Showing posts from June, 2018


I'm on staycation this week so I have decided to take a bit of a creative break. That means no blogging this week since I will be away from the onlines more than usual. I'm not sure if there will be an episode of Up In This Brain! or not. If inspiration hits, I'll hit record. If not, I'll take a week off from that also.

I'll be back here writing the typical daily nonsense starting Monday, July 2nd. Have a good week!

Go in the library for one book, walk out with five

Yes, it happened again. I had one book on hold and walked back out of the library with six books. I don't know how this happens! If you are on Goodreads and want to connect, click here and add me!

Here's what I came out with:

The joy of my Nintendo 2DS XL

Several months ago, I got the sudden urge to get back into playing video games quite casually and this led me to buying a Nintendo 2DS XL.

Until last year, I had the regular 2DS which was fine but the screens were quite small and the handheld was sort of awkwardly shaped and hard to transport around without my being afraid of breaking it. It was also kind of slippery.

All of that is fixed with the 2DS XL. The screens are huge. It's comfortable to hold and not slippery. I've had a lot of handhelds over the years starting way back with the original Game Boy and, in my opinion, the 2DS XL is the best gaming handheld I have ever had.

The main reason I wanted to get one was because I missed playing Animal Crossing: New Leaf (referred to in the rest of this post as ACNL). A few minutes with ACNL is a nice way to wind down at the end of the day. It's sort of silly at times, it's slow paced, the music is fantastic and it's nice, calm fun.

In the game, you have the option to tr…

Dealing with the birds

No, this is not an entry about trying to drive through Nashville although the title pretty much fits.

Remember the old Hitchcock film, The Birds? That was some scary stuff. When I was a kid, there was a bird that would sit up in the tree and wait for me to go get the mail. Then it would swoop down at me. Maybe I was getting too close to a nest? Maybe it did it for sport? Who knows.

There are birds out there today that are even more scary than the ones Hitchcock introduced us to. He can't even imagine the horror of - The Tweet Birds.

The tweets come in all day and night, one after another, and a lot of it is bad news and rage. How can you maintain at least a little control over it all? I have some recommendations.

First, use the handy mute feature. Mute annoying people. Mute companies that post ads over and over. I finally muted The Tonight Show because I got sick of seeing the same Dairy Queen ad every time I opened Twitter. Mute phrases like, I don't know, the name of our Preside…

A radio update

I haven't written about a gizmo here in a long time. I used to write about my radios from time to time because I had so many of them. Well, just about all of them are gone now so there hasn't been much to write about.

After the radio purge, I have two shortwave radios left.

One, my Eton E5, is stored in a tote without batteries. I just don't listen to shortwave anymore but that's a great radio and I am keeping it just in case the shortwave bug bites again one day or in case the preppers are right and the grid eventually goes down.

I also kept my Tecsun PL-398BT. A minor reason I kept it is the one-button ETM (Easy Tuning Method) tuning which finds all listenable shortwave broadcasts in a scan that takes only a couple of minutes. The major reason I kept it is because it can be used as a Bluetooth Speaker and it takes rechargeable AA batteries that run it for hours.

Lately, it's become my main Bluetooth speaker for music. It's not great for talk podcasts though. Ther…

I need to stop buying stuff

As I clean things out, I must also stay focused on not letting stuff creep back into the house.
The only way I know to avoid dumb impulse purchases is to stay out of certain stores.Here's an example of what happens when I slip. Just last week the day before my attic purge, after weeks of driving by and not stopping, I had a little extra free time and decided the best use of that time would be to stop at Goodwill. Why not?! I'd been good. It was time for a little bit of what Anne Lamott correctly refers to as retail therapy.

What is retail therapy? Well, it's nice, just walking around a store alone and looking for treasure among the trash. Goodwill, unlike Walmart, is full of surprises. You never know what will end up on the shelves and I am tempted by just about all of it. The act of buying something is a nice, albeit temporary, escape from the problems of the world. It's also like a reward - something tangible to show for your work.

Of course, it is also someone's di…

The attic purge (what I kept)

What did I keep from the big attic purge? Aside from the one tote that went back upstairs filled with meaningful yet mostly archival things, I didn't save a whole lot but don't get the wrong impression - I am still surrounded by stuff. It amazes me when I consider how much I have gotten rid of over the past few years that I really didn't need yet I feel like I still have a bunch of things that may or may not be valuable or useful!

Of course, this is the end goal and I feel like I have worked quite hard over the past few years to realize it. Sure, there are items around here that are meaningless to everyone on Earth but me but they bring enjoyment just by their presence so that is a good thing.

Without further adieu, here are some of the items that made the cut and are sticking around:

Remembering, on her birthday

Thirty years ago today, just a few months before my own 15th birthday, Stacey turned 15. I would meet her for the first time a few weeks later and there are parts of the months that followed that are still quite vivid in my mind as I type this. Her loss, not long after she turned 17, was shocking and painful.

Of course, suicide has been in the news quite a bit lately and, when it is, it's hard not to revisit the past. The world that existed in 1988 seems, in my mind, to be so much smaller without the internet in our pockets. For example, the act of leaving the house meant you were completely disconnected for a while. There was no phone to ring in the car and no email or iMessage or tweet that had to be answered over lunch.

Loss, however, has not changed. I feel for the families, especially the children, of those left behind by suicide, high-profile or not. A lot of feelings will come up for them in the years to come such as anger, sadness, the idea of not being "enough" to…

The attic purge (what I got rid of)

As much as I have complained about what my mother had accumulated in her attic over the years, I had still done very little to tackle my own attic. Of course, it's not near as bad but there is plenty up there that needs to be dealt with.

This past Monday, I brought down six huge totes filled with stuff and only one tote went back up. That one tote is full of keepsakes that were selected from across all the totes - some from my kids, some from my younger years and some from my wife's younger years.

Two full totes went to the help center thrift store and three full, heavy bags went to the trash.

So, what did I get rid of? Things that were sticking around out of guilt. A lot of it was stuff I brought back from my mother's attic stash. I thought all the stuff had been gone for decades. Surprise, surprise! I held on to them out of the idea that these things had sentimental value to her but then I realized that if they truly did have some meaning, why were they boxed up in the atti…

Some of it matters now

This is what I kept telling myself when I looked at the material things I have/had and decided what to keep and what to purge over the last couple of years: In the end, none of it will matter.

But I realized in the last couple of months that it was this very thought that had stopped me in my purging tracks. "None" is a pretty broad word and it's not at all realistic and I had subconsciously acknowledged this realization by suddenly stopping the ongoing project I have had of getting rid of the things that I don't need or that don't truly spark joy.

The stacked up totes in the attic stayed right where they were and downstairs drawers full of stuff I know I didn't really need stayed untouched.

To get going again, I needed to understand two truths:

One: In the end, some of it will matter. I won't be around but some of the stuff I leave behind will matter to whoever ends up deciding how the things we leave behind are distributed (given away, kept, sold, or junked)…

Slowing down (easier said than done!)

I've started and given up on two books in the last two weeks and this felt like an incredible waste of time to me. In fact, I got so far into one book that I was fixated on continuing it even though it was a terrible slog. I finally had enough common sense, at about 150 of 400 pages, to throw in the towel.

A second book I had reserved but was not too enthusiastic about popped in (just like magic) and I began that and I didn't last thirty pages. No wonder I thought it was crap in college! Validation for 1992 me! But again, I found my internal nagger nagging away - more wasted time!

What was it, I started pondering, that kept me reading books I wasn't really too excited about reading? Couldn't I just sit back and let some sort of divine intervention take over? Will just the right book to read reveal itself when the time was right if I sit back and wait a bit? What was the rush?

Then, I realized what the rush was. My driving need to be productive had taken the steering wheel…

Self doubt

Self-doubt can be paralyzing. I get it all the time. I used to let it stop me in my tracks all the time. Now it only does part of the time.

I have self-doubt when I am looking at Twitter and get frustrated over something I see. My mind tries to stop me from entering the fray. Will I have to deal with a bunch of randos who don't agree with me? What good will it do to add my voice to the noise?

The answer is probably no good at all, of course.

Minds are not being changed on the internet in 280 characters.

I have self-doubt when I finish recording something for the podcast. I press stop and my mind is overwhelmed by whatever I perceived as negative during the recording. I coughed. I paused too much. I wasn't generic enough for EVERYONE to like me. At that moment, I can't think of one positive thing that I captured in the recording.

I have self-doubt when I see something approaching on my calendar that is going to put me out of my comfort zone. A dentist appointment is a good examp…

Planning on paper - an update

Back in February, I wrote about how I had started using a paper agenda as an extra tool (in addition to Google Calendar, Outlook and Todoist) to plan my weeks.

The benefit was seeing everything in front of me from all of these sources. I would write out the week ahead on Friday and then review the calendar on Monday.

It wasn't long before I stopped trying to track my to-do list on paper. Todoist does a fine job of that and I was just duplicating work. Also, my Google Calendar syncs with my Todoist so I don't miss upcoming personal events.

I trudged on with the planner for a bit longer, only using it to plan my week and it worked fine but felt like overkill. I knew about a month ago that I would not buy another planner for next year and I started looking around the web for templates that would allow me to print and fill in my own weekly calendar.

Well, no template I found was exactly what I wanted so I ended up creating my own in Excel in the same way that I created a monthly calen…

Too many pencils

How many pencils does one person actually need?

I have a red-leaded pencil that I use to mark up books and other things I am working on and I've only used about one-third of that pencil in the last year.

If that means it will take me three years to use one pencil, I don't guess I have enough life left ahead to use all of these pencils.

Now add in these.
And these. I wish I could say my kids (now in high school) might use some of these but they typically only use mechanical pencils. Having to stand up and go to the pencil sharpener is so 1985. Of course, buying a box of 24 banana pencils was totally worth it. I mean, they are banana pencils. How cool is that?!

I also have a 32 oz cup with pencils in it next to my work desk (not pictured!).

And, I keep a small pencil case in my work bag and these are the pencils I use the most including that shorter red pencil.

Here are a couple of special pencils.

First up is one of my food pencils.

And here is a pencil I bought at the Nixon Library ten…

Hold the influence

It's hard to listen to podcasts or watch YouTube videos or read books and not let parts of the creations of others to seep into my own creations in some way.
I want to be inspired by other creators but I don't necessarily want to be influenced by them. If I let someone else influence me too much, I will become a terrible copy of them and with my luck I will end up a copy of a copy of a copy.

I can't be original or at least kinda original if I let myself be influenced too much by one particular creator. Maybe this is why I subscribe to multiple YouTube folks and read multiple comic strips and read books on all sorts of topics by all sorts of different authors. I want a chorus of creators speaking to me and inspiring me but not molding me into their own image.

There are also times that I have to shut out the world completely for a while because the world is loud with so many voices that they drown out my own voice and then I don't know what to say into the recorder or type …

The joy of exporting and the necessity of editing

Editing podcasts - a necessary evil. I don't particularly enjoy it but some days are better than others for editing.

Some days I don't procrastinate and procrastinate. I just dive right in and I feel good about the work. I deal with the interruptions that I know will come. I don't get frustrated when I have to replay the same segment four times because the phone rang or an email came through or I had a big brain fart.

Some days I think about the files in their folders waiting to be imported into Audacity and I just want to scream into a pillow. I ignore them and avoid them and time ticks away. This file posts at noon Monday? Fine. I can wait until Friday afternoon to deal with it.

I don't know why I have mixed emotions about editing. The end product is typically delightful but the process of editing is clearly work and wouldn't I rather be reading a book or staring off into space?

One of the best parts of editing is that it gives me the opportunity to listen and hear t…

Tweetin' is dangerous

Former sitcom star has show revived only to become a former sitcom star again in record time

That's a great headline.

So proud, your family must be.

Twitter turns phones into grenades if the wrong person is using it and the pin of this grenade is not Ambien. It would be nice to have that as an excuse.

Hey, world! Sorry about my blog and all my podcasts. I was on Ambien for all of it!

Sorry, officer for driving 100 through that school zone. Ambien!

It's not that simple.

Some people cannot handle Twitter. They don't have the responsibility it takes to have an outlet to post their thoughts on the internet in real-time. How we expect people to have the responsibility to own assault rifles in a society in which people can't handle apps is beyond me but this is the world we live in.

2018! A front row seat to the destruction of society.

New headline!

Twitter is not destroying society. Dumb people are. Twitter just makes the process simpler and faster.

Film at 11.

My big beef with former …