Sunday, December 31, 2023



So it is almost officially 2024. And I can't say I have done much today in way of preparation. Oh, I did finally sell this old English Kitchen Cabinet I had bought umpteen years ago at an antique mall. I had it at my Shoreline house and kept dishes in it. It moved with me to two other houses, but I no longer have room for it. So I put it on Facebook Marketplace almost a year ago. But no one wanted to pay me near what it was worth until today.

This nice person sent her young husband by to pick it up. When I opened up the garage to show it to him he asked me if I was okay lifting things and if I could help him put it in his vehicle. I wanted to go pick him up to show him I am old but not totally feeble yet. I swear I'm giving off some senior citizen vibe. I'm still pissed about the guy at Ace Hardware saying, "Hello young man."

So I don't have a lot of hope for 2024 not being the year of ageism directed at my poor old gray head. I'm tempted to grow a ponytail to show them how hip and young I am.

Not going to happen. Growing a ponytail at my age would be falling right in their trap and admitting I'm an old fart trying to keep the Grim Reaper at bay.

Anyway, I wanted to get one last post in before the ball drops (though I believe it already fell in NYC because of the time difference). 

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 30, 2023

Down for the count?


I went into an Ace Hardware Store today to kill time before picking my daughter up from an appointment. Normally a hardware store wouldn't be my first choice for a place to kill time, but the Ace Hardware in our community is more of a general store than a hardware store. They pretty much have anything you can imagine in stock.  And I figured I would see what was on sale after Christmas.

Things started going sideways when I walked in and was greeted by the Ace version of a Walmart greeter. It was this nice older gentleman who looked about 20 years older than me. He greeted me with a "Good afternoon, young man, is there anything I can help you find?"

Okay, I know what it means when someone greets a senior citizen with a clever, "hello young man." It's tantamount to asking me to see my AARP card and direct me to where they stock the Depends. 

But I smiled nicely, muttered I was just looking and slipped off to see what was on sale. I found a box of smart lightbulbs marked down, likely because Ace couldn't sell them to the other senior citizens who were still trying to figure out how to send a text message on their flip phones. There were the type of bulbs that you can not only ask Alexa to turn on and off, but also to change colors or dim. I snatched the last box and went off to another aisle. 

I swear that at least three other sales associates asked me if I needed help. This Ace is not that big of a store but they have an army of sales associates. I was starting to get really annoyed because unless I'm in a hardware store looking for a specific part for a toilet, I pretty much want to browse on me own.

I found the tool aisle and picked up a riveting gun set I've been kind of wanting for awhile. Because you never seem to have a rivet gun when you need one and I've got a couple of guitar cases where the handles have broken off.

I made my way to the cashier dodging several more helpful sales associates. The cashier rang up my purchases and I put my debit card in the keypad. It was one of those overly sensitive ones and it kept erroring out if I even looked at the wrong button. I swear the cashier was shaking her head in pity at the poor senior citizen trying to remember their pin number. She gave me my receipt and said a bit too sweetly to me that she "hoped I had a better day." She might as well have patted me on the hand and said, "There, there dear."

I scurried out of the store to my 2006 Hyundai wishing I was driving a Dodge Charger that I could have spun out leaving the parking lot. 

Why do I feel like I'm approaching that stage in life where people are trying to get me to step onto an ice flow and tell me to "Have a nice trip?"

Friday, December 29, 2023

Counting down


I've been around the block enough times to know that nothing really changes when the clock strikes midnight on New Year's Eve and it officially becomes a new year. Putting aside all of the different time zones, the artificial nature of calendars, the abstract nature of time in general, a new year means nothing but another countdown to whatever you countdown to in the new year.

So we should just be content to celebrate the dropping of the ball in Times Square (or the obscuring of the Space Needle with firework smoke in Seattle), the kissing of strangers and the opportunity to drink and blow party horns when the clock rolls around to midnight.

Not that most clocks strike or roll anymore. 

Prince was all about partying like it was 1999 because lots of people thought the world would end when it became 2000. For some reason they thought that because of software glitches that somehow didn't account for a new century. But nothing happened. And there were a lot of disappointed people with hangovers.

It's not like I ever partied big time on New Year's Eve anyway (though you'd think differently looking at the above photo...just a random moment captured out of context...not sure what the context was though). I don't think I ever did kiss a stranger at midnight (at least not on New Year's Eve). Most of my single life was spent thinking I needed to be coupled up (which is the kiss of death if you are trying to meet someone) and when you are married, New Year's Eve generally means trying to stay awake until midnight and mutter, "Whoopee."

I suppose it is better that we don't each have our own countdown clock that tracks how much time we have left. Depending upon your circumstances it could be inspiring, annoying or depressing (especially for procrastinators). But it would put things in perspective and we might be less apt to waste time.

Or not. 

Let the countdown begin!

Thursday, December 28, 2023

To know, know, know me...


To know, know, know him is to love, love, love him 

Just to see him smile, makes my life worthwhile

To know, know, know him is to love, love, love him 
And I do (and I do, and I, and I do, and I, and I do, and I, and I do, and I)

--Song by the The Teddy Bears written by Phil Spector

Part of me wanted to write, "to know, know, know me is to loath, loath, loath me." Or maybe, "to no, no, no me..." 

Ironically, Phil Spector wrote and performed this song with his singing group the Teddy Bears. The song was inspired by a quote on his father's tombstone, "To know him was to love him." His father had committed suicide.

After having the one hit, "To know him is to love him," Spector went on to become a record producer. And to say he was a control freak was being pretty generous. He produced a great deal of successful music but Phil Spector was basically a bona fide nut job. In 2003 he was arrested for putting a pistol in the mouth of an actress visiting his mansion and killing her. 

He denied killing her, but the evidence was pretty overcoming. He showed up to court in a variety of bizarre wigs. He ended up going to prison and died in a prison hospital in 2021. 

So to know, know, know Phil Spector is to pretty much know he was a certified whack job.

Which is a round about way to come to the point of this blog post. In my experience, the more you know, know, know someone or they know, know, know you, the less either of you will really want anything to do with each other.

So thanks, Phil. You produced some pretty great music but you proved that no matter how you crack it, a nut is still a nut (and maybe better off left in its shell.)

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Ghosts of Christmas' past


This was a photo from Christmas 1974. I'm the half-awake skinny teenager on the left. My brother Dan is in the middle in a robe and my father is on the right. I was 16, my brother was 20 and my dad was almost 60. My mom is likely the one taking the photo and my oldest brother was married by then and would likely be coming over later with his wife to open presents from my parents.

I was wearing a scarf I think was knitted by my  first girlfriend. It was the only reason I was wearing a scarf. Scarves weren't a big thing in our house growing up and I didn't really see the purpose in wearing one. 

We are sitting in front of the tree in our family room which had wood paneling, a Franklin Stove and god-awful orange shag carpeting. The room looked the same up until the house was torn down after my mom died about 38 years later. I imagine we would have had a Christmas dinner later that day when my brother and his now ex-wife came over (she was the first of three wives). I was in high school of course and had just started dating that spring. I don't remember what I got my girlfriend for Christmas that year. I was still trying to figure out the complicated rituals of gifts and girlfriends. No matter what it was, I imagine it was the wrong thing.

I don't remember what else I got for Christmas that year. The 70s were a time of 8-track tapes and polyester shirts. My brother is holding a mug from his burgeoning mug collection. It may have been when he started on the path to being a borderline hoarder that he is now (and I am being kind to refer to him a "borderline" hoarder). I'm not sure when he set out on the path to being a Trump groupie. 

My father was a few years from retiring as a custodian at the local university. He had worked at a hardware warehouse for 25 years before the company closed and laid him off when he was 55. He was a good custodian, though. And he brought home crap he found in the garbage all the time so that may have contributed to my brother's hoarding tendencies, too.

I post this photo, not because it was a particularly memorable Christmas. It is just one of the few photos from that time. And it does capture the spirit of the 1970s and my particular teen spirit.

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Santa has a beard


As with most things on my blog, I have written about growing a beard many times.  One of the best posts was To shave or not to shave back in 2010. It pretty much captures my history of facial hair.  I've had mustaches, goatees and very occasionally experimental full beards.  The full beards never quite panned out.

I generally just defaulted to goatees. Even during the pandemic I resisted the trend to grow a COVID beard. But recently I started letting my beard grow again and I have to say I like it. Here's an actual photo sans the social media filters.

The one drawback I've found with having a full beard is the amount of product you need to keep it from looking like you just rolled out of a refrigerator box on the sidewalk. This includes beard wash, beard conditioner, beard oil and beard balm (brought to you with no little expense by companies with cool names like Grave Before Shave). And you need a beard brush and a beard comb to work those products through your beard. But be prepared that your teenage son will like take a shine to both your beard brush and beard comb for god knows why and use them instead of the four or five combs and brushes you provide him for his long hair.

I am particularly pleased that my new, longer beard does indeed hide my old and ever expanding double chin. It also makes my face appear longer, adding to the illusion that I am getting slimmer as I age (at least in my face).

I also think the full beard makes me look even more like my great, great, great grandfather George Knox who had a pretty bitchin' beard if I do say so myself.

This prepares me join thousands of people who each year join in to inexplicably reinact battles of the civil war. My great, great, great grandfather was in fact in the civil war and received a pension including compensation for suffering chronic diarrhea.

I don't think it had anything to do with his beard, though. But I have big footsteps to follow in.

Wednesday, December 06, 2023

What's so funny?


I have always thought my best attribute is my sense of humor. I've always enjoyed making people laugh. And I've always enjoyed laughing. 

But you know, it is another thing that I feel like I'm losing with old age. Or more correctly, it is another thing I am seriously (pun intended) doubting as I get older. 

I've blogged about this before. But what haven't I blogged about before? Though in all fairness to me, I have blogged about thinking I am funny instead of about having a sense of humor. I suppose they aren't the same thing.

Doubt has set in on both fronts again. A week or so ago I was supposed to make a presentation to my staff meeting at work. I was the facilitator and the facilitator at our meetings is required to make a presentation about anything they want. It definitely doesn't have to be work related. Some people present about trips they have been on, or hobbies. Some even present about themselves.

So I thought it would be funny to do an entire presentation about me and how I came to be where I am in life. I started from the beginning and worked my way from being a baby, though kindergarten, grade school, junior high, high school, college finally work. I thought I was making it clever, entertaining and informative. It was also an opportunity to show photos of myself before I was old with white hair a beard and a very tired face.

Before the presentation I had slides running of my series of Mindless Thoughts from my YouTube channel. I wanted them to see how clever I could be. No one even noticed them.

I started the slide show with a clever photo:

No one cracked a smile. All of my awkward childhood photos and stories fell flat. And I kept going. I showed a video of me in my late 20s when I thought I looked pretty damned handsome. Not a single gasp or comment.  Finally I reached the end and realized I had taken up way more time then I intended and hadn't managed to endear myself to anyone.

I wanted to crawl under a rock. I had shared photos of myself no one had ever seen and told stories I assumed were entertaining. And I finally had the revelation that none of them cared. No one gave a rip. And I also realized that it was highly likely that the stuff I had shared would never be seen again by anyone (except for the random photo or two I post here). 

You see, the difference between someone who is famous and the rest of us is that people want to know everything thing about them and especially love to see photos from when they were young and attractive so they could marvel at how much they have aged and let themselves go. I fooled myself into thinking I was famous in my tiny little microcosm of life. 

But no one but me saw it that way. They barely even humored me let alone found humor in what I had shared. So it put things into perspective for me. First it confirmed that the people I work with are just that. For the most part they aren't friends. Secondly it taught me something I should have learned (or relearned) a long time ago. I'm not nearly as funny as I think I am. The more I stop and think about what I am going to say when I am about to try and be clever, the better. 

I know this all sounds like one more trip to the punchline bowl at the pity party, but it actually helps me to put my life in perspective. It reminds me of this barfly I ran into at a bar in St. Thomas years ago. He told me to never forget seven words to live by: Never forget how great you really are.

I can't help but edit those a bit for my slide show experience: Never forget how great you really aren't.