RIP Common Courtesy…

Hey there…

It’s time for a rant. I apologize in advance if you’re not here for rants, and I understand if you don’t want to read on… But what the <bleep> is going on in the world?

<rant on>

Walking on Grass
Image by edenpictures via Flickr

While driving around this weekend, I saw a mother walking a dog with her daughter and cutting across the lawn of the house on the corner to do so. Now, this house has been on the market for 2+ years and was foreclosed on last year sometime, so it’s bank owned, and in poor repair. But it’s the principle of the thing. It’s not their lawn, so why would they tread on it?

But it’s not just that… My job has me annoyed by doing some very dumb things with company policies. My wife’s company is also doing some inane things that will result in eventually closing the actual location she works at because the company is making it impossible to actually work there (money grubbing corporate medicine).

The news ticks me off when I watch newscasters and analysts tearing apart Obama’s first few days in office… The man hasn’t even BEEN in office for 100 days and we’re already tearing him apart for things he has or hasn’t done yet. And then they rip on other members of the administration for <gasp> admitting mistakes or misspeaking from time to time?

Is our country going to hell this fast?

Yes, the economy stinks. Yes, we’re still fighting an insane war in Iraq and not giving enough support to our troops there and in Afghanistan. Yes, the middle east is in turmoil (honestly, when isn’t it?)…

But can’t we still be polite to each other? Treat one another with a certain modicum of respect?

The world would be a better place if we all remember our “Please” and “Thank you’s”, don’t you think? And mind our own actions even if we think nobody’s looking.

Come on people… let’s get our acts back together. Or should we just let common courtesy rest in peace?

<rant off>

This has been an off the cuff rant by yours truly. I apologize if anyone was offended, but these are my thoughts — this is my forum — and thankfully I don’t have to contend with network TV censors. 🙂

Until next time…

–Fitz

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The Love Willows – Hey! Hey!

Hey there!

With a mix of pop, swing, and rockabilly, The Love Willows groove through these tracks and sound like they had a great time doing it. If you liked No Doubt’s early work, Brian Setzer, or even Irving Berlin, Hey! Hey! will be right up your alley!

After hearing Hey! Hey!, I definitely want to see this duo live for a taste of their level of energy in a room with other fans. Singer Hope Partlow and guitarist/vocalist Ryan Wilson are unbelievably upbeat. All the tracks were written by Partlow and Wilson, and produced and engineered by Wilson, so this is their sound untouched by outsiders, which is amazing. They’ve even had one song, “Strut My Stuff,” featured on the season finale of The Real World: Hollywood. Compared to some of the other songs I’ve heard featured on television these days, The Love Willows is a breath of fresh air.

According to their MySpace page, Partlow says “It’s all about fetishes, love and hate. It’s a product of what we’ve gone through as a couple, the battles and the glories, everything that’s happened in the past few years.” You can definitely hear the cycle of losing love, finding love, and keeping love mirrored in the progression of the songs on the CD.

“A Day in My Life” starts off the album with a bang. And “Keep Your Head Up” reminds me a bit of the Go Go’s from the 1980s. Struggling to get out of bed and keep chugging along is a problem I think most of us face in our lives.

The frenetic energy of the first two tracks slows down for “Falling Faster,” which tells the story of a girl falling for a guy after swapping phone numbers at a party. “We talked forever, lost track of time / I’ve got to let you know that I am… / Falling faster…”

“Gotta Make You Mine” continues the sentiment, starting to punch the beat back up. Now we’re through the infatuation and want to make the relationship more lasting. Partlow and Wilson sing a great duet for this one.

And then you get to one of my favorites of the album – “Shoes”. I’m not a shoe guy, but this song is infectious and fun. Guitars, bass, drums, and lyrics that express one woman’s true love for shoes!

“I Still Love You” has a sort of Eagles’ feel for me. But amid the high energy tracks of the rest of the album, it seems out of place. That said, by now in the relationship (moving through the CD), we’re going through a bit of a rough patch, but still thinking of one another.

“Wait” tells the story of a girl waiting for her beau. Minutes take forever when you’re waiting and I almost get the feeling that the girl is waiting for a serviceman serving in the armed forces to come home. With our current involvement in the Middle East, this is a highly topical and well done song.

“Mary Jane” is about starting to lose her beau to her best friend. Though I’m not sure if she’s talking to herself or her boyfriend, it’s a call to arms. Time to fight for what is hers! Definitely another fun song with some great lyrics!

But my most favorite song on the album is “Strut My Stuff”. Take No Doubt and cross it with a little Right Said Fred and you get this fun tune. You can almost see the girl strutting on the catwalk of life.

“Try” is a simple duet with an acoustic guitar that expresss the feelings of unrequited love. For me, this is what “I Still Love You” could have been if you stepped away from the overpowering tracks.

“Here to Stay” gets back to the sassy qualities of the record. “I’ve been losing the fight day after day, I’m not backing down, but Baby I’m here to say” – she’s fighting to stay in the relationship.

By the end of the album with “You Say”, the relationship is pretty much done. We’re at the end of the story, ending the theme of finding love, keeping it, and losing it again.

Partlow’s fun and passion is definitely one of the main strengths of the album, but the arrangements are excellent. It’s impossible to tell it was recorded in Wilson’s parents’ house at their attic studio!

Overall, Hey! Hey! is a great album with a ton of fun, infectious energy. It’s impossible to listen without at the very least tapping your toes or even just cutting loose and dancing! Check it out at iTunes (“Falling Faster” and “A Day in My Life” are available) and Amazon (to hopefully be available at the end of January)!

Enjoy!

–Fitz

p.s. Here’s the link to order this CD at Amazon:

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Book Review: Know It All: The Little Book of Essential Knowledge by by Susan Aldridge, Elizabeth King Humphrey, and Julie Whitake

Hi all!

While reading Know It All: The Little Book of Essential Knowledge by by Susan Aldridge, Elizabeth King Humphrey, and Julie Whitake, it quickly became very apparent that I don’t know nearly as much as I thought I did. Even with all the trivia floating around in my brain, this book contains more useful facts in a quick, all in one place, easy to access manner, that I might be able to give up Google for a while. (Maybe not, I love searching on Google!)

Know It All is a perfect introduction to a wide array of subjects for students, parents, teachers, and anyone else seeking a better understanding of nearly 100 diverse topics from science to history, art, and religion.

Each chapter focuses on 10 to 15 entries and ends with a brief quiz so you can test your knowledge to see how much stuck with you after reading. Chapter 10 provides the final exam as a test over all the material from the entire book. Though I don’t take many tests any more, I see this as a great supplement for home schooled kids to provide yet another level of feedback on reading and retention.

The nine chapters focus on the following broad topics:

  • Understanding the Universe
  • The Story of the Earth
  • The Story of Life
  • Exploring the World
  • Invention and Discovery
  • Conflicts of the Modern Age
  • The Structure of Society
  • Religion and Thought
  • Artistic Endeavors

Even if you skip the tests throughout the book, each chapter gives a great overview of each subject. Interested in just a particular topic? Search the detailed four page index at the end of the book.

Is this book a complete reference on everything it covers? Not even close – but that’s not the goal. The book serves as a starting point or introduction to the topics covered. From there you can branch out at your local library, bookstore, or on the Internet to dig deeper.

A few of the surprising facts I learned from the book included:

  • The bumblebee bat is the world’s smallest animal and it lives in Thailand along the River Kwai. An endangered species, the bat is around 1.2 inches long and weighs only about 0.07 ounces!
  • Ball bearings were invented by Philip Vaughan in 1794.
  • And the longest serving capital city in the world is Paris, which has held that distinction since King Clovis selected it as his administrative capital in 486! How’s that for staying power?

Know It All: The Little Book of Essential Knowledge is a great book to have in the house for parents of elementary, middle school, or even high school students to serve as a great starting point for reports and research. But more than that, it’s a great way to learn or relearn some of those facts that may have escaped some of us since we were last in school ourselves!

To give you a better idea of the great content within this book, I’ve included a brief excerpt below with permission.

The Religions of the World
The map of world religions reflects the political and social history of humankind. Eternal quests for meaning, along with conquests, migration, trade, and evangelistic fervor have helped to shape the beliefs of nations and peoples alike.
Every human society has had some form of religious belief or practice. In simplest terms, religion is the belief that the world is inspired and directed by a superhuman power of some type.
Christianity, with some 2.1 billion followers, is the largest of the world’s religions. Though it originally began in the Middle East, Christianity is no longer the dominant faith there. It is, however, the predominant religion in much of Europe and in North and South America.
Like some other religions, Christianity is divided into a number of different churches: In Russia, Orthodox Christianity is the leading religion. In South America, most Christians are Roman Catholics, and the same holds true in southern Europe.
Protestantism is more prevalent in both northern Europe and North America. With more than 1.5 billion adherents, Islam is the world’s second most popular faith. Following the faith are most people of
the Middle East and North Africa, a significant number in South and Southeast Asia, and long-standing minorities in the Balkans and eastern Europe. An influx of immigrants from former European colonies has seen the number of Muslims in Western Europe rise in recent decades.
Hinduism, the world’s third largest religion, is prevalent in India, though large populations of Sikhs and Muslims can also be found on the Indian subcontinent.
Although Buddhism originated in India, the countries with the largest Buddhist populations are now China, Japan, and Southeast Asian states such as Vietnam and Thailand. Buddhism also has many followers in the Western world.
A notable exception to the dominance of Islam throughout the Middle East is Israel. Large populations of Jews are also found across Europe and North America, the latter home to more than 40 percent of the world’s Jews. In fact, New York City has the second largest population of Jews of any city in the world, after Tel Aviv.
The United States is unusual for a developed nation in that a greater than usual proportion of its population holds religious beliefs, most commonly Protestant Christianity.
South America is predominantly a Catholic Christian continent. This is a legacy of the Spanish and Portugese Conquistadors, who brought the continent under colonial rule.
Africans retain many traditional religious practices in some regions. Christianity arrived more than two millennia ago, and Islam is the dominant religion of North Africa and West Africa.
India is a country of many religions. Four in every five Indians are Hindu, but there are also significant numbers of Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Jains.
Australia is primarily Christian; however, its indigenous religions, centered around a belief in the ancient “Dreamtime” of creation, are key to its culture.
The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.
The above is an excerpt from the book Know It All
A Reader’s Digest book published in association with Quid Publishing. Copyright © Quid Publishing 2008.

–Fitz

p.s. Check out this book at Amazon!

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