All posts in Personal

A Few Things I Have Learned the Hard Way

I am neither a fountain of wisdom nor a paragon of virtue. I am just an old man who has tried to pay attention as he went along. In no particular order these are some things I have learned.

Never start a do it yourself project when the nearest hardware stores are closed.
Always buy the best tools you can afford. They make the job so much easier.
Always live up to your principles but don’t expect others to live up to them too.
Being right doesn’t win arguments.
Never underestimate your opponent.
If someone disagrees with you they are probably basing their opinion on different

New Year’s Eve in Front of the TV

As one ages New Year’s Eve rituals get more and more constricted.  At first you get tired of spending your New Year’s Eve in public places among strangers so you restrict yourself to private parties with friends. Eventually you wind up spending it at home among family and eventually just in front of the television. You end up realizing that time zones are artificial inventions so you don’t have to stay up until midnight. Whenever you go to bed it has become a new year somewhere and upon awaking you will find it has become one for you. This is

The Mets Win the Pennant! The Mets Win the Pennant!

When looked at objectively sports fandom is a silly thing. One allows one’s emotions to be ruled not by your own accomplishments or actions, but by those of millionaires running around in funny clothes playing children’s games. They are doing nothing significant like curing cancer, ending hunger, or fighting injustice.  They are playing a game with arbitrary rules in a confined space for a prescribed time. Yet those accomplishments of others can become the way stations to measure your journey through life.  I suspect it has been this way for others. So it has been with me and the New


I have long ago accepted that the advances in technology, particularly computer technology, have outstripped my ability to understand them. Still, I see myself as a reasonably intelligent person who tries his best to keep up.  With this in mind recently I have tried to upgrade to Windows 10. I am not usually in a hurry to upgrade my operating systems.  I like to wait until there is enough feedback from real users to justify it. I had a bad experience with Windows Vista in the past and so I avoided Windows 8 like the plague. Both the reviews and the

Thinking about Families at Christmas

If one drills down below the frenzy of materialism that is Christmas in this late capitalism world, you find sentiments of a thankfulness for family. I have often thought when some pundit extols  the wonders of family values, “Hasn’t that person ever had one?” Families are messy things. They are bundles of neuroses, quirks, chance, selfishness, unselfishness, secrets, denied longings, self confidence building, confidence destroyers, love, and arguments. In short they are humanity in a nutshell. All families seem to be loving in their own ways although we wouldn’t call some such. Most are hotbeds of unconditional love although some

Choosing Sides

A long time ago I read something in a John Barth novel, that has always stayed with me.  It is the idea that nothing has an intrinsic value.  All value is assigned by us who chose a moral aesthetic, that is a system of good and bad, then cloak it in a belief system that supports that aesthetic or the other way around: we choose a belief system and accept the moral aesthetic that goes with it.  Either way Barth’s “nothing has an  intrinsic value” is a place to start that has some advantages.  For one it points out the

Why Do I Keep My Father’s Medals?

My father died almost forty years ago.  I remember that day well. In those days I usually called home every Sunday just to say hello to my folks and to let them know I was fine.  My father’s birthday, his 58th, was on a Friday, but I chose to wait until my regular Sunday phone call on that Sunday to give him my “Happy Birthday Pop.” I never got the chance.  That Saturday I got a phone call from a relative who was making the necessary phone calls.  She is a health care professional and in the professional way they

Books That Were Important To Me

A little while ago there was a Facebook challenge circulating among my friends: quickly list 10 books that were important to you without thinking about it too much. Not being one to be constrained by the rules I wanted to do it but with some thought rather than quickly and not necessarily with 10 books. My list is considerably different from those of my friends and colleagues but I always was an odd duck. The first book is one few will have read but many will have heard of: Moby Dick. I read it for the first time when I checked

Back to the Gym

Normally I follow the philosophy if you haven’t done a particular physical thing in X time (the exact period has varied but it has become smaller as I’ve aged) then you shouldn’t do it again.  The time needed to get back to my former level of fitness and proficiency has lengthened over the years; it is painful to start up again and and the willpower just isn’t there. So why have I recently begun to work out at the gym again when I haven’t done it for several years? Well for one thing my waistline (never my best feature) has


I attended the funeral of dear relative a few weeks ago.  It combined her wishes and the needs of the mourners in an interesting way.  It had sermons, music, and an interpretive dance as well as the standard funeral trappings. It got me thinking about my own funeral.  Now I have no reason to think that it will be anytime in the near future but it is inevitable so I guess I should be prepared. Some may think the thought morbid but I don’t. I know that there is no guarantee that one’s wishes will be carried out once one