Thursday, September 30, 2010

55 Hours Of Living Fully: Part One

It's been a while since I recounted a string of my personal exploits in their entirety, but as I've said, I only do so when it seems especially remarkable. As my personal life develops, the bar raises ever higher, and simply doing two things in an evening no longer seems to suffice. Now and again, though, something more does happen. Just recently, something has happened. It stretched over some two and a half days, during which time there were few breaks from action and no respite from mental effort. I don't suppose that every hour of that time is worth giving a complete report on, but it's best to know that general thing. It shall take some time to tell, so I sincerely hope that it's interesting enough to hold your attention for the next seven days.

It began with an evening meeting which fell through. I had been invited into a sort of loose collective of actors looking to band together for motivation and productivity and consented. There had been meeting in the past, but I had missed them for some reason. Not having anything going on, and knowing I'd have something to do near there later that evening, I decided I'd go. I considered sending word, but found nothing in the message received to such the necessity of such action. It turned out to have been rather necessary. I arrived a bit late, but figured everyone would, as that's usually the way. I couldn't reach anyone, and couldn't get inside. Minute by minute, my concern grew. Finally, word did come of the meeting's cancellation. I was at this time walking away, but I and the meeting's planned host made the best of things. There was a costume we had discussed for another venture, but weren't sure how it would work, being meant for a much larger man than me. We determined that it would be funny.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Romancing The Bulb

It's another day and another risible exercise in late-twenties nostalgia. The other day, while in the home of a friend, my gaze turned upward and I noticed the light bulbs in the chandelier. Of course they were the modern compact fluorescent bulbs that have become so fashionable. Indeed, it becomes challenging to find their predecessor. I find that regrettable, personally. I am as interested in everyone else in making incremental steps towards greater energy efficiency in order to further that grand plan of saving the planet, but must we give up such a romantic piece of the past as the incandescent light bulb? Surely there's a way to retain the good- to not throw out the baby with the bathwater, as the expression goes. After all, we decided that even with digital photography being the wave of the future, we could not do without Polaroids.

To me the incandescent bulb is the bulb of Edison (and of those he exploited, ripped off and got the jump on). I can't bear to lose that direct link or any of the rest. Every memory of and association with the old light bulbs that I have is a good one; even the bad ones are good. My mind conjures up imagery of a charming and cheap variety. I see a wooden cabinet in an old house, and inside is a flimsy, beat-up cardboard carton with simple, bright artwork on it (or no artwork at all). The bulbs inside are generic and probably second-rate. I take one out of its little cell and bring it over to the lighting fixture, where a dead, sooty bulb remains after surprising me by flaring up and dying with a mild explosion when I flipped the switch. The circuit is still active, and when I screw in the bulb most of the way, it lights up with a warm glow.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Laundering Out

Leading up to the closing days of August, I had never lived in a place which lacked on-site laundry facilities. Most of those years, the laundry was really not even my concern. Sure, if I had been a more responsible son I might have handled the laundry myself every once in a while, but I have no interest in re-writing history. As it was, others shouldered the burden. Apart from that, I did my own laundry, and did it in the same place where I lived. At summer camp, many of us were just learning how to do it. The facilities were right there among the staff cabins. I benefited from the tutelage of the camp staff scoutmaster, who oversaw the living quarters for junior staff. Also helping was the very limited nature of clothing that had to be washed. We all had the same green pants, green (and later tan) t-shirts, and tan formal shirts. Later situations were not so easy.

In college, I lived in two different buildings which were about the same as far as laundry went. I had to load up items of my luggage with clothes, and take then down to the second floor of our building in the elevator. I lived on something like the tenth floor. The machines were more or less reliable, one exceptional occasion aside. I could get the laundry going, then return to my room and do something else, which I liked. I also could remain down in the laundry room and occupy myself with the tv or socialize with others, but I never seemed to like what was on tv, and I had no friends there with whom I might socialize. That was fine by me at the time. It was a basically acceptable situation where laundry was concerned.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Thievery Of Spite

When I get the feeling that I'm being directed to do something, I want to do nothing less than that thing. People online sometimes seem to command that I offer my two cents on some subject, or that I make a contribution of some other kind. God knows that I'm as eager as can be to voice my thoughts on any subject that might be put before me- I mean ANYTHING. You can't shut me up, and people know that. Nothing makes me clam up faster than the idea that I'm being ordered. The recipe for manipulating me into doing something is similar. When I'm brusquely told to not do something, my whole being becomes consumed with unrelenting desire to do it. People's suspicions can be very suggestive. It's interesting how it seems to work.

I happened to stop in at my local grocery store late at night on my way back one recently. There was nothing on my mind but investigating leave-in conditioners, as I'm getting more interested in maintaining my appearance and had just received some pointers from lady friends of mine who have been accustomed to doing so for far longer. When I set foot in the place, I was accosted by the lone cashier, who insisted that I leave my backpack in checkout aisle 6 before proceeding. My laconically-voiced consent masked my instant rage, and my mind turned on a dime to larceny. I thought to myself, the only way I can recover here is to steal something- anything- in order to walk away knowing I put one over on this guy.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Eatery Of Neatery

I wrote a poem some time ago which gave voice to great frustration I felt about poor service at a restaurant. At the time, I was inconsolably furious, but the feeling passed in time. I've decided that when in the heat of the moment, it's best not to make any long-term vows that will seem ill-considered when righteous fury gives way to reasoned thought. Suffice it to say that I forgave the restaurant and have returned many times since. It's an interesting place. I'd say even that I like it, although the food is in a battle for best thing in the place with the ambience that it is by no means assured of winning. That ambience is formidable. The place calls itself a cafe, but is no one as I understand the term. It's something of a hip diner more than anything.

It's evidently popular with some of the more prominent figures in our town's entertainment community, and has been the location for filming in the past. I have seen a few myself, without naming any names. The interior space is L-shaped, with the long side facing the street and being visible through the windows. The short side retreats from the street somewhat, and is therefore the most secluded area in the place. Celebrities invariably seem to sit there if anywhere. It seems as if they are fairly safe from encroachment by fans and would-be networkers. I have never approached one, but have been guilty of talking about them from mere yards away (I was properly abashed. I certainly hope I did not turn that very talented comic actor off the establishment).

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Unfortunate Sun

I can't believe that some things people do are entirely permissible. Against all good reason, they're both legal and socially acceptable. I'm certainly not talking about those sorts of things where a person engages in destructive behavior which has no effect on anyone else, barring friends and loved ones who care what happens to that person. I'm talking strictly about things which very clearly impact all kinds of people not bargaining on dealing with the consequences of such actions. A lot of it has to do with driving (the legality of which is itself some of a wonder). The specific things that I feel are a worry there are mostly about multitasking, but it's not using a phone, applying makeup, looking at a map or eating fast food while driving that has me troubled. Rather, it is the destination people are driving to relative to the Sun.

People laugh when I bring this up, and yet who among them can deny how terribly unsafe it is to drive towards the Sun? It impairs the driver in a myriad of ways. Street signs cannot be read until the driver is right at them if they can be read at all. This is bad enough on surface streets, where the speed is more manageable and where there are other landmarks visible to give you some indication of where you are provided you are familiar with the route. It's just about unbearable on the freeway, where you often can see nothing useful other than the freeway itself thanks to the barriers installed or to the driving surface being sunken below the surface streets. Furthermore, it's tough to see what the other cars are doing. It's just a very dangerous situation to me.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Gas Ranger

As far as I can recall, my whole childhood we had nothing but electric ranges and ovens. Places we lived in prior to my third birthday may not have been so modern, but I think that what matters is my memory. It seemed like the most natural thing in the world that there was a coil that was black in idleness and that became bright orange when roused into action. It gave no other indication that it was hot or dangerous, and stayed both hot and dangerous for a bit after being deactivated. You couldn't do anything with it except lay a pot or pan on it. Eventually I knew there was another kind of range, but seldom if ever had use of one except when camping. What we had then were a variety of portable gas cookers. They ran on various fuels, propane, butane and other more exotic gases being among them. It's a pleasant association I make with cooking via gas.

In recent years, I have lived in some places that had a gas range instead of electric. The difference is interesting. Having an open flame adds some utility to the thing. It's a whole lot easier to ignite something by touching it to a gas burner. Marshmallows are one possibility. One must be careful about it, of course, but about any common thing one might want to be on fire can be made so with a gas burner. I like that. That's not to say that I'm doing so willy-nilly. In fact, I suppose I haven't done so except for once I can think of about three years ago. It's just always nice to know that a certain option lay before you even if you don't ever make use of it. So it was until the final couple months with the swimming pool in my old place.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Turning To The Back Catalog

It has been some time since I was in the habit of buying DVDs or watching them more than once, but I once did both in great volume. There was an electronics store on the way to my junior college back when I was still in Arizona. I would make frequent trips to it, often buying new and old releases. I was especially susceptible to the special they often had on one of the week's new releases. A movie which would thereafter sell for 19.99 was for a limited time only 16.99. This was really not such a great deal, but was extremely effective at enticing me personally. I also bought a lot of discs used, favoring a website that offered them at a fixed rate and through which individuals were selling their own merchandise. This mainly took place between 2001 and 2004. It's really remarkable how many movies I accumulated during that time.

Then Netflix had come into being. I hadn't rented movies much since my local independent store closed down, as no corporate chain really did it for me. Rather, as I said, I was buying discs. When Netflix came along, I no longer needed to. I have few discs from after '04, if any. I watched them plenty while still in school, but in the last four years, I have seldom done so. I was watching rented discs exclusively, and almost never watching anything twice. The result was that I was going through a high volume of titles, but perhaps not grasping them as fully as I might from repeated viewings. Others might get all they're going to from once, but my comprehension isn't quite like that, nor is my attention. I miss details. One of my favorite films is 'Executive Suite', and I keep picking up things. I must have seen it a dozen or two times by now.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Class In Our Time

It often seems to be the case that I am in neighborhoods that may be charitably described as somewhat rough around the edges. I don't want to give the impression that they are bad neighborhoods really, because in comparison with some rather notorious ones that come to mind, these are not all that bad. They are just rundown, and if not unsafe, then not overtly very safe. I tend to have in my head the idea that I've got a bit more going for me than my presence in such districts would suggest. Given my circumstances, that may be entirely unfounded, but there it is anyway. It's a conceit that aids the well-being of my self-esteem at times, not unlike the shield that must be made of one's ego as an up and coming entertainer in order to fend off relentless and often unkind criticism.

On the other end of the spectrum from the grittier areas are the glitzy ones. Where I felt like a big fish in the former, the latter places have me feeling more like a fish out of water than a small fish in a larger pond. I often tell people how, when walking around a very nice residential block, I have a mild fear of being stopped by a concerned citizen, a HOA rent-a-cop or even a real policeman. I feel keenly how out of place I must seem, especially looking as I do. I sometimes carry a backpack and get the idea that I look like Rambo in First Blood. Perhaps that's not the case, but I do look somewhat unkempt and scruffy sometimes if I'm not careful. Unless I'm dressed to clean a pool, I must surely stick out like a sore thumb. Frankly, I wouldn't hire myself to clean a pool. On looks alone, I might be suitable to clean up after pets in people's yards.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


I have undertaken the weighty enterprise of live performance a good number of times in my life, and have now found myself the leased aggrieved by the form most likely to frighten others: improv. Not having the security of a script which they can cling to is scary, I understand. I find it to be the most relaxed kind of acting I might try to do, for there are no specific expectations for me to meet, and more importantly, no lines for me to memorize. Any attempt to prepare is basically useless except to warm up. You have practices that more resemble athletic workouts than rehearsals, because there's nothing to rehearse yet. I love that. I get to act cool as a cucumber, and when people inquire about the show's chances and how I feel, I can just shrug and say "We'll see how it goes".

That's improv. Scripted performance is something else again, and maybe those who do it find my alarm as curious as I find theirs in what I consider my area. I described the act of working with a script as something like walking around while carrying an anchor. What is comforting to others is oppressive to me- something that will tug on me endlessly until it brings me down. Now, I don't call that a reasonable attitude, exactly. It's just the one I'm dealing with. It so happens that I'm embarking on a scripted show now. I have my anxieties about it, not the least of which being that concern about mastering my script and not permitting it to master me. It's not so much that I feel stifled by the idea of having to do a show in a certain way and not getting to change it up in any respect. I believe I could be perfectly content to do the same show each time out, and would not get bored. That's not an issue here anyway, as there will be just one performance unless I take it upon myself to try and grant my show additional life.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Mother Of Invention

I've repeatedly observed that in the absence of cable tv or especially reliable internet access, there is an entertainment vacuum of sorts for my roommate and I. When the things we can do hold little appeal, we tend to make our own fun. I remember doing that when I was a little boy. I hadn't gotten into the habit of watching television- we didn't have cable, and it's to the credit of my parents that they did not exactly work assiduously to get us started on it. Eventually we did get cable, but until then my sister and I playacted and invented games that depended on no more equipment and facilities than a cardboard box and a disused room in the house.

That kind of imaginative play has come to the rescue on occasion in times of dire crisis- when I've been working, and could not do what I wanted to entertain myself out of some sense of propriety, it was time to make a game from the materials on hand. The swelling of one's pride that comes from such inventiveness often outweighs the sense of pathos that comes from such desperation. Actually though, there's nothing to be embarrassed about when one is merely following in the revered footsteps of Calvin and Hobbes. I only hope to someday make such a lasting contribution to mankind as Calvinball. We have here at our place a golf club. If I understand correctly, it's a putting wedge. Maybe it's a sand wedge, though. I really don't know. It's not a driver, I'm pretty sure of that. Obviously we don't have a putting green to make use of, and if we're honest with ourselves then we openly admit we're never actually setting foot on a real course. We don't even have a ball. I figure really we ought to have several of those. I envision us doing that complacent business exec thing of putting balls into a mug, but we just don't have those resources.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Death Dish

I have a system for picking foods, and I believe I've outlined the nature of its functioning sufficiently well. It will be enough for me to repeat that it works fairly well. Only once that I can think of offhand has my gift for selection so abandoned me that it was necessary to turn my back on something I had gotten at the grocery store before consuming it. I allow that there must have been others, but I can only recall it being the case when I decided that the largest container of generic tabasco-like sauce would flavor my dinner of rice for the foreseeable future. I nonetheless retained it until I ended up moving away and could not justify bringing it to the new place.

Now, I may have noted that early in the process of making cheap, plentiful and bland rice into the perennial cornerstone of my dinner plans that soy sauce was an early companion to the mighty grain. It was recently my recollection that I had enjoyed that, and would do well to go with it again if only for a short time. I had just moved into my new place, and had no food to speak of. I thought I'd acquire a few very cheap things to sustain myself during the tumult. I bought bread, second rate individual sliced cheese, third rate bologna and soy sauce to go with rice I did have at home. The bologna and cheese sandwiches were a surprise hit, really striking a chord with me. I enjoyed them so much that they spilled over from the lunch hour into both dinner and breakfast. It was then the case that I only in the last couple of days reached for the rice and soy sauce.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Cassette

Is the relatively early age of 27 a premature point at which to begin experiencing nostalgia? Maybe so, but I have memories of things that aren't there anymore. I may have mentioned that nostalgia was originally defined as being the lingering sensation of pain from an old wound. Most nostalgia seems to be of a favorable nature the way I hear it, and the thing I have been remembering lately is not an exception to the trend. The earliest storage device for music I know is the cassette tape, for that's what we had my whole childhood. The compact disc arrived for me much after it did perhaps for most, and so I had that much more time with the idiosyncrasies of it. You come to love the good and the bad of a thing, linked as it is with many memories.

I think I've written before about the mix tape of children's music I used each night as a boy to call the Sand Man. It worked sometimes, and sometimes it didn't work, but always it was a familiar element of the fading day for me. I remember a song about chicken soup and rice, among others. There was a song about a bunch of boys forced to share a bed, with one always falling out one side and trying to get back in on the other. There was a song about a great huge dog who was a friend to some boy. It wasn't Clifford the Big Red Dog; this was something else. That cassette tape could be for me something like the sled in Citizen Kane. I wish I had it now.

Friday, September 17, 2010

To Be Full

Since the time when I began to live away from my family, it has been up to me to go out and get things. No longer was I to be surprised by a selection of new clothes brought home from the store for me to try on. More serious is that it has been up to me to get the food. I do it begrudgingly, and the results suffer from my lack of great enthusiasm for it. All my decisions about what to get are predicated on devoting the smallest amount of resources possible while at the same time ensuring that a return trip will not be necessary for the maximum amount of time. The two priorities apart from that are to have foods that I can make myself eat and which are very filling.

It's quite a thing to be full, though it may be of not the finest cuisine. There's a circle that one traverses. You go from being uncomfortable because you are hungry. You then eat, and hopefully stop when you are no longer hungry. If you pick food that is more pleasurable than is necessary to get to that point, then you're enjoying it just too much to stop there. I occasionally have that problem. When you keep going, you become uncomfortable for precisely the opposite reason as the initial incident. Better to be in pain due to abundance as opposed to inadequacy, I suppose, but the pain does not lessen on that basis. Now, in the media this is a comical condition, with the portly but lovable uncle leaning back, unbuckling his pants and making loud noises and crude remarks meant to convey his enjoyment of the meal. It seems to me that not any of those things is humorous when seen for real.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Strange Assignations

Having become a more social person in recent years, I've become acquainted with most forms of social encounters. Most of them are based on some ostensible purpose or objective other than socializing with that person. I think it's really bad news when you actually hear, "We need to talk". Built around an event or activity, I have no difficulty grasping the encounter. Even though I understand getting together with the excuse being food or drink instead of activity, it's still an odd thing to me. When the stated reason has the former, there's probably a higher probability of positive purpose, but I find myself mystified by them anyway.

I wish very much that we could just be frank about what we're doing together in some coffee shop. Food has always been a social lubricant, and I'm not sorry that it's at the heart of most cultures, but I do wonder why people don't care to admit that they desire social contact. Instead they pretend the coffee or a hamburger is what matters so much, and they're disinclined to consume it alone. I don't know if that's what has me ill at ease about such encounters independent of a second shared experience, but it's what I think about next. Maybe that's it exactly. I think it may be that a coffee just isn't enough in my mind to bring a couple of people together. I went over to someone's place to eat over the weekend, but we were also watching football. That felt like a valid reason to be there.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Streets Of Glendale

I've begun to get something of a feel for the streets that it appears I'll be walking the rest of the time I'm in the neighborhood where I presently dwell, and it's really rather pleasant. A couple of times when I've been plodding along past the high school on my way home after a late night, I've been struck by a potent feeling of contentment with that main road off of which I turn for the side street my apartment is on. Often it's very quite, peaceful and lightly traveled if not entirely devoid of activity. The people who are on the streets both day and night often look as if they have considerably more going for them than their counterparts in my past neighborhoods. Someone like me walking around this area may not be probable cause in itself as it was in North Hollywood.

It's not entirely good though, or at least not entirely straight forward. That high school I have adopted as the one of my community. I feel a kind of a stake in its fortunes as they rise and fall. The other night it appeared as if they hosted a football game, and worked-up students swarmed over the streets. I confess that it feels a bit odd to be around students like that. High school was a while ago for me, and I'm not sure how far removed I am from their station in life. It's just a peculiar thing to be there at the same time and in the same place as people still consumed with quandaries like PE and rounding up dates for all-important school dances. I wasn't any good at either thing, I ought to note. Still, I feel positively about the school and its students. By all appearances, they seem as upstanding and well-balanced as any I could ever have called my peers.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


It may have been suggested at one time or another that I lack awareness of other people's needs and feelings, domestically speaking. By that I mean some have felt that I fail to consider how the things I do and don't do around the house affect those I live with. That's a valid opinion, and often one which I would agree with. I didn't grow up as an only child, but I have spent most of my life with restroom facilities at my private disposal that the necessity of sharing would introduce a largely new wrinkle to life. I recall a level of co-existence at summer camp, and full sharing in the college dorms. Those experiences were ostensibly for learning, happening as they did while under the auspices of Boy Scouts and an institution of higher education. By now I should be able to cope with occasional inacessibility of the bathroom.

I sort of can do that. I at least don't try to beat down the bathroom door when my roommate is in there, no matter how much I have to go. The number of times when we both want in there is few, and the number of times when the need for each of us is dire fewer still, but I'm afraid that on those rare occasions, the urgency I feel turns my heart in a rather dark direction where my roommate is concerned. A nicer, more fun roommate you could not reasonable expect, and yet a locked bathroom door conjures up some venomous thoughts indeed. I try to deflect them to a safe recipient, such as a chronically unpopular legislative body. Really, there's nothing to be done about the root cause, so it's about serenity- a concept I'm trying to embody. My mantra has become, "What are you gonna do?"

Monday, September 13, 2010

Quick Stopoff

I've written plenty of times about using public transportation, saying no small amount about its strengths and weaknesses both in my own specific situation and in general. I believe I may have alluded to something that strikes a small amount of sadness in me each time it happens, and that is the regular spotting of a specific place I'd like to get off and look at, but can't. Typically, I'm on a very tight schedule while traveling on the bus. A small disturbance in it can throw the whole thing off- should I reach a certain intersection at 12:02 and not 12:01, that may mean waiting an hour for my connecting bus instead of a minute. My agenda seldom can bear that.

The result is that my commute takes on certain characteristics held by an airplane flight. When the pilot calls your attention to some item of interest out the window, you can do no more than look as you pass. It's the same if you see something on your own. I guess that really only happens when your plane makes its final descent, but the point is that you're really not in control. As I said, it makes me sad when I see some point of interest and know that I probably won't ever be at liberty to examine it more closely than I can from forty miles an hour on the street. It could be anything from a park to a restaurant or theater. The likelihood is that will be it for me. It's especially the case when I find myself on an especially lengthy and arduous ride that may last as long as an hour, reaching as it does into the far reaches of the county somewhere.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Free TV

I recently wrote about subsisting on various free forms of media around the house, one of which was what at least used to be called over-the-air television. When I had cable, I could watch just about anything my heart desired. I say just about because I did not even then have premium cable. This though was mitigated by the availability of all that programming through Netflix, which I have retained. That same thing promises to ease the pangs I will continue to feel for that old cornucopia of channels. Even so, the frustrations of free television are leavened by intrigue. It reminds me a bit of the movie Videodrome, or more likely just the way cable used to be.

Strangely, it has been my experience that the major broadcast networks are the most elusive. Bringing in NBC is perhaps the easiest. Past experiences had Fox and ABC being somewhat more difficult, with CBS being the toughest hands down. Attempting to tune in that station to watch a college football game meant getting up early and spending something like ninety minutes sweating and wrestling with the cheap antenna. The benefit, I suppose, is that at that point I felt a special kinship with the players who were exerting themselves so much for my entertainment. Really, it's easier to experience a game by listening to it on the radio if possible. The internet also now offers the possibility of enjoying a game more fully than free television. It's one of those frustrations.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Long Goodbye

The thing that makes life worth living is companionship, be it of family or friends. You start out with family, and accrue friends grade by grade. It's not very long before you start experiencing attrition. At that early age, what sometimes happens is that some friends move away, and it's not fun. I can't recall exactly what the level of pain was with such cases. Mainly there wasn't a last meeting. You saw someone one day, and that would turn out to be the last time. Only maybe once did I knowingly say goodbye for the last time to a childhood friend.

I've had to do it a couple of times recently, and I didn't really enjoy it. I suppose that's no real surprise- who would? I didn't really know how precisely to handle it. In one case, I lingered as long as I could, trying to make the most of the waning moments. In the other, being in a group with the person, I could hardly monopolize the person's attention, as they all cared as much as I do and were perhaps going through the same thing. I don't know if other people do, but even so it's times like that that I still feel as if I have a way to go socially.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Morning Beverage

I've mentioned that I drink coffee in passing many times during basically unrelated posts. It's reasonable to infer that it's my beverage of choice, but you would be mistaken in thinking that I drink it exclusively, and might also be mistaken in other assumptions based on those references. As much as I drink, it might seem like I would be very knowledgeable about the beverage. I faintly understand about different machines and coffee styles, but generally stick to my cheap machine and cheap bulk-purchase coffee. In some respects I guess I just have very average tastes- I often loudly avow that things of mine are those of "The Common Man". So it is with my morning beverages.

Occasionally though, I do get a little adventurous by at least my own standards. It all depends on what is easily available. When something else is available, I tend to take advantage of the opportunity to have it. At restaurants, I often get orange juice rather than coffee. Sometimes in other peoples' homes, I request tea. I always have liked orange juice, and don't often get it now. If it were the only option for forestalling scurvy, I'd be more likely to, but I have Vitamin C pills. If I do get orange juice, I prefer the good stuff. I never have been a fan of the cheap, sugary stuff- it's so sickly sweet, I get queasy at the mere thought. I like premium orange juice, and an inclined towards pulp. That's kind of a psychological thing- it just seems like if I'm getting pulp, I'm getting more value somehow. That might not be a rational line of thought.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Car Tripping

It seems as if I perhaps don't take many long car trips the way I once did. The family often did so years ago, going someplace in-state or even cross-country periodically. When I was in Boy Scouts, we drove someplace well out of town once a month for camping and perhaps hiking. Doing it often enough was maybe both good and bad. One went through it enough times to work out how it might be made as pleasant an experience as possible, but how pleasant could the ride really become? Kids of the age my sister and I were really must be drugged in order to be peaceful for such a length of time. My parents were of the new school which eschewed chloroform.

It will probably come as no surprise that I found the best means of passing the time in the car to be reading. I could go through a lot of them, for there were few real distractions competing for my attention most of a day on the road. There at least used to be nothing in between cities but cows and rest stops, but it seems like sprawl swallows up more and more of the desolate stretches that used to help me focus. Anyway, reading was what I mainly did except when I was playing video games. I think now that those were more an attempt to connect with my peers than anything. The books did little to endear me to classmates, but were really more enjoyable in the car.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Feet First

I pity the poor foot. It suffers so badly. Day in and day out, it is sheathed in cotton and encased in what may or may not be a comfortable shoe. This constant prison of footwear is just where the foot's ignoble travails begin. Even being locked into that hell does not protect it from harm, for the soft, yielding shoe permits no end of it to the fragile, helpless toes. Why must the foot so seldom see the light of day and feel the caress of a cool breeze? It is nothing short of the most ugly intolerance. Is the foot unpleasant? Perhaps so, but is the remedy to lock it away in dank, clammy confines like some Morlock? I submit that it is not. The foot should have liberty to come as it is to more places than the beach or the park.

Of course, sparing others the sight and smells of the foot is maybe not the only reason why people cover up their feet. As I said, the shoe offers imperfect protection, but is sometimes valuable. A recent trip to some hot springs served as a renewed example of what may happen to the unwary, unshielded foot. Between the aforementioned springs, a pool, a Roman spa and the beach lining a small lake, the amenities for which shoes were a realistic proposition were few. This is most unfortunate, because the appeal of those things which makes shoes unwelcome leaves the feet at the mercy of some very rough elements. The springs in particular menaced my own feet with impunity. Their bottoms savaged my soles badly, and their sulphurous waters had prunes taking a lesson from the condition of the skin thereon.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Skin In The Game

The other day, I was listening to "Standing Outside The Fire" by Garth Brooks. After years of jeering him, I've become a fan to a limited extent. I think it was the garish, campy outfits that had me fooled, but they couldn't hide the good songs he's got. The particular song I mentioned got me thinking about some heavy concepts. It talks about the exposure of oneself to harm being essential to the process of experiencing life as fully as can be done. It's not the first time I've given thought to the concept of risk and its necessity. I do so often precisely because of the tremendous difficulty I have in shouldering certain risks. Following through on my desire to ask women out remains a shaky proposition, and not for any rational reason.

I've decided that it's even worse than I thought, for it's not even a question of taking risks. Framing the issue as being one of accepting risk suggest that there's some chance of the thing feared not happening. There's just no hope of that, for it's not a coin flip with a very good chance of landing your way- it's maybe like a lifetime string of flips, and what you hope for is that you win enough flips to finish ahead of the mean when you're done. Any life lived with the willingness to risk must be lived necessarily with the willingness to lose, because you will lose, and probably often. I don't mean to paint such a grim picture  for it's certainly not hopeless. In the end, you do lose it all, but only because you can't take it with you, as they say. The hope is that the bulk of it comes only on that day.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Strolling Around The Night Light

When you live with anyone for at least a night, and you have some modest amount of consideration, you may have to move around a certain way during the night. This is of course to be of as little disruption as possible, naturally. This is in situations where space and privacy are at a premium. It's less applicable in other situations, of course. There's an inconvenience to it, but when one thinks of it as being stealthy and not considerate, it's a little more fun. A trip to the bathroom from a shared bedroom or to the kitchen through an occupied living room becomes a thrilling adventure when you imagine yourself to be a ninja or a commando carrying out a daring mission behind enemy lines. Of course, the imagination need not necessarily be employed to such a degree.

The important thing is how you achieve nighttime transit around the home without disturbing others. The floor plays into things some. Obviously carpeting makes it easier to walk quietly. Where there is tile, wood or any other hard surface, the trip must be made in socks or bare feet. It may well be that this is standard attire while in the home, but you'll be coming home in shoes, so when returning home late you must remove them before setting foot into a sound-sensitive home. Don't throw them, or it defeats the whole purpose of taking them off.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Old Library, New Library

I've always found it rather interesting to compare and contrast libraries. I guess I spend more time in them than others, sparking that habit. Where I grew up, we were roughly equal distances from libraries belonging to two systems: there was the Phoenix Library, and there was the Scottsdale Library. Little things made them different from each other. It started with the cards. Phoenix had a plain vermillion-like red one which about matched the license plates in use at the time. Scottsdale's was both more colorful and less memorable. Apart from that, the physical edifices just had different feels to them. The functional differences were trivial by comparison. The computers became the biggest of those differences, and they were about the same.

Where I am now, there are several different systems, three of which I have received cards for. One of those, Santa Monica, has now expired without my having made a second trip succeeding the one I took to get the card. I obviously therefore can made no credible judgments on that one. The other two are the Los Angeles Library and now the Glendale Library. I'm quite grateful for the presence of the latter, which makes up for some of the shortcomings creating by merciless rounds of budget cuts to the former. Glendale's branches remain open on Sundays and Mondays, which is a blessing. Also very nice are their pretty designs for cards. That's correct- there are multiple designs, and the patron has a choice. Also rather neat is the apparent availability of automated checkout machines, which they had at the systems in Arizona when I was a kid, but which remains unavailable in Los Angeles. That about sums up the advantages held by Glendale.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Shake It Off

Poor performances are a natural part of life. No one manages to avoid them. As many self-help books probably note, the thing that separates the more successful people is how they respond to such occurrences. I recently had what felt like a rather poor outing in Toastmasters, committing mistakes left and right as well as delivering a sub-par evaluation of a fellow member's speech. As so often seems to be the case, this followed what may be called a very successful meeting, wherein I won both parts of the speech contest, earning the right to move on to the next round in each. It may be no coincidence that one comes after the other like that. In any event, at such a time one ought to consider the way forward, and I usually do so.

I'd say that usually my impulse is to jump right back into the fray, and the sooner the better. I suppose that this is generally judged to be an admirable trait. It certainly can be quite positive to have no fear in attempting again what one has failed at. Many worthwhile endeavors can result in painful setbacks, and those who overcome the pain and go on to succeed with a fresh attempt are deservedly graded a step above the rest. On the other hand, it can be unhelpful to try hopping back into the saddle while still smarting from the fall. It can be something like trying to start a car, or extracting that same car from soft soil. The more you try in such cases, the worse things get. Thus one must judge whether doing the same thing with greater exertion will have one result or the other. They say that insanity is doing the same thing again and again while expecting a different outcome. I don't know whether I agree with that so much. It seems rather simplistic, and I'll wager it's not officially part of any psychological school of thought.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Free Entertainment

When one is prepared to pay, there's no difficulty in being entertained by electronic media. Internet access is swift and reliable. There is a diverse panoply of television offerings which are both fun and indispensable to keeping up with all the things people are talking about. Needless to say, it is only necessary to turn on the tv and make a channel selection before that very thing comes in as clear as day. Those two things- along with the music probably supplied by the same device that delivers the internet- provide all that is needed, and are probably given no real thought or appreciation. I know that has been the case for the most part where I'm concerned.

Those amenities deliver everything into my home and work well- why shouldn't they? In fact, when they don't, it's a travesty of shocking proportions. Minutes after any breakdown manifests itself, I'm outraged and expectant that the scandal must soon encompass the globe. My attitude has been different when, as now, I have not had such luxuries available to me. That sense of entitlement and that lack of thought about what I've got evaporates quickly. Much of the time, I pine fruitlessly for the thing I want and can't have, much as does the quitting smoker. I've often observed that I don't seem to have a very addictive personality, but I believe it's to my credit that I always am sure to add the caveat of television and the internet. It's a hard habit to break even when there's nothing there really to feed the habit.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Got A Light?

There are certain little things that it feels to me like you ought to have on your person as you are out living life. Some of them are genuinely useful for everyone, such as house keys. Others are needed by some and disdained by others, like an inhaler. What interests me are items that some want or need and others like to carry as an affectation. I am not immune to that. I'm in fact rather susceptible to whims and fashions to the extent that they are easy and cheap to adopt.

Something that I carried for some time for that very reason is a Zippo lighter. I was working at a summer camp when one turned up with no apparent owner. When one never materialized, I took it for myself. I myself would lose it just days later in a movie theater. I promptly replaced it when I spotted them for sale behind the counter at a drugstore. Now, you must understand that I don't smoke, nor have I ever done so. Nonetheless, I had in my mind the notion that it was a handy thing to have. Moreover, I believed that it was a kind of manly talisman, and that possessing it imbued me with a greater level of coolness than I would otherwise have.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Remote Outpost

It's another day, and another missive on the subject of moving. Now that I am living in Glendale for this short stretch of time, I've been in four different places around town. Three out of the four of them were not exactly where I wanted to be. Had I known much about the city's geography, the fourth might well have not been either. The primary reason, as any realtor will telp you, is location. I just seem to keep winding up in distant, unfashionable parts of town- emphasis for my present purposes on distant.

I don't enjoy moving, so it tends to happen only out of dire necessity. Previously I only moved when my building was foreclosed on and each return home raised the question of whether the lights would still be on. That being said, I do try to make the most of the opportunity that presents itself, however unwelcome the means by which it does so. Every time I move, it's with the intention of getting nearer to the city center, but like the protagonist of Quantum Leap, my hopes are invariably dashed. From Koreatown I moved to Highland Park. From there I went to North Hollywood, which has proved to be my longest stop at two years.