Archive for the rambling Category

California Trip

Posted in baseball, library stuff, rambling on 3 July 08 by mikevc

I spent the most of the last week in Anaheim, CA for the big annual library conference. The conference was a lot of fun. I attended some excellent sessions and made some important contacts with colleagues and vendors. My favorite program was one featuring Dan Ariely, the author of Predictably Irrational, a fascinating book that looks at why people make seemingly irrational choices over and over again.

In addition to the conference I did manage to get in some side activities. I did not go to Disneyland but did make it to Downtown Disney, where I bought some Pirates of the Caribbean stuff for Tobe and Jonah. That was enough Disney for me. My brief Disney experience did convince me that the boys would love the whole thing and am finally thinking–against my better judgment–that we will plan a trip to either Disneyworld or -land in the next couple of years.

Most importantly, I was able to add two more MLB stadiums to my list as I work to attend a game in all the stadiums. On Friday night, I drove into LA to watch the Dodgers. It took me 2.5 hours to go roughly 30 minutes. I was very impressed with the stadium; Chavez Ravine is the perfect place for a stadium. I also realized it was the oldest stadium I had ever been to a game in. It was cool to think of all the players who had played there. I was less impressed with the experience. It might have been that the Dodgers were playing the Angels but it was a decidedly different experience for me from any game I have attended in the past. There must have been 30 or 40 fights throughout the course of the game. There was either a guard or LAPD in practically every section and I must have seen at least 50 people escorted from the game. The majority of the audience seemed to have no interest in the game. They were more interested in hitting beach balls in the air (and at each other) and screaming obscenities at anyone wearing Angels gear. They seemed oblivious to the fact that an actual game–featuring the team they were ostensibly cheering for–was taking place in front of them. And, all this, while the Dodgers played a great game and were in control from the beginning. I was sitting by three groups, all of whom left the game early for fear of their own safety.

The game I went to at Angels Stadium was a completely different experience. It is clear the franchise works hard to make games a family event, which is not how I would describe an outing to a Dodgers game. They have family values in their shops where folks can purchase hats for $7 and t-shirts for $10, which are unheard of prices in my experience-even for souvenirs from a minor league game. On top of this, there are family sections where no one can drink alcohol. Also, the exact same hot dog I paid $6 for at Dodgers Stadium was only $3 at Angels Stadium. The Angels were playing the Athletics, which though not geographically as proximate as the Angels-Dodgers rivalry should be even more heated when you consider the Angels and As are currently fighting for the top spot in the AL West. There were a few minor jeers at the many folks in green and yellow but nothing that seemed as dangerous or truly hate-filled as what I saw in LA. The game itself was not particularly spectacular but–as with all games–enjoyable nonetheless as the Angels fell to the A’s with a score of 1-6.

Overall, my trip to CA was a lot of fun but I really missed my family. I could never have a job that involved constant travel. I am glad to be home and out of the land of the palm tree and Carl’s, Jr.

Latest Dilemma

Posted in library stuff, music, rambling on 24 May 08 by mikevc

So, here is my dilemma. Next weekend is the event that I have spent the last year and a half working toward as Chief of Central Services: the reopening of the Central Library in Houston. It is going to be a big deal and a lot of fun. There will be authors, music, food, puppets, dancing, games (video and other), books, and fun (again). I would encourage folks to attend.

It just so happens that the night before the celebration, the Old 97’s are coming to town. I have been a fan of them as long as I have known my wife (I know this is odd and seemingly random but I remember first discovering them the day before our first date (November 1997)). It was the 97’s who turned me on to Bloodshot Records and the whole alt-country thing of the late 90s, which opened a whole world of music I did not know existed at the time. In the past ten years or so, they have come to town numerous times but something has always prevented me from attending.   In most cases, I was out of town when they were here.  They are rumoured to be a great live band. I will grant that their latest release is good but not as great (to my ears) as their early stuff and they have strayed a bit from the country twang that was so endearing in their earliest releases (AND some members moved from Texas to Los Angeles (Booo!!)) but they remain a solid band and I still would like to catch their show.

Now, knowing that next weekend is realistically the biggest moment in my career (also 10 years), should I attend a show the night before? Part of me says I should since I will be so nervous I will be unable to sleep anyway and a great show will calm my nerves and take my mind off of the big event. Another (more sensible?) part says I shouldn’t because I will be exhausted and I need to be able to be in a great mood as I welcome thousands to the library.

So, what should I do?

It occurs to me that things must be going fairly well life-wise if this is the most serious problem I am facing.

PLA, Minneapolis, and Back

Posted in baseball, rambling, Uncategorized on 7 April 08 by mikevc

I have not posted in quite a while. I am not sure why. I was in Minneapolis at the Public Library Association annual conference for much of the time. It was fun as conferences usually are. I was a little disappointed in the sessions I opted to attend and just didn’t seem to have enough time hanging out in the exhibit hall. Much of this had to do with the hotel I was staying in. It was in the middle of nowhere, which meant severely limited mobility. Although it did have a shuttle to the conference, it was far from dependable. I think I spent more time waiting for that damn bus than I did at the conference. Not only that but I couldn;’t really explore the city like I usually do at conferences since I either had to return to the hotel on the shuttle’s early schedule or pay for numerous costly cab rides. And, once at the hotel, the only places within walking distance were a Wendy’s and a gas station. This is the last time I try to save cash on a hotel during a conference by using Priceline.

I did get to experience some serious snow, the like of which I haven’t seen in fifteen years or so. I stuck around a few days after the conference for the express purpose of crossing another stadium off of my life’s goal to see a game in every team’s stadium. It was very strange for me to be attending a baseball game in the midst of a snowstorm. The game was fine since it was in the Metrodome, which has to rate as the worst stadium for baseball I have ever been in. Luckily, the Twins are only two seasons away from a new stadium. I did enjoy the game and the excitement of Opening Day.
I also took in a Timberwolves game at the Target Center. I don’t know why it is but I just can’t get excited about basketball like I used to be able to when in my teens and twenties. I was bored out of my mind and found myself pulling out the silly but portable (I miss the pocket paperback) James Patterson paperback–one of several free books I nabbed at PLA (one of the best aspects of library conferences)–I had shoved in my pocket when leaving the hotel and needing something to pass the time while waiting for busses, cabs, and trains. I seriously debated leaving before the game was over. Oh well, as I said, the excitement of Opening Day the next night did make me quite happy.

The truth is the trip was too long at a week. I know it sounds corny but I really missed my family; I missed the boys coming in to wake me up; I missed having my wife to talk to; I also–surprisingly–missed strumming my ukulele, which has become the best and most soothing way of unwinding from the day I have found.

So, having said all that, I am more than happy to be back home to my job, family, and uke.

Egg Roll Nostalgia

Posted in food, nostalgia, rambling on 20 March 08 by mikevc

Today, out of nowhere at all, I suddenly got this unbelievable urge for egg rolls.  Not just any egg rolls, mind you.  But, the vegetarian egg rolls and sauce that used to be sold by a vendor on the Drag in Austin.  There was a cart set up in front of the Co-Op (before it moved down the Drag, or it might have been something else), right next to the pedestrian crossing to the Texas Union, and every time I was down there in the late ’80s and very early ’90s, we would grab two egg rolls for lunch.  They were huge, flaky, greasy, and delicious.  I have never had their equal.  Unfortunately, the stands (were there two?) were gone by the time I started at UT in ’93.  So, that means I probably haven’t had one–or even thought about them–in somewhere between 16 and 18 years.

Why the sudden urge?  Who knows?  But, damn, those were good egg rolls.

Hey, It Works for Movies. Why not books?

Posted in books, rambling on 17 March 08 by mikevc

I had read articles a while back about trailers and commercials for books. My thought at the time was that it was a great idea. I had seen a commercial or two but they were brief and for popular authors like James Patterson. I think a well done commercial could really inspire interest in both readers and non-readers. So, all of this because a friend I haven’t heard from in a long time (a fellow librarian and literary fiction fanatic from way back) sent me the following trailer for Peter Carey’s new book, an author we went to see read together when we were at UT.

A few questions: Does this trailer pique your interest in Carey’s new book? Would a video teaser (shown on TV, at the movies, or via e-mail/facebook/etc.) for a book inspire you to read it? Does anyone know of any other trailers for quality books–nonfiction and/or fiction?

BTW, here are some of the articles I remember reading:

Seeking Readers via ‘Book Trailer”. San Francisco Chronicle. 9/18/2006.
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2006/09/18/BUG7FL4TTE1.DTL

Seen Any Good Books Lately. Newsweek. 5/22/2006
http://www.newsweek.com/id/47714

There were a bunch others from roughly the same period (mostly in library journals or blogs I think). Anyway, I find the idea fascinating.

One More Reason to Vote for Obama

Posted in politics, rambling on 2 March 08 by mikevc

This pathetic fear-mongering campaign ad is as disgusting as the one the House Republicans did a few weeks back on the Protect America Act. I hardly need to point out the irony of the candidate who voted against the Iraq War is being attacked by the candidate who voted to allow Bush to lead us into the quagmire in Iraq and all the results of that decision.

While not as laughable and embarrassing as the silly “change you can Xerox comment” (btw, I was never so proud of my alma mater as when the entire crowd at UT booed her on this comment) or the recent release of the picture of Obama in African garb released to The Drudge Report by the Clinton campaign (allegedly–but alleged by Matt Drudge), this disgusting ad is further indication that the Clinton team is getting desperate. The fact is that all their plans were based on having the nomination secured after Super Tuesday. The campaign has been flailing since February 5th did not go as planned.

From Fleas to Buffalos

Posted in music, rambling, web tools, weirdness on 14 February 08 by mikevc

For those who are not familiar with Last.fm, it is a really cool social networking music site where friends can see what people are listening to and make recommendation to them, get info about bands, etc. Anyway, I love to think I have individualistic andred_logo.jpg unpredictable taste in music. However, a while back, a user on last.fm friended me because he had seen that I was listening to Cactus World News. Whenever I log on to last.fm, it lists what my friends have listened to most recently. It is uncanny how many times what this guy has listened to mirrors what I have listened to (usually away from the computer so there is clearly no case of copying). As an example:

I wrote a while ago about my growing ukulele obsession. In that post I mentioned the Flea ukulele. This lead me to go to Dane Zane’s, the former singer of the Del Fuegos and current children’s singer, Web site to find out about his limited edition DZ Flea Ukuleles. As I was there, I was reminded of his role in the Del Fuegos. I then went to iTunes to listen to someonlye.jpg old Del Fuegos while reading an entry on them in Wikipedia. There I saw a mention of the Juliana Hatfield Three and their song “My Sister” which mentions the Del Fuegos. This lead me back to iTunes and Amazon to listen to some old Juliana Hatfield and Blake Babies songs. I listened to the 30 second bits from several albums and was reminded in particular of how much I likes Only Everything and wished I could hear the whole thing. This thought letme.jpgbrought me to another Boston band that I listened to heavily in the early 90s, Buffalo Tom. So, I went in to iTunes and listened to the snippets of tracks from several albums but mostly from Let Me Come Over and Big Red Letter Day. I began to regret that I no longer had these songs to listen to. A few minutes later, I go to last.fm and discover that my friend has not only been listening to Buffalo Tom, but the exact two albums I was just pining for. It struck me as a weird coincidence that this guy is listening to the exact albums (both over ten years old) that I am suddenly feeling nostalgic for–as a result of a convoluted process–for the first time in years.

So, I post this for no real purpose other than to note I am not as unique as I like to think…as if Amazon.com’s “other people who bought x also bought…” feature hadn’t taught me that years ago.

Hundreds of Fancy Pigeon Breeds!?!? I Had No Idea

Posted in birds, books, rambling on 4 February 08 by mikevc

I am reading a quite entertaining and informative book: Pigeons: The Fascinating Saga of the World’s Most Revered and Reviled Bird. After finishing a chapter on the Grand Nationals, which is a competition for breedersbf03.jpg of fancy pigeons, I had to go online to see pictures of some of the bizarre breeds mentioned. I stumbled on a Wikipedia article (you gotta love good ol’ Wikipedia) on fancy breeds and find myself stunned by the number of breeds that exist and the lengths folks will go to in creating these unique breeds. The title of the chapter–“Drs. Frankenstein”–is quite apt. Ioriental-frill.jpg include here photos of two breeds: Jacobin (the aristocrats of the pigeon world apparently; I looked at numerous photos and can’t find the birds freaking heads in all of those reverse feathers) and the Oriental Frill, who has been bread to have such a small bill that the breeders have to assist them in breaking their eggs at birth and eating. Truly bizarre (and seemingly cruel). And these are only the tip of the iceberg.

Why I Love the Superbowl

Posted in baseball, rambling on 3 February 08 by mikevc
  1. Football season–and conversations about, radio/TV/Internet coverage of, etc. football–is over
  2. Quick access to a table at non-TV equipped restaurants
  3. Three words (sort of): Bucket o’ McNuggets (although I am forbidden from ever purchasing this delicacy)
  4. And most important: MLB season is only two months away

Blog Leave

Posted in rambling, video games on 17 January 08 by mikevc

It was pointed out to me by a friend that I have not written anything on this here blog in several weeks.  I was asked if anything was wrong.  I wish I could say I had been busy with some monumentally important task that has occupied my time and prevented me from writing.  The truth of the matter is that my last post is from the 28th of December, which was when my mom, sister, and little baby nephew came to visit.  The thing is my mom brought with her a Wii for Jonah, Tobe, and I.  Thus, the lack of blogging.

In particular, she gave Jonah Super Mario Galaxy for his birthday and we have been working our way through it. We are in the final galaxy; only two more stars and we think we will find Princess Peach.