Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Aftermath


There is nothing more depressing than a pile of post-Christmas morning, unwrapped gifts. This is largely due to my belief that there is a Schrödinger's cat quality to wrapped gifts. They hold so much more promise wrapped than they do unwrapped. It's not that I'm not happy with the gifts themselves once they are unwrapped. It is more the excitement they hold before you unwrap them and lose the mystery.

I think most of life is like that. The promise is always more intriguing than the ultimate reality.

But I am just wallowing in the after the holiday blues. It's the seam between Christmas and the New Year that gets me the most. The old year is crawling out the door and the New Year is smacking it on the butt screaming, "WooWoo, it's my turn!" Little does it know that it's time to whoop it up is going to be briefer than it can imagine.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Where have all the bloggers gone?


As I sift through my posts of the past in an effort find relevant content to share on Twitter (part of an experiment I'm engaged in with trying to understand social media), I've grown nostalgic reading all of the comments I used to get from fellow bloggers. Most are from my early years in blogging...2006 and 2007 were my peak years. And I've grown a bit melancholy wondering where did all the bloggers go?

I know I've harped on this topic off and on for years, but it still nags at me. It's one of those mysteries like why pods of whales beach themselves or what happened to the Roanoke Colony. Why did my little band of fellow bloggers who used to comment regularly vanish?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Art by accident


The concept that maybe great art may be more a product of accident then design was posed on my latest binge-watching obsession, Six Feet Under. If you are not familiar with Six Feet Under, you should be. It's far better than just about anything on television today. Regardless, it is an HBO series that ran for five seasons beginning in 2001. It is the story of the Fisher family and their funeral home. It is also the story of life, death and love (not necessarily in that order).

Anyway, 18-year old Claire Fisher (played by Lauren Ambrose), posits her theory about accidental art as she struggles with self-doubt in her first year of art school under the tutelage her sadistic art teacher (who is having sex with her brother's ex-fiances mother and her boyfriend...no wonder Claire is confused). The line about maybe great art being an accident struck me as profound and kudos to whomever the writer was that wrote it for troubled teen Claire to utter.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Tribute to the Elvis tree

 

Writing about the Elvis tree seems to be becoming almost as much a tradition as decorating it each year. I posted photos of me taking it down one year. Shoot, I even posted a video of it one. But my earliest post was in 2005

I won't go into the history again here. Click on the links above if you want to know something of its origins. Suffice it to say that it has been around my various houses for more than a decade.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Death, dying and Disney on Ice


From the title of this post, one would think it was about fulfilling some one's Make-A-Wish dream with a trip to Disney on Ice.

It's not.

Last week started off with me yet again walking into the vet's office and holding yet another of our geriatric cats as she was euthanized.  Lahaina had been diagnosed (to the tune of $600) with cancer a few days earlier. At 12, she was the youngest of our cats. I had a sense of deja vu as I held her and stroked her head while her life ebbed after the vet gave her the injections. I'd stood in the same vet's office back in July to hold my 17-year old cat Bailey while she slipped into whatever afterlife there is.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Top ten lists of top ten lists

Ten must be a magic number. Because I've sensed a pattern of tweets and "news" sites of hooking readers in by the promise of a top ten list. And it works. I inevitably get sucked into pages that promise to give me a list of the top ten foods to eat or not to eat, the top ten islands I can't afford to buy or the top ten celebrities that have aged ten years in the past decade.

I imagine some researcher or psychologist told marketers that ten is maximum number of things the ADD public can focus on before rushing off to the next list of ten. For the heck of it, I Googled "top lists of lists" and sure enough there were a plethora of top lists of top ten lists. One, Listverse, ironically, had not ten, but a dozen list of top-ten lists of top ten. They included:

Monday, November 10, 2014

Ravings



I was tempted to call this post "Twitterings" but it thought it might be too hypocritical since I've been making my own ventures into spouting wisdom in 140 characters or less. And in all fairness, ravings take place on all parts of the Internet, not just Twitter. It's just seems to be a fire hose to drink them from.

I confess, I have never paid much attention to Twitter or how it works up until a few weeks ago and I was forced to try and understand as part of my job. I had basically relied on Facebook posts to repost on Twitter when I had made a new post on Dizgraceland. And I assumed the lack of attention I received on Twitter was due to the short attention spans of people rather than the fact that I only had 40 followers. And only two or three of them actually were following me because they were aware of my blog.

After reading a book about social media marketing, I finally realized that in order to get attention on Twitter, you actually have to have more than 40 followers. It is nothing like Facebook where you are actually trying to communicate with people you know and sort of like. Twitter requires volume.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Blogs that apparently don't suck

I watched the first season of Betas on Amazon Prime. It is a Amazon produced series about a group of social app developers in San Francisco trying to become millionaires by launching a social media app that makes people put down their smartphones and hook up face to face. It is an interesting series filled with nerds/hipsters...nerdsters I guess. Or maybe hiperds. Then again they may be more geeksters or hipeeks. Whatever. I think you catch my drift.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Día de las muertos fotos

“ On October 31, All Hallows Eve, the children make a children's altar to invite the angelitos (spirits of dead children) to come back for a visit. November 1 is All Saints Day, and the adult spirits will come to visit. November 2 is All Souls Day, when families go to the cemetery to decorate the graves and tombs of their relatives. The three-day fiesta filled with marigolds, the flowers of the dead; muertos (the bread of the dead); sugar skulls; cardboard skeletons; tissue paper decorations; fruit and nuts; incense, and other traditional foods and decorations. ” 
—Frances Ann Day, Latina and Latino Voices in Literature
In honor of Halloween and the Day of the Dead, I've taken advantage of Google's Halloweenify yourself app to honor (?) my family. I suppose it is also a way to welcome the spirits into my blog. God knows it has been dead around here. 

My great, great grandparents and my grandmother

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Haunting


I watched a horror flick on Amazon Prime the other day called Grave Encounters. It was sort of a Ghost Hunters meets Blair Witch Project. The plot premise is that a reality show camera team (bearing a striking similarity to the real life Ghost Hunters crew) are spending the night in reportedly haunted abandoned mental hospital. They do the obligatory interviews with grounds keepers and building caretakers and get secondhand stories of odd sounds and misty figures. But nothing real concrete (just like the real Ghost Hunters).

Monday, October 20, 2014

I ain't afraid of no ghosts


Halloween is rapidly approaching. So you would think that there would be more paranormal activity going on. After all, it's a holiday for ghosts, right?

Apparently Halloween evolved from the ancient Celtic holiday of Samhain (it's pronounced SAH-win..sowing...get it),  It was a day the Celts used to mark the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. They believed that the transition day between the seasons was a bridge to the world of the supernatural. The time between sunset on October 31 and sunset on November 1 was supposed to open the door to the spirits of the dead and other supernatural beings such as fairies.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

The Hulk wasn't in touch with his emotions

"Don't make me mad. You wouldn't like me when I'm mad."
--David Banner (The Hulk)

After a week of intensive management training and using "I" language (I think...I feel), it strikes me that the Hulk didn't own his emotions. Because, in theory, no one can make you feel any way. You feel a certain way because of your reaction to something external to you.

It would have been better if I phrased that, "No one can make me feel any way. I feel a certain way because of my reaction to something external to myself." I have to keep poking myself in the "I" to remember to use "I" language.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The creator


Despite the headline, this post isn't about god or God. I just started thinking about my job and my life and wondered when I stopped being creative. Because that is one thing I always clung to as being my identity in life. I was creative.

Being creative to me means creating something...something original. Creative writing is original writing, not regurgitated prose or hackneyed plots. And even though I studied Journalism (which frowns on creative license in telling a story), I always held onto the belief that my writing was different from others. And in retrospect, maybe it is different, just not in a good way.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Fake Blood



I finished binge watching all of the seasons of The Sopranos and I've moved on to the HBO series True Blood. There are seven seasons and 80 episodes. I figure I can watch about three a day between my commute and my daily workout.  So I figure I should have watched them all by Halloween.

Unlike The Sopranos, I had only watch a couple seasons of True Blood before being distracted by life. So, also unlike The Sopranos, the final episode (which only aired last month) should surprise me and not jump to a black screen with Journey playing in the background and everyone saying WTF happened.

Sorry if I spoiled The Sopranos finale for anyone who hasn't seen it.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Schrödinger's cat


An explanation of Schrodinger's cat experiment from whatis.com: 
Here's Schrödinger's (theoretical) experiment: We place a living cat into a steel chamber, along with a device containing a vial of hydrocyanic acid. There is, in the chamber, a very small amount of a radioactive substance. If even a single atom of the substance decays during the test period, a relay mechanism will trip a hammer, which will, in turn, break the vial and kill the cat. The observer cannot know whether or not an atom of the substance has decayed, and consequently, cannot know whether the vial has been broken, the hydrocyanic acid released, and the cat killed. Since we cannot know, the cat is both dead and alive according to quantum law, in a superposition of states. It is only when we break open the box and learn the condition of the cat that the superposition is lost, and the cat becomes one or the other (dead or alive). This situation is sometimes called quantum indeterminacy or the observer's paradox: the observation or measurement itself affects an outcome, so that it can never be known what the outcome would have been if it were not observed.
Why am I dredging up quantum indeterminacy or the observer's paradox again? You (whoever you are) may have recalled me posting about having my cat of 17 years euthanized back in July. A few weeks later, we received a call from the vet that I we could pick up her ashes. I numbly drove to the vet and waited as the same assistant who had put the IV to administer the drug to end my cat's life went and retrieved a small cardboard box housing the container with her ashes.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

What ya gonna blog about it?


Bless Amazon. Despite all of their mega corporation faults, they have provided many HBO series classics for free on Amazon Prime. And you can download and watch them. I am on season six of The Sopranos, the series that made New Jersey crime families seem like regular Joe's (regular Joe's that cut people's heads off, cheated on their wives, set fire to horses and stole indiscriminately).

I guess I'd seen all of The Sopranos episodes over the years, but nothing beats binge watching six years of a classic to maintain continuity. The thing I've always hated about watching a series on HBO or Showtime is that you never seem to be able to catch them from the beginning unless you DVR them or watch them on demand. So I think I originally watched The Sopranos in fits and starts and out of order.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Damn, I missed my blogiversary

On August 4, 2004, I made my first blog post protesting that I wasn't a rabid Elvis fan despite the fact I called myself Tim-Elvis. Now, a decade and more than a thousand posts later, I am still here. Not that "here" has any significance on the Web. Here could be anywhere and everywhere on the Web.

But I digress (something that hasn't changed in ten years).

I no longer call myself Tim-Elvis. I am simply Time now. And Time goes on, slipping, slipping into the future.

A lot has happened in ten years. But since I try to keep my personal life out of my blog life, not much of it was chronicled in Dizgraceland. Just so you know, though, in ten years I got married, had two children, moved three times and have lived in three different houses. And in ten years I lost my mother and my cat that I had seven years before I started blogging.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Blogging from the heart

I started a blog post last week on the topic of knowing (i.e. the more people know about something, the less they will like it). And the more I wrote, the less I liked it. Because it didn't have heart. I was writing in a formulaic way without really caring. I was posting just to be posting and creating a "next blog" worthy post. So I deleted it.

This is one reason I don't post every day (other than having a life). It is too easy to fall into the trap of cranking things out just to be cranking them out. I might as well be working. Because if you don't really care about what you are writing, neither will the reader.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Next Blog Zone


Call me the eternal optimist, but I thought I'd click on blogger's "next blog" button and find something entertaining and once again all I could find were an endless series of blogs that hadn't been updated since 2010. And most of them began with either an apology for not posting for awhile or a resolution that they were going to commit to posting at least once a week. What added insult to injury to all of this was that some of the dead blogs had hundreds of followers. I have 27 and I've been posting for ten years consistently.

The only up-to-date blog I found seemed to be an ongoing essay on archetypes that held me riveted for at least a paragraph.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Death of a friend


In August, it would have been 17 years since I adopted my cat Bailey. I first met her in a small pet shop in a strip mall in Shoreline. The local PAWs occasionally would put kittens in the store for adoption. She was this tiny spec of a kitten. They had named her Beta. I changed it to Bailey because she actually seemed to be more of a dark chocolate color than black and reminded me of Bailey's Irish Creme.

I had an older cat at the time named Cuervo. He was an orange tabby who I'd also adopted from PAWs. He took to Bailey quickly and they played together.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Immortal posts



All of the blog experts say that you need to post on a fairly regular basis to boost your blog traffic. I have not found this to be particularly true. My blog traffic stays pretty consistent at 80 to 100 page views a day whether I post or not. This is largely due to people surfing for random things and landing on some of my archive posts from 2006. Or it is due to whatever Internet trick spammers are using that directs people to my blog from Russian and Turkish Web pages.

The beauty of this is that I get the false feeling of security that about a 100 people a day read my blog regardless of whether I post or not. Shoot since I've posted well over a 1000 posts in the almost ten years I've been blogging, I could die today and I'd still be getting hits on my blog for decades to come.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Reading me my writes

No, it's not a typo. "Reading me my writes" is one of the few play on words that I Googled that someone else already hadn't used. The other one was "the last will and writes," but it seemed a bit to morbid to joke about (though "last writes" is the name of a funeral home software package). I tried "writing a wrong," and "two writes don't make a wrong," but many have used them before.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

No longer after me lucky charms


I watched Disney's new film Maleficent one and a half times this weekend. The half being that the projector broke down half way through watching it the first time and I had to bring my family back the next day to find out how it ended. Spoiler alert: It had a happy ending, but as in Disney's last few films, it had nothing to do with a prince sweeping in to save the day.

I applaud Disney for finally creating strong female characters who don't need no stinking man to sweep them off their feet and rescue them.  I especially applaud this since I have a daughter and I want her to go to college and have a successful career before getting distracted by any prince (hopefully sometime after I've kicked the bucket).

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Connections: the Eight-Foot Bride


I was binge watching TED videos again the other night and watched one talk by musician Amanda Palmer called, "The Art of Asking." Palmer was  the lead singer, pianist, and lyricist/composer of the duo The Dresden Dolls.  She later launched her solo career after dumping her record label and using Kickstarter to crowd fund one of her music projects.

That's what Palmer's TED talk was about: artists becoming comfortable with freely sharing their art and asking for help instead of selling it. And what helped Palmer develop her own art of asking was five years as a street busker known as the 8-foot Bride. She used to painter her face white, don an elegant antique wedding gown and stand on a crate in city squares. When a passerby dropped money in her bucket or hat, she would make eye contact and offer them a flower in return.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Happy Daze


How many times have you heard someone say (or heard yourself say), "I just want to be happy." And by wanting to be 'happy,' I am not referring to one of Snow White's seven dwarfs. Even the Declaration of Independence says life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are our god-given rights. But the key word here is 'pursuit.' Happiness isn't our god-given right. Chasing after it is.

As usual, this train of thought was prompted by a documentary I watched the other night on Netflix about happiness.  People from various places were interviewed about happiness. And sure enough being happy is universally accepted as priority for people no matter what country you stem for. Though what people need to be happy seems to vary greatly. Many of the young people they interviewed in the USA said that happiness was a priority, but they equated getting a good, high paying job with happiness.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Pulling weeds

I spent much of yesterday on the wild slope that makes up much of my backyard, pulling weeds. It is one of those ironic Sisyphean tasks that we humans insist on that is right up there with making my bed and washing dishes. The irony being that determining whether or not a plant is a weed is purely a judgement call. Even desirable plants become weeds if they crop up where you don't want them.

The slope used to be overrun with Ivy until I pulled most of it out to make way for the horsetails that immediately grew up when the Ivy was evicted. And, although I only have anecdotal evidence, I suspect getting rid of the Ivy also contributed to the slope slippage a couple of years ago that threatened my deck and my pocketbook, warranting a new retaining wall.

My battle with my slope is a perfect proof of the theorem that every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Once more unto the blog, dear friends...


“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;  
Or close the wall up with our English dead!  
In peace there's nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility: 
But when the blast of war blows in our ears, 
Then imitate the action of the tiger.”  
 ― William Shakespeare, Henry V
 Truth be told, I thought the quote was "once more into the breach" and that it had something to do with the Charge of the Light Brigade. Thank god for Google or I would appear as an ignorant twit. But then again I just admitted I didn't really know what the quote was or where it came from. So now I just appear as an honest ignorant twit.

But I digress much earlier than I normally do in a post. I usually try to make one or two relevant points before chasing squirrels with my synapses.

Friday, April 25, 2014

My experiencing self and remembering self don't talk


My latest binge watching craze on Netflix has been the TED videos.  And no, these are not videos of my brother Ted. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design. And the videos are a series of experts on various topics condensing years of study into a 20-minute presentation.

The beauty of the TED videos is that you can binge watch television and delude yourself that you are at least expanding your mind. And I wouldn't be surprised if there were a TED video on that very topic.

Monday, April 21, 2014

A holiday from holidays

Blogger's note: For my British friends, when I say holiday, I am not talking about a vacation. I am referring to days we celebrate special occasions.

It's just the day after Easter and I have to say that all of the holidays we have anymore just blur into each other. It's this hyped up continuum of days we need to celebrate. You go from Halloween to Veteran's Day to Thanksgiving with Christmas nipping at the turkey's tail. Then quickly there is New Years.  Martin Luther King Jr. squeezed himself in there followed by Valentine's Day. President's Day parades by merging Washington's and Lincoln's birthdays. Then St. Patrick's Day staggers by followed closely by Easter. Now they are hyping Mother's Day followed by Memorial Day, then Father's Day and the 4th of July. There's not much in August (other than my son's birthday). Then September is back to school (which is really not a holiday). And finally we're back to Halloween.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Ghost towns



My latest Netflix's binge watching was a Ken Burns series from PBS on the history of the West. Or more specifically, the American West. I'd like to say that it has made me proud to be an American, but unfortunately, the history of our country really doesn't make you feel good about mankind in general.

For one, we as a civilization royally screwed the Native Americans from day one.  So it only seems fitting that they exact revenge by selling us cigarettes, fireworks and geriatric come back bands via Native American casinos.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Old MacDonald had a farm


First, it isn't very politically correct to call Old MacDonald, "Old" MacDonald. But I'm sure generations of children wouldn't have bought singing a song about Senior Citizen MacDonald or Middle-aged MacDonald having a farm. Regardless, it is clear that MacDonald wasn't young. And not being young, it was necessary to remind him what animals he had on his farm and what sounds they made. Because having worked the farm most of his life would mean very little to younger people coming along with new ideas of how a farm should run. And the assumption would logically be that since Old MacDonald didn't follow the latest trends in social media, he was incapable of making sound decisions on running his farm.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Running the green (3.1) mile


Let me get this straight, I don't consider myself a runner. I don't believe I have ever found myself in "the zone" nor have I had an adrenalin rush from running. I am what I would describe a "reluctant runner." So when I say that I ran in the annual St. Patrick's Day Dash in Seattle yesterday, I don't want anyone to get the idea that it is something I do on a regular basis.

This was my second 5K run. I used to think a 5K was a long distance but technically it is only 3.1 miles.Still, when you are running in the pouring rain uphill, 3.1 miles seems like a long distance. It seems like a long distance indeed.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

I grill, therefore I am

Some people meditate. Some people pray. Some people sit on the pot and ponder.

I grill.

And I don't just grill in the summer. I grill all year round. Shoot, I'd grill every day if I could. Because to me, the closest thing you come to sitting around the primal fire pondering the magic of fire and charred meat is the modern day gas grill.

It helps that grilling time is also a time I usually enjoy a glass of brandy as well. But it is part of the warming ritual, because I often grill on my deck at night when it is raining, snowing or just plain cold. I flip on the overhead electric heater, fire up the grill, line up the meat and sit back to reflect. Sometimes I'll tune in my starred music list from Spotify (which lately consists of some pretty haunting melodies done in a kind of fusion blue grass style).

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Hey mister, throw me some beads



I was in New Orleans last week during the first week of Mardi Gras. It has been one of those things that I always wanted to do. Oh, I've been to New Orleans several times, just never during Mardi Gras. The last time I was there was the March before Katrina. I was pleased to find that pretty much nothing has changed in the French Quarter in the nine years since I was there before.

But enough about the past. I can now say that I have truly experienced not one but at least six Mardi Gras parades. And I've got to admit that, despite the crowds and the waiting and the inclement weather, it was pretty darned fun.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Guess who won the Super Bowl!


I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge that, after 38 years, the Seahawks have finally won a Super Bowl!  Back in 2006 I had to watch Pittsburgh (aided by some pretty bad officials) pluck that Lombardi trophy out of our grasp. But now it comes to roost in a city most of the country doesn't even know exists.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Light from dead stars


No, this isn't a post about Elvis. We watched a 3-D film at the Pacific Science Center IMAX last Saturday about astronomers who study the far reaches of the universe using super big telescopes. And they made the point that, because the stars they were viewing were so far away, the light they were seeing was from millions of years ago and the stars themselves likely had died long ago.

Far out.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

When do new years get old?


I believe new years are like new cars. They lose much of their value once you drive them off the lot. But there doesn't seem to be a definitive moment when it is no longer a new year and just the year. I presume they become the old year once a new year begins.

No one seems to wish you a, "Happy Old Year." I bet Hallmark would make a card for Happy Old Year if they though there was some money in them.

But I digress.