Sunday, December 30, 2007

Can't Complain About Blessings

Well, it's almost the end of another year. I look back at this year and notice that blogging definitely is no longer a priority. When you look at the number of posts I made in 2006 versus 2007, it's pretty obvious that work and family have taken priority. As I wave goodbye to 2007, I have to say that I'm glad to see it go. It's been full of change. Though I could complain about the bad parts of 2007, my wife and I have chosen to look at them as blessings. It's easy to consider difficult times as negative parts of life, but with the difficult parts of this year, I do have to say that God has not forgotten about my family. My folks told me that life is never fair and is never gonna be easy...and I can definitely say that to be the case. Here is a brief run-down of the year:

(a) The year started off with my wife learning that working and having my son at daycare didn't really work well. She would drop my son off at school and feel as though she was missing out on his development and all the milestones. At the start of the year, I was still traveling alot for work this put stress on my wife. She would have to work most of the day, pick up my son, spend time with him, put him to sleep, and then work in the evenings to document all of her sales calls. This put alot of stress on her and eventually the breakdown occurred. Though the prospect of losing a good portion of our income was daunting at first, we were able to come up with a budget that allowed her to stay at home with my son. From the day that we decided to let her stay at home, the stress has lifted off of her and she savors every minute with my son. She feels as though this is what God called her to do while the children are young. My mom did the same with therefore I can't really argue or complain. Seeing her happy and enjoying this time with my son is priceless...these are times that you won't get to re-live again.

(b) In April and May of this year, my wife noticed that a spot was protruding on my son's forehead (right between his eyebrows). This was something that we noticed somewhat when he was born, but the doctor said that it would go away. The more that my wife and I started to notice, the spot appeared to be growing. The spot felt like it was just a part of his skull and his pediatrician seemed to agree. Eventually, the doctor changed his mind and suggested that we visit a neurosurgeon to make sure that this wasn't anything to worry about. My wife and I took our son to the neurosurgeon in July and found out that my son had a birth defect called a dermoid. A dermoid is like a cyst that protrudes from the skull and occurs in less that 1% of people. The risk with the dermoid is that it can have a intercranial tail that can go through the skull and get mixed up in the inter-workings of the brain. So needless to say, my wife and I were scared out of our mind. We were able to get an appointment at LeBonheur to have a CT scan of my son's skull to determine whether the dermoid had a tail. Thank God that CT scan came back and showed that the dermoid did not have a tail. After receiving this good news, we had to make the choice as whether to have a plastic surgeon remove the dermoid. With the chance that the dermoid could grow larger and because we didn't want to have my son grow up and have children make fun of him, we decided to have the surgery done. We were blessed to find a surgeon in Memphis that has carried out special procedures like this. The choices were to either make three small incisions above the hairline and then take an endoscope through the top of the skull and remove the dermoid or else make an incision from ear to ear and then remove the dermoid after carrying out a mild face lift. As you can imagine..being parents..we chose the less invasive method and had the surgeon do the endoscope method. Luckily, the surgery was a success. The only risk with this method is that the dermoid could come back. This happens we are staying's all gonna work out.

(c) Toward the middle of the year, I was starting to learn that my corporate job that I've had for nearly 5 years was not working out. All of my bosses were very inconsiderate of the fact that I had a son and a family to worry about. About 95% of my superiors did not have families, no children, and were either divorced or gay. So needless to say, work was their life. I was receiving pressure to continue to put in 70-80 hour weeks and to keep up my travel schedule. I started looking for another job in May, but was not in a huge rush to leave. I wanted to find the right job with the right fit. Well, in August, my hand was put it nicely. I had my annual job performance review and received negative feedback because I didn't have time to do the multitude of outside extracurricular activities that they wanted. My reviewers were folks that made work their lives. They never once considered that I was able to balance work and would have thought that they would have wanted to put me on a pedestal since I was the only person in my position that had a wife and a child..and got all my work done. Well, apparently that wasn't good enough. I took the negative job review as a sign and decided to be more diligent in finding a new job. I worked with a great recruiter and found a job with a more family friendly company. The travel is much less, the pay is better, my hours are less, I don't have to work every evening and on weekends, and best of all, I get to spend more time with my wife and child. The new company also has offices throughout the Southeast. I was also given the opportunity to move back to my hometown. My wife and I are in the process of selling our home and hope to move back to my hometown in the next few months.

(d) In the middle of November, my wife found out some great news...she is pregnant with our second child. We were hoping to tell our families at Christmas, but she spilled the beans to her folks right before Thanksgiving. We are planning to do it the way we did with our first child..not find out the sex until the baby is born. This keeps things interesting..and it drives my mom

Well, I've probably bored many of you to tears. When I look back at 2007, I have to consider all of the difficult times to be blessings in disguise. Though it might not seem it at the time, there is someone who is looking over you at all times. I just hope that 2008 will be a little smoother than 2007.

Currently listening to:

Animal Collective
Strawberry Jam
Released: 9-10-07

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Best of 2007-Music

Best of 2007-The Music Edition

(in no particular order)

1. LCD Soundsystem-Sound of Silver
2. Velvet Revolver-Libertad
3. Spoon-Ga Ga Ga
4. Liars-Liars
5. Wilco-Sky Blue Sky
6. View-Hat's Off to the Buskers
7. Modest Mouse-We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank
8. Foo Fighters-Echoes, Silence, Patience, and Grace
9. Apples in Stereo-New Magnetic Wonder
10. Jens Lekman-Night Falls Over Kortedala
11. Robert Plant and Alison Krauss-Raising Sand
12. Nine Black Alps-Love/Hate
13. Maps-We Can Create
14. Arctic Monkeys-Favourite Worst Nightmare
15. Of Montreal-Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?
16. Sloan-Never Hear the End of It
17. Panda Bear-Person Pitch
18. Voxtrot-Voxtrot
19. Richard Hawley-Lady's Bridge
20. Patrick Wolf-The Magic Position
21. Twilight Sad-Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters
22. Jesse Malin-Glitter in the Gutter
23. Shins-Wincing the Night Away
24. Richard Swift-Dressed Up for the Letdown
25. Mando Diao-Never Seen the Light of Day
26. Junior Senior-Hey Hey My My Yo Yo
27. New Young Pony Club-Fantastic Playroom
28 Justice-Cross
29. Lucky Soul-The Great Unwanted
30. Josh Rouse-Country Mouse City House
31. New Pornographers-Challengers
32. Amy Winehouse-Back to Black
33. Arcade Fire-Neon Bible
34. The Horrors-Strange House
35. Fountains of Wayne-Traffic and Weather
36. Kings of Leon-Because of the Times
37. The Ponys-Turn the Lights Out
38. Jarvis Cocker-Jarvis
39. Lilly Allen-Alright Still
40. I Am from Barcelona-Let Me Introduce My Friends
41. Air-Pockey Symphony
42. Field Music-Tones of Town
43. Idlewild-Make Another World
44. Pop Levi-The Return to Form Black Magick Party
45. Bloc Party-A Weekend in the City
46. White Stripes-Icky Thump
47. Deerhoof-Friend Opportunity
48. A Place to Bury Strangers-A Place to Bury Strangers
49. Caribou-Andorra
50. National-The Boxer
51. Battles-Mirrored
52. Radiohead-In Rainbows

Monday, April 16, 2007

Best Albums of 2007-First Quarter

I have to admit that the first quarter of 2007 has produced a good number of quality music albums. The following are the albums that have thus far impressed me:

1. Shins-Wincing the Night Away

2. The Arcade Fire-Neon Bible

3. Bloc Party-A Weekend in the City

4. The Horrors-Strange House

5. The Ponys-Turn the Lights Out

6. Fountains of Wayne-Traffic and Weather

7. Kings of Leon-Because of the Times

8. Pop Levi-The Return to Form Black Magick Party

9. LCD Soundsystem-Sounds of Silver

10. Idlewild-Make Another World

11. Panda Bear-Person Pitch

12. The Bees-Octopus

13. Deerhoof-Friend Opportunity

14. Klaxons-Myths of the Near Future

15. Jesse Malin-Glitter in the Gutter

16. Field Music-Tones of Town

17. Air-Pocket Symphony

18. Jarvis Cocker-Jarvis

19. Richard Swift-Dressed Up for the Letdown

20. The View-Hats Off to the Buskers

21. Apples in Stereo-New Magnetic Wonder

22. Of Montreal-Hissing Fauan, Are You the Destroyer?

23. Lilly Allen-Alright Still (released in the UK last year)

24. Amy Winehouse-Back to Black (released in the UK last year)

25. I am From Barcelona-Let me Introduce my Friends (released in the UK last year)

Currently Listening to:


Sky Blue Sky

Released on: 5-15-07

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Non-Conformists are Actually Conformists

When you follow the indie music scene, you are always hearing people talk about 'all those conformist so and so people (for example, preppies, California girls, etc).' Since I hang out in music stores/bookstores and I don't really care to wear skater boy looking clothes, let my hair grow out, and not look/smell like I've bathed in a week, I have come to a conclusion about this whole indie scene that is prevalent. The indie crowd and the musician crowd can talk the talk about not being conformist, but when you look at the groups of the so-called non-conformist indie folk, all of them are actually conformist. They all wear the same type of clothes (baggie jeans or khakis, a t-shirt that has a band or some off-the-wall crazy saying, a grungy looking flannel shirt, skater shoes, and maybe a few tattoos or piercings) and they have a general F the world type attitude. They roam around in packs just like the preppies, hippies, California girls, etc. and have the same music tastes. They think that no one has heard about a so-called band (Dashboard Confessional or some emo stuff) when really the band is quite well known. They all want to think radical thoughts about the government and automatically think that Bush is horrible..when none of them actually research anything related to politics to justify their way of thinking. They choose to rebel against their parents and want to drive around in so called environmentally friendly cars (though none of them can actually afford one because their non-conformist looks won't allow them a job outside of working for Starbucks, Tower Records, or Hot Topic). I guess what I'm trying to say is that all this so-called non-conformist talk and image is actually a bunch of utter bullshit. Everything about you guys is utterly conformist..geez, get a clue people! Clean up your image (aka, take an F'n bath), get an education in something that might actually make money (aka, an art history, literature, music, or social work degree doesn't really help you make more than say $25 grand a year), stop thinking the world is out to get you (yes, the world may be out to get you because of your looks and F-the world attitude), and oh yeah, learn to smile and realize that your parents are actually looking out for your best interests.

Currently listening to:

Kings of Leon

Because of the Times

Released on: 4-3-07

Thursday, April 12, 2007

DRM..Bye, Bye??

Ever since the start of the Napster revolution back around 1995 and 1996, I've always been interested in the progress of the digital music revolution. I remember my undergrad school attempting to stop the download and use of Napster and their belief that this revolution could be stopped. I actually attended a conference while in grad school where some woman associated with the RIAA attempted to speak on digital music. She believed that her company would be able to curb the problem of illegal music/movie downloading. I stood up and challenged her and said that as soon as they shut down one 'Napster-like' site, another one would pop up within 10 seconds. Ironic thing is...with all her authority and power..she has turned out to be the fool. As long as there is the internet..there will be no way to stop the movement toward downloading music free and illegally. I find it funny that the RIAA is so in the stoneage when it comes file sharing. They believe that suing people (including children and grandparents) and going after colleges will be able to stop this. The process of suing people isn't really solving things..if anything, they are looking like the bully. Shouldn't the RIAA attempt to work with the music industry to come up with new solutions to file sharing instead of just throwing out more lawsuits? Oh well...ten years from now...maybe the major labels will be on the way out and we can buy directly from the artists..wouldn't that make more sense in the end? Cut out the labels..cut the costs of making discs and distribution to stores like Best Buy? Really..what role would the labels and the RIAA really play...their role would be very minimal.

Last week the music industry was awash with the news of the music label EMI deciding to strike a deal with iTunes to release music without DRM (Digital Rights Management). Apple has been required to use DRM for all songs on iTunes since inception to make the labels happy. The problem with DRM files is that you can only use them on the iPod. DRM files are not like mp3's..they are very restrictive. The other major labels have been slow and quiet in response to the idea of moving their files to a non-DRM format (Apple is planning to use the AAC format for the EMI music files-Apple claims the AAC files will be much higher quality sound than typical mp3 files). I regularly visit an informative site each day called Digital Music News and came across the following article. It definitely makes you think..enjoy:

Resnikoff's Parting Shot: Will Other Majors Follow?

Paul Resnikoff, Editor

If kids robbed your candy store everyday, would you simply throw away the padlock out front? Of course not! You'd get a better security system, you'd outfox the thieves and get your business back! After all, the chocolate store next door only has a small problem with theft, and the ice cream store next to that is raking in millions. Why should your business be any different?

In this case, the candy store is recorded music, the chocolatier is the movie business, and the ice cream store represents the gaming industry. Sound familiar? Of course, the analogy is limited, and the current scenario facing the recording industry is far more complicated. But not to a number of major label executives, and that makes a move away from content protection by Universal, Warner, and Sony BMG anything but guaranteed.

Sure, movies may be next, especially as broadband pipes fatten, file-transfer technologies grow more sophisticated, and storage limitations become negligent. But that cloud is still hovering in the distance, and the gaming industry is drowning in billions! Both have protected architectures and controlled viewing environments, so why should music chart a different course? "The notion that music does not deserve the same protections as software, television, film, video games or other intellectual property simply because there is an unprotected legacy product available in the physical world is completely without logic or merit," said Warner Music chairman Edgar Bronfman, Jr., during an earnings call in early February. "We will not abandon DRM, nor will we disadvantage services that are successfully implementing DRM for both content and consumers."

The current recording industry malaise is largely the result of a technological perfect storm. The CD boom in the 90s generated unheard-of revenue totals, but the seeds of an uncontrollable digital distribution nightmare were being sown. Critics question why labels would knowingly distribute perfect and unprotected digital copies of their product, though most executive boardrooms lacked a digital soothsayer in that era. Jump back to 1995, and few could outline a future so severe. But the combination of the pristine and unprotected disc, coupled with manageable song file sizes, allowed music fans to revolt against heavily-packaged and overpriced CDs with a terror.

Music fans were feeling pain for decades, and applications like Napster and iTunes unleashed a bull charge of cherry-picking and stealing. But almost every other industry has its unique portfolio of pain, though locked-in customers are willing to endure it for a variety of reasons. When is the last time you cursed your mobile phone? Or laughed at how high gas prices were? Or willingly allowed a movie theater to gouge your wallet on tickets, parking, popcorn and an ice-filled soda? In any of these arenas, disruptive changes and new entrants have the power to ease those pain points, but until then, you'll put up with it! But in the case of music, consumers are no longer forced to bear the packaged pain of an overpriced CD.

Steve Jobs has been pushing labels to ditch DRM, but he almost rubbed it in their face during a joint announcement with EMI on Monday. When asked why the iTunes Store would not be shedding DRM on video, Jobs replied that the movie and television industry isn't already distributing a totally unprotected product, and that makes the decision matrix different. "Video is pretty different than music right now, because the video industry does not distribute 90 percent of their content DRM-free, never has," Jobs said, referring to the unprotected CD. "So I think they're in a pretty different situation, and I wouldn't hold the two in parallel at all."

But the recording industry wants to protect their CDs, they just can't figure out how! The wreckage of the Sony BMG rootkit fiasco looms large, and few are willing to roll the dice in such a delicate consumer environment.

Cynics note that Jobs is the single largest Disney shareholder, while others point to a shrewd move by the Apple chief to escape a deepening European regulatory glare. European consumer protection groups are wondering if the Apple FairPlay protection system needs to be licensed, but Jobs wants to take that option off of the table entirely. What better way to accomplish this than by brokering a collection of DRM-free, interoperable tracks?

Viewed that way, are label executives ready to get played once again? Labels often fall like dominoes when it comes to decisions like this, but does EMI have any sway this time around? After all, the label is in a desperate situation, and battling a downward profit spiral. Is that how the other executives want to play, from a desperate corner?

They may have to in order to survive, though maybe it makes more sense to simply watch the EMI DRM-free sales story emerge. After all, what harm is created by waiting and positioning EMI as a guinea pig? If sales balloon, then the decision is easy, and if not, it's back to the drawing board.

The only problem is that the definition of "DRM-free" for EMI involves a higher-priced track, and one that still has lingering compatibility issues. And that makes this guinea pig a bit deformed. Sure, the locks and keys have been thrown away, but iTunes will be selling the "premium" tracks in AAC, an internationally-recognized standard but not a format as universally accepted as the MP3. Other stores will be able to position the tracks in whatever unprotected form they want, including WMA and MP3, but isn't Apple really calling the shots in this game?

And that's what this is, a game. And for the majors, the score is getting hopeless, and the clock is ticking fast. In fact, the fans - music consumers - are quickly leaving the stadium! But despite the grim situation, major executives may take their time before throwing a Hail Mary, DRM-free bomb. Let EMI play that card, especially with the stakes as high as they are.

Let's see how things unfold...

Currently Listening to:

The Bees


Released on: 3-26-07

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Beware the Roaming Recruiters

I've spoken recently about the possibility of a job change in my future. As of right now, I'm not sure where I stand, but there is one thing I will say, be careful with the recruiters that are out there. Working for a large accounting firm, I typically get random emails and phone messages from job recruiters each week emphasizing that they 'have that special job for you with the right work life balance and high salary.' Having not been in the job market for several years, I thought I would get in touch with one of the random recruiters who contacted me. The guy seemed to be legit and offered a list of some promising job opportunities. I sent him my updated resume and he promised to distribute it to the companies in which I showed interest. Since I carried out this process of communication and requested that my resume be sent, I am still waiting here over 3 weeks later. The guy never emails providing me the status of his so called 'work' on my behalf. I seem to be doing more work than he does. I came to find out that the list of jobs he provided me was simply pulled from Monster. Any idiot could have pulled these job opportunities. I am also having to regularly reach out to him via email to even get a status update. Many times he will wait days to respond only to tell me that he's heard nothing yet and to be patient. He pretty much feeds me typical bullshit. I emailed him tonight to tell him to get his ass into shape or else I'm cutting any ties with him.

My response to this poor recruiter has been justified in the past week or so. I decided about a week ago to post my resume out on Monster for just a few hours. I was amazed to find the demand that my resume created. In a period of less than 8 hours, I received calls and emails from well over 10 recruiters. Many of the recruiters were poor quality like the guy I previously spoke about, but one stood out above the rest. This lady sent me an email telling me that I should be careful about posting my resume on Monster because my current employer may also be looking and would come across my resume (and therefore think that I'm looking for another job). Having respect for her honest response, I took her advice and pulled my resume quickly. This lady has many great employer contacts and was able to quickly set me up an interview with a large Fortune 500 company within 2 or 3 days of our original conversation. I went up to interview with this company yesterday and things appear to be good. There are still several questions I have about this potential company, but that will work itself out over the next few weeks. I'm optimistic that this lady will provide me some other job prospects so that I can have several opportunities to compare.

To sum up this blog entry, be careful who you deal with when you offer yourself up to the many job recruiters out there. Many are simply out there to grab a quick buck with little concern for whether a job truly fits your needs. Also, you shouldn't have to do all the legwork to get a job if you are working with a recruiter. If they are going to earn their percentage (finder's fee), then you shouldn't have to do anything but show up for an interview and decide if you want the job. The best comparison I could make for many job recruiters is to a car salesman...they want to tell you what you want to hear, but then they sell you a cheap piece of shit. Every once in awhile, you might find a diamond in the ruff...look for that diamond.

Currently listening to:

Richard Swift

Dressed Up for the Letdown

Released on: 2-20-07

Monday, March 19, 2007

Wow..Three Months

As anyone that looks at my blog here and there, you likely know that I haven't posted in three months. I've been extremely busy with work, travel, fatherhood, working around the house, etc. Since my last post was before Christmas, I guess a quick summary of my life might be helpful. Here we go (in bullet point format):

- My son gave me his stomach bug the day before Christmas and I spent a large part of my holiday break laying in bed attempting to get better. It made me disgusted because I had several days of PTO set aside...only to spend alot of it sick and in bed.

-Christmas was obviously not very exciting. My wife, child, and I went to my parents house on Christmas day. It was fun to watch my son attempt to tear open wrapping paper. I watched the rest of my family eat alot at dinner while I ate a few bites..damn stomach bug.

-During January, I went to Denver for 2 weeks straight to work on a client. As most of you are aware, the weather in Denver around the holidays was extremely bad...lots and lots of snow. The snow was still there when I got there and we experienced lots of fun delays coming and going from the airport. The roads in Denver were horrible. I followed the Memphis way of driving in ice and slow like a granny. Guess I followed the proper method of travel considering most of the people in Denver were doing the same thing I was doing.

- When I came home from the 2 consecutive weeks in Denver, I found that my wife was not doing so hot. Apparently she really enjoyed the 3 weeks she spent with my son during the holidays and along with her bitch of a boss, she really wanted to work towards quitting her job. She went off and on for several weeks about whether to stay at work, but ultimately, this led to a big decision in February.

- In February, my wife had dealt with a manager who really doesn't have the skills to be a manager. She was given her position because of her race and gender. She likes to lord her authority over my wife because my wife won't put up with her shit (and stands up for herself). It's really funny...we had an event at her boss' house several weeks after she was brought in to manage the territory. I noticed how fake she really was. She was way too worried about how other think about her that she comes out as overly fake. I told my wife after the event that her boss was a fake, and it's funny how true I was. I find it frustrating that some companies will promote people who are not qualified. This woman does not have the skill to manage people. She doesn't know how to relate with people. She likes use her authority to make other feel bad. She doesn't realize that ultimately it's the people that work for a manager that decide whether a manager gets promoted. Oh well...she will be revealed for the poor manager that she is in the near's only a matter of time.

- As of right now, we're working toward my wife staying at home in mid-May. I truly hope this will make her happy. I have a feeling that it will. Because of these life altering events, I'm likely going to have to make a big decision. Should I stay at my current job or start looking elsewhere. I currently am weighing both options. Ultimately, either the power of the almighty dollar or my happiness at my job will help lead me to make a decision. I hope that my decision takes into consideration both of these father always told me that there's nothing worse than waking up each day hating your job. Happiness will ultimately win out. It's not smart to make a big life decision with money being the deciding factor.

Well, that's a quick synopsis of my life since the holidays. Maybe I will find time and inspiration to write on this blog more often.

Currently listening to:

Sondre Lerche

Phantom Punch

Released: 2-6-07