Showing 1 - 10 of 419 posts found matching keyword: walter

As is usual this time of year, our power went out in yesterday's storm at 10:12PM. The first notice from the power company estimated a restoration by 1:15AM. After they missed that deadline, they said 4:30. Then they said 6:30. They did finally get it back on... at 11:30AM.

I get it; they were busy. It was a blustery night, after all. And mine was the only outage in my county, whereas there were many counties to my north fairing much, much worse. But if you know you're going to be busy helping others, can you at least give me better estimates, Georgia Power?

I've gotten used to these sorts of long-duration springtime power outages over the years. What made this one a little more annoying than usual was that I had just made the mistake of putting all my pillowcases in the washing machine just before the power failure, so I didn't have any pillows to sleep on during the long, dark night. (You don't think I'm going to put my head on a pillow without a case, do you? Ye, gods!)

Dad said that the lesson I should take away from this experience is that from now on, I should never wash all of my pillowcases in one load. I hate to say it, but he's probably right.

Don't expect me to say that again, Dad.

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Nope, I got nothin' today. I'm depressed, and it's rainy. So, like my dogs, you'll just have to find a way to entertain yourself elsewhere.

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The headline at Atlanta's Fox 5 was "Over 850 pounds of crystal meth found in Norcross storage unit." My first thought on reading the article was, "wow, that's a lot of drugs." My second thought was, "how do you dispose of that much meth?" The article didn't say, which if you ask me is a real indictment of the modern clickbait era of journalism.

Left to my own devices, I did what I usually do when I have a question: I googled it.

That was a mistake.

I only write this so that when I am arrested and the DA introduces into evidence my Google search history and social media feeds full of helpful instructions about what I should do with my stash when the cops inevitably come kicking in my door, I can say that it was all because I read a poorly reported news story.

(To save you the same trouble, let me report that the answer appears to be "mix it with bleach." I'm guessing a lot of bleach. I have not yet worked up the courage to google how to dispose of that.)

In addition to "how to dispose of crystal meth," these are some other actual Google searches I made in the last 2 weeks: "who likes licorice," "why am I paying 24% taxes," "life is not all sex and sun lamps," and "green lantern condoms." What can I say? I'm a curious guy.

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One of the drawbacks of having no hair left is that there's no cushion to protect your scalp when you climb a stepladder to replace insulation that has fallen from the ceiling joist in your studio and you smash your head against the corner of a dangling two-by-four you installed to hold canvas stretchers. It could happen to anyone.

It hurt. A lot. And the worst part was that I did it while I was home alone, so I had to clean and dress the hole in the top of my head myself. I'd show you a selfie picture of the damage, but Mom always says, "No one wants to see your injuries."

So instead, here's a picture of yesterday's sunset on my street.

He's too small to see here on the blog, but the neighbor's Irish Setter, Skipper, is standing in the driveway. Good boy, Skipper!

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When it's quiet, I hear a ringing that doesn't seem to exist. I'm pretty sure that tinnitus is just a sign of my ears gradually ossifying. My solution to that is to turn on the radio. I still hear the static, but at least then I can pretend there's a source.

That's not the only time I hear things. Sometimes I think I hear someone call my name or dogs barking when there can't be anyone around to call my name or my dogs are sleeping beside me. This has to be my mind playing tricks on me, right?

I probably shouldn't be typing any of this. Everyone knows that hearing voices is a bad sign. A little over a decade ago, my then across-the-street neighbor told her friends that she could hear people having conversations in the basement when no one else was there. They put her in a home.

She was nearly 100. I'm only half that age. I'm too young to be put in a home. But at least in a home there would be other people who could be calling my name. I have to admit that, technically, that solves the problem.

In the meantime, if you call my name and I don't answer you, know that I probably did hear you; I'm just in denial.

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With football season over, one of the things I've been listening to while walking the dogs is the "Family Trips with the Meyers Brothers" podcast in which brothers Seth and Josh Meyers talk to their many, many celebrity friends about (surprise, surprise) trips they've taken with their families.

Yes, I have been very dismissive of podcasts in the past. And yes, I concede that listening to people I don't know talk about their fancy globetrotting is not always quite as endearing as they might think it is. But sometimes I need something in my ears between Louis' rabid barking at passing joggers, and this fits that bill.

Anyway, the point here isn't an endorsement of podcasting (or your judgement of my pastimes), but that I wanted to mention that apparently I have more in common with Seth Meyers than I previously realized.1

By way of explaining why his family calls him "Soofie," he mentioned that as a bookish youth in the 1980s, he frequently dressed in Ocean Pacific apparel when it was at the zenith of its popularity. Seth is only very slightly older than I am, so he was probably wearing OP t-shirts and board shorts in Connecticut about the same time I was in Georgia. I don't know what excuse Seth had for dressing like a fashion victim, but my attire came from my aunt, whom I believe worked sales for OP at the Atlanta Apparel Mart and had samples to spare.

As a result of Seth's beach bum wardrobe, it seems his Yankee friends called nicknamed him "Surfie" (eventually mangled into "Soofie"). Meanwhile, I was saddled with the Mayberry-eque "Opie." On what I am sure is a completely unrelated note, Seth appears to still talk to his childhood friends whereas I definitely do not.

And now, three-and-a-half decades removed from that childhood trauma, Seth's a famous comedian with his own talk show and podcast. And I have a blog! We're like twins!2

1 The Venn diagram intersection between us previously contained only "Caucasian American male," which, frankly, isn't all that exclusionary.

2 Of the Schwarzenegger / DeVito variety; I believe they're called "infernal" twins.

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In news shocking to all Baby Boomers and younger, it has been widely reported that current manufacturer Ferrara Candy has decided to discontinue Fruit Stripe Gum, thereby once-and-for-all answering the question: no, we will not still feed you when we are 64.

Sixty-four years is a long time, but Ferrara Candy has only been selling Fruit Stripe for a small fraction of that time. Prior to 2012, Ferrara Candy was known as Farley & Sathers Candy, which itself was only founded in 2002 and bought the pre-existing Fruit Stripe brand from Hershey Foods in 2003. Hershey only had Fruit Stripe for about a year; they bought it in 2001 from Nabisco, which had acquired it in a 1981 merger with E.R. Squibb Company, which got their hands on it in a 1968 merger with Beech-Nut Life Savers who had introduced it in 1960.

(For more fun information on American corporation brand hi-jinks through history, I encourage you to visit the online archive of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, which retired their old TESS [Trademark Electronic Search System] last year for a more modern and easier to use but less acronymically friendly "cloud-based trademark search system" [CBTSS? Blech.] )

As has been the trend in recent beloved-but-unprofitable food brands being killed off by one corporate parent only to spring back to life under another (see: Hostess Twinkies and Necco Wafters), I expect that this media brouhaha will lead to continued life for Fruit Stripe. In fact, as of January 10, there is already a pending request at the US Patent Office for a new trademark just registered by Iconic Candies, a company dedicated to continuing discontinued "classic brands" like Bar None (discontinued by Hershey in 1997) and Creme Savers (discontinued by M&M/Mars in 2011).

Anyway, while we await zombie Fruit Stripe's inevitable return, in tribute to its nostalgic greatness, I offer a page from my personal comic book collection in which I demonstrated my 4-year-old's love of brightly artificial-colored, briefly artificially-flavored chewing gum by helping brand mascot Yipes the zebra navigate a maze of marketing Q&As.

I remember really loving the colorful zebra stripes more than the actual gum
from The Friendly Ghost, Casper, July 1980, No. 211

(Disclaimer: I might have cheated.)

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In late 2022, the National Institutes of Health reported

"Optimism is linked to a longer lifespan in women from diverse racial and ethnic groups, and to better emotional health in older men, according to two NIA-funded studies."

In late 2023, reported:

"Research, published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, from the University of Bath shows that excessive optimism is actually associated with lower cognitive skills such as verbal fluency, fluid reasoning, numerical reasoning, and memory."

Thus proving once again that, yes, bliss really is ignorance.

You don't have to be a moron to be an optimist, but it helps.

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Questions from Hannah, part 2:

Why do you like cemeteries so much?

Because they are awesome. You can keep your forests and "grand" canyons. I'll take a cemetery any day.

Cemeteries are a reminder that the world wasn't built for me, that life only has the meaning we give it, that the journey is always more important than the destination. Memento mori!

When built right, the Victorian way, cemeteries are a delightful combination of storybook and park, usually filled with a bunch of spectacularly crafted art. As a bonus, most living people treat cemeteries with a serene reverence you don't find anywhere else, so cemeteries are simultaneously full of people and very quiet.

Truthfully, I think the idea of burying people in boxes in the ground is kind of ridiculous, but I love, love, love the stone monuments left above ground to mark their territory. If nothing else, those tombstones say "I was here," and that sort of yelling into the void of eternity speaks to me. What is a tombstone but a very succinct and enduring blog post?

And why do you call them cemeteries instead of graveyards?

Because that's what they are.

In the modern Western tradition, a graveyard is a type of cemetery that is on a church grounds while a cemetery is a community's common burial ground not necessarily connected to a specific church. For example, my town's local burial ground (established 1833) is officially Oak Hill Cemetery, though there are plenty of churches around here with their own much smaller graveyards. It's my experience that cemeteries are often more welcoming to visitors (and usually contain more delightfully ostentatious monuments) than graveyards, but I've been in plenty of delightful graveyards, too.

Personally, I can't say as I like the word "graveyard." A yard of graves sounds so very bleak, while there's almost something celebratory in a "cemetery." I like both of those much more than I like the euphemism "memorial park." The government should make you explicitly declare if you have a park full of corpses.

Looking at Online Etymology Dictionary, it would appear that both "graveyard" and "cemetery" have historically referred to more or less the same thing, so their use prior to the 19th century probably derives from whatever languages were spoken by a region's ancestors. And I suppose that maybe you live somewhere where "graveyard" has remained the preferred term, which is fine by me. Regional differences are fun!

You often mention the fact that you work at night and sleep through the morning; is your brain really more alert in the middle of the night?

I do think I do my best coding and most often find myself "in the zone" between 1 and 3AM, but I don't know if I would say that I am especially more alert in the darkness than I am in sunlight — I'm no vampire. I really like the late night because everyone else is asleep. For one thing, it's useful for my work: coding is easier without distractions, and it's easier to update websites, databases, and video game files when they aren't being as widely used. But I chose my occupation, not the other way around. I just like being the only person around. It's like the entire world becomes a cemetery, and you already know how I feel about that.

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I'm proud to report that has picked up a new reader! According to her email (subject line: "I like your blog!"), Hannah has followed me over from and has let me know that she has now read every single post going back to the beginning in 2003. She might be more dedicated to this site than I am.

Obviously, after reading that much drivel, Hannah has questions. Fortunately, most of her questions are about my favorite subject: me.

Let the self aggrandizement begin!

Why did you start blogging in the first place?

Back in the day — this was before Facebook and smartphones existed, mind you — I was in art school in Athens, GA, and wanted an easy way to keep in touch with friends and family who lived across the country. I do not enjoy A) talking on the telephone or B) repeating myself. So I built a place where anyone who cared to know could come to get critical updates about whatever it was I was doing at the time. I can't say as it worked, really, as only a couple of my friends (and my mother) have ever visited regularly. I still have to answer "what have you been up to?" too often for my personal tastes.

How do you decide what to post about?

At the core, the point of everything that I do is to keep myself entertained. I am very selfish that way.

I come from the land of Lewis Grizzard. (Google him.) Grizzard made a strong impression on a lot of people; many thought he was a real bastard, but my favorite restaurant still has a menu item named after his favorite dish: brunswick stew on a pulled pork barbecue sandwich served with onion rings, I never met him personally, but my encounters with his writings during my formative years led me to believe that one of the best possible occupations was "humorist newspaper columnist." So I generally approach content at as my own soapbox and diary with a goal of making it an enjoyable read in the (poorly imitated) vein of curmudgeonly satirists like Grizzard or Dave Barry or television's Stephen Colbert or Andy Rooney. (Google him too.) Quoth the Poppins: "A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down."

When it comes to creating individual posts, I start by saying to myself, "Oh, shit! I haven't posted anything at in the past two days!" I picked an every-other-day schedule because it's just often enough to keep me motivated and just long enough to let me regenerate ideas. I ask myself, "Is there anything on my mind?" Sometimes there is, and I type that. And sometimes there isn't, and I stall (or punt).

And some days people ask me a bunch of questions and I answer them.

How long does it take you to craft a blog post?

I wish I was half as clever as I like to think I am. On average, probably about thirty minutes. Honestly, it's probably longer and I just don't want to admit that publicly. Sometimes it takes a very long time, especially for the five paragraph "college admission" essays in which I want to be sure I've gotten all of my punchlines just right. Grammar matters, but so does rhythm and timing. (The core of comedy is subversion of expectations. And banana peels.)

Hannah had more questions than that, but that's a good start. I have to have something to post later, after all. These posts aren't going to blog themselves.

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To be continued...


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