What do you do at 2 a.m.?

In downtown Linden

I took this picture a little over a month ago. I have been meaning to stop and get a picture of this building for a long time, but that day was this first when the stars were properly aligned. I had my camera, the camera batteries weren’t dead, I wasn’t in a rush to get somewhere, and there was break in the traffic so that I could get the shot.


I’ve written before about waking up in the early morning hours and being unable to return to peaceful slumber. What do you do? Unfortunately for me, I think. This morning I awoke at 2 a.m. My eyes popped open and I tried to suss out why I was awake and why it felt like I would be awake for a long time.

Had I been having a strange dream? No; not that I could remember. I had a strange dream a few days earlier about a nefarious group who had surgically implanted bombs in the stomaches of the members of a water polo team, but that had not recurred. By the way, I couldn’t remember why they had messed with the team’s collective stomaches. But it proved to have a spectacular result in the middle of their game. Red, frothy water spewing from the pool, etc. But there was no memorable dream this time.

Was I worried about finances? No more than normal. That means almost constantly. But those worries seldom keep me from sleeping. I ran the finances through my mind anyway. I’m caught up on the bills we pay on a regular basis. Taxes are due in a couple of weeks, but they seem payable. We haven’t invested heavily in any competitive water polo teams. It wasn’t finances.

Am I worrying about my health? No, that isn’t it. I saw my ophthalmologist the other day and he said the macular degeneration hadn’t gotten any worse, so no injections into the eyeball were necessary, and I didn’t need to see him for another year. I’ll be seeing the podiatrist in a couple of weeks, but I’ve had no new problems with my feet or toes. I’ll also be seeing my primary care physician that same week. There I expect to hear that my blood sugars are in order. But I may hear that I need to lose more weight (the ongoing battle). I hope that he doesn’t recommend that I take up water polo.

All of that thinking exhausted me and I was finally able to go back to sleep.

2017 Reading Challenge update #2

True Compass
True Compass

The sixth book I read for the challenge was True Compass by Edward Kennedy. I am using it as the book recommended by a friend. In this case, the friend was Cindy who loved the book and kept telling me that I would love it as well. My story is that I bought this book shortly after it was published in 2009. I wanted to read it and so did Cindy. I told her that she could read it first so she took the book and started reading it. Then she put it down. After a while she would go back to the book, and then put it down for one reason or another. This pattern kept repeating. She finished the book in late 2016. I spent a week reading it.

Kennedy collaborated with the respected Ron Powers in crafting the book. It was released shortly after his death. It gives insight into his life and beliefs. Two things shine through it all, he was a man dedicated to family and he was a man of faith. Together they molded his life. I only wish that he had started working on his memoirs earlier in his life, because there was enough content that he could easily have filled three or more volumes. I would have gladly read that much.

The Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror
The Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror

The next book that I read was the graphic novel The Rocketeer:Hollywood Horror by Roger Langridge and illustrated by J. Bone. The Rocketeer was an independent comic book hero from the 1980’s. The comic was created, written and drawn by the late Dave Stevens. I was a big fan of the comic, and when I saw this new story was available I wanted the book. I haven’t actively collected comic books for a couple of decades, so I wasn’t aware that other Rocketeer stories have appeared since those days. But on to this one. It is set in the same time period, the 1930’s, as the earlier comics and The Rocketeer movie. I was a bit confused since I hadn’t read any of the stories since the original Stevens’ works. I was also surprised to see Nick and Nora Charles with a cameo by Asta; as well as  “Monk” Mayfair, “Ham” Brooks, and Doc Savage. The story was enjoyable, but I am not a fan of J. Bone’s cartoonish art and found it a bit off-putting after Steven’s detailed work. I guess, for me, the book was not a hit, but a near miss.

Treasure Island
Treasure Island

I have a number of books in my “to be read” bookcase that would have fit the reading category From Page to Screen, but while browsing in my favorite bookstore I came across Treasure Island by Robert Lewis Stevenson. I’ll fit the other books into some other category.

First the book. It was first published in book form in 1883, so even I couldn’t fit it into a book published in a decade that I was alive. It was written as a book for boys, though it was quickly apparent that adult men were also drawn to it. Considering the number of murders and other deaths that occur, around twenty I believe, today’s overprotective parents probably wouldn’t consider it appropriate reading for their children. Considering that it is a story of pirates, buried treasure, and with a boy hero I found it a rollicking good tale. I’ve always wanted to use that phrase, and finally found a place for it.

Now, a bit about the movie versions. I saw two of them on television when I was much younger, but can’t remember enough to say if they were true to the book. What I do remember are the characters of Long John Silver and Jim Hawkins. In the 1934 film (again before my birth) Wallace Beery played Silver, and Jackie Cooper played Jim Hawkins. In the 1950 Disney version Robert Newton played Silver and Bobby Driscoll play Jim. I have to say that Newton’s portrayal of Long John Silver is the one I best remember, To me, he is Long John. There was also a television show in which Newton played Silver that I watched as a child.

The Undoing Project

Next I read The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis. It is the book that I chose for “a book of any kind.” It probably is best described as a book about science, but it is much more than that, IT is also about the lives, the collaboration, and the friendship of two Israeli psychologists. They studied the way people make decisions, and how “rule of thumb” is not as good a choice as using statistical analysis. I have to admit that I didn’t understand all that they were positing. For me, the more interesting parts of the book were the sections that dealt with the lives of the two men, Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, and how they interacted with each other. The book was written by Michael Lewis who has also written The Big ShortMoneyballLiar’s Poker and other well known books. It is an interesting book, and I recommend it.

Savage Season

And then I read Savage Season by Joe R. Lansdale. I had originally bought the book as my choice for “from page to screen,” because I had watched the first season of “Hap and Leonard” on television. The first season was based on this book. But since I decided to use Treasure Island for “from page to screen,” and I already had used another book tor the 1990’s, this book is now my choice for “part of a series.” The television show is faithful to the book, which made the reading of this already short novel a very quick read. If you are not a fan of violence and bad language, steer clear of both the book and TV version. Though there is a bit more gratuitous violence in the TV show.


In this year’s reading challenge I still need to read 1) a biography or autobiography, 2) a mystery, 3) a book on an historical subject, 4) a book of science fiction or fantasy, 5) one book each first published in the 1940’s, 1950’s, 1960’s 1980’s, 2000’s, 2010’s, and 6) a book of short stories or essays.

What have you been reading?

Fun times

What we did Saturday night
What we did Saturday night

We don’t often go out on Saturday nights because for years Saturday night was card playing night for Cindy. We broke the pattern yesterday evening.

Our evening started with having dinner with friends at a good Italian restaurant in downtown Lafayette. I decided to be less adventurous than normal when eating Italian, I had the baked ravioli. It was great!

From there we moved on to the concert at The Long Center. We knew right away that the audience was excited to be there. How did we know? Well, the director of the center came out to welcome the crowd. He started ticking off the improvements that had been made since the previous season. New curtains had been installed to reflect the original curtains from so many years ago. The audience applauded the curtains. The sound system had been upgraded. The audience applauded the sound system. A new concert grand piano had been purchased. The audience applauded the piano. He mentioned the roses in the vase that had been supplied by a local florist. The audience applauded the roses. By then I was sure that the audience was starved for entertainment. Finally he advised the audience that we were in a cell phone free zone for the duration of the concert. And so the concert began.

I’m sure that many people who read Classical Gasbag have no idea who Judy Collins is. If you are interested, she was a famous folk singer in the early 1960’s. She expanded her repertoire to include show tunes and pop music. She is now in her 70’s and is obviously still performing. As I looked around at the rest of the audience, I noticed that there was only a handful of people there who were under the age of 60. I may be over estimating the number of people younger than 60.

Judy Collins certainly has good pipes for a woman in her seventies. The songs she sang progressed from her early music to the most recent recordings. She interspersed the songs with stories of her early and later career, dropping names of famous people as she went on. We in the audience found it charming.

On Sunday afternoon I went to the movie and saw Logan with my grandson Mason. Over the past few years we have gone to a number of superhero movies together. It is something that we both enjoy. At least I think he enjoys doing it with me. I can’t think of a reason why a high school senior would want to hang out with a geezer like me rather than spend time with a high school girl. I hope we can continue spending time together like this for a long time.

The purpose of social media

Is it spring yet?
Is it spring yet?

I took this picture last week when I was out searching (unsuccessfully) for early signs of spring. If I went out today I would be able to find those signs. Our grass is starting to green and the daffodils have poked through ground. Yesterday I noticed that our tulips have also started to sprout. I guess the season is changing.


A few days ago I was listening on the radio to a panel discussion of the use of social media by people in government. While they were concentrating of the use and misuse by all levels of government officials of Twitter, they also talked a bit about Facebook. One of the panel participants said that the purpose of social media is to gather followers.

I was surprised that no one on the panel questioned his statement. I know that some people try to gather followers because their egos need stroked on a regular basis, and that collecting followers provides those strokes. Others try to gather followers because they are selling something. I don’t believe that most people on social media are simply trying to gather followers.

I suppose that I am looking at social media though my perspective, and perhaps it s a narrow perspective, but for me social media is a means of communication. Some of that communication is high level, some is low. As I’ve written many times, I got off of Facebook some years back because of the inanity and lack of civility of so much of that conversation. I prefer Twitter where I can more easily choose what to read and what to ignore. I also subscribe to a few email newsletters. And of course I read blogs as well as write this one. I prefer the longer form of communicating provided by this blog. I can write as much or as little as I please, and I can comment on the blogs of other people.

I would like to know your main purpose in participating in social media, and so I’ve added this poll, or you can just add a regular comment.