“Come on, Jerry, this is a security issue. Boy, you wouldn’t last a day in the Army.”

boxes

I’ve been collecting items to take with me on my visit to see my sister.  I used to keep the boxes from all my electronics in a closet.  Since my purge began, I threw away most of them.  It freed up an unbelievable amount of space.  The boxes from my electronic drum kit took up the most room.  For someone who voids warranties like there’s a prize, it was ridic to keep them.

Having a nearly empty closet feels spectacular.  I’m going to use it for tool storage.  I haven’t designed the layout yet, but I’m going to get some pegboard and paint, then make everything easy to find, reach, and return.  Probably some LED lighting.  I should go through all my tools and get rid of duplicates.  I don’t need four soldering irons.  I’m probably going to rearrange my furniture, too.

I acquired this skill/habit from my mom.  Every year we’d go through everything and weed out the things we didn’t use or want.  Then we’d rotate bedrooms and rearrange furniture.  Spring cleaning meant removing everything from a room, cleaning thoroughly, then starting over fresh.  I remember being anxious and excited about it as a kid.  I’m grateful I grew up this way.  It was especially helpful when I served in the Army.

My family had an annual garage sale along with several neighbors each summer.  I have fond memories of these times.  It was a good lesson on letting go of things.  It also reinforced the joys of being generous.  It was a lot easier to pass along a favorite toy when you witnessed its new owners delight.  I recall bargaining with other kids (and placing a far higher value on 2 dollar bills, and fifty-cent pieces than other denominations.)

tools

The only time I’ve held a garage sale as an adult, I decided everything was free a few hours in (because I didn’t want to hang out and watch it anymore.)  People are weird about free stuff.  If I list something for free on Craigslist, nobody inquires.  If I put it in my parking space with a sign, it’s gone in an hour.  It’s as if being seen accepting is a dealbreaker.  I’m going to list a few things on Craigslist this weekend, mostly because I’m curious about what leads to interest, and what doesn’t.

I haven’t sold on eBay in ages.  They keep changing their policies, and I don’t have any desire to read the revisions.  I got four TOS updates from various online entities yesterday.  I’m waiting for the law to catch up.  It’s bullshit to allow a corporation to put virtually anything in their user agreement, knowing not only will the user not read it; even if they do, they likely won’t understand it.  It’s an old deliberate trick.

You’d think a decent attorney could argue one can’t be held accountable for an agreement they can’t comprehend.  (That’s the intention, of course.)  It would involve epic tedium, but I think it could work, (based on my Court TV viewing experience.)  Heh.  (Back when it was watchable, not TruTv.)  I’m off to Lowe’s to shop for my future tool closet.  Peace.

“Kramer, there’s no way you’re sleeping with me.”

 

Goodbye winter!

My role at work is now a text-only advisor.  Yay.  I’m preparing for my next trip, but I haven’t yet picked a date.  One of my reasons for visiting my sister is to pass on things I no longer want.  She’ll pass along what doesn’t interest her to other relatives.  She’s got five adult kids, (the oldest a year older than me.)  I have a lot of nieces and nephews (considering only half of my siblings have children.)

It’s more convenient than Craigslist.  I’m going to load up my car with electronics that need a new home before I hit the road.  It’ll be fun to pack them safely for travel.  I used to enjoy loading vehicles in the Army.  It was like physical Tetris, only far more satisfying when done well.  I need to get a cheap memory foam mattress topper to protect the TV and monitor.   And locate my bungee cords.  😆

I’m already excited, which means it will probably be soon.  I’m getting rid of all my Amazon products, such as tablets, FireTV, Echo and Echo Dot.  I’m going to keep my Kindle Paperwhite, though.  My Prime membership expires next month, and I’m not renewing.  I’m a bit sad to be breaking up with Amazon, but the cons outweigh the pros.  I’m sure they’ll survive without my business.  Heh.

I’ll sleep better knowing I took a gigantic (for me) step toward reducing my impact on the planet.  It will eliminate impulse shopping.  I’ve given lots of thought to my relationship with material things recently.  I don’t feel overwhelmed by excess stuff anymore since I began my purge months ago.  Giving it away feels wicked good.  I’m addicted to witnessing the joy of others as a result.

Packed stuff

When you give someone something they need or love, they must release some form of contagious happiness endorphins.  (Not that kind of doctor, she said, unnecessarily.)  It’s in my top ten favorite life experiences.  I had the ideal parents for learning generosity.  It rubbed off on most of us.  A few times, I’ve gotten something back I previously gave away just when I needed it again.  (Furniture.)

I think it’s safe to say snowing is over for the season.  I’ll be glad when the 2 feet melting on my balcony is gone.  That last storm was a doozy.  It’s nearly 50° F today and getting slightly warmer in the forecast.  Yay.  I’m getting ready to set up my Privacy Pop tent on the floor in my playroom.  It’s going to be my ghouls (or gools.)  My safe zone.  I have a twin mattress and some string lights to cozy it up.  I think it will be good for keeping my anxiety in check.  I hope.

Amelia Bedelia will assume it’s for her, but I don’t mind her company.  I remember ghouls from playing tag as a kid.  And calling, “Ollie Ollie och-ten free!”  It’s funny to me now because we all knew these words by rote but could easily explain them.  I used to shout, Ollie Ollie oxen free (until someone noticed.)  I’m still notorious for mispronunciation and getting the lyrics wrong.  😂  I’m off to beat my drums with sticks.

“What’s your definition of scary cold?”

travel

I’m back in Sioux Falls.  We had a thunder blizzard last night.  It felt pre-apocalyptic, but I was overwhelmed at the time, (so assume a minor adjustment for reality.)   I’m sure I’ve mentioned how thunder freaks me out, (beyond my ability to pretend I’m fine.)  Strong gusts of wind against my improperly weatherized balcony doors made it worse.  The howling wind in my living room was creepy.

Today there’s a layer of ice covering everything, including my windows.  It’s as if it rained sideways, froze, then snowed.  I opened my balcony doors to have a look because the windows provide a trippy view.  It took lots of effort to open them.  Then after gawking for a bit, I struggled to close them again.  I had to dig through two feet of snow to step outside.

It’s supposed to snow all day, then twice more next week.  Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow shiver this year, I guess.  I’ve already determined my next travel destination:  Northeast to visit my sister.  It’ll be both visit and tech consultation.  I send her my former gadgets, knowing she’ll pass along whatever doesn’t interest her.  She’s repeatedly surprised me with her interest and eagerness to learn.

groundhog

I’ve made the drive before, and there are only three turns.  Heh.  It’ll be soonish (before my sister leaves for her summer place.)  I’m a bit leery of my niece who she’ll be visiting afterward, (her oldest kid.)   I still have the occasional nightmare of her beating me up.  She punches like Miss Sophia in The Color Purple, (and from a similar training ground.)  She knocked me out when I came home from basic training for Christmas.  (Just to remind me of my place in her world.)

My sister has that toughness in her, too.  But she uses it to endure rather than bully.  I’ve only seen her be violent to a brown bear who invaded our camp.  She calmly pelted it with rocks until it fled.  😂  I’m going to teach her a bit of Photoshop and lots of tutorial links since she has a DSLR camera.  I’m also going to give her my 25-key Novation midi keyboard to try some music apps on the iPad.  And a keynote presentation on why she needs to get broadband.  She uses her iPhone for all things interweb.  (!!!)

I probably have a Wacom tablet in my retired gadgets closet.  I’d like to see her embrace her creativity digitally.  I love teaching tech to people who are older than me.  They’re so easy to train it’s delightful.  The only thing you have to do is pretend you’re doing it for the first time, and say what you do out loud as you do it slowly.  Then give it to them in writing as an ordered checklist, and done, (they master it after you leave.)  They also usually end up teaching me about features I’ve never used before.  (Probably because of RTFM.) 😂

Baby boomers tend to be less intellectually lazy than Gen X’ers in my observations.  Let’s blame corn syrup.  😶  I’m going to try and watch more Star Wars:  The Last Jedi.  I’m already anxious as hell, so I may as well knock out some anxiety-provoking activities while I’m already maxed out.  Too bad I don’t need anything from the mall, or I’d throw that in, as well.  😂  Peace.

Why don’t you just drop off some chicken skins and lobster shells?

I saw a quote by Patti LuPone this morning.  She basically informed a reporter she hates 45’s fucking guts.  I got the impression she was reluctant to respond at all, and when pushed, she told it like it is (SNAP.) In celebration of this moment of honesty from a strikingly beautiful and talented woman, I’m going to state the obvious.  I love her.  I know.  Who doesn’t?  Welp… 45 doesn’t anymore.  Poor pathetic Putin puppet.  The modern day Helen of Troy thinks you’re wasting oxygen, too.  Dayum!

I spent several hours answering questions for my Prodigy last night.  It cracked me up how she initiated the session.  She emailed me a contract.  She basically asked me to promise not to withhold information based solely on her age.  I didn’t need to think about it for very long.  Doing so would be incredibly hypocritical.  I didn’t believe I was a child when I was her age, either.  I remember how offended I used to get when people assumed otherwise.  I’m pretty sure she knew I would agree.

I ended up telling her about my foster siblings.  There were over 100 before I joined the Army.  My parents fostered six kids at a time.  Most were severely developmentally disabled.  Some died in our home.  (I still have nightmares.)  I think because we didn’t talk about them after they passed.  The Foster Babies, as I called them, were a constant source of joy in my life.  There was always a baby I could rock.  I assigned myself the duty of night watch when I was little.  (It began as an excuse to be up past my bedtime.)  A few times a night, I would peek into their cribs to make sure they were still breathing.

My parents had baby monitors, but I preferred in-person checks.  We had a baby with microcephaly, Spina Bifida, and intellectual disabilities.  His mom was gravely ill when she carried him (Anorexia Nervosa), and she had a difficult time with (irrational IMO) feelings of guilt after he came to live with us.  Seeing her weep when she visited her baby hurt so much.  Just remembering it has tears welling.  He lived with us for two years, then passed when I was eight.  I still remember how kissable his cheeks were.  If you said his name in a sing-song voice, he would light up and laugh.  I try to remember those details, and forget the ones that still haunt my sleep.

When he died, I was putting on my uniform for school.  My parents ordered us to go to our rooms when the coroner came, but I disobeyed.  His skin was bluish gray.  I watched them take my baby foster brother away forever.  I remember not knowing how to feel.  I saw his mom at Best Buy once as an adult.  I walked up to her and gave her probably the longest hug I’ve ever given anyone.  I wanted desperately to tell her something, but I didn’t have the words.  So I just kept hugging.  I hope she understood.

A few were older than me when they lived with us.  I have a Native American foster sister who used to babysit me.  I see her about town once in a while.  She’s married and seems happy.  She’s intellectually disabled.  She was on the strict side but kept me safe.  I remember when one of my brothers called her the R word, and she slapped the shit out of him.  The slapping part was hilarious.  He knew he couldn’t tell on her for it, which made it funnier.  (My parents made it extremely clear we would not survive the consequences of harming one of the foster kids.)

Unfortunately, they weren’t always able to prevent asshole moments like above.  My older siblings were embarrassed by the foster babies as teenagers.  My oldest brother tried to convince my mom to let me go live with him and his wife because he didn’t think it was a healthy environment for me to grow up in.  (She said no.)  Gar is the brother who taught me how to read, used to make us call him Garfunkle, and has a ridic high IQ.  He’s fascinating, but I don’t think he’s terribly compassionate.  I love him, but I’ve always kept him at arm’s length.  He told me when I was twelve he thought it was more merciful to kill the foster babies than help prolong their lives.  It painfully annihilated my ability to trust him.

It was hard to leave the foster babies when I left for basic training.  When I got out of the service, my parents were retired.  I visited a little brother, who was three when I left, at his new foster home.  It sucked.  He was “too old” to be picked up and showered with kisses.  He loved his new foster family.  His new dad owned an auto body shop.  It was testosterone heaven, and my adorable baby brother thought the idea of giving me a hug was funny.  That day sucked ass.

Shannon is probably the one I remember most strongly.  Before my parents brought her home, they had a talk with us about her condition.  She had a facial deformity.  She couldn’t open her eyes, and she had a severe cleft palate.  I remember being a little nervous as it was the first time we had such a talk.  It was for naught.  Shannon was the most affectionate and loving person I’ve ever met in my life.  She had bright red hair, porcelain skin, and I got a peek at one of her cobalt blue eyes through a tiny slit where the skin opened.  I think it was just enough for her to detect light.

She had plastic surgery soon after she came to live with us.  They repaired her palate and nose.  There was barely a scar.  She was less than a year old when she came to live with us and was blind and deaf.  I loved her so much.  My mom got really attached to her, too.  When you picked her up from her crib, she would hug you, kiss you, and pat you on the back.  She knew who was holding her by touching our faces and hair.  When she hugged my mom, she would make cooing sounds, like she was comforting her.  She lived with us until she turned six, and was sent to an institution.  That sucked, too.  I’m so glad I got to know her.  She was love personified.  I’m off to read.

 

 

It’s like my brain is facing my penis in a chess game.

I laughed when I chose today’s Seinfeld quote.  Mostly because I love referring to my (figurative) penis when going postal on a misogynist.  There are few groups I consider fair game for an all-out verbal attack.  Misogynists top the list.  I barely consider them human.  They’re contaminating the gene pool.  They cling to ignorance, and a false sense of superiority like their life depends on it.  It’s sad.  I’m happy to report they’re dying off.  In twenty years the word misogynist will only show up in novels and word games.  Glory days.  In the meantime, they usually insist on identifying themselves within minutes of contact, so at least they’re easy to avoid.

I’ve been enjoying the hell out of my electronic drum kit.  Unfortunately, I damaged the snare drum pad.  Now, It only plays softly no matter how hard I hit it.  Disclaimer:  I void warranties religiously.  I took it apart.  I could fix it for a few bucks, or I could build a better one.  I wasn’t about to fix a cheap rubber snare drum pad.  Clearly, they’re too easy to break.  Although, for a cheap entry kit, I’m astonished by what I got in a good way.  The rack and module alone are worth what I paid for the whole kit.  The drum pads and cymbals are temporary, and I’m in the process of replacing them.

I love the rack because it’s matte black everywhere, it’s compact and sturdy, and I can use standard hardware on it.  I ordered a 10″ rim, some 35mm piezo discs, foam tabs, a 1/4″ instrument input, cables, and a mesh head to make a better snare drum.  It’s now a dual trigger, shiny, mesh pad and is a joy to beat with sticks.  I can do rolls, and the velocity triggers beautifully, too.

I’m debating on how I want to address my hi-hat replacement, which is next.  Part of me thinks I’ll never want an acoustic kit, and shouldn’t limit my choices in that respect going forward.  I much prefer having the sounds from multiple super expensive kits recorded in high-end studios than whatever I could reproduce.  In that instance, I’d prefer using a mesh head pad for my hi-hat and cymbals, too.  It’s a quiet enough trigger that I can practice anytime I want, day or night.  How very attractive to this insomniac.  If I decide against the mesh cymbals, I’m just going to get acoustic cymbals because the rubber and plastic cymbal pads currently being sold are unbelievably shitty substitutes.

I have a tendency to read all night.  I’ve been doing it often since I learned how to read.  I was raised to believe laying still in bed while wearing pajamas counts as sleeping.  The laying still part really means being silent enough not to awaken others.  Laughing out loud at a book while reading is something I’ll admit to often doing.  In my head, I’m in another world where something funny just happened.  Not laughing would be weird.  Immediately after, I feel guilty for making noise.

The guilt part is just a habit at this point.  When Heather died, her diaries were given to me.  (All my siblings kept a journal growing up but only the girls continued in adulthood.)  She wrote about my late night giggles with fondness as an adult.  She wasn’t so fond of them at the time, I recall.  We shared a bedroom until I started 7th grade.  My Mom decorated it, but it looked like Holly Hobby threw up in there to me.  Yellow gingham fabric with lots of ruffles everywhere.

Starting in Junior High, I got to decorate my own room.  Heather was so worried about me having my own room.  She didn’t think I could handle it (Queen of Nightmares is my original title).  Thinking back now it makes me laugh.  She was really the big sister at times.  She was my self-appointed voice for much of my childhood.  At first, it was because I didn’t speak, but later because it amused me so much.  (Heather was always a bit of a loud talker who didn’t hesitate to demand being heard.)  We were opposites in so many ways, but we always had the same sense of humor.  On that nostalgic note, I’m off to continue reading Last Night in Twisted River by John Irving again.  It’s so fucking good.  (That’s my review.)