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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 part, 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.

Saturday, November 18, 2023

Blarney

 

Blarney sounds like an Irish rip off of the purple dinosaur we all used to hate. But Blarney is loosely translated as the Irish gift of charming gab. Legend holds you could get that skill by kissing the Blarney Stone which was used to build Blarney Castle in...you guessed it...Ireland six hundred years ago. 

The photo of a much younger me with an unfortunate ponytail above shows me pointing at a portion of the Blarney Stone that was in the wall outside of Fitzgerald's Casino in Reno back in the 1990s. It was always one of my stops when I'd visit my friend from college who lived in Reno and worked as a Slot Supervisor at Harrah's in Reno. We'd always swing by the Fitz, rub the Blarney Stone for good luck (there was no way I was kissing a rock on a building in downtown Reno) and go through what we called the Lucky Grotto inside the casino. It was one of the casino scams to draw in tourists. You when by displays of lucky charms like Buddha's belly, the Blarney Stone and leprechauns to give a spin on a wheel of fortune.  Although I technically you could win cash, we almost always just got a Leprechaun keychain, a four-leaf clover keychain or a pen. I think we once also got a Fitz trucker hat.

We never really minded winning cheezy things on the wheel of fortune at the Fitz because it was all part of the fun. Unless you were pretty stupid or a degenerate gambler, you didn't go to Reno to get rich. You went to drink, gamble a little and forget your day to day mundane existence. 

I have pointed out before that Reno was the blue collar version of Las Vegas. It was low key and low rent. Oh, they had bright lights and lots of slot machines, but it never pretended to be classy. And while Las Vegas bragged about what happened there stayed there, Reno pretty much didn't give a shit one way or another. That's why I liked it.

So why am I waxing poetic about Reno? I was at a Goodwill store a few weeks ago browsing the bric a brac and I found an ashtray from the Sands Casino/Hotel in downtown Reno. It reminded me of all of the ashtrays I used to pocket from various Reno casinos in my day even though I don't smoke. It was my way of sticking it to the man. I think at one point I was walking around with eight ashtrays in my pockets.

The ashtrays have long since gone the way of many of my obsessive collections from my younger days. I found them in a blue plastic bin I had stored in our garage for 20 or so years. I purged most of the stuff during the pandemic by either selling the stuff on eBay or donating it to Goodwill. I think that's where all the ashtrays ended up. 

Ironic, don't you think? Because now, when pretty much no one smokes or goes to Reno, the casino ashtrays have become trendy "trinket trays."  

Tuesday, November 07, 2023

On this day in history (of my blog...well this day tomorrow) 2010

 Since daylight savings time is still plaguing us and went into effect last weekend, this post seems particularly relevant even though it is 13 years old. Now granted I don't have to change as many clocks because Alex and Apple take care of most of that, I still have to figure out how to change the clock in my car while not deleting any bluetooth settings or letting the air out of my tires. My kids are no longer small but try explaining daylight savings time to two cats and a dog who trust their body clock more than the government. But so do I. Anyway let's fall back to this post:

Making a withdrawal from my daylights savings

I'm not a big fan of Daylight Savings Time. For one, it means I have to figure out how to change the time on 40 clocks and appliances scattered about my house. And I have to figure out how to change the clock in my car with one hand while driving because I never seem to notice the clock until I'm on the road and trying to get somewhere.

I also don't like the government arbitrarily messing with my body clock. Because just because they theoretically give your hour back in the fall after ripping it away from you, your body never really catches up. This is especially true if you have small children in the house. Setting your clocks back in the fall has absolutely no meaning to them and they will now get up when their body clock says it is time to get up.

I think the clock read 5:30 a.m. this last Sunday when my two-year old son sat up and declared he wanted to watch Tickerbell and the Lost Treasure. He then proceeded to sing the theme song from Little Einsteins while slapping out the drum beat on my back. This was followed by repeatedly putting a pillow over my face and pulling off and crying, "boo." My four-year old daughter quickly joined in the fun. My extra hour slipped out of the room along with the cat, both being chased by toddlers.

Dante has a level of hell just for whoever came up with Daylight Savings Time.

Personally, I like walking to the train in the morning in the dark. It is peaceful. And this is Seattle. Even if the sun is out in the morning, its behind a cloud, so giving me an extra hour of daylight means absolutely nothing.

You can bet our ancestors didn't try messing with time. I'm sure they dragged out of their caves as soon as the sun came out and scrambled back in as soon as it when down. They didn't need the village elders to decide they could save firewood by going out an hour earlier in the spring or an hour later in the fall.  The carnivores waiting outside in the dark dictated strict adherence to nature's clock.

Oh, I am sure there is a federal agency somewhere with the sole responsibility for defending Daylight Savings Time with a vast arsenal of charts and graphs showing us how much energy and money we save each year. Honestly, I don't care whether they are right or wrong. I just want them to leave my body clock alone. Go regulated plastic bags and bottles and leave my freakin' clocks alone.

Friday, November 03, 2023

On this day in the history (of my blog) in 2005

 


This one is truly a golden oldie from the past. I haven't worn a tie for almost a year. But 18 years ago it was still an occasional obligation as part of the work day. Since the pandemic, ties have pretty much gone the way of powdered wigs. Come to think of it, so has wearing pants. So something good did come from the whole mess. Anyway, tie this one on for size:

Tie one on

I've had to wear a tie two days in a row now because I was sitting on an interview panel at work and it is making me more than a little cranky. I am not a tie person. Its status as a symbol of conformity doesn't rest easy with me. And besides, the damned things are like wearing a noose around your neck.

And why do we wear ties? Blame it on the Croatians. Apparently in 1635, a group of Craotian mercenaries came to Paris to give their support to King Louis XIII and Cardinal Richelieu. And the distinquishing article of clothing that made the Croats stand out amongst the usual dandies of Paris was a scarve around their neck tied in a distinctive "Croatian style" previously unknown in Europe. The fashionable expression, ’a la croate’, soon evolved into a new French word: la cravate. Thus the cravate or necktie was born.

I'm not a Croatian. I'm not in the Court of King Louis XII, yet almost four Centuries later, I'm walking around with a bit of silk around my neck like a dog on a frilly leash.

Well, this dog don't hunt, he just howls.

Other than serving as a personal garrote, the tie really serves no practical purpose than emphasizing your beer belly. And the fashion dictators add insult to injury by varying the width of the tie you should be wearing at any given time. Just before we moved in August, I must have tossed out 50 ties ranging in one to five inches in width.

I suppose wearing a tie is a right of passion all men must endure. After I graduated from clip-on's my father taught me to tie a tie. But that was only after he got tired of tying them for me and slipping them around my neck. Not that my father wore ties very often. He was a foreman in a warehouse and had the blue collar luxury of only donning the yoke of oppression for church and funerals.

But I had to go to college. Every time I think I need to look professional, I button that top button and slip the noose around my neck.

It could have been worse though. The Croatians could have thought it was cool to wear dead fish around their neck and we could have adopted that fashion. The higher you are on the food chain, the bigger fish you'd have to wear.

"Honey, have you seen my Blue Marlin?"

"It's in the closet next to the Mackeral."

Yes, there could have been worse customs we adopted from the Croatians. Though I think I would have looked pretty good wearing a Salmon.

Wednesday, November 01, 2023

The commute from hell

 


I don't commute as much since the "end" of the pandemic, but I was riding the train home last night from downtown Seattle and snapped these photos of one of my fellow passengers.

Now granted, it was Halloween and more than likely this was someone who dressed up for an office party.  But the "person" stood on the platform waiting for the train wearing the mask, a hood and holding onto a scyth. They boarded and sat down and began scrolling through their phone (which confirms there is cell service in hell...I'm willing to bet Boost Mobile is the provider).

It did give me pause because you don't really want to see the Grim Reaper on your train barreling along at 60 miles an hour on tracks that are prone to mud slides. And yes, it was Halloween, but what better time for death to relax and not worry about being noticed as they head home for the evening.

Funny thing about it was that no one seemed to notice that the Grim Reaper was sitting on the train going through their phone (maybe checking their "to do" list). Even I tried to act like it was nothing and snapped my photos discretely. I suppose it wasn't like people would be jumping up and yelling, "There's Death!" and asking for a selfie.

Though it would have been cool.

Fortunately nothing happened. I got off at my stop (which wasn't the "last" stop) and headed home without incident. 

I can't speak for the rest of the trip.


Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Post haste

 

I know it is a bit lazy to copy and post old posts in a blog instead of starting from scratch and posting something new. But after more than 1450 posts in 19 years you occasionally run out of things to say. Fortunately no one pays me to write this blog. And I've firmly established that very few people read it anyway.

I did feel compelled to get some posts up for October since statistically I haven't posted much in October in the past. So what if I artificially inflate my numbers by digging up stuff from the past. It's not that this is a diary and I have to record what I've been up to for Halloween.

Though I did manage to decorate our yard this year. It is the first time in a few years. The pandemic and a remodel from hell curtailed my Halloween spirt. This year I put up lights, a new graveyard scene and turned one of our trees into a carnivorous creature.


We also made a trip to a local pumpkin patch to stare at some pigs, chickens, geese and pheasant and then walked through some fields decimated of pumpkins. Though I've recently learned that decimate originally meant killing one of every ten of something to teach a group a lesson. The pumpkins apparently didn't learn their lesson by eliminating one of every ten of them. There wasn't much to choose from. Regardless we were able to find two that I could buy for $30 and avoid paying a tenth of the cost at the grocery store.

Tonight I imagine we'll sit home and eat candy waiting for trick or treaters who may or may not arrive. Neither of my kids go trick or treating any more. Plus they both just got their COVID and flu shots and aren't feeling much like doing anything.

And since I don't have little kids I won't be putting on any costume tonight. I pretty much vowed a few years ago that I would never wear a costume on Halloween again. 


Well, maybe just a little make up.

On this almost day of the dead back in 2014

I posted this on Halloween 2014 when Google put out an app that allowed you to turn your old (and new) photos in Day of the Dead images. It was a pretty cool app that I imagine died some time ago. But the photos live (?) on:

 Día de las muertos fotos

“ On October 31, All Hallows Eve, the children make a children's altar to invite the angelitos (spirits of dead children) to come back for a visit. November 1 is All Saints Day, and the adult spirits will come to visit. November 2 is All Souls Day, when families go to the cemetery to decorate the graves and tombs of their relatives. The three-day fiesta filled with marigolds, the flowers of the dead; muertos (the bread of the dead); sugar skulls; cardboard skeletons; tissue paper decorations; fruit and nuts; incense, and other traditional foods and decorations. ” 
—Frances Ann Day, Latina and Latino Voices in Literature
In honor of Halloween and the Day of the Dead, I've taken advantage of Google's Halloweenify yourself app to honor (?) my family. I suppose it is also a way to welcome the spirits into my blog. God knows it has been dead around here. 

My great, great grandparents and my grandmother

Monday, October 30, 2023

On the day after this day in (my) history 55 years ago

 I originally wrote this post back in October 2006. It was about what I believe was the last time I went trick or treating as a child. There were four of us. We were all in the 5th grade and pretty good friends at the time. The two friends on the right in the photo (Dave Little and Jim Lonnevik) have passed on. I am the one second from the left. The kid holding the plastic school on the left is Robert Tullis. I lost track of him after junior high. 

Anyway, I've always liked this post and it seems only fitting that it should rise from the grave of my blog archives on the eve of Halloween.

Halloween 1968


In 1968 Vietnam was still going strong, Lyndon Johnson was president, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, the first heart transplant was performed, Elvis made his comeback on national television, Lisa Marie Presley was born, the musical Hair opened on Broadway, Helen Keller died in her sleep, Robert Kennedy was assassinated while campaigning for president, riots erupted at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Jackie Kennedy married Greek millionaire Aristotle Onassis, Nixon was elected president, Apollo 8 orbited the moon on Christmas Eve and I turned 10 years old.

It was an eventful year.

On a more disturbing note, Vanilla Ice was born on Halloween day in 1967. And we all know how scary he was. Fortunately none of us knew who or what Vanilla Ice was. And as Halloween approached, my best friends -- Robert Tullis, Dave Little and Jim Lonnevick -- and I were more concerned about what costumes to wear than the body count in Vietnam. We had decided to go Trick or Treating as a group and I convinced them that we should all go as characters of one of our favorite television shows at the time -- Dark Shadows.

Friday, October 27, 2023

On this day (five years, six months and nine days ago) in history (of my blog)

 I wrote this post on April 18, 2018. And I do confess that I like this latest trend I've created to repost old blog posts and avoid having to come up with new crap. Though this post deals with lots of my worst writing habits including repetition, digressions, overuse of parenthetical statements and other annoying mannerisms. So it is technically not new crap. It is lots of old crap. Still, it is crap.  But I kind of like it anyway. But with out much more adieu:

I do confess


I was going to title this post "Laughing matter" but since I search my past posts these days to prevent too much repetition I discovered that I've written a few too many posts with similar titles and tone (I do confess 1,223 posts to be exact). So I chose "I do confess" instead. I googled "I do confess" and discovered that Shakespeare used that line often in his plays. So I feel I am in rare company using the line.

"I do confess" may be my new "but I digress."  But I do confess I think I replaced "but I digress" with "Pause for a lugubrious howl" some time back. I also confess that I don't really remember half the time.

More often than not, when I am trying to think of something to write about, I reread some past posts. Sometimes I'm surprised, sometimes I'm amused and some times I'm embarrassed. A person's writing style is a bit like their fingerprint. They are all unique and if you read some one's stuff enough, you could pick their writing out of a writing line up (that's the one, right there, I'd recognize that dangling participle anywhere).

Thursday, October 26, 2023

On this day in (my) blog history

 Back on October 26, 2009 I posted this:

"Notes in bottles

Years ago, when I was probably about 11 or 12 years old, I was fascinated by the concept of notes being placed in bottles and cast in the ocean to be read by someone thousands of miles away. Since Boise was about as landlocked of a place that you could find, I was in a quandary about how to fulfill my burning desire to cast my words upon the currents of the world.

I settled for tossing an old Gallo wine bottle with a note into Lucky Peak Reservoir, the largest body of water in Ada County. It was more of a childish prank actually then a real effort to connect with the world at large. I traced a copy of Thomas Jefferson's signature on a piece of brown paper and soaked it in oil, thinking it would look like aged parchment. Then I wrote out this convoluted note saying that I was a dying old man and wanted to leave this valuable signature to whoever found it in the bottle.

My friend Dave Little and I paddled out into the middle of the reservoir on inner tubes, chucked the bottle, and paddled back to shore. Within minutes, we watched as a Sheriff's patrol boat that cruised the reservoir monitoring the activities of drunk water skiers, whizzed by, stopped and retrieved the bottle. I'm sure they were just removing it as a potential hazard to the above mentioned drunk water skiers (who I am sure they blamed for tossing a wine bottle into the main boat channel of the reservoir). But Dave and I hightailed it out of there, sure that cops would be showing up at our door any day having traced fingerprints from the Gallo wine bottle.

For some reason they never traced the prank to us.

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

A moment in Tim

I think a lot about time. I've written about it a great deal (including my last post which began in a very similar fashion...I repeat myself a lot, too). Time is one of those abstractions that we chase down rabbit holes thinking we can actually figure it out. 

In my experience, we can't. Or at least I can't.

I do note that we often treat time like a commodity. We've got nothing but time. We have plenty of time. He has too much time on his hands.

I think we also acknowledge that it is fleeting. Time keeps on slipping, slipping, into the future. Time is running out. If I could keep time in a bottle. We have no more time. Time's up.

But it is those moments in time (aren't all moments in time) that we cherish or hate. Those are the memorable times we think about fondly and wish we could relive or regret deeply and wish we could change.  Time, however, has nothing to do with either scenario. Apparently there is no time to go back and relive or redo. We do literally keep slipping into the future.

Or do we? That's where my ponderings start chasing their tails and get tied up in knots. If time isn't linear how can we slip into the future. Shouldn't we be slipping in all directions at once?  And if that is the case, then shouldn't there be the possibility that we could crisscross over something we've done before? 

I guess I'm referring to the metaphysical "we" because I don't think the physical "we" can do much of anything except age. The metaphysical "we" has more leeway to get all cosmic with theories about time, space and the whole universal enchilada. 

Monday, September 25, 2023

Past future theories of the past (and future)

 


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

--Tony Arata (Performed by Garth Brooks)


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

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

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

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

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

Friday, September 15, 2023

Photos of me as a young man

 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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


Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Regrets

 


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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, August 09, 2023

I see dead people

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Like a rolling stone (not Mick Jagger)

 


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

I think that was pretty good.

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

I think there should be more. 


Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Remember to forget

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, June 09, 2023

Come Sale away with World Market

 



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

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

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

"Hi, an item (https://www.worldmarket.com/p/tyler-bi-cast-leather-molded-office-chair-69434.html?store=store71) says it is on sale in the general office chair section. It was listed on sale for $99. But when you go to the item it show up at full price"

I quickly get this response:

 
Dear Tim E,
 

Thank you for contacting World Market.

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

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

We hope that this helps. 

 

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

 
Best regards,
 
Kimberly
Customer Support Team
WORLD MARKET
Unique, authentic and always affordable

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

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

World Market quickly responds again:

"Dear Tim E,
 

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

 

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

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

Thank you for understanding!

 

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

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

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

Silly me. So I responded again:

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

This morning they responded yet again:

"Dear Tim,
 

Thank you for contacting World Market.


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

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

 

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

 

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

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


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

"Dear World Market Customer Support Team:

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

It did not.

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

I didn't understand.

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

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

Again, it wasn't.

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

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

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

I hope this information was useful."

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

June 12, 2023

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

"Dear Tim,
 

Thank you for contacting World Market.

 

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

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

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

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

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx



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

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

 

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

 
Best regards,
 
Amy"

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

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

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Being relevant

 


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

Ironic, don't you think?

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

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

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

Maybe.

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

Then it becomes more relative than relevant.