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Tuesday’s Theme Music

Perhaps it was the Notre Dame fire, or the moment late last night when I stepped out to a startlingly dark skin and a fantastic array of our starry universe. But later, I was found to be humming the 1988 song by The Church, “Under the Milky Way”.

Sometimes, when this place gets kind of empty
Sound of their breath fades with the light
I think about the loveless fascination
Under the Milky Way tonight

h/t genuislyrics.com

I think it works as the them music today, quietly contemplative about what is and was.

Wednesday’s Theme Music

Once again, I found myself humming along and singing along to a song that I’d started streaming, a song that just sort of blending into the general streams flooding my thinking.

This is a Phillip Phillips song, “Home” (2012). Here the lyrics that hooked me this morning:

Settle down, it’ll all be clear
Don’t pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble—it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found

I’d be reflecting on the big lie, fleshing more of its manifestations. The big lie is that we’re all the same as humans. Need to lose weight? Diet and exercise. Want to get ahead? Well, the answer to that one includes some references to God, love, and Jesus, as well as get an education or work hard, and you’ll be rewarded.

Sometimes, it happens, and sometimes it doesn’t. The big lie is that it will. And the big lie keeps us trying, because sometimes the big lie works, and that aspect keeps us hoping and striving.

I’m getting off track. Thinking about others, not myself, I was reflecting upon life’s complexities and how people can get lost, indeed, how easy it is to become lost, through bad fortune, misinformation, trusting the wrong others, or tricks of your body or mind. Many people are sick or ill, but won’t let it show until it’s forced into the light. Others will play up every sickness or slight to get attention and help, but end up taking advantage of the situation. Yet, sometimes, that’s a sickness in itself.

We create ruts and chase habits that form addictions, blinding ourselves, or permitting ourselves to lie and mislead ourselves, sometimes more than we mislead others. And others see it but don’t know what to say or do.

What a world, what a world. It’s all too deep, and yet that depth invites greater exploration — is that another addiction?

Give me another cuppa coffee. Oh, wait —

A Moment for Blockbuster

Renting videos to play at home had become a big thing while my wife and I were living in Japan in the early eighties. Much cheaper than the movies, it was also more convenient than going to a theater, standing in line, and sitting in uncomfortable seats. Renting videos were also excellent ways to help endure typhoons, as long as the power stayed on.

Blockbuster hit the American scene in 1985, but we were in Germany. We were impressed when we returned to America. At last, we could go to a convenient location and find a wide assortment of movies for a reasonable price.

We weren’t necessarily thrilled. My wife and I liked supporting small, independent video rental businesses in our area. But, sadly, they lacked good selections. Finding nothing there for us to rent, we grudgingly started renting our videos from Blockbuster.

Blockbuster’s ugly side was soon revealed as they treated us, the  customers, like dirt. Greg Satell at Forbes magazine summed it up for us.

“Yet Blockbuster’s model had a weakness that wasn’t clear at the time.  It earned an enormous amount of money by charging its customers late fees, which had become an important part of Blockbuster’s revenue model.  The ugly truth—and the company’s achilles heel—was that the company’s profits were highly dependent on penalizing its patrons.”

The lines became ridiculously long at Blockbusters. A movie rented at one location couldn’t be returned to a different location. What had been fun, going to Blockbuster to rent a movie, lost its enjoyment. (It reminds me of how taking a flight across the country used to be and how it now is, with the airlines trying to suck pennies out of its customers for anything and everything.)

A pause to reflect on customer service and support. My wife and I have noticed that both have rapidly diminished in our experience, whether it’s with retail stores, Internet providers, rental places, airlines, hotels, newspapers, and utilities. What’s most telling is that if this topic is brought up at a gathering, everyone have stories to share about bad customers service and support. The one bright spot for us, and other agrees, have been Costco.

We’re holding our breath and have our fingers crossed that Costco doesn’t become like the rest.

When Netflix came along, we leaped on it. Creating a list online, we received DVDs in the mail, watched them, and mailed them back. Not everything we wanted to watch was immediately available, but it was a damn sight better than the Blockbuster experience.

Netflix has almost lost us over the years as we shifted to the streaming model and experienced price increases. I’ve left them twice for others, but the others soon took me for granted, and Netflix lured me back.

Right now, Netflix is barely hanging on to me. My wife and I don’t find much to watch, but we see the same pattern on Hulu, Amazon Prime, Britbox, Acorn, etc. There’s one or two enticing shows, a plethora of things that aren’t to our tastes, and then a huge offering of old movies and television series. In the end, the streaming experience has become much like the video experience, which, itself, became much like the cable television experience of, so many channels, nothing to watch. As for Blockbuster, much like VHS and Beta recordings, its star has waned.

Fortunately, we have books and computer games. I would mention Facebook and social media, but I’ve noticed a trend there…

It kind of reminds me of Blockbuster.

Hello, August

Hey, all you hep writers out there in writing land. Hope this post finds you in the writing groove on this first day of the eighth month of the eighteenth year of this new century.

When does this stop being the new century? It’s still a young century as the age of centuries go, just in its teens, which could be why it’s rebelling against everything and challenging every word. Just old enough to vote in some places, old enough to marry, depending upon where you live, and not old enough to drink in some areas, the century brings to mind Alice Cooper’s song, “I’m Eighteen.”

I got a Baby’s brain and an old man’s heart
Took eighteen years to get this far
Don’t always know what I’m talkin’ about
Feels like I’m livin in the middle of doubt
Cause I’m Eighteen
I get confused every day
Eighteen
I just don’t know what to say
Eighteen
I gotta get away

h/t to Genius.com

Sure sounds like this year and century, doesn’t it?

I sometimes feel that I’m eighteen as I go through my writing processes. Each writing session offers its own challenges and rewards. When I measure it all, I hope the results are worth it, but there are times, man, there are times when confused, disparaging whispers echo in the chasms of my mind.

I prevail, in the same fashion as most writers, by venting, raging, sulking, drinking, reading, shrugging, and writing, and then writing more. I often wonder what I’d be like had I not heard the writing call, but then, I wonder about that with every area of my life. What if I’d not married the woman that I did, or what if I hadn’t joined the military, and so on, as billions upon billions of people have done.

In the end, August of 2018 feels a lot like January of 2018, a hopeful period that also looks daunting.

Time to write like it’s 1999.

Each Day

Each day, I realize that I don’t know much. I can’t even say that I know much about a particular subject. I tend to know a very little bit about very few things.

Each day, I re-discover things that I’d learned and forgotten. I discover things that I learned when we thought we knew better, but have to learn again because more has been learned. Really, I’m just learning to keep up.

Each day, I learn how much things change between each day and person. I’ve learned that we’re very inconsistent about what we think we know. We like to have what we think we learned validated to verify that we learned what we think we learned.

Each day, I realize how much there is to learn, not just about complicated or esoteric subjects or unfolding scandals, but about myself and the small area of existence that is my world.

Each day, I realize how much I enjoy learning. Sometimes — hell, many times — it wears me out. But with each day, I realize how fragile learning and knowledge really are, and how knowledge can be tortured and twisted.

Each day, I set out, one more time, with a cup of coffee and try to learn just a little bit more.

And some days, I remember it.

Heard On the Radio, Read on the Net

A radio announcer said she’d read a survey of millennials between twenty-one and thirty-seven years old. The results said that fifty-three percent of them expected to be millionaires and the average millennial expected to retire by age fifty-six.

I read today that millennials are the worse tippers. Ten percent of them don’t tip at all when they eat out. Their average gratuity is fifteen percent.

Guess they’re saving up to be millionaires.

Baby Steps

“I’ve seen some things, man.”

Recognize that line? Anyway, this is about what I saw while traveling through airports during the last few days.

  • Breast-feeding rooms. I need so many hands to address this, and its pros and cons. Good that moms are given a space for privacy, but are so many people shocked, outraged, embarrassed, repulsed, disgusted, disturbed, et cetera, by a woman breast-feeding her child?
  • Service animals relief area. There is a need for this. Nice the animals are being taken care of.
  • Police carts. These appear to be the courtesy carts used in airports to give people a lift between gates, but with police markings and lights.
  • Fewer designated smoking areas. I’m amazed people still smoke, but I still drink, and both habits can have adverse impacts on your body. So does living, though.
  • More and more drinking, eating, and shopping areas. These are a good thing, because air travel is a gritty gamble. You can have a ticket, but not a seat, and if you don’t have a seat, you’re not on a plane. Even with a seat and ticket, you might not be going anywhere because weather is the controlling authority. The biggest issue with these is that when people really need them, after all the flights are delayed and canceled, and nothing can be done for you to get to your next destination, they start shutting down for the night, leaving passengers in the terminals restless, hungry, and thirsty. Basically, we become abandoned by capitalism, because, you know, convenience is expensive.
  • By the way, eating in an airport is not a cheap affair.  Beer at one place was six dollars, and eight at another. Margaritas were eleven at the latter. Healthier options are emerging, at least.
  • More Internet options on aircraft and airports. I encountered more airports offering free services. They’re not secure, so they’re a risk. Protect thyself. Aircraft are also offering more inflight Internet services. Some entertainment is free through these aircraft nets (airnets?), but connecting to the greater web will cost you. The prices are reasonable.
  • More people are trying to take as many bags as possible onto aircraft to avoid paying to check bags. You should see the size of some of these. Yes, they’re checking them planeside in many cases, but more often, they’re being dragged onto the flights and shoved into overhead bins. I kept hearing the words, “We’re oversold,” or, “We’re a full flight,” or, “If you can, store your bags under the seat in front of you because there’s no room left in the overhead bins.” That last is ideal, as we have so much leg room to sacrifice to begin.

How about you? Notice any trends in your air travels?

Hidden

Watching others cope with diseases and declining health, slowly moving hunched bodies as they struggle to remember simple words and phrases and master common movements, do you ever wonder, what’s secretly going on inside yourself that’s waiting to come out?

It’s like looking for the monster hiding under the bed.

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