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Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Mindfulness


I have been practising mindfulness for more than a year now using the Calm meditation app. It guides you through ten-minute meditations on a daily basis. The concept is to teach you how to live in the moment and stop your brain from fixating on negative thoughts or memories.

I think it has helped me a bit. It has forced me to take that 10-minute break everyday and at the very least focus on my breathing instead of what I am supposed to be getting done (like figure out what to get my son for Christmas that doesn't involve a $400 virtual reality headset).

As you know (there's that "you" again), I think a great deal about what the brain is creating all the time for me. I struggle with understanding why, if I create my own reality, I can't come up with a better one that doesn't include Trump.

But I digress.

Looking at the photos above, I am mindful that the hair on my head and my beard are almost white. But my eyebrows are still dark brown. Why is that?

I don't think that is technically what mindfulness is supposed to be about. But it does try and teach you not to be judgmental. So I try not to focus on how big my nose and ears look in the photos. Though I did hear on Tik Tok the other day that the nose and ears are the only part of the body that continues to grow as you age. So it must be true (I also Googled it and Dr. Oz confirms it).


Tuesday, December 03, 2019

A star is dead


If you (and "you" know who I'm talking about) have followed my blog for some length of time, you know that each Christmas I decorate an artificial white tree with Elvis themed ornaments. It is a tradition I have carried on for almost 20 years.  I've even tried to get my children to participate (if not understand) the tradition. When they were younger, they happily did, primarily because many of the ornaments play music.

But this year I was the only one who showed any enthusiasm when, on the day after Thanksgiving, I pulled out the white tree and my ornament bins and declared it was time to put up the Elvis tree. My son, who has become quite the curmudgeon basically refused to help. My daughter played along for awhile but got distracted and began drawing on a green Christmas ball that has been in the Elvis ornament bin for years but never goes on the tree because I only allow blue Christmas balls on the Elvis tree.

So I more or less decorated the Elvis tree by myself which is fine because I like to place the ornaments in a certain order and the kids tend to just toss them willy-nilly on the tree only to be rearranged by me after they have left.

But my children's lack of enthusiasm kills any hope I had of the tradition continuing after I've joined Elvis in the great Graceland in the sky (which we know isn't on the moon). My only hope is that they will at least sell all the ornaments on eBay and not just give them to Good Will to be shoved in a bargain bin.


Monday, December 02, 2019

Footprints in the dust


I've been watching the third season of The Crown on Netflix.  It's a bio of Great Britain's royal family. And since all of my DNA results indicate that 99 percent of my ancestry stems from England I find it interesting if not fascinating.

The episode I watched last night was about Prince Philip having a mid-life crisis around the time Neal Armstrong was walking on the moon. Prince Philip felt as though his life was meaningless compared to someone who had actually reached the moon. He felt as though by actually reaching the moon, the astronauts had been given some cosmic knowledge.

So Prince Philip, being a Royal, arranges to meet the Apollo astronauts and ask them some philosophical questions. He is seated in a room in Buckingham Palace with Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins and asks them what they discovered on the moon. They all stared blankly at him (in between cold induced sneezes) and said they were too busy following their astronaut protocols and check lists to have had time to wax philosophical about what it meant to set foot on the moon. They had simple reached the heavens, took some photos, picked up some rocks and left.

Prince Philip was a bit pissed. He realized the astronauts, although brave, were really not very deep people. They shrugged off his questions and instead wanted to know what it was like being a prince and having umpteen palaces. Then they dashed about Buckingham Palace taking snapshots with more gusto than they had on the moon.


Monday, November 25, 2019

And miles to go before I sleep


The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
 But I have promises to keep,
 And miles to go before I sleep,
 And miles to go before I sleep.
--Robert Frost, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
 It is pretty clear that Frost is talking about death when he says, "And miles to go before I sleep." He's also talking about having lots to to before that happens. But since none of us can really know when the big sleep is coming, you can't really count on how many miles you have left.

In the movie The Crow, the villain talks about being given a snow globe as a child that contained a cemetery. His quote was, "Childhood is over the moment you know you're gonna die." I remember my grandmother (who lived next door to where I grew up) used to tell me on a regular basis that she wasn't going to live for another year. This went on until I was 17 and she really did die. She died at home in bed and for some reason my mother made my brothers and I go next door and look at her lifeless body.

She was my father's adopted mother and my mother never did care much for her. My parents had her buried next to my grandfather (who had died when I was four). There was no funeral. They claimed she hadn't wanted one. Not that there would have been many people to attend. My grandmother never visited with anyone but our family.

Regardless, it was the first time I'd ever seen a dead person. The next time was when I attended the funeral of my other grandmother and they had an open casket funeral. I remember filing by the casket and looking at my maternal grandmother and thinking she looked nothing like my grandmother. I also remember my Uncle Ira standing next to the coffin and waving at her and saying, "Bye, bye mommie." Uncle Ira had been released from the state hospital to attend the funeral. And I remember my Aunt Gladys standing next to the casket snapping photos of my grandmother's corpse with one of those old cameras that used flash cubes. She later appalled my mother by asking her if she wanted to see photos of their mom and showing her a packet of the shots of her lying in the casket.


Monday, November 18, 2019

Old dog, old tricks


I wonder a great deal about the futility of a lot of the things humans do (like TikTok) only to end up with the inevitable date with the Grim Reaper. Continuing to take classes after you hit 55 or so is one of them.

I know, I know, you are saying that you are never too old to learn something and that it keeps the brain active. But I end up taking a lot of training for my work and the information seems to pop in one ear and out the other.

Plus, I never really learn anything new. I have come to the conclusion that there isn't anything new. All ideas have been thought, recycled, forgot and thought again. Just Google it.

Part of it is the futility I feel about furthering my formal education at my age. What would I do with an advanced degree at this point? My career is where it is going to be until I retire. If I left my current job, it is highly unlikely anyone would hire me at my age. Especially since I am a marketing person. They all want youth because most of the market is young.

I know I am sounding rigid and negative. But it is my truth. I'm not going to become a scientist and discover something that will change the world. I'm definitely not going to become a software developer.

Part of it is that I am tired of jumping through hoops and chasing balls. I feel like I deserve to curl up in my dog bed by the fire and dream of chasing rabbits.

Why do I suddenly have the urge to howl?


Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Is it live, or is it Memorex?


I realize that by using the phrase "Is it live, or is it Memorex" I've lost 90 percent of my audience who wasn't alive when Memorex, a company that sold recording tapes, had ads that used famous singers recording their voices and then having people guess whether they were listening the live version or recorded version.

I suppose I also have to explain that recording tapes were magnetic tapes (first on reels and then in cassettes) that could be used in tape recorders to record music or voices. Tapes sort of replaced vinyl disks or phonography records.  Tapes were eventually replaced by Compact Discs. This was before Mp3s became a thing.

That's a long digressive way to talk about the comments I've been getting on my blog lately.  They are all anonymous. And most if not all have been on random posts from the past. And they are all strangely vague and general things like, "It's hard to come by knowledgeable people about this topic, however, you sound like you know what you're talking about! Thanks," and "It's amazing to visit this website and reading the views of all mates regarding this piece of writing, while I am also eager of getting knowledge."

There are many comments like that. They never really reference anything from the actual post, nor do they get specific about what they liked (or didn't like). So I have to assume they are automated. I just don't know why. Or I didn't know why until I Googled auto blog commenting and discovered there is software that can automatically leave comments on your blog without anyone actually reading the post.

As near as I can figure, it somehow can increase traffic to the person who left the comment's site. I just don't know how. So I figure I now need to not allow anonymous comments on my site and see if that gets rid of the auto comments.

I don't get how I can be blogging for 15 years and still not understand all the rules.

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Doing the write thing


I have been writing a blog for 15 years now. I've written about countless random things. Sometimes it is funny. Sometimes it is not. Sometimes it is reflective. Sometimes it is not. Sometimes it is entertaining. And sometimes it is not.

In the beginning I was enthusiastic and wrote pretty regularly. I remember being amazed when the first person commented. And there was a brief period where several people read and regularly commented. I developed, for a lack of a better term, virtual friends. But it turned out that that they were just virtually friends. They for the most part scurried back to their real lives.

My blog stats indicate that on some days my pages get a couple of hundred hits. Not totally understanding how metrics work, I have grown to assume that very few of those hits are by humans. I now assume they are bots roaming the Web searching for life. I feel like my blog is like the moon, lifeless and scarred by bot-meteors striking it randomly.

I miss real comments instead of  nonsensical things like, "2016 En PopĆ¼ler Kitaplar Tavsiye Edilen Kitaplar (which is apparently Turkish for 2016 Most Popular Books Recommended Books."

It's not even legitimate spam.


Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Pieces of the puzzle


I hardly ever used to do jigsaw puzzles much. I never seemed to have the time or patience to just sit down and do one. Oh, I'd do ones with the kids when they were small and easily entertained. But they were never very challenging.

I think it was my birthday or maybe it was Easter, my wife gave me a Vincent Van Gogh jigsaw puzzle of Starry, Starry Night. It sat around for weeks until she bought this huge tray that was big enough to work on a puzzle but then move it off from the dining room table when I wasn't working on it.

I started working on the puzzle and found it therapeutic. It kept my senses occupied and my mind engaged. These are important things you discover as you age. The brain needs to be challenged. The puzzle did that. It was the combination of matching shapes and colors. It was kind of like being an archaeologist piecing together fragments of a skeleton or pottery.

I was hooked. I finished the Starry, Starry Night puzzle after working on it over a period of several weeks. It was a great way to fill the time I spend waiting for the kids to finish brushing their teeth before I tucked them in. And it was a welcome relief from filling my time playing Fortnite.

I took a photo of the finished puzzle, posted it on Facebook and then tore it apart and put it back in the box. What else can you do with a jigsaw puzzle? I felt a rush of pride for finishing it, but then a let down now that it was finished. I asked my wife to pick up some other puzzles at Goodwill.


Tuesday, November 05, 2019

The porch lights are on but there's no one home


It is election day and of course I voted. I always vote. I have voted in ever election since I was 18. The first person I ever voted for was Jimmy Carter. Although he wasn't the most effective president in history, he was a decent person and he is still a decent person.

Unfortunately, not everyone votes. At least not everyone who should votes votes. Watching the circus that is going on in democracy these days confirms my theory that maybe a benevolent dictatorship would be a better.

I do kind of miss the days when you had to go to a polling place in your neighborhood and physically cast your vote. It seems less dramatic to sit at the dining room table and fill out the ballot and stick it in the mail.

Though voting by mail does give you more time to try and decipher all of the advisory votes, nut job citizen initiatives and loonies running for public office for the first time. There were quite a few people running for city council in my town this year. I am sick of all the yard signs. It is a terrible way to campaign and should be banned. Even my 11-year old son recognizes it as a waste. What does a yard sign tell you about a candidate.

Though I tried to explain the concept of name recognition and that some people will vote for a person simply because they recall seeing their name.

Those are the people who should not vote.

For some unknown reason, I did apply for a vacant position on my local city council once several years ago. The incumbent had died and the seat was open. You just had to apply and be interviewed by the rest of the council who then voted on the replacement. I was one of nine applicants and I don't think I got a single vote. I did come to the realization that all of the people on the council and in the audience were major whack jobs. I no longer have any desire for any kind of political career.

But still I vote.

Monday, November 04, 2019

Vic-tims, aren't we all?


"Victims, aren't we all?"
--Brandon Lee, The Crow
I was walking across the street from the train station to my office. It was the usual crowd of commuters swarming across the crosswalk. One lone person was crossing against the stream with their arm raised in the air, middle finger extended. He was screaming "Murder is hot blood." He was pulling a suitcase with crap popping out the edges so I assumed he was a street person. Hell, he could have been a commuter, but most don't scream on the outside about murder and hot blood.

With the state of the country, I'm surprised more people aren't walking around pulling suitcases, flipping the world off and screaming about murder and hot blood. I was in L.A. last week and everything seemed to be on fire. It's hard not to think we are all being punished for what humankind has done to the earth.

Sad though, that most people think they are victims and aren't responsible for where their life has taken them, including the screaming homeless man flipping off the cosmos. Of course, he was likely mentally ill. You can't really blame a person for being out of their mind.

Our of their mind. Funny we use that phrase to refer to a crazy person. But every day I meditate and technically am trying to be out of my mind. Being in your mind is what causes most of the problems.

I catch myself thinking I'm a victim sometimes when I'm in my mind. I feel unappreciated and inconsequential. Then I remind myself that I am where I am and who I am because of all the choices I've made. And I'll be where I'll be because of the choices I've yet to make.

Then I grab my suitcase, raise my middle finger and start screaming.

Friday, November 01, 2019

Hell night


I stopped dressing up for Halloween after 6th grade. On occasion I would wear a costume for a party but I always felt self conscious. I started dressing up for Halloween again when I had kids and would take them trick or treating. But they have reached an age when they want to trick or treat with their friends. While I still have to shadow them to make sure they are okay, it will be from a respectful distance.

Since I don't want to appear like a creepy old man in a costume following around a bunch of kids, I am not going to wear a costume tonight. And honestly I am relieved. Because I'm a bit tired of being a geriatric pirate or skeleton or zombie. It will be nice to just walk along with my regular, every day me mask.

Which is apparently an old man.

Ironically, years ago when I still lived at home with my parents I put on this old man rubber mask and old man clothes and went to the front door and freaked out my mother. Little did I know that forty some years later I wouldn't need the mask.


Friday, October 25, 2019

Why I don't dye my hair and other thoughts on aging


My father's hair started turning gray in high school. It was pretty much white by the time I was born. Then he started losing it on top as well. But he never dyed it or went for the painfully bad comb over.

I asked him once why he didn't dye his hair. He was working at a warehouse at the time. He told me that one of his coworkers had gray hair and came to work with it dyed and everyone made fun of him (this was before such behavior would have triggered an HR witch hunt). So my father just accepted that his hair was white and lived with looking 20 years older than he was.

I think my hair started getting gray when I was in my 30s. It stayed relatively brown until I was in my late 40s. It is now a silvery white. And I have all of it. I suppose I have my mother to thank for that.

I have never considered dyeing my hair. Part of it is because of my father's anecdote.  The other part is I think it is painfully obvious when a man in his sixties dyes his hair because it looks so unnatural. So I accept my hair color that makes me look like a grandfather because I am indeed old enough to be one.