booking bands

Sometimes I wish I could work at a really creative company like Coudal Partners. At least, they seem like a really cool, creative company. What other kind of company would come up with the concept of Photoshop tennis?

Now they’ve come up with a new concept taken literally from the bathroom wall. The walls of the restrooms at Coudal Partners are chalk boards (which is so cool and creative in itself). Lately, the graffiti on the restroom walls has involved Booking Bands— combining the name of popular music act with the name of a famous book. Coudal even ran a contest on this idea that just ended on Friday.

Even though I can’t submit anything I come up with, my brain is full of ideas. The best ones I’ve been able to come with so far are:

20,000 Human Leagues Under The Sea
Journey To The Center of the Earth, Wind & Fire
The Color Deep Purple
Portrait Of The Artist As A Fine Young Cannibal

thanks, mom

Mrs. Geek and I watched parts of A LINCOLN CENTER SPECIAL: 30 YEARS OF LIVE FROM LINCOLN CENTER on PBS the other night. As I sat there, I could not help but realize how many of the names and faces that appeared and performed on Live From Lincoln Center were familiar to me. I also could not keep from thinking about my mother.

My Mom is the classical music nut in the family and it is to her that I think I owe much of my interest and experience with that genre. My Dad likes to listen to music, but I wouldn’t really call him a music lover. No, I think my Mom was the one who said that my sister and I needed to learn to play an instrument growing up. My Mom is the one who got the subscription tickets to the opera and the symphony. It was definitely my Mom who did all the LP buying for many years, including so many of those great RCA Victor classical recordings from the 50’s and 60’s in 220 gram vinyl. So, I believe the fact that I know about Frederic Chopin, Luciano Pavarotti, Joan Sutherland, Pablo Casals, Isaac Stern, Arthur Rubenstein, and Vladamir Horowitz are entirely due to my Mom’s presence and influence.

Thanks, Mom.

maybe I need to go on the wagon for a while

I’ve been thinking about my relationship with alcohol lately. As the child of an alcoholic, the fact that I can even say that I have a relationship with alcohol worries me. Beyond that, I have been reaching for a bottle (of beer, of wine, of Scotch or bourbon) more often lately and that is somewhat disquieting to say the least.

Before I go further, I should say that we’re not talking about binge drinking here… or even anything more than the alcoholic equivalent of a beer or two. I’m still such a lightweight that even that little alcohol leaves me with a light buzz. But even that worries me because of why I think I’m doing it.

This has been a stressful Spring, as I mentioned in other entries here. Job searching, transfers, vehicular collisions and lack of progress on key assignments have taken their toll on me. I find myself wanting to carve out some kind of stress free space in my life. To do that, I find myself tending toward things that please me right now. Should have a little extra food? Sure, it tastes good. Should I stay up a little later to watch that movie? Why not, since it provides some escape. Should I have a little wine with dinner or a shot of something stronger afterward? Sure, you’ve earned it.

So I’ve been drinking more… and not for the first time in my life. During the darkest days of my undergraduate career, I probably drank like a fish both because I was 21 years old and I was under stress. There were also times in my grad school days when I leaned a little more on beer, wine, and magic herb to distract me from the fact that oh… you know… my dissertation topic was scooped by someone else.

I think I need some time off. I need to wake up in the morning and not worry about a damn thing for a while. I need some good BBQ, now that the weather is turning better. I need to relax.

Hopefully the coming long weekend will help me gain some perspective. Otherwise, I may have to hop on the wagon for a while. I’ve done it before, and I’ll do it again.

ps. Things are getting better lately. I made a breakthrough at work yesterday on something that had been holding me up for three weeks. Woohoo!

some good financial news

Mrs. Geek and I met with a financial planner this past week, and I am happy to report two bits of good financial news.

First, we just paid off the last of our pre-wedding debts. With the exception of our student loans and some scrapbooking-related debt that Mrs. Geek is handling, we are now pretty much debt free. There are no outstanding credit card balances to pay down. We can start directing that money into savings for both short term (house downpayment) and long term (retirement) needs.

Second, we did an analysis of how much money we saved or used for pre-wedding debt repayment in the last year. We discovered that this amount totalled to a full ten percent of our combined gross salaries. There was also additional pre-tax funds directed to retirement accounts. We did it! We saved a significant chunk of money in the last year!

Hurrah! Hurrah, I say!

Of course, now we just need to do the same thing in this coming year. Time to cross those fingers again and start saving those pennies.

my high school years were big hair and mullets

I have not heard further from K., although I have not written her either. I decided to try to see if I could put a face to the name. So I sent an e-mail to my parents to see if they could scan the page from my senior yearbook with her senior class portrait on it. I got that scan this morning.

I have to say that seeing her doesn’t help me too much. Sure, the face is familiar, but not much more than the name. I have no memory of who K. was then. I have no clue who K. is now, except possibly that she writes a slightly creepy e-mail.

On the other hand, I’m not entirely positive who is writing me. She included a few personal details with her last note. Those details contradict a description that was included in a booklet given out at our ten year high school reunion. The gender of one her children seems to be wrong, for example.

In any case, seeing that page in my yearbook reminded me that my high school years were full of big hair and mullets. Mrs. Geek took one look at the yearbook page and said “Ewwww…. is that a mullet? And look at that ratty mustache! You were allowed to have mustaches?” Yes, Mrs. Geek… we public school CCD kids were allowed to have facial hair in school… unlike you Catholic school kids. Of course in fairness, I should point out that Mrs. Geek also looked at the photo directly under K’s and said “Of course, I can’t talk… I wore my hair pretty much exactly like hers.”

Yes, those were the days. The memories of my adolescence are peppered with things better off forgotten. Big hair. Blue cans of “extra hold” Aquanet. “Frankie says: RELAX” long t-shirts. Hair metal. Candies shoes. Day glo colored fashions. Big hoop earrings. Cosby sweaters. The late 80’s were an ugly time.

But no uglier than any other time, I suppose.

this week’s weirdness

This week’s weirdness comes courtesy of, I have a profile up on… which has actually done me very little good. Sure, it’s allowed me to get send a message or two to a few people I haven’t really thought about for 15 or 20 years. A couple of them even wrote back once.. or twice. All the people I really want to find don’t seem to want to give a try.

I got a message this week from K., a woman who is in my high school class. She wrote:

Hey Dr. Geek, thinking of you glad you are doing well you look great would love to talk to you, love K.

This was rather suprising, since I don’t remember K. and I being great friends in high school and I’m not sure that we had many friends in common. I need to consult a yearbook to even remember what K. looks like, though her name is familiar. The tone of her note also struck me as a bit up close and personal given that I don’t think we’ve spoken since the 10 year reunion back in the late 1990s.

Taking the optimistic view that it might be fun to talk to someone from The Land Of My Birth, I decided to write back:

Wow… K… there’s a name I haven’t heard much for a long time! Glad you liked the pics. The “now” one was taken the night my wife and I were attending a formal charity ball. How are you? Where are you? What are you up to these days?

I was just trying to play things safe. You know, keep it casual and see what I could find out about why K. decided to come out of the woodwork.

I just heard back from K. yesterday and her tone seems even more unusual:

Hi. I’m doing great got three kids now still living in The Land Of My Birth on the South Side of town we just put in a pool! I still work for (company name here) and love it. well, I would love to talk to you one on one would your wife mind if I called you? Love you. K.

I don’t know what to make of this message. Maybe she doesn’t like to send e-mail. A lot of people don’t.

Past experience makes me wary, however. If I got a message like this back in my online dating days from someone out the blue, “Danger Will Robinson! Danger Will Robinson!” alarms would be going off in my head. Not that she is necessarily a “Fatal Attraction” waiting to happen. Instead, I take it as a sign that she and I have different ways of relating to people.

looking for some oil on the waters

I feel unsettled and I cannot completely relax. This is partly because of changes Mrs. Geek and I want to make in our lives (e.g. a new job in a new city.) I am also recieving a paperwork from other insurance companies about the car accident back in February. I am also in the process of figuring whether or not I should change jobs within Company O. It is a lot to think about, and I don’t want to think about it for a while.

Of course, this is not always possible. The Universe (and Company O. management and insurance adjustors) do not work on schedules that guaranteed to be convenient to personal needs. I guess this is just my way of putting the request out in the karmic queue to see if I can catch a break.

In other news, my Mom liked her Mother’s Day gift. She is a big classical music fan, with a decent selection of vintage RCA Victor recordings on vinyl from the 1950’s and 1960’s. She has a particular fondness for piano music, violin music, and opera. RCA has started re-releasing some their Living Stereo recordings on hybrid Super Audio CD. I managed to find recordings of Arthur Rubenstein (one of her favorites) playing two Chopin Concerti (she’s a big Chopin fan) and Jascha Heifetz (another of her favorites) playing Concertos by Brahms and Tchaikovsky (key parts of the violin repetoire.) Finding them seemed like hitting some kind of trifecta in my book, and my Mom says that she is very much looking forward to hearing them.