Friday, June 21, 2019

I'm Calling It

Yes. I failed. I didn't post every day in June.

I don't feel bad about it. 2019 is one of the most active blog years I've had in a long time and that's mainly due to my attempt to June's challenge.

I can't get Greg Koch's "Jsk" out of my head. I ordered a CD for $20 just for that song and it turns out I have it for free via Amazon Music.

Then I spent too much money on a new faucet for the bathroom. I tried to clean out the aerator and wound up twisting off the entire end of the fixture. I went to the local hardware store and spent $79 on a new one. The same item was $69 at Home Depot and $25 on Amazon. I like to brush my teeth in my bathroom in the morning so I just wanted to replace the thing and be finished. Sigh. . .

I also installed a new Ring doorbell this afternoon. Another item we don't need but somehow we wind up enjoying it or it comes in handy at some point.

I honestly think of myself as fairly frugal. I live below my means and I don't have a lot of extravagant stuff. It's more a matter of quantity than quality. I don't have the Rolex, but I have a lot of Seikos instead. I'm not sure what my point is. I know that I've been thinking a lot about money lately. I don't have any conclusions or anything interesting to report. I'm just thinking about it and how I can get more of it (or save what I have).

I'm watching Simon drink water out of his cat fountain. He's an idiot. He drags is paw through the bubbling pool before he takes a drink. He destroys the assembly and flings water all over the floor. I'm sure it's probably our fault because we don't clean it enough or something, but he's a jerk. At least he's drinking. Cats with bad kidneys make me sad. He needs to flush all of that protein from his renal system.

Tomorrow we're having dinner with friends. I'm planning on drinking lots of wine. It's not a good idea but I don't care. Sunday will be all about hiding from the tannin-induced headache I know I'll have. Even though I know I need to hydrate after drinking and take a prophylactic Advil (yes, that's how old I've become).

Trying desperately to get down to see my parents. Allie works and there's stuff going on to which we're committed. I miss them. It's been far too long. I hope I see them soon.

We're going to Boston, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont for vacation this year. We asked the Clausen's to take care of the cats. I wonder what they'll think of Simon's drinking habits when they see them. They might suggest we get rid of him.

This blog post is a lot like one of Deb's grandma's entries in her journals. It's just the facts and maybe an opinion recorded for us to read. I find her journals fascinating and they inspire me to keep typing here this evening. None of us have monumental legacies in our futures. She created a legacy for her kids and grandkids just by writing down how much bread she baked and how her granddaughter, named Debbie, came to visit.

I'm going to do more stuff tomorrow. I'm looking forward to finding out what that will be (aside from drinking wine - I KNOW that's going to happen).

Monday, June 10, 2019

The Four Day Work Week

What a wonderful weekend. 

Monday tried to murder me. 

It's okay. It was just packed with meetings and I didn't accomplish much. I find that so much more draining than days when I get a lot done. During one of the meetings we were told there were three types of people in each meeting: participants, passengers and prisoners. Today there what no doubt which "P" I was. 

I'm fine with that. For the most part, I do a decent job of being a participant when I think I can contribute. When I think I'll just add to the noise, I usually keep my mouth shut. But I don't think that qualifies me as a passenger. I'm listening. I'm in the moment. Although in this morning's scrum I trimmed the fringe off the bottom of my shredded khakis with my pocket knife. I got some looks but my pants look better. 

I'll concede I was a passenger at that meeting. 

I came home and fell asleep for two hours. 

Now I'm awake and I'm tinkering. I discovered I have an iPhone 4, two iPhone 5's and an ancient iPod. I'm trying to find something with Bluetooth so I can lose the corded earbuds that get tangled when I go for long walks. I got a free pair of wireless Dre earbuds when I bought some Apple product a few years ago and I never use them. It's time. 

This isn't blogging. It's journaling. The podcast has replaced the blog and the vlog is now a substitute for both. I don't want to podcast and vlog. Well, actually I would like an excuse to buy more gear, but then I'd have to use it on a regular basis and I don't think that's something I'm up to. 

Who'd listen or watch? The same person who's reading this I suppose. And if you're reading this, then that means my audience has double! Thank you. I'm glad you're here. I'll leave the comments on. 

Saturday, June 08, 2019

Dotty

Good Saturday at the farmer’s market and lunch at Dotty Dumpling’s Dowry. One of the best burgers you’ll ever eat. Waygu need. Incredibly juicy, the perfect char, aged cheddar. Crazy. It’s the burger you I think about when I want to reward myself with the kind of decadence that erases years off my life.

Friday, June 07, 2019

Let's Not Dwell on My Failures

Sure. I said I'd post every day and obviously, I'm not doing that. I'm not even going to try to make up this last missed post. I'm just going to live with the gap. Let's talk about

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Crap

I'm not doing a very good job with this "post-a-day" exercise. I missed yesterday. I hate posting from my phone or iPad. I like to sit down and hear my keyboard click. It makes me feel like I'm doing something - getting something done.

But I'm not.

Laundry. That's getting something done. Unclogging the bathtub drain. Compared to writing a blog post that's like digging the Panama canal. A true accomplishment.

I will wait until tonight and I will post again instead of doing something else. Something like vacuuming. Maybe I'll do a post about vacuuming.

It'll suck.
I'm so sorry. . . 

Monday, June 03, 2019

MY HOUSE

MY HOUSE, ALLIE!!!!

"Oh my GAWD!!!!!"

You sound like a dork. You sound like, "Blah blah blah I need privacy blah blah I need space blah blah you only exercise when I want to blah blah."

Stop watching me type. I can type what I want. It's my computer. I get on the elliptical and I like to do it in the evening. And now I have to blog because I'm going to blog every night this month whether I want to or not.

And tonight I don't want to blog so you need to back the hell up before things get ugly. I mean really ugly. Like that time at the place where that thing happened. You remember. It was bad. Really bad. Like Nickleback bad. Like Pontiac Aztec bad. Yeah. . . that bad.

I'm going to blog every time you want to use the elliptical. This is our new routine. You'll go unnaturally fast on the machine and I'll sit here clicking about on the keyboard loudly to annoy you. Every now and again I'll make chicken noises loud enough for you to hear me over your earbuds. You'll ask, "WHAT?!" and I'll reply, "Oh, nothing." And you'll make some haughty noise and tell me to go upstairs and I'll smile and keep typing BECAUSE IT'S MY HOUSE.

Bock bock bocka. Bock bock. Bock.

Sunday, June 02, 2019

Bullion Cubes

I went for a very long walk and went past some apartments on the edge of town. I glanced at the windows because I’m nosy. I saw a room full of old stuff - an old clock, collector’s plates, figurines. I assumed it was an old person’s apartment. A room stuffed full of a lifetime of accumulation. Gifts, rewards, things that they thought they needed or deserved. All of it was the best of everything they had because it was all that would fit.

It made me think about how our lives all balloon and then, eventually, shrink back to the point that we are forced to make them fit into smaller spaces, smaller realms of influence and tinier windows of time that other people are willing to provide us with. We become condensed into those bullion cubes that sit in your spice cabinet for years until you throw them away. It is forgotten just how full of flavor we are because we’re small or too salty.


Saturday, June 01, 2019

Three Minutes to Spare

Made it.

Possible blog topics:

My aging body.
Yard work will set you free.

Five Minutes to Make Up for Two Missed Posts

Gotta have this in by midnight or that’s two days in a row I missed.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Listing Tech Stocks and Natural Disasters

On the way home I was listening to 70's music on satellite radio. I don't subscribe to satellite radio and my radio itself says I should call a toll-free number to pay for the service, but I could still hear the Bee Gees and Englebert Humperdink's "After the Lovin'" clear as a bell.

I started to think about time travel and what to do if my current brain occupied my eight year-old self. Now that I think about it, I'd essentially be murdering little Greggy. Or would I? I have most of his memories intact. Right? I wasn't fantasizing about killing a kid. . . right?

Anyway, I really latched on to this idea and started to pour serious thought into what'd I need to do. It occurred to me that I really didn't know enough about technology to communicate to an engineer how to pull off a DVD, microprocessor or fidget spinner. I don't know enough about history to manipulate major events. And, as an eight year-old, I really didn't have the money to invest in the stock market in a meaningful way.

Basically,  I'd just have to re-endure growing up again. Sure, I'd be a little better at math and I'd know some secrets about aunts and uncles that would really blow their minds at Christmas. . . but I'm not sure if it'd be a true boon.

I'd have to find Deb all over again. By the time I synced up with her, I would have already been a rock star via the Elvis Costello, XTC and Foo Fighters songs I had stolen. And the Oscars I'd won for plagiarizing most of the decent screenplays I sort of remembered might not be an advantage as I attempt to re-woo her.

I quickly dropped the time travel idea. I realized that I was sucking the agreeable nostalgia out of the songs. Hearing them used to remind me of the plastic smell of a transistor radio and staining my bedroom floor with a chemistry set I earned by selling seeds packets around the neighborhood. I don't need to dissect that time. I need to keep visits there casual and infrequent. I want to preserve the power those songs have to make me feel like I'm eight years-old again and digging into the bottom of a cereal box for the prize.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Vacation, All I Ever Wanted

Tonight we faked argued (and genuinely argued) about where to go on vacation. Julia's chief concerned was not being home for her birthday. She's obsessed with making it to P.F. Chang's again after the location near us flooded and has remained closed for almost a year now. 

I'm going to be forced to pay an additional $400 in airfare so she can have an overpriced bowl of fried rice. 

It seems that we're headed to Maine. The plan is to fly into Boston, rent a car and head to Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire. We'll maybe see some whales, eat some lobsters, say "Hello" to Ben and/or Jerry. Who knows what sitcom-like hijinx we'll find ourselves in. And we'll do it all without a single meltdown, argument or sulking about not being able to do what I want to do for a change. 

We'll work it out or we'll wind up spending a week exploring the undiscovered nooks and crannies of Madison and trying to make the Farmer's Market seem exotic.

Monday, May 27, 2019

The future isn't trying to kill you (but it's going to, eventually).

I talked to my wife and we touched on the future and how I know it's out to get me. Everything that lurks around the corner is dangerous and even the most minor slip on my part will put me and everything I love in peril.

I said this outlook is a natural part of aging. She said it might be low testosterone. 

Could be. I'm physically weaker than I've ever been. That'll make you afraid of rottweilers and being asked to help someone move. I don't think testosterone has a lot to do with mental acuity but I don't feel as sharp as I once did. I often forget my "what's next". I'll head to a website or grab my phone to look up something tangential to what I was thinking and the reason disappears. Sometimes I can find my way back, but it takes a full stop and complete devotion to hop back on those trains of thought. 

I'm weak. I'm dumb. I'm also ugly. Can't blame testosterone for that, either. I tried to explain to Deb that charisma compensates for my shortfallings. She wasn't buying it - completely. 

These three things, I'm afraid, aren't going to improve. I can delay them a little if I get my act together, but I'm going to have to adopt an "aging is a privilege" outlook really quickly if I want to be able to leave the house on a regular basis. 

So - let's get positive. After all, I have acquired some wisdom over the years. But it's small potatoes like avoiding urinals when you're wearing sandals. I don't have anything that can help with those bigger questions that keep us all up at night. 

Keanu Reeves seems to have some answers. He was asked what happens when we die and he said, "The ones who loved us will miss us" (or something like that). It's not exactly helpful but it was an accurate and touching thing to say to a bullshit question. 

Maybe I don't have to be useful or relevant. I just have to be accurate. 

"Hey, Greg. Why should I be afraid of the future?" 

"Because it's going to kill you."

Sunday, May 26, 2019

You and the Land are One

I got up and decided to dig in the little garden I made for Deb oh so many years ago. She abandoned it after a few years and now it’s pretty much mine to care for. This year Allie and I put in flowers and tomatoes and peppers and beets. I’m growing beets.


One of the peppers is a ghost pepper. Not sure what I’m going to do with it. Unfortunately, the bunnies will probably eat the plant before I get a pepper from it. 


Saturday, May 25, 2019

Suddenly 80 Degrees

It’s good to be back.



I dropped off some gear and hit a little. The girls are off on their own because I refused to spend time with Deb today.

It’s beautiful outside but because of all the rain last night hiking would be a muddy affair. I spent some of the morning picking up the hundreds of sticks that were blown out of the birch tree. The place is kind of a mess. The power went out around two or three and we were all up. The girls lit a candle and we sat in the semi-darkness waiting for the lights to come one. After about an hour they did.

I’m going to look at motorcycles.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Supplementary

I didn't return to the squash club. Instead, I went for a bike ride. 

It was fun. It hurt. It's clear I need to ride my bike more than once every two years. It's a good bike. A Raleigh I bought for around $400 from Eric's Bike Shop in Madison. It was in response to selling my motorcycle. I thought it would provide me with the thrill of two-wheeled transport without the consequences of dumping the thing at 80 MPH. 

The thing is when I was growing up, Raleigh sold their name to Huffy and they turned out shit bikes. When the guy at Eric's tried to tell me that the Raleigh name had been restored as England's premier bicycle manufacturer I didn't believe him. Then he said for my needs (a street-worthy "comfort" bike) the Raleigh was my best bet and almost begged me to take it for a ride. 

I did and it was amazing so I bought it and a bike carrier to get it home on the back of my car. 

These days it mainly sits in the garage and waits. That's too bad. My neighborhood and Dane County, in general, is pretty bike friendly. I should be riding the thing all the time. 

There's a kid in our neighborhood about Allie's age who rides constantly. I'm told he's on the spectrum and that becomes pretty clear whenever you try to interact with him - no eye contact and he continues to listen to his radio instead of engaging. What he does do is ride. He takes lap after lap around the neighborhood. I'm guessing he has the legs and cardio fitness of a Tour de France veteran. He makes bike riding look effortless and oh so appealing. 

I'm trying to emulate him when I ride now. Next time out I'll take my iPod along and listen to music. It'll be a pleasant alternative to the elliptical. I need all the exercise options I can get these days. Right now I have four: long walks, squash, bike rides and the dreaded elliptical. I play tennis when I can and sometimes I'll hop on Deb's treadmill. 

I'm not sure why anyone would care about any of this. At the moment, I do. So, I'm putting it all down here in this supplementary post that, if my brain wasn't dissolving into much, I wouldn't need to create. 

I perfected the art of generating multiple paragraphs that say nothing in college. Looks like now I have no choice but to spew quantity rather than quality. 

-End Supplementary Post-

Missed a Post

I asked myself, “Did you blog?”

I  answered, “Yeah. I remember typing something earlier.”

I was mistaken.

That means two blogs today and some form of penalty - for you. Not me. 

Let’s see. I’m pretty sure I’m going to let us both off the hook. I’m typing this post with my thumbs and that means this will be a short one. 

I rejoined the squash club. I looked at my stats and it has been three good weeks! Plus, I took the day off and that gave me time to re-up. The club owner seemed happy to see me and even suggested a two-month membership in case my knee decides it’s not ready. That was very nice of him. 

I picked out my cubby hole (prime spot!) and tonight, after a long nap this afternoon, I’ll go fill it with shoes, glasses, a spare set of clothes, racquets and my balls. Then I’ll take it slow and just do some drills and maybe some light stretching. 

Yeah, right. 

I’m sure I’ll be in traction by 9:00 p.m. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

I Want to See it in Pieces

Tonight I didn't want to exercise. Every night, I don't want to exercise. 

I did it anyway because I made a deal with myself that if I closed my Apple Watch activity rings (move, exercise, stand) and ate alright for three weeks straight I'd join the squash club again. 

Four days to go. 

On this day (evening) I wanted to blow up my elliptical. I wanted to blow it up and watch the pieces fly into the air and then slowly settle on the ground because they were so tiny they floated like snowflakes. Instead, I got on the thing and watched a guy put together a Geo Tracker engine on YouTube for half an hour. 

Now I'm killing time waiting for 10:00 p.m. That's when I'm going to go pick up Allie who's working at Pick 'n Save over the summer. Julia and I are cooking up all sorts of ways to bother her while she's at work. I've always been really fond of embarrassing both girls at the supermarket. It was a hobby. Now that Allie's employed there I feel compelled to up my game. 

The place is just begging for cosplay. Princess Leia bagels. Carmen Miranda fruit headgear. The meat from Rocky. Although, coming through the checkout line decked out like that seems a little lazy. This requires something epic. Something that warrants a call to the fire department, police or maybe even the bakery manager. 

I've got all summer to think about this. I'm sure I'll come up with something. 

Tonight I also went to the tennis court and hit some serves. About 80 and then some groundstrokes against a backboard. My arm and back are angry with me. My brain is disappointed because I move the ball softly, slowly and without accuracy. I tell myself I'll visit the courts every night and serve 80 balls and groove my forehand until it is better than it ever was. I know I'm lying to myself but not completely. There were moments when my service motion was smooth and the ball effortlessly flew off the racquet's sweet spot. It was enough to keep me coming back. 

Uh oh. Quarter 'til. Better go buy some fruit, bagels and a lot of beef.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Wiggle Wiggle


Allie and I went for a walk and talked about our tendency to vegetate. I whined that the weeks and months I spend in the same place, emotionally, creatively, developmentally are getting longer and more frequent. I was desperate to make it sound like my life didn’t have much meaning in an attempt to scare Allie into doing more with her time but, I wasn’t telling her lies. I really do feel static and unproductive. 

We made suggestions for each other to get ourselves moving again. Allie told me I should start blogging again.

Okay. 

This kind of feels like that scene from Kill Bill where Beatrix Kiddo wills herself to wiggle her big toe. It’s a start. My toe is moving. Now I have to get the rest of me to follow suit.

It’s nearing the end of May so I think a post a day until the end of June is a decent goal.

I’m predicting pictures of what I had for dinner and single sentence descriptions of what Julia wore to school (her burgundy Under Armor sweatshirt because it was in the ’40s this morning – unreasonably chilly for this time of year).

But it’s okay. It’s all good. I’m just wiggling my toe.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

My Brain is Apple Shaped

My MacBook Pro is eight years old. I can't update the OS to Mojave. It has been abandoned by Apple and, in my head, this is an emergency.

I don't understand why.

As I type this, there are nine working computers (laptops and desktops) in our house. I'm not counting the smart phones, pads, gaming systems, smart TVs, smart speakers and smart watches we pay attention to throughout each day. I'm writing about the nine computers with monitors and keyboards that are all capable of browsing the web, sending email and word processing. Those are the main things I do on a computer these days. Occasionally I organize our pics or edit a video. Sometimes I'll play my guitar through GarageBand. That's how I use my computers on my own time.

My work laptop is the big, sweaty Clydesdale that pulls an Adobe plow through the rocky soil of my work-a-day life. And there's Deb's laptop. I make sure she has a PC with enough juice to handle the demands of her job. Those are the computers that need to be powerful and consistently updated. But, I'm pretty sure the other seven computers in the house could and should be basic and economical.

Then why am I planning a trip to the Apple store today to drop $1,200 on a new MacBook?

I won't take a deep dive into my Apple past but, like most Gen Xers Apple provided my first computing experiences. In my first real job I used nothing but Macs and the majority of computers I've purchased for myself have run the Apple operating system. I am embedded in the Apple ecosystem. My phone, my watch, my pad and TV were all designed in Cupertino. They recognize and talk to each other all the time and they let me join in the conversation whenever I want.

I do recognize that I overpay for my Apple tech. The computers I buy for my family aren't Apple. They are heavily researched and provide the highest feature to price point value I can get. My family seems happy with their computers. They all are faster, have more features and many more capabilities than my MacBook and, most significantly, they were all about a quarter of the cost of an equivalent Apple product.

I want my MacBook.

I've thought a lot (and I mean A LOT) about building a high-end PC. I recently helped a friend build his son's computer and I drooled over the powerful machine we created at half the cost of  the latest Mac Pro. Right now, I have the specs and the courage to put together a Windows-based PC that looks cool and has benchmark results that would devour the MacBook (that I'm almost sure I'm going to buy today).

So why am I so dumb?

I don't know. I feel insecure about venturing outside of the Apple biome. I love walking into the Apple store and being warmly welcomed back with enthusiasm because they know I'm going to burrow even deeper into the Apple warren. I know that my Mac is just going to work without driver downloads and bios tweaks.

But I know I'm a sucker.

I don't need an Apple computer. In fact, I don't even need a new computer. I do need new windows for the house, tires for the car and some new underwear. I need to build our nest egg for when I lose my job or when one of the cats eats a rubber band. There are things that I need and a Mac is not one of them.

The only real question is do I get silver or space gray?