I Cannot Help But Notice My Grocery Store Is Downsizing

One of the things about living in one place for a while–coming up on fifteen years at Nogglestead this year–is that you get perspective in seeing the changes and variations in the same place over time. We have seen fifteen winters and are about to have seen fifteen springs, so we get a sense of how wide the seasons can individually vary. Warm winter? Cold winter? We’ve seen both. So the exclamation-point-driven media definitely has a harder sell to convince us that IT’S NEVER BEEN AS HOT (or COLD) AS THIS ON THIS DATE! Well, except for the record set in 1930. Or a couple times that show up in my Facebook memories where I cracked wise about having my window open on this date or pictures of my driveway shoveled on this same date in history.

So I remember the evolution of the Pricecutter where we shop. Well, the big Pricecutter. It’s a relatively new store (but it was there when we got here). A little further west on Republic Road, a smaller, older Pricecutter held on for a couple of years, but it closed, sending Ron, a bagger some decade and change in his second career, to the new(er) Pricecutter. Which has been our go-to grocery after we turned our driving habits Springfield-wise. Even after the Walmart Neighborhood Market opened closer.

About ten years ago, they remodeled the store, freshening its look and, more importantly, expanding its produce section to include more variety. They added a salad bar and increased deli options as well, including a lot of ready-to-eat meals. They have this little isolated cul-de-sac they stuffed with health foods and organic options. They built a classroom for cooking classes. In short, they tarted up the place and filled it with more profitable offerings, but those offerings were parishable.

Althought they did cut the pharmacy a couple years later, the store has been relatively unchanged for that time. But within the last month, they started another remodel. But this time, they’re cutting the perishables.

I first noticed a missing bunker right when you walk into the doors. Between the produce section and the deli, they used to offer a variety of…. well, I think it was dressings, cut fruit trays, and some ready-to-eat things. But that bunker is gone. Bunkers by the cheese and lunchmeat and in the meat section have been replaced with smaller bunkers, and a large section of the meat case has been replaced with closed-door cases that hold longer-shelf-stable items. The meat racks have also been downsized so that they don’t have as many types of cuts prepackaged and fewer of each cut available. They’ve cut down the organic section and replaced it with sodas. In other words, they’re stocking less of the higher profit but perishable items, instead focusing on lower profit items.

The store has gone into a defensive crouch, expecting consumers to spend less on fresh meat, fresh vegetables, and convenience foods from the deli. Because we are.

Also, I cannot help but notice eggs are $5 a dozen again. But I haven’t seen this on the news Web sites I frequent.

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Retiring a Personal Relic

When I was working for my first startup right around the turn of the century (he said, hanging an onion on his belt, which was the style at the time), I was also doing the garage sale and estate sale thing on the weekends and posting the gleanings on Ebay on weeknights, and I guess that’s how I came up with this glass candy jar which I brought into the office and put a TIPS sign on.

I brought it with me to, what, two office jobs after that? Maybe only the one, as the second started as work from home, and it’s possible I did not bring it into the office downtown. But that itself was 20 years ago, and I can only remember certain elements of the cubicle there, where the major design elements were old Purina swag that my sainted aunt had accrued from her time with the company before I worked for a digital agency serving the Nestle Purina PetCare company twenty years later.

Since then, it has been in one of the cubbies of my desk in my home office. It looks as though I must have spilled some coffee on it at one time as the TIPS paper is stained.

For a long time, I would empty change from my pocket into the jar. This probably happened more in the Old Trees days, where I would walk around with a baby in a stroller and maybe buy a coffee or a pastry with a bit of cash. Then, when we moved to Nogglestead, the walking around ceased, and the dropping carrying money pretty much ended. For the last decade or so, any change I’ve accrued over the day has gone into the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League mite box in the kitchen, between the garage door and emptying my pockets, and not to the basement.

So this last weekend, I emptied the jar of its remaining change, keeping the single fifty cent piece and the single president dollar coin for myself. I spent some of the coins as “votes” in a chili cook-off on Sunday and put the rest in the church’s big mite box on Sunday.

And now… Well, I guess I will take off the paper and put the candy jar in the garage with the other glass and whatnot that I fully mean to etch or paint with stained glass paint one of these days, where it will likely languish for a decade until my estate sale or until I actually grind a little evergreen tree onto it and fill it with candle wax before putting it into a craft sale where someone knowledgeable about glass will discover it and recognize that it was an expensive piece of glassware that I marred.

I mean, the thing has spent half of antiquehood with old pennies and dimes with it on my various desks already. But its time has passed. Or, perhaps, this will be in a Five Things On My Desk, Shamefully post in 2026. Life is full of possibilities in different stagnations.

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An Indiana Jones-Related Anecdote

So when I popped in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade on Saturday night to complete my viewing of the trilogy, I said to my beautiful wife, “I’m going to watch Indiana Jones and Troilus and Criseyde.”

I had to repeat it a couple of times, and she said after I explained a bit, “Oh, Troilus and Cressida.”

Ah, gentle reader. My mother-in-law taught Shakespeare, so my wife knows the story as Troilus and Cressida. But I have read the Chaucer poem Troilus and Criseyde where she has not, and I was using the Chaucer title as a pun. Criseyde rhymes with Crusade, you see, whereas Cressida clearly does not.

Normal people do not have this problem, and I suspect few modern professors do, either.

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Thick and Rich and Irony-y

I picked this up at the library a couple of months (years?) ago, meaning to riff a bit on it. But it was one of the five things on my parlor desk for a long time until I finally brought it to the office to scan.

It’s a tract about combatting disinformation.

Yeah, so it’s a political tract disguised as a non-partisan informational pick-up. It says you shouldn’t trust things you read on the Internet, but things that you get from government-funded nonprofits are fine. Note that it wants what it calls disinfo removed from the Internet! But not library tables.

It looks like it’s a product of the St. Louis Violence Prevention Commission, whose raison d’être is preventing gun violence or something. So a little out of its lane with this bit of info that I’ve dissed.

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Five Things On My Desk

Ah, gentle reader, it has been over a year since I’ve done such a post (the last being December 2022). But I have taken a couple of steps of cleaning my desk, thwarted a little by digging around in my closet/kind of cleaning out my closet by putting things on my desk when looking for a laptop charger. So now, in addition to several things mentioned in December 2022, I have enough other things to make a whole bit of content this morning.

So, what do I have on my desk for now and what will seem like always?

A Swiss bayonet.

I received this from my mother-in-law when she downsized almost two years ago. For a long time, it resided in a box in the garage. We still have several boxes of things we received from her on the floor in the garage, records in boxes under the desk in the parlor, and boxes of books in my closet to move onto my to-read shelves when I make space. But at some point when I took small steps to clean the garage, I brought this bayonet into my office intending to put it on my office wall with the other bladed weapons. But I merely stacked it with the practice martial arts weapons on the books atop the bookshelves until I got around to hanging it.

Well, gentle reader, the kittens (who are young cats now) have knocked the bayonet down a couple of times, including once when I was squatting by the bookshelves looking for something to read (the kitten missed me, but not by much). After the last time they knocked it down, I put it on my desk until I get around to hanging it. Which has been a week already.

A digital photo frame.

This has been hanging around in my closet for some time, and I got it out when I was looking for the laptop power cord. I got this around 2006, so its little micro SD card still has photos of my first son as an infant. I had it on my desk the last time that I had a desk in an office downtown. After that job, I’ve worked from home, so for many years, I’ve had him around in real life, so I have not needed a photo frame.

I am not sure what I will do with it. I don’t have a handy outlet to put it on my current work desk–they’re all full of device power cords and whatnot. Maybe I will look for the dongle for updating the SD card and load it up with family photos for my beautiful wife who does have an office these days.

A stack of handwritten or clipped recipes.

This stack also comes from my mother-in-law’s downsizing–we received all of her recipes collected over decades, primarily in the 1960s through the 1980s. When my wife culled what she might try from the pile, I gathered some that I thought I’d use for découpage. They ended up in a stack on my desk, and then in a stack under another stack atop the computers under the desk, and then back atop the desk after I sorted some things on my desk. At least I think they’re paper for projects. I will have my wife review them again to see if I mistakenly grabbed some she wanted before I glue them to anything.

A tape measure.

One of my tape measures. What did I measure, and when? I don’t remember. Normally, I’m not measuring anything large down here. I have a pen holder that contains some tools, screwdrivers and pliers, because I sometimes work on little things or electronics at the desk. And I have a small wooden ruler, undoubtedly purchased as part of back-to-school supplies lists, for small measurements. Maybe I brought the tape measure when the ruler was lost behind or below other things. Only time will tell when I take it out to the garage where it belongs.

A stack of handwritten or clipped recipes.

A couple of old inspirational quotes. Twenty-five years ago, I was prone to taping these things to CRTs above my 286 or my sainted mother’s 486 (in those days, young reader, commodity computers were desktops, and you put the CRT monitor atop the sturdy metal computer case). One is a handwritten Mark Twain quote from The Prince and the Pauper, which I read (and probably quoted) in college. The second is a Teddy Roosevelt quote about the man in the arena which has become somewhat common on the Internet.

I can’t imagine the last time they were taped to a monitor or the desk hutch. I expect that I had them in a folder or on one of the file organizers on my desk but they came out when rearranging/sorting the desk.

They’re simple bits of paper, but I’m not sure why I cannot discard them. Perhaps because they’re personal relics now.

So what about the items from 2022? Are they still on my desk?

  • The dreamGEAR MyArcade DGUN-2561 hand-held electronic game? Nope; sometime in the year that has passed, I got it put onto the wall with the other electronic games.
  • The Toys for Tots stickers? Nope; I have discarded them as well as the others that I have received in the interim. Although I think I have a couple of more durable Toys for Tots tchotchkes addressed to my mother up in the hutch.
  • The pocket Declaration of Independence and Constitution? Yeah, but it’s getting closer to the end of the desk. I am not sure what to do with it; I don’t expect to put it onto the to-read shelves and read it (I actually have other volumes of the founding documents). Now that I think of it, I’ll put it aside and drop it on the church free book cart or the Little Free Library in Battlefield since I’m doing that now.
  • Signed CD and note from Jane Monheit? I put the CD onto the stacks of CDs in the hutch probably shortly after the post, but I just recently as part of cleaning the desk put the note into a little binder of autographed memorabilia that I’ve received from artists when ordering from their Web sites directly. So nope, but just barely.
  • The photos of me as a ring-bearer (and the photo of Gimlet’s daughter)? Actually, I am pretty sure I just recently put these into the unsorted box of memorabilia in the closet. And by just, I mean when cleaning my desk in January or when I tore apart the closet for the laptop cord.

So that’s only 20% I am getting better.

And as to previous editions, it looks like only the laptop hard drive from October 2022 remain on my desk, although to be honest, it was only with the January cleaning that I put the remaining stray spoons (noted in October 2022) into the bag of my mother’s spoon collection (noted on my desk in February 2014) which has been relegated to the store room again as polishing the spoons was proving very time consuming indeed. I bought a spoon display case whilst Christmas shopping in, what, 2021? wherein I polished a couple of the spoons and put them into the case, but it was too small to display them nicely (the vertical alignment was too short for the spoons) and it would not have held them all anyway. I have bought another one while Christmas shopping last year which holds the eight spoons I polished (and need to polish again probably). Perhaps I’ll get that bag of spoons to work on them again. Or at least to post about them again in 2027.

Also on my desk: A bag of the Christmas cards we received in 2019. Presumably, they were in the closet, and I got them out to put them in the store room with the others. I’ve been thinking about trimming the fronts off of the stock cards as one of our church’s ministries is creating cards to send for sympathy and to shut-ins. Every once in a while, they put a call in the bulletin asking for cards, but I never hop on it when I see that in the bulletin.

NOT on my desk: The 2023 Christmas cards, which I bagged up after taking them down this year. When packaging them, though, I found the 2022 cards under a pile of “I don’t know where to file this” filing on the other desk in my office. So the bag is labeled 2022/2023 Christmas cards as I’m not sure which year the individual cards arrived. That bag, though, made it to the store room. I think.

Also not on or under my desk: A couple of pillows whose stuffing had gotten balled up with repeated washings. I replaced the batting in them, but I ran into some difficulty sewing them up and asked my beautiful wife if she could. That was probably a year ago. They remained under the desk until I sewed them up yesterday with another bit of unprofessional mending. Because somehow, a needle appeared on my desk. So they’re out of the way. The Marine Corps pillow I mentioned in August 2022? To be honest, I don’t know where that is now. It is quite likely that it is somewhere near the desk even now. And given how I am now a sewer, maybe I will stuff that and give it to my brother.

Wow, that’s a lot of words on trivia. And, to be honest, at the end here, I don’t think how long these things remain on my desk is something to brag about.

But you all are welcome to start a pool as to what will be the first thing removed from my desk (I’d go with tape measure as I could feasibly take it to the garage when getting things to hang the bayonet on the wall) and which will remain the longest (I’d go with the quote cards).

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Actually, this is Stone County, which is just south of here. Well, south of Christian County, whose line is about a mile south of Nogglestead. But close enough. From the front page of the Stone County Republican:

To be honest, I have not seen offers like that in a while. And the Nogglestead furnace is still plugging along in spite of what the “courtesy inspection” guy would indicate. So I have no need to take advantage of this offer. Hmmm…. Unless I install zoned heating and cooling. Or put on an addition that requires a separate system….

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The Ultimate Showdown

Well, okay, not anywhere close. But if you watched game shows in the 1980s, you might be familiar with two of the games’ villains. The Whammy from Press Your Luck and the Dragon from Tic Tac Dough.


So the question I have for you is: Which is the bigger villain?

I’ll go first (and probably only). I say the Dragon because I came to watch Tic Tac Dough earlier than I watched Press Your Luck, and because the Dragon was the height of Apple II graphics at the time (according to the Wikipedia entry).

However, one could make the argument that the Whammy was worse because it was part of regular game play, and the Dragon was only part of the bonus game at the end of the program.

Still, I have to go with what I know.

I can still hear its roar when the game player exposed its square. To be honest, I think I can hear the Whammy, but I might be thinking of the Domino’s Pizza Noid from that era.

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Last Week, My Laptop Failed To Boot

Generally, this is a prelude explaining the dearth of posting, gentle reader, but this story is unrelated to the dearth of posting. That particular ennui stems from not being particularly interested in posting political hot takes because I’m not convincing anyone and venting my spleen is not actually letting any fresh air into my spleen and because I’m looking for work and a front page of political wrongthink can hinder that. Although most employers and hiring managers don’t bother to look at my LinkedIn profile, much less do a Web search for me (Googling a person is so 2002), I did get a blog post attached to my job application once and might have led demerits. True story: On one of those barrage interview situations, none of the senior people looked for me on the Internet, but a junior developer participating in the interviews, did, and he mentioned my reading a Star Trek book. Afterwards, I got a hit to the blog from Greenhouse on the previous post which indicated that Chinese cat food products might have suspect ingredients. As I interviewed with two Chinese-Americans, I presume this labeled me as a xenophobe (although you, gentle reader, know that if I am not truly a Sinophile, at least I have read some history and watched some native films). I’ve not been posting a lot of humorous anecdotes about life because, well, how is life going? That’s another story, maybe, but I am looking for work. Enough said for now.

So when I say My laptop failed to boot, I meant my nearly thirty-year-old Thinkpad.

Continue reading “Last Week, My Laptop Failed To Boot”

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Spoken Like A Man With No Metal On His Wall


It’s been a while since I’ve popped into a Home Depot, but now that I know they’re peddling a reasonably priced sword, I might need to check it out.

People have been buzzing about the surprising listing that was found on the company’s website.

What if we fought using the Home Depot sword pic.twitter.com/Slcg5F40Tb

— Sena Bonbon ️ ~comms open~ (@Bonbon_Sena) January 23, 2024

Damn, look at that. What makes it even better is that it’s priced at around $50. I defy you to find a William Wallace Medieval Sword — or any other bladed weapon for that matter — with a sheath for that price.

With inflation still pretty high, you can’t.

Still, you might need to convince your wife/girlfriend/significant other that you need this at a hardware store Claymore.

I know you’re busy so allow me to come up with some arguments for you.

As you might know, gentle reader, I have mentioned that I have a halberd and several swords on my wall, several practice weapons atop the books on my bookshelves, and a Swiss bayonet that I really must put on the wall before a cat knocks it off of the bookshelves perhaps onto my head instead of next to where I am standing, trying to pick out a book, next time (but no rapier or katana even though I have just the spot for one.

You know, (perhaps I’ve already told this story, but here it is again) Relics had a claymore in one of the booths a while back, and I thought about it. Then I looked at the price tag, and it was $500. So I mulled it over, and when I had a Christmas bonus or something, I took a closer look at it…. And it was truly a claymore, a plaster or resin replica of a claymore and not even metal at all. So way, way overpriced. Which is just as well, as I don’t have room for it on my office wall. But in the den, the vertical surface above the fireplace mantel is bare….

So I don’t have to justify buying a new blade to my beautiful wife as it falls into ther category of things I accumulate. I wouldn’t have to justify spending $50 on a sword–and keep in mind the thing at Home Depot is a replica, with as much relationship to a real sword as the decorative flintlock replicas I have on my wall are to real pistols.

I would have to justify spending $500 on a sword, though. And perhaps get a second job to cover it.

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The Briefly Made Bed of Nogglestead

Ah, gentle reader. Every morning, I make our bed at Nogglestead because, at some point in my life probably coinciding with moving into my own apartment but more likely coinciding with getting a serious girlfriend or getting married, I moved beyond just leaving my linens in disarray on my bed and actually making the bed in the mornings. I mean, there’s even a book about it now (not a new book now, I guess, since it was published in 2017).

In the winter, the bed features a set with a heavy comforter and decorative pillows, here modeled by Foot and Roark, PBUT:

I usually make it right after I shower early in the 6 o’clock hour in the AM (both my beautiful wife and I are early risers; she because she just does, me because I want to ensure that the boys get off to school on time).

So it looks nice until sometime in the 11 o’clock or 12 o’clock hour, when I come up for a daily nap. I move a couple of the decorative pillows over and crawl under the comforter.

I snooze for about an hour, and if a cat has curled up against me, when I slip out of bed, I don’t remake the bed if it will disturb the cat.

The bed often remains in that half-discombobulated state until I turn down the beds at night. Sometime around dinner time, I take the pillows off and turn the comforter, blanket, and sheet down for easy access in the evening. I started doing this after one of my wife’s business trips probably a decade ago–she traveled, what, coast to coast and was gone a week, and I wanted to present her with one of the little touches of travel at home. No mints or cookies, though.

So if you break it down, the bed is in a Made state for, what, maybe 5 hours in the day? And then it’s Partially Made for 6 or 7, it’s Turned Down for 2 to 5 hours, and then it’s In Use for 7 to 10 hours.

I haven’t read the book on how much benefit one gets for making the bed for such a brief interval, nor how much might be deducted from the Benefits of Making Your Bed for not re-making it when it would disturb a resting cat. But that’s the state of things at Nogglestead most days. And I am sure it says more about me and my personality than any Internet personality test.

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A Father Explains

So I compelled my youngest to attend a trip to the hardware store–okay, big box hardware retailer–as I was in the process of turning a repair that could probably have been solved by tightening screws and laying down a bead of caulk but was costing $35 and counting. I mentioned we were looking for gaskets that fit between the spout and the wall, and so I was explaining what a gasket is to the boy, who is taking engineering classes in high school and should probably know what a gasket is.

“A gasket is a rubber or plastic piece that fits between two metal pieces to seal the gap,” I said, “It’s generally designed to keep fluids in.”

As we walked along, I thought about other similar devices. “A grommet,” I said, “Is a piece of a third different material put around a hole to protect both the material with the hole in it and the thing passing through the hole. You find metal grommets on tarps, and when I put lights in wine bottles or lamps, I put in a rubber grommet to protect the wire from the rough edges of the cut glass or ceramic.”

As we did not find spouts with gaskets or gaskets that fit between the spout and the wall, I said we’d put some caulk around it. “Caulk is a material that goes between two materials to keep fluids out,” I explained.

So caulk is kind of a gasket, but not exactly, although all three, grommet, gasket, and caulk, serve similar functions. Sort of.

Perhaps I confused the young man and should just leave his engineering knowledge to what he gets in his classes and Minecraft.

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The Christmas Gifts Not Given

I have long been a fan of shopping at antique malls for Christmas presents (as you know, gentle reader, from my posts about buying records whilst Christmas shopping in years past) because I hope to find something to match the perceived personality of the gift recipients, something unexpected, maybe a little quirky, and something not generic like gift cards. Also, maybe something less expensive than if I ordered it off of the Internet.

These days, my shopping list is smaller. My aunt for whom I bought Duck Dynasty things or Dallas books or board games passed away in 2019. I bought or made gifts a number of years for my relations in the Kansas City area, but I’ve dropped them as they never acknowledged the gifts nor stopped to visit me when they were in the area (and they’ve not communicated with me in years at all). So I’m down to immediate family, my brother’s family, and one family with whom we’ve exchanged gifts for a while now.

So I hit Relics, Ozarks Treasures, and Mike’s Unique this holiday season and went through all the aisles in each coming up with a couple or three gifts.

However, I did not give or get some interesting things this year.

The Pink Fedora

Some time in the distant past, when my boys were about 6 and 4, I ordered a couple of child-sized black fedoras for them, and I remember that they wore them at least once with me as I took them to school. They might have worn them a time or two otherwise, perhaps as part of a Halloween costume or dress up like a literary character day (the youngest went as Mike Hammer one year because that’s how we could dress him up with the materials at hand, including a small fedora).

This year, my beautiful wife asked me if I remembered that, and of course I do. One of the monitors in my office spends much of its time with a slideshow of family photos, so I see Mike Hammer at the very least with some regularity. And she decided that adult fedoras would make a wonderful gift. So she planned to order them, but left it to me, so I could balance low-cost with quality, or at least find some that were not shipped flat (and had trouble returning to shape).

I wanted something as inexpensive as possible because I expect my boys, now 17 and 15 and not so enamored with their father, to not wear the fedoras at all. But time will tell. I also expected that they would presume this was my idea.

I found this pink fedora at Relics, and I thought about giving it to my wife from the boys, but it’s twenty dollars. Not bad for a fedora, but I am trying to exercise a little fiscal discipline in spots, and I know my wife would not wear it. So it’s still available, perhaps for the times when I am less frugal.

The Dogs Playing Poker Chair

I spotted this in the back room at Mike’s Unique. I did not look at the price of it–I am not a fan of secondhand upholstered items in general–but I sent a picture of it to my beautiful wife.

Back when we lived in Casinoport, I must have mentioned the seemingly ubiquituous dogs playing poker paintings. Did we see one at an estate sale? Perhaps. My goodness, they seemed common in those days, but one does not see them any more. They must have been a mid-century or earlier fad whose examples were getting cleaned out in the turn-of-the-century estate sales. My wife fittingly made noise about never, ever at Honormoor (our Casinoport home), but I ended up buying a framed print at some garage sale and hanging it in my garage. I also found a Dogs Playing Poker computer game on a cheap CD at Best Buy (let that be your guide as to how long ago it was, gentle reader: A game on a CD. At Best Buy.). It had you playing poker with a variety of dogs of different breeds with different personalities and styles. I played it a couple of times for laughs, but not much. It was probably about the time Civilization IV came out, and we know how I’ve not played many games besides it in the last twenty years.

I think the frame on the dogs playing poker print got broken one move or another and it got sent out with the donations to one garage sale or another. The game, too, probably went out with the cullings of old CDs, but it’s possible that it’s in the binders with old operating system CDs in the closet. I have not researched it in putting this post together but might take a look through those binders for old time’s sake sometime.

What did I get at the antique malls after spending three or four days of it?

Well, I got some locally produced jams and jellies for the brother and his families. I got a couple of decorative signs and wallhangings for his fiance. And I got a Bob Gibson St. Louis Cardinals jersey for my oldest son. Who didn’t know who Bob Gibson was. I explained he might have been the best pitcher ever, including Nolan Ryan (and he might have been the only pitcher able to best Ryan in a fight). Of course, I might be biased because I just read his first autobiography earlier this year and for some reason–perhaps reading two bible autobiographies this year–Facebook insists on showing me Bob Gibson and Nolan Ryan posts. Unlike the fedora, though, I have seen my oldest wearing the jersey a couple of times at home. Perhaps it will broaden his appreciation of the storied franchise.

I will head back to Relics in a couple of minutes to look for a gift for our friend family since I couldn’t be arsed to make one for them when I was inspired to (and then was not inspired in the two or three weeks since). I might also have a gift or two to give myself, but probably not a lot of records or DVDs. LP prices are way up, and DVD prices are climbing as well–and I have plenty of films to watch now that holiday movie re-watching is over.

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Another Christmas Game At Nogglestead

Not hide and seek with decorations which leads to the annual festival of The Christmas Straggler in January. This one is for the whole holiday season:

What Is That On My Freshly Vacuumed Floor? A Kitten-Mauled Decoration Or A Candy Wrapper?

False dilemma: It could be both!

They went through a phase where they would just let their candy wrappers, snack bags, or soft drink containers–and sometimes glasses–fall from their hands when they were done with them, leaving the detritus on the sofa or floors of the family room.

Which is odd: When I was a kid in the projects, I thought nothing of just dropping trash on the ground even though Milwaukee had public trash cans on just about every block (the green Keep Milwaukee Clean bins which are probably gone now). But I would not do that in the house. But my boys are the opposite: They get almost belligerent when someone throws a cigarette butt out of a car window, but they just drop garbage in the house (and take their shoes off when they come in the house, presumably to keep the dirt out but more likely because that’s what their friends from years ago did at their house).

Maybe they’re not yet out of that phase; maybe it’s that they’ve got devices/televisions in their rooms these days and don’t spend as much time in the common areas. So perhaps (probably) they’re still doing the same thing in their bedrooms now but it’s less noticeable as I don’t go into their rooms that frequently.

At any rate, the floor in the family room was briefly more festive than the rest of the house. Which is on a light decoration protocol this year to regular Kitten-Orchestrated Crashes (KOCs) as I mentioned.

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We Wish You A Xeria Christmas

So the company for which I work has been naming sprints after bands starting with the letter A at the beginning of the year and then progressing every two weeks. When they asked for an A band, I said Amaranthe, of course, and the product manager running the video meeting played “82nd All The Way” up until the unclean vocals.

Which means my coworkers rock less than I do, but to be honest, they’re mostly not in QA.

I’ve suggested proper bands for every sprint since then, but have only had a few suggestions elected via poll to the sprint name.

When we came to the X sprint, I was at a bit of a loss. I didn’t have any bands in my library that start with X. So I did some research (visited the Encyclopaedia Metallum) and started working through some bands.

I found one, Xeria, from Spain, who sings metal in Spanish. Which is unlike many European metal bands who sing in English.

So I went to their Web site, in Spanish, and ordered their CD Tierra, paying the Value-Added Tax and everything.

It arrived today, cell-wrapped and unsigned, but it did include a couple of postcards. Which maybe are a thing still in Europe. Also unsigned.

Well. Also on my desk were a couple of Christmas cards. We have traditionally hung Christmas cards on our living room walls during Christmas, and I’ve made room and have put up the Christmas cards from the overachievers who mailed their cards in November, and, well….

We will see if anyone notices.

Just to update you on the Santa Claus I put on the mantel the first weekend of November to see how long it would take anyone to notice: Nobody did. No one really spends much time in the living room except me, and I did the Christmas decorating this year as it was limited to unbreakable things since the Three Negritos would look upon all Christmas lights and decorations as cat toys.

We’re not even putting lights on the trees this year. Probably just wrapping them a bit with garland. And planning to spend December cleaning up shiny hairballs from the rug.

And now if anyone sees the Santa Claus, they might think we’ve had him all along.

The Xeria post card, though–that will likely be noticed. Maybe.

UPDATE: Actually, my beautiful wife noticed it almost immediately. Perhaps because the Christmas cards are hung basically at the top of the steps from the lower level.

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Good Media Hunting, Saturday Wednesday, November 22, 2023: Relics Antique Mall

I received a couple of gift certificates for $25 from my beautiful wife for our anniversary. As I have mentioned, Relics sells gift certificates and not gift cards, they do not give change for the gift certificates so any amount under the face value is lost if you don’t spend it all, and that the gift certificates have very short expiration dates. So I had to spend the certificates in the next month or they’d be lost as one or more others have been in the past. I thought I might be able to pick up a Christmas gift or two for the dwindling number of people for whom I buy gifts, but I came across a copy of White Men Can’t Jump which was on my list of things to look for, and I was off to the races.

I got several movies which will not fit into nor atop my to-watch cabinet:

Titles include:

  • Meet Me In St. Louis. Given that I lived in St. Louis (for, what, twenty years off and on?), you might think I would have already seen it. Oh, but no.
  • White Men Can’t Jump. My wife was surprised that we did not already have this. I, too, have been surprised that we don’t own films which I’ve seen on home video, but back in the old days, we rented an awful lot of them.
  • Rampage, the Rock movie based on a video game. Probably one of many.
  • The Wolverine, the origin story film. We saw it in the cinema, but I am coming to build our DVD collection as well. Although I passed over Deadpool because it was $3 at a booth early in my journey. Had I come across it later, when my calculation changed to I have to make sure to spend the full $50, I would have picked it up. But I did not go back for it.
  • Death Wish, the remake with Bruce Willis. I tried to watch this on Amazon Prime in 2019 but could not (or did not finish it due to annoyance with the service at the time).
  • Grumpy Old Men. Now that I am getting therer, I might appreciate the movie more. Although apparently if I want to see Sophia Loren, I have to get even older until I acquire the sequel.
  • RED. We also saw this in the theater. Man, we went to the theater a bunch in the old days. Now that I am a grumpy old man, I don’t think there’s much in cinemas that I want to see.
  • Titanic. Not the James Cameron one.
  • Ma and Pa Kettle Back on the Farm. These films were huge back in the day, but they didn’t interest me when they were in syndication when I was a kid. Now I live in the Ozarks and perhaps I can appreciate them more.
  • Funny Farm. A Chevy Chase movie I’ve not seen. You’d better believe I’d jump on a $1 copy of Modern Problems.
  • Date Movie, a modern(ish) spoof of date movies from the people behind Scary Movie and, likely, Not Another Teen Movie.
  • District 9.
  • Live Free or Die Hard. Quite the Bruce Willis haul today. I think I have the others. Are there four or five now?
  • Men in Black 3. I was not aware there was a third with Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith. Apparently so.
  • Revenge of the Pink Panther. When I reported on Return of the Pink Panther in June, I said:

    I don’t know that I have seen any of the other films or reboots in the wild, but I might pick them up in the future if they’re a buck or so (as this was when I bought it in April).

    This has proven true.

  • Married: With Children: The Complete Second Season. This early Fox comedy was considered crass at the time. We will see how crass it is relative to modern things thirty years later. Also, Christina Applegate.

I also picked up some records. I couldn’t even tell you what I bought!

Which is true, because the bundle above with the twine was sold as ten LPs for $2.95, and I will just now untie it to see what I got. I told the young lady ringing me out about how Mainstream Records in Milwaukee used to cell-wrap ten singles pulled from juke boxes and sell them together, and how I loved to buy them a lot because one never knows when one might find something one liked in them, such as a Prince side project. But I predicted that the bundle was one Percy Faith record and nine copies of Bob and Thelma Sing The Lord’s Glory

Well, I know I got:

  • When Lights Are Low by the George Shearing Quintet. I paid $5 for it which is a bit outside my normal price range, but I like George Shearing.
  • A Jean Pierre Rampal/Robert Veyron Lacroix collection of classical works. It was only $1 at the same booth as the Shearing record, so I was able to tell myself that I only paid $3 per record between the two of them.
  • 30 Trumpet Favorites by Jim Collier. It was $4 at that booth, so the amortizing was not going so well. But I was looking to make sure that I spent the $50. Actually, more than $50, as I did not want to get to the checkout and find that one of the booths was 20% off so I only spent $46.87. Something similar has happened once or twice. So some of the records I bought were more expensive than I’d normally spend. Well, now. In a couple of years, they’ll all be expensive.
  • Liszt: Hungarian Rhapsodies by Balint Vazsonyi. I remember mention of them from the lecture On Great Master Liszt: His Life and Music.
  • Sinatra’s Swingin’ Session. I will mention this record was only $3.50. Which is odd as anything remotely noteworthy tends to go for $7 to $20 in some booths.
  • 52nd Street by Billy Joel. I might have had this another time, another place–in college, when I had a record player and bought some Billy Joel at Recordhead in Milwaukee when they were cheap as people were switching to cassettes for their musical libraries. It might have been one of my records that actually sold at one of my mother’s garage sales. I paid $7.50 here for it. It helped to put me over the top. And, coincidentally, “Zanzibar” from this record played on WSIE while I’ve been typing this post.
  • I’ve Gotta Be Me by Sammy Davis, Jr. A lot of relatively inexpensive Rat Pack to be had. Although I had a little difficulty remembering this afternoon all five of the major members of the 60s Rat Pack until now.
  • By Moonlight by Wayne King. A saxophonist I’m not sure I’ve heard of.
  • Bill Pearce Trombone. A collection of gospel songs on trombone, I reckon. Actually, all I saw was trombone at the antique mall, but it is on A&M’s Word records, and I looked at the back, and it is. So I will play it tomorrow morning.
  • Swingin’ by Dean Martin. I think I have it already, but, if so, then now I have two.

All right, now for the unveiling of the bundle. It included:

  • Malaguena: Music of Cuba by Percy Faith and his Orchestra. It was inevitable that I would someday begin to collect his work as well. This one came with bonus discs.
  • Solisti di Zagreb, a collection of classical string material conducted by Antonio Janigro.
  • Mozarto Concertos 21 and 23 conducted by Alfred Wallenstein.
  • Elman Jubilee Record by Mischa Elman, violinist.
  • Buxtehude Organ Music by Walkter Kraft. A collection of preludes and fugues for organ.
  • Dream Along with the Singing Strings, a collection of string songs with “Dream” in the title.
  • Dream-Time Waltzes by Reg Owen conducting the Vienna State Opera Orchestra.
  • Stadivari Strings Sampler, a sampler disc of some line’s string records.
  • Pop Concert Favorites by the Morton Gould Orchestra.
  • Sweet Voices of Inspiration, a Longines Symphonette Recording Society platter of choir songs.

Holy cats, did I luck out. I thought it would be a collection of the family gospel group records that sellers cannot give away. Instead, it’s not far off of things that I would maybe buy at the Friends of the Library book sales on half price day. Except fewer Pretty Women on Covers (PWoC). I laughed out loud in relief and joy.

So, at any rate, although every booth seemed to have a sale going running up to the holidays, I managed to go over the gift certificates by about $15. Still, a respectable haul for that amount.

Of the films, I am most likely to watch White Men Can’t Jump first (it is the one I was keeping an eye out for). As to which record I will listen to first, c’mon, man, it’s the Shearing record, ainna? I shall go listen to this presently as I start baking pies for tomorrow.

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Facebook hit me with a bunch of suggested nostalgia posts yesterday about the film Night of the Comet (a Christmas movie by the way) because it was released this week in 1984.

Meanwhile, KY3 alerts me Look up! Leonid meteor shower peaks this weekend.

If anyone needs me, I’ll be barricaded in the local shopping mall. We still have one here in the Springfield area for emergencies just like the one I’m expecting.

Also, Friar, note: Geoffrey Lewis. Who was also in Spenser: Promised Land as I recall.

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A Work Hazard

As you might know, gentle reader, I am a software tester by trade, so part of my job includes creating a large number of first name + last name combinations.

As a reader of British tabs, I’m exposed to an awful lot of porn star and OnlyFans names, so I have this fear that I will sometime unwittingly combine a first name and a last name to match a porn star.

Actually, given the size of the industry and the number of names I’ve run through the various systems, this might already have occurred.

Probably, it would result in slightly less opprobrium than if I accidentally combined a first name and a last name to match a Confederate general.

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Musings from a Tech Banquet

Last night, I attended a la-di-da technology group banquet in a suit and everything. I was not nominated for any awards, but my beautiful wife is on the board of the organization. So off to the event I went. It included a lovely dinner and everything. I spent most of the mingling time sitting at our dinner table with my trusty binder, trying to hash out a poem that probably won’t work anyway.

The group’s tech events tends to have a number of sales people and solution providers from companies that will manage your networks or manage your phones provide tech support or development work, or offer education or coaching in any number of disciplines. One rarely finds actual developers and never finds any QA professionals.

But some of the local software developers group appeared. I recognized several of them as I’ve attended a number of the group’s meetings this autumn. Turns out that several of them were up for the young buck awards. So I meandered over and struck up a conversation with a couple of them. The topic of self-assessment of expertise came up, and I said I couldn’t rate myself as a seven of ten in any programming language even though I’ve used several. “And I’m certainly not Seven of Nine,” I said.

You know, Seven of Nine.

“You know, Seven of Nine. The Borg from Star Trek,” I explained to my wife, leaving off how the actress’s divorce led to President Barack Obama. Then I looked at the two developers we were talking to, and one said, “Star Trek? I might have seen it once.”

And I was all like:

It suddenly occurred to me that I was almost twice the age of these developers, and although my heart lies more with them and their work than with tech executives, I was an old man to them.

Culturally, I am older than an old man. My tastes tend to run to books, movies, television, and even music from decades past, often before I was born. Whereas the geek culture of today tends to focus on the present. When I mentioned to the developers I work with that I have a kitten named Meow’Dib (well, formally Maud’Dib), they knew what who that was. Not from the book. Not from the 1984 David Lynch film.

Their geek culture comes from recent streaming series and video games. Not even movies so much any more. Maybe it’s good to have endless reboots even if they’re photocopies of photocopies. It’s the only thing keeping any threads of shared culture together.

The M.C. of the awards portion of the program also made a Star Trek reference because he is older than I am and also didn’t know the audience as well as he thought. At one point, he mentioned “the intrepid Captain Picard,” and I leaned toward my wife and said, “Picard did not captain the Intrepid” as I recognized it was the name of a Star Trek ship. I thought maybe it was the ship that Chekov was on in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, but when I researched immediately after the program ended, I found that the U.S.S. Intrepid was in the original series’ “The Immunity Syndrome” and was crewed entirely by Vulcans. As I last read the Blish rendition of this episode in 2005 and last year when I walked through some of my duplicates in the series, I am surprised I remembered it (and then I remembered the ship Chekov was on was the U.S.S. Reliant).

So I thought I would ambush the M.C. to give him the true flavor of a tech meeting: Someone handing him an ackshually over esoterica in expired pop culture.

I mentioned this to my wife and one of her acquaintances (and my LinkedIn connections, which is lower than acquaintance) about how amusing my plan was, but that I would not carry it out. And all of a sudden I was all like:

I am awkward and off putting even at tech events.

One of the members, an Air Force veteran, stepped up to the podium to recognize veterans, and he asked the veterans in the crowd to stand up.

Five people of 249 did. My wife was a little shocked that the group included so few. Tomorrow, at church, half of the men in the congregation will stand when called upon.

I twirled my finger to indicate the crowd and said, “They went to college.” And did so in the years after mandatory service and after the peace dividend of the end of history which has left us probably ill-prepared for what might come.

So, yeah, these are not my people natively, but I can eventually make small talk with them. Or maybe just the older people among them.

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They Saw Me Coming

Facebook has taken to showing me suggested posts from 1970s science fiction television programs,including stills from Battlestar Galactica and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, and they sent me back with this one:

Let the first amongst you who has not said, “Broot-doot-doot. SPECTRA!” in the manner of Keyop cast the first stone.

I loved this show as a kid when it was in heavy syndication. I can’t remember if it came on before or after school–probably both at different times. But it was my favorite of the Japanese imports that preceded the toy-based cartoons (the Transformers, the Go-bots, G.I. Joe, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe) that would come along in a couple of years.

And, like with Airwolf doing the loop, the climax was generally not over until they reluctantly decided to use the Fiery Phoenix (where some sort of plasma fire covered their regular space ship and they were about invulnerable). Although unlike Airwolf’s loop, the Fiery Phoenix did come with a cost as demonstrated by the agonized character stills that accompanied it every time they used it.

Ah, well. Facebook seems to have turned, if not only for me, into a wellspring of nostalgia. In addition to the aforementioned shows, I get vintage cheesecake served up (some overlap) along with nostalgia-themed pages about growing up in the 1970s and 1980s. Maybe it’s just tailored that way for me since I primarily log into Facebook these days to see what I posted on Facebook in years past. Kind of like what I use this blog for primarily.

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A Little Christmas Retail Therapy At Nogglestead

On Thursday night and Friday, I fought vainly that old ennui. You know, the telos versus deontos: Is what I am doing good for something? Or is it good in itself? If so, why am I not going anywhere and not feeling good about being present in the moment much like I have been present in similar moments for the last fifteen years? Pragmatism versus stoicism/Buddhist mindfulness, if you would. And thinking whichever one I was supposed to be doing, I was doing it wrong anyway.

So on Saturday, I headed over to the Hobby Lobby looking for some wire and some camouflage scrapbook paper. I mentioned last year that I wanted to put my father-in-laws waterfowl calls into a shadow box, and in between then and this summer I did. I used camouflage scrapbook paper instead of fabric, and I used fishing line to tie the calls to the shadow box back. Why? Because the shadow box my mother-in-law had built for us used fishing line, which is unobtrusive, in it. But the fishing line knots, inexpertly applied by yours truly, came loose, and the calls partially fell inside the box.

So I thought I’d do with with wire this time. So I headed to Hobby Lobby for more paper and some wire. And Christmas decorations were in full bloom in the Hobby Lobby. So, on a whim, I bought a little resin Santa Claus for $3.50 and stuck him on the mantel in the living room to see if/when anyone notices.

I told my youngest we would be putting up the Christmas tree in a couple of weeks, and he protested, saying we normally don’t decorate until Thanksgiving. I pointed out that is in two weeks, regardless of whether the daily high temperatures are 75 degrees right now. And I mentioned to my beautiful wife that the local radio station that goes to Christmas music has done so for the last two months of the year.

Putting that little Santa on the mantel made me feel a little better, probably more so than the amusement of wondering if/when they will discover it (no one has so far, although everyone walks through the room several times a day) than the Christmas spirit. But it could have been worse: On the way to Hobby Lobby, I passed someone giving away free Australian Shepherd puppies. Now they would have noticed that (and I was tempted, because what eliminate ennui like a puppy?).

At any rate, it’s not like we have put up a small Christmas tree like after our Christmas-themed trunk for Trunk or Treat in 2021 or when I started playing Christmas records in October 2020. So I’m still not that guy. But I am getting closer. Also, I found a Christmas record that was misfiled in the Nogglestead LP library (where the Christmas records are the only ones kept together and sort of organized, apparently only mostly), so it’s on the desk by the record player. So the odds of it finding its way to the turntable in the next couple of days are pretty high.

UPDATE: It was less than ten minutes before I started listening to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s The Holly and the Ivy, the aforementioned formerly misfiled Christmas record. My beautiful wife, passing through, commented on it. But she has still not seen the Santa.

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