What A Wasted Life Looks Like

They say it takes about 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert, and I still play the game at Settler or Chieftain, the two lowest game settings.

Just think what I could have learned in that time over the last 20 years. To actually play a musical instrument instead of just buying them. I could have written a couple more novels, although they would have probably only sold as well as John Donnelly’s Gold at best, which is not that well. Or something.

On one hand, these hours played actually represent the cumulative time that the game has been open, and most of those hours are time I’m not actually playing them–sometimes, when I start a game, it will run for 48 or 72 hours while I’m not at my computer. C’mon, 175 hours in the last two weeks? I haven’t even spent that much time at my desk.

But, on the other hand, this only represents the time since I bought this game on Steam. Civ V, if I recall, was the first that required a Steam login to play. So the Steam version only comes with, what, my current computer, which is only a couple of years old.

Still, I could better spend my time. Although, as you might know, gentle reader, I’ve gone through phases of my life where I play a lot of Civ and then patches where I don’t. I just happen to be in that patch of playing it for a bit every afternoon or night now.

And practicing guitar or harmonica or maybe getting to some of the I’m Gonna projects in the garage? Not so much.

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Like a Bad Neighbor, Brian J. Is Somewhere Else

On Wednesday afternoon, my oldest son asked me to come outside. He was not asking me to a game of Horse or 1-on-1. Instead, he was showing me that he had sheared the passenger side mirror off of the truck that he uses to commute to school. As it is a power mirror, it was hanging by the cabling. Instead of pulling the whole door apart that afternoon, we duct-taped it with a little support beneath it in an effort that would prove mostly futile to stabilize it until we could get another mirror ordered and then only pull the whole door apart once (and hopefully put it back together again).

As I was putting the duct tape away, I noticed someone coming across the private drive that separates us from our nearest neighbor, D—. D— and her husbandlived there when we moved in, and I’ve talked to them on a couple of occasions, and I’ve even been in their house a time or two to help trouble shoot computer issues or help move a refrigerator. But because our 80s era homes have garages that face each other and because we have a football field between our homes, most of our interactions have been waves or shouting “Hi,” across the private drive if we’re going out to get the mail at the same time.

The husband passed away some years ago, and D— has been in declining health recently. One of her children basically moved in with her, and I saw him more than her over the last stretch of time. So when I saw someone coming, I thought it was bad news about D—.

But, no.

Let me back up a bit. When we first moved here, the house at the end of the private drive a quarter mile away was owned by the Whitakers who not only bought the property with the house, but also bought several acres from the previous owners of Nogglestead and built a twenty horse barn (in addition to the 8 horse barn on their property) as they wanted to run a boarding stable. When their dreams fell apart, the banks foreclosed on both parcels. The house has been bought and sold three times, once by the Jones family whom we got to know a little better because the wife was a dental tech at our dentist before they moved out of the area to a real ranch. The next people were only there for a year or so, and I never met them. And I’ve only spoken to the parents of the Russian family that now live there once, and they’ve been there about a year now.

The large barn, though, that was another matter. I went to the auction on the courthouse steps when the barn and its acreage were foreclosed upon–only to discover that the other bidder is likely to be the bank that holds the note, and they start the bidding at the amount of the mortgage. Which is why it was not my twenty horse barn for almost a decade now.

As that parcel and barn originally belonged to the owners of the house at the end of the private drive, its access was through the private drive, and it was landlocked as the easement on the private drive ended before the beginning of the property. And my neighbors across the lane were not eager to allow a business to buy that property, so they refused to offer easements to it for any number of businesses.

Until one man and, I presumed, his wife wanted to make it into a dog ninja warrior training facility. So they bought the property and sued for access to it. To bolster their case, they built a little “house” on it for their residence and said they weren’t going to use it for a business–just parties (or so I heard. Well, once they got access to it, they moved out of their little shed and bought a small house about a mile down the road. Then, when the house opposite our neighbor across the private drive went up for sale, they bought that house and moved into it to be closer to their barn.

I only talked with him once, I think, when he asked about Internet availability (we’re at the end of what was possible with cable, so he’d probably have to go with satellite) and once with his presumed wife when she came to the door to ask if we’d seen anything when someone stole a trailer from that property (we hadn’t). Other than that, it was waving across vast pastures when mowing the lawn or waving at cars when they were coming or going down the private drive to the barn.

Which is why I did not recognize the woman crossing the grass on Wednesday afternoon. I thought it was one of D—‘s daughters, as numerous cars have been parked on the grass over there for the last few days (not likely good news, as I mentioned). This woman said they were having an auction in a week and that there would be lots of cars, so that was what was going on. She handed me a poster for the auction, and when she got halfway across the grass, I asked, “Does this mean you’re leaving?” And only when she got to her car did the full realization hit me. “C—- died” I told my son.

I did a little research, and I found the online guestbook/obituary. He died in December, and I hadn’t noticed. I’d seen increased activity back there in the past few weeks, but that has been typical as they prepared for “dog parties” in the spring and summer. But I guess this year, she was getting ready for the auction.

I kind of feel a little bad that I didn’t notice, and that I didn’t get to know him better. David Burton, whose book A History of the Rural Schools in Greene County, Missouri I read in 2010, has been writing columns on how to be a good neighbor for years, recognizing in the modern world how easy it is to not get to know your neighbors. The modern world combines with my suspicious nature so that I keep neighbors at a distance. Since I’ve been an adult, I’ve really only gotten to know one of my neighbors in five different locations.

Which is not to say we have not tried. We brought Christmas cookies to neighboring houses the first couple of years we lived here, and that never really spurred a lot of communication. I did end up with the phone number of the family of the dental tech at one point, so we had a couple of interactions.

But I’m not a good neighbor. Not a bad neighbor. Just a guy you might wave to and will never miss when you don’t.

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What “I’m Gonna” Looks Like

Geez, Louise, but I’ve never head the condition of my garage better than this:

Because that’s my theory as to what hoarding really is: Reified potential. What might have been, in physical form. Again, n=1 here, so take this for what it’s worth, but the hoarder in my life has elaborate justifications for every single item she’s got, and they’re all of the “I’m gonna” type.

All those newspapers? I’m gonna make a scrapbook. The empty perfume bottles? I’m gonna turn them into wind chimes. She fancies herself an artiste — she even introduces herself that way — although the only actual art she’s ever produced is a series of sketches… from back in high school, which was a long time ago. They’re buried at the bottom of a big stack of sketch pads, all filled with nothing but “gonna.” I’m gonna start sketching street scenes. I’m gonna start tomorrow.

As you might remember, gentle reader, when I moved to palatial Nogglestead, I was spending a lot of time with a couple of toddlers and watched a lot of craft shows like Creative Juice and That’s Clever and hitting lots of garage sales where I bought a bunch of craft materials and things to do inexpensively. And although I did some woodburning and made a couple of clocks and other things, my purchasing ran ahead of my doing, and the completed projects piled up in a couple of boxes when I ran out of people to whom to give things. I’ve held onto broken things, stereo equipment or small appliances, that I’m hoping to fix.

I mean, for a partial example, here are some shelves:

What do we have here?

  • 8-Track Tape shells I bought at a yard sale and gutted with hopes of making cell phone cases out of them. But phones have gotten too big for that.
  • A bunch of wooden plaques and objects for wood burning.
  • A colander missing a handle. Whatever will I do with that?
  • A bunch of glass bottles that I’d hoped to cut the tops off of and turn into candles. Or to etch and make into little lights.
  • Green pipe cleaners, or whatever the modern equivalent is. I think they’re designed to look like coniferous needles. Clearly, I was gonna make Christmas decorations with them.
  • Various bits of old light fixtures. For my art, when I get to it.
  • A vast collection of woodworking and repair guides. For when I get serious about those hobbies.

And that’s just one set of shelves. Not depicted: The boxes full of beads for making jewelry, the 1960s dressers that had been with my beautiful wife and I since our respective childhoods, the cookie sheets that I started painting with chalkboard paint but never finished (which have been on improvised tables in the garage for years now, buried under other accumulata), old computer monitor bezels that I intend to make into whiteboards, various découpage materials, a box of old National Geographics we got when my mother-in-law downsized which I will probably never look at but cannot discard or cut into découpage material, and so on, and so on.

The Nogglestead library is a bit the same way. The stacks contain more books than I can read in my lifetime, and I still buy more (but no longer by the dozens as when I would really go nuts at book sales). Very aspirational in that I’d like to read them all someday. But at least I can generally find something to read when I finish a book.

We’re fortunate enough that we have a large house for all the books, records, videos, and the personal relics that make up the other half of my semi-hoarding kind of life. As you know, gentle reader, my family, or at least the family that I had contact with in the latter part of my growing up, has mostly passed away. So I am loath to part with anything that I have received as part of their legacies, from the figurines that were on the living room shelves in the housing projects, trailer parks, and beyond (and which appear on the cover of Coffee House Memories) to the little tchotchkes that my grandmother has given us over the years (a little boy doll and train music box when my first son was born and a motion sculpture later) and beyond. Without people who remember my history to validate my existence or correct my stories as needed, I rely on these little icons to remind me of where I come from.

Regardless, the I’m gonna does capture the essence of a lot of crap around here and a very cluttered garage.

I guess I have three choices:

  1. Do instead of gonna.
  2. Go all Marie Kondo and clear the crap out.
  3. Die and leave it for my heirs to sort out.

C’mon, man. You know which one I’m going with. The Nothing.

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Like Chesterton’s Fence

It’s Nogglestead’s plate:

I came upstairs this morning to find an inverted plate on top of a napkin just inside the door to the deck.

Now, normally, I would attribute this to the boys, who would never think of littering outdoors but let wrappers, empty bottles, and anything else fall from their hands wherever they are inside our house. But they’re on their band trip this week, so they’re not around.

I would attribute it to the cats, especially the kittens, but the plate would probably be too heavy for them to carry by mouth, and there’s nothing nearby for them to have knocked it down.

So it must be that my beautiful wife put it there for some purpose, and as I do not know what that is, I cannot pick up the plate.

She’s in a long business call right now, so I still have plenty of time to let my imagination go wild. Is there a dead mouse or bug beneath it? Something she does not want the cats to get, and she did not have time to clean it up before her call?

Cruel blogger that I am, I might not bother to update this post with the solution so you’ll never know. Or, as likely, she will pick it up before I ask her about it, and I will forget about it until I read this post some years hence, at which time I might bring it up and she will be unlikely to remember.

(Chesteron’s Fence explained.)

UPDATE: Apparently, the unneutered kitten marked his territory by the door. His neutering is in a couple of weeks, and it cannot come quickly enough.

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Skynet Plays the Long Game

I was at a conference this week, and one of the stars of the show was one of Boston Dynamic’s Spot robot dogs.

As you know, gentle reader, in the grim future, the last remnants of humanity use dogs to spot infiltrator terminators:

Very clever of Skynet to send its agents back in time to get humanity to replace real dogs with robots before it unleashes the terminators. Very clever indeed.

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Another Word Verboten

Bill Walton facing backlash for using a derogatory term on broadcast.

I always wonder if the news story will mention what the offending word is. If it’s really, really, double plus ungood, no. But if it’s only a single plus ungood or less, it will, and it did:

During halftime of Arizona State’s eventual 77-72 win over USC on Thursday, Walton — who serves as a broadcaster with ESPN — used the “m-word” while complimenting the in-game host.

“He does not need a little chair because he is a giant in a world full of shriveling m—–s,” Walton said.

Walton then turned to his broadcast partner, Dave Pasch, and joked: “Speaking of shriveling m—–s, what is your name again?”

The m-word. Time will be there will be too many words to be the letter word. But fortunately, when all dictionaries are electronic, they will update automatically.

In the meantime, comrade, if you see one of these offensive cars:

Remember to bash it with whatever is at hand. For s- – – – – j- – – – – -!

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Today, In “I Roll To Disbelieve” News

Suggested for me, because apparently Facebook thinks I’m impressionable:

Wow, 1825 miles in 24 hours. Which is, what, 76 miles an hour for 24 hours straight with no breaks to, I dunno, fuel the motorcycle?

I thought maybe it was a joke I didn’t get, an actor from a movie or something, but this guy is in the American Motorcyclist Association Hall of Fame, and the Web site mentions his feat.

So if it’s on a Facebook suggested post (why the motorcycles all of a sudden? Did I like a post about hockey, so I must like all sports with helmets?) and the Hall of Fame Web site for an organization I’d never heard of, I guess I have to admit the very small chance it might be true.

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Good, Uh, DVD Hunting, Saturday, February 25, 2023: Relics Antique Mall–“I Have This Gift Card”

The end of last week was a little… rough? I was called to St. Louis to be the awake person for a medical procedure that had almost killed my brother two of the first three times he’d had it done. So it was about seven hours driving round trip to spend fourteen or sixteen hours in a variety of hospital waiting areas and a couple of hours with my brother. He actually made it, although the doctors are pretty much using him as a test case for his condition now, and whole practices come to see him and try to learn from him.

So I came back on Friday afternoon. On Saturday, we volunteered at a 5K race since we were too late to sign up for it only to learn we were at a water station on the marathon route (well, the 10K, half marathon, and marathon route). Which put us in a church parking lot from 7:30 to almost 4pm.

So afterwards, I had a snooze and then wanted a little retail therapy. Actually, I was still looking for a copy of Demolition Man since watching a Critical Drinker YouTube video on the movie some weeks ago:

Ah, gentle reader, the lies we tell ourselves. I had not a Relics gift certificate, but the remnants of a Visa gift card of unknown provenance with about $35 on it. I figured I would hit the big DVD booth and maybe look around for some others. Surely someone would have it.

Well, I found several things not named Demolition Man:

I got:

  • Jonah Hex, a movie based on a DC property, but not a DCEU thing.
  • Born in East L.A., a Cheech Marin comedy from the 1980s.
  • Reservoir Dogs, Quinton Tarentino’s opus.
  • National Lampoon’s Holiday Reunion as I’ve generally been pleased with the National-Lampoon-badged comedies I’ve seen recently National Lampoon’s Dirty Movie, National Lampoon’s Adam and Eve, and even National Lampoon’s Black Ball inspired me to buy a bocce set).
  • The Other Guys, the Will Ferrell/Mark Wahlberg comedy which my oldest says is not very good. But he does not have the same perspective as I, a watcher of direct-to-cable movies in my youth, have. Which is to say a low bar to quality films.
  • The Hangover Part II since I just watched the first one.
  • Inception, the dream/alternate reality? mind-bending movie that made a splash some years ago.
  • The Transporter/The Kiss of the Dragon two-pack. I saw a “set” of The Transporter and The Transporter 2 which was really The Transporter bundled with some other random DVDs in the case. The particular booth was not fastidious with the DVDs, leaving a bunch of them in a jumbled box, but it was inexpensive. I got several from that booth, but this set from another. I’ve seen both of these movies, but it’s been a while.
  • Fantasy Mission Force, an early Jackie Chan.
  • The Green Hornet, the 2011 version.
  • The Punisher, the non-Dolph Lundgren version.
  • Mystic River, which I’ve heard is good.
  • GoodFellas, a mob movie which I have not seen as I’m not really into mob movies. But I’ll watch it, and Casino which I have in the two-VHS version around here somewhere, someday. After all, I did watch the three Godfather movies two years ago.
  • The Blind Side which I’ve seen before, but I am apparently on a Sandra Bullock kick.
  • The Lost Swordship, a Chinese movie from the 1970s?
  • The Animal because who does not love Rob Schneider? Most people, I reckon, but I like his comedies.
  • Terminator: Salvation just to start closing out the Terminator properties. I think I saw the trailer for this ahead of another film recently.
  • Spies Like Us the Chevy Chase and Dan Ackroyd film from the 1980s.
  • Lethal Weapon 4 in case I didn’t have it. Turns out, I do have a box set of all four, so this is a duplicate I’ll donate sometime.
  • Paycheck, the Ben Affleck paranoid science fiction film. I’d recorded this on a DVR and watched it at one point, but I don’t actually remember it that clearly. Which might be the start of my paranoid voyage of discovery!
  • Hard Boiled, a 1990s John Woo film.
  • Collateral, the film where Tom Cruise is the bad guy.
  • Get Shorty, a 90s film based on an Elmore Leonard book. Man, the 1990s were full of Leonard-based films, ainna?
  • My Super Ex-Girlfriend, a Luke Wilson comedy with Uma Thurman.
  • Leatherheads, the George Clooney old-time football comedy.
  • Sideways, the Paul Giamatti film that tanked a wine varietal for a number of years.
  • The Expendebles< the first in the series of old action hero team-ups.
  • Miss Congeniality 2 since I’m on a Sandra Bullock kick which might have started with watching the first one last month.

That’s 29 films. A couple of times, I found a DVD in one booth (often the large booth in the back that deals exclusively with DVDs), and when I found a copy at another booth for less, I’d take the first one back. Well, almost. When I was standing in line to check out, an employee who encouraged me to put my stack in a cart instead of threatening to spill them all over the front of the store pointed out that I had two copies of Sideways. So I gave it up.

I managed to keep the total at roughly $50. Which means my mix of $2 and under DVDs leaned toward the under. So I told my beautiful wife I only spent $15, but that’s because the money is fungible. I used the regular credit card to make the purchase because a line had gathered, and I didn’t want to slow things down any more than taking stickers off of 28 DVDs already had. So now I have another $35 to spend on frivolous things, which I might or might not actually use the gift card for.

And, gentle reader, I remind you why I started buying DVDs in earnest in the last couple of years: Because I realized not only did I want hard copies of films so I could watch what I want when I want it (see this rant from seven years ago) but also because sometime in the near future, DVDs will disappear from the cheap secondhand market.

Although they’re not gone yet from the antique malls, this trip to Relics proved the price curve is about to trend upward (as record prices did within the last few years). The big DVD booth had priced certain recent or rare DVDs at $5 or $10. So DVD prices on the secondhand market are in the process of moving from easy accumulation to you must really want it range. Which is likely to trigger more buying from me whilst I can get videos for a buck or two. And, hey, I have this gift card…..

And, thanks for asking, my brother is doing well. Or at least he’s doing well enough that he’s not telling me how he’s doing or reaching out to me at all. Which could mean he’s in the hospital. Who ever knows with that kid?

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Use Your Head

Don’t trust the government when it says:

“If you come across a bear, never push a slower friend down…even if you feel the friendship has run its course⁣,” NPS [the National Park Service] tweeted Wednesday.

C’mon, man. If the friend is already slower than you are, don’t waste your time and energy pushing them down. Just outrun them.

If your friend is faster than you, though, it’s worth the second or two to hip check them to the dirt before or as you take off.

(Link via Blackfive’s Facebook feed; it looks like Blackfive.net has been dormant for almost four years now.)

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The World We Live In Now

Last month, I posted about Hollywood Squares with Paul Lynde in the center square.

Guess who showed up in my Facebook feed last week?

Sure, sure, coincidence. I mean, where doesn’t a comedian who died forty-plus years ago pop up in the 21st century?

Day before yesterday, I texted my brother “I need a side hustle. What do I like to do that can make money?” (Because, gentle reader, blogging ain’t it.)

Yesterday, someone whom the algorithms had determined I don’t interact with because I don’t interact with her shared a cartoon about side hustles.

And the algorithms for some reason decided I should see it.

With each of these posts, I am less joking and more serious.

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Once More Unto The Year, Dear Friends, Once More, or Close the Wall Up With Our Agéd Dead

I run the risk of divulging biosecurity information that is undoubtedly already on the Dark Web, but today is a special day for me.

Not an extra special round number on the end–that was last year–but my beautiful wife asked me yesterday if I had any especial memories from my birthdays.

My birthdays are generally low-key affairs mostly now because there aren’t many who think beyond posting “Happy Birthday” when Facebook reminds them of the day. I could actually only come up with, on the spur of the moment, a few:

  • On my tenth birthday, I got sent to my room during my own birthday party. Not by my mother or by my mother’s friend, the former country and western singer (one single to her credit) who came with her boys, our friends. No, this was a friend of that friend who was somehow along, perhaps to help manage a gaggle of kids with my newly-separated mother. Annemarie, her name was. Perhaps still is, but that was a long time ago. I probably deserved it, but I’m still indignant.
  • On my 26th or 27th birthday, my new girlfriend wrapped a little gift for me that was “Two bookshelves too big for [my] car” spelled in Scrabble tiles along with handwritten “Now don’t forget to unwrap your girlfriend.” Perhaps this is not so much a memory as a personal relic, as I still have the cardboard and Scotch-taped tiles in a box. I still have the girl, too, I should note.
  • We had a pretty big party on my 30th birthday with my co-workers and some of my beautiful wife’s co-workers, including the Libertarian candidate for Senate who kept up with me and El Guapo, beer for beer. And I almost put out Dennis’s eye showing some others how high our tan tabby could jump by whipping an elastic cat toy back and forth about head height. Unbeknowst to me, Dennis was about head height at about the range of the back part of the back and forth.

As it stands, on my birthday, we sometimes go out to dinner (a steak house last year), sometimes we eat in. Sometimes there’s a cake. Sometimes not. I get a little gift, the boys wish me a happy birthday, and that’s it. My aunt who died in 2019 was the only one to send me a card outside of my insurance agent and my dojo. I’ll get Facebook greetings and an automated mention on my employer’s Slack. But I won’t see anyone today aside from immediate family who will wish me a happy birthday.

Which means this will not be a birthday I will remember except when clicking through old posts and coming across this one.

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Too Old Even For Trivia Nights

So I posted on the Professionalbook:

The Problems of Having Senior in Your Job Title, Part XLIV:

On a popcorn-style Scrum with default layout of 9 tiles, when you finish your update and say, “Dan to block,” and you look at the other tiles and realize none of your co-workers has ever seen Hollywood Squares.

I included an image I found on the Internet:

My beautiful professional wife said she only knew three of the names, one from Wesson Oil commercials and two from The New Scooby-Doo Movies cartoons.

Alors! I knew most of the celebrities in the squares above:

  • Robert Blake, Baretta and the priest in Hell Town, later charged with killing his wife (twenty years ago). I’d forgotten that he was acquited.
  • Phyllis Diller, comedienne and, like me, former resident of Old Trees, Missouri, where she lived in the part with the really big houses.
  • Rich Little, the impressionist.
  • Karen Valentine, actress from the show Room 222 and some Disney movies–I had to look her up.
  • Paul Lynde, comedian and best known to me for being the center square on Hollywood Squares. I said to my wife that she probably could not hear his voice in her head, but I can–I saw him most recently in a skit on The Dean Martin Show.
  • Mac Davis, the singer best known for “Hard to be Humble“. My wife didn’t know the singer, but she hears a rendition of it frequently when I sing “Oh, Roark, it’s hard to be humble,” to the cat.
  • Anthony Newley, a British singer of some sort. I had to look him up.
  • Florence Henderson, Mrs. Brady and so on. Which includes Wesson Oil commercials.
  • Robert Fuller, who I looked up, but I would have recognized him in a clearer picture–he was the head doctor in Emergency!, a television program my sainted mother loved.

So I knew seven of nine.

But they’re too old and too trivial for modern trivia nights, which include no history questions and where pop culture began in the 1980s or later.

It’s weird, though: My pop culture trivia knowledge extends a bunch to the decades before I was born–by the time they were on Hollywood Squares, these stars were in the coasting tail end of their careers, but I knew them. Perhaps because they were in reruns when I was young, but also perhaps because I wanted to make a good showing in Trivial Pursuit, that new fashionable game in the 1980s, where the questions aimed at the thirtysomething crowd would have included these actors and performers from their childhoods and youth. The adults didn’t generally let me play, though.

But I can still try to impress you, gentle reader.

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Facebook Is Just Trolling Me Now

I’ve posted about how Facebook ads have shown up for things I’ve only talked about here and here recently (and probably incessantly in the more distant past).

Now Facebook is just trolling me by showing this suggested for you:

I would be happy to learn that at least Facebook algorithms were reading this blog, but most likely they just heard me talking about these advertisements in person.

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A Lull

Yeah, sometimes I get a little less than bloggy.

Just one of those periods where my blogging is more intermittent than most.

Back soon lest you fear I’m not keeping up with the 2023 Winter Reading Challenge.

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Brian J. Makes Every Maudlin Count

Well, I make almost every moment maudlin anyway.

This week, on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, we had a pretty good snowstorm here at Nogglestead. Initial predictions were for 1 to 12 inches of snow, depending upon when the temperature dropped below freezing. Eventually, we got about four inches of wet, packable snow here.

A couple miles to the south of us and all along the Highway 60 corridor, the route I take to Poplar Bluff to see my brother, they got a foot of snow and have been out of school all week. As is happened, my boys only got one day off of school, although the school had prepared them to be off the rest of the week.

As the temperature had flirted with the freezing point, it was good, warm, packable snow. We rarely get measurable snowfall here–once or twice a year most years–and it tends to be of the colder, finer-flaked variety.

So I knew this might be my last chance to have a snowball fight with my boys.

I mean, I’ve had a couple of snowball fights with my children over the years. Intermittently, and probably not every year, as we have had years with little snow indeed.

I don’t remember having a snowball fight with my father, but we must have tossed a couple of snowballs each others’ way once, ainna? The late 1970s were pretty snowy in Wisconsin, but although I remember epic snow forts built on either side of the sidewalk leading to our apartment in the projects and a snowball fight between us and the kids from the next apartment, I don’t really remember much about my father from that era. He was working, drinking and philandering, or hunting most of the time. So the boys will remember me better, I hope.

As they’re teenagers now, the last times are becoming more prevalent (and my anticipation that this is the last time is even more prevalent–I mourn far more last times than we actually have experienced so far). I mean, the oldest has been applying for jobs now. When the boys have been called to dinner and they appear reluctantly, I’ve pointed out that the times we share nightly meals together are rapidly diminishing, but they don’t know. They’ve always had dinner with Mom and Dad in the evenings. In as little as a matter of days, my oldest might be working most nights during the dinner hour, and we will only be three around the table. For maybe another year.

I suppose I need to get some new in my life to freshen things up, or at least distract me from the things that are passing away. I mean, I’ve been doing martial arts classes for almost a decade and triathlons for five years. So they’re not new, they’re old–and are among things that will be passing out of my life too soon. I’ve taken back up with writing poetry intermittently–but I’ve not had much coffee shop time in recent months–and I’m thinking about attending a couple of open mic nights in the near future.

But, in the mean time, I will post this song again.

Probably not for the last time.

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Once Again, I’ve Seen That Meme

I saw this at Kenny’s:

As with the aisle moving at Walmart, I had just seen that.

Like a commenter over there, I noticed the new lights on a forklift at Sam’s Club, and I thought that the lights were as much for the shoppers as for the forklift drivers to know what was a safe zone around it. But Sam’s employees still escorted the piloted forklift.

Which might be an indicator of what’s next: forklifts without drivers. Although I’m not sure that would work so well, as the layout and position of things on the shelves at Sam’s Club is in flux week-to-week and day-to-day, unlike a warehouse where an unmanned forklift might work better.

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Now It’s Time For Our Short Distance Dedication

A listener in Missouri writes:

Brian, we recently adopted two little boy kittens, almost twin brothers, who are the cutest things. We decided not to declaw them, and they’re growing up nicely, but they have one habit I’m not fond of: They sleep all day, curled up in a chair next to each other, but when their internal clocks strike midnight, they’re very playful, pouncing on each other in the bed, bringing their favorite cat toys into the bed and batting them around, and pouncing on any part of me that I move under the blankets. I am getting up way too early to hide from them, or at least to put myself in a more defensible position for their rambunctiousness.

Can you play a song for us, preferably a feline lullaby?

                –Induced Insomnia in Battlefield

Well, II, all I can recommend is that you take those little boys to the vet to get tutored which will calm them down and make Brook and Amy Dubman happy. In the meantime, here is “Needles in the Dark” by Pretty Maids to get you through the long day and onto another sleepless night of cat games.

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Brian J.’s Recycler Tour, Early Days at the Dojo Edition

From this date in 2011:

Brian J. Noggle just tied the karate belt on his son’s gi based on an eHow tutorial. Noggle hopes this is the traditional way and not the one that signifies the wearer wants to challenge the sensei to mortal combat for the right to lead the dojo.

Of course, he’s not wearing the knot. So it could be worse.

Followed by a comment later:

Aw, nuts.

Well, two positives from this faux pas: 1., perhaps the avenging his brother thing will encourage the younger son to study Karate more dilligently. 2., I made $5 betting on the sensei.

A year later, the younger brother would start classes. A couple of years after that, mommy and daddy started taking classes. In 2022, 3 of 4 reached black belt rank, but only daddy still takes classes there.

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