Thursday, April 29, 2010


Omigosh. I just remembered what a phobia I used to have of clowns back when I was a kid. Not just a fear, an outright phobia. Clowns were evil. Clowns were scary. Clowns were like... worse than monsters! I even used to have nightmares about clowns.

The odd thing is, fear of clowns turns out to be not uncommon. But I didn't know that back then. All I knew was... I was terrified of clowns.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Walking Around

So... lately I've been getting out and walking. That means walking down the road a ways, down to where I get to a certain gate into a pasture, and then turning around and walking back up the road again to my house.

Gravel road, have to wear shoes that will do for walking on gravel. Little traffic, fortunately. Now and then I do wave at the passing pickup.

It sure beats riding my exercise bike in the house, as I was doing (okay, well, doing on and off) through the winter months. Right now we're at the perfect time of the year for walking outdoors for exercise. Hope I can keep it up, motivation and all. And hope I can keep it up as we get into the hotter months of the summer.

Friday, April 23, 2010


I've never been much of a one to wear sunglasses. Though I've been thinking more of my health since the events of last fall, and it looks like I'm going to be outdoors a lot this summer, if only on the road more than usual. So...

I went and got a pair of sunglasses. Ordered them online, as I do with so many of my purchases nowadays, and yes, it does help, for someone like me who lives in a remote rural location far from the madding crowd. Wait a few days, and the package showed up in my mailbox.

I got Persol sunglasses, not quite knowing what I was getting into, and I must say, I am very, very pleased with them. Only after I placed the order did I realize, googling around, about the tangled history of Persol and celebrities, Persol and Marcello Mastroianni, Persol and Steve McQueen. All I knew was, I was looking for some top quality shades, stylish if possible, and "hand made in Italy" with an old-fashioned quality you don't often see anymore sounded like the way to go.

Persol 2931S, tortoise frames, polarized brown lenses. I was surprised when I first wore them, thought it was raining up to the north of us -- nope, just polarization making that part of the sky look dark. I'd guess I've never looked through polarized lenses before.

And they fit like a dream, and they work like a dream, and if part of me thinks I'm crazy to drop money in the triple digits on a pair of sunglasses, another part of me says that quality which will last is worth it.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Angry Rejection of the Slightest Hint of Decline

I've been hanging around in the blogosphere for seven or eight years now. And I'm often gently bemused at how certain topics generate, with wearisome predictability, a great deal of heat and very little light. Case in point: voice the slightest hint that today's young people are in any way going downhill compared to past generations, and you will unleash a storm of vitriol in response.

"How dare you say that today's young people have declined in such and such way, compared to the baby boomers, or compared to the generation that fought World War II?!!!" Angry, vituperative, often unreasoning rejection of the slightest hint of decline; and often from people who are not themselves young. How dare you?!

Or if it's not unreasoning rejection, the line of reasoning follows a wearisomely predictable path: "Haven't people always thought that the younger generation in their time was going downhill compared to previous generations?" This is often accompanied with a nod of the head to ancient Greek allegations that Socrates was corrupting the youth of his day. Implication: A stopped clock can never be right, not even once in all of human history.

But why not? And why say it's a stopped clock? Suppose -- for the sake of the argument just suppose -- that in certain ways the young people of Socrates' day actually were going downhill compared to their elders, and/or that the young people of today actually are going downhill compared to their parents or grandparents. Then won't such angry rejection blind us, and indeed systemically blind us, to certain realities of decline in the world around us? Once you rule hints of decline categorically out of bounds, haven't you donned a set of horse blinders which will unconditionally blind you to certain possible realities?

I mean suppose, just suppose, that today's young people actually are in some specifiable way going downhill? Or suppose these things go in cycles, with occasional phases of decline? Then will you not be wrong, and indeed incorrigibly wrong, if the first and only way you know how to respond is with angry and vitriolic rejection of the slightest hint of decline?

Lest the reader misunderstand, I don't actually think today's young people are going downhill at all. I'm playing the devil's advocate, for the sake of the argument. Indeed I take quite a positive view overall of the youth and young adults of today: I think in many ways their outlook, their temperament, their frame of mind represents an improvement over my generation, back in the days when I was that age.

But I'm just wondering, why does this topic always elicit such an angry and vehement response, and in such wearisomely predictable terms? After all, it's not at all impossible that, in a certain place and time, the argument might be substantially correct.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

First Computer

I got my first home computer something over 20 years ago. No hard drive, I just swapped various floppies in and out for data, software, even the operating system -- which, of course, was DOS, which meant (of course) that I did everything from the command line, which I took for granted.

Floppies, five and a quarter inch floppies, yet!

I never dreamed of being online, and accessing the bulletin boards which were out there in those pre-WWW days. Well, technically I could've. But I couldn't have afforded it. Chalk it up to living on a student budget.

How far we've come in 20 years! Makes a body wonder what computers will be like in 2030.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Early Green

Gone on the road several days -- work related. On returning home I find that, in my absence, many of the trees around here have budded, and some of them have even started leafing out. It seems a bit early in April for that. But I suppose just lately we've been having more than our share of warm weather.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Reductionism as Mummery

reductionist n One who angrily contends that we would have a profound and complete understanding of English literature, if only we knew enough about the chemistry of ink and wood pulp.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Grey Beard

Looking in the mirror the other day, I realized that my beard has gone almost completely grey. And I wondered, how did this creep up on me and take me unawares? All this grey? Where have the years gone? How have all those summers fled away?