Sunday, January 30, 2022

Weekly Ephemera #4

Yep, I changed the title of these weekly summaries once again.  I'll get it right eventually.

  • This week I added to our music plans when I bought tickets for America.  This will be the first concert the Wife and I have gone to at the Holland Center's outdoor venue.  This is in June so hope the weather cooperates.  This is America's fiftieth anniversary tour ... crazy ... I am so old.
     
    Adding to the fiftieth anniversary theme this week I bought us tickets to the Marshall Tucker Band.  They are also on their fiftieth anniversary tour.  The show is in early March at the Whiskey Roadhouse where we saw a free Joan Osborne concert back in 2008.  The venue is a casino bar and very intimate though there is an issue with background noise.

    Kid Rock is also coming to Omaha.  I won't be going.  A tweet I saw explains it best:
    "Middle Age Riot @middleageriot 
    Why boycott Kid Rock's music for political reasons when you can boycott it for  musical ones?"
     
  • I continued my walking this week doing 27.83 miles (44.79 km) over three hikes.  The middle one on Wednesday was a short one due to the wind that cut right through you.

  • Finally this was (another) week of procrastination.  I set a reminder to get an estimate for installing a new water heater (I didn't).  I set another reminder to get an exterior painting estimate (I didn't).  I also wanted to stop by the cell phone place to replace my phone which has lost nearly half of its battery capacity - probably due to over charging and overheating the phone during our vacation last June (I didn't).

    I'm hoping putting it here where everyone can see will light a fire under my butt.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Book: Jenn Lyons' "The Ruin Of Kings"

My second book of the year was my return to the fantasy genre.  It has been a while since I dipped my toe into good ol' Swords and Sorcery type of fiction.   I'm thinking the last real fantasy I read was in 2014 tho I have read a few one shots or the first book of series which were kind of Sword and Sorcery but none ever grabbed my interest.  Unlike those books, Jenn Lyons' "The Ruin of Kings" pulled me in.

The storey follows a very typical fantasy story line of young street kid turns out to be the prophesied hero.  The hero journeys - either voluntarily or not - gathering allies along the way until there is an ultimate encounter with evil.  The stories are almost always the same and it's the little character and world building details that make it interesting or not.

The author does build a compelling world.  The characters are interesting, if not typical for the genre.  The only issue I had was the changing of names resulting from body swapping and the similarity of names due to the naming convention which combined parts of names made it hard to follow who was who and who was related to who.  Other than that it was a good read.

I gave it four stars out of five on Goodreads and I'm looking forward to reading the other two books in the trilogy.

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Ephemera Of The Week #3

I'm renaming this recurring series from "The Week That Was" to "Ephemera Of The Week".  I think this is more descriptive since rather than being a weekly summary these posts are a collection of often overlooked ephemera.

  • I tried to walk this week but things got in the way.  I walked 10.45 miles (16.8 km) on Monday which included a slip on an icy patch that resulted in me hitting the sidewalk pretty hard.  No permanent damage except for a bruised ego.  My Wednesday walk was preempted by an eye doctor appointment.  My Friday walk was a victim of a lack of will more than anything.  I could feel Thursday evening that I didn't want to walk on Friday.  The wind chills were also an impediment.
  • On Wednesday, as I mentioned above, I had my annual eye appointment.  When I got to the office I discovered that they'd lost my appointment but fortunately they could fit me in.  In fact, the waiting that inevitably accompanies doctor appointments was not any longer than usual.

    They did the usual tests, including the dreaded field of vision test, with positive results.  No problems were found and test results were similar to last year's examination.  My eyes were dilated so they could take pictures of the cupping in my optic nerve (A common symptom of glaucoma but, in my case, is the result of extreme nearsightedness I had pre-lasik).  I drove home blinded by the light all the way.
  • Since I decided not to walk on Friday I visited Mom.  She seems to be doing well but I think she, like many of us, are suffering from cabin fever.  When it gets warmer we'll do more stuff out and about.
  • On Friday I also picked up a letter from the post office. It required a signature to pick up.  The letter was from the water utility and was concerning coming to our house to swap out the water meters.  Emblazoned on on corner was FINAL NOTICE.  It turns out that I'd been notified twice before by email.  Neither of these emails had the utility's logo.  When I called the number on the email I got a recording which did not clearly say it was the utility answering service and the voice was heavily accented.  This screamed scam to me so I hung up and ignored the emails.  The letter I signed for did have the utility's logo and when I called the number this time I actually talked with someone who acknowledged, after I asked, that they were from the utility.  They will be here in early February to change out the water meter.

    Why this didn't start as a mailed letter on letterhead in the first place and why their telephone messages sounded so scammish I do not know but it would have made this whole scheduling process much easier.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Music: Tedeschi Trucks Band And Raye Zaragoza At The Orpheum Theater

Last night I reentered the world of live music after a nearly four years hiatus.  The last concert I'd gone to was the Little River Band in May 2018.  COVID is still rampant but, being all vaxxed and boosted up, I masked up and enjoyed the show.

Raye Zaragoza warmed up the full
Orpheum Theater.
The warm up was Raye Zaragoza, a singer/songwriter with a very nice voice.

Raye sings from her life and heart.  Her songs varied from the stories of her Japanese mother to others about her Native American father.  Her songs have a social justice side such as the one about the dakota access pipeline.

I generally liked her music though some of her lyrics need a little polishing.  The crowd liked her, she had a great screen presence, and interacted with the audience.

Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi.
Raye left the stage and the Tedeschi Trucks Band took the stage and lit the orpheum on fire.  The bluesy voice of Susan Tedeschi and the bluesy rock of Derek Trucks meshed together to really transcend.

The best examples are their rendition of "Midnight in Harlem" and "Angle of Montgomery" - Susan Tedeschi's version rivals Bonnie Raitt.  The great songs just kept coming all night.  Sometimes I just closed my eyes and let the music wash over me.

The band was bigger than I expected - Twelve members, three brass players, three backup singers, two drummers, a keyboard player, a bass player, Trucks, and Tedeschi.  With all these people on stage they managed to give everyone their own solo and you haven't lived until you hear a bluesy trombone solo.  Totally amazing.

The Tedeschi Trucks Band.

It was a good musical start to the year ahead.  Next up on the schedule, Enter the Haggis in March.   Can't wait since the only thing better than a trombone solo is a bagpipe solo (yes ... I'm totally serious).


Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Photograph: "Convenient World"

 We can ask for nothing more than a ...

"Convenient World"
by Bruce H.

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.