Thursday’s Theme Music

Yes, this song was featured as theme music back in 2016. Four years later, it seems more appropriate.

“Riders on the Storm” by the Doors was released in 1971. I was ninth grade. The baseline, lyrics, and keyboard mesmerized me. I later ended up taking a philosophy in pop culture class in Japan where this song and its line, “Into this word we’re thrown,” was discussed. Ah, good times.

Seems like we’re riding a storm of uncertainty now as much as ever. The song came to me in the middle of the night, when I surfaced out of a dream. While I was reflecting on the dream, the song just rose up as a soft, subtle background. Later, we were out shopping just after sunrise. The song came to me again as I stepped out of the store into the silent parking lot and faced the sun illuminated the valley, mountains, and valley to the north. After I was home, I listened to it.

It’s an evocative tune. Hope you enjoy it. Remember, stay positive, test negative, and wear your mask. Cheers

The Waiting

December is upon us as I wait

for spring to begin (it might come late).

Winter is nigh, as I dig in,

waiting for summer to come and begin.

The year is closing as I start this day,

hoping for change, trying to make a play.

December is upon us, and I never knew

the full strength of the sun

in July and June.

Friday Fraternization

  1. My wife was on her coffee clatch Zoom call in the other room. That’s what they call it; I adhere to their will. I could close the door, but I eavesdrop. They mostly talk about books and politics. Those are subjects that I enjoy. So I’m writing, but I’m distracted. Eventually, I put in my ear buds and listen to coffee shop noises.
  2. Bob Hoesch recommended that I try the coffee shop noises recorded on youtube. It’s an uneven experience. While the recording fulfills the coffee shop sounds, I’m lacking visual stimulation, and the smells. My mind likes all of these when I write. They’re not distractions but aids, as long as I’m not personally involved. Odd how the mind works, innit?
  3. My wife raved about the books The Stanger Diaries, Don’t Leave Me, and Squeezed on the call.
  4. The Baltimore Ravens were due to play the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thanksgiving. That game was delayed until Sunday due to an outbreak of COVID-19 among the Ravens. They traced the source to a trainer. He’d tested positive but didn’t tell the organization, and didn’t always mask as required. Lackadaisical practices within the organization caused problems with contact tracing as players and staff didn’t wear the tracking devices as required. The episode demonstrates the fragility of the safeguards, and how utterly dependent they are on everyone following the protocols, and the impact when they’re not followed. The Ravens’ season isn’t going as well as they’d hoped (and many expected), and these additional challenges just add to their mounting issues. It all does have a sort of ‘my kingdom for a nail’ ring to it.
  5. This just in: The Ravens-Steelers game has been moved to Tuesday.
  6. We were on a Friendsgiving Zoom with the people we usually do T-day with last night, a two-hour cocktail visit. They’re all intelligent and fun people, and the visit was a welcome interlude from the normal processes and routines.
  7. Tucker enjoys the Zoom calls. Exercise, coffee, whatever, he’s right there, a black and white long-haired feline who pays no attention to the people on the call admiring him. He seems to like the voices.
  8. Opposite of Tucker is Boo, the bedroom pantera, who hides from the voices. He wants no part of all those voices. As it was in the upper twenties and the sun was hiding, I didn’t want him out. I put him in the master suite with all the usual accoutrements. He hid in the corner of the closet, as expected, and stayed there until silence reigned.
  9. Papi (aka Meep, Youngblood, and the Ginger Blade) is the oddest of our cats when it comes to Zoom. He doesn’t like Mary B’s voice. It’s like he owes her money. “Oh, no, there’s Mary! I’m out of here.” As soon as Mary is off the call, he settles down in a comfy place and goes to sleep, even if others are talking.
  10. I’m struggling to keep up with my reading. See, priority-wise, outside of biological needs and relationship obligations with my wife, and cat stuff, writing is my highest priority. It’s a reward for putting in twenty years in the military and then almost another twenty in civilian employment, delaying my writing dream. I figure I owe myself. Outside of writing and the other matters, exercise is a high priority. I like getting twelve miles a day via walking/running.
  11. That keeps me from reading as much as I can. I attempt to read while running in place. That does work but proficiency in both decline and its dissatisfying. Don’t know what I’m going to do to resolve this. I like my reading.
  12. Now, lunch is done. That is, I’ve made it and eaten it. Time to get some coffee and return to writing like crazy, at least one more time. To quote an NFL player, “Stay positive, test negative.” Yeah, and wear masks, okay?

Thanksgiving’s Theme Music

Welcome to Thanksgiving in America. It’s not the shiny spectacle that we strive to create in the United States. In a lot of ways, today is like flipping back through history pages, and seeing an ugly time, and wondering, how did those people get through that?

Yes, Thanksgiving is a holiday, innit? My holiday vibe is a bit subdued today. I tried being upbeat, but, yes, I’m a little weary. A little pandemic’d out. A little elections exhausted, blended with hues of a little tarnished life syndrome. Gosh, this wasn’t how it was supposed to be, was it? No, not for this snowflake. As an average white American male, we’re not supposed to know shit like this. That’s for other people. Guess I have a tiny inkling about what those others endured.

Not really. No abusive parents. No food insecurities. No wondering if anyone, police or otherwise, are going to shoot me. No worrying about paying the rent or getting a job, or so much other shit that’s heaped on people through the sperm lottery. (Should the sperm lottery be called a spottery? It seems spotty, doesn’t it, hit and miss, about who has what.)

I don’t have COVID-19. I’m aging and male, so I cope with some enlarged prostate, some BHP. (I think that’s the proper letter combos.) I broke an arm in July, leaving me to rehab that arm, hand, wrist, and shoulder. (Yeah, it continues to improve…I think…) I have a lifelong pre-existing condition, hypertension, that I deal with. I’m a hopeful novelist, so I have all the angst, hope, and collective feelings associated with that.

Compiling the bottom line, I have a lot to be thankful for. Yet the blues have me today.

As it’s a holiday, I’m indulging myself with a blues favorite. Yes, it’s a repeat song, from a few years ago. Nothing like the blues to lift you, right?

Here’s Stevie Ray Vaughn and Double Trouble with “Cold Shot”. It’s a video of a live performing, as I wish he was, back when I was young.

Happy holidays. Yeah, and wear a mask, please. Time to go get some coffee cake and coffee. My wife made the coffee cake last night for today. Yeah, life’s not so bad here. Cheers

Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble – Cold Shot (Live From Austin, TX) – YouTube

Friday’s Free-Ranging

  1. Some people still believe COVID-19 is a hoax. Even as they’re hospitalized and intubated, they can’t believe they have COVID-19, according to nurses in several states, because COVID-19 is a hoax. Surreal.
  2. But it’s getting real. For many people, it doesn’t become real until a family member, close friend, or celebrity has it. Well, read the news. Another Pentagon official is positive, and another U.S. senator. Actor Ben Platt was positive. Do a net search and you’ll discover more. NFL teams are experiencing it at an increasing tempo. The Vegas Raiders have at least eight defensive starters on the COVID-19 list. The Steelers have several, while several others passed the protocol and can practice and play again. The Denver Broncos announced, no more fans in the stands after this Sunday. The NFL said that all teams must use intense COVID-19 protocols. That includes masks, distancing, limiting occupancy, and using Zoom for meetings.
  3. The fatality rate and positivity rates are both climbing. A NYTimes article points out that there’s not a single U.S. state or territory where COVID-19 is declining. We now experience over two hundred thousand new case a day, and it’s increasing fast. More governors are ordering mandatory masks, shutting down activities, and limiting gatherings. Except, in South Dakota, of course, home of Sturgis. Although they’re facing the nation’s highest positivity rate and fatality rate, and has become one of the nation’s most intense COVID-19 hotspots, the governor still dismisses taking any actions.
  4. And superspreader events still take place across the nation. As a for instance tale, there was a wedding in Ohio on October 31st. Of eighty-three guests, half are now positive for COVID-19, including the bride and groom. Three of their grandparents tested positive, with two grandparents ending up in the ER. Yeah, I understand that you want a special day for your wedding. It’s a celebration, but c’mon, man, have some sense. They did try, providing masks and hand sanitizer liquid, but as the bride was walking down the aisle, she realized nobody was wearing a mask.
  5. Meanwhile, out in hard-hit El Paso, they’re trying to find workers for the many temporary morgues that they’ve set up. They were using convicts for the job.
  6. Writing continues to entertain and satisfy me, so hurrah for me, right? Yeah, that’s my little ray of sunshine.
  7. Some days, I just cannot write fast enough. A scene takes maybe a minute to enter my head and bloom. Dialogue, setting, action, characters, it’s all there. It takes twenty to thirty minutes to type up such scenes, trying to get all the moments right.
  8. Getting the moments right means finding the words. I often just hammer it out, then return, correcting pacing and tenses, adding and refining details, and aligning the arc. That’s about the only way to put it.
  9. Thanksgiving in the United States is coming upon us, and we’re preparing. It’ll be the two of us at home, a huge break from the last several years. Good friends have been including us in their celebration. It’s always a good time. There will be a Zoom Thanksgiving cocktail party this year. It’s better than nothing, right?
  10. For food, we’re doing an early Sunday morning Trader Joe’s raid. Many options were investigated before deciding on this path. TJ’s ‘vulnerable shoppers’ time begins at 8 AM. We plan to be there by 8:15 with our list in hand.
  11. Contemplating our plans fires Thanksgiving memories. I was in Basic Training in 1974. Fortunately, my Uncle and his family lived nearby. I was authorized to go spend Thanksgiving with them, and watched the Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions play. For Wright-Patt in Ohio, in ’75, we drove home and visited with family. When I was serving unaccompanied in the Philippines in 1976, my co-workers invited me to their house, and I had a great time. Paying it back, my wife and I often included single or unaccompanied personnel in our T-day celebrations.
  12. Memories stack up by bases and countries: Onizuka in California, Kadena on Okinawa, Rhein-Main in Germany, Osan in Korea, Randolph in Texas. When we were stationed at Shaw AFB in South Carolina in 1985, we headed north three hundred miles to my wife’s family in WV. A few hundred more miles, and we were at my mother’s place in Pittsburgh, PA. When I retired and we lived in Half Moon Bay, we joined in large Friendsgiving celebrations, just as we’ve mostly done here in Ashland.
  13. All of these places and years are memorable, though; all of them. They were different places, different people, and different experiences, but all enriched my existence.
  14. Need more coffee, as it’s time to write like crazy, at least one more time. Have four scenes circling in my head. Time for them to land on a page. Have a better one, and please wear a mask.

Tuesday’s Theme Music

I went with an old familiar from David Bowie and Queen today. Queen’s Freddie Mercury is gone, along with David Bowie, unnecessary reminders about our final destinations.

They made their marks, though. Thanks to technology, solace can be had by listening to their performances again and again.

As today is election day in the USA (prompting some mental hearing of Alice Cooper and their song, “Elected”), but “Under Pressure” (released in 1981) seems more of a fit. Sadly, that’s because Trump and his followers, abetted by the GOP, are working hard to create obstacles for this civic duty. Once upon a day, the United States had low turnout but the elections themselves were flawlessly executed. A lot of that changed with the hanging chads debacle in Florida in 2000. At least, such is where it seems to start in my mind, as the SCOTUS was called upon to interpret state laws, halt the recount, and declare a winner. Since then, campaigning and elections have become more contentious in the USA.

The nature of Trump’s campaigning and the attributes of his base have added to the pressure. Trump wants votes to not be counted, squalling like an infant over cheating that doesn’t exist, threatening to challenge results in court beforehand, obviously attempting to intimidate voters. Gun and ammo sales are up. The FBI is warning of the threat of violence from armed Trump supporters.

More pressure yet comes from COVID-19. Again, politics are in play. Republican led states are leading as COVID-19 cases climb. As cases climb, hospitals fill, but our healthcare system under greater and greater pressure.

That pressure comes atop the economic pressure instilled by necessary measures to flatter the curve. Experts consistently warned that a sizeable chunk of the US population is working poor, without emergency savings, living from paycheck to paycheck. All that was swept under the rug. Now, coronavirus has curtailed the service and consumer economy, and people are under pressure to have enough money to pay the rent and buy food.

Yeah, it’s a mess. All of that is just a tiny fraction of the mess we’re in – so many things weren’t mentioned because I didn’t want to go too ranty before my coffee – but it all adds to the pressure that we face in the United States, part of the pressure we’re facing in the world, making the Queen/David Bowie song “Under Pressure” my choice for today’s theme music.

Now I need to go see a machine about some coffee. Cheers

Monday Miscellany

  1. Dreamed that I was concerned about a young cat. Young, I was busy working somewhere. Constantly watching over it, I kept worrying about it having food, enough to eat, and being safe. In an odd moment in the dream, as I turned to go down a hallway and check on the cat, I thought, the cat is me. Strange dream moment. The entire dream had a quality of peeking into a different version of my existence.
  2. In the same dream, interspersed with my concerns about the cat, my cousin, Rick was planning to take me to meet his son, Danny. Like a recurring gag, Rick would appear and ask me when I was ready to go. I’d be blank: “Go where?” Then I would remember, “Oh, that’s right, to go meet…” Then I’d blank on the name and he would supply, “Danny.” Once best friends, I haven’t seen this cousin in over twenty years. We drifted into different directions, as they say. He had a son who I’ve never seen. I don’t recall the son’s name. He divorced that young woman within months of her giving birth to his son. I don’t know what all this means.
  3. An Uber self-driving car has killed someone. Uber isn’t being charged. Thinking, shades of Isaac Asimov, I conjured a story where a person is set up to be killed by a self-driving car.
  4. My wife was reading about “Death Wish” coffee. She thinks it might be a coffee that speaks to me. She reading aloud some hilarious Amazon reviews. “I bought this to keep me alert and focused at work. By my second cup I no longer needed a keyboard or mouse, as I was able to control my computer directly by thought. By the third cup I could hear colors and smell sounds. After my fourth cup, I decided to burn off some of the excess energy with a quick jog, and ended up finishing the Kessel Run in 11 parsecs flat!” Another: “Dear Death Wish, I just tried your coffee after receiving it the other day. I always start my day with about 4 cups so I thought, “Eh, why not”. After about the 3d cup I decided to start that kitchen demolition I had been wanting to do. But I forgot to turn off the water beforehand. Then I thought, “Eh, I always wanted an indoor pool”. Then I thought I should cut a hole in the roof to accommodate a skylight for the pool. Everything is going to plan but I need more coffee now. I need to start on installing the diving board.”
  5. Some serious crazy is seeping out of the GOP. Renea Turner calls herself “Trump in a skirt”. (I wonder if she grabs men by their peckers?) A woman who ran as a write-in candidate against Ohio Governor Mike DeWine in 2018, she declared herself governor of the state because she’s decided that DeWine overstepped his legal authority. She’s been implicated in a plot to kidnap and prosecute Gov. DeWine. This is at least the second such plot against a governor revealed in the last thirty days.
  6. We heard about twenty-three year-old Ryquell Armstead this weekend. Who is he? A professional running back with the Jacksonville Jaguars, he’s been out with COVID-19 the entire season. Quoting ESPN.com, “Armstead has been hospitalized twice and has suffered from a variety of complications connected to the virus, including significant respiratory issues, and has been hit harder than some expected.” That’s the issue with COVID-19: you don’t know how it will affect you. He is Black, and we know that Blacks are more susceptible, but he’s also young, and a trained athlete. It’s scary what the virus can do. He’s expected to recover and play next but the obvious caveat is that he was never expected to be out this long and have the complications that he’s experienced. As former New Jersey governor Chris Christie discovered, having COVID-19 can be a painful and exhausting experience, even if you survive. He, who did not wear masks all the times, is now a convert and urges, “Wear a mask.” I agree.
  7. My fiction writing continues to come along but it’s fitful process. As noted before, I miss the structure I created with my routines. I also miss the solitude said routines created, along with the stimulation caused by casual contacts. But I persevere because I’m stupid that way, and the tale that I’m discovering continues to entertain me. Time passes so swiftly each day, though. I find myself wondering what happened to the hours. Got my coffee, though, so it’s time to write like crazy, at least one more time.

Seven Things Saturday

  1. We were out walking and encountered a rafter of wild turkeys. We have a few rafters in Ashland. We rarely come across them on our end of town. Encountering these smart birds is usually entertaining. Most rafters are eleven to seventeen birds in our area.
  2. This rafter was checking out the electric bikes available for rent. I imagined the turkeys were saying, “Hey, I’m tired of walking. Let’s rent some bikes.” Another replied, “I don’t see why not. I don’t see rule against turkeys anywhere on the rules.” “Cool. Does anyone have a phone? We need to use an app.” None did, ending their idea before it started.
  3. I recommend a show called “Staged” if you can watch it. It’s David Tennant and Michael Sheen as themselves. In theory, they’re rehearsing a play online during the COVID-19 lockdown. What we see are two experienced, celebrated adult film and television stars coping with the situation. The remaining cast is excellent, as are guest stars like Adrian Lester, Judi Dench, and Samuel L. Jackson. We caught it on Hulu. Sadly, there are but six episodes. My wife wants to watch it again. Good fun.
  4. My friends are circulating an email speculating how dinosaurs reproduced. It’s entertaining stuff to read. Ever imagine how big a dinosaur’s anus must be? Well, I immediately thought of the blue whale. If you watch “QI”, you know exactly why.
  5. That’s one of many emails being circulated by the same group of friends, my beer-drinking bodies. Emails about Osiris-Rex landing on Bennu and grabbing a soil sample also flew, along with the usual stuff about local politics, humor, and super-conductivity being achieved at room temperature.
  6. Active COVID-19 are increasing around the world. The US set a new daily high with 83,000 plus. Mortality is down, but hospitalizations are on the rise again. Please wear a mask and practice distancing. I know it’s hard but you’ll be happier in the end. Don’t believe me; check out recent pieces about the Stockdale Syndrome (“Have faith but face reality”).
  7. Had blood drawn as part of the annual process. Glyco-Hemoglobin A1C and Comprehensive Metabolic Panel. All looked although sodium remains stubbornly high. Good news, right?
  8. I may have driven the skunk away. It’s a bittersweet thing and still early days. First, I propped a board against the vent so that if the skunk left, I’d know. Second, I shook the house with Led Zeppelin II. Third, I then installed a boom box on max volume in the crawl space and played it for hours. We’ll see.

Yes, I know that was eight, contrary to the post title. Just call it a bonus.

Saturday’s Theme Music

A 1980s power ballad burst into my head this morning. I was a little lethargic getting up. Not really looking forward to the day.

Seems like I’m in a rut. I don’t think I’m alone in that self-appraisal, not just in the U.S., but in many parts beyond our coastlines.

A large part of my malaise is the novel coronavirus who dances under several names, but most frequently appears as COVID-19. “Winter is coming,” George R.R. Martin has Ned Stark warning us. Up here in the northern climes, the daylight period is falling shorter. Night hangs on a little longer. With an overcast day like this one, there’s no daylight, just a pale grey nothingness to the sky.

I long for my old, comfortable routines. Man, am I a person of habit. I used to be flexible and adapt, but as I’ve aged, my processes have ossified. Change comes hard.

Different songs about change and attitude set the background to my dream reflections and morning routines, but then an absolutely obstinate cat – we call him Boo – crystallized the choice.

Here’s “Never Surrender” by Corey Hart (1985). For Boo.

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