Sep 302015
 

Day 10 finds me at the Midtown Scholar updating everyone over a cup o’ Joe.  WARNING:  I am NOT photogenic.  Still, this is easier for me than typing away at a keyboard right now, so, tough tamales!  😉

 

Midtown Scholar Front Sep 30 2015

The Midtown Scholar – My Favorite Place!

Midtown Interior Sept 30 2015

The view from the coffee bar.

 

Sep 232015
 

Yup, I’m way behind.  But it’s not too late!  Let’s expand a quote!

 

So, when I suggested that text-to-speech software might be a good thing to try, , the author of Just Blank Pages replied that she really enjoyed the actual physical sensations that come from writing.  And I can absolutely see how that would be an empowering, uplifting experience.  She must not be left-handed.  I have had a lifetime of smudge marks that counter the notion that the act itself can be a pleasurable thing.  😉

Still, the deeper that she makes is that one must find what works to motivate oneself to write.  Taking pleasure in a particular ritual or act goes a long way towards overcoming thing like writer’s block.  (I’m still working on that one.)

Yup, I gotta get me one of them speech-to-text programs one of these days.

 

 

Sep 182015
 

Francis Bacon — ‘Age appears best in four things: old wood to burn, old wine to drink,old friends to trust and old authors to read.’

I don’t even know if this accurate, as history can be as much plagiarism and guesswork as fact, but I still like it.  And it comes from a smart guy (he was Shakespeare, you know), so it brings the imprimatur of erudition.  In other words, it’s got a bit of that razzle-dazzle that wows others into thinking you’re actually smart yourself.  😉

More importantly, it brings to mind a quiet fall weekend in a secluded cabin in the woods.  You’re there, hanging out with your friends, reading a good book, and enjoying a few drinks, all while a fireplace is crackling and popping contentedly in the background.  It sounds like Heaven to me.  Now that I think about it, I really should look into putting something like that together for October.  Hmm…

Hey Bill, can you cover for me?

I’m classy, no?

Sep 152015
 

This writing challenge asks us to talk about where and how we write.  And with that, I give you my ‘happy place’ where the Muse pays me a visit.  That, or it’s just really damned comfortable and I’m really damned lazy.  Either way, here’s where most of my writing gets done

Sloth is definitely my favorite sin.

Sloth is definitely my favorite sin.

I used to think how super-cool and inspirational it would be to write at a coffee shop or some other public place.  But after trying it a few times, I had come to terms with the fact that all I wanted to do was drink coffee and people watch.  No, more often than not, I just wind up sitting or lying down on this thing and typing away.  The blue light is supposed to help with improving one’s mood.  We shall see.

Sep 112015
 

Day 5 asks us to center a post around a Twitter embed.  Sure thing!

Humor on Twitter’s something of an art form.  Fitting an a clever aside or a witty aphorism in 140 characters is quite a challenge.  Nihilist Arby’s rises to it brilliantly.

It can be ready as tragic or horrifying.  But that doesn’t mean it isn’t hilarious, too.  Personally, I find dark humor to be therapeutic.

We’re doomed.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t laugh about it.

Sep 092015
 

Evening all.  Today’s assignment is take a single word from a list and write something around it.  I chose the word “Home.”  It’s meaning has started to change for me.

If you had asked me five years ago where home was I would have said “Pittsburgh” or “western Pennsylvania.”  Now, I’m not so sure.  Don’t get me wrong, I was happy to go back to Pittsburgh to get together with my college buddies and had a lovely time visiting relatives up in Mercer County.  Even better, I got to bond a little with my niece and nephew on Labor Day.  It was a lovely time, and I felt the bittersweet tug of remorse that one does when leaving a place where one is loved.  And yet…

And yet I found myself eager to get back to settle back into my routine here in Harrisburg.  At first I thought this was just going to be another stop in my life; a place with a job that would lead to another place with a better job.  That hasn’t turned out to be the case.  Instead, I found myself battling some personal demons (a story for another time), buying a house, and building a small but steady circle of friends and acquaintances.  I used to scorn this town.  Now I kinda miss it and the people here when I’m away.  Maybe I’m starting to make my peace with things.  Maybe I’m just getting old.  Maybe both.  No matter how you slice it, though, it’s a funny old world.

The ol' hometown

It’s home now.

 

Sep 072015
 

And so once again I take up the WordPress Writing 101 challenge.  Day 1 prompts us to tell the world “I write because…”  And so, with that, I am here to tell you.

I write because I always talk and think a lot.  I’m prolix and flighty but do manage to come up with the occasional bon mot or interesting thought.  I decided that I may as well get some of these down on paper screen.

I write because it’s good practice.  My job usually requires that I write, but in a very limited and basic fashion.  Most of my emails are two paragraphs long at most.  Most of my other writing is barely that but more basic copy editing of cut and pasted text from other instruction guides or manuals or memos.  I need to keep to keep this skill from atrophying.

I write because I need to keep my mind sharp.  My job is very detail-oriented, but in a narrow way.  If I’m to keep myself agile I need to put some of this ADHD mental energy that I carry with me to good use.  It’s like exercise for my brain.

I write because I like to make fun of people with vanity plates.

I write because…well, I don’t always.  In fact, the reason I’m taking this course over again is that I need to get back in the habit of doing it more often.  I must confess to being a gross hypocrite in this respect.  All the reasons I’ve given are valid and true, but I get lazy, or get uptight, or get writer’s block.  I need to write in order to push through these barriers.  Even if it’s crap, it will be better than not writing anything.

And that is that.  Day 1 is down.  Let’s see how I do for the rest of this exercise.  Good luck everyone!

Jan 112015
 

“We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold.” – And with those opening words Hunter S. Thompson captured the imagination of at least one high school senior – me. I was a nerd, I had few real friends at the time, and I was just itching to get the Hell out of podunk nowhere, but reading that made me feel like I was too hip for the room. I could scoff at the squares and look down on those looked at me like I was the loser. “Ha,” I would think to myself “I get it and you don’t.” Ribald, cartoonish vignettes of drug abuse and flaunting the rules fed my angsty little soul. Back then, those opening words were shocking in just the right way – at least to my mind. I felt as if I were quietly but decisively flipping the bird to the squares who were dragging my world down.

Over twenty-five years later, what I have learned is that the real worth of that book isn’t its shock value but the insight that it offered into that period of time. At its core, its not a tale of drug-addled depravity but a harsh, painfully accurate snapshot of these United States. The country was still very divided but the initial euphoria and optimism of the 60s was giving way to cynicism and paranoia. Thompson notes this clearly when he points out that both Kennedys were dead and Nixon was POTUS now. The party was over and now he had come to Las Vegas to peer into the true, reactionary heart of America. The revolution was over and never spread as widely as anyone wanted to believe, anyway. And it’s here that I see that while the opening sentence of Dr. Thompson’s masterpiece is its most quoted part, it’s his look back at what had become of San Francisco’s “Spirit of ’65” in 1971 that’s the true heart of the book:

“Strange memories on this nervous night in Las Vegas. Five years later? Six? It seems like a lifetime, or at least a Main Era—the kind of peak that never comes again. San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run . . . but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant. . . .

History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of “history” it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time—and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened.

My central memory of that time seems to hang on one or five or maybe forty nights—or very early mornings—when I left the Fillmore half-crazy and, instead of going home, aimed the big 650 Lightning across the Bay Bridge at a hundred miles an hour wearing L. L. Bean shorts and a Butte sheepherder’s jacket . . . booming through the Treasure Island tunnel at the lights of Oakland and Berkeley and Richmond, not quite sure which turn-off to take when I got to the other end (always stalling at the toll-gate, too twisted to find neutral while I fumbled for change) . . . but being absolutely certain that no matter which way I went I would come to a place where people were just as high and wild as I was: No doubt at all about that. . . .

There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or La Honda. . . . You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning. . . .

And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. . . .

So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark—that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.”

I’ve gotten it for a while now, but like all wisdom, it came at a cost. The world doesn’t change very quickly, and simply wishing for it is never enough. The comedown from the whole damned high is never is easy, and it’s easy to just up and fucking quit. But, life goes on, so unless you want to just shrug your shoulders and give up, so must you. And so, it’s back to work. Now if I can just remember to maintain a sense of humor and carry a little hope with me as I advance into the middle of middle age while praying to…something… that things will get better. Wisdom can be a bummer. Bastards.

 

Cazart!

Hey look, a Ralph Steadman image. Ain’t I just the coolest? ;0

Oct 312014
 

Per WordPress.com’s http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/ready-set-done-5/ here is a 10-minute free write. Just writing, no editing, no thought, just doing it for 10 minutes and then stopping. Let’s see what I can do.

So, tonight is Halloweeen and I’ve not a thing to wear. I could dress like an againg nerd, but that’d be redundant. So, I gotta run off to a costume shop and figure something out. I’ve a pleather coat and some black jeans, so maybe with a boa or scarf and some sungleasses and my mutton chops I can be an aging rocker, hipster. I’d wear makeup, I might, like pale face and lipstick stuff to make me ghoulish, but i Have a crooked nose, so dressing up in makeup would draw attention to a flaw I do NOT like. What else? Maybe I can some kinda wolfman thing with ears and clasw? The muttonchops are the defining feature to this, so that will the centerpiece of a costume. Hmmmm…

Of course, what matters is going out and looking at the ladies dressed all sexy-like. I know that makes me a sexist pig, but I am a man and have needs. Besides, it’s not like I’m gonna be all crreppy about it. Well, not too creepy.

Oh hey, runners just jogged past the coffee shop where I am writing this. Nice. now I have Runner’s Guilt too on top of my worries.

But it’s all good, I just gotta remind myself of that. After having to leave my car here in ittsburgh and having to return to Harrisburg and then take the Megabus back, I finally have my own wheels again. W00t! as the young people say. Do they still say that?

But yeah, it’s still a bit stressful. I don’t have a place to crash yet. I could pring for a hotel at this point but that is extra $ and I don’t wanna spend it with a vaacaytion coming up. More on that in a few days/weeks.

I hope I will at least be able t get some candy. And now that song is stuck in my head. Not a bad thing mind you. Of course, the coffee shop here in South Craig St. is blasting all sorts o’ Halloween music, so I’m sure something else will come laong to push it outta my wee brain. I just hope it’s something good as well. At least as good, if not more gooder.

I justrealized that gripe as a I might, this is not a bad situation to be in a overall. 7 years ago I was underemployed, scraping by with a ton of grad school debt and dim prospects. While a job for the stat of PA isn’t super-ideal to some, and I do grip myself, it’s far, fr better than wehre I was. So, I have been able to gain a moment of insight and thereby some relief.

Now if only I can find a place to stay. Eh, that’ll work out one way or anotger, too< I’m sure.

Now I wind down and realize that I am a terrible typist. Yeesh.

Aug 042014
 

Every Monday night I go to a meditation group. We meditate for twenty minutes, read passages from the book on spirituality that we are reading at the time, discuss what we read, and then meditate for another twenty minutes. I’ve been going to this groups since its inception at the beginning of 2013. It’s been helpful in some ways, but it has its ups and downs. Some days, I sit and am able to just glide along, my thoughts still there but in the background. Other days, I struggle mightily. Today was the latter. Rather than focusing on my breath and just letting my thoughts flow without getting caught up in them, this is what I had running through my mind:

  • God my one coworker is annoying. I know I should be more tolerant but that voice just booms and carries and she doesn’t stop talking. Just…chill. Please.
  • I’m not a very generous person today.
  • Wow, Guardians of the Galaxy was a great movie! I wonder if Bautista will be on Raw tonight to promote the film? Not that it needs any help!
  • I wonder what the new Great Old One Pact Warlock will play like in D&D Next? I think it’d be pretty interesting if a character with that pact couldn’t use his or her powers against certain Aberrant creatures. After all, why would an entity granting you a measure of its power let it use that power against it? Huh, that’d be an interesting way to house-rule things.
  • I can’t quite get comfortable tonight. How do people sit in the Lotus position so perfectly? It looks so simple but I’ve nary a clue. Jeez my ankle gets sore.
  • Maybe I shouldn’t have run before I came here tonight. But, when else was I going to get the chance? I need to keep up with it. I’ve already paid for a marathon in the fall. Gotta stick with it.
  • I can’t get a read on the woman who helps to run the group. I know we only went out for about six weeks back in 2012, and it ended because I was going through a pretty dark time.  But does she still think about me?  I wouldn’t care, but, oh yeah, I’m Co-Dependent Guy.  Plus, she is very cute and generally got it together.  And the dating scene in Harrisburg is barren.  And, I’ve got some good qualities myself.  It’s just a little strange sometimes, by which I mean most of the time.  We’re cordial, but in an arms-length  kind of way.  I still wonder, though.
  • Maybe I should find another group because of this.
  • But I like it here, complication and all.
  • When I get home, I still have some work to do. By work, I mean take out the garbage, do some exercising, and some writing. None of that is really ‘work’ mind you, but I know how I get.
  • Plus, I’m really tired.
  • That reminds me, I gotta work on my sleep hygeine some more. Why do I, as a middle-aged man, have to remind myself of things like this? Why did I still get mad at myself?
  • Huh, this would make for a good blog post. I hope I remember enough of it.
  • Plus a few other things that were running through my head, no doubt.
  • And through it all, a few random notes of Lana del Rey’s “West Coast” keep playing in the back of my mind almost constantly.  I don’t even know if I like that song, yet there it is.

And that’s what was rushing and pinging through my little ADHD brain.  I’m a long way from Nirvana.

So, yeah, some days are better than others.  So much for  And, there’s the fact that making this a daily practice is something that hasn’t taken hold yet. It’s been challenging. But, I keep going on Monday nights. Part of it has to do with need, I’ll grant that. But, I go mainly (oh, say 95% mainly) for the benefits I get from it – stress reduction, focus, and interacting with an eclectic group of people I don’t normally see in my day-to-day life. I still try to sit down and meditate on my own from time-to-time. I’ve made this a part of my routine, so something’s taken hold. I just have to stick with it and then keep hoping I know where and how to take the next step.  I think, I hope.

Jul 282014
 

So, I signed up for WordPress’ Writing 201 in the hopes of sharpening my writing abilities a bit. I have been starting at the screen on and off for a week and have nothing to show for it except a case of writer’s block. This is not fun.

 

Oh well, on to @Midnight’s Hashtag Wars.  I can write those just fine.

Jul 102014
 

Today’s Daily Post asks

What do you find more unbearable: watching a video of yourself, or listening to a recording of your voice? Why?

I’m gonna have to go with watching myself on video.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like the sound of my voice when it’s recorded.  It tends to be tinny and nasally more often than not and any attempt to sing results in what sounds like a form of punishment.

But video is even worse, it combines all of my audio shortcomings with my decidedly un-telegenic self (which isn’t to say that I’m ugly; I just don’t translate well “onscreen”).  I have a crooked nose, thin lips, and am choppy  with my gestures and blocky in my comportment – that is, body language.

I would show you just how much worse my video aspect is than my audio avatar, but that would be difficult.  You see, the last example of myself speaking ‘on tape’ is literally on tape.  I took an Adult Methodology class this past January in which we were required to speak.  At the end of the class, our reward for braving public ridicule was an actual VHS cassette.

Who even owns a VCR any more?

Jun 212014
 

Today’s Daily Prompt asks how we in the Northern Hemisphere plan on taking advantage of today, the longest day of the year.

My plan is to keep nursing this damned hangover.  Naproxen, electrolytes, and moving slowly are the ‘cures’ I will be employing.  Ok, the last one isn’t so much a cure as an acknowledgement of reality, but you get the point.  With any luck that will get better by this evening and I will be able to take a nice stroll along Riverfront Park here in Harrisburg, for example.

As for the sunlight, who doesn’t like long summer days?  Vampires, maybe, but that’s about it.  I don’t miss the winter and its short days one bitty bit.

Jun 092014
 

Day six of Writing 101 asks who’s the most interesting person we’ve met in the past year.  I’m sad to say that after wracking my brain for a few hours on and off that I don’t have anyone I can point to.  This must be one of the perils of middle age.

So, instead, I leave you all with this, the intro the Batman t.v. series from the sixties:

Apr 232014
 

In the spirit of my About page and a gentle nudge from Zero to Hero, let’s answer these good and important questions:

What are the top three things you’d like to learn, or ways you’d like to grow, from blogging? The top three people you’d like to connect with?

OK, let’s start with the first question.  The three things I’d like to learn (for starters) from blogging are:

  1. How to amuse myself.  If I can write something that entertains me and/or makes me laugh, I will have done well for myself.  I need to have fun, and I want this blog to be that.  (If this turns into a chore, then what’s point?  I already have one job, know what I mean?)
  2. I want to become more technically proficient.  I plan on learning enough to be able to migrate this site to WordPress.org.  That would push me to learn how to manage web traffic (well, the traffic that I hope for) and an actual website.  I also know the basics of HTML, Java Script, and CSS.  (Thanks, Codecademy!)  Ideally, this site will help me to build on what I’ve already learned.
  3. I hope to become more connected to the Harrisburg area.  I’ve lived here in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania for a little over six years and still don’t feel as connected to it as I’d like to be.  My hope is that this blog can help me to network and socialize more than I have in the past, if only a little.

And now, i answer the second question.  Just who are the top three people I hope to connect with through this blog?

  1. Harrisburgers (Harrisburgians?).  Again, I’m hoping to come out of my shell a little bit and am hopeful this blog can be a means to that end.
  2. Smart, experienced bloggers.  With any luck, I will be able to connect with those who have good technical expertise, experience with growing one’s audience and improving one’s ‘brand’ (I think I’m starting to hate that word, btw.), and maybe even those who know something about best practices for website design.   Here’s hoping!
  3. I’m a Virgo with a moon in Pisces.  I like good coffee, good conversation, and long walks on the beach.  If you are celestially compatible and looking for someone who has taken ‘the road less traveled’, then shoot me a message and we can see what happens after that.  (My ex-girlfriend need not apply.)

Yinz satisfied now?

Apr 202014
 

Today’s Zero to Hero assignment is to publish a post for our ‘dream’ reader.  Preferably, this will include the use of a ‘new-to-you’ type of post.  So, with that in mind, let me just say  that my dream reader would appreciate, enjoy, and stand in awe of the sublime snark of P.J. O’Rourke’s classic How To Drive Fast While On Drugs While Getting Your Wing-Wang Squeezed And Not Spill Your Drink.”

He/She would marvel at a piece of prose like this:

When it comes to taking chances, some people like to play poker or shoot dice; other people prefer to parachute-jump, go rhino hunting, or climb ice floes, while still others engage in crime or marriage. But I like to get drunk and drive like a fool. Name me, if you can, a better feeling than the one you get when you’re half a bottle of Chivas in the bag with a gram of coke up your nose and a teenage lovely pulling off her tube top in the next seat over while you’re going a hundred miles an hour down a suburban side street. You’d have to watch the entire Mexican air force crash-land in a liquid petroleum gas storage facility to match this kind of thrill. If you ever have much more fun than that, you’ll die of pure sensory overload, I’m here to tell you.

Go read the rest of it for yourself, and see what makes it so special.  I just pray that I’ll write something half as witty and entertaining some day.  And I pray that others will appreciate it if and when I do.