Moving, moving around, Picasso

I have my own office at work for the first time in over 12 years. There’s a lot to this story, and I would share some of it. The problem is that in moving into the said office, I have managed to pull something in my back, which makes moving around quite uncomfortable at times.

And I otherwise feel a bit, well, off, including a near-constant headache. I’m waiting to see a doctor after I hear from the HR folks about whatever the worker’s compensation process is.

Meanwhile, I sit in my office putting things on the wall. A picture of me when I was on JEOPARDY! Close up, it’s horrendously pixelated like something from Picasso’s cubist period. From a distance, it’s not bad. Also, a picture of my father, my sister Leslie and I singing when I was 16.

Oh, speaking of Leslie, I mentioned she was going to have surgery on her left arm on October 1. well that didn’t happen because of an infection at what would have been the surgical site. But she went back to the doctor on October 15 and the infection has been stemmed. Now she’s scheduled for surgery on October 23.

So emotionally, I think I would feel really good if I didn’t feel so bad. Y’know what makes me happy? Positive spam messages, such as:

“I’ve been exploring for a little bit for any high-quality articles or blog posts on this sort of area. Exploring in Yahoo I, at last, stumbled upon this website. Reading this info, I am happy to convey that I have an incredibly good uncanny feeling I discovered exactly what I needed. I most certainly will make certain to don’t forget this site and give it a look on a constant basis.”

Thank you very much. You’re too kind.

“You are a very intelligent person!”

[Blushing!]

“You can definitely see your expertise in the work you write. The world hopes for more passionate writers like you who aren’t afraid to say how they believe. Always go after your heart.”

Thanks for the good advice.

“The ability to think like that shows you’re an expert.”

Aw, shucks.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ballot 2019

Some guy I used to know IRL said of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominations, “the least important election this year.” Still, one can cast a fan vote, every day, for five nominees, which, collectively, will be considered in the process.

My Sure Things

#TODD RUNDGREN; Eligible year: 1995
Number of nominations: 1; Nominated in 2019
I have his albums with the Nazz, Utopia and a number of his solo albums. He’s also produced a chunk of notable albums for others. It’s SHOCKING that he was never nominated before. He’s a wizard, a true star. Can We Still Be Friends

#JANET JACKSON Eligible year: 2007
Number of nominations: 3 Nominated in 2016, 2017, 2019
I left her off my ballot a couple years ago. Yet she has been not only a commercial success – in the top five women artists, according to Billboard – but a socially conscious one. Seeing her in person this year may have tipped the scale. Rhythm Nation

#ROXY MUSIC Eligible year: 1997
Number of nominations: 1; Nominated in 2019
Bryan Ferry and his mates have never been nominated before? Commercially successful and influential. Love Is the Drug

The ones who are influential, and who I should consider

DEF LEPPARD Eligible year: 2005
Number of nominations: 1; Nominated in 2019
Not particularly a fan, but surprised it took them so long to get on the ballot. Last I checked, they were neck and neck with Stevie Nicks for the fan vote lead.

JOHN PRINE Eligible year: 1996
Number of nominations: 1; Nominated in 2019
Great singer-songwriter. Probably my sixth choice this year. Dear Abby

KRAFTWERK Eligible year: 1995
Number of nominations: 5; Nominated in 2003, 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019
I KNOW how seminal their music is.

LL COOL J Eligible year: 2009
Number of nominations: 5; Nominated in: 2010, 2011, 2014, 2018, 2019
It was only last year when I fully recognized his historic import.

RADIOHEAD Eligible year: 2017
Number of nominations: 2; Nominated in 2018, 2019
I suppose if I ENJOYED their music more, I’d have picked them.

RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE Eligible year: 2017
Number of nominations: 2; Nominated in 2018, 2019
An important band. Hope they get in someday.

I voted for them because I like them

#DEVO Eligible year: 2003
Number of nominations: 1; Nominated in 2019
They were fun, especially in the early days of MTV. Satisfaction

#THE CURE Eligible year: 2004
Number of nominations: 2; Nominated in 2012, 2019
The music speaks to me. Boys Don’t Cry

I like them but I don’t know if they should be in there

MC5 Eligible year: 1991
Number of nominations: 4; Nominated in 2003, 2017, 2018, 2019
I’ve had High School stuck in my ear this fall. Yet I can’t quite pick the Detroit group.

RUFUS FEATURING CHAKA KHAN Eligible year: 1999
Number of nominations: 3; Nominated in 2012, 2018, 2019
I picked them last year, but it was really for her. On the fence about the group. Tell Me Something Good

STEVIE NICKS Eligible year: 2006
Number of nominations: 1; Nominated in 2019
She was, last I checked, leading the fan vote. She’s already in with Fleetwood Mac. Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around with TOM PETTY and THE HEARTBREAKERS

THE ZOMBIES Eligible year: 1989
Number of nominations: 4; Nominated in 2014, 2017, 2018, 2019
One GREAT album, and a few fine singles that I LOVE, but… She’s Not There

I make my annual pitch for Estelle Axton, the AX of STAX Records. Her brother, Jim Stewart’s been in since 2003. f

RIP Arnold, Pat, Violet, Gloria

Thinking about my end-of-the-year post, I was pondering the question about people I’ve known who died this year. It occurred to me that: 1) I don’t think I mentioned any of them in this blog, and 2) if I were to write about them on 1/1/2019, it would be quite lengthy.

Arnold Berman: my mother’s aunt by marriage, Charlotte Yates (1914-2003), we were all very close to. Charlotte had seven siblings, and I knew them all to some degree.

Arnold (b 1924) was the youngest, and I got to know him particularly well as he was putting together the extensive website of the Barosin/Berman family. He periodically commented on my blog, usually via email, usually with additional insights.

I last saw him at the funeral of Charlotte’s son Donald in 2016, but we remained in touch electronically until early in 2018.

Pat (Curry) Wilson: She was friends with my parents, especially my father. when I was in high school; she was Pat Wilson then, and I had a separate relationship with her.

I remember riding my bike down her dead-end street off Riverside Drive in Binghamton. We would have great philosophical conversations about the world.

I recall specifically how devastated she was when Senator Robert Kennedy (D-NY), who was running for President in 1968 was assassinated. While I was not a big fan of Bobby’s, I felt a great deal of pain on her behalf.

We debated the theological implications of Jesus Christ Superstar. Her Catholic faith, in contrast with my Protestant upbringing – and truth to tell, my fading faith at the time – gave the dialogue a certain yeastiness.

I lost track of her for a lot of years, then rediscovered her, as Pat Curry, on Facebook. My sister Leslie and I thought to visit her when we were in Binghamton in the fall of 2017, but it didn’t work out. She died around Mother’s Day.

Violet Keleshian, nee Khachadourian: She died in May 2018, just a few days shy of her 95th birthday. She was born in Aleppo, Syria, and moved to Beirut, to attend the Lebanese American University. She married and had three children, but was widowed in 1956. In 1961, Violet moved to the United States and became a U.S Citizen in 1966.

I knew her well because she was a member of the First Presbyterian Church choir for several years. Naturally, the choir sang at her service in June.

Gloria Wood, nee Caskey: She was another member of my church. She had been married to David since July 19, 1958; they were a great couple. She’d made a blanket for our daughter when she was born, and she’d created many more to give to young mothers.

I had presented a kente cloth to her a couple years ago because of her gifts, and a couple days after Gloria died on August 24, one of her daughters came to church with David, to tell me how much Gloria appreciated that. I was sorry that I was out of town for her service on September 15.

And there are others, not necessarily close to me, but dear to people I’m close to. Plus others I know with various serious illnesses.

Major climate change disaster by 2040

Do you know what, quite literally, keeps me up at night? It’s not just that we are likely to experience major climate change disaster by 2040, or sooner, if we don’t change our behavior radically.

It’s that it’s clear we simply WON’T do nearly enough, in part because the current US regime is targeting “environmental rules it sees as overly burdensome to the fossil fuel industry, including major Obama-era policies aimed at fighting climate change.”

Check out Harvard Law School’s Environmental Regulation Rollback Tracker, and Columbia Law School’s Climate Tracker.

Sure, other countries, which HAVEN’T pulled out of the Paris Accords, and many US states are fighting back against the destruction. Still, EPA Is Set to Roll Back Restrictions on Coal-Burning Power Plants? This “despite plummeting costs of cleaner fuels including natural gas and solar.”

We’re seeing the destruction already, in the loss of glacial ice, the devastating flooding around the globe, the 12-month fire season in California, and a bunch of other signs I imagine you can cite yourselves.

I’ve mentioned this before, but I think the symbolic nadir of American thought on the subject took place in February 2015 when Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) brought a snowball on US Senate floor as evidence the globe is not warming. As the Washington Post sarcastically noted, it SNOWED in the District of Columbia in WINTER.

In any case, he, as many do, conflated weather, what it’s doing at any given moment, with climate, which addresses the broader trends.

The five warmest years in the global record have all come in the 2010s
The 10 warmest years on record have all come since 1998
The 20 warmest years on record have all come since 1995

By 2040, I’ll be in my 80s. But my daughter will be in her 30s. You know, one is SUPPOSED to leave the country a BETTER place for one’s kids, and I – we – are FAILING miserably. Technological breakthroughs are supposed to make their lives better than ours, even as this regime looks to bring back the methodologies of the past.

(Written at 4:15 a.m. Even The Onion doesn’t bring a smile. Will I be more optimistic in the morning? Unlikely.)

O is for Overstimulated brain

There’s a guy I don’t really know, but we’re Facebook friends, a friend of a friend. He was asking people about how to reduce anxiety for his overstimulated brain in these tension-driven days.

A number of people recommended meditation – there’s a Calm app for meditation/mindfulness – yoga, deep breathing, journaling, the serenity prayer, harmonic music, massage, CBD oil, talking to others.

Some suggested exercising: running, weightlifting.

At least a couple noted the the ‘54321’ mindfulness trick. So has an IRL good friend.

For me, blogging is journaling. I’m pretty sure I’d be MORE anxious if I didn’t write it down.

Exercise does release endorphins but the need to do it on a regular basis, or more correctly, my failure to do so, generates its own source of anxiety.

That 5-4-3-2=1 thing doesn’t work for me AT ALL. For one thing, it requires me to actually think – “what, what are five things, five things I see?” – when NOT thinking is what I really need. In fact, despite its touted success, and I don’t doubt it for others, I HATE it, and find it overstimulating.

So what does work for me? Sometimes, soothing music. I am writing this to what some might consider the most boring CDs ever, music to be born by.” This soothing, 70-minute soundscape, originally created for the birth of Mickey Hart’s son Taro in 1983, was intended to transform the coldness of a hospital birthing room into a warm, rhythmic environment for the process of labor and birthing.”

I usually don’t have trouble falling asleep, but when I inevitably wake up in the middle of the night, I need my Sharper image machine to counter my overstimulated brain. We’ve dubbed it the Miami sound machine, even though it was made in China. It has settings for white noise, rain, ambiance, peace, stream, campfire, calm, meditate, rainforest, ocean, tranquil and relax.

I use stream for sleeping, but I were getting a massage – I need a massage! – I’d like the tranquil setting. And, as some have noted, there’s also an app for those sounds.

For ABC Wednesday

Older Americans, the advantages of being one

Some of my friends, who have hit threshold ages (55, 60, 62 or 65, depending on the venue) at which they can receive items /services at reduced rates, refuse to accept the discounts. I think they are crazy.

It’s not just the monetary savings. It’s that I’ve gone this far and I deserve to accept the perks when they’re offered. Life can be hard, and one should take advantage of whatever makes it easier.

When I took Amtrak to Washington, DC for a conference, I was eligible for a 10 percent discount on train tickets. On the return trip to New York City, however, something even more important took place.

I had been waiting at the K gate but had to go all the way to the A gate to use the men’s room. By the time I returned, the train had been called, and the line was at the E line when I got in.

Then one of the personnel asked for people with children and senior citizens to preboard. At first, it didn’t register. But about ten seconds later, I thought, “WAiT a minute. That’s me! I can join them!” The young woman standing behind me, noting my vacillation, said, “Go for it!”

Still, I wonder if these senior perks are sustainable. Here’s a fun Census statistic: “The year 2030 marks an important demographic turning point in U.S. history according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 National Population Projections.

“The aging of baby boomers means that within just a couple decades, older people are projected to outnumber children for the first time in U.S. history… By 2035, there will be 78.0 million people 65 years and older compared to 76.7 million under the age of 18.”

I was thinking about retiring one of these days. “As the population ages, the ratio of older adults to working-age adults, also known as the old-age dependency ratio, is projected to rise. By 2020, there will be just over three-and-a-half working-age adults for every retirement-age person. By 2060, that ratio will fall to just under two-and-a-half working-age adults for every retirement-age person.

“The median age of the U.S. population is expected to grow from age 38 today to age 43 by 2060.” Yet another reason to encourage immigration. Most immigrants skew young, adding to the vitality of the nation.

From ABC Wednesday

October rambling: the crime of art

How Do Christians Fit Into the Two-Party System? They Don’t

How America Became the Incredible and Jaw-Dropping Laughingstock of the World

Brace for Impact, as the Climate “End Game” Has Arrived

This guy doesn’t know anything’: the inside story of Trump’s shambolic transition team

The regime announced it would no longer give diplomatic visas to the same-gender domestic partners of UN staff or diplomats unless the couples are married

Are Men Victims Now?

Fitbit Data Ties 90-Year-Old Man to Murder

The Coders Programming Themselves Out of a Job

David Cronenberg: I would like to make the case for the crime of art

The Parable of the Perfect Pot

Justine Bateman Has Some Thoughts on the Fame Cycle

Eric Idle discusses many of the characters he’s played

How Will Police Solve Murders on Mars?

Our blind dog finally has a seeing eye dog

Table for one?

Oddities and anomalies from the second half of the 2018 Minor League Baseball season

Now I Know: The Queen’s Secret Code and The Tomato Plant Versus the Volcano and Hawaii’s Spam Scam

What’s My Line? – Edgar & Candice Bergen (Sep 12, 1965) at 18:50

MUSIC

Rhapsody in Blue (Gershwin), Arthur Rubinstein School of Music Symphony Orchestra with the young Polish pianist Maja Babyszka. Conductor: Henryk Wierzchoń. June 21, 2015

Gainesville – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Rodgers and Hammerstein music at the BBC Proms

Thirty Seconds to Mars – Brooklyn Duo (Cello & Piano Cover of The Kill song)

All My Lovin’ – Amy Winehouse

K-Chuck Radio – Upstairs with Yaz

Someone to Watch Over Me – Sleeping At Last

MOZART Symphony No 40 in G minor KV550, LEONARD BERNSTEIN, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra

A Reason To Fight – Disturbed

Evil Ways – Willie Bobo

Outside the trains don’t run on time – Gang of Four

Mary Poppins rag

Coverville – 1235: Cover Stories for Olivia Newton-John and The Mamas and The Papas

Giacchino Rossini’s overture to his opera William Tell

Vinyl records hit all the right notes

The hardest and easiest thing about blogging

Dora, from Having Coffee With Peppy, has the tag “I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.” By Edgar Alan Poe

I know her from ABC Wednesday. She writes:

What do you find the hardest and easiest thing about blogging? Coffee is on.

For me, the easiest thing about blogging is finding topics to write about. If one is reasonably observant, subjects find you. What are you reading? I skim a LOT on the Internet: left and right-wing politics, for instance. I’m an old political science major, so that’s interesting to me.

What are you doing? I listen to music, see movies, read books, live in an ever-changing America.

I see these questions in Quora, some of them sent directly to me: “What should I blog about?” they plead. How the heck do I know? I have no idea because I’m not them.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I really like to know what the topics of my posts are going to be.

For instance, I know that in November, I already know I’ll do something about Veterans Day and Thanksgiving and the Great American Smokeout and my mother’s birthday. In fact, I’ve already written the post about Veterans Day, because I realized it was the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. Something came to me, and I wrote it.

I can be very patient. I probably wrote that 11/11 piece in July, because it told me to be written. Far be it from me not to listen to a piece when it wants to be created.

Another thing in November is the 20th anniversary of when I first appeared on the game show JEOPARDY! The subconscious is working on that now, and when I see something related to the show, I throw it in the draft for November 9. Some point soon, I’ll put something together. I really do hope it writes itself because I’ve tackled the subject in the past and don’t want to rehash.

The hardest thing about writing a blog is time. Work, church, meetings, helping the Daughter with homework, mowing the lawn all take chunks of time. There was a point less than a year ago that I had 70 posts written and scheduled. Right now, it’s 29.

You might think that’s a lot but they’re not all for the next month. On September 23, I thought, “What am I going to write for October 4 or 5?” And I was actually pleased that I found a piece I had written on 9 July but curiously had not published; I changed two sentences and scheduled it.

I was then set for the next two weeks, except for the linkorama post at the end of the month, which I tend not to finish until two or three days before it posts. Now, if I don’t write something for the next two days – entirely possible – I don’t get anxious.

Whereas I HATE creating on a deadline, even a self-imposed one because it’s much harder for me to write. My way-too-long piece on John McCain I had to write and then post in a day or two because it would be of much less value a few weeks later.

Music throwback: Seals & Crofts, Jim and Dash

I was in a used CD store in western Massachusetts this summer. Another customer told her husband that she had just found a greatest hits album of Seals & Crofts. Suddenly, I wished I had discovered it myself.

The very first concert I ever attended was seeing Jim Seals & Dash Crofts in New York City with my college girlfriend. It was November 12, 1971, at Philharmonic Hall, which is now Avery Fisher. Boz Scaggs was the unappreciated opening act.

I remembered the date because it was the anniversary of the birth of Bahá’u’lláh, the founder of the Baha’i faith, in what is now Iran in 1817. The girlfriend was very interested in the faith and joined about a year later.

Seals & Crofts were Baha’is, which was evident from some of their music. And we had ALL of their music for a time. Seals & Crofts (1969) and Down Home (1970) were on some minor label. It’s now available as Seals & Crofts I and II.

Year of Sunday was their first Warner Brothers album. It’s evidently out of print because it’s going for about $90 used on Amazon.

The next several albums are available as an import package at a reasonable price and contain the hits. But it’s some of the deeper cuts that intrigued me. None more than It’s Going To Come Down on You, which rushed to my consciousness during the contentious Supreme Court debate.

It’s a real schizophrenic song, with nice ballad parts interrupted by wicked guitar lines by album producer Louie Shelton.

You said you had it figured out in your pretty little head.
Politics and tricks and all them things you said
But I told you then and I’ll tell you now
It’s gonna come down on you.

All songs written and performed by Seals & Crofts, unless otherwise indicated

Ridin’ Thumb
Ridin’ Thumb – Sam Moore with Travis Tritt and Robert Randolph

Cottonmouth
Cottonmouth – Doobie Brothers

When I Meet Them, #104 in 1972

Sudan Village (1972 version)
Sudan Village (1976 version)

Hummingbird (album version), single #20 in 1973

Say

Summer Breeze, #6 in 1972

Yellow Dirt

Diamond Girl, #6 in 1973

We May Never Pass This Way Again, #21 in #73

It’s Gonna Come Down (On You)

Wisdom

Dance by the Light of the Moon

Sweet for 4G (apologies: James Taylor)

The envelope was in a box of unsorted miscellany, rather than in the mail drawer. I discovered it about a month after the May 2 date on the letter. It came from MetLife.

“RE: Case Number…

“DEAR ROGER GREEN:

“We are trying to locate ROGER GREEN regarding an important insurance matter. They last resided at [my address in 1999-2000].

“If you know ROGER GREEN…” Do I! Calling the 800 number, I was told I would get some form to fill out.

Three weeks later, the Identification Questionnaire letter came. Section I was easy enough, Insured’s Information.

But Section II was nigh unto impossible. “Insured’s address when policy was issued.” I didn’t know THAT the policy was issued. “Date”? Dunno. “Name of agent who issued the policy” – seriously?

I ASSUME this was some sort of policy that was arranged by my parents at some point, though they never told me about it. Back in the 1990s, I started receiving these minuscule dividend checks every quarter from MetLife. $2.64 or $2.97 or $3.18, which I thought was a function I set up from something I must have set up.

In any case, I spoke to a different customer service representative. HE told me that I shouldn’t have needed to fill this form out, since I had an account with them. Long story short, I received a check for about $4,400 in early August.

It’s not life-changing money, but it’s life-made-easier money. We had one laptop among three of us; now we have two. And when it’s lacking software protection I assumed incorrectly that would be included, I acquired it.

I took a trip for work to Washington, DC, and the credit card bill came due before the reimbursement check arrived; not a problem. My trip to Yankee Stadium was affordable. I purchased tickets for an upcoming concert.

Most spontaneously, I could take a train to Poughkeepsie one morning to see my friend Deborah. I had not seen her in decades because she lives in Europe. She drove 90 minutes from Connecticut. We share hot drinks and a muffin at the nearby coffee shop for a couple hours. Then I took the train back so I could go to work in the afternoon.

To be sure, some of these – the Yankees game and seeing Deborah, for sure – I would have done WITHOUT the extra cash.

BTW, the JT reference is to Suite for 20 G. From Songfacts: “This song was an amalgamation of several bits of songs/melodies/lyrics/themes that Taylor had laying around as kernels for three future songs that hadn’t yet come together. He and his producer, Peter Asher, had a deadline to meet for completing the Sweet Baby James album, and they needed one more song to do it. Asher had him string these loose themes together to make a single ‘Suite’ and get the $20,000 (20G) they were promised by Warner Bros. Records for completing the album, which is how it got the title.”