I Guess Some Things Just Take Time

By The Dude on the Right
Usually I’m pretty write-ative, but tonight, this entry will be a little shorter than normal, at least that’s my train of thought right now. We’ll see how this ends up.
Anyway, it’s been a busy day, mostly playing with one of my new toys, my blogging software, trying to get the pages to look seamless with the rest of the web site. I did play slightly with my other toy, the new camera, but am figuring Monday and Tuesday will be more devoted to that one so that I am ready when the lights go down and I’m at the foot of the stage for Green Day on Wednesday night (that review coming later this week).
As far as the blogging software, let me tell you, that hasn’t been the easiest of things, especially since I rarely read the right documentation on new things, and with this Movable Type thing having many options to make things how you want, I also had to learn a few things, like dealing with a style/formatting file. The problem: After getting it to work exactly like I wanted, not realizing it was built into the program so when I rebuilt the blogging area it rebuilt based on its style file, because, well, I simply didn’t read that you need to change the file internally, not externally, so I got to start over again. Like a lot of my computer experiences, it’s been about trial and error, finding out why the errors are there, then trying again. I’m finally getting the hang of things, although one part of the commenting area still isn’t working but I actually used the Knowledge Base and know why it’s happening so I might have a fix on that. Ahh, Knowledge Bases and FAQs!
Hope you had an unbelievable weekend.
That’s it for this one! I’m The Dude on the Right!! L8R!!!

A Power Outage and I’m Worried About My Kids.

By:

The Dude on the Right

So I get back from seeing

"The Dukes of Hazzard,"
get near my garage door in the
dude-mobile, keep
pressing the button so that the door would magically open, and nothing happens.
Keep pressing. Nothing happens. Keep pressing. Nothing happens. Then my neighbor
yells across the way that the power is out. I hoped the battery was dead in the
little transmitter thingy, but fine, I can do some writing on my laptop, even
though I can’t connect to the internet, and then I remembered something I
haven’t done yet that I keep telling myself I’m going to do – get a battery
back-up power supply. No, not for my computer, I already have one for that. I’m
talking about getting one for my kids, I mean, my fish. It’s bad enough that the
temperature is rising, and Steve, Ashley, and Bill, well, they can deal with
that to a point, but the real problem is that the filters stop filtering, if it
was cold the heater stops heating (although I’ve read you shouldn’t really plug
one into a power supply), but now, especially with the filtering thing, bad
things are getting the chance to totally foul my fish tank, even to the point of
making it toxic enough to kill my kids. As of my writing this, the power’s been
out for about half an hour, but if it keeps going any longer I might have to
yank my computer power supply out of the wall and hope there’s some juice left
in its batteries to at least run my canister filter for awhile. Worst case
scenario, I’m off to my Home
Depot
to by a small portable generator and run some power cords to keep the
kids happy. Here’s hoping
ComEd
can get this taken care of quickly, because as quaint as a power
outing can be sometimes, on a hot August day, I just hope my kids can weather
the storm, and hopefully this time I have learned my lesson and will pick up
that battery backup for my kids.

That’s it for this one! I’m The Dude on the Right!! L8R!!!

Follow up note… Well, it turns out my UPS for my computer was pretty much
useless by the time I tried to see if it would power one of the filters, and
time was ticking by. So, for the next hour-ish, I kept calling the electric
folks. Low and behold, on my last call, I was told by the nice lady answering
the phone that her supervisor informed them that all of
Aurora was back up and
running. I nicely told her that maybe her supervisor would want to spend her
night at my place, and I’ll hang out at hers, since I’ll bet her air conditioner
was working. She nicely chuckled and said she would let her supervisor know
power hasn’t been restored to all of Aurora, and low and behold, 15 minutes
later the power kicked back in, so luckily, you have this blog entry to get you
into Sunday and so far the kids, I mean fish, seem okay.

The Dude on the Right Has New Toys!

By:

The Dude on the Right

Sometimes I hate the internet, or maybe I can blame this blog thing I have
started, and this may be hard to explain, but let’s see if I can do it.

So the other night I got back to covering concerts and was slightly dismayed
at the fact that there I was in the dark ages, still using a camera that yes,
actually used film. All of the rest of the photographers had there nice digital
cameras, but not me. And still at that time, I thought unless I had a lot of
dough to invest, it wasn’t going to happen anytime soon. You see, the issue was
that years ago, and I’m talking like 20 years ago, I invested in the
Minolta system. They
were one of the firsts with auto-focus ability, although in those days it was
almost just as easy to manually focus to get the shot. Then I kept graduating to
a better camera body, but my old Minolta lenses still worked. Then I graduated
to a better Minolta (the Maxxum 700si) and some nice lenses. Then the digital
age began, my first seeing it at
Farm Aid back in who knows
when. Still out of my price range, I was still okay with my 700si. Then, a
little before I stopped covering concerts, the digital age really started to
take hold, except I read that Minolta had no inkling of making a digital SLR
like Canon and Nikon were doing. I resigned to the fact that if I was ever going
to convert to digital, it was going to take a larger than I wanted to investment
and just let it go, and as I stopped covering concerts, it really didn’t seem to
matter, anyway. Not paying attention to camera gear, I just let it go.

Then, the other day, as I wrote my blog after the

Neil Diamond
concert, I clicked over to the Minolta site. I had known that
they combined with Konica, but low and behold, there, on the starting page, was
a link to a Minolta digital SLR. I knew, from that point, that I was ruined,
especially after being upstaged at my Neil Diamond shoot. So, after much
reading, I took the plunge and got my new Minolta 7D. Had I never started this
blog thing, I would have never gone to the Minolta site, but now I’ve got a
really cool new toy, hoping that when I shoot Green Day next week that I don’t
totally regret the move and should have just stuck with my trusty 700si.

And to top my list of too many things to play with, I downloaded some real
blog software from
Moveable Type
and am seeing if it will be easier and cooler to use it rather
than my older cut and paste editing of this page. It has the cool stuff like
being able to add comments and archiving and this, that, or the other thing. The
camera seems pretty cool, and the software is probably pretty simple to use if I
didn’t want the page to look at similar to this one, so we’ll see how things go.
So yea, great, I’ve got to learn how to use a kick-butt new camera and figure
out some new software, as well as finish some CD reviews, see "Dukes of Hazzard,"
and get a bunch of movie preview done. Such will be my weekend.

Have an unbelievable weekend.

That’s it for this one! I’m The Dude on the Right!! L8R!!!

Neil Diamond Rocks, Ain’t No Surprise

By:

The Dude on the Right


It was a hot August night a couple of nights ago,
August 1st for that matter, and it marked the return of this Dude to the
concert reviewing scene.  Oddly enough I picked up where I left off
back in 2001, reviewing
Neil Diamond at the United Center
here in Chicago (okay, fine,
technically I reviewed
Neil in Cleveland back in 2001
, but I took the pictures at the
United Center). 
This show was great, at least if you are a
Neil Diamond
fan.  I suppose if he’s not really your cup of tea, you would
wonder why in God’s name anyone would go and see him, but his legions of fans
span the age groups, and the fashion groups, and even though the dude is in his
60’s, Neil Diamond rocks, ain’t no surprise.

And so we are back on the concert scene.  Neil Diamond a couple of days ago,
Green Day next week,
and hopefully some Velvet Revolver, Kelly Clarkson, George Thorogood, Kenny
Chesney, and Motley Crue before month’s end.  As usual for us, we are back
trying to cover just about any genre under the sun.

But back to getting back to the concert scene.  For me, it was
exciting again.  I stopped covering concerts for a variety of
reasons.  Some of them were good, some of them were bad, some of them were
just lazy, but as I knelt there with my camera in hand, about 30 feet from the
stage, I really wondered if I could still handle concert photos.  Hell,
it’s been almost four years since I shot a show, and since that time a
photographer dude I know,
Barry
, had graduated from film to digital, complete with some giant lenses, and
there I was, with my old film driven
Minolta
and my trusty Sigma 70
– 210mm f2.8 lens, looking kinda inadequate compared to my buddy and the
other newspaper photo dudes.  Yet there I was, back again, and I
have to tell you, as the lights went down and the band came on the
stage, all of the photographer instincts came back.

I will admit that it wasn’t my best concert photo
shoot, and yes, as I scanned in my negatives into the scanner I
instantly realized some digital editing would be needed (mostly a little
sharpening), but for the most part, I am pleased with my work, although
I would have liked to have gotten more pictures of
the band and
back-up singers
because if you are in any way familiar with my photo
taking at concerts, I try to include everyone in the band.

I’ll end today’s blog with a quick shout-out to Sherry
for helping with the clearance for the show, and to Kathleen for
clearing out the dude blocking the isle and just her help.  The
plus for the day was when I got home and there was an e-mail in my
inbox.  I had clearance for Green Day, and for a year in which
myself and a couple of friends would like a do-over because it hasn’t
been the best of years for us so far, I got excited again, and realized
that I just don’t like going to see a concert, what I really love is
covering a concert.

That’s it for this one!  I’m The Dude on the Right!!  L8R!!!

You Need to Check Out Google Moon!

By:

The Dude on the Right

When Google launched
their map service, at first I was like "What, another map service? Who
cares?" Then I messed around with it, and I’m sorry
Mapquest, you are
losing the battle in my book in the internet map wars. I will say that
right now the Mapquest folks seem to do a better job at giving
directions, but from the instant I was able to click and instantly drag
the Google map, I was converted because I’m usually pretty good at
figuring out my own directions. Sure, if I want a printed map that
unfolds and I can put in my car, you still can’t beat the folks at
Rand McNally,
but in all honesty, for my internet world, it’s too hard to spell.

So as much as I love
Google Maps
, then the folks at Google did something that really
brought a grin to my face: They went into outer space.

Well, they didn’t really go into outer space, but they got some
images from NASA of
the lunar surface (that’s the moon if you didn’t know), specifically
around the area of the

six lunar landings
. So like their normal map service, you can click
and drag around the moon, but just as important, you can get some great
detail of the surface of the moon. My recommendation for the day, go to
Google Moon. Then,
incrementally, zoom to the surface of the moon by clicking the "+"
button. Eventually get yourself to the closest resolution, and I can
pretty much guarantee you will be amused at the detail we have been able
to get of the lunar surface.

I did catch some movies over the weekend, so Sunday evening/Monday
morning comes reviews of "The Island," "Must Love Dogs," and "Stealth."
I also got copies of the new Michael Stanley and Cowboy Troy CD’s, so
those reviews should be posted sometime this week, as well as a
triumphant return to the concert scene with coverage of Neil Diamond in
Chicago. You can use those goofy "Subscribe" buttons at the top of the
page if you want to automatically be notified in your "My Yahoo," "Newsgator,"
or "My MSN" accounts, or updated in your favorite news reader. Thanks
for your support!

And one final comment, to my sister of mine, I find it very
unsportswomanlike of you, wishing that I get a flat on my bike, as I
continue my quest to whip your butt in our contest this time around.

That’s it for this one!  I’m The Dude on the Right!!  L8R!!!

I Got a New Bike!

By:

The Dude on the Right

I did something yesterday that I haven’t done in three or four years (that last time was on
Long Beach
Island
in New Jersey, known for its summer resort areas and
Chowderfest,
but it was just a quick trip for some breakfast so I don’t really think
it counts).  Anyway, I went for a bike ride.  It’s not that I
haven’t wanted to go on a bike ride, it’s just there was one essential
thing missing – a bike.  But on my last trip to the homestead, my
brother, who has two bikes, let me take his old
Schwinn World
Sport
.  I hauled it back to my pad, and finally, yesterday, had
some time to load it into the dude-mobile, head to my local forest
preserve, and take it for a spin.  They say you never forget how to
ride a back, and I guess they are right, but I have to admit I was a
little shaky at first.  My first issue, dealing with toe clips, but
I finally got adjusted to them, and even though it was one of those
multi-use trails, I made it around the trail no worse for wear.

Now this may not seem like anything significant, but when
was the last time you went on a nice bike ride?  Me, I used to bike
a lot, back in Ohio down lots of country roads, and when I was in
college at I.I.T., the
Lake Shore Drive bike path was a fabulous ride.  But then my
bicycle broke and I never did anything about it.  The other thing
is that I have a bet with my sister about some weight-loss issues, and
this adds a new weapon to my arsenal, along with my coat rack, umm, I
mean exercise bike, and this other crazy contraption that I don’t want
to admit I own unless I actually get off my ass and use it.  It
supposedly worked for a couple of famous personalities, but we’ll see on
that one, in any case, it really felt good to hear the crunching of the
limestone under my tires and have the wind go through my hair under my
bike helmet.  After I caught my breath, it was good to hear the
Cubs beat the
Giants on my drive
back to the dude-pad.

That’s it for this one!  I’m The Dude on the Right!!  L8R!!!

Happy Birthday Mom!

By:

The Dude on the Right

Yesterday was my mom’s birthday and she turned the excellent age of

79
.  It’s weird though, these days, because her health isn’t
nearly the state it used to be just five or six years ago, and for me,
it has to do with three things, and she may or may not agree, but part
of her decline was a result of a

stress test
she did a couple/five years ago, too much stress from
dealing with my father, and her years of smoking.  Yup, mom was a
smoker, and for the most part, other than my dad, you can attribute her
health issues to that.  But when you are a woman approaching 75,
with diagnosed emphysema, and sure, and you’re having some heart issues,
do you really give this woman a full-blown stress test and put her on a
treadmill?  And that being said, as she’s on that treadmill, and
she is saying she can’t keep going, do you force this woman to keep
going, even to the point where you are holding her up?  Go figure,
the stress test didn’t detect anything. A little later she had an

angiogram
, and low and behold there was some blockage in one of her
coronary arteries.  They fixed that, but a lot of her lung issues
started to happen after that stress test, and my theory is simply this,
and I’m no Doctor and I don’t even play one on TV, but her years of
smoking and emphysema left a lot of crap stuck in her lungs.  Being
in her early seventies, mom wasn’t one to get her heart rate nor heavy
breathing up, although helping my dad, she really kept her strength, but
with this running and unable to catch her breath on the treadmill, all
of that crap blew out of its settled places and headed to the rest of
her lungs.  Diagnosed now with what the call

COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)
, she is tethered to an
oxygenator 24 hours a day, and as days goes, some days are better, some
not so much.  She will be the first to admit that smoking was a bad
thing, and for the couple of stories we all hear about of people who
have smoked all of their lives and live it long and healthy, for the
most part, you will probably end up in your later years like my mom. 
Make that choice today and
quit smoking, as
hard as it may be, because in seeing my mom, she would give up all of
those years of smoking if she didn’t have to live with this today. 
And if you are a friend of a smoker, try to get them to quit.  If
they give you crap, feel free to make them
contact me and I’ll give
them a few other things they might get to look forward to as they get
older.

With her health issues aside, I will
always love my mom.  She probably never fully understands some of
the decisions I have made in my life, but she has always been
supportive.  She was a great singer, played an organ like nobody’s
business, but spent her years as a mom and housewife, and all she ever
seems to really want for me and my brother and sister is to be happy. 
She has her favorite saying now when people ask her how she is doing,
and that is simply "Still breathing."  That’s all I can hope for
everyone dealing with the same things my mom is going through, is to be
"Still breathing."

That’s it for this one!  I’m The Dude on the Right!!  L8R!!!

My Problem With Kids and Movie Theaters

By:

The Dude on the Right

Maybe it’s because I’m not a parent and I can’t relate, or
maybe it’s just that the parents don’t care, but I still find it
unbelievable the number of parents that bring kids to movies that just
aren’t appropriate for them. My case in point this time being while I
was at "Bad
News Bears
."

Getting to the gigaplex a little early so I can get
my favorite seat, I’m sitting in the theater knowing that the movie is
rated PG-13, for rude behavior, language throughout, some sexuality, and
thematic elements, whatever that last one means. Just as the commercials
begin, in walks a dad and I’m assuming his two sons, looking to be about
5 or 6. They proceed to sit a couple of seats away from me, and then dad
instructs the sons that they should move because he’ll be back in a few
minutes with candy and stuff. What dad doesn’t instruct them is the
basic rule in movie theaters – keep your mouth shut, don’t ask
questions, and don’t kick the railing in front of you. While dad was
gone, the kids went on to do all of those things, and I knew my
movie-going experience would be a chore. I hoped, that at least when dad
got back, that things might change, but low and behold, I guess dad
thought this was his living room.

Yep, I’m trying to watch a pretty funny movie, and Johnny and Billy
(not their real names) keep asking dad questions about what is going on
in the movie, what
Billy Bob Thornton just said, or to pass another
Twizzlers. Then
of course there was Johnny, or maybe it was Billy, who kept thinking
that the cool thing to do because he didn’t understand what was going on
during the movie was to kick the railing in front of him. Dad, did,
politely tell his son to stop, but these were kids who don’t seem to
listen to their parents because he kept at it for most of the film.

I hope you, our reader, are good parents and courteous movie-goers,
because damn, we’ve all paid our good money to see this movie. It’s bad
enough we think the theater is our garbage can when we toss our empty
popcorn bag under our chair, but people, it is not your living room,
because I’m not in your living room. That’s how you can tell.

That’s it for this one! I’m The Dude on the Right!! L8R!!!