Missed It By That Much

In the JJ Sefton Morning Report at Ace of Spades HQ, the cob demonstrates an ignorance of fictional geography:

The second story is supposedly a scratch formation of the 1st SS Panzer Division along with the Ozark goobers who buggered Ned Beatty in Deliverance are planning to storm the Capitol tomorrow.

C’mon, man. Deliverance took place in Georgia.

Since I’m a long-time no-longer Wisconsin resident and a resident of the low hills of the aforementioned Ozarks, I feel the need to defend my new hometownregion.

The Who? Leads To My God, How Long?

Milwaukee radio veteran Karen Dalessandro leaving WKLH for a new gig at Phoenix classic rock station KSLX:

Longtime Milwaukee radio personality Karen Dalessandro is leaving town for a new gig in Phoenix.

Dalessandro, the former country music host who has been on the afternoon drive shift at WKLH-FM (96.5) for more than two years, will be taking over the same gig at another classic rock station, Phoenix’s KSLX-FM starting April 5, AllAccess.com reported Tuesday.

According to OnMilwaukee.com, her last day at WKLH will be March 26.

Dalessandro spent 20 years as a country radio host in Milwaukee at WMIL-FM (106.1). After briefly retiring in 2017 — she was inducted into the Country Radio Hall of Fame in 2015 — Dalessandro joined WKTI-FM (94.5), which had switched to a country-music format. After WKTI flipped to an all-sports format in 2018, she landed at WKLH as a part-time host, going full-time as the station’s host from 3 to 7 p.m. in 2019.

I guess I am coming up on 27 years since I last left Milwaukee.

The first time, of course, was at age 11; then I returned for the University, but when my prospects were uncertain (I had an English/Philosophy degree and a ton of grocery store experience), so I returned to the St. Louis area to live in my mother’s basement until I found myself (three years later, I landed a technical writing position because I was taking programming classes at night, not just because I had a writing degree).

So I have missed this veteran broadcaster’s entire career. She was inducted into the Country Radio Hall of Fame, for crying out loud. And even if I would have been there at the very outset of her career, I was not listening to WMIL. I was listening to the AOR stations at the time. QFM and whatnot.

I listened to WKTI when I was in high school on summer trips to my father’s house and early in my college days, but they played pop music then (and ‘hits’ like Calloway’s “I Wanna Be Rich” pretty much hourly. Like, hourly.

Although WKTI did introduce me to the Triplets, so it’s got that going for me.

But apparently WKTI has gone through two complete format changes in the interim.

I still have my Best of Dave and Carole from WKLH cassette which I have not listened to for a long time. I see that show ended five years ago. I should pull that old comedy tape out whilst I still have a motor vehicle that supports it.

Ah, well, everything passes, and in the twenty-first century, radio stations and radio personalities tend to swap around a lot and disappear.

You can bet my boys, who are exposed to a lot of radio for their age, won’t have the same nostalgia for stations and personalities that a couple generations of their forefathers did.

Ackshually Patrol

Tam K. misquotes Carlin:

Remember, everyone that drives faster than you is a maniac and everyone who drives slower is a moron.

Ackshually, it’s….

Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?

I am pretty sure the bit is on What Am I Doing In New Jersey, which I got on audiocassette when it was fairly fresh. I listened to it whilst driving back and forth between St. Louis in Milwaukee every couple of weeks after I finished up at the university in the great northern land and returned to Missouri for what, seemingly, was forever.

This quote has been top-of-mind because, yesterday, after maybe contemning another driver but without any of the seven words you cannot say on television, I explained the quote and the perspective of each driver makes the other drivers seem crazy, but that I was likely as crazy as they were from their perspectives.

So I Wrote A Short Story….

Well, alright, alright, alright, I wrote a draft of a short story. Based on something my oldest said when he came into my office, “Imagine a soldier deployed gets a call that his spouse has died,” which I turned into a military sci-fi story, sort of. It’s kind of funny–I don’t read a lot in the genre of military sci-fi. Well, not counting The Hero (2016), Halo: First Strike (2011), Robotech Genesis/Battle Cry/Homecoming (2016), Titan AE (2020)…. Okay, I read some, and I read a lot of men’s adventure novels with a military bent. So of course I mash them up. My next novel is likely to be a military sci-fi book–I already have a first chapter, almost, I think, and the rudiments of an outline in my mind.

You know, I have written, what, five poems since November 2019 (and recently got my first rejection for them from a publication!). I hadn’t written a poem in years, either, but I finally finished off the one that’s incomplete on the cover of Coffee House Memories and then had some late night ideas for others, and I took to laundromats and coffee houses to scratch them out.

I have a new technique for writing poetry–maybe it’s the same as my old technique–it’s been so long that I might not remember, but judging by my old notebooks, this is a new technique: I write the opening lines and subsequent lines over and over again. When I get to a spot where I’ve stalled on progress, I re-write the poem from top to bottom. I make some minor changes, but then, hopefully, I surge onto the next lines until I am finished (which, granted, is sometimes weeks or months later–whenever I get back to the coffee shop).

This, of course, is no way to write fiction, either long or short.

When I was younger–college or thereabouts–I could sit down and pretty much plow through a draft of a short story with no problem. Of course, in those days, I was often writing short stories when I should have been writing papers for school. But I wrote them pretty much straight through with confidence that they would come out okay and that people would want to read what I wrote.

Well, fast forward a couple of decades. I managed to, over the course of a couple of years, write a novel that I thought was pretty good (John Donnelly’s Gold–which I still think is pretty good). I could not get an agent nor a publisher for it–and aside from a couple of publications in the middle 1990s (“Reading Faces” in Show and Tell–for which I got paid $5, brah–and “Small Bore Gun” in Artisan Journal in 1997), all I got for my short story submissions were rejection slips (apparently, I have not yet done a feature on my collection of rejection slips, which fills a 3″ binder). So my confidence has been shaken.

I mean, I have banged out some nonfiction articles about software testing, some in actual printed publications, but nonfiction is pretty linear when it comes to writing. Fiction is… different.

I have a couple of short stories that I’ve started but never finished. One, called “Gunter Escapes”, is on its second decade of incompleteness by this point. Another, “The Understanding”, is only a couple of years old. And the military sci-fi novel, The Saviors from Mars Deep (working title) is only a couple of years old. Surely not five (right?).

On each of the incomplete fiction pieces, I’ve gotten to a certain point and have really gotten stuck. On some, I’m unsure what to add or what to take out. I would reflect on the paragraphs I’d written and get hung up on them to the point of immobility. It’s not like writing the poems, where I can rewrite the whole thing to build the momentum again. So I put it aside. I put a lot of things aside and for long blocs of time. Sometimes, it seems, decades.

So with this last short story, I said damn the torpedoes and vowed to bang out a complete draft even if some paragraphs were only sentences. A couple of times I got to that point where I would put it up and abandon it, but I stuck through and finished a draft. Even though I am pretty sure the last half of it reads more like an outline with a couple character names in it.

But it’s done. Now I can revise it to shuffle in some better prose, characterization, description, and whatnot.

Except, I’m a little afraid to look at it right now.

I have printed it out, and it’s on my desk and has been for a week now. I have not read it nor started in with the red pen.

I should probably do so before it gets cast aside for a really long period. Maybe I’ll have my oldest read it first to see what he thinks of it. After all, it was his idea.

I’m trying to find this an encouraging step to the return of my dream of being a Writer, but once the story is revised and done, will any publication accept it? Will anyone read it?

Time will tell, but probably, no.

They Don’t Look So Young, But…

So the local papers to which I subscribe often have a “Remember When” sort of feature every week where they comb through their morgues and come up with news stories and photos that can fill column inches easily. Also, probably, their regular subscribers are generally older and have probably lived in the area for a long time, so when they go back twenty or fifty years, you might see someone you recognize. I just tend to glance over these sections, even though I sometimes linger on the ones from thirty-five years ago because they remind me of when I was young even though I was not young there, wherever there is.

This last week or so back–paper delivery was delayed because of the weather–the Douglas County Herald offered a picture of the the Ava High School Homecoming Court of 1969:

Those girls are, what, two years older than my oldest? But they look so much older. Partially probably because it’s black and white and partially because they’re wearing the clothing that my mother wore in some of her pictures, and my mother was old to me when I was young and my mother was younger than I am.

But, wait, look closely at the faces.

Ah, yes, now I can see teenagers in those old people clothes.

You know, I don’t know if fashion has flatlined since I was younger, but the clothes I’m wearing in the pictures from thirty-five or forty years ago pretty much match what I wear now, casually, and the khakis and dress shirts I wear when going grant aren’t bound by style. Aside from the fly hand-me-downs from our next-door neighbors in the projects that I received in the early 1980s (I was the last kid on the block wearing bell bottoms, and it wasn’t because I couldn’t let go of disco), we never got fashionable clothes like parachute pants or even polo shirts. I have been wearing jeans and sweatshirts or t-shirts for the duration. Actually, I guess some of the sweatshirts are actually approaching twenty years old themselves. But never mind.

So at least in my mind, when I look back at older pictures, I think I look like that now. Except the face, maybe. Also the fact that I was finally able to gain weight and grow into a man’s body instead of a spindly boy’s.

The women in these pictures are about to turn seventy. Which doesn’t seem old, now. But I go to church, so most of the women and men that I see regularly tend to be pretty vital and involved. I hope they still are. I hope I will still be.

Usually, It’s The Opposite Problem

So I’ve got this puzzle piece on my desk.

The normal trouble is to find, when you’ve almost completely assembled a puzzle, to find a single piece missing.

However, sometimes during the disassembly process here at Nogglestead, a single puzzle piece will hit the floor, especially if the cats are helping with the disassembly, only to be found some time later.

At which time, I apparently put it on my desk.

I cannot throw it out, of course, since we might assemble the puzzle later and need it. So I will put it with the other stray puzzle pieces; and, if we think of it, we can look for this piece if we ever come one short.

Although, given the distinct markings on this piece, perhaps I can just look for the box.

But, no: why deprive myself of a future item for a Five Things on My Desk post?

Also note, gentle reader, that I still have a couple incomplete young children’s puzzles wrapped up in storage, each missing one or two large wooden pieces. I cannot give them away incomplete, so I have set them aside in case those pieces turn up. They’ve been in storage for probably six or seven years now, and Nogglestead does not shake out as many stray kids toy bits as it used to. But that’s something for my estate sale planners to decide.

Shoveling Nogglestead

Gentle reader, you might have heard on the news that the south has gotten another visit from the jet stream this week, bringing with it not only the ice last week but also cold and snow this week.

It has basically snowed lightly all week until yesterday afternoon. We got a couple of measurable snowfalls, maybe six to eight inches total, and most everything closed down. My oldest has only had a partial school day in the last week and a half; the youngest has only had one. They have been off all of this week and have “virtual learning” for the day. So it has felt a little bit like the lockdown from last spring except that the cold has kept us from running outside or riding bikes. I haven’t actually left the house since church on Sunday morning.

So, yesterday, I needed a little me-time, and I was tired of sitting at my computer.

It had warmed to 20 degrees, so I went outside to shovel.

I have only shoveled the driveway at Nogglestead, what, two or three times since we lived here. Most snowfalls are an inch or two at most followed by days warm enough to melt them, so I haven’t bothered. But yesterday, the depth of the snow plus the lingering temperatures made it worthwhile to shovel. So I put on a coat, hat, and gloves (and my gym playlist), and I got to it.

It took me almost four hours of peace and quiet (well, except for the metal blaring in my ears), but it reminded me of home. The last winter I spent in Wisconsin, we got like 75″ of snow. It would snow eight inches, pause a couple of days, snow four inches, and so in. So I did a lot of shoveling then, but my father’s driveway was significantly shorter.

I have a birthday coming up, so of course I’m thinking about aging. I am blessed to be able to shovel for four hours in the cold with no ill effects. Or do triathlons. Or take martial arts classes. I just have to slow down and enjoy that I can while I can and not worry about that I’m not winning, or that I’m not super sharp on my skills currently, or that it takes me four hours and an eventual Advil. I’m trying to distill it into a pithy statement to put on a sky image and share tweeiously on the Internet, something like Someday I Will Can’t, But Until Then I Will Not Won’t.

I think I will venture out today for some errands, so the clear driveway will come in handy to be able to see it and avoid the ditch. And I won’t have to tromp through the snow to take out my trash since the can will likely be out there all week as well.

Next week, it is back to springtime. Today, I shall enjoy looking at the snow and listening to the snow-muffled silence when I take my trash out.

True To My Life and My Truth

This Quickbooks ad made the rounds on television this season:

I chuckled, because it’s true.

My martial arts school awards black belts with special jackets and belts with the student’s name (and the school’s name) on them.

I, however, only wear those to testing, which means I only wore my first degree black belt and jacket four times: Once when I received it, briefly, and then every time I tested until I got my second degree. My second degree belt and jacket I wore only once, when I was awarded them almost two years ago. I am a little behind in the testing process given the events of the last couple of years; I should wear it for a formal occasion sometime soon.

For classes, I have a well-worn gi and a plain black belt that I have worn since I was awarded the black belt (although I might have replaced the gi since then). This is, of course, my casual gi.

So I can relate. Also, I use QuickBooks for my business, but not the live assistance since I have an accountant.

Apple Loves Green

So I spoiled my beautiful wife with an Apple Watch for Valentine’s Day, and when I ordered it directly from Apple.com, I noticed how much Apple loves green.

Apple loves green so much that it does not include a charger with the Apple Watch.

It loves green so much that it will sell you a charger for an additional $30-80. A charger that will come in its own set of bespoke packaging that you will throw away after you get it.

Hey, I’m an Apple shareholder. I love how Apple extracts money from me for me. It’s kind of like the government, except with more for me at the end. Well, it would if I were to sell more of my holdings before the economic bubble bursts. Which I probably won’t.

The Christmas Straggler 2021

Ah, my foes, and ah, my friends, how very carefully we undecorated last month from Christmas to make sure we got everything into storage. It helps that we’ve got a diminishing number of little touches that we put into random places, and although I felt confident that we got all of the things we put onto display, apparently I overlooked one thing: A Christmas ornament that we laid aside, not to display, but to either put on the tree or put back in the box.

Apparently, when decorating or undecorating the downstairs Christmas tree, we laid this little angel atop the books on the bookshelves next to the tree and unfilled book jackets were shuffled atop it, hiding it from sight. I found it when doing the detailed dusting on Sunday. I posed it artfully for this picture; it was, as I said, lying on books toward the back with a dustjacket over it.

So, in my defense, it was not a decoration put on display in such a fashion where it would be nominally visible, so I hope I can be forgiven for overlooking it.

Although, admittedly, there is a non-zero chance that this is a Christmas straggler from some previous year that has gone unnoticed for more than one solar orbit.

But the betting is on: The over/under of me actually putting the ornament with the Christmas decorations, instead of just taking a photo of it for the blog, is four weeks. Hang on, Southie is scratching something else on the chalk board as I type: four and a half weeks.

Probably still worth taking the over no matter how far it moves.

Also, watch for its appearance in a future Five Things On My Desk post.

Crazy Glazy Days at Nogglestead

Well, on Monday, I made light of schools cancelling based on predictions of an ice storm.

A couple hours later, both of my boys’ schools sent them home early, and they have not been to school since. Today is Thursday; one boy has off tomorrow because teachers are people, too, and they need mental health days built into the school year. The other has school scheduled, but the principal sent out an email that says “See you on Monday!” which is odd, because today is not Friday, and Monday is Presidents’ Day.

The issue has not been a snowfall of any note (so far–see below, or maybe just the next sentence). We had freezing drizzle on Tuesday, which got the boys of school on Tuesday and Wednesday; and although it did not drizzle exactly yesterday, we did get some freezing fog which doesn’t really fall per se but does leave a glazing of ice on the things it touched, like plants and roadways. So they’re off today as well. And it has started to snow, so perhaps the younger’s school will just call the whole week a wash.

My beautiful wife was out on Tuesday night and said it was a bad drive–mostly, the freezing rain kept freezing on her windshield. On Wednesday morning, she was scheduled to do a livestreamed presentation from a studio in central Springfield. About twenty-five minutes before she was scheduled to leave, she awakened me and asked me if I would drive. Of course I did–I haven’t lost control of my vehicle in an ice storm in like three or four years, so I am just the man for that job.

I schlepped her up there and then sat in an underheated warehouse studio while she streamed live.

In case you’re wondering what talking dog joke I tell at about 4:30, off camera and before the audio and presentation begins, it’s this one:

A man walking down the street comes to a sign that says, “Talking dog: $10.” So he goes up to the house and knocks on the door. A man answers, and the first guy says, “I understand you have a talking dog for sale.”

The dog nudges his way to the door and says, “You bet. I was in the military, an explosive sniffing dog, and I found a lot of IEDs and saved a lot of our guys. After my tour was up, I worked for the highway patrol, and I found many kilos of bad stuff headed for the streets. Then I worked as a rescue dog on the beach, saving people who were drowning.”

“Wow, and he’s only ten dollars?” the man said.

“Yeah. He’s a liar. He ain’t done any of that,” the owner said.

Heather smiled and the host roared with laughter because he’s very polite. But I do like my talking dog jokes.

At any rate, so it’s been a cozy week of mostly going nowhere with a nice wood fire burning. One of my belated Christmas gifts was a cord or so of wood to burn this year instead of Duraflame logs. The man who delivered it asked how many cords of wood we burned every year–I didn’t know as I’ve not burned wood much, but judging how we’ve gone through this cord, it’s probably between three and four starting a fire about five at night and burning it into the evening and starting a little earlier on weekends or snow days.

I wish I could say I have been getting a lot of reading done, but I don’t tend to like to sit down during the day or afternoon with a book–I really am only comfortable doing it after dinner and the evening chores. Because this is good weather to sit and watch the snow with a book on your lap.

I’ve Called Beef By Name

Spotted amongst things Wirecutter has posted on Facebook:

You know who is bothered by knowing the name of a cow? A soft city person. Which is not to say that I’m a Hank Williams, Jr., certified country boy, but I do read Ozarks Farm and Neighbor magazine, and I know where beef comes from. But most ranchers have too many cattle to name individually anyway.

When I was a bagger, ahem utility clerk (which pays better than a bagger, but only because minimum wage had gone up), the Shop Rite where I worked tagged itself as the Best Meat in Town, and every year, the owner would buy the best blue ribbon award-winning cattle from the state fair (the Wisconsin State Fair is held in Milwaukee, just across town), and they would butcher the meat in-store and sell it.

So, yeah, every year around September, I knew the names of the steaks and hamburger coming down the conveyor belt. And I am pretty sure I had my portion of Outlaw, the winner one year. And that’s when I was a city boy, before I thought I might become a hobby farmist. Before I almost convinced my beautiful wife that we could raise a couple cattle, since normal people down here do that. Before someone she worked with told her that she (my beautiful wife) would never be able to kill an animal she had looked in the eyes (come on, we send it “to go live on a farm in the country” for that). It’s not like we have to bang Little Nell (the cattle would have literary names, of course, like the cats) with a hammer and process the meat ourselves.

Which is why, I guess, if I am ever to raise cattle at Nogglestead, we will have to only assign them number, decownizing them, and put hoods over their heads. Further decownizing them, I suppose.

The School’s Name Itself Is Not Problematic? Not Yet.

Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas supports petition to change SPS mascot, traditions

The mascot in question is the Chiefs, which is an English word meaning the head of a tribe.

The name of the school, which is also named after the tribe, is not problematic and warranting changing yet–although I am surprised given how far we’ve come–San Francisco is in a frenzy to rename schools already (link via Instapundit).

Gentle reader, I made mock of this premise almost thirty years ago when Marquette changed its mascot from the Warriors. I got an email from the school yesterday with the subject line Major Announcement at Marquette University. I opened it, sort of expecting news that the school, which has not been making me proud recently, had broken with the Catholic Church or was renaming itself to get away from a dead white European proselytizer. (No; apparently a guy who graduated eight years before I did just donated $31,000,000–jeez, what have I done with my life? All I have done is endow one small scholarship–not at Marquette, but in Marquette (Michigan)).

What He Said

Adaptive Curmudgeon said:

Ouch! Hurts right? Well, time for some introspection. If you’re in a spiral of despair because shit’s getting weird, maybe it’s because you’re hoping for some external force to save you. It doesn’t work like that. You have to save yourself.

How do you start? Easy. Build something.

Pissed off about Frankenfoods? Plant a garden.

Pissed off about ammo prices? Load your own.

Pissed off about life in general? Stack some firewood.

Just build something.

I won’t say I’ve been spending less time on the computer than I have in the past–I still work on one, you know, but I’ve been spending less time on blogs than in the past and my social media use has fallen to checking in on Facebook every day or so to see if someone has reached out to me for something.

But I’m trying to refocus on meatspace more than I have in the last months of last year. And I have a garage full of materials for projects that I should really jump on soon, perhaps even before it warms up. We’re at the mess part of the cycle in the garage, where I clean it up, maybe do a project at the workbench there, but other things come up so we tend to dump things on the workbench, on the side bench, or on the floor in front of the shelves or on random shelves to be sorted later. Then, I get into my head to clean up the garage so I can work in the garage on the various projects accruing there (“How’s that lamp repainting coming?” you’re too polite to ask). I spend a day or so cleaning and organizing and sorting, do a project, and then the cycle continues.

I am only going to be able to use the “my boys can’t put anything away” excuse for a little while yet, but it’s true that they do tend to just scatter their outdoor effects like Rip Taylor (PBUH) and confetti. But I am not much better.

So enough typing for now. I have real things to do.

Brian J.’s Bold Interpretation of British Tabloid Home Pages Proves Laughably Wrong

My interpretation of headlines in May 2020–Jolly Old England Is Getting Back To Normal:

You can tell the ‘crisis’ is coming to a close when the elected officials greatest concern is getting more money.

Today’s front page:

GIFT OF THE JAB Brits should be able to enjoy a ‘happy and free Great British summer’ with most UK adults vaccinated, says Matt Hancock

SHOT IN THE ARM Boris Johnson warned EU vaccine blockade risked pensioners’ lives in ‘spicy’ seven-hour showdown

SAFE SPACE Social distancing could be in place for rest of year unless Covid vaccine can halt ‘third death spike’, say ministers

Oh, well. Better luck this year, I suppose

This Town Needs An Anemone

A teacher I know on Facebook who once offered me straight whiskey (I’m not saying that all teachers drink straight whiskey; all I am saying is that the only people who have offered me straight whiskey were teachers) posted “This town needs an….” on Facebook.

You know, I once made a GIPHY gif of Jack Nicholson from the Tim Burton Batman movie with the caption “This town needs an anemone.” Or maybe “an anemone.” The whole story is here (to which the gif is incidental). But the gif has been removed.

Okay, maybe the format of the URL changed. Or it got taken down by GIPHY because it has copyrighted material in it. Maybe it was disinformation because it had a pun in the caption instead of the actual quote.

But here’s what I got searching for “this town need [sic] an anemone [spelled correctly and pronounced correctly these days as I explained in the earlier post]“:

A gif of Joe Biden saying “People Need Hope” as the top result and magnified in the bigger rotating player to the side.

I will leave you to speculate why.

Meanwhile, I proffer to you, as I did my teacher friend, this response to her initial query:

The Other, Inadvertent, Pocket Squares of Brian J.

I mentioned previously that I am occasionally a fashion plate with my era-appropriate pocket squares; however, I am also not setting trends with another inadvertent pocket square I favor:

When I’m folding laundry, I tend to put the used dryer sheets in my shirt pocket to remember to throw them out. If I put them in my pants pocket, I tend to forget them, which means in a day or so I will have one or more clean used dryer sheets coming out of the laundry.

However, as it happens sometimes, I forget them in my shirt pocket–let’s face it, I’m not the sort of guy who looks at himself in a mirror frequently, even when going out–and I go out into public with one or more spent Bounce sheets for the world to admire.

Nobody mentions it, though, because are you going to question 195 pounds of sour attitude and Walmart-splendor that he’s got a dryer sheet in his pocket? It might just be the modern chip on the shoulder! I might be just daring you to take the dryer sheet out of my pocket.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am off to try to insert that phrase into the lexicon since nobody knows or understands the source of phrases chip on the shoulder or knock your block off any more.