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.

Someone Of No Consequence Disses Renoir

Renoir’s Problem Nudes:

Who doesn’t have a problem with Pierre-Auguste Renoir? A tremendously engaging show that centers on the painter’s prodigious output of female nudes, “Renoir: The Body, the Senses,” at the Clark Art Institute, in Williamstown, Massachusetts, sparks a sense of crisis. The reputation of the once exalted, still unshakably canonical, Impressionist has fallen on difficult days. Never mind the affront to latter-day educated tastes of a painting style so sugary that it imperils your mind’s incisors; there’s a more burning issue. The art historian Martha Lucy, writing in the show’s gorgeous catalogue, notes that, “in contemporary discourse,” the name Renoir has “come to stand for ‘sexist male artist.’ ” Renoir took such presumptuous, slavering joy in looking at naked women—who in his paintings were always creamy or biscuit white, often with strawberry accents, and ideally blond—that, Lucy goes on to argue, the tactility of the later nudes, with brushstrokes like roving fingers, unsettles any kind of gaze, including the male. I’ll endorse that, for what it’s worth.

Technically, I guess that counts as two people of no consequence.

The writer then goes on to say the nudes of Picasso and Matisse are a breath of fresh air after looking at the Renoir. So he is also a man of no taste.

(You know what I think of Matisse, which I do infrequently and that’s too much.)

(Link via Instapundit.)

Brian J.: Jazz Poseur

How much of a poseur at jazz am I? I am using the French spelling of it, aren’t I?

Also, I score 0 of 100 on this GQ article which would serve as a quiz if I had any of the answers: The 100 best jazz albums you need in your collection.

I mean, I have numerous albums and collections by artists who appear on this list, but I don’t have any of the individual records on this list.

Which is explained by:

  • Their collectibility–I don’t find the records at library book sales or thrift stores.
  • I rarely seek out old recordings on CD, and you don’t find the CDs out in the wild, either.
  • The list does not contain a lot of jazz/torch singers, which is the kind of CDs I do seek out.
  • I am a poseur.

I think about getting Miles Davis’s The Birth of the Cool from time to time, but that’s about it.

Perhaps it’s not so much that I’m a poseur; perhaps I’m not a GQ hipster. It has been decades since I subscribed to that magazine, which I did as part of my late 1990s “I need to dress better and be more sophisticated by following magazine diktats” phase. None of the diktats, though, included dropping a lot of foreign words in italics in conversations. Which is just as well. I wouldn’t have followed it if it had, much as I did not follow the clothing, music, book, or movie fashion tips I gleaned from the short-lived subscriptions.

(Link via Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)

UPDATE: Now that I have replaced my failed record player(s) and have gotten back to walking my fingers through my collection, I discovered that I do have Dave Brubeck’s Time Out (I also have Time Further Out and Jazz Goes to College). So I have 1 out of 100. I am a hipster.

Meanwhile, At The IMAO T-Shirt Babe Reunion

As I mentioned in the book report for Who Built That?, we were thinking of going to see Michelle Malkin speak. Last night, we did.

I spent the whole evening telling the various high-powered other attendees of the annual Vitae Foundation event that my beautiful wife once modeled a clothing line with Ms. Malkin.

WHICH IS TRUE because they both appeared in the IMAO Peace Gallery wearing Nuke the Moon shirts.

Were they wearing clothing for promotional purposes? Yes. AKA modeling a clothing line which only had one offering, so it was geometrically more of a clothing dot.

As I’m relying on pictures of my beautiful wife as Rule 5 material here on the blog so much recently, I’ve started to wonder if I’m turning into an Instagram husband. But in my defense, I had to remind myself that the previous picture was from a local business magazine.

Yes, yes, the headline is misleading. Technically speaking, Sarah K. was the IMAO T-Shirt Babe and won the grand prize, marriage to Frank J. So I guess she’s Sarah K.J. now.

And, yes, I could have said I modeled a clothing line with Michelle Malkin as I was in the Peace Gallery, too, but, come on. That does not flatter my beautiful wife, with whom I dispute whether she was any higher than result #3 on the Google Image Search for legs back in the day. She says she was higher, but when my co-worker told me about it, she was #3. Unstated: Why my co-worker was searching Google image searches for legs. I would have mentioned that fact about my wife at the Vitae event, but that might have mortified her.

Thank you, that is all.

What We Did This Weekend

I’m pleased to see that the new sledge hammer and mauls work to split the logs left over from when a spring storm blew a large tree over, knocking down our security light. The utility co-op came along and cut the tree off of the broken light post, replace the lights, and left me with some firewood to split.

So I ordered some splitting wedges from Amazon since I couldn’t find them in the local hardware store. They arrived in a damaged box clearly labeled as “It Wasn’t Our Fault” by the delivery company, but fifteen pounds of pointy iron in cardboard isn’t going to ship well.

I went looking for my sledgehammer, but I believe my boys have taken them into the woods some years ago when they were into “mining” which meant tearing chunks out of the old railbed that serves as my neighbor’s driveway. So I bought a new one, and we were in business yesterday.

Briefly. It took me a while to get back into the swing of things, literally. Hitting off-center often sent the maul looping through the air, and the uneven ground often made the log topple when hit. It took us 30 minutes to split three of the logs which are pretty wet yet, and it was well over 90 degrees. So this is a chore to resume on a nice autumn day.

You Do Have To Show Them The Way

The Bank of Missouri has a series of ads with bankers inserted into various situations to illustrate that they’re more than bankers. They’re part of your community or something. One depicts a banker holding a fire hose along with the firefighters. So I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be all metaphor or not.

But this one spoke to me:

The banker is not awarding the kid first base for a walk. The banker is reminding the kid to go to first base.

Friends, with the young ones, this is often the case.

As I mentioned, I coached a little league team for a season, and I was the loud coach. I cheered for all the boys, and I shouted instructions all the time.

One of the most common instructions was “Run, run, run!” which I shouted when the batter made contact with the ball. Otherwise, the youngsters were prone to gape in wonder at what they’d done and to get thrown out or tagged out easily.

Hey, I know the feeling. I had the same reaction the first time I made contact with the ball in a league softball game. Although I was nineteen at the time. And this occurred a couple of minutes before I took a fly ball to the face resulting in an ambulance ride and my getting thrown out of the league because I was an injury risk. But just so.

My second most-shouted instruction was “Get it! Get it! Get it!” when an opposing batter made contact with the ball. Because they would often stand agape at that turn of events as well.

I don’t know how many of those kids benefited from my volume, but if none of them did, I must attribute it to the fact that I did not wear a suit with a green tie that is visible from space. Clearly, I was not taking it seriously. Why should they?

Two Indicators I’m Getting Older

So the other night we went to a local bar and grill for dinner.

My boys were thrilled with the fact that they have video games and whatnot that they could mess with while awaiting the food.

I remembered the days of my own youth, although I didn’t hang around suburban bar and grills with a clean, urban industrial aesthetic. My father took me to taverns with scarred furniture and smoke. But they had video games, and they had pinball machines, and they had pool tables where I could roll the cue ball back and forth. So I know the little sense of freedom one gets from roaming around them.

At the bar, three male friends sang, in unison, something I recognized but couldn’t immediately place. One of them had brought his girl, and when they finished, one of the guys high-fived the other and then was left hanging by the girl who was amused by the men’s behavior in that way that they sometimes are and maybe are not, actually. These guys weren’t twenty, either–definitely in their thirties or older.

The next day, I placed the song. The Numa Numa guy.

From 2004. So these guys were definitely not kids.

You know what made me feel old most of the experience? The two things:

  • It took me a day to place the Numa Numa song.
  • I am no longer the kind of man who hangs out with friends at a bar and grill and gives high fives for silly things. I mean, I do athletic things, so I give high fives, don’t get me wrong. But they’re for doing some drill at martial arts or running some distance.

Actually, you know what makes me feel old most of all? Getting older.

Want To Get Away?

The British press has a number of remote and/or secure locations profiled this week.

Uninspiring grey brick fort tower hides an amazing interior inside:

From the outside it looks like nothing more than drab, brick-built fort and a relic of Britain’s military past.

But step inside this 19th century tower and it’s a totally different story.

Martello Tower Y, tucked away on a quiet stretch of Sussex coastline, was built for a Napoleonic invasion that never came.

It was meant to repel the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte and as such dates back to the early 19th century.

But a complete refurbishment in 2010 has seen the property scoop a number of architectural and design awards, with English Heritage labelling the renovation as “exemplary”.

It has been described as “one of the most original and soul-stirring modern homes in Britain” – and it could be yours for a cool £1.25million.

The three-bedroom home has a completely re-sculpted interior which perfectly blends period features with modern, contemporary architecture.

It even has a modern-day drawbridge as well as a wrap-around roof terrace so buyers can take in that stunning seaside view, which is classed as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Magnificent Gothic 10-bed Welsh castle with 31 acres and stunning views of Snowdonia on sale for £2.85m:

Glandyfi Castle, set on a 31-acre estate overlooking the stunning Snowdonia mountains in Wales, is nothing less than a fairytale property – if it’s within your budget.

The 10 bedroom Gothic-style property is fitted with an octagonal tower, an imperial staircase and a pink marble fireplace.

Commanding a clifftop position and overlooking the Dovey Estuary and Snowdonia mountains, this magnificent castle is the perfect romantic property.

The breathtaking castle built from stone has recently undergone a major renovation, with a new glass roof for the courtyard and modern kitchen design.

Couple swap four-hour city commute for abandoned island:

An Irish couple have ditched city living and relocated to an abandoned island off the coast of Co Kerry – but say they are loving every minute of it.

Lesley Kehoe, 27, and Gordon Bond, 29, are said to be the only inhabitants at An Blascaod Mor, the largest part of The Great Blasket Islands, located off the coast of Co Kerry.

Tired of spending four hours commuting from Kildare to the Dublin everyday, the couple made the life-changing decision to move island which has been abandoned since 1954.

Lesley told the Irish Sunday Mirror : “I have always been interested in the Great Blasket Islands – I wrote my thesis about their heritage.

“As part of my research Gordon and I went out there and we stayed in one of the cottages.

“We just fell in love with the place and in January I saw a Facebook post advertising a job looking after the hostel there.

I don’t think I’d like to manage a hostel or a wedding and event venue. But the castle would be a treat, even if it sits on only 31 acres. I would feel like a marcher lord.

What I Did This Weekend

You know, I often get to the end of the weekend and wonder just what I did and how I wasted my time instead of accomplishing big projects or big personal goals. So, in the interests of my own sanity, allow me to bore you with the details of what I did so that some years in the future, I can return to this post and perhaps feel some satisfaction that I did not waste all my weekends.

Saturday

Saturday morning, I did the Republic Tiger Triathlon (super sprint) and took my kids to a martial arts class.

After that, we went to the local pizza buffet for lunch; after that, I napped.

When I got up about 1:30, we had a Family Meeting that lasted about 40 minutes.

Then I spent fifty minutes applying the third coat of paint to my third set of record shelves.

I rested a bit, and a little after 4:00, I went swimming with my family in the backyard pool for the first time this year.

We had pasta for dinner, and after winding the chores down for the night, I read a bit and went to bed at about 9:00.

Sunday

On Sunday, we went to church for early service; as it is the summer schedule, we didn’t stay for Sunday school and were home by 10:00.

I took an early nap.

After the nap, I moved some furniture as my boys have moved to separate rooms again.

I also moved some wall art around as my beautiful wife had just bought some things to hang in the guest room, and we moved them to the master bedroom and moved the existing master bedroom art around.

We then went shopping for a bit, looking at Best Buy for a reliable-looking cheap record player. All they had was the same unit that I just bought which failed after a couple months, and it was more expensive than Amazon. We picked up some groceries as well.

I grilled some burgers, and we assembled a meal for a family for church with an ailing member. My wife and boys ran the food over, and we had dinner.

I moved the new record shelves indoors and filled them with overflow LPs. I also took our box sets out of storage, and it looks as though I will need one more if I want to unbox my mother’s pop records or move Heather’s folk LPs upstairs. Or if I plan on buying new records ever again.

After dinner, I finished the chores and read a bit and talked with my oldest son, who has discovered James Lileks’ Mommy Knows Worst and thinks it’s funny. I got to bed about 10:00.

Conclusion

So that’s how the weekends pass. I didn’t spend a lot of time playing Civ IV, as I do on some weekends, but it passed nevertheless with chores and normal activity.

I did bring some projects to fruition: I completed my third Tiger Triathlon, but I didn’t end up doing the longer distance Sprint length, which is good, as I have not trained for it much, and it wore on me.

I finished the record shelves, but I started them three weeks ago, and they’ve been in my driveway for a couple weeks awaiting the complete paint job. So I didn’t take a real sense of accomplishment out of simply clearing my driveway.

And so it goes. Tempus fugit.