Sunday, February 28, 2010

home for Purim

The savvy among you will immediately get the association with 'For Your Consideration' - the rest of you should go rent it.

Yes, it's Purim, and last night I played piano at Havurah for their annual fun-fest. It was great to see all the little kids, and the parents who also got into the spirit of things (there were many bottles of spirits being appreciated).

Many memories, of course, of Purims past, in my little home town in upstate New York. It's too bad that my boys won't have those rich memories of the all-consuming Jewish experience that I had.

At any rate, it's now Sunday morning, and I am all alone in the house. It's a rare thing. Karen is in San Diego for a law conference, and, since Ben moved out a couple of weeks ago, that leaves me and the animals.

I made myself a strong mug of coffee and that went down just right.

I am playing a set of jewish music with friends at the Cedar Sinai home this afternoon, and spent an hour playing thru the playlist that Ed sent earlier this morning. Should be a fun program - we are doing it twice: once in the Rose Schnitzer auditorium (that has a wonderful, familiar piano) and then across the street, at the Robison nursing facility, where the audience is a lot more 'lower-key'.

My fingers feel very nimble, which is good, considering that the next big concert is March 11th, a very public event that is part of Jewish Arts Month, and the group only has one major rehearsal scheduled!

But I digress.

After playing wildly in my empty house, filling it with music, I let the silence creep back in, then went out onto the back porch, where I sat quietly for a while, finished my coffee, and watched the birds and squirrels, trees, and flowering shrubs. It's spring, and there was (naturally - it's a Jewish holiday!) a full moon last night, which means that I slept erratically.

I am home for Purim, and alone. For today, that's OK.

A friend of ours, who is selling his house and needed a place to crash for a while, is temporarily moving into our freshly-cleaned and furnished basement room tomorrow, so my time alone is coming to an end.

I should be working on taxes, but I am listening to the Yiddish Hour on KBOO (Liz is hosting today - she is in the group that I'm performing with this afternoon). It's all OK.

Happy Purim, y'all.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Thursday, February 25, 2010


simply beautiful. Note the twinkle in DeFazio's eye at the end.

KPOJ is doing an "I'm as mad as Hell because..." segment this morning. Well, I'm as mad as Hell that the Democrats haven't been doing this since the day after Obama was sworn in.

'Nuff said.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

woody allen retrospective

Yes, he was quite a great character in the 60's, and this page summarizes his early career, with links to many wonderful clips.

No matter how you feel about his, um, personal life, the guy was a great character in his earlier days. See the silent film they did for 'The Woody Allen Show', with a very young Candice Bergen.

Monday, February 22, 2010

white house unveils new HCR proposal

'State-based exchanges'? You gotta be kidding.

Yes, there are a few good things, but, Jeez, where's the audacity?

I called Wyden's office this morning, asking if he had a position yet on signing the letter advocating the public option. 'No,' the staffer said.

I just don't get it. Where are you, Ron?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Feb. 18th

It's my mother's birthday - she's been gone since December 2008.

She taught me how to make stuffed cabbage, but nobody made it better.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Flintstones was a Documentary!

I guess it shouldn't be too surprising.

We really are a pathetic people - after all these thousands of years of 'progress', it has come to this.

Fat, dumb, white, and angry - Americans on the march! At least they won't get far before they have to rest and eat.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

getting ready to go on the air

I am hosting the Portland Yiddish Hour this morning, at 10 am PST, on KBOO FM (90.7). You can listen live over the internet at

Obviously, I will be playing songs about love and marriage, since there are so few Yiddish songs about Abraham Lincoln.

Heading over to the station in about an hour, with a stack of CDs, my notes, and hope for the best.

Friday, February 12, 2010

best snarky epithet yet for Glenn Beck

Seen on a blog posting today: Nostradumbass

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

a sobering message

At last, someone concisely lays out what I've been feeling for a while - the problems with the American economy are not likely to disappear as the recession 'recovers'.

The manufacturing base that fueled our prosperity since World War II is gone and NEVER coming back, thanks to the insistence of multinational corporations of moving American jobs to workers who will work cheap.

It's that simple, but the article explains the long-term costs to our society of this drain, and it ain't pretty, especially if you are a middle-aged blue-collar worker or a young adult looking for a non fast-food job.

Friday, February 05, 2010

I found the last Y2K bug this afternoon

And I caused it, by a design decision I made 10 years ago.

To generate unique record keys in databases I have developed, I have an algorithm that takes the current date and time and appends a 4-digit random number, so you get keys like this:

0904220824438920 (which tells me it was created on 04/22/09 at 8:24:43 am), and, for it not to be unique, two records would have to be created at the exact same hundredth of a second, and the random-number generator would have had to, twice in quick succession, decide on 8920.

All of these databases came into being since 2001, so it was reasonable to assume that the lowest possible record-key that could be generated would be 010101000001xxxx (that is, one-hundredth of a second past midnight on January 1, 2001).

I have a routine that says 'find oldest data on file' and it gets the minimum value for this (string) field it can find, in the first table that is created when initializing a new database. Got it? Should be fool-proof.

Well, they keep inventing more-clever fools.

Recently, my tester imported data from a group in Mongolia (really), and the 'find oldest data on file' routine failed.

I probed and quickly saw that one of the keys in the table in question in their data was 8801012140074820 (that is, a record created on January 1, 1988, many years before the database came into being). How is this possible?

I surmise that the clock in their computer was incorrect, and their system time really was set to January 1988, which also explains why some other data in their copy of the database was stamped with that date.

I never dreamed that ANYONE would have any (automatically-generated) key dates that referred to a 20th century date, which is why I am only using a 2-digit year in my internal keys. Had I included the '19' or '20', it would have been OK, so this is actually the last Y2K bug to be discovered (maybe)!

fun, huh? I thought I was clever saving those 2 characters in every database record, and, up until today, it has worked out great.

I wrote my first computer program in 1970. Old habits die hard.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

scott brown gets sworn in immediately

Read all about it.

Contrast this to Al Franken's somewhat-delayed swearing in.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010


Just looked at my calendar for February - I have 9 music events, rehearsals, or performances coming up before the end of the month.

And, during this time, we need to:
  1. get my mother-in-law's 99th birthday party (to take place March 6 in Pasadena) organized and invitations printed and mailed out
  2. get Ben moved out of this house and into his new house (after we buy a refrigerator, decide on roof repairs, and finish some minor lighting-fixture issues)
  3. decide on Zacky's euthenasia date (currently targeting Ash Wednesday)
  4. plunge in on a new database project for my USDA folks in New Mexico
  5. etc. etc. etc.

Monday, February 01, 2010

busy week ahead

Picked up Karen at the airport around 4 - she had been in Santa Cruz since Friday, helping her 99 year-old Mother adjust to a new assisted-living place - it's an 'experiment'.

I managed to get everything on her honey-do list done (or, at least, in progress), so that's a relief.

I'm playing piano for a music program Thursday night, and, in addition to the one hour before the performance, today's one-hour rehearsal with three of the vocalists is about all we will get. Should be fun, though, and didn't have to transpose too many of their songs.

More music stuff coming up in the next couple of weeks, some of which involves tunes I don't know (yet). Also, my partners at the USDA in New Mexico really want to release the next database upgrade on or before Friday, so we are scrambling to test out the most-recent changes, looking for those ever-increasingly-subtle bugs. It's a living.

Above all, the gloomy, wet, chilly day reminds me why it's so much nicer being in Mexico.

Oh yes, Republicans suck - did I forget to mention that? Let me count the ways (yes, Mitch McConnell, I am thinking of you)....

PS: Senate Dems are, sadly, totally ineffective and/or compromised. Obama's recent appearances, however, have been quite good. How nice to have someone intelligent at the helm, even though the keel is leaking badly (thanks to all the GOP mischief/theft since 1980).

Finally: RIP Howard Zinn.