Wednesday, July 18, 2018

A Good Day

I can't complain about the kind of day I have had. I am alive, I am still fairly well.

I am still writing blog posts that are much too long and, for the most part, I am getting one-liner responses when I get responses at all.

I think I need to write shorter blog posts and maybe more of them.

There are more visitors to the blog today than normal.

The "Bots" are very active today.

The Piano My Mom Got For Me

I was fairly good at blowing soap bubbles through a wire hand-held hoop as a child and I could sketch out some scrawly-looking drawings of various things ..... but playing a musical instrument was well beyond my forte (for-tay) and it never dawned on me to even try ..... I was a shy kind of child.

Image from Pixabay
So when my 10th birthday rolled around, my Mom took me to the house where the people lived whom my Mom did laundry and ironing and house cleaning for.

The people for whom my Mom worked had an old, clunky player-style upright parlor piano standing in one corner of their house and for some reason, they told Mom that if she wanted it, she could have it.

Mom accepted the piano and the nice people who gave it to her delivered it to our ramshackle cottage where we lived at the time and it was placed in my room ..... the very front room of the shotgun-style house ..... the room with the front door not a foot from the sidewalk outside.

Mom gave me the piano as a birthday present and I immediately started exploring it to see if I might determine how the thing worked.  I finally got the player function to play a couple of the paper music rolls that came with it but I soon tired of that game and set about trying to learn how to play the piano, one agonizing note, one finger at a time.

I plunked on the piano and I banged on the piano and I cursed at the piano ..... but I kept on keeping on ..... I thought our next door neighbor might have a cow because of my incessant banging on that old hulk of a piano but, no ...... she was very considerate ..... very patient ..... very tolerant ..... and yes, even encouraging! ..... She lied a lot and told me that she enjoyed my piano playing. ..... I don't know how anybody could ever have enjoyed that raucous noise ..... that constant din ..... that kid trying to learn how to play the piano that was totally out of tune from years of abandoned neglect!

Mom finally got the local minister from the Church of The Brethren to come and try to tune the thing up. That's what the preacher did for extra money when he wasn't tending to his flock ..... he tuned pianos and repaired watches. ..... Back in those days wristwatches and pocket watches were not disposable like they are today ..... Back then, watches were fine instruments that could be repaired if they ever needed it and they often needed it and that is why there were tradespeople called "Watch Repairers."

The preacher got the piano tuned to some degree ..... not all the way ..... it was never going to be a concert instrument ..... but at least the banging I did took on a more melodious and somewhat music-like nature and everybody was happy.

I got better at playing the thing as time went by.  It is amazing what the human brain can do for a person when the person desired to learn something with enough passion and drive.

I never took lessons and I never really learned to play the thing. There was one point when I was understudying another preacher ..... I had imagined myself to have a calling to the ministry ..... There was one point in my relationship with the piano when I absolutely thought for sure that The Holy Spirit would teach me to play the thing ..... But obviously, The Holy Spirit had other ideas ..... Or perhaps I was just too stubborn and precocious ..... because I never did learn to play it properly.

The piano clunked on over the years until I reached the age of 21 and began courting my someday-to-be wife and it was sometime during that period that I lost all interest in the piano and began centering all my available attention onto my fee-Ahn-say (Fiance).

The last time I saw the old piano, it was riding down the street ..... away from our house ..... on its way to the antique shop to which I had sold it for Twenty-Five dollars.  The Twenty-Five dollars was to be a down payment on a honeymoon when I married the future Mrs. Me. (Her name was "Sandy."

Now and again ..... when I am out and about ..... when I go to someplace like the local arboretum where they have a concert grand piano in their lobby ..... I will sit and plunk for a few minutes ..... until the curator or the receptionist comes over and asks me, "Please do not touch the piano. We do not appreciate guests playing it without permission."

But there hasn't been a piano in my life for several years now ..... although I did keep one in a room when I had the larger house ..... the much larger house ..... the obscenely-larger house ..... but I rarely ever sat down at it back in those days because we had an in-house stereo system and I didn't need to listen to myself having bad sex with a poor defenseless piano.

A Day In Which To Achieve

If I were to try to judge the success or failure of each of my days by the things I did in any 24-hour period, I would lose every ounce of motivation because generally speaking, I don't do crap!

Every day I wake up with a feeling of motivation and by the time breakfast is over and I have reviewed the possible choices for the day's activities, I get tired (I get tired just thinking about it some days) and end up doing little or nothing. (I am becoming a couch potato against my better instincts.)

Am I going to be incredibly productive today?

If I make it alive to the end of the day I will believe I have had an incredibly productive day ... yeah!

At least I found the energy to eat breakfast and to sit here and write this drivel.

That must count for something.

Will I go to work today?

I'm retired.

Will I go for a walk today?  It depends on how hot it gets outside.

Will I take my dog for a walk today?

My dog has been dead for more than 40 years.

Will I wash the dishes and put them away?  It is easier to break them into pieces, put them into the trash and go out and buy new ones! (Maybe I will switch to paper plates.). (Maybe I will go to the pet store and get myself a stainless steel dog bowl and use that.

Maybe I will organize my bedroom today. No, I won't organize it!  If I organize it I will never be able to find anything I might be looking for.

I know that I will be going online to check my bank account and see how much it grew overnight. Yes, I can do that much. I used to pay people to do that for me but I finally retired and now I do all that stuff myself.

I did manage to repair that trashy bird feeder I bought. (The one that fell apart on me and I couldn't get it back together again.). This morning, when it was nice and cool outside, I went out and made the decision not to take the hammer to it and I sat down and took the time to fix the damned thing. Now my birdies will be happy and I will have to find something else to cause me to have a stroke.

My beloved fuddy-duddy old (Really old) doctor (and I use the term with a tongue in my cheek) told me that I was headed straight for a stroke and that he didn't care."

I am still here and haven't had the stroke yet (But I find myself hoping that he would have one of his own so that I could say "I don't care" but I am supposed to be a Christian so maybe I won't be like that. (Maybe) (I am not perfect.).

This is a doctor with the Veterans' Administration. He did not have to tell me he doesn't care about me. I already knew that. It is very obvious. I think that all the VA is doing right now for me is to write down the times I visit with that decrepit old sawbones as some kind of evidence that they are providing for my health needs .... a CYA thing, if you will.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Carousels, Spoons and Out Houses

The question I was asked was, "Do you remember the last time you rode on a carousel, did you ever lick a spoon and did you ever use an outhouse as a toilet?"

The first carousel I ever rode was a really rickety affair that came to town with a traveling Gypsy carnival back sometime around the year 1947. It was so flimsy that it rocked when it turned and the horses were well worn with a lot of the paint falling off.

That was the same carnival where a seat actually fell off the Ferris wheel and thankfully, nobody was riding in it at the time.

The last carousel I ever rode was located inside a now-defunct amusement park and it was the carousel that was operated by a teacher of mine and he operated the carousel for the amusement park as his summer job ... the job he did when school was out for summer vacation.  This was also the same carousel where my teacher lost his arm when he got it tangled up in the mechanism that drove the carousel around and around.

As to the spoon thing:  I am always licking spoons. I love to lick spoons. I like to lick spoons filled with raw natural honey and peanut butter for sure!

The outdoor "Privy" or "Outhouse" (a form of toilet contained in a small house-like structure located somewhere on one's property) was the only place we had to go to the bathroom from the time I was an infant until our remote little village got their sewer system installed in the 1950s.

The outhouse was good for a lot of things other than eliminating bodily wastes.  It was also a wonderful --- albeit smelly --- place to hide and smoke cigarettes stolen from my Dad's pack and a safe place for the self-exploration and experimentation common to young men everywhere.

Our outhouse also served as a dog house. I still feel sorry for the poor damned dog! But my Dad insisted that was where the dog had to live and live he did until he died in the same Winter during which he turned 21 years of age!  My little dog and I turned 21 during the same year! That was an exceptionally long life for a dog.

There was the day when I got chased from the outhouse by a swarm of wasps that had built their nest in the eaves of the structure and I barely got into my own home before the angry insects collided with the screen door that I had slammed in their faces.  When things settled down, my Mom took boiling water and doused the wasp hive with it and the wasps decided to scatter to another location and never returned to our outhouse again.

The family that resided just a few doors away from us had their outhouse built over a running creek that passed under a cement culvert and into a farmer's field.

The thing I remember most about their outhouse was the Haloween night when a bunch of rowdy neighborhood Teen-aged boys had caught the grandmother of that family using the outhouse and had turned the structure -- complete with grandma inside -- over into the creek.  I can still remember her coming out of that outhouse cursing and screaming and running to get her shotgun which she always kept in the residence loaded with rock salt for use on intruders or varmints.

By the time she returned with her shotgun in hand, the culprits had, of course, fled the scene! That grandma fumed and cursed and swore and complained about that incident for months after the fact.

Life, Particularly My Own

Mahatma Gandhi once said, "My life is my message."

Somebody named "Seneca" is said to have quipped, "It is not how 'long,' but [it is] 'how well' you have lived is the main thing."

Both of those statements open up a whole can of worms for me.

If it is true that "My life is my message," then I find myself to be an arrogant fool who is deluded into believing that my "Message" is relevant to other people who inhabit this planet and I do not, for a minute believe that to be true because my life has been more or less wasted on selfishness and self-seeking and if that is a wholesome message to be spread and to infect other people with then the message is vain and probably should never have been sent in the first place.

Whether or not I have "Lived Well" is definitely an idea that is up for grabs because whether I have 'lived well' or not depends on a lot of things including the perceptions that other people have of me.

Actually, since I have observed pictures of the small earth taken from a satellite that is a couple of billion miles from earth at the present time, I have come to realize just how small the earth and all its' inhabitants are, and I am wondering if anything that we do or say or think or if anything that happens to any of us or to the planet itself is actually important or relevant.

So all this stuff about politics and scratching and scraping for material gain -- and all the philosophies and religious beliefs ever conceived or practiced are far less in stature universally than the Creative Force that brought it all about in the first place and if there is a personality inherent in a living being that we perceive to be God, then the only thing that really matters is whether or not we find acceptance by and mercy from that being. (And I happen to believe in that "Being" because throughout all History that has been one of the main agenda items of every individual person or group of persons who have ever lived. That in itself is proof enough for me of the validity of a religious perspective. But as one wise person once said, "It is a very private matter."

But back to the question of Life --- I am certain that my own life is not any more valuable than the faint flicker of a lone firefly in the depths of a darkened forest -- and I am sure my existence is not much more lengthy than that flickering fire -- so what is all the struggle all about -- what is all the worry and the fretting and the scrambling about?

I think I can recommend living to anyone who might be interesting because I am a living being and even though I am at a loss for words to explain how I feel, the very act of living feels good to me and I like it and I want as much of it as I can get. (Others may feel differently.).

Monday, July 16, 2018

Random Thoughts

I have been working to learn how to set up my personal Wi-Fi configuration on my computer and my hotspots and I have finally got my Alcatel hotspot connected to a personal network, complete with encrypted security and I am now good to go.

I got interested in setting up the wireless wifi on the computer when I managed to burn the battery out of my previous T-Mobile hotspot by keeping it plugged into the computer via a USB cable all the time while using it. Now I have learned how to charge the hotspot and make it work without having to keep it connected to the computer all the time and I believe this will not only extend the battery life of the hotspot but it might also keep the battery from overcharging, expanding and exploding or bursting into flames.

For information, the hotspot needs charging when the battery indicator light starts flashing and it takes about 3 hours to reach a full charge when the unit is plugged into the approved charger which is, in turn, plugged into a regular 120V wall socket.

Today I started seeing a floater in connection with what I believe to be my right eye and so I will be going onto the internet to study the problem of floaters and see if I can determine what to do about them or at least how to cope with them. Getting old does have its disadvantages.

One of my areas of interest for the day has been to go onto the web and find and study some of the recipes that cruise ship chefs serve to their passengers. I love 5-star cooking and I have already managed to replicate a lot of the recipes served in various casinos around the country and now I want to try my hand at doing a few cruise ship chef recipes. I believe the first recipe I will attempt will be macaroni and cheese.  The chef-inspired macaroni and cheese recipe I am looking at uses at least 7 different kinds of cheeses as well as some crisped bacon, heavy cream and a few other relevant things and is finished off by baking a crispy crunchy crust over the top of the finished dish.  I can't wait to sink my teeth into that one.

I bought an expensive bird feeder that is designed to keep squirrels out of the bird seed and the first time I used it, it worked just fine and the birdies spent three whole days eating all the black oil sunflower seeds that I had bought for them and they seemed to be very happy!

On that first couple of days, I had little finches with redheads, a couple of cardinals, three blue jays, some grackles, a few sparrows and some mourning doves. Not all of them had to eat from the feeder though because I also put some cracked corn, some safflower seeds and some of the sunflower seeds down in a large ceramic bowl for the ground feeding birds -- and the squirrel. It all worked well until this morning when the entire feeder fell apart on me as I was attempting to fill it -- causing me several hours of frustrated agony -- in killer heat -- trying to get the thing back together again.

I finally managed to get it half-way assembled and filled and hung back up on the shepherd's hook again but it is definitely a wreck and is just hanging by a thread.  I thought that since the device had been manufactured in France instead of in China it might have been of some better quality but apparently, it is not ... and it cost me more than Fifty US Dollars too.  But I am determined to keep it and to make it work because I love the little birds and I want them to have the best that money can buy.

Faith Or Foolishness

I heard somebody brag once that they could eat anything and everything they wanted to eat and never worry about becoming obese because they always made sure to pray the calories out of their food.

I heard another very devout Pentecostal lady claim once that she had laid her hands on her ailing refrigerator and prayed to God and the refrigerator was "Healed."

I heard another good brother in The Lord testifying in church once that he had driven his automobile too far out of town, was in the middle of the desert near Las Vegas, ran out of gas and prayed and God miraculously filled his gas tank with enough gas to get him back to town.

I am fully aware that God does what God wants to do and I am not going to sit here and dispute the testimonies of these good folks because if I dispute with them too much, they might become something other than friendly and their faith might be compromised.

But as for me -- and this is nothing but my own personal opinion --- I have problems believing that God will heal refrigerators, fill empty gas tanks or counterfeit dollar bills so that somebody might become a millionaire through faith.

I mean to say, "I believe God can do anything that God wants to do and that He always does exactly what He wants to do but I believe He is more concerned with saving souls than in granting material wishes.

This is not to say that He will not provide for our every need because the Bible is very clear in telling us that God will supply our every need but sometimes I think we have to weight our actual needs against our lusts and desires and wishes to obtain more of the material things of this life and make the distinction between what our "Wants and Wishes" and our "Needs" actually is.

Somewhere in The Bible, a person who was discouraged because his or her prayer for something didn't seem to be answered by The Lord in exactly the way that the person had wanted the prayer to be answered and the Prophet of God informed the individual, "Ye have not because ye ask amiss."

So, if we pray for something that God knows is not going to be in our best "Big Picture" interests, I believe He is either going to moderate the answer and grant us what is good for us rather than what we may want at the time we prayed the prayer.

I do know one thing from personal experience: God never fails to answer every prayer that goes up from the lips of Mankind. He either answers those prayers (all of them ... every single one of them ...) with either "Yes," "No," or "Wait."

A Good Day

I can't complain about the kind of day I have had. I am alive, I am still fairly well. I am still writing blog posts that are much to...