Friday, November 30, 2007

Adderall

So after three appointments with the psychologist and a visit to the psychiatrist it was determined that I have adult ADD. Yeah, I know, everybody seems to have ADD these days, but in my case I think I could benefit from treatment. I had problems with concentration and finishing tasks in college and graduate school, but I learned to compensate by breaking things like papers into very small pieces so that they weren't overwhelming. This semester I felt the same challenges immediately with the start of the term, and figured it couldn't hurt to look into some kind of assessment. I was just tired of dealing with it, and the idea of struggling through a dissertation this way seemed unbearable. So tomorrow I start taking Vyvanse, a time-release version of Adderall, which is used to treat ADD. I hope it works, but if it doesn't we'll try something else. I'm just glad that there are options.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

18 days

Fall 2007 has been one of my top 5 most challenging semesters of college for sure. There were several contributing factors, including my dad's health (he's still in critical condition), a new teaching position, and adjusting to the transition to being a student again. I received dismal grades at the start of the term in both of my classes, but I've busted my butt to get back on track. I got a tutor for statistics, and just today I received a decent grade on the second paper for my other class (A-). I won't get a 4.0 for the term, but that's how it goes. There's always next semester. I definitely do not want to sound like I'm complaining, since I still believe that this is the path I want to follow for my career. And, I've got my health, which is huge. I am grateful for every day that doesn't include nasty symptoms of Crohn's. I have learned that remission is a blessing not to be taken for granted.

So there's 18 days remaining in the semester. I've got two lab assignments and a final exam due in statistics, and a final analysis paper and exam due for my other class. It's a lot of work to complete in the next two weeks, but I will do my best.

My new mantra:
I can do it.
I can do it.
Do it, Do it.
I can, I can.
Om.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Adventures in Modern Record Collecting

As I've mentioned numerous times in this fancy blog, these are exciting times for vinyl enthusiasts such as myself. As 2007 draws to a close, it certainly appears that more and more new music releases are being made available on vinyl. Tonight, after several months of delays, I received the new McCartney LP, Memory Almost Full, and it was totally worth the wait. The record sounds fantastic, and the artwork is mighty handsome. A couple of days ago I learned that one of my favorite groups of the past two years, The Free Design, released a new full-length LP in '06 called Cosmic Peekaboo. It was released on CD back in 2001, but someone obviously decided that there was a market for the album on vinyl. It will probably be my last new LP purchase of the year.

I'll be sure to post my fancy "best of" for the year in the coming weeks. As always, I'm curious what you guys have been listening to this past year, so start compiling those top ten lists!

Sunday ramble

Can't sleep. Leo talked me into going to bed at 7:00, which I did, only to wake up at 9:45. I ate half a bag of Lay's Dill Pickle potato chips, which hit the spot. MSG and sodium are a magical combination.

The last two days were the first in the past week that I've not been to the hospital. Dad is on a respirator, so they are keeping him sedated. All of his body functions and vital signs are good, except for his lungs, which are in pretty awful shape. Instead of visiting the hospital this weekend we've been spending time with mom. It's been a very sad and frustrating week to say the least. I had so much schoolwork to catch up on over the weekend and ended up doing very little of it. My professors have been understanding of my situation, which helps. I also have student papers to grade but little energy or ambition to get started on them. Ugh.

So I'm on the couch with my laptop and my bunny Austin decided to hop right on top of my keyboard. He spent a minute or so on the back of the couch before moving on to his next venture. Now he's just torn through the living room with lightening speed. Totally hilarious.

That's all for now. Hope you all have a great week. Thanks for reading.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

On my turntable: Various Artists - Christmas America

Let the Christmas festivities begin.

I found this record today at the thrift store for 80 cents, sealed. It was made in 1973 by Capitol records and distributed by Firestone. How many friggin' Christmas LPs did Firestone make, anyway? Maybe they should have focused a little less on making records and channeled their energies into, oh I dunno, tires. Just a thought.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving 2007

Thanksgiving was very nice, albeit a little wierd with dad in the hospital. The family (sans dad) had a fantastic dinner at Emma's parents' house, and then we all went to the hospital to visit dad. I think there were too many of us in his room at one time, because he started feeling overwhelmed and anxious. So all of us except mom vacated the room, and he eventually went to sleep. It was nice to see him, and I think he appreciated having us there, but there was still a feeling of sadness about the circumstances.

So it's Thanksgiving, and I've got some thanks to give. Despite all the ups and downs of the past year, I'm thankful for so much. I hope that all of you reading, those I know or may not know personally, had a wonderful holiday. Thanks for sharing this little slice of the web with me.

Gobble gobble.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

On my turntable: Led Zeppelin - In Through The Out Door

First of all, allow me to stress that I am not, repeat not, a Led Zep fan. I've never quite understood why this band is worshipped the way they are, and I definitely do not think Jimmy Page is a god. I don't get it. They're a good band, sure, but come on. Having said that, I do think that John Paul Jones is a talented arranger, and Bonham was a powerful drummer. OK - I've established some basics.

So why did I ever buy this album? I'm not sure. It was 1979 and practically every song on In Through The Out Door (1979) was in heavy rotation on KQRS, the local album rock station. After buying the album I listened to it for a few months before abandoning, and eventually selling it, to one of the local shops. Tonight at the record store I ran across a copy of the album in its original brown bag wrapper and said "ah, what the heck". So I'm listening to this album now for the first time in over 25 years and it's pleasant. I like everything I hear, although side 2's ten minute opener ("Carouselambra") is probably unnecessary. There are definite highlights though, like "In the Evening", "South Bound Saurez", "Fool In The Rain" -- OK all of side 1.

Let's see if it takes another 25 years for me to listen to it again.

I Did It For The Herd

Got my flu shot (and this sticker) today:

Sunday, November 18, 2007

On my turntable: The Osmonds - Homemade

Homemade (1971) was the Osmonds' second full-length on MGM. Following the massive success of "One Bad Apple" Homemade stays pretty close to the formula, at least on Side one, which includes mostly tracks for the 16 magazine kids (with the exception of the gorgeous folky "Chilly Winds"). One of the highlights is "Carrie", written by Wayne and Merrill, a song that would be sampled by Queen Latifah 20 years later on "Mama Gave Birth To The Soul Children".

Side two is a bit of a departure, venturing into folk and country styles that beautifully put the Osmonds' family harmonies front and center. The songs are nicely produced and cohesive. The group's next album, Phase III (1972), would focus more on heavier brass-accentuated rock that would become their signature on the next two fantastic albums, Crazy Horses (1972) and The Plan (1973).

Video:
"Double Lovin' (live)"

Dad

The last 26 hours have been crazy. Last night Leo and I got a call saying my dad was being taken to the emergency room with some sharp stomach pains. They took some x-rays and found that he had a rupture in his colon that was draining into his gut. It was very serious and he needed surgery immediately to remove part of his colon and give him a colostomy bag. His lung disease added a batch of complications, since he would need to be put on a respirator. The doctors said there was a good chance that he would have a hard time breathing on his own again after the surgery. They told us to expect a number of days, maybe even a week at least, before he starts to breathe on his own. They were very upfront, saying that he could die from the surgery, but without the surgery he would definitely die. It was awful.

They started prepping him for surgery at 4:30 am, and by 5:30 we were in the family waiting room. Two hours later the surgeons came in to say that the surgery went well and that he was moved to the ICU. We all went home to sleep. Around 3:00 we got a call from mom saying that dad was doing really well, that he was already up and talking and breathing on his own. That's my dad. We know that he's far from out of the woods, as he is still in danger of infection on account of all the steroids he's been on for his lungs. The next few days will be crucial. Still, dad has already amazed us with his recovery, and we're praying that he continues to do well. He's got amazing spirit.

If you believe in prayer, please say a little something for my pops. Thanks to everyone, as always, for your support. I'm going to sleep now.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Laundry Day

On my turntable: The Hardline According to Terence Trent d'Arby

Those of you who were paying attention in the 80's will remember how huge Terence Trent d'Arby was for a couple of years. He garnered so much attention with Hardline (1987) that people were comparing him to Prince & Michael Jackson, calling him a genius. I do think that he proved himself to be a bit of a musical genius, not quite on par with Prince but far more multi-faceted and talented than Jackson (in my opinion).

Because of all the hype I was a little late to jump on the Terence bandwagon. I held out as long as I could, but after hearing most of the album on the radio and MTV I broke down and bought the CD. I managed to see him perform at First Avenue when he was touring for Vibrator (1995), although I oddly don't remember much about the show. In 2003 Terence released the CD Wildcard under the name Sananda Maitreya, and just last month he announced the release of a new double CD called Angels & Vampires.

Sananda's Monasteryo (official)

On my turntable: The Grapes of Wrath - Now and Again

It definitely feels like November today in Minneapolis. I was looking at my records trying to find an album that felt like early winter, and this was the first one that jumped out. Now and Again (1989) reminds me of early snow, gray weather, living on Polk St. in NE Minneapolis, and being a student at the U of M. It's one of my favorite albums from the late 80's, a time when there seemed to be a new band every week that was releasing a great album (probably just my memory condensing time). I saw Grapes of Wrath at 7th St. Entry when they were touring to support this album. Their follow-up album, These Days (1991), didn't seem to have the same spark, even though it was produced by the awesome John Leckie.

Friday, November 16, 2007

On my turntable: Vince Guaraldi - Oh Good Grief!

I became aware of Vince Guaraldi through the music he created for A Charlie Brown Christmas, which is without question one of my top five Christmas LPs (and Christmas TV specials). Oh Good Grief! (1968) is a collection of songs taken from various Charlie Brown specials. The tracks are re-recordings by Guaraldi and his trio, but that doesn't make them any less awesome. The highlight for me, as I type this, is "Great Pumpkin Waltz", which just makes me want to run down the sidewalk while rolling a giant pumpkin.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Business card of the week: Buddy's Pizza

Leo and I found this little hole-in-the-wall pizza joint a few summers ago when we were in Chicago for a family reunion. We drove past it on the way to our hotel and said "Let's eat there tonight", because everybody knows that the tiniest pizza joints make the best pizza. Turns out Buddy's is so small that most people just get take-out, which is what we did. The pizza was excellent, hence why I felt the need to keep this card in my wallet.

Having a Party? Call Buddy's!

Countdown to Tofurky Day

Only seven days to Thanksgiving. My Thanksgiving traditions include watching the Macy's parade with Leo (he loves that friggin parade), spending time with my awesome family, and enjoying a kickass dinner that includes a delicious Tofurky roast. Snicker if you will, but the roast is Tofurkylicious.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

SHONEN KNIFE

Who: Shonen Knife
Where: Triple Rock Social Club
When: 12/1/2007

I am there.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Those swearing Catholics

As someone who became Catholic somewhat recently ('06), I find this high-larious:

On my turntable: Redd Kross - Phaseshifter

Ladies & Gentlemen I present to you the greatest power-pop record of all time. It has been way too long since I've listened to this album with the speakers blaring. Phaseshifter (1993) really did raise the bar for power-pop in the 90's. The album is dirty and noisy but sharp and tight. Listening to it 14 years after its release I hear the influence of grunge more than I did before -- it's full of the melody and hooks of Nevermind but without the dark undertones. Keep in mind that Redd Kross was raised on the sunshine pop and rock of the 70's, and on Phaseshifter they proudly mixed the Bradys and KISS like nobody had before. Mercy me I love this album.

Monday, November 12, 2007

sICK

OK, am I the first genius to realize that the bulk of the word "sick" is "ICK"? Yeah I'm smart like that.

So today is a sick day. It's the first full-on sick day that I've taken in a while, so I didn't feel so guilty taking it. I started feeling feverish yesterday afternoon, and I'm experiencing what might be a new crohn's fistula, which always compels me to slow down. I contacted my students, cancelled class, and made an appointment with the couch. Our bunny Austin loves days like this because it means he can nap all afternoon next to the couch. I must say I love waking up from a nap and looking over to see Austin zonked out next to me -- he's just so damn adorable.

It's hard to believe there's only a month left in the semester. It's definitely been one of those life-defining terms for me. There have been several unexpected challenges thrown my way, academically and otherwise, that have forced me to find balance and perspective. I know it will all be worth it in the long run (if it doesn't kill me). I try to remind myself that I'm hardly the first person to work on a Ph.D. If they can do it, so can I. Eye on the prize, as they say.

So tonight I've got dishes and laundry, my next Statistics lab assignment, and Dancing with the Stars. I'm hoping that tomorrow I can wake up and seize the day with a smile.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Business card of the week: United Noodles

Leo and I love this place. Pretty much anything you need to make an Asian dish you can get at United Noodles. We go there maybe bi-monthly to stock up on things like rice noodles, seaweed (for sushi rolls), sushi rice, mock duck, and the cheapest tofu in town.

On my turntable: The Muffs - Blonder and Blonder

The first time I heard Blonder and Blonder (1995) was in a hotel room in Duluth, MN. I was in Duluth to help plan a regional conference and stopped at Best Buy to pick up some new CDs. I didn't know much about the Muffs at the time, but I knew they had a Redd Kross connection, and I thought the cover art was cool. I listened to the CD several times that weekend, and I remember being totally smitten with the songwriting. The song structure is very Beatles '65. The other striking element was the power with which the band played. It was like I was listening to the best possible comeback album by The Knack, except they had a new chick singer/guitar player who had an awesome scream. A couple of years later I found the LP on beautiful bright red vinyl and gave the CD to my brother, who is now a mega-fan as well.

The Muffs have yet to top Blonder and Blonder, although 2004's Really Really Happy comes very very close. I was lucky to see The Muffs play at the 7th St. Entry several years ago. If you have a chance to see these guys perform please go see them. I said please.

The Muffs Official Website

Thursday, November 08, 2007

On my turntable: Donna Summer - On The Radio

First, I feel the need to say that I've not heard every disco album ever made. Now that I've said that, allow me to say that this is the best disco album ever made. Listening to this record right now is making my toes all tingly, which is a good feeling unless you're elderly and you have some type of foot disease.

I first bought On the Radio (1979) back when it was released, when my turntable was a record changer that was part of a Panasonic compact stereo unit. It was a good stereo for me as a young preteen. Anyway, imagine my excitement when tonight I found an unopened copy of On the Radio looking all pretty at one of my local record shops. For real, it sounds so superduper nice. The strings are all bright and smooth as glass, and the bass is totally booming. The drums and brass sound all crisp and kickass. Did I mention that this is the best disco LP ever made?

links:
On The Radio - Wikipedia entry
My previous entry about this album (8/12/06)

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Salt 'N Pepa on Tyra

OK, so my latest guilty pleasure is the Salt 'N Pepa show on VH1. I love it. The show seems a bit staged at times, but it's still sweet and funny to watch. You know I like my celebreality. Anyway, check out this clip of a reunited Salt, Pepa, and Spinderella doing "Shoop" on the Tyra Banks show a couple of weeks ago:

George Osmond

I feel sad today after learning that "Father Osmond" has died. He was 90, and they are saying the cause of death was simply old age. Donny and Marie did a touching interview for Entertainment Tonight. My thoughts go out to the family.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

11/4

It has been a refreshingly productive weekend, following a pretty lame & hectic week. I received quite a few calls and emails from people asking about my dad and how the family is doing -- thanks to everyone for your concern. Dad is home from the hospital and I think that things are better for the moment. Fingers crossed.

So early this morning I got up to make Leo some fresh hash-d-browns before he had to leave for work (that ten pound bag of taters on the kitchen counter ain't gonna eat itself). After half a pot of coffee I was ready to get stuff done. I worked on a paper that is due tomorrow, did some light housework, listened to records, cleaned Austin's house (cage), and took a killer mid-afternoon nap. That's a great day right there.

Breathe in, breathe out.

Om.

11:04 am

The Thrills - "Nothing Changes Around Here"

Gopher Tic Tacs

So I was munching on some Tic Tacs yesterday (because face it - they're candy, not "mints") and Leo asked if I bought the Cherry Passion Tic Tacs because they're maroon & gold and because it's Homecoming weekend. Although I knew it was Homecoming it hadn't occured to me that the delicious Tic Tacs were school colors. Maybe if the football team had enjoyed some of these spirit mints before yesterday's game they wouldn't have gotten trampled so badly (44-17). You heard me.

Oh well. Go Gophers!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

On my turntable: Never Mind the Bollocks Here's The Sex Pistols

Back in the late 70's when I was a pre-teen I borrowed this record from the local public library. I wasn't too impressed. Perhaps all the buzz about the Sex Pistols at the time had given me high expectations that couldn't be met. Who knows.

Fast forward to 1990. I was working at a music store and decided I needed to give this record another chance, so I used my employee discount to pick up the CD. This time around the music made more sense, and I liked it a lot more. I remember one of the store's managers commenting on the Sex Pistols, saying that they were just as manufactured as The Monkees, and that they wouldn't have existed without Malcolm McLaren. Hmmm, I thought.

So now I've come full circle with this record, since earlier today I found a nice vinyl copy that is now spinning on my turntable. I can see why Never Mind the Bollocks (1977) has stood the test of time -- it's a good record, just like the first Monkees LP.

Estelle is Ecstatic

This one is for Jan. We cackled watching this. Cackled. Watching it now it's not as funny as I remembered; it's almost funnier to think of how funny we thought it was, if that makes sense.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Words of wisdom

I just saw this posted on someone's blog and it resonated with me:


Handle every situation
like a dog.

If you can't eat it or hump it,
Piss on it and walk away.


(pictured: Emma)

11/1

Life definitely feels like a fast moving train at the moment. Dad's in the hospital again after a trip to the ER this morning. I just feel so bad for him. I want him to be comfortable and happy. Emphysema is a bitch. I'm trying to find silver linings where I can, and I do believe it is a blessing that we're all here to show dad that we love him, and to offer each other support.

We stayed with Dad in the ER until they moved him to a room. It's good to know that he's got professionals watching him. So I cancelled my morning class (I'm sure my students were pleased) and let my stats professor know why I needed to miss his class this afternoon. Leo and I came home and slept for a couple of hours.

Today's lesson? Life is change, and I can't change that. Accept the things I cannot change. Find the courage to change the things I can. Etc., etc..