Wednesday, December 11, 2019

I can be so dense

I usually am pretty savvy when it comes to shopping online. I usually just use Amazon and eBay because I can trust that, even if something goes wrong with what I ordered, they'll stand behind it. But I also try to get the best price. Sometimes, however, finding the best price isn't the best deal.

So last night I get ready to order a second controller for my son's XBox for one of his Christmas gifts. I find it on Amazon for $45 and I have free shipping. But I decide to search Google to see if there are any better prices. And Google has this thing pop up that compares prices for you. Most of the prices are more than Amazon's $45. But this one site pops up that offers if for $36 and no tax and a relatively low shipping cost.

I go to the site -- -- and it seems legit. They have all the bells and whistles. They indeed have the controller and it is cheaper. And they have the option of checking out with Paypal so I think it is safe. So I put the thing in my shopping cart and start to check out. And although Google had said there would be no tax, tax does pop up on the order form. But it is still cheaper than Amazon.

So I complete the transaction. And I get a confirmation e-mail, but it is pretty vague. And my confirmation from Paypal shows payment is made to someone with an Asian name. That sets off red flags because I've ended up buying things that come from China before and they take forever to arrive and there have been many cases of counterfeit items being sold from China. The confirmation e-mail just says standard shipping in five to seven days. 

I start to feel uneasy about the order this morning and do a Google search for (something I should have done before ordering from them). Sure enough I start seeing multiple complaints of ordering items that don't arrive and Paypal being notified but not issuing refunds because the seller shows proof an item was delivered. The people complaining say that they receive tracking notices, but find out something was delivered to another address, not theirs. This screams of fraud.

Turns out all of the contact numbers and e-mail addresses on are fake. Even the storefront photo they show of an address in New York is actually a Google maps photos of a different city and state.

I did contact Paypal and opening a complaint to try and cancel the transaction. But from what I've read from other people who have filed complaints, Paypal hasn't been very sympathetic. It could take up to a month to resolve. Meanwhile me trying to save a few bucks cost me $42. And now I'll have to order it from Amazon anyway.

It just comes down to acknowledging that if something seems to good to be true, it isn't.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Just one, wafer thin impeach-mint

I would be remiss not to acknowledge that Trump is finally being impeached. And despite almost incontrovertible evidence that he is guilty, there is a snowballs chance in hell that a super majority of the Senate will vote to convict him. And his "deplorable" supporters are more rabid than ever in the their belief that he is the best thing since sliced Wonder bread.

So I kind of wonder, what is the point in spending all of this time, money and energy trying to pop this pimple out of the White House? The morons who support him just claim that it's all made up and the Senate not convicting him will be their proof that the constant verbal flatulence he spews doesn't stink.

The sociopath doesn't even have the decency to resign. He just keeps up his deluded blather that he is the victim of a witch hunt. Truth is, there is a turd in the White House punch bowl and the country keeps drinking out of it no matter how many times it is pointed out.

What truly depresses me is that none of the so called checks and balances of power that the founding father's tried to put in place seem to work when you place a morally corrupt mad man in office.

And I say that with the utmost respect for the office, not the mad man.

Monday, December 09, 2019

It's beginning to look a lot like Monday

It is a gray Monday in Seattle. That in itself is nothing new. Most days are gray this time of year (and much of the rest of the year as well). The holiday lights help. I kind of wish they would stay up all year round.

I was walking with my son yesterday evening. He and I take the dog on a walk a few times a week more to get him away from video games for a few minutes than to exercise the dog. She is a nervous little thing and probably burns off enough energy bullying the cats without having to be drug around the neighborhood.

Anyway, we were walking and I was enjoying all of the various approaches to decorating with lights that people attempt this time of year. My son, a budding young curmudgeon, was less impressed. He was especially repulsed by a larger than life inflatable Santa wearing pajamas and bunny slippers in one person's yard. The dog seemed startled by the thing, too.

I admit, I'm not a big fan of the inflatable things, either. My wife purchased a couple of inflatable snowmen a few years ago that I reluctantly staked to our front yard. One was Olaf from Frozen. I just think the things are tacky. One of them lost it's inner glow last year so we finally tossed it. I'm not sure what happened to Olaf. I couldn't find him anywhere in the garage. I am a bit relieved.

I used to go to great lengths decorating with lights. I spent hours on the roof clipping icicle lights to the gutters. At one point they ran the entire length of both the front and back of our house. It was quite a feat. But I just can't do it anymore so I confine the light show to the bushes and trees and around the garage door and on the fence. It looks just fine.

Again, I wouldn't mind having lights all year round. I put them up for Halloween already. What would be cool is lights you could hang that would change color according to the season, orange for Halloween; red, green, white and blue for Christmas; red for Valentines; green for St. Patrick's Day; purple for Easter; multi-colored for spring; red, white and blue for the 4th; then orange and brown for fall and then back to Halloween.

I should Google it. I imagine someone makes all season lights.

Friday, December 06, 2019

Nothing pressing

It is difficult not to get caught up in the flurry of activity to prepare for the holidays. Halloween had barely passed when Christmas merchandise and decorations hit the stores. Thanksgiving was a blip on the radar. People had Christmas trees and lights up before the turkey was even digested.

I put the Elvis tree up the day after Thanksgiving.

I started putting lights on the outside of the house on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. I will finish putting them up this weekend. I have given up going onto my roof to hang lights on the gutters. It is hard work and inevitably you put up a string of lights and a patch goes out. I'm sticking to lights in the bushes, trellis and trees in front of the house.

I have much of my Christmas shopping done. It is a challenge because my wife also has a birthday a week before Christmas so I have two celebrations in a row to plan for. So there is birthday cake and balloons to pick up in edition to stocking stuffers.

On top of all this both of my children have indicated they don't buy the whole Santa Claus myth anymore. Part of me is relieved because Santa has gotten credit for gifts I purchased for years.  So I kind of want to feel the love.

Well at least when Christmas is over I don't have to worry about anything until Valentines Day.


Wednesday, December 04, 2019


I have been practising mindfulness for more than a year now using the Calm meditation app. It guides you through ten-minute meditations on a daily basis. The concept is to teach you how to live in the moment and stop your brain from fixating on negative thoughts or memories.

I think it has helped me a bit. It has forced me to take that 10-minute break everyday and at the very least focus on my breathing instead of what I am supposed to be getting done (like figure out what to get my son for Christmas that doesn't involve a $400 virtual reality headset).

As you know (there's that "you" again), I think a great deal about what the brain is creating all the time for me. I struggle with understanding why, if I create my own reality, I can't come up with a better one that doesn't include Trump.

But I digress.

Looking at the photos above, I am mindful that the hair on my head and my beard are almost white. But my eyebrows are still dark brown. Why is that?

I don't think that is technically what mindfulness is supposed to be about. But it does try and teach you not to be judgmental. So I try not to focus on how big my nose and ears look in the photos. Though I did hear on Tik Tok the other day that the nose and ears are the only part of the body that continues to grow as you age. So it must be true (I also Googled it and Dr. Oz confirms it).

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

A star is dead

If you (and "you" know who I'm talking about) have followed my blog for some length of time, you know that each Christmas I decorate an artificial white tree with Elvis themed ornaments. It is a tradition I have carried on for almost 20 years.  I've even tried to get my children to participate (if not understand) the tradition. When they were younger, they happily did, primarily because many of the ornaments play music.

But this year I was the only one who showed any enthusiasm when, on the day after Thanksgiving, I pulled out the white tree and my ornament bins and declared it was time to put up the Elvis tree. My son, who has become quite the curmudgeon basically refused to help. My daughter played along for awhile but got distracted and began drawing on a green Christmas ball that has been in the Elvis ornament bin for years but never goes on the tree because I only allow blue Christmas balls on the Elvis tree.

So I more or less decorated the Elvis tree by myself which is fine because I like to place the ornaments in a certain order and the kids tend to just toss them willy-nilly on the tree only to be rearranged by me after they have left.

But my children's lack of enthusiasm kills any hope I had of the tradition continuing after I've joined Elvis in the great Graceland in the sky (which we know isn't on the moon). My only hope is that they will at least sell all the ornaments on eBay and not just give them to Good Will to be shoved in a bargain bin.

Monday, December 02, 2019

Footprints in the dust

I've been watching the third season of The Crown on Netflix.  It's a bio of Great Britain's royal family. And since all of my DNA results indicate that 99 percent of my ancestry stems from England I find it interesting if not fascinating.

The episode I watched last night was about Prince Philip having a mid-life crisis around the time Neal Armstrong was walking on the moon. Prince Philip felt as though his life was meaningless compared to someone who had actually reached the moon. He felt as though by actually reaching the moon, the astronauts had been given some cosmic knowledge.

So Prince Philip, being a Royal, arranges to meet the Apollo astronauts and ask them some philosophical questions. He is seated in a room in Buckingham Palace with Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins and asks them what they discovered on the moon. They all stared blankly at him (in between cold induced sneezes) and said they were too busy following their astronaut protocols and check lists to have had time to wax philosophical about what it meant to set foot on the moon. They had simple reached the heavens, took some photos, picked up some rocks and left.

Prince Philip was a bit pissed. He realized the astronauts, although brave, were really not very deep people. They shrugged off his questions and instead wanted to know what it was like being a prince and having umpteen palaces. Then they dashed about Buckingham Palace taking snapshots with more gusto than they had on the moon.

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.