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 and 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.


the old rock solid

There are performers who remain so rock solid, who’ve been around for so long, that it’s easy to take them and their gifts for granted.

I was and am a big Jesse Winchester fan.  There’s not a lot that’s flashy about Jesse Winchester.  The language that he uses in his songs is straight forward…there isn’t a lot of clever wordplay or strange situations…it’s just simple songs about simple things that he turns into art.

Jesse left for Canada during the Vietnam war.  He released his first album in 1970, three years after arriving in Canada, and had some chart success with a few of his songs, most notably “Yankee Lady”.  For a number of years, he wasn’t allowed to travel back into the States because of his “dodger status”.  He lived in Montreal during this time.  When Carter pardoned the draft dodgers in 1977 he was able to come back to the United States, eventually moving to Virginia in the early 2000’s.

In 2011, he was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus, but after treatment he was able to resume touring.

Those of us who like music…those who listen enough for it to become like a soundtrack to whatever’s happening to us at the time…those of us who do that….have a catalog of sorts in our spirits.  All this music that we’ve soaked up becomes embedded somehow…deeper than a cellular level…as much a part of us as anything connected to us.

Listening to some of Jesse Winchester’s music on YouTube, it hits me hard that even though I haven’t actively listened to any of his music for a while (it’s all on vinyl…and I’m afraid to set up my turntable with a three-year old in the house) I know it like I’d heard it all yesterday.

We have the option of filling our lives with so much that has genuine value that it crowds out all the petty and coarse things that go on around us.

Jesse Winchester is a good element to add to our arsenals. This is music that’s good for the soul…simple and true.


easy writin’

08 Easy Livin’

If my life had an occasional soundtrack, this morning I’d be thinking about some frenetic Uriah Heep…jangling out a song that went, “THIS IS A THING I’VE NEVER KNOWN BEFORE….IT’S CALLED “EEEEEEEAAAAASSSSSSY WRITIN’ “.

I haven’t been doing this blog long enough to really have a handle on how everything works.

One thing I’ve learned is not to get too excited about a sudden bump in site statistics.  If it’s spiked at all it’s usually because I’m the one who looked at any of it…I get credit for all the clicking I do, too.

Another thing I’ve figured out is that there seems to be a couple of different styles of blog that I do if I’m trying to be heavy.

The first is the blog that is written to try and sound good.  Maybe I’m just in practice subconsciously for a future political career…”give the people what they want” and all that stuff.  I’ll try and hit a couple of the “politically correct” notes, say something obscure that I hope will come off as profound…generally just b.s. to fill up the page with something that might come off as worthwhile even if it doesn’t deserve to.

The second is a beauty.  It’s when a blog is written….and is good.  Heartfelt and sincere…the words pour out like breathing.  They say that the word inspiration means having a connection to the Divine….

So when someone says, “Go with God”…I guess it would be smart to say, “Thankyou!  I think I will!”
There was a great quote that I found a while back  that I enjoyed:

” I only write when I’m inspired…and I make sure I’m inspired every morning at 9 a.m.” Peter Devries

It’s all about just doing the work…if the cap’s not off the bottle it can’t get filled.

When I’m writing the second style of blog, it seems to just pour out.  If it has any meat to it or not isn’t the issue…it’s just the joy of getting caught up in the process that moves it all along.  The eruption of happiness that results is a fine way to start off a morning.

Now…it could be that it is just two cups of coffee in rapid order that gets me feeling excited…but I’d like to believe that inspiration was the culprit and not just the caffeine.

One of the things that I loved about the visual arts when I was still a member of the “Order”…back when I was still doing some artwork…was that it seemed like every time I worked through a piece, it felt as if I could lose myself in it.  I’d work and work…and then look up, hands covered in paint and graphite, and realize that hours had passed and I had something to show for it that I could be satisfied with.

I guess it’s that joy that lets me see when something doesn’t give me the same feeling …so maybe it’s not always a good thing if it leads to comparison.

Inspiration is a gift…it’s not something that comes around everyday.  Maybe it is something to be courted, though…wined and dined and shown the town, with the hopeful expectation of getting that one “good night kiss” that leads to good work…that leads to the joy of a job well done.

Not every one of us recognizes that feeling…I say recognizes because I don’t believe that inspiration is some elitist monopoly.  We are all creative.  Each one of us has the chance to find something to express the gift of inspiration through…whether it’s the Sistine Chapel or baking a pie is up to us.

Like some people refuse the existence of God because it’s not something they can work their head around…some people can’t see the gifts around them.  Because people can’t see or refuse to recognize that gift doesn’t mean that it isn’t there…it’s just waiting on the bus…thinking, “I wonder why he doesn’t call anymore?”

Court the gift of inspiration…and be ready when you open the door to take its hand and run with it.

I can’t get karma to work


I had a post I was working on called “karma”.  It made me feel good to gently spit out my bile (gently spit….that’d be like drool, I imagine?)….but every time I tried to post or preview, the format was completely messed up.

Karmic justice in action.

I just could not make it work.  I couldn’t get my karma to load right.

The Bible doesn’t talk about karma.  It’s not a concept that gets mentioned much in the Old or New Testament…it’s from “very far away…in a foreign land” to quote Randy Newman.  But I guess that if you think about it, the Bible is from very far away in a foreign land,too.  I don’t think it’s what Congress was working on in that extra long session they had a while back…even if the Republicans would have us believe that they wrote the Book.

The Bible talks about “motes in our eye”…”storing up our treasures in heaven”…a lot of things that are compatible with the idea of karma…but never mentions karma by name.

I love it when wrong intentions don’t come together.  I think it’s proof of God in action…if I can’t slow myself down when I’m steered wrong, He puts a stumbling block in my path to turn me just a little.

It’s good when posts don’t work if they’re “wrong-headed”.

Here’s some of the lyrics from Todd Rundgren’s “The Wheel”

Some people say life’s like a merry-go-round
I think it’s more like a ferris wheel
‘Cause sometimes you’re up, sometimes you’re down
Sometimes you just don’t know what to feel

And just when you think you’ve got the game figured out
And you say you’ve had enough
The mysterious mad man with his hand on the lever
Don’t seem to never ever want to let you off

You can’t get off this wheel of karma
You can’t stop the hands of time

Now I have a friend, I might have a few
Sometimes I think they just don’t care
But I think sometimes they think the same thing of me, yeah
You might say we’ve got a problem there

You know we all got this habit
We like to talk too much
And that always tends to slow you down
But we never change direction
We just keep going round and round and round and round

And let me off this wheel of karma
Let me stop the hands of time

Seems like I’ve been around so many places
And I must have learned a lot of things
And although I ain’t yet come up with a so-called answer
At least I think I finally learned how to sing

And there’s just a few things I ain’t got sorted out
Sometimes they make my brain get sore
Like if kids were left to their own devices
Would they ever come up with a thing like war

Let us off this wheel of karma
Let us stop the hands of time


So… as for me and my house….there is no “I” in reciprocity.

It is pouring outside.  There’s going to be some damp mail in Frogtown today!

Good morning!  The best of mornings to you and yours!

early morning


I wake up like clockwork.

I wake up like clockwork early in the morning.

Maybe it’s my subconscious telling my body, “you better wake up!  There isn’t much time left!”…I don’t really know.  I don’t know when you cross some invisible line in the sand with your own mortality…although it’s a comforting thought to claim “middle age” while in your 50’s…that should put me right at 104 if the middle part holds true.

It may be my subconscious only telling me that the window between 5 and 6 in the morning is a good shot at some true quiet time.

This morning my 3-year-old is up with me.

He has work to do, also.  He has a little robot that turns into a spaceship looking thing that must transform every 2 minutes.  So…in between the quiet time my window affords…he yells out every so often, “Put his legs on!!  Put his legs on!!”.

He is not a mood buster….he is a mood maker.

He is watching “The Banana Splits” on TV…and I am writing this.

Maybe reruns are the fountain of youth? Pour it all into the old cartoons like some hi-tech Picture of Dorian Grey…we’ll live forever as long as syndication and a satellite system holds out. Nobody told me that was true…but nobody told me it wasn’t, either.

We’ll see what happens.

There was a woman who thought that if she kept adding on to her house that she’d never die.  We used to visit her house sometimes when we lived in California.  It was close to where we lived and easy to get to…so we went a couple of times.

The “Winchester House” (that was what it’s called) gave a little guy an alternate worldview for sure.  You don’t have a really refined sense of mortality when you are 5 years old…so the concept of living forever seems plausible if you can hire enough contractors to keep the ball rolling.

She did eventually die.  The house is pretty big…but apparently not big enough.

I haven’t presented the “live forever, cartoon watching link” to my son yet.  Why muddy the water for him with some untested hypothesis?  You have to let a child grow up their own way…with some guidance and protection and a sense that they are in a safe place. Too many existential questions probably feel premature to a 3-year-old with a never-ending robot.

I don’t think that looking at the big picture with the end in mind does anybody any good.  We have this moment and it’s sometimes hard enough to just get through what’s at hand….why pile any “might happens” on our plate?

I have a pretty big appetite for angst…so my plate is full of nervous expectations…but my better nature tells me to just keep transforming the robot..and to have another cup of coffee.






There are two things that I’ve noticed happen when you build and finish a new woodshed.

I don’t really understand physics but this doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense to me.

The first thing is this:  when you’re building the shed it feels really big.  A 10×12 shed is a manageable little shed, in reality…it’s not all that big….not that hard to build mostly by yourself.  Until you put up the rough sawn on the walls and close in three sides it feels pretty big, though…you can stand in the framework and think, “this is a pretty big shed!  This will do!“.

Then you finish it out…take a look around…and think, “this thing is pretty small….what was I thinking?”

There is a law of physics in there somewhere…”until the plan is a reality, you can let it be as big as you want it to be…and when you’re standing on the inside of the “little” reality, you have to readjust as needed”.

A scientist would probably phrase it differently.

Now here’s the second thing that confuses the issue even more:  when you start to stack the wood that has been in a huge split pile beside the shed, it turns into a small stack inside the shed.  Before the stacking, you’re sure that, “oh…I guess it must be a couple of cords easy…it’s a good-sized pile, you know..”.

In the middle of the stacking, you’re thinking that you just didn’t cut enough wood this year.

I don’t know what it is about that shed…maybe I should market it as a shrinking shed?

I know that when I spend too much time inside of it, I come away feeling diminished somehow….so maybe it is some kind of shrinking shed…or maybe I’m just thinking, “shoot …I really did build this thing too small”.

But…on the other hand…if I’d built it to be the cavernous warehouse of a shed I envision in my head now that I have my diminutive shed built, you can imagine how depressing it would be to me to see the small pile of split firewood tucked away in the far corner.

So the conclusion to the second result might be that accomplishments are only small in contrast to the size of the dream?  Don’t dream too big…and what you accomplish won’t seem too small?

“Yeah, sure you guys went to State…but did you ever win the Super Bowl?”

No real need to get too metaphysical about it all, I guess.  When your whacking away with a splitting maul, and the pieces are piling up, it’s not a metaphysical thing…why not just let it be what it is?

Woodsheds and dreams…it all falls together in the end, anyway.   Like I’ve mentioned before…”do somethingeven if it’s wrong“.

A woodshed that’s real keeps your firewood a whole lot dryer than the most beautiful plan that stays inside your head.

Even if it is too small.

last night i had the strangest…


Oh, man!! What a weird dream!

The dreams that I seem to remember the strongest seem to come around right before I wake up.

Last night’s was no exception…weird.  I remember that all the dogs I’d ever met on the mail route…and probably some more that I’d met along the way…were in my dream.  I was at a party…a big outdoor party full of people I’d never seen before…and the only ones I was familiar with were these dogs.

These dogs were running around and having fun…the people were “making” over them, complimenting them on their spirit and enthusiasm.  Next thing I knew, every one of the dogs was getting a bath…and they were all enjoying it!  Multiple tubs of soapy suds….every one of them full of one or two smiling, wet dogs.

What a party it was!  A wet and soapy dog is a real icebreaker…it seems like things were really kicking into high gear when the dog washing began.

It seemed like the only real thing that was going on at the party was the part with the dogs.  That part was pretty straightforward …just a bunch of folks having fun giving a bunch of happy dogs a bath.

The next part of the dream that I remember that was really strange was that every single guest that was attending the party had an “emotions interpreter”.  Every action, every thought, every feeling the guest had was run through this other person’s interpretation. Nobody knew what was going on with themselves until they ran it by the interpreter.

Maybe it was some weird subconscious thing trying to tell me to rely on my own intuitions and conclusions?  I don’t really know.

I remember in my dream that I wondered how these people made it through the day.  I didn’t have an interpreter…I was an emotional satellite, an untethered wallflower…I was just there to observe.  It seemed like everything was taking twice as long…it was a slow process to experience but then have to wait for someone else to tell you how you felt about it all.  Until the people got the lowdown on what they’d been up to, they were just confused and lost…baffled by their own spontaneity.  And the process itself seemed to be an experience killer….all these people seemed nervous, like they had some lengthy ordeal ahead of them filled with paperwork and administrative hassles every time they tried anything new.

It was a strange dream, to say the least.

The interpreters seemed to be pretty comfortable with the arrangement.  It was law that every citizen be subject to constant interpretation…and it was law that the conclusions were never challenged.  Because it was law, every interpretation was always correct…or, if not always correct, never questioned.

It was a good job to be an interpreter.

The regular people…the ones being interpreted…seemed pretty OK with it all.  It’s hard work to figure out why we do anything…it must have been a comfort to have someone else telling you what it all meant…even if the answers were wrong.

It’s pretty scary to stand on your own, sometimes.

A dream is just a dream…just a bunch of stuff rattling around in our heads waiting for the right morning for us to wake up and be remembered.  I don’t need anybody to interpret anything in my life….I don’t need any help in that regard.

I have enough of a problem just beating my own interpretation to death.

Now…does anyone have a nice big dog that I can adopt?




it’s relative

It’s chilly here in North Carolina this morning.

I think that the computer program that tells me how to feel (temperature wise, at least) says that it’s 37 degrees outside this morning.

So I feel kind of chilly.

My relatives in the Pacific Northwest would laugh at me…or at least question whether or not I was serious in my whining.

I visited my cousin and his family in Idaho this summer and we were wearing sweatshirts at the end of June.  I suspect that they know what chilly means this time of year.

It does get quite a bit colder here in the NC mountains.  This temperature is pretty moderate for this time of year.  I like moderate…it’s a lot easier than being socked in with snow.

When friends from the beach would relay how cold the winter was…temperatures down into the FORTIES (!!!!), I’d secretly be laughing at them…”they don’t know what cold is…” I’d be thinking.

I guess that what I’m saying is that it’s all relative.

Anything less than what we’re used to can produce discomfort.


It’s figuring out what we’re used to that’s the trick.

The weather is something that’s been fairly consistent through the years…it’s hot in the Summer, cold in the Winter…we know what to expect to the point of not paying a whole lot of attention to it.  In the Fall we split the wood we’ll burn in the Winter…in the Spring we start wearing shorts.  It’s not rocket science…it’s just the weather.

Now they say that there’s “climate change” in the air…that consistency might not be something we should count on anymore.  I’ve heard politically charged conversations that seemed to raise the temperature in the room a couple of degrees….both supporters and detractors of the theory of global warming can get pretty heated when discussing it.

To politicize an environmental issue is to be expected…there’s too much riding on what slowing or stopping the causes of global warming might affect.  It is sad to listen to conversations that seem locked in to an idea just because of the political party of choice, though.

It’s strange to think that we have to wait until it’s so late in the game that everyone agrees that “hey…that’s a pretty good idea!  We should do something about how the weather’s been screwing around!”.  I’ve seen ideas that were dismissed suddenly become adopted when something couldn’t be ignored anymore.  I’ve seen ideas get “re-framed” to make them more palatable…”no…this is what we’ve been talking about all along…”.

I guess that if we really want to debate and debunk when it feels like the temperature is climbing enough to foster “global warming” discussion, we should just turn up the air conditioner and go at it.

real letters

hand-written-letterPeople don’t write real letters anymore.

I’ve mentioned before that I work at the Post Office.  Every day except Sunday, I carry the mail in our area…so I have a pretty good idea of what’s coming and going.

We get some letters still…handwritten notes and cards…but the level seems to be decreasing. The level of all the mail seems to be decreasing.  The magazines are getting thinner, a little less junk second class mail…the packages seem to be stable because they’re pushing parcels as a revenue stream…it feels like change is in the air.

I feel like a dusty cowboy astride his horse…looking out over the prairie…his mail bag slung over his saddle….wondering , “why don’t they send me out as often anymore?”

That’s the thing about this world…everything changes…always.  Even if you’re dead, you’re changing.  It’s inevitable.

The Post Office is so big…and has been a monopoly for so long that I wonder if they ever saw any need in being able to change? The attitude of “this is the way we do it…this is the way we’ve always done it…why should we have to change with the times?” is something that I see all the time at work.

It’s like they’ve lived in a house on fire for a couple of years and just noticed that it’s getting kind of hot.

So we try to compete with everybody who doesn’t really do what we do at the Post Office…like all we have to do is make more money delivering packages than UPS or FedEx and all our problems will be solved.  If we can only beat our competitors at their game, we’ll be the winners.

Why not hit it from the tradition angle…teach kids how meaningful it can be to write and receive a letter…how different it feels for the writer and the recipient to get something more solid than an emoticon filled text message?

The letter writers all seem to be the older folks, too…the young people have a different thing going on. What’s going to happen when the older folks are gone?  Who’s going to take their place as letter writers?  Not the young people…I don’t know that most of them even know how to address a letter, much less write one.

I’m a backseat driver.  I don’t have solutions to any of the Post Office’s woes…and it’s easy to pick at things and say, “Why don’t they do it like this?  It’d fix things…”.  I do think that they’re missing an opportunity in not educating a little on the tradition of getting and giving a real letter.

Sometimes I feel like a cooper…or a VCR repairman…it’s going away and I’m a witness to the changes.  Like I said before…what doesn’t change?  You go and do the job…and come home in the evening to your family and push through the other parts of your life.

It’s odd to see the changes in something that by design has been static for so long, though.