Rick's Ramblings

You have found Rick's Ramblings, a Web Log.

I have been writing in this space for a few years now. Visit the archives to get a feel for my style.

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Email: rickumali@gmail.com

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Saturday, April 28, 2001
I read a bunch of on-line newsletters. Scratch that. I subscribe to a bunch of on-line newsletters. I skim most of the contents. Unfortunately. Tonight though, I was reading Scripting News, and it pointed me to HeroMachine, a neato Flash application. Check it out.

Friday, April 27, 2001
I now have two back exercises from my visit to phyiscal therapy to combat my recent back woes. (I'd say my back is about 80% healthy.)

One is to lean backwards while standing, as far back as I can go.

The other is to lie on my stomach, palms in front of my chest as if about to do push ups, but the hands are closer together. Then, using only the back, arch backwards, using the arms only for support. (The back is doing all the work here.) The finishing position is the arms fully extended, the back fully arched.

I have to be conscientious to do these exercises whenever I feel the back pain. The therapist also suggested being more conscious of my posture, and to bend my knees whenever I need to lean forward from my hips (which occurs while I'm changing diapers, washing dishes, or brushing my teeth). I'm going to have trouble trying to be perfect here, but if I can reduce the strain on my back, I'll be able to fully eliminate the pain.

I explored Turkey Hill this afternoon. From the Arlington, Massachusetts listing of recreation and conservation areas, Turkey Hill is "A hill marked by a blue water tower off Washington Street."

I have lived within walking distance of this conservation area and water tower for nearly five years, and I haven't once visited it. So today, with Mia, I tried to walk up the hill to the water tower. I promptly got lost, and had to ask my neighbor for directions. She showed me the entrance to the path off of her yard, which took me straight up the hill, directly to the tower.

The views were spectacular. I could see the distant Boston skyline through the trees. The hill was still littered with leaves from last Fall, and it cast a serene orange glow throughout. The hill had enough trees to safeguard it from the nearby streets, but it was sparse enough so that I could make out the contours of the land I was walking on.

When I reached the tower, I walked around it. Mia and I were completely alone, and the tower was cold, warning us "not to trespass" its permeter fence. I walked around it, and then left the hill top by another side street, which eventually dumped me out on Forest Avenue, which crosses my street.

It was a splendid day to forge new territory. And to think I lived here this long without visiting this.

Since I stopped working, I haven't worn shoes except to go to church. I've been wearing sport sandals, or sneakers. Today, I took all four pairs of my 'working' shoes to a local shoe repair store, and requested each of them cleaned, and retapped, or resoled, depending on use. I get to pick up these shoes on Tuesday, May 1. Getting shoes 'cleaned and repaired' by a shoe store is an easy way to make them feel new. And I like to make my old purchases feel like new.

You might ask what will I wear to church on Sunday, if my shoes won't be ready until Tuesday? I have a pair of infrequently worn dress shoes just for the occasion, although I'm sure God wouldn't mind me showing up in my sport sandals.

Wednesday, April 25, 2001
Today, I accompanied my wife as she visited her office. Of course we brought the baby, and we walked around the building showing her off. Her company is very large, and since I've been out of work for four weeks, it was nice to visit an office, and refamiliarize myself with cubicles, copier machines, and coffee pots. I miss 'working'.

I haven't started job hunting in earnest, but I have a few feelers out. And people have been in touch with me, so I'm hopeful.

What have I been doing? I've begun cleaning out my basement (it's unfinished). I work on my resume. I am reading (presently going through An American Tragedy). I watch DVD movies. I wash dishes, and try to clean up around the house. I nap. Mostly, I'm "on the beach", as someone remarked to me recently. And in all of this, I help with baby.

It's too bad I can't get a job doing this.

My back is much better, although I'm still taking the pills that were prescribed to me on April 6. I will be visiting a physical therapist tomorrow.

Sunday, April 22, 2001
I recognized the music in two commercials I watched over the past weekend.

A commercial for the U.S. Air Force features a woman's voice, intoning a hopeful tune. Gentle music complements her.

For a soap commercial (Zest?), I heard a male voice do an up-tempo 'scat', a verbal 'riff', accompanied by a jaunty piano.

I was amazed when I recognized the armed forces music. It was music by Daniel Lanois, and voice by Emmylou Harris, from the soundtrack to the movie Sling Blade. I love this haunting song. It's the shortest song on the album: a scant one minute, nineteen seconds. However, when I heard this song during the movie, I thought "it'd be wonderful to get the soundtrack". On just the strength of this song, I bought the CD.

I was even more amazed when I recognized the soap music. It's from Paolo Conte, an Italian singer. One of my favorite singer/songwriters is Tom Waits. He didn't do this soap commercial; Paolo Conte did. What's the connection? A while back, I was actively looking for music like Tom Waits. A chance album review I read said that Paolo Conte sounded like Tom Waits. Just like that, I bought a Paolo Conte album. And it was amazing. The songs were happy, sad, and wonderfully different. I grew to cherish this album.

I located another review saying that Mr. Conte is the Italian Tom Waits. The song for the soap commercial comes is "Come di".

Hearing these two tunes used in a commercial fashion was pleasantly surprising. And, yes, it made me feel a little smug knowing I had heard it before.