Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Just showin' off...

I don't know why, but lately I've been feeling my heritage and I chanced across an Associated Press report that I'd like to share.

The study (done by the Cenus Bureau) reported in the article looked at characteristics of Americans of English, French, German, Irish, Italian, Polish, Scottish and Spanish descent." Here is what they found:
  • Americans of Scottish descent tend to be better educated and have higher incomes than other European based ethnic groups.
  • Americans who traced their ancestry to Scotland had the highest median family incomes of the eight single ancestry groups studied.
  • Americans of Scottish descent had the lowest unemployment rate.
  • Americans of Scottish descent were the only group to record no illiteracy.
  • More Americans of Scottish descent were high school graduates than those in the other eight groups.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Honest Abe: How Depressions Works

"The precipitating causes are hard to identify precisely, in part because cause and effect in depressive episodes can be hard to separate. Ordinarily we insist on a narrative line: factor x led to reaction y. But in a depressive crisis we might feel bad because something has gone awry. Or we might make things go awry because we feel so bad. Or both." (p. 56)

Honest Abe: William Styron's contribution

"The novelist William Styron has likened his depression to a storm in his brain, punctuated by thunderclaps of thought- self-critical, fearful, despairing." (p. 56)

I believe I've described this to at least one of my loyal readers as not being able to "turn my brain off."

When I am "well" it's actually kind of exciting! My creativity seems to have no limits, optimism abounds, and I wish I had the power to make my thoughts real.

When I'm depressed, I feel like I have multiple runaway "trains of thought" at the same time, all of them ready to hurtle off the tracks at any moment.*

*HA! It didn't even dawn on me until I finished the sentence that I, the Conductor of the Brain Train had just used the railroad metaphor again!

Honest Abe: Lord Byron's "fearful gift"

"The burden was a sadness and despair that could tip into a state of disease. But the gift was a capacity for depth and wisdom."

I'm not sure wwhat to say about this except that I've often felt that I'd be a much happier person if I didn't think so much and that I didn't understand as much as I did.

Honest Abe

As I mentioned in an earlier post there was a great article by Joshua Wolf Shenk in October's Atlantic Monthly called, "Lincoln's Great Depression," parts of which really hit home with me. So, I'm going to share a few of them with you via the Brain Train in case you don't have access to the magazine. Here is the first:

"With Lincoln we have a man whose depression spurred him, painfully, to examine the core of his soul; whose hard work to stay alive helped him develop crucial skills and capacities, even as his depression lingered hauntingly; and whose inimitable character took great strength from the piercing insights of depression, the creative responses to it, and a spirit of humble determination forged over decades of deep suffering and earnest longing." (p. 54)

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The Atlantic Monthly

If you have access to this magazine's October issue you might want to check out the article entitled "Lincoln's Great Depression." Reading it will probably give you more insight into "me" than everything I've posted since February. I'm tempted to frame my copy- including yellow hilights on the important parts.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Places to Visit: Isle of Skye, Scotland

The impossibly quaint Portree Harbor on the left, and the ancestral home of Clan Donald, Armadale Castle. I would need a whole new blog for all the pictures of the Cullins that I'd like to include!

Places to Visit: Aran Islands, Eire

Dun Aonghasa, the Neolithic fort on Inishmor, largest of the Aran Islands. Picture one is the location, picture two the fort. The pictures do neither view justice.

Places to Visit: Sedona, AZ

It really is too bad that the Sedona/Red Rocks area has become a haven for those of questionable sanity and bathing habits. For me- having had one foot nailed to the Eastern Seaboard for my whole life- it was a breath-taking place to visit...thanks, Dan!

Places to visit: Moosehead Lake, ME

This is the view from the dock at the "camp" that my family has owned since the 1950's. To give you an idea of scale, the mountain in the distance is approximately four miles in the distance.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Coolest Things I Own: Update

You know how when you buy something "on sale" you wonder if it was REALLY on sale or if it's always what you paid for it and the higher, "regular" price is made up? I've been wondering that about my TechnoMarine Squale watch.

I was THRILLED to see that the lowest price I could find for it was $290.00. I paid $85.00!

I feel as though I have won a small victory for those with good taste and thin wallets!

Thursday, July 28, 2005

The Greatest Album Ever?

I don't know the answer to my own question!! What I do know is that this album proved that the Clash could do ANY style of music and do it better than ANYONE else. There was a reason people called them "the only band that matters."

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Political Compass Test

Want to see where you fit in the political world? Go to


and answer the questions! If you don't understand the results, let me know and I'll do my best to interpret.

I am center-left (almost equally) on economics and politically I am about 75% closer to being a libertarian than an authoritarian.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The NEW Ten Coolest Things I Own List

  1. Technomarine "Squale" Watch
  2. Adidas Zuperklimb sneakers
  3. Schaeffer fountain pen
  4. Oakland Oaks "throwback" jersey
  5. Minor Threat's entire output on vinyl
  6. Arc Teryx Alpha SV jacket
  7. Bootleg tape of the Alarm at the Orpheum Theater, Boston, MA (11/9/85)
  8. Smith "District" sunglasses in "Deja Blue" w/ interchangeable lenses
  9. A small piece of land in northern Maine
  10. Marin Muirwoods mountain bike

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Top Eight Underrated Things

  1. Post-it Notes
  2. Sleep
  3. The Three Stooges
  4. Real, homemade, iced tea
  5. Fountain pens
  6. Crushed ice
  7. Black Converse All-Star Hi-tops
  8. The smell of a well-used baseball glove

Top Five Things That Are Overrated

  1. The beach
  2. Coldplay
  3. Fabric softener
  4. Woody Allen movies
  5. Organized religion

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Things I'd like to do before I die...

...not that I plan on doing it any time soon.
  • Learn Scots-Gaelic
  • Travel to the South Pacific
  • Climb a mountain over 10,000 feet
  • Get a book published
  • Buy a custom-made suit
  • Live overseas
  • Sleep for 24 straight hours
  • Own a Nokona baseball glove
...there are probably other things, but that's enough for now- I don't want to appear too greedy or ambitious!

Top Six Things I'm Good At

1. Trivia: And I'm not humble about it either..."bad winner."
2. Soccer: Playing or coaching.
3. Seeing: I have better than 20/20 vision in both eyes.
4. Teaching: Not that I don't have bad days, but not many.
5. Cooking: I've only ever received compliments.
6. Writing: Fiction or fact.

Top Eight Things I'm No Good At

Not really in order, just as they came to mind...

1. Math: I can add and subtract, but after that...
2. Swimming: I can, just not well at all.
3. Being "social": Not surprising as I don't like people.
4. Taking care of myself: physically or mentally.
5. Relationships: Though, at the moment, I'm trying to break the cycle.
6. Chess: WAY too many things to remember.
7. Trying new things: Some have even said I'm "picky".
8. Drawing: But I still got A's in art class because I "tried"!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

My Sporting Allegiances

It is likely that none of these will come as a surprise if you're a regular reader of my blog, but just to set the record straight, here they are!

MLB: Boston Red Sox
There's really not much to be said here- you either belong to the Nation or you
don't. I can't remember not being a fan, and I'm glad of it. Yaz...

NBA: Boston Celtics
Between 1981 and 1986 I was fortunate to see them win three championships. I
haven't watched professional basketball since the Larry Bird Era ended in 1992.

NHL: Boston Bruins
It's been a long time since they won the Cup, but that was never the point with this team. Only two things
are important. 1) Play hard, and 2) beat the Canadiens. If that leads to the Cup, great, if not, that's okay!

NFL: New England Patriots
Being a Patriots fan was worse than being a Sox fan. The Sox at least got close enough to break your
heart- the Patriots were just embarrassing. And then, with no warning, they were suddenly a dynasty!

MLS: New England Revolution
After only a 10 year wait, this could be their year! They've got the players and, of course, they have at Scot
showing them the way!

FIFA: Scotland
We're crap, but we have the best fans.

We're decidedly NOT crap and may actually win the World Cup at some point!

EPL: Any team fielding Americans or Scots are good in my book!
SPL: Any team but the Old Firm. I don't want any part of the sectarian nonsense.
SFL: Ross County FC
They were nice enough to let me visit the team a few years back and they treated me like part of the family.

I hope that wasn't too boring of a post...

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Top Ten Cities

Well, Bella's list was pretty good, but here's mine! We'll let lil' Magaroni decide whose list is better!
  1. Boston
  2. Inverness
  3. Glasgow
  4. Edinburgh
  5. Galway
  6. Reykjavik
  7. Cork
  8. Dublin
  9. Quebec
  10. Nantes
And as a bonus, here are the 7 best small cities in America in no particular order:
  • Portsmouth, NH
  • Northampton, MA
  • Charlottesville, VA
  • Flagstaff, AZ
  • Portland, ME
  • Saratoga Springs, NY
  • Williamsburg, VA

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

The First CD's You Should Buy

Building a music collection? Don't know where to start? Here's the best of heard in some well-known categories (though you may disagree with what I put in them!) along with the best I've heard in some categories I've made up myself! If I skip something obvious, let me know!

Country: I don't like country music, I like Johnny Cash. I recommend Classic Cash, The Sun Years, or Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison.

Hardcore: Minor Threat's Complete Discography. Whether you buy into the "straight-edge" idea or not, start here. Compare everything to this- little will match it.

Punk: The Clash. Almost thirty years later, still "the only band that matters."

American Punk: The Ramones Ramones, Bad Religion The Grey Race, Social Distortion Sex, Love, & Rock n' Roll, Husker Du New Day Rising, The Minutemen Double Nickels on the Dime, X Live at the Whiskey A Go-Go on the Fabulous Sunset Strip, Violent Femmes.

Blues: It's almost impossible to go wrong in this category, so I'll give you a few choices: John Lee Hooker
- The Ultimate Collection, 1948-1990, Robert Johnson- King of the Delta Blues Singers, B.B. King- How Blue Can You Get? Classic Live Performances 1964-1994, Son House- Father of the Delta Blues.

Ska: The (English) Beat I Just Can't Stop It or The Specials The Singles

Pop: Squeeze 45's and Under

Rockabilly: Start early- Eddie Cochrane, Gene Vincent, Johnny Burnette, Dale Hawkins, Ronny Self, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bo Diddley- and then get modern- the Stray Cats, the Paladins, the Reverend Horton Heat, and the Hillbilly Hellcats

Dark: Wipe off the eyeliner and burn your NIN albums, Steve Albini and company go to that place in your mind/heart that you can't admit that you have- and they are relentless about it.

Start with Run-D.M.C's Greatest Hits 1983-1991, and then move on to Public Enemy and the Beastie Boys Paul's Boutique

Soul: Sam Cooke Live at the Harlem Square Club, 1963

Political: Billy Bragg Back to Basics

Other great albums or groups that I haven't mentioned already or that I'm too lazy to put into categories:

The Alarm
- any album other than Raw
Oasis- I am ashamed to say I like them...but I do.
Big Country The Crossing
The Proclaimers- I don't even know where to begin...perfection.
Big Audio Dynamite This is Big Audio Dynamite or No. 10 Upping Street
Elvis Costello The Best of Elvis Costello...
The Pogues/Shane MacGowan- I like Black '47 and Flogging Molly, but they are the "t-ballers" and Shane with or without the boys are the "major leaguers."
Devo Hits
Paul Weller- A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G
The Cult Love
Garbage- I'm human and Shirley Manson is a siren...
Dag Nasty Can I Say?
There's a lot to be said for staying true to your work.
Fugazi Repeater
The Donnas- They rock on several levels...
Bob Mould- any album other than Modulate
Stevie Ray Vaughan- I've never seen or heard anyone as good at what they do as this man was- buy it all.
The Jam: Just go ahead and invest in the boxed set Direction, Reaction, Creation
The Jesus and Mary Chain
U2- With the exception of that disco album...
Morphine- Listen to Yes or The Night and you'll see why Mark Sandman's early death was such a tragedy.
The Smiths/Morrissey: They've both becme the butt of many jokes, but I urge you to listen and decide for yourself.
Mike Ness- As close to a modern Johnny Cash as I've encountered.
Joe Strummer- Again, an untimely death. Damn.
The Stooges- Iggy wasn't always a joke.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Places To Visit Before You Die

I only started traveling regularly about ten years ago, but I've seen a few places that have just awed me- some with their magnificence and some with subtlety.

  • Moosehead Lake, ME: I've been going here all of my life and it's still one of the few places in the world that I can easily imagine being inhabited by only animals and natives. There is little on the east coast that matches it for scale or serenity.
  • Sedona, AZ: As beautiful a part of the country as I've seen and one that was totally foreign to me for the first 30 years of my life. Populated by too many crystal-gazing leftover hippies, but I'll try not to let that keep me from visiting again.
  • Inishmore, Eire: The largest of the Aran Islands first takes you back to the 19th century, and the to the Neolithic Age. Go straight to the fort of Dun Aengus (which I believe is the oldest/largest Neolithic complex in Europe) and look out over the cliffs- awe inspiring.
  • Isle of Skye, Scotland: Skip the Skye Bridge and take the ferry from Mallaig to Ardvasar- the view in both directions is spectacular. Then look out over Portree Harbor at sunset- you won't want to leave. And visit the Clan Donald Center- Per Mare, Per Terras!

Friday, February 11, 2005

Best MST3K Episodes

A work in progress...
  1. I Accuse My Parents
  2. Time of the Apes
  3. Sidehackers
  4. Wild Rebels
  5. The Amazing Colossal Man
  6. Teenage Cavemen
  7. Gamera vs. Guiron
  8. Gamera vs. Gaos
  9. Gamera vs. Barugon
  10. Stranded in Space
  11. Village of the Giants
  12. Mitchell
  13. The Castle of Fu Man Chu
  14. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians
  15. The Brain
  16. Manos: The Hands of Fate
  17. Catalina Caper
  18. Prince of Space
  19. Beginning of the End
  20. Girl in Gold Boots
  21. Fugitive Alien
  22. Cave Dwellers
  23. Hercules and the Captive Women
  24. Hercules Against the Moon Men
  25. Rocketship X-M
  26. Pod People
  27. EEGAH!
  28. Ring of Terror
  29. Skydivers
  30. Alien from L.A.
  31. Bloodlust
  32. Gunslingers
  33. Operation Double 007
  34. Swamp Diamonds
  35. Viking Women versus the Sea Serpent
  36. Daddy-O
  37. Secret Agent, Super Dragon
  38. Red Zone Cuba
  39. Master Ninja I
  40. The Day the Earth Froze
  41. Angels Revenge
  42. The Unearthly
  43. Overdrawn at the Memory Bank
  44. The Touch of Satan
  45. Planet of the Prehistoric Women
  46. The Phantom Planet
  47. The Projected Man
  48. Invasion of the Neptune Men
  49. War of the Colossal Beast
  50. The Crawling Hand
  51. The Wild World of Batwoman
  52. Teenagers from Outer Space
  53. Slime People
  54. Track of the Moon Beast
  55. Giant Spider Invasion
  56. Lost Continent
  57. It Conquered the World
  58. The She Creature
  59. Teenage Werewolf
  60. The Magic Sword
  61. Space Mutiny
  62. The Hellcats
  63. Diabolik
  64. The Final Sacrifice
  65. The Devil Fish
  66. Attack of the Giant Leeches
  67. Time Chasers
  68. Werewolf
  69. The Creeping Terror
  70. Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders
  71. Boggy Creek II: And the Legend Continues
  72. Hamlet