Tuesday, December 22, 2020

News and Updates

1. I had a lovely birthday celebration yesterday, amid all of the season’s hustle and bustle – one of the few times in my life that we’ve managed to celebrate my birthday on my birthday, which actually felt a bit odd. Pleasantly odd, but odd. Friends and family sent me birthday greetings by social media or by phone, sometimes both. Kim, Oliver, Lauren, and I had a lovely take-out dinner of barbecue and – by my request – brownies afterward. There were cards, and I can’t tell you enough how much I loved what was written inside of them. And afterward the four of us hung out at the table for a good long while in conversation. As you get older you realize that all you really want for birthdays and holidays is to spend time with those you love, and it was a perfect birthday that way.

2. Of course now the math has all changed and this will take a while to get through my head. I have no idea how old I am at any given moment – I have long since passed the age when I had that memorized and every year it’s a calculation. Let’s see now, I was born in … and this year is, wait, what year is this? … and I don’t think I’ve had my birthday yet … what month is this? … so no? yes? maybe? … and subtract the first number from the second and … wow, that’s old. It beats the alternative.

3. In the last week I have made a grand total of three cash transactions. From one of them I got one of those 2009 pennies with the Lincoln designs on them, and from another I got a wheat cent. I’m on a roll!

4. Two of my three classes are done and put to bed now, and the third never will be until I pass it along to someone else. My advisees have moved on to other concerns for a while as well. So I’m as done with this semester as I’m going to get. It doesn’t seem real yet, somehow. In a semester where everything has happened from home, finishing up and staying home doesn’t mark any great change.

5. It’s strange to hear that you’re going to be part of someone else’s book. One of my friends is writing an autobiography of sorts – as a guy who’s been writing a blog for a decade I’m not in any position to question this, I know – and apparently some of the things we did back in the day are in it. I am kind of curious to find out how they come across. There’s a difference between history and memory, after all.

6. There is less than a month until we have sane government again, or at least saner government. Are you counting down the days? You should be. If we make it to January 20 with the Constitution intact and the republic still standing it will be the single greatest political accomplishment of the last four years. Seriously – the US Army had to make a public statement recently that they would not participate in the right-wing coup attempt that the sitting president of the United States was discussing with his advisors. That’s not normal. Why everyone involved in creating, perpetuating, or supporting this sad rerun of the Beer Hall Putsch (history, as Karl Marx pointed out, repeats itself – first as tragedy, then as farce) is not jailed and awaiting trial is a mystery.

7. I’m really, really looking forward to the avalanche of indictments and further investigations that will rain down on the heads of der Sturmtrumper and his minions beginning on January 21. There isn’t enough popcorn in the world for that.

8. Speaking of things to make a person merry, I actually went out and did some Christmas shopping today. I tried to go to local businesses since they need the help this year more than usual, and I found a couple of things. I’ll probably go again tomorrow just for a few more odds and ends. People here in Our Little Town are pretty good about wearing masks these days – even the guy standing out on the street corner with the sign asking people to “Honk for Trump!” had a mask on – so there was at least that measure of protection.

9. I recently found a bottle of whiskey in my cupboard that I inherited from my dad. It was open when it came to me, though it was mostly full. We were not teatotalers in my family, but the fact that this bottle has a 1978 tax stamp from Maryland on it does suggest that perhaps alcohol consumption wasn’t our top priority. It’s pretty smooth now. Bottle-aged.

10. We now have LED shop lights in our basement. They’re really snazzy. You hang them up, plug them in, and they just work. They’re also bright enough to land planes by, which is a bit of a change from the old fluorescent lights and could possibly lead to Projects as we are able to see things clearly for the first time, but so it goes. We’re too busy for Projects, so I figure I’m safe.  For now.


LucyInDisguise said...

1. Damn. Missed it again. You need to list important dates over there in the sidebar. Please accept my belated ‘Happy” once again. Well, there’s always next year …

2. Your thing is History. Not being good at math is not only forgivable, I believe that, in your case, but it may also actually be expected.

3. Help us out here, what is this thing ‘cash’ of which you speak transactionally?

4. Well, there’s always next year …

7. Popcorn. We’ll make more.

8. The ‘Honk for Trump!’ guy was only wearing a mask so no one could recognize him.

9. In 10 days, I will celebrate(?) the 40th anniversary of the day I sobered up. That I actually made it through these last four years without filing an Olympic swimming pool with vodka and drinking my way though it deserves a place in someone’s record book. I dunno, though, still 10 more days to go …

10 Basement Projects, by the nature of the place of their creation, are not meant to be seen clearly.

Love, Hugs, Kisses, Merrie Melodies, and Hippy’s Snu Beers all around. I’m buying.


David said...

1. Thanks! There's never a bad time for good wishes and I'm happy to accept them whenever they're offered.

2. True, but I keep coming back to the fact that at one time I was a math major. It was, admittedly, a long time ago.

3. Cash (n): (1) A medium of exchange once common but now used solely by people who can't be arsed to learn about how to pay for things with devices billed as "phones" that nobody actually uses to make phone calls with. (2) Metal bits that can be used to obtain desirable goods such as food (not to be confused with "knives" or "bullets"). (3) An archaic method of conducting economic transactions used by old people ahead of you in line, particularly those obsessed with "exact change" which they insist can be found in the depths of their wallets and/or purses. Pack a lunch.

8. In this town? Sometimes I go to the grocery store and find myself surrounded by people with Trump slogans on their facemasks and all I can think is "at least they're wearing masks." They were honking happily for the guy. Sigh.

9. Congratulations! That is an impressive achievement and I hope you do find a way to celebrate it. And the fact that you maintained that achievement through the last four years is more impressive still. Do something fun for yourself, at least.

10. No, no they are not. And I have the precedent of when we bought a new overhead light for our kitchen, not long after we moved into this house, and suddenly there were a whole lot of Potential Projects that became visible in a way that they really hadn't been when the light was dimmer. Oh well.

You're buying the first round. Happy merry and all that!

LucyInDisguise said...

2. “I eventually found my way to history and I stayed with it when I discovered that I enjoyed reading history even when I was not being tested on the material – that I was something I had a passion for, just for its own sake.

And that, really, was Mr. Stauffer’s lesson.

The reason he was such a great teacher was not because of the subject he was in, but because of what he brought to that subject. He loved what he was doing, and he could get us to see that and share in that.”

I had to pull that quote from your link - it nails down my experience with Mr. Witucki in a way I could never quite express, and my love for history.

I never had the patience to go through it* by the numbers. I found that I learned best either in self-study or thru attendance at the College of Hard Knocks.

3. Oh. I seem to remember something. A physical manifestation of what my debit card does. And I never pack a lunch - I pack a punch. :D

8. (Come on Blogger - we seriously need that sarcasm/irony font!)

10. Converted the lights in my wife’s craft room - now I pay hell getting her out of there. In fact, we’ve converted every light in our house to LED except the fixture in the hallway outside my office. I do not have an excuse for not doing that one, too.**

It is 9:35 PM PST on Christmas Eve. What in the hell are we doing here?


* “It” being training in anything. Very close to literally.

** English may or may not be my first language.

David said...

Well, by 9:35 on Christmas Eve we were pretty much done - the meal was cleaned up and put away, the family Zoom call had ended, the presents were opened and appreciated, and the Phase 10 game that I got everyone to agree to had ended. Might as well check in to see what the rest of the world was up at that point, I suppose. :)

2. I eventually did forward that post over to Mr. Stauffer, who had retired by then. He responded with graciousness and kindness, as you would expect. I still think of him as my teaching role model.

I did go back and fix the typo in that pull quote - ten years in and somehow I'd never noticed it before. Sigh.

3. I still use cash when I can, mostly (one suspects) out of sheer cussedness. Cash is considered a sign of weakness in the midwest (I have vivid memories of my first month in Iowa, back in the early 1990s, standing behind a woman in a CVS who was paying for a soda and a candy bar with a check). Plus with debit cards I don't get wheat cents back!

10. I'm slowly converting everything to LED as things burn out. There aren't any incandescents left in the house, though there are still a few fluorescents waiting to go. Time, as we historians say, is on my side.