All posts by Jim

Blubbering Gets in the Way of Writing

i continue to refine my routine for writing effectively. It has evolved into my spot in the garage, a retreat, not really a man cave. This is now almost a requirement since i got the monster microfiche reader. It sits atop the desk my father made out of mostly scrap wood for my daughter Sarah. She had it in her room until she went to Austin. i moved it to the garage for a work table, but i find it comforting to write on the desk he built.

Then i discovered i write better when i have some of my music playing: not the blues, not my idea of hard rock, quite often old jazz or some of favorite classical stuff, more often than not Handel’s “Water Music” or Dvořák’s 9th, “The New World” symphony.

So this morning, i powered up the monster, moved my laptop to that desk, and rumbled through my LP’S, found one i thought would be good to write by, and put on Chet Atkin’s “C.G.P.” (Certified Guitar Player). i was getting into it, even thinking i might get two installments on this website this week.

But i had to stop abruptly. The last song on side one is “I Still Can’t Say Goodbye.” It’s about a man’s father. Chet said it reminded him of his father. So he starts to play and sing. Now i’m sitting here in my space in the workshop side of my garage where my father and i worked on many projects together side by side for sixteen straight January’s and February’s when he and Mother came out to miss the Tennessee winters, sitting at the desk he made…

And Chet sings this song:

i’ll get over it, of course, but it’s gonna be a while before i start writing today.

And if you don’t want to get a little teary, you better not actually listen to this.

“Murphy’s Law”

From my “Murphy’s Law” desk calendar archives thanks to Aunt Evelyn, Uncle Pipey, and cousin Nancy:

Ballance’s Law of Relativity: How long a minute is depends on which side of the bathroom door you’re on.

Goofy guy’s extension of Ballance’s Law of Relativity: This law increases exponentially for men as they age. Proof: Watch Peter Sellers in “The Party” scene while Claudine Longet is singing.

A Slight Delay: Apologies…and Stand By

It hasn’t been a particularly good weekend.

i dedicated the two days to finishing our trellis painting after Paul Shipley and Jacob helped me…er, the two of them putting up the last replacement beam with me helping, and my posting the next installment of my book in progress.

Well, strange weather bit me in the…ah, you know. Pacific storms forming and then riding the Japanese Current after hurdled across the Southwest corner in spades, taking our derogatory term “May Gray” to a new level. Therefore, no painting on the trellis.

Worse, my installments are now dependent on my actually completing the draft. That’s why i went to a one a week on Sundays rather than two a week. i’ve got most of the stuff lined up through the deployment, but i wanted to make sure it all was correct from the standpoint of when and needed the ship’s logs on microfiche to verify.

i ordered the logs about twenty years ago, maybe more, at least before microfiche became antiquated. i had also bought a reader when they were abundant and cheap. But in my wisdom (not) while cleaning out the garage attic, i tossed it forgetting i needed it for the ship’s logs.

When i began this project, i realized i needed to read the microfiche. i bought a reader on eBay for $120 but the seller forgot to tell me it had been converted to battery power. i hooked it up and smoked the mother board. The guy took it back and refunded me but it set me back about two months.

So i started looking at libraries around here to find a reader. There were only two within a reasonable distance i could determine actually had one. So i spent about ten or twelve days driving to San Diego State and the Chula Vista main library to record the logged events up to the Yosemite arriving at anchorage of Masirah, Oman.

Since i’ve reached that point in the installments, i drove to the Chula Vista library yesterday. When the reader light would not come on, i went to the desk to determine why. It broke. They didn’t know when it would be fixed.

i thought i would try the internet again. i found several on eBay and Amazon. The ones on eBay seemed reasonable, like in the $200 range. However, they required the buyer to pay shipping which came close to doubling the cost. Boo.

So this morning, i decided to travel to SDSU and use the one i had found initially. i walked through the rain to the library, went down three floors to the basement, walked down the hall to the microfiche room where a locked door had a notice reading “Closed Until Further Notice.”

i was distraught so i did what all good sailors do. i came home mid-morning and had a beer.

Before taking my nap, a requirement for old farts who have a beer mid-morning, i decided to take one quick stab at Craig’s List. Bingo. Rick had put one up for sale two weeks ago. Twenty bucks. i took Maureen and Sarah to South Park, bought my monster, and took them to The Rose Wine Bar for lunch, a double good thing.

So the bottom line is there is not a real installment on the book today. i will get one out in the next day or two. The good news i am no longer inhibited by the lack of microfiche readers. After all, i have this monster:

Stand by. Installments on their way.

“Murphy’s Law”

From my “Murphy’s Law” desk calendar archives thanks to Aunt Evelyn, Uncle Pipey, and cousin Nancy:

Wethern’s Law of Suspended Judgement: Assumption is the mother of all screwups.

Goofy guy’s recall of Wethern’s Law: Best explained by Tony Randall’s character Felix Unger in the “Odd Couple” television series during a courtroom scene when Felix wrote “Assume” on the flip chart, divided it into his syllabic breakdown, and proclaimed, “‘Ass-u-me’ makes an ass out of you and me.”

“Murphy’s Law”

From my “Murphy’s Law” desk calendar archives thanks to Aunt Evelyn, Uncle Pipey, and cousin Nancy:

Fifth Law of Unreliability: To err is human, but to really foul things up requires a computer.

Goofy guy’s comment on the Fifth Law of Unreliability: This human can foul things up exponentially when he has a computer.

“Murphy’s Law”

From my “Murphy’s Law” desk calendar archives thanks to Aunt Evelyn, Uncle Pipey, and cousin Nancy:

Cornuelle’s Law: Authority tends to assign jobs to those least able to do them.

Goofy guy’s disagreement concerning Cornuelle’s Law:  When i was loaded down with a whole bunch of tasks because of my position on a staff, my friend and Admin Officer Al Pavich asked my boss why he kept giving me more things to do; the boss replied, “If you want something to get done, you give it to the busiest worker.”

“Murphy’s Law”

From my “Murphy’s Law” desk calendar archives thanks to Aunt Evelyn, Uncle Pipey, and cousin Nancy:

Robert’s Axiom: Only errors exist.
Berman’s Corollary to Robert’s Axiom: One man’s error is another man’s data. 

Goofy guy’s corollary to Berman’s corollary to Robert’s Axiom: There are a lot of other men using my errors as their data.

A Good Day for an Old Man

One morning last week, i awoke grousing about all of the things i had to do. i complained about not having the time to read for a couple of hours, workout to combat aging for an hour or so, record all my records, write more on my book, yadda yadda yadda. Dark day, feeling bad, feeling old.

So i started with my honey-do list. You know, that never-ending list which is continually interrupted by more instant honey-do’s and require you to do about twenty other tasks to get to the one she wants you to do for her immediately. This time, i put a twist in it and put what we both wanted done at the top of the list.

i began with replacing a wood-rotted, termite-weakened beam in the trellis outside our master bedroom. This included beginning a sanding and scraping the entire trellis in preps for painting. Next i worked on our tomato-strawberry, herbs, and onion garden boxes. Then i planted some more gladiola bulbs in large planter boxes. Finally, i began to repaint the crowns of the posts on our stucco fence. Our next door neighbors to the northwest decided to invite Willie Wonka to visit and painted their house and their side of the fence, including my side of the post a bright yellow.

There are a couple of stories here but i will bypass them for now.

The point is i worked all day. Nothing artsy-fartsy, nothing technically sophisticated. Just work. When it was concluded, i felt…well, satisfied. i wasn’t trying to influence anyone to do anything to make me some money or prestige or power. i was just doing something useful and working up a bit of a sweat. It reminded me of long, long days working the well deck of the USS Anchorage (LSD 36) with loads and unloads. It reminded me of digging graves in Cedar Grove Cemetery in the hot and humid summer days. It reminded me of mowing the adjacent acre yards of J. Bill and Bessie Lee Frame and Fred and Ruby Cowan across Castle Heights from our house.

Satisfaction, a good tired.

It seems to me such enjoyment, such satisfaction of just doing good work has been mostly dismissed by the way we have progressed (sic).

i thought about making a point or two here about some important things. i put all of that stuff behind me, forgot about dealing with other people in the thorny miasma of relationships we have created, and just put my effort in doing something productive.

That is enough to make it a good day for an old man. It’s too bad we all can’t have those kind of good days.