Saturday, December 31, 2005

A Quick Review of my 2005

This year has been a fulfillment of several of my life's dreams. I finally got to go to Space Camp with Connor. I have wanted to go since I was his age. With my new job at Flatirons Solutions, I've also been able to work at Cape Canaveral two different times this year on Boeing's Delta rocket program. It was hard leaving Sun after 9 years, and the extensive travel schedule, but I have grown tremendously both personally and professionally. I also spent quite a bit of time in New York City, Kansas City and Washington, D.C. As a family, we also traveled on several trains in Colorado, including the Georgetown Loop and Cumbres & Toltec; we hope to ride more trains next year, and see more of our magnificent state. We also enjoyed our trip for the 50th Anniversary of Disneyland, and spending time with family and friends.

To all my family, friends and blog readers:

Happy New Year
To One And All
Long Life, Happiness,
Peace and Prosperity to You
Lang May Yer Lum Lou
(may there always be the warmth of a fire in the home
and so employment and prosperity)


Thursday, December 22, 2005

Space-Age music for the not-so-bachelor pad

I heard a very interesting rendition of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" on the radio this morning by a group called "Los Straightjackets". After Googling for their home page (, I found I really like the music style! I asked my friend, Cam, if he'd heard of them and other Space-Age Bachelor Pad music. Here's his great recommendation:

If you're asking what I'm into lately or what is a good recommendation for S-ABM, I'd answer differently. To be honest, Esquivel is still the king and always will be in that genre.

Lately I've been into a couple of websites that post public domain records. Most of these are of that genre. There's also a lot that are more 'modern big-band' more along the style of Jackie Gleason or Herb Albert. Oh, and a LOT of Sergio Mendes. He's been hitting the spot just right.

If you're interested, check out:

For the top ten S-ABM picks:

1. Esquivel - He IS space-age. In fact, I think the whole genre name was invented because of him. No other artist will do in the space age bachelor pad. I imagine Esquivel lounging back with a martini while chatty it up with a girl in a go-go suit and classic Sean Connery while Jetson style space-cars fly by his window outside. I repeat, he IS space-age.

2. Sergio Mendes - He put 'Girl From Ipenema' on the map. What more can be said? While Esquivel introduced the genre, Sergio introduced the must have songs of the genre.

3. Roger Williams - Now this is a strange pick, and some may argue, but every good bachelor, space-aged or not, needs a moment of relaxation. Williams brought about 'Born Free' and the concept of waves and seagulls in the background of most of his tracks. If you must relax, either to his piano or guitar, Roger will lull you to another world.

4. Dean Martin - Just as Esquivel is to Space-Age, Dino is to Lounge. Lounge is the close twin brother to Space-Age, so it couldn't be overlooked in this list. The amazing thing is that Dino was the man that THE MAN, Frank, chose to listen to. It's said that Dean was actually one of the greatest singers as far as vocal skill and longevity, but because of life circumstances and the venues that the two men chose, Sinatra will be remembered as the easy listening king. But that's why Dean is the Lounge king.

5. Julie London - Sultry. That's the word. I can't explain her voice. She's equally sexy and maternal. You want her to sing you to sleep and you want her leading the latest red-hot band. She's incredible and her voice stood up over time taking her well into the 70's.

6. Nelson Riddle - Nelson's style is amazing. He is what you hear when you watch stylized action/adventure films from the '60's. That sound of swanky saxophone and what sounds like jungle music blends into something that fits only with Film Noir. It's part exotica mixed with part grungy New York. You can picture island girls dancing to it as well as imagining a lonely gumshoe lighting up a cig under Brooklyn bridge.

7. Les Baxter - Les and his orchestra INJECTED ultra-cool into the bachelor pad. I mean, this is the man that orchestrated Route '66. He is synonymous with muscle cars and the wind blowing through your hair as the Beach Boys are with surfing. He uses that jazzy trumpet mixed with a persistent cymbal rhythm that makes you want to don shades and talk like a hep-cat.

8. Billy May - Another close brother to Space Age is the Tiki. Tiki is the lounge scene of Las Vegas, only transplanted to a far away island. Tiki is about escapism. You listen to Tiki while drinking exotic sounding drinks with umbrellas in them. Now a lot of the men already discussed on this list dabbled in Tiki but one of the band leaders excelled at it. I dare say that the concept of Muzak came from Billy who took famous songs of the time and transplanted them in a cool samba version. He loved multiple trumpets and bizare rhythm instruments like sticks and bongos. He also had a strange love affair with the organ. If you can imagine a Polynesian native playing his people's music on an electric organ... that's Billy May.

9. Jackie Gleason - While better known for his acting and his 'Honeymooners' series, Jackie LOVED music and would have preferred to live his life in a night club. And it shows. His music is the stuff of champagne. And even more, his album covers are the artwork that inspired the exotica art that is classically associated with the music. You see, Jackie was also known for his women...

10. Ann Margaret - The thing about Ann Margaret is that she just had to pose and there was music. Her singing is the epitome of the seductive she-kitten motif. She's talented, but not the MOST talented. But you put her in a pink sweater and skin tight pants... FEVER! She was the perfect mascot of the genre and the first choice of any self respecting bachelor to share his pad with. Many of her songs have taken on mythic proportions over the years and I have seen few mixes where she isn't included.

The wonderful thing about this music is that at the time, everyone was doing it. It was the Rock'N'Roll of that time. And there wasn't mass marketing of bands either, so there are a LOT of people out there, a LOT of big bands, a LOT of singers... that are just waiting to be discovered again by the modern recording. If you read through the commentaries of most of the albums discussed on bellybongo you'll find that there were many recordings that were done in very small quantity and then only handed out to the area that the band's nightclub was in. So now with the Internet, there's a lot of artists that are starting to become big only because they're being heard for the first time in 60 some odd years. And they say that the electronic era is bringing about the death of music. :)

On top of this list is the 'ethnics'. In fact, I was hard pressed to include Tiki music into this list, but Tiki is so much a part of Space-Age. But aside from this, there was a huge Latin movement (Herb Albert), Hawaiian music, Polynesian music (that launched into the Tiki movement), and film scores (this was lead by Henry Mancini and the birth of a little ditty known as 'The Pink Panther')

Even though I'm not a bachelor, I think I'm hooked on this music style. I've been a fan of Herb Alpert since I started learning the trumpet back in 6th grade. Now I've got some additional choices to start listening to!


Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Photo Fun for the Holidays!

Want to give that special someone a personalized movivational poster? Magazine cover? Movie poster? If so, you should check out the cool tools at You can also add conversation bubbles to photos, or make trading cards!

Here's a sample of what you can do:


Thursday, December 08, 2005

Roundtripping DocBook and Word

Steve Ball has announced the release of a set of XSL stylesheets to transform DocBook to WordML and back with minimal structure loss. This is indeed a welcome development, as I've faced many painful migrations from Word or Frame to DocBook. Some solutions work better than others, but they ALL require cleanup. I'm very curious to try this method, and see if it is truly painless yet...

More details are available at: These stylesheets will also be added to the DocBook XSL project in SourceForge in the wordml subdir.

There have been some concerns raised by Jens Stavnstrup, such as a lack of support for Chapter/Appendix, and some issues with Saxon.


Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Blogger Categories - Thanks Freshblog!

By now you have probably noticed my new Topic links on the right side of my blog. This is all thanks to my friend Jason (for pointing it out to me!) and Freshblog!

Prior to this, I had only bookmarked my links (on the left side of my blog) in It was a bit of a pain to go back through all 242 of my blog entries and tag them in, but I think having the Topic categories for my blog entries is definitely worth it, and improves some of the user experience on my blog.

I also quickly realized that I have a lot of tags, so I had to adjust the tagroll to only display my top 25 tags. The other benefit of this approach, is that Techorati will also pick up my tags.

Since I've also switched to Firefox 1.5, I used the new Firefox extension. It makes tagging a breeze!

There is also a cool foxylicious extension for adding your tags to your Firefox bookmarks. Hopefully Dietrich will add support for tag bundles in the near future.

Categories: , ,

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Save those frequent flier miles!

Looks like I have something to save my frequent flier miles for! Too bad it's only on Virgin Airlines... Check it out: Only 2 million domestic miles needed for me to get my Astronaut wings! :-)