i’m walkin’, yes indeed, i’m walkin’

“Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” Winston Churchill

It’s funny how we measure our lives.

Until you go to your high school reunion and some friend from the fringes guilds the lily and tells you that he started a software company, or she tells you she’s the queen of the world, or he tells you that the inauguration ceremony is going to be televised (“and you should really watch it!…oh, you don’t have cable?  Nevermind…”)…until that happens, you’re just as happy as a clam because you got the chimney leak fixed and the house warm.

Who knew there was something missing from a pretty good, simple life?

I think that Winston Churchill also had a great quote (among many) about never giving up.

There are so many times that we don’t have to give up…because we never start.  It’s a safe way to avoid failure.

New thoughts about what we should be can be real mood busters.

I’m not thinking we should rest on our laurels (what the heck is a “laurel”?) and never try anything new or never reach for anything better…it’s just that I wonder if we don’t miss something pretty great if we feel like we turned down the “wrong fork in the road”…and now all we can think about is the fork.

We don’t see what we’ve left behind…and we don’t see what positive outcomes could be down either road the fork provides. It’s like we were sleep walking, but in our mind we’re sitting somewhere far back down the road…crying at the crossroads.

We visited a college yesterday.

It was a college that was a couple of hours away…high up in the mountains, beautiful campus…looked like it might be a good option.

It looked like it might be a “good fork”.

I’m not sure when we began thinking that college was supposed to be some kind of ultimate fulcrum….like if you didn’t launch yourself into the stratosphere with the right college choice and the right job following the completion of your studies and the right choice of spouse and the right…you were pretty much done.

What a lot of pressure for somebody working on figuring out how to get through their young life in the moment.

I hear people say things like, “I know a bunch of people who know some kids who went to college and they never amounted to NOTHIN’!  COLLEGE IS A WASTE!!!”.

Makes me think they need to get to know a broader range of people.

It’s kind of like the people who say, “I read a book in High School.  I’m done with reading”.  To say “completion of your studies” is a sad thing…”I’m done with the collegin’…what a waste of time that was …can’t get no job or nothin’ “.

I think our young student is curious about a lot of things… school and non-school related.

That’s a good thing.  It’s a hopeful thing to see a child have an open attitude about the world.

I want to make good decisions….I want to make decisions that make things better and easier for my family.  I don’t know that I’m always really good at doing that.

A friend’s parent told me, “You could do anything” when I was getting set to go to college for the first time.  It was pretty great to hear…I trusted my friend’s father…he wasn’t a flatterer and if he had confidence in me, it was something that I took seriously.

I ended up doing a little of just about everything.  He did say “you could do everything”, didn’t he?

I guess that you live your life.  Your life.  Some of it’s going to be right, some not right…but you keep walkin’…keep trying…and hopefully the percentage of right to “not right” ends up on the positive side.

I guess that “nest pushing” is part of the whole plan, too.

You just have to try and figure out the softest place you can find for a landing spot….and then try not to look amazed and relieved when it turns out that they could fly after all.

the lunch ladies couldn’t hang

My first year of college I worked at the school radio station.

I don’t know that you could really call it a full-fledged radio station.

We broadcast for an hour every night on a local “legitimate” radio station…WHKP from what I remember.  Anything we did in our basement studio on the campus was sent to the little AM station over the phone lines.

It was kind of crude…but it was kind of cool, too.

Showbiz.

I remember they had our “feed” pumped into the lunch room for a while…give us broader exposure, I guess.

Before the first show that Marc Farley and I did together….our big “lunchroom debut”…I snuck into the back control room and turned up the volume in the cafeteria.

We were going to really rock out.  The lunchroom would be rocking soon.

I had a copy of Be Bop Deluxe’s live album “Live in the Air Age”…and decided that this song would be the perfect dramatic opener.  (This is a pretty good cover band playing the song…I couldn’t get any other YouTube videos to load on the blog.)

They wouldn’t know what hit them.  The opening sounds of the song…the crazy phased percussion…big dramatic guitars…it was all going to be so crazy and wild.

I imagined a true rock and roll moment…as much of a moment as a young freshman could have at a southern Lutheran private college.

I still remember the anarchic excitement we felt as we broadcast the set heard round the world.  It was entertaining…it was exciting…it was fresh.  It was the perfect expression of what it meant to be young with your whole rock and roll infused life stretched out before you.

We rocked like no human being ever got close to rocking.  We rocked steady and hard…and when we came up for air after our hour-long set, we knew that we’d created something that had gone beyond what the music world had known before.

We were looking at the future of rock and roll coming out of a little basement studio on the campus of Newberry College.

I imagined a lunch room like the one in the Fame movie…all the kids up on the tables dancing.  How could they help but move in the face of the jams that we were pumping out?

I found out later that the lunch ladies had turned us off after the first 20 seconds of the opening song.

The lunch ladies couldn’t hang.

a tiny home used to be a trailer

modmechanix_trailer_resized

I love creative building.

I love the tiny home movement.  It frees up a way of affording a home that wasn’t really available before.

But most (or many) of these tiny homes used to be trailers.

They’re built on trailer frames, stripped of the old so the nice, new and…kind of trendy “tiny home” can be built on its remainder.

I don’t know if a trailer was ever really all that cool.  It was something you lived in out of necessity, not choice, and it was the cheap option for most of the folks needing affordable housing.

Now, like most new situations, there are a broad range of tiny homes being built.

There’s the really creative ones with lots of used materials built and lived in by their owners. Like most owner built houses, they are individual works of art.  They can be cheap depending on the skill and desire of the builder.

Then there’s the ones that appear to be just scaled down versions of the luxury homes found in any upscale area.  They are often built for the purchaser…and like any custom home can be expensive.

I guess that expensive is a relative term.  It still is a lot cheaper to build a 50,000 dollar tiny home than a million dollar California mansion…but it still seems kind of expensive.

(I looked up our old house in San Jose on Zillow the other day just for kicks…the house that my father bought in 1963 for 27,000 dollars last sold for 800,000…so maybe there’s a necessity to this small homes movement that someone living in the NC mountains doesn’t understand completely.)

Folks around here live in a lot of different kinds of houses.  Big mansions and tiny shacks.  The ones who live in the tiny shacks don’t do it because they’re trying to be trendy…they’d love a new house or even a nice new trailer.  It’s not a matter of what the latest trend is…it’s just living.

I remember when I lived in Atlanta that there was a group of renegade builders who were building housing for the homeless in many of the vacant areas downtown.  I think that they called themselves “madhousers” and were building small shelters for the homeless guys…I think they were 6×8 buildings… really small shelters.  I think the thought was to build something that was really fast to put up that would give the people a sense of personal space…ownership…that would protect them from the elements and provide a home.  They’d put them up in the middle of the night, under overpasses and in places that weren’t being used by the city for anything.

From what I remember, the city made them tear them all down.

(I just googled “madhousers”….they’re still around…check them out at www.madhousers.org )

Like I said before…I love creative building.  The tiny homes movement has some tremendous creativity…beautiful, funky homes built by some really great people.

But I’m seeing some of the other side of any movement that doesn’t seem to fit.  Maybe it’s kind of like the folks who went to Penney’s to buy their “hippy costume”…it doesn’t make a lot of sense when I see people buying the “boutique” tiny homes that builders have started to pump out.

You can shop at WholeFoods, ride a carbon fiber mountain bike, and live in a custom-made tiny home in your parent’s backyard…wear hemp clothing and drive a hybrid SUV…any of the other things that money can buy that makes you feel like you’re doing more to save the world than the Average Joe who lives in a travel trailer behind the SafeWay.

I guess that like I said before, there’s a broad range of situations out in the world.

You’re always going to have your Jackson Pollocks…..you’re always going to have the folks who are happy following along with Bob Ross.

It’s a good and cool movement…I just get tired of the politically correct, holier than thou folks acting like they’re the saviors of the planet because they build a “low impact”, expensive little house with new materials.

When something becomes a movement, I guess I just have to learn to take the good with the bad.

the wastebasket in the middle of the room

sunset runner

If you want to be happy, be.  ~Leo Tolstoy

My first year at camp I had a friend who asked me what I wanted out of life.

I didn’t think very long about it before answering, “happy…I want to be happy”.

His response was that “truth” was his answer…and made it seem like it was the more correct and nobler response.

I think that my response was probably the more honest of the two.

I was thinking about this exchange when I was driving home from work the other day.

Truth is a tremendous goal to shoot for.  I could sleep at night knowing that I’d found truth.

I do suspect though that I might not want to know some of the things I’d found.

I know from my own past that if happiness is far away, I can’t go looking for anything…much less invest the energy to find truth.  It’s just not going to happen.

I miss all the markers….road signs pass by in a blur, unread and misunderstood.  I can’t function very well when I’m profoundly unhappy.

That’s why I chose the title of this blog this morning. Sometimes we stumble over something for years.  Every morning, in the partial darkness of dawn, we trip over the wastebasket that has always been in that same location.  Why should it be any different?  It’s our habit…it’s what we’re used to…it’s what we curse to start the day out.

And then one day, we get some kind of wild hair inspiration and move the wastebasket.  Darn convention…darn tradition…I’m tired of tripping over this thing!

And we change.

Truth is a noble and necessary pursuit.

Happiness moves the wastebasket.

you better roll up your sleeve

I’m feeling a little bit under the weather this morning…and thinking about being required to take the flu shot.

How about that?  Required ….you read that right.

Earlier in the week, I saw a video report about health care workers who were terminated for not taking the flu shot.  It was made mandatory by the company they worked for, and when they refused the shot, the workers were let go.

I guess we should get used to being told what to do?  Maybe the “chip” with all its issues is just around the corner?

Oh yes you will take the MARK OF THE BEAST!!!!

I’ve talked about how you can’t live your life in a constant state of paranoia.

I still believe that’s true.

But it sure is interesting to watch anything unfold that raises a warning flag.

No snow on the ground this morning…mailman’s delight.

 

i need a new perspective

 

blizzardMy oldest son says, “I hope it’s going to snow”  when the forecast calls for a possibility of frozen precipitation.

I imagine skidding off the mountain, trying to stop for one of the funky “side of the hill” mailboxes that give me fits when the weather is dry.

Life is only about our perceptions.

My son sees a vacation from school…snowmen and sledding and snowball fights and everything else that makes snow so fun.

I imagine getting rear ended by some punk in a heavily financed monster truck who realizes too late that four-wheel drive doesn’t mean you can stop when the road is slick.

So it’s all perspective.

We didn’t have any big snows last year.

It was the first year I had the 4-wheel drive Cherokee.

I did get to use the four-wheel in some of the bad mud we had instead of snow.

The thing about it all is that I really love snow.  Maybe it’s the Norwegian in me…but I really respond well to snow.

It’s just that this whole thing about rain, or sleet or snow…and the mailman has to go…is a real drag.  They will send us out in the craziest blizzard so that we can stick mail in boxes that the customer can’t even get to.

It’s a strange feeling to deliver mail to a box with no tracks coming or going for a week at a time.

I imagine the decision makers with a hot cup of cocoa and a fresh doughnut, sitting in a warm office, saying, “Darn right, they better get out there…mail has got to go.”

If I don’t slide off into the abyss…driving in the snow is one of the most peaceful, beautiful things I do at work.  When I’m out by myself in a whiteout I can imagine that I’m the “Omega Man”…last man on earth, doing something so important that my safety doesn’t even get considered.

It could be the winning Publishers Clearing House entry that I’m delivering, after all.

Matthew 6:26

Two posts in one day isn’t usually something I have the “energy” for…but felt like I needed to counter the negative with some positive.

Here’s a snippet of a Joel Osteen sermon that addresses what the other video was talking about.

Check out the Bible verse, too…there are other ways to live than being constantly afraid.

 

my old morning ritual

I used to wake up everyday to this guy’s website.

Glory to the day…here’s a healthy helping of angst and paranoia.

There are things that happen…there are things we can do something about…but to live each day aware of all the bad has to be damaging.

So I stopped my obsession with survivalism.

I kept thinking that I wanted the interviewer to clear his throat.

I’d never heard an interview with James Wesley, Rawles before.  He’s good at what he does and may be dead on and have a legitimate point.  I suspect that he does, unfortunately.

I just can’t live like that…or subject my family to a pessimistic world view.

So….good morning.  Here’s a YouTube clip of the interview…it looks like there’s more like it if it “tickles your fancy”.

vinyl

record-store-days

I’m reading a book called Record Store Days by Gary Calamar and Phil Gallo now and it’s bringing back a lot of memories.  I guess that’s a trend right now…see yesterday’s post if you don’t notice any continuity.  I’m not trapped in the past…but I must be appreciating it for some reason these days.

The subtitle of the book is “from vinyl to digital and back again”.

I remember one of the kids in my high school bought one of the first cd players that came out.  It must have been in the late 70’s, very early 80’s if my memory is even close to correct.

It was expensive.  I remember that I was amazed at how much he spent on it…I don’t think I spent that much on my first two cars combined !

I remember conversations about the whole deal that went something like, “CDs?  So…what are they?  What do they do?  They never scratch?  The sound is always perfect?”

That was how they were marketed…perfect sound even if they were scratched.

Now we know that the truth behind the marketing is something different.

Neil Young said that listening to digital music was like looking at the world through a screen door.  I think he meant that you got the general idea of the music…but because it was little digital bits instead of sound waves like on an analog album, you were missing something.

I miss albums.

Now I read that vinyl is making a comeback.  It’s hip to like vinyl again.

I have probably a ton (literally) of albums in our back room.  My daughter is pretty curious about them all…it helps that they’re all from the 70’s and that the 70’s are sort of a hip era musically.

It was a beautiful format…for a graphic designer having a foot square area to work with must have been pretty exciting.

To buy an album was a real event for me.  It felt like I was really getting something…to take a new album home and carefully place the needle down onto the fresh surface of the LP was a big deal.  For a music lover, I think it was almost a religious experience.

CD’s took away most of that experience…and digital downloads completely eroded it.

This book is a great introduction to how special these record stores were to music lovers.

I hope that my kid’s get the chance to experience that sense of community and shared excitement over something as great as checking out new music at the record store someday.

I love that music is so easy to discover and share these days.  Websites like Spotify.com and Grooveshark.com are a great place to check out a lot of new music…it just doesn’t have the value that buying an album had for me…or that talking with a clerk at the record store and learning something about a band I’d never heard of before had.

I guess we can do it all from the comfortable isolation of our own homes…and that’s a good thing…right?

 

 

everyone has a “back in the day”

Until you get old enough to have a “back in the day” moment, it doesn’t really hit you that everyone has a yesterday.

When I was in High School, I played bass and screwed around with playing in a couple of bands.

I remember once, during our big Halloween performance at a local “haunted house”, one of the fathers of the other band members got up and sang “Johnny Be Goode”.

I remember thinking, as we rocked out to contemporary stuff like Led Zeppelin and Lynyrd Skynyrd, that this old dude was trapped in the 50’s.  The old dude was probably like 40 or something…he was really old.

It was really kind of cool….an authentic throwback singing the songs of yesteryear.

It’s strange to think that he was singing a song that at the time was probably about 20 years old.

Our parallel would be if anyone got misty eyed if I got up and sang a Boy George tune.  I wonder if any one of us would say, “awwwww…that brings back some good, strong memories”? I kind of doubt it.

Thinking about it, I don’t think it’s profound or really all that interesting a “revelation”…but we all have our yesterdays and the memories that go with them.

When I was younger, I was so hyped up and in the moment that I didn’t give any of it a second thought.  Now I’m occasionally a little reflective and do think about things like “days gone by”.

The funny thing is…I think my young children do some thinking about earlier times, too.  They don’t have a lot of living under their belts yet….but they have things that they’re nostalgic about also.

When you hear a three-year old talking about a toy he had when he was a baby, it hits you that it’s something we all do.

It hasn’t hit the point yet where my favorite morning reading is the obituary section, though.