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Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Twittering your life away

I kind of got sucked back into Twitter looking for the latest dead celebrity. It reminded me why I stopped looking at Twitter. It is just depressing.

I am just sick of politics. The thing on Twitter now is the back and forth about whether the House Democrats are going to start impeachment proceedings against that buffoon that is in the White House.

The problem is, it's all this hopeful blathering that the man will be kicked out of office. And impeachment or not, I don't think it's going to happen. If it did, it would probably take as long to get him out of office as he has left in office. And it would just fuel the fire with the whack job's supporters that the liberals are usurping the will of the people.

Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see the man booted out of office. But the whack job Vice President isn't much better and he'd just pardon Trump anyway and he'd get off scott free after gutting the White House.

It is an embarrassing time to be an American.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Oh my GOT!



And so the Game of Thrones is over (until they make a movie).  None of my predictions about who would sit on the Iron Throne were realized.  Though Jon Snow does make Daenerys his ex-girlfriend but with a dagger instead of a "It's not you, it's me" text. And the last dragon melts the Iron Throne anyway so no one will actually sit on it.

Bran Stark ends up king of the six kingdoms (there were seven, but his sister doesn't want to play anymore so she pulls Winterfell out of the mix). Jon Snow is banished to the other side of the wall and Arya sails off into the sunset and presumably an HBO movie sequel when everyone runs out of money from the residuals.

I guess I'm okay with it all. I was late to the Game anyway. I started binge watching it after it had been out for five seasons. So it's not like I invested seven years in it like some people. There's not really a final scenario that would have pleased everyone anyway. Though Daenerys did go off the deep end rather abruptly in the end and killing her with a dagger while kissing her and professing your love to her does seem a bit harsh.

Twitter is all a buzz about the finale. There is probably more mourning going on for Daenerys than there was for Doris Day, Tim Conway and Grumpy Cat (I'm really going to miss those memes).

I really hope they don't come out with a movie or sequel. That would just unravel all of those nice loose ends they tied up to finish the thing off.

Though I wish Tyrion had become the king. I think the writers were pretty short-sighted when they passed him over.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

The power of three or not dead yet


I checked Twitter (since so far no one has taken me up on the challenge to create OBITTER)  just now to see if the curtain closed on anymore celebrities. So far, no one else has checked out. But since these things seem to happen in three's, I think it is just a matter of time.

Twitter, BTW, is just chock full of the typical political churn about abortion and women's rights, how much of a twit Senator Lindsey Graham is and some breaking news about the Spice Girl's double-decker bus being available to rent.

I'm not sure why celebrities seem to die in groups of three. One could conjecture that they don't like being upstaged and want to steal one more headline from their peers when they see one of them giving up the ghost. Though Tim Conway was reported to have dementia when he passed, so he probably wasn't aware of the day that Doris Day died.

The day that Doris Day died. No disrespect for the dead, but that would have made a great headline. And if Doris Day had married Morris Day and hyphenated her last name, she would have been Doris Day-Day. Then she could have had a renewed singing career as a rapper.

But I digress.

I realize that joking about celebrities popping off in three's may be offensive to some, but that is one of the few perks to writing a blog that no one reads. I don't get a lot of complaints. In fact no one has commented on any of my blog posts since April 18, 2018. And if someone does complain, what's the worse that could happen? Are they going to stop reading my blog? Puleeze....I don't get paid to write it. I don't have sponsors. What do I care if some one who randomly found my blog doing a Google search for how to write the perfect blog post gets offended and threatens never to read my posts again.

Don't let the browser hit you on the way out.

Still no third dead celebrity yet.

Check back tomorrow.

Blogger's note:

Twitter reported that Internet sensation Grumpy Cat has died. She was seven years old.  So the trinity of celebrity deaths is complete. 







Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Obitter

It dawned on me yesterday when I learned of Doris Day's death through social media that Twitter is one of the main places I check these days to find out who died. Actually to find out what celebrity died. No one seems to Tweet when some ordinary person dies.

So I wonder why no one has created a social media app that just has posts about who died. I was thinking, "OBITTER" would be a good name. A Google search does show the urban dictionary definition of Obitter as someone who "starts the day twittering the obituaries finding comfort knowing that people of lesser age are being consumed by the reaper."

The definition kind of captures the spirit of what I'm proposing, but I was thinking more of a literal app where people post actual obits and information about dead celebrities. I would be a way to cut through all of the other crap on Twitter that you don't want to see or read.

Speaking of Doris Day, I was actually surprised that she was still alive. Not too many Hollywood stars live to be 97-years old. And I just saw that Tim Conway died at age 85. Apparently he was holding out until Doris Day died. But we would have found all of this out sooner if there was a OBITTER app

There is a Dead People Server where you can look up whether a celebrity is dead or alive. It's a bit clunky and reminds me of list pages on the Internet in the 1990s, but it has lots of celebrities listed. Since it seems to be maintained by one person by hand, it isn't all that up-to-date. It still shows Glenn Campbell as being alive (he died in 2017). And Doris Day is still listed as alive. So I wouldn't rely on the Dead People Server to let you know the latest on who is dead or alive.

All the more reason for some bored developer to create OBITTER. I think people would be dying to use it.

Monday, May 13, 2019

GOT Snow?



If you are a Game of Throne fan, then you know that this is the last season and everyone is trying to predict who will ultimately end up on the Iron Throne. If you aren't a GOT fan, then it "sucks to be you," (as my son likes to say).

At the beginning of the season I assumed Daenerys Targaryen and her dragons would sit on the throne. After all, she had good intentions and is a strong female role model. Then we found out that Jon Snow is actually Aegon Targaryen and the true heir to the Iron Throne. Since he is in love with Daenerys and doesn't really like being in charge, he says he doesn't care and professes his love and loyalty to his queen.

Then Arya Stark destroys the army of the dead by killing the Ice King and makes you wonder if she should be on the throne.

And of course Daenerys goes bat shit crazy in episode five and pretty much destroys King's Landing with her last remaining dragon. So you can bet that Jon Snow is thinking of making her is crazy ex girlfriend and reluctantly accepting the throne (which is pretty much toast at this point).

So who will take what's left of the Iron Throne (now literally a hot seat)?

I'm hoping Jon Snow, but it will likely be Arya.

Or not.

You heard it first here at Dizgraceland.

Friday, May 10, 2019

How to write the perfect blog post


  1. Study the Craft. No one no matter how talented they are is just born a great writer. ... 
  2. Set Goals & Be Consistent. ... 
  3. Just Write. ... 
  4. Keep It Simple. ... 
  5. Write… then Rewrite, Rewrite, Rewrite. ... 
  6. Get A Second Opinion. ... 
  7. Stay Passionate.
--List found when search for "how to write the perfect blog post."
Why was I searching for "how to write the perfect blog post," you ask? Because I saw that headline in some e-mail I deleted from the umpteen junk e-mails I receive on any given day. And after it was gone, I decided it would be interesting to see how you do write the perfect blog post. So I'm glad Google led me to a list to follow to write the perfect blog post (though I don't understand why the writer used so many ellipses).
An ellipsis (plural: ellipses) is a punctuation mark consisting of three dots. Use an ellipsis when omitting a word, phrase, line, paragraph, or more from a quoted passage. Ellipses save space or remove material that is less relevant.
--grammerbook.com 

1. Study the Craft. No one no matter how talented they are is just born a great writer. ... 
True. You can't become a writer unless you actually write. And you can't become a great writer unless you actually write great. And that, my friend, requires talent. No one can teach you how to be talented. But none of it means squat unless somebody wants to read your great or not so great writing.

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

A funny thing happened on the way to the blog


I've admitted that I have come to the realization that I'm not as funny as I thought I was. Now I think that one of the symptoms of aging (besides shrinking, having to pee a lot, and growing hair on your ears) is losing your sense of humor (in addition to losing your hearing).

Oh, I still think some things are funny, but I find myself suppressing the one liners that used to pop up uncontrollably in most situations. I used to think that meant I was witty. Now I see that it makes me annoying.

I am not sure when I developed a sense of humor in the first place. I remember humoring my father when he would tell very bad jokes, even for dad jokes. But I laughed to preserve his feelings.

I don't think I was funny in grade school. But junior high was when I started to see the humor in things. I took a creative writing course in 8th grade and wrote humorous essays. I also began mumbling funny observations in classes that could only be heard by people next to me.

This did backfire once in my 9th grade accelerated math class. The teacher was a high strung mathematical prodigy. He came over to me one day when I was cracking up the person next to me and told me to shut my big fat mouth.

This was obviously before it was considered inappropriate for teachers to scream at students in the classroom.


Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Mile-post 1300

This is my 1300th blog post. My first post was August 4, 2004. If I had written every day since then, I would be writing my 5439th post.

I feel like such a slacker.

Still, 1300 blog posts is something. I don't know too many bloggers who have lasted 15 years. Of course, I don't know any bloggers any more. All the ones I did know quit after a year or two.

Sticking to a blog isn't easy. I can honestly say that, if I was being paid to blog, I probably wouldn't have lasted as long as I have. Getting paid would mean I would be under pressure to produce quality content on a regular basis. And I likely wouldn't be able to write about anything I wanted anytime I wanted. There is a lot to be said for not having any readers to disappoint.

And I have said a lot in 1300 posts, generally in 1000 words or less.

It would be a lot to expect to have had someone follow my blog and have read every post from day one. If they did, however, I imagine they could have begun formulating a psychological profile of me and begun to recognize my up and down moods based on my topics.

I tend to write about being invisible, my lack of readers and my tendency towards self-delusion when I'm feeling in a funk and lacking in self-confidence.

I write about the past when I'm feeling maudlin. And I write about things I think are funny when I'm feeling manically witty.

I think 90 percent of my posts have been in the first category (which explains my lack of readers).

Regardless, I write. So I think I can legitimately call myself a writer.

Even if no one else does.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Wild Bill KODI


I have begun to accept that apps have become a basic part of our lives despite the fact they used to be called programs or applications that ran on our computers. Now we have apps for our phones and our televisions. I have a multitude of apps on my Fire TV just so I can watch the 300 or so channels that I pay for as part of my cable. The apps, in theory, just allow me to watch things anytime I want.

My sister-in-law introduced me to yet one more app that in theory provides all of the movie, television and music content available anywhere at anytime. Not sure how she discovered it, but her intent was to free herself from cable bills and simply stream everything through the Internet. She told my wife about the app with the hopes that my mother in law could use it to get rid of her cable.

The app is called KODI. There is a YouTuber who has a whole channel devoted to explaining how you download and install KODI. Along the way, he also tries to get you to install and subscribe to various other things like a VPN service. I don't know much about VPN, but I think it is a service that intercepts your web activity and reroutes it through their servers and hides your trail. It sets off a series of red flags as to why you would need to hide your Internet trail if you are downloading and using KODI.

Anyway, I followed the YouTuber's very detailed instructions and installed KODI on my Fire TV. The app included something called a "build." I don't proclaim to understand it, but the build is how the programmers package everything for a program or app to work. It apparently contains all of the tools that work together to make the program work.


Monday, April 29, 2019

I'm being followed by a moon shadow


I watched the biopic First Man over the weekend. Actually I finished watching it. I started watching it on the airplane flying back from Memphis at the beginning of the month. First Man is the story of Neil Armstrong's journey to become the first man to set foot on the moon. Ryan Gosling plays Neil Armstrong.

Ryan Gosling plays a very unemotional Neil Armstrong. Which is, I guess from what I've read about him, was basically true. There aren't many overly emotional test pilots and astronauts. Though it would have been kind of fun to see him take his first step on the moon and say, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind...Whoooee...momma, I'm on the moon MoFo's!"

I was 11-years old when Armstrong walked on the moon (followed by Buzz Aldrin who apparently no one in the astronaut program particularly liked). I'd followed the space program since its inception and wanted to be an astronaut when I was a kid and didn't know it would involve lots of math and having good eyesight.

I was obsessed with Apollo 11. I have a box somewhere buried in a trunk that contains newspaper clippings and other memorabilia from the time. I even have a bronze medallion with the Apollo 11 mission theme that I wore to school around my neck until school bully John Zior knocked it off me on the playground.

The movie talks a bit about the controversy over the amount of money NASA was spending to get a man to the moon. Lots of talk about how much good they could have done with that money on earth. But as a kid, I thought it was worth every penny. I would think the same thing today, especially since Trump wants to spend more than it cost to go to the moon on a stupid wall.

And don't get me started on how much the U.S. spends on the military.


Friday, April 26, 2019

TikTok is not a clock but it ticks me off


"TikTok is the world's leading destination for short-form mobile videos. Our mission is to capture and present the world's creativity, knowledge, and moments that matter in everyday life." 
--About TikTok from tiktok.com
I only downloaded the TikTok app because my kids were talking about it and said all of their friends were using it.  I wanted to preview it in case they lobbied to use it.

Okay, there is no way I would let my kids use TikTok. Despite the creators lofty mission statement, the app is nothing but a forum for right wing rhetoric, depressed teens looking to hook up, cosplay groupies, people posting short videos of their cats, dogs and lizards, and random shit that couldn't make it on YouTube.

TikTok is like a low-rent version of Vine. And I'm ashamed to say, I watch it like watching a train wreck just to pass time on my commute or during my workout.  I wouldn't think of posting on TikTok because the community seems to use piranhas as their model for commenting on people's posts. It embodies the worst of social media's troll mentality.

Trust me, middle aged or older people will never be welcomed on on TikTok, creative or not. The prerequisite for content seems to be that you are redneck attractive, excessively tattooed, into Japanese anime or like to video stuff being blown up. Oh, and an excessive number of people who are a bit to attached to their pets.


Tuesday, April 23, 2019

An Easter to dye for


I suppose I don't need to reiterate that I am not at all religious. I don't go to church. I don't pray. I don't believe in god. I've read portions of the bible and I know many of the stories, but I take no stock in them.

Yet I partake in the secular rituals that are based on religion like Easter.

Easter is a Christian holiday celebrating the resurrection of Christ after he was crucified by the Romans. As a kid I enjoyed the ritual of dyeing eggs and putting out an Easter basket to get it filled with candy. And now that I have children of my own, I've continued the ritual.

But still, it seems like an odd holiday if I stop to think about it. Dyeing eggs seems to have little to do with the resurrection (although eggs are a symbol of rebirth). And I suppose the Easter bunny is another nod to pagan rituals of Sprint and fertility. Not sure where candy fits into the symbolism though. I imagine it was a marketing idea to make money off from the holiday.

Same with Easter brunch.


Wednesday, April 17, 2019

The Amazon jungle

I got an e-mail from Amazon Associates today telling me my account was being closed because none of the ads I have allowed on my blog have generated any sales in 365 days. I was also told I must immediately remove all of the code that generates their ads from my blog. Then they thanked me for being an Amazon Associate.

Okay, I will be the first one to admit that my blog doesn't generate enough traffic to be a good place to advertise. I only do it out of this stubborn belief that some day I might actual get some revenue from blogging. Google has never cancelled my account because the Google ads that appear on my site don't generate traffic. I imagine they operate on the assumption that it doesn't cost them anything and even the occasionally hit on their ads on my site help drive the bottom line.

Amazon apparently has some standards and I don't live up to them. But don't blame me if your shitty ads don't get any attention. I'm just the messenger.

The irony is that I've pumped thousands of dollars into Amazon over the years. I actually think they they offer a great alternative to ever having to leave your home to buy anything. And I talk to Alexa all the time.

I do think Amazon has lost site of what they are in business for. Although I use them to buy lots of things, I've given up on them for last minute gifts for holidays like Valentines Day and Easter. One, their search function seems wacky and dredges up random items that don't match your search criteria. And although you can get crap you don't need delivered in one or two days, good luck having them save your procrastinating butt if you didn't buy Valentines or Easter gifts in advance.

I also don't like that you can't actually complain to a real person at Amazon. They have managed to successfully hide any avenue of providing real feedback to them. Oh, they are good at offering refunds or returns, but its all automated and you can't really tell them what you think or bitch about something taking a couple of weeks to get to you when it was supposed to arrive in two days.

Oh well, I got my resentment for being rejected by Amazon Associates off my chest.  But they will really regret it when my blog finally goes viral. I just need to consult the Mayan calendar to see when that will be.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Dirt and weeds


Growing up, some of the chores I was required to do around the house included mowing lawn and weeding. Most of the weeding involved digging dandelions out of the grass. I didn't mind the weeding so much when it was in the vegetable garden, because I enjoyed planting things and nurturing them until they were grown plants. My favorites were corn and pumpkins.

I didn't like digging out dandelions because everyone who deals with weeds knows you pretty much have to get most of the root of a weed or it will simply grow back. Dandelions have huge tap roots that extend a remarkable depth into the soil. And our lawn was pretty dry most of the time, so getting a dandelion out with its tap root was near impossible for me. So I cheated and pulled the top part of the dandelion out so at least there was the appearance of being successful.

I also didn't much care for mowing the lawn because we had this old gas mower that was extremely temperamental and required cleaning spark plugs and messing with a choke. I don't do well with combustion engines, especially when there is a choke involved. Come to think of it, I don't even know what a choke is or does. But it could mean the difference between a gas mower starting and staying started.

I also didn't like mowing lawn as a kid because we had dogs. and inevitably you'd mow over dog crap. And in the summer heat, the smell of dog crap being mowed over just about made me toss my cookies.


Monday, April 15, 2019

Okay, I'm not that funny

It has only taken me almost 1300 blog posts to admit to myself that I'm really not as funny as I have always thought I was. I've mused about this over the years, but I really think I only did so that someone would pop up and tell me that I was just being silly and that I was the wittiest person alive.

Crickets.

My children have confirmed my lack of humor. On an almost daily basis they roll their eyes and mutter, "Not funny," when I spout some of my patented witticisms. For awhile I just figured their senses of humor just weren't mature enough to get my comic genius.  But the older they get (and I get), the less funny I seem.

It has become evident at work as well. I became annoyed at all of the random notices that were being posted next to the copy machine/printer. So I post my own sign reading:

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
Blockin' out the scenery, breakin' my mind
Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign?
These are part of the lyrics from a group called Five Man Electrical Band that was released in 1970 when I was in 7th grade. I consider it pretty iconic. But none of the people at work seemed to get it. One person thought it was a poem someone had written and posted. Eventually someone just tore it down.


Friday, April 12, 2019

There is no future in the pasta


There are carbs, however. So that's something. And they do weigh heavily on our future.

But I'm already digressing.

If you've followed any of my meandering ramblings about living in the now and time being an artificial construct you'll know I am fascinated by the concept of life being a series of "now" and no "then." Though I struggle with letting go of then. Sometimes it seems like a better place then now.

There was a time (even though time doesn't exist) that I fantasized that all of my past "now's" were playing out simultaneously and all I would have to do was figure out how to slip into them to relive great moments. And who knows, maybe shift things around a bit to correct a few mistakes.

But "now" I pretty much believe there is no then to go back to. And let's face it, what would be the point. You'd have a few good now's that would quickly become then's and then you'd be right back where you started.


Thursday, April 11, 2019

Walk into the night


I think we should replace all of the existing euphemisms we use for death with the simple phrase, "walk into the night." It sounds so much better than "passed on," "kicked the bucket" (which makes no sense anyway), "bought the farm" (also senseless), "croaked," "departed," "called home" (which happens to mean a lot when one of my kids is sick), "no longer with us" (which is something we also say after someone in the office is fired), "with the angels," "gave up the ghost," "left this mortal coil," "went belly up," "cashed in," "bought a pine condo," "cashed in," "is pushing up daisies," or "crossed over."

"Walk into the night," sounds gentle like slipping into a slumber. And it sounds so much better than "walk into the light," with its connotation of harsh light. I would rather slip softly into darkness, like the embrace of an old friend.

It also sounds better than, "What happened to Fred?"
"Fred's dead."
"Oh, what's for dinner?

Instead, "What happened to Fred?"
"He walked into the night."
"Oh, that sounds nice."

See.

Not that I spend a lot of time thinking about euphemisms for death. I did briefly when I was with my mother when she died. None of the euphemisms seemed appropriate. I was there. She didn't pass on or get called home. She died.

I didn't think much about it when my father died 21 years before that. I wasn't with him. So it was less that he died and more that he wasn't there any more. It's a subtle distinction, but you'd understand it if you'd experienced it.

We tend to say we are putting pets to sleep when we have them euthanized. And in fact the vets do put them to sleep before they kill them with a lethal injection. Hopefully it insures that they aren't suffering. But it is a sleep they never wake from.

Sort of like walking into the night.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

How much is a thousand words really worth?


My post about my recent Elvis pilgrimage illustrates (no pun intended) that I tend to take a lot of photos. On my trip to Memphis, I took more than 450 photos with my Canon digital camera alone. And I must have taken another three hundred or so with my iPhone.

That's a lot of photos.

I have photo storage accounts on Amazon, Flickr and Apple. I gave up on physical drives to store images because I've had bad luck with disk failures. But I think I have close to 90,000 images in the Cloud.

That's a lot of photos.

I've made physical books using some of the photos, mainly highlights of big vacations. I made a huge book of the photos from my first trip to Graceland in 2018. I didn't think I'd be going back to Memphis the following year, so I'm not sure what to do with my new photos.

I accept that not all of the photos are great. Some are. I especially cherish the photos I've taken of my family. I'm less enamored of the photos of myself. Though that tends to be all I share on my blog. I do share lots of photos of my family on Facebook, however, but that is more of a protected environment.


Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Pilgrimage


"Poor boys and pilgrims with families
And we are going to Graceland"
Graceland by Paul Simon 
I have spent years denying that I am a hard core Elvis fan. This is despite years of posting on a blog called Dizgraceland and a having a past where I went by the name Tim-Elvis for a lark. And I protested that I wasn't an Elvis fan despite a pilgrimage to Las Vegas to visit spots where Elvis had been including Landmark Drugs where he had his prescriptions filled.


I suppose not everyone has an Elvis tree every year with a miniature Graceland at it's base.  And there is the bookcase chock full of just about every book ever written about the man. Okay and there is that complete collection of Elvis liquor decanters depicting the various stages of his life.

But the one thing that I felt separated me from the rest of the Elvis followers was that I'd never been to Graceland. Oh, I'd passed through the Memphis airport a couple of times, but I never had visited the holiest of all holy sights to those inflicted by King worship.

I stopped being able to claim that distinction when my wife surprised me last year on my birthday with a trip to Memphis to visit Graceland. And I'll be the first one to admit that I was pretty awestruck to take the VIP tour of the mansion and the museums across the street, marveling at the cars, memorabilia and minutia that are on display highlighting his short life.

And let's not forget the feeling of visiting the Meditation Gardens and the King's grave.

It was kind of a once in a lifetime experience that I thought I'd never repeat. And then low and behold circumstances led me and my family back to Memphis again this year and another trip to Graceland. And on this trip I also added a road trip to Tupelo to visit the birthplace of Elvis.

So I've pretty much run out of excuses for my fascination with the King.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Walk into the light



It is no longer dark when I stand at the station waiting for my morning train. I wish it was, because lately I've been on autopilot in the morning and sort of just want to sleep standing up while I wait for the train. It doesn't help that I've been listening to Moby's Long Ambients 2 album on my Calm meditation app. It was written to help you relax and sleep.

When the train finally arrives at 7:10 a.m., I am generally the first one through the second doors of the second car. It is less crowded than the first and last car and my favorite seat, one that doesn't require you to sit next to anyone, is usually open. My latest morning ritual is to grab the seat, swap my baseball cap for a stocking cap I keep in my backpack, remove my glasses and pull the stocking cap over my eyes. Then I settle back and let Moby sooth my commuting soul.

It is only a 25-minute commute. The last mile or so is through a vintage train tunnel under downtown Seattle that pops you out on the border of Pioneer Square and the International District. I usually pull off my stocking cap just as the train is pulling out of the tunnel and drifting by an acre of graffiti littered walls that face the train platforms. I rise and slip out of the door still listening to Moby and join the rest of the walking dead as we shuffle towards the stairs that rise from the train platform to the street level.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Seeing through me



I wrote my first post about turning invisible in 2005. I've repeated the sentiment umpteen times since. Considering I started fading in my early 40s, I am pretty much not here now.

I got my haircut Sunday at one of those franchise haircutting places. It's a cheap and quick haircut without frills like coffee, shampooing and head massages that tack about $40 onto the cost. The downside is that, like Forest Gump's box of chocolate, you never know what you are going to get.

But when you are invisible, it doesn't matter.

I checked in on line and drove to the place. When I walked in, this person who has cut my hair several times greeted me and took me right back to cut my hair. There was no acknowledgement that she recognized me. But I imagine they cut quite a few heads of hair in any given week and they only see people every other month or so.

To her credit, she tried to make small talk (which anyone who knows me knows I love). At one point, she asked me what I did for a living. She had asked me this same question on an earlier visit and I thought when I responded she'd remember cutting my hair before, because I'd gone in greater depth than I like about being a public transportation marketing person.

But she didn't remember me or anything I'd told her before. She asked the same questions and seemed totally oblivious to what I did or the company I work for.


Monday, March 18, 2019

Who do you think you are?


Okay, it's is another philosophical question. I admit I don't really know who I am. I thought I did for years, but I kept surprising myself. It's part of the aging process. Enlightenment comes when you realize you don't know anything, including yourself.

Part of it is that the self we grow up believing in is, according to Buddhist and Hindu philosophy, is an illusion. Of course, so is everything else. If you accept that, then you have to wrap your illusionary brain around both creating the illusion and being the illusion.

Sometimes I think I'm pretty deep. Other times I worry that I'm just a windbag. I just came out of a business meeting with a consultant. At times I imaged I was witty and engaging. Everyone laughed at my jokes, nodded and took notes. But stepping out of myself, I realize they pretty much do all those things because I am the client. Inside they were probably thinking about what they were going to have for lunch.

Part of my anxiety about finding out who I am or who I am not is that I'd find out that I am no one. But if I engage in a bit of Zen word play, finding out you are no "one" could mean that you are many.

What's that? You heard the sound of one hand clapping? I did too. And it usually only happens when I show people the face I had before I was born.


It was 20 years ago, today...

I spent my 41st birthday in New Orleans, by myself. It was an odd time in my life. I'd weathered the milestone of turning 40 and wasn't quite sure what to make of things. I didn't have a relationship. I was on a career path I wasn't sure I wanted to be on. I felt lost.

I'd been to New Orleans three times. Two of the three was just to board a cruise ship bound for Cozomel. The other time was to attend a conference. I'd never really explored the city. So I decided to book a week in the French Quarter. I stayed at the Holiday Inn Chateau Lemoyne which ironically turns out to be just a block away from the Dauphine Orleans which I stayed at a few weeks ago.

I had no real itinerary. I knew I wanted to see what St. Patrick's Day was like in New Orleans. Other than that, I had no plan. And that is how I discovered that no plan is sometimes the best plan.

Every day I'd sleep in. Then I'd set out and just walk. Most times I'd head for Royal Street and enjoy the street musicians. Then I'd usually end up in Jackson Square. That's where I spotted the photo above of a street busker. I found out later that the performer was Amanda Palmer. Palmer was the lead singer, pianist, and lyricist/composer of the duo The Dresden Dolls. But she'd started out as a street performer in San Francisco and New Orleans. I only found out that the performer was Palmer years later when I saw her on a TED talk about connections.

That kind of sums up the trip. I walked. I ate great food. I watched the St. Patrick's Day parade. I turned 41 and celebrated alone on the balcony of a restaurant on Bourbon Street. It was one of the most memorable unmemorable trips I've ever taken.

Now, 20-years later, it is my birthday and I am turning 61. I am married now. I have two children. I stayed on the same career path and can glimpse retirement down the road (but still several years away). But sometimes it feels like it was just yesterday that I was strolling up Royal Street enjoying those unscripted moments of my life.

After all, they led me to where I am now.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Blogging like it's 2006

As I stare forlornly at my blog stats, I regularly see posts I wrote back in 2006 being viewed now, thirteen years after they were written. And as I reread them, I can't help but think they were pretty darned good. I think 2006 was my peak year as a blogger. Which is pretty sad considering I was not quite two years into this medium that was relatively new at the time.

I suppose part of it was that it was a new type of writing and I was still having fun exploring the options. And I hadn't been blogging long enough to have started repeating myself. I had, however, been alive long enough to start repeating myself.

As much as I'd like to believe that I blog for myself and don't need an audience, in 2006 I had an active group of people who regularly read and commented on my blog. Their positive feedback did influence my writing at the time.

For whatever reason, all of the people in my blog community at the time moved on, dropped out, or found other outlets to amuse themselves. It's not like there were thousands of people who read my blog anyway. I think at the time there were maybe ten regulars at the most. So it's not like I ever went viral or was discovered.

This was before social media really overshadowed everything, too. In retrospect, I never really rose to any degree of success as a blogger. So I can't really lament languishing in relative obscurity now.

Sometimes I feel like I'm the only one with a lampshade on my head at a pity party.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Me, myself and eye


Everything I've been listening to philosopher Alan Watts say about reality and enlightenment pretty much nixes a sense of self and individual existence. This adds to my confusion about figuring out who I am and puts a dead end sign on my road to self discovery.

I don't pretend to totally understand what Watts is explaining. He tends to use a lot of Greek and other ancient language words that he spells out in his lectures (as if spelling them will make them any more comprehensible). I tend to listen to Watts lectures during my morning commute on the train. And I am usually half asleep while I listen to them.

Not that being fully awake would matter (in a literal, not a spiritual sense). Most of what I glean from Watts' explanations is that most of us mistakenly assume we are separate from the world around us. Watts conjectures that we are all connected to everything. So there isn't any "you" or "I."

That is the hardest part for "me" to accept. Because I have struggled my entire life with feeling pretty much alone trying to figure out what I am doing here.

I can't say that what Watts is saying is new to me. I have been fascinated for years with the concept that time isn't really linear. Our mistake is connecting a non-existent past with a non-existent future. In doing so, we ignore the infinite now. But it is hard to comprehend an infinite now because it seems impossible to pinpoint when now is. Because the moment you utter the words now, it has slipped into a seemingly non-existent past to make room for the new now.

I'll catch that tail some day.


Monday, March 04, 2019

I ain't afraid of no ghosts


I just got back from a business trip to one of my favorite cities, New Orleans. I've visited the city seven times in the past 20-some years. And although it has a reputation of being haunted, I have never seen a ghost there. I have seen some scary people there. And I've seem some people who seem haunted. But no spirits.

When I booked the Dauphine Orleans for this trip, it was said to be haunted. It was the site of a former brothel and was said to be haunted by some of the women who worked there. There was also supposed to be a civil war soldier who appeared now an then. But with the exception of a lot of screaming coming from the streets outside my balcony windows (it was Mardi Gras time), I didn't hear or see anything remotely supernatural.


I have pretty much given up on believing in ghosts anyway. I've stayed at many supposedly haunted hotels including the Del Coronado in San Diego, the Queen Mary in Long Beach, the Geiser Grand in Oregon, Thornewood Castle in Washington and the Bourbon Orleans and the Chateau La Moyne in New Orleans. All were supposed to have ghosts. And all of them snubbed me. Though the Geiser Grand felt haunted.

I shouldn't be surprised. All of the Alan Watts philosophy lectures I've been listening to speak to death as just a respite between living. The concept of a soul trapped between living and dying doesn't really make sense.


Tuesday, February 19, 2019

If you meet the Buddha by the side of the Information Highway....


I am still listening to Alan Watts' lectures on YouTube every morning while I wait for the train. And while I still have very little clue as to what he is talking about, I sense that it is very profound.

I do like that Watts seems to constantly remind us that the truth is that there is no truth. He repeats things like, "trying to bite our own teeth" or "using a flame to set fire to itself." He also pretty much takes a dump on religion.

But I could just be reading things into what he is saying. We all hear what we want to hear even if we don't know what we want to hear.

Watts does talk a great deal about our desire to hold onto our sense of self and how futile that is. He does allude to the fact that death is simply a respite from living (or something like that). And he implies that everything is an illusion. He also points out that everything exists because it's opposite exists (i.e. you can't have good without evil because you wouldn't know what it was without its opposite).

So Watts does keep you chasing your own tail a great deal. But I like that. It somehow helps me to know that there is no concrete truth and that we are better off just living than worrying about dying.


Friday, February 15, 2019

Snow way


The Puget Sound region is slowly recovering from a series of snow storms that dumped close to a foot of snow in an area that rarely gets any. And these storms hit in February with spring visible on the horizon.

I don't like snow. I don't like being cold. I don't like not being able to leave my house. I don't like having to shovel snow and clear patches of my lawn so the dog can poop. I don't like having to walk through snow drifts to get to the train station to get to work and then wonder if I'm going to get home again. I don't like getting two phone calls, a text and an e-mail from my kid's school district telling me school has been cancelled.

I live in the Puget Sound region partially because it rarely snows. So having to endure almost a week of this crap has made me think that moving to Costa Rica may not be a bad idea.


Tuesday, February 05, 2019

The Last Laugh


I watched a bad movie (The Last Laugh) the other night on Netflix starring a 75-year old Chevy Chase playing an even older ex-manager of comedians including one played by 71-year old Richard Dreyfuss. Dreyfuss looks like he is 85. It was your typical coming of old-age film that tries to instill faith that we still have it in us as we age. Chevy Chase hooks up with Andie MacDowell playing a swinging artist who had attended Woodstock. Thing is, actress MacDowell is the same age as me.

The film was pretty depressing. For one, it's audience demographic are people my age who know who the hell Chevy Chase, Richard Dreyfus and Andie MacDowell are and remembers what they looked like in their younger days.

I suppose I could start posting positive posts about how aging isn't really so bad. The thing is, there isn't a lot positive to say about aging except that you aren't led around by raging hormones anymore. I suppose that is something.


Thursday, January 17, 2019

And then, then...

"Then" by definition is what comes after now. And I've already established that it is always "now," so you can really never reach "then." So why do we even have a word for it (then, not "it")?

 And yes, I am still listening to Alan Watts. I have to tell you, though, his speaking style is a bit annoying. He pauses a great deal while he speaks which makes me check my phone to see if I lost my signal. But "then" he finishes his sentence.

But I digress. Though I noticed that "then" is used a great deal to describe a sequence of past events. This butts heads with the notion that there is no past, either, just the now. So "then" can't cut break no matter what it describes.

In Mel Gibson's film, Braveheart, William Wallace asks the parents of a young woman he is interested in whether he can go for a horseback ride with her. The reply was "No the now." At the time, I thought it was just a Scottish thing. But "now" I think the scriptwriter may have been slipping in some philosophy. You be the judge:




I think this YouTube clip illustrates just how irritating being in the now all the time is.

But "then" I could be wrong.

Monday, January 07, 2019

Now, now...


So I continue to listen to Philosopher Alan Watts into the new year. And I realize that I have heard everything he has said about living in the now many, many times. But I doubt I have ever really "heard" it.

I wonder if my parents ever thought about their place in the universe and the questions of why we are here. My mother bought firmly into the myth of her religion and clutched to it right up until her death. And from what I witnessed of her death, her faith didn't offer much comfort in her final moments.

I never discussed anything philosophical with my father. He did seem focused on his here and now which ping ponged between discovering lost treasures in ghost towns and cheering on the Boise State Bronco football team. Though I imagine both fixations didn't really involve the now. He set his sights on a hidden treasure that perhaps he imagined would change his life of barely scrapping by financially. I can only guess as to why he was fixated on the Boise Broncos. He'd been a janitor at a dorm at Boise State that housed many football players. So my negative self imagined they became the sons he wished he had.