Friday, July 29, 2016

Top Five Covers of Bob Dylan Songs

Although the Beatles might be the most covered artists of all time, I think very few people wouldn't recognize them as the original artists. However, it's not the same with Bob Dylan. Several of his songs became far more popular and more well known after someone else covered them.

 Here's my top five:

1. All Along the Watchtower. This is one of Jimi Hendrix's best songs and it was originally Dylan's. Dylan's version is actually only the third best as Dave Matthews Band also performed a far better rendition.

2. Knocking on Heaven's Door. Whether you're thinking of Eric Clapton's or Guns N Roses' version, I'm sure you're not thinking of Dylan's.
It's interesting that arguably three of the best guitarists of all-time(Hendrix, Clapton and GnR's Slash) all were involved with some of Dylan's best covers. 

3. Forever Young. I'm probably dating myself with this one, but I thought that this was Rod Stewart's best song. Come to find out, it's Dylan's. Or was it? This one is actually a bit marred in controversy as Ol' Rod tried passing it off as his own. Eventually(probably when the two songs were compared), he gave in and shared his royalties with Dylan. The Dylan version was also performed by Joan Baez, as well as Patti Labelle at Live Aid.

Compare the two for yourself: 

4. When I Paint My Masterpiece. Bob Dylan's own band did it better. Yes the Band. And another song I didn't know was originally Dylan's but makes sense.

5. Tangled Up in Blue. Again probably dating myself but I thought this was the Indigo Girls' own song. I don't think it was until college that I realized there was another version. They actually stayed pretty close to the original here.

Sorry for the lousy version of this song but it's cool it was recorded in Concord:)

To contrast that cover's similarity with the original, look at Rage Against the Machine's version of Maggie's farm for how disparate some covers can be from the original.

What do you think? Did I miss any other good ones? I am sure I did, but you don't know what you don't know:)

Until Next Time,


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Moving to South Carolina

A few months ago, when preparing to return to Concord Hospital to cover a therapist's medical leave, I was told that they'd try to get me a full-time position but couldn't guarantee it. This prompted a vague job search where Kenny and I sent out applications for any where we would consider working which didn't require us taking a pay cut. After turning down, a few job offers because of a sense of "not a good fit", I decided to accept an offer to work in an elementary school in Columbia South Carolina.

After about a week of Kenny nervously wondering what would happen if she didn't also get a job, she found one. Wow. That was easy. Luckily we both have very portable jobs that allow us to pretty much go anywhere in the States. 

The downside of Kenny getting a job so quickly is that she actually starts work the week after I get back to New Hampshire. So I literally arrive in New Hampshire and drive with her down to South Carolina. 

But since I had committed to Concord Hospital, I will be back up in New Hampshire for the next month. Which will be nice to see people, hopefully get out for a few hikes and also pack up all the things I have accumulated after 9! years of living in one place. Which by the way is technically the longest I've ever lived in one place(since we moved several times while I growing up). It is actually going to be sad moving out of the apartment. And definitely sad not going to be as close to the family. 

However, the nice thing is that flights are cheap, and the weather is warm. Meaning: I plan on coming home(New Hampshire will always be home) several times a year and have invited my family to come down to stay as long and often as they would like. In fact, we are hosting Thanksgiving this year down in SC. 

Now I've only been to South Carolina twice, once for my buddy Brooklyn's wedding in Columbia and another in Charleston for the Kiawah Island Marathon. So I don't have a great idea of what we are getting ourselves into. 

BUT, Columbia looks awesome! 

Within 30 minutes there are breweries, a plethora of restaurants, a large University with a cool name(look it up-this is a PG blog), indoor and outdoor climbing, a state park, a national park and plenty of golfing for when my dad comes down. And it seems endless festivals two of each that I'm most excited about are: Oyster and BBQ festivals:)

Only 80 minutes away is Charlotte and, more cool, the US Whitewater Center where you can raft, kayak, SUP, and run on their trails. In fact, I've already signed up for a half marathon on my birthday followed by a wine festival at the center. A great way to usher in 34 years on this planet:) Plus Charlotte has super cheap flights in/out of it so will definitely take advantage of that. 

In under 2 1/2 hours, we can reach Myrtle beach, Savannah or Charleston or hike in the Smokey mountains. And only 30 minutes longer and we can reach my brother in Atlanta

Now assuming we like our jobs and location, the kicker will be how much we see family. The hope is they all come down for Thanksgiving, we go up for Christmas and then that my parents come down to "winter" with us for a bit. I'd like to then be back up for April and then again in June. So if that works out, I think we may stay a bit. But if we find that we're not seeing our families enough, this may be a short trip. We will see. 
Either way, it will be a fun and exciting time, and I will keep you posted on how it goes.

Until next time,


Friday, July 22, 2016

Beer Calorie Count: The Newest Expression of Corporate Greed

Watch this video to get an idea of the hypocrisies of Corporate America: 

Now before I start talking about beer, let's be clear: drinking a lot is not healthy. A lot is many in one sitting or a few in many sittings. Read more here. Okay there's you public health message. Onward!

Listening to NPR yesterday, I heard that big beer companies have decided to "be more transparent" and provide calorie counts on their products. They stated it was good a good Samaritan act so that their imbibers know just how many calories they were consuming. 

I am skeptical to say the least. This is eerily similar to a story I read about in the book True Enough.  After an unsuccessful campaign addressing smokers’ rights, large smoking companies shifted focus to “a larger, more universal scourge”: the government and how it had become too big, invasive and controlling.  The campaign was called Get Government Off Our Backs, or GGOOB and urged a diverse group of people(not just smokers) to stand up what they considered the first step in a long line of actions to take away people’s rights in America. The author concluded that “by turning the battle onto one about big government rather than big tobacco and by hiding its own association with the plan, [cigarette companies] could ride towards its goal upon a wave of anti-regulatory activism.  And the plan worked.” Legislation on tobacco products were halted or at least delayed.

Is beer facing new legislative restrictions? I sure hope not! But the big companies are facing the biggest challenge probably since the prohibition: good tasting alternatives. Meaning craft beers. Quality beers made by individuals who like beer rather than corporations seeking to leech out your money one flavorless beer at a time.

And by no means do I think all craft breweries are altruistic, but I always root for the underdog, and this case it also happens to be the tasty oneJ

So what does this have to do with calories? Well craft beers with their diverse flavors and higher alcohol content also come in at a higher calorie count. If consumers start being exposed to beers that have 2-3x the calories as a Miller Lite, they might think twice before buying it and instead go for the crappy, but “light” beer. Craft beers just won’t be able to compete without undercutting the exact thing that makes them good. 

So stand strong against this newest wave of corporate deception and go enjoy a real beer. Support your local micro-brew. None close by? Well, I just feel sorry for you.

Until next time,


Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Epoch of Epic

Twice a day, every day, an old man hobbles with his bent legs and a stick down and up the cobbled land outside my window. This is no need for him to shop twice a day. He does it to get out and about. He moves very slowly, with great concentration and care… His face is expressionless under his flat cap; his patience is absolute.

He pauses halfway up the lane and leans resting on his stick. His legs are very thing, the trousers flap loosely. The old man calls to someone passing at the top of the lane; they wave and walk on briskly. He shifts his stick, looks up at the top of the lane and moves on, eyes fixed on his objective. As he tackles the last steep ramp his head goes down and he pauses, rocking, between each step. He makes the top, wobbles, then steps down off the pavement and he’s made it. His shoulders sag, he looks around at the trees, the newly returned swallows carving up the air, the kids playing football and the mechanic bent over the car. A perfectly average precious morning. Then he straightens up and hobbles on along the road to the right, inching out of my line of vision.

This is the real thing, done daily, humbly, for no fame or applause, to no end but self-respect and the purchase of daily bread.

I love that quote. In an epoch of epic, where bigger, longer, faster is viewed as better and get more views/likes on twitter/Facebook, it’s sometimes important to take a step back and realize what we are doing it all for.  It’s sometimes the mundane daily challenges that are the most heroic and yet most often ignored. Like the father who works a second(or third) job to give his children advantages he never had. Or a person with rheumatoid arthritis who still gets up, despite the pain, to go to work every morning. Someone dealing with racism(or any other ism) day in and day out. Or an old man fighting valiantly against time and gravity. 

It’s easy to be dismissive of the mundane saying that they are not achievements just part of life. And yes while that may be true, getting through life isn’t always easy and sometimes the exact opposite. Living in a country with the highest suicide rate in the world, I can attest that many people opt out entirely. Whether it's visible or not, everyone is going through some form of struggle or challenge. Many of which will never make it on social media.

But it, nevertheless, is still an achievement when we rise up above our challenges and see what a wonderful opportunity we have in this life. The alternative just isn't appealing to me and hopefully isn't to you.  No matter how you got to this moment, you are here now. Congratulations. That certainly was epic!

Look around, breathe, love, live. Give thanks.

Until next time,


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Last Days in Guyana: Time Crunch

Panic has officially set in. With only two weeks to go before I COS(close of service) my time in Guyana with the Peace Corps, I have realized how much left I need to accomplish. Besides all the paperwork and tedium Peace Corps provides and providing the Ministry of Health with useful tools to continue to utilize in my absence, I have realized how far behind I really am.

I still have three books to be read, two Coursera courses to be taken, and many beautiful days to be fully appreciated. I just don't think I have enough time.

As I have started my close of service duties, I certainly have appreciated moving back to the States, especially the day(s) at the Bank. Here's how a typical encounter at the bank goes:

  • Wait in line for approximately 2 generations(or at least 3 hours).
  • Find out that despite being told to be in this line, you are in the wrong line.
  • Wait another few generations.
  • Find out that the form that Peace Corps requires every volunteer to fill out when closing service is not the correct form and the bank is unable to sign it.
  • Leave bank frustrated.
  • Have Peace Corps call bank to ensure that they will sign it.
  • Return to bank.
  • Wait requisite 2-3 generations(which you will never get back)
  • Be told that no they will not sign that form apologizing(slightly) for the misinformation I was provided)
  • Return to Peace Corps office explaining the continued resistance.
  • Peace Corps opts to forego form so just have to close out account.
  • Return to bank.
  • Wait in line(patience is a virtue)
  • Attempt to close out account.
  • Signature does not match the one on my original account opening form(despite my holding my passport and debit card) .
  • Told to re-sign.
  • Sign.
  • Signature does not match the one on my original account opening form.
  • Told to re-sign.
  • Sign. 
  • Signature does not match the one on my original account opening form.
  • [Manager comes out]
  • Told to re-sign
  • Sign. 
  • Signature does not match the one on my original account opening form.
  • [Manager instructs Danny on how to sign exactly how he did the first time]
  • Sign.
  • Sign accepted.
  • Close out receipt provided.

All of $40.

Okay so that's not a positive aspect of Guyana, but I certainly am going to miss the weather. And the fact that I am finally getting to know the city. I now cannot go for a walk without running into someone who I actually know. It's starting to feel like my city, only to leave. Which is unfortunate. As is the fact that I have so much more work I can do with the hospital.

But I hope that we can get another volunteer to fill my shoes(and maybe even have a bigger and better pair of shoes).

I will definitely miss Guyana but I am very much looking forward to returning home and starting the next chapter of my life (in South Carolina).

Oh hadn't heard the news? Well more to come about that.

Until next time,


Saturday, July 16, 2016

2016 Ironman Lake Placid Start List

Next Sunday, Amber Ferreira will be defending her Ironman Lake Placid title. They didn't have a 2015 pro race so this will be the first time professionals will race on this course since Amber's 2014 victory. If you have been following Amber's race schedule this year, you will have noticed solid performances with her triathlons and stellar performances in her bike and running races. The swim seems to be her weak link thus far in 2016, but as luck would have it, Lake Placid has a nice line to follow as well as it is a well-known course to Amber. So no excuses there. Not that I think she'll need them, She overdue for another win and my prediction is that we will see it next weekend.

Because it doesn't have much of a prize purse, the field might not be as deep as some of the others Amber has raced, but that doesn't mean it will be any less competitive. As it appears to be the case with every race Amber has entered in the last year and a half, Lake Placid has attracted some of the best triathletes in the world. Most notably Heather Jackson and Alicia Kaye.  These girls are bound to put up a strong fight but I think Amber will come out on top.

Pro Start List:
1 Heather Jackson
2. Kelly Williamson
3 Alicia Kaye
5 Kaitlin Anelauskas
6 Christine Avelar
7 Neilia Bliss
8 Kate Bruck
9 Florence Chretien
10 Erin Green
11 Rachel Jastrebsky
12 Caroline Martineau
13 Jodie Robertson
14 Molly Roohi
15 Beth Shutt
16 Nicole Valentine

 17 Annah Watkinson 

Save all your positive vibes for next weekend and send straight to Amber!
Despite the fact that she is the defending champ, she will be going into this races as an underdog. Which is in her favor. A few things Amber has going for her coming into this race include the race itself(not a pancake flat course, the hills and grinding nature of this course will thin the herd), her experience on it(in addition to her win in 2014, she also raced in 2011 and 2010), as well as her bib number(4 is her lucky number!). But truly the real thing going for her is her ability to day in and day out continue to do work and get stronger and become a better athlete. No matter what the result of the races this year, she has produced far better individual race results which is a sign of what is still to come.

"It's easy to keep going when you feel strong and good. Anyone can do that. But to be able to continue when you feel horrible-that's what you're really training for. So keep on running, through the pain and reluctance. Do you really expect to get through this Expedition-this day, this race, this life for that matter-without some of the old blood, sweat and tears? No chance. That's part of the point of it all. So keep on running...."

Let's all focus our good vibes and positive thoughts towards her and her race next weekend.Good luck Am!

Until next time,