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Into Pandora? Let’s share.

I’m looking to expand my musical horizons. It seems I’ve become so entrapped in the music of my high school and college years, it’s hard to know where to turn for relief. I’ve mostly given up on local radio, and I’m too cheap to subscribe to a satellite service, so Pandora is my outlet of choice.

If you’ve created some cool stations on Pandora, please send me a link. I listen mostly at work, so I’ll favor stations with enough variety to keep things interesting, and enough energy to keep me awake without offending my neighbors.

Need more clues? Fine . . . no hip-hop/rap/gangsta noise. Country is tolerable in small doses. Acoustic rock and folk tunes are encouraged. Easy on the foul language (must be SFW). Other than that, it’s a big, wide world of music out there. Help me discover some new stuff. Surprise me. Impress me. Inspire me.

Sending a link to your favorite Pandora stations is easy. Simply open that station in Pandora, click on the “options” tab, and email it to me. Here’s the address, abstracted to deter the spammers: mn1architect (at) yahoo (dot) com.

I’m really looking forward to hearing from you. Cheers!

This looks like fun!

I gotta love Richard Branson. He’s having more fun with his money than anyone else on the planet. Wish I had the cash to play along.

First, it was “NO!” to health care reform. Now it’s “NO!” to financial reform.

Meet Frank Luntz, professional word-twister. He’s the man that feeds Republican lawmakers and conservative evangelists the imaginative and fascinating rhetoric designed to kill anything and everything the Obama administration proposes. Mr. Luntz is a political strategist – ok, that’s an understatement – he’s the High Priest of right-wing conspiracy hype, the guy that Fox News and people like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck turn to when they need some rancid oats to feed their flock .

Here we have another “smoking memo” . . . a behind-the-scenes look at how politics happens in the GOP.  In the memo, he advises the Republican Party (and provides specific talking points) to intentionally misrepresent facts in favor of hype and hysteria, designed to deceive our citizenry in order to secure a political win. It’s ugly, it’s ruthless, it’s politics in America.

If you’ve got a valid viewpoint, why not engage in an honest, intelligent debate? Why the need for this gamesmanship? The reason, of course, is because it works. It works better than anything else out there. It works because, as a nation of voters, we’ve become too stupid and lazy to think through these things for ourselves.

It makes me sick to my stomach, and deeply concerned about the country my kids will inherit.

I got this idea from a friend of mine who posted the challenge on Facebook last night. I liked the idea, and wanted to try it out here. She’s a fan of this blog, so I’m hoping she won’t mind.

What is your favorite first line from a song? The concept is simple enough. It can be any kind of song – rock, country, blues, even showtunes – but to qualify for this challenge, it has to be a song lyric. No books, no movies, no poetry. We’ll hit those categories another time. Leave your favorite as a comment to this post, and do all of us a favor by telling us the source of your selection (song title, artist), and if so inclined, tells us what you like about it.

Is picking a single favorite too much pressure? Fine. Then just tell us about one you particularly like. I’ll even start the ball rolling with a favorite of my own from the Counting Crows:

“She steps out the front door like a ghost into the fog, where no-one notices the contrast of white on white.”

I love this lyric for the creative imagery, and the mood it casts. With that one line, we can immediately understand that this person either feels or wants to feel invisible, which in turn allows us to speculate on what must be a whole host of underlying thoughts and feelings.

So many of you have introduced me to much of the music that I listen to most often, and I’d really like to hear back from you. You don’t have to articulate about it, just share. Have some fun with it. That’s what we’re here for!

I’ve got lots of friends in the medical world, and some of them even take the time now and again to read this blog. I love you all, and hope we can still be chums, but . . .

Why the hell does basic medical care have to cost so much?

Back in November, my son was goofing off with friends at the park and took a fall. He managed to find the one piece of metal in about two acres of grass, and split the back of his head open. He was bleeding everywhere, so we made a call to one of our “friends on the inside,” and the local emergency room staff was waiting for us when we walked in the door. Step aside, swine-flu people, we’ve got real blood here. The service was outstanding, and we are very appreciative of being allowed to get in and out with relative ease.

A few weeks later, we got the bill from the hospital. And then we got a separate bill from the doctors. Needless to say, I was stunned. Hospital charges totaled over $1600, and a separate bill from the doctor was nearly $900.

Wah? That’s $2500 for 2 bottles of saline solution to clean the wound, a novacaine shot, and 5 staples. Really! No ambulance, no fancy scans, no lab work, nada. Just a textbook case of stitch-em up and send-em home. The whole procedure probably took 30 minutes.

Yes, we’ve got insurance, so we won’t end up paying that much, but c’mon . . . $2500? No wonder we’ve got a health care crisis in this country.

Oops.

I guess I’ve been out of the loop. I’ve just learned that on 12/21/2012, one day shy of my 48th birthday, the world will come to an end. It seems that in precisely 3 years, 71 days and 13 hours, the Mayan calendar runs out. Historians, philosophers, astronomers and others are all weighing in on predictions relating to cosmic shifts, meteor showers, tidal waves and all varieties of Armageddon, bringing forth an end to civilization as we know it.

Seriously, who knew?  I guess Nostradamus also predicted it, so there’s gotta be something to it. A quick Google search on the subject yielded over 18 million results, and it looks like there’s a lot of good people out there who, for a fee, can give me the tips I’ll need for survival. There’s even a 2012 Survival Conference planned in nearby Scottsdale next week. Maybe I should go, just in case.

I’ve got mixed feelings about this. As much as I hate the idea of missing out on what I’m sure would have been a swell birthday party, at least I can stop worrying about saving for retirement and the kids’ college. And starting immediately, I will no longer hesitate to order that double bacon cheesburger for lunch.

When the end comes, you’ll find me at home with my family, Guinness in hand. We’ll pull out the lawn chairs, cue up the 2001 Space Odyssey CD, and watch for falling stars.

Hey, at least my term life policy will still be in effect! But then again, I’m sure the insurance company will find some technicality and weasel out of paying up.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you. You never know what you’re going to find on this page. . . .

A typical summer day in Phoenix, it’s 110-plus degrees this afternoon, and I’m sweeping leaves from the patio in the backyard. The broom I’ve got is pretty old . . . all the bristles slant heavily to one side, which means that it works pretty well in one direction but is fairly useless in the other. Honestly, it’s a piece of junk, but I’m too lazy to venture out and buy a new one.  So I toil away, being sure to turn my body rather than “backhanding” with the broom.  The sun is beating down on me, and I start to get a little dizzy from sweeping in circles. I figure heat stroke must be imminent, because my mind starts to wander in strange directions.

It occurs to me that the broom could possibly be the most primitive tool that modern man still uses on a regular basis. Think about it – it’s a bunch of straw tied to the end of a stick, essentially unchanged from the ones used by stone-age patio sweepers hundreds of thousands of years ago. I may as well be Neanderthal Man cleaning out the cave. Yeah, yeah . . . I know, the man would not be doing the sweeping in those days. . . which either makes me extremely liberated for the time, or perhaps, gay. Whatever.

But seriously, is any tool commonly used today less evolved than the lowly broom? I can’t think of one. The hammer? It’s been refined over time with advances in metallurgy and ergonomics. Ditto the ax. But the broom remains nothing more than a wad of grass on the end of a stick. It’s kind of surreal. Or maybe I just need to get out of the heat.

All the world’s a-Twitter, or so it seems. Pull up just about any website, blog or news feed, and you’re likely to find an icon inviting you to “follow me on Twitter.” I’ve yet to join the mob.

You see, the whole point of Twitter is to disseminate information (regardless of importance) to as many people as possible as quickly as possible. Indeed, when followers receive something juicy, they can re-tweet to their own followers at light-speed. One tweet becomes ten, then a hundred, then a thousand –  and pretty soon the whole world knows that you had a bran muffin for breakfast (thank you John McCain!). I can see the allure if you’re in a profession that benefits from developing and growing a loyal following. This would include PR folks, politicians, investment gurus, etc. But for the average Joe, isn’t it just an ego-trip? A good friend and colleague of mine belongs in the former category. He’s been a Tweeter (man, I keep wanting to say Twit . . .) for a while now and swears by it. He’s prodding me to join the crowd – says it’ll increase readership of my blog.

Maybe, I dunno. If the rest of you are Tweeters, I’m not (yet) aware of it. But I would like to know. . . is this something you’ve adopted into your daily life?  Am I missing the boat by staying on the fence? Should I cave and join the masses?

And if I did, would you follow me?