I’m thrilled that I’m writing again. Help from competent mental health professionals, well, helps. How about that?
I’m even working on getting to the place where I’m writing before bedtime rather than in the middle of the night. It’s 12:40 in the morning. That may sound like the middle of the night to you, but it’s only three and a half hours after I got off of work. So, if I worked an 8 to 5 job, it’d be, like 8:40 in the evening. And that’s not late at all.
I may still write during the time that pretty much everyone would agree is the middle of the night (like, 3:00 am or 4:00 am) but for now, let’s be happy that it’s still pretty early.
Today’s problem is that I keep forgetting the Gratuitous Amazon Links in my posts. How am I going to remember to put them in? I could put a note by my computer, but I’d probably learn how to ignore that pretty quickly. It’s probably just a matter of making it a habit. But how do I accomplish that?
Maybe I could write them up ahead of time in a separate Word document from the one that I’m drafting my more important blog posts in and then it’d just be a matter of remembering to paste them in? That just might be an idea.
But first, a Gratuitous Amazon Link to get me back in the swing of things. I’ll have to go digging through old posts to figure out where in the works of Rick Riordan I was. I found it! I was only on the second Percy Jackson book. Should I keep doing that series or do the first book of each series? I think I’m going to do the first book of each series. Maybe I’ll follow that up with subsequent books in the series if I feel particularly motivated. Or desperate.
So, the next Rick Riordan series I’m going to start plugging is the Kane Chronicles. The first book in the series? The Red Pyramid. I really loved that series. I should reread it sometime.
I’m probably off later today (I may pick up a few hours at work in the early to mid afternoon), so I hope to get downtown and get a new cover illustration for the blog. Maybe I’ll end up going to the Pearl and taking a picture there. Or, ooh! a bridge! There are a bunch of really pretty bridges over the San Antonio River. And a bridge would, by definition, be a lot wider than it would be tall, which would mean that it might be possible to make it fit the header image size that I need for the theme I’m considering. This has got potential. I’ll probably write more about it as I photograph various bridges in the city.
I honestly intended to use the time immediately after my dad and son went to bed to get my quiet writing time in so that I wouldn’t be up at 4:00 writing. But I had a headache and so I went to lie down for a bit so that I could concentrate better after the headache passed.
And, well, I guess the headache has passed. And so has four more hours.
I got a notification the other day that the tool that has made this blog mobile-compatible for the last four-and-a-half years is being discontinued. After doing some research, I’ve found that this theme still isn’t set up to adapt to mobile on its own.
This means that I’m going to have to either choose a new theme by the end of March, or suddenly develop a miraculous skill in web development and cook up a “child theme” that does adapt.
Guess which is more likely to happen?
The style I’m considering has two white-on-gray color styles to choose from, one of which is pretty close to the current colors of this site. The orange-red parts will be gone and the accent color looks like a kind of grayish blue to my eyes. My header image is way too small, though, so I’m either going to have to see if I can cook up a new header image out of the original photo or go out and take a new picture to use.
I wonder if there’s a tool that will crop a photo to a specific size centered on a specific spot. Because if there is, I could dig up the original, find the center of the current image, then use that tool to make a new photo that’s basically the same image but has more of the original image in it.
Never mind. The original photo is too short to use at all. The image I need should be 280 pixels high and the original of my header image is 245 pixels high.
Wait. That doesn’t make sense. I wonder if I downloaded it wrong or something. The original photo should be *huge*. I probably still can’t use it because there’s a big expanse of concrete on the left side of the photo, but still, it should be larger than 280 pixels high. Shouldn’t it?
So I’m going to go to Google Photos and see how large that one is.
Argh. Google Photos is taking *forever*, but their version is 388 pixels high. Still smaller than I would expect, but large enough to at least get an image 280 pixels high out of it.
Using an automatic cropping tool I gave it a shot, but that guy that wandered into my shot is pretty much the focal point of the new photo when I used an auto cropping tool. So I guess I’m going to be using a different photo.
And now I’m thinking that 280 pixels high and 1200 pixels wide seems awfully short? narrow? wide? But the page that has those specs won’t reload. I think my computer’s tired, too.
Ah! I got into that page finally and, yep, 280 by 1200. So tomorrow it looks like I’m going to be playing with my current crop of photos to see if I can cook up something usable that looks good.
I suspect I’m going to end up going downtown, or to the River Walk, or both, to take more photos to play around with later.
Despite my depression, I’ve still kept up with my foreign language studies. After all, they’re my retirement plan. As I get better at my foreign languages, I hope to gradually transition to a work-from-home business as a translator.
Well, once I pick a language, that is. Right now, I have three tiers of languages, with two languages in each tier. The first tier is Spanish and Mandarin, the second tier is German and Italian, and the third is Czech and Vietnamese. I’m most likely to pick one of the first tier, but the ones in the second aren’t out of the running yet. It’s doubtful that I’ll ever be good enough at the languages in the third tier for them to ever be possibilities, but who know what will happen in the future.
I also still intend to add more languages as time goes by. Next up, I think, may be Arabic, since it’s spoken in so many countries, which makes it pretty useful, and right now I have a coworker who speaks it and could help me. Well, he speaks Egyptian Arabic, but it’d give me something to work with.
I’d like to learn Hawaiian, since I’ve offered to take Alex on a trip to celebrate his college graduation in a couple of years and he wants to go back to Hawaii. Even if I take to Hawaiian like the proverbial duck to water, it’s likely that anyone who speaks Hawaiian would be able to do their own translations into English, so that’s not likely to be my choice.
Whenever I try to learn French, I end up having some kind of traumatic experience that leads to an awakening to something broken in my life (I found the lump that was my cancer the first time and I got a divorce the second). I already know that a bunch of things in my life are broken — that’s why I’m seeing a mental health professional and also trying to start a business that will give me the money I need to make those changes. I don’t want to have an awakening to other things that are broken just now. Maybe later.
There are other languages that are appealing as well (too many to go into at 5:00 am). So, in short, Spanish or Mandarin is likely to be my choice, German and Italian aren’t out of the running yet, and any other language will be fun to learn, but probably will not be anything I can base a business on.
It may boil down to what schools I can get a master’s degree in modern languages at. Wow, that sentence sucks, but I’m going to leave it there and then explain. Not all schools teach all languages. I mean, that’d be impossible. To cover all of them, your modern languages faculty would probably have to be hundreds, if not thousands, of people. I figured that hundreds might be a possibility because some could double- triple- or more up. Each professor from Papua New Guinea might be able to knock out quite a few of their 851 languages all by themselves.
And since my plan is to have public university money and not private university money, that limits the number of schools I can go to. Like most universities have the languages that are popular in high school — Spanish, German, French, etc. Once you leave those languages, the number of public schools that have graduate degree programs drops by quite a bit.
Right now, the best school I’ve been able to find for Mandarin is Berkeley. Don’t get me wrong. I’d love to go to Berkeley. But would I ever have the money to live in Northern California? Not unless I win the lottery, I won’t. And in that case, I’d have private university money.
Another limiting factor is that I want to travel for foreign study as well. I won’t have the money to pay for my foreign language degree for a long time (if ever) but when I do it, I want to do it right and spend a semester abroad. Medellin looks like it’d be fun, but the rural areas of Colombia are pretty dicey right now (who knows what the status will be in 12-ish years, though). I’ve never been to Spain, but that’s not the dialect I’ve learned. Maybe it’d be helpful to get out of my comfort zone and go to Spain.
I’d love to go to China, but with the way our relationship is right now, maybe I’d be better off not planning on that. Also, with my asthma, I should probably not plan to study in Beijing if I do go. I’d love to spend time in Liaoning, though, since that’s where they’re finding all of the dinosaurs.
I loved Italy and would love to go back. Doing foreign study in, like, Naples or Rome? That’d be wonderful. Maybe doing my study in Florence, since everyone I know who’s been to Italy raves about Florence. I’ve never been to Germany (or Austria, or Switzerland), so traveling there to study would really stretch my wings.
Well, I don’t have to decide anything regarding school, at least, for more than 12 years. I already have a bachelor’s degree, so I’m hoping to go to grad school for my modern languages degree. Unfortunately, already speaking the language isn’t good enough, you need actual undergrad class credits. So, since adults over 65 who aren’t pursuing a degree get free undergraduate tuition in most states, and since I don’t *want* to pursue an undergraduate degree, I figure I have until I’m 65 to start taking classes. I’ll use that program (in whichever state I end up in) to get the undergraduate hours and then get a master’s degree.
Unless, of course, I can start making enough money actually using my target language before then to defray the cost of both the undergraduate classes and the master’s degree. In that case, I’ll start taking classes as soon as I have the money. I have a spreadsheet that I need to transition to a database someday. I have three shares of stock, ten CDs, and the savings account that I’m keeping the money in until I have the money to buy the next share of stock or CD as appropriate and it’s getting cumbersome to keep track of it all. I’ve also just added a column that will either count up to or down to the amount of money I need. I tried counting up for a while and kept thinking it was supposed to be going down, so I’m going to try counting down for a while and see how that works out.
I actually had something to say about my blog tonight, but I have to be up in two and a half hours, so that’ll have to wait until tomorrow night’s 5 am writing spree. Good night.
Apparently I’ve been depressed. The problem about being depressed is that when you’re depressed you don’t necessarily realize it at first. At least I don’t. But eventually I do, and then I generally do something about it.
I think I’m coming out of it, with the help of some friends and a competent mental health professional. My executive functioning is getting better and I’m able to write again. I’ve gotten up and written at 4 or 5 in the morning every day this week. Will I ever be able to write again at a humane hour of the day? Well, that remains to be seen. But progress is progress.
Once I’m pretty confident that this depression is behind me, I’m thinking about taking an online creative writing course. I’m looking at my options right now, but I’m not ready to actually commit to spending money on this. Yet.
Well, that’s pretty much it, I guess. Hopefully I’ll have more news over the coming weeks and, since I need content, I’ll probably share that progress here. Now I need to get back to sleep.
Frank and I went
to the Try Guys show in July. I’m not real sure where this started, actually. I
think it was when one of my friends posted some “study” showing that people who
go to live concerts live longer*. So since I’m in a concert-going phase right now,
I figured “let’s see who’s coming to town.” And I saw that the Try Guys were touring.
Something else was happening that kept me from going to the San Antonio show,
but they were doing a show in Austin the next night. And I was free that night.
I’m not really
ashamed, as such, that I’m not a longstanding Try Guys fan. When I saw that they
were touring, I was, like, “Those are those guys who did the drunk driving
thing, aren’t they? They’re pretty funny.” And then I binge-watched their
entire oeuvre (well, all of the videos since they left Buzzfeed. I think I did
a bunch of the ones from their Buzzfeed era, as well). And, yeah. I loved them.
So I asked Frank
if he liked them, because I’d get another ticket for him if he wanted me to. He
did. So, since his house is on my way from my house to Austin, I drove and
picked him up on the way.
I was kind of stressed out, since there are basically two drives between San Antonio and Austin – relaxing and time-consuming or fast and congested. And since the fast and congested route is congested, if there’s a wreck on the way, the choice can end up being relaxing and time-consuming or congested and time-consuming.
As an aside, a friend in Austin and I are expecting a visit from one of our friends from Maryland this coming summer and I suggested the relaxing and time-consuming route – US 290 West to US 281 South – when she drives from visiting our friend in Austin to San Antonio. Right now, that route takes 40 more minutes than going straight down I-35, but it takes you through Dripping Springs and Blanco. It does get congested as you get into San Antonio, but once you’re in the city proper, it speeds up a bit. Plus, if she’ll be staying downtown, US 281 goes just past the eastern edge of downtown San Antonio. I-35 goes past the western edge of downtown, but there’s all these interchanges and stuff and it’s kind of a mess. But I digress. Back to the Try Guys.
Frank and my first
experience with the show kind of throws the difference in our attitudes into sharper
relief. I bought tickets for the balcony, because neither one of us is made of
money. We went up to the balcony and it was empty except for the guy running
the sound board. While we stumbled around in the dark, the sound board guy must
have called for an usher to come get us. Turns out that everyone who was in the
balcony had been moved down to the back of the main floor at the concert hall
and no one had told us.
I was horribly
embarrassed. Frank was more than a little put out. We got our new tickets,
though, and got our seats. We got there quite a bit ahead of time so I had lots
of time to look around and notice that Eugene’s dad, Jae, was at the show. Frank
wasn’t as big a fan as I am, so he didn’t recognize Jae at first. I had to dig
up a picture of him on my phone and we had to wait for him to stand up again before
he could see what I meant. We will be seeing Jae again later in the show.
I purposefully stayed unspoiled about the show, which caused a bit of anxiety on my part. The name of the show was “Legends of the Internet” and the guys came out and started singing about memes and things and I was kind of tense, wondering if that’s all it was going to be. Fortunately, it wasn’t.
Each of the guys were
legends of a particular Internet-related topic. Keith was the Legend of Food,
Ned was the Legend of Love, Zach was the Legend of Fun, and Eugene was the
Legend of Gay (the show in Austin was less than a month after Eugene’s coming
The whole thing started
out with a Try Guys Game Time where a young woman from the audience came up on
stage for a game of Fuck Marry Kill. Since their voices are distinctive, the sound
board guy disguised their voices.
As the Legend of
Food, Keith threw pieces of chicken into the audience for us to share. I say “us,”
although not everyone got any chicken. The idea was for the chicken to be
broken into small enough pieces that everyone would get some, but a few people declined
to share (or so Keith said). Frank and I were some of the ones who didn’t get
chicken. Oh, and in Boston, one of the pieces of chicken hit a chandelier and damaged
As the Legend of
Love, Ned had a dance contest for dads. This is where Jae comes in. Since
Eugene’s dad was there, they had the usual number of dads from the audience and
they added Jae in to make it, if I recall correctly, five dads. Jae did not win
the dance contest.
As the Legend of
Fun, Zach did a Try Guys slash fiction story where the sexy bits were replaced
by references to cars. So there were stick shifts instead of penises and things
like that. He also showed us the tattoo of a smiley face he has on his buttock.
And as the Legend
of Gay, Eugene did a dance and lipsync number in an outfit that kind of defies
description. As he went through the history of homosexuality in the media (both
through gay icons and through non-gay personalities that are associated with
the gay community, like Judy Garland), his outfit changed, like a Transformer
you can wear. It was fascinating.
The show was amazing
and I had a wonderful time. I’m also procrastinating over a cover letter for
them. They said in one of their videos that they don’t have a research department.
Well, I’m a librarian, so I’d make a great research department. Will I ever
actually send them my resume? Tune in, possibly never, and we’ll find out.
This Gratuitous Amazon Link is actually less gratuitous than usual. It is, in fact, the Try Guys’s book, The Hidden Power of F*cking Up. I bought my copy almost as soon as I knew it existed and didn’t realize until I got to the show that they were selling autographed copies. I didn’t have that much money to spare (see why we almost ended up in the balcony), so I’ll just have the one, unautographed, copy.
It’s 1:30 in the
morning as I write this, so I’m going to be heading off to bed now. I’m off tomorrow
and I think I might go downtown. Maybe I can check out the archaeological dig
at the Alamo. I also need to see if I can find a good picture from the Try Guys
show to post here.
And Alex and I went
to the LBJ National Monument a couple of weeks ago. I still have the Maluma
concert and a B-52s concert to write up. And Facebook keeps offering me an
opportunity to promote one post for free. I have to come up with something
amazing for that. God only knows what, though.
So, if I can come
up with something good on the archaeological dig, that’s four or five more blog
posts. I think I still have an hour or two of 24 Hours of Happy to post.
Wow, maybe the Comic Sans thing is working.
*The “study” was done by a company that owns venues where they have concerts. No ulterior motive there.
On Christmas Eve, Alex and I went down to The Pearl, a multi-use development (stores, restaurants, apartments, a branch of the Culinary Institute of America, and Hotel Emma, the hotel that Cher recently lauded in a tweet.
I was going to
write about the Try Guys concert that Frank and I went to, but now I’m thinking
about writing about writing.
While trying to figure out if I should give up, I was reading an article about writing and it said that a “good writer” is distinguished by their ability to edit and re-edit their work. And I don’t really do multiple drafts of things, so maybe I’m not a good writer by that standard.
I do edit as I write, though (n.b. — I moved that sentence from the end of the previous paragraph to the beginning of this one as I was posting this into the WordPress interface, so I guess I do do some editing). I wonder if there is a freeware dictation app that’s any good. Because I would certainly be interested in my thought process as I write. I don’t generally sit down and make it up as I sit there (wow, that was a bad sentence, but I’m going to leave it just so you can see what I mean). I tend to write as I do other things and by the time I sit down, I’ve mostly decided on what I think is the best way to phrase what I want to say. This is the tactic I used on all of my papers in grad school, btw, and I graduated with a 3.16 or so GPA, so I guess it works.
If I had a decent
dictation app, I could do this process out loud and have the app translate it
for me on the fly and then I could publish exactly what my thought process is
and how many different versions of a particular sentence I go through before I “(fix
it) in a tangible form.”
I’m not sure where
all I was going with this, but I’ve started looking at speech to text apps to
see if I can actually do what I’m contemplating. We’ll see how that works out.
And I forgot my Gratuitous Amazon Link last time. Wasn’t I just going through the works of Rick Riordan? I think I’d only done The Lightning Thief, so here’s the second in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, The Sea of Monsters. This is one of my favorite books in the whole series (though that’s a hard decision to make, since I love all of the books that Riordan has written). I haven’t reread this series in a long time. Maybe I’ll make time for it again soon.
This is probably going
to be a huge mistake but what the hell. I’ve actually had friends tell me that writing
in Comic Sans helped them overcome their writer’s block so I figured I’d give
it a shot.
I’ve had a lot of
doubts about this blog lately. I sent the link to it to one of my best friends
and he never mentioned it again. Every time I think about it, I think that I
must really suck if it’s so bad that he didn’t even say, “Don’t give up your
day job.” And I’m really scared to ask him what he thought about it. I mean,
maybe he forgot. And that would be okay, because you know, he has a life. But if
he forgot, then he’d be embarrassed and I’m the type who feels it really
strongly when someone I care about is hurt or embarrassed. It might even be
more painful for me than it would be for him.
And what if he
didn’t forget? What if he read it and it really is horrible? I mean, I love my
blog and I love writing and I had a bunch of friends from my fanfic writing
days who liked my writing. One of my friends had an occasional writing contest (voted
on by the readers) and I never got the top prize, but I usually got *a* prize.
So I can craft a sentence that makes sense. I think.
I have to admit
that I’m crying a little right now. I’m so scared that I’m wasting my time and
that I should just pack it in.
I’m going to give
it one more try. Really try to stick with it through 2020 and see where it gets
me. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll make a success out of this.
Oh, and the Comic Sans thing? Seems to be working so far. For whatever that’s worth.
This concert was the third time I’ve seen Al in concert. The first was when he opened for The Monkees in 1987 (or, as my friend Ray used to say, when The Monkees closed for Weird Al). Then there was last year’s “unplugged” tour. Then there was this year’s Strings Attached tour in which Weird Al (and his bandmates) played with a symphony orchestra.
I was trying to imagine Al on a bus with timpani and string basses and such, only it turns out that isn’t how it worked at all. The conductor traveled with him. The performers were from local orchestras.
There was a little interpersonal drama surrounding the concert. I didn’t realize when I bought the tickets (in February) that the day of the concert, June 16, was Father’s Day. In fact, I didn’t realize it until about a week before the concert. Thomas was understandably upset about this, and I offered to let Thomas have Alex for the night because it was my error. I also offered to let Thomas and Alex have my tickets for the show and to buy my own ticket and sit elsewhere. In the end, though, Thomas allowed Alex and me to go to the concert together and they’d plan for a “designated” Father’s Day at some other time.
The show was held at the Majestic Theatre in downtown San Antonio, an old movie palace. I’ve never failed to be impressed by the work that went into putting the building together (and the work it must take to keep all of that ornamentation dusted!). The Majestic was the first fully air-conditioned theater in Texas and, near as I can tell, the first theater in San Antonio to be integrated. This is the South and so, of course, the theater was initially segregated. African-American patrons had a separate entrance that led to a separate balcony (from what I can tell, that balcony is used to store lighting and other equipment now and is not open to the public). They tried a test integration in 1961 and when doom didn’t follow the test, they formally integrated. The other theaters in the city followed suit soon afterwards. I have a pretty good picture of the inside of the Majestic from the B-52s concert. I’ll try to remember to post it then.
The concert was, as always, awesome. Apparently the 9-minute “Jackson Park Express” went over well enough on 2018’s tour that he performed it again on this tour. He did most of his greatest hits. He skipped the Michael Jackson songs given that some of the (now adult) kids that Jackson had at his home are now saying that he did abuse them. Al has said that maybe someday he’d perform them again, but that wasn’t going to happen on this tour.
The only problem is that occasionally the orchestra was drowned out by Al’s band, at least I couldn’t hear the orchestra from my seat on those songs.
I know I need a concluding paragraph and maybe someday I’ll write one. But it’s 11:00 pm right now and only going to be Al’s birthday for another one or three hours (depending on if you’re talking about me here in Texas or Al in California (unless Al’s at his home on Maui right now, which will give us a few more hours). So I’m going to post this and maybe start working on another post.
I did end up going to the Maluma concert and I visited an average of 1.5 state parks per day this weekend (unless you’re counting unique state parks, in which case it’s an average of 1 per day) and I intend to write about both. Also about the Weird Al Yankovic concert, the B-52s concert, and the Try Guys show. But first, there’s Kiliamo.
Or, was Kiliamo. And there’s the problem.
When Alex was about 2 years old, he let us know that he wanted a cat of his very own. So we took him to the shelter and introduced him to a bunch of little kittens and he wasn’t interested in any of them. As we were about to give up, I saw a black medium haired kitten in one of the cages. The kitten was about six months old, so not a tiny kitten, but still not yet an adult.
It was love at first sight.
We named him Cosmo, after the husband fairy from the Fairly Oddparents cartoon but Alex soon renamed him Kiliamo, which was baby-Alex for Kitty Cosmo. And everything went smoothly until Kiliamo was about 12.
Around then, he started pooping outside the box and it was mushy and discolored. The folks at the vet’s office did a fecal exam and nothing untoward turned up so we did a course of metronidazole just in case, because occasionally there’d be something in stool that doesn’t show up on fecal examination. And it didn’t help.
My vet gave us a diagnosis of Inflammatory Bowel Disease and we played around with this food for a couple of years and things would improve for a year or two and then go downhill again. We put him on prednisone for about a year which worked great until he developed diabetes from the prednisone.
So we put him on insulin and cyclosporine and three months after the diabetes set in, the diabetes was over.
All this time, my dad and I were fighting about him and whether I should put him down. Eventually, I put him on house arrest and kept him in my bedroom all of the time. His digestion finally settled down and I was able to take him off of the cyclosporine when I put him on Fancy Feast and things were pretty smooth for about a year.
Then he started to lose weight. We tested his thyroid, which turned out to be high, and put him on methimazole. He was still losing weight, so we tested his T4 which was also high, and upped his dose.
Then he began having seizures. My vet said that it was likely a one-time thing and that if it happened again, we could try anti-seizure medicine, but that wouldn’t fix the underlying problem, which she thought might be a brain tumor. We decided to try the anti-seizure medicine, which did stop his seizures.
About that time, he started to lose weight again. We tested his T4 again, which was high again, and bumped up his dose. And everything was smooth for another couple of months. Until he started losing weight again, his T4 was high again, and we bumped up his dose again (at this point, he was taking 10 mg per day, which is a pretty high dose for a human).
A month later, he had all but stopped eating and had lost a lot of weight. At this point, which was the day of the Maluma concert, my vet said that it was time. I asked for a few days so that Alex and a couple of my friends could say goodbye and we set the date for that Wednesday. My boss rearranged my schedule so that I could spend that last day with him and so, on October 2, 2019, we said our final goodbyes to Kiliamo.
I’m actually getting choked up just writing about it. Anyway, I’m writing all this because (a) I need to make a blog post anyhow and (b) I don’t want to have to go through all this when I do write about the Maluma concert.
Crap. I need a Gratuitous Amazon Link, don’t I? I should keep it on-topic somehow. Do they sell Fancy Feast on Amazon? Yes, they do. So here’s a link to the Purina Fancy Feast Grain Free Pate Wet Cat Food Variety Pack, Poultry & Beef Collection. Kiliamo would have no part of the grilled or flaked varieties. He was a paté man. So if anyone out there sees this link and decides to buy this pack, crack open a Turkey and Giblets Feast (which was his favorite) and remember our beloved Kiliamo.