Now that I’m dispensing financial advice to your detriment, gentle reader, I want to let you know in on a little secret I learned back in the old days, before the macarenavirus, when my son and I could freely travel to the YMCA for a triathlon class in advance of a triathlon sure to be canceled now.
After class, we went to the vending machines to get a Gatorade. The price listed on the machine said $1.50, and it had a credit card reader, so I used the credit card to buy a couple of drinks.
When I checked the credit card statement, I had a pair of charges for $1.60. When I checked the machines again, I saw the fine print: The price reflects a ten cent discount for using cash.
Well! I never! Well, no, I rather too often!
So I have decided that I’m going to save that ten cents each drink and pay with cash from now on.
One thing to note about me is that I don’t tend to carry coins out of my house. We have a little mite box for the Lutheran Women Missionary League, a little receptacle for change that you can bring, once a month, to church and dump into a larger box. So whatever change I accumulate in my pockets goes in there when I unpack for the evening.
Now I do try to generally be frugal with my pocket money as I will, if given the opportunity, stuff it into some collection plate or another. So I get a twenty out of the ATM once or twice a week, and then I promptly stop by the doughnut store. As a matter of fact, I tend to get that twenty just to buy doughnuts. My order comes to $4.76, and the proprietor gives me a quarter and three fives in change. If I have a dollar, I’ll tuck it in the tip cup. If not, sometimes I tuck in a five (a tip jar is a sort of personal collection plate, ainna?).
So when I get to the YMCA, I have a wallet full of five dollar bills. Two of the machines dispensing Gatorades do not take five dollar bills (apparently, the only “cash” allowed is coins or one dollar bills). One of them does, though, and we get a Gatorade and change paid out in three Sacajawea dollars and two quarters. Two quarters and a Sacajawea buy the other, and I have two dollars left.
Two dollars in coins.
You already know what happens next: I get home and put the change into the Mite Box.
So I’ve essentially spent two dollars to save twenty cents.
This is the next Executioner novel after Payback Game. The series has started to move between international thrillers and the more basic Bolan-against-the-mobs plots, with this one featuring Bolan in New York City fighting both sides of a drug turf war between Vietnamese gangs which include re-settled warriors from the Vietnam War whom Bolan knows and Columbians.
So, shoot-em-up set pieces which are not laughable. Some helpful sympathetic characters die. Some live. There’s a bit of innovation on how he penetrates the enemy stronghold at the end. So not a bad outing in the series, but not one of the more inventive ones.
Still, now that I am almost done with the Little House books, I’m starting to wonder how long it would take me to go through the remainder of the Executioner novels I own. Probably, with effort, years. So I will probably plug along at a little slower than that and maybe make it in a decade or so.
Another thing that struck me whilst reading this book is how little the titles have to do with the plot. It used to be that they had a place name in them that made for an indicator, at the very least, of where Bolan was going so that maybe, if you paid attention or were a Bolan scholar, you would know which plot goes with which book. But less so now.
An ad that appears often on sites that know how to thwart (or pay off) my ad blocker:
I haven’t watched the video to see whether it is a yoga thing or not, but I am pretty sure that I’ll not look as eye-catching and clickable as the ladies in the ads if I do any kind of stretch you would find on the Internet.
Time will tell, though, as I got my beautiful wife who favors yoga pants gift certificates to the local yoga shop for her birthday, and someday when the air is clear again, we shall use them.
In the interim, though, I’ll be doing her bidding in the garden and getting the back pain that I’ll need to cure.
I predicted even before the macarenavirus troubles began that a dying time was coming. As you know, gentle reader, my aunt and godmother died on Thanksgiving. Her illness and the age of the previous generation led me to my unhappy musings.
Yesterday, the best man at my wedding died of a drug overdose.
I had met Mike in high school where he was a year behind me. We had a Spanish class for a year and got to be acquaintances. When I went away to the university, Mike was one of the people to whom I wrote (letters, not emails, as I am far older than most people who use you.regettingold.om). We shared an interest in poetry and exchanged poems (printed on computer paper as we did have computers back then, you damn kids, but not the Internet, really). When I came back on break my senior year, we did coffee house open mic nights and poetry slams together, and we did that throughout the middle 1990s along with some roleplaying games and trips to GenCon.
We started parting ways toward the end of the 1990s. I got a girlfriend, and he got married, and although the house I rented with my new bride was only a couple blocks from his, we didn’t see each other as much because we were married men or something. He wasn’t even my first choice for best man; I think I slotted him for second runner up or usher, but when my first choice for best man decided he could not, in good conscience, stand at my wedding (and another groom’s man stopped talking to me), I gave him a battlefield promotion to best man. And he did it well.
We didn’t drift apart after that; sometime after I moved out to Casinoport, he stopped returning my phone calls. The last time I reached out to him was November 2000, when I left a message in Spanish on his machine (voice mail was on tape recorders or locally hosted computer chips back then, gentle reader) to invite him to go see Bedazzled. He never called back.
Although I would have called him my best friend back then, in retrospect I’m not sure how good of a friend he really was. He was, erm, good with the ladies. He was handsome, smart, athletic, and appeared to have self-confidence in bunches. So, yeah, he was with a lot of ladies, including a number of women in whom I was interested and told him so. He used drugs and kept that hidden from me because he knew I would disapprove. He definitely showed me what he thought I would approve of, so I’m not sure who he was.
He called me up in early 2008. A mutual friend, the other of my groom’s men who bailed on me over a philosophical argument of some sort, had reached out to him after a decade, which prompted him to call me to apologize for the break in our friendship. He told me that, back in the day, I was such an ass that he would have to tell other people before meeting me that I was an ass and that he got tired of having to warn people about me. He told me a bit of what he was up to, but he never asked me anything about how I was or what I was doing. I was an executive downtown, and we had a baby, and I lived in Old Trees, not far from one of his obsessive flames and one of my crushes (two different people) that he slept with lived. I was bursting to tell him if he asked or if he even seemed interested, but the call was about him, not me.
So the fellow who was to be my groom’s man but stormed off after the philosophical argument reached out to me yesterday to let me know that Mike had passed. I understand he had substance abuse and mental health issues that followed him into middle age. That he pushed away most of his remaining friends. I was just talking about him with my wife not long ago, but I hadn’t felt compelled to reach out to him.
The service is on Thursday night, but it’s in St. Louis, so I won’t make it. It’s funny, for someone I haven’t talked to in a long time how this has affected me. Perhaps because I thought we were such good friends once, but I was later not sure (so, Brian J., why don’t you trust anyone, including your own judgment in people?). Maybe because he was a peer and one of the first of my youth cohort to die that I’m aware of. I don’t know.
Sadly, so many of these death posts are about how I feel about it and not a roaring tribute to the deceased. But I am an egotist and a recovering ass, so it’s par for the course.
One of the most memorable scenes from The Peanuts Movie (2015) was where Snoopy imagines himself riding his flying doghouse in his quest to take down the Red Baron. Now you can have the chance to see this iconic scene in real life with this flying Snoopy doghouse. It features the figure of Snoopy sitting on top of his red doghouse. But the most amazing thing is, it actually flies.
The source, you see, is a five-year-old movie for kids. Not the comic strip that began in 1950. That’s when the Boomers were babies, man. Ancient history with Romans and stuff.
Nobody tell this kid about the 1966 Royal Kingsmen song.
I own the original single as my mother was of single-buying age in 1966.
(Link via Instapundit which only seems to be the only site on the Internet that I read.)
Wally lived in the projects at the other end of the block from us, but he would shamble down 40th Street a couple times a day, probably on the way to the grocery, drug store, or liquor store on Florist. He was ancient to those of us under ten years old. He had white hair and no teeth, and he moved slowly. I was never sure if he was infirm or intoxicated, but he would always happily comply when a group of children would surround him and request his rendition of “Tiny Bubbles”.
I was talking to my brother a couple weeks ago, and he mentioned that Wally served in World War I. Doing the math, I guess that would work out–he was about eighty. My grandfather served in World War II and was only a little older than I am now in 1970-something.
What stories Wally (and my grandfather) could have shared with me. Probably not about the wars, as men of those conflicts didn’t talk much about it, but just the things they had seen in the early part of the 20th century.
It’s probably why I like self-published personal memoirs like The Apple Man and Growing Up In The Bend. I get to hear those stories of ordinary men in their own words, without having to actually talk to them (or risk them with various infections).
Another good reminder to live in the present with those around you instead of tinkling on a blog or banging your head against a promise chain for hours a day.
This book has not disuaded me from my thesis that art (not just visual art, but literature and music also) became generally broken sometime right before the turn of the twentieth century when the focus changed from the work of art representing something in real life to the work of art reflecting itself. That is, a painting wasn’t necessarily for you to look at the something in the painting, but rather for you to look at the painting.
Gauguin still stands on the representational end of he spectrum. You can tell his crude executions depict something, often nude native women, which means that he’s basically the artistic version of old National Geographic magazines. That is, an educated excuse to see boobs.
The book itself is laden with text with some boobs and some non-boob art interspersed. The text is heavily art-critic and translated from the original French, so it’s pretty florid and emphasizes how awesome and important Gauguin is, relating his work to other less consequential figures and the Impressionists. I am not cultivated enough to really grok it, though, since it’s the sort of in-language that detects hints of smoke and blackberries in the wine.
So, yeah, not a fan.
Something interesting about this book: the first couple of pages–the frontspiece and the title page have come out, and the title page has a picture pasted onto it. Which makes me believe that they were added after the rest of the book was bound. You know, one of the early work-at-home businesses was to paste these pictures into the box on the page and then ship them back off to the publisher to insert into the books. Work at home in your spare time while watching television ads in the backs of magazines. This girl I dated in the middle 1990s did that, pasted craft pictures onto the title page of some crafting book. It wasn’t that good of money, and you had to pay close attention to get the right amount of glue on the picture and to make sure it was square. Or the boss would reject the pages and maybe dock you for them. So the girl I dated didn’t do it for long.
So I have quietly begun to accumulate Tommy Reynolds and his Orchestra (Your Band Of Tomorrow) records. And by that, I mean I have snapped up the inexpensive copies that I have found on eBay. I’ve got nine so far, including some that are not on his Discogs page.
That’s right, I have been watching for items on eBay, which is unlike me. Mainly, I like to get my records for a buck each at the book sales. But I am hunting down Tommy Reynolds stuff on eBay.
I even have a 16mm film reel of his song “Smiles”:
I mean, the video guy has it to make my own DVD copy of it. You see, in the middle 1940s, the Mills Novelty Company made Panoram machines that played short reels of film, generally musical numbers, and you could put your nickel in the Nickelodeon sorry, that’s a different thing entirely. You could put your money in and see a film performance of a song. Music videos before MTV, children. So I’ve got my own copy of a film I can’t watch natively, and I’m hoping to stumble across other Tommy Reynolds titles.
Why, Brian J., are you so into an obscure big band?
He passed away in late 2008, and it was only at his memorial service that I learned the measure of his legend.
He sang with the Tommy Reynolds Orchestra. He was an Anglican Bishop. He was the head of one of the Cherokee nations and visited 10 Downing Street. He was a medical doctor and professor who married an attractive, much younger student (my mother’s cousin, so Tat was really my cousin once removed by marriage). He owned a series of clinics abroad that specialized in nutrition and longevity treatments not approved by the FDA here in the states. And he was a nice man, a humble man.
Although the research I’ve seen on the Internet does not show any known recordings where he is credited with vocals, I’m grabbing up everything I can from the Tommy Reynolds Orchestra just in case I can find something with my cousin on it.
Side note: One of the best things about coming from a large (that is, normal sized for the early 20th century) family is that I’ve pretty much got a cousin who has done it all. I’ve got a cousin that sang with a Big Band in the 1940s. I’ve got a cousin who sang with a heavy metal band in the 21st century.
This audio course is entitled The World of George Orwell, and that describes the content of the course. It’s partly a biography, partly a history of the early part of the 20th century in which Orwell lived, and partly a discussion of his works. It’s a seven disc, 14 lecture set that culminates in discussion of Animal Farm and 1984.
It’s a Modern Scholar course, so it’s 2 lectures longer than a similar Teaching Company/Great Courses lecture series, and it’s slightly lower quality. The professor presenting has a more sonorous voice, a little less dynamic, and he repeats himself a lot–sometimes the same sentence, he says in a slightly different way twice in a row. Still, he’s a homer–he loves his subject and has enthusiasm for Orwell which serves to mitigate the delivery.
So, biographically, a sickly young man with an education above what his upbringing might have borne decides instead of the military to join the imperial police, and he gets stationed in Burma. After a couple years, he returns home after an illness and to the disappointment of his family. He decides to be a writer and starts to write. He serves and is grievously wounded in the Spanish Civil War. And he returns to the United Kingdom and writes a number of books that don’t really go anywhere. He struggles with his publisher, gets married and loses his wife, endures World War II, and then hits big with Animal Farm and 1984. And then he dies.
Somehow the lectures diminished Orwell, or at least my concept of him. He seems a shabby little socialist who punched above his weight with a couple of good essays and a couple of books that captured the anti-communist zeitgeist of the middle part of the twentieth century.
Yesterday, on the way home from school, one of the young lads informed me we needed to go to the dollar store to pick up…. Something. It’s for his Learning Fair project, which is a paper, a trifold board, and a presentation that they (the boys) annually produce before spring break to show the grandparents (who have a special day at the school right before spring break).
He did not know to say “Report cover” and made it sound like he needed sheet protectors. But I remember from years past that they needed report covers.
“I think we have some of those at home,” I said.
I am not entirely sure why I have dozens of report covers. Did I inherit them from my aunt? Were they on sale? Did I expect to write more reports than I have or expect my boys to need more than one a year?
Not depicted: Another package of six that wasn’t in the bin with the others.
So we didn’t need to stop to buy one (or fifty). And at the pace we’re using them, neither will our grandchildren or great-grandchildren.
Bragging rights fall to Mrs. Steinman as she bested her husband’s vote total in the Democrat Primary for President this year:
It’s not the first time they’ve run against each other. And, near as I can tell, Leonard has run as a Republican, a Libertarian, and a Democrat at various times and in various races whereas Velma has kept it Democrat.
A Florida couple on board the coronavirus-stricken Grand Princess cruise ship that has begun to disembark passengers off the California coast is suing the ship’s operator for more than $1 million — claiming the company lacked proper screening protocols to protect them from the deadly bug.
Family members of the 20-year-old Ladue woman who tested positive for coronavirus were not told to quarantine themselves, according to their attorney.
In a timeline of events, attorney Neil Bruntrager outlined several calls and texts between the woman’s mother and the St. Louis County health department from Thursday, when the woman first experienced symptoms, to Saturday, when county officials announced the positive test results at a news conference.
Good to know some sectors of the economy will do just fine.
Strangely enough, this is the first Little House title I owned. I received a copy of These Happy Golden Years from my rich aunt, the one who just passed away, when we lived in the projects (as I recounted when I reported on Captains Courageous back in–Jesus and Mary Chain–2010). The particular volume I read was not the same one gifted to me forty (Love and Rockets!) years ago. When my boys came of reading chapter books age, that volume was passed up to their book shelves, and it’s likely still there as a young man’s interest is not in a teenaged girl’s ‘high school’ years in the late ninteenth century. Mine certainly wasn’t when I was younger than they are now. Which means this book might surpass by a decade Captains Courageous as the longest time a book has been on my to-read shelf before I read it. Given my advancing age, it’s unlikely this mark will be surpassed by anything I’ve boughten myself, although it’s entirely possible that I will get a wild hair and read Nobody’s Buddy or something else my aunt gave me back then to set a new record.
But that’s a long paragraph not apropos to the book itself. This book follows close on the heels of Little Town on the Prairie. And by “close on the heels,” I mean it picks up immediately after. Laura at 13 gets a teaching certificate and goes to teach school in a settlement 12 miles away from her family and the life she’s known. It’s only for eight weeks or so, and she’s bunking with one of the families at the settlement, but the family is unpleasant–the mother wishes they would return back east–and it’s only that Almanzo Wilder comes to get her to bring her home on the weekends that makes it bearable. After that stint is up, she returns home, returns to school, works a bit, and Mary comes to visit a couple of times. As I said, it rolls up a couple of years that encompasses her friends pairing off with boys/men as she pairs up with Almanzo Wilder, goes on sleigh and wagon rides, and eventually marries him.
So we’re passed the childhood now and will get into the two remaining books that are about her adult life but still geared towards children. I’m kind of sad to be coming toward the end of the series. But I do have other things to read.
When I was a young executive, working downtown at an interactive marketing agency, I would take a couple walks every day from the office. In the mornings, I would walk over to Starbucks and perhaps the St. Louis Bread Company to fortify myself with a triple venti cappuccino and some pastries. At lunch, I might walk to Carlos’s food cart to get two brats, plain. And maybe another walk out to Starbucks in the afternoon as much to break the tedium of the day as to fortify myself with another triple venti cappuccino.
At some point, it occurred to me that I was spending twenty to thirty dollars each day on these excursions. During those days, we were briefly DINK (dual income, no kids) but that ended in short order, and I curtailed the excursions during the brief time I had left at the agency before striking out on my own.
So when I look at my finances and am unsatisfied with the cash flow situation or the accumulated savings, I decide to nibble a bit at the edges and look at the dollars-a-day habits I’ve picked up.
I tend to grab hold of small comforts that I enjoy every day. I justify them by saying that I’m living in the moment, enhancing the enjoyment of every day, and besides, I am earning enough money to cover the small expenditures.
Of course, if I extrapolate out how much I’m actually spending, a couple dollars a day over the course of a year can run into thousands of dollars every year.
For example, take the Duraflame logs. At Sam’s Club, they cost roughly three dollars each (less when they marked down at the end of the season and I end up buying a bunch of them). The new formulation in the brown bags (Make It A Gold Night) burns in about three hours, sometimes less. Contrast this with the old yellow bags (“Tonight’s the night”) that burned for four or five hours but sometimes would fall to a smolder only to reignite some hours later, which I can understand would be a problem for normal people who don’t have iron fireplace inserts and are not around all day. But to get through a full evening from dinner time until bed time, I’ve had to burn more than one of these horizontal fireplace candles which is dollars a day I don’t really need.
A couple years ago, my beautiful wife bought me a K-Cup single cup coffee maker for Christmas, and I started using it instead of brewing a pot of drip coffee. I used it because it was downstairs, where I could make it first thing in the morning without disturbing my sleeping family rather than the convenience of the single cup maker. Although the cost of the K-Cups has come down from about a buck each to fifty or sixty cents each, I was still drinking several dollars a day in the single-use packets. So I’ve wound down my current stock of K-Cups and have moved back to drip coffee. I’ve not gone so far as to buy the giant tubs of Folder’s at Sam’s Club as they tend to go stale before I use them, but it’s still cheaper. And I’ve found that my family sleeps soundly enough that I can drain the remnants of the previous day’s brew from the pot, rinse it, and start a new pot without waking them up, especially on school days where nothing wakes them up.
Sometime in the last two years, I developed a habit of drinking mineral or sparkling water (fizzy bubbly) in the afternoons. I blame the visit to the Mountain Valley Water store in Hot Springs, Arkansas, which we visited on vacation in 2017. A lot of the material on the walls there touted the health benefits for athletes, and I wanted to look like one at the very least. Or perhaps I picked up the habit when we did the Whole 30 diet a couple years back. Regardless, I traversed the San Pellegrino, Mountain Valley, and Perrier brands. Most of these waters is sold in 750 milliliter bottles for a couple bucks each, although I could get one liter bottles for about the same price at Lucky’s Market before it folded. But I was drinking between one and three of these bottles a day for a cost of between three and eight dollars total. You know, the water coming out of our well has minerals, too. So I’ve gone off the fizzy bubbly for the nonce, which is kind of unfortunate–I kept my hydration up because going to the bar and pouring a glass of water into a fancy glass was a ritual, whereas drinking from the tap happens when I am thirsty is not and is less often. And with less gusto.
So I project to save plenty of money restricting these habits LIKE A SPARTAN!
It’s still nibbling at the edges of our expenditures, though. Our top line expense is tithing and other giving, which is more than our mortgage or car payment. I’m not giving up our martial arts school, although some months in sport seasons it’s more of an aspirational goal than something we actually attend (ditto the YMCA membership and the second gym membership somewhere that my beautiful wife often carries). I’m not going to stop spoiling my beautiful wife (my expressive love languages are gifts and acts of service, donchaknow). We still eat out too often and eat well when we eat in.
I don’t think we’re actually seeing much savings overall currently, though, because this cutting back is happening at the same time we’re laying in extra supplies just in case. Things which we will probably not actually eat but will instead donate to the local food pantry in a couple of years.
And, to be honest, this faux austerity is only going to last a little while until I start wanting a little guilty pleasure during the day because I work so hard or something. And then they will creep up and accumulate, and in a couple of years, I will clamp down again. I’m a binge fiscal responsibilitier. If Dave Ramsey were to meet me on the street, it would go something like this:
So you’re probably no better off taking financial advice from me than investment advice.
But if you’re looking to cut back, perhaps you can find some dollars-a-day things in your life.
I bought this book based on the poem that Neo posted last Father’s Day, “Those Winter Sundays”. I won’t repost it here so as to make you click over to her blog, but the poem spoke to me as I am a father myself and know something of love’s austere and lonely offices that, perhaps, my children will appreciate some day.
I think it’s probably the best poem in the collection, or perhaps it’s the one that spoke most to me. Hayden was active between roughly the late 1940s and his death in 1980. His last new collection was published posthumously in 1982. So we see quite a run through 20th century poetry styles through his career. His early poems feature lines of poetry, but then we get into the more modern couple of words of poetry per line. He sometimes goes into the Black Experience, which is something with which I cannot identify as I am not Black, and this is different and a little distant contrasted with poor urban upbringing themes with which I can identify. But he does not dwell exclusively on racial themes.
Hayden’s career overlapped a bit with that of Langston Hughes and Edna St. Vincent Millay, but you can see where he breaks with traditional forms of poetry that they espoused and went with the more modern stylings. And you know, gentle reader, which style of poetry I prefer.
So it took me a while to read it, off and on, but I liked it enough. He does a shout out to Paul Laurence Dunbar, another poet I have heard about somewhere–I have his Wikipedia entry bookmarked from some earlier encounter so I can write a historical profile of him sometime (although it has been bookmarked so for years, so don’t expect something soon). He also does a poem about Phyllis Wheatley, the first black woman poet to publish a book. So some elements of the book educated me beyond the poetry.
So a better than average collection. Although perhaps it’s just better than the average of the poems I tend to read.