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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 Popüler 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.


Friday, October 25, 2019

Why I don't dye my hair and other thoughts on aging


My father's hair started turning gray in high school. It was pretty much white by the time I was born. Then he started losing it on top as well. But he never dyed it or went for the painfully bad comb over.

I asked him once why he didn't dye his hair. He was working at a warehouse at the time. He told me that one of his coworkers had gray hair and came to work with it dyed and everyone made fun of him (this was before such behavior would have triggered an HR witch hunt). So my father just accepted that his hair was white and lived with looking 20 years older than he was.

I think my hair started getting gray when I was in my 30s. It stayed relatively brown until I was in my late 40s. It is now a silvery white. And I have all of it. I suppose I have my mother to thank for that.

I have never considered dyeing my hair. Part of it is because of my father's anecdote.  The other part is I think it is painfully obvious when a man in his sixties dyes his hair because it looks so unnatural. So I accept my hair color that makes me look like a grandfather because I am indeed old enough to be one.


Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Why we don't exist


If you Google "why we don't exist" you don't get nearly as long a list as you do when you Google "why do we exist." And none of it really speaks to why humans don't exist. If you Google "is life an illusion" you start down the path. But still it is mainly just a lot of mumbo jumbo.

"Mumbo Jumbo" btw comes from the Mandinka word, "Maamajomboo", which refers to a masked male dancer who takes part in religious ceremonies. It has come to mean, according to the Oxford Dictionary, "an object of senseless veneration or a meaningless ritual."

But I digress.

Being raised a Christian Scientist, I was told repeatedly by my mother that sickness and death were an illusion. Life in fact was an illusion and that we were neither born nor would we die. She'd point to circle on the cover of Science and Health with key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy (the founder of Christian Science) and ask me where it began and where it ended. Of course unless you see it drawn, a circle has no beginning or end. That is life, she'd say.

I have to say, I had a hard time buying the concept especially when my mom tried downplaying birthdays because she believed we were neither born or died. I also saw a lot of pets and family members die. So this concept of neither being born or dying didn't jive with what I was seeing going on. For the longest time I thought it was just because I wasn't a good enough Christian Scientist.

In retrospect, Christian Science is a bit like Buddhism and the concept that you can end the cycle of birth and rebirth by eliminating attachment and desire. Christian Scientists just think you do it by praying.

I was a Buddhist for a short time, too. But I was about as good at being a Buddhist as I was being a Christian Scientist.


Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Why we exist


Yesterday I waxed philosophical about time and ended pondering why we exist. I thought about it a bit and then did what everyone does these days. I Googled it. And there were tons of pages out there touting answers. But they created more questions than answers.

Most of it fell in the Hallmark realm with answers like to love, to make the world a better place, to be happy, to experience and to leave a legacy. Some just say we exist by accident. Some claim we exist because of a god and point to the bible as our user's manual. But as with most things on the web, everyone spoke with a great deal of conviction but very little evidence to back up their claims.

Because no one really knows.

I've been binge watching three seasons of The Good Place. It's a sitcom starring Ted Danson who plays a demon architect who creates an experimental hell to torture damned souls. His approach is psychological instead of literal torture. The plot centers around four people who are told they are in the good place but are actually in Danson's hell.

In the show, people are judged by everything they do in life. If they don't accumulate enough positive points, they go to the bad place. Danson tells his subject that only one person on earth ever came close to figuring out what happens after death and that was a guy who had taken mushrooms and had a vision in the woods. In the third season of the show Danson visits the man who had figured out the afterlife and discovers he is living a miserable experience because his sole purpose is trying to make other creatures happy in order to accumulate enough points to get to the good place once he died.


Monday, October 21, 2019

Killing time


It is amazing the amount of effort (and time) we spend trying to kill or pass time. Granted, you do more of it in your inpatient youth because you can't wait for something to happen. It's not until you realize that you really don't have that much of it that you rethink the logic of trying to kill time.

In the past few months though, I've taken up doing jigsaw puzzles. I do it when I have time to fill. Because I do find myself spending a great deal of my limited time waiting for people. Doing the jigsaw puzzles exercises my brain while it occupies it. And I have to admit it is quite satisfying. But it is a bit disturbing when I finish one and the only thing to do is tear it apart and put it back in the box knowing I'll never redo it.

Life is kind of like a jigsaw puzzle.

Ironically, time is actually infinite, just not for people. Time has always been and always will be. But humans see it as linear and limited. In addition to trying to kill or pass it, that also try to save it. Sometimes in a bottle. But in a cosmic sense it surrounds us and doesn't just move forward.

Time just is. In a way, time is very much like the way people imagine a god would be.

Time travel has always intrigued people. I don't think it is possible. Because it would have to assume that time is like a river flowing forward and all you have to do is figure out is how to go against the current. But since most philosophers and physicists believe time isn't linear, there wouldn't be anyplace to go back to. You are just in one continuous now.

So what we do when we kill time is just kill "now" trying to get to "then". But then is just another now.

But still, as flesh and blood creatures, our bodies wear out over time. So it is little wonder we view time as a finite construct that can be measured and parsed out. It isn't time that we are killing, it is us.

This gets into a broader philosophic discussion of why we exist at all. But I'll leave that for another blog post as soon as I figure it out.


Thursday, October 10, 2019

To delete, or not to delete...


I pride myself on generally being able to begin writing with a germ of an idea and expanding it quickly into a cogent (if not necessarily entertaining) blog post without a lot of editing or rewriting. I may not be able to improvise playing music, but I have always seemed to be able to improvise writing on just about any subject.

But after 15 years and 1345 blog posts, I'm starting to notice that sometimes the stuff doesn't flow as easy as it used to. For one, I think I'm running out of things to say. Which is kind of ironic, because the blog post that prompted this one was one I just deleted called Talking about yourself. It was prompted by how I feel about blow hard's who can't talk about anyone but themselves.  This led to a declaration that I don't really like talking, period.

Then I realized that all I generally do is blog about myself. So I deleted the post. Because sometimes even I can't deny how self-centered and boring some of my blog posts are.

This is where feedback (something I truly hate) would be nice. When people used to read my blog and comment, I at least had some indication that I was being entertaining or educational or thought provoking. But no one but spammers leave comments anymore. And the joke is on them. Since no one reads my blog, no one is reading their spam either.

I can take some comfort in that.

Reflecting on things, it is not just my blog that doesn't get comments. In day to day life I don't get much feedback anymore. I don't hear, "Nice haircut" or "You look nice today." I don't hear many "thank you's" or "you did a great job on that," either.

Part of that is the politically correct world we now live in where everyone is afraid to make any personal comment about anyone or anything. And part of it is that dreaded invisibility cloak age puts on me.

I am speaking at a conference at the end of the month. I keep getting marketing e-mails from them asking me to attend the conference and listing some of expert speakers who are going to be there to entice me to attend. Then they list me and show my photograph.

Now that's invisible.

Monday, October 07, 2019

I'm a little bit country...


I've been binge watching Ken Burns latest documentary series, Country Music. The series has eight episodes that incorporate 16-hours of content. It begins with the roots of what we think of as country music and traces its meandering path to present day country.

I watched all 16 hours and as usual, I was amazed at Ken Burns sense of detail and history. The series brought back a lot of memories and created a few more. It's not that I grew up listening to country music. But I grew up in what I think of as a country place. And as I root around in my family tree, my people were all from country places.

I listened to Hank Williams as a little kid. I didn't know it was Hank. I remember in particular listening to his song Jambalaya.  I also listened to Tennessee Ernie Ford singing Sixteen Tons. That was pretty much the extent of the classic country that I knew. I did get exposed to some from watching television. I knew Roger Williams wrote King of the Road while staying in a sleazy motel in Garden City, a shady part of my hometown in Boise.

I also remember watching the Jimmy Dean show and thinking he looked and talked like a male version of my Aunt Irma. All of my many aunts and uncles talked country. It has a unique sound. It's slow and measured with a bit of a twang. It isn't southern, it's country. I think you can be from any state in the union and have a country accent. It's your people, not your place.


Friday, October 04, 2019

Inside my brain


I've been watching the documentary series, Inside Bill's Brain on Netflix. The brain it refers to is Bill Gates' brain. It has given me new respect for the man because I basically despise Microsoft and all of its products. But I appreciate what Gates has done with his charitable foundation once he stepped down from being the head of Microsoft (no pun intended).

I have to admit if I suddenly had billions of dollars being charitable wouldn't be my first thought. Oh, I'd eventually get there after exhausting all of the luxury things I could indulge in that I've never had before. After awhile I'd think of other things to do with the money. At least I think I would.

But it is painfully obvious that Bill Gates and my brains have very little in common. For one, although I am an introvert, I was never as socially inept as he apparently is. And although I was a voracious reader as a child and much of my early adulthood, I generally read fiction. Bill Gates is also a voracious reader but he reads non-fiction, dry as dirt stuff at the rate of 150 pages an hour and remembers 90 percent of it. I forget what I got up to go to the kitchen for.

I was a good student. I pretty much always got A's without studying too hard. Bill Gates apparently took a statewide math test before junior high and got the highest grade in the state. I hated math.

The one thing I have up on Bill and his brain is that I graduated from college. Bill dropped out and founded Microsoft. But he never finished college so that gives me a right to look down my nose at him even if his net worth hovers around the hundred billion level.

So I'm not a billionaire genius. Apparently you have to be pretty much on the spectrum to be considered a genius. So I'm wondering if it is really worth it to be a Bill Gates or Steve Jobs.

Okay if it means making billions of dollars I'd have to say yes. But it still hurts my brain to think about it.

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Self image


I think it is difficult to have a realistic view of what you look like to others. Because what do you have to base it on other than mirrors and photographs. And those are notorious liars.

Add to the mix the games your brain plays converting signals from your eyes and you really don't have a true image of anything let alone yourself. And let's not forget the unrealistic standards given us by Hollywood and ad agencies for what we should look like.

I have never considered myself handsome. As a boy I was, what I overheard my mother tell someone on the phone, stocky. I remember being teased by some classmates in grade school about how fast I consumed my lunch. They then started saying I had a spare tire.

The spare tire disappeared in junior high. I was pretty skinny. That lasted into college. Along the way I had your typical teenagers battle with acne. And the style for hair at the time was long and pretty much unshaped.

I never had very good muscle tone. I wasn't athletic. I hated running. To this day I have skinny arms, huge calves and the spare tire has returned in a vengeance. I also have a big nose, big ears, a few double chins and crooked teeth. Oh and I have very gray, almost white hair.

Not a pretty picture.



Friday, September 20, 2019

Faded memories


Many years ago I bought a box at an auction that contained a bunch of old photographs. Most weren't in very good condition. Some included the name of the photographer and where they were taken but none included the names of the people.  The photo above is an example of one of the photos. Despite its condition, I love the photo. It appears to be of a group of friends wearing their best clothes and posing for posterity.

When I first got the photos I didn't really think of what to do with them. This was before digital scanning and Photoshop were really a thing. But several years back I scanned most of them with the thought that I'd eventually use them on my blog. A few days ago I decided to open up the files and see what I could do to restore them. Here's the restored version of the photo above.



Thursday, September 19, 2019

On remembering death

Yesterday marked the seventh anniversary of my mother's death. I didn't remember it until some things popped up on Facebook today. I haven't really noted the anniversary from year to year. The last time I wrote about it in my blog was a year after she died.

I noted then that I didn't think the day a person dies should be the key thing you remember about them. It isn't something I put on the calendar. Like I said, I wouldn't remember the exact date unless Facebook wasn't so persistent about reminding us of things.

I couldn't tell you the day my father died either. I wasn't there so it wasn't quite as traumatic as when my mother died. And my father has been dead for 28 years. A lot has transpired since then.

I'm not good with death. I suppose no one is, but some people seem to handle it better. I mainly just shut it out. Oh, I can go through the motions. I can go to memorial services and be stoic and sympathetic. But I don't like death.


Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Smile without smiling


Smile without smiling sounds like a koan. Regardless, this disturbing photo of me with a Snapchat filter does the job quite nicely. I touched it up a bit because I didn't like me without my beard.

The photo reminds me of one I did some years back using only Photoshop. It was before Snapchat. My eyes are smiling in that one though.


It just goes to show you that a smile doesn't necessarily make you happy...or look happy. Though both of these are more of a grimace. It's kind of a Kirk Douglas look (Kirk Douglas was a famous movie star from the late 1940s...he was one of the first actors to play Spartacus...he is the father of Michael Douglas...I wish I didn't have to explain these things).


I have actually been told I have a nice smile...when I smile spontaneously. Too often I smile on cue, usually when I'm posing for a photo. Those are fake smiles. All you have to do is look at my eyes to know I'm not really smiling.

It's funny that we associate eyes with smiling when a smile is theoretically all about the mouth. For example:
When Irish Eyes are Smiling sure it's like a morn in spring
In the lilt of Irish laughter you can hear the angels sing
when Irish hearts are happy all the world seems bright and gay
but when Irish eyes are smiling sure they'll steal your heart away
I suppose it sounds better than, "When Irish mouths are smiling sure it's like a morn in spring."

I guess all we can do is grin and bear it.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

For the birds


Apparently the ledge outside my new office is quite the gathering place for pigeons and occasionally sea gulls. It is on the fourth floor of my building. My other office was on the 8th floor of another building and only attracted a sea gull on rare occasions.

I'm thinking pigeons are afraid of heights.

There are now four pigeons on the window ledge....wait...five. Two are staring at me rather balefully. The other three appear to be sleeping.

Two flew away.

This is dramatic stuff. I'm thinking of setting up a web cam and streaming it live. I'll call it For the birds. Apparently that phrase comes from the 1940s and was originally "That's shit for the birds" referring to birds pecking on horse manure for seeds.

I think calling the web cam "Shit for the birds" might not be a good marketing move. Come to think of it, probably not a big demand anyway for a web cam of pigeons on my window ledge. There are three of them now, BTW. I'm thinking they are hanging out because of the rain. It's hard to tell with pigeons. They always look a bit confused.

I suppose I'd be a bit confused if my eyes were on the side of my head. What is that all about anyway? What genius genetic designer thought it would be a good idea to put birds eyes on the side of their heads? They can't have any depth perception. I'm surprised they aren't flying into shit all the time.

Then it would really be shit for the birds.

Monday, September 16, 2019

I saw It (2)


I took my son to see It Chapter 2 over the weekend. I had relented and let him stream the first chapter last year around this time. So when they released chapter 2 I agreed to take him to the theater and see it.

Okay, Pennywise the Clown (played by Swedish actor Bill Skarsgård) is as creepy as hell. But then again, I think all clowns are as creepy as hell. And It and It Chapter 2 are 100 times better than the 1990s mini-series .  And they are a munch better adaptation of the book by Stephen King (who has a cameo in It Chapter 2...and let me say age has not made the man better looking).

I think I liked It better than It 2. Both are creepy, but chapter 2 seemed to rehash the same old storyline, just 27 years later. And as with the novel, chapter 2 doesn't really do a good job of explaining who or what Pennywise is or where he came from in a way a normal person can really comprehend.

My biggest complaint about It Chapter 2 was how long it was (It was ten minutes shy of three hours long). Fortunately I was in a movie theater with recliner seats drinking a $5 bottle of water (don't get me started on concession prices). I wouldn't say the movie was slow. It made me jump several times and I'm not easily spooked.

I have to say, although the adult cast was good, I don't think they were as likeable as the young cast of the It one. The first movie had a kind of Stand by me nostalgic quality to it. Not that you can really feel nostalgic about fighting an ongoing battle with a killer clown who chewed off your little brother's arm. But you kind of got a sense that the kids in It one had created a bond of friendship that most of us long for but never really have. It Chapter 2 reveals that none of them stayed in touch for 27 years.

Though I think that is closer to reality than people being friends for life with their friends from grade school. Hell, most of my friends from grade school are dead.

Anyway, It Chapter 2 is entertaining, especially if you are a Stephan King fan.

My son liked It, too.

I do crack myself up.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Once more into the windmill



Of course, he carried it a bit too far. He thought that every windmill was a giant. That's insane. But, thinking that they might be... Well, all the best minds used to think the world was flat. But, what if it isn't? It might be round. And bread mold might be medicine. If we never looked at things and thought of what they might be, why, we'd all still be out there in the tall grass with the apes.
--Justin Playfair (George C. Scott) in the movie They Might be Giants 
I have been fascinated with Don Quixote for years. I had the above poster (sans my head) in my dorm room in college. And this isn't the first post I've written about him. I think the first was back in 2006 called Windmills or giants.


It was the movie They Might be Giants, that peaked my interest in Don Quixote. It is a 1971 film starring George C. Scott and Joanne Woodward. Scott plays a mentally ill man who thinks he is Sherlock Holmes. Woodward plays a psychiatrist named Watson. The best part of film is the above quote by the main character explaining to a certain extent why he believed he was Holmes and was trying to find Moriarty, his arch nemesis. He chased Moriarty for the same reason Don Quixote fought with windmills, because they might be giants.

It is concept that has inspired me for years. We shouldn't stop doing what we believe in just because other think it is pointless.

I think it is why I have been blogging for 14 years.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Hello darkness


Hello darkness, my old friend
I've come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence 
In restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone
'Neath the halo of a street lamp
I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence 
--The Sound of Silence, Paul Simon
It is fall once again in Seattle. And the gray returns. Soon it will be dark in the morning when I go to work and dark when I come home.

Not sure how I ended up in such a place. I thought Boise was depressing. Well, it was depressing. But it was more about the people and politics than the weather. Though it would get oppressively hot in the summer and cold in the winter. But I don't recall the rain.

Seattle has the rain. And the clouds. And I've begun to think the people aren't all that great either. Maybe it is cursed by the native Americans or indigenous people who it belonged to until the white people moved in. Or maybe it has always been depressing.

Not that I'm a "walk into the light" kind of person.  I've moved into a corner office at work and it has been hard for me to get used to having so much light. I pretty much keep the shades drawn. When I was a teenager, my room was in the basement. There was pretty much no light.


Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Ch-ch-ch-changes



Strange fascinations fascinate me
Ah, changes are takin'
The pace I'm goin' through 
Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
Turn and face the strange
Ch-ch-changes
Ooh, look out you rock 'n' rollers
Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
Turn and face the strange
Ch-ch-changes
Pretty soon now you're gonna get older
Time may change me
But I can't trace time
I said that time may change me
But I can't trace time
--Changes, David Bowie 
I attended a memorial service over the weekend for the husband of a friend of mine. He was in his early 80s and passed on at an assisted living home. It was a nice celebration of the man's life with many of his life long friends telling stories, mainly from their youth.

I didn't know many of the people who attended the memorial. The ones I did were primarily people I'd worked with years ago who had long since retired.  And although I wasn't the youngest person there, I was one of they younger of the older people.

What struck me about the people I did know was how much they had aged since I last saw them. It's like that when you only have occasional contact with people. You don't get to see them gradual age. It just seems to happen over night.

I can imagine they felt the same way about me.

Aging is something you don't think about until it is rudely thrust upon you. There were so many years that I honestly never thought I would get old. It would help if you never looked into a mirror or looked at photos of yourself. You could stave off old age much longer. Oh, you would start to notice aches and pains and how long it takes you to stand up. But still, inside you don't feel old (as long as your mind stays clear).

Which brings me to Bowie's song Changes. He wrote and recorded the song when he was 24 years old.  And it has been conjectured that Bowie was writing about the changes artists go through as they reinvent themselves. It has also been suggested in a Rolling Stone article at the time, that it could be "construed as a young man's attempt to reckon how he'll react when it's his time to be on the maligned side of the generation schism."

I think in plain speak, it could be said that Bowie was having a premonition of what it would be like to be old and being blamed by all of the young people for everything that is wrong in the world. Sadly and ironically, Bowie only lived to be 69, which from an old person's perspective on things, isn't very old. But as an artist, Bowie certainly did go through a multitude of changes.

Now I'm not an artist, but I have gone through a multitude of changes in my own life.And so has the world and my little slice of it. I thought about that this morning as I walked from the train to my office and passed what for years had been a Tully's Coffee Shop. That company went belly up in September of 2018. The shop, which I'd frequented for almost 20 years has been boarded up. Though I hear rumors a pastry shop is opening in its place.

It is the other annoying curse of getting old to constantly point out to less than enthusiastic listeners what used to be. So in that sense, time may change me, but maybe I can trace time.




Monday, September 09, 2019

But is it art?


Okay, it's no Picasso self-portrait. Well, actually it began as a Picasso self-portrait. I just turned it into my own self-portrait because I love messing with Photoshop. And it does capture the essence of me. Or at least my nose. I think I have a pretty big nose.

Apparently Picasso had a pretty big nose, too. But then again, after a certain age, pretty much everyone's nose becomes more prominent as the rest of them shrinks.

Just something for you Millennial readers to look forward to.

I have to say, though, I have begun to question why some artists become famous and others languish. I'm starting to think it is the luck of the draw (no pun intended). Because I think Picasso was just messing with people with many of his paintings and drawings. But at least he was a commercial success. He was even touted as one of the most influential artists of the 20th Century.

Ehhh...I'm not seeing it. I'm more of a Vincent Van Gogh kind of guy myself. Ironic, that he died before his work became famous. Maybe that's why I like him. He didn't have Picasso's ego. And Picasso didn't have Van Gogh's ear.

Ha, ha, ha.


Friday, September 06, 2019

Little blog of horrors


I am of an age that I remember the magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland as a pulp publication that ran stories about monsters and monster makeup from old horror movies. Much to my surprise, I Googled the magazine and discovered it began in 1958 (the same year I was born) and is still being published. So apparently I have a lot in common with the magazine.

Not that I am a famous monster.  I've worked with famous monsters, though (on ad shoots).



Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Making ripples


Despite all of my whining about being increasingly more invisible as I age, I have always been a person who didn't really like to draw attention to myself. I guess that is hard to believe when you see me Photoshop my face on just about everything.

But that is my virtual self. In the real world I like flying under the radar.

Sometimes, however, I am forced into making ripples, if not waves.  Case in point, Frontier Cable.  A little over a year ago, I contacted Frontier, the company that provides my television, Internet and telephone services, trying to determine why my bill kept increasing although I wasn't getting anything new.  After literally hours on their customer service chat line, I came away with faster Internet and a monthly bill that was still close to $300 a month.

Last week I finally decided that enough was enough. We have enough streaming services that we use that we don't need cable. So I contacted Frontier again. This time I used the telephone (the chat feature wasn't available...apparently because it is too easy to keep a written record). The first person I reached was a young woman named Amber. I asked her what my bill would be if I cancelled cable and just had phone and Internet. She seemed a bit confused, but told me it would go from $294 to $88 plus tax.  I said, "Okay, I want to cancel my cable."

Amber of course couldn't do that. She needed to transfer me to Robin who apparently had that super power. When I talked to Robin, she informed me that cancelling my cable would increase the cost of my telephone and Internet because I wouldn't have the discount of a triple play plan. I told her Amber had quoted me $88. Robin laughed. She suggested I just reduce cable to basic programming (something I had asked for a year ago). Then the prices would be $124 plus tax. If I cancelled cable and kept telephone and Internet, the price would be $144 plus tax.

I said okay, then give me basic cable.  After about ten minutes of typing and apologizing for a slow computer (I assume they have Frontier Internet), Robin gave me a confirmation number and said I'd receive an e-mail confirmation as well.


Tuesday, September 03, 2019

No comment


I've always believed in allowing comments on my blog. At one time the back and forth of the comments was usually more interesting than the original post. I didn't even use Blogger's moderation function for a long time. Then I had a run in with an online stalker/bully/psycho and started moderating the comments.

The way moderation works is that someone leaves a comment, but it isn't posted until the blog owner (me) approves it. This has eliminated a great deal of spam over the years. But recently I hadn't been receiving any notifications of comments on my blog. I just assumed it was because...well...no one was commenting.  Then someone mentioned they had tried to leave a comment on my blog and it wasn't showing up.

I checked my account and sure enough, there were a slew of comments waiting to be moderated, many several months old. Now granted, many were spam.  But there were some real ones (sorry Baggy, several were from you).

And there were many odd ones, especially on a post from back in 2005 called Elvis drove a truck.  There were about 20 or so new anonymous comments from August that seemed as though some class in blogging had been assigned to go to the post and comment (not necessarily read it). They were largely generic with platitudes like:
This is really interesting, You are a very skilled blogger. I've joined your feed and look forward to seeking more of your fantastic post. Also, I've shared your web site in my social networks!
Normally I'd suspect that some URL for Russian porn was embedded in the comment, but there doesn't seem to be any. Though only one of the anonymous posts even mentioned the content of the post:
I believe everything published was very reasonable.But, what about this? suppose you were to write a awesome post title?I am not suggesting your content isn't solid., however what if you added a title that makes people desire more? 
I mean "Elvis drove a truck" is a little plain. You should look at Yahoo's front page and see how they create article titles to grab people interested. You might add a video or a pic or two to grab people excited about everything've got to say.Just my opinion, it could bring your website a little bit more interesting.
 My writing has many faults, but writing plain headlines is not one of them. And advising me to add a "pic or two" to get people excited leads me to believe this person (?) didn't look at the blog either. I rarely post without some image.

If these are spam bots leaving these comments, I also wish they'd learn spelling and grammar. Spam me with complete sentences and I might take you a bit more seriously.

Oh well, at least I know the comment section still works.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Milky Way



The term Milky Way is a translation of the Latin via lactea, from the Greek γαλαξίας κύκλος (galaxías kýklos, "milky circle"). From Earth, the Milky Way appears as a band because its disk-shaped structure is viewed from within.
--Google
The Milky Way bar is a chocolate-covered confectionery bar manufactured and distributed by the Mars confectionery company. Introduced in 1923, the Milky Way bar's American version is made of nougat topped with caramel and covered with milk chocolate, similar to the Mars bar sold outside of the U.S. 
--Wikipedia
I don't know about you, but I find it ironic that the Milky Way bar is manufactured by the Mars Company, especially because if you eat too many Milky Way bars you won't have a heavenly body.

Dad joke.


I was never really a fan of Milky Way bars though. I'm just not into nougat. Because what the heck is nougat anyway. Okay, it's sugar, egg whites with an occasional nut thrown into the mix. And it doesn't really have anything to to with Milky Way, the galaxy.

I have always been fond of the Milky Way the galaxy. Because pretty much every star you see without a super telescope is part of the Milky Way. And our star, the sun, is part of the Milky Way. So the Milky Way is basically where we live.  The nearest other galaxy, the Andromeda galaxy is 2.5 million light years away.

That's far out...literally. Makes sending a person to the moon seem like a stroll around the block.

I've mentioned one too many times laying on my back on a camping trip staring up at the stars and marveling at the shear number of them. Is it little wonder mankind dreams of a heaven that is in the stars and a hell that is here on earth (or below it...though you already know I think black holes are where hell is at). 

But not once when I was a kid laying on my back staring up at the Milky Way did I think about the candy bar. Or at least not about that candy bar.


Friday, August 30, 2019

Black hole



A black hole is a region of spacetime exhibiting gravitational acceleration so strong that nothing—no particles or even electromagnetic radiation such as light—can escape from it. The theory of general relativity predicts that a sufficiently compact mass can deform spacetime to form a black hole.
 --Wikipedia
So maybe black holes are hell. After all, nothing, including light can escape from them. But then again, I sometimes think my blog is a black hole. I keep posting and nothing seems to escape from it into the universe.

I did Google "black hole" before writing this post, but all I discovered is that no one seems to be able to simplify the description of a black hole enough for me to understand it and in turn post about it in my typical cynical and sarcastic manner. Thus the Wikipedia definition.

I was impressed by the types of questions that pop up on Google about black holes, like: "Can a black hole kill you?" Now, my response to such a question would be something along the lines of, "If you are hanging around in a seedy bar in a sketchy neighborhood and a black hole wanders in, I'd suggest looking at your watch, muttering something about being late and hightailing it out of there." The  short answer actually is, "yes, a black hole can kill you." Apparently your body would be pulled apart as you got near the black hole. The process even has a name, spaghettification (which makes you wonder what spaghettification and meat balls looks like).

But don't we  have enough real things in the world that can kill you on a daily basis to worry about a black hole knocking on our door and turning us into cosmic spaghetti? The nearest black hole is apparently 3000 or so light years away from us anyway, so I imagine I'll be long gone before the remote possibility of a black hole sucks the life out of earth.

Apparently black holes are the result of a dying star. When all of the energy in the star that was pushing outward burns out, all that is left is the heart of the star. And apparently that heart is so dense that its gravity sucks everything around it in with such force that even light can't escape. I've known people like that in my life.

Why should you or I care about black holes, you may ask? I haven't a clue. And as far as I'm concerned, black holes suck.


Thursday, August 29, 2019

Dust in the wind (or space)



neb·u·la : ASTRONOMY a cloud of gas and dust in outer space, visible in the night sky either as an indistinct bright patch or as a dark silhouette against other luminous matter.
I close my eyes, only for a moment, and the moment's gone 
All my dreams pass before my eyes, a curiosity 
Dust in the wind 
All they are is dust in the wind
--Dust in the wind, Kansas
Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar
--Sigmund Freud (perhaps)
Unlike most of my blog posts, this one began with me messing around in Photoshop and creating an image of me staring into a nebula that looks quite a bit like a giant eyeball. I had no motivation to do this other than my love of Photoshop and its filters. I liked the image so much that I had to post it and now I need to come up with some text that somehow gives it some cosmic meaning.

But if the image is art, I shouldn't have to explain it. Because one thing I've learned from artists over the years is that sometimes they don't have a clue as to what their work is supposed to mean. They rarely admit it, however.

Does everything have to mean something, though? Is there really any cosmic significance behind the Mona Lisa's smile? Even Starry, Starry Night was likely just a schizophreniac's view of a night sky.

Not that I don't fall into the trap of trying to find meaning in things. Though I hate platitudes like, "Everything happens for a reason." Does it really? Maybe Popeye's sold out of its new chicken sandwich because of the hype not because they are miraculously good sandwiches.

I will likely never no. I have never tried a Krispy Kreme doughnut, either. Being in marketing has taught me not to get too caught up in persuasive messaging.

Though I do think it is human nature to try and find meaning in things, particularly their own lives. It is easy, however, to get too caught up in that tail chasing exercise. Perhaps this is why the super computer in Douglas Adam's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy answered the question, "What is the meaning of life?" with "42." When questioned further about the answer it responded that people were just not asking the right question.

I can't answer for Douglas Adam's as to where the number 42 came from as the meaning of life. But I do find it interesting that both Elvis and his mother died at aged 42. Jackie Robinson's jersey number was 42. In Egyptian mythology, there are 42 questions asked of a person making their journey through death. The Gutenberg Bible is also known as the "42-line Bible", as the book contained 42 lines per page. There are 42 gallons in a barrel of oil. The Orion Nebula is also known as Messier object M42,

If that doesn't have some cosmic significance, I don't know what does.


Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Fame

Remember my name, fame
I'm gonna live forever
I'm gonna learn how to fly, high 
I feel it comin' together
People will see me and cry, fame
I'm gonna make it to heaven
Light up the sky like a flame, fame
I'm gonna live forever
Baby, remember my name
Remember, remember, remember, remember
Remember, remember, remember, remember

--Fame, Irene Cara

I'm feeling a bit self-conscious about my latest posts. For whatever reason, I've dissected different aspects of my life to over share with god knows who. Not that it is anything new. I have been blogging for 15 years and have shared about all there is to share about my life.

At least I'm not on TikTok blurting out crap in one minute installments. And yes, I still indulge in watching TikTok videos while I wait for my train in the morning and on my evening commute. For the most part TikTok makes me sad. There are so many people out there who want to be "TikTok famous" and I think it is because they think it will make their lives worth something.

But all fame is fleeting. And TikTok fame is more fleeting than most. What is truly sad is TikTok caters to people who feel marginalized. Lots of young people in service industries. And way too many people who shop at WalMart.

Even if I felt the urge to make a TikTok video, I am so outside the age demographic for doing so that I'd be immediately ostracized. So I just flip through the videos, marveling at this glimpse into generations that are surging up behind us and shaking my head.

It's not that I don't understand that desire for fame. It's why I wanted to make it as a writer. It's why I've blogged for so many years to no avail. I want to be remembered for something, anything...good, that is. I'd be happy if that was just my children. If they would someday say, "Dad, you made a difference in my life."

But in my experience, people don't do that much. I don't remember saying that to either of my parents. So, I'm not holding out hope for my children saying that to me. In reality, it is them that have made a difference in my life.

So perhaps that is the key. I need to say that to them.


Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Traveling man




“Of the gladdest moments in human life, methinks, is the departure upon a distant journey into unknown lands. Shaking off with one mighty effort the fetters of Habit, the leaden weight of Routine, the cloak of many Cares and the slavery of Civilization, man feels once more happy.”  
 ― Richard Francis Burton
Growing up, we didn't do a great deal of traveling. For the first 13 years of my life, we'd spend two weeks each summer camping at the Payette Lake in McCall, Idaho, a campground at the Middle Fork of the Boise River or at Redfish Lake in the Sawtooth Mountains near Stanley, Idaho.

It wasn't until I was 14 years old that my parents took me on a road trip to check out some desert property my father bought through an ad in back of a True West magazine. It was located in Alamosa, Colorado. My parents and I set off the summer before I entered 8th grade leaving my older brothers at home to watch the house (big mistake it turns out).

Our first stop was a run down motel outside of Rock Springs, Wyoming. It was the first motel or hotel I'd ever stayed in.  It was pretty run down. They seemed surprised that we wanted a room for the entire night. They did up sell us to a room with a color television in it. That was a major treat for me since we still only had a black and white television at home.

Some time later I saw a program that talked about Rock Springs being a crime ridden stop over for the drug trade at the time with a corrupt police department.

The road trip included stops at several small towns and motels on the way to Alamosa (where we discovered that my father's purchase was pretty much barren desert property with nothing but cactus). We also passed through Denver and Colorado Spring. And we visited the Custer National Monument at the Little Big Horn.

When we returned home, we discovered my brothers had several party's, shattered the sliding glass door to our patio and let my pet rabbit escape.

Despite my brothers' indiscretions, I still thought the road trip was kind of cool.


Thursday, August 22, 2019

Daddy Dearest or being a papa isn't always pretty


Okay, disturbing as this image is, I just use it to spoof on another of my roles in life (and for me, late in life) -- being a father. The Internet being what it is, I won't share too much information here about my children or show photos. Suffice it to say I married late in life and had children when most people my age were anticipating being grandparents.

There are pros and cons for being an older parent. On the pro side, I've just about exhausted all those things that distract you in your 20s and 30s. My career is established and doesn't monopolize my time. And I make an okay salary and have excellent benefits. That is definitely a plus if you are going to have kids. My patience level is also much better than it was when I was younger.

The cons: helping out at one of my kid's classrooms and being referred to as "that grandpa dude." I also dread going to curriculum nights and being the oldest person in the room by at least 20 years. In addition, although I'm in fairly good shape, it still is a challenge physically to keep up with young children.


Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Funny Man


I am not sure where my sense of humor came from. Neither of my parents were particularly funny (though my father, like all fathers, thought he was). Nor are my brothers funny. In fact, I can't think of a single person from my formative years who was funny.

Regardless, my sense of humor is one thing I hold on to as part of who I am. Despite my insecurities about my blog not going viral because of my rapier wit, I am a funny man (and I mean "funny, ha, ha," not "funny, not right in the head").

I am not sure when my sense of humor started developing. I remember sitting in our family room watching television and my father asking me what was on the TV and I'd say something like, "A light, some plastic flowers and a TV guide." He would of course be irritated with me and tell me not to be smart (which is kind of an ironic thing for a parent to say to his kid."

One time at dinner, my father asked me to pass the butter. I pulled the cube off from the butter dish and tossed it to him. On retrospect, although a bit funny, that wasn't a good choice.


Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Mr. Green Jeans


You have to be a certain age now to know who Mr. Green Jeans was. He was a supporting character on a children's television program I watched as a child -- Captain Kangaroo. It was on the air from 1955 through 1984.

But this post isn't about Captain Kangaroo or even Mr. Green Jeans. It is about yet another aspect of my life that, although not ever considered as a career path, takes up a great deal of my free time -- gardening. Actually, it is less gardening and more yard work than anything else.

I actually wrote a post back in April called Dirt and weeds, that gave the history of my life pulling weeds. So I won't rehash it here. Suffice it to say, hardly a weekend goes by that I'm not mowing grass, pulling weeds or cutting back some invasive species of plant. And like Mr. Green Jeans, I often wear overalls. Though mine are not green.

The irony is that I wouldn't say I'm particularly good at it. I definitely don't have a green thumb when it comes to planting things. This is the third or fourth year that I've planted pumpkins and I've yet to actually have more than one or two by Halloween.


Monday, August 19, 2019

Mad Man


No, this isn't a post about Trump. It is another in my series of posts about my career choices. And although I've never actually worked at an ad agency, I have worked with ad agencies on the client side for more than 20 years.

I'm also nothing like Don Draper (though I wouldn't mind looking like him). But I like to think my role as a marketing director is close to being a creative director at an ad agency. And like a creative director at an ad agency, I don't actually come up with creative ideas any more. I just review them and creatively nudge them in a direction I think will work the best.

There was a time in my career that I was a freelance copywriter. I wrote several radio scripts and one television script. And in my day job, I wrote ad copy and campaigns on a very small scale. But I found myself in my true element when I began managing my first advertising agency contract for the company I work for.

For the most part, the attitude the ad agency people on Man Men, the television series, have about clients is pretty spot on. The creatives at an ad agency think working at an ad agency would be great if it weren't for the clients.  And it truly is the account people's job to make the clients think they are well liked, smart, funny and highly respected.  The operative phrase is "make the clients think."

In my early days working with ad agencies, I believed they liked me and thought I was incredibly witty. I also thought, as the client, I wielded the power to mold the creative work that placed before me. After a few years, I realized that the creatives  barely tolerated me and the account people actually thought my jokes were as funny as my children think my dad jokes are. And I realized that I was often being steered towards creative that the agency wanted to produce rather than the creative that would be the most effective.


Thursday, August 15, 2019

Writer



"I suspect that most authors don’t really want criticism, not even constructive criticism. They want straight-out, unabashed, unashamed, fulsome, informed, naked praise, arriving by the shipload every fifteen minutes or so."
~Neil Gaiman

I feel like I'm doing one of those theme weeks I used to do back in the good old days of Dizgraceland when I had my little band of people who commented on a regular basis. The theme seems to be career or talent paths I've taken or avoided.

Since I never made art or music my career path, I suppose I identify most as a writer. I have a degree in Journalism. I have written a blog for almost 15 years. My career path has mainly relied on words.

I think I can turn a pretty good phrase. I'm good with puns. I've always been good at writing headlines and I am a fairly creative copywriter.

I wrote a humor column for my college newspaper. I have written several unpublished short stories. I started a novel once but never finished it. I've ghost written articles for trade journals. I've written greeting cards (but only for family) and I've self-published several photo and travel books (but again only for my family). I have been a freelance copywriter and written umpteen brochures, newsletters, radio scripts and ads. I have also posted some pretty spiffy reviews on tripadvisor.com.

But I have never been what anyone would call commercially successful. One of the biggest disappointments of my life is that I never finished a novel and had it published (the key obstacle being never having finished writing a novel).

I know that the optimists out there would tell me that there is still time for me to write a novel and perhaps get it published. The pessimist in me says that having written more than 1300 blog posts with very little positive (or negative for that matter) feedback, no one wants to read anything I've written.


Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Musician

I can't remember a time when music wasn't a part of my life. But I don't think I ever really considered making music my career. I'm kind of glad of that. One, although I have played guitar for a little over 50 years, I am a good player, but not a great player. Two, I enjoy music too much to make it a job.


I got my first guitar when I was ten years old. I asked for one because I was inspired by watching the Glen Campbell Show on television and was impressed by his guitar playing. People also said I looked like a 10-year old Glen Campbell.



I had the guitar, but it took several years before I could figure out how to play it. I taught myself because my parents didn't have enough money to get me a guitar teacher and I don't take criticism well so having a teacher or tutor for anything makes me break out in sweat.

Not a great trait, I know.

I started band in 5th grade playing the soprano clarinet. I chose clarinet because my dad owned one and there was no way they would spring for a new instrument. I went on to band in junior high, but switched to the contra alto clarinet in 8th grade. I switched because the band director told me that I could only make it in concert band if I switched to the contra alto clarinet, because I wasn't a great clarinet player.

I stayed in band in high school. My sophomore year I played bass clarinet in the marching band and contra bass clarinet in the concert band. I became the drum major in marching band my junior and senior year. I also started playing bass guitar in the jazz band.

On the guitar front I had bought a better acoustic guitar while in junior high and I learned a few more chords. Then I bought an electric bass guitar from Sears. I figured it would be easier to play since it only had four strings and you didn't actually play chords. So I sort of taught myself to play it. This gave me the opportunity to play bass for the jazz choir when it performed in a music competition. It also gave me an opportunity (or so I thought) to appear sort of cool.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Artist


There was a time that I toyed with majoring in art and becoming an artist instead of a writer. I suppose I ended up being a writer because I wasn't certain how you actually could support yourself being an artist.

Not that you can support yourself being a writer unless you followed the meandering career path I did and became a copywriter and then a marketing person. Growing up in a relatively poor family instilled in me the desire to be gainfully employed. Being an artist or an artistic writer doesn't lend itself to gainful employment. The term, "starving artist" wasn't created for nothing.

Over the years I've known a few artists. And none of them were able to support themselves strictly through their art. And as I've said, I only supported myself through writing by writing what other people wanted me to write. This blog is the perfect illustration of what happens when you simply write for yourself.  No one reads what you've written and certainly no one pays you to read what you've written.

But even the writers who have a certain amount of success have done so by selling out. I follow one of my favorite current authors, Garth Stein, on social media and the guy always seems to be hawking himself like literary snake oil. His most famous book, The art of racing in the rain, has just been released as a movie and Stein is still marketing himself.

So I'm starting to think that true art isn't commercially successful. Or at least it isn't successful when you are producing it. Case in point Vincent Van Gogh.


Tuesday, August 06, 2019

I love technology

I do. I really do love technology.  But I question it at times.

For example I am a bit baffled when my Apple Watch reminds me to stand to achieve my daily goal of standing up. I wouldn't have understood the importance of standing up a few years ago. But once you hit 60 it seems more like a reasonable goal.

The thing that really baffles me, however, is that I can ignore my watches reminder to stand up and then 10-minutes later it will congratulate me for achieving my stand up goal despite the fact that I have remained sitting.

The watch does the same thing with my daily move goal (and by move it is not referring to exercise, but to simply not remaining comatose). I can be sitting in a meeting and the watch starts heaving platitudes to me for achieving my move goal even though I've been sitting at a table for an hour.

I wear my Apple watch while I do my daily hour of elliptical exercising. But even after an hour working out the watch sometimes chides me to do a brisk ten-minute walk to achieve my daily exercise goal.

I also love Amazon's Alexa and my Echo devices, but Alexa can be a bit troublesome at times. Because every time my 12-year old daughter asks for some music like say, "Alexa, play the soundtrack from Disney's Descendents 3" Alexa will respond with, "Playing Fat Daddy's Get Bent album three." And of course the songs Alexa misunderstands and plays all have explicit lyrics.


My watch just congratulated me on achieving my move goal and I've been sitting here for 20 minutes typing this post. Maybe it admires my typing speed.

Don't get me wrong, I appreciate how far we've come with our devices. I would be lost without my phone (literally without its GPS function). But I wonder at times whether we depend too much on it. I mean really, do I need to ask Alexa to pause the video I am watching when the remote is literally two inches from my hand?

I just have to sit back and appreciate that I live in the future that used to be just science fiction when I was a kid. But at least back then no one had to remind me to stand up or move.


Friday, August 02, 2019

Time after time


I've posted this image of a contact page I made from negatives shot with a large format camera I bought years ago. These were the only photos I ever took with the camera. It is locked away in a foot locker in the garage. It's been there for years.

The photos were shot in the late 1980s. I'm guessing when I was in my early 30s. I was growing my hair out in another rebellious phase. And I still fancied myself as an artist trapped in an office worker's body.

The photos were black and white. I hand-colorized them in a style made popular at the time on Saturday Night Live. I hadn't yet discovered Photoshop. And this was long before digital photography and long, long before smart phones.

I ran across the digital version of these photos the other day and started playing around with my smart phone and Photoshop to recreate the photos now. So I converted them back to black and white and reposed my 61-year old self in similar shots.


First I have to say I miss my long hair (at least how it looked, not taking care of it). And I want to go on record that it takes courage to compare your aging self to your young self. Time makes things shift. My nose and ears seem bigger. I grew extra chins.


But one thing I learned from this exercise is that, although I don't always recognize myself when I look in the mirror, there are certain parts of me...my expressions and my eyes that confirm that I'm still in there.

Some where.