Thursday, August 28, 2008

Nothing to Get Hung About

I lead a remarkably pleasant life on many levels--I'm rarely forced to follow any sort of precise schedule, I have a great deal of freedom in regards to my store responsibilities and my Comic Shop News work, I have ample opportunity to exercise, I can do much of my work within the comfort of my own home, I rarely have to venture into traffic, and I genuinely like what I do.

Even so, there are periods when I have to deal with a certain restlessness. Every now and then, I wonder what it would be like to have every day to do as I please--to write what and when I wish, to paint again, to spend days rereading old favorites and discovering new ones, to organize the assorted accumulations that are the joy and the plague of everyone who collects.

I've been in one of those periods for the past couple of weeks. That's one reason why I haven't been posting as much; it sounds odd, but when I know that there are things I should be doing if I weren't putting them off, I feel almost guilty if I do something else (such as writing for fun)... so I end up doing absolutely nothing productive and squandering the time.

Recognizing the problem, I'm trying to get past it by forcing myself to do a little bit of productive work and a little bit of "fun stuff" every day. Apparently, even a life of semi-leisure requires some self-discipline...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

55 & 1/365

For no particular reason, I never managed to post anything at all on my birthday, and now it's 37 minutes past that date. Oh, well... I'm now 55 years and one day old.

Birthdays are odd occasions for me; I rarely celebrate them on the day itself, and it's rare that anyone other than Susan and Kim and Aunt Jean ever wish me a happy birthday on the actual day of my birthday. Saturday, we went up to Rome to see the old Marchmont House, which Cole and Christy have reshaped into a wonderful home for the two of them and Oliver (and soon, for a new addition to the family, gender as yet unknown); it's amazing to see what they've done to the kitchen, renovating it and making it into a showpiece. They remarked on how much more they had than would comfortably fit into the house, even with the two storage buildings, the large den that was added on to the back in the 1980s, and the large screened in porch. It still seems remarkable that Mom, Dad, Kim, and I lived comfortably in the home sans all those additions back in the 1962-1971 period; it just goes to show how much more stuff comprises our daily existence now, I guess. I can't imagine how we possibly fit four people and all of our stuff into that 1000 square foot home...

But I digress...

The birthday get-together was great fun; it was good to see Cole, Christy, Oliver, Jessica, Adam, Kim, and Phil (who has added a full beard since I saw him last!), and it was nostalgic to celebrate my birthday in the house where I celebrated so many birthdays in the past. When we got back home, Brett and Allyson dropped by with a surprise birthday gift--specialty popcorn from a Marietta shop whose existence was unknown to me!

Today was a normal workday for me--a busy day with a huge comics shipment that also happened to be the rainiest day we've had all year, making the whole book pickup process a little more demanding. Kim called very early, and Aunt Jean called soon after that, both wishing me a happy birthday; I got a few very nice e-mails from correspondents wishing me a happy birthday, and that was it.

Susan gave me a gift that I always love--chocolate oatmeal drops, a sort of no-bake cookie that's a lot like crumbly cocoa fudge with uncooked oatmeal added to it. I always loved those as a child, and Susan makes 'em to my demanding specifications... sort of crumbly, very dark with extra cocoa powder, and lots of oatmeal. It's my favorite cookie.

Susan was also willing to get me a coconut cake, since I've mentioned in my blog on multiple occasions how much I miss those--but I didn't want her to have to make something else, and I'll be snacking on these cookies for a while (plus we still have some nifty Superman-Batman-decorated birthday cake left over from the gathering in Rome!). Still, I hope to some day celebrate my birthday with another rich, sweet, coconut-laden extra-moist cake... oddly enough, I haven't had a coconut cake at all since Mom died, and sometime I find myself positively yearning for a slice or two. Anyone who says I'm hard to shop for, just add coconut cake to your list of things I like!...

No other mention of birthdays today--it's not surprising, really, since I don't make a big deal of it. It would never occur to me to drop lots of hints that my birthday is coming up, because every day is someone's birthday, after all, and there's no reason to make a big deal out of it.

So now my 55th birthday is history, and I'm underway on my 56th. I'm on the 3064th day of my second chance at life. I'm relatively healthy, quite happy, blessed in many ways, and doing things that I enjoy--what more could one ask for from a birthday than that?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Forget that Whole Russia/Georgia Thing

Apparently there's a much more ominous invasion going on much closer to home--in San Francisco, no less! Don't take my word for it--look for yourself. It has to be true--you saw it on the internet!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Music, Music, Music

Thanks to this site, I now know that the number one song on the day I was born was "Vaya Con Dios" by Les Paul and Mary Ford.

Even more interesting, at no point in history have any of the Beatles, solo or as a group, had the number one chart position on my birthday.


Missing Dad

It's been a year since Dad died.

Tom wrote wisely that it takes a passage of a year before you can begin to move past the grief. One has to experience the first winter without, the first spring, the first summer, the first fall, the first Christmas, the first birthday... every occasion that we share with those we love, we have to learn to experience without them.

Haven't felt much like writing anything for the past few days. Had to make myself finish up Comic Shop News, in fact. Haven't felt like doing much of anything, other than ruminating and remembering. Maybe brooding a little, too.

It gets better, I know.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Wait a Minute...

Let's see... John Edwards, who has denied for years that there was any truth to the rumors that he had an affair, now admits that he had an affair back in 2006 or so. The affair ended, however, just before the "window of conception" for the baby that is rumored to be his. His wife has known about this for a couple of years now and it's all in the past.

So then, why was John Edwards meeting the purportedly-former other woman in a hotel a couple of weeks ago?...

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Al: The News That Fits, We Print

Presented for your amusement, a particularly good story from the Onion regarding the future hopes of the House of Al. Click on the picture or the title for the link.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Genesis Revisited

As I mentioned earlier, I bought a tech package Genesis (black exterior, tan leather interior) on 7/31. I hadn't thought about the fact that it was the last day of the month, but that seemed to have made the negotiations go even more smoothly; the fact that I was ready to write a check for the difference right then seemed to help.

Yesterday, I made one unpleasant discovery: the car's front license plate bracket had been mounted to the front bumper by the use of sheet metal screws through the bumper itself. I normally remove the front license plate bracket, but when I took it off, the look was hideous--the sheet metal screws had left ragged upraised holes when they were unscrewed.

The dealership was willing to have the bumper sanded out, filled, and repainted if I wanted--but they also offered an additional price adjustment if I'd keep it as is, and they offered to get me a black plate with the word Genesis in silver in the distinctive Genesis font. I liked that idea well enough, so I agreed to go with that.

Here are some observations after tw days of driving:

(1) The cooled driver's seat is wonderful. Driving in Georgia's 95 degree August afternoons is much more pleasant when you have that coolness on your back. It's a shame they changed plans to offer this feature on the passenger's seat as well; I can't say too much about how great it feels without Susan giving me a hard time!...

(2) Lexicon 17 speaker sound system = audio excellence. It requires a little fiddling to find the right balance of treble, midrange, and bass, but once you find your preferred audio "sweet spot," the sound is impeccable. I tried the Lexus Mark Levinson system, but it sounded mushy. Acura's ELS system is superlative, but there's no midrange control and the system won't play the audio from a DVD-Video. The only vehicle that Acura makes that can do that, as it turns out, is the Acura MDX, because you can add an optional rear entertainment system and use the DVD-Video player to play back audio from DVD-Video discs--but that's a lot of extra money for one feature. The only thing that the Lexicon system lacks that it should add is an audio control for the center speaker; I find it to be tuned slightly low in comparison to the other speakers.

(2) HD radio really does sound great. I'm most impressed with the clarity and the dynamic range.

(3) XM radio sounds superb as well. I can't tell if they're running Neural Surround processing on the channels that offer such or not, but the surround setting on the Lexicon certainly creates the impression of surround from some XM channels.

(4) Bluetooth is adequate but not superb. The speaker volume is a little soft, but if you turn it up to sufficient loudness,the volume is excessive on the ringer when you get an incoming call. There's no mass import of a phonebook, at least not that I've found so far; I've had to load the phone numbers in one at a time (the easiest way Ifound to do that was to call a number once, then bring it up from my "called numbers" list, push the controller to the right, then choose "add to phone book" and program in the proper name). And hanging up the phone seems to require two moves, not one: you have to push down to select "end," then push in to confirm the selection. This should be done with one button on the steering wheel or the controller (and if it is possible to do it single-button and I've missed it, someone let me know, okay?). Adding a phone to the bluetooth system is quick, easy, and intuitive; I had programmed my iPhone to work with the car in less than three minutes of test-driving (at that point, I had already decided I was going to buy it, so I figured why not?).

(5) Navigation system seems to be at least as good as Acura's (which is much better than Toyota's or Nissan's), with one tiny omission: I can't find a way to determine the elevation above sea level of my current location, which is something that I used to bring up a lot on the Acura when driving in the mountains.

(6) They added an automatic trunk unlock, but they should have gone the extra step and added an automatic open/close control as well; the trunk will pop unlocked slightly, but you have to lift it open (which means getting fingerprints on that lovely black pearl paint), and then you get more fingerprints on it when you close the trunk again. Yes, I know there's an interior handle you can use to pull it down and if you're quick, you can tug and move your arm out of the way and get it to latch... but I rarely complete that move effectively.

(7) I don't use sun roofs very much at all, but one person already asked if they offered a panoramic sun roof option; that's something they might consider in the future, as these things seem to be increasingly popular.

(8) Center console is a bit small when you've connected an iPod.

(9) New iPod interface software/firmware is really needed; the current connectivity is basic and minimal. They need something that allows full randomization from any playlist, something that displays artist, song, album, and playlist data, etc.

(10) Mileage is right where Hyundai guessed it would be. My mixed around town/highway mileage is about 21.3 mpg, and we were getting 26 mpg on a 60 mile trip at 70 mph on the interstate.

(11) The car is quiet--so quiet, in fact, that twice my wife thought the car had failed to start.

(12) The A/C system seems a little bit undervented in the front; a larger vent with more cool air diffusion would have helped increase airflow and expedite cooling on hot days.

(13) The glove compartment is a bit smaller than it should be, and they've gone with a single glove box rather than the increasingly popular "large glove box below, smaller glove box above" approach. If there's room in the dash to carve out that extra space, they should consider doing this.

(14) Not only does the passenger seat not get cooling, it also doesn't get lumbar support, according to my wife (I haven't sat in that side so I can't address this from experience). Should be added to a car of this caliber.

(15) The car seems to be frequently confused with a BMW when seen from the front; I've had three people make that mistake so far.

(16) the DVD changer will play MP3 files burned to a DVD-R disc, but it won't randomize across folders, so if you have folders based on artists or albums, random will only play all the songs in that specific folder, not every song on the DVD-R.

That's it so far--more observation to come, I'm sure...