Monday, April 04, 2022

Old dog


I try to avoid commenting about work in my blog. But I've spent the last three Fridays and finally my birthday in an all day leading with purpose workshop. This is not a training I've sought out. It is not a training I would have sought out. There is nothing that involves four full days of psycho babble that I would purposedly seek out.

It's not that I don't want to learn new things, but these consultant led trainings, on Zoom not in person complete with virtual break out rooms aren't learning opportunities. They are mindnumbing wastes of time. I am not a stupid person, but the language of consultants and management training is incomprehensible. 

Things like "generous listening." It translates to paying attention to what someone is saying to you even though it is stupid. There are 360 surveys that give you feedback from peers, direct reports and your manager. They are all over the map --say more, say less, listen more, act more, stop rolling your eyes.

I don't like feedback. I can dissect myself with a blunt tool without someone else's opinion. But providing feedback that I don't like feedback is not socially acceptable. I must drink the Koolaid and adopt the lingo, at least until I actually retire or expire.

At my age I am set in my ways and I don't think making lists and personal goals is going to change that. I can't even remember half of the crap I've "learned" in trainings anyway. 

This dog don't want to hunt no more.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Gray and white


I live in a gray and white world, literally and figurative. At times it seems like there is never sunshine in the Pacific Northwest. The sky always seems gray and blotched with drizzle. It seems worse than it was when I first moved here more than 40 years ago. Maybe it is climate change. Maybe it is just me aging, graying and whiting.

My hair is gray and white. I am like a printer running out of ink. I am fading.

Maybe it's the pandemic or social unrest or the economy or the war in the Ukraine that making me gray. Or should that be blue? 

Was it a coincidence that Oscar Wilde's character was Dorian Gray? But I suppose his portrait grayed while he stayed black and white. Though I wish I had a portrait that grayed and aged while I stayed the way my mind sees me -- young and strong. The mirror, however, betrays me.

Which is why I try to avoid mirrors. But there are times, like when I am getting my hair cut, that I can't avoid the mirror. Even on the endless video meetings I am forced to stare at my gray face and double chins. More than two years of this has taken its toll.

And speaking of being invisible (there's one of those old digressions) there is nothing like being in a video meeting with about a hundred people that makes you actually invisible. No one really sees you. If they did see me, I wonder if they would think they are tuning in an old black and white television show.

Friday, February 11, 2022

Free as a bird

So I think I've set a new record for not blogging. Something about a pandemic that just keeps my muse from musing. It's difficult to be motivated to write when nothing seems too amusing.

I did go into the office a couple of weeks ago for the first time in almost two years. I was greeted by a stack of mail a foot high on my desk.

The monkey playing cymbals was watching over it for me. He hasn't changed. He did seem a bit more skitterish than I remember.

I also noted my desk calendar was open to March 2020, the month when it all seemed to go to hell. It was like something right out of the Twilight Zone. This whole scenario is like a bad dystopian novel.

Speaking of dystopian plots, I began watching this series on HBO Max called Station Eleven. It is about a future world where many of the people were killed off by a deadly flu. 

Sound familiar?

It's odd, but the pandemic seems to be losing steam, not because COVID had gone away but because people are just sick of it (pun intended). The intensity of the first year was replaced by hope that vaccines would end it last year. But the endless variants threw a wet blanket on hope towards the second part of 2021. And now people just seem to say WTF. Lots of mask mandates are being lifted.  

I've never liked wearing masks, but I've done it. The biggest pain is remembering to put them on. And I have never found a good solution for keeping my glasses from fogging up. Plus they make my ears pull down and look even bigger than they are. And they really draw attention to my double chin.

Not that my looks matter. I've become even more invisible during the pandemic. I still walk every day. And my wife gave us a family gym membership for Christmas. But working out in a mask sucks. And I'm really sick of walking the same routes for almost two years.

Anyway, why, you ask, is this post called "Free as a bird?" Because it strikes me how ironic that phrase is, especially now that we are all more or less captives in our homes and communities.

Friday, August 20, 2021

Finding my niche


Here's one niche I'm not looking to fill.

As I mentioned, I have walked every day for exercise during the pandemic. I have walked ad nauseum. I try to change routes daily so I don't get too bored. I generally walk in two-mile segments. I have a Fitbit to keep track of the steps. I've walked miles and miles.

I walked by the Edmonds Cemetery yesterday. I've walked an driven by it hundreds of times. And I've even noticed this sign before. But this time it struck me as funny. We always seem to be looking for our niche to fill. This helped me put it in context. Maybe it is better to be a generalist than to fill this niche.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Teenage mutant viruses

Just when you think you are safe, they bring you
COVID Variants.
Don't go near your unvaccinated neighbor.

It is all like a bad movie sequel that you don't really want to watch. After all you were glad the first one ended. But the monster keeps coming back to life and chases the hero or heroine. But in this case, the good guys wear masks.

When we were all fully vaccinated, we were briefly relieved. I stopped wearing masks in most places. Tess booked a trip to Disneyland and Universal Studios. It was like we were finally waking up from the nightmare.

And then the Delta Variant reared it's ugly viral head. Good news was it was hitting the unvaccinated the hardest. My first thought was serves them right. Then they started speculating the fully vaccinated were getting sick, too. Just not as sick.

We went on our trip to Disneyland anyway. It was supposedly operating at reduced capacity, but you could have fooled me. They required masks inside on rides, but most of the time you were jammed next to thousands of people without masks.  We were staying at the Disneyland Hotel and they used COVID as an excuse for not cleaning the rooms every day. 

We came home from the vacation more stressed than when we left.

We'd started dining inside our favorite restaurant. We could see the servers' faces for the first time. That quickly changed. We are now back on the patio and servers are masked again. 

I was supposed to return to my downtown office three days a week beginning September 7. That has been moved to November 1 at the earliest. My work is now requiring everyone to be fully vaccinated as a condition of employment. I am glad. People shouldn't have a choice when it comes to keeping the damned virus from spreading and mutating. 

Now they are talking about booster shots for everyone. My wife and I have already had one because of various health reasons. But part of me wonders if it is enough.

I tell you I am sick of masks. I'll wear them, but the novelty has worn off. The brief time when the vaccinated could be free of them was too much of a tease. I want to be free of this all.

Oh well. Once more into the breach.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Like a moth to fame


I watched a documentary on Amazon Prime the other day about the actor Val Kilmer. It was created using lots of random footage actually filmed by the actor over his life. First with film cameras and later with video, many from the sets of movies he was starring in.

So why would I watch a documentary about Val Kilmer? We kind of have some things in common. He is about the same age as me. We were both raised Christian Scientists. We both have one son and a daughter. We were both wildly successful in our careers and became quite famous....well, he did. I really thought he played an amazing Jim Morrison in the Doors movie and I will never forget his Doc Holiday in Tombstone.

Oh, and my wife took my children to see his one man performance of Mark Twain several years back. 

What struck me most about the documentary of Val Kilmer was how he no longer resembles the Val Kilmer I remember from all of his films. He has had throat cancer and had his trachea removed. He no longer acts. He attends comic conventions and signs autographs. He does art.

He doesn't look happy. 

I was also amazed that he was able to capture so much of his own life on film. I have absolutely no film or video of my life prior to my late 20s and then very little. You would be hard pressed to make a documentary about my life. But that is also what struck me so hard. There would be nothing to make a documentary of my life about. I've never been famous. No one would care.

That in itself is depressing. But I try and comfort myself with the knowledge that, although I didn't achieve fame in my life, I also didn't lose it. No one watches movies I've made and then gasps at what I look like now in my 60s. I've also had a relatively healthy life.

But still, I never starred in a movie. I never published a book. No one recognizes me on the street. No one even really sees me. And when I die, very few people will remember me or for very long.

Now granted, I could live another 20-30 years. I could still write a book. But writing a book isn't what it used to be. Pretty much anyone can these days. 

I used to naively believe my blog was my road to fame. I thought I'd be discovered and my genius recognized. But a couple of decades go by and you realize that isn't going to happen. 

Part of it is age. It isn't a world for old people. No one wants to hear our stories. They aren't relevant anymore. Layer COVID over everything and my opportunities for being famous are pretty much nil.

Oh well. It's time to blow out the candles on this pity party's cake and get on with life. At least I still have a sense of humor.

Monday, August 09, 2021

Good Bidet mate!


I honestly had never used a bidet until we stayed at an AirBNB cabin a few months ago that had a bidet attachment installed. It was a fancy electronic one that allowed you to pick a water temperature. I was skeptical at first, but after one use I wondered how I'd ever lived without a bidet.

The pandemic inspired many shortages, including toilet paper. So a bidet naturally addresses that concern directly. The only thing you need toilet paper for after using a bidet is using a few squares to dab the water off from your tushy.

When I got home I began researching how I could install a bidet attachment in my own bathroom. I discovered there were many affordable options. I chose a model from a company called Zen. I ordered it and installed it without too much trouble.

Without getting too gross and graphic, this is the only toilet I will use now. We've gone camping and then on a trip to Disneyland since and both times I missed my bidet dearly. You don't know how much pain toilet paper causes until you start using a bidet. 

I'm flushed with pride over my discovery.

Friday, June 04, 2021

Walking out of things to say

 I haven't been any more prolific in 2021 than I was in 2020. Something about a pandemic kind of dampens down your sense of humor. Not that mine was particularly keen before COVID 19. I've been running out of steam when it comes to blogging.

Or I've been walking out of steam. Why should running get all the credit? And I've been walking more in that past year and a half than I probably have my entire life.

I need to pace myself (ba da boom).

You would think that I would want to blog more during a pandemic. But once you talk about masks and social distancing ad nauseum, what else is there to say? 

I did find it kind of weird how we went from constant mask wearing and running away from people to now being able to walk around without masks and just frowning at people instead of crossing the street when you encounter them on a walk. It just seemed to happen. 

Though I think vaccinations had something to do with it. My stupid right wing brothers still haven't got their shots. You'd think this is natures chance to really give natural selection another chance. Because not getting vaccinated in the face of a virus that has killed thousands of people is kind of like not wearing a seat belt, a bike helmet or a life preserver on a sinking ship. You certainly shouldn't be dipping those toes in the gene pool any longer.

I suppose a few good things have come out of the pandemic. I did clear out all of my bins of crap out of the garage and made a few bucks on eBay. And I've tried not to turn around an use those bucks to accumulate more crap (though my wife thinks I have too many guitars). 

Speaking of guitars, I've gotten back into playing almost ever day. I've discovered you can find the chords for just about every song ever recorded on line now without having to pay a cent for sheet music. 

We had been prepping our house to sell and upgrade. But I think we've given up on that. We missed the sweet spot in the market where you could sell your house at a highly inflated price and actually find a better house that you could afford to buy. So now were are just thinking of remodeling. We'll see how that goes.

Oh well, it's almost time for my after work walk with my son and my dog. Got to get those 10,000 steps a day in somehow.

Monday, April 26, 2021

Hit me with your best shot

 My wife and I had our second COVID-19 vaccine shot last Friday. So I figured that was worth noting on a blog that I've woefully neglected since the pandemic began more than a year ago. 

I couldn't tell you why the pandemic squashed my muse (or at least put a face mask on it so it is hard to make out). I suppose there is only so much you can write about walking, face masks, socially distancing and my right wing brothers. 

I spend most of each day in my basement office staring at video meetings and forgetting to unmute myself when someone says something to me. I wear t-shirts and jeans. I shower maybe once a week. 

Maybe being fully vaccinated will change things a bit. But for the most part not. At least until a bulk of the population is also fully vaccinated.

My older right wing Christian brothers aren't getting vaccinated. I think it has something to do with the will of god, liberal conspiracies and the fact that Biden is the President. Neither seems convinced that COVID-19 exists. 

Regardless, I have been fully vaccinated and leave my brothers to their own misguided beliefs and assinine opinions. After all, you can't fix stupid. 

So I started writing this post on March 29th and it is now April 26th. Can't seem to get into the blog groove. But I am fully vaccinated and it seems the rest of the country is starting to catch up. I actually took my son to a movie theater on Saturday. Other than wearing masks and not having to worry about anyone sitting next to us or in front of us, it was pretty normal. I actual enjoy going to restaurants and movies and not having to deal with crowds. 

I am getting sick of walking every day and masking and unmasking when someone approaches on the sidewalk. I've read articles that say we really don't need masks if we are outside. 

But then again I've read articles that contradict that as well. That part of COVID hasn't changed with vaccinations. What we need is to administer everyone with truth serum. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Isn't it ironic

 I was going to call this post, "Don't let the old year hit you on the way out," but discovered that is the title of a post I wrote around this time of year last year. And ironically I hoped 2020 would be a better year than 2019. 

Well that didn't happen. 

I won't rehash how sucky of a year it was. Suffice it to say, it was worst year in recent history. The only good thing that happened was that piece of crap in the White House is on his way out. I won't feel any true relief until President Biden is sworn in and Trump is back in Trump Tower whining about how the election was stolen from him.

Spoke with my right wing, nutjob brother on Thanksgiving and he told me he had manned phones during the election. I thanked him for helping Biden win and he started yelling about him not winning. 

I can only hope that there was a mix up at the hospital when one of us was born and we are not truly related.

If anything good came out of the pandemic it was that we didn't have to visit any of my family in person for the holidays. 

I'd like to say that I am posting again out of popular demand, but no one but Baggy in England seemed to have noticed I wasn't writing in my blog. Normally a lack of readers wouldn't stop me from blogging, but it is difficult to write a point-of-view humor blog when the civilization seems to be collapsing around you.

Though I did manage to muster up enough humor to send silly e-mails to my staff at work each Friday in an attempt to boost morale. The general response was not unlike that to most of my blog posts: crickets.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

The world wide web


It is spider season where I live. There seem to be webs everywhere. And although spiders used to freak me out as a kid, now I've come to terms with them. 

My family, on the other hand, have not. My son is afraid of them and will holler for me if he enters a room and sees a spider. It has become one of my responsibilities along with garbage, recycling and picking up dog poop.

I don't kill spiders any more. There is too much suffering in the world. I try now to gently catch them in a cup and release them outside if they are inside the house. I respect that they are more afraid of me than I am of them and they can do me little harm. And they catch pests such as mosquitoes and sometimes other spiders.

I didn't realize until doing a Google search that spiders can live for several years. So it makes me feel even better about not killing them randomly out of fear. Somehow longevity makes their lives seem even more valuable. 

Maybe it is my age and having less mortality left in my existence that makes me more sensitive to the right to all things to occupy space as long as they are intended. 

This, of course, doesn't apply to the thing squatting in the White House and his throngs of followers. They can move on anytime now.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

It's as easy as A, eBay, C....

 Can't believe almost three months have gone by since I posted. Time means little during a pandemic. But in that time I worked my way through all the bins in the garage and sold or purged most of it. I opened my own store on eBay as well as listed stuff on Facebook Marketplace and Craig's List. It has been an exercise in marketing and psychology.

I have learned a great deal about selling. First, I was right, Elvis memorabilia does not sell. You practically have to pay people to buy it. It took almost three months to sell all but two of the Velvet Elvis paintings (though the last one sold for $200).  I also learned that it is a pain to pack and ship large items.

I also learned that cleverly written item descriptions are hit and miss when it comes to selling. So there goes my long held theory about that humor (especially my humor) sells. Sometimes people just want you to cut to the chase.

I also learned that people will buy just about anything. I sold an old laminated Blockbuster Video Card for $14. And I sold a Warthog skull, a baboon skull, a badger skull, a beaver skull, a snapping turtle skull, a deer skull, a buffalo skull, a cow skull and my beloved horse skull from the Nevada desert outside of Reno. I even finally sold a goose skull despite the fact it was banned from eBay and Facebook due to some obscure policy about migratory skulls. And I sold one of four coyote skulls. The remaining three don't seem too popular because of missing teeth.

Why did I have all of those skulls? There was a time before I was married (18 years to be exact) that I spent way too much time browsing eBay and thrift stores snapping up curiosities. I thought of the skulls as more sculptures than dead animals. But once I got married, the curiosities no longer seemed so curious. So I packed them away in bins that sat for fifteen years untouched until I began my saga to empty out my past.