Sunday, December 31, 2006

the last post of 2006

I considered writing a long, month-by-month year-in-review post, but I don't have that kind of time and I don't really think anyone wants to read it. I've got the archives for that. Instead, I'd prefer to reflect on the year that's gone by and think about how I can improve myself in 2007.

I knew going in that getting divorced in 2006 would be a good thing. My marriage had been over for a long time and it was just a matter of my ex-wife and I facing that fact and taking care of business. I don't bear her any ill will after everything that happened, and I hope that she and I can continue to be friends. Being single has turned out to be more fun than I thought. However, I've been seeing someone for a while now, and it's going incredibly well, and I hope that relationship continues to grow. I've got a good feeling about it.

I tried a lot of new things in 2006. I became a karaoke star (at least in my head). I tried to be more spontaneous. I worked up the courage to talk to strange women. I rode over 1000 miles on my bike between April and November. But the best decision I made all year was taking up the viola again. I keep talking about playing the viola because it's done so much for my well-being and it was the most fulfilling thing I did.

My resolution for 2006 was to be more optimistic. I think I kept it. I had my gloomy moments, but then I'd remind myself that I live in an exciting city at an exciting time in my life, and that I have many, many good things and people in my life. My resolution for 2007 is to travel more. I traveled this year, but I stayed on the East Coast the whole time. I'd like to visit friends in Pittsburgh, see my family more often, and get back to Europe. I'm already thinking about a ski trip to Vermont in January or February, so I'll start with that and work my way up to flying overseas again. The bottom line is that this blog needs to hit the road a little more often in 2007.

And that's it. I'm going to a party in a few hours where I will try not to drink to excess and ring in the new year sensibly. Tomorrow, it's 12+ hours of college football. Happy New Year!

Friday, December 29, 2006

new phone, old phone photos

I bought a new cell phone today, completing the upgrade of my three major gadgets for 2006 (digital camera, iPod, and cell phone). I got a Cingular SYNC, AKA the Samsung A707. It's my first flip phone, and my first non-Nokia phone since 1999. (I had a crappy Audiovox analog phone on Cellular One from September 1997 to April 1999.) I'm still getting used to it, so I'll post a real review in a few days. But I like it so far. I had to give up my late, great, AT&T Wireless calling plan with unlimited nights, weekends, and mobile-to-mobile minutes for $40/month, but I get rollover and Internet access with the new phone. And I paid for text messaging (finally!) so I don't have to pay 10 cents a message anymore. So if you text me, I will respond without feeling guilty.

Getting a new phone means putting the old one out to pasture, or in this case, stashing it in a drawer. I liked my old Nokia smartphone, but I never used any of the smartphone features. I took some photos with the camera over the past year or so, and to preserve them I've uploaded them to Flickr. Flickr says they were all taken today, but most of them were taken earlier this year. This photo of Magenta is one of my favorites. It was my phone background for all of 2006, a constant reminder of my late friend. I still miss the big guy.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

back home for a few days

I'm just checking in to let the rest of the world know that I didn't drop off the face of the earth. I've been out of town since Saturday, visiting my mom in Johnstown and now my aunt and uncle and cousins in Reading, PA. I've had Internet access the entire time I've been away, but I didn't have much to share. And clearly I don't have much to say now, either. I've gotten caught up on sleep, reconnected with some friends from high school, and tried to alleviate the boredom of being back in my hometown for a few days.

Johnstown is a weird place to me now. There's a certain level of familiarity with the city: for example, my neighborhood looks exactly the same as it always did, and the streets all go to the same places. But the downtown area has changed significantly and I didn't recognize most of the buildings as we drove down the hill from my neighborhood to downtown. It was still Johnstown, but not a Johnstown I know.

This has also been the first trip home where I didn't feel bad that I could only stay for a few days. In years past I've left to return to New York thinking that I should have stayed longer. I had a much better time at home than I expected, but this year it felt like just long enough to be there. I'm in a hotel in Reading now and I'm ready to go back to New York tomorrow night. I'm looking forward to a long weekend in the city with no major plans. I do have some things in mind to do to occupy those three days, most of them relaxing and low-key.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Ow, my head...

I had planned to take it easy at last night's office holiday party. But when I saw they had Maker's Mark at the open bar, that was the end of that plan. I made a new plan: take advantage of free Maker's Mark until they threw us out. Mission accomplished.

How do I know I was drunk? I talked to a bunch of people I didn't know, and I thought that when the party was over the after-party at a bar down the street sounded like a good idea. However, I wasn't that bad, I think. I remember the entire evening, the good and the not so good. I've got a hangover that's about a 7 on a scale from 1 to 10. Back in August I came to work with a 14. But I actually got to work a few minutes early this morning, thanks to one of my friends calling me at 7:45 AM to get my address for his holiday card. I think I'll feel completely human again once the little drummer boy in my head takes a break.

While I try to avoid passing out at my desk, check out the photographic record of the debauchery.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

I think Mahler would have approved

Last night's performance of Mahler's 3rd Symphony had a few rough spots but overall was as fantastic and spectacular as I'd hoped it would be, and then some. When we stood up before the concert for the conductor's entrance, I looked at the church and saw a full house. On a Saturday night during the holiday season, the hall was full. The first movement took 40 minutes, but it felt like it went much faster than that. I'd eaten an early dinner, so after intermission I noticed I was hungry again. To make things worse, I think I smelled hamburgers in the church, and for most of the 2nd movement, all I could think about (aside from the music) was who had brought in food and why weren't they sharing it with me. After the 3rd movement we paused to tune and bring in the children's chorus. However, the kids kept us waiting, and waiting, and we couldn't tell what was going on. Finally, one of the percussionists opened the door to the backstage area, and let the chorus in. Apparently the door was locked or stuck from the other side. The last movement, my favorite, was so beautiful and perfect that I had goosebumps almost the entire time. After the concert, I went outside and my friends greeted me with applause and autograph requests. I actually signed a few programs. It was the best concert I've played since high school, and a hell of a way to end the year. I cannot wait to get back in January and start on the music for the next performance. Which is February 10, by the way.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Live here long enough, and it will happen to you

Last night I was coming home late on the subway, around 11:45 PM. I got on the J train in Brooklyn and there were a few other people in the car with me. The two guys sitting across from me were dressed well enough and were talking to each other -- in other words, completely non-threatening at first glance. I had my headphones on and was doing my usual routine of enjoying my music and looking around the car, but avoiding eye contact with everyone else. I happened to look at the two guys across from me and that's when I noticed one of them had a hole in his pants just south of his crotch. And poking out of this hole was more than a hint of his Schwannstucker. I looked away and kept my eyes anywhere but on him. I don't think this was a subway pervert or flasher situation, because he was talking to his friend the other time and from what I could tell his buddy didn't notice the little buddy hanging out and enjoying the evening air. Crotch-hole must have felt the breeze at the next stop because out of the corner of my eye I saw him adjust his pants and jacket to hide his junk. Unfortunately, I now have an image of this guy's tallywhacker etched on my brain. Just what I wanted for Christmas!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Tuba Christmas and TARCon X

Sunday was a busier-than-usual day for me. I started out with EPL: Arsenal v Chelsea from Stamford Bridge on FOX Soccer Network. Just when I thought Arsenal was going to hang on for a win, Chelsea scored to tie and the game ended 1-1. As soon as the game was over, I went to SoHo for one errand, then walked up to Astor Place for another, then to Rockefeller Center for Tuba Christmas.

This was my third time at New York's Tuba Christmas, so at this point I think I'm a geeky fan. I wasn't the only one: there were a few people next to me who had just come for the music (as opposed to having a family member in the ensemble), and then there was this guy. You might have seen him on Conan O'Brien a few years ago as Blackwolf the Dragonmaster, when Triumph the Insult Comic Dog made fun of the Star Wars fans outside the Ziegfield theater. When I heard his voice yesterday as he loudly extolled the virtues of Tuba Christmas both here and abroad, I remembered that I'd seen him there last year, giving the same speech. His presence reminded me that no matter how geeky I might be on any given subject, there's someone out there geekier than me. The concert was fun as always, and there's nothing quite like hearing 300-plus tubas and euphoniums blasting out Christmas carols. One thing that I have to remember for next year is that Rockefeller Center is deceptively cold. It was about 50 degrees yesterday afternoon, but with the wind blowing across the ice rink, it felt more like 40 degrees and I was freezing without the lining in my jacket. I took some videos of the concert with my digital camera, but they're too big for YouTube so I need to find some software to shrink them before I can post them.

Later that evening, I met my regular Sunday night crew for the finale of The Amazing Race, which we watched at TARCon X at Stitch, a bar near Penn Station. The crowd at the bar cheered on the racers during the show, drowning out most of the dialogue. When the racers got to New York, the bar went crazy. The party calmed down after the show ended, then got out of control as the winners and the 2nd and 3rd place finishers arrived for photos. I'm surprised that I enjoyed the show this season as much as I did and I'm already excited about the next installment in the spring. I'm not ready to start posting on the Amazing Race message boards like some of the fans last night, but I'd agree that I'm hooked.

Friday, December 08, 2006

my baby, my iPod

After last night's rehearsal, I went out for a drink with a few fellow musicians. The conversation turned to pets, and one woman showed us a photo of her cat on her cell phone. Not to be outdone, I showed them a photo of me with both of my cats that I had on my phone. I must have accidentally scrolled to the next photo, which was of my iPod. I had made a joke about not having kids so my cats were my kids, then the iPod photo popped up, so I played it off as a joke about my iPod being like a child too. I think I came off looking like the geek that I am. And I don't even remember why I took a photo of my iPod with my phone.

This morning I dreamed that I was shopping in a department store and carrying my jacket around, with my iPod in its usual inside pocket. I put the jacket down to try something on, then I must have forgotten the jacket, because the next thing I remember from the dream is collecting the jacket from the store's lost and found department. I told the lost and found clerk "that's my jacket, and my keys are in the right front pocket." He handed me the jacket, and I checked the inside pocket but my iPod wasn't there. The rest of the dream was short but vivid. I was upset that my iPod was gone and that I'd have to get a new one, and cursing my stupidity at forgetting the jacket in the first place, leading to the loss of the iPod. When I woke up and realized it had all been a dream I was incredibly relieved. I still had to go straight to my computer and make sure that the iPod was there, plugged in, charged and synched, just where I'd left it the night before.

Also, we rehearsed in the new church for this concert last night. I took a few photos and uploaded them to Flickr. The church is more like a cathedral: long, with a high ceiling and massive altar. The choral and concluding movements are going to sound fantastic in there, but the others are going to echo like crazy. It's still going to be an excellent concert.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Funde Razor at Barcade

Last night Rita and I went to Barcade for Funde Razor, a special event benefitting Child's Play Charity. I've mentioned Barcade before -- it's a bar in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn with 20+ beers on tap and an assortment of classic '80s arcade games lining the walls. Last night's event featured my favorite PS2 game, Guitar Hero, projected on a big screen above the bar. Actually, it was Guitar Hero II, which lets you play duets with a friend (the original game was a solo-only affair). The organizers raffled off several custom-made GH controllers made from actual guitars, and put together a 16-player GH II tournament bracket. Rita hadn't seen the game before, and I haven't played it in months, so I didn't even consider signing up. I took some photos, but I didn't use the flash because I didn't want to distract the contestants, so that's why they're so dark. The crowd cheered when the players rocked out and got high scores and booed when they failed, just like a real concert. We stuck around for about an hour, but the bar was crowded and there weren't any seats, so we went home. I didn't buy any raffle tickets, but I'll make a donation to Child's Play again this year. And I'm still thinking seriously about picking up a PS2 and both Guitar Hero games, just for the hell of it.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

99-tuba tribute to Tommy Johnson

Tuesday's Washington Post featured this article about Tommy Johnson, the longtime Hollywood tubist who performed on countless soundtracks, TV shows, commercials, and jingles. As my father pointed out, it was something of a "missing man" salute, with 99 performers in the concert. I wish I could have heard what the finale to Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony sounds like when performed by an all-tuba ensemble. When I saw the article, I thought it was about Tuba Christmas, which takes place this Sunday in New York at the skating rink at Rockefeller Center. I'm planning to be there again this year, strictly as a spectator, as I've never played a tuba in my life. But I feel a family connection to all things tuba-related, since my grandfather played it. This year I'll bring my camera, and I think I'll tell people I've got a relative in the group so that no one gives me a hard time about taking up a prime viewing spot.

Monday, December 04, 2006

NYRO's next concert: Mahler's Symphony No. 3 on December 16

Most of my regular readers in the New York City area should have already received an e-mail about my next concert, but I'll post this anyway as a reminder, and for anyone who just wanders over to my site. The rehearsals for the concert have been going extremely well, and I'm really excited about the performance. If nothing else, it's NOT a Christmas concert, so don't worry about hearing us play holiday tunes.

The notes below come from NYRO's music director and conductor, David Leibowitz.

On Saturday, December 16, the New York Repertory Orchestra will perform Gustav Mahler’s monumental Symphony No. 3. This titanic work, for large orchestra, mezzo-soprano soloist, women’s chorus, and children’s chorus — over 100 performers — embodies Mahler’s epic struggle to create a musical world that encompasses the entirety of the mankind’s experience – from the external natural world, to humanity’s internal world of dreams, joy, pain, self-doubt, and, finally, the redemptive power of love.

And what better way is there to triumph over a cold and dark winter’s night than with a performance of one of the world’s great musical masterpieces?


Gustav Mahler: Symphony No. 3 in D Minor – Judith Engel, mezzo-soprano

Saturday, December 16, 2006 – 8:00 p.m.
Where: Church of St. Paul the Apostle – 9th Avenue & 60th Street
(NOTE: This is not our usual venue – we needed a much bigger space for this immense work!)

$10 — All proceeds from this special benefit concert go towards maintaining NYRO’s ongoing mission — free performances of the world’s greatest music for everyone in our community

Ticket information:
· Tickets can be reserved by using the link on the <> page or by calling 212.662.8383.


Here's some info about the program:

Mahler’s epic Third Symphony embodies the composer’s struggle to create a musical world that encompasses the fullness of the human experience. It begins with the annual rebirth of springtime and the simple beauty of nature (complete with the flowers of the fields and animals of the forests). It moves on to a profound meditation on humanity’s place in the cosmos, a charming chorus of angels looking down from heaven, and then, finally, an overwhelming apotheosis of the beauty and power of love.

NYRO will be joined by soloist, Judith Engel, who has been recognized for her vocal mastery and superb dramatic skills. Her voluptuous mezzo-soprano has been described as “a bejeweled voice of absolute transparency and expert control.”

The emotional sweep of this monumental work is unrivalled in all of music. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hear this towering masterpiece and to support NYRO at the same time!

Friday, December 01, 2006

the end of an era

I just unsubscribed myself from the Novell NetWare administrators' e-mail list. I've been on this e-mail list since 1997, through several different jobs as a Novell network administrator. But my office is in the final stages of eliminating NetWare from our network, and I hadn't been an active participant in the list for a long time. It's one more reminder that my career as a Novell admin is at an end.

I also used to be active on a Novell GroupWise e-mail list, back in the late '90s and 2000 when I e-mail management was my primary job function. Copies of my posts on this list are still floating around the Internet, which explains why they come up when you Google "Phil Catelinet." I have to use Lotus Notes at work, and I still miss GroupWise. It was a real e-mail system, as opposed to Notes, which is a database with an e-mail system awkwardly bolted onto it.

I forgot to mark this milestone in my life, but the end of May 2006 wasn't just the 10-year anniversary of my graduation from Georgetown. May 29, 2006 was the 10th anniversary of the start date of my first real job out of college as an IT professional. As of this year, I've been working full-time in IT for 10 years. And with my Novell background, I already feel like a graybeard talking about the "good old days" when we had to use floppy disks and program in BASIC. Maybe this year when I'm home for Christmas I'll finally break out my old Commodore 64 and see if it still works.