Saturday, December 29, 2007

Breaks Are Good...

Narduzzi Nation doesn't have 'tons' of readers, but more than a few of you have made a habit of checking in regularly. I appreciate you, and I write with you in mind. I try to make it as interesting as possible, and enjoy the fact that what I'm writing actually will be read!

I haven't posted since two days before xmas. I didn't plan for this stoppage, it just sort of happened. I'm here to announce that Narduzzi Nation should be back to usual form effective immediately, so I hope I didn't lose you. Breaks are good, and it was nice over the last week to ditch the internet, not think about work, and just enjoy some time with family and friends while being totally unconnected from my usual routines. I hope you all had a nice break as well. All good things come to an end, and I'm happy to get back into my normal routine and focus on the many things I'm excited for in 2008.

Currently Darcy and I are watching the Patriots/Giants game. I finally decided to boot up the laptop for the first time since before xmas as I've been checking email solely on the Blackberry since then. We are bbq'ing shish kabob and relaxing after a day of cleaning the entire condo, and watching Lost: Season 3. We got it for xmas.

Lastly, I want to apologize for not adding closure to my fantasy football saga. I left many of you hanging going into Monday night's game where I needed San Diego's defense and Charger tight end Antonio Gates to have productive games for me. It ended beautifully as the Charger defense allowed just three points with two interceptions, four sacks, and a fumble recovery; good for 17 fantasy points! I didn't even need the 2.4 points that Antonio Gates provided with his one catch for 24 yards. It turns out I get $500 for winning the league (I actually win $400 because $100 of it is my ante). More importantly, however, I get to live the rest of my life with the ability to say I have been a fantasy football champion!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Big Game Tonight To Decide FFB Fate

Yesterday did not go great in my fantasy football championship matchup, but I'm still alive and kicking! I am down 82.23-67.97 but still have San Diego's defense and Antonio Gates playing tonight. My opponent has nobody left that still has to play. I'm praying Gates can rack up some yards and hopefully get in the end zone tonight while the Charger defense piles on sacks, interceptions, fumble recoveries, and defensive touchdowns - all while limiting Denver to as few points as possible.

My feeling is that it's 50/50 whether I'll be able to score the 14.24 points I need to win the match up and become a champion. Please do me a favor while you're watching the game tonight; root for San Diego's defense to wreak havoc on the Bronco attack, and root for number 85 to catch a lot of passes and get into the end zone.

And Merry Christmas Eve!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Holiday Vacation Has Begun...

I'm lucky enough to work for a company that shuts down for a week between Christmas and New Years. As a result, I don't have to report to work again until December 31st. Half of my vacation will be spent touring the bay area, and the second half is TBD.

Yesterday evening after work Darcy and I packed up my Ford Explorer to capacity with suitcases, gifts, Bosco's bed, golf clubs, etc. and headed to San Francisco. We stayed at Darcy's sister Meghan's place on 10th and Irving. Meghan made us dinner and went out with us to the Solstice Lounge (corner of Divisadero and California) to celebrate Trisha's 30th birthday. We had a good time seeing not only my sister, but many of her friends who we haven't seen in awhile.

This morning we woke up, gathered all our belongings, and repacked the Explorer. I had to walk to my car a block away, but luckily got the parking spot right in front of her door which made things easier. However, we now had Meghan and all her belongings, which included a snowboard that I loaded onto my ski rack. My car has never been so full as it was today and I was unable to see out the back window because it was literally packed to the ceiling! The drive to Modesto was traffic-free, but I drove very cautiously, changing lanes as infrequently as possible and slowing down considerably for turns.

I'm now sitting on Darcy's parents couch with my laptop as Bosco naps next to me. We'll be in Modesto until Monday night when we drive to Santa Rosa, and then depending on whether I play golf with my dad on Wednesday or not, I will either head back to The Silicon Valley early Wednesday morning with Darcy or Wednesday night/Thursday morning with whoever can drive me.

Tomorrow, I compete in my fantasy football championship matchup. My opponent already had Torry Hold play for the Rams on Thursday night, who thankfully for me didn't put up good numbers for him, and I have Tony Romo going tonight in the NFL Network's Saturday night game.

My next post will probably be to tell you how I faired; and if I'm a 'Super Bowl' champion.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Fantasy Football 2007

Today my fantasy team prevailed in the semi-finals of my ten team fantasy football league. My team was lead by Adam Stecker and the San Diego defense, and I was able to win despite off days by Tony Romo, Antonio Gates, and Joey Galloway. Also contributing to my win was a bad day for my opponent. His team featured usually dangerous Terrell Owens, Matt Hasselbeck, and the Pittsburgh defense, who all failed to help him much.

Next weekend I'm in the finals competing not only for the $600 grand prize, but for the ability to say that I have won a fantasy football championship in my lifetime. This would somehow make my life feel more complete.

I'll be in Modesto next Sunday for the holidays when the majority of the games are going down, but that won't stop me from being glued to my laptop as well as the TV watching it all unfold.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

BBall Season Ends with 47-44 Loss

Last night marked the end of my second season of church league basketball. Despite cruising into the playoffs with a 5-1 record, we only made it to the second round of the playoffs, which was the quarterfinals. The game was close, and one we should have won had we just executed better. But the bottom line is we just didn't get it done, and I make no excuses.

Losing one of our hardest working players to a dislocated pinky finger turned out to be a big loss. He was he type of player who could go the whole game without scoring a single point and still make his mark on the game. He rebounded, guarded the best player on the opposing team, and dove for loose balls. Without him, we sorely lacked those intangibles. I look forward to having him back on the team next season, which starts in March sometime.

Had we won the game we would have played Saturday at 1pm in the semifinals, and then Sunday evening in either in the finals or 3rd place game.

Bottom line, if we are going to compete for a championship in this league in future seasons, we are going to need to add a big man who can fill up the middle for us, rebound, and score down low every once in a while.

Another Update...

- Today I'm interested to read the report of the 60-80 baseball players being outed on the so called, "Mitchell Report".

- Darcy's company Christmas party is tomorrow night. Like every year, it is at the Fairmont Hotel in downtown San Jose. I'll get to debut my suit that I had tailor made in China.

- My company's Christmas party is next Thursday night, December 20th, at Hotel Valencia in Santana Row.

- Today is my last day of a four day training (for work) in San Mateo, CA. The commute has been a lot longer than usual, but still not too bad. The first two days I took 85/101 and the next two days I went 85/280/92. Despite being a few miles longer, I prefer the 280 way. It's a little smoother drive and is faster, especially on the way home. I'm currently on break as I type this.

- My company shuts down the week of xmas so I will be off the week of the 24th-28th. I do have to work New Years Eve, but then have Tuesday, New Year's Day off.

- The current holiday plan is to head to San Francisco Friday night, December 21st, to celebrate my sister Trisha's birthday. She turns 30 on December 18th and a couple of her friends turn 30 about the same time, so they are having a joint celebration. That night we're (including Bosco) staying with Meghan (Darcy's sister), who lives in the city. Then, on the 22nd, we're all are driving to Modesto for the Baker side of the holiday celebration. After seeing both sides of her family on the 23rd (yes, Darcy's mom's side is celebrating xmas on the the 23rd), and 24th, we'll head to Santa Rosa to celebrate xmas with my side of the family. Darcy has to work on the 26th and I'd like to stay an extra day to visit so we'll see how it works out when I end up leaving SR. We're not taking two cars but have yet to work out the logistics on how I'd get back to San Jose if I stay in the North Bay an extra day.

- New Year's Eve: Our friends Krissy and Andrew are coming over for dinner and games.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Jeff, meet Traffic. Traffic, meet Jeff.

With my new role at work my hours have moved back to what most consider to be "normal working hours". Instead of coming in at 6am, I'm free to come in at a time that more fits my schedule. Consequently, I now start work anytime between 7am and 9am, depending the night before, how I slept, and what needs to be done that day. In the evening, instead of leaving at 3pm, I now work until 4:30pm to 6pm, or perhaps even later.

I couldn't be happier about this change of lifestyle. I don't like going to bed at 9pm, and I don't like getting up at 5am on a regular basis. Plus, I like the flexibility I now have to come in at slightly different different times on a day to day basis.

There is another change to my new lifestyle though that I'm not enjoying. TRAFFIC.

I took for granted that in my old schedule I was able to get to and from work very easily. Now, I'm greeted with metering lights to get on the freeway, and freeways jam packed with countless fellow Silicon Valley employees. Sometimes getting through a few stop lights on my way to get to the freeway can take a considerable amount of time (even though it's via a 3-4 lane expressway!). Then, the merge! My 10-15 minute drive home has turned into 45 minutes! Getting to work, which for some reason is much easier than getting home, can take 20-30 minutes now.

Never known to be particularly patient, traffic definitely tests my well-being. As a result, I'm going to start looking into side streets, and even possibly shifting my hours a tad to avoid the worst of it.

As happy as I am about my new job, I'm not happy about having to now deal with traffic every day.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Sports Lineup on Sunday 12/9/07

I will not be glued to my TV all day, but pretty darn close. Between the NFL, including the Niners/Vikings game at 1pm, and my beloved Warriors taking on the Lakers at 6:30pm from the Staples Center in Hi-Def, I'll be in sports fan bliss all day.

The busy NFL schedule that features the undefeated Patriots taking on the formidable Steelers in Foxboro, MA. Unfortunately, this 1pm PST colossal match up won't be on TV in the bay area without the NFL package. This is a huge bummer, but I'll be surely following the score online. In addition, I'll be glued to my laptop seeing how my 8-4 and playoff-bound fantasy team fairs in week 13. My team has caught the injury bug, but I've been diligent about picking up quality reserves who are either coming back from injuries or are starting in place of the injured starter on their team.

Tonight, playing second fiddle to the Warrior game will be Sunday night football. The Colts will be battling the Ravens, who almost beat New England this past Monday night. I don't care much about this game other than the production of the Colts running back Joseph Addai, who is one of my fantasy running backs.

The Warrior's went 0-4 last year against the Lakers, and both teams currently have 11-8 records thus far. Hopefully the Warriors can take this game and sole possession of 2nd place behind the 16-5 Pheonix Suns in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Bosco Sharing His Bed with Eddie

Bosco has two beds. One of them is up in our room for him to sleep in at night if he so chooses. The other is by the couch in the living room. We got them at Costco and they are very soft and seem to be very comfortable. When Bosco get's tired there are many places he will sleep, but one of his most common choices is his bed.

The other day Darcy and I were watching TV and we took a look down at Bosco's bed and he and Eddie were both in it! They were both fast asleep. Knowing that a sudden movement or any hint that we were going upstairs would surely wake Bosco and cause him to get up, Darcy stealthily grabbed the camera and snapped a few shots of this unique and adorable moment.

Eddie looking up and a little further back:

Downward angle, Eddie still looking:

As I was just typing my BBall Update post, I looked down to my right from the table and lo and behold, they were both on Bosco's bed again! I of course had to take a picture.

This time they were both facing the same direction:

When I saw the two of them together on the bed the first time I thought it was a once in a lifetime thing. Now that I have been proven wrong, I hope it happens many more times, because I know seeing them both on there together will never get old.

BBall Update...

I forgot to tell you that my church league basketball team won our final regular season game on Wednesday night. As a result, we finished with a 5-1 record and the 2 seed in the playoffs. The playoffs started today, and I just got back from the game. We won. Our second round playoff game is upcoming on Wednesday night at 8pm. I heard we are playing a team that we already beat in the regular season, so hopefully we'll be able to take them again.

If we win Wednesday, we play next Saturday (12/15), and then, if we win that one, we play the following Wednesday (12/19) for the championship.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

My New Bag... and Super Mario Galaxy

I went to Best Buy on Sunday to buy a laptop backpack for my new work laptop. It makes it much easier for me to transport my items back and forth between home and the office. Isn't it cool!!??
I also gave into temptation and went to check out the Wii games. I know it's not out yet, but I'm hoping to someday see Mario Tennis available and buy it on the spot. On Sunday, instead of seeing Mario Tennis, I saw Super Mario Galaxy. Almost without thinking it was in my hands and I was off to checkout.
So far in my life I have owned every Nintendo system that has come out. First it was regular Nintendo (NES), then Super Nintendo, then Nintendo 64, then GameCube, and now Wii. To me the only one of these that was not extraordinary was GameCube. Every other one improved vastly from its predecessor. It's hard to imagine them ever topping the Wii, but I have learned not the doubt the visionaries at Nintendo - so I won't.

I was a big fan of the original Super Mario Brother games. There was Super Mario Brothers, Super Mario Brothers 2, and Super Mario Brothers 3 for the first Nintendo, and then Super Mario World for the Super Nintendo. All four of these Mario Bros. games I played for countless ours growing up, and could probably still beat if I were to play them again!

Now, I have the "new Mario game", and the sad news is: I have yet to play it! Darcy has logged at least three hours already - and beat the first galaxy - and I have yet to even touch the controller. I'm already far enough behind her that it's going to take a while to catch up, but I look forward to the challenge.
I'll most likely have plenty of time to get ramped up this weekend. As of now, no plans other than watching Adrian Peterson and the Minnesota Vikings run all over the 49ers on Sunday.

Somehow Only $118 Rather Than $320

Darcy picked me up from work today (as I said she would) to take me to Triad where my car was being serviced. I was greeted with a pleasant surprise when I paid, it only ended being $118!

Don't you love it when stuff ends up being significantly less than you had already mentally budgeted for?!

Me too.

My Explorer Is In the Shop Today

Despite being a "gas guzzler", my 1998 Ford Explorer has been very reliable since I took over ownership of it in February of 2004. I have been fairly diligent about oil changes and have had it serviced a couple of times, but other than that, it has not hit me with any crazy hassles and expenses.

This Saturday smoke appeared from the hood. The initial reaction was that I needed a new radiator. I took it to a local oil change and break place and they diagnosed a leaking Thermostat Housing unit. It made sense as I could see that coolant had dripped from this housing unit they were pointing to. It was Sunday so the guy told me he'd call me Monday morning and let me know the cost to repair it. At the time I was thinking a couple hundred bucks at the most. When I got a call at 9:30am Monday morning, they told it would be $501!

Not believing this was my cheapest option I called Triad, which is the shop that Darcy's company uses for all their company cars. I've used them a number of times and trust them - which is huge! I went and visited Greg (the owner) on my lunch break to see what he thought. It turned out that it really was my thermostat housing that needs replacement, but now for only $320. I'm definitely glad I got a second opinion.

I'm getting it fixed today, so Darcy had to follow me to Triad, and then drop me off at work. If I can't find anyone at the office to drop me off there after work, she'll be picking me up too. Three hundred and twenty dollars later, my car should be working fine again.

As much as I hate paying for maintenance on my car, I realize that my Explorer has done me right for the most part, and I am lucky that I don't have bigger problems to deal with.

(Note: Car in picture above was found on Google and is not my actual car, although an exact replica.)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Basketball Team Takes A Beating, Drops to 4-1

The good news is the Warriors played well enough in the fourth quarter to squeak by the Sacramento Kings last night in a game on their schedule that they 'should' win. The bad news is my church league team that was undefeated fell hard in the second half last night after trailing by just four at halftime.

I'll spare you the details of the game, other than that one of the members of our team dramatically dislocated his finger in the first two minutes of play. Since he didn't drive to the game, another player from our seven man roster had to leave with him to drive him to the emergency room. As a result, we played basically the entire game with five players. Here is the email that our injured player sent to the team this morning:

"My right pinky was dislocated at the knuckle above the first/bottom finger segment. The doctor said there might be a minor fracture, but couldn't really tell from the X-ray image. Either way I'll be wearing a splint for a month, so I won't be able to play for the rest of the season. I hope you guys have better luck in the next game and the playoffs."

We are still in fine shape standings-wise at 4-1, but now have to play the rest of the season without our most scrappy player and one of our best rebounders. He was one of the big reasons we were so improved defensively from last season.

I'll be sure to let you know what happens.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Bosco After Haircut...

As promised, here are after photos from Bosco's grooming appointment today. They did a great job, and I'm sure Bosco is happy to no longer be carrying along all that extra hair with him.

He can see much better with the hair out of his eyes, and he still smells like the shampoo they used. Unfortunately, Bosco's eyes turned out green in this otherwise great picture.

These pictures still don't do justice to how petite and skinny he really looks now that his hair is so short.

You can bet Bosco will be back at the groomers in the late February/early March time frame to do it all over again.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Bosco Before Haircut...

Bosco will be getting groomed tomorrow (or today if you're reading this on Tuesday). It's been since August since his last haircut, and he needs another one badly. I know tomorrow it will look so good that I'll want to put pictures up on here, so I figure I'd better show a 'before' picture to give you some contrast.

So, here it is...

The Finished Fence

From Darcy's earlier post you saw that Mike Baker and I built a fence on Friday. It was Mike's vision, and he was the project leader, but I definitely did my part to help with its construction. I must say it turned out great!

I started helping when Darcy and I got back from lunch with Shonna Rose at about 2:30. Mike had already destroyed the rotted fence, and installed two of the three posts on the new one when I volunteered to help. Despite the fact that Mike estimated it would take us just an hour, we worked tirelessly until after 5pm as it was getting dark.

It turned out to be a great experience and I am happy with what I was able to learn. It was also very rewarding when we finished. I realized at that point that I will take pride in looking at it for many years to come.

Thanksgiving Festivities

This year it was my parent's turn to have us over for Thanksgiving...which would be held at their house with the Carvalho side (my mom's side) of the family. Jeff, Bosco and I drove to Ceres on Wednesday night, chatted with the family a bit, and then set up the Wii which would prove to be a huge part of our Thanksgiving festivities.

Mom and Meghan playing Wii tennis

Our Turkey Day was a lot of fun. The younger cousins enjoyed playing Guitar Hero III on the Wii all day. They only came out to eat dinner and dessert.

My cousin Rachel playing Guitar Hero.

Along with "virtual" guitar, there was also some real guitar playing going on.
Meghan and Jeff teaching Anthony the "real" guitar (he wasn't a big fan of Guitar Hero)

We got to see a lot of the new puppy Cooper who is getting big. Bosco still doesn't like him, but is becoming a little more tolerant when Cooper wants to play.

Cooper at 15 weeks

Thursday night after the family left, our newlywed friends Melissa and Shannon came over and we played the Wii (Guitar Hero and a little tennis) until 1am.

Friday, after a typical La Morenita lunch (we got there everytime we go to see my folks), Jeff got put to work helping my dad build a new section of fence. I didn't get a picture of the finished product, but it looked a lot better when they were done.

Friday evening Melissa and Shannon came over again, along with Jennifer, Jeff and Shonna. We played the wii for a couple hours and then headed to downtown Modesto. Luckily, we stopped at the Speakeasy first, where my favorite local guitarist Neil Buettner was playing. We ended up staying there almost until closing time.

Overall, it was a wonderful Thanksgiving and a much needed four days off from work. Next year we'll be spending it with the Narduzzis in Santa Rosa.

Bosco felt left out, so I had to add a picture of him (and Jeff making a silly face)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Lake Nacimiento

This weekend Darcy and I headed south to Lake Nacimiento, which is a man-made lake that is a winding 30 minute drive northwest of Paso Robles, CA. We hung out with 5 friends from college, one of whose parents own the lake house. Here is the view of the lake from the house's back deck:

We arrived Friday night at about 8pm, just before everyone else. Luckily for us, Rex brought his Nintendo Wii and Guitar Hero complete with two guitars. It was great having two guitars so everyone could get to play more.

We proceeded to jam into the 'Wii hours', Rex and I staying up the latest until 2 o'clock in the morning. Guitar Hero is fun, challenging, and addicting. Had it not been sold out Sunday night at Costco, Best Buy, and Target, Darcy and I would already own it. We'll be going back to Target Tuesday night to hopefully get one from their next shipment. Guitar Hero is a must have for any Nintendo Wii owner!

Mike and Darcy's turn:

Saturday we ventured out to a couple of wineries: Tablas Creek and Justin. At Tablas Creek we stood around and tasted. We got an extensive tasting because Chelsea, who is Mandi's brother Trevor's girlfriend, works there. At Justin we got a picnic table, snacked on cheese and crackers, and enjoyed the beautiful November Central Coast weather:

Saturday evening back at the house, we went for a walk down to the lake. When we got back from our walk we cooked a great meal, and played more Guitar Hero. Before it got dark, we gathered for a group photo out on the deck, taking advantage of the timer feature on our cameras.

left to right: Jeff (with Bosco), Darcy, Eric, Mandi (parents own house), Mike, Rex, Kelsey

The last thing worth noting is that we finally opened up our large B.R. Cohn bottle of wine on Saturday night. It was a wedding gift from my good friend Brent Piekny's mom Paula. She works at B.R. Cohn, a great winery in Glen Ellen, CA. We had considered cracking it open numerous times, but never did until 14 months after receiving it. We knew we had to wait for a momentous occasion and this one seemed like it. The wine bottle has "September 16th, 2006" written on it in Paula's handwriting, and to immortalize the event of finally opening it, we decided to take a picture with it.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Mark Messier at Open Gym at Saratoga High

Last night I went to Saratoga High School in Saratoga, CA to play pick-up basketball. I met four other guys from my Wednesday night church league team. We haven't played a game in two weeks and don't play again until Nov. 28th, so want to stay fit for our next game. The word from my teammates is that our next opponent will be our most difficult.

At the open gym, there were two games running side by side, and about 30 guys were there. It's 'winner stays' and the brand of basketball was pretty good. There was ball movement, not an over abundance of fouling, and good attitudes all around. Everyone was expected to pay $3 to play.

Interestingly enough, hockey great Mark Messier was there! He seemed to there by himself, but may have been there with another guy I saw him talking to. When I first saw him he seemed familiar to me, but I didn't outright identify him. I didn't know it was him until I got to talking to a former colleague of mine from Synnex named Allen who happened to be there. Allen randomly said to me, "Hey, did you know that's Mark Messier, he comes to this open gym a lot", as he pointed to him dribbling the ball on the sideline.
Taken straight from Wikipedia: Mark Messier is widely considered among the best NHL players of all time. He is second on the all-time career lists for regular season points (1887), playoff points (295) and regular season games played (1756). He won six Stanley Cups with the Oilers and Rangers, and is the only professional athlete to captain two different teams to championships. In 2007 he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Full Wikipedia HERE.

I am not a devoted hockey fan, but you don't have to be to have heard of Mark Messier. He is a legendary sports figure who played much of his career in New York City's Madison Square Garden. Thursday night, it was neat to see him as a regular guy who just wanted to play some basketball. He seems to be a decent basketball player and I could tell he is fierce competitor.
Whether he lives in Saratoga, CA these days I don't know. But the fact that he was described as a 'regular' at this open gym would indicate that at least one of his houses is there.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Warrior Game Exciting, But Ends In Disappointing Loss

Last night (Wednesday night) Darcy and I drove out to The Oracle Arena in Oakland for the second time in five days. Saturday night it was Billy Joel, but this time it was to see the Warriors take on the Detroit Pistons. This game is Detroit's only visit to Oakland this season, and is one of only two regular season meetings between the two teams.

The Warriors were desperate for their first win of the season and this game seemed like the game to make it happen. They were well rested having not played a game since last Thursday when they played well but lost to Dallas at home, the Pistons were missing two starters, and were coming off a hard fought loss in Portland the night before.

The first half went as hoped, with the Warriors scoring 40 points in the opening quarter. They lead by as many as 22 points when the score was 59-37 in the second quarter. They were the Warriors of last year - draining 3's and getting steals. Unfortunately, the Pistons cut the lead to 13 by draining a 3 with only 1.5 seconds left in the half.

The Pistons, led by Rasheed Wallace, Rip Hamilton, and Tayshaun Prince continued to cut into the Warriors lead in the second half, but still trailed 94-84 with only 8 minutes remaining in the contest. This is when the Warriors decided stop scoring and let the Pistons go on a 17-3 run, taking the lead 101-97. Detroit never looked back, eventually winning 111-104 and leaving Warrior fans with a bitter taste in our mouths for our now 0-6 team.

Despite the disappointing finish we had a great time and enjoyed very good seats. I sure hope the Warriors can start winning though!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Billy Joel Is A Great Entertainer

The title of this post says it all! Billy Joel is not only a great musician, but he is a fantastic entertainer! Beyond singing many good songs and several great ones at Oracle Arena in Oakland on Saturday night, he mixed in lots of dialogue - and was quite funny! Darcy and I, along with thousands of fans, may have paid to see Billy Joel play his most popular music, but we were given much more. Beyond hearing him along with his band sound great, we got to know him a little bit. Between songs he would crack jokes or tell a story, and was very captivating to listen to. I kept thinking that if he wasn't a musician he could have gone into stand-up. We never once got the feeling that this was just another stop on tour him. From what we could tell, he was having a great time, and consequently, so did we.
Our seats were on the floor, 25 rows from the stage. This would be near half court if it were a Warriors game. As a result, we were required to stand for most of the night to see the stage, since those in front of us were on their feet. Even though there were times that sitting may have been nice, I think being forced to stand ultimately made the whole experience more fun. In addition, just being on the floor near more of the passionate fans allowed us to feed off of their energy and love for the music. Billy Joel has been around since well before either Darcy and I were born, so you can imagine we were much younger than the majority of the crowd.

Here is the set list:
Angry Young Man
My Life
Everybody Loves You Now
The Entertainer
White Rabbit (partial version)
The Downeaster 'Alexa
New York State of Mind
Root Beer Rag
Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)
An Innocent Man
Don't Ask Me Why
She's Always a Woman
Keeping the Faith
The River of Dreams
Highway to Hell
We Didn't Start the Fire
Big Shot
It's Still Rock and Roll to Me
You May Be Right

Scenes From an Italian Restaurant
Only the Good Die Young
I Left My Heart in San Francisco (partial)
Piano Man

The music all sounded great, with some mesmerizing piano solos, but if I had to pick one highlight, it would be singing along to 'We Didn't Start the Fire'. I know every word to this long-winded song, and have had a lot of fun singing along with it over the years with the cassette, radio, MTV, CD, and iPod. It was even more fun to sing it along with Billy himself!

Although I have always been a fan of Billy Joel, after seeing him live this weekend, I am now a bigger fan. He delivered in every way; as a person, as an entertainer, and as a musician. Darcy was skeptical about how much she would enjoy herself because she isn't too familiar with his music, and ended up having a great time as well. I'd say this concert ranks in the top ten of all the concerts I've ever been to. And since I've been to more concerts than I can count, that's saying a lot!

For a little Billy Joel history (Born May 9th, 1949), check out what Wikipedia has on him HERE:

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Social Networking Not For Me... I Prefer Email.

I started Myspace a few years ago. At first it was fun finding old friends from college, high school, even elementary school to be "Myspace friends", along with current friends and work colleagues. I was able to reconnect with a lot of people from my past that I otherwise would not have. I updated my profile with pictures, let everyone know my favorites musical artists, movies, books, and what I did for a living. There was a fun period of about six months where I would constantly be receiving email alerts that somebody new wanted to be my friend, or that somebody sent me a message to my Myspace inbox or left me a comment. At this point in time, the Myspace phenomenon was in full swing, and although I was a small part of it and by no means a fanatic user, I was definitely a part of it.

As time went by I started receiving fewer new friend invites and fewer comments. Additionally, I became disinterested in navigating my Myspace friend's pages to then look at their friends to find people I knew and wanted to invite to be my friend. I had built up about 100 or so friends at this point with no motivation to find more. Pretty soon, I started abandoning Myspace altogether, keeping my profile only so that people who wanted to look me up had the means to do so if they were resourceful enough to turn to Myspace for help.

Then, fairly recently Facebook emerged as the darling social networking site. It had been around for awhile but was only a fraction the size of Myspace. Drawing a parallel to a real life scenario everyone knows, Myspace is the famous high school quarterback that falls into obscurity after high school, while Facebook is the unpopular smart kid who grows up to win the Nobel Prize. As I had done with Myspace, I started adding friends to Facebook and looking around for people I knew. Many of my new 'Facebook friends' were people I was already friends with on Myspace who were following the trend of many social networkers (like me) and giving Facebook a whirl. Although Facebook has some cool features and user friendliness that Myspace doesn't, for my purposes they are essentially the same; glorified address books.

Now, only a few months into the adoption of Facebook as my social network of choice, I've already found that I have little to no use for it. Everyone I would want to check in with on either of these sites I have the email address of and would prefer to just email or call them. All the applications and geeky stuff the developers love Facebook for doesn't mean much to me since I'm not a programmer (I find that most of the applications are a waste of time anyway), and I'm not interested in updating my page to tell my friends what I'm currently doing or what my current state of mind is.

In conclusion, social networking just isn't for me. I feel the growth of Myspace and Facebook has been more about people signing up to try it out than about people actually becoming hardcore users. When I use the web, I want to sign in to as few places as possible. Google provides me with a one-stop-shop for email, photos, instant messaging, and news feeds, while social networking - although a neat toy - adds no value beyond Google to compel me to open up a new window and sign in. I will keep my Myspace and Facebook accounts for the reason that I gave above, but see myself checking in less and less as time goes by. And if a "cooler" social networking site emerges, I'll do everything I can to resist signing up.

My advice for Mr. Zuckerberg at Facebook would be to strike while the iron is hot and sell - which will soon become yesterday if he waits too long.