Jordan Hall
Dec 4th, 2009 by Mike

One of the best things about being part of the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus is rehearsals. Sure, they’re a lot of work. They’re also a lot of fun.

Tuesday night, we had a rehearsal on stage in Jordan Hall at the New England Conservatory of Music. I hold Jordan Hall with a great deal of reverence. It’s a beautiful hall, and the acoustics are incredible. Like many members, Jordan Hall was the site of my first concert with the BGMC.

Jordan Hall brings out the very best in us. The acoustics are so amazing that if we don’t get something quite right, it sounds sloppy. Reuben will occasionally have us sing something incorrectly so we can hear just how bad it sounds there. And that makes us get it right.

For our upcoming concert series, Our Home for the Holidays, we’ll be performing Fred Small’s “Not in our Town” with our guest soloist, Kerry Dowling. It’s going to be fantastic in Jordan Hall. This concert series has a lot of really good stuff. We have lots of good seats available for the December 18-20 concerts. Seats for the December 13 concert are limited. Tickets and more details are here.

Remembering Phil
Nov 30th, 2009 by Mike

Yesterday, we said farewell to one of my oldest friends. Phil Murphy was killed in an accident last week.

Phil Murphy

Last week, I was starting my Christmas card list and came across Phil and Randy’s address on last year’s list. I made a note to call and check in. It had been too long. I never got the chance. The next day, a mutual friend sent me a message on facebook saying that he’d been killed in an accident.

I have this jumble of thoughts and memories of Phil that I want to share, but honestly, I just can’t summon the words right now. He was a good guy who would give you the shirt off his back.

Phil’s funeral reminded me about something in his life, that he was able to bring together a diverse group of people and make them come together and laugh. That was the Phil we knew, and that was the Phil we loved.  One of the speakers at his funeral said that heaven is a much richer place now and Earth is much poorer. I couldn’t agree more.

Oct 27th, 2009 by Mike

I’ve been on the Weight Watchers program for the past six weeks. This week, I hit both my 5% and 10 pound goals!


This is pretty exciting for me. My short-term goal is to hit 165. Ultimately, I’d love to get back down to 150, but that’s a longer-term goal.

My Chicken “Gravy”
Oct 11th, 2009 by Mike

Being on Weight Watchers, I’m trying to eat some of my favorite foods, only in a more healthy way. I’m teaching myself to cook all over again.

Today, I tackled my chicken “base” that I use for chicken pot pie, chicken and biscuits, etc. After about two hours in the kitchen this morning, I think we can call this recipe a success.

Wedding Day
Sep 27th, 2009 by Mike

My friend Sam got married yesterday. It was a short (yet lovely) ceremony with a pretty low-key reception. I’m honored that Sam and Jeff asked me to be in the wedding.

I got to meet quite a few people who read my blog. At first, it was a little unsettling, and then I realized that Sam has me linked. It makes a little more sense.

It’s been a long couple of days, and I’m going to crash at home tonight. I need to do some cooking for the week before curling up and watching some TV tonight.

Oh, and I’m horrified at the number of weight watchers points I blew through yesterday.

Turkey/Beef BBQ Meatloaf
Sep 27th, 2009 by Mike

Since I’m on the Weight Watchers program, I thought I would try to come up with some recipes that are lower in points and still high in flavor. This is today’s attempt, a BBQ turkey/beef meatloaf.

1 medium onion, chopped
2 Tbls olive oil
1/2 lb ground turkey
1/2 lb 95% lean ground beef
2/3 cup rolled oats, ground
1 egg white

First, I cooked the onion in the olive oil. This was a sweat and not a sautee. Take this off the heat and allow to cool slightly. Then I pulsed the rolled oats in the mini food processor. Next, I threw everything in a big bowl and mixed it together. This went into a bread loaf pan and cooked at 350 for 35 minutes. Really, it was that easy.

When I pulled this out of the oven, it yielded about 800 grams of meatloaf. I figured each serving would be about 100 grams, or one slice. At four points, it’s not too shabby.

New Look and Feel
Sep 25th, 2009 by Mike

I’ve just moved my blog from Expression Engine to Word Press. This was more difficult than the migration from Movable Type a few years ago.  This post made my work a little easier.

While I’m at it, I should probably write about what’s going on.  My friends Sam and Jeff are getting married this weekend. I’m in the wedding, and by the time most of you read this, I will be on the road to Hartford for the wedding tommorow.

I was in Washington, DC a few weeks ago. An old friend of mine owns a bar down there. Bill and I haven’t seen each other in years. I contacted his partner via Facebook and arranged a little surprise for him. Bill was behind the bar with his back to me. I tapped on his shoulder. He turned around to look at me. It took about five seconds for him to make the connection. He was absolutely stunned. Mission accomplished.

While I was down there, I met up with someone I’ve been chatting with online for quite some time. We ended up spending the entire weekend together. We’re going to see where this goes. He’s coming up here in a couple of weeks for my chorus retreat. I’m going back down two weeks later. That’s all the details you get for now.

This week, I started Weight Watchers at work. It’s been interesting so far. I’m seeing that by cutting a lot of the crap and alcohol out of my diet, I’m seeing that it gives me a lot of opportunity for real food.

The Cranky DBA
Sep 8th, 2009 by Mike

I manage databases and database applications for a living. There is a community of SQL Server bloggers out there, and I’ve started doing some writing myself. I’m now publishing at The Cranky DBA.

That site won’t be connected to It’s running different blogging software. It’s using Word Press while I use Expression Engine for this site.

Today, I became the latest syndicated author for That’s pretty exciting for me. It’s a great way to network with other DBAs as well as gain some great exposure for job prospects, should I be looking for them in the future.

Spreading the LUV
Aug 31st, 2009 by Mike


Anybody who knows me knows that I’m a huge fan of Southwest Airlines.

Recently, I had an experience that proves why Southwest does something right that most airlines have wrong.

My travel plans for next weekend have changed. Josh’s closing got pushed back due to a problem on the seller’s end. That means I’m not helping him move this weekend. Instead, I’m going to be spending the weekend in Washington, DC to see an old friend from college. I had already purchased my airfare on Southwest weeks ago. With most other airlines, my $265 fare would have been history. But not with Southwest.

I went to and canceled my reservation. That meant that I had $265 in credit available for my next flight. Instead of losing money, I can apply it to my trip to DC this weekend without any additional fees. A refund would be nice, but that’s not very good business. But by giving me an opportunity to use that money toward a different trip, they keep me coming back for more.  THAT’s good business.

It gets better, though. As the day has progressed, I’ve decided to take Friday as a vacation day. Reggie is heading to my friend Chris’ house on Friday morning now. That means I can catch an earlier flight. Most airlines will charge you a fee for this. Instead, my flight has a lower fare available than my original flight. Southwest is giving me the fare difference as a credit.

You’ll never see US Airways do that.

Aug 26th, 2009 by Mike

Originally uploaded by mikehillwig

If you follow me on Facebook, Flickr or Twitter, you may know that I’ve been pondering a move back to the city. I love my condo, but living in Salem has become invconvenient. Between doctors and chorus obligations, I’m in the city pretty frequently.

If you look at my moving history, a 2BR in Pittsburgh, 2BR in Providence, 1BR in Boston, and a 2BR in Salem, I have a lot of stuff. My second bedroom in Salem has effectively become a big closet. Enough is enough. I’m purging a lot of crap I just don’t need anymore.

This project has been incredibly refreshing. I’m throwing away stuff I haven’t seen/used/touched/needed for ages. This includes clothes. I have a ton of clothes that just don’t need to be kept. As I’m doing laundry, anything that isn’t worth keeping gets discarded. (I’d rather replace than fold clothes, anyway.) Last night, I tried on three suits that were in the closet. Not one of them fit. They’re going to Goodwill. An entire box of magazines has been discarded.

I used to keep every boarding pass from every flight I’ve ever taken. Those are history as well. If it wasn’t made or owned by a grandparent, it’s not sacred and up for purging.

Last night, I threw out six huge trash bags of stuff. There are two more that aren’t in this picture.

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