Monday, September 25, 2023

Past future theories of the past (and future)


And now I'm glad I didn't knowThe way it all would endThe way it all would goOur lives are better left to chanceI could have missed the painBut I'd have had to miss the dance

--Tony Arata (Performed by Garth Brooks)

I have blogged a great deal over time (ironically) about time. Some of it has been quite profound and some of it has been quite simplistic. And obviously I have come to no conclusions because I still haven't figured it out. 

Now granted I am not a Physicist.  I suck at math so that has never been one of my possibilities. I do have lots of hunches. Some of them are triggered by memories. I sometimes have the strong sense that my past is going on right now in all of the layers of my experience.  And I also have this sense that I will someday either relive or repeat my past.

In some cases this would be okay. But the wild card is whether I will do so with full knowledge it is happening. Because my now Tim would give an earful to my then Tim. And many of the pronouncements would begin with, "You don't really want to do that."

If the then Tim actually listened to the now Tim is the question. And I wonder if I would want to change things if it meant that experience would totally go away. Because in some cases I enjoyed the beginning of an experience but not so much the eventual outcome of that experience.  As Garth sang, you could miss the pain, but you'd also miss the dance.

Though in some cases the dance isn't worth it.

Friday, September 15, 2023

Photos of me as a young man


My saga of scanning my old photos and negatives continues. And I have to admit that it weirdly takes an emotional toll on me. Each photo reminds me of a time in my life.

Well, duh, but anyway it is weird to think of what consumed me emotionally at different times in my life. The above photo was early in my career when I wore suits to work every day. I wouldn't be caught dead in a suit these days. 

I suppose that probably isn't he best way to phrase it considering my age. Not that I plan to be buried in a suit. I don't even plan to be buried. I plan to be cremated. And although I've worn a few suits in my time that should be burned, I'm not sure wearing one for my cremation is necessary.

The strange thing to me about the above photo is that I remember looking like that and how it felt to look like that. I just have a difficult time aligning the photo with how I look now probably forty or so years later. Time is an asshole.

Yeah, yeah, I look like I do now because of choices. I've put on a few pounds, my ears and nose are bigger and my hair is gray. I also have a shaggy beard that I hate to admit is a vain attempt to mask a double chin.

I guess I actually had no choice in having a bigger nose and ears. Or the gray hair. Though I could have solved that early on with dye that would give me that sad Bela Legosi look that too many men my age have adopted. 

Bela Legosi was the actor who originally played Dracula for those non-Boomers who wander into my blog. He had jet black hair slicked back with what looked like black shoe polish.

Shoe polish was this stuff that came in paste form in a can or liquid form in a bottle that you put on black shoes to cover up scuffs and make them look like new again. Shinola was a famous brand of shoe polish. It was so popular that it was used to describe a stupid person as "not knowing shit from Shinola."

I hate having to explain what used to be common place in my world especially to generations of people who don't know shit from Shinola.

But back to my narcissistic discussion of photos of me as a young man. I look at the young me face and it is familiar but it still seems like a stranger. The eyes smile. I like that. My eyes don't smile much anymore.  It's not that I am not as happy as I was at that age. It's just that weariness sets in and the smiles don't show as much.

Plus, at that age when the photo was taken, I still didn't really know shit from Shinola. 

Wednesday, August 30, 2023



I suppose when most people talk about things they regret in life they are big things like not becoming an artist or traveling to the Great Pyramids or quitting a dead end job. Okay, I regret all of those things, but it is some of the little things I regret more. Or at least I roll my eyes about them.

Until it became politically incorrect to portray cultures as mascots, I was proud of being a Boise High School Brave. I was proud of being the band drum major and dressing like an Native American Chief (or an Indian Chief or an Indigenous person Chief). I used to feel so cool donning the leather buckskins and headdress and applying war paint. 

But I remember when I showed my daughter photos of me dressed as the Boise Brave, she was pretty disgusted. I was confused at first. Maybe she didn't understand that to us growing up the brave was a proud symbol. A brave was a warrior. A brave was something to look up to. But to her, I was treating a people as a mascot. 

I tried the arguments that have been pointed out to me are white people microaggressions, like "No one objects to the Fighting Irish, Vikings, Cowboys, or Mariners." But those are white people cultures (which is ironic because I'm told quite often white people have no culture). Bottom line, to my daughter at least, being the Boise Brave was embarrassing.

So I tucked away the photos, my old moccasins and any other symbol of my misguided past as a Boise Brave and accepted that in high school my only accomplishment was being a band geek and graduating ninth in my class of 491. 

Wednesday, August 09, 2023

I see dead people


I suppose most people get into genealogy because they want to find where they came from. But I have found that it creates more questions than it answers. There are currently more than 6000 people in my family tree. And I use the term "tree" loosely, because it is more like an upside down tree with these roots that spread out seemingly forever and you keep uncovering them wondering where they end or begin.

The depressing thing is that most of the people you discover in the roots doing genealogy are dead. You don't find out much about the living part of the tree. Privacy laws prevent most of that. So you may find a few names, especially if they are close relatives, but the only ones you really find much about are long dead.

But as I pointed out in my last post, even the stuff you find out about all of your dead relatives is a paper trail of where they began, wandered about and ended up. The internet has made that easier, but also more complicated. I suppose before computers you had to spend your time mucking about in county courthouses and libraries sifting through documents. Now AI does much of that work for you but gives you lots of crap along with substance.

Still, it can be depressing. I have found more than my fair share of people who have been murdered, committed suicide or died way to young. I have also found so many babies and infants that only lasted a few days or weeks. And the staggering number of marriages, divorces and remarriages blow my mind. It adds to the confusion with some people having three or four different last names and children with several different spouses. 

Ancestry now also taps into yearbooks and provides photos of many people who no one has bothered to upload images of. It is endearing and sad at the same time. I like those photos so much more than the ones they dig up for obituaries. Obituary photos all seem to be of a weary, worn person  staring at the camera with a perplexed look wondering when they got old. At least yearbook photos capture people who still had potential.

I've mentioned before that my roots spread far into the dirt of America. My ancestors were farmers, farm hands, laborers and drifters. There wasn't any blue blood fertilizing those roots. Many served in the military but it seems out of necessity.  There are a lot of young men who were drafted and served as Privates and left as Privates. I don't appear to come from a long line of leaders.

I wonder what it is like to be royalty and born into a lineage that is well documented and clear. I am sure none of the Royals bother with seems to be for those of us trying to unstir the melting pot and figure out what the original recipe was.

For the most part I am just left shaking my head wondering what the head cook was thinking.

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Like a rolling stone (not Mick Jagger)


I wrote a post in September 2009 called, "Remember me." It was the only post I wrote in September 2009. Heck, I only wrote 22 posts the entire year. I think I was preoccupied with my newborn son. Priorities. Anyway, the post (since most of you won't follow the link and read it) was about fame and how it is probably worse to have it and lose it than to never have it at all.  I made the pronouncement that if no one recognizes you or knows who you are, you can't be forgotten.

I think that was pretty good.

The reason I bring this up is that I've been doing a lot of work on my family tree on and tracing the meandering roots of my family into the distant past. And as I uncover brother- and sister-in laws of my second cousin twice removed, I am saddened when there is nothing but census records and city directories to prove that they existed. I hate looking at these faceless squares on my tree. 

At the very least, I like to find photos of headstones courtesy of Find a Grave. At least then they have a slab of stone with their name on it to prove they were here. But occasionally I find that some relative has loaded a photo of the person either from when they were young or very old. I like the young versions best. I like looking at those faces on my tree when so much life was ahead of them.

Some of the photos show character.  I particularly like this one:

This was my relative's wedding photo. I love that he is dressed in a baseball uniform and his young wife has this look of, "What have I done?" on her face. These people come alive to me. Statistics of when they were born or a photo of where they are buried just don't do it. Who wants to be remembered for a slab of stone covered with weeds? Or even the large orb of stone at the top of this post at a cemetery in Ohio that seems to roll around by itself?

Sometimes I do uncover more from the data about a person that tells a story. Like a first cousin of mine (twice removed) who married a young sergeant during World War II:

He was killed in action in  March 1945 and buried at a cemetery in Norway. She died three months later. There is no information in the information I can find on Ancestry on how she died. There is a brief death announcement with no information.  But there is a record of a baby named "Sargie" who was born and died two months after his father and a month before his mother, so my cousin may have died from complications due to childbirth. I hate to think she may also have killed herself. 

It is the challenge of piecing together family history after most of the people in the tree are dead. I had never heard of this cousin. She died more than a decade before I was born. I wonder if my mother knew about her and her sad story. She never spoke of her to me. But my mother had so much going on in her life then and she spoke sparingly about tragedies in the family.

My point, I guess, is that there is so much more to a person's life than a headstone or a birth certificate. At the very least they deserve to at least have a photo on a family tree that at least speaks to who they were at a moment in time. But there are thousands of people in my family tree who have nothing but their name to show they were here. 

I think there should be more. 

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Remember to forget



When my mother died in 2012, I brought back a couple of plastic bins full of old photos, papers and other miscellaneous stuff.  Some of the photos were one's mom had pasted into poster sized frames and hung on the walls. Many were sun damaged and hard to make out. But I couldn't bear throwing them away.

I ended up consolidating all of the items into one large bin that has sat in my garage for almost 11 years. In the process of unpacking other items stored from our recent remodel I ran across the bin and started going through it. I decided to try and rescue most of the old photos by scanning them and using Photoshop. This worked for most of them, but a few were beyond saving. Some just weren't great photos to begin with. My mother was always a click and shoot photographer and generally only took photos on holidays and occasions when family visited. The faded, blurry image above is one of my brothers and I dressed to go to Sunday School. Our dog Shep is in the forground presumeably staring at my mother taking the photo.

It has been a trip going through these photos because they brought back a lot of memories. Some captured images of kitchens and living rooms in my grandmother's and my parent's houses. They were like time capsules. Both houses are long gone. But I was amazed how well I remembered them.

There were some great class photos from the one-room school house my mother attended before high school. They were faded, torn black and white images of children who grew up, had families and have long since died. This included my mother and two of her brother, one of who survived World War II in Guam and came home to die in a small airplane crash in his early 20s.

My mother had listed out the names of the kids under the photos. One of the photos had a portion of a girl in the top row torn out. I was determined to restore it. So I did a search online and found a photo of her when she was middle aged (she died in her mid-70s). The face had aged, but the smile was unmistakenly hers. So I worked Photoshop magic and did a fair job of reconstructing her young face using parts of her middle aged photo. I felt like Dr. Frankenstein and fought the urge to yell, "She's alive, alive!"

Friday, June 09, 2023

Come Sale away with World Market


Okay, I want to thank World Market for inspiring me to post after a bit of a dry spell. I bought a desk from them several months ago and got on their mailing list so I get almost daily emails about sales on things their website bots recorded that I showed the least bit of interest in. Most of the time, even sale items at World Market are pretty spendy. But they seem to deal in quality stuff and I love my desk so yesterday I made the mistake of clicking through to their website.

I recently remodeled and I've created a new home office. And I wouldn't mind a new chair for my spiffy desk. So the above caught my eye. The Tyler Bi Cast Leather Molded Office Chair went from $249.99-$279.99 to $99.99. Even thrifty me thought that was a good deal so I clicked through to the chair and see this:

The $99 chair is still listed as $279.99. I try putting it in the shopping cart thinking the sale price will show up there. But no, it is still a whopping $279.99. So then I make my first mistake. I decide to contact World Market and point this out hoping they will correct the problem. I find their customer service page and send this message:

"Hi, an item ( says it is on sale in the general office chair section. It was listed on sale for $99. But when you go to the item it show up at full price"

I quickly get this response:

Dear Tim E,

Thank you for contacting World Market.

We are sorry to hear about the issue with the price of the item. We understand that you would like to have this looked into. We are happy to assist.

After reviewing our records, we see that the price for the 
Tyler Bi Cast Leather Molded Office Chair is $279.99.

We hope that this helps. 


If you need any further assistance, please do not hesitate to let us know. Our Customer Service Department is open from 7:00 AM until midnight EST. The telephone number is 1-877-967-5362.

Best regards,
Customer Support Team
Unique, authentic and always affordable

Okay. That didn't help and it didn't answer my question. I assume they misunderstood because you can't type a lot in their online message box. So I respond:

"Thanks for getting back to me, but that doesn’t help. It is listed in the SALE section for $99, but when you click on it it goes to the chair where it still rings up at the full price of $279. If it isn’t really on sale, remove it from the sale sections."

World Market quickly responds again:

"Dear Tim E,

Thank you for contacting World Market.  We are very sorry to hear that you are unable to purchase the item at the sale price.


It is our intention to make this website thorough, accurate, and helpful to our customers. Nonetheless, there may be times when certain information contained on this website may be incorrect, incomplete, or inaccurate. We apologize in advance for any such errors that may result in an incorrect price, item unavailability or otherwise affect your order.

Please understand that the content of this website is presented on an "as is" basis and we make no claim as to its accuracy, either expressed or implied. We reserve the right to correct errors (whether by changing information on this website or by informing you of the error and giving you an opportunity to cancel your order) or to update product information at any time without notice.

Thank you for understanding!


If you need any further assistance, please do not hesitate to let us know. Our Customer Service Department is open from 7:00 AM until midnight EST. The telephone number is 1-877-967-5362.

Best regards,
Customer Support Team
Unique, authentic and always affordable"

Okay, again. I am a bit blown away that I am being told that just because something shows up on their website, that doesn't mean it is accurate or they will honor the information.

Silly me. So I responded again:

"I wasn’t demanding you sell me the chair at the sale price that your web site advertised. I was just hoping you would either correct the error and at least honor the price you still are promoting. But that is obviously not part of your business model (to stand behind your promise’s with good customer service. Here is a screen shot from a few minutes ago. Please correct your error. "

This morning they responded yet again:

"Dear Tim,

Thank you for contacting World Market.

We understand the importance of your product inquiry. It's great to have you as a loyal customer. We are happy to look into this for you.

After checking our system, we can see that the Tyler Bi Cast Leather Molded Office Chair in the color Smoke Black is currently on sale for $99.99 and that is why you are seeing the sale price when you search for the item; however, it is currently out of stock.


We apologize for any inconvenience caused and we hope this information is helpful


If you need any further assistance, please do not hesitate to let us know. Our Customer Service Department is open from 7:00 AM until midnight EST. The telephone number is 1-877-967-5362.

Best regards,
Customer Support Team
Unique, authentic and always affordable"

You have got to be frigging kidding me. I spent some time on my next response:

"Dear World Market Customer Support Team:

What started as a simple inquiry about why something that was listed on your web page as on sale for $99 (Tyler Bi Cast Leather Molded Office Chair) yet showed up as the normal price of  $279.99 when you clicked on the sale item and went to the detailed page about the item.  First I was told that the chair price was $279.99 and they hoped that helped.

It did not.

So then I tried to clarify that I was trying to determine why the website said it was on sale but it didn't show up on sale when you clicked on the sale item link. I was told that "the content of this website is presented on an "as is" basis and we make no claim as to its accuracy, either expressed or implied." I was then thanked for understanding.

I didn't understand.

So I tried to clarify that I wasn't demanding you send me the chair for the sale price. I was pointing out that there was an error on the website and you should correct it so that other potential customers with money ready to spend wouldn't be misled to believe something shown on sale wasn't really on sale and that your policy was to blame it on the gullible consumer who believed what your website said and assumed it was accurate despite your disclaimers that we shouldn't.

Your response was that the Tyler Bi Cast leather molded office chair was indeed on sale, but it was currently out of stock in black and you were sorry for the inconvenience and hoped the information was helpful.

Again, it wasn't.

As you can see from the attached screen shot, the chair shown as "on sale"  is a brown chair (cognac according to the actual description). It is not a black chair. When you click to the actual item, the only way you could determine that there were two colors and one was on sale but conveniently out of stock was to click on a small color circle. There is no mention anywhere of only the smoky black being on sale  If I was interested in a black chair I wouldn't have clicked on a brown chair photo.  But the least you could have done was explain that when you got to the actual item.  And if it is out of stock, remove it from the sales item.

I realize that your customer service people are trained to look up canned responses and cut and paste them into in-mails to confused customers. But I hope someone there (a supervisor or manager perhaps) recognizes had ridiculous this entire communications chain has been. You inundate me on a daily basis with emails about sale items and when I actual respond to one, I am sent down a rabbit hole of smoke and mirrors intended to make me think I am idiot because I expect a business' website to be accurate and if it isn't for the business either to honor what they presented or at the very least correct the mistake. 

Please share this email with your managers, your marketing department and your IT people who manage the web page. 

I hope this information was useful."

I can't wait for the their next response. I can't imagine it will be useful.

June 12, 2023

I didn't think they would respond, but they did in consistent corporate fasion:

"Dear Tim,

Thank you for contacting World Market.


We do apologize for the issues surrounding some of the prices listed on our website. We appreciate your pointing this error out to us. 

We are aware that there are currently some items that are only showing the lowest price available on that item instead of a range of prices as it should. We have certainly been updating our IT Department with the information as these errors are discovered and they are fervently working to correct any misinformation as quickly as possible.

We realize that this knowledge does not change anything with regards to the issue that you are having, we simply wanted to provide a fuller picture for you with regards to the errors.

While, as you have been informed, we cannot honor the incorrect prices, we would like to offer you a 20% discount on your next online order as an apology. Your promotional discount code is:


To redeem, copy and paste, or type directly into, the Apply Promotional Code box in your shopping cart on our website.

Again, we apologize for the error and appreciate your understanding.


If you need any further assistance, please do not hesitate to let us know. Our Customer Service Department is open from 7:00 AM until midnight EST. The telephone number is 1-877-967-5362.

Best regards,

I do want to note that at no time did I ask them to honor the "incorrect prices" (though she is technically admitting it was incorrect).  I didn't ask for a discount, but if I did, it would be a heck of a lot more than 20 percent on what would be an almost $300 dollar chair (bi-cast leather or not). You get a 15 percent discount for just picking up an item you order online at the store yourself. I will also note the chair is still listed as on sale and the black chair is still out of stock although Amy apologizes for the error and appreciates me understanding.

But for the life of me, I still don't understand and I have asked World Market to remove me from their mailing list.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Being relevant


I asked the AI chat thingy what it meant to be relevant and it babbled on about meaning something to your audience. I don't really have an audience so I don't think that definition is relevant.

Ironic, don't you think?

Having recently turned 65, I struggle with being relevant. I think at some point being old sort of translated to being wise. Perhaps that was true in a world where you needed to be wise to survive long enough to be old. Now being old kind of means you are well...just old.

It's just that you are automatically considered irrelevant because your hair is white and your skin is wrinkled. That renders you (dare I say it) invisible. You don't count. You are out of touch. Your opinion doesn't matter.

So I am stuck in this body thinking my brain is young despite what I see in the mirror. What do I do? I can't totally ignore it. I am 65. I don't move as quick as I used to.  I forget things. I don't have much of a social life. But am I irrelevant?


Maybe we, as a generation, should step out of the way and let the following (or now) generations make a mess of it on their own until they reach our age and go through their own crisis. Then we can look at them through our rheumy eyes and say, "Sucks, doesn't it?"

Then it becomes more relative than relevant.

Friday, April 28, 2023

Nothing really matters


Nothing really matters, anyone can see
Nothing really matters
Nothing really matters to me
Any way the wind blows

--Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody 

"Nothing. The absence of something. The void. The concept of nothingness has been a topic of philosophical debate and scientific inquiry for centuries. But what exactly is nothing?

In everyday language, we often use the word "nothing" to mean the absence of something. For example, if we say "there is nothing in the fridge," we mean that there is no food or drink inside. But this kind of nothing is still something – it's an absence of something tangible.

In a philosophical sense, nothing refers to the absence of everything – the absence of matter, energy, space, time, and even thought. This concept of nothing is much harder to understand because it is beyond our everyday experience.

From a scientific perspective, the concept of nothing is also complicated. Physicists have long studied the properties of empty space, or what they call a vacuum. But even a vacuum is not truly nothing – it contains particles popping in and out of existence and fluctuations in energy. According to quantum mechanics, even in the absence of matter and energy, there is still a level of uncertainty and unpredictability in the universe.

In some cultures, nothing is seen as a positive concept. In Zen Buddhism, for example, nothingness or emptiness is a state of mind that is necessary for enlightenment. In Western culture, however, nothing is often seen as negative – a void that needs to be filled with something.

So, what can we conclude about nothing? It's a complex concept that can be understood in different ways depending on our perspective. Ultimately, it may be impossible to fully comprehend the idea of nothingness because it is beyond our everyday experience. But the pursuit of understanding nothing can lead us to contemplate the mysteries of the universe and the nature of existence itself."


I have always prided myself on being able to write a great deal about nothing. So I challenged an AI Bot to write a blog post about nothing and it literally wrote six paragraphs about nothing. I emphasize "literally." It sounds good. It looks good. But it doesn't really have any substance. Which I suppose is ironic when you write about nothing.

I'm not sure I know how to feel about AI writing. Writing is the one thing I've considered I can do well. Now a bunch of random binary numbers in the cloud can piece together words much better than your average high school junior. And I'm willing to bet many of them are using AI to get around random English essays.

So far though, AI doesn't seem to be able to capture the subtle or the pun. This post about nothing didn't have anything clever to offer (which seems to be my downfall). Because I would have wrapped up this post about nothing just like I am going to:

I have nothing more to say.

Wednesday, April 05, 2023

Smile, damn you Sigmund, smile


I couldn't find any photos of Sigmund Freud smiling and it bothered me. After all, who would want to lay on a couch in front of this man and talk about your dreams about being chased by a giant carrot? The man is constantly scowling. 

I suppose psychoanalysts aren't suppose to show emotion. You can't give clues that something the patient said is significant or you are leading the witness. Wait that is a courtroom where someone is on trial for something that they may or may not feel guilty about. 

Ooooo, a Freudian slip!

Of course I just Googled Freudian slip and found umpteen images of Freud wearing women's underwear. How juvenile. And they all beat me to the pun as usual.

Ironically, the first thing I toyed with majoring in in college was Psychology. I took the obligatory Psych 101 lecture class in my freshman year. It was taught by a professor who looked remarkably like Sigmund Freud. But most of the lectures were by his assistant. Apparently the professor had a drinking problem and could only make it to class to hand out copies of a book he wrote and required for the course. Then he stumbled back to his office and slipped into tenured bliss and bourbon.

I guess like all people who toy with majoring in Psychology, I was hoping it would help me figure out myself. I don't think I would ever have made a good Psychologist (though I can be a decent listener). I just don't think I could have listened to people spouting their problems all day without rolling my eyes and thinking about lunch before looking at my watch and saying, "Well, that's all we have time for today) right in the middle of a major breakthrough.

It's not that I don't care about people's problems. There was a time in my life when I thought I was extremely emphathetic and could figure out how to help people with emotional problems.  I eventually discovered that have the time I was projecting how I would feel on other people and with women, I was an asshole for trying to fix their problems and not just listening.

At least if you are a counselor, you are being paid to be an asshole.

I imagine I have admitted in my blog on many occasions that I have seen counselors in the past. And although they were generally very nice people, I can't say that they did me a lick of good. I in fact felt worse on many occasions because of the debt I was racking up paying someone to listen to me. 

This is not to say that counseling or therapy is good for some people. I, however, have never felt better having spilled the beans (outside of my blog) about my feelings or emotional shortcomings. It's not that I want to hide my feelings, I just want to keep them to myself where they are warm and cozy.

So it is best that I changed my major umpteen times after dabbling in Psychology and settled on Journalism. It may not have been lucrative, but I can crank out 1000 words in about five minutes with very few rewrites.

It may not make Sigmund smile, but I'm quite proud of it.

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Force you


I saw Star Wars when it first came out in 1977. It was unknown at the time. There were no lines. I was blown away and saw it a couple more times but the lines came. I have seen every Star Wars film since. I have been to the Star Wars section of Disneyland. I am a fan, but not obsessive. But the one thing I always believed in from the film was the Force.

Okay, the cool thing about the force is that it was a higher power but not religious. You could tap into it without being dunked in water or going to Sunday School. You didn't have to be saved, but it saved you anyway. 

It's kind of what I came to believe in after rejecting religions and metaphysical scams. I think there is a force in the world. Maybe it is nature. Maybe it is just what goes on at the subparticle level with atoms and such. But I do think everything is connected. It's like the ocean. It's hard to imagine a separate drop of the ocean. It's all one thing. So maybe that is the force.

The thing I do struggle with with that concept is losing my individual self to the force. It is what I worry about when I die. I don't like the idea of losing myself and being merged with the whole. It is selfish, I know, but I've spent a long time being me and thought of not being me is unnerving. 

In all fairness though, none of the Jedi seem to lose themselves after dying. Obi Wan, Darth Vader, Princess Leia, Yoda and eventually Luke seem to fade in and out like benevolent ghosts encouraging others to trust the force. 

I could kind of use that kind of encouragement. When my parents passed I half-way thought they would watch over me in some way. But nada. Oh, they occasionally pop up in a dream or two, but I can't recall being comforted. This does not bode well for the afterlife.

Funny we call it the afterlife. It's this optimistic hope that there will be something. It would be a shame if there were nothing. It would make living kind of pointless if we just ended. Which leads me full circle to it being nice to at least think we rejoin the Force.

Or am I being too Forceful?

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Breaking Bad (wind)


For whatever reason, my son is a bit obsessed with Walter White of  the Breaking Bad series. I am not sure why. I don't think he has ever watched an episode of the show.  It first aired in the year he was born -- 2008. Maybe that is the connection. 

I watched the entire series. I like Bryan Cranston, the actor who played Walter White. I have been watching his current series on Showtime called Your Honor where he plays a judge who goes bad trying to protect his son after a hit and run accident that kills a New Orleans mobsters son.

Cranston can't avoid breaking bad.

Anyway, my son was putting together a collage poster for his Spanish class with random photos cut from magazines. The photos were supposed to say something about his interests. There were several dogs and some cats. And smack dab in the middle of the poster he printed out and pasted a photo of Walter White.

I loved the randomness of it. In some way he has my sense of humor, though he would never admit it. And he is much more literal than I am. But I love that he appreciates the absurd. 

So I couldn't help putting my face on Walter White. Though I look a bit more like a Orthodox Jew than Walter White. And the art program I use to turn it into a cartoon like image gave me a serious unibrow.

But I kind of like it anyway. 

I'm bad.

Friday, March 10, 2023

When you're strange


When you're strangeFaces come out of the rainWhen you're strangeNo one remembers your nameWhen you're strangeWhen you're strangeWhen you're strange

-- The Doors 

Once again I started to write a blog post with a title I thought was clever and then searched my own archives and found I had written a post with the same name back in March 2009. The post was titled Kindness of strangers.  Basically (since you likely won't click on the link to read the post), it was about the anomaly of writing blog posts and baring your soul to what amounts to total strangers. This was back when I still clung to mistaken assumption that there was a regular group of strangers who hung on every word I wrote.

By strangers I was referring to people I didn't know, not odd people (though I have had my share of odd people read my blog).  And when you come down to it, I am a bit strange myself. I used to embrace that strangeness, but more and more I have grown quite self conscious about being strange. It's a catch-22.

I think this is one of those circle of life things. When I was a teen ager, I definitely wanted to stand out as unique but at the same time I didn't want to be (as my teen aged son says) the "strange kid." Too often being strange puts you in a fringe category that the management speak people call "success inhibitors". Unless you have lots of money like Elon Musk, being strange doesn't work in your favor in the business world. It sort of works in the creative/art world, but then again you are spending most of your time making espresso drinks or waiting tables so being strange doesn't really matter.

But back to that circle of life thing. I am now a hop and a skip away from turning 65 and have returned to that place where I want to be unique but at the same time, I don't want to be that "strange old man." This is difficult when your wardrobe consists of t-shirts that say, "What day is it?" and you wear the same pair of baggy jeans for months at a time. 

I have always taken pride in the fact that my blog is strange. It is so strange that I prefer that only strangers see it. I'm well past the point thinking people who know me would understand it. But I also still struggle (as demonstrated by the number of self pity posts I write) that my blog doesn't resonate with many people (or web bots for that matter). I can't remember the last time I had a comment about a post that wasn't spam about hair extensions or male enhancement drugs.

Where are my faces coming out of the rain? I mean, I barely wrote anything during much of the pandemic and no one noticed. Now that I am back posting no one seems to notice either. Did I mention I'm just about a week away from turning 65? There's not that much more time left for me to start trending. 

With my luck, a day after I finally come to the end of that circle of life, some famous person with a billion followers will discover my blog and post, "Hey you have to read this guys stuff, it's profound and hilarious!"

Wouldn't that be ironic Alanis?

Friday, March 03, 2023

Bright. Light. City.


I have been to Las Vegas six times in my life and I've never really gotten used to it. Three of those times have been to attend conferences so much of the time has been spent sequestered in conference rooms in large casinos wondering what the light of day looks like. 

The latest trip was to attend a conference. The hotel was Planet Hollywood which years ago was the Aladdin. It is a huge hotel and casino. I was on the 30th floor and I think there were 15 to 20 more floors above me. It was souless hotel like the rest with a casino designed to confuse and daze all who passed through it. And you couldn't help pass through it to get to anything. 

I don't play table games at casinos. It is too stressful for me to interact with a dealer. I play slots now and then, but I miss the old ones with handles and playful themes. The slots in the Planet Hollywood Casino were huge modern machines with complicated lines and bets. I lost $20 in five minutes and was done.

I spent most of my time at the conference or sitting in my room watching home renovation or cooking competition shows. The room was nothing special. Two queen beds, a television and a bathroom. No housekeeping the entire five nights. Not sure whether that is a COVID thing or a hotel trying to cut corners thing. And my pet peeve was they gave you paper cups, no glass cups and no coffee maker. 

I didn't go to any shows. I did go on a city tour provided by the conference hosts. That's where I got my selfie with the Welcome to Las Vegas sign. I also saw the major changes the strip has gone through since my last visit. Many of the classic old casinos are gone and replaced with mega properties or just boarded up. Hardly a buffet to be found.

I also got my photo taken with an Elvis impersonator at a conference reception. I think this is my third photo with Elvis in Las Vegas in almost three decades (second at a conference...that one was with Marilyn too). 

The King stays young and I keep getting older. And I think I'm finally too old for Vegas.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Getting to know me


This photo is what I used to believe was my first memory. I am sitting in my big brother's lap on a blanket in my front yard. My other brother is holding our dog Lucky's head.  The other kid is our neighbor from across the street. In retrospect, I may just think this photo is of my first memory because it is one of the few baby photos I have of me. I do recall my mom telling me that Lucky nipped me and my mom scolded him. She claims he would sit and protect me after that. Lucky eventually was sent to "live on a farm" because he had a habit of biting people. Lucky wasn't.

In the almost two decades I've been writing this blog, I've offered up quite a few biographical tidbits about my life. I have written about trying to interview my elderly parents about their lives before they died. Neither was very forthcoming. I think they had just settled into their old age and didn't really want to think about the past. Most of what I gleaned about their lives came from stories they would tell us as kids on long car rides to go camping or musings around campfires.

Unlike most children, I was actually curious about who my parents were before they became my parents. But since they are dead and most of the people who knew them when they were young are dead, I will never have more than a sketch of who they were and who they wanted to be.

My own children don't seem to really care about who I was or who I am. I accept this because they are immersed in their now and the complications of being teen agers. I generally try to avoid telling stories of when I was their age. I like to think I can tune into the clues given by eye rolls and distant stares and have stopped volunteering stories of my youth.  I come from a distant time that they can't relate to. And the things I used to be proud of (like being a drum major at a school with a "Braves" mascot and wearing full buckskins and a headdress) are now considered incredibly not politically correct. My daughter is particularly embarrassed that I participated unknowingly in cultural appropriation by dressing as a Native American Chief. 

My high school has since abandoned their inappropriate mascot image of an Indian brave if not the name. In 2019 they changed the name of the mascot from "Braves" to "Brave" (which they somehow thought was more acceptable). But when I visit their web page there is no mention of a mascot Brave or not. Their logo, however, is now a capital "B" for Boise. 

Wednesday, February 08, 2023

Non Angli sed Angeli


Upon seeing English slave children in Rome, Pope Gregory I the Great, supposedly said 'These are Angels, not Angles'. He apparently said this because the English kids had blonde hair and looked more like how he imagined angels looked than your average dark haired Roman. He then sent St Augustine and 40 monks to England in 596 to convert Anglo-Saxons to Christianity. I think everything went downhill from there.

According to my 23 and Me DNA results, I'm about 99 percent European and my ancestors primarily came from England. This came much to my chagrin because I grew up thinking I was Irish. Instead I am predominantly English and potentially an angel.

I did have blonde hair until I was about six or seven years old. And since I was very well behaved, most of my grade school teachers thought I was an angel. Mostly I was afraid of authority and kept my mouth shut. So maybe I am (or was) an angel.

My son was born with red hair that eventually turned blonde. He has a head of curly blonde hair now, as a teenager, and can look angelic. He also looks like a young Peter Frampton and could be a rock star (if he had any interest in singing or the guitar).  If he is an angel, he is a sullen one. 

I am pleased to say that St. Augustine and his 40 monks must have not gotten through to my ancestors. As far as I know, I don't come from a long line of Christians. From what I have researched on, I come from a long line of poor farmers and farm hands who likely didn't realize they were angels and may have been Christians, but in name only. They were mainly focused on making ends meet.

I have to admit that I have a bias against being a Christian. I have found that when someone professes to be a good Christian it is intended as a way of implying they are one of the chosen and everyone else is going to hell. To which I am always tempted to tell them to go to hell and keep their beliefs to themselves. 

The irony of Pope Gregory I's proclamation was that he thought the young English kids looked like angels but were more than likely pagans who worshipped trees and earth spirits. Plus they were slaves. They probably wouldn't mind having angel wings so they could fly away and smite their enslavers with bolts of lightning. 

Those are my kind of angels. 

Monday, January 30, 2023

Old new me


This is a modified version of a pre-selfie selfie I posted about in August 2019 (Time after time). I have to say, I am kind of fascinated by this version versus the actual version of me posing in my 60s as my 20-something self. I was going to call this post "Reflections" but I used that some time ago when I posted about preferring to take photos of myself in the mirror because it looked more like me to me because that was the image I was used to seeing.

I like this stylized version of my study of my young and old self better because it also seems kinder to my old face (which I have become painfully subconscious about). The funny thing is that I relate more to the old young self than the current self. It is the old young self I see in my mind, not the new old self I see in the mirror.

I am not alone in this phenomenon. When my mother was in her 80s she told me she felt the same way. So it is this nasty trick time plays on you. 

But my age did get me a discount at the movie theater on Saturday night when my wife and I went to see Tom Hanks latest movie A man named Otto. It was a good movie but a bit on the depressing side because Tom Hanks plays an aging engineer who was forced into retirement with the goal of committing suicide rather than endure a life alone after his wife died of cancer. And Otto is also a kind of anal retentive dick who doesn't seem to have a lot of redeeming qualities. He is kind of like a cross between Rain Man and Oscar the Grouch.

The movie had lots of flashbacks to a young Tom Hanks (played by one of his sons who has an incredibly large head). We see his young, beautiful girlfriend who becomes his wife. Unlike Otto, she is likeable. We see lots of the young Otto and the old Otto. And we see Otto's young wife, but we never really see the wife when she ages. 

In between lots of flashbacks and Otto trying unsuccessfully to kill himself, the story revolves around the main character treating just about everyone like crap but he is still somehow found endearing to them. He redeems himself by helping everyone (even though he can't stand them), being treated as part of the neighbor's family then dying of having too big of a heart (please) and leaving them everything. The movie ends with the neighbors driving off in his new truck after grieving his passing for maybe ten minutes.

Tom Hanks has come a long way from his Bosom Buddies days and lighthearted movies like Splash.

Anyway, what struck me about the film (other than how depressing it was) was that the main character was only three years older than me and that I got a senior discount to watch the film. There has got to be something ironic (or poetic) about that somewhere. I just can't quite put my finger on it.

Maybe it is that who we are in our 20s and who we are in our 60s are nothing like each other.

Friday, January 27, 2023

If you mess with the monkey...


...expect some feces to be flung.

My Monkey Playing Cymbals has popped up in umpteen of my posts since I first introduced him in August 2004. He is my self-professed muse. He reminds me in his own monkey way to grin and bear it. Though his visage seems more frozen in a grimace than a grin. 

The monkey is a symbol with cymbals that he no longer plays. 

I don't know what that means, but I like how it sounds. 

The monkey sat out the pandemic alone in my abandoned office in downtown Seattle on the fringe of the International District (which has kind of become a no person's land that even Starbucks won't serve anymore). I found him sitting patiently when I returned to the office last August with the primary goal of packing up my old, spacious corner office with lots of windows and stuffing 25 years of memorabilia into 19 moving boxes that were transported to an office that is half as big and is sequestered on the interior of an 11th floor far from any direct light.

When I finally unpacked all 19 boxes into my tiny office I began to understand the people featured on Hoarders. I like to think my hoard has a bit more order than your typical hoarder.  I'm an ordered hoarder. All of my stuff has meaning to me. There are several props that have been used in the various television commercials I've created over the years. This includes rubber hands, a gas mask, a fake man in the iron mask mask and signs from a transporter portal from a shoot in L.A. just before the pandemic.

And of course I unpacked the monkey. He was a bit pissy about being left alone for two years and then being stuck in a box. But I could tell he was relieved to be back on a shelf above my desk and computers where he could once again lord his muse musings over me.

I have to admit that my pandemic posts without the monkey's help were pretty pitiful. I wouldn't tell the monkey that. He has too big of an ego as it is. But I have missed his moronic grin/grimace and his beady little sunken eyes.