Sunday, January 16, 2022

The Week That Was #2

  • This was the week I restarted walking.  After a nineteen day hiatus it felt good to get out.  I ended up walking twice this week.  I should have done three but on Friday weather was coming in I just didn't feel like getting caught out in the drizzle and freezing fog.  That drizzle and freezing fog did not come in as expected and I could have easily walked.  Oh well.
    My first walk - on Monday - was in Omaha.  The second one midweek was at Hitchcock Nature Center with a twenty-five pound backpack.
    All in all I walked a hair over 15 miles (24.2 km) this week.
  • While I was walking on Monday something caught my eye.  At first I thought it was a drown with flashing lights.  I pulled out my camera and took a few grainy pictures.  Turns out it was a group of mylar balloons reflecting the sunlight.
    Not a drone … just balloons.
  • On Thursday Mom and I went out for lunch in the Old Market.  We ate at Jams in a location that has changed hands a few times over the years.  It was located where the Wife and I watched the  fireworks on a unusually drizzly New Year's Eve ten years ago.
  • It did snow Friday night into Saturday morning.  We had four inches more or less and the neighbor's snowblower helped me finish both of our driveways in no time flat.
  • The last big thing this week was the return of music.
    •  I was reading a local entertainment publication and saw that the Tedeschi Trucks band was coming next week.  I caught a bit of Derek Trucks years ago (possibly pre-Homer's Travels) in Ventura, CA when he warmed up for Eric Johnson.  His wife, Susan Tedeschi, caught my ear while searching for Derek Trucks tracks.  They are coming to the Orpheum a great old theater.  I got a ticket and it should be a great start to my return to music.
    • In March the Wife and I are going to see Enter the Haggis.  We saw them in person twelve years ago and they were so fun we are gong to see them again.  Bag pipes … what's not to like?
    • On 1 April I'll be going to see Bon Jovi.  First time seeing him.
    • Three days later on 4 April it's Alice Cooper.  I had tickets for him back in March 2020 but COVID got in the way and his show was rescheduled until it was canceled.  Hopefully this time I'll have better luck.
    • Five days later on 9 April it's Santana.  I almost didn't buy a ticket but my ticket buying spree pushed me over the edge.  I've learned that the age of the performer has to be taken into account as I have missed three concerts due to the death of the artist.  I don't want this to happen again if I can help it.
So I'm slowly filling up my concert calendar for the next few months.  Hopefully summer will bring more before I head back to the Appalachian Trail and we go on our fall travels (which I will post about one of these days).

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Book: Lisa Genova's "Remember: The Science Of Memory And The Art Of Forgetting"

My first book of 2022 was on a subject I've been struggling with.  Lisa Genova's "Remember: The Science of Memory and the Art of Forgetting" discusses memory, how it works, how it is flawed, how we forget, and why we forget.

As I grow older my memory is going to crap and this book comforted me.  Will it improve my memory?  Not really, but it will help me accept that the forgetting I am experiencing is normal.  She points out common memory lapses and compares them to those experienced during dementia and Alzheimer's. What I seem to be experiencing (completely forgetting my first James Taylor concert or an entire street that I'd traveled every week for several years) is perfectly normal for a person of my age.  I don't like it but it is what it is.  Now I just need to be more accepting and less argumentative (the Wife would be very happy if I manage to do this).

I gave this book four stars out of five on Goodreads.  It was exactly what I needed to hear … even if I don't like what the author is saying.

Sunday, January 09, 2022

The Week That Was #1

Since I am finding it hard to write lately … well, actually, for the past couple years, I have decided to try something.  I will be putting together a weekly post of the things I've been doing so I can chronical the little things my brain considers not blog post worthy.  If I can stick to this I will have at least fifty-two posts this year which sounds like a reasonable floor to aim at.  I hope there will be more than fifty-two posts by the end of the year.  We'll have to see how it goes.

  • On New Year's eve I lost my wedding ring.  I discovered this fact while I was in the Arby's drive through.  I'd lost nearly fifteen pounds since October and my rings had gotten looser and looser as the weight came off which explained the missing ring.  This threw me into a tizzy as I retraced my steps and tore through the car.  The ring was not in the car but I did discover a travel magnet that has slipped my grasp and had hid in the back seat.
    I'd spent the afternoon taking down the Christmas Tree and the Wife urged me to go through the Christmas boxes.  I pulled all the boxes out of the storage cubby since everything had to be removed to get to the tree boxes.  The first box only had dismembered Christmas Tree limbs.  The second box also contained only dismembered limbs until I started putting the limbs back into the box.  I shoved some branches into the box and I heard a loud clink.  The ring was found.  I felt so relieved.
    A quick search on Amazon found the ToneGod Ring Size Adjuster for Loose Rings.  The little clear rubber springs are wound around the back of a loose ring and cut to length.  The ring size adjuster really works.  My ring no longer slips off my finger, the adjuster is not noticeable, and I hardly feel it.
  • New Year's Eve ended early for us.  I turned off my light at 10:40PM.
  • We had snow on Saturday night.  The snow was not very impressive.  Maybe an inch or two at most but it was cold.  On Sunday morning I went out to shovel in -5℉ (-20℃) weather.  There was no wind which was good since it had been very windy when the snow was coming down and windchills had been in the double digits negative.  The cold temperatures also made the snow a light fluffy snow.  Even though I could have shoveled it I decided to use the neighbor's new snowblower.  This made it quick and painless and I was in and out of the cold lickity split.
  • Sunday afternoon the Wife and I went to see Licorice Pizza.  The movie was a cute, episodic, teenage love story.  It was too long and the part about the Japanese Restaurant owner was cringeworthy and hard to watch.  They should have removed those parts and tightened it up a bit and it would have been much better.
  • On Monday and Tuesday our new windows were installed.  We'd ordered them in March of last year and it took nine months for them to arrive thanks to COVID related backlogs.  The windows look great but especially the picture window in our living room.  The original window was divided into three equal vertical panels. For the new window we narrowed the panels on either side down to around six inches leaving a large panel in the middle.  With curtains the narrow side windows will be covered and it will look like one huge window.  The Wife and I both said "wow" when we first saw it.
  • While they were working on the windows I was down in the she-shed watching stuff on TV when everything dies.  I discovered our Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) was in fact interruptible.  I think this UPS was brought with us when we moved from California (or maybe purchased soon after we'd moved) so was at least ten years old and maybe older.  It was time for a new one.  Amazon came through again delivering one at our door the next day.
  • I visited mom during a shorter mid-week cold snap.  She needs to get out more, and she knows it, but otherwise seems to be doing well.  We will be going out to lunch this coming week.
  • Today is Gv's birthday.  Happy birthday Gv.  I wonder what you would thought about all that's going on in the world today.  I know you didn't suffer fools well.
This coming week I'll be restarting my walking.  I haven't walked since before Christmas.  Time to restart in earnest.  I kind of miss the outdoors.

Saturday, January 01, 2022

Best Photo Of 2021

2021 was similar to 2020, photography-wise, in that I took my camera everywhere and took very few pictures.  The saving grace this year was that we did go on a roadtrip to the southeastern USA which gave me many opportunities to take good pictures.

The number of pictures I uploaded to Google photos - where I post my best photos - was probably the fewest I've ever posted in a year.  Many of the pictures were mediocre at best as I felt uninspired.  I wonder what I could have captured if the world hadn't felt so dark and bleak last year.

There were a few pictures that I took on our summer southeast roadtrip that I liked.  They were taken at Montgomery, Alabama's National Memorial for Peace and Justice, a somber place often referred to as the Lynching Memorial.  The coffin-like hanging metal boxes are both emotionally stirring and hauntingly photogenic.  Here is my favorite photo of the memorial and of the year:

"Suspended in Light"
by Bruce H.
(Taken on 12th of June, 2021)

I hope you all had a happy and safe New Year's Eve.  Looking forward I am not optimistic about the new year.  There are so many good things happening this year but there is also a lot of potential for bad things.  Let's hope that the good outweighs the bad this year.  That's all we can ask for.

Friday, December 31, 2021

A Homer's Travels Look Back At 2021

2021 … From a burning dumpster fire to an epidemic of stupid.  I entered this year with some modicum of hope but it seemed the idiocy got in the way at every turn.  All I could do as the year progressed was shake my head in disbelief and turn off the news.

Let's look back at 2021, shall we:

  • January: The Blue Jays finally found my yard.  They made several appearances in my backyard this year, more than all our years in Omaha combined.  I started a journey of one thousand miles with good intentions.  Cookies welcomed the new administration.  A little hope in poetic form.
  • February: The joy of a frosty morning. I went a little bird nerdy at the beginning of the year as demonstrated by this picture of a Junco. Cold days visited us this month.  A visit to Mars.  A symbol of Q and things to come that finally came down six months later.
  • March: My first COVID-19 vaccination and the start of Spring.  We were so innocent then.  Who knew the vaccination would be so controversial?
  • April: On the second anniversary of starting my Appalachian Trail attempt I decided to go back and finish it.  With the second shot and a couple weeks the end of the tunnel was in view … briefly.
  • May: I was in a funk but travel plans were coming together.  I was two days late commemorating the tenth anniversary of my first Camino.  I had no good excuse for being late.  Another new bird visited our backyard.
  • June: We went on our roadtrip to the southeastern USA.  The first two weeks of the month we drove nearly four thousand miles.  The remainder of the month I documented our trip and we hosted the Wife's brother and niece as they volunteered at the Olympic swim trials.  It felt good to be out of the house even though where we went evoked many mixed feelings.
  • July: I finished documenting our southeast roadtripI aged another year.  The Wife and I watched more Olympic coverage than we usually do (which is a lot) and I suggested a change to how they run the games which I'm certain no one involved took note of.
  • August: I added the multitude of magnets collected during our southeast roadtrip.  We had a wasp visitor bearing gifts.  A storm came through and dumped a lot of water on downtown Omaha.  This storm had followed one that knocked out my Mom's power for nearly five days.  Following the storms and summerly hot and humid weather our air conditioner gave up the ghost and was replaced along with our similar aged furnace.  I admired some street art on a parking garage.
  • September: I finally caught up on on my backlog of podcasts (a result of the Appalachian Trail hike) and read my first book in nearly a year and a half.  I remembered the twentieth anniversary of 9-11 by looking at how I had remembered it the prior years and considering the mess we are in.  My hikes took me back into nature, the first since I left the Appalachian Trail, where I was saddened by what the passing of time had done to a once mighty tree.  I welcomed the cooler weather of the autumnal equinox even though summer hung on a little longer.
  • October: The Wife and a traveling nun had something in common.  My eighth Caminoversary was not forgotten this year.  A couple bird feeder bandits were caught red handed.  The month ended with a ghostly visitation.
  • November: We had our first snow flurries of this unusual winter.  The month went by in a blink so I summarized what I'd done.
  • December: I was surprised by the first bloom of my Christmas cactus.  We finally had our first significant snowfall even tho it didn't last long.  The month was unexpectedly warm until the last week of the month.  I didn't post about it but my Mom's husband passed away this month just short of his one hundredth birthday.  It was a sad note just before Christmas.
  • Walking: I started the one thousand mile challenge thinking it would be easy for me to accomplish.  I did not take into account the heat of summer or the disinterest of the fall that really slowed my progress.  I hike831.12 miles over 79 hikes.  It was the third highest annual mileage since I started keeping track in 2007.  I'm a little disappointed that I couldn't complete the challenge but I still managed to hike quite a few miles.
  • Biking: This year I didn't ride my bike at all.
  • Books: I spent most of the year catching up on podcasts that had accumulated after my Appalachian Trail attempt. Once I'd finally caught up to the present I started back into my reading though this wasn't until September.  I didn't set a goal like I'd done previous years since I wanted to ease back into reading without any pressure.  I did pretty good (for me) reading eight books.  Here are my Goodreads Stats for 2021.
  • Concerts, Shows & Music :  COVID-19 … need I say more...again?  No live shows at all this year.  I almost went to a free Elvis Costello concert but the heat and humidity … and frankly crowds kept me from doing it.  Like last year I did listen to a lot of music on Spotify.  Here is my Spotify 2021 Wrapped if you want to explore what the shuffle button did music-wise this year.
  • I posted 61 times this year.  Like last year I found it hard to get myself motivated to write. The summer roadtrip helped a bit.  I still didn't want to talk about the pandemic.  I still didn't want to post about politics.  There was too much of that out there and everything else was overwhelmed.  I didn't feel like adding to the amount of stupid that inundated us in 2021 so I didn't.
What will 2022 bring?  I have some health issues that will have to be straightened out.  I want to spend more time with Mom.  The Wife is retiring at the end of this school year.  Health permitting I will finish the Appalachian Trail.  We have a big adventure planned for the early fall.  In other words, there will be a lot of change coming this year.  With great change comes great adjustment.

Here's to a Happy, Prosperous, and Healthy New Year for all.  May all your dreams come true in 2022.
(That last line rhymes!)

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Book: John Green's "The Anthropocene Reviewed"

My last book of 2021 was John Green's "The Anthropocene Reviewed".  Author John Green, before writing his novels, reviewed books.  He was instructed not to include his personal feelings in his reviews.  This book is a departure from those instructions.

The book is a collection of topics ... music, art, feelings, place, events ... reviewed by Green intertwining personal events and beliefs with the topic reviewed.  The topics are eclectic and full of meaning.  The anecdotes are interesting and fun to read.

This book, as a whole, was a pleasure to read.  If you look at your own life and take stock of all the meaningful things that make you you, you would end up with a strange mix of topics just like this book.  Seeing someone else's list reminds you that we are all similar under the surface.

I gave this book four stars out of five on Goodreads.  Green is a good writer and his life, like many others, is delightfully ordinary.

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Merry Christmas To All (Except COVID)

 Hope everyone was treated nicely by Santa Claus (and 
 COVID the Grinch). 

Our house decorated in red and green laser light.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

OK Winter Is Finally Here ...

... how about some snow and cold weather? We had a really cold day last Saturday but temperatures are back above average.


  Happy Winter Solstice Everyone !!!  



Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Book: Andy Weir's "Project Hail Mary"

This is the third book by the author of "The Martian", an excellent book that I gave five stars on Goodreads.  Andy Weir's second book "Artemis" did not live up to the first book.  I gave it four stars but looking back I probably should have given it three.  His third book, "Project Hail Mary" almost gets there.  Not as good as "The Martian" but definitely better then "Artemis".

In his latest book the author gets back to his science roots that showed in "The Martian".  Some of the math is overdone and inserted in odd places.  Sometimes I was tempted to skip over the math paragraphs. Fortunately the story of a global disaster, a  long shot attempt to save humanity, and first contact held my attention and I looked forward to crawling in bed to read every night.

I gave this book four of five on Goodreads because it did overcompensate on the math but, if I could, I would have give it four and a half stars.  After enjoying "The Martian" so much I am happy Weir is getting back on track and producing truly original and interesting science fiction.

Monday, December 13, 2021

Book: J.S. Dewes' "The Last Watch"

J.S. Dewes' "The Last Watch" is the first book of a two book series.  It is an odd book where the characters and the fictional history are very interesting but the major scientific premise of the book is just too out there to be believable.  This made it hard to suspend disbelief at times.

The book follows a military outpost on the frontier.  Hundreds of years have passed since a war was fought and won against a powerful enemy.  Where the story goes from there is off the rails.  And from there it gets worse.

Having said all this, I liked the characters enough that I was able to wrestle my disbelief  into submission enough that I could ignore it's whining.

Despite its scientific implausibility I gave the book four out of five stars on Goodreads.  The characters interested me enough that I will likely read the second book.  I just hope the scientific malarkey is reined in in the second book.