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Monday, November 25, 2019

And miles to go before I sleep


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

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

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

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


Monday, November 18, 2019

Old dog, old tricks


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

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

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

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

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

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

Why do I suddenly have the urge to howl?


Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Is it live, or is it Memorex?


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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Doing the write thing


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

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

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

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

It's not even legitimate spam.


Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Pieces of the puzzle


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

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

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

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

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


Tuesday, November 05, 2019

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


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

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

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

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

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

Those are the people who should not vote.

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

But still I vote.

Monday, November 04, 2019

Vic-tims, aren't we all?


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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 01, 2019

Hell night


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

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

Which is apparently an old man.

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