Saturday’s Theme Music

The cats, my wife, and I agree, it’s pretty outside today. Take spring greenery and sunshine. Splash some gray and white clouds against the sky. Load up a brush with snowy white and slather across the land. Result: a snowy and sunny late winter day. That’s despite a temperature floating around 37 degrees F.

It happened abruptly. I let Boo the Bedroom Panther out at 10 PM. I let him back in at 10:15. There wasn’t any snow in evidence at that time, your honor. Thirty minutes later, my wife announces she’s going to bed to read, and why is it so bright outside? Ah, snow.

Today is March 6, 2021, a Saturday. Solrise was at 6:38 AM. Soldrop will be at 6:07 PM in southern Oregon. For those of you who collect days, you know that this is a unique one. There will never be a day like this again. For some reason, that prompted the Wayback Machine to spooled up some Talking Heads.

Same as it ever was…
Same as it ever was…
Same as it ever was…
Look where my hand was
Time isn’t holding up
Time is an asterisk
Same as it ever was…

h/t to DavidByrne.com

Well, Jill D. contributed to this thinking with her post, The Rich Get Richer While The Poor … | Filosofa’s Word (jilldennison.com). “Once In A Lifetime”, circa 1981, will stick to yer ribs.

Remember, stay positive, test negative, wear a mask, and get the vax. Cheers

Thursday Thoughts

  1. My cousin, Glenn Seidel, passed away, ending his cancer fight. A genuine nice, caring person, his death is one that makes you question life’s mechanics. I wish he’d never suffered cancer; he’d watched his mother and younger sister fall to cancer. It’s good that he’s no longer suffering, though. Watching the suffering, unable to do more than mouth platitudes, is the struggle for me when a friend, relative, or pet is suffering and dying. No, it’s not about me; the survivors always mourn. It’s about what he — what they all — went through before reaching the point of death. Here’s to Glenn.
  2. Weather is on my mind. We’re contemplating a move east. Why? Summer weather here in southern Oregon has become a litany of summer suffering: wildfires, or smoke from wildfires suspend or kill activities and travel. Drought requires water restrictions, which is enforced via capitalism: if you have the money, you can buy the water. Depressing, right? But our winter is comfortable, remarkably snow free and freezing free. Moving east to Ohio or PA would mean plunging into that stuff.
  3. Watching Texas suffer from lack of planning for cold weather brings deep sighs of frustration. Save some pennies, increase profits, but when the shit hits, you’re wickedly unprepared. It’s sadly now the GOP way. Yet that ‘save some pennies, increase profits’ mantra holds fast against critical thinking. It’s always the poorest classes who suffer most, of course.
  4. Since I’m on politics, will the righteous right-wing notice that President Biden, a Democrat, immediately reached out to help states, whether they’re ‘red’ or ‘blue’? Doubtful that they’ll notice; doubtful that they’ll remember. Yes, experiencing a strong cynical streak today.
  5. We worry about the animals along with people, you know? We hope the animals are warm and safe, too. The logical response is, this is life; suffering is inculcated as part of the formula. Death is a natural ending. Still, I hope for the best. Guess I’m an unrepentant optimist.
  6. Writing (knock on wood) continues going well, which continues to scare me. There’s a burst of jubilation as a major chapter is completed. After a pause of reflection, anxiety strikes as I face the ever-present, ever-daunting question, what next? That question always pulls me back into the puzzle that’s called writing a novel.
  7. I’m watching more foreign television shows that are in their native languages. I run in place and watch television to wind down at the day’s conclusion. Usually do two to three miles between 10:30 PM and midnight. Bad dubbing draws cringes and winces, which are disruptions to the entertainment. Don’t need it. Instead, I watch television in German, Icelandic, Norwegian, French, etc., eyes glued to the captions. We like how characters appear in television from other countries. Characters in the U.S. TV land are typically pretty people with pleasant lives and mild challenges to their principles and decisions. Typically, matters are quickly resolved, with little complications. There are exceptions. The characters in stories in other nations are less pretty, less glamorous, and more natural. Yes, they’re more like me. Fortunately, watching foreign television seems to be a growing streaming trend. A great selection is available.
  8. One exception in U.S. television that I continue to admire is “The Wire”. Watching it for the second time, finishing season four, the levels of excellence in production values, acting, character development, plots, and story arcs all still impress me. It’s been several years since I first watched it, yet so many of the people and story-lines remain memorable. It’s a gritty show, but you end up rooting and crying for so many.
  9. Finished reading/read six books last week. I’m mastering the jogging-in-place-while-reading process. Five of the books were fiction, the other was non-fiction. Reading does enhance/intensify my writing process. Hungry for more books now. One is on hold at the library, so I need to head that way, but also research more to add to my list. I’m reading mostly crime and speculative fiction while I’m writing my science fiction/speculative fiction novel.
  10. With running in place augmenting my walking and other exercise, my 28-day average remains over 12, coming in at 12.41 for this cycle, with a best day of 14 on February 7.
  11. It’s raining outside. My cats are in and asleep. One sleeps on my feet as I type, keeping me warm with his weight. Another is in the foyer, curled up on the bench, a paw over his eyes. The third is stretched out on the guest bed like a ginger throw. Their presence and the knowledge that they’re safe and comfortable reassures me against awareness of the world’s pain.
  12. Now, time to go eat lunch. Then it’s back to writing like crazy, at least one more time. Stay safe, please. Cheers

Thursday’s Theme Music

Hello, and welcome to this edition of Thursday. Today’s date is February 18, 2021. The temperature is 39 degrees F under sporadic rain, a vast difference from yesterday’s sunny disposition. The sunrise was at 7:03 AM while sunset is expected at 5:47 PM in Ashland. You know that means we’re moving closer to springing ahead, right?

We’re not enduring those horrible winter storms challenging most of the nation. We stayed too warm due to some weather system off of Oregon’s coast. It doesn’t save anything north of Eugene. Up there, they’ve been battered. Move east, the storm managed to sweep down over the plain states and invade Texas. Those proud Texans are asking for help. Some, like elected officials such as Mayor Tim Boyd of Colorado City, and Senator Ted Cruz, don’t particularly care. They could be wearing Melania’s infamous, “I Don’t Care Do You?” jacket.

Boyd told people without water to “think outside the box to survive” and called people waiting in the cold because they have no power “lazy” – even as authorities were telling people to stay home to avoid icy roads.

“Bottom line quit crying and looking for a handout!!” he said, before finishing off his message in capital letters,”DONT [be] PART OF PROBLEM, BE A PART OF THE SOLUTION!!”‘

That’s leadership. Meanwhile, Ted Cruz, demonstrating his concern, flew to Cancun.

Today’s song choice is “Glory Days”, a 1985 Bruce Springsteen offering. Glory days is an affliction that affect many as they peak at an early age and then continue to tell stories about who they once were, and what they did. I was thinking of it because I wondered if the United States was afflicted by glory days, telling about what we once did as the nation falls apart. Hope you enjoy the music. Remember, stay warm, positive, and safe, and test negative.

Tuesday’s Theme Music

Look at this: Sunrise: 7:30 AM. Sunset: 5:18 PM.

We’re squirting toward ten hours of sunlight here in Ashland, Oregon. The delta has become just twelve minutes. Twelve minutes. At this rate, we’ll have ten hours of sunlight by the end of January. That, my friends, is progress.

Yeah, I’m a sunlight fan.

We could use more sunlight today but stormy clouds have paraded in. The clouds brought a sharp wind as their plus one. Present temp is a chilly 31 F, which feels like colder. Today’s high will be 39, so no relief. Still, we’re faring better than places where single digits or piles of snow reign.

Today’s song, “Last Nite” by The Strokes, came out while the century was still young, 2001. Sweet and young, the new century was naive and combative, as the 2000 election showed. We’ve been fighting ever since.

How does “Last Nite” fit in? It’s all about understanding, innit? Don’t know if you recall/are familiar with “Last Nite”, so let’s paste in some lyrics, courtesy of Genius.com.

And say, people, they don’t understand
No, girlfriends, they can’t understand
Your grandsons, they won’t understand
On top of this, I ain’t ever gonna understand

Which sums up a lot going on in U.S. politics to me, which is how the song got into my head this AM. I was thinking about how people don’t understand one another. We took about it a lot. How can anyone trust Trump? He’s a proven liar and failed businessman. I don’t understand. Meanwhile, over on the spectrum’s other end, they’ve been yelling, Trump tells it like it is. The left doesn’t understand. But, but, but, how he’s telling it are lies and bullshit. I don’t understand why they don’t see that.

Stay positive — I know, it’s hard — test negative, wear a mask, get vaccinated, and persevere. The list keeps growing.

Here’s the music.

Saturday’s Theme Music

A new Saturday has arrived. (Momentarily, The Who sing, “Meet the new Saturday, same as the old Saturday… I haven’t had my coffee. Forgive me.)

Sunset came at 7:35 AM and we expect sunset at 5:14 PM here in Ashland. It’s rained through the night and morning, leaving us with gray clouds competing with blue skies and a 37 degree F temperature. The low temp is going to be 29 and the high is expected at 48 on this 23rd day of January, 2021.

Today’s music is “Torn” as covered by Natalie Imbruglia in 1997. First, a side note: some female co-workers in 1997 really disliked “Torn”. “She’s lying naked on the floor,” one would say with vehemence. “That’s disgusting.” She didn’t think about the song and that symbolism; lying naked on the floor was too much.

Reading about QAnon members reaction to President Biden being sworn in last night after Biden’s predecessor went into hiding in Florida, those conspiracists seemed torn about what was going on. Many were asking, “What’s going on? I don’t understand?” Others, with anger displayed in caps and multiple exclamation points and sharply chosen hateful words, were torn with emotions, claiming they’d been betrayed. Others tried calming them down by urging patience because there’s more to come.

Myself, I was torn about getting out of bed this morning. Caught in that wondrous place where I’m neither fully asleep nor awake, moving seemed like a gross violation of the moment, never mind leaving the warm bed. But the cats, torn about fighting one another, jumping on me, and pawing on the pet door to be let out, finally made me open my eyes and worm out of sleep.

Stay positive, test negative, wear a mask, and get a vaccine, if you haven’t already. Here’s the music.

Wednesday’s Theme Music

Today is January 20, 2021, a Wednesday. Sunrise was at 7:34 AM and sunrise is coming at 5:10 PM. Between them, the weather looks hazier than yesterday but still sunny. It’s currently 34 degrees F but we expect warmer.

Congratulations to President Joe Biden, forty-sixth POTUS, and Vice-President Kamela Harris. The inauguration ceremonies in D.C. were on the television at the same time as my wife’s Zoomercise class. There’s usually seventy to eighty people present; today there were twenty-eight. The rest were off watching the inauguration, we suspect. My wife exercised but kept the television on to hear President Biden’s speech and the Vice-President’s speech, and the rest of the pomp.

I walked two miles yesterday in the late afternoon, masking when I encountered people but trying to stay to routes that let me avoid them. Going up allowed me the privilege of gazing across the valley to where sunshine bathed green and brown hills, evidence that we’re creeping out of winter and toward spring. An Oasis song from 1996, “Don’t Look Back in Anger”, came to mind and stayed with me. I thought that it should be today’s theme music.

Slip inside the eye of your mind
Don’t you know you might find
A better place to play
You said that you’d never been
But all the things that you’ve seen
Will slowly fade away

So I start a revolution from my bed
‘Cause you said the brains I had went to my head
Step outside, summertime’s in bloom
Stand up beside the fireplace
Take that look from off your face
You ain’t ever gonna burn my heart out

h/t AZLyrics.com

Stay positive, test negative. Wear a mask. Get the vaccine, and lean forward.

Monday’s Meatballs

  1. My wife is feeling guilty. I’m a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. Because I live in Oregon now, I’ve also adopted the Seattle Seahawks to watch. That’s mostly because their games are frequently broadcast in the area (wonder why…). Anyway, back when Russ was cooking and the Steelers were 11-0, my wife started cheering for the two teams. Everything went downhill from there… She blames herself. Doesn’t help that she’s also a Patrick Mahomes fan. She was cheering for him. Then yesterday, during the playoffs, he hits the ground and is concussed and out. Yes, she blames herself. Says its bad luck for her to cheer for any team or person. Hmmm…maybe she should stop rooting for me to get published…
  2. Got a message from a FB friend. I didn’t know the name. Message just said, “Hi.” I thought, bull; you’re not my friend. I checked their FB page. Nothing there, you know, except a photo who I think is Paul Hollywood from a few years ago.
  3. We’ve been receiving spates of calls from our area code. They’re numbers that we don’t recognize. From years of conditioning, we don’t answer the phone unless we know the number. Going further, I’ve assigned family members specific ringtones so I know it’s them when the phone rings. When we check out these numbers doing reverse look up, they often turn out to be foreign numbers. They seem to be linked to a new scam going around.
  4. It seems like there’s a new scam on the phone, net, or in politics every week.
  5. Speaking of politics, I’m not going to write about it. I’m weary of this mess that’s arisen in the U.S. with normal people believing outlandish things. Then there’s the things that outlandish people believe. They really stretch sanity’s perimeters. I think such people are searching for a force to give their lives meaning. I do the same with my writing (and posting). It’s a structure for my existence; I wouldn’t be surprised if their deep hold on crazy ideas and its supporting community (or tribe) isn’t the same for them.
  6. This week’s soup is again the root soup — roasted broccoli, carrots, potatoes, and garlic put into a mushroom broth and simmered with seasoning. Awesome for winter. Just add good bread.
  7. We picked up some VitaCup infused coffee on sale during a ninja shopping venture last week. We’re both surprised how good this turmeric and cinnamon coffee concoction is. It’s become our go-to choice. That’s especially startling for me; I’ve always been a French or Italian roast sort of person, dark with no sugar, cream, milk, etc. I will acknowledge that I was/am a mocha drinker. When I did them, it was four shots of espresso, then add a little chocolate, and steamed milk. Quit doing those; bad for my prostate.
  8. Still averaging twelve miles per day walking, according to Fitbit. I’m dubious.
  9. Over in streamland, we’re enjoying “Snowpiercer” (the series) and “Doom Patrol”. Both are on HBO Max. I especially like “Snowpiercer” as it fleshes out things in better ways than the movie did. I’m a train fan, and this idea appeals to my sci-fi infused imagination.
  10. On WordPress, it always bugs me that when Post comes up on the right, there is a red button that says, “Move to trash”. It’s like they’re making a suggestion about what I’m writing to post, you know?
  11. I’m also watching “The Wire” again. Been years since I’ve seen it but the characters (and actors), storylines, and plots (and twists) all remain clear in memory. I still enjoy it because it has great values and terrific acting. The characters all have sharp human edges and avoid being stereotypes (although McNulty is pretty close to one as a functioning alcoholic who cares), and we care about them all, good people and bad.
  12. Got my coffee (yes, it’s the infused stuff). Time to write like crazy, at least one more time. Almost ready for the characters to put Arsehold into the rearview mirror. Fingers crossed, you know?

Monday’s Theme Music

Monday in Ashland arrived with thin but all-encompassing fog and a thermostat hovering around 37 F. Sunrise was at 7:39 AM, evidenced by growing light but no visible sun. We’ll see if it shows before sunset, expected at 5:04 PM.

Looking out at the fog, I thought about what a gray day it was. No immediate gray songs leaped into the mental stream, but the 1978 Foreigner song, “Blue Morning, Blue Day”, filled the space. This song about lovers growing apart doesn’t fit anything about today, unless I stretch it as a metaphor for the United States and its political positions growing apart. Or, taking it further, I can apply it to a growing gap between the U.S. and the rest of the world. Or — stay with me here — the song can be about people losing touch with reality, getting swept out of their heads by conspiracy theories.

Naw, doesn’t really work. It’s just about lovers.

Still, the song is in me head, so I’m putting it out to you. Be positive, even when the weather is gray and cold, test negative, and wear a mask, now more than ever as these COVID-19 variants rise and spread. Hey, that’s an intriguing book title: Rise of the Variants. Someone should go write it.

Here’s the music.

Friday’s Theme Music

Todays sunrise in Ashland, OR, was 7:40 AM. Sunset is 5:04 PM. A light gray overcast sky keeps the sunshine at bay. The temperature is 42 degrees F but a high of 56 is projected, along with light rain.

Today’s theme music is “Animal I Have Become” by Three Days Grace, 2006. I chose the music on behalf of the United States and the nation that it’s become. Torn by division, rhetoric and activity turns more violent and urgent. As blacks have been killed by police, people took to the streets to protest the deaths. Many of them were senseless, but officers were exonerated. Several particularly infuriating people, like Breonna Taylor, unarmed, in bed, innocent of everything but being black, killed by police in their zest to ‘serve and protect’. There was also George Floyd, killed by an officer who was busy serving and protecting, by kneeling on his neck until he died while his fellow officers, serving and protecting, looked on. This was apparently for a report of a crime of passing a counterfeit twenty dollar bill. Numbingly, those are just two examples that fueled the anger and protests that swept the nation on behalf of justice in 2020.

Meanwhile, on the right, they got busy protesting those protests, screaming in response, “Blue Lives Matter”. That blue lives really didn’t matter to them became apparent (as if we weren’t sure) as Trump supporters, who are quite right wing, conservative, and white supremacists, battled with the police in support of a coup attempt, beating many police officers, killing one. On the right, they believe that the 2020 election was stolen by ‘the left’. They think that there was all sorts of fraud, uncounted ballots, and thrice counted ballots that helped propel Biden to his landslide (in Trump’s words, as Biden won the EC by the same number as Trump did in 2016). Trump himself, and GOP cohorts, continue feeding this lie. They insist that evidence exists.

This evidence has never been shown.

On the right, they claim the evidence will be shown, and we’ll all change our tune. What’s keeping them from showing this evidence anywhere is the response given by the rest of us.

One note that has everyone (outside of the people who believe that the 2020 election as stolen) shaking their heads, is why would this all-powerful election-stealing apparatus only steal the presidential election? Why would they not steal the Senate and House? Why wouldn’t they also steal the state elections? They use the same ballots. Apparently, though, while the right believes this election-stealing apparatus is all-powerful, it’s not powerful enough to steal those elections. Yeah, SMFH.

With Trump impeached again, Trump unwilling to concede, little change to police policies and practices, and FBI reports that the right have violent plans to change the results of the 2020 election, “Animal I Have Become”, a song about a man struggling with drug addiction, seems right.

On a WordPress note, they appeared to have fixed some issues, in my experience. The site published properly yesterday. Of course, today when I went to post, I couldn’t bring up a page. Took three tries, and the whole ‘post/block’ sidebar had vanished and needed to be called up.

Stay positive, test negative, moderate your drinking, and wear pants (and a mask) when appropriate. Cheers

Stuck In Arsehold

I was stuck in Arsehold for the last two weeks. You may have experienced the same.

I’ve been writing a novel while locked away. That’s not so different from my normal life, where I’m always working on a novel. Many people think I’m working on one novel forever and a day, but I’ve finished many. I shrug them off; I enjoy novel writing.

I think under ordinary circumstances, this would have been finished a few months ago. These aren’t normal times, at least for me. I’m assuming a lot with those words. It’s sadly probably normal for quite a few people to stay locked up in one place, with limited contact for other people. I think of prisons. Nursing homes. Hospitals. Yeah, getting downright depressing, isn’t it?

Some say that such solitude is a gift. I’m not one. While I’m a solitary person, I like outside stimulation. (Sounds a bit naughty, doesn’t it?) Like to walk to clear my mind, shift into writing mode, and slip into the noisy solitude of a good cuppa coffee in a coffee shop, hunch over my laptop, and tap away.

All that normal-for-me isn’t available now. Coronavirus lockdown, you know. Although I have coffee and space, I also have wife and cats. They struggle with my writing boundaries. My wife tries respecting them, but news of the world sets her off. I also don’t try enforcing my isolation with her, as she’s in the same situation as me. She’s much more verbal, however, and craves other contact. While she’s dancing and exercising Monday through Friday via Zoom, and meets with her book club once a month with Zoom, and Zooms into a coffee klatch almost every week, she likes expressing her opinions and insights vigorously and out loud. There’s usually a lot of swearing involved, too. She’s quite passionate about social justice, equality, human rights, and women’s rights. She also hates Trump and has little respect for most other Republicans. So I try to indulge, but then I suffer. Either way, one of us must suffer in our situation. We get over it, but it’s not ideal.

The cats, however, don’t give a damn that I’m writing, reading, playing a game, sleeping, eating, showering, or sitting on the toilet. Three cats share ownership over me. They have their own secret agendas, which surprisingly, often involves me. Part of that is which cat owns the most of me, and whether that’s acceptable to the other cats.

Between wife, news of the world, the coming and going of the muses, and the cats, novel writing progress has been uneven.

But I persevere. Sometimes, the worse interruption is by me to myself. Self-doubt. Imposter syndrome. General malaise. It struck hardest in Arsehold.

Arsehold is a place in my novel, wholly made up. I came up with the name months ago, a whim that made me laugh. I stuck with it, creating the setting around the name, devising the history of how it came to be. Yet, my characters struggled to get through Arsehold. I naturally responded, per my proclivities, to overanalyze what was going on and why, attempting to seek the root of my issues. I thought it might be the general tone. Perhaps some of the introduced characters weren’t clear enough. Maybe, maybe my characters shouldn’t be in Arsehold. And what happens after Arsehold?

Writing helps me think by creating a funnel through which I must focus. With all this mental flaying, I did a lot of writing about the novel in progress, addressing the concept, characters, story, plot, locations and settings, etc. Eventually, I took all the assembled material of the novel in progress, one hundred twenty-five thousand words, and began reading, editing, and revising, putting the story into the order that I think it’ll be in published form.

That helped. By the time I’d reached Arsehold (almost sounds like a song lyric — I can hear CCR doing stuck in Arsehold instead of Lodi), I’d discovered that the errors that I thought I was seeing weren’t there. It always scares me to think or say, hey, this is pretty damn good, about what I’m writing, but that’s what I concluded. Of course, it’s my work; if I didn’t think it was good, maybe I should be working on something else, right?

Anyway, I think I might get through Arsehold this week (knock on wood, he said, tapping the side of his head). Got my coffee; time to write like crazy, at least one more time.

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