Some Halloween Music

October 31st, 2021

It’s a cold night here, with rain and a chance of snow in the forecast. Here’s a little music for the holiday.

First, a Jonathan Coulton classic.

Next, a Tom Waits song that I was not familiar with.

Here’s the Kingston Trio from 1958 with Zombie Jamboree.

And here’s a version of the same song by Rockapella.

Here’s a song about vampires that I really like. This version is by the composer, but I prefer the version by Small Potatoes. Unfortunately, that one doesn’t appear to be on YouTube.

Of course, we can’t forget werewolves.

I have an old cassette that has a song on it called The Mummy Shuffle, which is all about the love a woman has for Kharis, the mummy played by Boris Karloff. Unfortunately, it only appears on YouTube as the entire tape. This is cueued up to the start of the song.

My Jack O’Lantern This Year

October 30th, 2021

It’s inspired by the Junji Ito story, The Enigma of Amigara Fault. It’s the first one I’ve done that projects an image from the rear in addition to the front-facing image. I read the story a couple of years ago, and it struck me as an appropriate subject for this type of jack o’lantern.

A candle is insufficient to get the proper display, because it doesn’t produce enough light. In order to get it lit properly, I have a bare white LED that’s providing the light for the front cutout, and I have an LED flashlight to show the back image. There are multiple LEDs in the flashlight, which produces a multiple overlapping images. I’ve used electrician’s tape to cover most the flashlight lens to minimize that.

I’ve done a number of other fancy jack o’lanterns in prior years, although not for the past few. I’ll have to see if I have photos available to upload.

Road trip report

September 21st, 2021

I was out of town over the weekend. One of my sisters had a birthday recently, and her daughter wanted to host a surprise party for her. It was originally going to be held on her birthday, but it was delayed because my niece’s husband tested positive for COVID.

In any case, I left home last Thursday and drove to Texas. I took two days to travel from Denver to Dallas, which seemed to work well. It turned out that I was the surprise at the party, which was fine. I had a nice visit Friday and Saturday, then left Sunday morning to head home.

On the way out, I went east on I-70, then south from Salinas. My plan for the return trip was to head west, stopping in Amarillo for a meal at Dyer’s BBQ, and stopping overnight somewhere along the way before heading north on I-25 at Raton to get back to Denver. It didn’t happen that way.

I got to Amarillo in time for a late lunch, but Dyer’s was apparently closed for remodeling. At least, there was fencing all around the building, it looked closed, and nobody was parked around it. Disappointed, I grabbed a quick fast-food lunch, then continued on. I was far enough west of the main highway that my GPS navigation decided that the back roads were faster than going back to the highway. That may have been correct, but it meant fewer gas stations and rest stops, which can be important factors for someone my age.

In any case, I got to Raton before dinnertime, and headed north because I wasn’t that hungry yet. I ended up driving all the way from Dallas to Denver in one day, which was not something I’d intended; I just didn’t want to pay for an overnight stay when I was only a couple of hours from home. It took about 13.5 hours total. The last time I’d done a drive of that length was in 1997, when I drove from Denver to San Antonio in one day; about 16 or 17 hours, as I recall.

I spent yesterday recovering; the lack of activity caused pain in my legs and hips, and I had a headache that started sometime Sunday afternoon and lasted until sometime yesterday. If I had it to do over again, I think I’d stop in Amarillo, no matter that it was early afternoon, and find another place for a good meal and get a room overnight. Maybe try that place that has the 72-ounce steak that’s free if you can eat it in a certain amount of time. Not that I’d order that; I know I can’t even consider that kind of massive meal anymore.

I remember 9/11

September 11th, 2021

I remember going to work that morning.

I remember being told of the plane hitting the first tower.

I remember returning home, and bringing a small television to set up in the break room.

I remember the shock, the disbelief, on the part of the news anchors.

I remember saying to my coworkers, when the second plane hit, that “This is not a tragic accident; this is war.”

I remember the horror when the people were jumping to their deaths.

I remember when the towers came down.

I remember they originally projected that the death toll could be over 10,000.

I remember the scenes the media has refused to show since then, showing the celebrations in Palestine and other middle-eastern nations, with people dancing in the streets, singing, ululating, passing out candy and treats to children, and proclaiming that their god was great.

I remember how clear the skies became when all the planes were grounded.

I remember that it took four days before I could find out that my father had not been in the Pentagon when the plane hit it.

I remember how few days it took before the Left started saying, “This is our fault; we must have wronged them terribly to force them to retaliate like this.”

I remember the warnings about “backlash against Muslims.”

I remember the stories of heroes such as Rick Rescorla. Heroes such as the members of the NYPD and the NYFD. Heroes such as those who went to New York from other locations, driving in cars and pickups to provide whatever help they could.

I remember.

Now we have a Potemkin President and other political figures who have a history of blaming America first and always, who warn us that each Muslim who attacks in the name of jihad while praising Allah is a “lone wolf,” but any attack or defense by a white man is an indictment of every white man for racism and/or conservatism, and who seem more than comfortable with using the Constitution as a snotrag.

Political figures who feel no unity or commonality with average Americans, who either exempt themselves from the laws they pass, or just ignore them, knowing that they can get away with it.

Political figures who crack down on and suppress American citizens, while refusing to apply the same laws and regulations to the illegal aliens they have invited into our country.

I see this, and I will remember.

Memorial Day

May 31st, 2021

It’s been some time since I’ve posted anything here. I’m feeling my losses more than usual today. Friday marked six months since Marion died, and, as today is Memorial Day, I’ve also been reminiscing about men I knew who died in service.

Our President* (“Stay cool this weekend, folks.”) and Vice President* (“Enjoy the long weekend.”) have shown what they think of Memorial Day and our military. They don’t care; Obama purged almost 200 flag-rank officers in order to transform our military the way he promised to fundamentally transform our country, and the officer corps has now, to a significant extent, become political commissars. They relieved the CO of the Space Force of his position for speaking out against Marxism and Critical Race Theory.

I usually post a link to the following article on Memorial Day. I’ll do that again, and add an excerpt.

A veteran is someone who, at one point, wrote a blank check made payable to ‘The United States of America ‘ for an amount of ‘up to and including their life.’


That is Honor, and there are way too many people in this country who no longer understand it.’

When I presented the flag to the mother, wife, or father, I always said, “All Marines share in your grief.” I had been instructed to say, “On behalf of a grateful nation….” I didn’t think the nation was grateful, so I didn’t say that.

He wrote that about his time doing death notifications during the Vietnam War, but he could have been writing about now.

Goodbye, my love.

December 2nd, 2020

I’ve not posted anything to this website for over a year. This is because I’ve been taking care of my girlfriend. She was diagnosed with a rare form of dementia (Posterior Cortical Atrophy, or PCA) in August of 2017. Looking back, I can recognize that she had symptoms of it starting two or three years earlier. I did not realize that they were symptoms of anything until we received the diagnosis. A reasonable shorthand description of PCA is, “Alzheimer’s dementia that affects vision as well as memory and cognition.” Her eyesight wasn’t affected; her brain just became incapable of interpreting the data from her eyes. I’m convinced that it also has effects on motor skills such as balance.

In December of 2017, she developed back and leg pain. Nothing that we tried helped, and things kept getting worse to the point she could barely walk. She had no relief until she had back surgery after suffering for a year. The surgeon found a bone spur from a vertebra, which had not shown up on X-rays or MRI scans, pressing on her sciatic nerve. The operation was, to Marion, a miracle cure. She was walking two to three miles a day by the time I took her back for her 30-day post-op evaluation. The surgeon was definitely impressed.

I’ve been living with her for almost two years, because she needed someone with her through the night during her recovery from surgery. In August of 2019, her dementia had progressed to the point that she required 24/7 attention. I have been providing that, which is one of the main reasons I mostly abandoned this site.

Marion and I were together for a long time; the coming New Years Eve would have marked the 25th anniversary of our becoming a couple. Our personalities meshed well together. Over 25 years, I can only remember one significant argument that we had. She was always more active than I was; she gave up hiking in the mountains because my knees wouldn’t handle it, but she got me started in cross-country skiing, which wasn’t so hard on them, and she got me into snorkeling. We rode bicycles and did a lot of walking. For a short woman (she was 5’2″, I’m 6’1″), she walked quickly. I had trouble keeping up with her, and below 11,000 feet, she could walk me into the dirt. My lungs were apparently more efficient than hers once the air was thin enough.

She loved to travel. She went places by herself until we were established as a couple, then we traveled together. We traveled in the US, Canada, England and Scotland, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, Europe, Egypt and Jordan, Australia, and New Zealand. We saw the pyramids, Karnak, Abu Simbel, Petra, Hagia Sophia and the Blue mosque, listened to a live performance of Mozart in Vienna, took a helicopter up to a glacier in New Zealand, and so many other wonderful things.

One thing Marion didn’t have to get me into, but she did keep trying to get me to do more of, was ballroom dancing. I’d had an introduction to ballroom dancing my first year at the Naval Academy (part of that whole “officer and a gentleman” thing). I actually met Marion when we were both in the same samba class. I asked her out for coffee, and things grew from there. We took classes together in just about any ballroom dance you can name – waltz, Viennese waltz, foxtrot, tango (both American and Argentine styles), rhumba, cha-cha, quickstep, samba, nightclub two-step, country two-step, paso doble, merengue, and East and West Coast Swing. Possibly some others that I don’t recall. West Coast Swing was one of Marion’s favorite dances, but it was one I resisted learning for several years. Marion hated to leave the dance floor, so I wanted one dance that I could use an excuse to get some rest. Eventually, though, I gave in.

The year that she had the back pain was unfortunate. By the time she’d had the surgery and recovered from it, her dementia had progressed to the point where she had trouble with her balance, and she’d forgotten many of the steps she had known. We ended up with waltz, foxtrot, nightclub two-step, and American tango as what we could do. Then came COVID and the lockdowns, and we couldn’t even do those anymore.

We still walked, though. Last summer, I’d hold her hand and we’d walk a 1.5 mile loop on the paths near our houses, up to three times daily. She couldn’t see much, so I’d describe the weather, any wildlife I saw, and any people nearby as we walked.

As time progressed, her steps became shorter, and the amount we’d walk lessened. Last Friday, we took two walks for 1.5 miles total. By that time, I was no longer holding her hand and walking beside her; I had been walking backwards, holding both of her hands, and pulling to keep her moving for a couple of months.

When we weren’t walking, Marion was listening to classical music or audiobooks. Sometimes, I’d play my ukulele and sing for her. She sang along on the songs she knew, until she couldn’t anymore because she had forgotten the lyrics, or just couldn’t get them out.

Last Friday, around 6 pm, Marion got part of her dinner caught in her throat. I was unable to dislodge it with the Heimlich maneuver, nor could the EMTs when they arrived. We have a fire station just a couple of blocks away, so they were there almost immediately. Her heart stopped in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, but they were able to stabilize her in the ER. According to their protocol, Marion would be kept sedated for about 36 hours, possibly more, before they would wake her and evaluate her. Unfortunately, her blood pressure dropped a few hours after she was admitted. I was called to her side sometime between midnight and 1 am Saturday. They told me her blood pressure was 50 over something, and they didn’t expect her to last. When I arrived 20 minutes or so later, her blood pressure was no longer registering at all. I sat with her, holding her hand, reminiscing about our life together, and attempting to sing her favorite folk songs to her. Around 2:30 am, her pulse rate started dropping. It had been steady at 97 since I arrived. It slowly decreased to about 60, then her heart stopped again around 2:45.

She did not respond to CPR that time.

Her funeral service was this afternoon. I’m going to miss her so very much.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted anything

September 3rd, 2019

And not completely by my choice, really. Last week was bookended by my annual eye exam on Monday, and my 66th birthday on Saturday.

I’ve been quite fortunate with my eyes, for the most part. When I had my qualification physical for the Naval Academy during my last year in high school, my vision was very good. I was 20/15 in one eye and 20/10 in the other. The tech who checked my eyes told my father that I could “damn near see through walls.” I was able to avoid the need for glasses until I was 43, when I started needing reading glasses. I’ve been needing them more these past few months, and Monday, I was told that while I’m still 20/20 in both eyes, I now need bifocals to correct my astigmatism.

My eye exam also brought other bad news: I’ve been taking care of someone with dementia, and it is no longer safe to leave them alone for more than a few minutes. Time to look for a care facility, it seems.

Reminiscing

December 21st, 2018

Ten years ago today, Marion and I arrived in the Galapagos for our first overseas trip together. We had spent a couple of days in Quito ahead of our flight to San Cristobal Island, and we had a good time there.

The Galapagos were incredible. We were on a tour with GAP Adventures (now G Adventures), and spent ten days traveling to five of the islands and seeing the sights. After the tour ended, we spent another few days traveling through Ecuador. A very nice trip. I still have a Panama hat that I bought, along with a couple of shirts, one from the Galapagos Marine Reserve, and the other with Lonesome George embroidered on it.

I’d love to go back, but I doubt that I ever will. I’d probably say more about the trip, but my ISP has changed the interface used to write posts, and I didn’t realize it until started to write this article. I don’t know how to do anything without inserting the HTML manually, and I don’t know where to find things yet.

Tunesday

November 27th, 2018

Time for some music-related stuff. Thanksgiving was last week, and Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant” is almost obligatory in some circles. Here’s something I ran across, but was unable to spend time on prior to the holiday. Perhaps for next year …

Here’s a nice rendition of Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon.” I listened to it because the name of the group attracted my attention.

Finally, here are two videos that are sequential selections from the same presentation on the Circle of Fifths. I knew parts of this before, but these are very clear and informative.

It’s Thanksgiving

November 22nd, 2018

Since it was only my girlfriend and myself today (my daughter and her friends had other plans), I did not cook a Thanksgiving dinner. I did make a couple of desserts: a bourbon chocolate pecan pie and some chocolate rum balls. Instead, we went out. It was fine, and I don’t have the room in my fridge for leftovers from cooking a big meal, anyway.

One thing I meant to do, but never got around to, was to learn this so that I could play it today. Maybe next year.