Sunday, October 31, 2010

Finally, another post

It's 4:30 am on Halloween or All Hallow's Eve or All Saints' Day Eve. Or whatever. It's Sunday morning and I'm awake.

I spent the day yesterday at the house, in spite of the fact that my wife had wanted to go out. She suggested going to the Fort Worth Zoo or to an IMAX movie at the Museum of Nature & Science.

Sears was scheduled to come repair the refrigerator yesterday between 8 and 10 am, though they had called the night before to confirm 8 to noon; I called them to explain they had committed to 8 to 10 because they failed to show between noon and 5 a week before. The smaller window was begrudgingly agreed to in apology for their earlier abuse. The promise notwithstanding, they called again Saturday morning, saying they were running late; the repairman showed up about 11:15. The late repair call took a good two hours off our "day out" and I had already gotten involved in projects around the house, so we delayed it. Perhaps we will go out today.

My time yesterday morning was spent in phase two of cleaning the pickup truck that I'd just transferred into my name. It had belonged to my sister, who died earlier this year. She was disabled and poor, so was unable to clean it or to pay someone else to clean it. That showed. It was...and is...very, very dirty. But I made progress. And I removed the broken console, with the objective of figuring out how to repair it. The objective has not yet been reached.

After the Sears repairman left, we ate leftover Indian food from the night before. We had gone to Udipidi, a favorite southern Indian vegetarian spot. The sign out front said "under new management," so we were a little worried. No need, it was excellent. We started with a complimentary cup of rasam, a fabulous soup that's a very nicely spiced, but somewhat watery, broth. Then we ordered gobi manchurian (a wonderful "fried" cauliflower in a highly-spiced batter reminiscent of an Indian/Chinese food mix (which is probably what it is) and an okra dish whose name escapes me (bhindi something or other, I assume, since "bhindi" is the Hindi word for okra). It was fabulous, too, though the late-season okra was more than a little "stalky" and occasionally hard to chew. My wife also ordered a "salad" that looked like raita, but was thinner in consistency and had large slivers of raw carrot and some fairly spicy bits of pepper (I think) in it. At any rate, the meal was excellent and the leftovers made for a fine lunch.

Following lunch, we plotted about what we might do with our back yard. We had just had a long row of boxleaf plants removed, along with two large overgrown evergreens and miscellaneous other plants. We wanted to start with a "clean slate" as we plan a deck and a hot tub, perhaps, as well as a garden. We had left a group of very large, overgrown holly bushes, but had trimmed them back considerably.

After talking about what we might want to do, we agreed the holly bushes didn't look right. And we agreed the rotting fence must be replaced, and soon. I decided to do some work in the back yard and spent a good part of the afternoon removing enormous volumes of leaves from the rain gutters. I was astounded at how much leaf debris could fit in the gutters; and I learned why the gutters did not seem to be working...whenever it rains, they seem to immediately overflow. I then tackled the holly bushes, cutting them down and moving them to the street to be hauled away during this week's "major trash" pickup. Large and difficult stumps remain to be removed, which will involve shovels, axes, and much effort. Maybe today. Maybe not.

All of my physical labor left me feeling very satisfied; something about doing physical labor is highly gratifying, if somewhat painful. This morning, my muscles ache and the scratches on my arms and legs, courtesy of the very thorny holly leaves, burn. I don't mind, though.

As I worked in the yard yesterday, and as we talked about what we wanted to do with the yard, I was torn between the desire to fix our place up for the long haul and packing it up and moving away. We really can't afford the latter, because that also would involve effectively retiring from the business. While I want nothing more than that, I can't see how we can do it. On the other hand, I cannot imagine myself being very happy to continue to work five or six days a week with only a smattering of "vacation" time. Maybe if we could manage to be away from the office for 2-3 weeks at a stretch I could re-energize, but that's just not achievable, at least not in the near-term. But, as I worked, I was acutely aware that I was working on something that I would have to stop working on during the coming week. Instead of doing physical work that, despite its aches and scratches, has an immense and immediate reward, I'll spend my time in the office, shuffling paper. I can't say how utterly and awfully depressing that is.

What else is new? Let's see. For reasons that are not quite clear to me, I've been interested in riding along in a police car during a shift and I have made overtures with the local police substation to do that. I expect to hear back from a police officer this week to schedule a "ride-along" with him on the 2 pm-10 pm shift sometime soon.

Another new things. My wife and I have talked about both of us doing a tandem parachute jump soon. Many years ago, when we lived in Chicago, I did a tandem jump during a one-day trip to Wisconsin, where we stopped at a fair. A skydiving company had a booth at the fair and offered jumps for $100 per person, cash only. We only had about $100; my wife wanted to go, but let me go instead. So, now it's her turn. A friend's birthday present to his wife was a tandem jump, which started me talking about it; my wife is ready to go, if her doctor says it's OK. Then, yesterday, another friend posted photos on her Facebook page of her tandem jump, which I gather she did with her father. Here's a photo she posted. Makes you want to run right out and do it, doesn't it? (Click on the photo for a larger version.)

I'm on my third cup of very strong, black coffee. I do love coffee. If only I had some bacon, I'd be reasonably happy right now.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Miss Celaneous

Since my last post:

Had a birthday. Drove to Houston. Transferred title to my late sister's 1997 Ford Ranger into my name. Lost more weight. Hung the sun and moon (ceramic; on my fence). Hung a couple of ceramic frogs on my house. Fondled a number of cow, racoon, and deer skulls (one day I'll explain, and post pictures).

And here is a photo of a nice mask that soon will be on a wall in my home.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Unseen Sea

This is amazing time-lapse video of fog coming in to the San Francisco area. I've never known fog could be so beautiful and mezmerizing.

The Unseen Sea from Simon Christen on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Nice Online Jazz Station--WBGO

Thanks to my habit of wandering through the NPR website from time to time, I stumbled across a really nice spot to listen to jazz, a Newark, New Jersey based NPR affiliate called WBGO. It's possible to listen via the internet through a link on the site, which enables Windows media player, WinAmp, itunes Player, or Real Player.

As I bumped along, I came across the daily playlist, which is extremely handy if you (like I) don't know what the hell you're listening to but want to know. That link is at

Nice stuff. I recommend it.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


I haven't posted here for over a week. Laziness, amplified by distractions and other priorities.

Let's see, what to say. Well, I'm still on a strong weight-loss course, having lost almost 33 pounds since beginning the diet at the beginning of the second week in August. I'm beginning to question the target weight I set for myself, 160 pounds. While I think another 30 pounds may not be a bad target, my original target is still 50 pounds away and my body shape has changed considerably already. So, maybe 180 is a better number. Or maybe 170. But I think 160 is, perhaps, a bit much. We'll see.

A friend and his wife just went skydiving (tandem jumps) over the weekend. Now, my wife wants to jump, and I want to do it again (my one and only tandem jump was 22+ years ago). So, that may be on our list of things to do before year-end.

And we're talking again about bathroom remodeling and putting in a raised vegetable garden in the back yard. And we're occasionally broaching the subject of whether we might be able to retire, or just quit, within another year or two.

There's a lot on my mind. But I'm too pressured for time and to write about it all now. Maybe soon. Maybe.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Meaning of Life

Thanks to my sister-in-law, Joan, for calling this to my attention.

Social Media: Chit-Chat without the Wine

Facebook is the lazy person's journal or blog. It's too damn easy for me to type in a few random comments, upload a few photos, and walk away feeling as if I had created a "blog post" that communicates an idea, a thought, a perspective on life But it's not a blog post! It's blathering in a stream of consciousness. A blog post, at least a decent blog post, requires more thought and more coherence. But I'm not sure I have that capacity anymore. I'm too used to thinking, and sharing my thoughts, in abbreviated code.

Spitting out this abbreviated code gives me a sense that I have had a coherent thought and have shared it. In reality, though, I believe it simply allows me to avoid really thinking about anything. Rather, I experience a moment and share the experience in an attempt to "share" with a broader audience. But it's a trade-off of breadth for depth. Depth is harder to achieve. It requires much more work, far more thought, and mental discipline that isn't suited to Facebook or Twitter or most of the other social media sites. Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against social media sites. I just want to recognize them for what they are. They are, in my view, very much like casual social receptions, the purpose of which are to facilitate superficial interaction. Social media sites give us opportunities for superfluous chit-chat without the wine.

I recognize, of course, that my broad-brush dismissal of social media sites overlooks the fundamental value they have in marshalling societal resources into social action and other such "meaty" things. But I think the consequential attributes of social media are far less common than the attributes that allow us to think we're thinking when, in fact, we're not.