It must be spring

The ducks are back
The ducks are back

Ducks seem to like our pool, even when the cover is still on it. I took a picture of them last year, though it was later in the spring, on April 20. I noticed them today when I was letting Marlon back in from making a deposit in our back yard. The wonderful pooch never acknowledged that they were there. He is a wonderful watchdog.

***

I can tell it is spring without walking outside in shirt sleeves. First, as you can see, the ducks are back in the pool. They have been showing up for a few years now. They enjoy the pool before we open it. We usually see them for a short while before they continue north. At least that’s where I surmise they go. Looking at that picture I can see that I’ll need to waterproof the deck again soon.

A second reason I can tell it is spring is because I wish I was back on campus. In the spring I always seem to miss the academic life. That is surprising because I wasn’t very fond of academics when I was in school. It’s kind of like nostalgia for a life I never really experienced. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed college life, but I was never one who delved deeply into any one subject. I’m more the person who knows a little bit about a lot of things, but I’m not an expert on anything.

Reason number three is that I’m ready for a road trip. It doesn’t have to be long trip. Right now I would settle for a day trip somewhere. In fact, yesterday I started thinking about driving up to Rolling Prairie, my home town. I haven’t been there for five years or so. This morning I was thinking about how I would like to go there and take some pictures around town as reminders of when I lived there. I may get around to making that trip in a few weeks. If I do, I know I’ll post some of the photos here.

I hope your Easter/Passover/Opening Day has been a good one.

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It was a long night

Wish I could get under this door
Wish I could get under this door

Marlon wanted to go into the bathroom with Cindy while she was showering yesterday morning. He couldn’t get in, but it looks like he wanted to squeeze under the door. She eventually finished and he had a few minutes of quality time with her before she left.

***

People who know me probably think that this post’s title references IU’s loss to Syracuse last night. That is only partially correct. Read on, and you’ll understand.

If you watched the game you know that it was a late game. It started between 9:45 and 10 p.m. locally. I was watching in the family room, and Marlon was wandering back and forth between the living room, through the kitchen, and into the family room, and then back again. He made the trip every time he thought he heard something in the garage, hoping it was Cindy. I tried to tell him that she was at the gambling boat with friends, but he didn’t understand me. I was getting tired, so at half-time I let him out for the final time, around 11 p.m. When I let him back in he went through the downstairs looking for Cindy, didn’t find her, and then curled up in my easy chair in the living room. He isn’t interested in basketball. I went upstairs to watch the end of the game while he dozed in my chair.

The game ended with a bad outcome, IU lost, around midnight. I read a short chapter in The Underground Man by Ross MacDonald, turned out the light, and went to sleep. The sleep lasted for about an hour when I wakened by Marlon’s nails clicking on the hardwood floor in the hallway. He came into the bedroom, walked around checking it out, and jumped up on the bed to settle in. He decided that the best place to sleep was in a spot between my feet and the side of the bed. I shifted my feet to accommodate his comfort and tried to go back to sleep.

Let me interrupt my tale to state that I don’t know why I let him sleep on the bed. I don’t like animals that sleep with people. I don’t understand why people want animals in bed with them. I once dated a woman who…well, that’s a story for another post. Anyway, let us mark it down to me being too tired to move him off the bed.

The experience of having Marlon on the bed last night was a lot like the first time you sleep with another person. You don’t want to move around too much, or make noises (I snore and occasionally pass gas), because you don’t want to disturb their rest. And you might want to be invited back, or invite them back. Anyway, I found myself lying in an uncomfortable position, thinking about the similarities of sleeping with someone new, and, of course, that led me to remembering some of those experiences. It took me about half an hour to start falling asleep again.

I take a medication twice a day. That medication has a side effect of sometimes causing diarrhea. Last night, around two in the morning, that side effect kicked in. I found myself trying to get out of bed without rousing Marlon. I found myself doing that a number of times as the night went on. After the first time Marlon changed his position on the bed so that he was no longer between me and the bathroom, and he slept through my subsequent trips…for the most part.

Around four this morning, feeling drained, I was able to start drifting off into slumberland. That’s when I heard a slurp, slurp, slurp. It was Marlon, licking himself. What the heck. I fell asleep anyway.

I woke up again at 5:30, like I used to before I retired, and made a final trip to the bathroom. When I came out, Marlon was there acting very frisky. I knew he wanted to go outside, so I slipped on some clothes and slippers and took him down and out into the back yard. I went back in, got a cup of coffee, and turned on Morning Joe. When I let Marlon back in, he went around the house looking for Cindy, and then went back to my chair in the living room where he promptly fell asleep.

It was a long night.

Marlon and words

Marlon enjoying his evening
Marlon enjoying his evening

Marlon was so excited to come for a visit that is was napping within an hour of being dropped off. He loves my chair. When he is awake he can sit in it and watch out the window for other dogs. He barks at them as they are being walked by their owners, all from the comfort of my chair. Who says cocker spaniels aren’t smart?

***

I was watching the NRA’s latest TV ad. I don’t recall the exact words; I wasn’t paying much attention because I knew I wouldn’t agree with the content; but I caught the use of the word scheme. Like most of the attack ads you see during political campaigns, scheme is a word used to connote a bad idea; usually used in conjunction with the adjective risky. I guess that makes some sense because we tend to use scheme rather than plan when we want to imply something sneaky or ill-conceived.

***

Many of the male celebrities these days seem to have a perpetual two days of stubble on their faces. First, how do they keep it that way? Second, why would they go to the trouble of keeping that way instead of either shaving or letting it grow out into a full beard?

I wonder if a partial reason is so that they will look like a “bad boy,” you know, the kind that women find attractive. That’s speculation on my part, because I honestly don’t have a clue. It doesn’t work for me. If I don’t shave for a few days, I just look grizzled. I guess that’s just another aspect of growing older. An even further aspect is that I don’t really care that I look grizzled unless we have something special planned.

Swim suits and Russian words

Early spring in Indiana
Early spring in Indiana

Now this is what the weather is supposed to be like in Indiana during tourney time! It was always like this when I was a kid in high school; but then I grew up in a Lake Effect area. I was ready for spring a couple of days ago, but I can hold off and enjoy this weather. I went out this morning and shoveled enough snow so that Cindy, our bread-winner, could get to work. I’m a good husband.

***

One of my Christmas gifts last year was a gift card for Lands’ End. I used it to purchase a man’s sweater. Since then I have been getting catalogs in the mail from them, and that’s fine, except for the fact that the contents of the catalogs are predominately women’s fashions. The catalog that arrived today is entirely women’s clothing. I enjoy looking at pictures of attractive women wearing swim suits and summer wear, but I don’t want to purchase any. I’ve pretty much stopped buying clothing for Cindy, and I don’t wear women’s clothing myself…never have…never plan to. If that makes me old-fashioned, no pun intended, then I plead guilty.

***

While I was showering this morning a word popped into my head that I hadn’t seen or heard in years, perhaps decades: agitprop. The word is Russian in origin and is what is known as a portmanteau word, the combination of agitatsiya (agitation) and propaganda. The definition is Political strategy in which techniques of agitation and propaganda are used to influence public opinion. I’m sure I first came across the term in one of the spy thrillers I read back in the 60’s or 70’s. But I have no idea why I thought of that term this morning. Ah, well. That’s my brain.

A little of this and a little of that

It looks like a piece of history
It looks like a piece of history

I took this picture yesterday morning. With the car windows rolled up, and the heater on, it felt like spring. The sun was bright, and the sky was clear. It was beautiful, so I went for a short drive in the country. This is the first photo I took yesterday, and I like it the best.

***

I have to say that I was impressed with IU’s victory over Temple this afternoon in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. I was disheartened when IU fell behind at the end of the first half, but I didn’t give up hope, and obviously the team didn’t either. It was a long slog, but they finally overcame at the end. I am truly proud of that team.

***

Today’s tip: Remember to trim your mustache before you don your black V-neck sweater. 

***

I jotted down a quote from the episode of The West Wing that I watched Saturday morning, but now I’m trying to remember the context. I think I’ve watched too much basketball since then. Anyway, the quote is, “Modern history is another name for television.” Wait…wait…that was President Bartlett (Martin Sheen) trying to convince Charlie (Dulé Hill) that he should be studying ancient western history rather than modern history. That sounds like an idea I might try to foist off on my grandchildren. Actually, though, I think there is merit in studying both.

***

I like the sound of the word bloviate. It pushes its way out of your mouth to expand into the entirety of your personal space. At least that’s how I see it. When I did a quick google on the word, I was happy to learn that the Urban Dictionary links it to President Warren Harding who, I read, used it frequently. Then they go on to quote H.L. Mencken, and I like the quote so much that I’m supplying the link to that page: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=bloviate. Look it up. You’ll be glad you did, and might even become a better person for it.

Music and Memories

Good Shepherd Baptist Church
Good Shepherd Baptist Church

I was on my way to a meeting at LARA the other day and saw the steeple of this church a few blocks away. After the meeting I drove over and took this picture because I like the contrast of the brick red and the sky blue.

***

I decided to watch one of my favorite jazz concerts on DVD this morning. It’s the Milt Jackson & Ray Brown concert at Montreux in 1977. Once you get past the fact that most of the band is dressed like John Travolta in his vanilla ice-cream colored suit in Saturday Night Fever, you can listen to and appreciate the music. Ray Brown and Milt Jackson lead a group that included Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, Clark Terry, Monte Alexander, and Jimmy Smith (the drummer, not the organist).

The music is great. Aside from the leaders, who are great, I think Monte Alexander does a spectacular job on piano. To me, he seems to be the driving force in the group; but perhaps I’m overlooking the subtlety of Ray Brown’s bass.

While watching today, during the playing of Mean To Me, there was something in Alexander’s solo that made me feel like I used to feel when listening to the James Moody album Hey! It’s James Moody (so cleverly titled). I owned that album when I was in college, but no longer have it…more on that shortly. I can’t say exactly what the feeling was that resonated, but it was almost like loneliness…but not quite. I wish I had the words for it. It wasn’t quite despair, either. Try to imagine a feeling of hollowness, if you can, that’s what the music evoked.

The reason I no longer own the album is that at the end of the second semester of my Junior year at IU I realized that I didn’t have enough money to buy gas for my car to get home, and to also buy cigarettes. So, I decided to sell part of my collection of music albums to finance my trip home. A student from Saudi Arabia was interested in my jazz albums and bought the Moody album as well as a Jimmy Smith (the organist, not the drummer) album and a couple of Stan Getz albums. Over the years I’ve replaced all of the albums except the James Moody album. I searched record bins (remember those) for years and never saw it again. Recently I saw an MP3 version available on Amazon, and have decided to download the album. I guess it’s true that all good things come to those who wait.

Swim meets and some speculation

At the swim meet
At the swim meet

I took this picture last week at the Montgomery County Swim Tournament. Mason’s team was in the tourney, and he did a very good job. Of course I’m proud of him. But that isn’t why I took this picture. I was interested in the people who were wearing costumes at the side of the pool. At first I had no idea why they were dressed that way. Trina told me that she thought they were there to show support for one of the teams, and that made sense. Then I realized that they were adults, not students. That gave me pause. I suppose a teacher, or teachers, could get away with the fancy dress; but I wonder if they might be parents, or alumni. That would be something else; and I find it somewhat scary. Well, society changes. I can remember being surprised when parents started dressing their children in basketball uniforms as a style statement rather than to show the kids were on a team. Now, if you look in the crowd at a basketball game, many of the students are dressed in uniforms. I don’t get it.

***

Well, Senator Harry Reid has decided to not bring the assault weapon ban bill to the floor of the Senate for a vote. He said that there would not be enough votes in favor to override a filibuster. So? What is his point? Does the issue not warrant a debate of the full Senate?

Here’s my speculation: I think Senator Reid wants to give cover to Senators who don’t want to have a voting record on the issue. Senators know that a majority of the citizens favor a ban, but that the gun lobby (the NRA and lobbyists who have money for reelection campaigns) are not in favor. If there is a recorded vote, one party or the other will make an issue of it in their next reelection. The Senators don’t want to give anyone a reason to vote for someone who is new to the Senate, so no vote at all. That’s my conspiracy theory.