Thursday, November 29, 2007

2007: Album of the Year

Much to my surprise, my album of the year is a concert recording from 36 years ago, followed closely by an album that was never released.

Neil Young's spectacular "Live as Massey Hall 1971" is a remarkable recording from what must have been a magical evening. Solo Neil, with a small Toronto audience that braved the January cold.

Listening to this recording, one realizes how amazingly powerful and evocative Neil's voice is. The concert was between "After the Gold Rush" and the chart busting "Harvest", with Neil singing many "new" songs, like "Heart of Gold", "Journey Through the Past", etc. Can you imagine being in the audience that night and hearing these songs for the first time?

The recording is outstanding, really capturing the depth and subtlety of the guitar/piano and singing. Listening to this album, one realizes how extraordinarily good Neil was back in the day.

Going through the album, it has the definitive versions of classics like "Old Man", "Journey Through the Past", "Heart of Gold", "On the Way Home", "Man Needs a Maid", "See the Sky About to Rain", and "Tell Me Why".

Needless to say, any Neil Young album that has 7 definitive tracks is a must own and a must listen. Neil Young "Live at Massey Hall 1971" is my 2007 album of the year.

The close second is another Neil Young album, but one that was never released. "Chrome Dreams" is the mythical never released Neil Young album from 1977. Always discussed in hushed tones, some of the tracks made it into subsequent albums, but not all.

A little over a month ago, Neil release Chrome Dreams II, a "sequel" to that 1977 album. A mixed bag, but notable for having the 18 minute epic "Ordinary People", which had been cut from the "This Notes for You" album 20 years ago. Worth purchasing just for that song (wow!)

The hype leading up ti Chrome Dreams II worked its magic on the internet, and (via this post by Fred Wilson) I finally got to fulfill a dream and hear the album.

What an amazing album!

The definitive version of Pocahontas (one of the best songs ever made), a great take on Too Far Gone (one of the better songs on the Freedom album), the unbelievable Stringman (which I had never heard before), a definitive acoustic take on Powderfinger, and familiar versions of classics Like a Hurricane, Homegrown, and Captain Kennedy.

Taken together, Massey Hall and Chrome Dreams may bump After the Gold Rush and Freedom from my "You only have 2 Neil Young albums you can take to the deserted island" list

As an aside, back in the early 80s, right after I discovered Neil Young, my best friend Terry's mom let us know that Rolling Stone had had a great interview with the man a couple years before (kind of surreal rereading that article after all these years). In that interview, he hinted at the treasures that were waiting in his vaults, waiting for the day when he was all done:

One of Young's long-standing jokes is that he's saving his best material for his "Bus Crash" album. The few who have heard samplings of Young's tape vaults -- songs that didn't fit into the flow of his albums, entire unreleased works, live tapes, Buffalo Springfield tapes -- agree that some of his most compelling performances are among the unreleased material.

"All those songs," he says, "they're still there. They're there. And they're in an order. They're not gone. But, you know, they're old songs. Who wants to hear about it. They're depressing. They are. It's like ancient history to me. I don't want to have to deal with that stuff coming out."

"Until," I ask, "you're not around to deal with them coming out?"

"That's right," he says. "Then they're there. I think every artist plans for the future like that. I have things in a certain order, so that if anything ever happened to me it would be pretty evident what to do."

With a discography that included (at the time) Harvest, After the Gold Rush, Rust Never Sleeps, Decade, etc etc, we sat there in awe imagining what might be in The Vault. The image of " would be pretty evident what to do" haunted me then, and I've thought about it often in the years since.

Fast forward 25 years. Neil is releasing a whole series of live performances (volume 3 of which is the Live at Massey Hall gig from 1971). If you get the version of Massey Hall with the DVD, there is actually an old film of the concert (wow!). The vault is loosening up.

Inside the packaging is a nondescript insert saying:

Neil Young
The Archives Vol 1

8-CD, 2-DVD collection. The first volume in the definitive audiobiography.

After 25 years, the vault is finally opening. Terry my friend, this note's for you.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Christmas wish list

For those looking for ideas for what to get me for Christmas, you should check out the latest Profiles in History auction and look for lot #1128. I'll gladly arrange shipping (thanks)

LOT #1128
Original screen-used full-scale model T-800 endoskeleton from Terminator 2: Judgment Day

1128. Original screen-used full-scale model T-800 endoskeleton from Terminator 2: Judgment Day. (Carolco/TriStar, 1991) This iconic figure was constructed for the opening scene of the film, when the T-800 makes his dramatic appearance in the frightening future world of Los Angeles, 2029 A.D., in the Future War battle with John Connor and his small band of survivors.

Measuring fully 6 ft 2 in. tall, the figure is hand-crafted of chrome-plated resin over a steel and aluminum armature. The feet of this intricate T-800 are the original feet used in the first Terminator film, and are the only real metal feet made for any of the films. The eyes illuminate in an errie red (powered by a small battery), and the figure is posed on a custom-built diorama of "scorched earth" to complete the display. This is a 100-percent complete screen-used figure; only the mechanical elements have been removed to make it suitable for studio display.

An impressive and iconic figure from this groundbreaking film, which received the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects in 1992. This is the first time this piece has ever been offered publicly, and may be the last opportunity collectors will ever have to acquire what is probably the most instantly-identifible visual effects character of the last 30 years of film history. $80,000 - $100,000

Monday, November 19, 2007

Top Five TV Moment: The Thanksgiving Turkey Drop

TVSquad has a post on one of my top 5 TV moments of all time: the WKRP Turkey Drop episode.

The clip in the TVSquad post is classic. However, you need to get the epilogue to the scene as well. After you watch the clip on TVSquad, here is the link to YouTube for the epilogue.

"As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly"

I can't talk about WKRP (one of my favorite shows of all time) without raising hell for the decision to dub generic music into the DVD collection. I am patiently waiting for the day that some enterprising youths from the Church of Johnny Fever dub the original music back into the DVD rips.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Mac'ing It: Two Months In

As discussed in earlier posts, I recently made the switch back to NEXTSTEP Mac OS.

A couple months in, I'm settling into the new environment. For the benefit of those that are considering a change, here are the key apps and tidbits that I've settled on.


I use Carbon Copy Cloner to clone my internal drive to a partition on an external firewire drive once a week or so. This partition is fully bootable in case I ever have trouble with the internal drive, or have a botched install or OS upgrade.

For incremental backups, I use the Mozy on line backup service. Free for a couple Gb of off site backup, and working well.

When I upgrade to Leopard, I'll be using TimeMachine to backup locally to the aforementioned firewire drive (different partition for the TimeMachine backups), and keeping Mozy for off site backups

I also figured out how to keep directories in sync between my Mac and our PC file server. I use Foldershare, which is a amazingly useful P2P directory sync program that works between PCs and Macs. Only down side is a 10,000 file limit for an sync pair, but it works very very well (at least after I turned off encryption). Other downside is that it is such a clever and appropriate use of P2P, that I wish I had thought about it.

Useful Utilities

Every Mac user should have Growl installed. A unified system notification service, which lots of apps use to post message ("New Mail", "New IM", "Backup Started", etc.) Having some challenges with Leopard but working well with Tiger

Workspace clutter is a huge problem on Macs (too many windows everywhere). Sticky Windows provides a great solution in letting you configure certain apps to auto collapse to tabs on the side of the screen when they are not active. Great way to manage support apps like Address Book, IM tools, iCal, iTunes, etc, and significantly cuts down window clutter. Highly recommended.

One of the most useless legacy features of the Mac is the stupid menu bar at the top of the screen. It may have made sense back in 1984 with the first Macs with limited screen resolution, but even the NeXT machine back in the day knew enough to get rid of this thing. With a large resolution screen, it is a pain in the ass and a waste of screen real estate.

Since it is up there, may as well make good use of it. iStat menus puts a lots of system stats on the menu bar (CPU, memory utilization, etc.)

One of the things I miss from Windows is being able to Alt-Tab to a particular document (vs an application). Witch is a nice tool that replaces this functionality on the Mac.

Quicksilver is a must (see my earlier post)

Plaxo also has an amazingly nice service for synchronizing your Mac Address Book and iCal calendar with your Yahoo address book/calendar and your Google address book/calendar. Extremely useful, and a must have. After the disaster that was Plaxo's first attempt to become the addressbook for the internet, they've got it right this time.

Disk Inventory X is a nice tool to see what is taking up all the disk space on your system.

iStumbler is a great tool to show you your local wireless networks, bluetooth devices, and bon jour connections)

1Password is an interesting password manager with good integration with Safari and Firefox

VNCViewer (free VNC client...use it to remote connect to our home PC file server)

Productivity Applications

I've been using NeoOffice (a Mac version of OpenOffice) for Excel/PPT/Word type things. Works reasonably well with good interoperability with the dark side, but a huge memory hog. Good news is that I don't use Vista (under Parallels) for anything other than occassionally using Internet Explorer when I run into a site that doesn't play well with Firefox or Safari. OpenOffice for the Mac just didn't work for me.

I recently purchased Apple's iWork '08. Numbers isn't quite up to Excel levels yet (even for advanced basics). Keynote and Pages seem nice, but I haven't done a lot with them yet. Dirt cheap compared to Office.

For outlining and clipping management, I'm using Notebook. Very useful and works for me to keep my thoughts and web clippings organized (to do lists, notes, outlines, web clippings, annotated audio recordings, etc.) Having first used Notebook in beta under NEXTSTEP 15 years ago, great to see Jayson still advancing the app. Must have app for anyone that works primarily in the digital domain.

Twitterrific is a nice Twitter client that I'm just starting to play with

Adium is the multi-protocol IM tool of choice

Physical Things

After a lot of research, I ended up with the Tom Bihn Empire Builder laptop bag, with the fancy Tom Bihn absolute strap. By far and away the most useful and best designed laptop bag I've ever had. Extremely intuitive (things just appear where you expect them to be). The strap has a slight elastic give that makes it easily the most comfortable strap I've ever used. Can't recommend this bag highly enough

One nuance of the Tom Bihn bag is that there isn't an obvious slot for your notebook in the bag. Tom Bihn does sell a padded "Brain Cell", that looks like it is designed to let you drop your laptop from a 2 story building. I got one of these, but it was just too bulky in the bag for me. Even when I took it out, it was sufficiently bulky that I may as well have kept it in the bigger bag and carried the bigger bag around. I ended up returning it.

In its place, I purchased a Waterfield sleevecase. It fits in the Tom Bihn bag perfectly, and easily comes in and out when all you want to do is take your laptop around. Incredible service and shipping times too.

I do have an Apple wireless mighty mouse in my bag. Don't use it that often, but it is nice to have (and works well)

I recently upgraded the laptop to 4Gb of memory ( Firefox is an amazing memory hog, and NeoOffice sucks it down like only a bloated Java app can. Of course, if you are running virtual machine(s) in Parallels, you can never have too much memory.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Giving Thanks

Every year at around this time, I have a tradition of sharing a Thanksgiving "thank you" with my coworkers. If the work is worth doing, it is inevitable that you're asking a great deal of those you work with. Thanksgiving is a wonderful opportunity to acknowledge the value and meaning and decency of that work, and why it is worth doing.

This Thanksgiving, I find myself a ronin, so I stepping back from grand corporate themes to something more personal.

I come from an immigrant family. Growing up, my parents knew nothing about Thanksgiving. It wasn't until we moved to the US in 1970 that we first became exposed to this holiday. My father was a graduate student at Penn State, and my mother was learning how to speak english and function in this strange place, many thousands of miles from family and home, with a three year child.

Looking back, it is incredible how so many in that small college community embraced our young family, so far from home and all that was familiar. In particular, the McCarl family (my father's graduate advisor) made a point of inviting us to their home every Thanksgiving, to share the holiday with them and their kids. It is there we learned about the holiday, and the real meaning of giving thanks for your blessings, and sharing those blessings for others.

Over the years, Thanksgiving grew to be (by far) the most important holiday for me and my family. My parent's Thanksgiving table was always open to others who were far from home, alone, or new to the community.

Fast forward to 1987. I am in England working on my masters and for the first time going to be away from home at Thanksgiving. One of my fondest memories of my year in England is borrowing pots and pans from the college kitchen and preparing a full Thanksgiving meal for 50 other expatriots and English friends. Sharing the meal and the meaning of Thanksgiving with so many friends is a blessing I will never forget.

Last year, we were all at my parents house in Washington DC for the holiday. Around the table, we were blessed with 14 people, with our family, my sister and her family, my sister's husbands parents joining us from Nevada, and a coworker of my father's from Japan. After 35+ years, it was incredibly moving to see what our family had grown into since those very first Thanksgivings with the McCarl family.

This past January, Dr. McCarl passed away at the age of 79. In his nearly five decades at Penn State, Dr. McCarl had made many contributions to science, the community, and the university. For this immigrant's son, I will always remember him and his family for being the first to show me, through their kindness and how they lived their lives, what it means to be an American. Thank you.

As you sit down with friends and family this holiday, remember those who through their decency and example have touched your life, and be mindful of the opportunities you have to touch others. It is through these touches that who we are echoes and ripples through time.

Best wishes for a happy, healthy, thoughtful, and reflective Thanksgiving with friends and family.

FROM THE ARCHIVES: Thanksgiving 2001

From the pre-blog days, another in a series of posts "From the Archives". In this case, heart felt thanks for all our blessings during the Thanksgiving immediately after 9/11 (as I'm sure you remember, it did not seem like we had much to be thankful for in those dark days)



Best wishes for a happy, healthy, thoughtful and reflective Thanksgiving with friends and family.

As we enter this season of Thanks, of Penance, of Light, of Miracles, and of Rebirth, I find myself ever more grateful and appreciative of what Stephen Jay Gould calls the "Everest of decency" (see appended).

No matter how hard we are on ourselves and each other, we are blessed to live in a Golden Age:

  • We consider ourselves in a recession, even though we enjoy an economy and opportunity that were beyond the dreams of most people just 10 years ago.
  • We are (justifiably) at war to defend life and liberty, at a time when nearly everyone on this planet enjoys a level of freedom and opportunity that is well beyond the wildest imaginations of Jefferson, Lincoln, and even Kennedy and King.
  • We are concerned about our future, even though the last 60 years has demonstrated an unbroken and ever accelerating blossoming of human achievement and self-actualization that exceeds the sum total of all that came before it.

We stand tall, at the pinnacle of civilization, on the sacrifices and accomplishments of those that came before us. By our deeds, we raise those yet to come even higher, one grain at a time.

Thank you for all you have done (and will do) to build that fortress ever taller.

Best wishes for the holidays...



Excerpted from "An ode to human decency" by Stephen
Jay Gould, 9/20/2001

In an important, little appreciated and utterly tragic principle regulating the structure of nearly all complex systems, building up must be accomplished step by tiny step, whereas destruction need occupy but an instant. Ten thousand acts of kindness done by thousands of people, and slowly building trust and harmony over many years, can be undone by one destructive act of a skilled and committed psychopath.

"For this reason, a documentation of the innumerable small acts of kindness, the good deeds that almost always pass beneath our notice for lack of "news value," becomes an imperative duty, a responsibility that might almost be called holy, when we must reaffirm the prevalence of human decency against our pre-eminent biases for hyping the cataclysmic and ignoring the quotidian. Ordinary kindness trumps paroxysmal evil by at least a million events to one, and we will not grasp this inspiring ratio unless we record the Everest of decency built grain by grain into a mighty fortress taller than any breakable building of mere concrete and steel."


And for posterity, full piece from the late Stephen Jay Gould....

From the Toronto Globe and Mail, 9/20/01

The Globe Review

An ode to human decency

Bless the good people of Halifax, writes pre-eminent American scientist STEPHEN JAY GOULD, one of 9,000 travellers forced to land in Nova Scotia during the terrorist strikes


The Globe and Mail

"All material Copyright (c) Bell Globemedia Publishing Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved."

NEW YORK -- Images of division and enmity marked my first contact, albeit indirect, with Nova Scotia -- the common experience of so many American schoolchildren, grappling with the unpopular assignment of Longfellow's epic poem Evangeline, centred on the expulsion of the Acadians in 1755.

My first actual encounter with Maritime Canada, as a teenager on a family motor trip in the mid-1950s, sparked nothing but pleasure and fascination, as I figured out the illusion of Moncton's Magnetic Hill, marvelled at the tidal phenomena of the Bay of Fundy (especially the reversing rapids of Saint John and the tidal bore of Moncton), found peace of spirit at Peggy's Cove and learned some history in the old streets of Halifax.

I have been back, always with eagerness and fulfilment, a few times since, for reasons both recreational and professional: a second family trip, one generation later, and now as a father with two sons aged 3 and in utero; a lecture at Dalhousie; some geological field work.

My latest visit among you, however, was entirely involuntary and maximally stressful. I live in lower Manhattan, just a mile from the burial ground of the Twin Towers. As they fell victim to evil and insanity on Tuesday, Sept. 11, during the morning after my 60th birthday, my wife and I, en route from Milan to New York, flew over the Titanic's resting place and then followed the route of her recovered dead to Halifax.
We sat on the tarmac for eight hours and eventually proceeded to the cots of Dartmouth's sports complex, then upgraded to the adjacent Holiday Inn. On Friday, at 3 o'clock in the morning, Alitalia brought us back to the airport, only to inform us that their plane would return to Milan.

We rented one of the last two cars available and drove, with an intense mixture of grief and relief, back home.

The general argument of this piece, amid the most horrific specifics of any event in our lifetime, does not express the views of a naively optimistic Pollyanna, but rather, and precisely to the contrary, attempts to record one of the deepest tragedies of our existence.

Intrinsic human goodness and decency prevail effectively all the time, and the moral compass of nearly every person, despite some occasional jiggling prompted by ordinary human foibles, points in the right direction. The oppressive weight of disaster and tragedy in our lives does not arise from a high percentage of evil among the summed total of all acts, but from the extraordinary power of exceedingly rare incidents of depravity to inflict catastrophic damage, especially in our technological age when airplanes can become powerful bombs. (An even more evil man, armed only with a longbow, could not have wreaked such havoc at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415.)

In an important, little appreciated and utterly tragic principle regulating the structure of nearly all complex systems, building up must be accomplished step by tiny step, whereas destruction need occupy but an instant. In previous essays on the nature of change, I have called this phenomenon the Great Asymmetry (with uppercase letters to emphasize the sad generality). Ten thousand acts of kindness done by thousands of people, and slowly building trust and harmony over many years, can be undone by one destructive act of a skilled and committed psychopath. Thus, even if the effects of kindness and evil balance out in the course of history, the Great Asymmetry guarantees that the numbers of kind and evil people could hardly differ more, for thousands of good souls overwhelm each perpetrator of darkness.

I stress this greatly underappreciated point because our error in equating a balance of effects with equality in numbers could lead us to despair about human possibilities, especially at this moment of mourning and questioning; whereas, in reality, the decent multitudes, performing their 10,000 acts of kindness, vastly outnumber the very few depraved people in our midst. And thus, we have every reason to maintain our faith in human kindness and our hopes for the triumph of human potential, if only we can learn to harness this wellspring of unstinting goodness in nearly all of us.

For this reason, a documentation of the innumerable small acts of kindness, the good deeds that almost always pass beneath our notice for lack of "news value," becomes an imperative duty, a responsibility that might almost be called holy, when we must reaffirm the prevalence of human decency against our pre-eminent biases for hyping the cataclysmic and ignoring the quotidian. Ordinary kindness trumps paroxysmal evil by at least a million events to one, and we will not grasp this inspiring ratio unless we record the Everest of decency built grain by grain into a mighty fortress taller than any breakable building of mere concrete and steel.

Our media have stressed -- as well they should -- the spectacular acts of goodness and courage done by professionals pledged to face such dangers, and by ordinary people who can summon superhuman strength in moments of crisis: the brave firefighters who rushed in to get others out; the passengers of United Flight 93 who apparently drew the grimly correct inference when they learned the fate of the Twin Towers, and died fighting rather than afraid, perhaps saving thousands of lives by accepting their own death in an unpopulated field. But each of these spectacular acts rests upon an immense substrate of tiny kindnesses that cannot be motivated by thoughts of fame or fortune (for no one expects their documentation), and can only represent the almost automatic shining of simple human goodness. But this time, we must document the substrate, if only to reaffirm the inspiring predominance of kindness at a crucial moment in this vale of tears.

Halifax sat on the invisible periphery of a New York epicentre, with 45 planes, mostly chock full of poor strangers from strange lands, arrayed in two lines on the tarmac, and holding 9,000 passengers to house, feed and, especially, to comfort.

May it then be recorded; may it be inscribed forever in the Book of Life: Bless the good people of Halifax who did not sleep, who took strangers into their homes, who opened their hearts and shelters, who rushed in enough food and clothing to supply an army, who offered tours of their beautiful city and, above all, who listened with a simple empathy that brought this tough and fully grown man to tears, over and over again. I heard not a single harsh word, saw not the slightest gesture of frustration, and felt nothing but pure and honest welcome.

I know that you good people of Halifax have, by long tradition and practice, shown heroism and self-sacrifice at moments of disaster -- occasional situations that all people of seafaring ancestry must face. I know that you received and buried the drowned victims of the Titanic in 1912, lost one in 10 of your own people in the Halifax Explosion of 1917, and gathered in the wreckages and remains of the recent Swissair disaster.

But, in a sense that may seem paradoxical, you outdid yourselves this time because you responded immediately, unanimously, unstintingly and with all conceivable goodness, when no real danger, but merely fear and substantial inconvenience, dogged your refugees for a few days. Our lives did not depend upon you, but you gave us everything nonetheless. We, 9,000 strong, are forever in your debt, and all humanity glows in the light of your unselfish goodness.

And so my wife and I drove back home, past the Magnetic Hill of Moncton (now a theme park in this different age), past the reversing rapids of Saint John, visible from the highway, through the border crossing at Calais (yes, I know, as in Alice, not as in ballet) and down to a cloud of dust and smoke enveloping a mountain of rubble, once a building and now a tomb. But you have given me hope that the ties of our common humanity will bind even these wounds.

And so Canada, although you are not my home or native land, we will always share this bond of your unstinting hospitality to people who descended upon you as frightened strangers, and received nothing but solace and solidarity in your embrace of goodness. So Canada, because we beat as one heart, from Evangeline in Louisiana to the intrepid Mr. Sukanen of Moose Jaw, I will stand on guard for thee.

Stephen Jay Gould is a professor of zoology and geology at Harvard University and an internationally renowned author, whose books include Questioning the Millennium and The Book of Life: An Illustrated History of the Evolution of Life on Earth. He lives in New York. Special to The Globe and Mail

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Veteran's Day

Given all that our armed forces have done for us and for the betterment of the world, Veteran's Day is a day that should have more import for us Americans. While Canadians wear their poppies, for many in America it is almost an after thought.

Every year, for me an important part of the holiday is to visit the Medal of Honor site and read about the recipients. As an example, the citation for Master Sergeant Gary Gordon:


Rank and organization: Master Sergeant, U.S. Army. Place and date: 3 October 1993, Mogadishu, Somalia. Entered service at: ----- Born: Lincoln, Maine. Citation: Master Sergeant Gordon, United States Army, distinguished himself by actions above and beyond the call of duty on 3 October 1993, while serving as Sniper Team Leader, United States Army Special Operations Command with Task Force Ranger in Mogadishu, Somalia. Master Sergeant Gordon's sniper team provided precision fires from the lead helicopter during an assault and at two helicopter crash sites, while subjected to intense automatic weapons and rocket propelled grenade fires. When Master Sergeant Gordon learned that ground forces were not immediately available to secure the second crash site, he and another sniper unhesitatingly volunteered to be inserted to protect the four critically wounded personnel, despite being well aware of the growing number of enemy personnel closing in on the site. After his third request to be inserted, Master Sergeant Gordon received permission to perform his volunteer mission. When debris and enemy ground fires at the site caused them to abort the first attempt, Master Sergeant Gordon was inserted one hundred meters south of the crash site. Equipped with only his sniper rifle and a pistol, Master Sergeant Gordon and his fellow sniper, while under intense small arms fire from the enemy, fought their way through a dense maze of shanties and shacks to reach the critically injured crew members. Master Sergeant Gordon immediately pulled the pilot and the other crew members from the aircraft, establishing a perimeter which placed him and his fellow sniper in the most vulnerable position. Master Sergeant Gordon used his long range rifle and side arm to kill an undetermined number of attackers until he depleted his ammunition. Master Sergeant Gordon then went back to the wreckage, recovering some of the crew's weapons and ammunition. Despite the fact that he was critically low on ammunition, he provided some of it to the dazed pilot and then radioed for help. Master Sergeant Gordon continued to travel the perimeter, protecting the downed crew. After his team member was fatally wounded and his own rifle ammunition exhausted, Master Sergeant Gordon returned to the wreckage, recovering a rifle with the last five rounds of ammunition and gave it to the pilot with the words, "good luck." Then, armed only with his pistol, Master Sergeant Gordon continued to fight until he was fatally wounded. His actions saved the pilot's life. Master Sergeant Gordon's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest standards of military service and reflect great credit upon him, his unit and the United States Army.

I encourage everyone to take some time and read the citations of our Medal of Honor winners. I am awed and humbled by the courage and commitment and bravery of these soldiers. For every story that is told, there are thousands of other stories (large and small) that we never hear.

Many are skeptical of our current war or the judgment of our political leaders. While there are many sides to that discussion, we should have only one side in our gratitude and respect for those brave few that stand forward for us all. My deep and enduring thanks to the friends and family of Sergeant Gordon for his example and service, and my thanks and respects to all those who have bravely served our country.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Best Show on TV

I'm not watching too much TV these days. My beloved Cubs exited the post season far too soon, I'm not yet sucked into football, and Lost, 24, and Battlestar Galactica don't kick off their seasons for another couple months.

With the rumors flying around that Battlestar Galactica (far and away the best show on TV right now) may not start it's new (and final) season until spring, I am most sad.

That being said, by far the best TV on TV right now is every Friday night from 8:58-9:00 pm (central) on the Sci Fi channel, squeezed between Flash Gordan and Stargate Atlantis. Those 2 minutes are better than any other program on TV right now, and (thankfully) are viewable at the Sci Fi Channel web site.

Leading up to the 11/24 premiere of the Battlestar Galactica Razor movie on Sci Fi, they are running a series of 2 minute vignettes to help set up the movie. Watching this little snippets, you realize how much BG is head and shoulders above all over shows (the last couple weeks are make-you-sit-up-and-whisper-"DAMN!" television). Fragging good TV.

Even during the lame season premier of Bionic Woman, one of the best sequences was when Jamie Summers walked into her apartment, and there was a TV in the background playing a space battle scene from a Battlestar Galactica episode. Made you realize just how bad Bionic Woman really was.

For those who are not BG junkies yet, run (don't walk) to your local Blockbuster or Netflix and start renting season 1. You won't be disappointed, and should be caught up by the time the new season starts.