April was a phenomenal month, much better than even I could have expected. The month did get off to a slow start with a couple of really painful days that cause a few days off from the running on the treadmill and getting my taxes finished took a couple of days away from the running as well, but the second half of the month, I just stepped it up a notch and finished the month exceeding even my expectations.
As my blog readers already know, I purchased some new Nike running shoes in the last week and they’ve make the biggest difference in the world in my running. I never would have believed what a difference it could make had I not experienced it myself. A friend of mine, Antonio Roderick, recommended getting sized for running shoes and I picked Road Runner Sports to get sized for new shoes. Their evaluation of my feet determined I have high arches and and overpronate when I run, so I should pick shoes from the “Stability” category of running shoes and $70 bucks later, I had some new shoes that feel so much more supportive of my feet, and having done a few runs in them now, have relieved me of all the pain I’ve endured the last couple of months. Sounds like $70 well spent to me.
The most amazing book about ABBA’s music is the one called “ABBA: Let The Music Speak” by Christopher Patrick. This book which is subtitled, “An Armchair Guide To The Musical Soundscape Of The Swedish Supergroup” is exactly that in that Christopher Patrick is a musician and he is able to musically guide us through every song in the ABBA catalog from the perspective of a musician. Everything you could possibly want to know about the construction of an ABBA song musically is there.
For a while in the late 1970’s ABBA had shot ahead of the Beatles in terms of record sales, but John Lennon’s death quickly reversed that temporary unseating of the Beatles as best selling act of all time. Despite this achievement, ABBA’s purely Swedish Pop is often not given the same credibility as the Beatles achievement. Their music is often considered lightweight and bubblegum compared to the works of the Beatles. It hardly seems like a fair comparison. In fact at the time the Beatles overtook Elvis Presley as the largest selling act of all time, John Lennon was asked who he thought might overtake the Beatles and he stated, ABBA.
Mountains of books have been written about the musical genius of John Lennon and Paul McCartney all lavishing praise. And yet until now, few books have been written about the works of Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, who arguably have written comparable songs to those of Lennon and McCartney. Unfortunately praising ABBA had a heavy stigma for years in both the media and in the public at large that it really seemed that ABBA wasn’t going to get the respect it deserves.
I’ve long felt that the music industry has been out of touch with reality with the business model it has been using since the Internet became so popular. My opinion remains unchanged but I wanted to share a recent experience, that had the record industry been set up to capitalize on it, they would have not only gotten a sale from me, for which I was perfectly willing to spend money on, but because of sheer stupidity and region issues, I was forced into downloading for free, what I was perfectly willing to pay for.
I am a subscriber to Sirius Satellite Radio and one of the programs I like to record on my Sirius Radio is a weekly broadcast called “Nordic Rox” which is a three hour program specializing in music from Scandinavia. The witty tagline for the show is that it is home for “Good Looking Music.” The program is hosted by Sven Lindström and is sometimes joined by Per Gessle of my favorite group, Roxette. As I tend to like acts from Sweden, it’s a good opportunity each week to hear some classic and new material from Scandinavian artists. Well on one of the recent shows, I came across a song entitled “Longing For Lullabies” performed by the remix outfit called Kleerup featuring vocals by Titiyo. Titiyo is the younger sister of Neneh Cherry, and half-sister to Eagle-Eye Cherry.
Since running has become part of my routine and my endurance has been building steadily since I started my running program at the end of November 2008, it seemed that the cheap Court Classic brand shoes I bought from Costco many, many years ago but barely used prior to my running program needed to be retired. They were fine for a couple of months, as I went from a complete novice at running to about the point when I first got afflicted with shin splints. I suffered through the shin splints and the increasingly sore knees for longer than I should have, but what can I say, I’m a little stubborn about feeling like I’ve not gotten my money’s worth out of the products I buy.
I was chatting with Antonio Roderick, a friend of mine from college via the chat feature of Facebook and he was applauding my running program having read one of my progress reports I posted here to my blog. He suggested that I really ought to go to a store specializing in running shoes and have them evaluate my run so they could pick out running shoes that are ideal for my feet. Not only would the shin splints go away, but they would make a world of difference.
With the election of Barack Obama to the Presidency of the United States, and the election of the most liberal congress in many years, the concern is that socialistic government ideas are going to be making their way to America and turning America into another Sweden. Sweden is one of the most highly taxed nations in the world and “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” a politically minded show with a strong emphasis on the comedy of it, takes a satirical look at what they dubbed, “The Stockholm Syndrome.”
To accomplish this task of seeing out the differences between America’s traditionally capitalistic society and it’s proposed future as a socialistic society, the Daily Show sent “reporter” Wyatt Cenac to Stockholm to explore socialism. In the process he meets up with Swedish people for interviews on the street, interviews of conditions in the factory of a Swedish truck manufacturer as well as government officials and Swedish pop stars Robyn and Björn Ulvaeus of ABBA. The topics include health care and high taxation. There’s even an amusing surprise revelation at the end of this two part report.
It was sad news to hear that Bea Arthur, best known for her role as Dorothy Zbornak in Golden Girls. In addition to Golden Girls, her other major television role was as Maude Findlay which started out as a character giving Archie Bunker an outspoken foil to battle with on All In The Family. Her popularity in the role led to Bea spining the character off into her own show entitled Maude. And long before her television fame Bea was a Broadway star who created a legendary performance as Vera Charles in Mame, a role she would later reprise in a film version.
To me, Bea Arthur will always be a reminder of my late grandmother Beverly Severin. My grandmother preferred to be go by Bev, much like Bea was better known as Bea than Beatrice. Also my grandmother looked a lot like Bea Arthur, so much so, that she often got several double takes especially during the Maude years. As my grandmother’s hair was also transitioning from black to silver at the same time. She even got double takes during Bea’s Golden Girls years as well but not to the same degree as the Maude years.
In fact some of my best memories I have with my grandmother have been watching Golden Girls with her. My grandmother was also quite sassy as Bea was on the show. When my grandmother passed away in 2001, it made the episodes of Golden Girls all that much more important for me to feel a bond with my grandmother. So I will always love Bea Arthur for being a special part of my memories with my grandmother.
Amazon.com is having an incredible sale on the First Season Blu-Ray Box set for Star Trek: The Original Series. Amazingly they are offering it before it’s release on April 28th, 2009 for 50% off the list price. I don’t know how long the sale price is going to last, but it’s probably the lowest it’s going to be offered for a while.
The Original Series finally hits Blu-Ray after the failed attempt by Paramount to go HD-DVD exclusive. The previous HD-DVD release of the first season of Star Trek only had the brand new digitally enhanced versions of the show, where all the special effects had been replaced with brilliant new CGI versions. (Think how George Lucas did with the original Star Wars movies, except the Star Trek folks exercised far better restraint on adding extraneous crap to the episodes). The episodes look as if they were made today.
The Quik Pod is an amazingly simple and fantastic hand-held device that allows you to take self portraits without your arm being in the way. The amazingly clever device that telescopes out 18 inches allowing you to include more of your background and allowing the objects in the photos to appear more natural without any arms in the picture.
It’s a perfect tool to have when you need to snap a quick photo and don’t have a friend handy to hand over the digital camera to. Just set your camera’s self timer and hit the button, extend the Quik Pod, and smile. The Quik Pod is also brilliant to use for self video blogging with Flip Video cameras. If you’re a little too self conscious talking into a camera with someone holding the camera, this is the perfect tool to take the video yourself and be your own camera person. Continue reading The Quik Pod Works Great With Flip Video & Still Cameras→
I recently received a recipe for a sugarless brownie that sounded rather interesting, so I decided I should try and make one. If the brownies turn out as delicious as they were described, then this might make for a great way to curb a sweet tooth for cake.
I was able to get all the ingredients for the brownie and it’s sugar free frosting at my local Vons, well all except the called for Xylitol, which is a natural sugar substitute. It’s something that can be baked with and doesn’t have the neuro-toxins found in Sweet-n-low, Nutrasweet, or Splenda. Well my search also took me to Henry’s Marketplace, but no luck there. I then tried Stater Brothers but no luck there either.
So off to Albertsons, where I thought there was a good chance they might have it as I had purchased a box of Truvia sweetener there and I remember they had a choice of things available, but unfortunately no, there was no Xylitol to be found there. Maybe Trader Joe’s would have it. No such luck at all. At this point I was getting frustrated that it was no where to be found. Reluctantly, I gave Ralph’s a try, as it’s the only major grocery chain in the area I hadn’t yet checked. And no luck there either.
Finally everyone in the United States has a chance to try the amazing grilled chicken that Kentucky Fried Chicken has been test marketing in San Diego and a few other select cities for the last year. As I wrote in my original blog post on February 19th, 2009 (click here to read it) the Kentucky Grilled Chicken is incredibly good. So good, that I just haven’t gone back to the fried chicken, and in the couple of months since that original blog post, I’ve gone back for a bucket of the grilled chicken at least once every couple of weeks.
In fact, I’ve been frustrated a couple times when I’ve gone for a bucket and they didn’t have enough pieces for a full bucket and despite their offers to add additional pieces of the fried varieties, I just want the grilled chicken. I went home with half buckets instead. The grilled chicken is wonderful. It’s completely guilt free too. There is no breading on the chicken, it’s marinated and prepared with the same 11 herb and spice secret recipe just without the batter, and its just delicious.