Monday, December 04, 2023

Every Five Years

I bought a new computer. I do this about every five years. This new computer is a Mac Mini with a zippy M2 chip. I even sprung for the outrageously priced 16GB RAM upgrade. The arrogance of Apple's pricing is galling. If I was building a new gaming PC, RAM would be about half the cost. But, I'm parked in the Apple biosphere. It's a pricey neighborhood and Tim Cook knows we'll all pay to stay. 

I'm thinking about all the computers I've owned. I remember my first computer. My parents bought me an Atari 800. I have flashes of memory from that day. We were at a Venture (the 80's equivalent of a Target) and I'm really not sure how it all went down. I do recall feeling shocked and a little mystified as we put the box into the car. I didn't ask them for a computer. I wasn't pining for one or saving up to buy one. The folks just decided I needed one. It must have been a pressing issue because the Atari 800 wasn't cheap. It was a major expenditure. 

Maybe they thought my future depended on riding the tech wave that would wash away all the youngsters who couldn't do this:

10 FOR X=1 to 10

I never learned to program. I didn't even use it as an extremely expensive typewriter. It was primarily a console for a single, 8-bit game called Star Raiders. 

I'm guessing my parents were disappointed in the return on their investment. However, the Atari 800 did make a mark. It left me with the idea that I'd always have a computer in my life. Like a TV or a toaster, you really didn't want to live in a house that didn't have one. There was a gap between my teens and my twenties when I didn't really own a computer (aside from the old Atari 800 that was gathering dust) but I always had access to one. 

Now, here I am, typing on the latest iteration of my computer journey. There's a lot of hardware that's come and gone as I've progressed from the Atari 800 to this Mac Mini. In fact, a great deal of it currently resides in our mechanical room. In fact, if you need an old MacBook or laptop, let me know. Maybe we can work something out. I'm sure, regardless of how old the computer may be, you'd be able to do some word processing or crank out a spreadsheet - or - maybe, you could download an emulator and play Star Raiders. 

Monday, October 30, 2023

At Least Once. . .

It's been so long since I've posted that I feel I should offer an update. Something like those recap letters you sometimes get from people when they send you a Christmas card. I like getting those letters. They're packed with good news, bad news, funny anecdotes, modest brags and warm wishes. I always thought that I might give one a try some year but I know I wouldn't be able to avoid doing something weird. I know it would definitely embarrass Deb and probably read like a cry for help to everyone else. 

Things have changed and there is plenty of good and bad news, some funny stuff to share and maybe a couple of things worth bragging about. When I start thinking about it all, I realize I don't really want to sit and try to organize it all (chronological? by family member? by significance?). Not to mention the idea that I have to make it at least a little entertaining and that's where it would surely come off the rails. I don't think it would be worth the need to think of a reassuring reply to people asking, "Are you alright?"

One thing I will share is that I'm preoccupied with getting our new cat, Charlie to like me. We've had her for six months and it's clear she loves Deb. She's affectionate with Julia, tolerates Allie and treats me like she's heard I have plans to eat her. 

I wanted to name Charlie, "Microwave" but got voted down. I did get my way when I named our orange cat, Rabies. Every time the girls share that our cat's name is Rabies they always explain that I'm the one who named him - as if there's something to be ashamed of. There's no shame in his name. It's awesome and it's clear he knows it. My wife and kids are insecure. My cat is not. 

Turns out, "Charlie" is one of the most common names for a cat. So now I'm sharing my house with a cat that has a bland, pedestrian name and a hateful attitude. She vexes me. Charlie (I prefer to call her, "Chuck") sits in Deb's lap and narrows her eyes at me while she accepts pets and kisses from my wife. I reach my hand over to offer some love and she jumps down and trots away while I try not to let Deb see the tears well up in my eyes. 

I put in the work. I feed the cats in the evening and now Chuck knows she won't get her Sheba Perfect Portion of Beef Pate until I pick her up and cuddle with her for exactly 30 seconds. It is a small but significant victory. 

The part that really sucks is Chuck wouldn't be in our house if it wasn't for me getting the ball rolling on adopting a cat. No one can dispute that I am the reason she landed in a warm, loving home and yet I'm the one she's going to murder on the stairs one day. 

So, that's my one post for the year of 2023. I knew I had to do it at least once or I'd feel as if I've completely abandoned this project. I'm not there yet. In fact, I often think of things I'd like to share here. Like this picture of hateful Chuck and her one, true love: 

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Lose My Cool

For almost a month now we’ve been without a refrigerator. In fact, all of our LG appliances have decided 3.5 years is enough and have begun to rebel. This dishwasher won’t run a full cycle. The oven wouldn’t maintain temperature. And, the refrigerator wanted to become more like the oven next to it and heat our food instead of cool it. 

I did manage to fix the oven (so far) by installing a new igniter. But the other two appliances need a pro to come and set them straight. I was on the phone daily with LG service for weeks trying to get warranty repair for the fridge. It was only after I filed a report with the Better Business Bureau that LG decided to help schedule the repair and reimburse us for the food that was spoiled. 

The first point of this post is to let you know about my experience with LG. When we were buying, their products had great reviews and seem to be a solid, economical choice. We made a bad decision. If you are considering new appliances, please think of me and the cooler we stock with ice just about every day and how grateful we are to have Julia’s little dorm fridge to store the tiny container of milk that barely fits in the little cube. 

Yes, I’m being dramatic and it has been more inconvenience than hardship. But, 3.5 years is all we got from our appliances and that’s silly. So don’t buy an LG. 

The second point of this post is to express my gratitude to YouTube. I searched for “Why doesn’t my LG oven maintain temperature?” and a solution appeared. A person on YouTube showed me how easy and inexpensive it would be to fix my oven. They took the time to make a video that saved me time and oodles of money. There’s a lot wrong with YouTube, but finding a community of people willing to share expertise isn’t one of them. What a boon. 

Don’t buy LG. Do seek help from YouTube. Now Deb and I have to shop for new HVAC. LG has an HVAC division. . .

Monday, April 25, 2022

I Don't Want a Funeral

My high school French teacher, Mr. Rupert told me that there will be no announcement of his death and that he won't have a funeral. Whether or not his daughter and son will go along with those plans remains to be seen. But, I think I'm with Mr. Rupert on this one. 

Mr. Rupert (Chuck) is a very religious man and I'm guessing he's sure he will see the people he cares about (in one form or another) after he dies. I assume he believes if a person didn't contact him while he was alive, then it's reasonable to maintain they don't need to know if he died. If they were truly a part of his life, they would know he's dead. 

The announcement thing makes sense to me. Although, I'm kind of keen on the idea of writing my own obituary (for better or worse). And as far as a funeral goes - I absolutely hate the funeral industry and the thought that anyone would need to give their trust or money to those assholes on my behalf makes me sick. 

Was that put in strong enough terms? I sure hope so. My reasons are pretty obvious. The amount of money funeral homes steal from vulnerable people with tactics based on grief and guilt is staggering. The services they provide are unnecessary and a detriment to people and the environment. I don't want any part of that. 

As much as I hate the funeral industry that's not the only reason I don't want a conventional funeral. I think that Chuck and I both believe they are, at the least, an anachronism. Plus, everyone hates them. 

I do understand the need for surviving family and friends to gather strength from seeing a community of people come together in love and grief. But, for the most part, the obligation to go to a funeral sucks. This is particularly true for all the people who are on the periphery of the dead person's life. And if I haven't prepared my loved ones for the fact that someday I won't be a part of their daily lives anymore, then I need to fix that as soon as possible. 

My guess is that my family will get together and have a celebration of life. Ugh. Although I do remember when Grandma Gertie died, some of the family gathered at a place for breakfast and had a great time talking about memories and thinking about the times we shared with Grandma. The love I felt was almost exhilarating. It was an incredible boon. So, I'm hoping that when I die, family and friends will have an excuse to gather - but not with the expensive, formulaic guidance of a traditional funeral. My hope is they'll head to a nice restaurant and have a nice meal. They will look at each other with loving eyes, listen to the soothing sound of familiar voices, and remember that our impermanence is what makes every person precious and worthy of appreciation while they are still alive

Chuck and I won't have funerals. He's going to heaven. I love Chuck and for a myriad of reasons the man deserves heaven. As for me, according to the little card in my wallet, I'll be headed to the UW Body Donor Program. 

Thursday, October 28, 2021

First Post of 2021 - In October

Both girls are away at school. Deb and I are still working from home at the same table in the dining room. The cats are getting old and frail. I had kimchi for lunch and I like it (spicy sauerkraut). I bought tickets to see Tig Notaro but we have to wait until March for the show. I finished the Sandman Act 2 audio book/play and it was great (just like Act 1). I want to go see Dune in the theater. My parents will be moving into their new house on Dec. 3. I'm not decorating for Halloween and I don't know where we're going to spend Thanksgiving. 

I couldn't think of what to write but, now I'm pretty sure I could coax a blog post out of any one of the sentences above. 

I shouldn't. I was reading some of the old posts and wondered what has happened. I guess it's a lack of subject matter. I used to chronicle our lives and the girls would always provide something funny or interesting to write about. These days I got nothin'. So, I sit here in the basement and stare at the cats' water fountain. The sound of it makes me want to pee. 

Tomorrow I'm taking a half-day off and then I'll be skipping Friday entirely. I'll spend that time down here, in the basement, staring at the fountain and sensing that my bladder needs some relief. It'll be mostly that. I might take the wheel off my motorcycle. I have a new front tire and I need to put it on. I discovered a guy in town who can place the new tire on my wheel. He builds custom Harley trikes. I have a problem with being snobby about both Harleys and trikes but, this guy is cool. He's smart and funny and seems like a solid dude. I don't make friends anymore but, if I did I would try to recruit him. 

I'm not sure what that means. I don't know what I'd do with him following recruitment. I think we'd probably text a lot and I'd send him Tik Toks that made fun of trikes or something. I need to give some thought to how to be a human around other humans. Just not good at it. But, speaking of friends. . . 

Troy was texting me about buying a new Mac. I was giddy at the prospect of him getting a new system after having the old one for almost nine years. It is time. It makes me wonder if I need to upgrade to the new M1 chip. My Mac is only a couple of years old and I use it, primarily, to watch YouTube videos, shop for litter box accessories and type into this browser-based app. I don't need a multi-core processor to pull most of that off. Although, sometimes I edit a video or two and then I'm glad my computer has a little moxie. 

Troy does a lot more with his personal computing rig than I do. He needs the juice. He's considering something really cool. I told him when he gets it I'll invite myself for a sleepover and we'll make a pallet on his office floor so we can stare at his new gear all night. 

Is that what friends do at my age? I'm really not sure at all.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

So, like - um. . .

This morning Deb made a little curtain in front of her face with the bedsheet and it was the perfect setup for a hand puppet to make an appearance. I popped the puppet, opened the hand puppet's mouth and nothing came out. I just kept opening and closing my hand making nonsense noises trying to think of something, anything, funny for it to say. 

This is scary. I'm very aware of my cognitive decline. But, these days, the reminders are way too frequent. The bon mot, the obscure pop culture reference, that guy who was in thing with the thing - almost all gone. I draw these blanks that my kids or my wife or my smart speaker need to fill in for me. 

I'm hating this. 

Making relevant, relatable connections for other people is what I do for a living. If I can't come up with new ideas, I'm sunk. Having at least a toe in the current zeitgeist is essential. Look, I'm not saying that I'm "hep" or smart or even all that aware. I am saying that coming up with something funny for my wife's hand puppet is a good indication of whether or not I can manufacture ideas on demand. 

I keep claiming in these posts that I'm going to do something creative. Now, I think that I need to just as much as I need to get my fat ass back on my elliptical. I've got to invest some energy into 2021 otherwise I'm kind of useless to anyone. 

I need a makeover. I need to take whatever scraps of good stuff that remain and polish the crap out of them. I need to hone them to the point that I can at least fake it. You and I will know the foundation is crumbling. I'm hoping an effort might help hold things together, at least for a little while longer.  

And, while I'm on the topic of reform, Deb and I were talking about how little we volunteer anymore. Lately, filling bags with rice and soy for Food for Kids once a year is about all we do - and this year we didn't even do that (I could blame COVID but, not really). 

This all adds up to trying and fix mind, body and soul. 

Here I sit and, just like this morning, I got nothing. I have no ideas. I keep telling Julia that she needs to just do one thing to tackle a list of tasks that seems insurmountable. I wish that I could take my own advice but, I don't even know where to start. 

Being on the cusp of a new year is helpful. New beginnings and all that bullshit. But, maybe this is the year. After all, we're all so eager to shed the stink of 2020. Change should come reflexively. It should be natural. You know, like coming up with a decent line for a well-timed hand puppet. 

Monday, November 09, 2020


I'm tired. I didn't realize how tired I was until it became clear that Joe Biden will be our next president. 

Every evening we watch the news and wonder what new gaffe or display of verifiable racism, homophobia, corruption, lying and bullying we'll see. It has been exhausting and embarrassing. What's been hardest for me is there are people I love who helped get Trump into office. Those same people tried to keep him there. 

I don't understand it. It seems as if I should make an effort to convince them they're wrong. Unfortunately, we've all been gaslighted for four years and we've even learned how to do it to one another. Rejecting solid premises, denials of proof, demanding unnecessary expertise and refusing to provide the same quality of evidence - these are just some of the techniques we've learned from watching Trump's press conferences alone. And when we use them on each other, our feet become buried in the ground and we will not move. 

Maybe I'd understand the rigidity if it was just based on policy or even our fears about what our government can do to us and can't do for us. But, Donald Trump is a dick. A megalomaniac, serial liar who has given legitimacy to hatred and corruption. These people, who I love, wouldn't accept a man who behaves like he does into their lives without trying to help him or at least find a way to keep him from hurting others. Why would they vote for him?

I often hear that people were searching for a non-politician, a businessman who will shelter them from taxes and keep their 401Ks safe. Maybe they could overlook a stunning lack of character as long as we can reliably call 911 and the unborn are protected. They elected someone who will make sure their way of life (and I'm not really sure what that means) doesn't disappear. To a certain extent, maybe they got what they wanted by voting for Donald Trump - but at what price? 

I listened to Joe Biden's speech on Saturday. It wasn't extraordinary. There was no soaring language or revelations about who we are as a nation. It was just a statesman who spoke directly to us about unity and the things that make us strong like hard work and telling the truth. It choked me up because it was something I haven't heard in four long years. It reminded me of how tired I am. It gave me hope that soon, maybe I can even take a little nap without keeping one eye open. 

Friday, August 21, 2020

When You're Feeling Sad

I've been on vacation for a week. We traveled north to a cabin that sits on the shore of Island Lake in Winter, Wisconsin. We floated around the tiny lake in a rowboat, in kayaks, and a little paddle boat. We caught fish that were almost too small to wrap their lips around the tiny hooks we had attached to our lines. At night we laughed at and with each other. It was only a couple of nights. I could have used more time away. At one point we were all floating in our respective watercraft and I said, "I didn't realize how balled up I was."

I was able to unwind for a bit. It didn't last long. I'm back home and the inconsiderate neighbors, the back-to-work blues, Allie returning to campus, Julia applying for college, my health, the pandemic, the economy and the myriad of thoughts that had me wrapped up tightly never went far away. This morning they came to a head and I snapped at Debbie for something minor. Then I realized I'm not angry. I am sad and anxious. 

I can cope. I'm old as hell and that means I've uncovered at least a few tactics that I can use to soothe myself. Here's a list (some are a little less self-destructive than others):

  • Listen to music
  • Eat all the things
  • Do something that makes me sweat (lately, that means long bike rides, hikes, elliptical instead of the tennis or squash that my knees no longer seem to be able to handle)
  • Create elaborate plans for self-improvement that I never enact
  • Immerse myself in cleaning, yard work, car maintenance or any project that allows me to see that I made a change
  • Clean and groom myself
  • Stare at my smartphone
  • Buy things that I don't need
  • Sleep
  • Journal or blog
It occurs to me that this list is entirely made up of singular activities. I suppose that reaching out to a friend or family is much healthier but, I don't seem to be built for that. As much as I love them, I know that my moods are contagious, and like coronavirus, I see no need to spread the infection. 

I'm looking at the list and thinking that I've done everything on it and I still feel sad. As grateful as I am for all the ways my life is incredible I'm still struggling. I can't stop paying attention to my ego. I can't quiet the voices that tell me that I'm going to lose everything and that my family will suffer. And the ennui of risk aversion is starting to really chip away at whatever personality or character I may have.  

The future is out to get me and it's arriving so incredibly quickly. 

Things aren't quite so bleak. Like I said, I'm just sad. I know you get sad, too. Maybe you should listen to a little music and treat yourself to a Little Debbie Zebra Cake? You should probably just go for a very long walk with your earbuds blasting whatever makes your head nod uncontrollably (but those Zebra Cakes are like crack so, good luck). 

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Black Lives Matter

I could look up a bunch of talking points and recombine them here to make myself seem informed. When it comes to the topic of systemic racism, I want to figure out what I really believe. Echoing more eloquent words of like-minded people isn't a bad thing, I just think it's important to say something out loud and straight out of my head. 

I had an IM chat with someone on the topic of white guilt and what it takes to be an ally. I told him that I watched the local protests late into the night on TV. I didn't get off the couch. I didn't drive downtown and find a place to park. I didn't get out of my car and walk toward the noise on the street. And when the protests came to my Main street, I drove by and waved. I didn't pull over and stand with them. I didn't even honk my horn. 

This is the behavior that makes it difficult to change things. My horror and outrage at watching George Floyd's murder are meaningless unless I do something beyond pontificate to my family at the dinner table.

I have sought out many clips of police violence against protesters. The amount of cellphone video evidence of police violating individuals' rights in and outside of the protests is staggering. And yet, I still have difficulty reconciling the fact that I expect the police to protect me. And when I've had to deal with law enforcement, I've always been helped or at least been treated fairly. 

The fact that a white male just typed those words is not lost on me. 

The fact that I've never been worried about being pulled over for driving black is not lost on me. 

I was going to write that the police are just a symptom of the broader issues that contribute to racism. That's bullshit. And as much as I know we demand that police serve us in ways that they shouldn't have to, they are the ones shooting rubber bullets, yanking innocent people out of their cars, shoving old people and placing their knees on black mens' necks. 

I have no friends or family who behave like racists. I can't think of anyone in my circle who would treat anyone differently, let alone negatively, because of the color of his or her skin. However, if you are reading this and you want to respond to protests by saying something like, "all lives matter" then you, at the very least, have some reading and listening to do. If you are attributing looting and destruction solely to the protests and equating those acts with the message driving the protests then you are mistaken. And if you are someone, like me, who has always felt the need to back the badge, right or wrong then it's time to revaluate what that means and how that attitude is actually killing people. 

If I didn't write this, I am part of the problem. And after writing this, I am still part of the problem. Nevertheless, here's what I know: I know that racism is taught. I know that racism is systemic and that social and economic barriers are real. I know that the paradigm for policing in this country is deeply flawed. 

Of course, I don't have answers for any of these issues. But, these are the things I wanted to say, out loud and straight out of my head because, not saying anything at all is wrong. 

Saturday, April 25, 2020

New Keyboard for a New Normal

A new normal? I used that term in some language I was drafting for work. I don't really know what I'm talking about. After more than a month of pandemic-related isolation, we've all found a "new normal". Here's where I put a full stop to typing another word about being stressed when I see images of cars lined up for food distributions and people fighting to get their unemployment benefits. Let alone the daily life and death struggles for anyone infected or caring for the infected.

Still want to read about my new keyboard? I didn't think so. But, that's not going to stop me from reviewing my new Karura2 gaming keyboard from Reddragon. $27 is what I spent to get a comfortable and quiet keyboard. It's not as quiet as my laptop keyboard and the pressure for different keys is inconsistent. BUT - the keys are illuminated with any color I choose and it's nice to have a larger footprint and a (123456789) keypad. For $27 this thing is a bargain. 

Another suggestion for your home office set up: a cheap laser printer. Julia has been printing a ton of worksheets for school and our old Epson inkjet was costing us $50 a page. You know that's a huge exaggeration - but is it? Every time I ran out of cyan or magenta, it wouldn't let me print just black. I know I could have set my print preferences to grayscale but even after the thing sat for a bit I'd still have to clean the print heads and that cost me half a cartridge, it seemed. For the price of two full ink refills, I bought a laser printer. Now I don't have to clean any print heads and we're getting 1,000 sheets per toner cartridge. I just bought a replacement cartridge for $21. I'm not doing the math - all I know is I have on-demand black and white printing at a fraction of the cost. 

That was the dullest thing I've ever written for this blog. I should be punished, somehow. 

The cat, Simon, sits behind me on the buffet and puts his paw on my back until I pet him. He obviously has become accustomed to having us here all the time. He has developed new needs and habits based on unlimited human attention whenever he demands it. He's now looking at himself in the mirror. He finds himself fascinating. I just gave him major pets. I feel better. I hope he does, too. 

I just had a text conversation with Davin. Now I'm thinking about making wine in my basement. This setup, below, looks like something I could hide in a prison cell. Perfect for my needs. 

I should get started. It'll only be a few weeks and then I'll post after I've sampled it. 

I can't wait. If you thought me going on about laser printer cost savings was interesting, just wait until I drunk post. I just know I'll have some real insights then. 

Saturday, April 18, 2020

I Was Gonna Go Deep

I'm sparing you. You, dear reader, don't deserve what I was about to unleash on you. I went for a walk tonight and during that time I thought of a theme and a loose outline for this post. I had big plans. I was going to hit you with some truth and it was so profound your mind would be reeling for weeks. 

I started by looking up "Memento Mori". That should give you some clue where I was headed and why I decided to turn around. 

It's not as if I wouldn't have a decent excuse to bore the shit out of you with my ideas about the transitory nature of life. I'm living through a pandemic after all. The news I'm seeing, the statistics I'm hearing, the masks, the gloves, the weird looks as I move six feet away from someone on the sidewalk or at the store. I have an excuse. 

But, now that I'm here typing away, my appetite for serious reflection is gone. Now I'm thinking about all the jellybeans I've been eating lately. You see, I take a tiny pill every day that blows open my capillaries and veins so I don't squirt blood out of my tear ducts whenever I bend over to tie my shoes. The prescribed pill is smaller than the jellybeans I've been eating. I just ate 40 jellybeans. Am I naive enough to think that this 40:1 ratio isn't impacting my health? I've done my reading. I know that sugar is basically poison. So, why can't I stop eating them? Even the goddamn grape ones. I don't like grape but, I'm popping them in my mouth at an alarming rate. 

It doesn't matter. It's not important. 

I'm going to go to be and dream my weird, social distancing dreams. I posted to Instagram about dreaming about being trapped in a daycare owned by Don Rickles. It was called "RicklePals". I have a feeling I'm going to have quite a few more tonight. The pump is primed. 

I should just keep this post as a draft because it's worthless. But I just spent ten minutes typing so. . . 

Friday, April 10, 2020

One Month In

What struck me last night, as I thought about what I needed to accomplish the next day, was the fact that I know where I'm going to be. No unexpected travel for business. No plans for dining out. Should we check out the new Bond movie? I know that every workday I'm going to be sharing the dining room table with Deb doing my job. I know where I'm having dinner and pretty much what I'll be doing at 8:00 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. and where these activities will occur. It's not that I'm unaccustomed to a routine - a rut, even. What is unusual is the almost absolute certainty of it.

Last night I suggested we go for a drive and the four of us got in my car and wound up in Troy's driveway. It was a lot further than we expected to travel but, it was good to feel like we were free to roam where we wanted. We shouted at Troy from our as he stood on his front porch looking really confused and totally unprepared for company. We shouted at him, "We're here to play Twister!" and, "What's for dinner?!" Then we rolled up our windows and drove away. 

Allie goes to work tomorrow at the grocery store. I found an N95 mask and was insisting she wear it. She said she would feel self-conscious wearing a mask that should be worn by health care providers during this time. Her mother and I simultaneously told her, in a rather blunt way, that we didn't care about perceptions and wanted her as safe as she could be. I'd prefer that she stay at home. Allie doesn't agree. I'm hoping the middle ground is a decent mask. 

I wore a mask out for the first time last night. I stopped at Walgreens for a few things that we could live without but wanted. I was a tiny bit self-conscious as I was the only person in the store with the mask but, I also appreciate that the CDC would endorse my behavior. I'll wear one later today when I head out to the grocery store to get food for this weekend's Easter dinner. During our car ride, we decided to have corn, sauteed green beans and mashed potatoes with our tiny little ham. 

The Easter Bunny is still coming. I have a sense about these things. 

Monday, March 23, 2020

At Home. . .

Last week was our first complete week working and going to school from home. Allie was the exception because she was on spring break and spent most of that time working at the local grocery store. When we weren't occupied by our jobs, we spent the time looking at our phones, watching TV and cooking. Occasionally we made trips to the store but, because Allie was working at the store we'd just ask her to bring home what we needed.

When we did go shopping ourselves,  I noticed some bare shelves and signs that limited people to two cans of soup or one package of toilet paper. I watched a cashier let a customer know he could only have a single box of tissues. I stood in line with people who had multiple carts brimming with frozen foods, canned goods and anything that might last longer than items from the produce section or deli. 

Just as Julia was adjusting to virtual learning she's on spring break this week. And just as Allie was getting into a routine here at home she insisted on going back to her apartment as classes resume today. My argument that the University of Wisconsin closed its campus for a reason had no impact. Her argument that she's paying rent and wants to retain her independence for a long as she can is flimsy. It must have been convincing enough for her, her mother and me to allow her to go back to Madison last night. 

I don't want to write about our portfolio. Its value is the same as everyone else's - frighteningly diminished. 

I'm not unaccustomed to working from home. It should feel the same. It doesn't. I don't see any kids at the bus stop from our dining room window. Traffic is almost non-existent. And I know that even if I wanted to go someplace and do something, it's more than likely canceled or closed. That's the sensation that's the most prevalent this morning. I can go for a walk. I can get in my car and drive. But, there's no place to go and nothing to do, really. Not that I do all that much. It turns out that buying stuff I don't really need and eating out are/were my primary hobbies. 

I'm spending a lot of time thinking about my family. I just sent a group text to try and cull some info about how they're doing. So far, only Pam has responded. She's still going into her office but they're asking people to drop off their taxes and then go away. She says she's spraying her hands with Lysol. I thought she was joking. Turns out she wasn't.

I just heard from everyone, via text. It was important. Significant. 

Plus side? The house seems cleaner. Laundry is always done. Small projects are getting completed. I feel close to my family and they are, for the most part, nearby when I get the impulse to torment them in loving ways. The cats have awesome self-esteem as we compete for their attention. I've been exercising every evening so I've dropped a few pounds. 

The virus has disrupted our thoughts and routines so we seem to be thinking about ourselves and others in different ways. Learning how we and the people in our community react to emergencies has been both disappointing (hoarding) and encouraging (volunteers popping up everywhere). 

The message I'm hearing most often now is that we're in the early stages here, in the U.S., and that it's going to get much worse before it gets better. I'm really good at creating scenarios in my head of what "much worse" will be like. I don't think it'll be as bad as my imagination tries to make it. I'll try to post again next Monday and let you know what the reality of "much worse" actually was. 

Saturday, September 21, 2019

I Wanna Vlog

I'm constantly watching YouTube. These days, I'm mainly focused on binging on farmers and a family who sold everything to buy a boat and sail around the world. I also make time (lots of time) to watch movie trailers, cooking videos and two brothers who rebuild smashed up supercars.

Hours. I've burnt hours. 

I want to stop (I really should stop) watching and start making. My existing YouTube channel has a few videos, but I want to start posting again. I enjoy making videos. I like the gear. I like gathering clips and throwing them together. I like posting and discovering if anyone is interested in what I've made. I like preserving moments from our lives and looking back at them. 

I have everything I need. I have a good camera (my phone). My little Mac Mini is loaded with editing software. I could start tonight if I wanted. I could shoot a video and instead of wasting hours watching other people's videos, I could relearn how to edit and actually have something to show for the hours spent in front of a screen. 

But. . . 

I'm lazy. I'm also worried about what other people will think; particularly if people I work with discover what I'm doing. Is my narcissism out of control? Why do I have so much time on my hands? A blog is one thing, why would I think I'm all that interesting on video? 

Plus, I've watched enough videos to recognize that avoiding creator cliches and making something new, fun and engaging is damn-near impossible. 

I think it'll take more than two paragraphs to stop me. I'm not sure where to start. But I don't think I'll be posting to my existing channel. I'll have to throw them up somewhere else. 

Maybe I'll tell you where some time.