Friday, September 30, 2011

Islam, Judaism - Tolerance Could Lead to Democracy, Peace

Arab Spring Women Continue Struggle for Equality

Arab Spring Women Continue Struggle for Equality
This is a story I helped a friend and colleague Frances Alonzo write.  She did most of the work, but I edited her web copy and did the interview.  She set up the guests and did the research, which I used to do the interview.  

Now that's good television

BBC Promo photo for The Hour starring Dominc West, Ben Whishaw
and Romola Garai in a 1950s-based drama.
I've discovered the BBC America series The Hour.

It's kind of a spy thriller, journalism, spooky pre-Mad Men. 

 It really looks good and so far I have watched four episodes.  Lots of smoking and drinking and sex, but very well written.  And the look is just right.  They got it on this one.

But the Beeb always does get it right.  They pounce all over stuff with abandon. It's like a book you can't put down.

Speaking of books, I have been reading Mr. Murder by Dean Koontz.  It's really good. I enjoy thrillers like that one.  My wife is reading another one of his novels.  We both read a couple of John Grisham novels recently as well.  Usually she reads them first and then I read them and we talk about our impressions of the books.

Been doing a lot of video work at work so far.  Boss man seems to like it.  But I still love being on the radio. The magic of radio still has a hook in me, and I think it always will. 

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Fiscal restraint?

We spent the better part of an hour this morning learning about some new equipment I will probably never use.

Apparently the powers that be deemed it necessary to spend more than $3,000 on a bunch of toys for the iPhone - and on a new iPhone - so we could do that to do "new media."

What a crock.

The first indication that this thing was not as user friendly as the purple Kool-Aid folks would like us to believe was that the dude demonstrating it couldn't get the iphone to fit into the mount.  Then the bracket he brought out to say "this is what you could mount a tripod on" didn't fit the bracket that was supposed to support the iPhone. And there are special cords - tiny, easily broken, cords - that you have to use to plug a microphone into the iPhone to record sound and to be able to hear the recording.   

And the bracket has a wide angle lens in it so that it can give your iPhone more reach.  Great.  Why not spend the money on a REAL camera? Of course, you can't tweet or twat or twiddle with a camera.  You can only take professional looking video. 

The emperor asked me if I was going to use this thing for my reports.  The answer was simple, and to the point:  "No."

And they wonder about fraud, waste, and abuse.  This thing is so complicated to use that you have to have a PhD from MIT to understand it.  And even then you would miss the thing you took it out for - covering the news. 

Why they bought this crap, I don't know.  They didn't ask those of us who might have to actually use the thing before they poured the taxpayers' dollars into it.  They just bought it and now they want us to risk losing a story because we didn't get step 156 of 237 right and the video didn't record.

Sorry, but no thanks.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

The Food of love

Ronnie Malley and George Lawler
I had a rare opportunity last week to attend a seminar on Music in the Middle East at Georgetown University in Washington, DC.

The seminar was sponsored by the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies (CCAS) at Georgetown and featured the Chicago-based band Lamajamal.

The band is made up of five players including Ronnie Malley on Oud, George Lawlor on percussion, Gary Kalar on guitar and chumbus (a Turkish instrument that looked a little like a canteen with a neck) Eve Monzingo on wind instruments (clarinet and sax) and Joey Spilberg on bass.

The seminar focused on three different styles of music - Middle Eastern and North African, primarily Arabic, Jewish music (Klezmer mostly) and Turkish music.  Ronnie and the other members explained some of the differences - and many of the similarities - of the three types of music.  Afterward, we had a chance to chat, and Ronnie Malley told me that music has often been used for political means in the Middle East - to the point that authorities hired musicians and songwriters to write songs so that people would follow them.

But the most poignant thing he said was "If I am holding the arm of an instrument, as an arm, I can play a chord to someone standing across from me, and expect a response from them, there's a communication. If I am holding a gun, the only way to properly operate that gun is to shoot the other person."

I thought that was pretty cool. 

Gary Kalar and I talked about the need for arts education in schools, particularly music.  He made the point that in the world of standardized tests, art is not something you can measure - like math scores - so there's no way for politicians and school officials to know if a class is a success or if a teacher is a success.

It reminded me of something I head Victor Wooten say one time in a bass clinic when asked about music in schools and budget cuts eliminating arts programs.  He said school boards are elected by the people of the country "and they will only do what you allow them to.  If you allow them to cut arts and music out of schools, they will.  But you have the power to change that."

I hope to interview Daniel Levitin of McGill University and the author of This is Your Brain on Music and The World in Six Songs next week.  He has had a lot to say about the role music plays in society and in our lives.  I'm looking forward to it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Now That's a Story!

I read this story today as part of my research into the situation in Syria.

This girl is brave, but her father sounds like a real tough dude, someone who will look people in the face and say "not on my watch." Check it out.  I found it inspiring.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Metro Madness

I don't understand why this happened today, but I rode the Metro to work, but at Ballston station, they made all the passengers get off the train and stand on the platform. The only problem was the platform was full of people waiting to board the train.  Not like the platform in this photo; imagine the entire area of the station crammed with soaking wet, harried, hurried commuters late for work because the trains were slow.  Then you might have some idea. 

The Orange and Blue lines were single tracking between Farragut West and Smithsonian for track repairs.  That made every other train on those two lines late.  Which meant the train from Vienna, did not leave on time which made people's attitudes get tense, which made them want to cram into the trains as quickly as possible.

One lady in front of me had a broken foot and had just sat down when the operator said "all passengers must leave this train, all passengers must leave this train." I can understand if there was a bomb or something.  But this was just so they could move the train out of the station because they were behind time - at least that's what Metro does most of the time when they empty a train. 

So I got off the train and caught a bus, which took me on a scenic drive through downtown Arlington before reaching the Crystal City Metro station, where I caught the yellow line to work.  Time I left my home: 7:05 am.  Time I got to work: 10:30! Ridiculous.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Moon shot 2

Another shot of the "Super Moon." This one was taken early in the evening when the moon was lower.

Moon shot

Shot this photo of the "Super Moon" tonight in Manassas, Virginia.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Back on the blog

It's been almost a year since I posted anything here.  That's way too long. I got some bad news this week - I am getting old.

The evidence of this was brought to me by swelling and pain in my left knee.  It's not torn cartilage like I thought; the doc said it was osteoarthritis.


But it wasn't all bad.  I did go to physical therapy and it helped.  But this pain in my leg promises to be my companion for a while.  The doctor said long term I am looking at joint replacement.  But I hope the term is a long time from now.


Hey did you see that the moon is supposed to look 16% bigger and 30% brighter on Saturday night?  Have to break out the camera and see if I can actually capture a decent image of the Super Moon.  Look for it here if I succeed.


Not really happy with the new editor on blogger.  It keeps thinking for me, and I just want it to make the next line appear.  Eek.  And for some reason it doesn't seem to realize that hitting the enter key means that I want to go to another paragraph. C'mon blogger or it might be another year before I come back.