Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Howling the lugubrious howl


If we lose our sanity ... We can but howl the lugubrious howl of idiots, the howl of the utterly lost howling their nowhereness.--D.H. Lawrence
If I do say so myself, one of my best posts was written on August 29, 2006 -- I, Lugubrious. Actually, 2006 was probably my best year for blogging. I had a slew of regular readers who actually commented and interacted with me and each other. But I, Lugubrious, a five paragraph riff on the word lugubrious kind of illustrated why I love words. The muse moved me and amused me into writing it.

Thank you muse. I miss you and the many mini-muses who read and commented back then. But I still have Baggy in Great Britain even though she joined the party after most people left. She points out on occasion that I still have the lampshade on my head and the conga line has long since ended.

But back to the winter of my discontent. It is the day after Christmas (which traditionally is plagued with the post-Christmas blues). We are perched on the the end of 2016, one of the worst years in U.S. history. And with the upcoming inauguration of the person I will never acknowledge as my president, D.H. Lawrence's lugubrious quote leaps to the forefront of my soul. I am howling out my nowhereness in a suitably lugubrious fashion.


Saturday, December 17, 2016

I watched a snail...


"I watched a snail crawl along the edge of a straight razor. That's my dream. That's my nightmare: crawling, slithering, along the edge of a straight razor and surviving." 
--Colonel Walter E. Kurtz (Marlon Brando), Apocalypse Now
I was never really a big fan of Apocalypse Now.  I accept that on some levels it is great film. But to me it is just bat shit weird.

I know Coppola based it on Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness (which I actually read). He just moves the setting from the Congo to Vietnam War era and adds a lot of explosions. Oh and Marlon Brando. He is billed as the star of the movie, but basically you don't really see much of him. Even though there was a lot of him.

The movie was filmed after Brando had pretty much hopped aboard the major train wreck of his career and spiraled out of control down the tracks. And whereas in the beginning of his career he became a really big star. In the end he became even bigger...physically. And the rambling lines he had to deliver as Colonel Walter E. Kurtz, a Green Beret who had gone rogue and nuts, did nothing to dispel the belief that Brando was also as bat shit weird as Apocalypse Now.

One of those lines is quoted above. And it is a line I included in a skit I helped write for our office holiday party. I won't get to far into what the skit is about other than I play myself and I utter my Brandoesque line when one of the other characters asks me to talk about feelings. And I delivered my line doing my best Brando impression. Though it came across more like Robert Deniro doing Christopher Walken doing Brando.


Friday, December 09, 2016

I wanted to be a spaceman


I wanted to be a spaceman, that's what I wanted to be
But now that I am a spaceman
 Nobody cares about me
Hey, Mother Earth, won't'cha bring me back down safely to the sea?
Around and around and around and around is all she ever say to me
 
I wanted to make a good run,
I wanted to go to the moon
I knew that it had to be fun
I told 'em to send me real soon
 
I wanted to be a spaceman,
I wanted to be it so bad
But now that I am a spaceman
I'd rather be back on the pad
Hey, Mother Earth, won't'cha bring me back down safely to the sea?
Around and around and around and around is just a lot of lunacy (yeah) (Yeah) 
Spaceman by Harry Nilsson
"The time will come when we permit more people in space."
 --John Glenn
One of the original seven NASA astronauts, John Glenn, died yesterday.  It was just a month shy of my fourth birthday when he became the first American to orbit the earth on Feb. 20, 1962. So it wasn't likely I knew much about John Glenn at the time. But by the time I was five, I was fascinated by the space program and wanted to be an astronaut.

It was the romance of being an astronaut more than anything else that captured my young imagination. I didn't really think about most of the astronauts being military pilots and training for years as pilots before they could even get into the space program. All I saw were these heroes wearing shiny space suites and waving to us from small black and white television screens as they prepared to risk their lives and blast off into space and history.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Splitting hairs


I started writing a pithy post about getting my hair cut on Saturday. Then I realized that, not only was this as mundane as writing about what I had for lunch, but I had already blogged about my hair  several times and I'm all out of entertaining anecdotes about past and present hair cuts.

And even I'm sick of me whining about no one noticing that I got a haircut anyway. You can only play the "feeling invisible" card so many times until people just shake their heads and mutter, "get over it."

Though getting a haircut isn't something that happens that much in your life. Say you get your first haircut when you are two years old and you live maybe to 85. So that's 83 years of getting haircuts. And if you get a hair cut every six weeks, you'll have 719 haircuts in your life. But the haircuts don't really start mattering until you're maybe 11-years old so shave 95 haircuts off the list. And no one pays any attention to your haircuts after the age of say, 45.  So that works out to just about 83 haircuts in your lifetime that really matter.

Kind of puts things in perspective.

Monday, November 14, 2016

It don't matter to me


And it don't matter to me
If your searching brings you back together with me
'Cause there'll always be
An empty room waiting for you
An open heart waiting for you
Time is on my side
'Cause it don't matter to me
 It don't matter to me 
It don't matter to me by Bread (the 1969 band, not a loaf of bread...though a loaf of bread could probably write better lyrics)
Grammatically, it should be "It doesn't matter to me or it does not matter to me" but it was almost the 1970s and the music industry was on the brink of spiraling downward into Disco. So who gave a rip about grammar? And as the old Winston cigarette commercials used to tout, "What do you want, good grammar or good taste?"

But if you are a millennial,  none of this makes a whit of sense anyway.  I, however, was starting to come of age when Bread was casting these mindless lyrics on the waters. I only pulled the last stanza out. The proceeding lyrics were even worse:
And it don't matter to me
If you take up with someone
Who's better than me
 'Cause your happiness is all I want
For you to find peace your piece of mind
When I was twelve years old moping about with endless crushes on girls who I didn't have the nerve to talk to, the song was pretty cool. Now I see it for the moronic bit of pop music that it is. Who in their right mind would tell someone that they would be fine if they found someone better than them? You might as well say, "I'm a loser and you could do way better than me, but want to go steady?"


Thursday, November 10, 2016

The badger has landed


"Okay I can forgive the fact that the guy's hair looks like someone created a bad toupee out of a dead badger. Obviously his image people solved that by getting him to wear a ball cap in most of his appearances. And so what if he is a billionaire who claims to know what the common people need. But seriously, listen to the guys idiotic ideas to "'make America great again.'"
--Dizgraceland, The Trump Card, August 2015 

I watched the election returns coming in on Tuesday evening with a growing sense of dread. I won't say I had a premonition that Trump would win, but I didn't have much confidence that he would lose. So it didn't really surprise me. But the rate at which state after state fell to the dark hordes sickened me.

I didn't spend much time on social media yesterday. I took the day off to chaperone my son's field trip to a children's theater version of  The Lion, the witch and the wardrobe. It was actually nice not to be in the center of the hand wringing and shell-shocked reaction of most of the people I know.  For some reason their sense of disbelief annoys me. With all of my railing against Trump, I've just come to the conclusion that what happened was inevitable.


Tuesday, November 08, 2016

If this is Tuesday then there must be an election

"This is considered the greatest movement, nobody has ever seen anything like it"
--Donald Trump (Presumably just returning from a bathroom break)
I'd like to say that I'm going to miss disjointed mutterings of Donald Trump, but I seriously doubt if the nut job will go away after his psychotic ego has got the taste of publicity only a presidential campaign can generate. That aside, no, I won't miss Donald Trump's nasty face and vitriol (a big word most of his followers won't understand) being spewed on a daily basis.

I made the mistake yesterday of venturing out of my nice, liberal Twitter stream and following some of the election hashtags. I was stunned at the number of nasty tweets by the deplorables. I shouldn't be surprised. Trump chooses that channel on a regular basis. I supposed it is because none of them can focus on anything beyond 140 characters.

Still it shocks me that the other side has just as much rhetoric criticizing Hillary as we have rhetoric criticizing Trump. The difference is that our rhetoric is accurate and their's is just made out of crap they've cherry picked from their "movement."

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Random thoughts

of thought
Ironic to call a post "Random thoughts" when pretty much all my thoughts are random. This is why I've adopted Twitter as my channel of choices because I can view hundreds of random posts a day and fire off random comments at random strangers who have a random chance at ever randomly reading them.

But, of course, I digress.

I watched the 10th inning of the World Series last night. It was the first time I've ever watched any of a World Series because I'm not much of a baseball fan. Oh, I've attended a few Seattle Mariners games, but I basically just go for the food and the hat trick game on the Jumbotron. But I have to admit it was pretty exciting watching the last inning of the World Series and watch a team that hasn't won a World Series in more than a hundred years finally pull one out.

But in the scheme of things, what does it really matter?


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

I think I've become a Tweetler


Tweetler is a word I've made up for a person who heckles what other people (mainly news organizations) tweet on Twitter. I suppose it could be Twittler, too. Regardless, it is what I've become.

I never used to really get Twitter. It was because I used to think of it as another Facebook where you could only post status reports in 140 characters or less. But I finally figured out that it isn't like Facebook at all. For one, no one I know follows me on Twitter. And I don't really follow any one I know.And Twitter is more political than Facebook (or than Facebook is supposed to be).

When I figured that out, I when on naive campaign to get followers using this free site that got people to follow other people if they in turn followed that person. I ended up with more than a 1000 followers but I also ended up following more than 1000 people. And the problem was none of the people following me really gave a rip about anything I post (mainly links to my blog posts). And I didn't give a rip about what most of them were posting about.


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A jump to the left


(Narrator) It's just a jump to the left.
 (Guests) And then a step to the right.
 (Narrator) With your hand on your hips.
 (Guests) You bring your knees in tight.
 But it's the pelvic thrust.
They really drive you insane.
Let's do the Time Warp again.
Let's do the Time Warp again.
--Time Warp, Rocky Horror Picture Show 
I actually started this blog post before the "You can't fix stupid...II" post. But as I got into it, it morphed into yet another rant about Trump and his Trumpiots. So I changed the title and posted it as as another you can't fix stupid post. But I'd already Photoshopped my head onto the Rocky Horror Picture Show narrator's body and hated to waste it. So I will once again try writing a post and avoid slipping into politics.

 Though one could construe that "a jump to the left" is a political metaphor. But since I am already leaning that direction, it wouldn't be far to jump. If it was going to be a political metaphor for me, it would be "a jump to the right" and if I did that, I might as well jump off a cliff because there is no way I'm following my older brothers down the conservative right path.

But I digress.


Monday, October 10, 2016

You can't fix stupid...II



I have fallen into the trap of reading article after article about the current Presidential election and the scab picking analysis of why people support Donald Trump. And it boils down to the hypothesis that they are acting out against the status quo by supporting a candidate who flips a finger at every established system on the books. They in turn are giving the finger to the mainstream media, the intellectual elite, the established party system and every other thing that they feel makes them feel inferior.

The irony to me is the similarity to Trump supporters and the bullies who used to harass me growing up for getting good grades. They would compensate for being stupid by taking it out on me on the playground. They would feel superior and powerful for awhile, but they would always be stupid. I on the other hand learned to avoid being around stupid people as much as possible. But if I was forced to be around stupid people, I learned to hide that fact that I was smarter than them.

It is one of the reasons I try not to shop at Walmart.


Monday, September 26, 2016

Photographic memory


"Long ago it must be, I have a photograph 
Preserve your memories, they’re all that’s left you"
--Bookends, "Simon and Garfunkel"
I have always been fascinating by photographs. I would flip through the photo albums my mom kept in her cedar hope chest. Or I'd sort through boxes of photos my grandmother had. At the time all of the photographs were black and white.

My mother had an old Kodak camera that she'd bring out for holidays, birthdays and vacations. It was the type where you'd flip up the top and hold the camera chest level and look down into a viewfinder that displayed a murky mirror image of what the lens was seeing. It was strictly black and white. And the photos always seemed blurry and off center.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Where are you when we need you Harold Camping?


When Harold Camping, serial predictor of the end of the world, died in 1993, I lost a great deal of blog material. The pompous, bible-thumping windbag was the poster child for self-righteousness. And even after wrongly predicting the rapture three times, he still managed to reel in followers to his religious right. He was a champion huckster.

Now who does that remind me of? Why Trump and his basket of deplorables, that's who!  I imagine Harold and his cronies would have been right there in the basket suggesting that Trump was finally going to fulfill the prophecy and bring about the end of the world.

This time he may have been right.

I have never seen the country so polarized before. It's like something out of Stephan King's end of the world novel, The Stand.  Trump is the Dark Man rallying the haters around his dark tower in Las Vegas. And they are all crawling out from under the rocks they've been hiding under, gibbering like idiots at his jibba jabba.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

The parting


Parting: the action of leaving or being separated from someone. "they exchanged a few words on parting" synonyms: farewell, leave-taking, goodbye, adieu, departure; valediction "an emotional parting" separation, breakup, split, divorce, rift, estrangement "they kept their parting quiet"
This is the year of my 40th high school reunion.  It took place in Boise in kind of two-parts. One gathering happened in the summer and the other last weekend. I didn't attend either.

One of the reasons was simply logistics. Neither time was really practical for me to take a trip to Boise. The other was a hybrid of philosophical and vindictive protest. Basically I was never invited.

By way of background, I did attend my ten and twenty-year high school reunions. Neither experience was overly pleasant. The ten-year reunion was very organized scheduled over a series of days. The initial gathering was at the Idaho State Prison (a historic building no longer used as a prison, but an ironic choice for a high school reunion). The event was so traumatic, I wrote a short story about it.

Basically, ten-years was not enough time to overcome all of the residual insecurities from the actual high school years. By the end of the reunion everyone had pretty much been relegated to the groups they'd been pigeonholed into back then. I left feeling every bit the ignored band geek that gone unnoticed by all but a few of my friends in the three years I'd gone to high school.

The 20-year reunion was less organized. And 20 years had begun to take its toll on how people looked. In retrospect everyone was about 38 years old. But I recall many had lost hair and ballooned to the extent that you couldn't recognize them unless you saw a photo of their 18-year old selves (including me).

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Happy camper?


I think I've mentioned that vacation growing up meant camping. I was 16 before I stayed in a motel. Up until then it was two weeks sleeping in a tent in either McCall, Idaho at campgrounds near Payette Lake, in the Stanley Basin of Idaho near Redfish Lake, or at campgrounds near the Middle Fork of the Boise River. 

That is a photograph of me camping. I am wearing the hat. Based on the date the photo was processed, I was about 2 1/2 years old.  That is my brother Dan standing next to the tent without a shirt. Neither of us look like that these days (and trust me you wouldn't want to see Dan without a shirt now). I believe that photo was taken in McCall, Idaho. I remember the rock.

Camping is a lot less work when you are a kid. The cabin tent you see in the photograph was pitched using a complicated system of poles, stakes, ropes and swearing that my father was responsible. It was a behemoth of a tent constructed of heavy canvas that absorbed the heat. We slept in the tent on air mattresses and old army cots. It was quite roomy.

I think this was from a camping trip when I was four and a half or five 
(that's me in the foreground looking overly happy.  My father on the other hand 
looks as happy as I do when I camp these days. Now I know why.

My mother didn't like to camp. It just made the thing she hated the most -- cooking -- even more of a chore. While my father took my older brothers fishing in whatever body of water was closest, I remained in camp with my mother as she combated dirt, dirty camp dishes, and mosquitoes. Then she would settle back on a camp stool and read Christian Science periodicals while threw pine needles into the perpetual camp fire to entertain myself until my father and brothers returned and we could go swimming in ice cold waters fed by mountain streams.

The campfire was the most consistent and comforting thing about camping. It was the primary source of heat for cooking, light for reading and warmth when the sun went down. We'd sit around it in a circle after dinner roasting marshmallows and listening to my parents tell stories about their youth. Occasionally we'd spot an owl in the trees looking for field mice or chipmunks. Then there was the nightly march to the outhouse before retiring to the tent for the night.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

The unfriendly skies


Cliche as it may be, I have to rant about a recent experience trying to fly home from a business trip to Washington D.C. (and boy are my arms tired).

I could reasonably expect delays if I were flying during the winter. But this was the last week in July. I was a direct flight leaving at 3:17 p.m. EDT from Dulles Airport. It was hot in D.C. Temperature was hovering around 95 degrees. I arrived at the airport about an hour and a half early. I was giddy because I got a random TSA PreChk boarding pass and didn't have to strip down before going through security.

At the gate I was waiting patiently in my boarding group 3 line when the gate agent called my name. She asked me if I was ok with changing seats to an exit row. It offered more legroom so I felt like I was on a roll. We boarded.

That's when my apparent good luck started fading. I had the window seat, but a customer of size wedged himself into the center seat next to me. There went the armrest. Still, I had legroom.

The airplane pushed away from the gate and we began taxing toward the runway. We proceeded for awhile and then the airplane pulled over and ominously stopped (never a good sign).  A few minutes later, someone from the flight crew in the cockpit came onto the PA systems and announced that they had received notice from ATC (which I assumed was air traffic control) that they needed to program an alternate flight path to avoid a storm pattern.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The sky is falling

What do you write when the world seems to be tearing itself apart? But I suppose the world always seems to be tearing itself apart. For some reason, it is human nature to hate. And none of the platitudes from politicians, activists, religious leaders or the Twitter rabble really changes anything.

Social media just seems to fan the flames. We all become eyewitnesses to violence and bigotry. And everyone chooses sides and starts throwing stones.

I am amazed at how quickly the outrage at police killing two black men was eclipsed by a black man killing five police officers. And his justification was that he was upset by the killing of the two black men.

It is the same irony I find in spanking a child for hitting a sibling. Violence does not stop violence any more than throwing gas on a fire will put it out.


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

To the moon, Alice!


"To the moon Alice!"--Ralph Kramden (Jackie Gleason), "The Honeymooners"
"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."
--Neil Armstrong 
Forty-seven years ago today, Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the moon (unless you believe the conspiracy theorists who think it was all a hoax). I was 11-years old. And I was about as thrilled as you could get.

I was a fan of all the NASA programs. I followed Mercury, Gemini and the Apollo flights that led up to Apollo 11 and the first moon landing. I wanted to be an astronaut. But that would have entailed becoming a pilot and I was told by a recruiter from the Airforce  Academy when I was a senior in high school that I could never become an Airforce pilot because I wore glasses.

So instead of an astronaut I became a marketing professional. It doesn't matter how bad your eyesight is in marketing. In fact it is better to be blind as a bat when you do marketing.

But I digress.


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Me, myself and George



My great-great grandfather was George D. Knox. He was born around 1832, spent some time in a mental institution, fought in the civil war for the Union, married my great-great grandmother Amanda (20 years younger than him) and had six kids before moving to Idaho. He died there in 1911 when he was 79.

That's about all I know about him. I have three photos of him. Including this one with Amanda and my grandmother (who was born in 1901 and was raised by her grandparents):


For whatever reason, I find myself thinking about my great, great grandfather when I look in the mirror these days. Maybe it is my beard (though George's is much fuller than mine ever will be). Or maybe it is the eyes. I'm guessing he had blue eyes. 

Friday, July 01, 2016

Gone tomorrow



As if you hadn't heard enough about my hair, I would be remiss if I didn't report that I found another hair salon nearby that I could also make an online appointment. I booked a haircut yesterday evening at 6 p.m. arrived five minutes early and they actually gave me a haircut.

It was a nice salon opened up in an old house in downtown Edmonds. And it was actually one of the owners who cut my hair. She was quite personable, but also quite the sales person. I had forgotten one of the things I hate about hair salons versus cheap barber shops is that the salons always try to sell you "product."


Monday, June 27, 2016

Hair today


This isn't the first time I've written about hair...well actually my hair. I am in my late 50s and I still have a full head of hair. Albeit, it is silver. I used to pay large sums of money to have my hair cut and styled. But I used the Great Recession as an excuse to stop paying $50 to have it cut and styled and start paying $14 just to have it cut.

For the several years now I have forgone the luxury of high priced salons that offer you coffee while you wait, have separate shampoo stations where they wash your hair (with warm water) and give you a head massage. I traded the modern clean salon for a small barber shop in a strip mall staffed entirely by Vietnamese stylists that seemed to change every time I went in for a haircut. No reservation was ever required. And a shampoo cost extra. Though occasionally, depending upon the stylist, they would give me a head massage.

When I went to higher priced salons, there was a certain predictability in how my hair would look. I'd always have the same stylist and she would always know how I wanted my hair cut. At the barber shop, I rarely have the same stylist and my hair was seldom cut the same each time. Plus it was a haircut. There wasn't much in the way of style. But it was only $14.

Not too long ago, my wife pointed out that I have always had nice hair and it was a shame that I was getting consistently bad haircuts since I lowered my standards. So I decided to give a higher priced salon a go of it again. I searched online for local salons and found one in downtown Edmonds that seemed reasonably nice and was close enough to walk to. It had an online scheduling system that I thought was pretty cool, because, being an introvert, the less contact I have to have with people the better. So I scheduled a haircut for last Saturday afternoon.


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Thrower in the wry


I watched a documentary about J.D. Salinger the other night on Netflix. And I have to say, I came away from watching it knowing more about J.D. Salinger than I had ever really wanted to know, but with less of an understanding of why people are obsessed with Catcher in the Rye.

Now granted, it has been more than 40 years since I read Catcher in the Rye. It was required reading when I was in Junior High. Holden Caulfield, the book's main character,  is recognized in the literary world as a symbol of teen angst and rebellion. But I just didn't find him relevant.  I grew up in Boise and Holden Caulfield, the main character was growing up in New York. I can state with great conviction, these are two very different cities.  Coalfield's attended prep school and his family had money. I attended public school, my father was a janitor and my mother worked part time in a grade school lunch room. So you get a sense of where my family was on the money spectrum.


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Condo of Blues


"House of Blues" has been franchised, so I thought I'd think smaller and go for "Condo of Blues." It seems more suburban and middle class anyway.

"Condo of Blues" was inspired when I put on my House of Blues cap this morning and thought of the irony that I'd purchased it at the House of Blues in Downtown Disney in Anaheim. Because nothing says the blues like Orange County (though apparently the one in Downtown Disney has closed and is moving to the Garden Walk a few blocks away). Oh, I've been to House of Blues in New Orleans, too. But still, it is a franchise bent on serving up the blues in a nicely packaged way for mainly white tourists.

But being being white, aren't we all tourists when it comes to the blues?


Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Mock of ages


Maybe it is because I watched The Intern, the story of a 70 year old interning at an e-commerce start up (starring Robert Deniro). Or maybe it was the physician's assistant at Group Health telling me the antibiotic he was prescribing for what he thought was pneumonia worked best on young people in good health (implying I was neither).  Or maybe it is just the weariness of being an aging Baby Boomer in a Millennial world. But my world view is becoming pretty pessimistic.

The Robert Deniro film was actually kind of entertaining if not a bit trite and predictable. It painted an image of a youthful world actually coming to respect the wisdom and experience of a senior citizen. That doesn't happen in the real world. Shoot my seven year old son insists he knows more about everything than I do.

The visit to the medical clinic wasn't the high point of my weekend. But after five weeks hacking up things that polite society would cringe at, I gave in and went to the doctor. Okay it was only after coughing to the point of throwing up that I couldn't ignore the fact that whatever I have wasn't going away. Of course, this was on Memorial Day and my regular doctor wasn't working. So I had to go to a walk in clinic in the back of a Bartell Drug Store. The "consultation" room was the size of a broom closet and the sole physician's assistant wasn't overly friendly or optimistic.


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Not measuring up


met·rics
noun
1. the use or study of poetic meters; prosody.
2. a method of measuring something, or the results obtained from this. "the report provides various metrics at the class and method level"
I check my blog stats more regularly than I post on my blog. It's a bit like cutting open a chicken and staring at the entrails in hopes there will be some epiphany there. But all I see are chicken guts.

Now granted I rely on the stats Blogger.com provides for free. So I shouldn't look a guest chicken in the entrails. But Blogger tells me I have had 219 page views on Friday, but only 41 posts were visited. So am I to assume 178 visited and had no interest in actually reading anything.

I still suspect that many of the disappointed visitors didn't actually visit any pages were somehow lured from the slew of Russian sites shown in my traffic sources metrics. But according to Blogger, only 32 have come from those sites.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Dream weaver


I've always been fascinated by dreams. I wish it were possible to actually record them (i.e. like a video, not write them down). Something tells me they would be binge watching worthy.

Or just meaningless crap.

My dreams seem to revolve around geographic locations out of my childhood. I'm often find myself at the house I grew up in. Occasionally it becomes a mutation of the first house I bought on my own. I lived there for about 18 years alone. I don't dream about any of the places I rented along the way.

The odd thing to me about dreaming about the house I grew up in is that it no longer exists. Even seeing photos of the interior of the house now sets off weird pangs of sadness and nostalgia. Because the only place I can see the place anymore is in old photographs or my dreams.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Sick and tired

I am not a person who is prone to sickness. This is not to say I never get sick, I just don't use a great deal of sick days.  For the past several years, the only time I've called in sick is to stay home with a sick child (who more often than not were just sick of school). But last week I missed two days of work because I was sicker than a proverbial dog. Not that I know why a dog is called out for being any sicker than any other animal.

But I digress...weakly...because I am still not feeling a 100 percent well.

I've made no secret that I was raised Christian Scientist and didn't go to doctors until I was in my early 20s. So for much of my formative years, being sick was severely frowned upon and met with very little sympathy and no OTC medicines.

I've gotten past not using OTC medicines (which are for the most part useless). But I haven't gotten over the guilt of being sick. And I avoid doctors like the plague.

Ironic statement.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Ghost stories


At dinner the other day, my son asked his sister whether she knew any ghost stories. She began reciting a number of stories she'd read in a book of ghost stories from her school library. It dawned on me as I sat their listening to her that I don't know any real ghost stories. I have never really experienced something that I could truly call an encounter with a ghost (though this is the second time I've pondered this in my blog...the first time was in a post called I ain't afraid of no ghosts back in 2005).

It isn't without trying. Before we were married, I used to take my wife on trips and stay at reportedly haunted hotels. We stayed at the Del Coronado in San Diego, the Queen Mary in Long Beach and Geiser Grand in Baker City, Oregon. We also stayed at Thornewood Castle in Lakewood, Washington. All reported to be haunted places. But I didn't see nary a ghost or ghoul.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Unoriginal thought


I was listening to a TED podcast (TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design) the other day on original thought. The basic premise was that there really was no such thing. All of our art, music, literature, movies and inventions are derivative of things that others had already thought of. We, as a species, don't create. We tinker and add on to things.

This fits with my posts about Googling great ideas I've had only to discover three million other people have already had them. Apparently, the Big Bang (not the television series) was the only original thing that has ever happened in the universe.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

I'm the king of the world!


All my blather about Trump wanting to be king conjured up these memories of the good ol' days of my blog when I had themed weeks of Photoshopping my face onto famous people's images. It was 2006 and I was giddy about the newness of blogging. It was in a post called It would be good to be a king that I first considered making myself a king.



Friday, April 01, 2016

The man who would be king


I can think of no conceivable reason for anyone to want to be President of the United States. Yet all of these people pump millions of dollars into campaigns trying to get nominated for a job that lasts four to eight years and basically opens up you and your family to constant scrutiny and criticism. Okay the salary and benefits amounts to about $600,000 a year. And you do get a $200,000 pension for the rest of your life. But is it worth it?

I don't think Trump is wanting the job for the money. And he certainly doesn't strike me as someone who wants to make a positive change in the world. So I can only conclude that he wants to be king. And the revolting peasants are rallying around him caught up in the demigod's rhetoric of hate and fear.


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

I'm going to read a book



And what book, you may well ask: Infinite Jest, the 1996 novel by David Foster Wallace. It is a 1,079 page novel that is said to be the "defining work of the 1990s" by people who say such things.

And why am I going to read this book? Because I just watch the movie, The End of the Tour last night. It is based on writer David Lipsky's memoir, Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself which is basically the story of Lipsky's experience going on a book tour with Wallace in 1996 to write a story for Rolling Stone.

It's a great film, BTW.


Friday, March 25, 2016

The unbearable lightness of bean



Aging brings with it these unexpected thoughts about identity. It goes beyond asking "Who am I?" It's just that I feel like I am in a time warp and the world around me has passed me by.

When you age, the world around you speeds up. All of your points of reference seem to be in the past. Communicating with someone 20 or more years younger than me requires a great deal of energy and explanation. I begin to understand why my parents would often stare at me with a confused look when I'd talk to them growing up.

For a person in his late 50s, I like to think I'm more savvy than most about technology and social media. Maybe it is because I've been exposed to computers from the beginning. Not like current generations who've always had them. I watched them evolve.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Prince of Ides


I survived the Ides of March without nary an attempted assassination by the Roman Senate. I toyed with ordering a Caesar salad at the local diner last night and saying, "Etu Flo," when it was served, but I decided not to tempt fate.

It is now March 16th, a day of no particular note other than it is one day before St. Patrick's Day. Yet I still feel the slight bit of anxiety I've alluded to that comes with every birthday. Part of it is likely due to the bulging spot that appeared on our basement ceiling on Sunday indicating something, somewhere was leaking. My wife poked it with a paint scrapper this morning and apparently a large chunk of the ceiling fell down.

So the Ides of March did bring a small disaster after all and Chicken Little has been vindicated. The sky...and my ceiling is falling.


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Well Ides-ey Ho!

You can run, but you can't Ides.
--Time

Today is the Ides of March. Which is to say it is the middle of the month of March, the day Julius Ceasar was assassinated, two days before St. Patrick's Day and three days before my birthday.

I suppose that doesn't mean a lot to most people.  But if you follow the link above you'll see I've put a great deal of thought into it over the years. Because the hint of doom that the Ides of March carries with it taints my impending birthday like a worm hole on an apple you just bit into.

It's not like this is a milestone birthday (other than turning the same age as my year of birth minus one thousand years that I pointed out in a previous post). But 60 is on the horizon wagging it's wrinkled butt at me. Not a pretty picture I can tell you.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

To Kill a Mockingbird


“Atticus said to Jem one day, "I’d rather you shot at tin cans in the backyard, but I know you’ll go after birds. Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit ‘em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird." That was the only time I ever heard Atticus say it was a sin to do something, and I asked Miss Maudie about it. "Your father’s right," she said. "Mockingbirds don’t do one thing except make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corn cribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”
 ― Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird is dead at 89. I watched the 1962 black and white movie based on the Pulizer Prize winning book the other night in her memory. It is a classic movie that I remember watching many times as a child. And it is still a great film.

Boo Radley is my favorite character. He is the mythical boogeyman of neighborhood children that lives in the run down spooky house and can only be seen in shadows and rumors. And then he turns out to be the hero and totally misunderstood.

He still has a few marbles missing from the game. But don't we all.


Friday, February 19, 2016

Lost music


Since I got my iPhone, I rediscovered iTunes and music I'd accumulated in the past there and then forgotten. I used iTunes a great deal when I bought my first iPod. I dutifully loaded all of my CD collection onto iTunes and then my iPod.

It was one of the first iPods and now is the equivalent to one of those early mobile phones that was the size of a toaster. At the time I was pretty impressed that I could load thousands of songs on it. But eventually the iPod became a dinosaur of technology and ended up in a drawer. The battery is pretty much shot anyway.

I had other mp3 players over the years. Some the size of a postage stamp. They all eventually became toast and I ended up listening to Spotify or Jango or Amazon Prime music. But music in the cloud is pretty limited to the vagarities of the Sprint network and my train goes through cell dead zones to and from work.  I have been frustrated on more than one occasion by have a three minute song take 20 minutes to play.


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

You can't fix stupid

You have to take a test to get a license to drive a car, so why shouldn't you have to take a test to determine whether or not you are qualified to vote. At the very least it should be the same test they give people who are becoming citizens of the United States. Then you could at least say the person voting has some idea how our political system works.

But no, we allow anyone over the age of 18 to randomly cast a vote without any proof they know the consequences and the responsibility they have. It is why we end up with president's like Nixon, Reagan, George W. Bush and now horror of horrors, possibly Donald Trump. At least George W.  was just a buffoon with dangerous advisers. Trump just seems crazy in a "I shouldn't be trusted with my finger on the nuclear weapons" way.


Monday, February 08, 2016

I did not watch Super Bowl 50


I tend to only watch the Super Bowl if the Seahawks are playing in it. And although they were pretty good this year, they were nudged out of the NFC Championship by Carolina. So I am glad the Broncos beat them. Because the Seahawks beat the Broncos in the Super Bowl a couple of years ago. So we know who the real champions are.

I probably would have watched the Super Bowl except both of our televisions were being used by my kids to watch separate movies that we'd made them stop watching the night before with the promise that they could finish watching them the next day. I just didn't think they would wait until the Super Bowl was on to finish watching there programs. God knows Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Dog Days and Neverland are more important than the Super Bowl.

I tried following the game on social media while I grilled dinner. But all I could seem to get on Twitter were play by plays on the commercials being shown. So I ended up asking Siri on my iPhone what the score was every five minutes. I think she was starting to get irritated at me.


Friday, February 05, 2016

Every dog his poo


Quite some time ago I Tweeted about watching a person out my train window on the way work waiting patiently while their dog pooped and then diligently picking it up with a poop bag. My Tweet was something to the effect of, "So which one is the dumb animal."

This was of course before we got a dog. And I was blocking out the fact that we had cats and everyday I was scooping cat poop out of a cat box and regularly cleaning up cat puke. But at least I wasn't having to pick up warm poop with my hand encased in a plastic bag.

That has all changed. Just over a year ago we decided to get a dog. We'd had to put down two of our three geriatric cats due to kidney failure and cancer. This opened the option of another pet that my children had been lobbying for for some time.


Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Afraid of shadows


"Me and my shadow
Strolling down the avenue
Me and my shadow
Not a soul to tell our troubles to" 
 --Songwriters: Dave Dreyer, Al Jolson and Billy Rose
The sun is out here so I suppose if the groundhog (aka wood chuck) lived in Seattle he would scurry back to his den and sleep another six weeks. I wonder, though, if the groundhog is really afraid of his shadow, or just afraid of the light. He is a creature that lives in the dark.

I've never been afraid of my shadow. I've been afraid of other people's or other things shadows. But maybe that is more being afraid of the unknown than anything else.

I used to be afraid of the dark. More accurately I was afraid of what I couldn't see in the dark. I imagine that is a primal memory in the animal part of my brain remembering when predators hunted in the dark.


Monday, February 01, 2016

Groundhog's Day Eve


I can hardly wait until Groundhog's Day! I almost forgot it since the stores went right from Christmas merchandise into Valentine's Day crap and skipped Groundhog's Day altogether. Doesn't seem quite fair.

In honor of it being Groundhog's Day Eve, I've taken the liberty of reusing the photo above that I've now used four times in posts also in honor of Groundhog's Day. Most of them are just rehashing the history of the holiday and gibberish about the movie Groundhog's Day starring Bill Murray. The movie is about a man who ends up repeating the same day over and over again until he gets it right.

This is basically what I do in my blog, only I simply repeat the same stories over and over and repost the same photos of things I've Photoshopped my face on.  I do the former because my memory sucks and I do the latter because I'm getting too lazy to Photoshop my face on new stuff.


Thursday, January 28, 2016

Senior Varsity Quiz



I have always been good with trivia. I know a lot about a little and a little about a lot.

In Junior High (we didn't have middle schools in Idaho), I was a member of the Junior Varsity Quiz Team. We competed against other Junior High Schools on a local television station program appropriately called Junior Varsity Quiz. We lasted two rounds before being defeated by North Junior High School. I'm pleased to say I answered the most correct questions in the program (a minor accomplishment considering we still lost).

Being able to answer questions quickly about a broad range of topics hasn't really been of much use to me later in life. Oh, it comes in handy if you are playing Trivial Pursuits or find yourself in a bar where a trivia contest is going on. But on a practical level, being able to rattle off random trivia just makes you sound like Cliff from the old Cheers program.


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The blogger rarely posts twice


As a rule, I rarely post twice in a day, but for some reason I feel compelled to write something else other than praises for my new iPhone (which is really awesome). I'll note that didn't promote my last post on social media and it has only been viewed four times. If I tweet or post on Facebook about a new post, I generally get about 25 or so hits. So as pitiful as my readership is, social media does boost it a bit.

I've actually been a bit more prolific this January than I have been for awhile. This is my seventh post. Though back in 2006 I post 31 times. Of course that was back in my blogging prime. It was all still relatively new to me and held promise. Now I write about getting a new iPhone.


The i's have it

Years ago, I had a Mac at work in addition to a PC. All of the designers I have ever known swear by Macs. I liked it, but practicality and price eventually drove me to PCs.

When I first ventured into the world of cell phones I had a standard flip phone for home and a Blackberry for work. Eventually my work and home phone merged into an Android Smartphone. I was ok with the Android, but frustrated at times by how slow it seemed and sporadically random glitches in the software and apps.

So I broke down and ordered an iPhone. Now granted it is an iPhone 5s, not the latest iPhone 6S or whatever the newest models are. But I have to admit I feel as though I have entered a whole new world of smartphonedom.


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Layers

Back in 2013, I posted a photo from Googlemaps taken of my boyhood home that had captured an image of my late mother working in the yard. It was taken a few months before her death.


We sold the house to a developer, understanding that it would eventually be torn down and new homes built on the property. I returned to Boise a few times since and drove by but the house still remained. My brother in Boise informed me a few months ago that the house had been torn down. I put it out of my mind. But today I looked it up on Google Earth and found they'd done a new street level photo of how the property looks now.



Now Google also allows you to look at a timeline for the property since they started taking the photos so there was also a photo of the house from 2008.


The one constant thing from all three photos is the maple tree in the foreground. My brothers and I rescued a sapling from a drainage ditch probably 50 years ago, brought it home and planted it there in our front yard. And it is the only thing that remains of my childhood home.


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Stephan Hawkins predicts the end of the world


Actually, the MSN article headline read "Most threats to humans come from science and technology, warns Hawking," but I thought my headline was a bit more attention grabbing. In actuality, the article said Hawkins just pointed out in a speech about black holes, that "The chances of disaster on planet Earth will rise to a near certainty in the next one to ten thousand years, the eminent cosmologist said, but it will take more than a century to set up colonies in space where human beings could live on among the stars."

Then he goes on to theorize about black holes and lost everyone.

Sure Hawking is a genius, but isn't saying the world will shoot it's eye out with a technology charged BB gun in the next 10,000 years just stating the obvious? Big whoop. If the world ends in the next one to ten thousand years, I'll be long gone. And even my kids won't be around in the next 100 years or so to worry about living in a space colony. So I for one don't take this revelation from Hawking anymore seriously than Harold Campings ravings about the rapture.


Monday, January 18, 2016

Around the block


I started writing this post several days ago. It started out as "The blog post always rings twice." But that germ of an idea wasn't contagious. So I switched to one titled, "Lights out" which was kind of a rant about people who still have their holiday lights up. That flickered.

So I admit I have a bit of writer's block which is unusual for me. I normally can ramble on for paragraphs at a time unconcerned by lack of inspiration or something interesting to say. Man, but my two aborted attempts at writing something were about as boring a PBS documentary on weaving. And now I've stooped to writing about not being able to write. Not a first, but still pretty lame.

 Part of the problem is that for the most part my day job requires me to be "creative" on demand. I don't mind being considered creative, but there is a certain, "Dance monkey, dance" quality to it that gets to me sometimes.


Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Self-conscious blogging


I don't know about other bloggers, but I don't spend a great deal of time crafting my posts. Although I don't usually sit down and hammer one out in five minutes, I rarely spend more than a few minutes here and there during a day to write one. And I more rarely ever do a lot of rewriting or deleting. So, although my posts may not all be great art, they are for the most part genuine.

But sometimes, like in yesterday's post for instance, I catch myself being extremely self-conscious. And I'm pretty sure it shows in my writing. I start worrying about being too negative or repetitive. I try to soften stuff or interject a self-depreciating jab. And all of this happens when I start to think I'm writing for an audience instead of for myself.