Monthly Archives: January 2016

No Pretty Pictures

I often wish that my blogs would lend themselves to more pictures. I’m not a bad photographer, and some blogs are full of sunsets, beach scenes, Grand Lake up in the Rockies, or whatever. Mine—not so much.

I’ve been going through some physical therapy for some old injuries. The therapy has actually worked better than a variety of drugs that have been prescribed in the past. However, for it to work, I need to be consistent in my follow through. It struck me, that if there’s a common theme in life, that’s it.

How do you get to Carnegie Hall?

Practice! Practice! Practice!

It’s true of music, physical fitness, painting, even math or science. (Do YOU remember how to solve a quadratic equation? We all learned how in high school.)

Calvin Coolidge was not one of our more noteworthy presidents, being known as “Silent Cal.” However, he did leave us with a great thought:

Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.

Calvin Coolidge
30th president of US (1872 – 1933)

Practice! Practice! Practice!

Open Letter to Magazine Publishers

I read. I read a lot. I’ve read a lot ever since I was a kid.

My kids, on the other hand, seem to prefer media that can be delivered via smartphone—podcasts, videos, cute kittens, pictures of someone else’s meal, and who knows what.

I subscribe to nearly a dozen magazines; my two kids who are still at home currently subscribe to one magazine—between them. I figure this is average, or possibly even above average..

Now that we have all that out of the way, here are some suggestions from those of us who actually pay for and read magazines:

  • Please use a font size that does not require an electron microscope to read.
  • When you MUST continue an article on one of the last pages, PLEASE make sure that the pages near it have visible page numbers. It seems like the last 20 percent of the pages in a magazine only have a few marked with page numbers.
  • We get it that you’re trying to be all stylish, modern and such, but trendy colors don’t work. Ten point grey type on beige backgrounds, or white type on undulating backgrounds don’t work. Contrast, such as white pages with jet black print works. (Wired magazine, did you read this? You can still have snazzy covers and illustrations to appeal to—–whoever likes the pictures more than the words.)

You notice that I’m not criticizing content. I may not agree with what other authors write, but we seem to have a lot of talented writers out there, which is a very positive sign. I paid the extra money when my cataracts were removed so that I would have 20-20 vision AND be able to read without glasses. Much of the time it works, but for some of the trendy printing I need a carbon-arc lamp for illumination and reading glasses—with an eye loupe handy for some sections.

Publishers, you might want to try to appeal to your audience. Just a thought.

Jason the Great

We’re not getting quite the storm that the Northeast is getting, but we do have some coastal flooding; not nearly as exciting or picture-worthy. Sorry about that, Superstorm Jason.

We did get a lot of rain; some came as slush, we had a few snowflakes, and in true storm fashion, we all got pretty wet. Since it’s winter, we also got cold. But then 28 years ago, at this time, I was in Antarctica, so “cold” is a relative term. Having said that, as I get older, my body says, “cold is cold.”

BREAKING NEWS!

Winter isn’t breaking news. Snow isn’t breaking news. Jason isn’t a catastrophe. It’s winter; however, already the daylight hours are getting longer. Most days (workdays, at least) I get out for my morning walk about 0430, so I can get my exercise before either my brain or my body knows what I’m doing. It’s nippy, but not impossible. True, I’m in Virginia, not Toledo, Cleveland, or Buffalo, where my intent would exceed my abilities. However, I notice that each day is a little brighter a little longer.

REAL BREAKING NEWS!

If, every day, I remember that it’s a little brighter a little longer, I tend to expect that everything else about that day will be just a little better. It seems that days tend not to choose the attitude, they wait for us to choose, so, when I hit the sack in about 30 minutes, I already know that tomorrow will be a little brighter, a little longer.

I wish you the same.

Mortality

78677-R17_fr11.tif

Glenn Frey

 

When John Lennon died, it was a senseless shooting. It was shocking, but it really didn’t affect me personally.

Freddie Mercury died of AIDS, which was pretty much a death sentence back in the early 90s. No one was surprised, given that Freddie Mercury was—Freddy Mercury.

Dan Peek from America died; I love their music, but have no idea what he even looked like.

David Bowie—I wasn’t a huge fan, but he was a little too close to my age when he died.

But Glenn Frey? That hits too close to home. I love listening to the Eagles, and have been known to play along with their CDs. My wife and I saw the Eagles perform, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I suspect he was a bit—shall we say—headstrong? Don Felder would probably agree with that. As Joe Walsh said, “It’s Don and Glenn’s band.” It won’t be the same, even if they try to keep things going. It’s yin without yang or heads without tails.

Plus it reminds many of us that no one lives forever.

But I will always enjoy Glenn’s music, and am glad that he left it behind for us to remember him by.

A Dismal Future?

220px-Marvin_(HHGG)

Marvin the Paranoid Android from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (We already miss you Alan Rickman!)

Hollywood—so politically correct and socially conscious—loves to produce movies about a dystopian future. I admit, I’ve watched–and enjoyed many of them: Blade Runner, Terminator 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and counting, Mad Max 1 through nx, I Robot, Planet of the Apeses, etc. What’s the point?

 

Is Hollywood trying to convince us that in our world with global warming, bigotry, greed, corruption, and disease, things are only going to get worse? And they promote this in the name of entertainment? I suppose it makes sense. After all, this is an industry that insists on making more Adam Sandler movies.

Why not make movies predicting a future in which:

  • No one has to deal with the DMV. In fact, historians cannot even find out what DMV stood for.
  • Whenever mail (physical or electronic) includes an unwanted advertisement, it’s normal procedure to call the postal inspector—with every reason to believe that there will be an immediate arrest of the perpetrator.
  • Issues concerning climate, medicine, nutrition, are debated ONLY by experts in those fields, with minimum criteria for the validity of the data, hypotheses, and conclusions they reach. Soundbites would be based on these factual notions, and periodic updates would be published to reflect the peer review process. Celebrities without a PhD and current peer reviewed publications dealing with the question at hand need not apply.
  • Cute kittens would be adored by their owners but prohibited from cluttering the internet.
  • In the entertainment world, the media focus would be on the characters that actors portrayed, whether Petrucio, Spock, or Professor Severus Snape—not the actors themselves.
  • Blog writers would be universally revered as geniuses, giants, and heroes.

Okay, the last one was a reach, but I had to take my shot.

Negative Campaign Ads

It’s an election year, and that means campaign ads—and what kind of campaign ads work best?

Negative campaign ads!

We love distorted facts, exaggeration, and almost-but-not-quite outright lies.

So, here is my humble contribution. Click on the link below.

george-washington-for-president

 

 

Hermione! I Need Your Time-Turner!

Harold Lloyd Modern Times

Harold Lloyd
Modern Times

I’m having a problem with all the important things I’m supposed to do. You’re probably in the same boat, whether you realize it or not.

It takes me about an hour and 45 minutes to get up, shower, shave, dress, eat breakfast, and drive to work. I work an eight hour day and it takes between 30 and 45 minutes to get home. Most nights there’s practice, rehearsal, or something with one of the kids, which usually takes between two and three hours.

The “experts” (whoever they are) are recommending that I get between eight and nine hours sleep per night. In addition, I should work out at least half an hour every day. With changing into workout clothes (and don’t forget to stretch), showering and changing back it ends up being an hour.

Everyone should devote at least an hour praying, reading scripture, or meditating to satisfy their spiritual needs.

In order to eat properly, I really should avoid processed food, so preparing a proper home cooked meal from fresh, locally grown foodstuffs adds another two to three hours between stopping at the grocery for fresh ingredients, followed by cleaning, prepping, and cooking: grilled, not fried; steamed or raw vegetables (after rinsing, spraying with diluted vinegar, and rinsing again in hopes of killing the E. coli, listeria, salmonella, and the occasional frog. I tend to eat fast, so let’s add 30 minutes to eat and after dinner another half hour to clean up, followed by another half hour to put everything away.

Don’t forget, that we need to do what the church mouse said and feed our head; so add an hour of reading the newspaper plus another hour to concentrate on a good book, and maybe an hour to sit with my wife and watch television.

Finally, about an hour to write blog (assume no writers’ block); oops! I need to go online and pay some bills, for another half hour, and hopefully an hour or so to pursue my muse of gadgets and inventions, followed by another half hour to get ready for bed; teeth brushing, thoroughly flossing, taking all the correct medications, and attaching all of the required medical devices that make me feel like Darth Vader (“He’s more machine than man”).

So let’s see:

Task

Hours

Before work

1.75

Work

8.0

Drive home

0.5

Kids’ activities

2.5

Sleep

8.5

Workout

1.0

Spiritual

1.0

Cooking

2.5

Eating & cleanup

1.5

Newspaper

1.0

Book

1.0

Blog

1.0

Pay Bills

0.5

Gadgets

1.0

Prepare for bed

0.5

TOTAL

32.25

All I need is eight or nine more hours per day and I’ll be fine.

Happy 2016

First, I did not stay up until midnight to watch the ball drop, the groundhog, the meteor showers, the rain, or anything else.

Young people think, “Let’s party! Who needs sleep!”

As we age we begin to balance our decisions with, “Party, sleep, party, sleep? Let’s go to the party, but we can leave early and blame it on the babysitter.”

When you get to be my age it’s, “Hey! I can get to bed early, and sleep late—all the way until 7:00 AM!”

In other news, I have a January tradition of writing the wrong year on checks. At work we’ve been in fiscal year 2016 for a number of months so I started to think that we were headed to 2017. I now have two (2015 and 2017) possible wrong years to write on my checks! Fortunately, electronic bill paying helps alleviate this.

I spent today reconfiguring antennas on my car. This is the adult geek male equivalent of changing purses, only requiring more tools and getting dirtier. I’m almost done. Tomorrow I’ll test them and see if anything works better than it did before. Wish me luck!