Overseen on the Plane

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;
  • 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.

An Anniversary of Sorts

So twenty-four years ago last night, I was at work at a produce market in southwest St. Louis County. I was a year out of college, and when my student loans repayments kicked in, I found I needed a night job as my temporary Associate Editor position at an industry magazine wasn’t going to cover them much less gas money to get to the job, so I went back to slinging produce.

In those days, I was driving back and forth to Milwaukee frequently as I clung to my collegiate friendships as best I could. Probably a mix of I didn’t want to leave college yet and I don’t make friends easily. It allowed me to see my father, who had been diagnosed with lung cancer the summer after I graduated, and who completed a course of treatment and went into “remission” that lasted whole months.

My brother, on emergency leave from the Marines, had called the day before and told me that I should probably come home soon, so I made plans for the weekend to come up.

Continue reading “An Anniversary of Sorts”

A Very Unpink October

Has the whole pink for breast cancer awareness thing run its course? I’m seeing remarkably less pink in the wild this month.

I was going to say something last week, but I thought I might be ahead of myself in making the assertion, but we’ve seen a weekend of NFL football without a pile of pink on the field. My martial arts school has, in the past, pushed pink belts and even, if I recall, pink gis, but this year it’s just decals.

Huh. Perhaps everyone is aware now, and the charities that existed to take in money, pay themselves, and raise awareness are finding themselves with tighter budgets.

You know, I used to be young and cynical back when I was more idealistic.

The Children Find Suitable Musical Rebellion

I felt a little bad for my children. My varied musical tastes pretty much outflank any genre of music that they could discover and try to play really loud to shock the parents.

Heavy metal? Come on. They tell me to turn it down.

Rap? I have Eminem on the playlist. And they think the Beastie Boys are dinosaur music.

Jazz/Big Band/Swing? We remember what happened at the art museum.

Country? They were stunned when they discovered I was familiar with country and western music, and we’ve got a preset on the car radios for a country and western station. And Dad knows all the tunes.

The Jack music (is that even the name anymore?) that is the greatest hits of the 80s, 90s, and today? Between an extensive collection of cassettes and CDs, Dad knows all the songs on the radio stations’ abbreviated playlists and most of them on the weekly reprise of Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 from the 1980s.

Electronica and dance music? Dad just bought a CD’s worth of songs by The Fat Rat, and their beautiful mom used to compose EDM.

Hip hop? I guess they could flank me here, as I don’t care for much of it, but I do have enough R&B to perhaps keep them away.

But you know what they found to annoy me?

Seventies folk music.

Apparently, inclusion in the video game Fallout 76 has revitalized John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” and it now appears on the playlist at hockey arenas and whatnot.

Wait a minute, Brian J., don’t you own Their Greatest Hits Volume 1 by The Eagles? Well, yes, but they’re a band with California folk sound. I don’t know why the guy and a guitar folk rankles me so much.

What about all those Linda Ronstadt and Olivia Newton-John albums you own? True, and you could also bring up the Lynda Carter album as well. What do these have in common? Beautiful women who sing.

So the boys have discovered my beautiful wife’s John Denver albums and play them on the record player every morning and evening.

If they discover her Dan Fogelberg albums, I don’t know what I’ll do. Perhaps blow out my ears listening to heavy metal too loud on ear buds all the quicker, I suppose.

I left them such a small gap. And they exploited it.

The Fraudulent 5Ks of Brian J.

So I didn’t run a 5K yesterday.

I mean, I signed us up for the Panther Run for what would have been our fourth year in a row. But a late addition to my boys’ cross country schedule of actual cross country meets this year (instead of the Panther Run and other 5Ks) meant we were going to be in Joplin, an hour away, instead of on the Drury University campus.

Still, on Friday night, we went to pick up the packets and shirts anyway.

As we picked them up, several volunteers thanked us for coming to run with them, and I murmured a response that was not untruthful. Then, as I was leaving, my triathlon coach, who also works with the timing company for the event, asked if we all were going to run it, and I admitted to him that I was a fraud. I wasn’t going to run it, but I was going to pick up the shirts.

But I won’t wear mine. Although the Panther Run provides nice long sleeved shirts with moisture-wicking fabric and although my t-shirt wardrobe is about 60% 5Ks and triathlons (and only 20% Green Bay Packers), I won’t wear a 5K shirt if I haven’t actually run the race.

It’s happened before. Last year, we picked up our packets for the Sole Purpose Run on Friday evening, and our youngest took violently ill all Friday night, so none of us were in any shape to be awake much less run a race at 7am. So my shirt went into the donation pile immediately.

Other times, we have signed up for 5Ks but not run them. We signed up for one in Joplin in January the year before last, but race time temperatures were in the single digits. Another time, an ice storm might have made it too slick, so we stayed home, only to discover from the event pictures that the course was pretty clear (and the ice storm kept a lot of runners away, so I might well have medalled with my normal 3.1 mile time).

At any rate, the cross country season is over, and I’m hoping we can sign up for one or two 5Ks yet this year. I’m hoping I can get to the gym a little better early in the mornings and rebuild some running endurance so I can make a good show of it. And to start preparing for next year’s triathlons which could very well begin in February.

When You Have To Double Check Your Trivia

As you know, gentle reader, you often have to check your trivia that you learn from trivia books as authors put in fake trivia to catch copyright violators.

So I have to wonder if I can trust anything in a book excerpted in The Mirror: What ‘bumfiddle’ really means and 17 other bizarre word facts

The fact in question is:

The longest one-syllable word in the English language is screeched.

Well, it’s tied with strengths, the longest word with only one vowel, at nine letters, and both have a single syllable.

So never trust your trivia. Especially if you get it from a book, the Internet, or me.

A Fear We’ve Shared

The young kid running amok at a 5K race. 9-year-old misses turn in 5K race, accidentally wins St. Francis Franny Flyer 10K:

Last weekend, St. Cloud resident Heather Lovell was standing along the St. Francis Franny Flyer 5K route in Sartell.

She was waiting for her 9-year-old son Kade to pass by.

When Lovell didn’t see Kade when she expected to, she thought he might just be having a bad race.

Then a few other kids — whom she knew were slower than Kade — passed by. Still no Kade.

Lovell’s mother then drove the 5K race route. Still no Kade.

Lovell started to worry that he had gotten lost or injured — or worse.

“I had everyone looking for him, even a fireman. I was like, ‘You need to go find my son,'” Lovell said. “I was bawling. This had never happened before.”

Our youngest got to be fast enough that he ran by himself at about that age, and before he really learned to pay attention to cars and other moving things.

So far, so good, though.

He does want to run a 10K sometime soon, and I might join him. But this year, he’s been running in cross country meets, which are shorter distances. And I’ve not gotten the exercise I like to get for, oh, a year (notice no “What’s on Brian’s iPod at the Gym” posts lately?). So no 10K for us this year.

Unless it’s an accident.

(Link via Neatorama, but not John Farrier, who used to come around here.)

On Medieval Mysteries: The History Behind The Myths of the Middle Ages by Thomas F. Madden

Book coverThis is a short course from the Modern Scholar series that focuses on myths and stories from the Middle Ages and how true they are. The four discs / eight lectures cover:

  • King Arthur
  • The Holy Grail
  • Pope Joan
  • Witches and Inquisitors
  • Chastity Belts and The Droit du Seigneur
  • Robin Hood
  • The Flat Earth
  • The Shroud of Turin

Not to spoil it, but basically, it boils down to there might have been a kernel of a real person for King Arthur and Robin Hood, but the stories have outrun the truth (print the legend!). A number of stories (Pope Joan, Inquisitors, the Droit du Seigneur, Flat Earth) were invented after the fact to reflect poorly on the past. As to the Shroud of Turin, who knows?

The author goes back to original sources and earliest mentions to try to get to the germ of each, and he does a pretty good job at a high, summary level or presenting the material. I enjoyed it, and it was only four hours which meant I could finish it on the recent drive up north.

Brian J. Returns to St. Charles

Over the weekend, I drove up to St. Charles to visit my aunt. Powered by Gummy Worms and bottled tea and audio courses, I made the trip on Friday night and stayed at the Tru by Hilton at the streets of St. Charles based on a mention Charles made not long before he passed away. Although he was complimentary about his stay, I didn’t think much of the place. The room was smaller than a Hampton Inn, with just a bed, a table over a small refrigerator, a rolling table the size of a hospital table, and a rolling chair jammed next to the bed. The other table spaces were a couple inches of shelving attached to the wall. The whole thing seemed to be designed to resemble a dormitory–the common spaces were brighter and designed for working/hanging out, complete with coffee all night and a pool table. But the Streets of St. Charles Tru was more expensive than the place Charles stayed–and was likely more expensive than the Hampton Inn–so I’ll probably not stay at the chain again, opting for Hampton Inn for lesser stays and actual Hilton Hiltons for the more luxe stays.

I did get the best room in the joint, though:

“311” is my favorite Hiroshima song.

I thought I’d mention it to the clerk at check-in, but the song was older than she was by at least a decade.

The Streets of New York is a rather recent development in St. Charles. It’s a New Urbanist style block that has a couple of hotels, some apartments, dining, and shops. I might have liked to have lived in that sort of place when I was young, because it’s like a city without the dangers of living in a real city. A city for suburban kids. When I lived in the city, I lived in the city.

I had some dinner at one of the restaurants, and I dumbfounded myself with remembering that I once lived in St. Charles. I mean, I knew remembered it, but it was weird being there and grokking the knowledge.

It was for about a year and a half, when we first moved to the St. Louis area. We lived in my aunt’s basement whilst I was in sixth grade and part of seventh grade. I thought of my aunt and uncle as rich, but it turns out that they were simply middle class and struggling a bit. I would have mentioned to the server at the restaurant that I used to live in a mile or so away, but it was before she was born.

On Saturday, I got up a little early and hoped to hit the hotel’s “fitness center,” but the two treadmills and single weight bench were already full, so I went for a run/walk up to that house where I lived in St. Charles. My rich aunt and uncle’s house.

Which is a 1200 square foot ranch house. Smaller than any house I’ve owned.

It has three bedrooms, one bathroom (and a half, as I recall), a living room, and a kitchen/dining room upstairs. They refinished the basement while I lived there, which meant painting the walls and putting down a thin layer of carpeting, so that my mother, brother, and I could live down there for a while.

Thirty-five years ago. The neighborhood completely changed, of course–when we were there, it wasn’t much of a neighborhood. There was a small subdivision (suitable for trick-or-treating), but it was forests and farmlands from there to the river.

Now, it’s all subdivisions. The road has been widened into a boulevard with sidewalks on each side wherever subdivisions went in, and the houses in the subdivisions all have more than five rooms. There’s an arena down the road and a Tru by Hilton.

It’s not the house that built me–by that time, we transitioned from the projects to this house to the trailer to the house down the gravel road in the valley so fast that I don’t have a place where I grew up aside from the transitions. But it is a stop on the way.

And when I returned to school after college, I never really wanted or aspired to live in St. Charles, even when I was working in a print shop a couple suburbs west.

I’m losing the people who knew me, and the places I once knew are changing beyond recognition. Is it any wonder I cling to the personal relics so tightly?

And Just Like That, I Saved The Boy’s Life

So last weekend, while I was in Poplar Bluff, my boys took a walk around the block. They’ve only just now earned that privilege, as the block is four miles around and is all two lane, no shoulder farm roads and state highway. But three quarters of the way around the loop, there’s a gas station where they can stock up on all sorts of things that they don’t get at home, like candy, meat sticks, energy drinks, and soda.

So the oldest bought a twelve pack of Pepsi and carried it a couple of miles home, and he was very benevolent with it. He wanted to be able to give his father a soda, so when I returned on Sunday, he kept offering me one. Which I declined. But he got very creative in his marketing plans.

The bar downstairs has an electric teapot. You put water in it and push the button, and it heats the water to the boiling point so you can make yourself tea. Mostly these days I use it to boil water to pour down the drain to clean the pipes. But it has a ring of blue LED lights at the bottom that light when the water is heating.

He again offered me a Pepsi, and I looked over. He had all the lights out by the bar, and he activated the teapot. The blue lights like the blue on a Pepsi can, you see.

I asked him if he put water in the pot–and as he had not, I told him to turn it off, as just heating the glass could lead to the glass cracking. So he turned it off.

At which point, I realized he had not just turned it on. He had put a can of Pepsi in it to make it into a little display case.

Which would have heated the can of soda to the boiling point, which could have led to an expressive outpouring of superheated Pepsi that might very well have shattered the glass at chest level with the young man standing about eighteen or twenty four inches away.

I mean, it might have happened that way. In my imagination, that’s what would have happened. Perhaps I’ve been overprotective as a father with that sort of imagination, but the household is probably due for a family conversation on the Ideal Gas Law.

But it also reminds me how very lucky we are.

The Improvised Clothesline of Nogglestead

So on Tuesday, our dryer shot craps.

The timing really didn’t work for us. As I mentioned, I was out of town over the weekend, which meant that Nogglestead had a bit of a laundry backup as I am the majordomo of the household. So we had a pile of laundry to catch up on, but when I opened the door on the dryer, the clothes within were still wet.

This sometimes happens when one of us puts the load in the dryer and doesn’t think to turn it on. The timer on the dryer is mechanical and will count down even if you don’t turn the heat and blow on.

So I turned it on, and when I came back a second time, the clothes were still wet, so I knew something was wrong.

I didn’t have time to troubleshoot it myself, he said defensively, so I called upon Sears Home Services (not a paid endorsement) because I know that they can usually send someone out in the next day or so with a truck full of parts to repair appliances.

But I still had two loads of laundry to dry–the one in the dryer and the one in the washer.

I don’t have enough places to hang laundry in my house, and although I have toyed with the idea of putting up clotheslines outside from time-to-time, I had not actually done so.

Luckily, though, like any D&D player who ignores the encumbrance rules, I had some rope and ten foot poles–or at least eight foot long 2x4s, and unlike a 1st level Fighter, I had ratchet straps. So I could quickly improvise a clothesline for emergency drying purposes. I ratchet-strapped the 2x4s to posts on my deck, drilled a hole through the wood, and fed the rope through.

And it worked. I could hang some laundry to dry. Not only did I dry the two loads that were already wet, but I ran a couple loads on Thursday just in case the appliance repairman couldn’t make it.

Look at me, all MacGyver and whatnot.

I must have had ratchets on the mind as I showed my brother the proper way to use them last weekend when we cinched some plywood onto his minivan. I’ve mostly used them to reseat flat tubeless tires on my lawn mower or dolly, and I’ve generally had to watch YouTube videos on how to feed them every time because I’m prone to feeding them the wrong way and having to cut the straps loose. But the proper use of them must have finally stuck with me, as we were able to load and unload the plywood as expected.

When I was getting the straps out, though, I noticed that I had left one of them coiled around the ratchet. As though some years ago, I had not known how to remove the strap once the tension was released. So I just left it for Future Me to figure out. Some years later, I actually knew.

I’m not saying that my ratchet-fu is perfect.

I managed to position the ratchet on one post so that I could not release the tension to remove it once our dryer was repaired. One of the deck’s boards was in the way.

Past Me would have cut the straps or something. Present Me, who obviously has some experience working on the deck (note the freshly replaced board in the pictures) simply knocked one end of the prohibiting board loose, let the strap loose, and then nailed the board back into place.

At any rate, it made me feel delightfully competent, and my beautiful wife was impressed. So I got that going for me.

I’m not blogging to brag. I’m blogging so a couple years from now I’ll know why the 2x4s have holes in them.

Busy Weekends Sometimes At Nogglestead

So last weekend, I humblebragged on Facebook about my busy and pain-inducing Saturday:

The stair climb was for the National Fallen Firefighters Association, and it involved climbing up and down every aisle at Missouri State University’s Plaster Stadium. Four laps of each aisle. It was single file, so it was more of a leg workout than a cardio workout. I did it because I wanted to see if I could, and I was humbled by the number of firefighters who were doing the climb themselves in full gear. So, yeah, I did okay for an old man, but nothing compared to those who serve.

I’d hoped I could do the climb in an hour and make it north to Bolivar (BALLiver) to catch my sons’ cross country meet (but for it, they would have joined me at the stair climb). However, the climb did not start at the time they said it would (8:30) because they had an opening ceremony, and when everyone lined up to begin, I stopped at the rest room first and found my way to the end of the line. It took a while to get started, so I was only done and back to my car about an hour before my boys were scheduled to run–but the expediency of the meet meant that events were moved earlier instead of later (which is generally how it goes at a track meet). So I got there just in time to pick up my son and turn around to drive another hour back.

Pretty much all of it was guaranteed to make my legs stiffen, and we then went to a church festival where I bought the lad too many tickets, so he spent a couple of hours playing the games there while I watched and encouraged while standing on asphalt.

Oh, yes, I felt that.

So this weekend, I tried to top it.

I:

  • Did a “5k” on Saturday morning that was more like 2.6 miles instead of 3.1.
  • Immediately jumped into my car and drove 3.5 hours to Poplar Bluff, Missouri to help my brother put on a new roof.
  • Climbed onto a ladder and helped tear off a new roof for five hours.
  • Slept.
  • Picked up shingles in the yard, put them in a wheelbarrow, wheeled them to a dumpster, unloaded, and repeated for four hours.
  • Drove three and a half hours home.
  • Did the Nogglestead Sunday afternoon chores.

While working with my brother and his brother-in-law, we talked about how we were going to feel after the strenuous activity, and we agreed it wouldn’t be good.

But I’m starting to wonder if humblebragging about how much we ache after that level of activity does not so much indicate how active we are, but how old we are. So I’m reconsidering bringing it up again in conversation, gentle reader, except for this blog post.

However, I think I will skip the martial arts class tonight.

Death All Around Us

For some time, Facebook has shown me phantom notifications on my login screen.

When I log in, they’re gone:

So last week, I thought perhaps these notifications from people on my friends list that I have unfollowed, generally because their posts are unrelentingly anti-Republican and anti-Trump, and I’d prefer not to think about how many people I’ve known on a friendly basis who wouldn’t mind if I was put up against a wall and executed for wrongthink.

So I unhid a couple, and one of them, a former co-worker of and bridesmaid for my beautiful wife, had a couple of posts about organ donors who benefited from her son. So I clicked a couple of times, and I learned that she had taken her son to college last year, and a couple of days later, he died.

This effected me in a couple of ways: I felt awful that I didn’t know this before now–nor did my wife, who might have also hidden her on Facebook. I mean, they still get together when my wife goes to St. Louis, but the last time had been before he died, so we just didn’t know. I felt bad for not knowing, and reeled a bit from his death so young–the bridesmaid had been early in her pregnancy at our wedding, and I don’t think I ever met the lad.

But it bothered me more acutely because the boys at Nogglestead are entering those rebellious teen-aged years and are becoming difficult in a sophisticated manner. Sometimes, we have to become strident in rule enforcement, which includes discipline, raised voices, and a lot of time spent angry and frustrated at our boys. Knowing that this young man died at 18, a couple of years older than my own children, made me viscerally aware that my family is spending some of our very limited time together with this nonsense. But it’s within the realm of normal child behavior, and parenting it takes some effort. It is harder, though, when viewed through the lens of mortality.

Last week, I also came across a trackback from Dustbury.com on a post I put up in 2010, right after I switched from blogspot/Blogger to my own domain and WordPress. I sent him a little note telling him that I appreciated his blog for a long time, but he never got it because he passed away this weekend. Charles was probably the longest-time reader of this blog excluding me, and I read his blog several times a day. Even now, when I have a spare moment, I find myself typing his URL in the address bar. I’m going to miss him, and I only knew the online version of him.

I don’t have a pat conclusion for this post. What, hug your family while you can? If you’re like me, that will probably diminish the further I travel from this moment–although my much-mentioned double-effect narrator always keeps me mindful of the passage of time and the loss of this moment at pretty much every moment.

Here, have some David Gilmour.

Songs of Fatherhood

As you might have noticed, gentle reader, if you’ve been around a while, I don’t often speak of my father on this blog other than to mention that I remember the exact television movie in 1981 that I was watching (Twirl) when he told me my parents were separating. My parents did indeed divorce, and my custodial parent and we boys moved shortly thereafter to Missouri from Wisconsin. So my contact with my father during my teen years was intermittent phone calls and a couple weeks in the summer. I did get to live with him while I was going to college, but I disappointed him in many of his measures, including moving back to Missouri after college. He didn’t come to my college graduation which was in Milwaukee, which hurt. Later that summer, they discovered he had lung cancer, and he passed away in 1995 when he was 47, and I was 23. To make a short story long.

I associate two songs from the period with my father although they weren’t necessarily among our shared musical interests (we both liked Billy Joel and the Eagles).

The first is Rod Stewart’s “Forever Young”. Back in those days, children, MTV and VH1 played music videos, and young people watched them.

When this one came on, my father said something to the effect of that’s how he felt about us. I couldn’t understand it then, but now I’ve got children entering the end of their childhoods, and they’ll suddenly be out on their own, and I have to wonder how I’ll have served them as a father. A mixed bag, I suppose. I mean, I’m here, I pay attention, and I go to their ball games and whatnot, but sometimes I get wrapped up in my own pursuits and don’t play with them like I used to. Well, I shoot hoops with them from time to time, and I’ve been known to teach them to split wood. But I cannot know now how successful my parenting will have been. And I probably never will, with certainty, know.

But to me, the boys and then men will always be continuous with the toddlers whose faces brightened palpably when they saw their daddy.

I expect my father had similar feelings with some additional complexity in his absence from my younger years. Or maybe not.

The second song is Mike + The Mechanics “In The Living Years” which came out a year after the Rod Stewart song, and it is from the perspective of the son.

Even at that young age, I knew that some day I would not have my father, so every time I heard the song, I made a point of telling my father that he was a good guy. Actually, I did this to the point that it bothered him, as though I was being arch, although I was sincere. And a couple years later, he was actually gone.

You know, I told him what I needed to tell him from my perspective then. However, it was the perspective of a late adolescent, a college student. I wish I’d been able to share things from an adult, a man’s perspective, with him. But, you know, the date of departure is out of our hands.

Now, of course, as a father, I wonder whether my children will have a better impression of me when they’re adults and perhaps fathers of their own. I only hope I’m here to see it. Unlike my own father.

A First Pass Answer Is Never

When Will Men in Hats Come Back?:

Whatever happened to the hat? Whither the fedora? Where have they stashed the Stetsons? Who has banished the boater and trashed the tweed cap? Why is a “Deerstalker” considered a Vietnam movie and a “Panama” no more than a canal?

Who can resist the gritty allure of the gumshoe Bogart tugging at the brim of his hat, or John Wayne glowering from beneath a splendid Stetson? Sherlock Holmes’ brain cannot work without the protection of his deerstalker nor can Gandalf be a whizz without his wizard’s hat. Could there be a Davy Crockett without his coonskin, a Cyrano without his chapeau, a Don Quixote without his saucepan helmet or an Indiana Jones without his hat? Indeed, is a hero a hero at all without a hat?

I don’t wear a hat because it’s fashionable to do so. I wear a hat because I want to.

I’d like to think it tracks with the conclusion of the piece:

When will men in hats come back? When men come back. When we push back from our desks and laptops, turn off the television and go back outdoors where we belong we will start to need hats again. When I am heaving bricks in the heat of El Salvador on a mission trip I need a hat. When I am trekking with kids to the top of Mayan ruins I need my broad brimmed hat to shield me from the sun. When I am hunting and fishing and working on the farm I want my head protected. When I am out on the street meeting the people I am supposed to care for I will want a hat, and should I ever go into battle I will insist on a very large hat…

….so the enemy has something to aim for.

Although I’m sure any overlap between me and real men is merely a trick of the light.

(Link via Instapundit, not his more lidded co-blogger Ed Driscoll.)

Short Memories

As you might expect, gentle reader, I review the Facebook Memories section every day to see what I was thinking or posting about in the past on this day. Kind of like when I mope through the archives here when following a link from the stat tracker to a page someone visited from 2004.

Yesterday, I got this one:

Of course, I had a game of Civ IV running in the background.

I never really got into Civ V; I think I rebelled at having to sign into Steam to play it. So I kept installing Civ IV on new PCs, up until my Windows 7 box where I had to do a special hack to turn off a graphics service to play it. Which lasted until the video card on the old PC began to choke out, probably under the weight of Civ IV running all the time.

Instead of trying to re-create the hack on a Windows 10 machine, I went ahead and installed Steam and bought Civ IV through Steam, and I still play it far too often today.

I know, I could have installed Civ V or even Civ VI since clearly I’ve gotten over having to connect to Steam each time I play Civ IV, but I tend to look at it as comfort food. Something I can play without much thought. I don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to learning new games these days, and I don’t even buy games with the thought that I would play them (which I did for much of my 30s and early 40s–buy a game, install it, watch the intro and maybe play the training level, and then I’d decide that I’d be better off reading a book or tending to my household during that time.

So fourteen years after its release, and nine years after I predicted I would move on from it, I’m still playing Civ IV.

I’m not sure if it counts as a thread weaving through my life connecting me to my pre-child past or a deep, deep rut I’m stuck in.

It Makes Sense For A Meme; For Real Life, Yeah, No

So my cousins have posted this meme on Facebook:

Well, I suppose that looks good at the cursory glance you give to a Facebook posting. But in the real world, what the heck are you going to put into a bottle that loses structural integrity in a matter of weeks?

Gentle reader, I’m not talking about the situation at Nogglestead, where every couple of years we take bottles out of the back of the cabinets and find salad dressing whose best by date is in Roman numerals.

If you think about the logistics in the food industry (which meme sharers generally are not), start the counter at the manufacture date of the hemp bottle. It’s coming off of an artisanal assembly line in Vermont or Oregon, and it’s boxed up, stored, and shipped out in a first-in first-out fashion to a processing plant where they make organic hand-crafted kimchi. How many days is this? Unless they’re overnighting the bottles, call it a week.

At the kimchi factory, it sits in a warehouse, gets filled with rotten vegetables, and gets warehoused again. Say the whole process at the food plant takes three days (but it’s probably more).

Then it gets shipped out to a grocery warehouse, where it sits on a pallet of kimchi until it gets packed for delivery on a truck to be sent to a grocery store. Pretend that the foodies and television personalities are pushing kimchi this year, and this process only takes a week.

The load gets delivered to the grocery and gets stocked (1 day). Pretend that the stocker did a good job rotating the kimchi and put it to the back of the shelf. And pretend that kimchi is in this week’s newspaper ad and that people who would buy kimchi actually read the newspaper, so customers buy all the kimchi in front of it and it’s out of the store in, what, four days?

So you get that hemp bottle full of stinking Korean food into your cabinet, and you have to eat it in the next week or it’s going to be a stinking mess on your shelf.

So perhaps a bottle made out of hemp that breaks down in a month is not the Earth-saving magic you’re looking for.