Saturday, April 23, 2011

How Is the Air Up There?

The La De Das
I've made reference a number of times on this blog to my taste for what some have referred to as "mid-60s garage punk."  In recent months I've come to like a song called "How Is the Air Up There?" which really exemplifies the genre.  It was first released in early 1966 by an American group called The Changin' Times, and then covered by a New Zealand band named The La De Das, which "cover" I regard as the definitive version.  I became aware of the tune after I acquired a collection called Nuggets II: Original Artyfacts from the British Empire and Beyond; it immediately struck me as the very sort of dance tune I would have loved in my punk/New Wave days in the early 1980s.  Not surprisingly, I've since discovered that The Bangles, who started out as a sort of proto-punk band, included a version of "How Is the Air Up There?" on the five-song EP they released in 1982; they mined quite a bit of 1960s material in their early releases, in the process revealing fine-edged pop sensibilities.  (The La De Das moved their act to Australia and stayed together until the mid-1970s, although their later material -- some of which can also be heard on Youtube -- seems to have been rather unremarkable.)

Saturday, April 9, 2011


1. I think it's funny how Donald Trump has gone around publicizing the so-called "birther" notion that Barack Obama is not a "natural born citizen" of the United States and is therefore ineligible for the office of president of the country.  I regard it as a moot point -- no matter what came to light at this late juncture, no federal court in the country would purport to disqualify Obama from the office he's occupied for the last two-plus years.  (And I learned long ago that the Constitution says or means no more, and no less, than the U.S. Supreme Court says it does.)  What is annoying to me, however, is that any Republican presidential candidate whose citizenship status was the least bit in question would have been hammered about it in the media long before he was elected president.  The double standard is both obvious and ominous.  (As regards Obama, I'd much rather see his SAT and LSAT scores, together with his transcripts from Occidental College, Columbia University and Harvard Law School, than his long-form "certificate of live birth."  I, like millions of others, would like to see if his academic record truly reflects his putatively prodigious intellect, or if his various schools gave him a pass -- his serving as editor/president of the Harvard Law Review without authoring so much as a case note, much less an in-depth law-review article, being one strong indication that such was the case -- much like the media did during the 2008 election campaign.  If any of the aforementioned documents is ever released publicly, I'll be amazed.)

2. Dorine and I have lived in our home now for twenty years, and we recently paid off our first mortgage (which we'd re-financed twice in the interim due to falling interest rates).  It took only twenty years to pay off our house because of one reason -- from the time we moved in, we paid $100 in "extra principal" every month on our mortgage payment.  It's astounding, looking back, that that one thing lopped off ten years of payments -- without adjusting for the time value of money, we paid $24,000 to save roughly $80,000 -- but such is the power that accruing interest holds, either for good or for ill.

3. Dorine and I have started working at the temple as ordinance workers -- again, in my case -- on the even-numbered Wednesday evenings.  I don't feel any better from the afflictions that caused me to ask to be released from the temple last October, but working only two shifts per month now is much more manageable for me than was working every week.

4. For all the diagnostics that have been performed on me since I fell ill following our Caribbean cruise in January 2010, nothing definite has been found to be wrong with me.  Recent blood work showed my liver enzymes to be sharply elevated, which would normally indicate hepatitis of some kind; indeed, I was having gastrointestinal issues of the same sort I had in 1980 when I was diagnosed with Hepatitis 'A' while serving my mission in Chile.  However, a hepatitis screen came back negative for all varieties of hepatitis, and just yesterday I had blood drawn for another hepatic function test.  If my enzyme levels are still high, I'm probably looking at having an ultrasound done of my liver; in addition, I'm having a "routine" colonoscopy done at the latter part of this month.  It will be interesting to see if either of those procedures shows anything seriously amiss.  I've also wondered if I could have some kind of persistent parasite that I picked up in the islands -- except that most parasites cause people to lose weight, whereas I've actually put on 20-25 extra pounds since the cruise.  I still ponder what could be causing my health issues, but I've come to the point where I can no longer distinguish cause from effect.  Two years ago, my sleep disorder was still my chief complaint; if only that were still my biggest health problem!

5. My nephew Aaron P_______ has now come home from his mission to Russia, and he'll shortly be going back to school at BYU-Idaho.  Hopefully, he'll have a chance to see Darren -- who, for the time being, is still in Provo -- on the way to Idaho.  The two have not seen each other in over three-and-a-half years now.  Darren will be working here this summer at Sandia National Laboratories, and I look forward to having him here for an entire summer for the first time since 2007.