# Sunday, August 22, 2021

Neil Gaiman's Trigger Warnings is a collection of creepy poems and short stories.

Many of the stories end ambiguously with the hint of something dreadful about to occur. Others could easily be a chapter in a novel and perhaps they were originally planned as such. They tend toward the darker side of storytelling; but, other than that, have very little in common with one another.

My favourites stories were:

  • "The Sleeper and the Spindle" - a reimagining of a classic fairy tale with an unexpected crossover into another fairy tale.
  • "The Thing About Cassandra" - a story about a man who encounters the imaginary girlfriend he made up while in school.
  • "The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains" - a dark tale of revenge.

Gaiman also included a Sherlock Holmes story, a Doctor Who story, and a story about Shadow Moon, the protagonist of "American Gods".

I strongly related to "The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury" - a first-person narrative from someone losing his memory as he grows older. It reminded me that both my parents struggled through this frustration at the end of their lives; and I sometimes feel it happening to me. Plus, it is a tribute to one of the great writers of the 20th century, who undoubtedly influenced Gaiman.

This is a strong collection of works for anyone who enjoys mystery and horror and any fans of Mr. Gaiman's writing.

Sunday, August 22, 2021 9:35:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Saturday, August 21, 2021

At the end of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, Jo and her husband Friedrich resolve to open a school for boys in the home left to them by Jo's Aunt Marge. Little Men is the story of that school.

The book is a series of vignettes, displaying the personalities of the various children at school and the lessons they learn about integrity and honesty.

But mostly, it is the story of Dan, a tough orphan from the streets, who finds it difficult to obey the rules of the house. Dan's wrestling with moral issues form the heart of this novel.

Alcott drew inspiration from her father, who had radical ideas about education. The book reflects some of these ideas as Jo and Friedrich encourage their students to think for themselves, rather than drilling information and discipline into them. Dan's presence challenges these notions. Initially, he is a disruptive influence with the other children and cannot respect even the few rules imposed by the school. But the teachers persist; they see the good in the boy and believe he is destined for something special.

The rest of the March family gets very little exposure in this story - surprising in that one of them is lost suddenly late in the book. A bit more buildup would have improved that scene dramatically.
Although not quite on the literary level of its predecessor, Little Men is a pleasant successor to Little Women.

Saturday, August 21, 2021 9:08:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Monday, August 16, 2021

Episode 674

Shahed Chowdhuri on Azure Arc

Azure Arc is the remote control of hybrid, multi-cloud solutions. Shahed Chowdhuri describes how to use Azure Arc to manage resources on different cloud platforms, allowing you to create a hybrid cloud environment.



Monday, August 16, 2021 9:55:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Sunday, August 15, 2021

Louisa May Alcott grew up poor in the mid-18th century New England with her three sisters, so it is no coincidence that her most famous novel - Little Women is about a family very similar to her own.

"Little Women" tells the story of the March family - Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy, who are raised by their mother until their father returns from fighting in the Civil War. The story spans about two decades, as the girls grow into womanhood.

Alcott does an impressive job of painting the personalities of the sisters - beautiful and domestic Meg; tomboy Jo, who loves to write; shy and musical Beth; and artistic Amy. The moral character of the girls and their mother is remarkably high, but they still struggle with ethical dilemmas and often grow as a result. They survive problems at school and the temptation to avoid work and conflict with their aunt. They grow through changes in love and courtship and marriage and childbirth and careers and the death of a loved one. We see the sisters evolve throughout their young lives: quick-tempered Jo learns to soften her temperament when appropriate and Amy overcomes her selfish streak to inspire their spoiled neighbor Laurie to achieve his potential.

I enjoyed the contrast between Jo, who could be a role model for liberated women and Meg, who embraces her traditional role as housewife and mother. They are completely different, but they love each other unconditionally.

This novel has become a classic because of its characters and its moral lessons.

Sunday, August 15, 2021 10:05:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Saturday, August 14, 2021

Emmylou-43-X4Emmylou Harris is pure country music, uncorrupted by rock and roll. In addition to guitar, bass, drums, and keyboards, her band includes mandolin, accordion, fiddle, and the twang of Emmylou's voice which still persists at the age of 74.

Thursday night, Emmylou performed an outdoor show between holes 1 and 2 of Evanston's Canal Shores Golf Course as part of the SPACE nightclub's "Out of Space" series. She was charming and talented and beautiful and she captivated her audience beneath a clear sky on a perfect night.

I heard so many of my favourite Emmylou songs: "Pancho and Lefty", "Orphan Girl", "The Wayfaring Stranger", and my personal favourite "Boulder to Birmingham", with which she closed her performance. I also heard some cover songs that I don't usually associate with Ms. Harris. Her version of "Save the Last Dance for Me" was a delight. But the most moving moment was when she sang "My Name is Emmitt Till" - the true story of a 14-year-old black boy from Chicago, who was murdered in Mississippi because he was seen talking with a white woman.

The years have done nothing to diminish Emmylou Harris's spirit and talent. She held the audience of thousands throughout the night.

LosLobos-22-X4The evening was made even more special by the appearance of Los Lobos as the warmup act, who built their show to a climax when they closed with their biggest hit - a cover of Ritchie Valens's "La Bamba", from the movie of the same name.

It has been 30 years since I saw Los Lobos in East Lansing, MI, and 22 years since first experiencing Emmylou Harris at the Grand Ole Opry and tonight's show was just as much a treat as when we were all young.

More Los Lobos photos

More Emmylou Harris photos

Saturday, August 14, 2021 8:12:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Monday, August 9, 2021

Episode 673

Cassandra Faris on Open Source Software

Cassandra Faris talks about the advantages of Open Source Software and Rocket Mortgage's approach to Open Source.

Monday, August 9, 2021 9:09:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Sunday, August 8, 2021

Smithereens-22What does a band do when they lose their lead singer? The Smithereens faced this dilemma when founding member Pat DiNizio passed away in 2017. The remaining members decided to hire guest vocalists for their 2021 tour. Chicago was fortunate to host Marshall Crenshaw as the Smithereens' singer Saturday night at the City Winery. Crenshaw is most well-known for his 1982 Top-40 hit "Someday, Someway", but he has continued to perform all these years and his guitar work appears on some Smithereens records.

This was only the second stop in the band's first tour in a year and a half and they exhibited the pent-up energy of musicians who have missed performing live.

The Smithereens formed 40 years ago and released their first album in 1986. The three surviving founders (lead guitarist Jim Babjak, bassist Mike Mesaros, and drummer Dennis Diken are still with the band and Marshall joined them on rhythm guitar and lead vocals.

They played many of the songs that I've enjoyed for decades - "Behind a Wall of Sleep", "I’m Sorry But I Won’t", "Miles from Nowhere", "The House That We Used to Live in", and "Blood and Roses". They also enthusiastically covered songs written and recorded by others, including "No Matter What", "Bristol Stomp", and The El Dorados' 1955 high-energy R&B hit "At My Front Door". In introducing one cover song, Crenshaw quipped "For me, these are all covers", drawing a laugh from the audience. The 4-song encore set featured 3 cover songs: "Reason to Believe", "Where Have All the Good Times Gone?", and "Ramblin' Man".

The band was not quite as tight as they were when I last saw them in Cincinnati in 2001, but they made up for it by the passion they brought to the stage. What most impressed the crowd is how much fun the band was having, bantering with one another and with the audience. The musicians are aging, but they still possess the energy of a young garage band playing a gig at a local pub.

This fun and energy is what rock & roll is all about!

more photos

Sunday, August 8, 2021 9:39:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Saturday, August 7, 2021

Malo-11It has been 30 years since The Mavericks released their first album. When the band broke up in 2003, founder and lead singer Raul Malo launched a solo career. The Mavericks reunited ten years later, but Malo continues to tour on his own. Friday evening at Chicago's City Winery, Malo stood on stage alone and entertained a full house for over two hours, armed only with a guitar bearing the scratches of countless concerts. The piano behind him puzzled me because he only played two songs on it; but I enjoyed them as did the rest of the audience, so who am I to judge?

The Mavericks are also touring, which could tire some performers, but Malo showed no signs of wear. His beautiful tenor voice seamlessly switched keys and he never missed a note or an emotion.

He played a mixture of Mavericks songs and his own songs and even a few covers of others' songs. To demonstrate that songwriters are great thieves, he sang several bars of standards, such as "Blue Moon" and "You Send Me" without changing the guitar part of his own song. At one point, he began a rendition of Neil Young's "Harvest Moon" before abandoning it in the middle after messing up the lyrics. "At least you know it's live," he quipped.

Many of his songs were sung in Spanish (Raul is a Cuban-American whose parents emigrated from Cuba), and many came from The Mavericks' recent "En Español" album.

It has been a long time since I've seen an entertainer who combines such a heavenly voice with such engaging charm between songs. He radiated excitement about being back on stage after the long isolation of the pandemic. The audience responded with their own joy.

I had tickets to see Raul 10 years ago in Michigan, but a business trip prevented me from attending that show. He was worth the wait.

more photos

Saturday, August 7, 2021 3:35:44 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Monday, August 2, 2021

Episode 672

Becky Gaudet on the Azure Commercial Marketplace

Becky Gaudet works on the Azure Commercial Marketplace team. She talks about the certification process and what it takes to put an offering on Azure.


Monday, August 2, 2021 9:07:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Sunday, August 1, 2021

Today I am grateful for:
-seeing The Smithereens with Marshall Crenshaw in concert last night
-my longest bike ride of the year
-lunch with the Lincoln Park Ski Club
-a visit from Nick yesterday

Today I am grateful to celebrate Shabbat with friends last night.

Today I am grateful to see Raul Malo in concert last night.

Today I am grateful to deliver a conference presentation for the first time in almost 2 years.

Today I am grateful to deliver a conference presentation for the first time in almost 2 years.

Today I am grateful for a visit from Pat this week.

Today I am grateful to unexpectedly coming upon a street fair in Wicker Park yesterday

Today I am grateful for my first visit to Annapolis in almost 10 years.

Today I am grateful:
-to attend my uncle's burial yesterday
-to spend yesterday dining and talking with my siblings and cousins

Today I am grateful to celebrate the life of Uncle Jerry yesterday with our family.

Today I am grateful for an upgrade to First Class on my flight last night.

Today I am grateful that my boys got to see an exciting NBA Finals game in person last night!

Today I am grateful for a very good Turkish dinner last night with Tim

Today I am grateful to see the play "Tally's Folly" in Glenview yesterday - my first play in well over a year.

Today I am grateful for all the beautiful murals in Pilsen.

Today I am grateful to those who appreciate what I do and say so out loud.

Today I am grateful for a new wallet.

Today I am grateful for a Zoom call with high school classmates last night to discuss our upcoming reunion.

Today I am grateful to co-workers who take the time to answer my questions.

Today I am grateful for a new pair of eyeglasses

Today I am grateful for a new rear tire donated and installed yesterday by the local bike shop.

Today I am grateful for my new Global Entry card.

Today I am grateful for an unexpected bonus yesterday.

Today I am grateful for a new bathroom sink.

Today I am grateful for the company of Zoe the dog this week.

Today I am grateful for my first visit to Navy Pier in years.

Today I am grateful to watch fireworks across the city from my balcony last night.

Sunday, August 1, 2021 2:55:25 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)