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« July 2005 | Main | September 2005 »

August 31, 2005

Hurricane Katrina - Worse Than You Think - Please Help

By: The Dude on the Right
Fine, they are finally starting to realize the magnitude of the disaster that is taking place thanks to hurricane Katrina, and it's bad enough with the devastation in places like Biloxi and Gulfport, Mississippi, but I can't help but wonder, and be kind of incensed, as to why did it take so long for the major networks to realize what was happening in New Orleans, in our own country?  Isn't there one person there who could have said "Umm, guys, New Orleans is below sea level, the levee's are broken and the pumps are broken, that pretty much means New Orleans is going to fill up with water, that pretty much means that water isn't going to go anywhere, anytime, quickly, and that water will be filled with polluted chemicals, dead bodies, and creepy critters.  We're looking at a catastrophe of major, even biblical proportions, maybe we should get on this and get the public aware of what is going on so maybe they can realize the extent of the devastation other than the fact that their gas prices going up more than fifty cents in a day."  But no, the major networks continue with mostly their normal programming, and the only folks really covering this are the cable news people.

NBC has announced a fundraising concert/broadcast, scheduled for Friday at 8PM EDT, at oooh, an entire hour.  Alright, that's kind of a jab, but at least they are doing something, but my feelings are still this:  ISN'T ANYONE REALIZING THE MAGNITUDE OF THIS DEVASTATION OTHER THAN THE PEOPLE WHOSE LIVES HAVE BEEN DEVASTATED?  I hate to compare this to the World Trade Center attacks, they are sort of different, yet a lot the same, and maybe even worse.  We don't know the extent of loss of life from Katrina, it might only be hundreds, yet it might be in the thousands, but the difference is the number of people whose lives have been uprooted, probably for months, maybe even years, and it is a far magnitude greater than when we were attacked.  Yes, I know the attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon were horrific, and maybe it's because they were so visual, and maybe at least for those, we had someone to blame, but there doesn't seem to be the same American spirit associated with this event.  You may say something like "Well, they should have gotten out of there, they knew it was coming," and I say "There are hundreds of thousands who evacuated and are now wondering when, if ever, they will see anything they owned ever again, let alone figure out when, where, how, they will work and live again."  You may say something like "They knew the risk of living where they lived," and I say "It doesn't matter where you live, you live within a catastrophic, natural disaster.  I live in Illinois and we have a major earthquake fault, fine, more Missouri, but still Illinois, called the New Madrid Fault that now that I know is here, maybe I'm not in such a safe place except for the occasional blizzard or tornado.  You might have a volcano on your horizon, you might also have an earthquake, you might have tsunami caused by some crap breaking off a shelf over in Europe or Africa that will level you.  You never know the risk.

Fine, I'm rambling some for this blog entry, I suppose because it bugs me that New Orleans and other sites of the Katrina devastation aren't getting the attention they deserve.  I've got a fun weekend waiting for me, spending it in downtown Chicago, hitting a lot of the places my friends and I usually hit, and catching Jimmy Buffett for a couple of shows at Wrigley Field, but right now, and it will probably hold at times during the weekend, I see a couple of images in my head.  One is of a dead body, floating in their house or their attic, peaceful now, but knowing their life came to a terrible end.  Another is of the people stuck in hotel rooms, even the Superdome, where they have no power, no plumbing, no water, shitting in a toilet that won't flush, and wondering how I would hold up.  The last is that I looked at the block I live on as I was coming home today, picturing it in my mind if all of it was gone.  It's not the same as what they are going through because my home was still there, but hundreds of thousands of people are, right now, wondering what they are going to do tomorrow.   For most of the rest of us, we know.

Please donate.  From my eyes, this devastation is many times worse than you think it is, at least, unless, you've been watching the cable news channels.  Right now they seem to understand.  I only hope the rest of us realize it.

This will probably be my last blog until sometime next week, mostly because I'll be away from any computer connections and drinking too much.  If you are pregnant, have a good Labor Day (get it, Labor Day :) ), if you are in the labor industry, have a good Labor Day, but in any case, remember, think, or pray if it is your thing, for all of the people impacted by Hurricane Katrina.  They deserve your support as much as anyone you have donated you help before.

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

Posted by Rightdude at 8:36 PM | Comments (0)

August 27, 2005

$20 - $7 = $15?

By: The Dude on the Right
Quick, what’s my change if I bought $7.00 worth of stuff and gave you $20.00? Did you say $13.00? Congratulations! Did you say $15.00? I highly doubt it. But that’s what Skippy at the movie theater was going to give me as change, even though he thought it seemed wrong, but that’s what his register said I should get so there he stood with fifteen dollars as change in his hand. I nicely told him he owed me thirteen bucks, and his supervisor came by, and still, Skippy seemed confused. The supervisor looked at his screen, told Skippy he punched in that I gave him twenty-two bucks, and yet Skippy still seemed confused. It is at times like this that I worry about our future when Skippy is our future. Yup, he was too stuck with listening to a computer instead of using what should be the better computer stuck in his skull. Look, I have to admit that sometimes I am a little too reliant on a calculator to figure something out that I used to be able to do in my head, and I have to look up to confirm things like figuring out the area of a circle (happily I still remember that Pi is about 3.14159, and on a geek note, how geeky are the folks at Google that with their latest stock offering, they are offering 14,159,265 shares. Look familiar? I found the correlation at this blog, and I’m sorry, I digress), but really, 20-7=15?  Here's hoping Skippy wants to be in a band and not an engineer.

Anyway, I was at the theater to see "The Brothers Grimm" and if you are a Monty Python fan, you’ll probably enjoy it.  If not, wait for a rental. I also caught "The 40 Year Old Virgin" earlier in the week and I have to say it was very funny. There are some new movie previews posted, and I’m hoping to finish up that back-log of preview postings in the next day or so and also catch "The Aristocrats" since it’s now at a theater nearby rather than my having to take a long drive into Chicago.

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

Posted by Rightdude at 6:58 PM | Comments (0)

August 24, 2005

No apologies, only excuses.

By: The Dude on the Right
I was going to write that I apologize for not updating my blog in about a week, but you know what, I don't apologize, I just have excuses. Excuse 1: In preparation for my trip to the old country, alright, just Ohio, I spent way too many hours trying to get a wireless internet adapter to work in my old laptop that would just keep crashing my laptop because my laptop is too old and this adapter doesn't work with lowly Windows ME. Sadly, all of that time was wasted anyway because my brother still has his wireless hub set at slow speed instead of fast speed anyway so my laptop card was fine anyway. Excuse 2: In preparation for my trip to the old country, alright, still just Ohio, I felt it necessary to upgrade my virus software on my laptop so when I check my e-mail I would be safe. Eventually I got it working, but it's really hard to do when you're too stubborn to realize that the wireless adapter in Excuse 1 was causing all of your problems and not the anti-virus installation. Excuse 3: The Dude on the Left and I went to see George Thorogood and The Destroyers on Wednesday night. The show was great, but by the time I got back, all I wanted to do was quickly see if some of the photos turned out and go to bed. Excuse 4: All packed up and ready to go, I headed back to the old country, yes, still just Ohio, on Thursday, getting in in time to go to bed. Excuse 5: After intending to start getting some work done while at the old country, fine, Ohio, I was still struggling with my laptop trying to connect to the home connection because I was too stubborn to ditch my new wireless adapter in favor of my old adapter, and then finally, I switched back to my old adapter when low-and-behold, all began working like it should have in the first place. I'm such a dope. Excuse 6: I intended to write a blog while I was in Ohio, I mean, the old country, when it occurred to me that I had left my blogging software passwords sitting on my desk in the new country, I mean Illinois, so the blogging update went out the window. And to top that off, there, in my computer in the new country, was stored my movie preview template, which I failed to upload, or is that download, I always get that backwards, but in any case, I never transferred it over to my laptop so I would have 90% of my movie preview work done, all I would need to do was finish the preview portion and I would be able to post a ton of them upon my return. Excuse 7: Traveling back to the new country from the old country, alright, from Ohio to Illinios, nearing the Ohio/Indiana border, I thought about writing a blog when I got home, but well, didn't, as doing laundry and just getting situated back at home got in the way. Excuse 8: The Dude on the Left had an extra ticket to the Cubs/Braves game Monday night, a game which sucked because the Cubs lost because they suck, and hopefully we can finally stick a fork in the Cubs' chances for the postseason because they are done. Getting back late, I really needed some sleep because I had some consulting to do today.

But now, I'm back! Yay!!! Next time I travel I hope to remember at least my blog password (that's a drawback of letting your computer remember your passwords for you I guess) to do some kind of update on the road, although, in all honesty, the weekend Jimmy Buffett is playing at Wrigley Field over Labor Day, I have a feeling I'll have a lot more excuses why I didn't get any updates during those few days, and I also have to admit, liquor will probably be involved with at least one, if not all of those excuses.

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

Posted by Rightdude at 12:07 PM | Comments (0)

August 14, 2005

I Anoint Myself King of the Nation of Easily Amused!

By: The Dude on the Right
I was hoping to see the movie "Four Brothers" today, but I became very long-winded as I was finishing up my review of Green Day from last week.  The reason I wanted to see "Four Brothers" was because most people said it was good, and if so, I needed to show that some of my movie reviewing is still believable because most people will quickly discredit me as I have given "Deuce Bigalow:  European Gigolo" 3 1/2 stars.  I have done so by deeming myself King of the nation of Easily Amused.  My justification for 3 1/2 stars - They didn't make European Gigolo to be anything more than easy jokes and some gross-out stuff, and for that they succeeded.  Sure, there are movies better at it, but I laughed at times, and that was all I wanted out of my movie-going experience on Saturday afternoon.

So, new review-wise, we've got the "Deuce Bigalow" and "Green Day" reviews.  The Dude on the Left and me are supposed to be covering George Thorogood this week, so I've got that to look forward to, but I've also been working on a bunch of movie previews with links and such to their sites, so those will start getting posted today and tomorrow.  I've also got a backlog of some DVD's to revisit, and I forgot about my CD reviewing project, doing quick reviews of a bunch of CD's that I have.  I've got the quick reviews written, I just have to get off my ass and get them posted, so those will probably filter in.

Hope you all had a fun weekend.  Later this week I'm heading back home to the old homestead to see the folks ahead of the Labor Day weekend travel nightmare, that and the fact that I'll be hanging at Wrigley Field when Jimmy Buffett comes to town next month.  More on that later.

Anyway, hope you all had a nice weekend.

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

Posted by Rightdude at 3:38 PM | Comments (0)

August 11, 2005

Green Day Rocked, and My Pictures Came Out All Right

By: The Dude on the Right
This is a quick blog entry, but in case you cared, and you probably don't in the end, Green Day kicked ass, although I have to admit that I did feel a little awkward in the audience, well at least for the parents of the younger kids, when things got a little, hmm, risqué, but that explanation will wait for the review.  Anyway, sitting in the dude-mobile after the show, I scrolled through the photos on my new camera.  I figured I did pretty well for the first time out, although I probably should have used my shorter lens, and as much as I forgot all of my rules of going to the Allstate Arena, and was paranoid it would take me about an hour to get out of the parking lot because I was parked in front of a light pole, low and behold I forgot that teens know exactly how to get out of a parking lot, one in three will be nice enough to let you into the exit line, and Rosemont knows how to get those lots cleared of the troublemakers that might be Green Day fans.

The review will be coming in the next few days as Wimp finishes up his side and I tighten up my comments, and I have to sort of figure out how to really handle the photos I downloaded from my camera.  I did a quick shrinking of a couple of them for this blog entry, but there are quite a few good ones I just need to frame a little better and maybe sharpen the color balance.

It should be a busy weekend with "Deuce Bigalow:  European Gigolo" and other movies opening this weekend, finishing up the Green Day review, and updating a bunch of movie previews.  I was actually looking forward to Kelly Clarkson clearance but that doesn't look like it is going to happen as I write this.  Oh well, maybe next time.

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

Posted by Rightdude at 8:23 PM | Comments (0)

August 9, 2005

Green Day and Prayers

By: The Dude on the Right
I must say that I am both excited and a little nervous to cover Green Day at the Allstate Arena on August 10th. I'm excited because as much as I used to enjoy Green Day and their style of music, I am even more of a fan after seeing their performance on Live 8. I was watching the AOL feed of something going on somewhere else when they nicely put a note up that Green Day was getting ready to go on stage in Germany. I quickly switched to the feed from Germany to catch their performance, and they just totally kicked ass. When I started a couple of weeks ago to get back into covering concerts, I was more than pleased to see they were coming to town, and hopeful I would get clearance. The review should be posted Friday or Saturday. But why am I nervous? It's my first photo shoot with my new camera. I'm all digital, baby, and I've done my preliminary testing and playing with the damn thing, but nothing is like being in the heat of a concert photo shoot to see if things work out. The batteries are charged, the memory cards are empty and ready, I just hope I don't screw it up.

On a more heavy note, my prayers to the family of Peter Jennings who passed away from lung cancer the other day, and also to Dana Reeve and her family, as she announced today, after I heard on Howard Stern that it was going to be in The Enquirer, that she has been diagnosed with lung cancer. I'll also send a general prayer to all of those out there going through the same type of thing because in ways I won't give up here, I understand. The human body is a strange being. For some people they are able to smoke all of their lives and never have a problem, others get riddled with lung problems, and others who may never really have smoked, they still get afflicted with the challenge of cancer.

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

Posted by Rightdude at 7:23 PM | Comments (0)

August 7, 2005

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!!!

Posted by Rightdude at 7:45 PM | Comments (0)

August 6, 2005

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.

Posted by Rightdude at 6:55 PM | Comments (0)

August 5, 2005

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!!!

Posted by Rightdude at 6:53 PM | Comments (0)

August 3, 2005

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!!!

Posted by Rightdude at 6:45 PM | Comments (0)


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