Category Archives: blogs

Things I Love on the Internet

* A new blog on the Oscars and Instant Runoff Voting — Here’s a post about the new voting system for Best Picture, written by the Chair of FairVote Board of Directors, Krist Novoselic.
* The last new Johnny Cash album, American VI: Ain’t No Grave is being released on February 23, during what would have been his birthday week. Am buying, sound unheard, if I don’t get for my birthday.
* Brian from Coverville turned me on to Deanne Iovan’s mission, inspired by Julie & Julia, as well as the 09/09/09 Beatles’ releases, of covering The Beatles’ White Album, track by track, putting out a new song every nine days. She just put out Julia, which is at the end of side two. (Side 2? Hey, I grew up with the vinyl version of this album.)
* 500 cartoons on life in biology research.
* The Business Librarians listserv helped me answer a question this week. Apparently the doohickey on the tops to plastic containers, where the grated cheese comes out, one side being a shaker while the other side you can use a teaspoon to dish it out, is called a spice lid or a dispensing closure.
* Valentine’s Day/Census tie-in campaign with a selection of electronic postcards in Spanish and English.
* New CPR on YouTube: Continuous Chest Compression CPR – Mayo Clinic Presentation, sent to me by a nurse friend of mine, who thinks it’s terrific.
* A recent study outlines the health benefits of having more sex. CNN’s Elizabeth Cohen has the details.
* My medical reimbursement company, only this week, has FINALLY decided to accept e-mailed PDFs, GIFs, etc. as well as mailing and faxes. This is particularly helpful since our fax at work does not seem to work. (When someone announced “Fax is dead!””, they weren’t kidding.)
* Found several places: The Muppets: Beaker’s Ballad – the Internet is SO mean.
* Thom Wade points to Hey! It’s That Guy!? It’s a page “dedicated to the character actors collectively known as ‘That Guy’.” Simon Oakland was one of the first ones I knerw by name as a kid.
* Betty White for host of SNL. My only problem is the notion that it’s a resurgence; she never really left.
* Arthur@AmeriNZ found a video response to the Google Super Bowl ad done from a gay man’s POV.
* An old friend accidentally pushed some button that sent an email to EVERY address in her e-address book, which allowed us to reconnect. I’ve had a child and she’s had two since we last communicated.
*Local school catches Olympic fever. “Events have included ring toss, rock climbing, hockey, boggle, hang man, reading comprehension, and math facts.” I’ll pick math facts.
* The 9th Annual Underground Railroad History Conference, Friday, February 26 at 8:30am through Sunday, February 28 at 2:00pm at Russell Sage College, Troy, NY, where I’ll be one of many presenting on that Saturday. Register now!



I’ve been thinking about the notion of friends a lot recently.

There are people who I’ve been friends with for over 50 years, longer than some of you have been alive. I’ve known them since kindergarten. But what happens when one of them has…changed dramatically? Are you still friends, just because he attended your ninth birthday party? Especially if you haven’t been in touch much in for the better part of 30 of those years.

I have a friend, whose birthday was last month, turning 56 (thus just a bit older than I). We’ve been friends with since the first day of college, September 12, 1971 (but who’s counting?) But the vast majority of people from college I have no real interest in seeing; it’s not antipathy, more meh.

I’ve been in Albany 30 years and I’ve made some good friends. On the other hand, there are people one sees at church and work that I can say that I hardly know at all, though I see them often.

Fred Hembeck is an example of a good friend who I lost touch with but got back in contact with via the Internet. (When IS that show in April, Fred?) He has written a moving piece about the loss of his good friend Charlie; I didn’t know Charlie, but the tale has such universality that I think you ought to read it here (March 9, 2009).

I’ve discovered that one can develop a friendship through regular participation in something. For a time it was hearts. For some time, it’s been racquetball.

Somehow, I’ve managed to develop friendships with a couple of my exes.

Then there are those people you haven’t even met, but through their blogs and other communications, you get to know rather well. Greg Burgas, an interesting fellow out of Arizona via Oregon and Pennsylvania, was musing on that aspect too – and mentioned me specifically as a friend. And I feel similarly inclined. I know about his wife, his daughters, the accident one of them had, where he’s lived, how he missed a friend’s wedding, his taste in music. I feel an obligation – well, maybe too strong a word – but a desire to please him if it’s reasonable. Recently he said he wished I wrote more on race, and directly as a result of that, I wrote this post.

Thee was this bilious audio of Richard Nixon talking about All in the Family and homosexuality that I found on Evanier’s page that I knew three people might appreciate; two of them I have never met. So this line of “friend” gets murky.

Here’s something that makes it murkier: Facebook. Just in the past week, I have suddenly discovered that I’m now “friends” with a whole new batch of people. Some of them I’m thinking: weren’t we friends before? Interestingly, I noticed that one of them, who I’ve known for years, wrote “in a relationship – it’s complicated”; I queried about this but received a cryptic “noyb” reply.

Back in 1974, I saw Billy Joel in New Paltz. The opening act was a guy named Buzzy Linhart, who was primarily a songwriter. He told us ad nauseum all the people he had written songs for, including this one by Bette Midler:

What kind of blog is this?

For the several blogs in which I participate, I’m the primary contributor for all but one, that one being my work blog. Yet the Typealyzer scores for most of them differ.

The NYS Small Business development Center blog shows this.
The NYS Data Center Affiliates blog shows this.
The Friends of the Albany Public Library blog shows this.

But for this blog (and also my Times Union blog), the answer is this:

ESTP – The Doers
The active and play-ful type. They are especially attuned to people and things around them and often full of energy, talking, joking and engaging in physical out-door activities.

The Doers are happiest with action-filled work which craves their full attention and focus. They might be very impulsive and more keen on starting something new than following it through. They might have a problem with sitting still or remaining inactive for any period of time.
This show what parts of the brain that were dominant during writing.
(Click on image to enlarge.)

What’s really scary is how dead on at least the last two sentences are. Whereas the other ones, not so much. Perhaps it’s a function of me writing for myself rather than for a different audience.


Web changes

Someone asked on a listserv, “Does anyone know of a service for tracking not just website changes, but exactly what content on the webpage changed?” As a result of the question, I joined ChangeDetect, a free web page monitoring system. It’s my intention to add all of the web sites and blogs which I follow that do not offer an RSS feed, but I’ve only gotten around to tracking the website of my ol’ friend Fred Hembeck thus far.

So how does it work? So far, fine, though the e-mail notification takes about a day from the actual site change. Still, when I actually get around to using it more frequently, it’ll beats going to the page and seeing the same old stuff.
Blogger has this feature where it’ll let you know when an RSS-equipped blog on the sidebar was last updated. I discovered, however, that if the blog poster says the post was entered two days ago, it’ll note on my blog that the blog was posted two days ago.
I used to have something called Jigli on my side panel, a service that was creating a word cloud of my blog, which I liked. Unfortunately, it was creating an unintended consequence. It seemed to create what appeared to be hyperlinks on words that weren’t actually hyperlinks. I thought it was just my computer, but when a good friend of mine saw the same thing, I deleted the Jigli and the problem went away.
I was on a listserv when someone provided info about a conference in Italy. One reader took great exception to this and said, “I saw the announcement for a conference that cost $15 to attend within driving range for most of New York State.
One does not need to spend hours on an international flight plus all of the money for staying in a hotel in order to present at a conference or to attend a conference.” Others responded with comments such as “funding issues notwithstanding, some people may be interested in knowing this is happening. Why the need for the nasty responses?” ou’d be surprised how heated librarians can get.
Finally, I wrote: “To quote Sylvester Stewart: ‘Different strokes for different folks And so on, and so on and scooby-dooby-doo.'” That generated a “Roger: Best. Post. Ever.” and another positive comments. That made me feel really good!
I’ve got nothing pithy to say about the passing of Studs Terkel. I’ve read only one of his books – Working – though I did enjoy seeing him express his views in various venues. But here’s a nice piece:
Studs Terkel: The Power of His Prose By Dennis Kucinich, October 31, 2008

Studs Terkel knew the real America. The America of grit and gumption, heart and soul, passion and nerve. He chronicled five generations of American history with a compassionate and deep understanding of the American character.

He was the quintessential American writer. He was our Boswell, our Whitman, our Sandburg. He was able to get people to open up and share their innermost thoughts and their deepest dreams. In the words of Kipling ‘he walked with kings and never lost the common touch.’

Infused in each word he wrote and in his spoken word, he was a master story-teller and could regale groups for literally hours with his deep understanding of human nature its possibilities and its foibles. He was a person of great appetites and his greatest appetite was for the truth. America has lost a tribune of the people. But the power of his prose lives on.

Studs was a dear friend. My wife, Elizabeth, and I have enjoyed many visits in Studs’s home. His good humor was a constant even during a visit a couple of years ago when he was recovering from heart surgery.

I was touched by the forward he wrote to my book, A Prayer for America. I’ll never forget the encouragement he gave me to run for president in 2004.


As Though You Had Requested It: ASK ROGER ANYTHING

In case you’re relatively new to these parts, this is the part of the blog experience in which the blogger (i.e., I) sit back and wait for you to ask me questions, AND I HAVE TO ANSWER. The answer has to be the truth. Doesn’t have to be the whole truth, and it could be a tad snarky, but still basically an honest response in this blog before the end of the month.

Today’s first example comes from Al from Albany who asked:
I don’t know what got me thinking about this today, but…

Last year (I think) A-Rod nearly “Homered for the Cycle”. That is, a solo, 2-run, 3-run and grand slam. I believe he was missing a 2-run homer. Has it ever been done?

No. Obviously one would need at least 10 RBI to hit for the “homer cycle” and
nobody who has hit four homers has more than 9 RBI (Hodges with 5 hits), except Mark Whiten of the St. Louis Cardinals. He had 12 RBI and on only 4 hits, in 1993, so he would have to have to hit these types of homers (not necessarily in this order: 1,3,4,4; 2,2,4,4; 2,3,3,4; 3,3,3,3. In fact, Whiten hit a grand slam, fouled out, hit two three-run shots in successive innings, and ended with a two-run homer.

Dave from Schenectady wrote:
I’ve thought of you because I may be starting a blog. How’s your TU thing going? Forgive me, I never read it (or any other blogs). Just too busy reading all the stuff I have to for work. Is it hypocritical to want to write a blog when you never read them? Will I be getting into something I regret? Your feedback would be much appreciated if you have time to write.

The blog goes. My other blog [this one] is somehow easier. As for you blogging, let me give you a for instance: is it hypocritical to want to write a book if you’ve never read a book? Or a painter if you’ve never looked at other paintings? Hypocritical isn’t the word I’d use; more like short-sighted. You’ll get a better sense to see what you like (and especially what you hate) if you read some.
You probably won’t get in “trouble”, depending on what you write about. Painting? Probably safe. On the other hand, I wrote a pretty innocuous piece about my church choir director leaving and I was given a lecture about me being sucked into the whole religion myth, to which someone I know replied, and a voracious back-and-forth, having nothing to do with the initial topic, ensued. Oh, BTW, if you DO do it, I’ll link to you, raising your fame level enormously (snicker).
I’m rather fond of this piece.

Your questions can be about baseball or politics or of a more personal nature.


Because I Am A Lemming

I am participating in BlogDay2008:
BlogDay was created with the belief that bloggers should have one day dedicated to getting to know other bloggers from other countries and areas of interest. On that day Bloggers will recommend other blogs to their blog visitors.
With the goal in mind, on this day every blogger will post a recommendation of 5 new blogs. This way, all blog readers will find themselves leaping around and discovering new, previously unknown blogs.

I must say that I like getting out of my comfort zone now and then. So I did the next blog thing on Blogger. I avoided the ones with fewer than five posts for no particular reason. I found these:

Nicole Jarecz Illustration by Nicole Jarecz, Detroit, MI, United States. A junior at the College for Creative Studies, majoring in illustration.
Unsurprisingly, she does a lot of drawings, many of which I like. Occasionally, she even talks.

VERACRUZ TURISMO DIGITAL. Las Noticias de Turismo del Estado de Veracruz Mexico
It’s in Spanish, and I don’t really read Spanish, but it seems to be a site about the
culture of Veracruz. Has photos, so it was worth looking at.

Kundalini Splendor.
Poems and Reflections on the Spiritual Journey by Dorothy Walters
She writes: “I invite you to contact me.” She has a kindly face. Pictures accompany her photos. I’m not much into poetry, I’m afraid, but the page gave me a soothing feeling, somehow. Clearly, my favorite of the five.

ADESPOTO Halandriou
Σύλλογος φίλων των ζώων Χαλανδρίου
It’s all Greek to me. This person from Athens takes photos of animals. I like animals OK, but my Greek is non-existent, so the context is lost on me. Yet that’s all right.

吕昕展 臭Baby部落格.
Shinzhan 吕昕展, Mersing, Johor, Malaysia
OK. Not my favorite kind of page; that is, a bunch of pictures of somebody’s kid with no context, plus short videos. I don’t mind an occasional pic- been known to do it myself, but no narrative, even if I could read Chinese.
Still, I’m fascinated by this page because I put it through the Google translator, and the title of the page reads: “Lu Hsin-Chin foul Baby blog”. Really. Does this mean in translated Chinese what it means in English? And in the Chinese title: Are there no characters for “baby” in Chinese?


Snake in the Garden

Back in the early days of this blog, before I knew any better, I would write a “state of the blog” piece every month, on the first of the month. Now that I’m a more “mature” blogger, I tend to do this only on the anniversary of the blog, which is May 2. So consider this a (temporary) reversion to form.

There was a point in June when I seriously considered quitting doing the blog. not only were my numbers down, I was having this dispute with this other blogger that I didn’t understand over things on that person’s blog,

But then I started having dreams. Vivid dreams. Disturbing dreams. Dreams that pointed out my mortality to a degree that would wake me up and not allow me back to sleep. At the same time, it seemed to help answer unresolved questions that were lurking just beyond my conscious awareness. Sometimes, essays would come nearly fully formed. A couple became blog posts.

Another factor mitigating in favor of continuing – or maybe it’s the same factor – is that I realize I have more to say, whether anyone’s reading it or not. And occasionally, when someone like Shirlee Taylor Haizlip or Glenn Weiser, who thanked me for this piece (and in return, I corrected the misspelling of his name), write, it makes it worthwhile. As did a 13-year-old girl writing in response to my piece on my vitiligo.

I got a Twitter account on July 11. That would be July 11, 2007, made one post, then not again until this past week, when I wrote: “Saw a piece on ABC News about how some companies such as Comcast, JetBlue and Dell track Twitter for customer complaints. Very cool indeed.” So, I’m trying it on for size. Don’t want to have a “300 days ago” notation on it, so I’ll see.

I also finally added SamuraiFrog to my links. One of the curses of being in a cubicle is that pretty much anyone can see your computer, and sometimes, when I’m checking websites at lunch time, there are materials that don’t disturb me but probably would disturb others. So I just check him at home, where my wife can be disturbed instead.

Coming up this month: four or five posts that I started weeks or months ago that I never finished – it’ll be cathartic, at least for me; a feature I was doing regularly, but somehow dropped; on August 28, my annual FantaCo publication piece, already written in my head, but alas, not electronically; plus all the usual nonsense (yikes, I have to take more pictures of Lydia).
Me and Johnny B.

You are an Airbender!


The Sky Bison taught the first airbenders how to bend the air around them. While they cannot fly, airbenders can soar in the air for long distances by using a glider. Most important to airbenders is the concept of non-aggression. When they fight, they do not attack but defend themselves through circular movements that confuse their opponents.

Which Element do you Bend?

(Photo by Mary Hoffman, July 2008.)

Take a stroll through my mind

From time to time I read these blog improvement posts such as the best time of the year to post to your blog and This is the MOST IMPORTANT BLOG POST of 2008, so READ IT!
This is the easiest thing you can do to attract clients on the web, and it’s free, and fast.
I think these have value, and sometimes I even do them, though not always.

The harder thing is to find the balance. Mr. Dymowski wrote about some of this in his 10 things he’s learned about blogging, such as the balance between doing the blog and networking, or avoiding the blank page. Well, sometime during the month, I got unbalanced, maybe literally. I was away for three days at a work conference and I decided to write nothing. The upside is that I didn’t have to haul the laptop – which is REALLY slow – or go bother people to borrow their computers. And since I had content written for the days I was away, it didn’t have an immediate effect on the output.

So much of the time when I’m blogging, I write about what strikes the muse. So I might write a post about Flag Day – indeed, I already have, and you won’t see it until June 14. I’ve also finished my post for June 20 and August 10. Really. But without writing regularly, I found writing to suddenly become onerous.

Think about an exercise routine. You do it every day, or three times a week, and you take off a few days. If you’re like some people, it’s hard to get back into the groove. In fact, because I’ve missed riding my bike when I was away in April and again in May for the conference, and I didn’t feel well a couple of days, and it was cold and/or rainy a couple days, and Lydia was running late a couple days, I’ve ridden my bicycle far less at this point in the year than I have in previous years. Once I get derailed, it can be very difficult to get back on track.

Well, the same thing was true for blogging. I’m usually working at least a little bit ahead – I’m writing this on Friday morning before Lydia wakes up – but for the three days of the Memorial Day weekend, I had to get up and write something for the blog. What I realized: I HATE GETTING UP AND WRITING FOR THE BLOG. And, stupidly – you might think – I was writing at least some of those nights before, for a future post, because that’s where the muse took me.

Now, you might say, “Well, just pass on that day.” The trouble is that, to quote Billy Joel, “I go to extremes”. It was more like, “I think I’ll just quit blogging. Forever. Period.”

But that didn’t work, either. How do I explain this? All the things I used to sit around thinking about writing about, before I started blogging, would float in and out of my head, with no place to go. It was cacophonous, all the storylines in my brain. The GREAT thing about the blog is that it severely lessens the noise in my head. So, even if I don’t post it – and there are failed posts, posts I’ve written, but for whatever reason I never published – I still need to WRITE about. The blog is the methodology of publishing it, as it were, but the actual writing, removing certain stories from my mind into the keyboard, is a grand psychological release.

I saw Iron Man last weekend. My brain has composed what I THINK is a different POV on the movie. But until I actually write it down, and a musical I saw, and something that happened at the Greek festival, and some amazingly stupid and costly thing I did, it remains as an out-of-tune symphony in my head.

Specific to Memorial Day weekend, while I could have blown off two of the days, I could not have blown off the third. For that was the 26th of the month, and I seem to have a “contact with God” to write about Lydia on that date. (Which reminds me, I have this Will Eisner thing to write about.)

So I hope this view of my pathology makes sense. I believe it was inspired, at least a little bit, by this post from Mr. Velez. Thank you, Anthony.


The bachelor list

I’m so happy that Kristi Yamaguchi won American Idol and that David Cook won Dancing with the Stars. Wait a minute, that’s not right…

My wife, who IS happy Kristi won on Dancing, and daughter, who was rooting for some guy (hey, I don’t watch), are going away this weekend to visit the parents/grandparents. Oh, boy, this means I can set my own agenda! Come now – on these rare occasions, there’s always a list. Surprisingly, only a couple of them have come from my wife, and a bunch of it comes from my internal sense of responsibility. In roughly the order of importance:
* Pay some bills. I ran out of checks last week. While most things I have paid automatically or online, there are a couple that I hadn’t set up or aren’t available to be paid that way.
* Burn some CDs for some people; they know who they are.
* Cut the grass. I have a standard, Roger-powered machine, and if I don’t cut it every week (or even more frequently), I’ll have go borrow someone’s gas-driven machine.
* Move a bunch of CDs from the inconvenient furniture we bought a few years ago to some drawers I bought at a library auction a couple weeks ago. A MASSIVE undertaking I’ll probably do in sections.
* See the movie Iron Man. If I don’t see it now, I’ll never see it.
* Watch two movies on DVD that I borrowed MONTHS ago from friends and haven’t seen yet, Defending Your Life with Albert Brooks, and Independence Day. I’ve never seen either of them.
* Take the CD player to the shop to see if I can get it to work. It doesn’t seem to recognize that there is actually a CD IN the machine on a regular basis. I end up using the boom box, if I can wrestle it from my daughter.
* Read a week’s worth of newspapers.
* Watch at least some recorded TV.
* Write two blog pieces that have been floating in my mind for weeks, plus some ten-part thing I started a while ago, for which I BLAME TOSY.
* Get printer cartridges. I used up the last black one, and the color one just doesn’t work.
Then there’s church on Sunday morning and cleaning and laundry at some point. The problem with The List is that it’s always longer than the amount of time available to do the items on The List.