Book Report: Shin Splints by Dorothy Stroud (2012)

Book coverI got this book at the same time as I got The Way at the Friends of the Library book sale, and it make sense given my shopping habits there the last couple of years: Pore over the dollar records, pore over the dollar videos, pore over the dollar audio books, and then glance at the dollar poetry books and maybe literature section, and only sometimes do I make my way to the Better Books to look at old books, local interest, art monographs, and audio courses. This particular book was sold alone and not part of a tied set of chapbooks and pamphlets, which means I paid a whole fifty cents for the single volume. Was it worth it?

Well… It’s a two sets of poems totalling 57 pages. The first set deals with watching high school track meets, and the second set deals with school. The poet was a teacher, and her husband was a coach, so that’s where she got her ideas from. The poems are short, and the lines are very short–three to five words each most of the time, very action-oriented with a dash of imagery here or there. I mean, not bad, but not the best.

And you would think I would be the audience for this. Or sympathetic at least, as I have satten in bleachers this last spring cheering on my son who decided to do track in high school after a year off. The cover image is a track meet from field level with mountains in the background. Our photos are not as exciting. They’re from the cheap seats, and our perspective on our long-distance runner and a bit of the inner football field, maybe, is less descriptive than the photos of old. We can look back on them and say what school or gym they were in in middle school, but in the tightly focused shots this spring, they all look the same. Perhaps I shall try a wider focus next year. Oh, wait, this is a book report. Back to it….

The author has an acknowledgements page where she tells you that four of the poems had previously appeared in four different magazines/journals/zines/Web sites, and that’s nothing to sneeze at. Coffee House Memories has an acknowledgements section that is only slightly longer, and I was trying to be a poet at that time–and I really have no pub credits for poetry after like 1997, so perhaps I just don’t know what the market will bear.

Someone, though, thought enough of this book to buy it in 2012 from Amazon for $4.99 plus $3.99 shipping plus sales tax according the a paper folded inside the back cover. I cannot count this as a Found Bookmark; even though it’s a sales receipt, it’s not of a particular place or shop. It’s not even like pamphlets/flyers that came with some of the volumes of various mail-order collections which detail the book and so on. I think I’ll feed this into the shredder presently. Let that be a marker of what I think of Amazon packing lists in books I buy secondhand.

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It Almost Feels Like I’m Giving Up

Ah, gentle reader. The garage at Nogglestead is quite a mess. It’s only mostly my fault. As I mentioned and you might remember from years past on this blog, I dabbled in numerous handicrafts back when the television programs Creative Juice and That’s Clever! were on.

I did some beading, I did some glass painting, I did some glass etching, I did some découpage, I made some clocks out of platters and plates, and a bunch of other things. A week or so back, I might have mentioned that I went digging through completed things for a silent auction at church and destroyed some stained glass painted things.

I have not been terribly active in the crafting realm, and that’s partly because the garage is a mess. And part of the reason that it’s a mess is that I accumulated, over the years, materials for projects that I have not completed or done. For instance, I have the slats from the boys’ old bunk beds–they were little 2″ by 1″ (or smaller) sticks that I replaced with two by fours when I built the beds. I believe I’ll woodburn a large design on them, but not yet. I’ve also saved the old hanging lamp from our front porch when I replaced it; I thought I would clean it up and, what? I dunno.

I also saved a large number of wine bottles, jars, and other glass things for etching, stained glass painting, making candles, or something. But over the years, I’ve moved them around a bit when trying to clean the garage, but I’ve not used them. So I recycled a bunch of them, and it looks like I have another bin to sort through and recycle once I clear a path to it.

I’m also considering discarding the stained glass paints I have. Those projects ultimately did not turn out so well. I have a small toaster oven in the garage for curing polymer clays, but most of the stained glass painting I’ve done has been on vases and whatnot, things too large for the toaster oven. And air curing them, which the bottles indicate is an option, has a limited shelf life as I’ve learned. So maybe I should let them go.

Still, it feels a little like I’m giving up on completing these projects. It’s not like giving away books that I think I will never read, but it’s diminishing some possibilities, and for some reason it makes me feel old.

And, I suppose, I could look at it as a step in cleaning up the garage so I have some room to work. Which is likely true, but it’s not a given that the garage will be cleaned in 2024. Or 2025. Let’s not get all up in a hurry in here.

To be sure, it will not look as good as Cedar Sanderson’s craft space. But we have boys aging to men, and we will have an extra bedroom or two likely before I get the garage into any sense of order or even a workshop. Perhaps I can put a desk in one of them and have a workspace.

The next step, or maybe the first: Overcoming laziness and prioritization that puts twee blog posts before meaningful work.

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New Fauna and Fungi of Nogglestead

It has been a couple of weeks (months?) since I’ve heard the coyotes leaving the battlefield in the evenings or returning in the mornings. Have I not heard them because they’re not there, or because I have not been outside nor had the windows and doors open at sunrise and sunset (although I have been in the pool around sunset some nights, but the coyotes come out a little later)?

The appearance of a pair of rabbits might indicate the former.

These little rascals live in the eastern part of our windbreak and spend most of their time in the side yard. One day, though, I surprised them in my garden, and they tried to jump the fence in vain. One darted out the garden entrance, and one squeezed through or under the fence, and the low-tailed it around the pool and to the windbreak. This weekend, as I was mowing the lawn, one of them was near the garden, and he tried to run but was reluctant to cross the driveway pavement. I chased him around a little as I continued my spiraling cutting section, and he eventually overcame his fear of the driveway and bolted around the front of the house and to its burrow.

Without the coyotes around, I guess the next biggest threat to them is hawks and owls and presumably my lawnmower.

Our last garbage company was having trouble meeting its pickup obligations–private like me, but they also have contracts with a couple of the cities and towns around here that provide that “service” to their citizens. So they dumped a large number of the private citizens who contracted with them. They never picked up their wheeled bin, though; I guess because we got it from the company we first signed up with that the later company acquired, I guess that they did not have it on record that it was their bin. So they left it and did not come to get it when we mentioned it when requesting a refund for the two months’ service that we paid for and that they were not going to refund on their own initiative.

Which has left me with an extra bin, and I don’t mind. Sometimes we have overflow, such as nine pallet-sized burlap sacks that our firewood comes; we top off our weekly trash in the bin with our new company by adding these sacks. Once, our new trash company refused to empty our bin because it was too heavy–I swapped all cat litter boxes at once. So I dumped the cat litter and scooped it into bags and put them in the overflow bin and over the course of weeks (for two more weeks, the new company refused to lift the bin when they could see cat litter in it), I optimally weighted the bin and eventually got all the cat litter out. So it’s come in handy for us a couple of times.

And it provides a nice spot for Jake, our new outdoor snake pet, to rest in afternoons.

Jake looks to be a rough earthsnake. You might remember I made snake flashcards for my boys to study in the probably-soon-to-be-previous unpleasantness. I packed those away at some point, so I had to go to the Internet to look for photos to guess.

I found him when I moved the spare bin to run the line trimmer behind it. I’ve moved it a couple of other times to show Jake to the family and just to say “Hi.”

A couple years ago, the electric co-op decided they were done trimming the oak at the end of my driveway and cut it down and ground out the stump. Grass has not encroached on the remaining wood chips much. I saw a normal mushroom there, and as I went to get the mail a week ago, I noticed a touch of color.

A quick Internet search indicates this is a mutinus elegans, which sounds like Elegant Mutiny in Latin. Commonly known as Elegant Stinkhorn, the colloquialism I will use is “Devil’s Dipstick.” I’ve mowed them since then, but they will be back.

Wikipedia says they’ve been reported in Texas, Colorado, and Iowa; consider them reported in Missouri, then.

You might have thought that fauna included new cats at Nogglestead, but no. Cisco does not like cats outside and will go into berserker mode if one sits outside the glass and stares at him. There haven’t been too many of those recently, fortunately. My son and I did have a chunky tabby come and sit on the pool deck and watch us when we were in the pool, but he’s not too friendly–I came out another door to chase him off when he was offending Cisco, and he ran to the edge of my deck and then made aggressive noises at me. So he won’t be sharing an office with me any time soon, and I need to put a broom on the deck to use to chase him off if he really gets aggressive.

At any rate, something different this year at Nogglestead. Maybe I’ll show you soon the new flora at Nogglestead, including lettuce in the garden. Which apparently attracts rabbits.

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Things We Never Knew Came To An End

The church picnic had a couple of crossstitched pillows in the silent auction, and although I did not actually bid on them in the auction, I picked them up later amongst the remnants, paying more than I would have bid on the items.

The woman who had made them had taken them home but brought them to church on Sunday, so I am not sure if the money I gave her went to the church or to her at that point. Probably the church as she’s active in it and a good congregant. If not, well; the amount I gave her was probably enough for the kits (if she bought them retail) plus materials leaving some pre-labor reform wages for her effort. I know how that goes; when thinking about how much my handiwork in woodburning or whatnot could retail for, the cost was generally less than the cost of the materials if I bought them retail and even if I used scrap, the wages for my effort would be below minimum wage.

I told her when I asked about them that my mother had been very creative and sewed/embroidered/creweled a bunch when I was young. She was even a hostess for the Creative Circle organization which had the late 20th century housewife sales parties but for kits for sewing and not home décor or kitchenwares. So maybe she seemed like she was doing a lot because she was making her sample kits. But I remember latch-hooked pillows and samplers on the wall. But at some point, she just stopped. Maybe it was in the move to Missouri, or maybe it was because she got a full-time job with a two hour daily commute that sapped that energy to do things at home or the later second shifts which tampered with her diurnal cycle. Maybe she spent that time on home maintenance/home improvement when she got houses of her own. Or maybe she continued her whole life but I stopped noticing. Probably not the latter, as I went through her effects after she died and did not see much of that.

As I mentioned, I used to do a lot of handicrafts. Beaded jewelry, woodburning, glass etching, making clocks out of old trays and platters. I guess I was most active with it when I was not full-time or between contracts and when I was hopped up on watching Creative Juice and That’s Clever! and The Joy of Painting with my young children. As I made things, I boxed them up, and honestly thought maybe I would box them up until a silent auction at church rolled around. I thought about a spot in the antique or craft malls, but my work was pretty rudimentary, and I don’t think I would be able to charge enough to cover materials and retail space, much less any effort. And as I got full time work and contracts, I just kind of wandered away from making things for the most part.

And the church didn’t really have many silent auctions over the years. The one at the picnic is only one of a few in the last couple of years, and the auction itself revealed why: Nobody bid on most of the the hand crafts. I picked up a stained glass angel for a Christmas present, but we’re only buying presents for a couple of people these days and don’t need many such articles. So it’s not like I’ve had a place to dump my excess crafting cheaply and for a good cause.

I didn’t share anything anyway. When I unpacked some of the things when the church called for donations, I discovered that the stained glass painting I’d done in 2012 were ruined. I’d wrapped them in old shirts to protect them, and over the years, the paint adhered better to the shirts than the glass. Unwrapping them peeled the paint off of them. So I guess the best way to cast it is that I now have a couple of glass pieces to etch or to paint with the stained glass paint again, but I guess it’s a decade old now. Not that I would have anywhere to go with the completed product.

Ah, this started out as a post about how my mother did cross-stitch until she didn’t. It turned into a how I did crafts until I didn’t. I wonder if reasons were similar, and if my mother ever thought about it.

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Well, They Spared Me Excessive Gratitude

As I mentioned, I cleaned my store room last weekend, and as part of the cleaning process, I actually disposed of some items in the store room which I will probably never use.

One bin contained phone and Ethernet cabling supplies. I bought some Ethernet cable ends, crimping tool, and wall plates twenty-five years ago when I took hardware classes at the community college and thought I might pick up some free lance work running cables. I (badly) pulled cables from my office to that of my beautiful wife in our home in Casinoport (which included running some conduit pipes the length of the house in a ceiling cavity). I ran Ethernet cables between our offices in Old Trees as well following the phone lines outside the house. And although I got a bid for professionals to do it here at Nogglestead, I ended up running 30′ of cable between our offices and drilling holes in the wall instead of using wall plates (the professional bid was $1000 in 2009 dollars, which is something like eleventy billion in Bidenbucks). I’d originally ordered a kilometer of Cat5 cable, but I sold that at a garage sale at some point in the early part of the century. Somehow, though, I ended up with smaller spools of Cat5 and phone cable, but to be honest, it was not likely 1 Gigabit cable, and as everything is wireless these days (and Nogglestead might well be my last house), so I thought I’d get rid of the cables. I somehow also had a small box of coax cable, so I bundled them together.

A church group has called for donations for its fundraising rummage sale, so I thought about including it with the several boxes of bric-a-brac that has been cluttering my garage for years (somehow, we miss the annual fundraiser some years). But instead of dumping it on them, I called the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, a retail store where Habitat sells donated building materials. The guy who answered the phone had to go ask if they would take the cables, but when he came back, he said he would.

So I ventured up there on a Saturday morning, and I’m sorry I did.

The place was a zoo. A jacked up pickup truck had broken down or something and was blocking part of the entrance not only with the truck but with people clambering around it and under it. The parking lot was too small for the number of vehicles there. People were just parking willy-nilly and wandering through the parking lot without looking. I found an actual parking spot and had my youngest grab the box of cables, and….

The guy receiving the donations was completely dismissive of our donation. He reluctantly took it off of our hands and said they could probably recycle it, but he might have thrown it in the dumpster when we turned away and tried to navigate our vehicle out with minimal property damage and loss of life.

You know, excessive gratitude for little donations like this embarrasses me. However, disdain or annoyance at my small bit to try to help, that boils my blood every time.

The food pantry that my church supports is on the north side of Springfield, which means it’s a bit of a drive for us, and I used to take our old canned goods up there. But the volunteers there ranged from indifferent to annoyed, so I started dropping stuff at the food pantry in Republic where they’re generally pleasant.

It’s almost enough to make me less kind.

And at least the crap is out of my store room.

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For The Wages of Temporary Fastidiousness Is Dearth

of free time on the Memorial Day weekend.

Oh, gentle reader.

I have recently added little air filters to a couple of rooms in the house, particularly where cat litter boxes are present (during the recent reign of litter box averse cats from the previous generation, we added cat litter boxes in the living room up stairs and in a corner of the den downstairs to give the old cats options, and we’ve left the one in my office where the kittens were sequestered during their first days in the house). And I have been pleased to note how much the little $50 devices knock down the dust in those areas, so I thought, “Why not put one in the store room?” as this room holds three litter boxes (and, indeed, for a long time were the only litter box location in the house).

To put one in the store room, I would have to find an electrical outlet, presumably one behind the boxes of miscellania on the shelves. Hey, I was planning to swap out the cat litter boxes for fresh litter and to mop the room anyway. Why not dust everything at the same time? It’ll only be a couple of hours, ainna?

Oh, but no. Gentle reader, it took me over 10 hours to remove, dust, vacuum, mop, dust again, and replace everything. Steps included:

  1. Removing old cat litter
  2. Dusting and moving out all boxed old computers, comic books, old files, those bins of cables I cannot yet part with, and personal memorabilia as well as unsorted loose items meant to be put in the appropriate place “someday.”
  3. Removing shelving units
  4. Sweeping the floor
  5. Mopping the floor
  6. Hosing off shelving units
  7. Setting up fresh cat litter boxes
  8. Sort the, er, unsorted items and put them into the proper bins or boxes
  9. Dust (again) boxes before returning to the store room
  10. Dispose of certain items earmarked for donation or other, er, disposal

Not included: Dusting my office where I put the boxes and whatnot while I swept and mopped.

My goodness, almost fifteen years’ of cat litter leaves quite a patina on everything. Not everything had been undusted in that time–I’d dust or wipe things as I got into them or whatnot–but the fine, fine dust on everything stuck to my hands such that I had to wash them like Lady Macbeth to keep from leaving dust on things I was dusting. And a couple of the shelves had an inch or more of cat litter under them where the cats had scratched and where the thrown litter had fallen through the holes in the shelving.

As I started the room reassembly, I groused about it or demonstrated frustration with the fact that it would eat up my Memorial Day, and she asked me if it was worth it. And: I don’t know. I mean, nobody’s going to see it, and nobody at Nogglestead will notice (as I’m generally the one who goes into the store room. But, c’mon, man, it needed to be done. Which I wonder if it isn’t thematic of my whole existence: Doing what needs to be done, but nobody sees it.

At any rate, look upon my works, ye mighty, and join my despair:

I hope the new filter can keep up with the cat litter dust. And that I can keep up keeping the new filter clean.

And hopefully after a few more days, I will stop smelling that dust.

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Clearly I Need To Upgrade

Or maybe I need to read the manuals or online help or related articles. But whenever I try to take night photographs with my iPhone, I am very disappointed.

For example, on Sunday night, we’d had storms, and fog began to rise from the moist ground. Across Nogglestead, the 4th family to live in the first part of Whitaker’s Folly since we moved into Nogglestead keeps their front porch light on. From my vantage point on the glider on the deck, I see the light diffused through the fog behind the a lone tree standing in our field, and it’s an interesting shot.

But with my iPhone, it’s:

I took several shots with several different settings, and that’s the best of the lot. It has a sort of Impressionist feel to it, but if only I could have captured it more clearly, I think it would have been a better shot.

I’ve thought from time to time about taking up photography as a hobby–enough that I have acquired more than one tripod–and I have one or more books on photography in the stacks. And I once tested a photography class sharing Web application when my best client took a photography class and founded a startup to support it as one does. But I’ve never gotten serious about it. Or serious enough to actually discover what those little icons on my phone’s camera app mean.

I guess that’s a story of my life: I thought about something, but did not pursue it with vigor.

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The Probably Temporary Fastidiousness of Brian J.

I might have mentioned that life is a bit transitional here at Nogglestead these days. The boys are getting older (one has graduated), so they don’t need their dad as much–as a matter of fact, I see them too little these days as they go about their endeavors. And my job situation is uncertain, and it’s taking its time to resolve and might for some time yet.

So, in my uncertainty, I have seized upon something I can control to make myself feel more in control, and that’s taking care of Nogglestead.

In the olden days, when I was watching the boys most of the time or immediately after they were both in school full time, I cleaned the house metronomically. I swept every day; I cleaned the bathrooms completely on the weekends and the bathroom counters on Wednesdays as well. I painted several rooms. I mopped and vacuumed weekly at least.

But with the contracts and the employment, the housecleaning slowed. Dusting happened every couple of weeks. Dusting or vacuuming the lower level fell to once a month. Yard and garden work, at least my part of it, fell to half-hearted plantings in the spring. Sometimes, especially toward the end of the previous vinyl liner, pool cleaning and maintenance occurred intermittently. In my defense, some of this was delegated to teenaged boys who would prefer to do other things over the summer than work, and we were to busy and, frankly, inattentive or lazy to insist.

But now? Again with the metronome. Pool on Fridays. Dusting upstairs and bathrooms on Saturdays. Cleaning the hall floors on the weekends. Dusting and vacuuming the lower level every other week. I’ve started mowing the lawn every week or ten days (which will slow in the drier summer), and I have started completely weed trimming and edging Nogglestead. Mowing is three to three and a half hours each time, and the trimming/edging is two to four hours spread over a couple of days/charges of the battery packs we have for the trimmer.

And you know what? Everything looks nice. And I’m a little eager for time to pass so I can start these chores over again. But I will enjoy the tidiness of Nogglestead while it lasts.

Hopefully, things will even out again, and Nogglestead can fall back into untidiness.

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Brian J. Lets The Old Man Out

Ah, gentle reader. As you might know, I am one of those old men who thinks he’s holding the line on aging. Well, not in my popular culture knowledge. I’m certainly not listening to new hip hop or pop music nor watching the latest reboots of things I enjoyed when I was younger. I guess I’ve always had an old soul when it comes to that sort of thing. I’ve always read old books, whether capital-L Literature or old suspense and science fiction. But, still, I’ve done martial arts classes with people much younger than me, and I’ve had my children in school with children whose parents were ten years younger than I am. So I might have been fooling myself, but I thought as long as I had kids in school, I was young.

But, oh, gentle reader, the oldest has graduated from high school. And even before that event, I’ve been letting the old man out by expressing the way we did things in the 20th century. To whit:

  • On a recent visit to the dentist, I was confronted by a new hygenist who was young and pretty. And although I am happily married, it is the way of the Man to puff out one’s chest a little in this situation. However, at the end of the visit, she scheduled me for my next four-month-cleaning, and I said it was the easy one since it was in the same year. The hard ones were the ones that occurred in the next year, because I would not have the calendar yet upon which to write the appointment.

    Silly old man! In the 21st century, people put appointments in their phones nowadays. Although I do put appointments in a Google calendar for work, it’s still not my default for doctor’s appointments. I still write them on the wall calendar in the dining room. I’m the only one who does, though, so I never know what’s going on with my beautiful wife or my children.

  • One of the organizations for which my wife volunteers had a game night to bring together IT students from various universities with the members of the IT organization. She had trusted me to buy soda and water for the event, and I bought something like four cases of soda and a couple cases of water for the projected 30-60 attendees. I didn’t think it was too much, thinking college kids could easily drink three or four sodas over the course of a three-hour event.

    The treasurer of the organization brought along the big ledger checkbook for the organization to write an expense check for another member. “And a big bag of quarters in case we run out of soda so we can pop down to the vending machines,” I said, ever the jester.

    But the gentleman, older than I am and a manager/executive for many different firms in his career, pointed out that the kids used their cards at the vending machines. Of course they did. But I come from an age where Cokes were not quite a dime, but Vess soda could be had for a quarter from a vending machine.

  • I mentioned my brother got married. He and his wife also closed recently on a nice slice of land which has a nice pre-fab house on a foundation along with twenty-five acres of land which means he has accidentally on purpose, perhaps, but it’s nice.

    Also, it is a new address, so I wrote it in my address book.

    The address book was a gift I received when I graduated high school a couple of years ago. I wrote in it the addresses of high school friends and family members with whom I would correspond throughout high school and beyond (I still double-check my grandmother’s address in the book even though she has lived in the same place for a couple of years now.

    The address book itself now contains more scratch-outs than confirmed addresses, and an Excel spreadsheet maintains the shrinking Christmas card list, so it’s a more accurate and useful representation of street addresses of people with whom I regularly (annually) correspond.

    But I still put this address in my address book.

    Which makes me think I might need to update the centerpiece of the Family Bible as well with wife and children’s names. Which seems fitting as they’re about to head out on their own.

As if these examples enough were not enough to indicate I might be approaching middle age, the wedding videos and photos themselves did.

And I guess I might as well embrace it. After all, it’s not like I’m getting any younger or getting any more sincerely interested in the concerns of the younger amongst us.

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Good Album Hunting, Saturday, May 4, 2024: Wedding Gifts

On Saturday, as I mentioned, I went to a small town in southeast Missouri to attend my brother’s wedding.

As it was the first time that I’d seen him in quite a while, we exchanged Christmas presents for 2023, and he had a couple of milk crates with records in them. He said they were from our mother, but I thought that I had gotten all of her records already. When I started dusting them off and going through them, it became clear that most of the records came from someone else.

I mean, certainly some of them bear the sale tags with a G on them that indicated she’d placed them in the garage sales of the early century, but, again, most of them did not have it, and they were a mixed lot of old/small label gospel (the kind I thought I’d never own), 80s pop, and folk. I wonder if they were just other records that other people had put into the yard sale that were still in my mother’s garage when she passed away or perhaps they were records my aunt picked up before she passed away–given that they included some photos and art with a note written in our family friend Gloria’s hand, it could be any of the above.

So I dusted them off and here’s what the stack included:

  • Workers Together For Him by the Pentecostal Children’s Home. Not found on Discogs)
  • Birthday of a King / Christmas with Bob by Bob Harrington. $3.99
  • Bizet Carmen Suite by Fortuna Records. $19.99
  • To You With Love, Donny by Donny Osmond $.50)
  • Where Did Our Love Go? by the Supremes $1.99)
  • Honky Tonk Classics Volume 2 by Mike Di Napoli’s Trio $3.99)
  • Organ and Chims by Robert Rheims for the Whole Family At Christmas $12.00)
  • Poor Rich Man by Bud Chambers. The cover says he’s America’s Number One Song Writing Preacher. Not found on Discogs, but others of his are listed between $15 and $100
  • Looking for a City by Jimmy Swaggart. $1.68)
  • It Is No Secret by Stuart Hamblen $1.99
  • Bobby Rich Sings Your Requests. $4.99
  • The Best of Scripture in Song by David and Dale Garratt. $3.99
  • What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye (no cover). $0.34
  • Happy Holiday With, a Columbia collection (no cover).
  • Live at the Lighthouse by Elvin Jones (no cover). $10
  • Wheels of Fire in the Studio by Cream (no cover, and only one record from a two-record set).
  • Lonely Blue Boy by Jimmy Griggs (no cover). $3.46
  • La Familia by Kracker (no cover). $2.15
  • The Battle of New Orleans by Jimmie Driftwood (no cover). $12.00
  • You’re All I Need by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, a compilation (no cover). $7.32
  • Children’s Favorites by the Jingleheimers (no cover). $1.00
  • The Wilderness Road and Jimmie Driftwood. $2.85.
  • Mighty Clouds Alive by the Mighty Clouds of Joy. $3.50
  • Oh, Lovely Galilean by Wayne Baldridge. Not found on Discogs.
  • Happiness is Gladness by Gladness Jennings (no cover). $9.99
  • Sing Your Song, Jimmy by Jimmy Williams (no cover). Did not find on Discogs.
  • Don’t Let The Ship Sail Without Me by the Happy Gospel Four (no cover). Did not find on Discogs.
  • Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs by Marty Robbins. This copy does not have a garage sale sticker on it, so I don’t know if it’s the one from my youth, but I know we had a copy as my father played the record on Christmas. $1.98
  • I’ll Keep Holding On To Jesus by the Kenny Parker Trio. Not on Discogs, but other records sell from $3 to $25
  • The Lord’s Prayer by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. $.16
  • Surfer Girl by the Beach Boys. $1
  • Dance, Dance, Dance by the Beach Boys. $2
  • Control by Janet Jackson. $.38
  • You’ll Never Walk Alone by Elvis. $.25
  • Elvis Sings Flaming Star by, well, Elvis. $.32
  • Elvis’ Christmas Album. This is the third or fourth copy we have at Nogglestead. $.50
  • The Muppet Movie Original Soundtrack Recording. This is the second or third copy we have at Nogglestead. $1.99
  • Hi In-fidelity by REO Speedwagon. $.54
  • The Nostalgic Voices and Sounds of Old Time Radio Vol. 2. $1.02
  • You Can’t Be True Dear… in the Ken Griffin Style by Charles Rand at the organ. $.99
  • Blue Hawaiian Waters by Harry Kaapuni and His Royal Polynesians. $1.50
  • This Is A Recording by Lily Tomlin. $.89
  • Little Things by Bobby Goldsboro. $.39
  • Country & Western Stars. $1.49
  • Johnny Horton Sings with a back side by Texas Slim & His Cowboys. $1.02
  • Save the Last Dance for Me by the DeFranco Family featuring Tony DeFranco. $1.45
  • The Brightest Stars of Christmas. $.69
  • This One’s For You by Barry Manilow. $.25
  • I Love You So Much It Hurts Me by Tennessee Ernie Ford. $.74
  • Lawrence Welk’s Ragtime Gal by Jo Ann Castle. $1.08
  • Go Honky Tonkin! by Maddox Bros.& Rose. $1.45
  • Our Best To You: Today’s Great Hits, Today’s Great Stars, a Columbia collection (no cover).
  • Greatest Hits The Fifth Dimension (no cover).
  • Unforgettable Oldies Volume II (no cover).
  • Greatest Hits Volume One by Roy Acuff (no cover)
  • Happy Holidays: The Music of Christmas Volume 2 (no cover)
  • Monkee Business by the Monkees, a photo disc from 1982. $9.25
  • Jerusalem by John Starnes.
  • Sing and Be Happy with Little Marcy. $5.00
  • Andy Presents: The Book of Matthew
  • The Little Drummer Boy featuring Don Janse and His 60 Voice Children’s Chorus, a Clark gas stations record.
  • Perry Como Sings Merry Christmas Music. This is the third or fourth or fifth copy of this record at Nogglestead.
  • 40 Hour Week by Alabama.
  • The Osmonds Live
  • Colour by Numbers by Culture Club. A very nice cover. In middle school, I got a button of this cover out of a vending machine for a quarter and wore it to school to some teasing. Or as they would call it now, bullying.
  • Records by Foreigner, the greatest hits collection. I actually have this on cassette already–I bought it in college.
  • Blondes Have More Fun by Rod Stewart.
  • Dirty Dancing, the original soundtrack.
  • Disney’s Christmas Favorites.
  • Xanadu by Olivia Newton-John and Electric Light Orchestra. Again, the third or fourth copy at Nogglestead, but the cover is very nice.
  • Candyman, a Disney record.
  • Foot Loose and Fancy Free by Rod Stewart.
  • Gideon by Kenny Rogers.

Jeez, man, that’s over 70 new records. Some didn’t have sleeves; others were only in sleeves and not covers, so I will have to order another set of 12″ cardboard sleeves, too.

Additionally, I got two empty sleeves: Everything is Beautiful by Evie (sad to learn it was empty), This Is Another Day by Andraé Crouch And The Disciples, and No Trespassing and Other Stories for Children featuring Uncle Charlie and the Children’s Bible Hour Staff. I have not looked through all the records I have to ensure that the covers match the contents, but I might just have these sleeves. I have saved one or two others in the past when I was not scrupulous about checking the contents of the sleeves and either got a mismatched or empty sleeve. I don’t know what I’ll do with them. Perhaps recycle them as “cleaning the garage” (where the whole of the cleaning is recycling these sleeves.

At any rate, I am looking forward to listening to some of them. But I really, really need to build additional shelving now.

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The Clown At Every Funeral, The Jester At Every Wedding

So my brother got married (again) this weekend. We drove three hours to a small town in southeast Missouri where the bride has lived all her life and will live all the remainder of her life (likely) as they just bought a nice homestead with 25(!) acres of land.

I was not the best man this time around, just a groom’s man. Although I did not give a highlarious toast (probably more Steve Buscemi than Adam Sandler, if you know what I mean), I did use my power of quipping (probably inappropriately) to keep things light on what might have been a tense day. Jeez, I remember my wedding day a couple years ago, where I got lightheaded when I took my position at the front of the church, taking off my jacket and helping to put out the food at the reception because nobody else was doing it, and calling the same brother dickhead when he, a groom’s man, wanted to sit at the head table which had only room for the bride and groom and the best man +1, and man of honor +1.

So I hope I helped to alleviate some of that.

It was not a church wedding; the ceremony and reception were held in a small hall rented from an old church (or maybe just an old church turned into a rental hall).

The best bits:

  • Fifteen minutes or so before the ceremony was scheduled to start, I told the best man, my nephew, that in three minutes, I was going to come up to him and loudly say, “I don’t have the rings!”
  • About fifteen minutes later, I came up to him and said, “I don’t have the rings!”
  • After the ceremony, I came up to him and said, “You don’t have the rings?”
  • The bride’s party arrived just at the time scheduled for pictures; prior to that, my brother ran home for something, so it was just the groom’s men at the facility, leading to speculation that one or the other of them made a break for it. We even speculated what it would be like if both of them decided to bolt only to meet at the airport. What a rom-com that would make.
  • The itinerant preacher was late, leading to speculation that maybe he made a run to the airport.
  • After the recessional at the end, we all ended up crowded on the front stoop of the hall. “The rehearsal went well,” I said. “When do we do it for real?”
  • Et cetera.

Jeez, I hope I didn’t make it worse with my japery. But, somehow, I fear I might have.

And, unfortunately, in the same circumstances, I will jape again.

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The Guy Who Played Guitar in Those Video Games

You know, I was looking at upcoming events at the Gillioz Theatre in downtown Springfield a while back, and I spotted tonight’s Joe Satriani/Steve Vai concert, and I thought about it. Mostly because Glenn was a fan of electric guitar virtuosos. I’m not a big enough fan to pony up $65 minimum for my beautiful wife and me or for the whole family. So I won’t be going.

But here is how a local news station categorized the players:

Clearly going for a younger audience. Although by now, fans of Halo are no longer young.

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Dream That Darn

Ah, gentle reader. My impending layoff is yet an impending layoff, which puts one in an unsettled and grim mood as do current events taking place across the country and around the world. So what should one do? One does what one can. One leaves the desk and leaves the computer and leaves the house once in a while. And one makes silly shows of economizing in relatively low impact areas. Not eat beef at every possible meal? Nonsense. I will learn to mend my clothing. Which costs less than a package of Sam’s Club beef when I buy it new at Walmart, and the thread in mending doubles the value of the clothing. Regardless, I will press on.

Book coverOverweening first paragraph aside, I have taken a couple minutes to hand-sew a couple of items, but not before putting them on my desk and then moving them around over the course of days or weeks before getting to it. I started with a pair of underwear, an expensive pair of Armachillos that I wear for workouts and which I bought, what, five years ago? The seam at the floor split, probably from friction with the floor of my blue jeans. They are in great shape otherwise, so I had them on my desk for a while until I asked my wife for a spool of thread from her sewing kit. I did adequate work, I’d like to think, but after a couple of washings, I noted the seam was splitting again. Was my work faulty? No! The original seam continued to give way beyond the edge of where my repair stopped.

The second item up was my old Milwaukee Admirals sweatshirt. It’s almost twenty years old–it’s the old logo with the human admiral, not the current skeleton logo that I mocked in 2006. The cuffs and the collar are fraying, but I’m not up to fixing that. I did fix the hole under the one arm–I guess the friction of the cloth rubbing at the armpit causes these holes that are not along the seams? At any rate, it’s good enough to wear out of the house and to pick things off of the top shelf at the grocery. Not for myself; I’m a make-believe miser right now (not even using K-Cups currently, nor Duraflame logs, both dollar-a-day bad habits in 2020 and much more expensive now), and as a make-believe miser, I don’t buy things from the top shelf. But some little old lady might ask me to get something down for her (and suddenly, I find little old ladies flirting with me–what does that say about me?). The sweatshirt lay in many places on my desk and served as such a cat bed for so long that I am pretty sure that I sewed white cat hair into the mending. In part because I’d returned the sewing equipment to my beautiful wife, and the sewing bin disappeared into her office somewhere for a time. But when I found it in a common area, I snagged the dark blue thread and a needle for my office.

The third item had the shortest layover on my desk: A pair of blue jeans. I order cheap Dickies or Wrangler carpenter jeans off of Amazon at $20 (well, more now) each. I used to pick them up at Walmart, but the carpenter jeans are not a popular cut, apparently, and I sometimes couldn’t find any. And as I probably have mentioned, I need carpenter jeans because I have fat thighs (leading to the friction at the bottom). So when another pair of jeans split here (the other common fault is the belt loop at the left rear breaks at the bottom–perhaps because I buy a waist size too large and then cinch the jeans at the waist, perhaps leading to extra stress on the belt loops)–when another pair of jeans split there, I decided to take the one color fits all dark blue spool of thread and fix it. And, gentle reader, I leveled up my mending game by turning the jeans inside out so that the frayed edges would be inside and not outside. Time will tell how long this mending lasts, as I cut the thread so that it was shorter than I liked–I could not go back, tie it off, and then forth and tie it off. Instead, I got back and halfway forth.

Still, unlike the work I do for a living and the blogging I do for “fun,” it was concretely productive. Maybe I will go further and try out the sewing machine I got for Christmas over a decade ago when I saw still stewing in viewing Creative Juice on HGTV. After all, I have lots of wearable LEDs after recent events and projects.

And maybe, just maybe, I am coming out of a screen-and-desk hibernation or coma back into the real world a little bit.

And I would be remiss not to include a video of the lovely Ashley Pezzotti singing “Darn That Dream”:

She has a GoFundMe to crowdsource a new album if you’re so inclined.

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Wherein I Don’t Get To Brag I Recognized It

In his “Have I Got A Line For You” column from April 17, Benton County Enterprise publisher James Mahlon White mentions the The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám:

Ran across a special on the Titanic last night. It sank 110 years ago on April 14, 1912. Part of the cargo was a jeweled copy of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. The only verse I can recall is from the middle of that poem. It started out with, “Up to the 7th Gate I Rose.”

Unlike when I ran across a rubāʿiyāt in After Worlds Collide and recognized the source, I don’t recollect the quattrain that begins “Up to the 7th gate I rose” even though I likely read it three times recently.

Oh, and in unrelated news, Chuck P. included a clip from the movie version of When Worlds Collide last weekend. It was top-of-mind, of course, because I’d just read the sequel several decades after reading When Worlds Collide. I’ve never seen the film before, though.

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Wherein Brian J. Is Punished For Not Procrastinating Enough

I just a week ago told the story of how I repaired my uncle’s Christmas tie and how it took me several rounds of Internet research and orders to get the right pieces I needed to replace the power switch/battery holder and then the LED in it so that it will once again light up red when I wear it on Christmas Eve.

I replaced the push button with a sliding switch, though, and sort of half-arsed it by splicing wires instead of soldering. But after years (decades?) of not working–it did not work when I inherited it over a decade ago–it worked, and it was off of my desk where it had been intermittently for months at a time for the last couple of years when I decided to look into fixing it and then determining, often, Not today.

And I was premature in fixing it earlier this month.

For on Saturday, we went down to Sp4rkcon, the Walmart Global Tech team’s annual free cybersecurity conference, and the free lanyards had all the parts I would have needed to repair the tie.

Each featured a power board with replaceable battery and a four position push power button–the four modes being on solid, on blink, on blink quickly, and off–as well as a string of green wearable LEDs.

It is a far better kit than what I put into the tie. As a matter of fact, I’m considering replacing the guts of the tie with the power switch from one of the lanyards. But considering means I thought of it; we all know I will leave well enough alone for at least a decade.

But I have another couple of bits/parts if I want to make use of them in future projects. When I think of them. If I think of them.

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Nico Was Here

A couple of times recently, I have walked through the little hallway to my office, and I have seen that the decorative flintlock pistol shadowbox thing is crooked.

This means Nico was here.

I have posted pictures of that precocious kitten before. Although I guess now he’s technically not a kitten, but he retains his inquisitive ways.

And the shadow box on the wall is a couple of inches thick, so Nico thinks he can get on it. As the frame is only canted and not on the ground with broken glass everywhere, I can only presume that he thinks better of it when he touches it and it moves. Or he can get up there no problem.

Also, gentle reader, and by “gentle reader,” I mean random Internet stranger looking at that photo and fingering one’s lockpicks, note that these are not actually authentic or replica flintlock pistols which sell for thousands of dollars but are instead Turner Wall Accessory home décor which sell on the Internet for $45. I bought them in an antique mall in Billings over a decade ago thinking they might be replica pistols or such, but, no. However, as I probably paid $20 for them, they would seem to have appreciated nicely. Kind of like collectibles like used cars and food have appreciated in value lately.

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My Uncle’s Christmas Tie Revived

I have mentioned before that I have an Easter tie, but I seem to have held back notice that I also have a Christmas tie. So let me go on at length about it, gentle reader.

I inherited it from my uncle, the “rich uncle” with whom I lived briefly. He passed away in, what, 2011? 2012? I’ve had the tie a long time, and I’ve worn it for the last several years running on Christmas Eve. The tie has a little red LED in it that presumably turned on at one time, but not since I’ve had it. You could find the button that operated it, but pressing it did nothing. So I wore it that way for a couple of years, and then I wondered if I could fix it.

So I cut a stitch in the back of the tie to open it up, and I found the simple board with a push power button, a hard-wired battery, and an LED. I took the battery off the board and looked at the tiny wires it held, and thought I could fix it, but it would be a problem for another day. And as so often happens, it became a problem for another year.

Sometime after Christmas Eve 2023, I put the tie back on my desk, and it lay there (well, here and there as I moved things around on my desk) for some months when I was cleaning or pawing through miscellania in the hutch when I came across some sewable LEDs I’d bought, what, a decade ago? I’d thought about putting them into a collar for Roark after we saw The Cat from Outer Space which features a cat whose collar gems flash when he uses his alien powers. Geez, that was probably twelve or thirteen years ago. I ordered some wearable LEDs and a board that makes them flash and a cat collar and…. I put them into a container in my hutch for someday.

Well, finding them again made me think I could look around SparkFun, the Web site where I’d ordered the original wearable electronic bits. I’d hoped to find a battery compartment where I could replace batteries when they wear out and connect it to the board. But I’d cut the leads to the battery, and, brother, those wires were tiny. So I ordered a ten pack of battery packs–you can order single units from SparkFun for under a buck, but if you order from Amazon, all the little electronic bits come in ten packs.

I bought a spool of two-strand sewable steel to use with the project, but I found it too fine to work with. I hoped to simply run the little threads from the connectors on the battery pack to the “legs” of the LED (research has just now indicated that these are the anode and cathode, words which appear in John Donnelly’s Gold but which I did not know applied to LED lights as well). But the thread, as I said, was too fine for my easy use.

So I thought about where I could get a bit of small gauge insulated wire. I feared needing to buy 100 yards of it at the hardware store for an inch or two that I’d use. And then I thought, Oh, no.

As you might know, gentle reader, I am a bit of a pack rat (NOT a hoarder). So it was with great internal fanfare when I recently cleaned out my garage–well, okay, that’s overstating it. When my mother-in-law downsized almost two years ago, she gave us boxes of things to go through, and one such box was extra parts from when she had someone build a custom computer for her. Inside the motherboard box, we had the case slots taken out to put cards into the PCI slots; an IDE cable or two, and power connectors for chaining hard drives to a single power supply connector or something along with a driver CD or two and installation guides for various components. And I threw them away. The very wires I could use. Oh, how I rue the day I discarded anything!

Just kidding. I did throw them out, but I had not emptied the garbage can in the garage, so I recovered the power cables anyway.

And lest you worry, gentle reader, I only disposed of the computer ephemera from my mother-in-law’s most recent desktop. I have bins and bins of my own accumulation over the last 30 years in my store room. But let’s not waste them on this project and save them for something important, okay?

So: I had the battery pack, and I had the wire, and I had the existing LED soldered onto the board that was working. So of course I tried to wire the battery pack to the LED soldered onto the board. But, as you might expect if you’re not some aging English major trying to rediscover electricity, this led to a very shaky set of connections prone to short-circuiting. So I snipped the LED from the board and tried to affix the little wired leads from the battery pack, trimmed from a hard drive power cable, to the anode and cathode (as I now know). But I could not get a good solid link by looping the wires and securing them with electrical tape. I know, I know, but I was trying to do this quickly and simply and without needing to solder.

So I ordered a set of 10 (of course) LEDs with longer legs. Actually, I ordered two sets of 10: 10 of the 5mm bulbs and 10 of the 10mm bulbs as I was not sure which the existing aperture in the tie supported. How do you measure the LED? Height? Circumference? I still don’t know, but I do know that this was a 5mm bulb as I was able to replace it with another 5mm bulb.

And alright, alright, alright. I linked the power supply to the new LED by turning the anode and the cathode like jump rings and looping the wire through them, securing it all with a spot of electrical tape. And it worked. So I fed the LED through the tie and put on the little rubber ring (grommet? Not exactly–what do I call that to get results on Amazon? 5mm rubber rings?).

And my uncle’s Christmas tie lights up for the first time in probably decades.

I have been goofing on the experience on Facebook:

I ordered the parts to repair my uncle’s Christmas tie.
This is the 21st century, you know.

All right. The original LED circa 1995 is still good in my uncle’s Christmas tie.
I just have to bypass the board with the power switch and hard-wired battery with a replacement and we should be good to go.
And if it doesn’t work and catches fire, I will be the brightest candle at candlelight service on Christmas Eve.

By the time I’m finished repairing my uncle’s light-up Christmas tie, it will have cost me $1200 or more at the rate I’m going.
But it will have more processing power than it did in 1985, and it will be able to connect to the wi-fi.

Finished repairing my uncle’s Christmas tie.
Upgraded the LED, too. FAA regulations prohibit me from shining the tie at passing aircraft.

So, yeah, from an electronics perspective, it’s a pretty simple circuit. I showed it to my sophomore, the guy going to be an engineer, and he was a bit, well, dismissive. But I’ve done it, and he’s done some school work and a hella lotta Minecraft.

Still, I’m not sure how proud to be of my work, which is really my fatal flaw. I guess we will find out on Christmas Eve when I try to light it up. But, if nothing else, the tie is hanging in the closet with the other ties and is off my desk. Now, about the sweatshirt that I just want to pull a couple stitches through. Or several years’ worth of Five Things On My Desk posts. As well as a host of other projects of minimal difficulty if you know what you’re doing, but I do not, and I don’t want to bollix it up.

Hey, think you’ve seen this before? I accidentally posted the first paragraphs of it, incomplete, on April 9. Hit Publish instead of Save Draft.

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The Missing Cs of Southwest Missouri

I am on the Internet, so you would expect me to speculate in a most irresponsible manner when I notice something, but I’ve got nothing but the noticing and the question.

They call Ozarks Technical Community College OTC.

The city of Ozark calls the Ozark Community Center the OC (probably because one or more of them heard Orange County, California, called The O.C. and thought it was cool).

But the question I have is:

What is happening to the extra Cs?

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If You Can Still Read This

To be honest, I am not sure about the hype about the solar eclipse this year and the cicado broods coming out.

I was a little arch this morning when I said I’d seen this movie before, but I have seen solar eclipses and cicadas before 2024.

I mean, we had a solar eclipse only seven years ago (another curmudgeon remembers). We had another once-in-a-lifetime concurrence of cicada broods emerging in 2015.

I hate to be all old manny about it, but I’ve been at Nogglestead for coming up on fifteen years, so I’ve been here to compare things year-to-year in the same place. And I am coming to learn how much of the noise in the news and on the Internet are written by young people or vagabonds who lack that experience, so every experience in their new location is the first, best, superlativest thing ever.

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