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Showing posts from April, 2020

Last day of April

I'm ending a full month of social isolation in addition to the two weeks of it in March with a relaxing evening at home. It's staying light outside past 7pm now and the hot weather is probably not far off. We had a real spring this year with plenty of cool but not cold days and maybe a bit more rain than we would have liked but that is ok. The best part of staying at home more was having more time to enjoy the weather while sitting out on the deck reading or listening to music or both and when it was too rainy to do that, I was able to open a window and listen to the rain and enjoy the breeze.

We will start May with a bit more normality here. Some restaurants are reopening with limited seating although I don't see myself standing in line to get any of those limited seats for a while. I've gotten used to the routine of eating at home more and I think it's still too early to let our guard down no matter how many people are protesting. I even have a haircut scheduled.

I can only hope that all of this goes smoothly and we don't see an uptick of illness as things slowly start back up.

Fingers crossed that May is a good month for us all.

Back to the Bridge

We have a local radio station that switched to a format I used to refer to (and still accidentally do sometimes) as Big Band although easy listening would be a better description.

They play a variety that includes The Andrews Sisters, Ella Fitzgerald, Perry Como, Frank Sinatra and others. And somehow, the soundtrack from the 1995 movie "The Bridges of Madison County" also ended up in the rotation. I know this because every so often they will play "Doe Eyes" which is an instrumental written specifically for the movie along with the other songs on the soundtrack.

I've had the soundtrack since it was released because it is full of great songs by Johnny Hartman, Dinah Washington and others.

I know I saw the movie at some point in 1995 because I remember parts of it but I haven't seen it since. I also somehow read the book not long after it came out in 1992. I assume my mother bought it and I read it when home for the summer during college.

The book had a very unique look at the time and sold like crazy. It was quite the phenomenon, selling 60 million copies according to Wikipedia. I always see copies of it at the local thrift stores for between a quarter and a dollar but I have never bought a copy to read since I read it that first time almost 30 years ago.

But, I kept hearing songs from the soundtrack so I went out to the local library website to see if there was an eBook I could check out and there was so I read it again last week, finishing on Saturday and I wanted to share a few thoughts and my reason for giving it five stars on Goodreads.

The only part of the book I remembered was when Robert James Waller goes into a very in-depth technical description of Robert Kincaid taking pictures at the Roseman Covered Bridge. In my memory, this section is about twenty pages long and soooo boring. In reality with my much older eyes reading the book, it is only a couple of pages and sort of interesting.

If I have a problem with the book, it's how over the top Waller writes the Kincaid character. Supposedly, it's a tad autobiographical which to me is even worse that this being a purely fictional character and sometimes I just want to call BS, like with these quotes:

He is an elusive figure. At times he seems rather ordinary. At other times ethereal, perhaps even spectral. In his work he was a consummate professional. Yet he saw himself as a peculiar kind of male animal becoming obsolete in a world given over to increasing amounts of organization.

He’d had these drifting kinds of thoughts, a wistful sense of the tragic combined with intense physical and intellectual power, even as a young boy growing up in a small Ohio town.

Francesca said nothing, wondering about a man to whom the difference between a pasture and a meadow seemed important, who got excited about sky color, who wrote a little poetry but not much fiction. Who played the guitar, who earned his living by images and carried his tools in knapsacks. Who seemed like the wind. And moved like it. Came from it, perhaps.

If this is how he sees himself, well, I am not sure what to make of it. In an effort to try to separate the character from the man, I bought an eBook of Waller's book of essays, Old Songs in a New Café and yeah, Waller was sort of a jack-of-all-trades renaissance kind of guy. Did he really come from the wind or just have a huge ego or just wanted to make the Kincaid character a bit of a larger than life version of himself? We have to decide that for ourselves.

But back to the book as a whole, I am now comfortably in the target demographic for Bridges and there is a lot in the book that made me think. The writing feels authentic now including the photography section which was easy for Waller to write since he was an avid photographer in addition to all of his other accomplishments as a musician and educator on top of being a bestselling author.

There is real emotion and a lot of the things you think about as you get older. I doubt 19 year old me grasped a lot of that back in 1992. 46 year old me gets it all now. 

So, if you can get past a bit of disbelief at times such as wondering aloud at how can these people really exist, you might learn something from this book, something about yourself and the people around you.

I found a 1993 article from People magazine and in there, they quote a reviewer in The Akron Beacon Journal who referred to the book as "Yuppie Women's Porno" and I am guessing that was written by a man whose wife didn't get a lot of attention or had already divorced him. 

I go along with this quote which also appears in the article:

“Once in a very great while,” gushed a critic in the Portland newspaper The Oregonian, “a novel appears that is…so filled with insight and shy sensitivity that we experience an epiphany.”

You just have to be willing to be open to an epiphany and don't discard the book because there are some hard to chew parts.

Finally, Old Songs in a New Café is a great read if you enjoy essays. I was surprised by it. Some of my favorite quotes from the book should be visible here. You might have to be logged into Goodreads. I am not sure.

Here's one quote I really liked. I think it is a good way to end today's post:

Even being a little antisocial helps. A friend of mine is fond of quoting something I said a few years back about my reluctance to attend events of borderline value: “You have fewer people at your funeral, but you get more reading time.” There are krakens out there gobbling your life, and it’s crucial that they be spotted and nullified.



CoronaBag part two

On Saturday, I mentioned that I had a slightly larger CoronaBag coming today and it has arrived accompanied by the giddy cheer I release whenever I open the mailbox and find a new bag.

Here is the old CoronaBag next to the new CoronaBag, the Swissgear 2610 Mono Sling Bag, purchased on eBay for the grand total of $19 including shipping:

The new bag is in fact a bit bigger but not HUGE like a backpack. It's big enough to comfortably hold some books, a couple of water bottles and either a Kindle or iPad or even both if I just went nuts. Note the dedicated Tablet pocket that is labeled Tablet so you don't accidentally put something other than a tablet in there. I have to assume that anything aside from a tablet put in that pocket would burst into flames or at the very least result in a firm phone call from Swiss Gear corporate.

There are also plenty of other pockets for pens, pencils, hand sanitizer, etc. You name it, it's there. As a creator, you have no excuse to leave the house with all of your creativity tools so you can get down to creating.

Does that mean I will actually go forth and create?
Eh, who knows. I'll probably use this mostly for taking a radio, my Kindle, hand sanitizer, a mask and bottled water to the park whenever I feel brave enough to go there.

Morning musings and my CoronaBag

It's an early Saturday morning here, just after 6AM. It's a good quiet time to sit down at the kitchen table, type out a post, make some coffee and then do a bit of reading.

Here's the view out of the kitchen window.

And here is where I am creating blog magic (?) this morning since it's too damp to sit outside and more rain is on the way shortly. With the window open, it's almost as good as sitting out on the deck. Almost.

Yesterday, I had an idea to share my CoronaBag. I took the pictures but the bee saga ended up happening and I knew it was important (?) to document that.

For a few weeks I had been grabbing up stuff to take out of the house with me and ended up forgetting my hand sanitizer a couple of times which is a huge no-no so I went into my gigantic stack of bags and pulled out an Eastsport bag/man bag/murse I bought at Walmart many years ago. It normally goes with me on vacation to hold sunglasses and other road trip supplies.

For now, my mask (cleaned after each trip to Walmart) and my hand sanitizer live in this bag and the bag hangs in the kitchen on a hook. Just like American Express, I don't leave home without it.

The reason I don't use this bag all the time is because it's just a bit small for my Kindle and won't hold a hardcover if I am reading a REAL book. Here's another angle that might get the size across a bit better.

I have a bag coming Monday that is just slightly larger and may end up taking on this role. Stay tuned.

Final thought of the day and possibly the weekend-
I posted this on Twitter yesterday:

You may think that means I am suddenly anti-Twitter again. I am not. I'm just anti-streams of information coming at me seven days a week. I can handle it five days a week but not seven. For a while, I've done my best to minimize my consumption of social media on Sundays and this past week I decided I would try to expand that to Saturdays also.

One thing I know I need to do is to reduce the size of some of my Twitter lists. The number of people in them have made the data streams overwhelming. But that is a task for next week.

As soon as I click on publish on this post and then close the computer, my focus will be on reading a book and watching and listening to it rain as I sit next to the kitchen window with a fresh cup of coffee. 


Beelieve it or not

1:29PM
I just noticed a dumb bee has managed to get into my window screen and I have to decide now whether to try to save it and risk getting stung or leave it to see if it can figure out how to get out.

1:31PM
Here is a picture. It is still in there. Click on the picture to enlarge it.

1:33PM
I pulled up the blinds and now can see a dead wasp at the bottom of the window so I am wondering if the bee will be smarter than the wasp. I also noticed the legs of another insect sticking out of the frame. I cannot tell what the insect is and if it is alive. Further investigation will be necessary.

1:39PM
The bee is still there but I need to sweep and then mop so I will have to come back to this in a bit.

1:45PM
Still there.

1:50PM
Still there.

2:24PM
I am done mopping. As soon as the floor dries, I will go outside and see what can "bee" done.

2:31PM
Heading to the garage to find something to wedge in the screen to open the gap and then outside.

2:37PM
Success! 

Here is our bee before liberation.

Sadly, the legs belong to a moth that was beyond saving.

The screen is propped and the bee is about to exit.

It's good to be able to report some good news in this crazy world. 
The bee has been freed! 
The bee has been freed!

Another radio: Sangean HDR-14

I know, I know. The last thing I need aside from another bag is another radio.


But here it is anyway - my new to me, refurbished Sangean HDR-14. As you know if you have read this for a while, I don't buy radios new and I'd been waiting for a while for more refurbished units of this model to get back in stock.

Why did I want this one? It's exclusively for deck sitting and mainly for while I am out there reading. And I wanted an HD radio specifically because our local jazz station is only available on HD radio. 

I go back and forth a bit between the jazz station and our local classical station and it is perfect. It has a very nice sound, not stereo but that doesn't matter to me. It's supposed to last about 30 hours on 3 rechargeable AA batteries plus it has an indicator light to warn you when the batteries are getting low.

My old HD radio might end up on my work desk in place of my Radio Shack radio. I haven't decided yet.

And speaking of bags being the absolute last thing I need, I have another one of those on order also.

I know.
I know.
I know.


Trying something new


A short note to invite you to click the link at the top of the main page here or right here to see almost daily updates on my special.fish profile. I think I finally figured out what to do over there. I am currently making small daily (except on Sunday) updates there. Each day, the new update basically overwrites the previous update. No archive! Just a daily log of what I am up to on each day along with the daily weather.

Yes, I will still be here from time to time when I want to write and share something in this format but I am enjoying the "time-sensitive" feel over at special.fish so check it out to see what I am up to in between posts here!

Tuesday yammering

I took yesterday mostly off from the onlines. I'm caught up on podcasting at the moment. Nothing to record. Nothing to edit. I'm caught up on chores. I'm caught up on work as well as I ever get caught up. (I just thought of something I need to do work-wise so I will do that after I click publish on this.)

The safe at home order was extended to the end of the month. I hardly go anywhere in the first place so I probably won't notice much difference if they (they being the powers that be) ever let it expire.

After a month of this, I have adapted quite well to spending more time at home and quickly zipping in and out of Walmart for supplies. I went to a local restaurant today and got take out lunch but that's the only trip away from the house I have planned for today.

It's been too windy+chilly to sit on the deck and read but I'm hoping to get a few minutes in later this afternoon when the deck is in full sunlight.

Finally, I've been playing around a bit with my special.fish profile. I'm still not sure what this site is for or what I'm supposed to do with it but it's interesting to visit the site some during the day to see what other people are doing with their profiles. I think most of them are as perplexed as I am.

Easter 2020

It's one of those nasty days you don't want to get out in and I'm not. I'm sitting in the easy chair where I have surrounded myself with technology including my laptop. It's so dreary that I have the lights on and I'm quite close to brewing a cup of coffee.


It could be far worse than a rainy day. We're still in the Enhanced area for severe weather but it is looking like the really nasty stuff will stay to our south. However, we're still expecting up to 50MPH winds tonight as this system starts to move out and I am hoping all of the trees behind the house can withstand that after so much rain has fallen.

It's a weird Easter. There is nowhere to go. Nothing much to do. Even if it was an absolutely awesome day weather-wise, everything would still be closed and the safe-at-home order would still be in effect. So we are hiding out from the weather and from the virus.

I hope your Easter is good. Hang in there.

The usefulness of Twitter lists

I've complained here about Twitter relentlessly over the years. I've done it so many times that there is no point of linking to specific posts about the topic. If you search for Twitter on this site, you get a LOT of results.

However, right when the Coronavirus outbreak started in January, I started using Twitter in the correct manner and the secret for me was creating a lot of lists. The first list I found was the Coronavirus list I am still subscribed to.

My lists are private aside from the Coronavirus list. The only reason I did that is because I think people get notifications when you add them to public lists and I had no desire to be annoying. Plus, I add and remove accounts from lists somewhat frequently.


With this setup, News accounts, for example, don't clog my feed but are easily accessible when needed.

Another example - the severe weather list is filled with accounts that are important during severe weather but not things I need to see on a daily basis.

My weather list is filled with more general accounts so I can swap back and forth when needed.

Using lists has certainly upped my usage of Twitter. I can now check in on the information I want and avoid a lot of unnecessary noise. Using lists has also given me the ability to discover more interesting accounts and share a few good tweets along the way.

Now if I could just block out trending topics on Twitter on the front page on PC and on the search bar in the app!

Finally, Facebook has turned into a free-for-all of dumbness over the last few weeks of people being stuck at home. I go there less and less. The demographic has certainly taken an older turn and that has to be hurting their business model.

CoronaWednesday

Today, instead of pondering Coronavirus, here we are pondering the chance for a hail storm tonight. If we get it, this has the potential to be the first damaging hail storm we have had at the house since 2012.


In creative news, I am working on my next Coronapalooza episode for In Your Earholes before my latest one has even been released. I'm trying to stay a bit ahead on these. Once again, I am going in a different direction that I had first thought. Also, I already have an idea for the one after this one. The creative juices are a-flowin'!

In school news, graduation has been officially postponed. We knew that was coming and it is a sign that we probably won't have school or community band for the rest of the school year.

And now, miscellaneous.
  • I'm still reading. I tried two books I bought from the dollar store and both ended up being flops. They can't all be winners. Lucky for me, one of the books I had on hold at the library came in so I am busy reading that one now.
  • The weather has been quite nice for sitting out on the deck but the wasps and hornets are in full force this year thanks to the warm and wet winter we had. I've been spraying the suckers like crazy.
  • We're still getting out occasionally and supporting our local restaurants a bit. I am fearful that a few of the ones completely closed now may not reopen once all of this is over.
  • I get out and shop a bit from time to time also and hardly anyone is out. They are recommending we wear masks in public but I don't have one and it looks like a lot of other people don't either. It's hard to wear a mask when you can't buy one anywhere.
That's it for now. I'm going to try to check in at least every other day.

The Easter bunny is coming and so are the hard-headed people who won't listen

I have a feeling that there will be some churches across our country that believe it is an absolute priority to meet on Easter Sunday in defiance of state orders and federal guidance.


This is very troubling to me and the Bible is quite clear on the subject in Romans 13:1-2:
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.

Just wait until Sunday morning and keep an eye on the news if you want to see which "Christians" out there are missing this page from their Bible. They're probably missing a bunch of other pages also.

Maybe the police will have to be out breaking up Easter egg hunts also. 

The saddest week

It looks like we are in for a terrible week ahead, depending on who you listen to:
Earlier Sunday, Surgeon General Jerome Adams told CNN: "This is going to be the hardest and the saddest week of most Americans' lives, quite frankly."
The nation's top doctor went on to say: "This is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment, only it's not going to be localized. It's going to be happening all over the country. And I want America to understand that."
Also Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the toll in the coming week is "going to be shocking to some, but that's what is going to happen before it turns around, so just buckle down."
The President's comments were slightly more optimistic but not without reality:
"I think we all know that we have to reach a certain point — and that point is going to be a horrific point in terms of death — but it's also a point at which things are going to start changing," Trump said. "We're getting very close to that level right now."
The president added that he thought the next two weeks "are going to be very difficult. At the same time, we understand what they represent and what that time represents and, hopefully, we can get this over with."
Still, Trump's own briefing also struck a somber tone at times. The president offered some of his most extensive comments to date to the families of those killed by the virus, urging the nation to pray for them and "ask God to comfort them in their hour of grief."
"With the faith of our families and the spirit of our people and the grace of our God we will endure," the president said. "We will overcome."
I think every leader tries their best to make us consider the light at the end even when we are in the darkest part of the tunnel. Shouldn't they? 
I still don't understand why we always look for the negative in everything the President says. I didn't vote for him and I'm certainly not in alignment with everything he says and does but I try to look for the positive in every leader we've had and I wonder what I would say if I had to stand up at the podium.
Would I only give the hard reality or would I try to give a little light also? I think we need both regardless of which mouth it comes out of. 
Yes, this is terrible, but we will persevere.
We won't persevere if we always have an element of our society wanting someone to fail. It happens with every President and I've seen the same attitude make its way down to local politics and even companies, organizations and families. 
We've become terribly divisive as a society and our attitude is attack, attack, attack when sometimes it's best to silently nod and move on and concentrate on what we can do instead of wasting our energy on anger that does us no good. 
The virus does not discriminate but we do. And by every account, the virus is winning. That should tell us all something.

Two quotes on writing

After a day spent mostly out on the deck under the big umbrella, I have almost finished reading The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien and I made a note of two quotes from the book about writing that I wanted post here under the label writing so they would be available for me to refer back to and also because I believe they are worth sharing with anyone who might stumble upon this post.

“But the thing about remembering is that you don't forget. You take your material where you find it, which is in your life, at the intersection of past and present. The memory-traffic feeds into a rotary up on your head, where it goes in circles for a while, then pretty soon imagination flows in and the traffic merges and shoots off down a thousand different streets. As a writer, all you can do is pick a street and go for the ride, putting things down as they come at you. That's the real obsession. All those stories.”

“Forty-three years old, and the war occurred half a lifetime ago, and yet the remembering makes it now. And sometimes remembering will lead to a story, which makes it forever. That’s what stories are for. Stories are for joining the past to the future. Stories are for those late hours in the night when you can’t remember how you got from where you were to where you are. Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember except the story.”

Big brother is watching you drive around

The governor of our state issued a statewide stay at home order today while we have been one in our county for almost two weeks as have most of the counties around us.

He said it is because more people are getting out and driving around and to prove this he had data from our Department of Transportation but also from a company named Unacast which is anonymously (supposedly) tracking our movements by our cell phones. That sounds a bit creepy to me.

But, this is how our governor does his job. He's blaming all of us for lagging behind other states and most of our own cities and counties in doing what he should have done in the first place. He takes none of the blame himself.

Even the chart they shared to prove his numbers doesn't prove much of anything.

Traffic is still at least 30% down year to year and the uptick he blames this on is because people went back to work on Monday at the places he himself deemed essential. And I am sure some people are out looking for work since we have lost thousands and thousands of jobs since all of this started. It's hard to stay at home if you have no money.

What a load of crap.

I went out to the store today for a few things and hardly anyone was out at all which is the way it has looked here for weeks. Every day reminds me of travelling on Thanksgiving Day or Christmas. It's eerie how few people are out.

The governor just doesn't want to admit the truth - he was slow to react and national pressure forced him to give in.

Where are all of the people?

I went to pick up lunch today at Chick-Fil-A which would have been the busiest place in town on Monday, March 2nd before the tornado came through. But now, there is hardly anyone there. Only the drive-thru is open along with them running out food to the car but there was hardly anyone in line and only two other cars waiting for food.

On the way back, I passed a sit down restaurant that is still serving to-go that used to have a completely full parking lot at lunch but today there were only two or three cars waiting for food.

It makes me wonder - is everyone cooking now?

Is it because a lot of people are not having to get out and go to work so they don't have to come "to town" and then don't need to go to restaurants?

Or, are there so many people out of work that they just cannot afford to go out and get food?

Or, are they all so scared of getting the virus that they don't dare eat restaurant food? If this is the case, I am apparently very stupid and they are all very smart.

We are cooking more but have also continued to go out and get food at different restaurants and that's partially because I don't feel like dealing with dishes 24/7 and partially because I want to keep supporting restaurants so we still have restaurants after all of this is over.

And this will eventually be over even with the worst days ahead according to the press conference last night and press conferences today.

It's an extremely scary time. I just now got a text that a relative who sews is making us all masks to wear when we have to go shopping. It's just surreal but it's necessary.

Hope you are well wherever you happen to be...