Unh, Not Much – July 6, 2020

Before backing out of the garage to chase bacon in the work-a-day world, my wife asked, “Could you tighten the handle on the silverware drawer today? It’s a tiny bit wobbly.”

Cheerfully, with a quick out-the-garage-down-the-drive kiss, I replied, “Sure. First thing!”

On reflection, ‘a tiny bit wobbly,’ likely meant I’d find the blasted thing lying on the floor when I arrived in the kitchen, screwdriver in hand to snug it up.  Curiously, since I’m in and out of the silverware drawer as much if not more than the boss, it was a puzzle why I’d not picked up on the ‘wobbly-ness’ of the handle.  Especially curious since I’m the one who every other week tours the house ‘snugging-up’ drawer handles in working bedrooms, guest bedrooms, every bathroom, and all the furniture burdened with drawer pulls. Drawer pulls will, unwatched, manage to work themselves loose; caused, I believe by the earth’s spin.

First inclination when an emergency drawer-pull handle snug-up beckons is to go with the male supposition that any butter knife from, in this case the very offending silverware drawer, would more than handily guide the errant screw, technically a bolt of the wimpiest type, safely tight against the drawer face.  But I am a professional.  And I have a five-foot high tool chest in the garage loaded with tools just itching to get to technical tool-needing jobs. Clamps of every size and shape, for every purpose conceivable (except the next one I’ll need), wrenches exploring every torque-angle imaginable, hammers to astound Thor, sanders, chisels, punches, drills, files and rasps, wire brushes and probes, levels, gauges, squares, knives, blades, planes, bits, braces, tapes, to make Lowes or Home Depot proud to be my sponsor.  I should have my own NASCAR driver.

I would consult my tool chest. In that tool chest are eleventy-twelve screwdrivers. I had in mind exactly which precision instrument from the “screwdriver drawer” I wanted for the job. That, though I’d not yet examined the drawer pull in distress.  Working from the schematics in my head, you know?

Shi*!  The one, the very screwdriver I knew was designed for this job came out of the drawer with a blade twisted, bruised, and in need of an appointment with the grinder to restore it to perfection.  Hmmpf!  Am I not the man for the job?  By the way, didja ever notice you can amend a straight slot but not a Phillips, clutch, star, or Torx blade?  Collusion between hardware manufacturers and the Big Boy Toy Stores?

The last tool bolted to the workbench was the radial saw.  Swapped that out for the grinder.  Simple. Just fifteen minutes.  Took less than three minutes to fine-tune the blade.  The screwdriver drawer was open, and there were other screwdrivers that could stand a little touch-up.   While I was at it, that one chisel was in sorry shape.  Showed it first to the grinder, then got out the stone and put a nice edge on it.  Restowing the chisel naturally meant the chisels had to be re-ordered – tidying-up the “blade” drawer.

Working the stone though, the oil cans demanded attention.  Both the light oil and the “spent” engine oil.  Spilled a little oil on the floor.  Cleaning that up, I decided the floor could stand sweeping. That led to the decision that the shop broom finally needed replacing.  I started a list for a trip to the Big Boy Toy Store. Because I couldn’t find the list I’d started last weekend.

If I left right away, I could get there and back and get things taken care of and have some time to write.  I couldn’t find the keys to the truck.  They were not in the place I always put them. Enough of that.  Time to mount a key rack by the door to the garage.  Like that was going to stop keys from leaving their always place?

I built the key rack, a simple affair. I did have to dismount the grinder and mount the radial saw. My workspace is not small; it’s tiny.  That swap cost only about fifteen minutes. 

Drilling anchor holes for the screws for the key rack, I marred the wall.  Marred it enough it required a little spackling touch-up. Spackling I had, so that done, I had a quick cup of coffee, deciding breakfast wouldn’t happen today.

I added a resupply of assorted sandpapers to my list and headed out the door.  Looked like rain. That might adjust my lawn-mowing schedule. Back from the toy store, I sanded and applied touch-up paint to the wall, then mounted the rack.  Proudly loading the rack with keys from around the house, I found the long-missing spare truck keys. A bonus of sorts.

Taking the drill out to the garage, I discovered in my excitement to finish mounting the key rack, I’d left the overhead garage door open.  Closing it, it complained it too wanted a bit of oil. It’s overhead of course, so considerable oil dripped onto the concrete.  On the second oil-spill clean-up, I put a knee into a little pool of oil.  Sure as shooting, that was going to show-up throughout the house, so changing clothes was a good idea.

Wasn’t fast enough getting out of those jeans.  I managed a spot on the living room carpet.  Hauling out the spot remover, I figured I might as well vacuum the whole house while I was at it.  I did.

Tossing the oiled jeans into the dirty clothes bin, it looked there were enough jeans it might be a good idea to start a load of jeans and around-the-yard shirts. I did, spot-treating of course.  Used the last of the detergent and tossing the container, noticed the trash cans were proudly full.  No point in just emptying one.  In a house with only fourteen rooms there are twenty trash cans, up and downstairs. It was not a five-minute job, emptying and re-lining all the cans.

Lunch? It was already two pm, so I opted to just wait for supper.  Supper?  Salmon. On the grill.  Better get a cedar plank soaking.  Hauling out the long baking trays to start the soak, I was impressed that cabinet needed a bit of tidying-up.  Which I did.

Grill?  Propane!  Wasn’t I low and hadn’t I used the last spare tank for the ribs two weekends ago?  Went to check.  My memory was working.  I needed to get another spare, so as not to run out with no spare mid-salmon. Noticing the chuck key and putty knife on the kitchen counter, I grabbed them, passed the key rack, snatched the truck keys (I had a choice of two) and headed out to the truck for my second trip of the day.  A dusty thought rolled through my noggin I’d forgotten something.

That something I thought was gas for the mower.  I grabbed the gas can and the empty propane spare and headed off.  I congratulated myself on combining trips, ignoring the fact this was my second trip for the day.  Returning with propane and a full gas can, it impressed me I’d better mow lawn or get caught in a monsoon and end up baling when I finally was able to mow. 

Of course, I’d promised my lawn before I mowed next, I’d sharpen the mower blade.  I know who put that blade on last time, but golly that must have been a Wheaties day.  Finally broke the booger loose, re-bolted the grinder to the bench, after un-bolting the radial saw, put a nice edge on the blade, and got it back in place.  It looked it was gonna be a race to see if I finished before the rain started.

I won.  Just as I finished cleaning the mower and putting it away, the Boss arrived home from work.  Early?  No.  Goodness, look at the time! After four already.

Climbing out of the Bossmobile, she cheerily asked, “What did you do today?”


“Unh, not much,” I replied.

“Did you tighten the handle on the silverware drawer?”

“Umm….”

(Note: creative piece “Breakfast of Champions” added July 5th.)

I Cannot Multi-task – July 3, 2020

I cannot multi-task – July 3, 2020

Women are reputed to be the best multi-taskers in the world. In the Universe probably.  Certainly, I’ve seen demonstrations.  Closer examination reveals two things.  One, women multi-task but they don’t do it well.  Two, women admittedly lie about any number of things which is innocuous as far as women are concerned, because most of what they lie about is not lying but an alternate view of truth.   That’s a different blog, perhaps a rant.

To multi-task, one must be able to defer, to prioritize and track large numbers of unfinished tasks, to focus on the current (or near current) task presently at hand, and to switch tasks at neutrino speed.  (See arguments in scientific papers suggesting neutrino speed exceeds that of light.  Which I for one, will champion: it ruins the concept of causality, which will absolve me of blame for most all of life that goes on around me according to most every woman who has ever stood on my toes and scolded me.)

Deferring an in-progress task is impossible for me.  Even for a second.  Doing one thing, when the laws of every science and philosophy collude to demand I accept a new task, one of two things will happen.  One, I won’t be able to do it.  I’ll be a dog with a bone in my mouth.  Two, if the new task is a bigger bone, I might pull it off.  The dinger is, I won’t be able to stop obsessing over the smaller bone just set aside.  Obsess? Yes.  About the old task and the new.  Focus, see later, is impossible.

Um.  Because I cannot multi-task, my inability to put aside a task and my inability to stop thinking about either the old task or the new one happening simultaneously is impossible.  That itself would represent multi-tasking.  Is that some perverse self-fulfilling prophesy?

(For computer people, real computer people, not drag-drop folks, I’m going to aside a bit here, explaining push-pop tasking concepts.  Join-up with us again in the next paragraph.)  “Push-pop” is a mechanism computing machine operating systems use to manage resources.  Assume one task monopolizes critical machine resources.  Another task with as-yet determined importance arrives at ready-state looking to pre-empt the executing task or disrupt the order in which waiting tasks are allowed. The task manager, itself subject to priorities and pushing-and-popping, assumes uninterruptible priority to determine the immediacy of the new task.  Failing to convince the task manager of its legitimate claim to priority, the new task is “pushed onto” a stack of tasks waiting to monopolize specific resources. The task manager, before itself relinquishing held resources to the scheduler, scans the “stack.”  Indeed, the task interrupted by the new task and pushed-onto the stack, appearing to have legitimate claim on resources, by circumstance, time, availability of resources other than time, and more, may no longer be the most urgent.  The most urgent task is given resources, for a certain time or until event interrupts suggest the task stack requires re-ordering.  It’s intimately more complicated, but that’s it in a nutshell.  Do not assume multiple CPUs and networked resources make the model work differently.  It is a matter of nuance, and inarguable. Even the magic of providing dedicated CPUs for every conceivable task will bump into SPOF, funnel, or choke-point concepts only illustratable by the one God analogy: if a task requires conference with God, only one task at a time can do that.  God can, tasks (computers) can’t.

(Um. Taking longer than I expected, computer people.  Skip again. Get a cup of coffee.)  Given the push-pop idea, as a human, multi-tasking is a push-pop affair.  Interrupted at one task, I push what I was doing onto the stack (set it aside) and address or assess the “new” task.  Having dispatched or deferred the new task, I then select from the stack what to do next.  That may not be ironing my shirt for tomorrow, on discovering laundry ready to transfer to the dryer.  It may be time to start supper.  In theory, to a computer, and many women, there is no practical limit to the number of concurrent (not simultaneous) tasks that can be managed.  (Without consideration for “thrashing” which even most women will allow is a real danger when multi-tasking.)

(Welcome back, computists.)  My push-pop stack only holds six tasks. It holds six.  It effectively manages only three.  Chewing gum, watching the coffee pot finish so I can grab a cup of coffee, and reading email puts me at limit.  I’m only really doing one of the three, two are always suspended, waiting.  Come along and ask me to light your cigarette, I’ll cave.  Makes no difference you are the most drop-dead gorgeous woman in the world with that cigarette, less that you had trouble dressing this morning. It ain’t gonna work.  Email and coffee are forgotten.  I’ll swallow the gum.  I’ll probably burn my fingers. When you, assuming you are Ms. Dropdead, leave, my push-pop stack is corrupt, empty, irretrievable.  Maybe I’ll discover there’s been a fourth stack item, ‘find the nine-sixteenth box-end that came up missing last summer,’ suddenly viable again.

So much for prioritizing and tracking large numbers of tasks in sundry states of completion.  There’s the matter of focus.  If you’ve been following along, whether your lips are moving while you read or not, you already see little hope for the matter of focus. Dropping the seventh and after new tasks whether by push or stack entry point, you see I’ll worry over every one of them, detracting from laser-sharp focus on task numero-uno. The big boy is gonna take a lot longer, only getting seventy-five percent of my attention.  Realizing that myself, I’ll get anxious over waiting tasks which will further corrupt my focus, so were’ approaching fifty percent effectiveness.  The worse it gets, the worse it gets (which suggests “thrashing”). If you don’t understand that, I see your badge says you are a multi-tasker.

Finally, let’s take a gander at the idea of changing tasks at lightning-speed.  I have a one-track mind.  If you cancel a project out from under me, I’ll finish it anyway. I may do it off-the-clock, and it might appear I’ve swapped tasks, b-u-u-u-u-t, not really.  That ties back somewhat to focus and to the ability to drop or defer tasks.  When someone admits (certainly not me) a different task takes priority, for a period, not at all brief, I’m gonna have one task in one hand, another in the other, focus and resources suspended, unfertile, and in great peril. The time it takes me to feel the slap on my wrist to drop one or the other rules-out task-swap speed.

You and I, realists, recognize there are other factors at play.  For example, there’s the “we’ll get back to you on that.” Your call to customer service.  Your inquiry on a billing error.  Notification on when the replacement widgeroller will be in stock.  Not a multi-tasker, that nebulousness throws any hopes for multi-tasking out the window. The new delay is yet another “stack” item, effectively reducing my stack limit to two real saved environments, complicating focus, delaying task switches, regardless of the fact that “when” whoever deigns to “get back” is not a manageable task, not on my stack.

Nope.  Can’t multi-task.  Tried.  Still do.  Can’t.  Waste a lot of resources trying. Single purpose. Single thread.  That’s me.

*Dinger, not danger.  A dinger is a dent, wrinkle, abnormality, flaw, detraction, pimple, 404, wart, blockage.

M vs. F – July 2, 2020

A bit of off-hand humor this evening.  Certainly, you can topsy-turvy this, swapping roles.  A conversation between my lovely and I would likely go thus…

Would you like Chinese tonight? is a true/false, a yes/no question.  There is no “maybe.”  It’s not multiple choice, it’s not essay.  Think. Choose. The pain of commitment will heal.  You ride my case all the time because you think I avoid commitment. Explain how this is different.

Would you prefer Chinese, Mexican, Italian, seafood, or Greek tonight? is multiple choice.  Notice the test preparer did not include “none of the above.”  Attempting “none of the above,” or scribbling out the options and writing an essay answer, you miss the question and waste everyone’s time. Besides, you don’t particularly care for French cuisine. At least not until now.

Where would you like to eat tonight? is an essay question; can’t be answered ‘yes,’ or ‘no.’  Essay the dickens out of it, concluding with why red sandals would certainly go better with your sundress, and incidentally declaring we should stop by Emily’s Boutique on the way home.  If you give me that, “Oh, I don’t care. You pick,” answer and you don’t feel up to eating with chopsticks, cut me some slack.  You held the whole culinary world in your hands and dropped it, before you ended-up with Shitake fried rice and water chestnuts.

If you try that old ploy of ignoring my question, a skill the world admires in you, realize, I’ll just go to the kitchen and eat the refrigerator.  I’m male.  That’s preferred anyway.  Men have, as you often correctly point out, no class, no taste.  But you must admit, there’s an undeniable thrill opening those little cannisters, trying to guess what the green goop inside them is, and actually tasting.   Yes, men do that!  Because, understand, aroma is not generally dependable when ascertaining edibility. Exhibit one: Parmesan or Limburger Cheese. Exhibit two: boiling cabbage, before it becomes Aunt Emily’s Golombki.

Work with me here.  What would you like for supper? My hands are greasy, and after I wash-up and change clothes, I’m gonna be hungry.  It’s raining; I’m not standing in front of the grill in this rain. If you make me pick, we’re going to Enrico’s Italian Pigs on Sticks.  You’ve been warned. 

I guess you have about fifteen minutes.

Context – July 1, 2020

I am routinely upbraided by two well-intentioned groups of people for my less-than-flattering assessment of literary skills and habits of people today.  My opinion is that as readers we are lazy, complacently accepting generally poor-quality material, and rushed by ill-formulated priorities into preferring sound-bite presentations over substantive reads.  Supporting my detractors’ arguments is the fact I consider the crux of the “problem” distills into simply reduced intelligence, or at least an unwillingness to apply existing intelligence.  Intelligence in danger of entering atrophy if not a vegetative state.

One group who would take me to task is composed of my own generation, or people just either side of the number of years that define this crotchety old ‘bastid.’  They allow as youth, who they assume to be my target population, can be excused for lack of experience.  In fact, those very youths demand they not be excused for any reason, that their standards be accepted as legitimate in situ, as-is, unmodified, extolled and revered without adjustment or counterbalance.  When they cannot understand something they correctly consider non-confrontational, they consider it my fault they do not understand.  I suppose that’s fair.

What really rankles this first group is that I have the temerity to include (to their logic) a disproportionate number of them in the deficient category.  That comes first because many, if not most of them, certainly the ones failing to “understand” why I consider them so, want desperately to be considered part of the youth movement.  They break their necks, fingers, and cellphone pads assimilating every emoji, acronym, and silly turn of phrase to be cool, hip, with-it, and in-the-know.  When, they aren’t, can’t be, and even the youth don’t want them to be. Second, well, many of them are, um, deficient. Because, I suspect that’s easier than working to understand.

The other group suggesting I make unfair demands is the youth. Don’t get me wrong.  There are many, many sharp younger people out there.  I learn something from them every day, but I do not try to become part of that youth.  That, I consider an insult to me and to them.  I think with any success in doing that, we’d lose two valuable outlooks.  Outside general exceptions, youth’s preference is for written work less than one-hundred words, rife with emoji and half-assed abbreviations, preferably with pictures supplanting most text without regard to the image’s relevance to subject matter.  Okay. I can accept all that. It’s chapter MMXX of one of the longest-running stories. 

Now.  Many folks just don’t get me, what I have to say, the way I say it, and often as not, what they perceive are my politics, religion, and underwear size.  None of that is important except understanding what I say.  Not agreeing.  Certainly not converting. Just understanding. So as not to run off reporting me as the one mentally deficient.  It’s my hope I misread that as a matter of intelligence. Cause comes down to many things, but I’m going to allow (hope) it’s not a matter of real intelligence, that my perception ultimately reduces to the LCD: context.

Context here is that interpretation of life in an instant, your instant, my instant, anyone’s instant, is defined, appraised, bought-and-sold based on context: what has taken place up to the point of examination.  Youth considers that they are experiencing things I never have and never will experience. Aw, shit.  I mean, even the old gaffs lined up against me disallow that argument.  Okay, then, it’s that those same experiences are different. Well, hell yeah.  We now are left with a problem of meaning lost in interpretation or in the fact there is no translation at all.  Again, that’s perceived my fault. It’s not.

I’ve had my heart broken, young people. Many times.  There are different heartbreaks.  None other than painful.  Surely, I’ll have my heart broken again, but likely not in the way you are experiencing now. Next-up heartbreak for me focuses on profound empathy for others’ suffering romantic heartbreak.  Sons, daughters, and other youth.  I will feel my own, different heartbreak when I lose more of my friends, family.  That will continue. It will eventually taper-off as at some point there will be no one left to lose, the last-man-standing concept.  Happens to us all as time marches inexorably on.

I’ve had experiences you, young and older folk, have not. Yet.  You will. Mostly. You’ve had experiences I have not and will not. I’ve never given birth, never performed open-heart surgery, never gave an enema to a walrus.  Maybe you have.  You make allowances and I’ll make allowances. If you ever saw brains leak irreplaceably from a man’s skull, if you’ve been splashed with blood that moments later, its warmth cooled away by wind or time, becomes a viscous, ferrous stink, you know unpleasant. I’ll grant you some of you have seen what would turn my stomach.  If you share that in your writing, fine; I can take it, or if not, walk away.  For the sake of context, you can’t hold my experience against me. Nor I yours.

Now this part is my fault. I’m not going to apologize, and it won’t change.  If you recognize it, you’ll know when to laugh, when to be righteously pissed, and when to dismiss that I’m full of shit.  An old guy, I speak (write) using hyperbole, with liberal doses of snide, caustic, irony, cynical, facetious, and humor to make points.  All based on my context.

Have you been keeping-up older folks?  Good, I know we’re something over five-hundred words, but we’ll be done soon.  Maybe we’ll have a picture at the end.

Here’s the deal: your context lays smartly down right over mine.  There are a few wrinkles, a few sticky-outie edges but on the whole it’s a pretty fair match. If that offends you, lay my context over yours. I don’t care. Do it your way.

I know what I like.  I know what I don’t like. That sounds stupidly simple and redundant.  It’s not.  One is not simply the antithesis of the other.  In the middle there’s a huge chunk of no-man’s land falling into “Meh” territory.  What I find beautiful is the overlap of my defined territories and yours. Context marks those territories sometimes, blurs boundaries other times.

Point is, if I tell you that’s “some shit,” you have to put it in or keep it in context.  On the one hand “Hey look at that!  She pulled-it off!  That’s some shit!” is completely different from, “The story he gave was some pile of shit.” Context.  Which means: you have to build your own context without destroying mine;  you have to identify proper context; you have to allow legitimacy of different contexts; and you can’t  get all pissy when your context feels violated.

Finally, realize compared to others you might just be (momentarily) stupid, ignorant, uneducated, or unsophisticated.  Happens to me all the time: compared to others, I’m sorely in need of sharpening, daily.  Pour a second cup of coffee or another cola.  Get the damned dictionary. Or open a new window.  (Another window, you see, older people…)

You try.  I’ll try.

I lied about the picture.

Before the icepack – June 30, 2020

What bubbles-up in the old codger this evening is more a rant than a blog.  None of the three folks following me deserve suffering through a rant.  They know I’m capable, and two have suggested I’m not happy unless I’m tearing into something.  Superficially that may be arguable, but I like sunshine.  If anyone were to read my creative junk, they would quickly see I do my best work when I work humor, especially my “conversational” pieces.  I like laughter, prefer it to melancholy, reflective pieces.

My audience to date is not computer-savvy.  They won’t explore links or alternate pages. Unless I specifically direct them to creative pages, they won’t find them.  Meaning I have to do all the work, just short of calling them on the phone and reading to them.  I’m not sure why.  I could guess but that again would devolve into a state-of-society rant.    

In deference to my esteemed visitors from India, I will not go caustic or cynical.  Not this evening.  I would ask if any of you know Pradeep in Hyderabad, tell him, “Hello!”  He and I are suffering a delayed email exchange for covid-19, which limits his access to computers for personal use.  (Yes, I certainly realize that is an insanely nebulous request, but I surely cannot publicly reveal his full name or location without his consent.  Consider that a bit of my off-the-wall humor.)  Like so many others, I’ve not directed him to the site because I’m not ready yet for the obligations that would follow.  On the other hand, until someone discovers and suggests they’d like to see more, I’m proceeding slowly.  A lot of my best work is not on the site yet. May never get there.

If you, including my India-based lookers-in, wonder why I am not actively seeking “subscribers” it’s because 1) I’m not sure I’m going to last, 2) I may elect to charge for work beyond the blog, and don’t wish to lure people in then ask them to pay to see what previously was free, and 3) evidence so far is that I may better drop the project and go back to farming.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go put an icepack on my forehead.  My wife has a lovely habit of closing doors to certain rooms when company visits.  This evening, the Yoga therapist was here, so doors in the back half of the always dark anyway rear hallway were closed to preclude someone guessing the back toilet had not been cleaned for two days, and the laundry hadn’t been folded and put away. [‘Cleaned’, not flushed.  Flushing is regular; cleaning is at best every-other day.] In the dark hallway, I went to the back bathroom and walked smack into the closed bathroom door.  Not politely. With all the force of a footballer launching himself to attempt a headshot.  Damned near took the door off the hinges.  Very soon, I will have some nifty bruises on my forehead. Hence the need for ice.

See you tomorrow.

Need some atmosphere – June 29, 2020

Rainy days are for writing. Not that a rainy-day atmosphere sets a mood or reflects an overriding philosophy or temperament. Rainy days are meant for somewhat a slower pace, a more reflective way of thinking.  Suggesting someone who only writes on rainy days is morose or lugubrious is not proper.  If anything, craving the warmth of a crackling fireplace on a damp and chilly day is apt to conjure thoughts of days Bahamian.  That’s ‘Bahamian’ not ‘Bohemian’ but the right rainy day might lend itself to visions of a smoke-filled coffee shop, light bongo background, iodinic coffee in demitasse cups, and strange unintelligible poetic recitations.

Sunny days are designed for work.  Physical, get out in that sun, sweat a little bit work. It is difficult to see myself sitting under a beach-type umbrella, wrestling breeze-caressed yellow-pad pages into submission so I can scribble the next award-winning short-story.  I’ve tried.  No matter how comfortable the chair, how cool and relaxing the beverage at hand, how, um, uninteresting the bikini-parade, or how intense and urgent the plot line or humorous repartee to be recorded, it doesn’t work.  Blessed with sunshine, cool breezes or not, I need to get up, grab a spade or turning-fork and match wits with weeds, thin the spring onions, squash Japanese Beetles, or prune overzealous tomato blossoms. Were I so lucky, I’d be inclined to saddle-up and ride the north grazing land to make sure the fences were all solid and the cattle contented.

My mind wants to disengage in sunshine, to let my back and hands get busy.  Kind of a perversion of the grasshopper-ant fable.  Maybe I listened too closely as a kid. Maybe I should re-write some of the old standard kiddie stories.  Nah. Not enough violence and suspense.  On the other hand, let me rethink that.  (If that doesn’t rattle some literary cages, I dunno what would.)

Snowy afternoons are about the only writing time that could ace a rainy day.  So long as there was pumpkin or apple pie ready to join the turkey or stewing hen in the oven, all seasoning the cozy sitting room with aromas straight from heaven.   A little music barely audible – doesn’t matter if it’s Clapton, Knopfler, Mozart, Beach Boys, Brubeck, or Gershwin. (I suspect, I’ve offended some more folks, right there – what, you don’t like ZZ-Top or Guns-n-Roses?)

Today is one of those sunny days.  Not on the beach, rule out bikinis.  Before five in the afternoon, rule out my favorite-of-the-week elixir.  My good CDs are all packed-away in readiness for a move to the country that may never come-to-be; let the stereo cool.  Could turn on the radio, seek a public station and soak up come classical or jazz background.  But ‘public’ stations here all run transmitters on three D-cell batteries; can’t throw a signal across the driveway let alone ten miles of city skyline.  Not a good day for writing.  If I go outside, I’ll end up gassing-up the mower and manicuring Fescue.

One last shot at it.  Gonna pull the blinds and drop the curtains. Tune in some static from one of the public radio excuses, pretending it to be rain.  Work with either the yellow pad or the word processing software.  I’ll get back to you.

Nope.  Not happening.  I know the sun is shining.   Maybe if I pull one of the cars out of the garage and wash it. Nah, that’s a bit too much bother.  Okay.  Glass of iced-tea, gas-up the mower, and wear myself out.  Maybe when the fireflies start their shift, I’ll be inclined to verbosity.  We’ll see.

Insomnia – June 27, 2020

No post yesterday.  What I had to say was less than trivial. Perhaps a few moments researching “trivial” would be a good investment.  When work on this apology is completed, that might occupy a few minutes.  Put it another way, what I had to say yesterday was such poor quality, it didn’t even interest me.

It comes down to a decision.  Which is more important?  Regularity, dependability with a weekday blog entry, or respecting my readers’ time; not expecting them to waste their time on material that doesn’t even interest me?

What’s that?  Snickering?  It’s not terribly embarrassing. My “readership” is miniscule.  Not convinced what I’ll offer is important, there’s not much “following.” Until the value of what I offer is determined – to my satisfaction – growing a following is not high on my priority list.  Not even there just yet at all, really. On the list, I mean.

“Egonarcissism” has popped-up several times recently.  It’s a real thing.  It’s certainly very real among writers.  That is my opinion.  Supporting that opinion, examination of the writing community has taken much of my time recently.  I’ve gone about that examination seriously and honestly.  My belief in my assessment is unshakeable.  My own affliction is also confirmed.

I try for, tried yesterday for humor.  That rapidly decomposed into bile.  Not for a blog.  That’s for the “rant” pages. 

Humor is good.  In these times it is difficult to maintain a sense of humor.  Trying to do so frequently exposes one (me) to denigration.  It’s probably a poor analogy, probably needs more work, but humor is breathing.  If you don’t breathe, empirical evidence suggests death follows.

Join me in sucking-in a lungful of Saharan dust.  A lungful of partisan politics.  A lungful of hatred on countless issues, crossing social boundaries. A lungful of insanity, mixed with ignorance, scented with intolerance all the while maintaining, espousing, equal treatment and respect for all.  Join me.

At least I’ll die laughing. If the egonarcissism doesn’t put me down first.

Delivering on Promises – June 25, 2020

Made good on my promise to add egonarcissism to “Poetry and Lyrics.”  My own suffering with the malady has me thinking I’m cleverly manufacturing new words on a daily basis.  Thought I’d best start writing them down so I can get credit when whoever does dictionary stuff now starts handing out credits for enriching our language.  Enriching or cluttering: jury’s out. 

Words like dictophhobia.  You want to know all the scoop, go inside to “Poetry and Lyrics,” sub-tab “Wordsmithery.”  Better get’m while they’re hot.  Might start charging for them in the near future. I’ll add as new genius presents.  Or not.  You know how crazy-hot ideas fizzle all too quickly.

Also, for Joe, added the first “Rant.”  Wanted to do two rants, but with the press of time, wouldn’t do either justice if I overworked brain cells and fingertips.  If I can keep my bile level up for a day or two, this next “rant” should be a pip.  Spoiler, I will rant and try to apologize for my generation. Spoiler number two, women are going to be “righteously” miffed.  Be good for sales. 

Still not in a “routine.”  I might be expecting too much, but it would be nice.  I’m behind schedule with “Imogene” now.  That “Imogene” has pushed-back “Midas County” is a disappointment.  That will be four YA pieces in less than two weeks.  The genre is ok, quite fun actually, but sure does cramp my language.

“Midas” has hit a bit of a plot snag.  Well, no, the plot is unchanged, it’s the unwinding that’s a little off.  I need to get some Agatha Christie pills. That’s (contrary to what I suggested in “Wordsmithery”) therapeutic for egonarcissism sufferers.  Look at what real writers do.  Then it’s easy to see where you stand in comparison. Better than a shot of penicillin.

For this evening, that’s it. “Imogene” waits but even she is going to be delayed while I see if a Flash piece on word misuse featuring Archie and Walter flies.

Read good stuff, folks.

Lunacy and other good things – June 24, 2020

The old codger has been bouncing between two sites the last few days, sorting things out, trying to get a real feel for where he can settle comfortably while servicing a bit of a ‘following.’

For background, the ‘other’ site purports to be a writer’s social blog with overriding ulterior motives of educating writers in their craft and elevating the art.  So much for ulterior motives. ‘Social’ won out.

Did I tell you of the new word (I believe) I’ve coined?  Egonarcissism.  Pretty much what you might think.  I’ll add it to Poetry and Lyrics (no other place to put it) in a day or two.  Suffice to say, writers are one demographic terribly afflicted.  Including me.  It is, really, a debilitating malady.  Engenders tangential infections of paranoia, depression, sardonicism, anxiety, and nosebleeds.  Fortunately, I personally see lesser, not greater instances of those problems, except nosebleeds.  That’s been a problem for me ever since – well that’s another story.

Anyway.  I need to focus this site on humor and short story, capitalizing on vignette and conversational forms. Still, an occasional piece of bad poetry, a rant, and observational essay may creep in, but it’s obvious Shakespearean and Hemingway-esque pieces aren’t in the offing.  Like to be able to promise something of the caliber of Kaminsky or (Robert B.) Parker but that’s not likely either.  One should have heroes.

Which of course, means you can dependably expect a fair amount of adult language, ribald innuendo, and liberal doses of sarcasm.  As I used to say on the “other” site, “Buckle in, kids…” but no one ever caught on.  Humor is not a strong point with many writers.  Or writers who take themselves too seriously.  And most do.  Hence: egonarcissism. Which come to think of it does suggest a certain logic…

Time and Ideas – June 23, 2020

I’ve not yet started and panic rears its ugly head.   Not for this issue of insanity, but for the long run. Will I run out of ideas or time first?  Will there be too many ideas unrealized for lack of time? Or will I run out of ideas to fill time? Shortage of either will doom what I envision for this endeavor.

My bet is on running out of time.  That’s a short-run assessment.  Already I feel the pinch of routine snipping away at the time reserved to put down a decent daily visit, to say nothing of reworking old material and forging new iron.  Maybe when the routine of normal  life – brushing teeth, mowing lawn, sleeping, eating, and other mundane but necessary chores requires less planning, the process of “setting-up” demands less time, and I develop a rhythm, there will be more time to do things “writing.”

Assuming, happily, that, then, the worry for running out of material looms. Right now, the likelihood of that is difficult to assess.   I can sustain a rant-blog.  No problem there.  All I have to do is observe life around me, given that I’m an angry hard-nosed (some say “black-and-white” whatever the hell that means) old coot (gave up on tolerance and forgiveness a while back) and I’m off to the races.  As much fun as that is, it wears thin even for me and it has limited marketability – which, as my generation, um, ah, suffers attrition, will quickly be miniscule. 

Youth wants vampires, werewolves, and/or Gothic romance.  Can’t do either. Sorry, Joe.  Sci-Fi would be fun, but my idea of sci-fi is rooted in Asimov, ignores superheroes, and my ability to imagine what an alien man or woman would look like or think seems woefully out-of-step with currently popular ideas.  I’d like to do sci-fi, because less is required in the way of research, but I know, or strongly suspect that’s not where I need to go. 

That leaves me with anecdotal stories, conversations, vignettes, observations, and shorts, all seasoned with (for some) too much “adult” and (for many) difficult to follow multi-level meaning.  Sorry, I have a fairly poor opinion of the bulk of modern readers.  Maybe my audience is sixty-plus, beer-drinking males just off the ZTR, themselves torqued over a run-in with a twenty-something airhead (male or female, they both exist, you know) who is in a position to screw-up his life. Right now, unless I live to be one hundred and four, I’m good.

One last thing on parting this evening.  Monetization.  Ugly word.  Means at some point I might look to subsidize my meager earnings, by asking folk who want to read my drivel to pay for it.  If you think that disturbs you, take heart in that it really rattles my cage.  But ‘free’ violates’ a principle I’ve held essential from day one.  Relax.  We’ll see.  But if you’re like me, cheap, get it while the (free) getting is good.