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Archive for the month “November, 2014”

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope anyone reading this has a happy Thanksgiving!  It is a great time of the year to count your blessings, so as you draw up your chair to enjoy your Thanksgiving meal, please take a few minutes to thank God from whom all blessings flow.

I have to admit that I am not a huge fan of the Thanksgiving celebration (i.e.: the meal), mainly because I am one of the few people who really does not get all that excited about the traditional turkey dinner.  Unfortunately, I am something of a pedantic and borderline-obsessive-compulsive person so, despite not really liking the traditional Thanksgiving dinner, I, ironically, really would not feel comfortable having any other dinner served on Thanksgiving.

I like Thanksgiving mainly because of the parades and festivities that all point to Christmastide, which, like most people, is probably my favorite holiday season.  As an OCD-type person, I refuse to engage in any Christmas frivolity (except for shopping) before Thanksgiving, so, for me, no decorations or music or anything else Christmas before Thanksgiving!  As a result, Thanksgiving is sort of a gateway into Christmas and is fun for me for that reason.  Coincidentally, Thanksgiving is almost always near the First Sunday in Advent, which is the Christian season of preparation for the coming of the Christ-child.

I am also a very nostalgic person with a great respect for history and tradition.  Although I am proud to be an American, I am often disappointed that our country is so young; but Thanksgiving is pretty old for American standards as far as civic holidays are concerned.  Thanksgiving is a great way for me, at least, to feel connected to the American past.  I just think it is so neat to commemorate and celebrate something that happened in 1621!  For me, as an American at least, that is pretty old!  I will, God willing, be alive for the 400th Anniversary of Thanksgiving; how cool will that be?

Anyway, all of this to say: Happy Thanksgiving and thanks be to God for all of the blessings he has bestowed upon us over the past year!

HOORAY FOR AMERICA

Check out Faye Cohen’s post to her blog Toughlawyerlady!

ToughLawyerLady

I recently returned from a lovely trip to Prague, the Czech Republic and Rome and Sorrento, Italy. Although I have visited Italy many times, and I am always impressed by its beauty, history, excellent food and fine design, the trip to Prague was an adventure for my bucket list.

My parents were born and raised in Poland, and survived their stays in various Nazi concentration camps. I was born in Bergen Belsen, in Germany. During the war Bergen Belsen was a concentration camp. In fact, it is famous for being the camp where Anne Frank died. After the war it was a relocation center for misplaced persons. After the war my parents, me, my father’s sister Mary, and two of my father’s cousins, emigrated to America. They represented the few survivors of their formerly large families. My father’s other surviving sister, Gegna (Jean, remained in the Czech Republic (then known…

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Pink Floyd, the Endless River: a Review

Progressive rock giants, Pink Floyd, released their latest album The Endless River on November 10, 2014.  This album, by all accounts, is the band’s swan song and will not have a tour in support of it.

This is the band’s first studio album since The Division Bell was released in 1994 and the band’s third since the schism with founding bass player Roger Waters.  Although there was much talk of a formal reunion of recording and/or touring of the four surviving members of the band following their one-time reunion for the benefit show known as Live 8 in 2005 (you can read more about Live 8 here), the reunion never occurred.  It would not appear that a reunion of the surviving band members will ever happen as there are now fewer surviving members than in 2005 with the death of keyboardist Rick Wright in 2008.

In creating this album, guitarist David Gilmour wanted to create one final Pink Floyd recording, likely  inspired by Wright’s recent passing.  To do so he brought on a handful of producers, including Phil Manzanera (guitarist for Roxy Music), and culled through the remaining usable material from The Division Bell sessions.  Evidently there was about twenty (20) hours of unreleased recorded material from those sessions through which the band slogged.  Gilmour was able to edit the hours of available material to about an album’s worth, along with some newer material meshed into it.  In order to ensure it is an authentic Floyd album, the material used for the album all contains existing recorded material on which Wright played.  Gilmour and Mason’s playing was also derived from the existing recordings, but they also recorded some new material specifically for this album.  In a strange way, in its use of archival material, this album is, after a manner of speaking, Gilmour’s version of Waters’ The Final Cut.

What’s the music like?  Is it a good album?  Well that depends on what one’s expectations are.  If one approaches this album expecting this to represent the next stage in Floyd’s career, or for ground breaking music, or to be some sort of statement, one will be sorely disappointed.  This album is none of those things.  This album, perhaps more than any Floyd album, is self-consciously Pink Floyd.  In other words, it is very obvious that Gilmour and Mason intended to create a Pink Floyd album which sounds like one.

Obviously, as this album was made using The Division Bell material, it bears some resemblance with that album, but that is not the only familiar sound on this album.  There are moments which bring to mind Dark Side of the Moon (I am specifically reminded of “Us and Them”) still others Wish You Were Here (I am specifically reminded of “Welcome to the Machine”) and, at times, The Wall.  Strangely there is a moment which reminds me of Michael Oldfield, but I think that is only because of Wright’s organ sound/tone.  Quite honestly, the album which this album calls to mind the most to me is Obscured by Clouds.

The music is almost entirely instrumental.  The only vocals appear during the final six (6) minutes to close out the album.  The instrumental portions comprise multiple tracks which form four (4) longer interlocking movements.  The music is standard Floyd in that it is fairly slow moving, atmospheric, mournful, but always seemingly thought provoking and emotional.  There’s little bombast and virtually no flashy moments.  The title of the album is evocative of the music: it’s like drifting down a river while maintaining a certain contemplative spirit.  Thankfully, Wright’s recordings are seamlessly combined with contemporary recordings and composition; at no time does it sound obvious that they are using old material.  To draw a comparison, I thought the Beatles’ effort in using old material augmented by contemporary recordings and arrangement sounded terribly obvious and contrived.

So, in sum, this album holds up well in the Pink Floyd discography, but only in terms of presenting a quality presentation of a predicable and expected Floyd sound as opposed to demonstrating the next step in their artistic development.

Christian Legal Clinics of Philadelphia: I Am Volunteer of the Month!

The Christian Legal Clinics of Philadelphia‘s monthly newsletter is out and, much to my surprise, I have been named Volunteer of the Month!  Although I do not really view what I do as particularly noteworthy, I am thankful, humbled, and honored by the recognition.  I hope that as the weeks and months progress, the Clinic can continue to grow and flourish in its service to those in need in the Philadelphia area.  Please continue to pray for us and donate to us your time, talents, and treasure as you feel led (if you want to give to our ministry, please see here).  Thanks to everyone who makes this vital ministry possible and thanks, above all, to God from whom all blessings flow.

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Yes Songs and Albums: What All Have You Heard? – Part 2

[Updated on August 15, 2017]

(A compilation of all my Yes posts can be found here.)

I recently posted an extensive list of all of the songs I have see Yes play live organized by album and you can see that post here; the instant post is a companion to my aforesaid previous post.  I know this stuff is really nerdy and perhaps reflects my “OCD tendencies,” but I like the visual presentation of what I have seen.  It makes me appreciate the things that were rarely played more and identify trends in the band’s sets.

Very obviously, I never have to hear Roundabout live ever again as it has been played at every Yes concert I have ever attended.  I knew I heard some other songs more than others, like And You And I, but I did not realize just now often I have heard them until I made this list.

This post is consistent with the last post on this subject, and from the data it is abundantly clear that Yes has mainly relied on their 1970’s output for their set lists over the last twenty years, especially The Yes Album, Fragile, and Close to the Edge.  Of course, those are the “big three” in Yes’ discography so it is not a surprise that their sets favor those albums, but some more variety would be welcome.  Newer material since the 1990s tends to be played live only for the tour of the album on which it appears or, sometimes and sadly, not at all.

As Yes considers future set lists, I hope they focus on the material from after the 1970s (or even the 1960s), and that includes, surprisingly enough for me, material from the 1980s, though I do not hold out much hope for much Trevor Rabin-era music beyond what has been played of late (10/27/16 edit: the rise of ARW and their tour (see here) has made me hopeful of seeing more Rabin era material).

Rumor has it that Yes are going to continue their album oriented tours (as they did in 2013 and 2014).  The albums being considered for future album oriented tours include Relayer, Drama, Heaven & Earth, and, shockingly, 90125 (this is mainly favored by promoters for obvious reasons, though Geoff Downes and Jon Davison have expressed interested in doing this).   A show with a combination of songs from all of those albums would be a welcome change and exciting for me because, as you can see below and on my previous post, I have not heard most of the material from these albums.  I suspect, considering the line-up that Yes has had for the last couple of years, Drama and Heaven & Earth are most likely to get played, which is fine by me!  Here’s to hoping!

In this post, the Yes songs I have seen live are organized by the frequency I have heard them.  If you remember the songs you have heard played live by Yes, please describe your experience in the comments! Here you go:

Songs Heard Twenty-Four Times:

Songs Heard Twenty-One Times:

Songs Heard Nineteen Times:

Songs Heard Fifteen Times:

Songs Heard Thirteen Times:

Songs Heard Thirteen Times:

Songs Heard Eleven Times:

Songs Heard Nine Times:

Songs Heard Eight Times:

Songs Heard Seven Times:

Songs Heard Six Times:

Songs Heard Six Times:

Songs Heard Five Times:

Songs Heard Four Times:

Songs Heard Three Times:

Songs Heard Two Times:

Songs Heard One Time:

N.J.’s alimony law gets an update after Christie signs bill

I generally practice in Pennsylvania, but I am interested in the reforms to family law in other states as they are sometimes influential to family law reforms here in Pennsylvania.

New Jersey has recently made some very interesting, and commonsensical, reforms to alimony law that could- and perhaps should – be considered in Pennsylvania.  To this end, recently nj.com published an excellent piece describing the alimony reforms in New Jersey which you can read about here.

RETURN FROM PARADISE

Check out Faye Cohen’s post to her blog Toughlawyerlady!

ToughLawyerLady

The good news is that I have recently stayed in paradise, which is what I call the four star hotel we stayed at in Sorrento, Italy, where we have stayed many times, and the bad news is that I usually can’t return there based on my schedule and the demands of life, more than every 3 to 4 years. I don’t divulge the name of the hotel because many Americans don’t stay there, instead staying closer to the bustling town or Sorrento, or seeing the area via a cruise ship, or arriving via hydrofoil from surrounding areas. The hotel is situated on a cliff overlooking the beautiful Bay of Naples, with the islands of Capri and Ischia and Mount Vesuvius visible on clear days. I enjoy meeting the Europeans from various countries who do stay there, and on this trip we met lovely couples from two cities in Great Britain…

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Civil Marriage, Uncivil Times: An Exploratory Paper

The Reverend Canon Mark Rudolph, about whom you can learn here, is the rector of Saint John the Evangelist Anglican Church in Abington, Pennsylvania.  As it happens, St. John’s is my home parish and Fr. Rudolph is my priest.  St. John’s, like every other church which remains steadfast in supporting the traditional, historic, biblical, and Christian teaching about marriage, is struggling to find its place in a cultural, legal, and governmental environment where Christian marriage is in steep decline and battling back things like divorce, adultery, unmarried cohabitation, and homosexual relationships, among many other things.

Christians are finding various ways to address the various social ills described above, and one way, though certainly not the only way, to do so, is described by Fr. Rudolph in his exploratory paper entitled Civil Marriage, Uncivil Times.  In the paper, Fr. Rudolph surveys the status of civil marriage in the United States, takes account of where it is going at this point, and suggests a way for churches to deal with their involvement in civil marriage in the near and foreseeable future.

His paper is rather thought provoking and appears to reflect the direction many churches are going right now.  I have attached his paper to this blog to spark a conversation and invite comments and questions about it.  It can be reviewed by clicking on the images below or, at the bottom of this blog, by clicking the link to the .pdf file.

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Here is a downloadable .pdf of the paper: civil marriage uncivil times.11-17-14

Yestival 1998 Follow Up

I recently wrote about my experience at Yestival 1998 and shared some anecdotes and photographs from the event.  You can read my Yestival post here and all of my Yes posts here.

After I posted it, I was surprised about how little information there is about it and how few comments were made about it.  As a result, I became inspired to see if I could find any more information on it and, hopefully, glean more about what happened at it.

My search turned up the links below most of which are all from the old usenet group alt.music.yes.

The official photos linked above confirm that Geoff Downes and Peter Banks played together and Steve Howe played something as well.  Unfortunately, I have not been able to find any video or audio recordings from these performances.

If anyone else has any memories, photographs, videos, audio recordings, or anything else to share about Yestival 1998, please leave a comment to this post!

Running Red Light Cameras: the Next Contest

This post is part of my ongoing series on my opposition to red light cameras.  I have written articles on the subject (see here and here) and blogged on it (here and here and here and here and here and here and here) many times.

It seems as the weeks and months go by, more and more stories and reports are presented demonstrating the significant and deep issues and concerns surrounding red light cameras.  The links above describe many of them but as recently as last week (11/5/14) The Today Show presented the latest development: a law suit in Florida.  You can see The Today Show segment on this matter here.

The segment above highlights a lot of the issues I have written on previously (e.g.: this is a money grab, tickets are sent in error, and so on), but evidently in Florida the tickets are reviewed by a for-profit private company before they are reviewed by law enforcement and the for-profit private company has authority to eliminate some photographs before passing them along to law enforcement.  The law suit in Florida claims that it is unlawful, if not unconstitutional, to have non-law enforcement functioning as de facto law enforcement.

Although there was little opposition when red light and other traffic cameras were initially installed, it seems cases like the one on The Today Show above (and the other ones I have written about linked above) are becoming increasingly common across the country as more and more motorists are finding themselves on the wrong end of a potentially unlawful and/or unconstitutional effort to separate them from their money via a traffic camera ticket.  Hopefully, as efforts like the ones described above gain steam, the era of the traffic camera will soon come to an end.

As an interesting and coincidental side note, as I was writing this blog post, I came across this article regarding someone’s experience contesting a red light camera ticket from Washington D.C.  It provides an interesting and insightful perspective from someone’s first hand experience.

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