Wednesday, April 25, 2018


blath·er·skite:Definition -  a person who talks at great length without making much sense. foolish talk; nonsense.

If I didn't have a great deal of equity invested in the name, "Dizgraceland," I think "Blatherskite" would be a great blog name. Not that I think that I am a blatherskite. At least not all of the time. I'm actually quite quiet if you meet me in person. Unless I've had a lot of coffee. Then I can be a blatherskite with the best of them.

Speaking of blatherskites, I joined a pun page on Facebook called The Punitentiary because I've always enjoyed a good pun (which is an oxymoron). But I have to admit I'm getting a bit weary of the constant stream of puns floating by in my new roll. At first I jumped right in and tried to one up the punsters for each post. Because that is what people in puns do. They hop aboard a puns train of thought until they reach the caboose.

Some of the Punitentiary don't seem to recognize a caboose and they turn the train of thought in to messy derailment. Puns only work when you don't have to try to hard. It's very easy to slip into blatherskite territory.

Monday, April 23, 2018

How does your garden grow?

It was uncharacteristically sunny over the weekend which means I once again don my overalls, rubber boots and tackle the weeds that insist on populating a good portion of my property. I also took this opportunity to remove a grape arbor that was collapsing under the weight of grape vines that have never really produced any grapes.

I have written about my backyard before, but a good journalist never assumes the reader has read anything he has written before and provides enough background to give context to his story. And though I was never a very good journalist, I will say that my house is built on the edge of a slope that flows down to a stream. The stream is called Shell Creek (though I haven't a clue why, there aren't any shells in it). It runs on the surface up to my property line and then goes into a culvert that diverts it under the road next to my house.

I thought it was cool when we bought the house to have a stream down below the house. But after lots of expenses for shoring up retaining walls and dealing with water leaks in my basement because of the underground streams that feed Shell Creek, I'd be happy to live somewhere on higher, flatter ground. I also would like a normal backyard that isn't constantly trying to revert back to nature. Every year I battle horse tails, blackberry vines and mountain beavers. And all are nurtured by being close to water.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

I do confess

I was going to title this post "Laughing matter" but since I search my past posts these days to prevent too much repetition I discovered that I've written a few too many posts with similar titles and tone (I do confess 1,223 posts to be exact). So I chose "I do confess" instead. I googled "I do confess" and discovered that Shakespeare used that line often in his plays. So I feel I am in rare company using the line.

"I do confess" may be my new "but I digress."  But I do confess I think I replaced "but I digress" with "Pause for a lugubrious howl"some time back. I also confess that I don't really remember half the time.

More often than not, when I am trying to think of something to write about, I reread some past posts. Sometimes I'm surprised, sometimes I'm amused and some times I'm embarrassed. A person's writing style is a bit like their fingerprint. They are all unique and if you read some one's stuff enough, you could pick their writing out of a writing line up (that's the one, right there, I'd recognize that dangling participle anywhere).

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

An oldie but a goodie: Jukebox of the Gods

Blogger's note:

This post originally appeared on June 1, 2005. I was trying to explain to a friend the other day how Elvis' life and mine got intertwined many years ago when I tried to write a novel. She said I could still write it. That made me think about the book and why I never finished it. But this post explains better than I can verbally articulate (again) why that probably won't happen.

Take the "T" out of "Trust,"
And all you're left with is rust.
That's the first line of a country song my old friend Michael and I tried to write one time on a trip to Reno. We were sitting in a bar in Fitzgerald's drinking shots of tequila with a cheap beer back while listening to a country band. The band was asking for requests and I kept shouting, "Friends in Low Places." They tried to ignore me, but they eventually gave in and played a weak rendition of the song. They didn't seem too enthusiastic about it, though.

That's when we decided to write our own country song. Michael came up with that first line. "Hey," he said. "Did you know if you take the "T" out of trust, all you are left with is rust?'"

It may have been the tequila, but I thought it was pure "f-in" genius. So I finished the first verse:
Take the "T" out of Trust,
And all you're left with is rust.
Like this old pick-up truck,
Broken down, out of luck.

Take the you out of we,
And all I'm left with is me.
Sitting here all alone,
Staring hard at the phone.
At that point the muse left both Michael and I (I am pretty sure this did have something to do with the tequila) and we never finished the song.

I kind of view that song as a symbol of all of the unfinished things in my life. I've encountered many of those unfinished things I as we purge my house of clutter in preparation to sell it. For example, there's the wooden ship model of the Coast Guard training ship, the Eagle. I started building it in 1983. It will never see the wind beneath its sails.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Not down for the count (yet)

I was watching a program on Facebook TV yesterday about the homeless epidemic. The commentator said the average life expectancy of someone living on the streets was 58 versus 78 for a non-homeless person. And although I was shocked at how short a person's life was who was homeless, I was also a bit taken back that in theory I only have another 18 years to live.

My father died from stomach cancer when he was 76 years old. My mother died when she was 87 years old. So if I live to an average of their ages I would be about 82. That still only gives me another 22 years. But if I have to work until I'm say, 68 years, that would only leave about 14 years to enjoy retirement.  And who knows what my health will be like.

Doesn't seem quite fair, because if I work that long I will have been working for 44 years.

Mortality sucks. I know that everyone eventually dies, but when you start to quantify it into the number of years you have left, it becomes too real. And all of the cliches in the world about enjoying your life sink in.

Monday, March 19, 2018

On turning 60

My 60th birthday is just a few days away and although I am risking alienating my millennial followers by revealing my advanced age, I do so as a chronicler of my own life.

I looked back at a post I made when I turned 50. I was more focused on having a 17-month old toddler in the house and a new baby arriving later in the year.  And looking back, turning 50 didn't have the same feeling of mortality closing in on me as 60.

The thing is, no one can truly prepare you for your own aging. When you are young, you can't really fathom it. I remember being a teenager and calculating that I'd be 42 when the Millennium happened and thought that would be so old. I also assumed I would be married and have a family. Little did I know that I wouldn't marry until I was 47 and would have a young family when I was headed into middle age.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Year of the dog

Okay, this is technically a photo of me as a wolf baying at the moon, but it's close enough to a dog. And my Chinese Zodiac sign is the dog. And this is the year of the dog.

In the grand scheme of things that means nothing at all.  I tried looking up what it means to be a dog in the Chinese Zodiac and everything I read was as vague as what it means to be a Pisces in the our western Zodiac. I am one of those people who believe you read what you want to into horoscopes.

In my younger days I studied Astrology. Well, I took a couple of classes in something called the Experimental College. I could draw up a person's chart. Then I would use astrology books to interpret the chart. I was sort of good at it. But I did attribute much of it to the power of suggestion. The people I did charts for honed in on the stuff they liked in their charts and poo-pooed the rest.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Talking on trains

I realize that not everyone commutes to work via train. So this post may not be relevant to everyone. Then again most of my posts aren't. But maybe people can relate to my annoyance at small talk in general.

If you use public transit, you are likely aware that there are two types of commuters -- introverts and extroverts. Introverts take their seats and tune out everything and everyone around them. They have headphones, books, tablets with them to help get over the fact that they are trapped in a small, confined space with strangers who don't always respect personal space requirements. Introverts also may curl up in a ball and pretend they are asleep (or dead) to prevent interaction on a train.

Extroverts, on the other hand, don't read, sleep or listen to music. They talk. They laugh loudly. They band together in noisy groups and bond for the 25 minutes to an hour they are on the train. And they are oblivious to the fact that they are torturing the introvert commuters who they occasionally trap in the seats around them.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Hearts and flowers

I thought about writing a post about the history of Valentines Day, but all you have to do is Google it, it didn't seem worth the effort of regurgitating stuff from other websites. I actually just wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to Photoshop my face on a cupid anyway.

I do think the holiday (and I use that term loosely since we don't get the day off) is just another example of capitalism exploiting the masses with ritual traditions that require spending lots of money. If you are involved in any kind of relationship, it is pretty much expected that you better be sending cards, flowers, candy to your loved one and take them out to dinner.

I've taken to making my own cards these days, so I like to think I'm sticking it to the man. It's not so much the cost of the cards that gets me, it's insincerity of pawing through a rack of cards some schmuck copy writer has written and giving it to your loved one as a sign of your love. I prefer develop my own with Photoshop and a color printer. At least it demonstrates that I'm investing my time and talents to create the sentiment.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Screaming streets

I work in a colorful part of downtown Seattle, in a neighborhood that straddles the International District and Pioneer Square neighborhoods. It is generally an okay area to walk around during the day, especially if you make it to the more touristy parts of the International District and it's variety of foods and tourist shops. And Pioneer Square has been taken over by more trendy restaurants and condos.

But still the area has an edge. Our work campus has expanded over the years, so meetings can take you outside of your own building to run the gauntlet of street people, crack heads and Jehovah's Witnesses. I generally go out with my headphones on playing Spotify. It helps shut out some of the street noise.

It's an area where you pretty much always need to be aware of your surroundings. Today I was waiting at the crosswalk for the light to change and watched a very angry and agitated man across the street screaming and waving his arms. He had that erratic behavior either brought on by drugs, lack of drugs or voices in his head. I feel sorry for these people, but I still plot my path to avoid them as much as possible.

Fortunately the man just paced back and forth for awhile screaming at people passing by, threw what appeared to be an apple on the sidewalk and moved on down the street. I could still hear him as I scurried across the crosswalk and through the plaza over the International District bus and light rail tunnel station. I avoided eye contact of the Jehovah's Witnesses who stand there every day with their signs and literature racks. I have to admit that I prefer them standing passively on the sidewalk with their PR for god materials over them coming to my door trying to force me to take a Watchtower brochure.

Monday, February 05, 2018

Me and my shadows

It was rainy and gray here on Groundhogs Day, so no shadow to frighten the groundhogs. So maybe Punxsutawney Phil should move to the Pacific Northwest. If he lived here chances are he'd never see his shadow and we could get on with spring.

Though spring here just means more rain.

Being that it is cloudy and rainy here a great deal of the time, you don't see your shadow a lot. Though I suppose technically everything is in the shadow of the clouds, so we are walking around in a shadow all the time.

At least that's the way I feel at times.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

How many Presto Logs could a Woodchuck chuck if a Woodchuck didn't want to chop wood?

A woodchuck is simply a groundhog. But "How much ground would a groundhog hog if a groundhog could hog ground?" doesn't have the same ring to it as a woodchuck chucking wood. But since groundhogs or woodchucks don't appear to spend too much time at the gym, I'm thinking they wouldn't spend too much time chucking anything that required a lot of effort.

That's why I pose the philosophical question about how many Presto Logs would a woodchuck chuck. Because I figure if they were tasked with dealing with anything so they could stoke a fire, they'd head on down to the mini-mart and stock up on pre-formed Presto Logs.

These are, unfortunately, the types of things I think about these days. The alternative is dwelling on politics, nuclear holocaust and the many offenses we heap on each other because of our gender, race or personal hygiene habits. I'm thinking dwelling on woodchucks is less depressing then bemoaning the world going to shit.

Pardon my French (though I suppose I would have said Merde if I was speaking French or shiest if I was using my high school German...though Herr Haddock, my high school German teacher didn't really approve of us using German expletives though they are all I seem to recall other than asking where the library is in German).