Man, the centerfold in this week’s Springfield Business Journal is HAWT!
When I posted this on Facebook, my beautiful wife pointed out that the story on her company is not in the centerfold, but on page five. The math proves she is better than a Page 3 girl.
I was just talking to my grandmother this week, and she remarked on a twenty-year-old picture my wife and I that I sent her (my grandmother) in October. She said that she had forgotten how pretty my wife is. I have not, of course, although I do have some difficulty in convincing my wife how pretty she is.
Because I buy Christmas gifts all year long, I need gift tags all year long. Which means I often run out of gift tags in February, and the Christmas wrapping material is no longer in stores. I looked for gift tags in the local Walmarts, and I didn’t tend to find them. So I went to Amazon and searched for adhesive gift tags, and I bought the least expensive ones I could find.
The title pretty clearly said M&M, and I am sure if I magnified the image I would have seen that they did, in fact, depict M&Ms in various party ways.
Did I send them back?
Of course not.
I have been using them for years.
I am about to finally run out of them along with that fabled wallpaper, so I am going to have to buy some Christmas ones while they’re available and somehow come up with gift tags for birthdays and whatnot.
However, if I order from the Internet again, I will look more closely.
The funny thing is, though, I am not sure anyone has noticed this family ‘tradition.’
So my boys’ school has a program that pairs kids from higher grades with kids from lower grades for a bit of story time and crafts. The program is called Big Friend/Little Friend.
So one of the the Christmas projects is a candle holder wherein the urchins paste some tissue paper squares on glass.
In his 2nd grade year, he made a little one when he was a little friend. We put it on the little mirror shelf that is the only real repository for knick-knacks and figurines at Nogglestead. It’s been up there ever since with a collection of little candles we’ve acquired in various places.
Now, in his 6th grade year, he’s on the Big Friend side of the equation, and he made another with his Little Friend. However, as he was older, he grabbed a Mason jar instead of a little votive.
I thought it would make a poignant photo of how the boys are growing.
I was going to end with a quip about how I hope the youngest does not expect the Mason jar to go on display as well, but in picking up the small votive, it broke. I have picked it up to dust it once or twice in the last four years (maybe three times), but when I grasped it by the lip of the votive, the glass broke and was only held together by the tissue paper. So even the small votive won’t be on display.
So, suddenly, we’ve gotten a different life lesson from this act of photography. I’m not sure what it is. Tempus Fugit, and whatever the Latin is for “sometimes in setting up the artifice of a photo to illustrate life lessons on my little-read blog creates its own bad lessons.”
It didn’t resonate with me as me. Which is not to say I’ll not be grabbing my beautiful wife in, erm, twenty or so years (that soon?).
It reminds me of a guy I worked with in the print shop circa 1996. Kenny had worked at the shop since The War, forty years by then, and he’d worked with a lot of the employees for a long time as well. I find it hard to believe now, but many of the employees had been with the shop for decades, having moved with it from the city of St. Louis out to the then-hinterlands of O’Fallon sometime in the 1960s. So these people had worked together a long, long time.
A woman named Della worked on the bag presses as a boxer. Every day for innumerable years, she took bags as they came off the printer and after they’d run through the glue and folding channels, and she placed them in boxes. Whenever she would walk by Kenny’s little t-head press, he’d hoot and catcall her. And she was someone’s grandma probably. Maybe great grandma.
But Kenny had known her when they were younger, and maybe she was quite a looker in the 1950s. So he still made suggestions that he should probably consult his doctor before attempting, and she laughed at him.
I thought it might make an interesting novel: A tight knit group who’d work together a long time gets blown up when the woman in this case, who has flirted with a male employee for decades, looks at her retirement and finds it wanting so she sues the company for allowing sexual harassment. I think I got as far as naming a few characters, but that was it (twenty-some years ago).
In the actual print shop, though, there as no tension, and Della might have been flattered.
As I’ve grown older, though, I’ve come to understand something of Kenny’s viewpoint. To twenty-four-year-old Brian J., Della was old, but that’s because I met her when she was older. But I’ve known my wife for over twenty years now. Technically, she is old enough to be a grandmother herself (somehow); by the time my mother was her age, I had graduated college, and it would only be a year or so until my mother was a grandmother. My own grandmother was a grandmother much earlier.
I think my wife is as beautiful as she was when she was twenty-five. She is that girl and the woman she has become. So she’s that girl and more. She’s all that she was plus all she has become since then. I don’t think I can quite explain it, but there it is.
So as I get older, like Kenny, I shall likely continue to make suggestive remarks even as I advance to an age where that will make me a goat. Because of Kenny. And the Spenser novels. And my wife, who will become even more beautiful (although I’m not sure how the math works on that).
To be honest, though, they’re old enough to have discovered power tools and sledge hammers, and they think they can operate them without adult supervision. The youngest got to use a hand saw for the first time this weekend, and after we had packed it all up, he got it back out and cut himself with it.
So dangerous toys are not especially at the top of my parental concerns list.
So the swag in our 5K bags has changed in the last year or so.
Instead of little tchotchkes like bottle openers, calculators, and whatnot delivered in a plastic bag that I could reuse as a small garbage bag, we’re getting ticky-tack water bottles.
The bottles, of course, are so you can refill them with tap water instead of drinking from a plastic bottle and tossing it. However, the swag bottles are only nominally thicker than the disposable water bottles. They’re not quality water bottles with insulation, and let’s be honest: everyone already has one. We do. Since everyone is giving out these little water bottles, we’ve got a bunch of them. Maybe I’m just a little peeved about their profusion because my boys like to fill one up with some fluid and instead of drinking it and reusing it, they leave them littered around the house like stray bowling pins as they then use another. Every couple of weeks, I collect them, wash them, and put them in a donation box for a church garage sale, where they can sit on a table for a couple of days marked a quarter before someone else throws them out, from whence they go to a landfill and take double the 100,000 years or whatever it takes for a disposable water bottle to decompose.
Many of the athletic events have switched from plastic bags to tissue-thin recycled plastic fiber “reusable” shopping bags as well. They’re thin and don’t look to be very durable except, probably, in landfills. I don’t use reusable grocery bags as I like to collect the plastic bags to use for cat litter cleaning and for the multitude of small waste cans at Nogglestead. At times, when I have not been shopping as often, I’ve resorted to buying a box of these plastic bags. I’d feel a little odd using the reusable bags for trash duty, so they go into the donations box pretty much the time I get home from the athletic event.
So in lieu of disposable items, the swagmakers and swag-swaggers of the world offer us these cheap reusable items that are not much better than the disposables they replace and allow the people whose logos appear on them to feel like they’re doing something for the environment, but, come on, they’re not.
This January 1952 issue of Pageant magazine is its Best of Everything 1951 issue. A time capsule into the immediate post-war world in a digest magazine that apparently sought to take on Reader’s Digest. It’s a general interest magazine, with not so much the high writing of the slicks nor the woman-focus of home magazines.
“2001 A.D.–Year’s Best Forecast”, a vision of what life would be like in 50 years. It’s off quite a bit, but it’s all-in for wind and solar power and down on nuclear, which is the state almost 70 years later.
“She Gets Most Joy From Cooking”, wherein the author of The Joy of Cooking Irma Rombauer is named Woman of the year. Almost 70 years later, the cookbook is still known.
“The Case of the Curious Cop”, a true crime story that’s interesting even now.
“The Miracle of the Giants”, a baseball story.
“The Men Around Truman”, profiles of some of the president’s advisors, many of whom are forgotten today.
“The Birth of an Island”, a science story by Rachel Carson. Yes, that Rachel Carson.
Along with these articles, we’ve got fashion guides on how to buy items that you can wear or pair for different occasions; the best toys to by for each age group; beauty queens of different festivals; and varied humorous joke/quip collections like you would find in Reader’s Digest.
Along with a full photo of the cover girl on the back:
Cute, but not racy.
No left-wing bias to speak of–the magazine talks about the “pinkos” in government–but a couple of environmental pieces that foreshadow things to come. The “best science story” by Rachel Carson, for example, tells of how volcanic islands are formed and how different plant and animal species might come to it, and how great it is until MAN SHOWS UP.
You know, I miss general interest magazines like this. I subscribe to Reader’s Digest off and on, and I used to subscribe to The Saturday Evening Post and Grit, but those last two changed too much to retain my interest. But I must be the only one; otherwise, we would have more of them around today.
I wonder where I got this; the front cover has an antique mall sort of pricing on it, but I can’t imagine picking this up for a dollar at an antique mall. More likely, it was in a dollar bundle of digest magazines and chapbooks that I bought at a Friends of the Springfield-Greene Library book sale. These bundles, grab-bags really, provide me with quite a few curiousities that I sometimes count as books read. But not in this case, as it is clearly but a magazine.
Yes, it is true, not currently a carefree contractor for-hire, but I’m in an engagement where I have a manager. Actually, I am pretty sure I have thirteen or fourteen managers, or that everyone is a manager except me, but that’s pretty much been the story of my full time jobs anywhere.
So I talked to my manager on Friday, a day ahead of the long weekend, and she asked me if I knew any veterans.
Which seems like an odd question to me.
I mean, my parents met in the Marine Corps. My grandfather also served in the Marines. My father in law was Air Force. Let’s be honest: My children’s school canceled the annual Veteran’s Day slide show because it turned pretty much into my boys’ family tree after I asked my grandmother for a picture of my grandfather in uniform, and she sent me pictures of family members going back over a hundred years in uniform.
My brother signed up for the Marines after high school. Jimmy from the trailer park, the other N in the Triple N Enterprises lawn cutting service, signed up for the Army and went Airborne. Dave, who lived two doors down from my father in Milwaukee and with whom I was very good friends my first year at school, signed up for the Army after high school and went Airborne. My friend Brian, the Elvis impersonator, was in the National Guard for a long time. Todd, the thespian I went to school with, was in the Navy and afterwards played Mike in a staged reading of The Courtship of Barbara Holt.
Those are the people from my close circle who served. I have numerous acquaintances from church who served, and I’m Facebook friends with BlackFive and Baldilocks.
So, yeah, I know some veterans.
Is that odd? Is it because I’m the product of neighborhoods, trailer parks, and cohorts where college was not the default option after high school that I know so many veterans? Is it because I’m the product of a more expressively patriotic age?
Perhaps it was just my manager’s way of getting to my plans for Veterans’ Day.
Which only incidentally had an outward demonstration that might tie into the holiday. As I was in the St. Louis area, I visited Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery and put flowers on my mother’s grave.
And I don’t just thank veterans on one day of the year. But I do thank them. And you, gentle reader, if it applies.
I might have mentioned that I have an aunt who might be terminally ill in St. Charles. I have been remiss in visiting the St. Louis area and seeing her in the last ten years since we bought Nogglestead–I might have been back only two or three times–so I have been inventing excuses to drive to St. Louis as she would disapprove of me making the trip solely to visit her.
A couple weeks ago, the family and I traveled to see our first Blues game as a family.
This week, my polite fiction was that I was going to see Janet Evra perform.
I just happened to visit my aunt for coffee and with my brother, who up to see my aunt at the same time.
“Are you really going to see this jazz singer?” my other aunt, the caregiver, asked.
Unfortunately, it has taken my aunt’s illness to shake me out of weekends of doing the same old, same old martial arts-book signing at ABC Books-nap-chores-dinner-reading-church-nap-football/chores-dinner-workweek cycle that has seemingly consumed a better part of the last decade. That oversimplifies it, but honestly, when I look back at what I’ve done lately, that’s what I see.
At any rate, Evra played two sets, about two hours, in a coffee house with seating for about thirty–and those seats were full. It seems odd to me to see her in a coffee house–I mean, in my coffee house days, I saw a lot of coffee house musicians, and I even got a CD from one later, but in this case, I’d heard the artist on the radio and got her CD and then saw her in a coffee house which seemed backwards. Unnatural. As though by CD and radio time, artists should be playing halls. The Focal Point at least (although I have not been to the venue since it moved from Webster Groves because Memories part of Coffee House Memories).
She played a couple of oldies jazzed up (“Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” and, I hate to say it, Blondie’s “Call Me” is an oldie), a couple of pieces from her album (“Paris”, “You or Me”), and many selections in French and Portuguese (including “Agua de Beber”) and assorted Sambas (“The Girl from Ipanema”).
I enjoyed it, needless to say.
So, Brian J., how’s your concert musical balance? you might ask. Well, gentle reader, my concert going tends toward septuagenarians (Gordon Lightfoot, Herb Alpert), women my wife likes (Dar Williams, Mary Chapin Carpenter), and jazz. I don’t go to many metal concerts because, to be honest, metalheads intimidate me, whereas I am pretty sure I can best one or more jazz concertgoers in unarmed combat. Which is a misconception that will likely lead to a future butt-kicking by a septuagenarian at a jazz concert.
I’ve never been a real photography buff. I mean, I had a couple of cameras when I was a kid, and I’m glad that I had them to document my early life (like this). But I haven’t really gotten into it as a hobby, although I have bought at garage sales a number of tripods for some reason.
However, there is one photograph I’ve wanted to take for a number of years
A couple hills over, a white barn sits partway up the slope. As you drive down the farm road, you can see it in a small window in the trees. Trees climb a hill behind the barn, and trees lie long the intervening hillsides so that the barn is surrounded by the leaves. You can only see it from a spot on the corner before it is again obscured by the trees. It’s especially beautiful in the autumn, with the vivid colors.
So in past autumns, I’ve tried to take the picture with my phone, and it didn’t work. I tried a couple of times with a digital camera, including putting it on a tripod, but it lacked a zoom. Other years, we have only had a single fall color, brown, after dry summers. Some autumns, we’ve had windstorms that denuded the trees right after they turned and I didn’t get a chance.
This year, someone built a large house on a corner lot on the farm road. I gamed out an encounter with a suspicious homeowner as I tried the photo this year, but as I slowed down when driving by, I found the foreground trees had grown so that they overlaid the barn, and the opportunity for my perfect shot had passed.
Ah, well. I took it for granted that one autumn day I would get the shot I wanted even as the years passed and the landscape changed. The house on the corner lot has planted a boundary for trees. In another ten years, I won’t be able to see the new house–or the barn on the hill beyond.
So I guess I will enjoy the vista while I can and only occasionally mourn the photo that never was.
When I was in late middle school and high school, which is to say the time when I lived in the trailer park and down the gravel road in the valley, a lot of family members died. I lost my grandfather, my grandmother, my cousin, a number of great aunts, my great-grandmother by marriage, and then my step-grandfather. Some were far off, but I attended between one and three funerals a year in that span. The older generation, those great aunts, were in their eighties, my grandparents died young, and my cousin was shot at 21.
Suddenly, I’m acutely aware of how those things are aligning again.
I have since learned that my stepmother with whom I had a rocky relationship also has cancer pretty badly. I learned this from my grandmother, who let me know that fifteen people in the family have health issues of some sort or another.
So my aunts and uncles are getting into their sixties and seventies now. My mother-in-law is closing in on eighty. My grandmother is in her nineties, but you wouldn’t know it. And, who knows, maybe one of these random pains and little coughs I get might actually be the innocent symptom of Something Worse as I fear.
You know, you can recognize mortality and deal with it in one of two ways: You can appreciate every day what you have now and actively treasure those relationships, or you can dread the loss that you know is coming.
Me, I’m making more effort to see my family that lives outside Springfield (which is to say, all of them but my immediate family). I’m trying to live life with better experiences than the simple day-to-day maintenances (although now that St. Louis Blues Hockey games are $80 a ticket, they will be memorable because they’re scarce). I’m going to send more frequent notes and letters to my grandmother who has told me she loves them and reads them multiple times.
Still, even as I do these things, I am pretty sure I’ll dread the future losses. I said you can deal with it in one of two ways. I will do both and let my impulses battle it out in my psyche.
So as I was laying up the Halloween costumes in the closet, I noticed I had some old grey socks in a bin with some overflow underwear I culled from a crowded drawer at some point or another.
How old are those socks, you might ask (but probably not). Over thirty years old, gentle reader. Over thirty.
From 1996 to 1998, before I began my career in computers, I operated a Didde-Glaser 175 two color offset printing press in O’Fallon, Missouri.
One of the second shift printer operators nicknamed me “Inky,” as I might have been a little messy. I learned to wear black jeans and black sneakers as reflex blue ink does not stand out on them, and I bought grey athletic socks to tone down the flash of white between the jeans and the shoe. I’m pretty sure that’s the only time I’ve bought socks like that, so these would indeed be getting into their third decade.
I recently bought a couple pairs of athletic pants to replace some old ones that I’d worn out with frequent trips to the gym. However, the current style seems to be a little form fitting. To the point that I feel like I’m going to stand out of them whilst doing squats. So I was going to turn this into an object lesson for my oldest child who is really into name brands as, I suppose, youth often are.
“These are Michael Strahan’s,” I said, pointing to the athletic pants. I had prepared my lecture about how the fact that they were a premium brand meant little since they wouldn’t actually serve my athletic needs, that I should have just gone to Walmart.
But he sidetracked my planned life lesson when he didn’t know who Michael Strahan is. I explained a couple of things: New York Giants defensive end. Today Show co-host. Apparently, a clothing magnate.
I did say that as a “premium” brand, it was probably of better quality than what I would buy at Walmart and wear out in a couple of years.
I got to my final point, and the knowledge that brings this whole post together:
“When my grandchildren come to a sleepover with Grandma and Grandpa, I’ll wear these pants to bed.”
As I mentioned, one of the benefits of Nogglestead is that I can easily lay my hands upon lots of the ephemera from my life that I have collected over the years and refuse to part with. The second thing, aside from the spaciousness of the storage, is that I pretty much have not reorganized or moved anything since we moved in, so these things are generally in the last place I saw them, ten years ago when I put them there.
So when my beautiful wife found and old business card and posted it on Facebook, I immediately took it to be an Old Business Card challenge. So I went to the cubby where I keep ticket stubs and whatnot and came up with two within minutes:
At the top, we have my second technical writer position circa 1998. I would later become an automated tester there before leaving for a startup that only left me with a worthless stock certificate.
I am pretty sure that I have other business cards around here; when I remembered my little business cards book, I found another from my days as the director of quality assurance for an interactive marketing agency circa 2005:
I also have a large number of other business cards that I printed on a little vending machine at the Grand Avenue Mall in Milwaukee. For a buck, it would print out four business cards for you, so I have a number proclaiming me a freelance writer, president of Triple N Enterprises, the lawn mowing company we had in the trailer park, and the bassist in a band called Ghostriders. Which don’t count, but I still have them and at hand.
Then, Friar posted about about a self-made audio cassette (I, too, shy away from mixed tape as nomenclature for this endeavor), and I was able to easily lay my hands on a couple I made in the early 1990s:
Theme Songs contains:
“Carry On Wayward Son” by Kansas
“Here I Go Again” by Whitesnake
“Foreplay/Longtime” by Boston
“Feel Like Making Love” by Bad Company
“Hard to Handle” by Counting Crowes
“I Go to Extremes” by Billy Joel
“Show Me The Way” by Styx
“Somebody Save Me” by Cinderella
“Electric Blue” by Icehouse
“It’s a Sin” by the Pet Shop Boys
Almost thirty years later, two of those are on my workout playlist and another was on it for a while but got removed because it’s not angry or fast enough.
Rain Songs contains:
“I Love A Rainy Night” by Eddie Rabbitt
“The Soft Rains of April” by a-ha
“Storm Front” by Billy Joel
“Another Rainy Night (Without You)” by Queensryche
“Crying in the Rain” by a-ha
“Rain Down On Me” by RTZ
“Falling of the Rain” by Billy Joel
“I Wish It Would Rain Down On Me” by Phil Collins
“Riders on the Storm” by the Doors
“After the Rain” by Nelson
“Here I Stand And Face The Rain” by a-ha
Face it: a-ha did a lot of rain songs, and I really liked a-ha in those days. I still do, but not like I did then.
I easily laid my hands on these because they were in the tape bins under the bed.
Note the Huey Lewis and the News album Sports, the first full-length album I bought at a garage sale in the trailer park in the middle 1980s and the a-ha album Scoundrel Days, the first a-ha album I got for $2.99 on a reduced price tape rack at Walgreens in 1990.
We’ve got a couple of those, and my beautiful wife has a number of tape organizers in here office where they are on display. A number of years ago, she set about to ripping the audio cassettes to MP3s (perhaps MP2s–it was a while ago). Which is why we still have the audio cassettes–they’re the source of the MP3s, and if we donated or sold them, we would be honor-bound to delete the ripped music from our iTunes libraries.
But I still listen to them from time to time.
For example, I’m listening to Night Ranger’s Big Life right now, which features the song “Rain Comes Crashing Down”:
Given that I bought the cassette on the discount rack at Walgreens about 1990, it seems odd that “Rain Comes Crashing Down” did not make it to the Rain Songs cassette. Perhaps I ran out of room or didn’t think so much of the song at the time.
Note that “The Secret of My Success” would be on my gym playlist except that songs ripped from audio cassette play back at a lower volume in iTunes even if you set the audio volume to auto-correct. So it would not be loud enough for exercise. Perhaps I should buy a copy of the song or the CD so I can get it appropriately loud.
At any rate, what was my point? Oh, that I can lay my hands on a lot of personal relics. As my family and the number of people who knew me back when continues to shrink, I rely on these relics an awful lot to prove that I was then and that the eternal now wasn’t all there is.
I check out the crime stories that mention places I’ve lived to see if I know the alleged perpetrators. Hey, it happens; once I saw the name and picture of the kid who sat behind me in 8th grade Civics class with Mrs. Padgett, but he wasn’t a kid anymore.
In the new neighborhood, I check the news stories to see how close tornadoes came to Nogglestead.
In 1974, he ran the fastest 100-yard dash with manual timing of 9.0 seconds, a record he still holds. This was deemed at the time by the Los Angeles Times as “Immortality in 9 Seconds Flat”, and he was quickly tagged with the title the world’s fastest man by Track and Field News who put him on their June 1974 cover.
Sometime after he set the record, probably as part of the global conversion to the metric system, the powers that be eliminated that particular event from the Track and Field canon. So Ivory Crockett’s record will stand forever.
I actually just told the story of Ivory Crockett again to my children as we were in Old Trees on Sunday, and we passed under the banners for the Ivory Crockett 5K and fun run which had been the day before. So it was fresh in my mind. Not that this particular fact is very far from mind.
UPDATE: Sorry, I originally attributed this to Jack, but it was Bark M. posting over there. I have updated the attribution above and would vow to pay more attention to post authors, but, come on, we all know I won’t.
Ms. K. has a blog post about Durable Characters in commercials, and she cites Flo from Progressive Insurance and Mayhem from State Farm who have been in ads for a decade (although Mayhem had a hiatus if I recall, and I should, as I consider Mayhem to be one of my professional heroes).
I see her Flo and raise her the Sonic Guys who have been doing commercials for Sonic since 2002 almost continuously and Jack in the Box, who has been in Jack in the Box commercials since the middle 1990s through, what, 2017 (according to the Jack in the Box Fandom wiki)?
I have to wonder how those actors and comedians feel to know that their most famous work comes from thirty second spots over the course of decades. Hopefully happy for the steady work.
This weekend, or more to the point, this Sunday and Monday, I traveled to a work retreat in the Washington, D.C., area. When I travel, I like to pack my personal item with magazines that I can read and discard on the way, which means my bag gets lighter as I go.
As I might have mentioned, my magazine subscriptions wax and wane over the years, and I have accumulated a bunch of old magazines in a drawer in the parlor that I’ve been meaning to read (including a number that came out of the trunk 17 years ago).
I have to consider what to pack carefully. My beautiful wife wants to browse some of them after I am finished, so I cannot discard Forbes or 417 on the road, so I might as well not pack them. I don’t want to pack magazines with guns on them as I don’t want to have the TSA give me the side eye or give some fellow plane traveler the vapors, so Garden and Gun, Ducks Unlimited, America’s First Freedom, and various other items are right out.
Which leads me to an eclectic collection in my bag, to be sure.
So in rapid succession, someone sitting on a plane next to me is likely to see me go through years-old issues of:
Chronicles, kind of like a Midwestern National Review;
St. Louis, the slick from St. Louis, natch;
National Review, kind of like a hipster coastal elite Chronicles;
First Things, a magazine of Catholic theology;/li>
Birds and Blooms, a lightweight photography magazine about flowers and birds;
Metal Hammer, a British magazine about heavy metal music focused on European bands.
As you know, gentle reader, I am a man of eclectic and diverse interests.
But, Brian J., won’t your beautiful wife want to read Metal Hammer? Well, yes, which is why I have brought it home.
And why I have looked up Follow the Cipher on YouTube:
Watch for that album on a future Musical Balance post.