This has been a tighter than usual year. Circumstances from the 20th anniversary Cruise to other stuff had eaten up a good chunk of the money I normally set aside for Christmas gifts.

When the job left that clinched it. I generally buy the gifts all during the year for friends and family but for some reason the nieces and the brothers and sisters got covered early but the nephews and friends didn’t. Usually it is much easier for me to shop for the guys and the boys but items jumped out at me early for the other crowd this year. So Violet has something but Jack is out of luck.

As far as the immediate family this is where cheap has really paid off. All year I’ve been paying for everything with my Amazon.com gift card, then writing a check the following month to the card company. All the electric bills, all the oil bills, the 20th anniversary trip, Catholic School tuition, groceries et-al. The kids put their wish lists on Amazon and I had a stack of $25 coupons to use for them.

Additionally instead of ordering everything together I made each order separately. That way I was able to check the daily deals and jump on a thing or two while qualifying for the free super shipping.

My final order is being placed today. This will complete my Christmas shopping except for the the 12 guys who are out of luck unless I find something in the next two weeks. It will still be a thin Christmas but this really paid off this year.

Tight times or no da wife decided to give take me to see Mannheim Steamroller in Lowell Mass. My impressions follow:

The Memorial auditorium in Lowell is a great place to watch a concert, we had the “nosebleed” seats literally with our backs to the back wall and they were great for the concert its like watching a game at Fenway without breaking the bank.

Before the concert began the guy in charge of the place plugged gift cards for the place, and then very foolishly wished everyone a “happy holiday” (arbor day perhaps?) Considering the group and the concert and the demographics of the audience I can’t think of anything he could have said that would retard sales to this crowd more.

For some unknown reason the air conditioning was on in the place during the first act. It was freezing so we kept our winter coats , muffs, hats and scarfs on. Somebody took care of it at halftime.

They had a list of war dead in the auditorium, the amount of Civil war deaths from a city the size of Lowell was staggering to see as was the long list of Lowell men who apparently died on the USS Maine in 1898.

The list of 8 medal of honor winners was kinda large too.

I never thought I would see a bust of Gen Ben Butler in a place of high honor, he’s not a guy in history that you think of that way.

In the packed auditorium I noticed something right away:

There was nobody with a visible Tattoo.

There was nobody with a visible piercing.

There was nobody with any kind of shirt with a loud slogan

I didn’t see a single man with an earring

Nobody had hair dyed odd colors or with weird cuts

It has been decades since i saw a crowd composed of totally normal and average people. I suspect that the fact that Steamroller’s music gets a lot of it publicity from the Rush Limbaugh show had something to do with it. It was so striking I kept my eye’s open to see if I could find anyone odd during intermission and when we left. Other than a pair of really odd looking silver boots on a lady not a thing.

If you have heard cd’s and I have several it can’t compare to the visuals of the lights and film used in the performance. It is really something to see. The wife thought the cd’s were ok but decided the performance made her appreciate the Cd’s much more. She thought it was awesome.

It is a shame that the founder Davis is laid up, the idea of dividing the group into two, adding members and splitting them into east and west coast tours is great for the audience to expand the number of people who can see it, but I think I would have liked to see the original group at least once.

The videos and film were really classy. Apparently in larger stadiums they have live dancers and performers either instead of and in addition to the film. I find myself wanting to see it in that setting as well.

It never struck me but when they talked about medieval music and how many carols came from it their music does sound like it comes straight out of the 12-14th century sometimes.

I would really like to be able to buy tickets for an event for the actual face value of the tickets.

I never get sick of Christmas music, if the PC crowd manages to chase the word Christmas out of every other venue the music will keep it alive.

One of the last remaining Doolittle Raiders has died:

World War II hero David “Davey” M. Jones — one of the famed Doolittle Tokyo Raiders — died Tuesday in Tucson at the age of 94.
Jones, a University of Arizona alumnus, retired from the Air Force as a two-star general in 1973 after a long and decorated military career. He received the Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart and numerous other honors.
He was one of the raiders who used B-25 bombers to hit targets in Japan in April 1942, a few months after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor.

However his spirit lives on in guys like this.

People who think that US combat soldiers are a bunch of barbarians likely know very few of them.

Well after 3 years blogging at the HiWired blog and nearly 4 years doing tech support at HiWired my circumstances have changed. I along with the entire staff of HiWired (except for Deb who is doing the final tax paperwork) are kaput. I am now blogging here. What does this mean?

It means that you will see more political stuff since I’m into politics.

It means that you will see less tech stuff since that that what I do for a living but not really for fun.

It means baseball posts, gaming posts, doctor who posts, family posts, various rants etc.

It means that since I am writing for myself rather than a company I will be more opinionated than on the company blog.

It means I will be considerably more irreverent than I was on the company blog.

It means I will be totally uncensored, but in fairness In thousands of posts I believe I was censored 3 times. twice over accidentally giving out some inside baseball and once over content, but I don’t write much that would need censoring anyways.

It means that I won’t feel obliged to post daily unless this blog becomes the launchpad for new employment.

It means that I won’t have to fight a losing battle to get other people in the company to post on the blog anymore. To Quote Glenn Close in The Paper: “Get your own!” (or was it buy your own?).

It means that I can point to my new Amazon reviews here (I’m a top 1000 reviewer under the old system) but have to be in the mood to post one.

It also means that comments may or may not be open over here, I remember the comment spam on the company blog and it was a pain in the neck.

Either way this blog will be both to vent and to aid my quest for a new job to replace the one I lost rather abruptly.

But either way I will try to keep the theme of the last blog post I made over at HiWired, (or control center, or ctrl-center or whatever)