Tuesday, January 16, 2018

They might be angels


It snowed on Christmas Eve for the first time in umpteenth years. An while it disappeared within a day or two, it reminded me of the magic of snow to transform the world. It is a weather game changer.

Having it snow on Christmas Eve amplified the magic tenfold. Even I, a jaded adult who hates what snow does to the daily commute, was excited to see snow blanketing everything.  I helped my children make a snowman in the front yard and watched my daughter make snow angels. It was one of those moments.

Now, a few weeks later, looking at the photo of the snow angel triggered something. Why is it we picture angels and other magical creatures like fairies with wings? I Googled it and got a lot of religious bible babble about depicting the power of god. But nothing that explains why angels would need wings.

But then again, many demons and imps are depicted with wings, too. Though they are more like bat wings than the feathery angel wings. And fairy wings are more like butterflies. But the common link is wings.

Perhaps its because we envy creatures that can fly. And because our ancestors looked to the skies for heaven we associate flight with the divine.


Monday, January 08, 2018

For unto you was born a king



I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge that today is Elvis' birthday. If he were alive today, he would be 83 years old. God only knows how much he would weigh.

Elvis died in 1977 when he was 42 years old. The number 42 is, in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, the "Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything", calculated by an enormous supercomputer named Deep Thought over a period of 7.5 million years. Unfortunately, no one knows what the question was.

I wonder if Elvis knows what the question is.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Out with the old grill, in with the new


I got a new grill for Christmas. My old grill was about four years old and had all but fallen apart and was crusted with burnt remnants of meat that was also likely four years old. The grills had burnt through and the burners were riddled with holes.  So it definitely was time for a new grill.

But what do you do with a derelict grill? In the past, when I had a truck, I would have hauled it to the dump. If it was in better condition, I would have wheeled it out to the sidewalk and put a sign on it that read, "FREE." So I spent the Saturday before New Year's Eve dismantling it.

I had originally assembled the thing when I bought it. So I knew the number of parts and screws I would be encountering. But years of grease and being exposed to the elements had left most of the screws rusted and frozen. So with a hacksaw, my Dremel tool with cutting wheel and a pry bar, I proceeded to dismember my old friend.

It wasn't pretty. But I succeeded in breaking it down into chunks that would fit in a trash can (albeit it will take several trash cycles to get rid of the entire thing).


Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Alexa..Alexa...Alexa...can you hear me...hear me...hear me?


I started talking to Alexa, Amazon's AI assistant, when I purchased a new Fire TV box that was bundled with Echo Dot. I didn't really know what an Echo Dot was until it arrived and I set it up next to my easy chair where I watch television. My first question for Alexa (at the urging of Amazon Customer Support that I'd called to help me set up my Echo Dot) was, "Alexa, where is Chuck Norris?"

In reality, I don't really care about Chuck Norris, but she answered, "If Chuck Norris wants you to know where he is, he'll tell you. But when he does, it will be too late."

Okay, an AI with a sense of humor. But what else can she/it do? I asked her to play independent rock music and she sampled some songs from Amazon Prime Music. I asked her to turn on Netflix on my Fire TV and she complied. That saved me about three clicks on the remote. I then ask her to pause and eventually play whatever I am streaming on my Fire TV.  Again, this saved me from reaching over an pressing a button on my remote.


Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Don't let the year hit you on the way out

I will not miss 2017. It has not been my favorite year. I'm hoping 2018 will be better. I like the even numbered years better for some reason. Perhaps it is because I was born in one.

I turn 60 in 2018.I'm still not sure how I feel about that. I have honestly never thought about turning 60. I thought about turning 30. And then about turning 40. I gave a little bit of thought to turning 50. But 60 just wasn't on my radar. But now it is jitterbugging in my face.

On the plus side, 60 puts me a little closer to retirement. I am definitely weary of working. Having taken off a week for Christmas, I am very conscious of the energy it takes to shift from being home into the work persona. I am longing for the day when I no longer have to think about work.

I wonder, though, what I'll do when I retire. Didn't seem to be a problem on my week off. Time slipped away quickly.  Most of it was consumed by basic things you do around the house: make breakfast and lunch for my kids, empty and fill the dishwasher, take out the garbage and recycling, repeat.


Friday, December 08, 2017

Bulbs in the socket but not all my lights are blinking


I've written in the past about my love/hate relationship with Christmas lights and decorating my house. Usually by the week after Thanksgiving I've unpacked crates of lights and headed up to my roof and undertaken the arduous task of clipping lights to the gutter and trying not to slip off the roof or electrocute myself.

This year I decided to only put up lights in places that didn't require going up on the roof. And the world did not end.

It's not that I don't enjoy the beauty of Christmas lights. But thinking about the labor required to put them along my gutters just made me depressed. I've invested hundreds of dollars in lights but there never seemed to be enough. And even if I tested them before I put them away for the year, it never failed that once they'd come out of storage, passed another test a section would inevitably fail once I'd attached them to the roof.

Then there was the complicated system of extension cords, timers and outside power outlets. And there are the blown breakers. I also have bags of spare bulbs I've accumulated over the years. Regardless of what the light manufacturers say, all of the other lights don't stay lit when one burns out and you have to test each bulb in a patch of lights that have gone out in order to find the bad one.

Even just putting lights on my deck railings and my shrubs and trees took a great deal of effort and a few trips to the store for more lights (despite all of the lights I own for the roof most of the sets had burned out sections and I just could deal with the mind numbing process of trying to find the bad bulbs).

But still we have enough lights out to stave off the neighborhood shaming for not decorating for Christmas.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Humbug


Saw "The Man Who Invented Christmas" this weekend.  It is the story of the internal struggle Charles Dickens went through when he was writing A Christmas Carol. I left the movie theater with a kind of "embrace your inner Scrooge" feeling.

Apparently, Dickens had many inner demons he struggled with. And A Christmas Carol became his personal tale of his rocky path to redemption.

The beauty of A Christmas Carol to me has always been that tipping point where Scrooge transforms from the dark, dismal miser into a man who once again has hope. Dickens does a wonderful job of revealing the journey that the man went through that turned him into the cold, heartless figure of Scrooge and then chips away the blackness to give him a second chance at life.

I don't know enough about Charles Dickens life to know how much of the movie was based on truth and how much was artistic license. But I know enough about writing to know that the characters you bring to life are often parts of your own psyche. It doesn't stretch the imagination to think Scrooge was a part of Dickens that he struggled with. And according to the movie, Dickens wasn't quite sure if Scrooge was capable of redemption. Fortunately, Dickens was able to give his demons the benefit of the doubt and let Scrooge turn his life around.

I hope it was an epiphany for Dickens. It's a message that we need in our current times where politics have turned our culture upside down.

I think Tom Robbins said it best when he stated, "It's never too late to have a happy childhood." Of course then Sees Candy ripped it off and used it in their advertising for awhile.

But the sentiment rings true.

God bless us, every one!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Over the river...




It has been about five years since I subjected my family to Boise for Thanksgiving. I've been there a couple of times on business since my mom died. But I've avoided Thanksgiving trips there since she died.

This year my daughter proclaimed she wanted to see more of our extended family at times other than funerals. So I broke down and booked a trip to Boise for Thanksgiving.

I left Boise for Seattle when I was in my early 20s. And there has hardly been a time when I've visited there that it didn't depress the hell out of me. This trip was no exception.

Despite the rain (and probably because of it), Seattle is a place filled with green and majestic views of the water. Boise is a flat, barren strip mall with majestic views of the surrounding sage brush deserts and gray foothills. To get anywhere in Boise you basically have to get on the freeway and then transfer to major arterials with complicated four-way intersections that take forever to navigate.


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Gray, gray, go away

With rain and wind already battering the Pacific Northwest, I am fighting my winter blues a bit earlier than normal. Daylight Savings Time doesn't help. It's barely 4:40 p.m. and it is already dark.

I don't like winter and I believe the feeling is mutual with winter.

I don't like the rain much. Snow sucks. I've looked at clouds from both sides now and I really don't like clouds much either.

So why do I live around Seattle? It's not because it is touted as a cool place to live. That's only if you are under 30. It's not even because it is near water (which is why I thought I moved here in the first place). The water is as gray and dark as the sky.

I live here because I ended up here. Not sure where else I'd go. Once you reach the west coast, it doesn't seem practical to go eastward.

Perhaps climate change will eventually make the Pacific Northwest tropical. That would be nice. Even if it kept raining, it would be a warm rain.

Regardless, I sometimes just feel like pulling the covers over my head until it all passes.

It can't rain all the time.


Monday, October 16, 2017

The devil is in the details


I generally consider myself an "idea" person. In an ideal world (i.e. mine and mine alone), I would sit around thinking of ideas and outlining them to a bevy of hovering assistants who would scurry away and implement them without question. Then they would return with praise for yet another brilliant success spawned from my brilliant idea.

But I unfortunately don't live in an ideal world (i.e. mine and mine alone). I live in a world of details. I don't get to sit around thinking. I don't have a bevy of hovering assistants who marvel at my genius. Instead, I'm surrounded by people who stand poised with a club ready to put most of my new  born ideas out of their misery not unlike Alaska seal hunters swarming a baby seal.


Sunday, October 08, 2017

Take it to the limit one more time...on getting old



And it's so hard to change
Can't seem to settle down
But the dreams I've seen lately keep on turning out
And burning out and turning out the same.
So put me on a highway and show me a sign
And take it to the limit one more time.
  
--"Take it to the limit" The Eagles
Aging baffles me. It's this cruel trick of the mirror that seemingly over night started showing me someone who isn't me. Or at least not the me that my mind's eye sees.

So far for me, aging is a physical thing. I still, for the most part, have a young mind. Oh, I have moments where I can't remember things. But that has pretty much been with me all my life.

I'm not as flexible physically as I used to be. Even though I workout almost every day, I can tell that I'm slowing down. Rising from a sitting position on the floor after playing a board game with my kids isn't accomplished in one fluid moment any more.

Ok, I likely have another 25 or 30 years to live but the reality that I'll be living those years in an old body is pretty daunting. It's not like when I was in my 20s or 30s and didn't really see an end. I could easily rely on "somedays". Now someday seems like a diminishing possibility.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Mad in America


Seems like crazy in the US these days is the new black. Trump tweets new Twitter-babble almost on a a daily basis. And it garners more attention than the natural disasters ravaging the Caribbean.

It doesn't seem to matter to his "base" supporters (and I mean base literally).

Even the whack job North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un seems rational compared to Trump. He probably didn't expect to encounter someone crazier than he is who is willing to drop the bomb to prove America has bigger cojones than any other country.

The hypocrisy of all is also maddening. Trump rails on NFL football players for kneeling while the Star Spangled Banner is played at games. This sparks more protests and entire teams skip the Star Spangled Banner. This incites a segment of the population who think this is an insult to Veterans. Then photos emerge of Trump standing while the Star Spangled Banner is played but he doesn't have his hand over his heart.