# Sunday, 12 March 2017

DelbertMcClintonDelbert McClinton has recorded dozens of albums over the past 45 years, but it was always his live shows that brought him the most praise.

Friday night, McClinton brought that live performance to S.P.A.C.E. in Evanston. For over 2 hours, he entertained a packed room with a mix of originals and cover songs.

McClinton has a devoted audience and all night long this crowd shouted requests and sang along to lyrics they had memorized.

Now, in his 70s, McClinton still has the powerful, gritty voice that made him the ultimate Texas roadhouse singer. What he has lost in range he makes up for with emotion.

For this show, Delbert's only instruments were his voice and his harmonicas. But he was backed by an outstanding 7-piece band, highlighted by Bob Britt on guitar, Kevin McKendree on keyboards, Dana Robbins on saxophone, and Quentin Ware on trumpet. This was a group of top-notch musicians who complemented one another very well. Instead of an intermission, Delbert stepped off the stage for 10-15 minutes in the middle of the show and allowed his band to play a trio of songs without him.

Delbert McClinton is often cited as the definitive Texas roadhouse musician. And Friday, he showed us why. Powerful vocals, a tight band, and a connection with the audience in an intimate venue made me glad I finally saw him live after listening to his recordings for years.

Sunday, 12 March 2017 19:55:56 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Thursday, 09 March 2017

MarciaBallBandMarcia Ball rocks. Her songs rock. Her band rocks.

And Tuesday night in Chicago, she and her quintet rocked the City Winery in Chicago's West Loop. For over 2 hours, she played her Texas mix of stride piano, boogie-woogie, rockabilly, and the blues. Lots of blues

Ball showed off a powerful voice that could not possibly come out of his tall, slender woman. But even more impressive were her keyboard skills. When she sits at a piano, she owns it. Her band wasn't far behind, led by excellent guitarist Mike Schermer and outstanding saxophonist Eric Bernhardt. Each stepped to the front frequently for skillful solos.

MarciaAndDavid Ball sang mostly originals from throughout her long career and from her latest album – The Tattooed Lady and the Alligator Man; but she mixed in a few cover songs, such as Randy Newman's Louisiana 1927 and Frankie Ford's Sea Cruise.

This was the last night of a long tour before she and her band head home; but they brought energy that night and the crowd fed off it.

If you get a chance, go see Marcia Bell. You will not regret it.

Thursday, 09 March 2017 05:40:57 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Tuesday, 07 March 2017

20170304_214526In the 1960s Booker T and the MGs pioneered the Memphis Soul sound, recording numerous hit records. In the decades since, Booker T. Jones has recorded and produced countless records with the likes of Neil Young, Drive-By Truckers, Ray Charles, and Albert King.

Today, Booker T is in his 70s and still going strong.

I had the pleasure of seeing his current band at S.P.A.C.E. in Evanston. Although not a long show (about 80 minutes total), he delighted the crowd with a top-notch performance by him and his band.

Of course, they played the hits of the MGs, such as Hip-Hug-Her, Hang ‘em High, Soul Limbo, and their first and biggest hit Green Onions; And they played music he is associated with, such as Born Under a Bad Sign, which he co-wrote for Albert King, and Grandma's Hands, which he produced for Bill Withers; but they also performed a number of cover songs, spanning genres from Outkast's hip-hop hit Hey Ya to Muddy Waters's blues classic Mannish Boy.

I was surprised to see Jones step out from behind his signature organ and play some songs on guitar and perform lead vocals on some.

Jones's band - a quartet of drums, guitar, bass, and organ - is highlighted by his son Ted on guitar. Ted has an engaging stage presence and is a solid musician like his father. Booker and Ted performed a moving rendition of Prince's Purple Rain together as the other 2 band members left the stage.

Booker T Jones has received numerous honors throughout his career. He has been awarded a Lifetime Achievement Grammy and is a member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

And Saturday night in Evanston, I finally got to see him perform live.

Tuesday, 07 March 2017 22:25:43 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Monday, 06 March 2017
Monday, 06 March 2017 15:27:00 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Sunday, 05 March 2017

3/5
Today I am grateful to see Booker T. Jones in concert last night in Evanston.

3/4
Today I am grateful for a long-overdue haircut.

3/3
Today I am grateful that the worst cold in 5 years is now behind me.

3/2
Today I am grateful for all the birthday wishes yesterday - especially to those who took the time to call or send a personal message.

3/1
Today I am grateful
-to all those who braved the storm last night to hear the world premiere of my Big Data on Azure presentation
-that I made it home safely last night, avoiding tornados in the area

2/28
Today I am grateful to attend a very interesting Diversity Panel last night in Chicago.

2/27
Today I am grateful to the organizers, volunteers, student hackers, and mentors who worked so hard to made #HackIllinois excellent this past weekend.

2/26
Today I am grateful for the number of students who were inspired enough to use the technologies I showed in my workshops yesterday.

2/25
Today I am grateful for medicine to battle this cold - especially when I want to sleep.

2/24
Today I am grateful to the lady who pointed out the approaching meter maid yesterday in time for me to move my car.

2/23
Today I am grateful for dinner in Chicago last night with my team.

2/22
Today I am grateful to Mostafa for volunteering his time yesterday and providing me valuable feedback on my presentation.

2/21
Today I am grateful for coffee with Kasia yesterday.

2/20
Today I am grateful for dinner last night in Little Italy with Gary and Patricia.

2/19
Today I am grateful for dinner and a movie last night with Emilija and Larissa.

2/18
Today I am grateful for: -Lunch with Jaidev yesterday -A drink with Beckyy last night

2/17
Today I am grateful for my first time speaking at the Northwest Chicago JavaScript meetup.

2/16
Today I am grateful for a chance to finally edit some of the photos I've taken in the past few months.

2/15
Today I am grateful for a 6-course gourmet meal last night at River Valley Farmers Table.

2/14
Today I am grateful I've completed the coursework for the Xamarin certification.

2/13
Today I am grateful to discover 2 new coffee houses in my neighborhood yesterday.

2/12
Today I am grateful to see Ladysmith Black Mambazo in concert last night.

2/11
Today I am grateful to complete my passport application after numerous false starts.

2/10
Today I am grateful to people who ask me questions and to people who answer my questions.

2/9
Today I am grateful for dinner with Esteban last night.

2/8
Today I am grateful to Christina, who brought me some homemade soup yesterday.

2/7
Today I am grateful for:
-A first visit to a new gym yesterday
-A long walk in Chicago in my shorts last night. In February!

2/6
Today I am grateful to watch an exciting Super Bowl yesterday.

Sunday, 05 March 2017 16:19:27 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)

Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb is an Epic Fantasy, a Coming-of-Age story; and a story of Political intrigue.

It is the story of FitzChivalry Farseer. Fitz is the bastard son of Prince Chivalry, who is heir to the throne of the Six Duchies kingdom.

At the age of 6, the nameless boy is unceremoniously delivered to the castle of his birth father, where he is raised by the king's stablemaster.

Fitz has magical gifts - the ability to communicate telepathically with both animals and humans, which sometimes helps him and sometimes marks him for the hatred of others (along with his illegitimate birth). When his grandfather King Shrewd takes notice of the boy, he orders that he be trained as an assassin.

The climax occurs when, as a teenager, Fitz is ordered to kill the innocent prince of a neighboring kingdom. He must balance his duty to his king with his own conscience and his loyalty to those around him.

It's a complex story with many subplots and many well-developed characters. It's often difficult to tell who is loyal and who is conspiring against our hero.

Assassin's Apprentice is Book 1 of the Farseer Trilogy, which is the first of several trilogies and novels Hobb has written about Fitz and his universe. I plan to return to this series in a few months. For now, I am savoring this volume.

Sunday, 05 March 2017 01:03:04 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Thursday, 02 March 2017

JesusOnDeathRowThe story of Christianity is the story of Jesus Christ – his birth, his life, his trials, his death, his message, and his resurrection.

In Jesus on Death Row, Mark Osler walks us through the biblical story of Jesus's trial, conviction, and execution; and compares it to the criminal justice system in the United States of today.

Osler draws upon the 4 Gospels for the details of Jesus's trial; and upon his own experience as a prosecutor (he is now a law professor) for analogous stories in today's legal system.
   
The similarities are often striking.

Many practices of Jesus's time persist today. Prosecutors still rely on paid informants to bolster their case as the Pharisees famously paid 30 silver coins to Judas Iscariot; the appeal process of today, although slower, is not unlike the process that Jesus went through as he was brought before the Jewish Elders, Pontius Pilate, and Herod; Arrests today are often made when a suspect is vulnerable and unprotected, which is how Jesus was arrested at night in the garden.

There are differences, of course. Crucifixion was an extremely painful way to die and would not pass today's ban against cruel and unusual punishment.

Osler discusses the last meal of prisoners, which is probably the death row event with which average people can most easily identify. He notes that Jesus's last supper the night before his execution was well documented in the gospels and is a key event in Christian history.

Jesus on Death Row leaves the reader with a sense of uneasiness about the death penalty, which is a final and irrevocable sentence - particularly as we see it applied to Jesus Christ, who was guilty of no violent crime. This undercurrent isn't surprising as Professor Osler spends part of his time fighting for the rights of inmates on death row.

I found the book fascinating. I've read the Gospels, but not with an eye toward the legal aspects and how they compare with today's law. "Jesus on Death Row" gave me a new perspective on an old and familiar topic.

Thursday, 02 March 2017 06:10:42 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Last week, Ed Charbeneau interviewed me for his Eat Sleep Dev podcast. The topic was Cognitive Services – a technology I’m passionate about.

You can listen to that interview below.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017 15:43:00 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Monday, 27 February 2017
Monday, 27 February 2017 14:15:14 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Friday, 24 February 2017

Last week, I delivered a presentation on Angular 2 and TypeScript at the Northwest Chicago JavaScript meetup. The organizers recorded my presentation, which you can watch here or below.

Friday, 24 February 2017 19:51:23 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)