Tuesday, April 15, 2014

60 Isn't Looking As Old As It Used To Anymore...

When this posts, it will be my 57th birthday.  Fifty-seven.  Wow.  I was also born in 1957.  And there's supposed to be a blood moon tonight.  All the cosmic things coming together means this should be a good one, right?  :-)

I've spent some time thinking about what this whole 'growing old' thing is all about.  I've always felt far younger than my age, which has been a beneficial thing at this point.  I know of so many of my classmates who look another ten years older than they are.  Who are barely mobile, or who have serious medical conditions, or who look like they've been rode hard and put away wet.  But at least they're still breathing.  We lost a popular classmate earlier this year.  His death was totally unexpected--died in his sleep overnight.  No warning, no health problems.  Just boom...dead.  It's one thing to be unexpectedly killed in an auto accident.  Something totally different to unexpectedly die in bed.  I'm afraid, though, that it's going to start happening more often soon...

But back to me...  I'm still one of the breathing ones.  I've been blessed in that I have never had any sort of food allergy.  I've never had anything that those abundance of TV commercials try to peddle.  I've never suffered from depression (other than that one time for awhile, but there was at least a reason for it...).  I've pretty much avoided any cancer-related things among my family.  I've never experienced things that so many of my friends, classmates and acquaintances have endured.

Is everything good?  Of course not.  I'm overweight, which affects my knees.  The day I need to run for my life, is the day I die.  I have diabetes--not the nasty version where I have to totally monitor everything I do, but I still have to behave.  I've spent time in jail for crimes I did not commit.  I am not "in shape", but I'm certainly better off than some people 20 years younger than me.  My hair is gray, but I still have it all, except for the times I shave it off.  My eyes are going bad, but only for reading things.  My hearing is pretty good, especially for a former band director.

Where is this all leading?  I'm turning 57, and I embrace it.  Like I've embraced every birthday before this one.
--Regrets?  None, really.
--Satisfied with life so far?  I'd say yes.
--Am I where I thought I'd be 30 years ago?  Probably not, but that is such a rare thing anyway.
--I dream of winning the lottery, but then remember that I never play it. 
I'm turning 57, and look forward to the next 20 years.  And starting to use those AARP discounts!  :-)

Friday, February 28, 2014

It Does A Body Good

I noticed yesterday, and mentioned on FB, that Jim Lange died yesterday.  And who was Jim Lange, you may ask?  He was the original and longtime host of the Dating Game, that wonderfully bad "game show" that was most popular in the late 60s through the 70s.  But this post isn't about that, really.

I was not a fan of the show.  A boy who was just hitting puberty just didn't get the appeal of asking strangers a handful of silly questions before choosing one to be your date for a "chaperoned, all-expenses paid trip" to wherever.  Still don't get it.  Probably the reason I don't get the whole online dating thing.  But I digress...

What I DID like was the music on the show.  Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass.  They used their music extensively as musical cues for different parts of the show.  Probably the most recognized, and iconic music was "Whipped Cream", used to introduce the bachelorette questioning the males.  Which is the topic of this post (you knew I'd get to it eventually, right?).

This is the cover from the album featuring "Whipped Cream".  Feel free to click it to big it.  Let's just look at that for a moment or two.  Lord knows I've spent a significant amount of time in my early years doing just that...

This album went to #1 on the Billboard charts back in the day, and most would agree that it had nothing to do with the music.  Released in 1965, it was certainly a daring photo for an album cover.  It consistently ranks at the top of "best album covers of all time" lists.  In posting a clip of "Whipped Cream" for my FB/RIP Jim Lange post, I got to thinking about the model in this photo.  And thanks to Google, I got a lot of answers!  The model's name is Dolores Erickson from Seattle.  At the time, she was 28 years old, and happened to be three months pregnant.  It took her years to realize how famous she really was as the "Whipped Cream Girl", and her place as a pop icon.

Further investigation lead to finding a couple of outtakes from the same photo session (again, click 'em to big 'em):

Without question, the photo that they used was, by far, the right choice...

And what does she look like today (49 years later)?  Here she is a couple of years ago, posing with an autographed LP at a used record store in Seattle.  Not bad for a 76 year old woman!

The moral of the story?  Whipped Cream...it does a body good!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Sixteen Percent

Well, I've done it again.  As I've inadvertently done over the past couple of years, I totally spaced out my blogaversary.  Sunday marked the end of my 9th year of blogging.  Granted, it's not what it used to be.  There were times where I could crank out a couple of posts/day.  And I'd go into withdrawals if I went as long as a week (GASP!) without posting.  Now I'm lucky to get in something once a month.

I've actually got a couple of posts in draft mode right now.  Just need to tweak them before being ready for public consumption.  Or maybe I'll keep them there.  Maybe the need to write them down is enough without needing to share them.  We'll see...

Nine years of blogging.  Almost 16% of my life.  Considering the number of friends I've made, the number of friends I've met, and the number of friends I've reconnected with--I'd say it's been a pretty decent investment of time.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

The Final Episode of HNT Is Up and Running!

You can check out the very final HNT here.  It's an interesting mix this time around, with some people throwing caution to the wind and sending in something bold, and others going old-school like it was in the early days.

Many thanks to those who have participated over the years, especially those who joined us over the past couple of years.  It's been a wild ride!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Highs and Lows of 2013 - The Highs

Like last year, I found that this past year was pretty good.  But I didn't win the lottery or anything like that. Be sure to read the post below this one first!! It's my "Lows" list. Makes the "Highs" list much better.
"The 10 High Points of 2013"(from less high to highest of the high)

10. Symphony - This was on last year's list too.  Either I'm getting older, or things are finally running the way they should, but this past year was really good for us.  Good audiences, great programs, no real hassles--who'da thunk it?

9. HNT Continues - It started as a one-time celebration of the first year without HNT.  People sort of liked it, so it was extended to once every three months.  People still liked it, but it just didn't have the same feel.  So this Thursday will be the absolute final HNT.  You can check it out here.

8. Twinkies - I wept a little bit when Hostess shut down.  In my diabetic state, it's something I parted ways with long ago.  But when the new company brought them back, I bought a box of them.  Just to show my approval!

7. iPhone 5s - I hadn't planned on getting the new iPhone, but Verizon emailed me two days before it came out to offer me $200 for my old iPhone.  Which conveniently was the same price as the cheapest version of the new phone.  Well played, Verizon.  Well played!

6. New FB Friends - For whatever reason, I picked up quite a few new friends on Facebook over the past few months.  Lots of former students, lots of people I'd lost touch with over the last 4-5 years.  I have lots of gripes about FB, but it really is a great way to keep in touch!

5. Football - Last year, my three 'local' football teams were quite a letdown, with the Griz and the Saints missing the playoffs for the first time in years.  And my old high school missed them as well.  Fast forward to this year...the Griz made the playoffs (and more importantly, beat the Cats and kept them OUT of the playoffs!!!), the Saints lost in the semifinals in overtime, and the high school team made the playoffs (with my nephew almost setting a single game receiving record in their loss!).  So things are back to normal around here on that front!

4. Knight Sisters - Way back in the earliest days of HNT, a very sweet Canadian joined in, and quickly became a favorite.  I believe she was my first official MG, too.  Eight years later, she and her sister embarked on a massive road trip through the Midwest/West.  Knowing that she'd most likely have to pass by Helena on her way home, I imposed upon them to stop by for lunch, and they did!  This would have gone higher on the list, but we had far too little time together!

3. Symphony Under the Stars - Our 10th summer concert went off without a hitch under my second year as production manager.  Sure, there were minor things here and there, but you can't put on a huge production like this without an irritation or two.  The theme was "Fiesta Latina", and we heard from the grounds crew at the college that they'd never seen so many empty tequila bottles!  Ah, the joys of an outdoor concert!  At my side for her second year was my assistant Libby.  All I can say about her is that I wish I could clone her!  Unquestionably the hardest working kid I know.  I just had lunch with her this afternoon, and she's definitely on board for next summer's concert!!

2. OsTour '13 - I didn't really plan on any OsTour this summer, but then I remembered that Margaret had planned a 40th bday party for her hubby (over a year in the planning), so I checked the calendar and saw that that particular weekend would be the last chance for me to get away before the big summer concert.  So on a Friday morning, I head towards Sacramento.  A full 1000 miles through all that northern Nevada had to offer (ick).  As I noted in the "lows" list, I handed over $1500 to a tire shop for new tires on the way down.  That's what kept this from being #1 on the list.  In spite of that, I had a great time, though I'll never drive to Sacramento and back in just three days!  While I was at the party, I got to see Margaret, of course, but also Sam, from Sam's Stories!  Then I joined MissCrystal (from Miss' Budoir) and her family for dinner!  The trip was really too short for the occasion, but we packed in as much fun as we could!  

1. Portland/Diva - OsTour '13, Part II happened unexpectedly.  Also as mentioned in the "lows", I sold my car, at a loss, to my step-niece.  Part of the deal was to drive it out to her in Portland, then flying back home (thanks to my sister's miles!).  Knowing I wouldn't have access to a car, and with the short notice, I knew I couldn't meet up with the same crew as last year, other than Bipolar Diva.  She was able to meet up for lunch, and we had a great time!  The trip was nice because I was able to spend time with my sister, which doesn't happen much, as well as one of my nieces who lives there now.  But the highlight of the trip was our lunch.  I can't wait to get back out there again!!!
And thus ends this year's list. My "Highs" for 2013.

Many of you are probably already at parties as I'm posting this. I'm staying home and watching "The Walking Dead" all night. I hope that everyone is having a safe but fun NYE! Looking forward to a great 2014!!

The Highs and Lows of 2013 - The Lows

In spite of the inactivity here and in other parts of blogland, I figure I should still do this .  Even if just for my own future perusal!  This is year #9 of doing this, and it's been interesting to go back and see how different things have been, yet how similar they've remained.  I had to really scrape to come up with a total of ten "low" things.  So some of them might seem a bit petty.  Tough.  It's my list!  And as in the past, some of these will appear on the "highs" list too!  These are what make my "lows" list (the "highs" list can be seen above...):

"The 10 Low Points of 2013"
(from least low to lowest of the low)
10. Facebook pulls Halloween picture - I changed my cover photo quite a bit in the last three months of the year, namely to catch all the holidays.  I had posted a couple of scenes from "The Shining" for Halloween, and as part of that, I posted the shot of the creepy twin sisters.  Not the one of them holding hands in the hallway, but the brief shot of them after they'd just been murdered.  Lots of blood on the carpet and walls, and the girls.  That brought a few disapproving comments from people who were not familiar with the movie, and after a few hours, I switched it out.  But not before someone flagged the picture as "inappropriate"!  Hmph...

9. HNT absolute finale - HNT continued this past year, running once every three months on the OHNT site.  People seemed to like it, and there was no problem getting pictures for it, but after a full year of it, it's absolutely the time to pull the plug.  We'll have one last shot on Thursday, and then it's officially going inactive.  I'm glad we had the extra year, but it occupied a time online that I don't think will ever be duplicated again...

8. Health - Actually, my health is pretty good, for being a diabetic.  I just had a checkup last week, and my doctor was pleased with my numbers.  But there's so much more to do.  My focus is now primarily on my arthritic knees, who constantly let me know they're in distress.  I'm not a cripple or anything like that, but standing for any length of time sets me back for days.  As I said last year, I wish I'd taken better care of myself as I was growing up...

7. Decline of English language - There's a whole plethora of things that we can blame on the internet.  Basic English grammar, punctuation and spelling have taken it in the shorts.  I understand the need for Twitter abbreviations, but that's where they should stay.  Not in real life.  And there's the whole they're/their/there or too/two/to thing, along with all the other homophones, but a couple of weeks ago I saw at least 4 people use the word breaks referring to the things that slow a car.  Whatever happened to teaching this stuff in school...?

6. Cher - Another young woman died in April.  One of "us".  She was active in HNT for awhile, as well as being the MG and contributing to OHNT.  She died in her sleep at the age of 27, leaving behind two young children.  As I said a the time, no one told me that becoming online friends with you guys might also having to deal with deaths.  She's the third HNTer that has left us.  That I know of...

5. Social media/loss of community - Social media has really let me down over the past year.  Blogging has basically become non-existent.  Facebook use is actually on the decline, especially among the young.  Others have taken to using FB post some really nasty stuff.  Twitter is even worse in that regard.  Nastiness, negativity and name-calling are the norm (alliteration!).  And the loss of community?  We had a tight knit group a few years ago.  It's not there now.  The connectivity is gone.  Friends have started ignoring each other.  Sure, they might consider each other as friends, but they only interact on a sporadic basis.  Not the way we used to.  I understand that life evolves and things change.  Doesn't mean I have to like it...

4. O'Toole's closure - My favorite Irish bar in town, O'Toole's, unceremoniously closed their doors earlier this month.  As documented over the years, I had a ritual of meeting up at O'Toole's with friends at 8AM on St. Patrick's Day for green beer and shots of Jameson.  And then see how the rest of the day panned out...  The closure had been rumored on a number of occasions over the years, but this year the matriarch of the family died, and the writing was somewhat on the wall.  Adding to the stress was a charge that bartenders knowingly served an intoxicated young woman, who then was involved in a fatal car accident that night.  O'Toole's is being sued as well, though the remaining family says that didn't affect their decision to close.  It was announced that the doors would close after New Year's Eve (tonight), but their insurance policy expired, and they couldn't find anyone else to cover them for their last few weeks.  So without notice, the doors were locked.  There are no longer any Irish bars in town.  St. Patrick's Day will never be the same...

3. The neighbors - The neighbors came in at #7 last year.  It's gotten worse.  The white trash ghetto that this place has become is now overrun by even more irresponsible renters.  The kicker came this summer, when one or possibly two apartments were overrun with totally undisciplined kids.  The ones who play in the mud then track it through the hallways and along the walls.  The ones who leave half-eaten food wherever they drop it.  The ones whose toys were scattered from one end of the complex to the other, inside and out.  And especially the ones with boys.  Who decided to pee in the dryers.  They fucking peed in the driers.  All of them.  Someone in the complex finally wrote a letter and taped it up at every exit, suggesting that these people move out.  And others in the complex added their thoughts to it.  It must have worked, because those families are gone.  The only kids left now are the ones who live above me.  Running from corner to corner.  Over and over.  At midnight or later...
2. Politics - I would normally avoid putting this on the list, as I try to avoid it as much as possible.  But this past year was remarkably bad.  I do not understand why anyone would want to be a politician.  Unfortunately, thanks to the internet, way too many people voiced their thoughts.  Often without a clue about what they were talking about.  I don't have a problem with people who are strong about their convictions, as long as they know what they're talking about.  Sage comes to mind.  And Gucci Mama.  I cannot stand those who only argue their point from their gut.  Emotions make for bad politics...

1. Car repairs/tires - I spent WAY too much money on car repairs.  I sold my old car to my step-niece in Portland.  This is the car that hadn't been driven in over 2 years.  Unbeknownst to me, a cute little bunny had taken up residence under the car during that time, and had nibbled its way around the engine area.  Short story--it cost me more to get the hoses and wiring fixed than I got for selling the car.  But it was for family...  The other big unexpected expense was for 4 new tires, one of which blew in Wells, NV, while on my way to the Sacramento area.  Being stuck between a rock and a hard place, I had to fork over more than $1500 that I didn't have for pricey tires that I had to have.  Loved the trip--hated the surprise...
So, that's the downer list for 2013.  Mostly not so bad. Fortunately, there were lots of good things that happened too! You can check those out in the "Highs" post above this one. Go. Now!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Really. This is the end...

It's time to give HNT a final farewell.  With that in mind, there will be one last blow-out at the old OHNT site on Thursday, Jan. 2.  Many have already sent submissions, and I expect quite a few more.  If you're a former HNTer, you're more than welcome to join in this last time!

This past year that we ran it as a quarterly thing seemed to be a nice alternative to the weekly posts, but more and more people are abandoning their blogs, or letting them gather cobwebs.  As an example--of the 62 people over there in my sidebar whom I've actually met, less than a dozen have blogs that are even remotely active.  Meaning they maybe post twice a month.  At best.  Blogging just ain't what it used to be.  And I really don't think that Facebook people would be interested in keeping it on...  (HA!  Can you imagine???)

I'm not going to close that site, as there is still some decent traffic to it.  And I suppose that if someone sent something in to post, I'd do it.  But after this week, HNT will no longer be active.

Thanks for memories!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Oh, yeah...

I would hate to have the record show that I completely skipped the month of November here.

I suspect that, come January, I'm going to let this place go silent.  Not that it hasn't been that way already, but at least make it official.  Perhaps wait until my blogaversary date, which happens sometime in mid-Jan.  Nine years.  Yikes!  I doubt I'll go dark, and I might even come back from time to time, as some of you have.  Then again, maybe I'll get ambitious and start posting again.  We'll see....

Nothing earth-shattering to report.  My Griz beat the Bobcats a week ago, so life is good.  Earned them a #8 seed in the playoffs (and its accompanying bye week), while also knocking the Cats out of post-season play.  It's known now that they'll be hosting Coastal Carolina next Saturday.  Temps for the game might warm up to the mid-teens by that time.  Hope they'll enjoy their trip up north!  GO GRIZ!!!

Longtime readers will remember Sam from Sam's Stories.  She's #60 over there in my list of bloggers whom I've met.  She contacted me a few weeks ago to tell me that her hubby might be accepting a new job offer in Billings!  Since then, he's accepted, they've been up to Billings and have bought a house, and will be moving up in January!  I suspect I'll be heading over there more frequently now (I'll come to see you too, No One Special!).

December will be kicking my ass as far as music is concerned.  Starting this week, there's four performances, more rehearsals than I can count, and five different rehearsal/performance locations, with the appropriate transport of equipment.  And as is normal, the temps will be falling below zero in the next few days.  Can you just smell the excitement?!?

Speaking of FB...I'm laid back enough to let the opinions of my friends roll off me like water off a duck.  I have no desire to get into any online "debates" with anyone based on emotion, bad facts and lack of intelligence.  I've never deleted anyone for their views/opinions, and I won't anytime soon.  But damn, I've got some really screwed up friends!!  Bless their hearts!

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

A bunny, the rain, and a date...

Remember my old car?  A Ford Taurus wagon?

And how Mom gave me Dad's car after he died?

Since July of 2011, the Taurus has sat, uninterrupted, in this exact spot.  That's over two years of rain, sun, hail, snow, ice, leaves, bugs, and a cute little bunny who could be found behind the rear wheels on just about every morning.  I made a couple of attempts to sell it, with one or two nibbles.  But no takers.  So the tires all went flat, the battery went dead, and it was going to take a little work to get it into running condition.  And that's exactly what I needed to do, since I sold it to my step-niece!

S1 and her step-daughter's mom split the cost, which was about half of what I was hoping to get out of it when I quit driving it.  I put in a new battery and filled up the tires (which, fortunately didn't need to be replaced).  I took it to the Ford dealership here, just to be sure that I could drive it out to Portland.  That's when the dollar signs started to add up.  While it was in pretty good shape for a 17-y.o. car, my cute little bunny decided to start using the engine area as a smorgasbord.  Wiring was nibbled upon, the serpentine belt was gnawed through, and a hose had a hole chewed through it.  All simple fixes, but requiring the whole engine to be taken apart.  Lots of hours of labor.  Really expensive labor.  So much so that the owner of the Ford dealership took 20% off the final bill because the estimate was so incredibly underestimated.  Still, when all was said and done, I didn't make a penny on the car sale.  In fact, when you total everything put into getting this car to Portland, I contributed a significant part to my step-niece's birthday present.  But actually, I'm OK with that.

So the next step was to take a road trip to deliver my newly refurbished, soon-to-be-transferred car.  Since it was a spontaneous trip, I couldn't really make any plans to meet up with anyone.  Except for one--more on that in a minute.  While I knew it was supposed to rain while I was there, I was not prepared for what I ran into!  I've been in Portland in wet weather.  And some nasty rain.  But nothing like this!  To be fair, the rain all day wasn't too terribly bad.  I was even able to take the obligatory picture of Multnomah Falls from the parking lot--expecting that it would all be hidden in the low clouds.

However, the last 20 miles into Portland saw the most intense driving I have ever done.  Wipers on the fastest speed did nothing to clear the windshield.  There was a point where the rain dumped down harder than in a carwash.  This was the same point when I wanted to stop in the middle of eight lanes of traffic and wait it out.  I tailed the guy in front of me, praying that he knew what the hell he was doing.  And highway signs letting me know where to exit, or which lanes to be in???...forget it!  Couldn't see them!  Obviously, I made it, and lived to tell about it.  Whew!

I did get to schedule a lunch date with the Bipolar Diva!  The first couple of places we went to hadn't opened yet, so we ended up in some neighborhood sports bar.  Sort of a dive, but we didn't care.  We talked for a couple of hours about you, politics, iPhones, secrets, the rain, and snuck in a bite to eat too!  Of course, we had to fit in time for some pics!  She looks great!  I still need to work on my iPhone look...

On a different note...the fall edition of HNT is up!!  Go check it out!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

HNT Reminder!

Hey there!  Just a reminder that the next installment of our quarterly HNTs goes up next week on Oct. 3rd!  I'll be taking a trip to Portland over the weekend and won't have a great deal of time to work on it, so if you can get me your pics ASAP, that would certainly help...  Thanks to those who already have! 

Monday, September 16, 2013

So much easier when they come to me...

Way back in 2005, a young Canadian girl (lots of Canadians back in the day) joined in on HNT.  She was from Calgary, which is just over 400 miles due north of me.  She was a "Self professed music snob...artist, and art consumer...pop culture admirer...free spirit."  What she brought to HNT was a lot of Photoshop.  Always experimenting.  This developed into her current business as a photographer!  She was The Melody Censor

As time went on, she dropped out of HNT (she was the Mystery Guest once, and might have been seen over at OHNT a couple of times...), but was quite active on Flickr.  To this day, she continues to stretch her imagination with her photography.  Many of her self-portraits aren't even recognizable as her!

Like most of the world, she got hooked up with Facebook, where we're friends.  She posted a map of a massive road trip that she and her sister were going to take to Oklahoma (!!!???!?!?!), and spending two weeks checking out most of the western US.  The last leg of the journey appeared to be passing right past Helena, so I got in touch with her and conned her into stopping for lunch.  Woohoo!  My first foreign blogger!

As is the norm, we talked about a lot of you guys.  Mostly the old-timers, which was a lot of fun!  I even found out who the hell Tony Angel is!  Far too much talking, not enough time.  One of my planned road trips for the future will be through central Canada, so I'm sure we'll see each other again.  Thanks for the visit, Susan and Marjorie!

It's been over a month since my last post.  Our first concert of the season was Saturday, with the governor of MT as our guest narrator for Copland's "Lincoln Portrait".  He did well, and the crowd loved him.  The whole concert was a success, as has become the norm.  Ah, such a change from ten years ago!

Football has come back with a vengeance this season too!  Remember how I posted how well my three favorite teams were doing over there in the sidebar?  Not going to do it anymore, since hardly anyone stops by.  But it would get me here each week....maybe I will.  But not tonight.  Anyhoo...all three of my teams (HS alma mater, the local college, and the UM Grizzlies) were a disappointment last season.  This year is drastically different, and they all seem to have regained the glory that they've been accustomed to.  All three are undefeated against strong opponents, and look like they're serious about the post season again.  Yay!

The soul band is in a bit of limbo.  We want to play, and we're going to be marketing ourselves, but the opportunities are few and far between.  Still, when we DO play, all we get are positive comments, so hopefully some things will line up in our favor (we're a bit pricey...).

I know I'll have to do some FB recruiting, but for those who read it here...the fourth of our quarterly HNTs is coming up on Thursday, October 3rd!  Again, I'll post them on the OHNT site.  Many of you missed out on the summer version in July, but that was over the Fourth, so you're forgiven!  I've already gotten one submission, but I'll take as many as I can get!  Spread the word yourselves too, if you could!