Hembeck is 56

It’s no great secret that my good friend Fred Hembeck was instrumental in getting me to start blogging. I had contributed a couple things to him that he used in his blog, and that inspired me to do my own.

In recent months, though, Fred’s blogging output had begun to slacken appreciably. Part of that was due to the work involved in preparing for his still-available book, but also, he’d seemed to have just lost a little of his blogging mojo.


Fred discovered a revolutionary new technology that has re-energized his blog in the last month and a half. It’s called:


As Fred himself said, “Okay, I’ll admit it–regarding YouTube, I’m way, WAAAAY behind the curve. But only because I knew what would happen if I allowed myself to do more than peak into the occasional video embedded over on another blog.

I knew I’d become obsessed.”

And obsessed he has become. But an obsessed Fred Hembeck is a Fred Hembeck who’s exciting to read. If you haven’t been been by Fred Sez, or haven’t been there lately, check it out.

WARNING: You may spend more time there watching his YouTube links than you planned.

Oh, and happy birthday, effendi – you’re older than I am for five weeks!

2009: A life odyssey

I’ve never been that big on resolutions. Sure I’ll work on losing weight, but I think (know) I need more…fun challenges.

Thus and therefore, I resolve:
*to play more backgammon. I’ve been playing online quite a bit in 2008. But I have an actual board with actual pieces in my cubicle, and I haven’t touched it, except to dust it off, in the nearly three years we’ve been in cuby land. This MUST change. I have one opponent lined up, and a date for next Tuesdayand a novice ready to learn.
* to play more cards, specifically hearts. I may have played once in 2008. Not acceptable.
* to see more movies. The wife and I may have to go to the virtual date plan, where one of us sees the 1 pm movie while the other watches the child, then the other sees the 4 pm movie while the first watches the child, then discuss later. It’s not optimal, but neither is seeing five movies/year.
* to play more racquetball. Actually, more correctly, to continue to play racquetball. This year, the daughter goes to kindergarten. There appears to be no preschool at her school. Since the wife can’t take her to school because of timing, it would default to me. But that would mean that I’d almost NEVER play racquetball, which might, quite literally, kill me, since it is both my primary form of exercise – especially in the winter, when I don’t ride the bike – and something with which the competition provides a joie de vivre that riding on a stationary bike or running around a track simply doesn’t generate for me. To that end, we’re investigating hiring someone to get Lydia up, dressed, fed and taken to school, perhaps a student from a nearby college. We’re paying for daycare now, so that’d be the source of the payments.
Oh, jeez, I almost forgot: come spring, I need to BUY a bike to replace the one that was stolen.
*read more books. I’ve started literally dozens that I simply never finish.
*listen to more music at home. This will be facilitated by the fact that the daughter got a boom box for Christmas. This means that the other boom box, which technically belongs to the wife – my matching one got stolen from my office a few years ago – can reside in the living room. My stereo, specifically the CD player, has ceased to work, despite taking it into the shop. So until I buy a new one, the boombox will be the primary form of entertainment in the living quarters.

I think that’s enough.

Do YOU have any resolutions that you’d like to share?

Oh, and I had one of those reminders why I do the blog this past week. My mother, sister and niece made an impromptu visit to the Salisbury National Cemetery where my father was buried, but they couldn’t find the grave site. They knew they were close, but lots of folks have been buried there in the past eight years. So my sister calls me on her cellphone; did I have a record of where he was buried? I went to my trusty blog and found the citation, section 8, grave 358. Yet another notation that while I like to provide the best of the psychodrama in my head for your entertainment, I have to do the blog for ME.


Why I Blog

Someone asked me to give him an example of a piece I wrote that I thought kept me sane. I replied:
It’s not that I have a particular piece I’m talking about. It’s the exercise of writing something every day. Sometimes, it’s just an Internet meme, but even that allows me to put my personal stamp on it. Moreover, I must have been doing something right on my blog [here], because the local paper invited me to write on THEIR blog.
Moreover, I’ve become such an “expert” on it that giving some advice to a business blogger, and I attended a conference in Chicago, where a colleague and I talked about Starting Your SBDC Blog (based on our experience doing THIS blog.

All I know is that, before the blog, I wanted to write and didn’t because I lacked discipline to write something that, likely, no one would see; the public nature of the blog forces me to post to it (or actually them) regularly.
When they recalibrated SiteMeter, they said I’d get more page views. While the number of hits has remained about the same, the number of average views per visit jumped from about 1.4 to about 2.4. Every once in a while, I look to see what articles are bringing folks to the blog. This piece on the October 4, 1987 snowstorm – 21 years ago this week – has been big the past month. My rant about the Beatles butchers has also been popular recently.
I went to some SEO – search engine optimization – site recently, put in my URL, and this is what it recommended:
Keyword Suggestion
Searches / month
sarah palin 668,160
sarah palin nude 35,340
sarah palin pictures 23,370
sarah palin photos 22,440
sarah palin pics 15,540
sarah palin bikini 15,390
sarah palin naked 9,540
sarah palin speech 8,670
sarah palin children 6,330
sarah palin legs 6,910
sarah palin vogue 5,760
sarah palin swimsuit 4,500
pictures of sarah palin 4,440
sarah palin bio 4,410
sarah palin miss alaska 4,320

Now, while it’s true that I’ve talked about Sarah Palin, even before she was picked as Vice-Presidential candidate, and showed pictures of her, albeit not in a bikini, I never talked about Sarah Palin being naked. And I wrote about so many topics OTHER than Sarah Palin. I do wish I knew exactly how SEO worked.

Roger Answers Your Questions, Spryglet

Our next contestant I know personally:
Hey Roger!

I’ve been thinking about something for a couple of days now, and I thought you might be a good person to bounce this musing off of (perhaps you’ve already addressed the topic on your blog and a simple re-direct will do the trick!).

Recently, I’ve been mulling over the question of blogging vs letter writing. Naturally, they are not mutually exclusive activities and there is no reason one can’t do both. That said, there are only so many hours in the day.

Now, you are an amazingly consistent blogger. But I was wondering, how are you in the letter writing department? Has that changed a lot since you began blogging?

As you know, Socks and I started a modest blog to highlight some of our adventures as we relocated from NYC to Las Vegas. Recently, the blog has sort of morphed into “Las Vegas sites and curiosities” (as seen through our eyes). When we write the blog, we definitely have our friends back east in mind as the intended audience. (And as an aside, I keep a personal hand written journal in which I try to record the day’s events, even if only in list form. That’s for personal use). But I find that my letter writing has decreased significantly. And now, I am slowly realizing that I miss it. True, I would often find myself cutting and pasting portions of one letter to another. But I always tried to make sure that it was personalized.

Anyway, I was wondering your thoughts on the topic.

That aside, I also miss seeing you if only at the holidays (MidWinter, MidSummer, etc.). And I do miss being back east. Being in Nevada is strange. However I think this will be one of the first elections in which my vote in the presidential elections will actually mean something. Although there have been exceptions, New York has rarely gone Republican. Nevada is up for grabs.

Anyway, I just wanted to seize the moment and say HI!

I hope that all is well with you, Carol & Lydia.

Stay well.



Back in the 1970s and 1980s, I was a prolific letter writer. Influenced undoubtedly by some author’s letters, I even copied, using something called carbon paper, some of the letters I wrote. During the same period, I started keeping journals. Many got destroyed in the flooded basement of the apartment building I lived in a decade ago, but a few survived, which has allowed me to write some of that specific FantaCo stuff, as well as relive painful affairs of the heart.

My letter writing started to diminish a little in the 1990s, especially when I first got e-mail, and shrank even further upon the birth of my child. In fact, it is the blogs where most of my non-work writing takes place. But it hasn’t supplanted letter-writing, because my letter-writing was already on the wane.

I should also note that I’m jealous as hell of you. New York is a mortal lock for Obama. Frankly, I’m disturbed by the fact that polling has determined whether candidates even bother in some locations. McCain, though, has been running ads nationally on ABC’s World News.

My best to Socks.

Did You Miss Me? Didn’t Think So

One of the wonderful features about Blogger is that I can write posts and then have them publish on future dates. I was in Chicago from Tuesday through Saturday – more on that not just anon, but for a couple of weeks – and except for about an hour on Friday, when I could check my Gmail and AOL accounts and print my boarding ticket for my return flight, I had no access to the Internet, unless I wanted to spend 47 cents per minute. Note: I did not.

Writing ahead wasn’t all that difficult. What IS hard is getting started again. For me, there’s a blogging rhythm. If I’m posting every day, I’m probably writing at least every other day. When I came back from this trip, though, I needed to spend time with my wife and daughter, check my work e-mail (accessible from home, but not elsewhere remotely – 300 deleted on Sunday), mow the lawn (though I had mowed it Sunday or Monday before I left, the rain during the week, especially the remnants of Tropical Storm Hanna, made it necessary again), church and other tasks precludes blogging. Here’s something: my suitcase probably weighed 15 pounds on the way to the conference; it weighed 41.3 pounds on the way back, so I had to sort through all that conference swag, papers, and whatnot.

But it’s more about the momentum. A blogger in motion tends to stay in motion; a blogger at rest tends to stay at rest. I have PLENTY to write about. (Rose, BTW, has some ideas about what to blog about if you don’t.)

Oh, one thing about Chicago. I tend not to tell people I’m going away until I return. Since I changed my Blogger links, though, that was undermined. I knew in the first case it would be, so when it happened the second time, it was no big deal. Time #1 was when my colleague Amelia wrote: Blogging for Your SBDC – Roger and Amelia go to Chicago back on August 27, the cat was rather out of the bag. Then when Gordon mentions we went to a Cubs game together, well the jig was really up. As I tweeted (that’s what you do on Twitter), someone tweeted about a session I attended in Chicago in real time; I’m still disinclined.

A couple things about the Cubs game: someone from the Astros, Ty Wiggington, hit a two-run homer; he used to be with the Mets . Meanwhile, a Cubs runner was thrown out at the plate; a MOST unpopular call, and at least one Cubs fan in our section was very loud and vocal in his “appreciation” of the ump’s brain functions. But the very worst play: men on first and third for the Astros. Runner on first caught 30 feet from first base and caught in a pickle (rundown). So the runner at third heads for home. Instead of trying to tag the runner heading back to first, the middle infielder throws home, but muffs it. The one runner scores, and the other’s safe at second; Little Leaguers would have done it better. I had the Cubs going to the World series from the beginning of the season – ouch.