Dealing With The TV Wasteland Of Weekends

Apparently I am radically different from the majority of male-gender viewers of TV. The spring period from the end of the Superbowl through April is a horrible time for me, especially on the weekends. I HATE basketball. I would rather watch figure skating, gymnastics, or NASCAR than hoops. Even golf or bowling is preferable, fishing tournaments and other events that are fun to do but pointless to watch others do holds more interest for me. As a sign of how desperate I am I am spending more time than usual on channels 49 and 51 on my set. These are QVC and the Home Shopping Network. Unless they are selling cosmetics or jewelry, I tend to linger there longer than what would be natural.

I like sports in general. Most any works as a target of my attention, though in fairness it is harder today than in my younger days. Used to be a baseball game taking more than 90 minutes probably had a rain delay. Today it’s closer to four hours than three, and there’s more pitching changes than commercial breaks in the ancient game. Extreme sport programs have a fuzzy lack of appeal to me, probably because I never rode my bike, skateboard, or skis in any manner that would result in a full-body cast like the daredevils on the Dew Tour or X-Games (well, maybe riding down Coutant Street at nearly 30 MPH might qualify, but it was a straight line down and you had to bail before hitting the end as it ended at Main Street… at a curb).

Maybe my aversion to B-Ball comes from my childhood. I was (to put it mildly) not athletic. I was fat, out of breath, and couldn’t run across the street to escape a rabid dog if necessary. I played tennis (if you count running 15 seconds and gasping for breath the next 45 as play). I was in little league baseball, but it was more for the ice cream cone afterward and the t-shirt than to show my prowess at pitching (or fielding or batting or sitting on the bench… well, maybe the last works). I was bad, but at least I played (sometimes).

But when it came to the neighborhood game of hoops, it wasn’t that I was picked last, but that I was not picked at all. And on the rare occasion some team chose (or more likely, was forced) me to play, I never touched the ball. No matter, I couldn’t shoot anyway. Most of the time I didn’t know who was on my team so my usual play was to pass the ball to the first guy to call out “throw it to me.” I would, then watch with dismay as he would go the other way and score easily. And then be pummeled by my “team” mates. It would not take long before I would feign an injury and limp away humiliated (as weak as my ankles were, it often was not really faking it, either).

“But wait!” you say, “you never played football, hockey, soccer, or cricket but you like watching those games. Why not the Man’s Game?”

Ok, you caught me. I like sports I didn’t have personal experience in as well as some I did. I guess the biggest turnoff for watching March Madness is the pointless waste of time the game spends in the first 98% of the game. Almost without execption, the only part of a game you need to watch is the last 2 minutes of game time (at the end, not the other segments…I’m not even sure if there are 4 quarters or 2 halves in the game or if both apply but differ in pro verses non-pro games). Then you either don’t have to watch as the game is a blowout, or you need to put on Depends and take a 5-hour energy to follow through to the end of the game. Two minutes of time on the game clock equates to at least an hour of real time, closer to two if it goes into overtime.

I’d rather watch Frozen again…


post 21 of n

There’s No Place Like Roam

I finally made it home after an extended pair of trips.  A five-hundred-fifty mile journey to and from Indianapolis followed by a two hundred mile trek to see my granddaughter (and to provide taxi service to her parents while a car was in the shop). Basically this travel ate up the last half-month (save for a 45 minute gap in the middle to swap dirty clothes between the segments) and my body has been hallucinating about the joy of using my own furniture (I know my bed’s lumpy, but the lumps are in all the right places).

Finally the two hour drive home ends as I turn into the driveway at my apartment complex. My usual parking place is occupied (just as I had expected) so I parked in the closest overflow space. This necessitates about double the walking distance from my car to the door, but since I had taken my wheelchair on my trips (useful as a walker as well as a safe place to plop…and know I can get up again without calling for three spotters and a hoist) so the walk was manageable. I did notice a rather larger sheet of ice covering parts of the drive and walkways than usual, but since the air temperature was  10° F (-12° C) I presumed all was normal. HA!

Once I got in the door, there were two notices facing out to warn people about to depart into the world: that the drive and sidewalks might be slippery (a common notice that is hung at the first snowfall and remains till spring), and that because of the ongoing water problems they were flushing a well pump and to avoid walking across the ice sheets. THAT might have been nice to know about 10 minutes earlier as I began to navigate the antarctic ice cap that was our parking lot. But, no matter, my body reminded me that we were inside and only 30 feet from paradise and another room away from that glorious bed (rather than the hammock shaped torture device in Indiana or the sloping shelf of the kid’s broken futon frame which results in sleeping at the bottom of the letter “V”). Oh the blissful thought…

Put the key in the lock and find there are two notices on the shelf by my door. One is the monthly calendar for March events (also expected). The other points out that since one of the complexes well pumps failed (?) there was going to be the need to take at least two (2) water samples before we could be certified with safe water and that [the residents] needed to collect water before the testing began, and that the end of the “boil water” advisory would be posted in a couple of places. Oh, and they were going to have to flush the well and piping so there would be a great deal more ice outdoors than normal, so be careful. Great. I wonder if it took effect and when it would end. It’s just after nine in the evening but I didn’t see any lights on at my neighbor’s apartment. I let myself in and in the middle of the floor of the kitchen is a sealed gallon jug of spring water from the grocery store next door. Apparently someone thought I should have something to drink when I (eventually) got home. Nice to be remembered during challenging times.

I can hear water running. Still expected as I left all faucets running before I left to help keep the pipes from freezing. The water lines and heating pipes (we have hot water baseboard heating) run through the space above the apartments. Last winter a pipe in the next unit over broke about midnight. Before it was shut off, the hallway had a lake 3 inches deep and about 15 feet long starting just outside and to the left of my apartment door (my neighbor couldn’t get out without walking through the lake, and part of the flood was running down the wall of her kitchen). So the running water sound and corresponding rust stains where the iron-rich water splashed continuously the last three weeks was a “pleasant” reminder of home.

When I turned on the lights and looked closer, in addition to the rust a ring of grey silt had dried on the bottom sink surfaces. It looked like someone had entered my apartment and opened the faucets to flush the nasty water from the pipes. Or most of it, as they didn’t think (or care?) to rinse the sand/silt down the drain before resetting the flow to drip-mode. In any case, the sinks and bathtub look down right nasty (no long hot shower to unlax from the trip tonight, I’m afraid). When I flushed the toilet, I couldn’t see through the grey water that filled the bowl. I guess a couple (dozen?) more flushes might be needed before clean water appears again, but who knows?

Not I, said the cat… (quaint reference to a children’s story where the template ends with “then I will do it myself…and she did.”) I took a ride down to the office to see if more details could be found (and collect my mail). None found, met no one along the way there or back so the mystery must remain until morning.

Then there’s the problem with the computer (did not power up when  turned on, just made pathetic beeping sounds until completely disconnected  and reconnected the thing). And the internet would not work until router and modem recycled. And I discovered I failed to put away a can of refrigerator biscuits so they exploded from the tube. And then subsequently dried to a rock-hard mass needing a knife-chisel to dislodge and dispose of. And I had neglected to recharge the Steven-Hawkings-mobile (my electric cart’s name) after the south journey so my ride to the office was in danger of dead-battery syndrome and a lengthy push (it made it back, but I suspect it would have died had the trip been a third longer).

But I’m home, and I’m happy. And in about another 10 minutes, I’m going to reward my body with just what it’s been craving for the last couple of weeks…

I just need to take these ruby slippers off first.


post 20 of n

Lose A Dime On Each Sale, We’ll Make It Up On The Volume

Suppose I offer to buy dollar bills from you for ninety-four (94) cents. How many would you be willing to sell to me? A couple, few, many? If you thought about it your rational answer would be….NONE! What, are you crazy?

Let me ask you another question. How much you charge to sell a dollar bill if you knew you would only collect the above mentioned ninety-four cents? The reasonable answer is at least a dollar and six cents to cover the expected loss on the next transaction. By doing this you would at least break even.

Now, where does these questions make contact with the real world? Apparently most people in America have no clear idea of what actually occurs when they use a credit card to make a purchase. To persuade a company to advance you a loan for buying the #4 cheeseburger meal with fries and a large coke, the card company agrees to pay the restaurant less than the actual amount charged, at a rate that depends on the companies involved, but somewhere between five and fifteen percent. When you pay the full amount (eventually, the 25% interest charge on late payments is just gravy for the company) allows the company to make enough profit to survive, nay, thrive.

And per the second question above, the fast food joint will charge you more than they need to since they need to recover lost funds for the credit card charge. A vicious circle of eat and be eaten, with the customer at the bottom of the food chain. It is increasingly common for some places to charge more for credit purchases than cash driven ones. Here (in the greater Detroit area where my kid’s live and my current visit is about to end) there is a ten-cent additional charge for purchasing gasoline if you use your credit card. A station that prices gas at $2.389 a gallon for cash will ding your card for $2.489 each for the same gas. They are making sure they don’t eat the service charge from the credit card company. Surprise…you are.

So to encourage you to use your card more, some companies are offering a cash back program. One ad on TV talks about a card that will “…give you 1% back when you purchase and another 1% back when you pay…” for a grand total of 2%. Who do you think is supplying the money that you are being (so generously) given? [WARNING: this may be a trick question]

For the record, I have a BBA degree in Accounting, taught macro-economics in college, have worked as an accounting manager for a number of companies, and have had a small business consulting firm for almost twenty years. I have had a fair amount of experience and feel pretty confident about the answer I am about to reveal below. (Hint: it’s NOT the businesses involved.)

Answer:   You. [Sorry, it was not a trick question after all.] And it’s not just service fees for taking credit cards rather than cash. Every expense incurred in a business will, eventually in the long run, be paid by the customer. Regardless of the title of this blog, you cannot make up a loss by increasing the volume. You recover the cost by increasing the profit (raise prices or reduce costs). No exceptions, no tickie, no shirtie.

Government regulations require a licence to operate? Charge everyone a little more to cover the cost. Minimum wage goes up -> profits go down -> EITHER increase profit [prices go up] OR reduce expenses [number of employees goes down]. Sales Tax increases raises costs of materials purchased making profits go down…so either buy cheaper products or raise prices.

Look, the reason business is out there in the first place is to MAKE MONEY. Short answer. There may be other reasons going along with the profit driver, but ultimately when you sign the checks to pay the bills, you want to make sure there’s enough to pay everything with at least a little leftover for your own use. Even the “not for profit” business HAS to get close to making a profit (or be subsidized by government fiat to continue to take a loss for the team…guess who pays for the subsidy!) Nobody in their right mind will knowingly and willingly continue to throw money into the fire without getting a large enough return to at least break even.

Last question: guess how many credit cards I don’t have in my wallet? (Extra credit if you can identify which company it’s not.)


post 19 of n

ATM Fees and Overdraft Charges In The Bank Of Life

I observed an interaction between a couple using the line “if you do this for me, I’ll make it worth your while tonight…” and delivered (and received) with a smile. The idea of the Emotional Bank account (a nice summary explanation is at was explained by Steven Covey (I took the “7 habits” workshop provided by my employer late in the ’90s). ) We start all relationships with a neutral (think empty or zero balance) account with others and our interactions make deposits and withdrawals in our “account.” The higher our balance, the better our relationship is and the more room we have to make “errors” without permanently damaging our line of credit.

Reflecting on this image from long ago, I think the idea remains valid, but is incomplete. I don’t remember being told (or reading while going through other of his writings on my own) about the regular “service fees” and additional charges that might occur, most importantly the “foreign ATM use” charge.

It is (depressingly) common today for banks to charge a “nominal” monthly service fee, whether you actually use your account or not. Time was, banks were local institutions where your actions with the staff might allow you to talk to the same teller for decades. My dad was able to go in to the bank and get a car loan without filling out any paperwork (he had been a customer over 30 years and knew the loan officer well). A home mortgage was slightly more complicated, but not the federal interrogation required to get a loan today.

Over time, the local bank was purchased by a state, regional, then national bank, changing names and personnel each time. Worse than the lack of personal contact with people you knew, the larger companies had less competition so they were able to increase rates without fear of competition. Pay more to people that cared less. So free checking and savings accounts became $9.99 per month and a $5.00 fee if you “made more than” / “didn’t make at least” n transactions in a period (having both a checking and savings account with the same institution could trigger both penalties as each account was considered separately). Now to avoid charges you need  to maintain a really large balance or incur the wrath of the financial gods.

In the bank of life, a similar event occurs for relationships. If you go a long(ish) time without interacting with a person, your effective balance is lower than you might have assumed (based on what you remembered it was at your last meeting). Your best practice would be to always start any relationship transaction with a deposit (in case you missed a fee or so). Nice dress/hat/hair/shoes/car/spouse/tattoo/[insert appropriate item here].

I think by far the more hazardous fee (especially if you are involved in a long-term relationship…or want to be in one) comes from the “foreign ATM” charges. This principle is where you use a machine from another bank than the one your card is from. When you make a deposit in a foreign account in the presence of your usual bank, WOW! You can be hit with massive service charges when you get home (or to the car, followed by either a cold and silent ride home or a heated “discussion” along the way). Even if innocent, the transaction causes fees that need additional deposits and payments that will accrue interest until covered.

The best way to keep from declaring bankruptcy is to be intentional about making deposits in every transaction you face. Be nice, say thanks, open doors and let traffic in. Life is too short to find overdraft notices in your mailbox daily.

Oh, and a final suggestion is to cut up the credit cards from the Bank of Life…the interest charge rate is too high for the usefulness of withdrawing funds you haven’t got, and hope to make up by the end of the month. Even on the fifth, the end of the month is too close…


post 18 of n

Say Hello To My Little Friend…

More often than not, when asked how I feel, my short response is “I hurt.” (Longer response next line is “But it only hurts if I live…unfortunately it appears that I’m gonna live, so….”) I am the possessor of a bout of chronic pain. Mine is joint pain from arthritis centered mostly in knees and left hip, but including right shoulder (I finally have accepted that my pitching career is over; lifetime stats in little league was 16 wins and 22 losses) neck and hands. And just about every other place that bends.

I can’t remember for sure when it actually started, but I remember going to my doctor sometime while driving a propane truck for a living, so it happened sometime in the mid 1980’s. My job was to haul cylinders around, small tanks for fork trucks and hundred pound tanks for water heaters and ranges and stuff like that. Didn’t lift the big tanks so much as drag them around on a cart, but the “thirty-three pounders” were carry and throw around.  The truck held 72 in a load, did two loads three times a week and another single load on Monday’s. Individual tank weights varied, but by the time you took a 40 pound tank loaded with 30 pounds of propane and carried it on the truck, took it off at a customer and put an empty back in its place, then unloaded the truck back at the plant, each tank was lift and carry over 220 pounds. Each truck maxed out at 15,840 pounds, up to seven loads a week for 110,880 pounds a week and a monthly load about 480,480 pounds. When I actually calculated the numbers one lunch hour, moving up to 240 tons of material each month might explain why my back hurt constantly (disregarding for a moment the idea that I drove about a million miles while working for the company). Sometime in here was the beginning of my long-term relationship with my “friend.”

Dr. Call prescribed Naproxen Sodium (the stuff that is in the Aleve OTC pain medication). I had tried all the other “without a prescription” drugs from the local drug store without success. My first day on this stuff was SO good, I wanted to go back and kiss the man. For the first time in a long time my back just didn’t hurt. And this stuff was pretty cheap, less than half the effective cost of buying generic substitute OTC drugs (the box says all day pain relief comes with taking two 220 mg pills a day; my dosage was 500 mg twice a day, over twice the recommended dose).

However, all good things come to an end (or, as I’ve heard it put, “no good deed goes unpunished”) and over time the benefit received declined. I continued to take this drug essentially continuously for the next twenty-five years. Habitual use without much recognized benefit. I did seem to notice if i failed to take the stuff I felt worse (even long after leaving the job driving tanks around) but I didn’t feel pain-free. Over time, various other events and needs allowed for the use of “stronger” drugs (Tylenol 2 and 3 with various amounts of narcotics and Vicodin) but for the most part the most they ever did was to knock off the edge of the pain. Eventually I had my hip replaced (the right one, twice in fact, but that’s another story) and was on a morphine pump to manage pain. Oddly enough, the pain from the surgery was minuscule compared to the pain in my knees from being forced to lie flat on my back and straight legged (something that I had not done for decades). And even then, the drugs only took a percentage off the top (a minor percentage at that). So pain has been around for a long time.

I don’t think a “normal” person can relate to having a chronic condition. A friend of mine has nearly continuous migraine headaches. Erica has gone on long term disability and has spent over a week in a specialty hospital trying to get relief. In my teens I went through a time when I had one a couple times a month but to experience nearly continuous and unrelenting torment is nearly inconceivable. (Or would have been before the hip experience… pain never less than three and rarely greater than eight, but going on continuously.) To maintain her sanity and her sense of humor during her trials is nothing short of amazing. And humbling, as my levels now run in the two-to-five range.

Then again, perhaps we all share more than I am giving us credit for. Not all pain is physical, and not all physical infirmity results in pain. Maybe by sharing in the chronic condition of life we are closer than what a casual glance might suggest. Peer and cultural pressure to conform to what passes as “normal” can generate substantial chronic psychic pain. Stress from work, conflicting obligations within limited time and resource restraints and poorly chosen decisions can drive health issues ranging from sleep deprivation to actual illness. Interpersonal relationships, often a source of healing, unless maintained with care can add to your level of life’s pain. And don’t get me started on the whole “getting older” theme…

I am truly grateful that I am in as good shape as I am, regardless of my limitations. I understand I could be worse off. But I also am more aware of others as a result of what I have gone through (and still am going) and am encouraged by the endurance of those around me. Perhaps I need to revisit my expression to read: “It only hurts if we live…and because it hurts, we LIVE!”


post 17 of n

Eulogy For A Fiend

I have a love/loath relationship with technology. As an edge baby-boomer (born late in the category) I grew up in a time slightly before miniaturization. People walking by with the original cell phones (slightly smaller than a walkie-talkie and just about as nice looking) were viewed as totally off the rocker. Today to be a person without a cell phone at all is a chargeable offense. (Truth be known, I miss phones with cords. They were greatly more convenient to pinch between ear and shoulder…and, yes, I know you can get Bluetooth headsets to eliminate even this level of neck strain.) My education and training has allowed me to stay reasonably adept in new technology, but daily I find my level of usefulness is getting smaller as pertaining to new devices and tech. I can program my VCR (and even set the clock, lest the …12:00…12:00…12:00… blinking cause seizures) but don’t own a DVR at all, so programming TV to watch upon demand in digital format is outside of my wheelhouse.

I am currently away from home, having returned from my road trip earlier this week to Indiana and checked into my home (apartment) for about 45 minutes before dragging back into the car to spend time with my kids (son, DIL, and granddaughter), requiring another two hour drive towards Detroit. As a result, I am required to borrow and share technology I am somewhat unfamiliar with. The computer I am working on is a HP laptop running Windows 7. This is awkward for a couple of reasons: it’s a laptop, and it’s running Windows 7.

I am uncomfortable typing on most laptops (and this one is no exception) because the keyboard is (1) smaller than my Microsoft Natural keyboard at home, and (2) the keys are flat, planar, and have a small travel when pressed.I am a largish guy (I carry a lot of weight in this organization) so the smaller profile causes my hands to drift away from the “home” location. Typing by touch works only 30% of the time (added challenge is I type Dvorak layout, thus requiring a half hour to setup the computer configuration every time I start working on a foreign computer). In addition, the mouse-substitute pad is located exactly where my hands want to rest after 10-15 seconds, causing the cursor to move erratically to various locations on the screen. With a USB mouse and another 10 minute configuration change, i have been able to disable the blasted thing altogether. I hope it works when Samantha tries to use her profile…

More disturbing is that I am now required to ask to use the kid’s Kindle to check my e-mail and WP stats because my I-Pad has died. I was gifted with a first generation apple device when friends upgraded all the technology in their house. I lived in a state of abject isolation (no internet or cable TV in my apartment) so it was difficult (to say the least) to keep in touch with friends and family through e-mail. (Facebook is completely out of the question). My friend Ryan provided me with his old device so I would be able to use WIFI to check mail from the lobby (by connecting to the office’s link). It was quite a change from finding out events of interest and importance only a few days after the fact rather than weeks or months later. (Rumor control suggests it is possible to stay connected with modern cell phones, but I have a whole other rant about owning the WORST CELL PHONE EVER DESIGNED AND CREATED BY THE FOULEST DEMONS FROM THE LOWEST PITS OF HADES! I will post more about it some other time when my blood pressure drops to an acceptable level).

While traveling to the south earlier this week, it stopped working sometime in the very early hours of Thursday morning. This was not exactly unexpected, as for about the last year the device was temperature sensitive. When used or stored in ambient air temperatures below about 68F it would indicate a dead battery and would shut off. Showing love to the pad by cuddling or holding it close to my heart until it was warm (or using an equivalent, like a heating pad or furnace register) would bring my friend back from the icy wastelands of near-death. I found myself sleeping with the thing beside me in bed (singing me to sleep and providing ambient background noises throughout the night).

This time, however, things have become more serious. After almost an hour of attempting CPR (compress against chest) and defibrillator use (plugging into charger) there was still no signs of life, just the slim red bar on an empty battery appearing for a few seconds after pushing the on button, then fading to dark. Several times a day since, I have tried (again and again and again and …) to revive my fallen friend without any success.

A couple of people have suggested it is time to set it aside and move on with my life. While in my more lucid moments, I can acknowledge intellectually the wisdom of this action, I am not able to accept this as the end of our relationship. I had a couple of week period where it was in a similar coma around Thanksgiving last year, and I think maybe it will come back if I just show enough care and affection. I know it is just a matter of time (the device has no camera and is unable to understand O/S beyond 5.1.1 so it is incapable of learning new tricks). And I have enough invested in our relationship not to even broach the thought of moving to Android or another system.

I have not lost hope, regardless of the seemingly inevitable result. Just a couple of weeks more to see if it will come back. I know it will…

My heart just couldn’t take having to go back to my Palm Pilot III…


post 16 of n

Relatively Relative Relativity

“Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.”

For someone that plays with words, this saying is pure joy. The multiple meanings of words, the crazy parallelism, the twisted images. It is fun, but sadly not a true statement (or rather, pair of statements). My experience is fruit flies would rather have an avocado any day. Not that they are banana adverse, but there is something about an over ripe and under processed piece of raw guacamole that will generate MILLIONS of friends for a party that never ends. I was still using my vacuum cleaner to try and evacuate my kitchen of moving dust motes with wings 22 days after returning from an ill-advised trip. Gone 10 days, vinegar traps the next month.

As for time, an arrow doesn’t necessarily travel in a straight line (a parabola due to gravity and deflection from wind from side to side) or at a constant rate (friction verses a slight acceleration due to gravity) but it does not do justice to the variance experienced in the real world.

In the first third of my life, the concept of a time frame of 20 years was inconceivable. In fact, years seemed to be mostly an imaginary construct in a life of such short duration. Months and weeks were more manageable chunks to grasp in one’s imagination. Oh, to anticipate a birthday in the fall or the joy of Christmas during a day-dreaming session in school during a warm spring day was conceivable, but to actually suggest the ability to plan for a “future” more than a few calendar pages out seemed ludicrous at best.

The second third allowed for the growth of more abstract units of time. Employment created the need to “plan a 2 week vacation next year” with enough vision to actually submit a form to HR with proposed dates. Marriage and the start of a family made a “nine month” window slide from imaginary to imagery to immediate activity. Children expands ones (event) horizon to encompass whole blocks of time, the “terrible twos” through the teens (shudder!). Still, a two-decade block of time is a stretch to wrap one’s mind around.

Which brings us to the third half (as the tappet brothers used to say on “Car Talk”) of our show life. It seems absurd, but I am discovering that most of the interesting stories I am sharing include at some point the line “… that happened about… umm, twenty some years ago….” Now, I realize it is a time span going from over twice a lifetime to about a lifetime to about a third of a lifetime in this millennium, but (depending on what category you, the reader falls into) it is either impossible or depressing. And perhaps both in the same moment.

Also disorienting is the realization that time is anything but linear. I have been involved in radio for… um, well over twenty years or so now (starting in 1974, so I guess I need to repeat myself). While in the Navy, we would tune a short-wave radio to the WWV broadcast in Fort Collins, CO. This was a “clock” that ticked (and beeped) 58 times a minute, 60 minutes an hour, 24 x 7. It was partially a source of background noise, and a constant reminder of what time it was (which we needed to know as we processed messages from around the world). To hear “This is radio station WWV, Fort Collins Colorado, broadcasting on internationally allocated standard carrier frequencies of 2.5, 5, 10, 15, and 20 megahertz, providing time of day, standard time intervals and other related information…” twice an hour was to be lulled into thinking time passed with metronome like precision.

Wrong! Everybody “knows” that time passes faster or slower depending on what you are doing. A minute sitting in history class takes about 400 seconds. Sitting at a table sharing the evening with your best friends can have 19 minute hours evaporate into the ether. And, as the ultimate example, were it not for event-driven time dilation why else would the last two minutes of every basketball game take just under an hour on an observer’s clock (not in the arena, but on the microwave in the kitchen, for example, while watching on TV)?

I was told as a youth that the older I got, the faster time would seem to pass. It has proven to be true, but I think I can give a scientific explanation for why: nocturnal-derived changes in angular rotation of the Earth. You see, just as gravity is much stronger today than it was when I was younger (I estimate it has increased at least 70% in the last three decades alone), the amount of darkness in the night period is much shorter than it was last millennium. Daylight periods have not changed (at least if you disregard the cumulative effects of “Daylight Savings Time”) but they don’t put as much dark in the nights as they used to.

In essence, the phrase used to start this rant would be better stated as

“Time flies like fruit flies”


post 15 of n

Blog U101, Day 1 (Sort of…), A Time Travel Adventure

[ED. Note: This is a repeat posting that was inadvertanty deleted somehow while on my recent road trip. Sorry]
Looking through the blogosphere on WordPress, there was a series of assignments to help newbies improve their content and impact. Reading some of the posts has convinced me there is merit to doing (at least some of) the assignments. So, mingled within the “normal” stream of constiousness from this site will be posts directed at completing various assignments from last year’s project. (You can find the whole program here:  Be aware the assignments start at the bottom and work upward…so it may take a while to get to a reasonable depth. And if the link acts wonky try http:// rather than the secure link?) These postings will have a U101 in the title and the tag #zerotohero attached.
Day 1’s assignment was an initial post. Simply write anything and get it into the world. Been  there, done that. So why revisit the assignment? Because it was suggested this post answer several questions regarding the eventual focus of the blog: who do you want to reach, why public and not private, what topics might show up and what do you want to accomplish by the end of the year. Frankly, these seemed like pretty good questions to answer at least in my mind. So this post is to augment (and perhaps replace) my initial posting.
Welcome to my blog. I am sharing my life (at least some of the more “interesting” parts with  you (the world at large) in the hopes you might find something that adds value to your time. I have kept an e-journal of daily events and activities for a couple of years now, and occasionally review the entries for reminders and inspiration. The hope is some of what I share here might also provide a break from your routine, jiggle a laugh loose, nudge a “hmmm” or “WHAT” out of someone who might need (or desire) one.
I have been mostly a verbal entertainer over the decades, relying on the interaction of my audience to determine direction and effectiveness of my “act.”  Climbing into the spotlight of the written stage is outside of my comfort zone. While I have had the intention to become a writer for many years now, to actually commit to the process and generate output on an on-going basis is one of the major reasons for this work. At the end of the year, I plan on looking back and seeing great progress in translating the static in my head into something tangible, nay, beneficial to both myself and others. Perhaps this effort will be the springboard I need to actually write the books I have laid claim to “be working on” lo these many years. At the very least, I will have demonstrable proof (or the glaring lack thereof) that I was able to keep my commitment of 3+ entries a week for a year.
And so the only other suggested question left to answer is by far the hardest for me to grasp. Who am I writing this for and who am I trying to reach? Well, the first part is brutally simple: I’m writing this for ME. It is to stroke my own ego and to assuage the pangs of loneliness within the walls of my apartment (or skull, whichever comes first). Reaching out to whom else, now that is an interesting question. After a (reasonable) period of soul searching, I can categorically answer that I have no idea. The closest I can come to is someone sort of like me: possessing a slightly deviant personality that cringes at the thought of conforming to what passes as “normal,” preferring rather to allow others the freedom to be what they want to be without the need to join them mindlessly. A frequent phrase in my vocabulary is “you [they] are entitled to your [their] delusions, too…”
I have taken (of my own accord, they would not necessarily agree) the (unofficial) title of “church heretic” within my circle of friends. In the broadest, general definition of the word, it means being at some point of disagreement with the mainstream doctrine or teaching of the group. While I am in agreement with substantially all points, the opportunity to hold thoughts unique and variant from the herd is a part of my psyche I hold most dear.
To like-minded folk in the greater blogosphere, I hereby launch a flare…
post 13 of n

Sleep Deprevation For DUMMIES

I am currently on a road trip to the sub-tropical area of the mid-west known as Indianapolis, Indiana (temperatures when we left mid-Michigan was -11F and it was 18F when we arrived, a tropical heatwave by comparison). My traveling companion and I spent the day in conversation with several to many people, and eventually departed company to go to our assigned places of repose for the evening. After reading for about a half hour (a typical evening experience for me, to wind down from the day’s activities) I turned out the light about 10:45 in the evening and looked to enjoy a restful slumber.

HA! The best estimate I could come up with was a total of about 3 and a half hours of actual sleep by the time the alarm went off at 8:00 the next morning. The bulk of the night was spent lying motionless and listening to the sound of my sleep program. Rain, distant thunder, wind chimes, and camp fires crackling are all soothing sounds eminating from my i-Pad. As I use this every night, it was as much of my normal night routine as brushing my teeth and wearing my CPAP machine for my sleep apnea. Then why the disruption in my nightly experience.

I have noticed over the last 40 years that travel and sleeping in locations other than my normal bed would yield inconsistant results. Some nights would be the equivelant of being at home while others were extensive periods of torture, ending only when I could again place body upon the lumpy mattress at home (it may be lumpy, but the lumps are in the right places). Further contemplation revealed some times of torment could be reduced or eliminated by flipping end-for-end on the bed, putting my feet against the headboard and my head at the foot. Restorative sleep would result. Other locales resisted any satisfaction in any alignment.

Eventually I have determined I appear to be sensitive to the actual compass direction I am lying while attempting to sleep. If my bed at home is such that my head points to the West, then while traveling my best nights of sleep occur when my lodgings also have a bed running East and West. I am not sure if it has to do with magnetic lines of force or the rotational movement of the Earth, or some yet undiscovered organic GPS system locked deep within my brain, but this sensation of sleep vs. failure to launch has occurred more times than not.Even when moving to a new location would require abut a month to reset the compass direction before I would be able to sleep soundly at a new house.

Indeed, if this is the culprit, I fear my trip will be characterized by another three nights of restlessness and wistful awaiting the dawn. My current appartment is located in such a way that the walls do not align with the cardinal compass points, but are nearly 30 degrees out of line. Looking out the window of my living room allows me to see WSW (West by South West). To actually look to the west, I must lean over and look to the extreme right from my chair, allowing me to glimpse the sun setting.  Short of creating havoc by massive furnature repositioning, this bed will never align with home. Sleep deprevation awaits.

Then again, having five times the usual coffee consumption (and regular rather than decaf) may have played a minor part in thes struggle…


post 14 of n

Memories of Marilyn

In 1962, President Kennedy had a special birthday celebration, including a rendition of HBDTY by Marilyn Monroe. I was quite young at the time (5) and have no clear recollection apart from watching newsreels and replays over the last 5 decades. Quite a celebration, but not enough to hit the national holiday list. Washington, on the other hand, did have a holiday dedicated to him, at least originally.

Monday the 16th is now referred to as President’s Day, but it used to be called Washington’s Birthday. Yesterday was Lincoln’s. Looking at the site lists hundreds of holidays of all sorts. Chase’s Calendar of Events 2015 is even more extensive, listing 12,500 events, holidays and special observances for the year. (I owned a copy of this book many years ago, having heard about it on the radio broadcast “Weekend Radio with Ronald Conrad” on WCLV.) Check it out at and find out how you can celebrate “your special day” in many, many ways.

But, what I want to know, is who decides when we celebrate, what, and why? Until recently, we had 2 days set aside to presents, but the vast majority of victims were not deemed sufficient to take a day off for. Why not Millard Filmore, or Richard Nixon for example? We do MLK day but not Columbus day (at least here in Michigan). This year, Independence Day gets double the recognition, being observed (for time off of work) on Friday the 3rd as well as the (traditional) 4th of July.

WHY? (I have a rant about artificial holidays like grandparents and sweetest day, but that will wait for another post.) What or who decided the eleven “official holidays and non-working days” listed were the “correct” ones to celebrate? Why not something in March, April, and August (well, technically we might consider 4/15 to be a national holiday, a very somber event for some, no time off though) to balance out the work year? Christmas has some religious implications as well, but the government has seen fit to include it in (most) lists.

School calendars seem to use a different set of criteria as well. They take off days for many minor deities not in the official Washington pantheon of celebrants. Spring Break? Year End’s Period For Recharging? (These days most school kids spend more time at home in December than in school. When I was a kid, we got off early on the 24th and went back to school on January 2nd.)

Now, since my disability has taken me from the workforce, I am not as adversely affected by the holiday calendar, except when it expects me to purchase gifts for others (see future rant blog for more details). When I try to schedule events with others of gainful employment age I am forced to ask when they are available. Wouldn’t want to offend someone by presuming or omitting a prearranged celebration for someone or thing in their culture.

I’m in favor of making National Ice Cream Day a long weekend…


post 12 of n