Awstats Not the Most Useful Thing

I’ve grumbled about this before, including in the recent post about a hit for Tracy Hyde pics that, when I search it, brings up no actual result pointing here. Now I also see one for Tracy Hyde photo, same deal. Most of the “search phrases” reported by Awstats are things like attacku3k, pressdjv, changing1gx, holdk6w, etc. Completely strange and bogus. Then again, the referrers are almost completely fake, too: Referrer spam, in hopes you might click them when you look at your stats, or something. Some of them are topical, at least, like one that points to something on how to be assertive.

Why purport to show search strings in the stats when obviously you can’t or won’t? So far this month, through about 90 minutes ago, I have about 437 hits from Google. The rest are trivial. By comparison to supposed hits from other sources like “direct address,” “bookmark,” or “link in e-mail,” search hits are trivial. However, that is based on “pages,” which is a number inflated by spammers or other malicious sources hitting things on the site that might not even be visible to people. It’s what happens when you get a relative monoculture of one convenient CMS such as WordPress. Or even an oligarchical culture of a few such things, rather than a wild west of people writing their own HTML. Then again, the nature of the web is relatively transparent regardless. Back in the day, PCs using a Microsoft OS got viruses or malware, and, as people would say, “Apple doesn’t get viruses.” Aim at the big target.

So really those Google hits are probably actual people less a portion of malicious sources arriving via search, and are some fair portion of the 2317 “unique visitors” so far this month. Yet the stats can’t see what the search strings were and report them? I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s some obfuscation from Google going on, since they are in the business of reporting their own results if you sign your site up with them. Google Analytics, in my experience, is a bit like hitting a gnat with a sledgehammer. Also I haven’t seen actual search strings there, on sites where I have used it, though it’s possible they must be if you look hard enough through the mess that is the interface.

The most useful thing I can discern currently is that an overwhelming amount of my traffic is now from Great Britain, with the next two being a race back and forth between Japan and United States. That’s how it settled out since blocking enough malicious IP addresses to reduce the numbers from the usual suspect countries. What do I post about a lot? Melody, the 1971 movie. Where was it filmed and where did it eventually if not instantly become popular? Great Britain. The actors tend to be from England or elsewhere in the UK. Some of them are actually part of the movie’s fandom. Where was it a runaway hit? Japan. However they’re finding it, that’s gotta be the source of a lot of traffic.

For some reason, this post is particularly popular as a landing page, and has been almost since I posted it, but after that is the category for Melody. Above both of those are the main page, naturally, and the feed. How are that many people reading via RSS? This is not my blogging heyday. Heck, in my blogging heyday, I’d have considered these great stats. I’ve had individual posts avalanched with tens of thousands of hits in years past, but not in a long time. Anyway, after that some of the results include popular ancient posts on an archived site at this domain that was created in Expression Engine and never ported to WordPress. Brave souls, going there when the pages consist of long lists of PHP errors before and after the actual post. The version of PHP on the server outstripped the version supported by EE.

So I can discern a few things mainly by looking at the stats. Melody posts generate some interest. So do some of the music posts. Google sends me a lot of mystery traffic from searches. For all I know, a lot of that goes to the archived site. A weird number of people use the feed. Most of the traffic is nefarious. All I get for comments are spam ones, which I believe these days are generally automated. The mix of pages people visit via HTTPS is substantially different, with the residual politics category and history category being far above Melody, but the total coming that way is dwarfed by plain HTTP.

It’d be fun to see a better report of the search results, but oh well.

Something About You

So I’m back with the series of “favorite song by an artist” posts, prompted by a Boston song having played on my playlist and reminding me that they were one of the groups I’d thought of initially. In theory, this should be a terribly hard decision. There’s only one song on their entire debut album that I don’t like. At that, it’s more a matter of being lukewarm to it than disliking it. I can easily listen to that album start to finish and skip nothing. I never warmed to the other albums, or even heard anything off of anything past their third one. I love the one big hit off each of those two albums, but the real magic was the first. They were yet another one of those now classic rock bands that debuted when I was in high school, or within the few years just before and after. 1976, in their case, just before the start of tenth grade.

Despite how amazing they were, one song is a “my song” kind of song and thus makes this cut: Something About You. It’s me, except the guy found a girl eventually, but his combination of feeling too much and not wanting it to show, and his temper, sometimes mess things up. I’m shockingly mellow these days, but I always had the temper that ran through some of the men in my family. I didn’t tend to take it out on people, even if it was a result of people, but I had to learn not to break things I didn’t want to have to or couldn’t afford to replace, or come off looking foolish. I learned to keep that inside, along with other feelings.

In an unexpectedly astute moment many years ago, my stepmother noted that I hold things inside and, I forget how she put it, but essentially it did things like drive up my blood pressure. It always drove the wife crazy that I won’t fight. She’ll do that almost for sport or fun. The last time my temper peaked was probably around eight to ten years ago, give or take a bit. That was the point at which it became a three way thing with her seeing another guy while we stayed together for the kids and stability. The other guy waxed and mostly waned subsequently, but she tenaciously waxed it recently. Even though it’s water under the bridge and it’s weird to imagine there ever being an actual relationship between us again, it has reminded me how my temper can be. But I digress into something way longer and more personal than intended as the intro for the song. And yes, that all related to why and how she came to tell me, more than once, how easy it would be for me to find people to get laid with. I find that laughable, of course, given how long and convoluted it was to get her, finally, at the age of 42.

When I was younger I thought I could stand on my own
It wasn’t easy, I stood like a man made of stone

Relatable. I might have been better off if I’d actually been more like that and not wanted it, wanted The One, whoever that might be, so much when I was young. But still, I couldn’t express an interest when I had one. Couldn’t act on it. Had learned to expect that even if I did the best outcome would be simple rejection.

I could easily have picked More than a Feeling. I could have picked Rock & Roll Band, a great entrant into the genre of “we’re a band, here’s how we started or the experiences we’ve had” songs. We’re an American Band. What’s Your Name. Turn the Page. Creque Alley. Jukebox Hero. Life’s Been Good.

But not those or the other great songs. There’s just Something About You:

 

 

What If

It’s not just a genre for alternate history SF any more. It’s a 2014 2013 (the latter per IMDB, the former per Amazon, which owns IMDB) romantic comedy, starring Daniel Radcliffe, Zoe Kazan, and Adam Driver. Fantastic! Zoe was just gorgeous, and amazing. Daniel makes you completely forget he was ever Harry Potter. Adam is tall. Very tall compared to Radcliffe. I don’t think I had noticed his height as the rogue Skywalker. He made a great Ornshaw-like friend, whose cousin is actually the girl in question.

Weird! I just discovered that the original title was “The F Word.” I had heard of that one. Just never saw it, though the trailer looks familiar.

Megan Park was Zoe’s sister and was also great. I would be attracted to the looks plus quirkiness of Chantry (Zoe), but would be attracted probably more at sight to Dalia (Megan), if I knew nothing but how they each looked.

The film was delightful, funny, quirky and different. It was somewhat a modernized variant of When Harry Met Sally, which to its credit is something I didn’t catch until well into the movie. On the negative side, it’s about being soundly friend zoned, and could bring out bad memories of Daphne. On the positive side, it’s a look at how important being that close as friends can be to a relationship.

Daphne didn’t ruin things by wanting to be just friends after cuddling with me and being my first kiss. She didn’t really even ruin things by dating my best friend and ultimately having casual sex with my other best friend. She ruined things by coming along later and teasing me with the possibility of something that was never going to happen and spending some nights platonically in the same bed as me. At that point, much later in our lives than our high school and immediate post high school years, she lectured me about the evils of casually having sex, rather than “making love.” Yet that was just what she’d done with one of my friends who had zero interest in her but was having a dry spell just then. He thought of it as lowering himself shamefully. But this is supposed to be about a movie I just watched and loved.

I still find it funny to watch these things and see people in, say, their twenties or so being so free, enthusiastic and open about sex. That’s not the world I grew up in, or at least not a part of the world I ever saw personally. It’s how it ought to be, but it still boggles me. I probably would have been better off to have been the guy in Hello I Love You, working and working and working, never making the slightest attempt to be social, and being 29 with no dating experience or friends but 200k in the bank. No way I’d have stayed “living at home” as he did to help save money. I moved out about as soon as possible, never went back to my mother’s, and still feel somewhat shamed I moved to my father’s to make it possible, or at least easier, to go to college. One of these days I might remember to write a post about how I’ve always identified with my work to an irrational degree.

Maybe that’s why I like romantic comedies. They connect with something I wanted and never had. Which reminds me how great it was that The Princess Bride had a cameo in What If. One of the best movies ever.

Please Come To Boston

Nope, this isn’t about the song of the same name, pleasing as it may be. That just seemed like the thing to use as a catchy title for a city versus country post inspired by going to Boston. Tomorrow I have appointments there for two of the kids. It’s old hat by now, but when I was a kid, driving through or especially to Boston was exotic. Gross, too, before the pollution levels reduced. There was a time I was there almost weekly, but that was before I formed retrievable memories. When I was 17 days old and had meningitis, my parents drove me there and couldn’t figure out how to get to the hospital. They stopped and asked an anonymous cab driver. Instead of giving directions, he said “follow me” and led them there through a convoluted but speedy route. Maybe he didn’t save my life, but that random driver sure helped the cause.

I grew up essentially in the middle of the woods, in a small town that was rural inching toward suburban. Cities were polluted and criminal! They were crowded. With people! The very idea of going to one, let alone living in one, even something as urban as Brockton, was abhorrent. I still don’t like the idea, but I mind it less and can see the appeal to some. My oldest was briefly interested in the idea of living in the city when she was younger, maybe to go to college or work there when she was older. For her, even if that was a factor back then, being able to do without a car isn’t a factor. Unlike so many young people these days, she is ready to drive just as early as she can possibly manage it. And recent talk of MIT aside, she’s tentatively interested in going to college in the next town and commuting from here.

There’s a definite culture gap between city and country. My sister married an awesome guy from Dorchester and his family may as well have been from another planet. Absolutely nothing wrong with them. Just a completely different culture and outlook.

I see Melody, set in London, with the kids running around loose in the urban environment, and it’s as foreign to me as the fact that the location is in a different country and the date is almost fifty years ago. At least I lived through the same time and was close to the same age then, and England isn’t so different. Especially not then. Some might wonder if it has lost its way more recently. The kids made the most of it. There were benefits. Hop on a bus and be at Trafalgar Square. Hop on a train and be at the seaside and back before you can really panic anyone. It’s relatively new that we can walk under two miles, or drive and park, to get on a train to Boston or points in between, and from there take other transport to get around. Beats the traffic, depending, but it’s slower.

What I don’t look forward to is the drive home tomorrow. It’s likely to be late enough, especially on a Friday, that it’ll be full rush hour already. Then you’re in traffic headed toward Cape Cod, if not as bad as it’d be closer to the actual summer season.

Frankly, it still amazes me to live in a building with multiple units, on a postage stamp of land (if it’s a quarter acre I’d be surprised) with other buildings crowded around. The traffic is getting a little crazy, even though it’s still a relatively rural town. While being near stores and such is good, I wouldn’t mind moving somewhere much more rural. As long as I could afford it. Before I met my wife, I had developed the still nebulous goal of saving enough money to buy some cheap land somewhere, most likely wooded, where it could still be had cheap. I figured it’d be a camping get away, then maybe I could build a cabin, maybe someday live there, depending. Anyway, time to make the donuts. Supper, that is.

What to Say?

I’m at a loss for what to post without it being too much. Since I want to go to bed ASAP, earlier than normal so I’m not sleepy all day tomorrow, there’s not much time.

I’ve been meaning to write about, probably in a series of posts as notable examples come to mind, songs I can’t resist singing. I still have songs I associate with people I can post about. There’s always random songs that I happen to think of sharing.

I may actually have died down on things I have to say about Melody. Mark the calendar!  One of those conversations you have in your head, with one of the “girls group” actors (the one who identified the one I was curious about), had me thinking about posting about blog fame and how I met my wife, but I may already have covered that sufficiently.

Bushcraft topics are something I have not gotten into, and that’s likely to center around whenever the next season of Alone airs. However, it also touches on my childhood and growing up in the woods, and not being in the right place at the right time. It also touches on my potential fiction. Thinking about that recently made me think of the bed wetting problem I had when I was young. (Actually addressed, I noticed in one of the clips, in Moonrise Kingdom. Sam lets Suzy know he might wet the bed, when they are going to sleep in the tent together when they have run away. To “the seaside,” no less! She’s like “okay,” and it’s no big deal.)

I was thinking that even if I’d thought to grab the pup tent and some stuff and camp out in our woods, or go camp out in a shelter of natural materials, I would have to have worried about that possibility. The funny thing is, it was probably not nearly as frequent as the shadow it cast over my life makes me think of it as being. It stopped absolutely as soon as I hit puberty sufficiently at 11 years old. I was still paranoid enough that I wouldn’t go on the class campout in 6th grade, after I had turned 12. I always wondered if it was a similar story with the girl who was the only other one in my class who didn’t stay for the night.

There were no pullups then. One of my kids had a worse problem than I ever did. All I had to do was spend enough money on those and hope they didn’t leak very often. My father ranted and threatened me. My mother took me to the doctor when they had no clue what might cause it, but he used the idea of cutting the opening wider as a scare tactic (I promptly figured that out even then). With my kid, I learned it can be a problem caused by constipation. It was more a matter of worsened by, in that case, but it’s entirely possible that could have been a factor with me.

My mother boggled me by not having a particularly strong memory of bed wetting having been a thing. For me it dominated my childhood. My first friend in my childhood was born nine months after me and was the daughter of the best friends of my

[At this point I was interrupted and then went to bed after saving this as a draft. This is how it goes.]

As I was saying, first friend, daughter of best friends of my respective parents. Her mother and my mother met at nursing school, which my mother didn’t complete because it turned out she couldn’t bear the sight of blood. We could come home as wet and muddy as we wanted, but please no blood. Which means she must have really hated my tendency to have bloody noses. Shared by the same kid who shared my bed wetting problem. My mother’s reaction to my random, profuse bloody noses was that it meant I had high blood pressure and was going to die. While I did end up with hypertension later, that’s kind of an odd thing to say to your kid even if it had validity.

I had a nickname that was based entirely on the bed wetting thing. I absolutely loathed it and frankly would try to avoid anyone who knew or used the nickname. If I’d been a different sort, there might have been some violence inflicted. They always told me I didn’t know my own strength, after all. I actually learned to be gentle lest I hurt someone accidentally. It infuriated me when that friend, on Facebook decades after I’d last seen her, relayed that her mother said “hi nickname!” Where “nickname” is the one in question. It kept me from friending her mother on Facebook. Though I did go, a few years later, to a big surprise 80th birthday party for her mother. I just looked to see if I’d given the friend a pseudonym. Yes. Julie. So a couple years ago I went to the 80th birthday party for Julie’s mother. I walked in and both Julie and her sister let out a dropped-jaw “wow!” Apparently they were impressed with how I look in my old age. Of course, all the stuff about my being unattractive isn’t how I looked. It’s how I perceived myself, helped by a number of people along the way.

Anyway, my reaction to the nickname reflects just how strongly I felt, and feel, about the whole thing. My experience made it easier to deal gently with my own kid, but it’s a whole new world in that regard anyway.

So I found myself thinking about the idea of going out and camping in my woods when I was, say, 8 or 9, and realized it would have been weird given that problem. I wouldn’t be surprised if I’d found that under those circumstances it simply never happened. Because of it and not having many friends who would have been candidates for that anyway, there weren’t sleepovers with friends until I was past that. My last bestie before Zack was a girl, a year older than me, and while I could swear I have a memory of sleeping over there, it is probably based on a memory of being there at breakfast time. I wouldn’t have risked it. I slept over my grandparent’s house and don’t remember wetting the bed there. I probably did more of that closer to the point where it stopped, at which point it had waned for a long time, than I did younger. Maybe there were environmental factors to that, too. I got sick when we moved into the house where I grew up, for environmental reasons. Whatever. I also don’t remember it happening when we went camping. If it were a rare thing, I might connect it to the nerve damage I suffered as an infant. That made me seem retarded while actual being highly intelligent, but probably wasn’t behind the loss of nocturnal control. Then again, puberty was when I shed the bulk of the physical effects of the damage, though it took into my twenties for that to be complete for all practical purposes. To this day I take unnatural delight in being able to speak glibly and do physical things most people would take for granted. The thing is, the kid with the problem had no such thing. Nor the environmental factor, at least not to the same degree.

I didn’t intend this to be the bed wetting post. Yet there it is.

I suspect it didn’t happen all that often, or it would have been even worse. It’s just that it was like the end of the world every time it did. It would be an interesting personalized alternate history: What if there had never been bed wetting?

Mick Jagger

Seeing the news – if it’s not an elaborate April Fool’s joke – that Mick Jagger needs heart valve surgery made me think that he needs Camille Davis (Muriel) to kiss him and make him all better.

Speaking of Muriel, I have only met one Muriel in my entire life, at my first job, in late 1979 or the beginning of 1980. I liked her a lot, and loved the name. She was, compared to me at the time, a much older woman.

I never thought of using the name for one of my kids. It’s not ideal with the actual surname, but wouldn’t be ridiculous. The wife vetoed Wendy. I didn’t come out and suggest Karen. Kaylee would have fit, but we weren’t sure we wanted to bandwagon onto a Firefly name. Melody would have been ideal, had the name come to mind at all. It would have flowed better with the same middle name and the surname. She has an angelic voice and writes her own songs, so the music association would fit. I didn’t realize how much I liked the name Molly until later. It would also have worked, if not fit as ideally. Middle name would have needed to be different. But I digress.

I tend to associate the names Muriel and Ariel with each other. There was an obscure song when I was near the end of high school that was named Ariel. It seems to be a more common name than Muriel, and of course it was Disneyed. I know one Arielle. Same name, variant spelling.

The M thing is something I noticed in passing recently. Melody. Muriel. Maureen. Peggy is usually short for Margaret. That just leaves Rhoda the odd one out. None of that was probably intentional, but certainly when writing a story you get lots of leeway in selecting names. It’s like having a bunch of babies!

Joking aside, I hope Mick has successful surgery and recovers well. He’s in good shape. He has to be to do the things he does on stage.

Sharing An Earworm

Ron Dante was the lead singer of both The Archies and The Cufflinks. I sometimes mix him up with Tony Burrows, who was a one hit wonder five times, with five different groups, including some of my all time favorite songs and one, Beach Baby, that I forgot to list as a Zack song.

The Cufflinks had a hit called Tracy, which can’t be blamed on Tracy Hyde fandom, since it predated Melody by a couple years. The same can’t be said of the song Tracy Hide by the Wondermints, which has good lyrics but to which I have yet to warm, as something I like to play, good as that band is.

Anyway, here is the current earworm. Or recent one, since playing the video and writing this post seems to have helped dispel it from my head. I’d been singing it while loading the dishwasher, before coming back to the computer.

 

 

Concert Dates and Life

I recently realized that it’s 2019 and that I might be able to determine online the exact date of each of the concerts I had ever attended. In the process of almost complete success at this, I realized that I had been to even fewer concerts than I thought. I have already covered them almost completely in posts here. There’s only one or two that I missed, and if it’s the one, then it’s not a huge story. I expect I’ll include that below the list. I’ll put them in order, with artist, opener if noteworthy, date and venue.

Beach Boys
May 20, 1979
Providence Civic Center

Bee Gees
August 28, 1979
Providence Civic Center

Cheap Trick
Feb 28, 1981
Boston Garden

Moody Blues
July 15, 1981
Providence Civic Center

ELO
Oct 3, 1981
Boston Garden

Foreigner with Joe Walsh
Nov 5, 1985
Worcester Centrum

Pink Floyd
May 6, 1988
Foxboro Stadium

Styx with Pat Benatar
June 27, 1997
Great Woods

The Guess Who
2005???
August 31, 2002
South Shore Music Circus

The last one was weirdly stubborn. It has to be 2004 or 2005. It was warm. It wouldn’t have been warm in the part of 2004 it would have been or in the part of 2005 it definitely couldn’t have been. That puts it not earlier than April and not later than August 2005. Generally the Music Circus was a summer thing, unless I am mistaken, so that fits. I know it was not 2002, which is the year for which a date wanted to pop up.

I am almost certain Pink Floyd was the 6th and not the other date, the 8th. The flying pig didn’t work well at my show. It famously failed at one of them but it didn’t say which. There is video of it working flawlessly on the 8th. It was mildly rainy. Weather data for the 6th suggests it was the wetter day.

There was some minor possibility the year for foreigner was wrong, but the gap from it to Pink Floyd is right.

Apparently Cheap Trick was my third concert, and was the only one I didn’t mention before. It fits my memory of having gone twice to Providence, once to Boston, and then one last time to Providence. I always think of Providence as my favorite, although the Music Circus was a cozy venue. I went to Cheap Trick with my cousin, whose chauffeur I tended to be for a couple years. I was still driving my first car at the time, which he loved as much as I did. It was a 1969 Chevy Nova.

Cheap Trick was just amazing. I wasn’t terribly familiar with them, but playing live was what they did best. They were unusual in becoming huge due to a live album. They were amazing even from the nose bleed seats the entire length of Boston Garden opposite the stage. They were the farthest seats I ever had for a concert.

When we left, we found someone had siphoned gas from the car and it was reading empty. We made it home from Boston, with my cousin making up song lyrics, shades of Running On Empty, about the experience of riding along on fumes hoping to make it. We did. I dropped him off and made it home. These days there would have been numerous opportunities to get gas along the way. Not then at that hour. Even now, driving down the highway through Boston you don’t just see gas stations sitting right off an exit. You have to know they are there. If I come from the north and am running low, I don’t actually stop for gas until the Randolph/Stoughton/Avon exit on route 24, since that’s the first place where I know just where to go.

Looking at the dates, the last one of the early concerts was just before I got my first apartment. While I only had the first place for nine months, I segued from that to living at my father’s house and starting college three years after my peers. No more concerts for me! In 1985 I was still in college but things were weird. I had dated Layla from New Year’s Eve, last day of 1984, until it trailed off entirely that spring or just into summer 1985. I was feeling a bit rebellious. There had been a robbery late in 1984 at the store where I worked, where Layla had taken to coming in and chatting with me at length. I freaked out and quit. My stepmother yelled at me, not long after when she figured this out, “you’re not quitting!” I looked for work that wouldn’t be retail. At this point in school I was taking the first semester of Intermediate Accounting, and I believe I was also doing Auditing and Business Law II concurrently. The latter two memorable because they were both with the horrible professor I ended up with for five different classes in my major.

So I looked for work with CPAs locally. I was easily discouraged, so I tried three of them. On the third one, I decided to try Just One More. I opened a phone book, ran my finger down the listings and went with the one that “felt” promising. I wish that kind of thing were as reliable as my ability to “know” there’s going to be a speed trap. That guy hired me to start in February, when tax season would actually be getting underway. So I ended up back at the store, and doing both things once the other one started. I ended up doing almost everything an accountant would have done, just not doing an audit. As far as I know, he only had one audit client anyway. I prepared worksheets for it. I ended up there for nine months, until way after tax season. The CPA started acting odd in ways that made me wonder if he was having a fling or something, but what was actually happening is he was working on selling the practice and retiring. That, I learned not long after, was why the timing of when he was done with me. It was also why his daughter, who became a CPA herself not that long before or just after I was there, got another job and set the stage for my staying there past April.

I’d have been terribly busy up until shortly before the Foreigner concert, but money wouldn’t have been as much an issue as sometimes.

That summer, I think it was, Frank and his first wife packed up to move to Florida. I had the opportunity to help drive the truck to Florida and they would pay for a cheap flight back north. I’d get the drive and maybe a few days and then be home. My stepmother, on the heels of the job thing, insisted I was absolutely not going. In retrospect, going then would have been vastly preferable. By around the time of Foreigner I probably already planned to take the spring semester off and go to Florida to stay with Frank for a few months or more.

During this time, I was probably suffering what we’d now call PTSD from the robbery. This was exacerbated for a while by the fact the guys got caught and I had to go to court a couple times. Heh. One of those times, the girl who’d been there behind the counter with me for the robbery was also there. Later she moved to New Hampshire or something and fled being a witness. I drove her home afterward and she asked me in to “smoke a joint.” I had a test that day I had promised to show up for if I was able to get out of court in time! Mr. Honor Above All was so intent on keeping that commitment that he completely missed that sharing a joint was not what she was after. She was cute, too.

Under the whole thing of actually dating someone early in the year – someone I wasn’t really interested in – and the having a second job I was intensely proud of and things seeming great and my keeping busy, I was falling apart. It’s probably not so much that the divorce of my parents many years before came back to haunt me as it was provoked into being part and parcel of the PTSD, stress, anxiety, arguably depression interlude. My stepmother wasn’t without good points or intentions, but couldn’t have known she was interjecting herself into that sort of maelstrom and not necessarily the best one to do so.

Right, concerts. After Foreigner, I went to Florida at the end of December, without permission. Drove 1550 miles and thank God the car had no problems. Ended up living there in my friend’s apartment for about six weeks. After a couple weeks, I got a job full time nights at a convenience store. That was a lot of work but was fun, interesting, and different from the ones I’d worked in up north. When Frank abruptly decided he hated Florida Just That Much and was moving to New Hampshire now, I liked Florida enough to be tempted to figure out how to stay. My biggest concern was how to finish college. My stepmother had vehemently assured me I would never finish, which meant there was absolutely no way in hell I was going to Not Finish. Apparently my not graduating high school was a black mark, and the stellar GED scores that set me on the road to college were not enough to matter. I’d have been trying to support myself, by myself, in a strange place, while trying to get credit for the bulk of an accounting degree transferred to a more expensive school that required five rather than four years for the degree. The best I might have done is kept the job, rented a room – on basically a couple days notice that we were leaving – and hung out down there for longer. I could have gotten some other job on the side and just used my time for making money. The sad thing is I never so much as set foot in the Gulf of Mexico. That waited until a couple years later when I was in Galveston. I wasn’t really a beach person. Plus I was in a funk, even being in the good weather and warmth, and having my sinuses clear up while there. I seldom felt healthier as an adult.

Since I had vexed my father and stepmother so thoroughly, I moved in with my older brother when I got back. I took a job nights at one of the same stores I’d worked at through college. Eventually I ended up delivering papers for the rest of college. I returned to school via summer classes that summer, then did three more semesters and more summer classes in 1987. My last class was a final in MA318 on December 16, 1987, so I was officially class of 1988. Originally started in the class of 1986. In effect, I took an extra year, subtracting out the semester off.

My stepmother was disgusted enough that she gave my mother a hard time for taking me to celebrate “graduating.” Which is to say, I got my degree. I refused to participate in the graduation ceremony. I was still scarred by my high school experience. I picked up my diploma from the office in the administration building. I was also nearly as disgusted with college by then as with high school. I was unhappy with my accounting professors and didn’t want to do anything to make them look good. This put taking the CPA exam right out of the question. Besides, I wanted to do cost accounting. Ha! That pretty much meant being a CPA first. I was a disappointment in that regard, since I was one of the two top accounting students along the way in my year. They fully expected me to take the exam and be able to pass. My rival certainly did, then went to law school as well, emulating the horrible professor. Heck, last time I remembered his name and looked online, that guy had even become a professor like his hero, my nemesis. We were closest to being buddies in Accounting Theory class, which only had five of us in it. There was a girl in the class who had somewhat of a brain under the ditzy, but I dragged her across the finish line and made sure she didn’t blow the class. She’d not study or anything, and just before the class I would brief her, so she’d know what we’d be talking about and what to say if asked a question. She would repeat verbatim what I had told her. She got an A- while my rival and I each got a B+. This was an unvarnished example of the female professor favoring the one female student. She had been my beloved cost accounting professor a couple years before. In fact, that was what I took along with Intermediate Accounting I. That and something else. It was Auditing and B Law II the next semester. Anyway, I lost most of my respect for the cost accounting professor over her handling of the theory class. I dragged that girl into getting through the class, but the high grade was entirely in the imagination of the professor. She was probably a B. My grade was perfectly fair, so it’s not sour grapes about that.

It’s going to be weird when my kids graduate and I’m expected to attend, even though I am over it by now. I did actually attend the graduation ceremony for the year I’d have graduated if I’d not taken a semester off and had stuffed in enough classes in summers before then. The commencement speaker was a judge who got up and espoused communism. It was great! Seeing people I had known and offended enough for them to ignore me was also cool. That was the last graduation I attended. The caliber of commencement speech did nothing to encourage me when it would have been my turn.

Lucky for me, I graduated into a pretty dramatic recession and hijinks ensued. I’d have done pretty much everything differently if I had it to do again. That pink Floyd concert would have been close to my time of official graduation. I wouldn’t have gone had my brother not made it happen. I wouldn’t even have known there was a concert. That heyday was over for me. It’d be nine years later before I went to another, by which time we were into the era of nostalgia tours.

So there you have it. More than you ever wanted to know about me and the interlude when I fell apart, loosely in the context of “hey look, Google knows when most of the concerts happened way in the past.” This is a heck of a way to avoid more important things I needed to do.

Update:
I found out for certain that I was quite wrong about when the Guess Who concert was, so I corrected it in the list above.

The Worst That Could Happen

I have always loved this song. I just happened to play it on my rounds through clicking YouTube song videos, and decided to post it before I go to bed.

 

The weird thing is, I am pretty sure I had a strong association with a specific crush along the way, but I can’t remember for sure. It probably morphed into a generic pining. Nope! I remember now. It may have had other associations and was probably generic, but one of my biggest crushes actually did get married after rejecting me. The guy was a dick and I knew it. That didn’t end well. I very much associated it with Jemma in advance of and after the marriage, even though I not only had given up by then, but also was somewhat irate at her treatment of me and at myself for bouncing back to her after I couldn’t bring myself to ask someone amazing like Sarah out.

I may also have associated it with Ella along the way, before I got over her for good, which was before the Jemma thing. Ironically, Ella never married. She never had kids. She had the same boyfriend she lived with for years, but that’s it. It almost feels like she didn’t find someone, so to speak. Her sister did marry, but also never had kids. The pair of them sometimes remind me of my stepsisters, who never married or had kids.

Anyway, the song is from the perspective of a guy who believes marriage to be a horrible thing. That was never my outlook. Not that I don’t have complex, nuanced views on the topic of marriage. However, it’s also hurting him terribly to lose the girl beyond any kind of recall, to something permanent. He knows it’s what she wants and needs, and he couldn’t and wouldn’t give her that, but that makes it no easier to take. Relatable. Pining not for the girl you can’t have, maybe one whose attention you can’t get in the first place, but  for the girl you had but couldn’t keep.

I realized when it started to play that it falls at least somewhat into the category of songs I can’t resist singing when they come on. Because that’s what I did. The first one out of several in a row to provoke that response. That’s another post I’ve been playing with in my head for one of these days. The list is long, so one post can’t be exhaustive. So I’ve been letting the idea percolate in an effort to remember as many as I can that are prime ones.

Pretty Lady

I had left my playlist of MP3 songs playing while in the kitchen making supper, so I could kind of half hear it. Then I heard Pretty Lady, by Lighthouse, distinctly. It transported me back in time. I absolutely love the song. It fits a category of song where the angst-ridden guy wonders if and how he can ever get the girl to notice him, or if she could possibly be interested, or what to do about her appearing not to be. Related is the category where the guy pines for the girl he had and lost or wasn’t able to have even when she knew about it. I’m a hopeless romantic. Emphasis on hopeless, not hopeful like Kathleen Turner. Speaking of stones, I’m Stone in Love With You could be part of the aforementioned category, and is another song I love.

Pretty Lady is one of Frank’s songs. If I’d randomly written a post titled “Frank Songs” and tried to remember ones associated with him, I would probably have forgotten it completely, even though it’s one of the biggest. His high school Ella was a girl we’ll call Frannie. She really was gorgeous, though I’d have gone more for her friend we’ll call Angie, an adorable blond girl I noticed very much in jr high school, but didn’t quite count as a crush. They were both from his town, which separated from the school district at the high school level, except for vocational students, after the new high school for the purpose was completed in time for tenth grade. I never saw them after that, and really not after eighth. For him this was later in school, rather than ninth grade like my Ella was.

She really didn’t seem to notice he even existed, and he never seemed to get her attention. I think because he was more in love and less looking to get some, he was more timid than he might have been. She wasn’t his only major crush. An earlier one at least noticed him enough to tell him to drop dead. Pretty Lady was his wistful, hopeful/hopeless song for Frannie.

It’s really a great song, and you just don’t hear it. They were, to my knowledge, a two hit wonder. Their other song was One Fine Morning.

As for other Frank songs? I may have mentioned that he was enough of a fan of ABBA as I was discovering them that I associate him with the band overall. I associate him with Ballroom Blitz, by the Sweet. The fact that he blasted it out of large stereo speakers while leaning between them, pointing at each other with his head in between, leaves me associating him somewhat with Magic Carpet Ride by Steppenwolf as well. “I like to dream. Yes, yes, right between the sound machine.” That matched what I was seeing. It turns out that the same thing was the inspiration for the lyric. I believe it was John Kay, between two speakers in Germany.

He introduced me to Kate Bush, specifically The Dreaming, so for me that, the only Kate Bush song I have ever actually liked, conjures him.

There have to be more.  A lot of our relationship had to do with music. Oddly enough, I can’t recall going with him to any concerts.

Okay, see? I wasn’t even done adding links to all the songs mentioned, clicking categories and publishing this when I thought of another. Probably because I have Pink Floyd as a category. My categories are a mess because I started adding subcategories willy-nilly and soon realized it was completely out of hand in part due to how they are presented on the blog. I should really have used tags. So I have categories for people or things I may never mention again, and have been using a master category (music, movies, actors…) for new ones that may be one-shots, but may be mentioned more often. Ugh.

Anyway, from The Wall, he was a massive fan of Run Like Hell. I can’t hear it without remembering Frank. Great song, of course. He enjoyed the lyrics or, more accurately, the imagery.  While it spoke the the kind of trouble he might get up to. Once he opened the flood gates, he completely made up for everything I missed out on. It was almost baffling when he couldn’t get some. Apparently it was impossible for me to learn anything by his example or encouragement.  But the real target of the song for him was the guy in college who ended up with Frank’s girlfriend who was probably, among those he was able to get and excluding someone like Frannie, the love of his life. Frank went on a vendetta, his entire personality changed, and he was never the same person, even many years after he got over it. I thought it was bizarre that he actually became relatively close to that guy near the end of his life, and that guy presented himself as a good friend of Franks afterward. Which I guess says as much about me, not forgetting a slight on my friend’s behalf, even if it was no skin off my rump and things turned out just as well for all involved. And that even though it arguably wasn’t a slight so much as the girl deciding to go be with someone else for a time. Well, my beef might also have been with the personality transformation. But I digress.

Granny

A character that adds a bit of nuance to Melody is “Granny Perkins,” Melody’s grandmother who lives with the family. The thing is, she can’t be Granny Perkins. Melody’s name from her father is Perkins, and it’s obvious that Granny is Melody’s maternal grandmother.

There’s the relationship between her and Mrs. Perkins, whose name is Flo, as we learn from Granny. The two of them look like they could be mother and daughter. Obviously that’s a matter of casting. In real life at the time, if I remember right, Granny was old enough to be Melody’s great grandmother.

The big clue is when Daniel is at tea. Granny is talking, mainly addressing Mr. Perkins, and she refers to “my Ernie,” obviously speaking of her husband. If she were addressing her son, she would say “your father” or such, more likely. I could be wrong, but it strikes me as how she’d talk to her son-in-law instead of her son.

My father’s parents didn’t live directly with us the way Granny does with the Perkins family. They lived in the same house, in a pseudo-apartment that took four of the six rooms in the house. The first floor had two large rooms, which were a kitchen/ dining room, and a living room. The full bath was on the second floor with the grandparents, and the first floor had a half bath.

Yes, this made the place kind of small, for a large looking house. It had belonged to my grandparents. My parents had planned to build a new house across the street. It was the only house on the street, though there were several other buildings. On the opposite side there was a tiny building that was an office; a maintenance building of sorts, the only one that exists to this day, and the closest one to being usable as a dwelling; a pump house for our well; a storage building clad in green metal; and a similar building, originally, that my father had bought with a small lot for his business. Something I am not supposed to mention happened that resulted in his having to build a replacement, only to have it happen again, this time to be replaced on the other side of town instead. On the same side as us there was an old sawmill, which I only saw used once in my childhood; there was a long, low storage building that housed things like bulldozers and bog equipment; there was an even bigger green metal clad building similarly used for storage; and then there was a row of small shed-like buildings, clad in green metal, ranging from several feet square down to shallow closet sized. In the middle of those, one was an outhouse, which gives an idea what I mean by the range of sizes. Those lined the road as it started down a hill from the uplands down to the level of the swamp. There was a twin of the outhouse down in the swamp, in a wooded area between two sections of cranberry bogs. In their early years, the sheds had been used for storing munitions, from what I understand. That was the primary business of the man my grandfather worked for, who had originally owned all the land around us and the bogs. In later years, the largest and smallest of the sheds got hauled to our yard. The largest my brother and I used as a chicken coop. The smallest we used as more or less a potting shed.

My grandfather couldn’t afford the mortgage. Their kids were grown and only the youngest still lived there. My father prevailed in the battle over whether we would take over that place, house the five of us in two rooms and the cellar and keep his parents housed, or build our own place. There were conditions, like what he would do to finish the cellar to make viable rooms out of it. It wasn’t the end of the world and I certainly never knew better as a kid, but it only got part of the way there. The marriage was probably doomed then and there, even if it hadn’t been already. It’s interesting having a clearer idea of the dynamics of a situation like that, now that I’m an “old misery” myself. I can understand how they irritated each other, and I always knew it wasn’t one-sided.

It was cool having the grandparents around. Handy, too. Between older siblings, my father working a stone’s throw up the street, and grandparents handy, there was never an issue with an adult being around if needed. Not that my grandmother babysat us, per se. My mother didn’t work, but we were babysat by my mother’s younger sister a couple times before I was school age. We also saw a lot of my mother’s parents, and stayed with them a lot. We didn’t get left in her care, but we also visited my great grandmother, my mother’s mother’s mother, regularly. My oldest got her name. Unfortunately, she hates the name. Oops.

So to me the Waltons weren’t strange, having the grandparents living in the same house, even though ours were semi-separate. It’s probably much more historically normal to have multiple generation households than not. Or three+ generation, really, since parents and kids are multiple generations. But, you know, multiple adult generations. The dynamics might be something to be worked out. Finances, too, since that might be part of the point. I can totally see having my kids live with me after they are adults, but not as people I’m supporting when they are in their thirties. I can see living in the same house with them and their kids. It’s a source of stability.

I still haven’t figured out where they fit Granny Perkins in that apartment. Near as I can tell so far, you go in and the kitchen/dining room is on the right. Adjoining it and next on the right is the living room. Melody’s room is directly at the end of the hall, and before that is the master bedroom. Before that must be the bathroom, though for some reason I thought that was on the right. But if the bathroom is on the right, it would be in the same spot as the living room. Since you can see the kitchen from the living room, well… I’d have to review and see if I am clear again. Maybe she’s in a closet on the right before Melody’s room? It’s all supposedly a set built in the main building they used for filming, which doesn’t explain the appropriate views out the windows. Maybe that’s CGI. Oh wait… 1970. LOL.

Darn, gotta go to the dentist and either publish this without reviewing it or save a draft. I think I said what I wanted, if not well, so I’ll go for it.

Clothes Shopping

I hate it. Generally. During part of the time I did Microsoft support, we were required to wear ties. Guys would cope by getting the catchiest or most outrageous ties they could find. It was fun finding cool ties. I still have a big collection hanging in the closet that’s mainly devoted to storing things that aren’t clothes, and is usually blocked with stuff that must be moved if I want to remind myself what’s in there. Like a few weeks ago when I pulled out the prints and painting I bought years ago at science fiction conventions, but never got framed and hung. Showed them to the kids and told them whatever there was to tell. The oldest is artistic, so it was mainly for her benefit. Also handed over my Michael Whelan art books for her to look through for a day or two. Speaking of art, as I recall, one of my ties is inspired by Starry Night. Love Van Gogh.

Winter is always lean at my job, so I’ve been limping along with an increasingly small number of jeans that both fit and don’t have holes too large for me to be willing to wear them. They tend to develop worn spots and then holes right around the bottom of where the pocket is inside the pants. That’s from leaning or rubbing against the metal bar that runs along the side of the conveyor belt. The extent of it depends on the exact nature of the work at the time. For a long time, I was working off of rollers, scanning and stacking packages onto pallets, wrapping them, and putting the pallets into a trailer to go on a ferry. Then for a while I was working mainly inside a trailer with rollers on the floor, floor loading packages as someone else took them off the conveyor and sent them down the rollers. We no longer do that particular location, and I subsequently spent a lot of time mostly standing against a conveyor and a slide going down either to rollers or another conveyor, splitting packages to the appropriate place. That started the wear pattern happening heavily. When I loaded the trailer, I sometimes had to be out at the conveyor to put in my own packages, then go up a couple steps into the trailer, stack before anything got by or rely on others to catch them, then pop back down the steps, rinse and repeat. Broke a rib and got whiplash falling down the stairs and against the conveyor structure a couple years back. Fun. It took six months for it to stop hurting completely. Never missed a day of work for it, and only knew I broke the rib because of an unrelated CAT scan a month afterward that happened to show the unhealed rib.

Now I still split from the middle of a conveyor down to the only remaining stretch of rollers in the place, where someone scans and puts packages onto pallets rather than loading them directly into delivery vans. However, I also scan and load packages into two or three vans at the same time. So it might be 300 packages I load, give or take, and 400-600 packages I send down to the rollers. I move around a lot and don’t lean against the metal support along the conveyor so much, but the damage was done.

I had been buying the cheapest Walmart jeans for many years. $9 and change a pair. If they wore out I bought more. I knew what size fit and could reliably walk in and buy them. Then they stopped carrying my style, so I had to order them. Good thing I knew exactly the size and style to order.

At the same time, the pants got super sensitive to abrading, and the newest pants ended up with the worst wear and the biggest holes. They also seemed to shrink more easily. I stopped ordering them and braced myself to find something else, but that had to wait for the tax refund or for an increase in income. It’s both that time, and getting critical in terms of what is available to wear. I was keeping enough pants to get me through variability in laundry processing.

The thing is, no matter what Walmart might say on the labels of the cheap jeans to flatter me, I am not a 38 waist. 30 inseam, sure, but an old pair of Dockers I wore recently for the first time in years is a 40 waist and would barely button. I will have to pick a likely brand or two and – ugh! – try them on in sizes ranging around where I expect them to fit. Then I will have to try a pair or two in each size and brand long enough to see how they shrink and such. Whatever passes, I can then buy more, maybe make a habit. If I find the size in better brands is a reliable indicator, I might even be able to risk ordering online in a brand I haven’t tried. We’ll see.

In the meantime, it’s the first day on which it would be viable and appropriate to shop. It’s about the last thing I want to do.

Sequel

I was thinking never mind a remake. A sequel could have been interesting. It could have answered some questions that will be left forever up in the air about what happened after, or it could have continued to leave ambiguity while still picking up later.

It could have been a bit like having a sequel to The Cutting Edge, another favorite movie of mine. Figure skating meets romantic comedy! What could be better? Besides something that resonates with my own childhood as dramatically as Melody manages. You come along later in their lives and they’re married. Hijinks ensue with their own kid and/or themselves. Times change. Kids not entirely. That they married for real would be some vindication, without regard for how they arrived there after whatever hell there was to pay for the antics at the end of the original.

Of course, in fan fiction anything could happen. A while back I saw someone posit a scenario where they find themselves at Hogwarts via the trolley. Surreal. Or you could put them in a post-apocalyptic situation. TEOTWAWKI could hit while they are off on the trolley, and they are fending for themselves, trying to get by with the clothes on their backs. Pure fantasies of whatever variety.

Skipping ahead would certainly fit the storytelling pattern of the movie. Just as we never see what happens when Daniel collapses after winning the 220. His mother panics! Get the medic! Maybe we don’t need to do more than infer just how traumatic it was for everyone to get their lives and schooling back to something passing for normal. Maybe we don’t need to know how the kids became married old miseries. They just are, and we revisit old friends later in their lives. Ornshaw graduates Top Gun, becomes a hero and gets to return there as an instructor. Wait, wrong movie. Since he’s actually smarter than the teachers, he goes on to become one and show how it’s done. Daniel becomes famous for his art. or at least struggles to make a living at it other than by illustrating Melody’s stories she writes for children.

Or we could throw them together years later, after they’d been torn asunder. Their love will never die, but if they are separated for a while, it takes the right circumstances for a reunion and a more adult romantic comedy before they actually live happily ever after together.

None of which is exactly where I was going with this. The wife started talking and had trouble stopping, much as happens too often when I start typing.

If you go with the Heinleinesque scenario of all realities existing even if they are fiction in our own, then there’s a very real alternate reality, timeline, dimension – whatever you care to call it – in which the events of Melody happened. Number of the Beast, but we’re not in Oz anymore. We don’t know anything about the fine details of that reality in the parts we didn’t get to see, or that came after, but they are happening to those people in that world. Except in the many worlds theory, we have infinitely branching timelines in which any little variation that could happen does happen, each propagating a new universe. Some seem familiar, even indistinguishable. Some seem utterly alien. It takes so little to make a change. A movie that’s released in 1971 and flops in the United States instead does well and makes stars of the people involved, or bigger stars of the already famous ones. That’s a huge ripple through time. Tracy Hyde becomes a household name. She has more and bigger roles. She never becomes a legal secretary. A ten year old boy who’s not entirely different from Daniel Latimer sees it and his life is changed. A far cry from seeing it 47 years later than that and feeling zealously happy yet wistful. Might not be as big a change as we’d have if that movie George Lucas released in 1977, you know, the space one, hadn’t flopped, but… oh wait, that one didn’t flop.

If you put those two concepts together, then every fiction is its own timeline, and every one of those varies and branches infinitely. The one captured by the purveyor of a piece of fiction in our world is just the one we know, not all that could be. Imagine that Icy Hot Song if Ned never lost his head. Or if Avienda, I mean, Ygritte, survived. You know nothing, dear readers.

Seriously, though, a sequel could have been fun. It would have required greater success of the original. While there’s been a great deal of inspiration provided by Melody, despite its cult status, giving us things like Moonrise Kingdom, since most people never heard of Melody, most people wouldn’t care to follow the rest of the story. A shame, but there it is.

1971 Was so long ago, I had to check with my siblings to see if we maybe had seen Melody. As expected, it was no. Never heard of it. I figured that the possibility existed that I could have seen and forgotten it. I doubt it, though. Much as I love First of May and Melody Fair, neither of those came to my attention until later in the seventies. I’d have known them from the movie. The thing is, I know for a fact that we went to see Flight of the Doves in 1971. I remember it being a big deal to my sister. That was yet another Jack Wild film. Yet all I can remember is that I saw it. I remember nothing about it. I remembered parts of the Planet of the Apes movies vividly. My father took as to all four, regardless of whether they might have been age appropriate. I think of myself as having an excellent memory, but things do get spotty from my youth. That wasn’t the best year ever, either, since my father had left in early 1970 and the divorce would be final in the latter part of 1971. Ironically, 4th grade was an exceptional school year for me, and that was 1970-1971. I had both my first crush on a peer, Carol, resembling Melody, and a crush on my pretty blond math teacher. I crashed in 5th grade and had one of my worst school years.  I’ve mentioned it before, but seeing Melody right when I had that first crush in Daniel-but-shyer (and younger) fashion would have been fascinating.

I’m rambling. (I know: “No kidding! You just figured that out?” Heh.) I should be asleep and instead I’m going on and on without saying anything further that pertains to the post. So I’ll stop and survey the damage now.

Quaint Is The Word

When I wrote this post, I forgot that one of the thoughts I have now and then is how quaint things from now will seem to us in the future, just as things from just a couple years ago – you know, like 1980 or so – can seem quaint now.

So if it makes you feel better about how things are now, think about how quaint or dated things from now will seem in just a couple years, for instance, looking back from 2040, when I’ll be almost 60. Yeah, 60. If 80 is the new 60.

Free Range Kids

It annoys me that there has to be an expression to describe “free range children.” Back in the olden days, we simply called them children. Yes, not a Melody post! But that inspired it, because it’s such a dramatic image of another time and place. The past is, after all, another country, and that was another country and in the past. It was also a different environment from the one I grew up in, city instead of rural.

I learned to ride a bike when I was 8, rather old because of my mild physical retardation from meningitis as an infant. I believe I talked about this in one post or another in the past few weeks. Once I could ride, that was it! I was gone! I had wings. Nobody thought a thing of my riding three miles to visit friends.

Even before that, though, I was walking all over the woods, to the nearest beach, to the store (over a mile away), and of course to the bus. We had to walk a third of a mile just to get the bus to school. It was rare and frigid for me to get a ride. My mother walked me to the bus, which stopped even farther away, for the town’s version of kindergarten. That was for a short time during the summer before first grade. It gave them a chance to teach us how to go to school and give us some bare preliminaries. Which was funny for me, since I already knew how to read. I don’t remember ever not knowing how to read, so I would guess I learned sometime in the 3-4 years old range. It was physical retardation. After that I walked with my older siblings for first grade, with my sister for second grade, and by myself thereafter. My kids had to walk to elementary school just a little farther than my walk to the bus. We ended up being expected to walk with them through third grade, even though they were considered fine to walk home by themselves.

Someone called the cops on the youngest when he went out to play with a kid about three houses down the street at the age of about 5. That was a little young, but it was also close, with a sidewalk and not busy street. I never did figure out who called. We taught the kids from a young age not to dash into the street and how to cross safely if they needed to. Compared to where I grew up, it’s downright urban, but really it’s a quaint old factory town’s downtown, the outskirts of it, basically suburbia, in a town that ranges to pure rural, cranberry bogs, and thick woods.

Circa first and second grade, I hung out with a kid, Reggie, who lived about a mile from the end of our street (end of our street being the bus stop, 1/3 of a mile from our house). He was on the other side of the main intersection and only traffic light in town. The big business at the junction was a liquor store/variety story with a gas pump. While we spent some time in his house, mostly we ranged around outside. We freely crossed the street. We walked back along the main road most of the way back to my street. We would collect bottles to turn in at the store so we could get ice cream bars or candy. Nobody thought the slightest thing of it that six or seven year old kids were doing this. That would have been about 1967-1968.

I think the last time anyone worried about my going walkabout was when I “went to pick blueberries” when I was 3 and it was the wrong time of year. The dog went with me. Then they went out in the woods and swamp to find me. I gather I wondered what all the fuss was about. Since my father’s business was maybe a tenth of a mile or so up the street from us, I would range between there and the house, almost as early as that age. I’ll never forget being no more than 5 and rushing down the path that was a shortcut between the two, trying to get home and failing. The business had an outhouse. The outhouse tended to attract hornets and I didn’t like it anyway. What a mess! I remember my mother cleaning me up while I stood in the bathroom sink. At least if all we had to do was pee, well, we lived in the woods. The world was our urinal.

I had to save this so I could go to bed on time. It’s always disorienting to pick back up on something like this after it has sat. If it veers off from this point even more than usual, that’s why.

Actually, I can remember going up the street to a building my grandfather worked out of, not long before he was disabled for good, and riding down the street with him on a giant bulldozer. I probably wasn’t even 4 yet then. I know i was extremely young and it’s one of those super early but vivid memories. He had worked for the original owner of all the land around us, who died two years before I was born. He had actually been involved in draining the swamp and building cranberry bogs many of the adult relatives would be employed on during harvest when I was little. We would hang out and watch, maybe hand pick rogue cranberries from the banks around the bogs. The house I grew up in was built for the guy he’d worked for, whose wife then refused to move there. That was how my grandparents came to buy it. My parents took it over when my grandparents couldn’t afford the payments. Originally they had planned to buy land and build a new house across the street. Weirdly, that house exists in my head, along with an imaginary house that never existed on a rise on the other side of the swamp from where we were. Both of those are yellow, whereas the house we ended up in was always white. The house on the other side of the swamp would appear in dreams when I was a kid, with us living in it. It wasn’t something I simply imagined. The house we didn’t build is more a matter of imagining it, knowing it could have happened, rather than it being pure fiction of my subconscious.

Anyway, when I was a kid, I walked all over. I rode my bike all over. When my father’s shop was in another part of town, I walked there from school some days. There was no special permission needed to leave school on foot rather than bus one day.

By the same token, if we were absent from school we were absent. Daniel and Melody didn’t go to school that day and paid the price later. In my case, we were supposed to take a note to the office the next day. I remember that in high school, but not in elementary. However, I seldom missed school in elementary. I was sickly after moving to the house I grew up in, mysteriously, and they eventually injected me with gamma globulin as an experiment to see if it’d help my immunity. It was years before I was sick again to any degree. Then I was sickly the last two years of high school and beyond, to varying degrees ever since. Since the cause became clear after a while, that provided insight into the mystery of my chronic ailment when I was very young, and why (I found out later) it didn’t start until after we moved. Also, it didn’t actually not affect me during the years after the gamma globulin. It just stuck to the more subtle aspects.

If one of my kids missed school, especially elementary, you had to call by a certain time. Like calling out sick from work. In middle school you just call the office, rather than there being a special voicemail line for it. If you don’t call them, they call you to find out if you know your kid isn’t at school. After all, kidnapping! Is! Rampant! Or something.

While my kids are mostly homebodies, they do stuff like walk to the store. The major street between us and many things you might want to walk to is not for the faint of heart, but between us and downtown, and to cross either main road downtown, is not so bad. The oldest is 14. She had a good friend not all that far away, and would walk there, but the friend’s mother kind of freaked out at the idea of doing so, especially in the dark. Conversely, the day her kid got off the late bus and came here, her mother called the police to come get her and was completely freaked out. Granted, the kid was messing with her mother by having her phone’s “battery die so she couldn’t call.” Probably just as well the kids had a falling out. You get too restrictive, then you have offspring who explode later. My kids wouldn’t feel like they couldn’t ask to go, or tell us where they were going. They aren’t as free range as I was in part because they don’t care as much, and in part because it’s a different place and time. At least we’re not stopping them, and they’re all old enough that nobody should be reporting them as unaccompanied kids as so many idiots have done with no good reason.

When I watch Melody, it’s awesome to see the kids roaming around London. They’re not only going to and from school, but also gallivanting around otherwise. It’s awesome to see two 11/12 year olds able to hop on a train and go to the seaside – on a school day! – and nobody questions it. Nobody wonders why they are hanging around at the beach, going on rides, riding the train, all without an adult. Or nobody wonders enough to call the authorities, anyway. that’s old enough that even here and now they might be fine. We’re nominally walking distance from the commuter rail to Boston and points between here and there. Two of the kids are old enough to ride as unaccompanied minors, and would probably receive little or no scrutiny.  In theory, one of them could decide to walk over to the station and pop up to Boston for the day, as long as they had the money. It’s kind of the equivalent. At the actual and apparent age of Melody and Daniel, that wouldn’t be possible. The youngest might even pass for old enough, if it came to it. I can’t see why any of them would think to do that, but it’s there.

When I was 14 and 15, I was riding my bike to high school, about five miles. I was riding to my friend’s house, an additional maybe two miles. I was riding to buzz around Ella’s house, go to the next town north from there, or a couple towns east of there, to watch drum and bugle corps practices, and I was riding home, often in the dark. The power of love. Google tells me the ride straight home from the far flung east practice would be about 7.4 miles. From the northern practice spot straight home would be about 9.6 miles. From the launching point where the group would go to practice, just a few houses from Ella’s, it’d be 5.9 miles to or from home. From there to the eastern practice spot would be about would be about 7.3 miles. So I’d go 5.9 miles, then 7.3 miles, then from there home 7.4 miles, all to stalk Ella and get those extra looks at her and see her in action, wielding a flag or a wooden rifle as part of a choreographed performance. All to the tune of MacArthur Park. It was a bit obsessive. No wonder I related so much to the boy in Endless Love when I read it several years later, and when I saw the film. Even though that was a sexual obsession and it hadn’t occurred to me yet that I ought to be after that as part of it.

I digress. But my point is I was still a freshman in high school, 14 turning 15, and I was everywhere. At that time in my life, I thought it’d be the Best Thing Ever to ride a bike across the whole country. It’d be cool, still, but I’m kind of used to driving. I’d love to drive across the country again, and glad I got even a marginal chance to do it once.

Do kids ride around like that these days? Even in the name of love? Maybe I’d have been glued to video games if we’d had them then. Who knows. Maybe technology moots the whole thing.

AWstats

To get an idea of traffic here, I normally look at AWStats through the Cpanel utility on the web hosting. It drives me crazy, though, because it can be so hard to tell what’s actually going on. In theory, it gives you search strings that were used to get here. In reality, it doesn’t return enough of those to correspond to the traffic it claims comes from Google alone. In turn, the referrals from Google and other such things aren’t remotely enough to account for total traffic. At least it’s generally possible to get an idea of what the real traffic is, versus the traffic hitting from nefarious sources for reasons having nothing to do with reading my keen and witty insights.

One thing that surprises me is the amount of traffic that seems associated with feed readers. In the heyday of blogs, that would be a given. On a blog that went many years being mostly neglected, and that had much of its contents stripped in a change of CMS, and most of the rest stripped in a change of direction, that lost much of its readership all the way back in 2004… I think it was 2004… When the wife was hot to switch to a clever new domain and name after less than a year here. I’m just surprised that there seem to be so many, in effect, subscribers for me to bore because I won’t stop mentioning that Melody movie and such.

On the other hand, there are no comments, besides a few a day of spam comments. This could be because there’s nothing to say, but they certainly are enabled. I’d see it if any were held for moderation, which is the default if you haven’t commented before and been approved. I was a little nervous about comments, in case I say something unforgivably stupid again. On the other hand, if I lose my mind unawares, that’s a quick way for me to find out and mitigate any public displays of ignorance.

Anyway, it’s a shame Site Meter died many years ago. That was always the standard, and if not perfect, gave useful info. I don’t think I have this on Google Analytics, though I could add it if not, but I’ve never found that information particularly helpful. If nothing else, I’m not generally interested in hitting gnats with sledgehammers.

Aisling Bea

I had never heard of Aisling Bea before. Charles is right. She’s absolutely beautiful. Her standup routine embedded in his post is hysterically funny. Also, I could listen to her talk with that accent all day. The message to her late father, a suicide when she was 3, is touching and a great reminder. I wouldn’t want to be absent to see how some things turn out. It’s bad enough that history begins when we are born.

Dear Dove

After trying other shampoos, my daughter discovered Dove Absolute Curls. It was perfect for her hair.

After buying it a few times, I went to get it again and it was gone. It has apparently been discontinued.

Thanks a lot! Between companies like you, Utz (discontinued their amazing Salt & Pepper chips), and Walmart (discontinued their yummy cheese bread and amazing pepperoni cheese bread), the kids are becoming as used to this happening as I have over a lot more years.

Update:

This ended rather well. I went looking for something that was for curls and bought an Aussie product made for curls. She loves it. It works at least as well, and “smells better.”

Not Quite 11 Years Old In 1971 But…

Brits being unable to identify the vagina seems like it fits with the innocence depicted in Melody. Other details in there too, although Chef would be proud that they know where to find the clitoris.

Not that everyone in Melody is completely innocent, given the strong presence of girly magazines and nude pictures, even if Daniel having one was completely innocent of any sexual connotations. The boys, especially Ornshaw, weren’t entirely innocent when trying to sneak at least one of them into the girly show. It’s just that they are all still on the edge of childhood and being in love doesn’t make them think “hey, let’s get naked together.” Give them a couple years, if they’re still able to see each other and he still loves her for more than a couple weeks of sixth year.

Of course, given that these days everyone calls the vulva a vagina, maybe it’s not just the Brits who are confused.

Tea Time

I had worked out Melody timeline details a while back, but hadn’t given much thought to the times of day when things happened. I realized last night that we have a definitive time when the kids are released from school for the day. 3:30 PM. Or not long before 3:30, allowing time for Daniel and Ornshaw to get to their 3:30 punishment.

The other time reference I can think of is when Daniel and Ornshaw are out on the town after school, and a time check reveals it to be 5:10 PM, leaving Ornshaw fretting about needing to get home. Daniel gets a taxi and after a ride and some discussion, where Ornshaw explains why he was trying to get home, he heads home. He’s going to make his grandfather’s dinner. The discussion includes Daniel inviting him to tea and then they could go to a movie. So 5:10 plus a cab ride and change, and Daniel is just then contemplating it being tea time. Google tells me tea time is typically between 3:00 and 5:00.

So the day Daniel and Melody get together after school, after the punishment and drawing Daniel away from Ornshaw, ends with tea at her house. If we suppose it’s 3:45 when they are walking out of the school, that can give us an idea how long that interlude might have been. They walk and scamper at some length before sitting and talking and sharing an apple. Convenient symbolism, the apple. Both for growing up and to tie in to the song lyrics of First of May. We do see the sun is well into afternoon as they are arriving in the overgrown cemetery, arguably matching what might be near 4 PM. It’s good when you see them get filming details like that right, since things can get filmed in pieces across hours, days, and weeks.

Afterward they walk to her house and she insists he join them for tea, which is already in progress without her. Clearly nobody was concerned that she was not yet home, suggesting that it’s routine for her to stay late at school or to be free range for an extended time after school. The difference is showing up with a boyfriend. So what is it, 5:00 or so? I found it interesting what they seemed to be eating, which was more like lunch or supper, to me, than how I might picture tea.

Continuing this the next day, I have looked up the concept of tea and of meals in the UK. It turns out that tea can range from the image I have of high tea in the after noon to the actual evening meal I’d generally call supper. There might be tea at, say, 5:00 and then a small supper at, say, 8:00, or tea might actually be supper. None of which affects much the question of what time the Perkins family is having tea that day.

The scene where The ladies of the Perkins family are eating something for supper later in the evening on a previous day would suggest that they do have both tea and supper. It might depend to some degree on whether her father is home, since he seems to work long and erratic hours, even when he’s not in the pubs. Makes sense, if he’s a truck driver as I saw online, even though if it ever said in the movie I missed it. Just earlier I saw that Ornshaw’s first name, Tom, is said in the film, but it’s easy to miss. I sure did, multiple times. Now I’ll have to listen for it.

What else can I say about the time of day questions or answers in the movie? If school gets out close to 3;30 PM, that is the time when the elementary school gets out here. In our case, that is up through fifth grade, or sixth year. Classes actually start about 8:50 AM for elementary, with buses picking kids up about 8:10, give or take a bit. Kids who walk aren’t supposed to arrive there before 8:30 or so. Obviously it’s neither the US nor the present day, so who knows. It is also not the equivalent of elementary so much as middle/high school, where they are the youngest kids, in sixth year. That you see limited numbers of older kids is an artifact of it being a film and what’s needed to make it look close enough, as far as employing extras. But then, so could things like what time school lets out. Here the middle school starts classes nearly an hour before elementary, and high school even earlier.

Finally, if I can even remember my original point, I think what I set out to note was what the clues about time of day tells us about when things happen and who is expected where when. Melody is nominally expected home about 5:00 or so for tea, is free range before then, and they don’t panic if she doesn’t get home even then. Daniel probably has a similar thing going on, based only on his invitation for Ornshaw to have tea when it is already approaching 5:30. It’s possible tea is sometimes the evening meal for them, but at least sometimes they may eat again later instead or in addition. That gives the kids perhaps an hour and a half or so after school before tea.

Tea is also implied as happening sometime after the dance, but that’s on a Saturday and we don’t really know what time of day it was. Melody sits at her desk/makeup table, still in her pink dress after the dance, messing with makeup until her mother calls her to tea and says the tea kippers will be cold, taking Melody out of her reverie. I had always interpreted that scene as being in the bathroom, but having caught the bedroom Melody goes in earlier as if it’s hers, even though it looks like it could belong to an adult from what little we see, we see that table and mirror, exactly as in the makeup scene.

With all the gaps in telling the story, there’s a lot of inference and filling in we’re left to do ourselves. Which works, but can leave you wondering well how, when, what if, was that enough time, and such.

Mrs. Ginger

Not really a point to this. I’m just still struck by seeing one of the most attractive women I have ever seen arrive at my friend’s mother’s house for a family and friends party on Sunday. The occasion was my friend being out from Las Vegas and having a birthday this week.

If I were young, this is one of those times when just seeing the girl would have left me smitten. It would have been all over. She drew my eye before she even made it in the door. Because I am old and have learned a thing or two, and I am not my brother, I didn’t stare, but it wasn’t easy. I was going to say I’ve never had a crush on a ginger, but there was a minor one in college. Genetics being what they are, marrying one would probably have given me kids with red hair, or some variant between that and blond, with less pronounced brown. At different times, even the kids I have with a dark haired woman have exhibited substantial amounts of red, and one of them is still a dirty shade of blond. Hey, English, Scottish, Irish, and, for them but not me, Swedish.

The woman in question, whose relationship to the family holding the party is unknown to me, is married and has a couple young kids. She’s old enough to start to wrinkle and, well show a ginger’s sensitivity to sun. I’d guess somewhere not a lot to either side of 40. And that reminds me of what I wanted to post about. Which makes her technically young for me, and old for what I’d normally see as super attractive.

In a book, a series of books, that I never wrote, the heroine was a redhead. As if I were Heinlein or something. Notwithstanding my not having run into any I got interested in, she was matched with a hero based on an ideal of me. If I wrote the thing exactly as planned, these days it would sound like I was basing the hero on Musk or Bezos, and various villains on the current political class and Bin Laden/ISIS. It’d need some updating. Internet didn’t even exist then. I was working on what little I did of it at the point when I was hanging out and flirting with Vera, who worked with my sister, and being her date to her sister’s wedding. Funny thing is that the bits I wrote and the bits I planned or imagined are in my head just the way books I read would be, or scenes from a  movie I watched would be.

Mrs. Ginger could easily be the heroine of that series, several years after the beginning of it. She looked the part. No wonder that was what I’d imagined.

That Was Fun

As mentioned in the previous post, there was a party at Naomi’s mother’s house and I went with the middle child, who was interested in trying the expected Middle Eastern food. The youngest was upset when we got home that I hadn’t invited him, which I did weeks ago to a firm no. He assumed we’d had awesome food, which we did, but not from his perspective. He felt better when I listed off what we’d eaten. The one who went loved it. Bonus, there was lemon cheesecake! She loves cheesecake more than almost anything. She had to spend a couple hours being bored while Naomi, Sally and I gabbed, though she enjoyed watching the little kids and tiny dog playing. She also  got a piece of lava rock to bring home, from Naomi’s stepfather, who was enthusiastic about her interest in science generally and geology particularly.

There were a bunch of assorted relatives there, and some adorable little kids. A late arrival, no idea the relation, had a couple more, but older, like first grade. My eyes locked on that woman before she was in the door, and I had to make a point of not staring, she was so stunning. Basically a ginger. She seemed super nice to boot. If I were younger and prone to those serial crushes, she’s exactly the sort of scenario where her walking into a room might change everything.

I ate way too much, mostly because of the shrimp someone brought, with a dip based on mayo and Greek yogurt, seasoned with wasabi and I forget what else. There were also pita chips, pita pieces, amazing spinach dip, awesome cheese spread, hummus, feta cubes, olives that were actually good – my second encounter ever eating an olive and finding I liked it, crackers, cheese, baked ziti with sausage meat included in it, and fantastic salad. Besides cheesecake, there were good chocolate chip cookies, and squares with chocolate chips, coconut, and walnuts. The kid who thought he’d missed out *might* have tried the pasta dish and not much else. Well, there were potato chips, so he could have had those.

It was actually hard to leave because the conversation really got rolling, about books and such. But it was time to go so they could wind down and we could settle in for the night. I could be later, but there’s school in the morning.

One thing that’s funny is Naomi still thinks of me as the go to person for computer questions, even though she is pretty clueful herself. She’s gone through more computer antics in the past ten years than I have. Mostly I have things that work or don’t, and if they don’t, I somehow get something that does. Since we went broke, I spent a lot of time using hand-me-down machines. This one is a $239 refurbished Dell compact desktop, sort of thing I wouldn’t have been caught dead using back in the day. The old machine is a hand-me-down laptop that I retrieved files from for someone before the hard drive died. That was over 10 years ago, and it sat for a long time before I confirmed they didn’t want it back. I had to replace the drive and, it turned out, a bad memory stick. It got full and slow enough I needed better. I’d used it as a clamshell with keyboard, mouse and monitor all attached. Before that I had an old laptop someone else gave me. It had no disks and was kind of a mess, but I couldn’t reinstall it or fix some of the deep down settings. My last good computer I built died before that and I couldn’t keep anything I had around working reliably enough. So we talked about some of the stuff she’s been through and things she’d told herself to ask me about. Her best computer was her first one, which I’d helped her get from what turned out to be a local dealer at a computer show, back when those were a thing. We later used that dealer to supply computers for the business, until I started building them all myself.

Musta Been The Wrong Time

This is the post I was planning when I thought of ubiquitous photos. I often think about the times it feels like I have been in the right place, but at the wrong time. Your life and future can be what you make them if you set out to make the relevant changes assiduously enough, but hey, a little help here? Heh.

Here’s an example. I am fascinated by bushcrafting. Alone is a favorite show, failings or not. I watch a lot of YouTube videos by people out doing this and showing some how-to stuff. Even some of the videos that are simply “watch while I camp in the woods and yammer at the camera” are enjoyable. In my head, I am one of them. If I were in a SHTF situation, lost in the woods, whatever, I’d be better of than most people, worse off than some.

My regret is that when I was young, even all the way through my teens, I was in the perfect position to do this stuff. Some of the people on YouTube are doing this on their own land, or in woods right around their homes. I had hundreds of acres around me that were my domain. Even after a mobile home park for the elderly was built around us, it was a short walk to get into the most of the woods, largely the swampier, more lowland parts, that remained. While there was a great deal of concern for forest fires, which had been more common in the area then and had in fact happened in our woods, I did sometimes have a “camp fire” and knew how not to set the woods ablaze. It was just surreptitious because were not supposed to “play with matches,” and fear of the fire (smoke) observation towers that were in the area at the time had been drilled into me.

I never camped out in the woods, and wouldn’t have known how to make a proper shelter. Along the way I heard of lean-to shelters, but didn’t know what I was doing when i tried to build one. My older brother talked about starting fire by “rubbing sticks together,” but I never knew how you might actually due that until YouTube. Ditto for flint and steel. We actually had a huge supply of flint out beyond our yard. They were round stones of flint, or chert, that had been painted on the outside and discarded in a pile by the prior owner of the land, for whom my grandfather had worked. He had been in the munitions business, among others, so there were interesting artifacts around.

There was plenty of water, and even springs if you knew where to look. There was not the wildlife that exists these days. I could have tried building various types of shelters. I could have slept out in them and been a reasonable walk from my house if needed. It would have been wonderful. If he’d been interested and his mother wouldn’t have minded, my old friend and I could even have done that on his land in an adjacent town. It would have worked for the purpose. Closest we got was sleeping in the tree hut we’d built, or under the stars in a field with some other people.

Another example is when I had an amazing apartment, but a complete lack of girls I could meet to bring there. LOL. Not that I had the audacity, but in college I had the opportunity and it even kind of went as well as it was ever going to. But then I lived at my father’s house, rather than in my own place not far from the college. In retrospect, and ignoring for the moment some other factors, smartest thing I could have done was find a way to go to college while making enough money to keep that apartment. It was big enough to have had roommates and was near enough the college to have been acceptable for that to some prospects. If I could have kept it without roommates, it would have been an amazing bachelor pad. It would have been a place I could have had college friends gather for study sessions or projects, or just to hang out. Of course, I should arguably have kept my full time job and just started taking classes on the side, rather than diving in as  I did. I was much bolder then. I was always sure things would be fine. It took all these years of things being too often not fine to leave me timid in ways that have nothing to do with girls. It’s a whole different thing, for instance, holding onto a job no matter what happens, because you’re terrified of being out of work. Be it by quitting cold with nothing to replace it as you’ve done in the past, or because maybe the replacement thing won’t work out or will create other problems.

Anyway, i have often been sure I would have gotten out of my college experience something that I didn’t if I had been in my own place.

I could come up with more examples than those two, but this is the general idea. In things big and small, it seems like circumstances never line up. A bit like when my family could have bought as much of the land around us as we wanted for $400 an acre, but a year of income was $2000 or so. It’s been decades since the value of that land hit $100,000 an acre. While it may not have increased as dramatically since then, I think that was something like a 24,900% increase in, say, 30 years.

On My Way To Write One Post…

I thought of another, which relates a bit to the post on changing plots with modern technology.  I was looking at the header picture on AV, which is actually one of several that load randomly, and thinking I ought to change it eventually.

There are essentially no pictures of my childhood.

I mean, somewhere my family has some with us kids, and in some no doubt are backgrounds that include inside the houses or even outside. I’ve seen a couple pictures of the outside of the house before my time.

Now, though, we all have cameras, right on our phones and other devices. We are not reliant on film developing. Long term storage can get interesting and relies on the continuation of high tech civilization and/or some of it having been put to paper, but physical storage was also a problem. I, personally, have two devices in active use that can take photos and videos, and more that are retired or not actively used, but could be employed. I can take all the pictures I want, including over and over of the same basic shot in an effort to get one that’s particularly good.

If now were then, I’d have pictures of all the woods, swamp and bogs around my house. I’d have pictures of our dogs and chickens. I’d have pictures of my father’s business, the areas around those locations, my family, my grandparents when all were alive, my old friend Zack’s house and woods, the treehouse we built and the process of doing so… everything.

Or perhaps not. You have to think of taking pictures. How many people think “that building could be gone in thirty years but I’ll have a picture,” or similar long term awareness of the possibility that a throwaway scene might be special. How many people seek avidly to protect older photos from being lost or destroyed? Would I have taken pictures of how things were in my town? How the main intersection looked at different times? That might be an “if I knew what I know now” thing.

But… With pictures being taken so ubiquitously, the chances of that form of memory preservation are better.

Many Worlds

Looking at this article on parallel universes reminded me of thoughts I have had from time to time. It also reminded me of the theory that some things like deja vu and dreams that then happen are associated with quantum leakage from relatively proximate alternate timelines. That is, for there to be infinite parallel universes in which what could happen did happen, there are points of departure, just as you’d see in alternate history fiction. The more recently and/or less dramatically the alternate diverges from the one we experience, the “closer” it is. We might recognize it and be unable to detect a difference unless it affected us very personally.

The story I started a couple years back involves alternate timelines and, between them, time travel. Since it is based in part on people and places close to me, in some ways it was easier. In others it’s still hard, because writing is work, and it’s personal so I want even more for it to be perfect.

But that’s not where I was going with this. When I think what if this, what if that, presumably it has happened, or will happen if time flows slower there, in a parallel realm. All the regrets. All the wishes. All the OMG what if THAT had happened. In an endless multiverse, they all did or will, and are all playing out in many ways. They range from I took the day off work yesterday to I was never born. They range from an elementary crush being the childhood sweetheart I went on to marry young, to I never met anyone and remained single. And that’s just a tiny range of examples that are me-centric, let alone all the things that involve others but change things for me. My brother might never have met his first wife. I would never have met my old best friend. He would never have met his wife as a result. He would never have broken his back while working for me shoveling driveways. He would then have graduated with his high school class. I was due to have a best friend like him, so it would have been someone else. The prime candidate had a sister I was crushing on at that point. Maybe she’d be the one. Or at least I’d have known her well then, instead of getting to know her better than I ever knew him, decades later.

Anything could happen.

It also shows, if we are bold enough to take the lesson, that at any point going forward, we can throw the switch on which variant we occupy. Do that thing. Don’t do that thing. Everything changes, somewhat. Bigger things or cumulative things, bigger changes. Maybe it’s not for the better. Maybe it is. You build your reality. I know this. I’m still hopeless at embracing and acting on it. It’s a weakness.

Weather

Up early for work. It’s due to start snowing any time, and I expect to be done and driving home in the thick of it. I had hoped to sneak through the rest of the winter with nothing of significance. Sad.

The thing that irritates me is that Weather Underground normally won’t show me an hourly forecast during the first 2-3 hours or so of the day. That tends to give the clearest picture of snowfall, and break it down into how much can be expected to fall each hour. I will be going to work unable to see an updated version of that compared to several hours before.

Where I Went Wrong

There’s the standard “what would you change if you could go back to some point knowing what you know now” kind of thing. On some level, the answer to that is normally “but I wouldn’t want to give up these kids,” who presumably wouldn’t have happened in everything is different land. On the other hand, some different kids got lost in the shuffle that did happen. We just don’t get to know who they are. And the do exist, if you take many worlds quantum theory to be a thing, just with a different you. So don’t cry, Shopgirl. Don’t cry.

That said, and notwithstanding that there are many points where I could make changes happily, large or small, I often feel like I went wrong when I opted for the vocational agriculture program at my high school.

My brother’s first wife suggested it. She had dated boys who were in it, and had an extremely positive impression. Plus farming on some level was in my blood and in my experience. I did a lot of planting, weeding, and picking vegetables. I was around for a lot of cranberry harvests. I loved the growing of flowers, and my grandfather’s little greenhouse.

I had been a top student in chorus, and loved to sing. I’m shy, introverted, vaguely autistic, and terrified of singing in front of others, but I actually could sing. It’s in the blood and the family experience. Naturally I signed up for high school chorus.

We were on double sessions, and that dictated when some of the classes had to be held. It also rendered the two period vocational class a single period for that year. That was the same period as chorus. The school made the logical decision to drop the music and keep the vocational. Would I have done that if, say, at the end of eight grade I had know I could do only one? I don’t know. I might have gone with chorus and academics. It wasn’t a tough sell, making me an aggie, but it was a sell and not something that initiated within me. The best year of the vocational class was that first year. It was basically downhill from there.

If I could go back to eighth grade and the point of making such decisions, there is absolutely no contest in my mind. I would have chosen chorus. What else did I have that year? That would be a one to one trade, so I wouldn’t have to fill two periods. If I did, I might have ended up in one of the history classes I missed.

English, Algebra I, Earth Science, Gym for whatever part of the year that took and study hall the other part… there has to be something else. French! It was my third year of French, though I suspect it wasn’t a prerequisite to have taken the language in 7th and 8th grade. The class was obviously not memorable. I don’t remember it being bad, or especially good. I felt like I wasn’t learning much. When I started German in college six years later, I’d have told you I remembered almost nothing of French. However, I regularly ran into the problem of remembering the French for something instead of the German. But I digress.

I did meet one of my closest friends, Perry, through vocational. By rights he counted for a time as a third “best friend.” My second best friend, Frank, I met earlier that year and have meant to introduce in a post titled something like “My Ornshaw.” My second best friend died several years ago. My first best friend and I may as well be dead to each other, sadly. I am friends with the third one on social media, but he is absent a lot, and is not in the best of health. The first friend, Zack, married the ex-girlfriend, Joan, of the third friend. I was responsible for all of them having met, and particularly so for the union of the first to the girl. Small and convoluted and crazy world. Ditching vocational might have put an end to all that. I might still have met Frank, but with a different dynamic of classes, I might have noticed Ella less and someone else more. Ella helped trigger my befriending Frank, weirdly. There would be a lot of dominoes reversing back to upright in the scenario of no vocational. I can’t say those were bad things that should never have happened, and it’d be weird knowing the difference if I went back. It might be kinder if the terms were to make the decision then forget what came after the first time.

Chorus would have gotten me closer to some of the more academic and more musical kids who in part were already my peeps. I supposed I could have taken it as seriously or casually as I wanted. One concern I have is that I developed a health issue that would have destroyed my ability to sing properly in any reliable way. I still struggle with that, between sensitivity to what I am breathing, and reflux sometimes returning to haunt me.

It would have left me on a more academic track. After ninth, vocational did take 2 periods a day. That took the place of any two other classes, like a history or science or language. I made it worse in 10th grade! I signed up for electronics and the administration didn’t notice or stop me. That was a snootier vocational class that went three years rather than four, but was two periods per day. So four of seven periods in that year were devoted to the two vocational classes. Then it was English, Geometry, and gym. That was why I ended up taking the traditional 10th grade biology in 11th. At least that teacher didn’t hate me as much as the electronics teacher did. I still don’t know why, though it may have had to do with an awareness I didn’t belong in two vocational classes. It was a slap in the face to him when i got the highest grade on the midyear exam. I made a friend in that class who was my introduction to BASIC when he got an early Radio Shack computer. in 1977.

This has gotten long and gone in directions I didn’t intend.

I love to sing. My wife was one of the first people I could sing in front of with little discomfort, and with my kids it was completely natural. Now one of them sings like an angel and writes her own songs. One of them sings competently and taught herself guitar. The other one doesn’t seem interested in singing, but seems to do well on violin in school without bothering to practice, as if he’s just natural at it. I’ve gotten a bit more open about it. I’ve been known to sing along with or in the presence of people at work. A few weeks ago, I sang well the first little bit of Bus Stop by The Hollies for a young coworker who didn’t know the song.

I never wanted to be famous or felt comfortable performing, as my brother did. I’ve actually pondered in years past the idea of vocal lessons. I guess I can see wanting to be famous in that it was a bit of a rush when I was moderately “blog famous” around 2003/2004. When I worked in stores, there was one guy in particular I worked with for a while who, when we were together behind the counter, completed us as something of a comedic duo, entertaining customers. That was fun.

Something I’ve sometimes thought would have been interesting is getting into film. Before there was ever YouTube, and a venue for anyone to do that on some level. There were other reasons I saw a ton of movies circa 1998, but I also could see myself involved in the writing or creation of them. Not something I ever really mention to anyone, or think about actively. I find it hard to imagine acting, though. I am blown away when I see people adopting just the right expression in an artificial situation. I know how much work is involved, rehearsing, directing, doing many takes, getting just the right shots, so maybe you need only capture the right look that one take that’s a keeper. But still. I think I was put off of acting by a tiny play I was involved in during 6th grade. A few people each did a different little story, a series of plays for younger grades. My buddy Paul and I forget who else might have been in ours. It had something to do with picking berries. We laughed uncontrollably through the whole thing, barely able to deliver the lines, and laughed our way off the stage. It may only have been me and Paul, in the actual thing, since he’s the only one I remember. The two of us did much better when we built a telegraph. We both were interested in electricity, electronics and gadgets

So yes, I think I went wrong, not offense to my friends the change would affect, when I opted for the vocational program as I entered high school. I would have a very different life and there would have been more of an academic, professional expectation to pursue and fulfill.

Decisions, Decisions

Get to bed early or write another post of at least moderate length? I haven’t been getting enough sleep, but lately it seems if I allow enough time for sleep, I’ll just wake early and be unable to sleep during the last 2+ hours. Alarm goes off at 2:30 AM. That’s 8 hours from the absolute earliest I could be asleep if I hurried to bed now.

On another note, following my initial click to publish this, I think my categories need help. I see things I am not sure I’d use and feel like there are things missing. Almost as if the blog had been neglected for years…

Regrets

Before I get on with other posts, I have to address wrongs. I have no idea whether it will be seen by anyone in question, or by anyone who knows anyone in question, but I will have gotten it out there.

A few years back, I got extremely angry at my erstwhile best friend. I don’t even remember precisely what I posted about on FB or what the comment on it that triggered me was, but my friend had every reason to have been annoyed enough over the years to have been frayed into saying something that conveyed disdain or irritation, and while I overreacted, some sort of overt split was years, perhaps decades, overdue. I could go into detail about what was wrong with me, and the history between us, but the short version is that he is a good man and I should never have spouted vitriol here, even without naming names or expecting anyone who might know who I meant to see it.

We met the year we each turned 12, hit it off, and were almost inseparable that first year. In a way, it was as much a heterosexual boy crush on my part as a friendship. He was in some ways more mature than me, in others more sheltered, and was always more focused. I worshiped him, essentially. This kind of relates to things I have to say in other posts about other things in my life and relationships. This also is a bit of the insight I gained from being introspective for a long time following being called on the horrible post and taking it down. There are other people less capable of introspection and realizing it’s not necessarily them, but you. So at least I have that going for me, even if getting there took falling off an emotional cliff.

Not that I didn’t know some of the ways in which I was irritating long ago. I just tended to ignore them. Perhaps I thought it was part of my charm or something?

In all reality, our “best friends” stage could be measured as as little as a year and a half. The second summer, we weren’t so inseparable. He had other things going on. I didn’t so much. But we remained close friends to some degree for a number of years. He married another friend of mine, which was great for them and traumatic for me, as these things are.

Over the course of time, some of the traits that he found annoying were enhanced by my admiration of him. Who wouldn’t want to be more like him? This entire incident and my examining it deeply finally knocked through my head that he is just a man, an ordinary person with strengths and foibles.

The wife was amazed I called him one of my best friends, since we didn’t act it, and she’d have thought we had nothing in common had she not been told. She saw it first, or at least admitted it. By the time we were 20, if I had made no effort to remain in contact, or vice-versa, we’d have been people who once knew each other, not so much different from people I once knew in school.

There are similarities with my history of serial crushes that were a form of addiction as well as a somewhat autistic trait. Starting at a fairly young age, with little or no break, I always had a crush on some girl or another, but I would never act on it enough to have a relationship. The harder to get someone was, the closer I’d come to trying. The more receptive someone was, the faster I’d back away and move on. The high of feeling “in love” was, in retrospect, what mattered. I finally broke that addiction and, frankly, gave up. Then met my wife in more of an intellectual relationship where she was more the driving force then I was. It actually took longer to get past my best friend worship, and was more traumatic and hurtful to others.

Knowing myself matters.

Being aware of the pain and anger I can provoke with words matters.

Will what happens now, what I think and feel now, actually matter in twenty years? Will it seem foolish in retrospect? A long term outlook on what’s really important matters.

There are no words to apologize adequately. I don’t know if my old friend saw what I posted, but he had to have heard about it if not. There’s no reason to try to be buddies now. I am chastened, and he wasn’t really part of my life by then. What I did and said wasn’t really forgivable and I know it. I just wanted to get this out there. I’ll try not to do that sort of thing again to anyone else, and be quietly delighted for him when I see things like the arrival of his first grandchild.

There is another person, going back to 2008, hurt by what I posted. It’s not as personal, not as absurdly stupid on my part, but is arguably another thing I could have restrained myself on. In this case, it was local news that touched upon my family and events of my youth. It took me a while to get inside the potential feelings of the person at the center of the news and grasp how it might have felt to him to have details posted. He did lasting damage to us as part of the fallout, but I am sorry about that nonetheless.

But the past is the past, whatever regrets or joys it might hold. Moving on.

I May Have Started This

Waaaaaaay back about 2003 I described Die Hard as my favorite Christmas movie. I feel like it has taken ten years for it to become something of a meme, enough for people to say that, yes, Die Hard is not a “Christmas movie.”

For the record, I meant it tongue in cheek. I had developed a tradition of rewatching Die Hard at this time of year because it’s so worth watching again, and the Christmas elements made it seem timely. The same is true of While You Were Sleeping, even if that is not a “teach it in how-to-make-a-decent-film class” the way Die Hard is.

Arguably the meme peaked for me a few weeks ago when I saw a character is Josh Roseman’s fantastic Secret Santa ebook refer to Die Hard as his favorite Christmas movie.

So while I sympathize with Sean Hackbarth in his defense of it on Facebook, I am more inclined to agree with Doug Mataconis et al.

But I reserve the right to keep calling it “my favorite Christmas movie” if only out of habit. It’s a Wonderful Film.

Sprechen Sie Deutch?

There are 21 counties in America where a substantial number speak German at home, which I agree is more fascinating than the amazing number where that is true of Spanish.

The real story lies in where, and in what other languages are included. Predictably, in my neck of the woods, it is Portuguese. There is enough of this that you see a demand for portuguese speakers to work for doctors, and bilingual signs in places like banks. The same applies to Chinese in Eastern Massachusetts. When I lived in Quincy, you were almost out of place if you weren’t either Irish – and not necessarily umpteenth generation off the boat – or Chinese. Bilingual signs everywhere, and a Chinese supermarket near my apartment.

No surprise there’s a lot of French up near the border between Canada and the Northeast.

Surprising might be the lack of Pennsylvania counties where German is 10% or more, and the number where it is not the highest even when looking at the specs for the uncolored counties that fell under 10% of one or another.

If I Were Religious…

I might be intrigued by the fact that only 4.9% of the universe is matter and such that we can perceive. Most of the rest is dark energy. Plus some dark matter thrown in. OK, even if I were ot religious per se.

Hmmm… energy we can’t perceive directly. All around us. Suffusing or underlying the material world. Use the Force, Luke. Channel the One Power, Rand. Pray for God’s power to achieve miracle, Father. What do you mean consciousness appears not to be an entirely corporal thing, scientists?

My take on dark energy and the unseen has long been that there is so much more to the universe than we can perceive or perhaps even conceive of, and it could open endless possibilities. If there is that much energy extant and we could ever tap it… and it’s everywhere. Tesla would be pleased. If it’s a well of all the “souls” that ever were or even may be, to which “you” return, well, wouldn’t that be something.

It sure fires up ideas for fiction.

Speaking of Obsessing…

 

You Are a Red Gummy Bear

You are the gummy bear most associated with raspberry and cherry flavors. And like a berry, you pack a lot of flavor.
You are an intense person with strong feelings and reactions. Life can be very sweet for you – and sometimes bittersweet.

You feel like your life is full of ups and downs, but you just notice them more than most people. You are very emotional.
You experience the world on a deeper level than most people. This can be exhilarating, but it can also be disturbing.

When you love someone or something, you develop a strong obsession. You don’t go halfway on anything.
You love luxury and you love to treat yourself to something nice. You spoil yourself a bit – no one else is going to!

Facebook and Me

Once upon a time, I was in the fourth grade, lo these many years ago. 1970/1971, to be exact. I had my first crush, which was not something I understood or could have labeled at the time. She was in another classroom, I never learned her name, and when I tried to figure out the next year who she’d been, I couldn’t. Nobody looked like her. It was formative, in that the way I felt was how I expected love to feel, and it may have helped set the stage for my addiction to unrequited serial crushes that started in seventh grade. The closest thing I had to a crush between those two times was the year-younger sister of a friend in sixth grade, with whom I now work. If anything, that one set a pattern of being terrified, rather than merely clueless. Anyway, in fourth grade, the peak experience was when we were in much-hated gym class at the same time, doing some kind of dance thing, and I got to hold her hand briefly in the course of that. It was like… magic. And she looked nothing like Meg Ryan.

Much later, in 2007, I was invited to Facebook, which I joined under my given name, but didn’t use for an extended time. Basically just had a couple of former colleagues as FB friends. I forget the impetus, if there was one, but before it quite got to where everyone was on Facebook, I became more active and added a lot more people. I thought it was cool to find people from as far back as elementary school, in most cases getting to know them as I never actually did before. In the most extreme case, I friended someone I’ve known her entire life, since she was nine months younger than me. Her father was my father’s best friend, and her parents were the witnesses when my parents got married.

I was surprised some of them even wanted to connect with me, since from my perspective maybe I was embarrassed, which for me tends not to fade or be forgotten, or didn’t like them, or thought they didn’t like me. Time. It passes. There are clear exceptions, and some I don’t understand, as they tend to be people I did like, remember fondly, or have no reason to be embarrassed about.

So it came to be that I even had many of my crushes as FB friends, especially the most major ones, including the first major one, from seventh grade, and the last major one, notable for having finally broken me of fixating on some girl or another – or more than one at a time, sometimes – and convincing myself I was in lurve, capturing That Feeling. Or trying to. The huge exception is my ninth grade crush, arguably my biggest, who strangely, since we never dated, was the first ever to say “I love you” to me. I even have one of the only two girls I think of as people I dated before meeting Deb, whom I arguably didn’t date, just married. Quibbling would give you a couple more, including the one of the major crushes who convinced me no girl would ever have me, and one whose sister’s wedding I was her date for.

But who was the mystery girl?

Finally, this girl named Cheryl came along and friended me. I didn’t really remember her, and only vaguely recognized her maiden name. I never knew her at all. Then someone posts a class picture, with her front and center, in sixth grade. There she is. Looking identifiably the same. She looked completely different, later, with the short hair I actually remember enough to associate with the name.

So I discussed it with her and learned she had not been at the school in fifth grade and part of sixth, thus not being able to identify her the next year. I am so close to certain it was her as to make no doubt. She described our gym teacher as sadistic, and was pleased she brightened the experience a tiny bit. Heh. He wasn’t like the elementary teacher, but the main high school gym teacher I had is one of those Facebook people I have steadfastly not friended. Between my elementary gym teacher and my moderate degree of disability, I was put off gym, or the more recent fad of going to commercial gyms voluntarily, forever. She was tickled, because she didn’t think anyone liked her in elementary school, and pretty much had only one friend. Made worse by an abusive dad. In a fit of synchronicity, she once lived in an apartment just three houses away from where I am now, her favorite one ever. Now she’s in another state, with a superb husband, grown kids, and cute grandkids.

Privacy? All the internet are belong to us/AOL revisited? Scary data mining? Well, yeah. I have a friend who won’t go on FB, or anything else, because she is convinced it will make it easier for the scary conservatives to round her up when they liquidate all the Jews, forgetting that fascists who did that and the like are of the left. Yet I can see being concerned, while it’s also going to have to come to fighting technology and non-privacy with the same. And yeah, it stole the thunder of the blogs circa when I started ten years ago, where you had a sense of community and cross-commenting and linking, but the mega blog sites that want to be news sites also did that (we always talk about how we missed the monetization boat, yet it might not be all that) I will always be appreciative of Facebook resolving that longstanding mystery for me, as well as connecting me with the lives of people I might never have crossed paths with again. That is what it’s all about.

Like Ground Beef?

You Are Grounded

If slow and steady wins the race, then you’re going to be crowned grand champion. You are consistently consistent.
You pride yourself on being dependable and reliable. You are a rock, and you are especially loyal to your friends and family.

You’re the kind of person who finds it hard to say no to someone in need, and why would you even want to? Helping out gives you a sense of purpose.
You do well with a routine and consistency. You find ‘boring’ to be quite rich and deep. You enjoy perfecting your everyday tasks.

You are agreeable whenever possible. Disagreeing stresses you out, so you only stand your ground when it’s necessary.
You are patient and very open to changing your mind. You are always willing to hear someone out, and you are a good mediator.

Happy Anniversary!

On this day nine years ago, we were on our way from Fresno to Las Vegas, arriving late in the afternoon at the Luxor. After checking in, we searched for the place where you pay the government for the right to be married. And searched. Eventually, we found it. A clever sales guy outside snagged our business for the Las Vegas Wedding Chapel. No idea where we’d have ended up, left to our own devices. That worked out, and we rewarded him for the good sense to patrol the opposite side of the street from the mob of other chapel sales people.

And so we got married, as originally planned, sight unseen, we’d hit it off that well long distance. Is friendship the best basis for marriage? Does agreeing on most things supply longevity that might not be there if it were mainly about an overheated attraction? Perhaps. We each had some second thoughts, even then, and we’ve not been problem-free. Yet we don’t seem to be going anywhere, and non-traditional though we may sometimes be, the kids do not appear to be doomed to grow up in a sundered household, as I and so many did. Have the rocky parts ultimately strengthened us? Arguably so.

All told, I can’t imagine my life alone, or with that hypothetical wasn’t-gonna-happen someone else. Or without the three kids. These specific kids, born of this particular mother. I can regret my age and timing, and ponder mightabeens, but wow. Just wow.

Time travel to the post I wrote after my return home, five days later, apparently my first substantive post following the wedding.

$63>$5

When I got my stents, they put me on Effient, which is now $63 a month for my copay. At the time, we asked why that versus Plavix, which is $5, and the hospital cardiologist thought it possible, even likely, that my regular cardiologist (a funny description for someone I have seen once) would switch after a month of “and we mean it” treatment at the hands of the newer drug. I understand they have slightly different mechanisms, but the main thing is the result.

It’s been a month. Took my last Effient today, and have to get one or the other today, for morning. I am still waiting for a call back from cardiology. She is not in today, so they were leaving my cardio a message. We are so strapped this week, it borders on being not possible to fill the prescription, but not doing so could be deadly. Lovely situation. And one I’ll have to start planning around, so as not to be in it again.

Even if we get that drug this month, it’s a huge hit to the budget if we can’t switch, which is already hundreds a month in the hole. That’s a big kick in the balls, being worse off in real terms than before we increased our income hundreds per month this year, to the point where we are poised at the edge of the donut hole. Get into the donut hole, and suddenly costs are more than what you make extra, between tax effects and loss of income-based benefits of the sort we’d prefer not to need.