Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Spirit Of Christmas

  Every year as Christmas approaches I wonder when or sometimes if I will get a feeling of the Christmas Spirit.  I almost always do, though the time and degree may vary. Usually it is music and movies that trigger it.  This year, the feeling of Christmas gradually crept into me today.  It started out with a few almost imperceptible snowflakes drifting down.  Then, as I ran errands, the excitement of the children in the stores caused a smile on my face.  I listened to the radio in the car (as I always do) but only listened to Christmas music, today.  Every year there is one particular carol or song that always stands out for me.  This year two songs got my attention.  
  The first one was a melody of Peace On Earth and Little Drummer Boy by an unlikely combination of Bing Crosby and David Bowie.  It was recorded in September of 1977 as part of the Bing Crosby '42nd Christmas Special that was broadcast on November 30, 1977.  Unfortunately, Bing never saw it as he passed away in Spain on October 14, 1977 at the age of 74.  Click here and listen and watch!
  The second song was also Bing Crosby, singing Silver Bells with Carol Richards in 1952.  What I like about this classic is the clarity, harmony, and richness of the music.  In the lyrics that are posted with the song, you will see "Here the snow crunch, see the kids rush", but if you listen carefully, Carol says "Here the snow crush, see the kids rush".  In later versions of the song, I believe the words "Here the snow crunch, see the kids bunch" are used.  Enough with the technicalities!  Have a listen here.
  So all of this has me feeling a bit more 'Christmasy' today and what made it even better, was the company of my sister as we did some Christmas shopping and visited our uncle who is now in a nursing home.  Many of his memories are fading, but there are some memories that are indelibly marked into his mind.  When he relates these moments from his past, his eyes brighten and a smile goes across his face.  This is when I see the uncle I am familiar with.
  So, dear readers, I hope you have Christmas glowing inside of you and that you and yours have a very Merry Christmas and an exciting and Happy New Year!

Unless we make Christmas an occasion to share our blessings, all the snow in Alaska won't make it 'white'. - Bing Crosby

Friday, December 7, 2012

Defining Existence

  Today, I was working in a supermarket doing some CCTV (closed-circuit TV) work.  An additional duty that I occasional do besides cash registers.  Anyway, I couldn't help but overhear a couple of the cashiers talking negatively about their husbands and how they want to divorce them.  Primarily because they were lazy.  One woman was in her twenties while the other was in her fifties.  I was more curious why the older woman had given up on her husband and asked her so by saying, by way of a bit of humour, that he must be useful, occasionally, by mending a leaky faucet or something.  At that point she went into a little soliloquy which included the fact that he isn't able to fix anything.  All he does is come home, watch television and drink beer.  I said that he must have some kind of hobby or goes hunting or something.  She said, "nope, just sits and drinks beer and watches TV".
  I decided, at that point, to let the conversation drop and resumed my work.  However, I continued to think about the man that just sits, drinks beer, and watches television.  What caused him to go into such a repetitive and vegetative existence?  Since Humans can be very complicated by nature, there are probably a myriad of reasons for one to become that way.
  Of course, I am not a professional at understanding such problems.  However, as one gets older, one can develop an insight and understanding about some basic human fundamentals.  I like to think of it as one of the potentials of growing old.
  In my opinion, when someone gets frustrated or disappointed in one endeavor, he or she may focus on another activity that is more fulfilling.  For example, let's use the husband mentioned above and call him 'Joe'.
If Joe is finding his marriage uninteresting, he may focus more on his job by spending more time there, or bringing it home.  Especially if it is work he likes to do.  Or perhaps Joe might find enjoyment hanging out with his buddies and go hunting or go to a football game.
  Naturally, these aren't the only scenarios.  In fact, it could be the opposite situation.  Maybe Joe loves his wife and home, but his job is pushing him to the edge, or, worse still, he is unemployed.  As I said, there are many reasons why people's personalities can degenerate in certain surroundings.  My concern is for the individual who appears to be in despair in ANY surrounding, home, work, leisure, or anywhere.  The correct label could probably be Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) commonly known as clinical depression.
  At that point, we are no longer talking about someone merely existing, but someone who needs professional help.  This complicated world can cause complicated problems for people and my amateur insights end here!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Musical & Pensive Moment

  It has been a little while since I have injected a musical spot.  I was listening to one of Savage Garden's songs called Affirmation.  It has been around for a few years but I never paid close attention to the lyrics before.  The song has a message.  Although I don't necessarily agree with everything said in the lyrics, I appreciate the promotion of the human spirit that it contains.  If it wasn't for the ability to think for ourselves, we would, indeed, be a very dull and uninteresting people.  Not to mention much less evolved.  I am not saying that everything we are outspoken about is correct.  There needs to be opposition in all things so that we can learn to make correct choices and see both sides of an issue.  We can try and understand other's viewpoints, where "they are coming from" if you will, without necessarily changing our own opinions and values.
  Enough with my yammering on.  Now is the time to enjoy the music.  Click on Affirmation for the video and follow along with the lyrics.

I believe the sun should never set upon an argument
I believe we place our happiness in other people's hands
I believe that junk food tastes so good because it's bad for you
I believe your parents did the best job they knew how to do
I believe that beauty magazines promote low self-esteem
I believe I'm loved when I'm completely by myself alone
I believe in Karma what you give is what you get returned
I believe you can't appreciate real love until you've been burned
I believe the grass is no more greener on the other side
I believe you don't know what you've got until you say goodbye

I believe you can't control or choose your sexuality
I believe that trust is more important than monogamy
I believe your most attractive features are your heart and soul
I believe that family is worth more than money or gold
I believe the struggle for financial freedom is unfair
I believe the only ones who disagree are millionaires

I believe in Karma what you give is what you get returned
I believe you can't appreciate real love until you've been burned
I believe the grass is no more greener on the other side
I believe you don't know what you've got until you say goodbye

I believe forgiveness is the key to your unhappiness
I believe that wedded bliss negates the need to be undressed
I believe that God does not endorse TV evangelists
I believe in love surviving death into eternity

I believe in Karma what you give is what you get returned
I believe you can't appreciate real love until you've been burned
I believe the grass is no more greener on the other side
I believe you don't know what you've got until you say goodbye

[repeat ]

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Moment On The 'Stump'

  Today, I am going to push the envelope a bit on staying apolitical.  I am not taking sides but feel I should say something about the lack of character of politicians.  They lack professionalism and maturity when it comes to campaigning, at least in America.  I would be curious to know what it is like in other democratic countries.
  It cracks me up when I see political ads on television.  You don't hear what the aspiring politician can do for you, all you see and hear is what is allegedly wrong with his opponent.  Mud slinging to the max.
  I watched the first presidential debate last week and it was like watching a badly written soap opera.
Both sides would attack the other by taking things out of context, twisting facts, giving misleading information and telling lies.  However, they were very good at accurately repeating it over and over and over again.
  There is also something to be said regarding the average American voter, and it is not necessarily positive.  I think Richard Stengel, managing editor of Time, put it very well in this excerpt of his editorial in the October 15th issue:
  When it comes to politics, believing is seeing.  Partisan Republicans see Barrack Obama as dishonest; partisan Democrats see Mitt Romney the same way.  Voters see candidates they support as truth tellers; they regard candidates they oppose as shadier.  We are suffering from a national case of confirmation bias, the idea that we lend credence to information that confirms our opinions and ignore evidence that doesn't --- even in the face of facts.
  And even if we don't suffer from CBS (my newly coined acronym for Confirmation Bias Syndrome), we still have to sort out all the lies, half-truths, and facts that the politicians pour into our heads.
  Do I have a solution?  No, but I would love to see a truth serum administered to the debaters prior to a debate!
  Thank you, Doctor, for fitting me into your busy schedule and listening to me.  This session has been very therapeutic.

Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future - John F. Kennedy

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

And Yet Another Entry From The NRTF* Dept...

I changed my i Pod name to Titanic, it's syncing now.
I tried to catch some fog, I mist.
When chemists die, they barium.
Jokes about German sausage are the wurst.
A soldier who survived mustard gas and pepper spray is now a seasoned veteran.
I know a guy who's addicted to brake fluid. He says he can stop any time.
How does Moses make his tea? Hebrews it.
I stayed up all night to see where the sun went. Then it dawned on me.
This girl said she recognized me from the vegetarian club, but I'd never met herbivore.
I'm reading a book about anti-gravity, I can't put it down.
I did a theatrical performance about puns, It was a play on words .
Image result for not really that funnyThey told me I had type A blood, but it was Type-O.
Why were the Indians here first? They had reservations.
Class trip to the Coca-Cola factory, I hope there's no pop quiz.
The Energizer bunny arrested and Charged with battery.
I didn't like my beard at first. Then it grew on me.
How do you make holy water? Boil the hell out of it!
Did you hear about the cross eyed teacher who lost her job because she couldn't control her pupils?
When you get a bladder infection, urine trouble.
What does a clock do when it's hungry? It goes back four seconds.
I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger. Then it hit me!
Broken pencils are pointless.
What do you call a dinosaur with a extensive vocabulary? A thesaurus.
England has no kidney bank, but it does have a Liverpool .
I used to be a banker, but then I lost interest.
I dropped out of communism class because of lousy Marx.
All the toilets in New York 's police stations have been stolen. Police have nothing to go on.
I got a job at a bakery because I kneaded dough.
Haunted French pancakes give me the crepes.
Velcro - what a rip off!
Cartoonist found dead in home. Details are sketchy.
Venison for dinner? Oh deer!
Earthquake in Washington obviously government's fault.
I used to think I was indecisive, but now I'm not so sure.

*NRTF=Not Really That Funny

Friday, August 31, 2012

My Life's Itinerary.....So Far - Part 10

A 2006 photo of where I use to live in the '60's
  March of 1972 brings me back to Kennebunk, Maine, after my four year stint in the Air Force.  It has been over four years since I was living in Kennebunk, see My Life's Itinerary.....So Far - Part 2
A 2006 photo of my room in the '60's,
 it hadn't changed a bit!
  When I came back 'home', my old residence was gone.  At the time of entering the Air Force, I was living with my grandmother (my grandfather passed away while I was in high school).  While I was away, she sold the house in Kennebunk and settled into a retirement community in Saco, Maine.  I never thought about it until later, but all my 'stuff' that was in the house was now gone.  I suspect it was either thrown out, or packed up and stored in some forgotten place somewhere.  My biggest regret was not doing better by my grandmother by keeping in touch with her more frequently considering all she had done for me.  Sometimes being young and being stupid are synonymous.

A 2006 photo of my old workbench,
it didn't change much, either!

  I lived with a family that I had known all through my teen years.  I knew them through the local church my grandpparents and I attended.  I was treated like a member of the family and to this day I am considered a son and a brother.
  It was in Kennebunk that I met my first wife.  We lived in an apartment Kennebunk on Grove Street for a short time and then an apartment in Kennebunkport for awhile.  Then to a little cottage that was behind the home of friends for a short time where we also had our first child, a son named Aaron.  He was actually born in Portland, Maine.  It was pretty exciting being a new dad.  That is when I had the full realization of what it was like to 'learn as you go'!  The cottage wasn't really suitable for winter living, especially with a baby, so we moved again!  My grandmother didn't think much of the cottage that we were living in and she always referred to it as 'the shack' in a non-complimentary way.  So that is what we always called it, in fun.
  Within a couple years, we relocated to Sanford, Maine, I believe it was about 1974..

In July of 2006, I took a ride on my old street, Woodside Drive, and noticed that there was activity in my old house.  Someone was preparing to move into it.  I took the liberty of asking them if I could take pictures and they said yes.  It changed very little since I was a teen.  In retrospect, wish I took more pictures.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Marconi Would Be Proud...

Philco Model 46 circa 1946
They are waiting for me....
  For those that don't know it, I collect antique radios.  I have been doing that for a few years now.  However, I don't spend much time restoring them although I would like to.  Other things are always pre-empting my bench time with the radios. 
  The other day, I decided to sort out my transistor radios and repack them according to brand.  I previously went through my tube radios and they are patiently waiting on the shelf in their shrink wrap for my attention.  If all goes well, I will be tinkering on them soon, maybe commencing during the cold days of winter. 

Philco Model 48 circa 1948

  I have always guesstimated that I had between 100 and 200 radios, without knowing an exact count.  Yesterday, as I finished up my sorting, I came up with an actual grand total.  I was surprised to learn that I had 325 radios!  My wife, Lesley, has often indicated a lack of enthusiasm for my radios (and I for her many shoes) and that's ok.  I wasn't going to share with her the knowledge of how many radios I have, but I think full disclosure is always better in the long run.  She was surprised that I had 325 radios, but took it okay.  I thought she would rush right out and buy a couple hundred pairs of shoes, or dozens of handbags, but she didn't.....yet.
Grundig 2540 circa 1959
  Actually, I have restored a few radios and have been giving them as gifts to family members.  I also have a couple around the house.
  When I am testing a radio, or sometimes I will actually listen to it, I have it tuned to the local AM station that plays oldies.  That is the only thing you should hear coming out of an antique radio!

Who was Guglielmo Marconi?  Read more

Saturday, August 4, 2012

"Who's keeping an eye on Bobby?"

  Just a quick update on how I am doing with my 'PCoff' days.  I can proudly say that almost every week, there is one day (Sunday is the least painful) I use my computer very little or not at all.
  (I will be available for autographs and endorsement contract considerations)

With self-discipline most anything is possible. - Theodore Roosevelt

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Digress or Progress? - - That Is The Question...

  I have always considered myself a 'techy' kind of guy, but not extremely so.  I mean,  I like gadgets but not to the point of obsession.  Granted, I have five computers networked in my house, but they are necessities!  Really! *  Anyway, I don't have to have the fastest and best PC's.  I am content with my older PC's that still chug along with Windows XP, no matter how much I beat on them when I get a 'Not Responding' message.
Actually, there is one 'hi-tech' device that I am not fond of, and that is my cell phone.  As I may have mentioned before, this is a list of what I like from my cell phone:

1.  Make phone calls.

Pretty short list, eh?  However, to prove that my mind isn't closed to progress, I conceded to upgrading my phone to a 'smartphone'.  My justification was that I would be able to data stream music via Pandora and close my satellite radio account.  In theory, my plan seemed sound, however, I did not take into account that I travel a wide area and my cellular provider does not do a stellar job in providing coverage.  Hence, I couldn't always make a phone call, never mind trying to download music.  My Android phone was an interesting toy when I was able to wi-fi at home or in a restaurant, but I could not justify the cost for what I got in return.  So I did a lot of number crunching and even with paying an early termination penalty, I could close my account, and come out ahead of the game.  Not only that, I was able to get a good price for the phone on eBay.  Even better, I don't have to carry around two phones anymore, I set up my work phone to be used for a personal phone as well.  Do you think my technology digression ends there?  Non, non, Mon Ami!  We had two satellite radio accounts for our cars for about five years and have become less and less enchanted with it over time.  When we first got it, they touted "Commercial Free Radio!" which was exactly what I wanted.  However, in no time at all, commercials started popping up on different channels.  Not good.  Now their line was "Mostly Commercial Free Radio."  On top of that, my favourite channel, 'the 60's', had an annoying DJ in the morning always yammering on and, even worse, had people calling in as well (I'm sure they were calling from asylums).  Also, all the channels were always 'plugging' their upcoming programs.  I found myself constantly hitting the preset buttons to find music, just like I use to do with regular FM radio.  So I'm thinking, "Heck, if I have to keep station jumping, I might as well be doing it on free radio, not paid radio.  I cancelled both satellite subscriptions.  On the other hand, I love Pandora radio and listen to it all the time at home and wish I could get it in the cars.  Maybe someday.
  You know, this blogging stuff is very therapeutic!  I feel much better now, thanks!

* PC for me. / PC for my wife. / PC for the living room [in case I need to look up something on the IMDB (Internet Movie Data Base)]. / PC for the workshop. / PC for the guest room.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

My Life's Itinerary.....So Far - Part 9

Land's End
  As I mentioned in a previous entry, after the Air Force transferred me out of Turkey, I took some leave time in England where I hooked up with an Air Force buddy and we made a road trip from High Wycombe, south to the coast and followed the coastline until we arrived at Land's End at the most western point of England, then we went cross country back to our starting point.  It was a fun trip.  I returned to the States, and ultimately arrived at my next duty station, Tinker Air Force Base, in April of 1971.  Everything that I can say about my stay in Midwest City, Oklahoma (outside of Oklahoma City) is said in the associated chapter of my military series:  Hup! Twoop! Three! Four! - Part 5.
  March of 1972 marked the end of my active duty in the Air Force and I gathered up my possessions and stuffed them into my little Dodge Dart and drove back to good ol' Kennebunk, Maine.
  It was good to be home, but home is never how you remember it.  People and places change.  You change.  Your perspectives change.  You find yourself remembering 'the good ol' days'.  Well, isn't that what makes up a large part of blogs?  Retrospect is an important element in the human condition.  Sometimes it hold us back, sometimes it helps us move forward.  It is like any tool, it's usefulness depends on how well it is used.
  So, for awhile, civilian life is a 7X24 activity!

There are a number of things wrong with Washington. One of them is that everyone is too far from home. - Dwight D. Eisenhower

Sunday, June 17, 2012

  Today is Father's Day and I even received a card from my dog.  Very smart dog, indeed.  I hope I don't have to pay for her college education.
  I think I cannot add anymore then I did a year ago, so I will simply provide you with this link for an encore.

Nothing I've ever done has given me more joys and rewards than being a father to my children. - Bill Cosby

Relative Sizes

  If you ever need a perspective on your impact in the world, that is, in regards to your physical stature; all you have to do is go to this link.  There you will see how large and small you really are!  It is fun and informative.

For the resolving powers of our scientific instruments decide, at a given moment, of the size and the vision of our Universe, and of the image we then make of ourselves. - Albert Claude

Monday, April 23, 2012

A Declaration!

  When the Personal Computer came upon the scene, there were many remarkable things about it.  Probably the most obvious attribute is the amount of information that is available.  That was and is my downfall, because every time a question (often trivial, but sometimes legitimate) pops into my head, I want to run to a PC and look up the answer.  In fact, I have started a draft blog entry talking about my affinity (a nice way of saying obsession) to collect information.  That entry will be showing up soon.  Anyway, to me, the biggest attribute of PC's is how they can consume an incredible amount of TIME.  I sit down and start puttering away, and before I know it, three hours have passed and it seemed like fifteen minutes.  That is quite a phenomenon.  Maybe it has something to do with black holes or string theory.  Now, normally, as you may have noticed in other blog entries, I would attach links to these two phenomena so you could read further on it.  This time I managed to suppress the urge! (A recovering information addict, not!)
Image result for ban computer  All this was on my mind when I woke up yesterday morning.  Normally I walk from the bedroom to the office and the first thing I do is turn on the PC before I hit the fridge or let the dog out.  Instead, I went from the bedroom to the living room because of something on my mind.  I didn't let the dog out because it is often the last one to get up (and always the first one to go to bed).  So I am sitting on the couch, looking out the window and thinking about my routine for the day and had a revelation.  I quietly made this DECREE to myself and my sleeping quarter acre kingdom that, starting TODAY and at least one Sunday a month, would HEREBY BE DECLARED PCoff DAY!
  When I retired that evening, I was happy to think to myself that PCoff Day was a success.  The PC was never turned on and I survived by finding other things to do which resulted in a productive day.  I managed to do some things that I have been putting off for a long time; quality time with Lesley; Truffles, the dog, found more time on my lap; and my fingers didn't dry up and fall off from lack of activity on a keyboard.
  I thought Sunday would be the best day since the rest of the week, the PC is necessary for my job.  Ideally, I might make every Sunday PCoff Day, but I shall take baby steps first!

Computers make it easier to do a lot of things, but most of the things they make it easier to do don't need to be done. - Andy Rooney