Who's Having a Breakdown?

I confess. I’m in that big slice of pink right now.

On Being Put Out to Pasture

Old Rockers. Get it?
Any day now, I’ll be sitting in a nursing home writing this weblog, listening to old 60s tunes while my Boomer buds and I wait for the nurse to bring the drug cart around. At least that’s what some people envision for me and other rockers who dare to keep performing our songs...


The Ear Has It

I have some questions I want to ask, but I want you to know that I’m not asking them to be judgmental or condescending; I really just want to try to understand something that completely escapes me.

I have absolute (perfect) pitch. Even as a small child I was able to pick out a harmony to a song and sing along with it, or sing it alone, with or without accompaniment. When I was five years old, my favorite music was by The McGuire Sisters, a trio in the 1950s who sang tight 3-part harmonies. Even then, I would take turns singing along with each part. I’m not telling you this to brag. One cannot brag about something that one was born with.

Lynette was just giving a voice lesson in the living room. This pupil couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket with a lid on it. What I want to know is:
  1. Why do some people have an “ear” and others don’t.
  2. What the hell is an “ear” anyway? I mean biologically. What causes some to have it, and others not to?
  3. If you can’t sing, what is it you hear when you try to sing?
  4. When you sing along with a melody, what keeps you from hitting the correct notes?
  5. Do people who have no “ear” know that they're not hitting the notes?
I reiterate: I’m not asking these questions in any spirit of judgmentalism; I simply want to understand.


Hoo Yah!

We had a great party last night. The best part was after the more acquaintance sort of friends left, and only the intimate friends hung around. As usual, we all migrated to the patio around midnight, where we talked and laughed, ribbed each other, played guitars, and sang silly songs.

Today, I’m exhausted, of course, but my relaxing Sunday in PJs is to be short-lived; Nettl’s father is taking us our to dinner. Actually, I think I’ll order a huge steak. Leftover bread sticks and veggies only go so far.


Free-For-All Friday

1 On Tuesday Dr. E put me on synthetic T3 (Cytomel) for my hypothyroidism, and I already feel the difference. Please, please, never me make me go through that again. With barely two daily doses the depression lifted, my energy returned, and I quit going basically comatose after every meal.

2 I began playing Civilization III last night and I can’t figure out what all the fuss is about. My cities are in constant civil unrest, there are virtually no instructions, and the graphics aren’t even all that great. I guess you have to like war or something.

3 No Get Drunk Friday for me. I’m following Nettl’s low-carb, no sugar, pre-diabetic diet for the next two weeks, but I will be backsliding at her birthday party tomorrow night.

4 Can you waltz? I can, and I love it. I also enjoy a good minuet, although I’ve forgotten the series of steps, or at least the order of them.

5 There’s a certain house I always dream about and when I wake up, I’m always disappointed that it was only a dream. It has secret rooms and secret passageways, is made entirely of wood, and is three storeys tall. I’m probably revealing something about myself to the dream interpretation experts out there.

6 Nettl’s ex purposely left his digital camera here a couple of months ago. I’ve not used it, but I would like to. Problem is, he didn’t leave the software or cords it takes to use it in conjunction with a computer. I wonder if I could buy these things somewhere. Any ideas?


Our Kid

I’m beating her mother to the punch here (she’ll be posting this on her blog in due time), but I just couldn’t be more proud of Lauren, who is featured on the front page of the Stillwater News Press.


Apologies All Around

Sorry for not having a real blog entry ready for you. You deserve something, so here’s a question for you:

If you could live in any TV show house (past or present), what house would you choose? Assume that only you are living in the house, you don’t become a member of the family who lived there (they moved out or something), or get to appear on the TV show. You only get to live in the house.

My answer? I really like the apartment that Lucy and Ricky Ricardo had in New York. Here are some cool blueprints of a few TV homes. And here is the blueprint of the Ricardo apartment.


Words From An Old Hippie

Okay kids, sit down and I’ll give you a short lesson in the 60s and 70s. For a number of years I’ve seen retro-styles on the racks and in the media, and people seem to be a little confused about what exactly are the icons of each of those decades...

...To Be Used As Evidence Against Us.*

(*From Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant”)

With conversation in my previous entry’s comments turning to Deni and me, I thought I’d post some pictures that were taken in our senior year. (Say it proudly: 1969!)

Deni at my house
(dig the hip 60s divider in the background)
Deni holding all 95 pounds of me hostage
(Love the bells, Deni!)
Just being silly
Me with another friend, Cathy
(I told you I looked like a Beatle)


1st Concert Shrinkage

Lauren over at Life of a Franco-American in the UK has a theory that our first concert—who we went with and who we saw perform—says a lot about our personality. My first concert was the Beatles at Dodger Stadium in August of 1966. I went with my best friend, Cher. I remember the concert very clearly, but I especially remember the bad sound system and how tiny they looked as they stood on a stage at second base. I wasn’t one of the screamers though. I didn’t want to marry a Beatle, I wanted to BE a Beatle. I’ll leave the psycho-analysis up to you.


An Old Dog, New Tricks

My self-esteem has been pretty low for the past month or two. It started when I decided to rebuild this blog in WordPress. Having used the crutch of MS FrontPage since I made my first website in 1998, I never really even learned HTML; only the little bit it takes to insert images or links in forums and such. I’d just gotten a little of that down when the web started going to css, and I learned a little of that by helping my friends with their Blogdrive accounts. I liked it better, but I didn’t think I would be using it myself because I always had good old FrontPage to keep me warm, despite all of the garbage code it generates. Then php came along and I recognized that before too long I was going to have to change my methods of building web pages. Besides, I liked the look of css pages; the drop shadows, the seamless graphics…It’s like comparing a high definition television to a regular old tube job–not absolutely necessary to change, but wow! what a difference.

So Deni and I began working on this blog. I found a template I liked and she tweaked it according to what I envisioned. She worked really hard at it, in fact, and I knew that it was only a matter of time before I was going to have to assume responsibility and learn this new language for myself. I downloaded tutorials, but they didn’t help. I’m not that kind of learner. I learn by doing and by making mistakes, not by reading or by being instructed, and whenever I just thought about learning css, I felt overwhelmed and stupid. I’ve always been an autodidact and I could always teach myself anything, but this time I thought I’d finally encountered that One Thing that I couldn’t learn. That’s not easy on my self-esteem.

Yesterday morning I decided to rebuild my professional website and I thought that maybe I’d try to use a css template I’d downloaded a week ago. “What the heck? If I Mess it up,” I thought, “no one will ever know.” So I opened up the template and got busy at trying to learn. Fortunately, I didn’t run into any problems for a long while, so my confidence built up pretty fast, and by the time I did hit a snag, I had enough idea of what I was doing to figure it out. By noon, the space above my head was glowing with light bulbs and I had a new look for that site, and man, am I proud! Now I want to learn databases so that I can rebuild Nettl’s and my large content sites! Now I really have to get back to figuring out the database for the big project site I’ve been working on… Meantime,


It's Debi's Fault

Of course, you all know her as Ville, but it’s still her fault. Friday was her birthday, which we celebrated on Saturday night...


I Need Some Hypnosis

Lauren calls it my “sleep debt”. I call it getting old. My doctor will probably call it something else. Suddenly, I simply can’t get enough sleep. And when I do sleep, whether it’s in the day or night time, and if I’ve been awake or have just woken up, I sleep really, really hard. Then, when I wake up, my shoulders and neck are sore from not shifting positions the whole time. The fact that I fall out right after eating tells me that my meds need readjusted, but I don’t see my doctor until the first part of July.

Nathan and Heather are leaving this afternoon. Nathan is moving to Wichita to live with his dad and Heather’s going up to spend the summer as she usually does. Lauren is staying home because she’s grown out of the child visitation phase of her life and she has a job besides. Next June, after she graduates high school, she’ll be going to France for a year as an exchange student before enrolling in college. Heather will graduate in June ‘08.

For all my swagger over welcoming an empty nest, it’s sad, and if I didn’t have the hope of Vienna to look forward to, I’d be sorely feeling the passing of this stage of family life. When the kids first came to live with us they were still just kids and I wondered how I’d survive being the parent of a large family when I was used to a small one. I adjusted, however and now, as I see them going out the door one-by-one, I realize just how much I’ve enjoyed being a “Family Weird”.

Still, I’m looking forward to life with Nettl–just the two of us to come and go as we please–and to the times when the kids come visit us, and perhaps later, when they bring their own kids.

Ach! Let’s not rush. I’m not ready for that yet!


Too Tired to Sleep

I can’t even wind down enough to go back to bed. I put in 17.5 hours yesterday, and I’m amped. Meantime, here’s a great quote I found over at A Sweet, Familiar Dissonance:

“Blessed are the cracked: For it is
they who let in the Light.”
Groucho Marx

Put This On My Birthday List

RW, via Sereena X, has directed me once again to a wonderful site. Here, one may buy Hiƫronymus Bosch action figures. I want this one.


Bye-Bye Billie

Billy Preston, whom many considered to be the 5th Beatle, died today at the age of 59. I don’t know the particulars, but I certainly do know about Billy. He was a brilliant musician and an effusive, generous man and I just loved him. I grew particularly fond of him and his music in the mid-seventies through his session work on George Harrison’s LPs, then I bought his. I saw Billy at a Beatlefest in L.A. in the early 80s, and I have a picture of him. Too bad my scanner’s not hooked up. Billy will be missed, but I know he’s enjoying seeing George again and I like to think that they’ll be jamming together. With musicians like Billy Preston, the music just never stops.

All the Best Intentions

I’m trying to change. Really, I am. When I finally went to bed night before last at 5:30 am, I lay there cursing myself for how lazy I’ve become. What’s happened to me? I used to be such a Type A personality. I was in bed by midnight (10:00 on work nights), up by 8:00 (4:00 on work days), and I was busy, busy, busy...


Websites As Graphs

During my nocturnal prowling of the web, I came across the following:

“Everyday, we look at dozens of websites. The structure of these websites is defined in HTML, the lingua franca for publishing information on the web. Your browser’s job is to render the HTML according to the specs (most of the time, at least). You can look at the code behind any website by selecting the “View source” tab somewhere in your browser’s menu.

HTML consists of so-called tags, like the A tag for links, IMG tag for images and so on. Since tags are nested in other tags, they are arranged in a hierarchical manner, and that hierarchy can be represented as a graph. I’ve written a little app that visualizes such a graph, and here are some screenshots of websites that I often look at.

I’ve used some color to indicate the most used tags in the following way:

blue: for links (the A tag)
red: for tables (TABLE, TR and TD tags)
green: for the DIV tag
violet: for images (the IMG tag)
yellow: for forms (FORM, INPUT, TEXTAREA, SELECT and OPTION tags)
orange: for linebreaks and blockquotes (BR, P, and BLOCKQUOTE tags)
black: the HTML tag, the root node
gray: all other tags”

Here’s the graph for my sites

You can get yours HERE.


This is Fun

And it will help out a fellow blogger, too. Micah is entering an opening guitar riff in a contest, but first he has to narrow his ideas down to the one he’ll actually enter. This is where you come in. Go over to his site, give a listen to his list of ideas, and then tell him which one is your favorite. I mean, they’re all good–he’s a gifted musician.

Light Show

So here it is, another dead Saturday night. Earlier, I went to the local IGA to get a few groceries. We’re sort of out in a less-developed area, and while driving into town, passing all the fields and meadows, I saw an incredible thing: thousands of fireflies dancing in the dark. I’m from California and I never saw a firefly until I moved here. Funny how little things can lift the spirits.

Photo by Ryan McCoy.


Auto Meme

I hate posting these things. The problem is, I really like doing them. You’re the one who pays.

1. Driver’s seat or passenger seat?
Short trips around town: passenger
Long trips out-of-town: driver

2. What was the first car you owned (could have been purchased by someone else)?
A spanking new 1970 Subaru minibus.

3. What is the first car you paid for yourself?
See above. Off the lot, cash in hand, it cost me $1,100.

4. How many cars are currently housed in your place of residence? How many are still operable?

One. One.

5. If money were not a factor, what kind of car would you own?

A fully-loaded, brand new Jeep Wrangler.

6. If a police investigation was not a factor, what kind of car would you destroy any time you see it? Why?

Those pickups with the rear four-wheel axle. Especially those owned by city guys with small penises.

7. Does driving in big city traffic fill your veins with adrenaline or your pants with something a bit worse?

No, unless there are other cars on the road.

8. What is your biggest pet peeve regarding driving and/or your fellow drivers?
Lack of consideration, including loud stereos, not using turn signals, etc.

9. What’s the most expensive traffic ticket you’ve ever received (could be monetary or jailtime)?
$120 for speeding. On the interstate. With no cars in sight. In the middle of nowhere. In Kansas.

10. What is the name you’ve given to your current vehicle (be honest, everyone names their car)?

Okay. Your turn.
stolen from Chasing Vincenzo


Great Question

The Muttering Muse has asked a thought-provoking question:

What would you attempt to do if you knew you couldn’t fail?