Friday, August 26, 2016

The dawning of a new day is upon us. I looked at the rain gauge that sits atop the fence and I see that the night before last, it rained one inch in the span of about an hour. This is the kind of rain that we've been getting all summer. It's the kind of rain that comes down so hard that the runoff on the roof around the skylight is not fast enough and the skylight leaks water onto the kitchen floor below. It's really not a big deal, in terms of sheer amount of water, but I'm wondering if it can be fixed or not. There is nothing wrong up there, except the basic design of the skylight and the flashing for it. Water can only run off so fast. If you start caulking or using silicone sealer all over everything frequently this makes things worse because then water can't drip away and things won't dry out. Caulking everything is a late 20th Century thing anyway. Used to be, things were designed and constructed to shed water, and caulking, were it even invented yet, was never needed. At any rate, as I said, only really hard rains cause this problem, and I've gone years, before, with no leaks. Just lately, we've been getting one hard rain after another.

I spent the day yesterday on my ongoing project of thinning out the contents of the house. I made myself feel guilty by writing yesterday's blog post. I was just trying for one productive car trip to town, which would be Half Price Book Store followed by the used stuff store run by the local hospice that we used when my wife was sick. Those guys, I feel like I can't donate enough stuff to them.

There is a six-foot bookshelf in one of the rooms that is filled with cookbooks. The hard part is easy--I don't want to keep any of them, so the "decision phase" is easy. I decided to try Half Price Book Store to see what the typical cookbook would bring. (They go through your books and offer you a price based on age, condition, and popularity, or sellability.) I took one standard size cardboard box of books and they offered me $45. This is out and out highway robbery, but it was at least an amount that made it worthwhile. I sold them, and I'll empty the rest of the bookcase and eventually sell them all.

Books are heavy. My lower back has just now, in the last two or three days, returned to normal operation. I was very careful to "lift with my legs."

You are getting sleepy. Sle-eeepy. When I count to three and snap my fingers, you will awaken with no memory of this blog post, and have a great day!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

It's 8:02 a.m. and it's raining. I used to like a rainy day, but now, it seems, it's my fate to forever be worried about rain. It seems like my whole life I have been negatively affected by rain. I worked outside for most of my working life, so that makes perfect sense. No one likes working in the rain.  Then I became a "home owner." Makes even more sense. Water is the devil if you're a house, or by extension, the owner of a house. I just discovered last night that the skylight in my kitchen leaks water. Again. It did before and I thought I had fixed it. With skylights, you are never going to know if they will leak or not. If the old, patched, leak doesn't start up again, some new leak will. It's like a bad cartoon with the characters in a boat and running out of fingers and toes to plug leaks with. Or Wack-a-Mole.

Speaking of water and houses, I have (once again) decided I really want to sell this house and move out. This course of thought has been with me for quite awhile now--maybe half a year or more--and I keep going back and forth. I am going to say the leaky skylight yesterday was what pushed me over the edge this time. That, and a string of synchronistic reminders and nudges in the last week or so. Nothing supernatural, but just the universe telling me, if nothing else, that it's on my mind again. The universe doesn't really tell me stuff, by the way, but I wish it would. If I could trust it.

Now it's raining a little harder. In a minute or so I'm going to get up and go to the kitchen and look at the floor beneath the skylight. I say/write this as if I can intimidate the sky somehow into drying up,which I know is crazy. But this is maddening.  It's like cable TV or your cell phone service. Who do you complain to?

Oh. It stopped raining. Cool.

"AND DON'T COME BACK!!"

Moving on. Moving. I still have roughly thousands of things. I say roughly, but I don't want to say millions, even though I may have millions of things. In my life, which is simple and even boring, there are actually only about fourteen things that I need. But since I have thousands of things, that means I have (1,000s - 14) things that I don't need.  This is becoming a problem. Within the last two weeks I thought of three things that I owned that I wanted to do something with.  Look at them, hold them, whatever. Possibly verify that I had them.

I could not find them. 

I understand occasionally thinking of something and then not finding it, but three things?  All in the span of a week or two? This also tells me I have too many things, and their number has finally exceeded my ability to keep track of them. That is ridiculous, and somehow obscene. 

I have come to the realization that while I could take one thing, say, that I don't need anymore and properly dispose of it or sell it or otherwise find a new home for it without hurting anyone or negatively impacting the carbon footprint of whatever, there is no way in hell I could do this for each of the Thousands of things I own, that I have here in my house, given my limited remaining life span.

I can remember a time when I could have said to you all the things that I owned. I was probably like this because we were poor, when I was a kid, and I really didn't have too many things, and this habit, if you will, extended into my adult life. Then, somewhere along the line I guess I had enough money and the desire to start accumulating things once I discovered I could do so, and so it went. But the thing is, and I have come to understand this, being poor is not a bad thing, and if you accidentally become not-poor, it's good to remember not to let it harm you. Let it rain.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

On Sony's Pricing Strategy

I read somewhere that Sony's one big claim to fame was the invention of the Trinitron picture tube. They got a lot of PR mileage out of that, but, I read, that was the single innovation the company ever made. Otherwise, they did like most every other corporation and copied existing technology. I once read an autobiography of the then president of Sony and I believe in it was where I read that one of the strategies of the company was to deliberately set their prices higher than competitors in order to add perceived value to their own products.  But, in retrospect, the most startling thing about the book was the tone. It was very narcissistic and almost weirdly optimistic and positive. It sounded, in fact, like I imagine such a book written by Donald Trump would sound. The other two times I ran across that personality were in the autobiographies of Eddie Rickenbacker and of Benvenuto Cellini. I don't know if there are any valid conclusions to be drawn from such a small sampling. I think we all saw the breakdown of Charlie Sheen, who is/was also similar. Actually, the more I think about it, and the more time I give the caffeine to enter my blood stream this morning, I suppose there are many such personalities like this, some belonging to great men, some not, but all belonging to men who want to be great.

 I think there is so much irony in today's politics that we have lost our ability to spot it. I don't like either candidate on purely aesthetic grounds, to start with. Digging deeper, I don't particularly like Hillary, and I doubt she could get much traction except in this case, running against Trump. Trump is kind of a clown. It saddens me not that he exists, but that the American people, or something like half of them, see fit to propel him into a position of power. I think we, Americans, have lost our ability to reason, and maybe even our desire to be reasonable.

I'm not much of an historian, but I am truly puzzled at the movement, you might call it, or the idea that seems to be afloat, that America was once great, but is great no longer, and at how Trump's message of "making America great again" resonates so strongly. If this is because of the waning of religion in America's culture, I can understand the sentiment, but I don't equate religion with America at all. America is and has always been a secular organization, and, just my opinion, if religious people think their particular values are not being taken seriously enough, or they would like to return to a time in the past when it was, they are being unrealistic.

Anyway, the irony is that if anyone is going to make America "great again," it is not Trump, unless your sole definition of greatness is isolation, fear, power and money. These things, perhaps, Trump can deliver. At any rate, in just about all ways that I can tell, America is great right now, by a bunch of criteria. We certainly have freedom in just about everything, including religion (Trump might want to change that) and of movement, of speech, of thought, and I think freedom was always one of the main things we all thought America was all about. We are pretty prosperous as well. I have never in my life thought I might one day not be able to live somewhere, and to eat enough, and be safe, even though at many times I didn't have a job. I think that is an American thing, and our greatness is underscored when you see the plight of refugees all over the world. OF course, I know it's not all good.  Nothing is.

But that was kind of a half-formed thought--I admit it. I think Trump is just saying anything he thinks his voter base will like to hear. He keeps massaging this small percentage of voters in saying things like Obama is the founder of ISIS, or that he is going to put up this humongous wall and make Mexico pay for it (not sure how, because apparently it's a secret) and when he hears the crowd cheering, he thinks this means he is going to win. He keeps ignoring the rest of the populace who are starting to wonder just what the hell he is going to do.  I agree with the people who say Hillary is just "business as usual," and while that's a mixture of good and bad, the main thing is, I know what it is. I also know that it works, at least after a fashion.

But, seriously, what do I know?

Sunday, August 7, 2016

The Browser They Have Detected

An Impromptu Rant:

      The Browser the good people at BlogSpot have detected is not supported, and, to paraphrase, I'm on my own. I would just like to point out that the reason they don't detect my Chrome browser is because I'm not using it. It has shot craps, once again, and I'm tired of hearing solutions like, uninstall your operating system. It should only take three or four days, and, voila, you'll have Chrome back in all its glory. For awhile.
      Never mind. I am not here to talk about that.

Road Trip:

      The Big Road Trip has dissolved into a quick dash down I-70 to St. Louis and back after a one night stay. This is slightly annoying since the part about going to St. Louis was only added to what I thought of as the main trip--that of going to Kentucky--as in, well, f*ck, might as well stop at St. Louis since I'll be driving right through it anyway.
      So, I'll take a couple of cameras and hope I see a UFO or something so the trip won't be a total loss.

Retail Adventures:

      Because my old guitar amplifier chromed out on me (new phrase: "chromed out," meaning acted like Google Chrome Browser and just quit working for no apparent reason) the other day, and I had decided not to throw any more money at it, I began to look around for a replacement. I found a nice one at a used guitar store, bought it and took it home.
      That's when I discovered that it smelled funny. Apparently the previous owner of this amp was a smoker, and the whole thing actually smelled quite bad, once I got it out of the big building where I bought it and stuck it in a room--the smallest bedroom in my house--for a couple of hours.
      I cleaned the outside of it. I sprayed Lysol Kitchen cleaner all over it and wiped it down, then rinsed it (as carefully as you can rinse an electric device) (yeah I unplugged it) and sniffed it and declared it at least somewhat improved.  A couple hours later, though, I found the room once again was filled with the reek of stale cigarettes. I bought a used car like this once. I knew that no matter what I did, this thing would smell like stale cigarettes for months, especially given it was in an enclosed space. Guitar amps are usually covered with a kind of porous naugahyde material, and some tolex, a cloth over the speaker grill. The smell was going to have to decay, like the half-life of uranium, on it's own timetable.
      I took it back. The owner of the store was "puzzled" when I told him my story. A rather disingenuous puzzlement, I thought, because for a couple of reasons, I thought he probably knew about the smell and had tried to get rid of it himself. But . . . just an inkling I had.  My bullshit detector was sort of flickering.
      Anyway--I don't mean to drag this out--he finally agreed to accept the return if I would pay the fee that Visa charges him to process debit cards. So, for about $25, I got to own a smelly amp for a day, and for the next several days continue to smell it when in my study.

Addendum:

      To write this post, I began by using Microsoft Edge, the browser that comes with Windows 10. A little different, I thought, but, hey, pretty snappy, and I might get used to being directed to Bing instead of Google during searches.  And then it happened. It started red-underlining every single thing I typed, in a continuous line. I couldn't turn it off. I Googled it, and got millions of hits. It is a Known Problem. Furthermore it is a Known Problem that Microsoft Won't Fix. So. I downloaded Firefox and I'm using it now. Once again, I ask the question, is all the technology making my life better? Is it making me happy?
      Hey, I don't answer questions.  I just ask them.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

ROA-AAAAD TRI-IIIIIP

A road trip is in the offing. For a couple of reasons, I have to drive to a point in Illinois just east of St. Louis to deliver some stuff to a person. I hate St. Louis, and I hate driving to St. Louis. I-70 through Missouri is . . . well, Ike would roll over in his grave if he saw what has become of his Interstate system. And this particular trip is very much like 250 miles of driving through town. There is no point anywhere along the way where you encounter anything remotely resembling "open road," and at any given point along said route, you will be behind a dozen or more trucks (within eyesight) that are slowing down, and in front of a dozen or so trucks that are speeding up. When you get about 40 miles this (west) side of downtown St. Louis, and the Mississippi River, you will think you are in St. Louis, but you have only reached the edge of the metropolitan area, recognizable by the five to seven lanes of traffic in your direction, (which will all come to a halt somewhere around the airport--it's a given.)
The seven lanes of Interstate are meant to expedite the flow of traffic into the actual downtown area, recognizable by the tall buildings and the mere two lanes of traffic going your direction. Most of the time, one of them is blocked off because of construction.
Good times.
However, the next day I will proceed to Kentucky and possibly Tennessee. This will be nice. And on the way back home, I won't go through St. Louis.

OK you've seen the arch. Now go home. 

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Bugs

I suppose if you "believe" in the principles of synchronicity, then you must take the bad with the good. Kind of like how when you find a penny, it's good luck if it's heads up, but bad if found tails up.

So this morning I was walking along the sidewalk when a strange, green bug, probably alien in nature, made its presence known by biting my forearm. Later, when I returned home, I went to turn on the lawn sprinkler and a spider was dangling right in my path to the outside spigot. I dispatched her with a broom, got the water turned on, returned to my car to grab my Quicktrip coffee, which I had put on the roof of the car, and go inside. A little bug was trying to drink my coffee and I had to flick it off.

That's three things. I hope that's the end of it.

I also found a lucky penny!

Do not place pennies on the tracks. 

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Pain/Gain

Due to a series of dumb stunts, I managed to hurt my back in precisely the same place (lower right lumbar) several times in the last three weeks, so now it is so sore I can barely find a position where it stops hurting, it seems like. Turmeric is just . . . I'm way beyond the reach of its powers. I'm not discounting powerful drugs but so far I've limited my regenerative regime to rest and lots of whining.

Of course in the middle of all this I am having a lot of work done to my house. And no matter what you think--or maybe it's just me--no matter who you hire to do whatever, it usually results in you doing some extra work, too. Then, just for fun, a giant limb fell off one of my oak trees and I sort of felt compelled to clean it up. 

Just before that, I bought some decorative river rock down to the Ace Hardware store and unloaded it from the trunk of my car and carried the bags, one after another, to the area behind the garage where the rock was going to be placed. This operation, if caught on film, would have made a great intro to a corporate safety film--you know how they start out showing the stupid guy and how he injures himself by lifting with his back and NOT HIS KNEES.  There is no way to lift something out of a car trunk by lifting only with your knees, by the way, and if this were a company workplace, I would have had to "get help from another employee," which is the corporate catch-all solution to impossible things that must be done in company workplaces. In my recent case, I was the only one there, and to leave the bags of rock in my trunk until I could get help would have resulted in me driving around with them back there and getting  four miles per gallon everywhere I went. 

The house is shaping up, though. All exterior stuff except a couple sections of rain gutter is now fixed, the back door to the garage is replaced, and several low spots around the foundation that had a negative grade are filled and corrected so that water run off will be away from the house instead of toward my basement. Some time ago I had the inside of the house painted, and cracks etc. repaired, and it looks real nice. I'm pretty happy with it all. 

I don't know. This seems like an awful tame blog entry. But that's life.  OK, I watched the Republican National Convention on TV and was kind of disappointed not to see Sarah Palin. But what are you going to do? It seems like they came up with an excellent choice for VP this time and the liberal pundits on MSNBC were forced to admit it. Pretty tame stuff. 


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Speech Patterns of the Descendants of Oklahoma Natives

I just did a Google search for the string "Donald Trump." Of course there were lots of hits. I then selected "images" and was, at first, struck by the hundreds of nearly identical pictures of Donald Trump's head. In most of them his mouth was open, as if in mid-word, in that little vertical oval shape that he forms--that makes you want to punch him between the eyes--and in the others his mouth was closed and he was looking petulant. I don't really intend to go on and on about the various ways I don't like this guy, but I'll just say I'm pretty certain that if I ever saw him in real life, I would probably find him repellent. I realize he has some sort of charisma, and I only say that because there must be some reason for his limited success so far, but this only depresses me because it means that some charisma is good, and some is bad, and that's sort of depressing. Like how Christians must feel when they come around to the idea of the anti-Christ.

What I was doing was trying to see how large a man Trump was. Physically. Eventually I just asked Google and quickly learned that he is 6' 2".  Probably not weird at all that I immediately doubted that, (even though a quick glance down the list of hits revealed that lots of web sites said he was 6' 2",) because if Trump were 5' 7", it would not be surprising to me, or anybody else, probably, that he continually told people he was 6' 2" until everyone started believing it.

I scrolled down the page of pictures to find one showing Trump standing next to someone else, so I could compare their heights. I felt certain that Trump was a "big guy" simply because he acted like he was. You know how you could always tell that Robert Blake was short--well, I mean the opposite of that. Somehow. Men of different heights do act differently, according to their heights, some in a good way, others not so much. Anyway, the next thing I found weird was the dearth of images on Google's results page showing Trump's entire frame, like, standing somewhere, and the picture includes all of him, from tiny shoes to big, stupid looking hair. I think I finally found one such picture. Out of hundreds of head shots. Turns out he is a pretty big guy, kind of imposing, and he's taller than President Obama, who is 6' 1".

Interesting factoid: in all American Presidential elections so far, the taller of the two major candidates has won two thirds of the time. That's really not that impressive a statistic, but it does show a trend. In this day and age, with TV and Google mostly showing candidates' heads only, we must assume the two thirds phenomenon is probably from factors in each candidates life, perhaps their childhood, in part, that caused their height to affect their level of success. For example, the schoolyard experience of a big kid might give him the extra confidence to achieve, and work for success in his subsequent life. Or, he might become a bully as certain big kids in schoolyards are wont to do.

Anyway.

The last thing I did was Google a variety of celebrities to see how they were depicted in the pictures Google served up for me. Hillary Clinton, (all head shots) Marilyn Monroe, (strangely, still mostly head shots, though many cropped wider to show some cleavage, as with results for Dolly Parton) and Woody Allen. (All head shots.) Finally, in desperation, I Googled Charles Atlas, and finally we got someone whose pictures are pretty much all full body shots.

Just wondering about this. On another day, it might be the history of grocery carts. One last thought, though: are taller bloggers any more interesting? I guess we'll never know. However, it's been said that Garrison Keeler is the world's tallest radio personality.

Disclosure: I am 5' 11", unless I am thirty years old again, or if I hang upside down by my heels in the doorway for a half hour. Or half an hour. You pick.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Ramblin' Man

The Fourth came and went without incident, that I know of. Mostly it was fireworks off in the distance, with only one loud *blam* that seemed to come from my neighbor's yard. Both cats raised their heads and rotated their ears toward the sound.

I took my treadmill test and, apparently, passed it. I thought I would. I've been pressing harder as I walk up my hill, and I can now go up it without raising my heart rate above 120, and without any sort of discomfort.

The main reason the treadmill test is such an ordeal is that they tell you to fast for four hours before. With a 9:30 a.m. appointment, that means either getting up in the middle of the night to eat breakfast, or hitting the treadmill with no blood sugar whatsoever, and no medicine. So my muscles were just . . . there . . . and felt pretty heavy. It was hard work just walking on the damn thing.

I'm not sure I want to fully understand why the no-eating rule, because I think it is for in case they have to wheel you off into surgery because you just had a treadmill-induced heart attack or stroke, and the rule has really more to do with general anesthetic.

In my case, I would be more likely to have a heart attack trying to perform physical work with no blood sugar to work with, as a sort of ironic cosmic slap in the face haha. As it turns out, my heart is fine. Enough of that.

I sold the Longaberger baskets. It was not a win-win. It was more like a my-loss-your-gain sort of thing, but I'm glad to be rid of them. I still have quite a few, actually--maybe half a dozen or more--because they are in actual use. Where I put the bananas. Where I throw the car keys.  Where I stick the magazines, store the coffee fixin's, etc. I still get magazines, because they haven't all come up for renewal, which I don't do. When the time runs out, they send a few more issues, send me letters, etc., and as far as I know, none of them are on automatic withdrawal so I'll just let them run out of steam, chips falling where they may, and all that.

The weather here sucks. It's the humidity. Really. I keep looking on the Internet at the weather in different parts of the U.S. Mostly it is better than here. I know it could be worse. It could be Houston, or Amarillo. Or, anywhere in the entire state of Texas, or any adjacent states, or any place where pickup trucks require stepladders, or belt buckles require suspenders and dashboard beer-holders are all the rage. Or NASCAR.

And of course when the election results come in, I'll have a new list of places to avoid. And I know what they would tell me. If you hate America that much, why don't you move to Russia?? (Remember that?)

Well, so much for the blog post. It is without any sort of focal point, but, in that regard it is a fairly accurate bellwether of my real life.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

a picture

A while back I posted an old picture of my wife and our son, a baby then, in front of our old house. We had restored (in a manner of speaking) that house, and one of the things I did was replace the wrought iron supporting the porch roof with wood, in a style that I thought would make the house look like it used to. Subsequent owners did the porch over again and more or less un-did what I had achieved, but today while organizing drawers I found this picture. It must have been right after I finished the porch, but before the fence was put in.



If you look closely, you can see there is a rainbow behind the house--that must have been why I ran out there and took that picture. For a brief time, I lived right there at the end of that rainbow.

Bonus picture--something from this century.  It is a rare, in-focus picture of L-bot taken recently: