Three years and counting

Wall art #7
Wall art #7

Here is another of the murals in downtown Lafayette. I will admit that I have no clue to what this mural represents, but it is colorful enough to warrant a viewing. I took this picture a few months ago. There are still more murals in that area that I will post pictures of as time goes by. I’m also looking for wall art in other parts of town.


Today marks the start of the fourth year of Classical Gasbag. The concept of what I planned for this blog has changed since I began posting, and I’m sure that it will continue to change. After all, I have changed since I began this project. Change is good.

You may have noticed that I changed the header today. I decided to go with something simpler. I had planned to change the previous header for about a year, but I never seemed to find time to do so. This is another good change.


Our cable went out yesterday around 4:30 p.m. We not only get cable TV, but also use a cable modem for Internet connection. I called the cable company to report the loss and got a recorded message that it was a problem in our area, and that service should be restored at approximately 6:18. That seemed like a very specific time for an approximation. The message went on to suggest watching for updates on the company website. That would have been fine if I could get an Internet connection.

Since I had no plans to watch TV until later that night or to surf the net, I wasn’t overly concerned. I tried the TV at 6:30 to watch the news, but the system wasn’t up yet. I got back on the phone for an update. I got the same canned message except now the expected time for repairs to be complete was 8:10. Well, that would be OK if true. I wanted to watch the IU basketball game against our arch rival, Purdue. The game was scheduled to start at 9.

I checked the TV again at 8:15. The system was still down. This time the recorded message said that it would be down until 10 p.m. Perhaps I could see the second half.

10 p.m. No system. System expected to be up around 11:15. No game for me.

On a whim I checked the TV at 10:20. It was back! Hallelujah! I turned the game on in time to see the last eight minutes or so. IU got trounced. Why did I bother watching?

Welcome to my fourth year of blogging.

I’m in the mood for music

The Autograph
The Autograph

My youngest granddaughter, Maely, does not lack in confidence at the age of nine. The other day Cindy came home and handed me the piece of paper that I scanned and added to this post. Cindy explained that it was an autograph from Maely. She was kind enough to give us one now because she knew that when she was famous she wouldn’t have time to sign an autograph for us, her grandparents. She failed to tell Cindy for what she will become famous. It seems that she will be famous enough to get by with only her first name.  Right now, I suppose, she is thinking that fame will come for her guitar playing, or her artistic skills, or perhaps one of the many sports in which she is involved. Maybe she expects fame from all of her endeavors. I only hope that she realizes what a big boost this autograph will give to the owner of the barbershop on whose notepad she jotted off her signature.


I was watching the national news the other night, and there was a report on the Santa Ana winds in California. Despite some of the terrible pictures and descriptions in the report, I thought of the Steve Goodman song, Santa Ana Winds. It isn’t doom and destruction, or how the winds drive people mad; it’s more a breezy tune. Huh. Breezy. That’s the word I was looking for. The tune fits the circumstances. That is one sign of a good song.

Once you think of one Steve Goodman recording, you start thinking of others. The Lovin’ Of The Game was on his second album, the first that I bought. Goodman didn’t write the song, that was done by Pat and Victoria Garvey. I prefer this version to both Judy Collins’ and Jerry Jeff Walker’s.

Since I always do music in threes, I’ll wrap this group up with Steve’s You Never Even Called Me By My Name. He had a lot of fun in this performance. Was that Tip O’Neill in the audience?


Field and trees
Field and trees

This is certainly not the most beautiful picture that I have ever posted; but then neither is it the most boring. It probably comes close to the latter. The picture doesn’t have the qualities that I thought I saw with my eyes when I took it. There seemed to be something, perhaps symbolic, in the fact that one tree stood apart from the rest. In the picture, I don’t see it. In this iteration I’ve grayscaled and sharpened the image, and that has helped a bit. Despite my disappointment in the image, I’m submitting it to Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness this week. You should follow this link to see what all the photography cognoscenti are raving about when they aren’t looking at my submissions.


A young friend told me that there was an annual reading challenge that she was considering. Yes, it is the same friend who told me about NaNoWriMo last year and then found her life too busy to participate. But I Googled 2015 Writing Challenge and found that there were many to choose from. Even the WWE has an annual reading challenge. Well, I looked through some of them and decided that they were all asking for more reading than I was ready to commit to. Maybe next year. However, I did decide to challenge myself on a lesser scale, and my challenge pretty much fits into what I had planned earlier, with a few additions.

Here is the challenge that I’ve set for myself (the ones in red font are additions to my previous plans).

1. Finish a book that you started but gave up on before finishing.

2. Read a graphic novel.

3. Read an author whom you have never read before.

4. Read a biography or an autobiography.

5. Read a book that a friend recommended.

6. Read a Romance novel.

7. Read a mystery.

8. Read a book on a historical subject.

9. Read a science fiction or fantasy novel.

10. Read one book published in each decade that you have been alive.

One clarification: You can’t count one book more than once. For instance, If I read Who Am I by Pete Townshend, I can count it as either an autobiography or a book published in the 20teens, but not both.

I would like to know if you are taking up a reading challenge this year. You may even try my easy one. I would also like to know how you do with the challenge. You can use the form below to contact me, or you can simply Comment.

Happy reading!

Signals from a dark place

Snow melting in a ditch
Snow melting in a ditch

I took this picture on the way home from my sister’s house. I would like to go back to this corner when the snow is gone. I caught a glimpse of it once earlier in the year when it was only the ditch, some plant life, and with some water in the bottom of it. I would like to get a shot of that. When I uploaded the picture to our PC I first brightened the image and saved that copy, but I decided to use this photo because the darker drab sky and subject matter better matched my mood that afternoon.


It started when my sister, She Who Must Not Be Named,  sat down beside me on the couch to put on her shoes. My mother looked at my sister’s feet and observed, “She’s wearing black socks and I’m wearing white. I wonder what that means.”

I pretty much ignored what she had said because I was getting used to her saying cryptic things. My sister and I went on discussing where things were located, what food was available, and other things that I would need to know while I adult sat with my Mom.

When my sister left, my mom said, “She signals them with her socks.”

“What? With her socks? She signals who?

“Them,” she gestured out the sliding glass door towards a house in a lot that backed my sister’s. “And sometimes she signals the people next door.”

I looked out the window and decided that if she was signaling them, they would need to be watching with high-powered binoculars. “Why would she signal anyone with her socks? Why wouldn’t she just call them?”

“She doesn’t want me to know what they’re saying. It has something to do with politics. It started when your cousin Bill visited us. He was sitting where you are. He reached down and twisted the top of his sock, and she did the same.”

“Mom, I think that you’re imagining this.”

She looked at me and asked, “When did she convince you that I’m crazy?”

“She has never said that you’re crazy, and I don’t think that you are.”

“She hasn’t? I think that she wants you to think that I’m crazy.”

“No, Mom.”

“There are a lot of strong Republicans around here. They go to that mailbox tube out there,” she gestured to a nonexistent mailbox, “and buy the socks for a dollar a pair. They use the money to spend against Democrats who are running for office.”

I decided to remain silent.

“Did he flash you?” she asked.

An aside: When my mom said “flash” she wasn’t talking about a man in a raincoat who was opening the coat to show you something that you had no desire to see. She meant a bright flash of light used to send a signal.

“Flash me? Who”

“The man in that house across the street, or maybe from another house three doors down on another street.”

“Why would anyone flash me?”

“So he did flash you?”

“No, Mom. No one flashed me. No one has any reason to flash me. What sense would it make for anyone to flash me?”

“I don’t know. This is a strange house. There are a lot of mysteries going on here.”

That was the start of my day.

You are warned

The Wabash from a one lane bridge
The Wabash from a one lane bridge

This is another of the pictures that I took when I was out driving, enjoying the winter from the confines of a warm car. A little known fact: I’m lazy. Many of the pictures that I take for Classical Gasbag are taken from the front seat of my car. If I come across a scene that catches my fancy, I’ll stop the car when possible, roll down the front window, and point the camera in the general direction and take a snap or two. When I get home I upload the pictures to our PC or our laptop, and play around with them in a photo editing program. Some of the photos are easier to work with than others. This probably counts as my first secret revealed for the year.


 I’m pretty sure that I’ve mentioned in a past post or two that I have Type 2 Diabetes. The medication that I take for it has an unfortunate side effect of occasionally sending me into our “throne room,” to treat the subject delicately, off and on for hours at a time. It can happen at any hour of the day, but for me it usually happens in the middle of the night. This morning around 1 a.m. my body woke me up with an urgent summons to that porcelain fitted room. While I was sitting there I decided to check my smart phone for any new emails, and I found a long one from a friend in India. Among the many topics she covered, she asked how I choose which television shows and TV based DVDs I watch. That may turn out to be a long measured response for my responding email, but keep her question in mind.

I was awake, and between bouts, so I turned on the TV and decided to go to the On Demand function and watch the first episode of a new show, The Librarians. I had seen the trailer for the show and had recognized two of the stars, Rebecca Romijn and Christian Kane. This new series is a spin-off from a series of Made-for-TV movies. Three things about the first episode caught my attention and is a partial answer to my friend.

1) Obviously Rebecca Romijn caught my attention. I knew her not only from the one season TV show King and Maxwell, and more obviously the first three X-Men movies (she played Mystique), but also (and most impressively) her stints as a Sports Illustrated  swimsuit model. Some images are forever.

2) Christian Kane is an actor that I best know from Leverage which was one of my favorite TV series from recent years. It lasted for five seasons and I wish it had lasted longer. I encourage you to get the DVD sets if you haven’t seen the show. More on Leverage in a bit. I also remember Mr. Kane from his days working on Angel, the spinoff from Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

3) The name Dean Devlin caught my eye in the end credits as Executive Producer and Director. Mr. Devlin had also been a producer and director of Leverage. While watching the first episode I noticed that there was at least one similarity to Leverage in that there were four characters, including Romijn’s and Kane’s, who had specific skill sets that were useful to the team as a whole. Come to think of it, the characters in the new show Scorpion are also are like that; and if you reach way back you can cite the comic book The Fantastic Four with a similar conceit.

So I’ll continue watching this show, at least for a while because I recognize similarities that appeal to me. That is one thing that helps me choose shows that I watch.

I warned you…but I didn’t go down the rabbit hole of making connections from the other shows that I mentioned, like Buffy, to the movie of the same name but a different star, to the movie The Phantom, or to the TV show Grimm, or…well a bunch of connections that filled my mind last night.

Did I mention that Matt Frewer was in the show, you know Max HeadroomEureka, and Orphan Black to name a few. Go forth and make you own connections.


Wall non-art #1
Wall non-art #1

You may think that this is a very blah type picture, but I see it as the second in a sequence of pictures. The first in the sequence was posted on October 30, 2014. I’ll be going back to this location every month or so to see if art once again happens there. I hope that it does. If it does, there will be a new picture in the sequence.


Some background: Our local newspaper prints a special run with mostly ads once a week. They put it in a distinctive orange plastic sleeve and, in our neighborhood, drop it freely on the end of the individual driveways. When I looked out of the living room window this morning I saw one in our driveway.

A couple of hours later I heard our doorbell ring, and when I went to answer it I found two young girls. I would estimate their ages at around seven and five. They had a little red wagon with them filled with the papers in orange plastic sleeves. The elder of the girls asked me, “Would you like to buy today’s paper for 50¢?”

I looked down the driveway and saw that it no longer harbored a free paper. I guessed at where it now resided. “No, thanks,” I responded.

They both smiled and turned to go. As I was closing the door the oldest turned back and asked, “Oh, yeah, would you like to donate to the animal shelter today?”

I want to think that the young entrepeneurs planned on giving the proceeds of any sales to the animal shelter, but the cynic in me wonders if they were just honing their capitalistic skills early in life. I won’t be surprised if in a couple of years I find them back at my font door selling magazine subscriptions, if there are any print magazines still in existence.


I’m heading back north tomorrow to spend more time with my mother. It is always an interesting experience. Perhaps I’ll write about it when I return; or perhaps not.


Stuff revisited

Sunlight through the trees 2
Sunlight through the trees 2

I used the color version of this photo in my most recent post, but decided to make it monochrome for a different look at the subject. To be honest, I prefer the color version but like this one as well. I added some color because the straight black and white looked just too drab. I’m submitting this picture to Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness post for this week.


Upon reflection, in the mirror, I believe that my beard is growing whiter. It hasn’t been that many years since I sported a full beard. I had it for around twenty years, and I watched it change from a mostly black beard to a white beard, when there weren’t soup stains in it. I thought that I resembled George “Gabby” Hayes. The young among you may want to Google him. At any rate, back before I removed the beard, it was white with gray roots. I’m not sure how that worked. Now, when I have stubble growing in I see that even the beard’s roots are white, and I look even more grizzled than I had in the past. I have nothing profound to say about this turn of events; it is just an observation.


 Just when you thought it was safe to read Classical Gasbag and not be reminded of my NaNoWriMo novel, Gotcha! A (small) number of people have asked me if I plan to publish it. The short answer is “No.” I don’t think that it is anywhere near good enough to inflict on people.

The few people who have had access to the completed draft have remained silent; whether from bewilderment at the text, or inability to actually read it through, or perhaps just a kindness via silence. I did spend a few wistful moments considering the possible review blurbs that might be printed on the back of the dust jacket. These came to mind:

    “What the…”

   “…extraordinarily mundane…”

   “Polly and Wally lost their doodle today.”

   “…more fun than having your ‘nads removed…”

Well, you get the gist of it. Perhaps with a lot of work, and many more words, I would consider it; but not as it is today. 

Strange mail

Sunlight through the trees
Sunlight through the trees

This is one of a number of pictures that I took on Wednesday after I drove Cindy to work. She needed gas in her car but didn’t want to stand in the cold to pump it. At the time it was around 1° F with a wind chill factor of -20° F. That translates to -17° and -29° C respectively. I didn’t blame her, so I drove her to work, filled her car with gas, and then drove home a long way around. I kind of liked the way the sunlight was coming through the trees and brush on this back road. There were very few other drivers on the route that I chose, so I was able to take my time to stop and take a few pictures.


I’ve noticed that over the past few years I get advertising mail that is sent to me due to my age. I believe that in past posts I’ve mentioned getting a lot of mail trying to sell me hearing aids and life in retirement homes. Recently, however, I’ve started getting ads trying to sell me motorcycles. I can only guess that the sellers believe that I am experiencing some form of later-life, rather than mid-life, crisis. If that were the fact I would more likely be looking at sports cars that I would have trouble getting into and getting out of. Motorcycles don’t interest me; not even the motorized tricycles that Harley-Davidson™ sells. I get these motorcycle solicitations from more than one dealership, so I believe the industry is targeting a specific age group. I wonder how many they sell.

Also in the realm of strange mail, a few days ago I received a postcard addressed to Mr Norman L Houseman. It came from an Assistant Professor in the Department of Nutrition Science at Purdue University. When I turned the card over to read it I found that there was a research project being conducted and that members of the community were being asked to join. That sounded interesting. I thought that maybe they got my name because of my diabetes. But no; that was not the case.

I went on to read that they were looking for women who had recently had a specific form of gastric bypass surgery in the past six months, and who were between the ages of 18 and 50 years old. So the very intelligent Purdue University PhD had addressed the card to a Mr, but stated they were looking for women who had a surgery that I had not had, and who were younger than me. Based on their quality control, I don’t hold out great hope for their research study. But then, it is Purdue University.

Do you ever wonder?

Stream in winter
Stream in winter

When I took this picture I had originally thought to grayscale it and use it as a submission to Monochrome Madness, but when I uploaded it to the PC and saw it in a larger format, I started to change my mind. I went ahead and copied it into a monochrome image, but it seemed to lose some vitality. The same was true for two other pictures that I had taken that day. I’m not sure why, but I liked the color pictures better than the monochrome copies, and even better than what I saw through the viewfinder. I don’t recall having that happen before. It does remind me that there are always alternate versions of reality.


I woke up this morning around 3:30 for no discernible reason. Maybe it was because the room was brighter than normal. We received a couple of inches of snow in the night, and there was a lot of light reflecting from it. There was light from the apartment complex parking lot that lies beyond our back fence, and for a while there was a break in the clouds and the moon was shining brightly. Maybe it doesn’t happen to you, but I often have trouble staying asleep in a room that isn’t dark. A light being turned on in the hallway outside the bedroom will wake me up. If that kind of thing also happens to you, do you ever wonder why? Maybe it isn’t the rooster that wakes up the farmer. Maybe it’s the sunrise.


I only read around twenty or so blogs on a regular basis. I don’t believe that I could read more and still keep up with the books, emails, letters and other entertainment that I try to fit in my life. Retirement is busy work.

Having said that, I almost take it personally when someone whom I read seems to drop away from the blogosphere. I know that there are perfectly good reasons why a person stops posting to their blog. I’ve done it. But, I believe that I always have posted a reason when I know that I’ll be away for more than a few days. I’ll write something like, “There won’t be any new posts for a few months. I’ll be in the county jail for serial littering.” Or, I might say, “My typist is on maternity leave and can’t put my words on the Internet for me…or however that works…so check back in a few months.” You know, I always give a valid reason for not posting.

Do you ever wonder why people just stop posting? I do. I’m a curious creature. I’ve developed long distance friendships with a few people who write blogs that I read. So if they stop posting I usually know why and I don’t worry about them. But there are a few people who stop writing and I worry. It isn’t like I know them personally, but I feel as if I do because they write so well about themselves. I worry.

What do you wonder about?

Young year – Youngbloods

What the???
What the???

I took this picture last night. Maely isn’t quite sure what this Christmas present is. To be honest, neither am I. It was something that Cindy’s friend bought her. Maely seems to be at a point in her life where she is trying to convey her feelings through actress like facial expressions.

This photo is my submission to Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness this week. I hope that you check out all the of the fine pictures that she has on her site.

In case you’re wondering why she is unwrapping gifts in January, she was in Florida with her parents over Christmas. I think that this is our last gift exchange for this season except when I take presents to Mom next week. Tomorrow I can finally start taking the tree down. Yeah! Oh, and I can put away all of the Holiday music for another ten or eleven months. It’s time to play some Youngbloods. I’m ready to start a new year.


Get Together was the biggest hit that the Youngbloods had, but they also recorded some other excellent songs. This isn’t the happiest song they ever recorded, but it is a good one.

I also like the song Sunlight.

And then there are the fun songs.

I know. There isn’t much in the way of content today, but I was able to share some of the music that I love. If you like these songs, there are others available on YouTube. Another of my favorites is Grizzly Bear. Find it and listen to it if you’ve a mind to.