live on the edge. Change is very difficult for me. It has become easier and less something to be feared but only to the point where it is now something to be tolerated when absolutely necessary.


One of my bosses approached me last Thursday to discuss a possible change in my job. It would involve switching campuses, as well as leaving the Instruction side of the house for a Community and Economic Development position. It would allow me to go from an 11-month employee to a 12-month but apart from that, I can see no benefit to making this switch.

I can, however, identify several reasons not to want to do this. There’s the moving to the West Campus part. The West Campus has a much smaller population of students right now. It also has fewer staff and faculty. It feels more lifeless over there. The String Orchestra class is during the day and meets on the East Campus. Right now it’s easy to extend my lunch by just a little to walk over to the Music Building for class two days a week. It would take at least an extra half hour out of my day to come over from the other campus. And I have friends here on the East Campus. Not so much over there.

Another reason to not do this is that Work Force Training, where I’d be going, seems so removed from the main work of the college. It’s important, what they do. And it is about delivering instruction but it’s dealing with businesses and such that want to bring instruction to their people. I like working in the Instruction Office. It feels like a hub for the college. WFT would be like being WAY out on one of the spokes of that wheel.

I am comfortable here in this office. I know what I’m doing. I get to interact with all divisions, and with staff, faculty, and administrators. Over there, I’d get to interact with the 5 or 6 other people in my department.


So, why do it if I don’t want to? Well, I’m not sure how much of a choice I have. I need to talk with the VP of Instruction to ask her what her plan for this office is. Will I have a place here in her vision? I may have to take this other job in order to be secure in my continued employment. I hope that’s not the case but I tend to worry a bit sometimes.

Arrrgh!

Music at St. Stanislaus

4
I've mentioned before that I am a church musician. Every weekend, I am responsible for providing the music at two of the six English Masses at St. Stanislaus Parish in Modesto. I play guitar and sing on Saturday evenings at 5:30 PM and Sunday mornings at 11:30 AM. Music leaders at the other Masses are: Cathy at 7:00 AM, Mike at 8:30 AM, Kyle with the choir at 10:00 AM, and Jami and the band at the 5:30 PM Life Teen Mass.

Each of the five of us plans our own selections for music with little or no coordination between the Masses. This is not the way I would like things to be. There are two Masses every weekend that have the same music selections. I'll let you reread the first paragraph to figure out why. There is no Music Director at the parish to provide the umbrella of direction for us. I'm told that the pastor, Fr. Arouje, has announced that he intends to hire a Music Director, so we'll see how that goes.

Well, I just heard last night that Mike needs to take an indefinate leave of absence from leading the music at the 8:30 AM Mass. There are some people who play with Mike every week; Jodi plays piano and Joe plays guitar. But Mike's absence leaves them with no singer. So I have proposed that Cathy, Jodi, and I get together to cooperatively plan the song selections for the four Masses we cover, and I will join the 8:30 AM group to sing (and maybe play guitar as well). At the same time, I have asked Kyle to arrange some viola parts for me so that I can join the other string players at the 10:00 AM Mass. I haven't touched my viola in months so this will be good for me as well.

So the question is: How soon will I be exhausted with this schedule?

Stay tuned.

Relationships as a zero-sum game

1
I was discussing this with a new friend yesterday and she agreed that it was blog-worthy.

I have a particular way of conceptualizing my capacity for relationships. I see it as a zero-sum game. I have a finite amount of attention, energy, and interest in pursuing, improving, and maintaining relationships. If one person’s allocation of my time is to increase, that portion must come from somewhere. And if a new person is to enter my life, other relationships must be downsized in order to make room.

Here’s an illustration.

This graph shows how much of my attention is spent on the various members of the Brady family.
The numbers add up to 100%. Now, when I am forced to add another person to this pie, the numbers have to shift.


In discussing this imagery with friends, I have had some respond by saying that they don't need to reduce what they have in order to add a new person to the mix. Poppycock, I say. I do think that people have differing capacities for relationships. 100% to one person is a different quantity than 100% to another.

Well, enough about that. Thanks, Stacy.

MMORPGs

0
For the last year and a half, I’ve been into playing Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs). The first I played was City of Heroes. In CoH, you create a superhero, choosing from numerous powersets, origins, and costume designs/combinations. Then you sally forth into the game world to right all wrongs and arrest bad guys. I liked this game and played for over a year. I was part of a small group of friends that had met in-game and we always found each other to team with.

But after a time, frictions within (and the subsequent disolution of) this group as well as the limits of the game itself caused me to move on to World of Warcraft. WoW is set in a fantasy genre with dwarves, gnomes, elves, and so forth. Character creation is similar to CoH but one is far more limited in the choice of how a character looks. But WoW has more dimensions of gameplay than City of Heroes. While CoH is pretty straight forward, in WoW, there are numerous things that a player can be working on at once, e.g. questing, crafting, reputation, earning money. These are all valuable pursuits in WoW.

Some of what I don’t like about WoW is that is looks somewhat cartoonish, and the game is full of pop-culture references like an engineer named Scooty and another character named Haris Pilton. Things like this really hamper the sense of immersion that I am looking for.

A few months ago, my cousin, Danny, suggested I check out a new game, Lord of the Rings: Online. I was a bit reluctant but agreed to try it out. LOTRO is also in a fantasy genre; the land of Middle Earth created by J.R.R. Tolkien. As such, it has an incredibly rich back story and anyone familiar with the movies or better yet, the books, already has a sense of what this world is like. Game play is much like WoW, with things like crafting, combat, questing, and so forth but the world has more of a photorealistic look to it. The graphics are just beautiful.

WoW has been around for years and is highly successful. It is still fun for me. LOTRO is new. While I enjoy both games, I am enjoying LOTRO more these days.

No such thing as a dumb question? I beg to differ.

2
During the summer, MJC is closed on Fridays. To coincide with that, we employees move from a 5 days/8 hours schedule to a 4 days/10 hours. I hate it. At least I used to. I like the structure of going to work everyday and never knew what to do with myself on Fridays. Plus getting up early and coming home late left no time for anything in the evenings. I've softened my position somewhat. Now, instead of working 10 hours a day, I take 1-2 hours of vacation per day and keep a more normal schedule. I still don't know what to do on Fridays but it doesn't bother me as much as it used to.


Begin rant.

So tonight is the annual Summer Sonata fundraiser dinner for the MJC Foundation. It's at a new place this year so I'm looking forward to seeing how it goes. I attended a training Wednesday evening for all of us volunteers to hear what we're going to do and how we'll do it. It was a difficult meeting to sit through. I don't know if there was a single question that needed to be asked. It was like every question was carefully crafted so as not to increase our knowledge or understanding once we heard the answer. For example, consider this question. "Will the serving trays that we use be rectangular or round?" It doesn't matter what the answer is. Knowing the shape of the tray does not help us in the slightest. But the best question was, "What if there's an emergency situation; will someone have a phone to call 911?" I actually think the question dumbfounded the room. There will be 300 people at the event that is being held at a residence in the middle of town. Do we really need to lock down on Wednesday who will have access to a phone? I doubt there was a single person in the room that does not have a mobile phone. I just find these kind of meetings to be such a collossal waste of time.

End rant.

What I watch

0
I'm a big TiVo fan. I switched from cable to DirecTV because that satellite company had a pre-existing relationship with TiVo. Well, at the time I switched, DirecTV was implementing their own (inferior) dvr. I stuck through the contract but switched back to cable after a year and got a new dual-tuner TiVo box.

All this to say that I record everything I watch and rarely turn on live television except as background noise.

Ok. At this point in the summer, there's not much on that I watch. I am catching up on episodes of Scrubs, a show I only recently started watching. I watch Monk, Dead Zone, Psych, Eureka, and I've recorded, but haven't watched, Burn Notice.

Fall is always a tricky time for me. There are many new shows and I have to decide which, if any, of them to watch. And I got a bit burned this last Spring. A new show debuted on Fox; Drive. So I started watching and thought the show was pretty good. Then the series was cancelled after like 3 episodes. Arrgh! Why did I bother? So I've decided to record new shows that I'm interested in and only watch them if the series is going to last for at least the season.

So, more on tv in the fall when I really have to start organizing my viewing schedule.
In the meantime, I'll talk about how I spend almost all my time at home; MMORPGs.

Sean, in a nutshell

1

So let's start by sharing some things about me.

My name is Sean. I live in Modesto, CA. I work at Modesto Junior College in the Office of Instruction. I am 37 years old at the time of this posting and I think I'm starting to feel my age. I have an Associate's Degree in Music and hope to complete a BA in History before the turn of the next century.

My Roman Catholic faith is very important to me and I play guitar and sing for church every weekend and have done so (off and on) for almost 20 years.

I have a dog named Chloe who is way smarter than me. I wish I were inclined to be more active, if only for her sake.

Instead, my time is mostly spent playing on the computer and watching television. I play World of Warcraft and Lord of the Rings: Online. In a future post, I will talk about the shows I record every week.

Ciao

Why even start?

2
So I've been listening to a lot of podcasts lately and watching several video podcasts. I've really enjoyed one in particular. That's the Women of Warcraft video podcast. The host, Molly, is delightfully quirky and playful and I just love her personality. I think it's a lot like mine so of course I'm drawn to it. She's cute too.

Anyway, she has, over the course of several episodes, mentioned a few web services like Twitter and Lijit. So I signed up on both of those and it made me think that I should have a blog. Why not? I have something to say. I'm interesting, damn it!

So here I go.

But, reality check. Let's be honest. I'm not much into writing and my interest and enthusiasm for things tends to wane over time. So who knows how often or how long I will try to do this.

But today, I'm into it.

What will be incredibly compelling and endlessly facinating is if someone actually reads what I post. If you are reading this, for the love of God, let me know. A simple, "Read your blog" email will floor me.


*Next time: A bit about who I am.