Sunday, November 30, 2008

Rocky Mountain Way...

I'm heading to Denver this week to meet up with colleagues for the CMS Expo, a chance to fill my head with OpenSource matters! While there we will also be looking to graze in a few of Denver's restaurants. So, here's a call to dedicated foodies, Democratic conventioneers and Denver locals... What's your favorite restaurant in the Mile High City?? If you have a website or an address to go along with your recommendation, it would be much appreciated. You can post a comment here, or send me an email (see above profile for address).

I'm looking forward to this trip, I haven't been to the American west in a long time! I'll be bringing the camera, and hopefully, I'll have a little bit of time to snap a few pix.

Speaking of pix, last night I was going through some photos of NYC from this past summer. Since part of the trip included the CSN concert in Boston, I was also listening to a couple of CSNY tunes. Here is a great version of Down by the River from the David Steinberg show... he had a show??!! Neil Young sounded so good that I thought, I have to go see him live. So, I went to the Neil Young website and guess what? He's on tour! I immediately emailed Tobi and said, "Concert?". She said, "Yes!"... Long story short, we have tix for Neil Young at Madison Square Garden on December 15th! I got an amazingly dirt cheap fare to NY for the weekend and booked it! Call it an early Christmas present!

Lest you think I have gone completely over the edge, there is a little more to this than just looking through vacation photos. Part of the NY reminiscing was because of a movie I watched the other day called Helvetica. It's a film about fonts, typography and graphic design. Many of the scenes were shot in NYC and when you get right down to it, Helvetica is everywhere. Since I'll be staying with Tobi, there'll be plenty of opportunities while walking Tucker to shoot sidewalk scenes of Helvetica finds. (I feel another alphabet series coming on!)

In the meantime, all you food denizens, your Mile High resto recommendations are much appreciated!

My, my... hey, hey...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Night at the Opera....

I saw Sting and Elvis Costello last night at the Théâtre du Châtelet... in an opera! It was great, the acoustics were amazing!

This was truly a neophyte's introduction to opera via "Welcome to the Voice", written by Steve Nieve. Here's a blurb from Bill Flanagan at CBS News:

"Welcome To The Voice" is a new classical piece — oh, I might as well admit it, it's an opera with a libretto by the French writer Muriel Teodori and music by Steve Nieve, best known to the hoi polloi as the brilliant pianist in Elvis Costello & the Attractions. It's a piece about the clash between high culture and low, the upper class and the workers, and Nieve has very cleverly cast legit opera singers such as Barbara Bonney and Amanda Roocroft as the Sacred Voices, and rock singers like Costello and Sting as the Profane Voices. It's a conceit worthy of Bertold Brecht and it really works. Whether you come in through the front door of serious music or the servant's entrance of pop, "Welcome To The Voice" will make you feel welcome at the party.

The story line was was simple; high class vs. lower class. The above write-up describes it very well. Sting as Dionysos and Elvis Costello as the Police Commissioner. The sopranos were amazing... Sylvia Schwartz as Lily, Marie-Ange Todorovitch as The Ghost of Carmen, Sonya Yoncheva as The Ghost of Butterfly, and Anna Gabler as The Ghost of Norma. Sting's son, Joe Sumner, played Dionysos' friend. He looks and sounds just like his dad when he was younger!

I didn't know what to expect going in, but if you tell me Sting is playing anywhere, I'm there! I have always enjoyed opera in the movies; Philadelphia comes to mind, as does Moonstruck, however, not knowing the pieces, I never knew which direction to turn to for further listening. I have a short stack of CD's from my mom, but after a little while, I always lowered the volume or just changed the CD to something more familiar.

After hearing the sopranos in all their richness and volume, I would love to go see Madame Butterfly, or something similar. Any opera aficionados out there, please guide me! As my "date" said, "Once you get used to the fullness and quality of opera, it's like having tasted real chocolate... Hershey's just doesn't satisfy!"

Something I also need to do is go see more stage productions. The only real Broadway show I have ever seen was "Oh, Calcutta"... not much of a stretch for costume design there!

My thanks to Andy and Mollie for the heads up on the show (another Facebook tidbit!). I am hoping to write before I head to Denver on Monday. I've got to get into the Christmas spirit somehow! Maybe a little cold weather and mountains will help?

"You can't fool me. There ain't no Sanity Clause!"

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tangled up in blue...

It has been a while since the last post and I apologize! I've been really busy, happily!

I was contacted today by Ben... He emailed me to say that he saw my photos from Sri Lanka on GoogleMaps. He said he is heading there soon and wanted to know "what not to miss". I gave him a few pointers and suggestions... Enjoy your trip, Ben... send a few photos over!

It's hard to believe that it is now a year since I was there, taking in exotica, the sights, the sounds, the smells... (I'm lighting the incense now!)... I still have good memories of that trip. What began as a journey of expressions, turned into a serendipity of sorts and who knew I would be where I am today? I am moving forward, doing things I never thought I would be doing and going to places I never thought I would see.

Right now, I'm planning a trip to Denver for a geek conference in December. I'm looking forward to meeting some folks I have only known through forums and virtual encounters, and attending some workshops to learn some new tricks and techniques. Following this trip, there are a few more destinations to some far-flung places in the next few months that I am looking forward to seeing!

Facebook continues to amaze me. I have found several of my favorite crew members from my flying days! I might dig out some of those old photos and put an album together! Look out! A friend said, "you know a lot of different people", all I could say was I've lived a lot of lives. I can break my life into sections of where I lived and what I was doing at the time. Each "life section" has taught me a great deal. I feel like I have lived, loved and learned everywhere I have been. I'm still learning... there's so much more to learn!

Lord knows I've paid some dues getting through...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Beyond black and white...

Yes We Did! That's what I wrote on my Facebook wall. The elation felt overseas totally resonates with America's heartfelt joy.

I had a comment from my brother (who, it turns out, is a rather right-wing Republican) asking me, "What is this 'we' crap there froggy????" I guess he doesn't realize that A.) I am (still) an American, B.) I (still) vote by absentee ballot, and C.) That vote (still) counts.

I spent this weekend in the company of groups of Americans here in Paris and the keywords mentioned were "hope" and "change". More than one person said they wore an American flag on November 5th, pointing out that they hadn't felt "comfortable" doing that during the past eight years.

I had lunch with Alice and a Japanese friend on November 5th. While getting dressed, I dug out my Swarovski heart-shaped American flag pin and proudly wore it, something I didn't feel I could do for so long! Americans in America may not understand what we expats have been feeling, and it is hard to explain. We are not the "other" Americans. We are, to quote Phyllis Michaux, "The Unknown Ambassadors".

I think the world has high expectations for Mr. Obama. I think he is in for the challenge of this century to turn America around. Saying that, I also feel that his acceptance speech laid down the gauntlet for America to pick up. It reminded me a lot of John F. Kennedy's "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country" speech. He spoke of the 106-year-old woman and the changes and progress she saw in her lifetime and tied it in nicely with the question, what will our children witness in their lifetime?

I think of my son. He was three years old when he first sat at a computer. He started with the C:\ prompt to play his games. At 17, he is now light years ahead of me. There are things we can't even imagine that are already on the horizon... I keep singing the Jetson's theme song with some of the projects I am working on now. (I can sync my sneakers to the Nike site to see how many miles I will be walking!... and that makes me feel like Agent 99!)

My point is, it will take more than Obama to make the change. We need to make it with him. We, the people, need to get our hands dirty and dig in. We need to give back. We need to turn it around and we need to do it now. Here's a great video. Alice's daughter (thanks Cat!) posted it on Facebook. Watch it, then share it with your kid. Heck, share it with everyone you know!

The future is now...

Friday, November 7, 2008

Nice nuts...

These beautiful walnuts came from the farm of a neighbor of Alice. There's nothing like the flavor of "real" fresh walnuts on an autumn night. However, I will say this, Alice is in great need of a genuine nutcracker... those plumber's wrenches just won't do! (Yo, head's up you family Christmas list planners!)

Here comes the segue...

Feeling a bit "squeezed"? NYT has announced "Jobless Rate at 14-Year High After Big October Losses"... What are we going to do??? How about we go back to basics? I think the the real turn on of Obama's campaign was trying to be human. (Mind you, I live in Paris and was not subjected to "robocalls" and TV ads ad nauseum...) So, let's think back to easier times...

I recently pulled out a photo album from 1970, I then scanned and posted a few of those photos to Facebook. They were of my old neighborhood friends and our activities growing up. We were kids, doing kid things; ice-skating on a frozen backyard patio, playing in our tree fort, building mud constructions and waging battles with "epees"... As one friend said, "There was no better childhood." Another said, "W section Lord of the Flies!!! Remember all those empty houses we used to play in? We had so much fun."

Life used to be so much easier when we weren't over-extended... we relied on ourselves to provide and get the job done. There was a more innocent feel, you had to use your imagination to build the game you wanted to play. We didn't have PlayStation or the internet. Forget about cell phones, we were using cans and string! Our favorite pastimes were touch football on Wilmont Turnpike.... we had to break up the game to let a car go by... and THAT was on the busy street! We used to venture down to the "new" houses still under construction and play in the foundations. Our mothers didn't worry about where we were. We were together. We'd come home. Can you imagine the same thing today??? Just think of your kid being incommunicado for a whole 6 hours! You'd be on the blower to the police in minutes!

My (uneducated and rambling) point here is this. Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet. The basics. We lost the plot. We need to be Ozzie and Harriet for a little while. We need to get grounded. You lost your job? I understand. Take this time to reinvent yourself. Find your passion. It's not easy. I know. I've been there. I'm still there, but I'm doing it. The beauty lies in discovering just what it is you are capable of doing. Then do it. Like I said...

Nice nuts.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes We Can!

A friend sent this to me from Times Square. He said, "The environment was electric... The world will change from tomorrow onwards, it will be a better place..."

I got up at 5:30 and turned on CNN. I saw the numbers and then I had the extreme joy to watch President-elect Obama address the crowd. The hope is back. The heavy feeling of the last eight years is lifted.

It is pouring rain in Paris today, but there will be bright smiles everywhere, I'm sure!

Oh happy day!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Hope for Change....

...and pray for peace.

History being made and I hope it will be made in a good way. A screen shot of CNN about a half hour ago. I couldn't help but shed a tear, watching this moment and thinking that tomorrow will bring about a new beginning.

Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.
~ Barack Obama

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Happy Halloween, you Mavericks!

We had a virtual Halloween party last night... the star of the show was "Sarah Palin"... good likeness! The above is a screen shot as we were signing in.

November has hit Paris in a cold, wet and windy way. Perfect preparation for an upcoming conference in Denver this December! I'm going to immerse myself in geekdom.... sweet code, design tricks and people who will "get" me. I can't wait! (I never thought I'd be such a NERD!)

My son doesn't know about this trip yet... but... he has recently given me hope and faith to leave him on his own without worrying about the police showing up at the door after midnight. His girlfriend told me she wanted to plan a surprise birthday party for him. She was looking at a place that was a tad pricey, she asked her mother if she could have it at her place... still questionable at the last minute, so... I offered up my place. I left the key with her, packed an overnight bag to stay at "Ms. Palin's" pad and hoped for the best.

It was good all the way around. I came home to a spotlessly clean apartment, no breakage, no law suits pending... and they had a good time. Merci a tous!

Back to the cold weather... it is perfect for curling up with a good book. I have been out of reading material for a few weeks and luckily "Ms. Palin" had a stack of books for me to take home. In the pile: The Cluetrain Manifesto, The Tipping Point, The World is Flat, Influencer, Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us, and I am hoping for a copy to be sent of Crowd Sourcing by Jeff Howe. For me, these are a treat!

Here's another treat, just think... in 3 days the President-elect will be known!

What Washington needs is adult supervision.
~ Barack Obama