Archive for Life - page 4

A Puppy’s Tale – epilogue

A Puppy’s Tale – epilogue

Back about the middle of December I began a series of posts entitled “A Puppy’s Tale”.  I intended it to be a trilogy, and completed parts I (A Fortunate Encounter) and II (The Winding Road).  This post is part III (Epilogue), though it will be a bit of a non-sequitur in that I will depart from the third person storytelling format and move into the first person narrative.

I was motivated to write the story as a method of dealing with the grief I experienced after the death of my 16 year old dog, Desa.

Desa Flowers

I have lost pets before, but the level of grief I experienced this time was deeper than I had felt before and I thought that perhaps I needed a coping mechanism.  I decided to write a story of her life – which coincidentally would be a story of my life during the years we shared.  This turned out to be an immensely personal task and after completing the first two parts I did not and still do not believe that my writing skills are up to finishing the trilogy in a way that will do justice to the truth.  Suffice it to say that when this dog and I crossed paths, both our worlds became better, though whether hers really did is merely an assumption on my part.  I do know that when our paths parted I was left with an emptiness that seemed disproportionately profound.  I still feel it today.

The story of how Desa joined our family as told in Part I is unimbellished truth as told to me by my first (late) wife who was not an exagerator or prevaricator.  Desa was not the first dog I have owned, but for reasons that are not obvious to me I was closer to her than any other dog I have known or owned.  Perhaps it is because I believe that I grew a great deal as a person during the years I owned her.  I don’t know – like I said – the reasons are not obvious to me.

A Puppy’s Tale ended the way one might expect – an ageing animal’s health fails to the point that euthanasia is neccessary.  A common scenario that is played out most likely thousands of times daily across the country.  My active role in her death, while neccessary and humane, weighs on me though I know I had no choice.

So I bid farewell to a canine friend and carry on.

The Siege Continues…

The Siege Continues…

…Big Government, having been kept out of the  bedroom (for now), lays siege to our backyards and hotel showers.  Of course, it’s For Your Own Good ®.

Remember a few years back when there was a big brouhaha over some states’ antiquated anti-sodomy laws and other laws dealing with inter-racial relationships?  There was a movement to identify and repeal these laws on the basis that they represented unwarranted intrusion of the governement into our personal lives – a position I support, BTW.  So these laws were wiped off the books, and the public at large now has freedom of sexual*ahem*expression without fear of the sex police breaking the door down to verify the correct techniques are being employed or that the participants’ genders meet statutory requirements.  Yay freedom!  U-S-A!  U-S-A!

So that’s all well and good.  We don’t need old outdated laws intruding on our freedom.  Nope.  What we need are some new laws intruding on our freedom.  Why?  Because in the Progressive Utopia of the 21st Century and Beyond we either will need to be protected from something or we will need our behavior modified to comply with the modern and correct norms of liberal groupthink.

Examples?  OK.  Take barbeque grills for example.  They are sources of pollution – they must be – look at all that smoke!  And the poor grillmaster!  Exposed to all those carcinogens!  Forced to sacrifice his health just so that others may partake of tasty meats.  It’s an injustice, and quite frankly I do not understand how we as a society can tolerate it.  Luckily, EPA to the rescue!

Backyard Burger and Wiener Roasts Targeted By EPA

Of course, they’re only studying it now, but it will be coming to your backyard soon enough I’m sure.  No need to thank the EPA.  They’re just doing their job.  Someone has to micromanage your life so you don’t hurt yourself.

Now go take a shower and wash off all that soot and grease.  Just don’t stay in the shower too long or we’ll have to modify your behavior.

EPA Wants to Monitor How Long Hotel Guests Spend In The Shower

Why hotel guests?  They gotta start somewhere, I suppose.

“First, they came for the hotel guests and I said nothing because I was not a hotel guest.  Finally when there was a bureaucrat with a clipboard living in my home taking notes while I showered there was no one left to stand up for me.”  – me in five years

So, as I said, the siege continues.  Certainly the government was pushed back out of the bedroom, but they’ve made it into the backyard and now they’re in the bathroom.  You know what’s right next to the bathroom?  That’s right!  The bedroom!  And you don’t want to know what’s going to happen when they get back in there!

Because in the Progressive Utopia of the 21st Century and Beyond, that which is not forbidden will be mandatory!

Cross posted at  the Men Out of Work Blog

My “Peak Music Year” Project – Conclusion

My “Peak Music Year” Project – Conclusion

Regular readers of this blog know that some months ago I undertook a project to determine my “peak music year”.  I arbitrarily and capriciously devised a method that I would use to make this determination.  I decided to examine the BillBoard Hot 100 chart for the years 1965 through 1975, determine a “winner” for each year and then pick a favorite from the winners and declare the year that my favorite won to be my “Peak Music Year”.  Now I have finished that process and it’s time to reveal my conclusion and declare my Peak Music Year.

Here are the “winners” of the BillBoard Hot 100 for the relevant years (you can click on the year to read my post summarizing the chart for that year and how I declared the winner):

1965:  The Beatles (five #1 songs)

1966:  The Beatles (two #1 songs)

1967:  The Beatles (three #1 songs)

1968:  The Beatles (two songs, a total of eleven weeks at #1)

1969:  The Beatles (two songs, a total of six weeks at #1)

1970:  The Jackson 5 (Four #1 songs)

1971:  Three Dog Night (Six weeks at #1)

1972:  Disqualified – I declared No Winner

1973:  Disqualified – I declared No Winner

1974:  Disqualified – I declared No Winner

1975:  Elton John (three #1 songs)

So…my favorite among the winners?  Duh.  The Beatles.  That makes my peak music year…what….the 1960’s?  Crap.  OK, while the Beatles are my favorite group among these “winners”, they are not my favorite group of all time.  So there was obviously a flaw in my format.  In reviewing my summaries I would have to say that the year I was most enthusiastic about was 1969, even though the two Beatles tunes that earned them their “win” that year are not even my favorite Beatles songs.  On the other hand, of the seventeen songs that reached #1 that year, I liked (and still like) fifteen of them.  So is 1969 my peak music year?  It is true that there was a lot of great music that year, and I liked and still like a lot of it.

But I also listened to a lot of music  in 1972, ’73 and ’74, years that I disqualified as my peak music year because the BillBoard Hot 100 chart yielded no winner for me.  A lot of the progressive music I listened to during those years was anti commercial and the artists probably would have been insulted if their songs charted on the Hot 100.  Groups like Pink Floyd, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, and The Alan Parsons Project.  And even though the band that is most likely my favorite of all time, Steely Dan, was (is?) not an alternative group, and they did have significant commercial success, their successes came later than 1975.  I can only conclude that the BillBoard Hot 100 was not the appropriate database to use for purposes of determining my peak music year.  Also the only conclusion I can draw from my little exercise is that 1969 was my Peak BillBoard Hot 100 music year, and a good music year overall for me.

After having reached this wishy washy conclusion to the project, I present two songs related to the year 1969:

First, The Beatles (featuring honorary 5th Beatle, Billy Preston) with one of their #1’s from that year, Get Back:

Next, Steely Dan with a song that was written in 1969, The Caves Of Altamira:

Thanks for reading and sticking with it.  This, however, will not be my final word on my Peak Music Year.

Belated Saint Patrick’s Day Offering

Belated Saint Patrick’s Day Offering

If any of you have been reading this blog for a year now, you would have read this entry one year and one day ago:

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

Saint Patrick’s Day is not merely a commercial holiday designed to sell green beer, party goods and corned beef, it is a cultural and religious holiday commemorating the arrival of Christianity in Ireland.  Saint Patrick was a 5th Century Christian missionary, considered the primary Patron Saint of the island.  You may follow the links to learn more via wikipedia.  It was not my sole intention to give a history lesson, but to share my personal experience of walking some of the same ground walked by Pádraig.

I was fortunate to be able to travel to Ireland in 2009 and one of the places I visited was The Rock of Cashel, a historic site in County Tipperary.

The Rock of Cashel

The Rock of Cashel

The site was the traditional seat of the Kings of Munster prior to the Norman Invasion and is reputed to be where the (then current) King of Munster was converted to Christianity by Saint Patrick in the 5th Century.  The oldest buildings remaining on the site date from ca. 1100, though there is a cross there they call Saint Patrick’s Cross and it is said to date from the King’s conversion in the 5th century.

Saint Patrick's Cross

Saint Patrick’s Cross

I found this to be truly a beautiful place, and it gave me pause to think how many lives have intersected here.

Their Domain as once viewed by Great Kings

Their Domain as once viewed by Great Kings

All photos are mine.  You can click on each image to see a larger version.

And so remember all who came before us and that Saint Patrick’s Day has been a long time in the making.

Day By Day…

Day By Day…

Each day  there are threads of unpredictability woven in and around our daily schedules and routines.  While it is true that our days are filled with certain events that we are aware of or have planned and that we accomplish or participate in per our calendars, it is my belief that within these routines are countless unscripted moments where most of life is lived – in the background so to speak.  These unscripted seconds, these many spontaneous and often unconscious interactions and decisions are the grains of sand that make up a life of purpose.  Living a life of purpose sounds like a monumental undertaking, possibly too large for even a great man, much less a simple man like me.  But no large task is accomplished at once, if broken into small enough increments anything can be achieved.  And time passes through an hourglass one grain of sand at a time.

A.M.D.G : Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam – “For the greater glory of God”

The origin of the phrase is attributed to the founder of the Jesuits, Saint Ignatius of Loyola, who intended it to serve as a cornerstone sentiment of the society’s religious philosophy. The full phrase attributed to St. Ignatius is Ad maiorem Dei gloriam inque hominum salutem or “for the greater glory of God and salvation of man.” It is a summary of the idea that any work that is not inherently evil, even one that would normally be considered inconsequential to the spiritual life, can be spiritually meritorious if it is performed in order to give glory to God.

Dedicate one second of your life for the greater glory of God.  And then another.  And another.  This is how I will build my life of purpose – one tiny brick at a time.

Music Friday – 1975 BillBoard Hot 100 Edition – The End Of The Line (Part2 of 2)

Music Friday – 1975 BillBoard Hot 100 Edition – The End Of The Line (Part2 of 2)

OK, let’s pick up from where we left off yesterday.  If you didn’t read yesterday’s post, scroll down below this post and read Part 1 or click here.

At first glance 1975 looks like a soup of Bublegum Pop, Folk, Rock Ballads maybe a little heavy on the schlock.  I usually like my schlock on the side, but 1975 is fairly drenched in it.  Oh well…it’s too late to send it back now.  There are bright spots, though – there’s something for everyone here.  And there’s nothing too strange unlike 1974’s chart.  Wait.  With one exception – Lovin’ You by Minnie Riperton, a song hated by dogs worldwide.  Ripperton is definitely NOT all about dat bass bout dat bass no treble.

There were no long running #1’s, with only 9 songs at #1 for more than one week, and of those 9 only 5 stayed at #1 longer than two weeks.  The longest stint at #1 belonged to The Captain and Tennille for Love Will Keep Us Together.

Cough *schlock* Cough.

The award for artist or group with most #1’s goes to Elton John who had three #1’s:  Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds (2 weeks), Philadelphia Freedom (2 weeks), and Island Girl (3 weeks).  Three other artists or groups had a song each that stayed at #1 for three weeks apiece:  Tony Orlando & Dawn with He Don’t Love You, Neil Sedaka with Bad Blood and Silver Convention with Fly, Robin, Fly.  Who?  With what?  Yeah, I know.    All of these are wonderful songs…to someone, I’m sure.  Just not to me.  Even being a big Elton John fan, those songs don’t really excite me.  I can take ’em or leave ’em.  So the most popular music of 1975 was not popular with me.  It’s not because I wasn’t exposed to it at the time – I was.  AM radio was still a significant source of music because of the relative scarcity of FM radios and personal and/or portable sound systems.  I remember these songs, I just don’t particularly like them.

Did I like anything about 1975?  Yes, I did.  I liked this:

And this:

And this:

So, I declare the “winner ” of 1975 to be Elton John on the basis of his three #1’s.  And since I am an Elton John fan, I will have to say that 1975 is in the running for selection as my Peak Music Year, though it’s a dark horse.  Stay tuned for my next post which will be the overall analysis of all 11 years and the selection of the prestigious “Mike’s Peak Music Year Award”

Thanks for reading.  Don’t be shy – please leave a comment!

Music Friday – 1975 BillBoard Hot 100 Edition – The End Of The Line (Part1 of 2)

Music Friday – 1975 BillBoard Hot 100 Edition – The End Of The Line (Part1 of 2)

Here we are at the end of my project to determine my “Peak Music Year”.  If you are just joining us, let me provide some background: this all started back in October when, inspired by a post I read at the estimable Althouse blog, I wrote What Does My Taste In Music Say About Me?  I then wondered exactly how one might determine their “Peak Music Year”.  So I arbitrarily devised a plan to select a time frame which I believed was most likley to include my Peak Music Year, examine the popular music of those years, and somehow declare on of those years a “winner” and therefore my Peak Music Year.  With me so far?  Good.  I chose the years 1965 through 1975 – eleven years during which I aged from 11 years old to nineteen years old because I thought it was unlikely my musical tastes formed before age 11 or after 19, and I believed there was a high likelihood that my Peak Music Year would be somewhere in that range.  I then decided the measure of popular music would be the BillBoard Magazine Hot 100 Music Charts for those years.  I would examine the charts, determine an annual “winner” based on something like how many #1 songs an artist or group had that year, or the artist or group with the song that spent the longest stretch at #1.  Completely subjective but I am attempting to determine how I formed my taste in music, a completely subjective subject.

If you like to waste time on the internet like I do, waste a few minutes reviewing the first ten years’ analysis:

Music Friday – 1965 BillBoard Hot 100 Edition

Music Friday – 1966 BillBoard Hot 100 Edition

Music Friday – 1967 BillBoard Hot 100 Edition

Music Friday – 1968 BillBoard Hot 100 Edition

Music Friday – 1969 BillBoard Hot 100 Edition

Music Friday – 1970 BillBoard Hot 100 Edition

Music Friday – 1971 BillBoard Hot 100 Edition

Music Friday – 1972 BillBoard Hot 100 Edition

Music Friday – 1973 BillBoard Hot 100 Edition

Music Friday – 1974 BillBoard Hot 100 Edition

Now you know what’s happening here and I’m sure you can’t wait to see how this all turns out.  I know I can’t.  So here we go with the 1975 BillBoard Hot 100.  Crap….gotta go to work so I’ll finish this tonight.  See you in approximately 12 hours.



Read This…

Read This…

…then break up into groups to discuss until I get back.

Stray Dog Joins Swedish Adventure Racing Team and Completes Grueling 6 Day Race

Robots Move Into Japanese Homes 

Photos of Two Small Pluto Moons Open The Door To A New Vastness

Music Friday – 1974 BillBoard Hot 100 Edition

Music Friday – 1974 BillBoard Hot 100 Edition

A cursory glance at the calendar reminds me that it has been about a month since my last Music Friday post, so I missed a couple Fridays in there.  Sorry.  In the pursuit of determining my “Peak Music Year” I have so far examined the BillBoard Hot 100 charts from 1965 thru 1973, now all we have left to look at are 1974 and 1975.  What a long strange trip it’s been.  Today we shall inspect the 1974 Chart.  Lemme just get a quick look at it…holy crap.  This is another one of those schizoid years that bounced all over the place.  There’s no shortage of weirdness either, and the mood changed frequently.  A strange trip indeed.  There are only nine songs that stayed at #1 longer than one week and out of those nine, six stayed at #1 for only two weeks, and three stayed at #1 for three weeks.  So…those three songs must have been killer, right?  Right?  WRONG!  These three songs are examples of everything that was wrong with popular music in the 70’s and quite possibly what was wrong with the actual 70’s.  In hindsight I don’t understand why these songs did not cause protests, riots and mass hysteria in general.  If these songs were “killer” in any sense it would be in the sense that after listening to them one becomes markedly suicidal.  I hesitate to even post them here for fear of alienating the very few readers I have.  OK, here goes.  Just remember I didn’t write them or perform them.  I didn’t like them in 1974 nor do I like them now.

Seasons in the Sun by Terry Jacks

The Streak by Ray Stevens

(You’re) Having My Baby by Paul Anka with Odia Coates

The list of oddball stuff goes on…Kung Fu FightingThe Night Chicago DiedBilly Don’t be A Hero.  AAARRRRGH.

Hmmm…this may have been a covert plot by Canada to overthrow the U.S. because I see in the Wiki bios of Terry Jacks and Paul Anka that they are Canadians.  That’s it.  There’s no other explanation.  This fact alone may disqualify 1974 as my peak music year.

But wait!  There’s more!  There is a smattering of goodenss if not greatness, especially if you are a folk rock fan.  The 70’s were the hayday of artists like John Denver, Jim Croce, Harry Chapin and Gordon Lightfoot, all of whom had #1 songs that year.  And also in the mix are a few #1’s by ex- Beatles John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and (honorary Beatle) Billy Preston.  But 1974 apparently being the year of the short National Attention Span, these songs stayed at #1 for only one week apiece.

How did I describe 1974 earlier?  Schizophrenic?  Maybe Manic-depressive is a better description.  Or bi-polar as they call it now.  High highs and low lows.  I believe I can safely rule it out as my Peak Music Year, but I won’t rank it last because of a few gems in the pile of rubble.  There is no clear winner this year, so I will simply present a couple of my favorite songs from that year.  Enjoy!  Gotta go!



In Which I Make Excuses

In Which I Make Excuses

I may have mentioned that I am longer a Man Out Of Work.  I am now a Man Who Seems To Work Every Waking Minute Of His Freaking Life.  But that’s a poor name for a blog.  I’m not complaining, mind you, but I am playing the excuse card for light *non-existent* blogging.

I like blogging.  I want to blog.  I know that all the great bloggers whose blogs I read and who have inspired me to begin blogging work jobs that are undoubtedly more demanding than mine, yet they still crank out the content.  I just haven’t figured out how to make the adjustment from having lots of time to having almost no time.

Right now three things take up virtually 95% of my time.  Work 40%; Sleep 30%;  Wife 25%.   The wife’s time budget has already taken the biggest hit, so there’s no cutting back there.  In fact she is in need of an increase of at least 10%.  Can’t cut back on work, so it looks like sleep is gonna have to take the hit.

We’ll see how it goes.  It should be fairly easy for you to tell:  as the posts get more frequent and less coherent you’ll know I am making an adjustment to my sleep schedule.  Stay tuned!

Cross posted at Men Out Of Work Blog

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