A Milestone of Sorts

As I mentioned, this week marked a milestone in my life: I am older now than my father ever was. He died a month short of his 48th birthday, and it’s now less than a month until mine.

I would have preferred to pass this occasion in the peak of my manhood, but my current job and parenting schedule has limited my trips to the gym and martial arts school over the last year, and I don’t have any GAINZZZ nor MAINTAINZZZ THE ZZZZTATZZZ QUO to report. I think I’ve melted. And, to top it off, I am dealing with a sports injury that will require at the very least a trip to a specialist if not surgery to correct (or, perhaps, “Your insurance doesn’t cover it, so I can only prescribe that you stop martial arts, weightlifting, running, and triathlons, old boy.”).

You know, I sort of always think of him as older than I am. Middle-aged. But I guess that makes me middle-aged.

I cannot imagine him–my father, not my doctor–as an old man, though. I mean, there are a lot of older gentlemen at church, and I can’t even imagine my father at that age.

Also, a shout-out to Disabled American Veterans, who this week sent a donation solicitation addressed to my sainted mother.

Who passed away almost eleven years ago–the anniversary is creeping up on me–and never lived at Nogglestead. But keep trying, you algorithm-based mailing list builders.

Book Report: Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe (1592, 1978)

Book coverThis is the third of four books I bought at ABC Books earlier this month that I have read in this, the same month I bought them. What a triumph it will be to return to the place of purchase and announce that I’ve read all the books I bought the last time I was in! Which will not, really, be much of a triumph at all, and I’m the only one who will take any delight in it at all.

At any rate, you probably know the story of Dr. Faust by now: A learned medieval philosopher/scientist reaches what he thinks are the limits of knowledge through traditional learning, consults with some sorcerors, and makes a pact with the devil. In exchange for his soul, he gets 24 years of magickal supremacy. Although he starts out with grand dreams of power and what he’s going to do with them, over time it turns out he does not much, and then the devil claims his soul.

I’ve seen an operatic performance of the story (not this story) where Faust is redeemed in the end, but that’s not how it happens in this story.

So the story is an archetype we see re-written today, but it can also be seen as a comment on man’s condition in the world, where man becomes earthly and fritters away what powers he has whilst in the world. Or maybe I’m just getting middle aged and seeing signs of how I’m puttering my way through my life and I’m seeing that as a storyline where it’s not.

Regardless, it’s a play in blank verse. A long introduction talks about variations between the texts and relates the work to contemporary other works by Marlowe and Shakespeare, but I skipped this until after I read the text itself. I have hammered home again and again how I prefer to do this because the scholarly professor’s intercession on your unlearned behalf often kills or at least mutes the desire to read something.

The play itself is 90 pages of text, but sometimes a third of that is given to footnotes explaining things that someone with an English degree (or at least one that steeps the undergrad in Shakespeare, Jonson, and Chaucer) is going to know anyway and differences between the A and B text. So it’s a quicker read than that.

I enjoyed it, and I enjoy being able to say I’ve read it. A two-fer.

I think I have Goethe’s work around here somewhere. Perhaps I’ll pick it up sooner rather than later for a compare and contrast. If I remember, and if I find it.

The Shadows of Nogglestead

So my oldest son played Destiny 2: Shadowkeep the other night and didn’t like it because it was too hard–which means different from the first person shooters he’s accustomed to.

As my beautiful wife and I ate dinner, I mentioned to her what he said, and then I thought of Shadow Chasers, a short-lived television series from the eighties that could have been a comedic blueprint for the more successful The X-Files.

I hadn’t thought of this show in years. But the Shadowkeep brought it to mind.

Almost as a non sequitur, my wife said, “In 2052, we’ll be eighty.”

It would almost be a non sequitur, and it might have seemed so to her, but I corrected her. “Shadowrun is set in 2050.”

Although she was not a big roleplaying gamer back in the day–or a television watcher who would have seen one of the eight episodes of Shadow Chasers that aired–our martial arts school is in Shadowood Plaza, and I have told her at least once that the name of the plaza reminds me of Shadowrun. Which I never played, by the way.

So we really hit for the cycle on geekery: Video games, esoteric television, role playing games, and martial arts based on the word “shadow.”

I’m Through The Worst Of It

This is when middle age really starts to suck: study:

A new study confirms that middle age is unpleasant as hell, but there’s an exact moment where the malaise reaches its peak. Dartmouth College professor David Blanchflower was able to pinpoint that midlife torment reaches its crest at 47.2 years old.

The economic study, distributed Monday by the National Bureau of Economic Research, used data across 132 countries, including 95 developing and 37 developed nations to determine the connection to well-being and age. The researchers concluded that every country has a U-shaped “happiness curve,” with the lowest point at 47.2 years old for developed countries, while a developing nation reaches its low point at 48.2 years old.

I’d have to say that my 47th year, which is ending soon, has not been the best or most satisfying one in my young life. If I believed in economic studies, I’d be encouraged.

Rather, I believe in myself. So I’m encouraged.

On Being Early

Patrice Lewis links to a Guardian story “Beat the Clock: The Surprising Psychology Behind Being Perpetually Late“, and she (Ms. Lewis) asks:

So what end of the spectrum do you hit? Are you early or late? And what’s your logic/reasoning/motive behind it?

I am on the early side. I think it’s because I don’t want to be rude and I don’t want to make a spectacle of myself coming in late and being unprepared for whatever.

I have a tendency to be really early, like being a half hour early to pick my boys up or drop them off. I used to be so early dropping my boys off to school that it became common to drive “around the block” a couple miles to kill some time until the school actually opened. And when going to job interviews, I’d end up being an hour early, find the company where I was to interview, and then drive twenty minutes down the road and twenty minutes back to be a little early.

The problem might have worsened when we moved to the Springfield area from the St. Louis area. In St. Louis, you might have to drive for forty-five inutes from one suburb to another for things and commute an hour. So I got used to that and built in some extra time, natch. But here in the Springfield area, you can go from our house outside the southwest corner of Springfield to ABC Books, all the way in the northwest corner of Springfield proper, in about twenty minutes. An hour’s drive will take you to another city (Joplin or Marshfield or Branson) past a lot of rural country. But I have tended to retain my sense that I need to leave an hour early to go downtown.

I am working on it, though. Just yesterday, I knew I had to pick up my boys at 5:30 and that it would take fifteen or twenty minutes to get to their school, and although I wanted to leave at 4:45, I waited until 5:00. And then grew anxious because I was afraid I’d be late.

So, nah, I’ll just give up on trying to be just on time. I mean, I know you’re supposed to get out of your comfort zone, but I think I’ll do it in other ways than taking a chance that I might, possibly, but not likely, be late.

A Very Brian J. Injury

So I have a cut on my head.

Clearly, I did not cut myself shaving as I am not shaving my head (yet). So, what happened, you ask?

Well, I got cut with a blade.

Sounds tough, ainna? Well, not really. It’s clearly not a knife wound.

An ice skate blade did this to me.

Well, no, I only wish it had happened doing something manly like hockey.

For ten years except for a couple of trips to the ice park (well, maybe only one), my beautiful wife has hung her ice skates on a nail in the garage, a nail on the front of the built-in shelving. The shelves feature many such nails, and we hang grill brushes, calendars, and at one time a thermometer from these nails. And her skates, ostensibly to protect the blades from the damage that would occur if we just tumbled them in a bin with other sporting goods.

So this weekend, when I was putting away some bottled water under the shelving, I stood up into the skates and nicked my head.

It’s not the first time.

So what makes this a very Brian J. injury? That I’ve not moved the skates to a nail in a more remote location in the garage. Partially this.

But, more to the point: I have engaged in a month- (soon to be months-) long project of cleaning up and organizing my garage, which involves sorting, packing, and donating various jetsam that has appeared in our garage. And, during the course of this re-organization, I discovered knit ice skate blade covers, and they made their way to a diminishing pile of things on the floor to deal with later.

So the very objects that would have protected my fragile gourd lie useless on the floor mere feet away whilst I cut myself on the ice skate blades. I worked around the ice skate blade covers during my working sessions and walked past them several times a day without taking a minute to actually put them on the ice skates.

I have done so now.

But it’s a very Brian J. thing to not do a little thing that eventually turns into a big thing. Or, in this case, a physical injury and perhaps a wicked scar whose origin I will hereafter obfuscate by saying, “I got cut,” and not want to talk about it.

Weather Report

Last night, we had severe thunderstorms, dime-sized hail, and a tornado warning. Today, it’s freezing rain changing over to snow.

Tomorrow: who knows?

I kind of miss living where winter is wintry. And the seasons are, for the most part, separate.

Authors I’ve Given Up On

OregonMuse elevates a question from the comments on the stately, prestigious, internationally acclaimed and high-class Sunday Morning Book Thread at Ace of Spades HQ:

28 Mr. Muse: Have you ever been a fan of an author, then one day realize you are completely done with him/her? The first time this happened to me was Ludlum’s “Parsifal Mosaic”. The last 30 pages rendered the preceding 600 pages irrelevant. With Tom Clancy it was “Sum of All Fears”. After 150 pages the plot hadn’t yet started, but we got a lot of detail about Jack Ryan choosing his favorite wines. Boy did that need an editor. More recently I quit Harlan Coben when I got tired of reading the same story over and over. Also, once you realize he has zero wasted characters, you come to realize that the bait shop attendant (or who ever) briefly mentioned in passing will be a major character.

Posted by: Buck Throckmorton at December 22, 2019 09:21 AM (d9Cw3)

OM, who by the way is the Salesman of the Year whenever he mentions on of my books on the book thread, throws out Heinlein, almost. Commenters on the original thread mention Robert Ludlum, Tom Clancy, and Stephen King.

Although I have been known to abandon books (four in this decade alone), I don’t know that I have abandoned that many authors.

I mean, I can think of John Sandford, whom I last read in 2012 with the cri de coeur:

This book will probably be the last of the Sandford novels I read for a while. I’m tired of them. To recap, the progression kind of followed that of Robert B. Parker’s later work: I bought them new until I couldn’t take the thematic material stretching between the books, then I got them from the library not too long after their release, and then I got to getting them from the library sometime, maybe.

I might have done the same to Parker himself if he’d lived a couple more years. He was injecting politics more into his books as the twenty-first century wore on. He rather killed his characters’ ethos in Stranger in Paradise. Although I read several other books by him after that book, he really was on borrowed interest.

OregonMuse says he gives up on series, and when we’re talking about Parker, I might as well point out that I’m not even sure if there are further entries in Parker’s Spenserverse or Westerns that I’ve missed. I haven’t looked for them, I haven’t seen them in the book stores or on the tables at book sales. So I guess I have given up on them.

As to Clancy and King, I haven’t given up on them, per se. I still pick up their books from time to time and/or have a collection of them on the shelf, but I’m not in a hurry to read them. I haven’t even given up on The Dark Tower series even though I read The Drawing of the Three and thought it completely botched and subverted the first book (at least, I think that’s what I thought–it was twenty-five years ago).

I’ve also said that I’m putting Lee Child into a time out. Will that turn into a permanent giving up of? Perhaps. I guess time will tell.

Perhaps a better question is What writers can you read over and over again? which might be topic for a later post.

An Annual Inventory Story (And Good Book Hunting, January 4, 2019: ABC Books)

So when I worked as the shipping and receiving clerk at the art supply store with the rhyming name (you can try to guess it, but those in the know recognize that all the St. Louis area art supply stores had rhyming names)….

All right, I’ll tell you the name of the store since you could find it in my blog archives. It wasn’t Dick Blick or Red Lead; it was Artmart, which is still in the same location.

So where was I? Oh, yes. The bulk of my job, in addition to the all other duties as assigned which often included custodial/janitorial things, facilitating product returns (when I started the job, they had a store room just about stacked to the ceiling with returned and defective items awaiting return to the manufacturer or distributor, and nobody liked to do it since you had to find a purchase order with that product on it, contact the manufacturer, get a return authorization, and then box up the item or items to return, and nobody had time for that, so they just tossed it into the room–I kid you not, it was floor to ceiling with products just tossed in, and I cleared it out within a month or so), light maintenance/electrical repair, and computer technical help, the bulk of my job was receiving shipments, counting the received items and comparing them to the packing lists, and shelving the items in the warehouse for later stocking (“Why so many?”). So I spent most of eight hours every day for months counting pens, counting pads of paper, counting sheets of paper.

It came time for the annual inventory. The store closed up early, and everyone who worked there paired with another, and we started counting all the things on the sales floor. Every charcoal pencil. Every sheet of paper. Every Pantone color selector book (which costs hundreds of dollars for what is essentially a bunch of paint chip selectors like you get at the hardware store, except Official). I got paired with one of the retail floor guys, relatively new. One partner per team would write down the name of the product; the second partner would count said product; and the first partner would write down the number. It worked pretty efficiently for most teams, but I could count items accurately just by looking at them, so I was impeded by the speed at which my partner could write.

I mean, to count pens or pencils, which were mostly housed in square boxes (and came that way in the shipments), you basically tip the box so a corner is pointing down and shake the box until the pens/pencils fall into a pattern. The shape of the pattern indicates the number in the box.

Take, for example, the stars on the flag, right? The pattern is that the bottom row has six; the second to bottom row is five. Five rows have six, and four rows have five. Thirty plus twenty equals fifty. And, gentle reader, I could match the various patterns pretty much from memory. I was like, “Koh-i-noor 31652, 18. Faber-Castell 110251, 15. Koh-i-noor 5055, 3.” And so on. I must have looked like Rain Man to this kid.

I take pride in a lot of things I did on that job, including my ability to not so much count fast as to recognize the pattern of counts.

At any rate, I related this story to the store manager at ABC Books on Saturday when I stopped by, and he laughed politely as he does to every story I tell and joke I make. I’d wandered up to see if they had a book signing this weekend as their calendar on Facebook is not accurately updated since the social media guru left. They did not have a book signing, and they were finishing up their annual inventory (the store manager explained to someone who wanted to trade books).

I tried to help:

I have been hitting the poetry and drama sections more of late. I got:

  • Our Town by Thornton Wilder.
  • Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe.
  • Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas.
  • The Heart in Hiding by Jane Daley Kraus, a comb-bound collection of poetry by a Long Island housewife.

It didn’t really help the counters at ABC Books who had already counted these sections.

Also, I had found an ABC Books gift card amongst my customer rewards and gift card collection. I was not sure whether I had gotten this as a gift or if I had forgotten to put a gift card in with a teacher’s Christmas card. More likely, one of the boys found himself at ABC Books without his gift card and gave it to me in exchange for the equivalent value in books which happens frequently when they have gift cards but are not carrying them.

So the above books and a book for each of my boys came to almost $25 dollars. And the gift card was for….

24 cents.

The store manager asked me if I wanted to use it. The alternative, of course, would be to put it back in the collection of rewards cards, to find it the next time I took a moment to toss out rewards cards from defunct restaurants, and to think again I had a whole gift card to use. So, yeah, I spent the twenty-four cents.

I look forward to reading these short books to start padding my annual total early. When I find them again in my stacks. Some year in the future.

As In Years Past, They Liked The Christmas Boxes More

I saw these babies on a display at Walmart, and I had to have them.

I wrapped a model in the Pet Butler box for the older son and a Lego set in the My First Fire box for my younger.

Everyone thought they were gag gifts at the outset, but they quickly learned they were humorous. Although my youngest might have been disappointed, as he is the one who always volunteers to help me build a fire in the fireplace and who is often disappointed when I use a Duraflame log. I am not too concerned about it… yet.

So even though my Christmas present purchases were a little disappointing (to me at least) this year, at least the boxes amused my family.

Season’s Greetings

I’ve been seeing New Year’s Eve abbreviated NYE on the Internet today, so I thought I’d stick some text on a picture of Bill Nye for humorous effect.

Time will tell if it makes people laugh or not.

As a reminder, you can continue to say “Happy Holidays” all year round as our calendar is quite choked with them.

Good Album Hunting, December 30, 2019: Relics Antique Mall

So my beautiful wife gave me some Relics gift certificates for Christmas. Relics has gift certificates, not gift cards, and they do not offer cash back when you present a gift certificate, so if you don’t spend the entire amount of the certificate, the remaining balance is lost. To account for this, she gave me four certificates valued at $25 each. As I entered Relics, I thought about what I might buy for $100.

And I bought records.

I did not get $100 of records. I could have if I wanted; heaven knows some of the dealers are starting to mark up the records above ten or twenty dollars each. Fortunately, I don’t listen to that kind of crap.

Instead, I got:

  • Una Noche en Villafontana by Jorge Ortega, Roberto Pérez Vázquez, and Arturo Romero
  • It Looks Like Phoebe Snow by Phoebe Snow. Still no sight of the elusive self-titled debut album.
  • Jacquet’s Got It by Illinois Jacquet and His Big Band.
  • Live at the Whiskey A Go Go by Herbie Mann. Not listed on Discogs except as part of a compilation CD.
  • Bird in a Silver Cage by Herbie Mann.
  • Shandi by Shandi Sinnamon. I got her album Shandi Sinnamon in October.
  • Lisa Dal Bello by Lisa Dal Bello. Latin pop from the 1970s with a Pretty Woman on the Cover (PWC).
  • Carnaval by Spyro Gyra.
  • Collaboration by George Benson and Earl Klugh. The most expensive record I bought at $4 before discounts.
  • Gallant Men: Stories of the American Adventure Told By Senator Everett McKinley Dirksen. Apparently, I am a sucker for legislators on LP as I bought Robert Byrd’s fiddling album in October.
  • The Cantebury Tales read in Middle English by J.B. Bessinger, Jr. I haven’t listened to the copy that I bought in October–many of those LPs got shelved without a listen to make room for the Christmas LPs–but this one has a better cover.
  • Holiday Cheer by Dean Martin. Upon further review, this is the same tracks as Winter Romance.
  • Apollonia 6 by Apollonia 6. The other female pop group created by Prince after the Vanity 6.
  • Hideaway by David Sanborn. A promo copy not for sale. Mine isn’t, unlike the vendor who violated the letter and spirit of this law.
  • Skyway by Skyy. On the cover, the eight person band wears matching track suits. So you know what you’re going to get: 70s Disco Funk.
  • The Christmas Song by Lawrence Welk. Even though I didn’t get to listen to listen to Christmas records much this year, I did feel that my collection was growing a bit stale, so I added, I thought, two records today. Given that the Dean Martin is really just a duplicate, I have only added this one.
  • Winner In You by Patti LaBelle.
  • Patti LaBelle by Patti LaBelle.
  • Stevie Wonder Presents Syreeta by Syreeta.
  • Intimate Excitement by Vikki Carr.
  • Now by Patrice Rushen. PWC, and further evidence that I have completely turned the corner into collecting 80s pop as long as it looks to have an R&B sensibility.

The total came to $47 and change, which was not quite two gift certificates. So I only used one certificate and paid for the rest.

Which means, essentially, that the Christmas gift is four guilt-free trips to Relics to buy records. Not that I felt guilty, well, too guilty when I found my way to Relics and then home with a dozen or so records.

At any rate, flipping though Discogs and eBay has shown me that I didn’t really overpay for these records, but I didn’t get any real steals, either. So long as I enjoy them from time to time and can organize them when I build more record storage.

As Seen in the Walmart

On Monday, we were in the Walmart getting last minute gifts and groceries. I bought a dozen eggs and spotted a bag of hard-boiled eggs in the dairy case.

I commented on them, and she mentioned that they were for lazy people. Whilst I know an easy way to bake the eggs to the same consistency and have been known to do so when I go on a kick where I eat them every morning for breakfast, I was not quick to condemn people who might prefer to pick them up at the market.

Then, of course, I saw that said products were being recalled for listeria contamination:

More hard-boiled eggs and egg products are being recalled from stores nationwide related to a deadly listeria outbreak.

Nearly 80 different hard-boiled egg varieties sold by more than 30 brands have been recalled by Almark Foods of Gainesville, Georgia, according to a recall notice on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration site due to risk of listeria contamination.

The more processed the food is, the more chances it has to get contaminated. So I’ll continue baking my own.

Or will when I get back on that kick. I think it’s been five years, so it’s about time to get back into the habit.

Photographing My Coffee In Confusion

So I had a little time to kill whilst my truck was getting a state inspection, and I went to a coffee shop with my notepad in case I wanted to write a poem–or work on one that will take me five years to complete. So I went in and ordered a cappuccino and a pastry.

Sorry to go all Instagram on you, but I got this:

A coffee thing served in a glass along side a fizzing clear glass of something.

I have never seen cappuccino served like this, and, to be honest, gentle reader, I was not sure what was in that other glass nor what I was supposed to do with it. Did the order taker hear something other than what I ordered? Did the shop have a liquor license, and I ordered myself some coffee-and-booze cocktail with a chaser?

I fear the unexpected and unknown consumable ever since the Great Sushi Incident of 2005, wherein I went to a sushi restaurant with a more sophisticated friend who was surprised to see me take up the pile of pickled ginger with my chopsticks and pop it into my mouth. Not as surprised as I was, although I managed to keep my face stony whilst the sweat burst forth from my volcanic pores.

So, yeah, I have no idea what that was, and I’ll probably fear ordering a cappuccino there again. The coffee drink was a small portion and not especially compelling. I didn’t even sniff the clear liquid, preferring to pretend I was sophisticated enough to know what it was and that I eschewed it knowingly. But, yeah, black coffee for me from now on.

A Bit of a Scratched Christmas Season

Gentle reader, here at Nogglestead, it has not really felt much like the Christmas season at all this year. What follows is a bit of a personal cri-di-coeur, so I’ll tuck it below the fold.

Thanksgiving came late, as you know, and my mother-in-law was ill and could not attend the holidays, which highlighted how few we probably have left with her.

After Thanksgiving dinner which was attended only by my immediate family and a single friend, I learned that my aunt in St. Charles had passed away that morning.

I had planned a little weekend getaway with my beautiful wife for that weekend, a polite fiction that would have allowed us to visit my aunt while having a date night with my wife. However, it turned into an extended stay ending in a memorial service.

Over the extended weekend, my remaining aunt, the caretaker of my recently passed aunt, walked with me through the house so I could earmark anything of hers I wanted. My aunt had decorated her house in fine wood furniture and antiques, many of which had been in the family for generations. But I have a complicated relationship with the possessions of dead family members. My father had once said about my sainted mother that she was sniffing around for money or would be when someone died. I don’t know what prompted him to say that, but it gave me a lasting fear that people would think that I was interested in benefiting from the deaths of my family. So I have always minimized what I accept after the death of a family member. Which sometimes leads to internal conflict when I think I could really use that, but it’s a practical need and not something to remind me of my aunt.

So I ended up with a collection of books, a nice console stereo, an entertainment center, a pair of cat sculptures, and some wall decorations. Which presented a logistical challenge for getting them from St. Charles to Springfield and have enough adult bodies to carry said furniture. I planned to to drive to Poplar Bluff with my youngest son, pick up my brother and nephew, and go to St. Charles, where we would rent a truck and drive the truck from St. Charles to Springfield, unload my things, and my brother and nephew would continue to Poplar Bluff to unload their things and drop off the truck. We could not do it the first weekend of the month, as I had other plans.

The other plans, unfortunately, were not fun. My wife and boys were going to Camdenton for the First Lego League state competition. Last year, we turned it into a weekend in Osage Beach just down the road from Camdenton, and while the boys were competing, my wife and I could do some Christmas shopping and having a date day somewhere else. Unfortunately, this weekend was the first weekend I had to work on a Saturday, so I had to work instead.

While in Camdenton, my wife aggravated a slight sports injury into a major case of sciatica which, after she drove home on Sunday, left her barely able to move or walk on her own, so she needed pretty attentive care, and her debilitated state left us unable to attend any of the school or church Christmas programs–including a concert she was supposed to sing in as part of the church choir. She’s moving better now and is almost back to normal, but it did wipe out the Christmas program season.

She convalesced in our parlor, where our existing record player is, which limited access to the annual rotation of the Christmas records. And, of course, I could not leave her for my circuit of Poplar Bluff-St. Charles-Springfield, so I had to rely upon my beatified brother and nephew to bring my aunt’s furniture to me. Which he did.

The weather hasn’t helped. I’m from up north, so I expect winter to be, well, snowy. Even though my boys have had three snow days already this year, we have yet to see measurable snowfall. Kansas City and even the St. Louis area have had proper snowfalls, but nothing here. As a matter of fact, it’s spring-like, with temperatures predicted in the 60s through the week.

And, to be honest, I’m a little disappointed with the gifts I’m giving this year. I usually like to have something that I think will wow the family, but this year, the gifts are pretty rote and predictable. I also like to have something for the family from Santa, something a little out of left field for the whole lot of us, but this year, I haven’t thought of anything. Which is just as well. As I look back over the years, a lot of times those gifts have gone unused ultimately. So maybe this safe Christmas of giving will be better than previous years.

If it happens. The oldest boy has been under the weather a bit, so an abundance of caution might prevent my mother-in-law from attending Christmas dinner and gift exchange.

I am glad that I kind of follow the church calendar and mark Christmas as the beginning of the new year, as I am about ready for a new beginning. I’m off work for the next week and a half and hope I won’t blow the time sitting at the computer doing nothing. Except, perhaps, tapping out something on a mostly unread blog.

Meh, it’s a mindset that makes a feedback loop, where negative things leads me to see the negative things. I need to shake it, and I’ve generally found that when I’m finally able to talk about it probably means I’m on the upswing already.

Their Inherited Carpentry Skill

As you might know, gentle reader, I come from a line of carpenters. My great-grandfather and my grandfather and then my grandfather and father were two sets of Noggle and Son remodeling. My father knew how to do everything and often did. My mother was unafraid to tackle large remodeling projects. My brother, too, is like a Borg infesting a house and improving it. And, as you know, I have done a bit of (rudimentary) furniture making.

I am pleased to say that carpentry skill is indeed transmitted genetically, as my boys (mostly the younger) has taught himself how to use tools (auto-didactic because working on anything his father does is like, you know, work). So they have set themselves to building a birdopolis outside their bedroom windows:

He used pine boards not cut but broken during martial arts testing and a couple nails, and not much more.

Apparently, the birds have seen these fine domiciles and have determined that the rent is surely higher than they can afford, as none have yet moved in.

Angel in the Centerfold

Man, the centerfold in this week’s Springfield Business Journal is HAWT!

When I posted this on Facebook, my beautiful wife pointed out that the story on her company is not in the centerfold, but on page five. The math proves she is better than a Page 3 girl.

I was just talking to my grandmother this week, and she remarked on a twenty-year-old picture my wife and I that I sent her (my grandmother) in October. She said that she had forgotten how pretty my wife is. I have not, of course, although I do have some difficulty in convincing my wife how pretty she is.

I guess I have already mentioned that she’s all that from 1998 and more. This post was just an excuse again to show how I married up.