Scott and Holly's Blog

Scott and Holly welcome you…

Just wanted to pass along that we now have our own personal website.  We recently registered a domain name (scottandholly.com),  and have a very basic website built.  There’s more to come, as of this writing, but at least we have our own site now.  Here it is…

Scott and Holly’s Website

Enjoy!

A new Blog entry sent by Dragon Dictation App, via my iPhone. This is my first attempt at sending a blog entry by using voice dictation. This works very well, and it will be kind of cool, and will save me from having to type. I can just express my thoughts as I get them in my head! So for now we’ll just leave it at that and end this.

So here I am writing this blog post from my email account via my iPhone. Yes, I know I am coming to the party late, but as I figure this stuff out and begin to use it, it constantly amazes me.

I mean in my last post I sent that from my PC via email. I posted text and pics. This makes the idea of a blog much more portable and dynamic.

So let’s see where this takes us going forward. As Ralph Kramden says, “To the Moon, Alice, to the Moon!”

Do you remember when you heard a song for the first time, how it affected you, or how it influenced you, something that sounded so different, so new, an impact song…???

Sometimes, like it is for me now, you know the music, but not necessarily the names of the bands.  I know during my run of listening to the radio, it could be five or six songs in a row before they might give out the name of a band or a single, and most times nothing at all.  It was frustrating.

When you hear a song for the first time, especially in that setting, you do what you have to to find out what that song was, you hunger for it, crave it, gotta have it.

This reminds me of some memories of some songs which I heard and was taken by, the first time I heard them.  It’s not that they were new and became the best thing on Earth, it’s just that the songs in question hit at a time where I was struck by their sound and knew it was something that would infiltrate my soul…..

…..I remember three songs that struck me the first time I heard them.  There were plenty of others, but here is a few minutes with these three….

I remember the local college radio station played this tune called “Radio Free Europe”.  I was haunted by the song’s sound.  It was something I hadn’t heard before.

After hearing this song, I leaped up out of my chair and called the Station, ….”Hey, what was that song you just played….?”  They replied, “That was a band called R.E.M., and the name of the tune was Radio Free Europe……”


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Cool!  I said.  (Well everyone said that back then……)  I went out and found the album and bought it.  The Album was called Murmur.  That was the start of a long relationship with that band that lasted about 17 years.  And though they’re still going strong, minus their drummer now, I have stopped listening to them, as of 2000.

Why you may ask.  Because in interviews they gave back in 1980, they always stated they wanted to make music for 20 years and be done with it.  And I held them true to their wishes.

I think in most respects, perhaps they should have too, IMHO…

The next song I remember was….”She Talks in Stereo” by Gary Myrick and the Figures.  Looking back, I don’t have the same fond memories with this band that I eventually had with R.E.M., as Gary Myrick and the Figures never did pan out like I thought they would.

I do remember at the time though, how struck I was when I heard their song.  It had a catchy chorus, and Gary sounded a bit like Tom Petty to me, who was pretty popular then.   Here is a video of the song which occurred Live at the Ritz in 1980.


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Unfortunately for me, it didn’t have the staying power that the R.E.M. tune did.  So even though it had the same initial effect, it wasn’t to be.  What’s interesting though, is that because of that impact, I never forgot the song to this day.

Lastly for me, a song that I heard that I thought was new and exciting, something that was for me completely different, was the eerie sounding song — “Icehouse” by the band Icehouse.  This one was a winner for me as I remained pretty big fans of theirs for years as well.

They were a band from Australia.  They didn’t hit the big time with this song, but later songs, they sure did, but this is what started it for me.  In this video clip, listen more to the Music and don’t take the video literally.  To be honest, their album cover sums up the whole song in itself.

See what you think.  Here is the Album cover from that time…

Icehouse

Icehouse

Here is a youtube video with the song…again, look at the picture of the Cover Art above here, while listening to the song from youtube…


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Icehouse hit is big with songs like “Crazy”, “Electric Blue”, “Great Southern Land”, “No Promises”, but I will always be fond of that first track.  “Icehouse.”

Ah the memories, what ones do you remember?

Went to a great show at Saratoga last night.

Saw the Doobie Brothers and the Allman Brothers.  I’ve never seen the Allman Bros (ABB) before, live, and the price was right, Tix were two for one.

I had seen the Doobs before, a couple of times, back in like 1978/1979 at SPAC, and they were at their peak of popularity as the Minute By Minute Album had been released which had What a Fool Believes on it among others.

I have fond memories of those shows and thoroughly enjoyed them.

Now more than 30 years later, I get to see them again, this time with Tom Johnston, who had left by the time I first saw them.    So for me, it had come full circle.

30+ years later, they still know how to ROCK.  They sounded tight, and the only negative for me, was Tom Johnston’s constant goading of the crowd to cheer louder.  We were content cheering as much as we did.  We didn’t need him to egg us on.

After they finished a 80 minute set, we waited about 40 minutes for the Allman’s to come onstage.  Again, I hadn’t seen them before, but liked a lot of their music.  I especially liked the Song Midnight Rider, which was an early hit for them.

I also enjoyed seeing Warren Haynes and Derek Truck trading licks back and forth.  There was some impressive guitar work I must say.

For me though, the night had to end at the start of the last song before the encore.  I had had enough.  90 Minutes of jamming was enough.  We beat the traffic and headed home.

I’m afraid that though the ABB were the headliners, it was the Doobie’s who got the crowd pumping.  Sure there will be many fans of ABB who will think that I am speaking blasphemy, but it’s my opinion.

I am really glad that I got a chance to see the ABB live.  It’s an experience that I am glad I saw before it’s too late.

In the end it was a great evening.

Next up……..Wednesday next, The Moody Blues.  Cheap Tix for that one too, 15 bucks each!  Can’t beat that.

OK.

It’s not really that hot, but here in the northeast, we’ve not had a real summer as of yet.  We’ve had cool temps for the most part, and we’ve had comfortable humidity levels.  The only bad part of this wonderful equation, is that this was all coupled with a lot of rain.

Rain, rain go away.  For the first time in our seven years living where we do, we’ve used the sprinkler system on a regular basis and schedule during each of the previous summers.  This summer however, we’ve never run on any schedule.  Rather, we’ve only watered when it looked necessary.  It seems like whenever I’ve pondered doing a sprinkle, we get a bucket full of rain which necessitates the need to sprinkle.  That’s a plus for my wallet, but not for outdoor activities, and demeanor.

This week it has all come together, no rain, humidity, and heat.  The summer has officially started as of August 11th, albeit a bit late by a couple months, but at least we can say we had this week.

A result of this sudden wave of weather, is we’re all complaining about the heat.  So we are staying indoors in the air conditioning, or at events, or other venues that do have A/C.

Surprisingly, this could all change into thunderstorms come Tuesday evening, which is still a couple days away.  The same night we’ll be seeing the Allman Brothers/Doobie Brothers in Concert in Saratoga.

Well Rock n’ Roll always tends to shake things up, and it will seem fitting.  Rock on.

Fine Day today.

I found a Video on NPR that is of Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova (of Swell Season) where they performed a “Tiny Desk Concert.”  They performed half a dozen songs from the forthcoming new album “Strict Joy.”

It reminded me about last year.  My wife and I got to see them about this time, at Saratoga, NY (SPAC).  They were part of a “1st Annual Saratoga Music Festival” which headlined Bob Dylan, with Levon Helm’s Band and Swell Season 2nd and third on the bill.  There were several other artists as well, it was an all day affair.   It was a remarkable event.

During the show, before they were to take the stage themselves, Glen and Marketa were seen off to the right of the stage area just beyond the seats over that way, where all the buses come in to unload crews, equipment and bands.  Glen was sitting in the grass tuning his guitar, and Marketa was sitting in one of the seats just inside the boundary.

My wife and I were on the other side of the shed, and so when I spotted them and knew who they were, we got up and went over to where they were, and got close, but respected their privacy.  We sort of stood watching Glen tune his guitar and chat with a couple of roadies, and to our other side, was Marketa watching the show as it was, onstage.

Glen Hansard at Saratoga Performing Arts Center,  August 17, 2008

Glen is there on the left, with his famous tattered guitar.  He later joined Marketa in the seats as they watched some of the other artists that appeared before he went onstage.

We were fascinated in that they really seemed to be into the the whole “festival” experience, wanting to see it themselves, and they weren’t prudish about it at all.  Standing there with them for a time was a great experience as well.  It made me appreciate their songs that much more.

I began to worry when it was time for them (Swell Season) to come onstage.  There had been some minor but noticeable sound issues that cropped up a couple of times on the acts preceding them, and then it really became an issue that it was cutting into their allotted time set.

So much so, that Glen came out onstage to help them try to figure out the problem and after many minutes, they seemed to have fixed it, but it was not to be.  SPAC had provided the Sound for all the opening bands that day and it was at it’s worst during Swell Season’s set, which was shortened to about 15 or 20 minutes instead of 45 as a result.  Needless to say we were very upset ourselves as they were the reason we came.

Here is a video where the sound goes out.  Glen then rips the cord from his guitar and prances to the from of the Mic and then sings the song out to the crowd with no electronics whatsoever.  Amazing.  The only people who really couldn’t hear him were on the Lawn, but we in the amphitheatre heard it pretty well and this most impressed everyone to the point that it was the most commented thing about the festival.


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Anyhow, after that fiasco, we felt cheated and we didn’t know if they’d be back again in this area or not, so we decided to see them in Boston at the Agannis arena at Boston University.  That show was better sound wise, and was a much better experience.

It is our hope that they will come to the northeast corridor once again, and if so, we’ll make every attempt to go.  They are truly a remarkable pair.

And even though they had their problems with the sound in Saratoga, I won’t ever forget that abbreviated performance to say the least!

Better day today.  My wife and I paid off my car.  Now, we have both of our cars paid in full, and they’re only 3 1/2 years old.  This means it frees up more of our cash to pay down more debt in a quicker amount of time.  Good deal.

Another good deal, got two tix to see the Moody Blues at a shed near our home.  It is a typical shed much like the design of the famous Tanglewood Venue.  We got the tix for a grand total of 30 bucks, 15 apiece.  Not bad.

For 23 apiece we are both going to see the Allman Brothers and the Doobie Brothers in concert.  Another great deal.

And on the opposite end of the spectrum, we saw Paul McCartney in NYC at Citi Field a few weeks ago, and that one cost us 190 apiece or 380 total!  Granted it was McCartney, a Beatle!  So, we must be forgiven for our weaknesses.

I do feel better than I did yesterday when I ranted about the Credit Card industry.  I have come to realize I really can’t do anything about that situation except to pay them off quickly and try not to carry a balance.   Only then will we both feel comfortable again.

I got a freebie today, got 6 days of free access at worldvitalrecords.com.  Doing Genealogy as a hobby of ours, this will give us an opportunity to see  if this site is worth the money or not.  So far, I’m not impressed, not that it’s bad, only that through Ancestry.com we already get most everything they offer and we already pay over there.  So we’ll have to see how it shakes out.

Downloaded a trial version oy YNAB and installed it on my computer.  YNAB, “You Need A Budget”, is software which integrates a register along with a budget and they both work together in various ways which are quite unique for financial software programs.

Unlike our current software, Quicken 2001, this program is much simpler to operate, is cleaner, and can actually help us to get ahead and not live paycheck to paycheck.  One of the things that is motivating us to look around for other software, is that we tried to upgrade to Quicken 2007 which we also have, but it didn’t go well, and it seemed to hamper what we had done.  So seeing this, I am determined to look for something to replace Quicken with.

After using YNAB for a few hours to shake it out, I am impressed enough to continue and to see if we can move over to there.  If  it can handle our loan accounts, investments, and other odd categories, then we’ll switch.   Fingers crossed.  To be honest, we’re both sick to death of Quicken and it’s bloated waste of features we’d never use.

On a more colorful note, my wife’s Dahlia’s are finally starting to bloom here in the Northeast.  We’re even a bit behind other areas near us because of the fact that we live near a mountain, and I think that is giving us a bit of a cooler zone and that is influencing the growth of our plants, since they always seem to be a week or two behind everyone else.

Now the day is done and I think it was a fairly good one.

Let’s hope tomorrow brings more pleasure.

Well today I got news from one of my credit card companies that they were raising our rates and going from Fixed to Variable.  This was done supposedly because of recent legislation which was passed in May.

I asked the rep what did the recent legislation do that caused me to suddenly become a bad credit risk that my rate goes up and my fixed rate becomes variable.  I was told that it was nothing I did, but rather a change necessitated by the legislation itself.  In another words, it’s the governments fault!

Whoa.  Amazing, the government passes legislation which is supposed to help protect consumers better, and keep them from fraudulent, and deceptive rate tactics by the Credit Card Companies, and because they do this, they in fact, have allowed America to be penalized as a whole.

Now, many if not most all the Credit Card Companies are raising their rates and going variable because of the loop hole in the legislation.  By giving me notice of the changes, they can legally do this, and secondly, as a result of  this change, they will be able, at their will, on a monthly basis be able to raise the rates whenever they wish.

By keeping the rate fixed, they would not be able to take advantage of this loophole.  So who pays, we all do.  I am sure the government in their wisdom thought they were helping us Americans out, but I’m sorry, they should’ve crafted  the legislation more iron proof by not allowing people with good credit standing, who have never been late with payments, to have their whole world turned upside down because they were such good consumers.

Well they have, and they did.

How do “we” all combat it?  I don’t know the answer to that.

I know that this tactic is a great way for the Credit Card Companies to force people to make some decisions, like to pay off their cards as soon as possible to avoid this travesty, and in the end, whether they lose the consumer or not is not their issue, but getting their money they are owed is.  If this expedites this process then they’ve succeeded.

In my case, if I had enough money to pay them off, and to cut the card up, I would.  Would that put them out of business?  Never.   But they will get their money.   Sure, it won’t necessarily get them all the money they could from the continued interest they could collect if I didn’t pay off my balance, but in this economy, getting back most of their principal is probably a better outcome for them in the long run.

What I have learned is that we all need to have at least once credit card.  Unless you’re made of money, most everyone needs a card for those large purchases which come, either as an emergency or otherwise, which in the normal course of living we all face at one time or another.

Sure I have a “Debit” card with my bank account, and whenever possible, I use that card rather than credit cards, but in the end they know that you’ll need the Credit Card, again and again.  It’s inevitable.

The Credit Card Companies know this too.  And so, thankfully, they allow us to get these cards and provide us with their invaluable services and we all live happily ever after.

Thank God.