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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in First Time Caller, Long Time Listener's LiveJournal:

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Monday, September 11th, 2006
11:10 pm
I took some time off from blogging not for introspection, but preparation. School started and is in full swing and work takes its toll. But today I had to write something. Well, it's been five years since 9/11. At times, it seems like 50 years ago, at other times it seems like five minutes ago. But it never seems like five years ago. I still to this day remember everything that happened like it was yesterday. Some of the images I saw on TV are still so lucid. Voices of concerned journalists like Tom Brokaw, whom we've come to trust and understand over the years to deliver to us the news without skipping a beat seemed out of place on TV that night. Deer caught in the headlights, thousand-yard stares and for the first time I can recall an air of uncertainty on their faces. When you turn on the TV and the guy who's giving you the news doesn't know what the fuck is going on, something is terribly wrong. Everyone just staring into oblivion through the infinite distribution of whatever medium they were being taped for. None of it made sense, and to this day it still doesn't. I remember watching the towers fall and remembered when I was there myself. I never thought the towers could be felled by anything, much less a terrorist attack. I didn't know it then and wouldn't for two weeks, but I lost an old friend in the towers that day, one of the brokers for the infamous Cantor-Fitzgerald firm that lost over two-thirds of their employees. I still think to this day waking up to one of the most glorious looking days ever. A day where the sun beamed ever so proudly and glistened perfectly off the royal blue bus we were taking to get fitted for winter boots for our deployment to Bosnia in a scant few days. Then it happened: I saw the chaplain and noticed an unusually distressed look on his face. He announced that a plane had crashed into the twin towers, but they weren't sure yet if it was commercial, private jet (smaller and less harmful) or why it happened. Since I knew it was a no-fly zone we had a feeling it was just some dumb-ass who flew his bi-plane into the towers as a publicity stunt or grave error. But when he shouted out in an uncharacteristic tone that a second plane had hit the towers as we pulled up at the clothing annex we all sat stunned, not knowing what to do. We were definitely under attack by someone, somewhere. By the time we got back to the barracks it was like a police state: MPs everywhere, IDs checked, no weapons, no training, we were to stay at the barracks and constantly have guards posted with weapons. I frantically called home to let my mother know I was alright for now, but really--was I sure? I called my friend Jon who worked on Wall Street and lived only blocks from the site. He worked nights on the Japanese markets and ironically slept through the whole thing, completely unscathed until about 4:00 and awoke unaware until he looked out his window and saw smoke and chaos. I called my friend Ben who had numerous relatives in the city and a girlfriend who was attending Columbia. He told me everyone was fine, thankfully. We stayed up to watch the whole thing over and over again, completely in awe of what had just happened. When that day ended, we knew only two things: That America was under attack and we were in the army within forty minutes of New York City and three hours of Washington DC. I stared at the ceiling as I tried in vain to sleep while my CD player looped on "Fragile" by Sting. The irony of that song would be evident months later when I purchased a concert DVD he filmed that same day in Italy and watched as he and the band contemplated cancelling the performance but instead deciding to go on with the show and began, uncharacteristically, with that song. As my eyes welled up with tears about the tragedies that unfolded, I had the worst feeling in my life: For the first time ever, I honestly didn't know what was going to happen next. By the next day, the chaos continued. The president landed at Fort Dix to switch to Marine One to fly to the towers. The PX remained closed and we had to barter with eachother for supplies. The base, once open and free for visitors to peruse was now closed. Guards stood with weapons at the ready, IDing anyone who approached. Only military personnel were allowed on post and cars were searched. It was a brave new world, and we felt like we were at the forefront of what would happen next. The rumor mills spun out of control: Some voiced a distinct possibility that we could be going to New York to help out in the clean-up and aftermath, still others believed our preparedness for deployment left us as viable candidates to erradicate the criminal known as bin Laden, a figure strangely new to our lexicon. It was the strangest place I'd ever been and the craziest feeling I'd ever known--you don't know where your next step would be to or your next action would be. Just stay put and wait. That's how I remember September 11, 2001. Scared about not knowing what was next.

Current Mood: crushed

(1 Amen | Can I get a witness?)

Tuesday, June 20th, 2006
9:56 am
myspace
I'm pretty excited right now about finishing the book. I'm taking a break from writing another interesting story--this one about the coldest day while we were in Bosnia. It was a trip to the rifle range for qualification on a day when the temperature hovered below 0 degrees farenheit and everything that could go wrong went wrong. We were without heat most of the day, our transport vehicle died and the day ended in a testosterone-fueled wrestling fun match in back of the vehicle on the way back to base. It was pretty humorous overall, and I thought it might make a good addition to the book.

I'm thinking about a myspace account lately. In the past, I've dismissed myspace accounts for my own needs and as a viable site for myself to blog on simply because the stereotypical 30 something guy like myself who has a myspace account is on it to brag to all of his friends how many porn stars and teenage college hotties he's been friended by (that's another thing that gets me--I'm so annoyed that they've decided to make "friend" become a verb with past-tense confirmation). To wit, at least a handful of my friends who have myspace accounts live up to this uncomfortable stereotype.

Recently, however, my eyes have been opened by the discovery of numerous myspace accounts that have shown me their powers can be used for good as well as evil. First, my friend Gee opened up
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I'm pretty excited right now about finishing the book. I'm taking a break from writing another interesting story--this one about the coldest day while we were in Bosnia. It was a trip to the rifle range for qualification on a day when the temperature hovered below 0 degrees farenheit and everything that could go wrong went wrong. We were without heat most of the day, our transport vehicle died and the day ended in a testosterone-fueled wrestling fun match in back of the vehicle on the way back to base. It was pretty humorous overall, and I thought it might make a good addition to the book.

I'm thinking about a myspace account lately. In the past, I've dismissed myspace accounts for my own needs and as a viable site for myself to blog on simply because the stereotypical 30 something guy like myself who has a myspace account is on it to brag to all of his friends how many porn stars and teenage college hotties he's been friended by (that's another thing that gets me--I'm so annoyed that they've decided to make "friend" become a verb with past-tense confirmation). To wit, at least a handful of my friends who have myspace accounts live up to this uncomfortable stereotype.

Recently, however, my eyes have been opened by the discovery of numerous myspace accounts that have shown me their powers can be used for good as well as evil. First, my friend Gee opened up <a href="http://www.myspace.com/g_veritas"><his own myspace account</a> replete with thoughtful hip poetry, smart Boondocks background, sensitive manspeak and Miles Davis playing in the background. <lj user="vwilliams"> succumbed to the urge as well, creating her own myspace account (which by the way also exists for that <i>other</i> Vanessa Williams as well. Furthermore, nothing has made me more excited about myspace than the ability to read a bit into the lives of people you normally wouldn't. I have enjoyed reading about many bands I listen to through their myspace accounts (Tool, Lamb of God, Slayer) and saw the potential for someone like myself promoting a book who might use this as a catalyst for their careers. Recently, I read an article in one of the guy mags (Stuff, I think) that mentioned a girl who get more myspace hits than anybody. She's an aspiring singer, and it probably doesn't hurt that she has the world's most incredible ass and looks like an Asian porn star. She could be tone deaf and record a CD of polka favorites and I'm sure go platinum based on her exposure for myspace. Of course, I probably wouldn't light up the internet with my movie star looks (if that movie is a b-rated horror film), but I might just generate enough interest through promoting the book. What's more, I've seen a lot of bands, writers, atheletes and actors use myspace solely as a promotional vehicle for their work, eschewing websites in favor of the almighty blog.

Something tells me this might be just what I need to put things out there. I could use a variety of pictures for the webpage, I could have Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin for background music (those of you who are familiar with my story realize how this is apropos). I could still make it cool enough to promote my own interests as well.

This is not to say I will abandon livejournal at all or even think of making myspace, well, my space for putting out my thoughts and my intuitive processes to the masses. I will still pledge allegiance to livejournal and use it as my main source of blogging. But for promoting the book and working to move forward with making it a visible reality as my summer deadline quickly approaches, I'm thinking it will serve its purpose.

This is not to say if <a href="http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=48588552&MyToken=10802289-BBB9-CCF4-B08DA50FE4EB4B5F1116214"><Tabitha Stevens</a> decides to friend me I will not return the favor.


Current Mood: bouncy

(Can I get a witness?)

Monday, May 15th, 2006
2:38 am
I can't stop listening to this song
Though this song is quite macabre, my life isn't pathetic by any stretch of the imagination. Maybe its the cloudy overcast skies, flooding and the tease of inviting beaches here in the northeast that makes this song apropos. It could also be the uncertainty about so many things in my life right now. It's depressing me endlessly, but it's so breathtakingly beautiful to behold like a movie about someone dying slowly. For some reason, it fits my mood right now.

Sailling through the tunnels
In the morning by yourself
There's a very special feeling
True sensation all is well
If you stand and reach your arms out wide
Close your eyes and try to fly
It's an underground illusion
Tricking you from side to side
We knew all the answers
And we shouted them like anthems
Anxious and suspicious
That God knew how much we cheated

It can't come quickly enough
And now you've spent your life
Waiting for this moment
And when you finally saw it come
It passed you by and left you so defeated

Skyscrapers rise between us
Keeping me from finding you
If the concrete architecture
Dissapeared there'd be so few
Of us left to navigate and
Defend ourselves from the tide
It's an underground illusion
Tricking you from side to side

There's no indication of
What we were meant to be
Sucking up to strangers
Throwing wishes to the sea

It can't come quickly enough
And now you've spent your life
Waiting for this moment
And when you finally saw it come
It passed you by and
Left you so defeated


Current Mood: depressed

(Can I get a witness?)

Saturday, May 13th, 2006
7:18 pm
Yet another reason why I've become so enamored with Providence (and Rhode Island as a whole) as of late.

I keep thinking there's someplace else for me besides CT. I love it here, no doubt--my apartment and my life here are very cool and I love UConn. Not to mention, if I'd consider going anywhere, New York would make more sense, since I grew up just outside the city and have numerous friends living there as well. But Providence is different. I only know a few people there (some from LJ) and it's just far enough away to be far away, yet close enough to be, well, close. I can head home to spend time with friends or family if needed, but I can still claim that "it's an awful long ride home" when I need to. And it sure beats Boston, where 95% of my class from high school seemed to have ended up--yet just close enough to it as well.

Something to consider when the lease is up next year, or when I get my degree...

Current Mood: busy

(Can I get a witness?)

Wednesday, May 10th, 2006
11:14 am
vwilliams takes off for South Africa today to play in the orchestra with her alma mater, Lehigh University. She's going to be gone for two weeks and change. It should be a remarkable trip for her, with many great opportunities to see some pretty fascinating stuff. I for one can't wait to hear stories from the safaris and seeing the many great places on their numerous sightseeing opportunities. I of course had to negate the culture by telling her to scap up any random posters remaining from Metallica's visit there in March, I think she took it in stride but no doubt with a hint of seriousness all things considering. I think it's going to be a special time for her, and probably good to get a little time to myself to prep for finals from my first year in grad school and to work on some projects I needed to. Just me and the cats until Memorial Day weekend. Our roomie will be missed.

Before she left, we briefly discussed going into a partnership on an old SUV. We both have pretty nice cars on our own--myself, a black 2000 Honda Accord, her, a silver 2005 Mazda 3. Both cars are nicely streamlined with spoiler bars and exteriors that belie their economical origins. She thinks hers is sportier (it really is quite sporty--the thing looks like a BMW), but I think she pussied out by going with the automatic transmission. Even though it's tiptronic and I almost always wish I had her car in traffic on the way to New York City the past two times, I think that stick is still the only way to go. But I do digress. I started looking online at late 90's Pathfinders. Toyotas are a bit too pricey and too truck-like, and Pathfinders have a pretty timeless look. Neither of us would ever buy anything but Japanese (Jeeps and Rovers suck, are overrated and problematic) considering cost and reliability issues, and our options are limited considering our budgets and the limited number of SUVs at the time where most of our affordable models would be. I think it makes sense if we each spent a max of $2000, with a depreciating partner buy-out of $1000/year for the first year, and $500/year after that. We probably wouldn't use it all that much except for alternative purposes (i.e., snow, moving things, long trips). I'm thinking somewhere between 1994-98 should fit the bill. I don't think we need the vehicle to be perfect; but one in reasonably good condition with high mileage would be nice. Color should be something black or silver, (but if I had my druthers, yellow or red), but nothing with crazy racing stripes. I'm going to start looking now and revisit the issue when she returns.

Current Mood: calm

(7 Amens | Can I get a witness?)

Saturday, May 6th, 2006
12:58 am
My pictures with Dream Theater finally got here. It took about two months, but it was well worth the wait. The experience meeting the band was pretty damn incredible, and the show itself from front row center was amazing as well. Special guest of the band was certainly worth every penny. They were pretty down to earth dudes; I talked to Jordan about his impressive keyboards including the Continuum that he was the first musician to play live after its creation and that amazing synthesizer. I even got Mike's permission to use a line from "Trail of Tears" in my book for a very specific part of it dealing with 9/11. I thought that was pretty damn cool of him. He said all he needed was credit somewhere after as a footnote or whatever and an autographed copy. Not a bad tradeoff at all, seeing as he just autographed my tourbook. It was a pleasure to meet all of them again (and, unlike New Haven in '98, actually have a few minutes to chat with them) and I can't wait for my next opportunity to do so. It was really cool to think that a band of their popularity was so accessible. Then came the sold out Radio City Music Hall gig two days later for their 20th anniversary show. Not enough great things can be said about that show. The set list was amazing and the second set (including the entire "Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence" song) was played, as I correctly predicted (being a bit smug here, since many other fans thought there would be all kinds of guest appearances, etc.), with the accompaniment of an orchestra. To hear "Sacrificed Sons", a song about 9/11 backed by an orchestra and played in New York was so moving. Definitely something to behold. Radio City Music Hall, being the class establishment that it is, was a fitting place to witness this amazing 3+ hours of music. What can I say? These guys never cease to amaze me, that's why I'll always be such a ridiculously die-hard fan.




Oh, and by the way, the new Tool album 10,000 Days as predicted kicks major ass. I would go out and procure it now if you're even the least bit into any type of alternative/art/progressive metal. Still at the top of their game, Danny Carey continues to blow my fucking mind.

And the Mets won. God, I wish I was at Shea tonight. It was certainly one of those games you hope to hang your hat on throughout the long summer. They fought back from deficits of 6-2 in the 6th and 7-6 in the 11th. They won it 8-7 in the 15th against the hated Braves. I now have a desire to go every night I'm off and they're in town. I'm going to need welfare if I'm going to be shelling out coin for subway tickets and knishes.

I need to turn on the central air. It's hot in here.

Current Mood: hot

(3 Amens | Can I get a witness?)

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2006
8:48 am
It makes me absolutely sick
I'd like to think of myself as a pretty reasonable guy. But what happened yesterday is pretty much inexcuseable. And it's more or less my fault as much as anyone else's. We are at a turning point in our country with several huge issues, not the least of which is immigration. And I am disgraced, not only by the thousands, probably millions of people marching in the streets to ask for permission to enter my country, but the millions of other Americans like myself who stood by and did nothing.

I am relatively moderate by conservative standards. I don't agree on the war in Iraq (sans the religious fervor of most), I am not big on the president or his staff too much. As far as descriptions go, I might be categorized as one of recent history's buzzwords, a "Reagan Republican". That is, I am a fiscal and military conservative, and social progressive. Those are the things I feel strongest about. Currently, we seem to be doing all of the exact opposite, hence my general disdain for Bush and my lack of understanding how traditional republicans don't agree in greater numbers (I have this discussion with republican friends often, when I speak with democrat friends, they tend to get overjoyed when they hear stuff like this from me).

Having said that, you might think that my take on the whole immigration issue is that we should let them in and offer amnesty. And to that my answer is not no but fuck no.

It used to be an unfortunate stereotype in our society. Hispanic workers who worked in low-wage jobs that actually offered a better lifestyle than the one they knew in their country. The fact that they were here illegally and were paid under the table was part of the joke.

Now it has become a sad and unfortunate reality. Sad for the worker who works long hours without benefits and thinks he or she is in paradise, and sad for the hardworking people like us who work legally, pay taxes, and have to foot the bill for all kinds of provisions for others who don't.

In that scenario, the only ones who could ever be seen as wrong in that scenario are the ones who are here illegally. I realize to many the Unites States may seem a panacea of opportunity, but what I do not understand is the reason they can't come here legally like my relatives. It is an insult to every one of us, to my grandparents Josephine and Constance, who came here legally with their families (my grandfather was even a World War I veteran) from several countries. I personally feel like I must become passionate about this issue not only because of my family's history, but because I am a veteran, I know what it means to defend the honor of our country, and it was my choice to do so. And to think that my efforts and the efforts of so many more current military personnel and veterans would be wasted on so many people who aren't even citizens greatly angers me.

I had an employee from another department who was talking to me one day last week. He knew I was studying history in grad school and he wanted to tell me how proud he was. He had just gotten 100% on the history portion of his entrance exam for U.S. citizenship. He is now a proud citizen after coming to America six years ago. His face beamed with pride as he told me how good a feeling it was for him. And that made what I see on television even more insulting.

I feel very vulnerable now that there are so many people in this country that aren't even citizens. It's affecting the schools, the workplace, the safety (don't think for one second that at least some of these people among those with good intentions aren't criminals in their own country, and don't think for one second that terrorists aren't watching these stories about our porous borders to the south with some ideas of their own) and character of this great nation.

So what to do? Well, here's a few suggestions:

--One of the complaints is that there's not enough people in INS to help with the red-tape. Why not begin hiring more workers and offering more training to help them work to solve this problem? Offer special benefits and bonuses (i.e., help pay for schooling) for someone who was a product of the system--i.e., a former legal immigrant--who wants to help. I would assume there would be a need of some type of social work training and education to make this happen, but why not re-structure that at a later time to deal with this issue now? You're killing two birds with one stone here--you're offering more government jobs and helping to curtail the problem with delays in immigration red-tape.

--Build a wall, build it wide and high, and build it deep. We need to enforce a hard border to the south. The fact that it isn't better regulated in a post-9/11 world is beyond me anyway. By building it wide and high and offering check/entrance points in certain key areas, we are discouraging people from just sneaking in. We are also not further abusing the already strapped military by keeping them at minimum locations as possible and using them somewhere where they should be used--protecting our borders. Finally, by building a deep wall, we discourage tunnels as much as we can.

--Come up with a hard system that works in schools and hospitals, the two places where illegals tax our workers and wallets the most.

--Finally, after talking about it for a long time, get a system going with federal worker numbers. Insist companies have them for all associates, or they pay stiff fines in the millions that go to policing and erradicating illegals. Show them that we mean business.

I know there are some delicate issues, not the least of which is another side of illegal immigration: Those people who came over here legally and went back for parents or loved ones. That's an honorable thing, to try to bring over others and have them stay with you. But what is a bigger problem is that most of them are elderly and end up taxing the health care system as well. Something needs to be done about this problem, too. I'm not sure what to do about this part of the problem, because I know several people (vwilliams, for example) who have elderly relatives in other countries. I think it would be an honorable thing to bring them over, perhaps creating some type of amnesty for elderly immigrants under the care of citizens.

What about the children illegals bore here? I don't know about that, either. I think they still have to be sent back, perhaps create a rule whereby if the caretakers of the family aren't legal, the family isn't legal.

And the issue of "sending them back". What about that? That, my friends, is something I have no idea what to do or how to do it, and every politician in America would be lying if they said they had the answer. That may have to be solved by good ol' fashioned local law enforcement. I don't want to create a police state, but it's the state itself that I am more concerned about than the rogue factions that don't even belong in it.

I am insulted by the cries of "We are Americans". I am disgraced by those who tried to break the law and now expect to become protected by it. And I am worried about what this means for the future of my country. Anybody else?

Current Mood: pissed off

(7 Amens | Can I get a witness?)

Monday, May 1st, 2006
2:17 am
I guess it was only a matter of time. Finally, as if to make a broad-based (pun) statement against the sex industry in the Brass City, the end of an era came on Friday when Waterbury Police overtook 10 (that's right, 10) massage parlors in Waterbury and arrested several "masseuses" for prostitution. Several of the prostitutes themselves were engaged in sex acts with men when the stings were made. It was quite hilarious to see half-naked women being led into paddy-wagons by police officers. I thought the day would never come.

Well, the truly hilarious part of this isn't how it all went down or that the industry even existed in Waterbury to begin with (that's about one sex shop per every 10,000 residents, if you're keeping tabs). What struck me as the most hilarious thing about this whole operation was the reaction of the police brass after the bust went down. They began to detail the whole operation and how it was a top-secret thing for some two years since an 10-year old ordinance was dusted off and used to force massage parlors to register with the city in order to stay in business. Because they had to register, it gave the cops a paper trail to begin investigating whether these places were really massage parlors at all. The zinger came when a spokesman said the following:

"During the past several months we began an undercover operation," says Sgt. Chris Corbett, Waterbury Police Department. "This tonight is the culmination of that extensive investigation. Our undercover officers determined that in fact prostitution was going on in there...The fact that there were ten caused suspicion and also caused alarm, that there were ten of these establishments in the city, so we began investigating and in fact we did determine that prostitution was occurring here and that's what these arrests are based on."


Wait a minute...we did determine that there was prostitution going on in there? I am hoping beyond all hope that these officers are being coy about the whole situation, because these establishments (mainly the Tokyo Health Spa) have been the butt of jokes for decades. In fact, I remember distinctly the words of my friend Eric who was quoted as saying "Ain't no place called a health spa open 24 hours a day!" Well, that experiment came to fruition when after my brother's bachelor party a bunch of us, blighted by alcohol, decided to test this. I was the designated driver. I waited in the lobby while the guys got massages. When they were finished they were offered a menu that did not contain food items. "You want finish?" said a buxom Asian girl. My friends politely declined, and if that wasn't proof enough, while I was in there, a guy who used to go to high school with us staggered out into the hallway and, possibly recognizing me, said "That was the best fucking blowjob I ever had. YEEEEAAAAAHHHHH!!" And you want to tell me the cops never knew these places had been brothels for several years? I had a pretty good idea when I was in high school, I had a very good idea when my brother got married.

Those cats need a new informant.

Current Mood: sleepy

(3 Amens | Can I get a witness?)

Friday, April 28th, 2006
1:02 pm
Hopefully by the end of the day today I will have my desktop hooked up at my apartment. I have one of my employees coming over who is going to be setting everything up for me. I bought a 19" flat panel screen in anticipation. Then I will definitely be updating more. It's going to be nice to work on the book from my apartment, too. It might keep me away from spending so much money at Starbucks. Lately I've been good, but it's still too tough not to want to go there and hang out with a venti non-fat 140 degree latte and write amidst the hustle and bustle of MILF soccer moms and sales reps. It's kind of fun to be there. I like to occasionally run into old friends at the Southbury store, which happens from time to time. While I think I focus better everywhere else, I think I need to find a way to focus at my apartment. As for the book itself, I just spent about five pages writing about how I met Baker, one of the main characters in the book. He's a pretty crazy guy, one of those types that flew under the radar whenever trouble was near, but always seemed to be mixed up in it somehow. He had a way out of whatever possible mess he was in. I am having fun right now giving these characters some daylight and am laughing my ass of at how insane some of these stories are. Who the hell lives like this?!?!?!

I started talking about my grandfather last night to my employee, the same one who's coming to fix my computer tonight. He's in high school, and we were talking about alcohol consumption in high school with another member. I began to tell him the crazy things my grandfather used to do when he drank. He laughed hysterically and said that I should write a book about that, too. I'm way ahead of you, man!!

Current Mood: bouncy

(Can I get a witness?)

Monday, April 24th, 2006
10:47 am
I don't know what happened this weekend...
But somehow, I've inspired myself to inquire about a doctoral program in history. I'm probably going to ask one of my professors about this when I go to school tomorrow. Teaching in secondary school would be great and is still an avenue I want to pursue in the meantime, but for a place to nurture the type of inspiring studies, experiences and abilities for further research and development I crave, I think that is the ideal situation for me. Now--getting into a program and once that is completed (five years if I work full time; a minimum of three if I go straight through--highly unlikely) finding a job is going to be the interesting part. I already have the inside track at UConn; if I can maintain my high average and continue to form a bond with my professors this can only get better and should be able to net me a slot in the school pretty easily--not to mention the unquestionable added perk of a free ride by virtue of being a veteran that should be available to me. Additionally, the New York metropolitan area alone offers a glut of some of the finest schools for graduate studies in history--Columbia, Yale, Fordham, NYU. From there, a few other things need to be tweaked. Because my focus is currently on American Studies, I am not being held to the fire to be competent in a foreign language. However, when I pursue a doctorate, the necessity for proficiency in a foreign language increases exponentially, to include at least one foreign language and one of relevancy to your studies. I currently am fairly knowledgeable in French and Italian; I would also like to work on my Bosnian with my next idea in mind: Finding another area of study to better market myself for fast employment as a professor. I would probably like to market myself with areas of expertise to include Modern American history (1850s-current events, with a focus on the presidents) and also study the history of the Balkans as an ideal backup to make myself more marketable. My time spent over in the Balkans inspired me to gain knowledge about the region and its people, and my grasp of the language, while admittedly slight, could also be beneficial if I choose to pursue it. While I would like to become a teacher as soon as possible, this might be an ideal long-term goal for myself should I be able to pursue it.

Current Mood: okay

(Can I get a witness?)

Sunday, April 23rd, 2006
5:45 pm
Tech Stuff
I just picked up a 19" flat panel wide-screen monitor last week at Staples. I really wanted one for quite some time. Aside from the aesthetically pleasing aspect of it, I am also into the utilitarian aspect of it as well. It is also somewhat of a necessity on my cramped desk in my office at home--I had to get rid of my 47" desk for a 39" one to fit perfectly in front of my bed and I need all the space on it I can get. Additionally, the wide screen is ideal for watching DVDs, thus affording me the ability to put the modest 13" TV and DVD unit into storage. I'm going to hook premium speakers to it as well to give myself a good sound system in my room, since I intend to be doing the majority of my writing in there. Having Itunes on there will allow me to keep much of my 1200 CDs and hundreds of song files on the hard drives and relatively easy to access. I don't know what I did before Itunes and my Ipod anymore. I've even gotten over the whole "I need a tangible object to validate my purchase" rubbish I was spewing for so long after I got the 'pod. Nowadays, a CD purchase is a special event to me. For example, I had to get Queensryche Operation: Mindcrime II on CD simply because it was more of an event for me than a regular album purchase, and as a concept album it seemed to be the right thing to do. It's just a lot easier for me to just siphon the songs off of the Itunes site or that of another compatible vendor and download the album images myself if I need to. I've eliminated almost every jewel box I own and am probably going to give somebody else my 300 CD booklets. Over the next few weeks I will streamline the entire CD collection into shoeboxes and plastic storage boxes containing CDs in plastic sleeves with a separate one for album covers. It just makes sense. I got sick of alphabetizing and re-alphabetizing. Standard storage stacking units were just too bulky for a collection of my size; my booklets however forced constant updating and re-shuffling of CDs until it just became easier to throw the fucking things in the book any which way. While I agree a random box may eventually have me fishing for a lost CD or two, it simply eliminates a lot of fuss and bother in the grand scheme of things. My personal tech goal by the end of the year is to purchase a 60 gig Ipod with video capability and an improved digital camera.

Current Mood: relaxed

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Saturday, April 22nd, 2006
6:32 pm
I like my new apartment a lot. By "new" I really mean it's about 4 months old, but I moved in during my stagnant LJ phase. It's really a nice place. As a student of history, I love living in a building with such a rich industrial background. Never mind that it served for years as the corporate headquarters for Uniroyal (now Chemtura), one of the largest companies in the world. Back in the days when the Naugatuck River Valley was one of the preeminent hotbeds of industrialization from the mid 1800's to early 1900's, my apartment started out as a factory where shawls for the Union soldiers' uniforms were made during the Civil War. To think that within the brick edifice with its majestic wide-plank ceilings such great things materialized is not itself such a stretch; rather, the fact that I am living somewhere that so perfectly matches my love of history does. Besides the nice, high ceilings vwilliams and I also enjoy an impressive brick wall in the living room, ridiculously large original windows, spacious closets and a newly renovated kitchen and bathroom. The location right off the Route 8 highway that weaves along the Naugatuck River is perfect--minutes from I84 or the Merritt. And the laundry, gym, pool and other facilities are neat and well maintained. I'm very happy here, and until I figure where the next chapter of my life will be, I'd like to stay.

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I like my new apartment a lot. By "new" I really mean it's about 4 months old, but I moved in during my stagnant LJ phase. It's really a nice place. As a student of history, I love living in a building with such a rich industrial background. Never mind that it served for years as the corporate headquarters for Uniroyal (now Chemtura), one of the largest companies in the world. Back in the days when the Naugatuck River Valley was one of the preeminent hotbeds of industrialization from the mid 1800's to early 1900's, my apartment started out as a factory where shawls for the Union soldiers' uniforms were made during the Civil War. To think that within the brick edifice with its majestic wide-plank ceilings such great things materialized is not itself such a stretch; rather, the fact that I am living somewhere that so perfectly matches my love of history does. Besides the nice, high ceilings <lj user="vwilliams"> and I also enjoy an impressive brick wall in the living room, ridiculously large original windows, spacious closets and a newly renovated kitchen and bathroom. The location right off the Route 8 highway that weaves along the Naugatuck River is perfect--minutes from I84 or the Merritt. And the laundry, gym, pool and other facilities are neat and well maintained. I'm very happy here, and until I figure where the next chapter of my life will be, I'd like to stay.

<a href="http://www.beaconmillvillage.com/"<I like it here</a>


Current Mood: relaxed

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Thursday, April 20th, 2006
4:25 pm
The baseball icon smiles longingly. A mascot who first appeared in 1964 to cheer on a team that would be termed "Amazin", he became a permanent fixture in baseball lore, smiling cheerfully through abysmal losing seasons with the likes of Ellis Valentine and Mackey Sasser (not to mention numerous facelifts in between). Its probably a fact that his ever-present smile forced a city to recover from its' post-9-11 doldrums. I bet he didn't even frown when the Yankees beat the Mets in the Subway Series in 2000. He probably snuck into some conga line with Derek Jeter at a club like on the Visa commercial.



But while I appreciate the happy and kind nature of baseball's oldest mascot, I do wish from time to time to see some variety in his facial expressions. Perhaps not a frown, but a menacing grimace. Like when the Braves came to town yesterday. They probably think these are the same old Mets. Look at Mr. Met--he's smiling!! It's like a cute puppy or something. And how formidable is that?

Mr. Met--I'm your number one fan. But some piss and vinegar might be just what he needs to right the ship.

http://f3.yahoofs.com/users/41cc8772z99f921dc/ba82/__sr_/3f55.jpg?phwM_REBgnu3r.NL

Current Mood: lethargic

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Friday, April 14th, 2006
8:16 pm
I got a big kick out of this article today. It's an article about how several CEOs have derived a lot of information about how a person conducts himself in business and social interactions by how they treat waitstaff at restaurants, or service staff anywhere. It has been something I've believed in for some time now just through casual observation. I remember supporting myself through college as a waiter and continuing to bartend for extra cash for quite a few years after. I also can remember meals at restaurants observing people in my party and at times diners at other tables. Through my observation on both sides of this equation, having waited and been waited upon for years and eating in five-star restaurants for a fine meal or a diner at 2:00 in the morning after a night of drunken debauchery, I have come to realize this as well: This rule of thumb really doesn't discriminate on the type of facility someone works or dines at, but depending on the type of establishment it can often mean the difference between flaunting ones wealth or putting on airs when your insecurity rears it's ugly head. Read more...Collapse )

Current Mood: bored

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Wednesday, April 12th, 2006
5:11 pm
Yardwork is hell
So today I did the good son that didn't move far away thing and went to help my parents with some gardening/outdoor work. I can't tell you how much I dread that stuff. My father, happy just to have my assistance (and happy to be able to work on the yard again after hip surgery early last year), asked me point blank if I liked yardwork. If I was a teenager just helping out to pay my dues, I would probably throw in a bullshit line like "yeah, it's good to be outside." But now that I'm over 30 and there to do the right thing and help my parents rather than to do it just because I live there, I had no problem giving him a point-blank "no" as an immediate answer. My father wasn't prying, just creating conversation. In all, I am happy to be there, enjoying the outdoors and happy to be spending time with him and happy my busy schedule still allows me time to assist he and my mother when I can. Moreover, it's refreshing to see him doing well again after years of cancer and other maladies had him longing to be working on the yard again. Rather than ask why, he non-chalantly removed his purple Imus hat adorned with an American flag and my battalion crest from when I was in the military and ran his fingers through his greying hair. He's soon to be 67, and in spite of his age and shape he remains remarkably robust. "Really?" He seemed surprised, considering the fact that my first income was through a landscaping venture between my twin brother and I. We hung up creative fliers throughout the neighborhood to offer our services. I still remember them to this day:

"I'll do it NEXT week."
"But the Giants vs. Cowboys game is on."
"Aunt Edna from Des Moines is coming to visit."

What's your excuse to let your grass grow, your leaves sit or your flowerbeds be overcome by weeds? Ask Rich and Dave--we'll keep your property looking nice for Aunt Edna!!

We had some takers from the neighborhood and made a tidy sum. The good news was that having my brother meant I got things done in half the time. The bad news was that having my brother meant I got half the pay. But though we considered doing different properties and keeping the money, we did just fine sharing the workload and our productivity was pretty good.

So my father had a right to be curious. Then, I admitted to him being a product of lazy late-20th century mechanical inventions. "I only really like to do things where machines are involved." For example, I explained to him that I liked earlier when I tilled the garden, but used to hate it when I had to shovel it years prior. He understood, but I explained the work was still hard, but the fact that a machine was helping me lent some sort of psychological crutch to make it feel better. Strange, but true.

He went back to his raking and I grabbed mine to help. But I hated every minute of it--except for the strong spring sun lending to a fine New England day and the time well spent with my father.

Current Mood: accomplished

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Sunday, April 9th, 2006
7:33 pm
Good to be back. I've been away for a bit, stopping by to observe LJ friends from time to time, curiously posting in communities (sometimes anonymously) just to keep in the game. I think it's time to get back into it again.

Things have been good, really busy. School is going wonderful--I'm trying to balance everything out and not beat myself up too much. I think I'm doing pretty well considering how tough grad school can be. Got a small promotion at work, stil hunting and taking some leads finding teaching jobs. I'm kind of excitded about everything. vwilliams and I have a nice apartment together--it's a really cool apartment with vaulted wooden plank ceilings, a brick face in the living room and an amazingly nice kitchen and bathroom with stainless steel appliances and vinyl slate flooring. Man, the place is sharp. It's even cooler as a student of history living in a place that was used in the Civil War to make shawls for the Union soldiers.

I've been biding my time attending concerts, rooting for the Mets since opening day and cheering for the Rangers as they return to the playoffs for the first time in nine years. I'm excited. More on this to follow.

Oh, yes--the book. The next step for the book is (unfortunately a little intermittent considering the busy schedule) putting together the parts. I am trying to finish the manuscript; I'm somewhere between 40 and 60 pages from doing that. Anecdotes, vignettes and segues are what I spend time remembering and thinking of in my head to fill the remaining chapters in my book. That actually is not as boring as it seems; I've been putting in some cool stories from before and after the year or so the body of the story takes place that really embelish the plot and are fairly interesting. One such inclusion is the formation of a drinking fraternity known as the nickel club whereby each members paid a nickel to join and were forced to drink with their non-dominant hand.

So that's about it for now. As promised, I will soon be phasing out my bigdrenza username and retiring it to pasture (though it is cool as hell to have one somewhere near the half-million mark as we hurtle towards 10,000,000 members in LJ) and using thesaltfactor as my main name. This will take place in the coming weeks, and you will all be informed when my last post will be. You will also be friended by me there, respond in kind now if you wish, but I'll include you and respond to your posts and communities just the same.

See you soon!

Current Mood: blank

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Thursday, November 3rd, 2005
3:13 pm

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Friday, October 14th, 2005
4:30 pm
Vegas, baby, Vegas
I'm one of those travelers that tends to like the whole traveling experience. From getting up at dark-thirty in the morning and driving to JFK to getting frisked at the security area, to sitting on the plane and plugging in my antisocial mechanism (laptop or ipod) next to some fat schlamozle in the seat next to me, to overpriced cabs and luggage confusion. Well, tomorrow morning I'm off to take my trip out west to find my fortunes. Some might go to Vegas to find some sort of bounty from a machine or a table. My bounty will come from the Society of Professional Journalists convention I will be attending out there. I am very excited about the opportunity to peddle my manuscript and query to potential publishers and hopefully an eager agent or two. These type of events tend to be the place where things can magially come together--be it by running into someone by happenstance or any number of networking opportunities that will naturally present themselves throughout the 3 days. Saturday when I hit Vegas (away from the rain here in waterlogged Connecticut, mind you), my old friend Bob will be meeting me for a round of golf and hopefully a few drinks/a chance to paint the town red. It's going to be great to see him. Then my friend David from high school will no doubt make an attempt to involve me in some form of sports gambling adventure/night of debauchery. Then, it's off to the conference. We finish off the week in Scottsdale visiting my uncle. More golf, nice weather and cacti. It's going to be a blast. So here's to big dreams and something good happening really soon for myself and all of my friends.

Current Mood: excited

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Sunday, October 2nd, 2005
7:36 pm
I have been tired lately. I'm not sure if this is attributed to my trip to the hospital last week because of dizzy spells. I just think that right now I'm in a poor frame of mind and health. I need to get it back together and fast.

Current Mood: busy

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Wednesday, September 28th, 2005
10:04 am
Grad School
I like school at UConn. It's like a trip back in time for me going back to the place where my higher education endeavors were first realized. My classes so far have been wonderful. But I know that their program in American Studies here is limited. It doesn't have the broad background I so desire. Fairfield University, equidistant from my place of residence, does. Here is a list of their course offerings. I've bolded out the ones that I have a great interest in taking:


American Studies

AS 401 Introduction to American Studies
AS 402 American Historiography
AS 403 Issues in Contemporary American
AS 404 Independent Capstone Project
AS 415 Civil Liberties
AS 416 Civil Liberties II: Criminal Justice

AS 420 Feminist Theory and Gender Studies
AS 427 The Irish in American Film
AS 444 American Master Artists and their Times
AS 450 The Supreme Court in the 1960's
AS 461 The American Civil War
AS 481 Visions of Italy and America in Film
AS 483 America in the 1930's
AS 493 The Italian-American Experience


History

HI 437 American Prophetic Tradition
HI 441 Examining the 1960s: History and Legacy
HI 442 Immigration, Ethnicity, and Race in U.S. History
HI 448 Social Movements in America: The Sixties
HI 451 Crises and Turning Points in U.S. Foreign Relations: 1776-2004,

HI 452 Peace Movements in U.S. History
HI 456 History of the Cold War
HI 459 Working in America: A Social History
HI 479 Islam in America
HI 481 The Arab-American Experience
Literature

EN 447 Poetry in America
EN 486 Native American Literature
EN 487 Modern American Novel
Philosophy

PH 483 Ethical Theories in American
PH 484 American Pragmatism
PH 494 Transcendentalism as Philosophy
PH 495 Philosophy in 19th-Century America
Politics


PO 433 United States Foreign Policy
PO 461 The American Presidency
PO 465 Political Parties, Interest Groups, and Public Opinion
PO 467 Politics in Film
PO 468 Politics of Mass Popular Culture


Religious Studies

RS 442 Jews and Judaism in America
Sociology & Anthropology

SO 412 Contemporary American Society
SO 461 American Class Structure
SO 463 Urban/Suburban Sociology
SO 464 Contemporary Urban Society

SO 468 The Body and American Culture

Visual and Performing Arts

MU 401 History of Jazz
MU 402 History of Rock
MU 414 Gershwin, Ellington, Copland

TA 420 American Drama and Society
TA 452 The Arts in America: 1950 to the Present

English

EN 339 African-American Literature and Culture: 1900 to 1940
EN 341 Early African-American Literature
EN 342 Voices and Visions: Five American Poets
EN 348 Contemporary Women Writers of Color
EN 371 African-American Women's Writing
EN 380 Colonial American Literature
EN 381 American Romanticism
EN 382 American Literature: 1865 to 1920
EN 383 American Literature: 1920 to 1950
EN 384 American Literature: 1950 to the Present

EN 386 Native American Literature
EN 387 The American Novel
EN 389 Literature and Religion: The American Experience
EN 391 Myth in American Literature

History

HI 331 Era of the American Revolution: 1763 to 1800
HI 342 Immigration, Ethnicity, and Race in U.S. History
HI 348 Social Movements in 20th Century U.S. History
HI 356 History of the Cold War

HI 362 The Frontier: Man, Nature, and the American Land
HI 397 Special Topics: Social Movements in the 19th Century States
HI 397 Special Topics: Civil War and Reconstruction
HI 397 Special Topics: U.S. Society, Politics, and Industry: 1877 to 1900

HI 397 Special Topics: Black Religious History
HI 397 Special Topics: American Agricultural History: 1800 to 1950

Politics

PO 346 Seminar on Vietnam


Most of these topics, to include the history of jazz and Vietnam are all courses I've taken and done very well in at the undergraduate level. I am so excited about the possibilities of this program were I to get accepted. Vietnam? The Italian American experience? The very things I would love to write about someday. This is a pivotal program and one I would be particularly excited about being a part of, and one I could see giving me some momentum towards the writing career I desire.

The Mets season is finally over. They were eliminated not by a loss, but by a Houtson win. I can take solace in that, the fact that it happened with just five games left in their season, and that next year and the years following will be truly exciting.

On a similar note, I really hate the Braves. 14 straight division titles. Biggest waste of playoff futility since Buffalo. And you can't even call that a waste because Buffalo came to being during the dominance of the NFC, and had some truly great teams. The Braves just suck. I hate them. Another first round playoff loss and a wasted representation from the NL East yet again.

But next year for my beloved Mets is truly something to be excited about!!



Current Mood: hopeful

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