Hacked again.

Can you believe it?  It's only been up a few months and some joker hacked my blog.

No.  It wasn't really hacked.  There's just too much to rant about lately and it makes it difficult to pick one thing ... 

So I posted my favorite picture of Heath Ledger's 'Joker' ... and this monkey:

Silly monkey.


From an Anonymous Source:

There are approximately 3 million people who visit this blog, the largest readership of any blog ever - really, my readership is 'yuuuuuuge' seriously (that was supposed to be funny).   And my readers should all be updated regarding why there has been a lack of regular posting here.  Here we go:
Although I would like to be a news reporter, I'm not.  So I started a blog several years ago ... before I rediscovered 'keeping a journal' (much more private than publishing everything on the interwebs, by the way!)  I just have a lot of things to say and write (who doesn't, right?) that I feel like putting down on a platform that might reach others (which my journals won't).  And unless you're well-paid for it by someone else, you shouldn't post stuff (especially when it concerns people who know you and where to find your blog, whether you give them fake names or not) when said people might not like what you write.  This is especially true if your opinions and observations aren't the most pleasant or don't 'do any good.'  Just not a good idea.  It's a waste of creativity and, at the very least, a waste of time.  "De mortuis nil nisi bonum."  Google it.

Because of this, I am considering shifting from 'posting' on The Book of Face to posting only on this blog and then posting a link to this blog to The Book of Face.

Everyone knows that your posts on The Book of Face should be kept 'vanilla' since potential employers will look you up to see how weird and radical you are.  And since it took quite a considerable bit more time and energy to move this sucker from it's old server's location to where it is now than it did to set up my page on The Book of Face, it seems a shame to not put stuff in it (on it?).  Maybe I'll do both.  And who knows, maybe I'll be able to express those opinions about people in such a way as to prevent them from recognizing themselves ... that might be enjoyable.  This will also get me away from this whole thing with likes and whatnot ... wastes a lot of time, in my opinion.

I also don't think it's a good idea to completely check out of The Book of Face (again) because I do enjoy reading about what everyone's doing and eating and where they're going on vacation and what they're thinking about what's going on in the world (especially that) because I actually value what *you* write and say about what's going on in the world; that interests me more than than what's put out via the commercial 'news sources.'

Since the 'news' feeds have all gone to hell and either serve up crap based on crap on which you've already clicked and therefore 'shown interest' which (I hope I'm not the first person to tell you this) is written by people who work for people who tell them what to write and how to write it based on what *they* are told what to write - you're not getting unbiased news.  You are getting served up exactly what they think you want to read about.  And that's not good.

I don't really - can't, really - go to that medium anymore.  It's not reading ... it's more like work.  Except for when something initially *happens* (earthquakes, hurricanes, shootings, train wrecks, heroic rescues of koala bears, wolves adopting kittens as their own offspring, etc.,) I choose not waste time "reading" articles that are written ... because it has actually become too difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak.

Most are aware of the tendency (maybe that's too soft a word) of outlets like FOX to be so positive towards the current folks running the U.S. that it makes one cringe just to read or hear some of the things they write or say.  Or when outlets like CNN or The Washington Post are so predictably and comically the opposite of the same folks and any information that can possibly be tied to them.  Even if it can't.  You can actually read coverage of the same 'news event' -- the assistance sent and provided to Puerto Rico after the recent hurricane, for example -- and you will read/hear two completely different 'takes' on the exact same story depending on who from what media outlet is covering it.  It's fascinating.  It's both amazing and tiring at the same time.

Interestingly, "We the People* don't all see this.

We don't all get the fact that the only place from where we can possibly *get* our facts, our *news,* is from these same non-objective sources themselves.  That's not good either.  Were we *there* in Puerto Rico?  No.  And unless your buddy Frank or Sally was *there* and can tell you first-hand about any story of interest, we have to read about it from the news sources we choose to read or watch.   And then we read stuff written by their monkeys.  And that's not good either.

And if you get your news from these monkeys on the internet, the problem there, as I've already mentioned, is that those 'news sites' are only serving up to you similar types of stories that you've already read!  So if you click on a 'pro-Trump' story, it will give you more of them the next time go to your page ... the idea, I guess, is that it will make you happy and then you'll go to their page more often and click on the click-bait/ads on their page and buy more stuff and make them more money?

We can always 'clean out our cookies' so that we fool the websites and they have no idea what to show us (in the hopes that we are able to read stories from several angles or views) but I don't think we should have to do that.  And, again, it's like I have to work to just read something.  It's like asking your guilty-looking child "Are you telling me the truth?" And then relying upon your parenting skills to decide whether or not they say "Yes, I'm telling the truth."  What kid in their right mind is giong to say "Okay, I'm lying, I broke it ... I lied to make myself look better in an attempt to make you happy."

All I know is that if you weren't there ... if you don't have personal knowledge of something you read about in 'the news,' then the only way you can consider yourself informed is to take for granted as the truth whatever it is that you read.  And if you do that, you likely don't have the full or correct story.  But that seems to make most people happy.

So, with that in mind: 

"A well placed government source who wishes to remain anonymous but who is in a place where they know this kind of stuff has informed me that reading this blog every day will make you healthier happier and smarter and you should visit "MyLifeandTimes.Org" every day to check and see if there is anything posted which will make your life and the lives of your fellow human beings (and aliens) more enjoyable."

That is all.



I just can't sleep.  Haven't been able to sleep normally for months.

I catch a few minutes here and there but, for the most part:  no good sleep.  I haven't gotten a normal stretch of 8 hours a night for ... since I can't remember when.  Will have to do some 'Googling' to figure out how to fix this.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!


Excused Absence ...

Been sick all week ...

... had friends visiting from Italy for the first 2 weeks of September (met them in NYC and visited for a few days in the beginning of the month).

Since they've left, been trying to "get my head back in the game."

It ain't been easy.



Have you forgotten?

Like a lot of other people.  I was at work that morning.  Part of my job for the Navy's Office of the Chief of Information was to keep an eye on 4 or 5 different television news broadcasts during the day in case they ran any stories about the Navy.   On this particular morning, there was some crazy story being covered by everybody about an accident involving a plane that had crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers.

I wasn't taking it (what I was seeing on the little 4x4 monitors) nearly as seriously as I should have been.  Even if it was some poor pilot who lost control of their small plane or there was a navigation malfunction of some sort and they hit one of the towers, it was a big enough tragedy.  But at the time, I had other things to do at work and "planes crash all the time, even if not in such a high-profile manner," so I just kept the channels on with no volume and continued my work.

I remember seeing the hole from the plane that hit the towers.   I remember thinking that it was almost a perfect outline of a plane.   I also remember thinking that I had no idea of the perspective of the image I was looking at - how big was the plane that hit the building?  I remember thinking "How wide was that building?  Either the building was more narrow than I'd thought (I'd never visited the World Trade Centers) or, if the tower was as big as I had *thought* it was, it was hit by a passenger plane."  I remembering thinking "How could any plane accidentally hit the World Trade Center" and that some major navigational malfunction must have happened.  

At some point I'd gotten out of my chair and found myself watching 5 different versions of what was going on, with the volume turned up.  And then it happened.

I don't remember which channel it was, but I remember my boss came out and was standing next to me watching and, as we watched, we both watched a second plane fly into the frame and hit the second tower.  I'd never seen such a thing.

My boss disappeared.  Just launched into action, likely to make a secure phone call to somewhere - I don't know, hell, it's all sort of a blur after that.

I called up a coworker who worked in our main office in the Pentagon to ask her if she knew what was going on ... we'd only just been talking a few seconds when she said "I gotta go, we just had an explosion and ... -klik- ..."

Soon we received word that yet another plane had hit the Pentagon.  A bunch of us went up on the roof where we worked but could see nothing but a plume of smoke.  We were soon on 'lockdown' and, from what I remember, I spent at least one night on the floor in my office.  None of us knew if our coworkers in the Pentagon were alive, or to what the extent the building had been damaged.

Calls home - calls *anywhere* were nearly impossible.  Phone lines were jammed.  Nobody could call anybody.  And, of course, the lives of all of us, especially in the U.S. military, had been changed forever.

It bothers me a little bit more as each year has passed since, that the 9-11 attacks have seemed to become a distant memory to many to people.  But it's unavoidable.  As time passes, lives go on.

Have a think about this:

A coworker pointed out to me last week that the group of folks who will be joining the U.S. military next year, maybe even *this* year for some, will be the 1st group of folks who were not born yet on 9-11.  They don't have the memory of the chaos of September 11th, 2001 and the events which unfolded afterward seared into their minds.  And yet the majority of those people will be spending much of their waking lives for the next 4, 5, 6 or more years fighting the ideology that had these guys plan, plot, train and carry out those attacks on that day.

But!  Here's the thing:  all this has happened before.

I've come to look at 9-11 over the past 16 (can you believe it? 16?) years in this way:  it was just like the attack on Pearl Harbor.  It wasn't 'something new.'  It happened before.  It was just different.

- In the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, over 2,400 people were killed - most of them U.S. servicemen and women.
- In the attacks on NY, Wash., D.C., and the crash in PA, over 2,900 people were killed.  Only this time, they attacked *everybody.*

So what do the 2 attacks have in common?  They were attacks.  They were attacks on America and on Americans.  Attacks on Americans on American soil.  And we're not supposed to allow that to happen.  It makes us look weak and stupid.  

We screwed up, made some mistakes, and 'they surprised us' in 1941.  

The same thing happened in 2001.  We screwed up and made some mistakes and 'they surprised us' again.

No matter who the "they" is, I think there will always be a "they."  Always.

Now, mind you, I wasn't around for the events of Pearl Harbor, the chaos of the World War that ensued, but I sure hope that we don't forget our country's history again and become complacent to the point of being blind to what's going around us (earbud people) to the extent that, in another 50 or 60 years, we let this happen again.

My mother doesn't remember the Pearl Harbor attacks either, but what she *does* remember is 'drills' for air raids.  Having to turn out the lights, pull down window shades and hide under furniture.  That's an example of the 'after effects' of that particular historical attack.

Something quite similar has resulted from the 9-11 attacks.  We have our own updated set of 'after effects.'

Now, if you're one of those folks who walks around in public and uses some form or another of mass transportation while listening to your music or your favorite podcast pumped into your head from your gadget of choice, this is going to be impossible for you to do (or perhaps comprehend), but to those who *do* pay attention to their surroundings:

You know those posters that tell you to pay attention to what's going on around you?  You've seen them, those signs you see posted around your train stations, in the Metro, etc.  The ones that say things like "If you see something, SAY SOMETHING!"  Those are in our lives because of attacks on America; 9-11, the Boston Marathon, the Oklahoma City Bombing, etc.  Somebody finally got the idea to educate the public to PAY ATTENTION!

Here's a clip of an interview with actor James Woods who, in August of 2001, about 1 month prior to the 9-11 attacks, *saw* something he didn't think was right.  And they didn't have those posters back then.
But he said something anyway.  

One final thought:
  • Our involvement in WWII after the attack at Pearl Harbor ended in less than 4 years.
  • It's been over 16 years since the attacks of September 11th, 2001 ... 16 years.
  • The ideologies which motivated the terrorists to do what they did are *still* being followed and still motivating other terrorists (mostly lonely losers, it seems, after analyses/profiling is conducted) ... AFTER 16 YEARS!!!!  This isn't a conventional war.
  • Somebody needs to figure out a way to non-conventionally defeat this.

9-11.  Never forget.



Why Can't the World be like NYC?

As much as I am, or was, kinda 'humbug' about it:  there's something about New York City.  First off:  more people live in NYC than in 40 of our 50 states.

But there's also something just ... different ... about NYC, especially at night.  Sure there's probably all sorts of sordid stuff going on in the darkest corners that makes for good episodes of cop shows and movies, and there is the darker side of mankind that you read about in the morning papers, but if a bad guy tries to do his thing in front of a bunch of New Yorkers, like in this scene from the first Spiderman, somehow I don't think he'll get too far with it.

New Yorkers have 'a bond' and don't seem to put up with too much crap.

"You mess with one of us, you mess with *all* of us!"

My wife Manuela has always had an affinity for the place.  She wasn't born there.  She just likes it.

It could be the movies she grew up watching in Italy.  It could have been some of the U.S. television shows through which she learned English which may have been shot there.  It could be one of her favorite shows "Friends" or "Sex in The City."  Hell, it could be Spiderman, (I doubt it, but who knows).  She's just always loved it.  So when some friends of ours, Angelo and Julia, came to visit us and visit the States for the first time, you can bet NYC was the place.  And we'd spend a few days there ...

We were thinking of being married there on a specific date at a specific place some time ago before it became logistically more feasible to run the legal gauntlet in Naples, Italy some years ago but, nevertheless, she's always been in love with 'The Big Apple' since I've known her.

At about midnite on the first night, I got a text:

"Guess where I am!"

Then I was blipped (before my cellphone locked up) with the pic at the top of this post.  Her sightseeing partner had fallen asleep (as had I) and she was there by herself.

"I'm on my way," I replied.

But it was the next morning, while I was standing in front of our hotel, across the street from Madison Square Garden, when I remarked to her:

"You know, look at all these people.  They're from all over the place.  They speak all different languages, they're from everywhere.  And they all have their own little purpose and reason for being here, and they're all getting along.  Nobody has a problem with anybody else.  I mean ... talk about a 'melting pot!'"  She patted me on the shoulder and said "It's good to see you're finally getting it."

She does that a lot.  I think she thinks I'm mentally challenged.  But the thing that really struck me ... and maybe it shouldn't have (?) was:  nobody was fighting.  Everybody was really getting along, doing their own thing(s) ... with each other.  Well, except for the two taxi guys fighting over the right to park in front of the hotel  -- but that's a different story.

These people were from all walks of life; tourists, people who lived there, people who worked here, people who were passing by obviously on their way to someplace else, the immigrant I talked to who'd been there for only 2 years and was thrilled to have made a living there ... who knows where they lived before or at that moment, but I'm almost certain that the majority of people I was observing 'came from somewhere else.'

But it seemed at that moment that every kind of person from every kind of place in the world and every station in life was doing their own thing and going in one direction or another, doing this and doing that as I stood there watching.  Nobody was bothering me and nobody was bothering anybody else.

It may sound a bit naive, but I couldn't help thinking:

Why can't the planet be like New York City?

Muslims weren't bothering Jews and vice versa.  Hardcore Nazi-lookin' folks were putting change into the cups of vagrants of one minority or another (with smiles on their faces as they did so) and the vagrants would answer 'God bless you brother.'

I'll be honest ... there was one colorful young lady who walked by -- tattooed from head to toe (literally) -- and had body piercings and holes in parts of her body where I didn't think you could do that ... and she walked by arm in arm with a seemingly well-dressed man in a nice suit, the 4 taxi drivers and doormen and I who were watching just kinda smirked and snorted our coffee outta our noses and laughed out loud ... one of them said "They have landed, and they are among us!"

But even taking into account the 'alien girl and her elderly escort,' it seemed that every 'political or lifestyle affiliation' you could think of that is currently portrayed in the media as warring with each other was just 'doing their thing' in conjunction with everyone else ... and nobody was having a problem with anybody else.

Why can't the world be like New York City?

One of Manuela's first observations was "Well, could it be that there's 2 or more cop cars everywhere you look?"

Could that have been it?  Do we need the show of force?  Was that it?  If it was, I'm not so sure I have a problem with that, then.   Is it the visible presence of 'law and order everywhere?'  But doesn't that sound a little too much like 'a police state?'  I'm sure that might bother some.  People don't like to be 'watched' and made to be felt like they're being babysat.  But maybe that was it.  Maybe they felt safe?

Whatever it was. it seemed to work.  Manuela and I walked up to a pair of cops leaning on their cruiser at about 2am and asked "S'cuse me guys, is there anywhere where can we buy some wine at this time of night?"

Their answer, "Nah.  You might try <"blah blah blah over at blah blah, or maybe in Penn Station at blah blah's," but I don't think you'll have that much luck."  With a little more chit chat we parted with a "Have a good night!" and a "Good luck!"  

Less than 2 minutes later, we had found all we needed at a store about 20 yards away ... got our wine from a guy who'd been in the U.S. less then a few years  He was from Bali.  "Bali?!" I asked, "Why'd you leave *there?*  Isn't it wonderful there?"  He became suddenly serious and said "Oh no.  It's worse there than you can imagine."

Hmmm ... so maybe the question shouldn't be "Why can't the rest of the world be like New York City?"  Maybe it should be "Why can't the rest of the world LEARN TO BE LIKE New York City?"

Everybody pretty much helps you out if you ask for directions or for help.  If they don't know, they give it their best shot and, if they don't know the answers to your questions, they send you somewhere to someone who might know.

Everybody was just ... nice.

Even the alien girl and the older gentleman.

Jules and Manuela
I guess "nice" just doesn't make the news and it's that 'news' that shapes what we think about the world?  And maybe that's why people target it and try to take it down.

I hope not.


Where Does the Time Go?!

Holy dog ... er -- cow.

It's been a week already since I posted about losing track of what day it was?  Wow.

Great.  Now I'm missing entire weeks of my life.

I've noticed, however, that the dog doesn't really care about such things.  Unless you aren't feeding him when he's hungry, keeping him supplied with something good to drink, aren't scratching his belly, aren't giving him a reason to run around and ricochet off of stuff like a bullet or telling him how good looking and wonderful he is, he really couldn't care less.

Wait.  Was that me I just described?


My superpower: "Forgetting Things"

It's pretty simple, really.

When CRS strikes, you know it.   You just Can't Remember Shit (CRS).

When I got to work this morning, I thought today was Thursday.  No.  Really.  It wasn't until I opened a journal I open every morning to make an entry and the book told me it was Friday that I realized something was wrong.


At first I was mad because obviously I had dated the pages of the journal incorrectly ... of *course* I didn't believe the book.  So I looked at the bottom right corner of my computer monitor on my desk ... it also said 'Friday, August 25th.'


"No way," I thought to myself.  I might have even said that aloud.

I was squinting at the computer monitor (yeah, I should probably update my glasses prescription, too) trying to confirm the computer monitor's date/time reading when the lady on the morning TV news suddenly, and thankfully, said 'Happy Friday!'    Holy crap ... I'd forgotten it was Friday?

Now I'd been stuck on *Wednesdays* before when it was really *Thursday,* and that's usually a *good* thing!  But never had I screwed up a *Friday.*   Even though I'd still gotten a "free day," it was still a little disconcerting for a while.  But I was able to stifle my concerns until getting home to sit down to tell you all about it here via your ... whatever modern gadget or dooflicky with which you are reading this.

So it's official.  I probably don't have Alzheimer's, but I definitely have CRS.

The good news:  CRS is normal and usually not something to worry about.  Sometimes it's correctable and sometimes it even fixes itself.   In my case, I've not been getting enough sleep.  Like 4 or less hours a night this past week.  So I'm going to go with that.  But we all must at some point consider accepting the fact that, fortunately or unfortunately, as our families, friends and coworkers will often say, "we're getting old."

Yep.  These "senior moments" are all a part of growing up.  Just like puberty. Troubling as they may seem - and sometimes more troubling than at other times - they are just simple memory lapses due to any one of a number of things.  In the case of those of us who still refuse to acknowledge that we are getting older and we're not Peter Pan, we can call it "absentmindedness."   But, with that, we must also then understand and accept that we will find our moments of absentmindedness increase as we get older.  Me?  I'll probably accept that right about at that time when I have to say goodbye and join all those who have gone before me into the great unknown.

Forgetting to take your keys or cellphone when you leave the house or the office: NORMAL.  Not remembering where you put the pen or notebook that you had in your hand only minutes or seconds before: NORMAL.   Not being able to recall something someone said only moments before or recall someone's name as fast as you'd like or the name of a common item: NORMAL.  All these 'senior moments' are attributable to getting older as well as to simply being distracted and are nothing to worry about.  You were thinking of something else, daydreaming, if you will.  Not a problem.  Chill.

I know I will often rationalize, usually not seriously, that *I* am distracted by shiny things or pondering some other, more important thoughts usually involving quantum physics or some biomechanical engineering concept at any given time when I'm supposed to be paying attention to something else, and I miss things that are obvious to everyone else in the room.

One must be careful with that rationalization, however.

As is shown, for example, in the recent documentary about the late Glen Campbell's dealing with Alzheimer's disease entitled "I'll Be Me," he is often heard to explain away his troubling early signs of Alzheimer's with excuses like "Oh I don't worry about that stuff" or with other similar excuses justifying to himself and others why he could not remember things ,,, like the day of the week, the current month of the year, etc.

What pushed my button to think about this so much this week was that I was a little worried one morning in my office this week.  A coworker, Kristin arrived and passed by another coworker, Mike, and me.  Everyone (including me, apparently) said 'hello' or 'good morning' or whatever.  A few minutes later, I asked Mike:  "Is Kristin coming in today?"

"Dude," he answered, "she *just* walked right by you and you said 'Hello!'"

The look of amazement on his face that said "Are you serious?  Do you really not remember her just passing in front of you and talking to her?!" (he might have even said that) was kinda ... worrisome.

Ya gotta hate it when that happens.

But, still, *weird* as this was, it was still attributable to just not paying full attention in the moment or having something else on my mind at the time of her arrival and it simply didn't fully register (or, in my case, at all!).  In my case ... I was likely not fully awake yet.  Like I said, I haven't been sleeping well ... or enough.

Fortunately I don't drive to work.

But, even with all this "don't worry" stuff, there can sometimes be cause for concern.

From the interwebs:

- 10 Early Signs of Alzheimer's

- When to worry about forgetfulness

The bottom line:  forgetting stuff is normal and it increases in frequency as we get older but, if you are concerned:  CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR.

What was your name again?


Hello?  Do you forget things, too?  Trying using journals to remember stuff ...

I 'Journal' to help me remember things ... yeah ...

Journaling is good for your mental health.  Google it.  See?

I need so much mental improvement that I am required by law to use four and a half journals to help me keep track of my brain.  I also have a bunch of fountain pens which help make it more fun.

I manage to write in at least one of the four and a half journals I maintain every day, but the daily writing (in each) is often a difficult thing to keep up.  So I like to think of journaling as "the medicine" and the fountain pens as the "spoonful of sugar" to help the medicine go down.

It's a pretty tough tome.  I punched a little hole in the back of mine and ran some elastic string through it to hold it together and keep the pen from falling out, etc.  I actually write in this one several times throughout each day.  There's a post done 1st thing every morning and there are also entries made throughout the day (randomly and irregularly), lately and mainly, to record, track and analyze 'what I do,' and 'what happens,' at work each day.  And then, before retiring at night, I 'evaluate' the day a la 'Ben Franklin's system,' one which he made up when he was somewhere in his 20's, I think?  Here's an explanation of Franklin's 13 virtues system.

You could also use the BF13V as a planner, too, I guess - remind yourself to do stuff in the future and all that.  It's a rather innovative little journal at least *based* on a version of his but centered around observing his 13 virtues concept.  I try to not use it too much as a planner because then the planned things or scheduled stuff on certain dates and other reminder-future-kind of entries would take up too much space and detract from the effectiveness of the space I currently use to record all the notes about daily events and non-events, etc., ... we'll see.

The Benjamin Franklin 13-Virtues Journal is half journal of the day's events, half planner of 'What Good Shall I Do This Day?' and 'What Good Did I Do This Day?" and another half with a specific purpose to keep track of how you think you did each day with regard to keeping a tight rein on those 13 virtues thought by Dr. Franklin to be important in being a good person.  

RECOMMENDATION:   The lines and grid on the chart are better marked with a fine nib.  An 'M' or something too wet is going to mess up your book.

I also make daily entries in the 2nd most used of the four journals, mentioned in an earlier post (last week?).  It's called a "Leuchtturm1917 Some Lines a Day 5-Year Memory Notebook."


This one is specifically dedicated to memories of my Dad and was started on the day he passed away.   It has 365 pages, 1 page for each day of the year (labelled w/the month and day at the top-center of the page) and then each page is divided into 5 sections, each of which are labelled "20___."  So the only 'date' you enter in the journal is the last two digits of the year you're in ... your pages are already predesignated for 5 years.

Because of this 365-day design, 1 Jan to 31 Dec layout, many people who *really* need to be organized (or feel like they are, anyway) will purchase one of these journals and then decide not to start using it until January 1st.

Many people don't notice that the book comes with TWO ribbons/bookmarks for this reason.  One of the ribbons is to mark the date you started the journal and other is to mark where you are/where left off with your last entry.

But no.

"I'm starting mine on January first!"

"Why do they have TWO bookmark ribbons?"

"Why don't they have just *one* like everybody else?"

"This is weird!"

I also write in a 3rd journal every day, but I'm thinking that one might not count as a journal-journal.  It's the one I use at work.

My "work journal" (marked in the top photo on this page) is a nice rustic-looking, leather-bound coupling of 2 inexpensive lined notebooks; they're glued in and will need to be rrrrrrripped out when I'm done.  The 1st notebook is marked "Work Stuff" and 2nd one marked "Personal Stuff."  And that's how I think of it - "My notebook for work" more than "a journal."  I've been using it since around the June timeframe, when it was thoughtfully willed to me by Kathy Donovan when she retired after a bajillion years in the U.S. Navy.

Then there's the "Good Journal."  Also called the "Cracker Barrel Journal."  I actually have 4 of them and am about halfway thru the 1st of that group.  If you find one at a "Cracker Barrel Country Store," let me know, will ya?

Cracker Barrel Journals
I write longer entries in this one but not as often and always use cursive handwriting in this one to 'practice.'  I use pretty much 'block printing' in the other journals (I need 'room' to use cursive!) and I often go days without putting anything in it.  It's become handy as a good place to put (or "post") stuff that I can't post on Facebook because they'd probably ban me again or publish on this blog because I don't want you to know things like I think you're kid is ugly or that you dress funny.

Oh ... almost forgot.   The .5th (the "halfth?") is a little passport-sized, leather-bound 'field notes' journal (sometimes called a 'Fauxdori' rather than a 'Midori' ... Google it) which comfortably fits three little notebooks; it's either in my jacket, on my desk or in the car with me ... it's for things like phone numbers, names, things to remember to Google, etc., etc.


If I have 4.5 freakin' journals to write notes about stuff, to plan and to keep track of stuff -- how come it is that I can't remember what day it is?




There are a lot of meanings for the word "hack."  

Most commonly of late, maybe:  "My Facebook account has been hacked!"  Your account isn't really hacked, actually, it's ... nevermind, that's a good topic for another morning.

HACK.  A hack, to hack, hacking, hacked, hacker, hacks, hack's ... there are other meanings and uses for the word but, in the case of the coffee mug in the photo above, it was the name of an eatery in Bethlehem, PA which I don't believe exists any longer - at least not at it's former location.  

Places are like that.  They can close up shop and move.  Sometimes you have advance notice that they're closing, sometimes you don't.  Sometimes you know where they went if they went, sometimes you don't.  Usually, especially if you liked the place a lot, you'd like to know where they went and if you can't go there like you used to, it can be upsetting. 

Sometimes a lot.  

The coffee mug in the picture above was my Dad's.  I was considering taking it to work to become 'my coffee mug' but, considering my history with coffee mugs at the various places in which I've worked (I usually lose them or break them), I'm thinking that a good place for it is on my desk at home ... by my computer keyboard ... where I'm a hack.  Where I hack.  Where I've been hacked.  Now there's an appropriate coffee mug with me when I'm there to remind and motivate me that there is usually more than one way to look at something, whether it's straight on and wearing blinders so you're not distracted, or from afar so you can see what's around it and what may be affecting its condition or its behavior, or whether you look at it like this:

This is how people look at me when they think I'm not watching them.  :)

I spend a lot of time at this spot.  Here at my desk.  The spot where my Hack's mug now resides.  My time here is usually spent reflecting on one thing or another, reading, riting, researching, plotting and planning, carrying out strategic preemptive strikes and other stuff like that.  Another important part of having a good spot like this is the ability to also be able to listen to your favorite music.  Speakers, headphones, earbuds, 33s, 45s, 8-tracks, cassettes, CDs, MP3s, whatever.  It's important to always have your favorite music somewhere where you can get at it.  You don't have to have it connected to your head all the time ... you will miss a lot of the world or get hit by a truck if you walk around with ear-things on your head listening to your music nobody else likes.  

But it's good to listen to your favorite music when you want to.  And when you need to.

Worthy of note is that, here at my spot lately, I've foregoing the keyboard somewhat for the written word.  In cursive.  Journaling.  And I've converted to using fountain pens for this purpose - for journaling.  Suddenly I'm picturing that development as if I've been transformed into a vampire, why is that?  Seriously, the way fountain pens look and work and feel in your hand when you write; the way you don't have to apply pressure when you write ... and the way the handwritten word looks on a page is somehow more gratifying (if that's the word I'm looking for) than if I just banged everything out on this keyboard.  See?  If gratifying wasn't the word I was looking for, I'd have had to cross it out or lined it out, but I didn't.  I *should* have deleted it, but I didn't do that because I knew I wanted to make this stupid point about one of the differences between handwriting with a fountain pen or using a freakin' keyboard.

Leuchtturm1917 "Some lines a day 5-year journal"

One of the journals which I am hacking through on a daily basis since recently is a Leuchtturm1917 "Some lines a day 5-year journal."  (pictured above)

If you ever considered keeping a journal 'but don't like to write' or 'feel that you can't make the commitment,' this tome may be for you.  It doesn't leave you much room to write more than a sentence or two on any given day, but it lets you do so for up to five years.  There are 365 pages, each one dated and each one divided into five sections, one for each year.  

  • Got an idea for a project?
    This is a good way to track it or force yourself to think about it every day.
  • Starting a diet?
    This is a good way to track your progress.
  • Starting a workout program?
    ... get the idea?

I just thought I'd share all this info with you about my coffee mug, how people look at me funny, and one of the journals I write in.   The real reason I'm banging away on this keyboard is because I should probably be sleeping, but I can't.

My Dad would have frowned upon talking about myself so much or about my stuff, but I thought this post was important -- and he also very much believed in being persistent and not giving up on something if you thought it was important; even to the point of not giving up when most people would think you probably should.  He held out to the last second he could, my Dad.  And he left while listening to some of his favorite music.

Leuchtturm1917 makes good stuff, I'll probably put a link in here somewhere one of these days, don't be surprised if you see that.  It's not important.  I just want to.

Don't Be A Monkey

An oldie but a goodie.
I didn't write this maniacal & masterfully metaphorical masterpiece about monkeys, I just like to refer to it all the time.

But while we didn't write the thing, you and I sure could have! Please read the part after this ... rhyme?

Scientists placed 7 monkeys in a big cage.

From the top center of the cage, well beyond the reach of the monkeys, they hung a bunch of bananas.

Beneath the bananas: they placed a ladder.

Almost immediately, one of the monkeys spotted the bananas and began to climb the ladder.

As this monkey did so, scientists sprayed the monkey on the ladder with a strong jet of cold, cold water -- as well as the other 6 monkeys, too -- with ice cold water from a fire hose.

The screaming monkey on the ladder fell off - wet and freezing cold – and the other monkeys sat for a time on the floor - wet, cold, shivering and bewildered - bewildered, but thoughtful.  

Or so you would think.

Soon, the temptation of the bananas became too great, and another monkey began to climb the ladder. Again, the scientists sprayed that ambitious monkey with more freezing cold water as well as all the other monkeys, too.

Screaming angry wet monkeys ... and I bet at least one of 'em smelled really bad -- so you're now dealing with bewildered, hungry, wet, pissed off, stinky monkeys.  Nice.

Then -- a third monkey tried to climb the ladder to reach the bananas.

But!   Lo and behold,  the other monkeys, wanting to avoid the cold spray, pulled him off the ladder and beat the crap out of him!

The scientists then *removed* one of the monkeys from the group and a new monkey was introduced to the dynamic. Spotting the bananas, Mr. Newmonkey naively began to climb the ladder.

As you probably guessed, the other monkeys immediately pulled Mr. Newmonkey down and gave him a sound beating (they beat the crap out of him).

The scientists then removed a second original monkey from the cage and replaced him with a another new monkey. As with the first new monkey, the 2nd new monkey began to climb the ladder and, again, the other monkeys in the cage immediately pulled him down and beat him up – including the *first* new monkey who had never been sprayed by the fire hose!  Mr. Newmonkey, shame on you!

By the end of the experiment, after *all* the monkeys had been replaced and none of the original monkeys were left: despite *none* of them ever experiencing the stabbing cold, wet jet spray blast from the fire hose: *none* of them dared to ever even *think* try for the bananas!


Because that’s the way they’d always done it around there.

Don't follow the behavior of others in or out of the office just because they say so or "that's the way we've always done it."  If it doesn't make sense:  fix it.

... think for yourself.   Or, if you're like a lot of other people, watch out for Mr. Newmonkey, he might just screw up your day.  BUT!  Be nice to him or her ... they might just make your life *easier!*

-- JM --


Most current post rescued from the old blog (before they blow it up because I'm moving it to GOOGLE from GoDaddy) after returning to 'Murica about 1 year ago (in September) after first heading that way in June of 2003:

One of the biggest changes I’ve noticed about The States after being away for a while: Everything’s “Online”

The biggest difference I’ve noticed so far since being back after quite a while is “how you get stuff.” It’s all “online.” Grooming appointments for the dog, online. Food: online. Paying rent and communicating with my apartment building’s management: online. Pizza, booze, almost everything else: online. Online online online. Blehh.

Is it only a only a matter of time before we can "Fill 'er up" online?  Actually, you can kinda do that, can't you, sorta?  Aren't we already able to get gas for our cars online and I just haven’t figured out how to do that yet?

Everything can be, and often is, found and ordered online compared to “the old-fashioned way” of getting it by driving to a store and actually shopping (looking around, touching, etc.) and maybe even actually talking to an employee/salesperson before buying it. 

You can order crap-food from McDonald's and have it delivered to your house!!!

Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m aware that many Americans had been ordering stuff online while I was stationed in Italy; Amazon Prime and all that, but I didn’t.  I was apparently one of the ignorant few who held fast to buying stuff by actually going to the store. If it wasn’t there, I didn’t get it. Kind of like “you don’t know what you don’t know,” except in this case it was “you can’t buy what’s not there.”

Since I’ve been back here for just short of two weeks, we’ve ordered pizza online and had it delivered.  Ordered (way too expensive) burgers and then picked them up from a place downstairs and right next to our apartment building! I couldn’t help but think “Why not just walk down there, order it and maybe talk to someone while you wait for it?” Don’t ask me, I didn’t make these changes, someone else did. And, rather than speaking to someone on the phone about my cable channel “package,” I customized it online before committing to paying for it.  I *did* “chat” (typed) back and forth with a cable-rep and asked them at one point “wouldn’t this be easier if I called you on the phone?”  At that point I was told “No sir, this is how we do this” or something similar that made no real sense to me.
Much like when you actually *do* speak to a ‘Tad,’ or ‘Jim’ or ‘Lisa’ or ‘Sue,’ when dealing with a Customer Service department - but you detect a distinct accent that tells you that Customer Service Call Center is probably not located anywhere in the United States, I was pretty sure they didn’t want to talk to me because of a similiar geographic issue.

No matter how hard they try to convince you that they're in Texas or anywhere else in the U.S., sometimes ya just *know* they're not. I copy/pasted the whole conversation and captured a few sentences which definitely indicated the same thing: that the ‘chat’ was with someone on a different continent. No big deal, after about TWO HOURS of typing tho, I was actually able to get what I thought was a better “cable package” for cheaper.

SO ANYWAY, this afternoon I was looking for a table, a ‘bistro table’ they call them, to put on our balcony. After breaking down and succumbing to this new process (does ‘succumbing’ in any way related to “succubus?” It would be appropriate!) and looking around at various kinds of “available” (well, ‘available’ meaning something different now, remember) little tables at all the big store online sites for places like Sears, Walmart, Costco, Sam’s, Lowe’s, Office Depot, Home Depot, etc., I went to the place with the closest thing to what I wanted (Lowe’s) and, after the quasi-expected disappointment (it wasn’t what I thought it would be) I found I was fortunately in an area which had a bunch of other stores around it: not a “mall” in the traditional sense, more like a “commercial store area” that seemed to be built up and developed with that specific purpose in mind.

Table bought in person vice online.

So I drove around and I found this “home stuff” store that’s kinda hard to describe. It had all sorts of “home stuff” in it (duh), one of which was lots of “stools” and “benches” and stuff, mostly for indoor use. And I found this one here nicely modeled by Duke, which *immediately* reminded me of my late Uncle David whose hobby was woodworking. He was known for his walking sticks and canes he used to show and sell at art shows as well as on a website I made for him on one of my earlier websites called “Artsticks.”

Uncle David's "Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake XVI"
Uncle David used to carve his sticks and canes from solid logs, the most impressive being his “snake sticks” which people were always surprised to learn weren’t 2 pieces of would (stick inserted through spiraled snake).

So when I saw this wooden table which was an imperfect slice of a log made into a functional piece of art by filling in the gaps with lucite (I guess) and mounting it on legs, it reminded me of Uncle David and the nights I’d spent camping with my Dad and him, my cousins and my grandfather (Uncle David’s brother) when Uncle David would just be carving sticks at the campfire ‘just to carve them’ -- way before he “got serious” with the snakesticks and other cool stuff you can still see on his website.

It was a no brainer. I got it. And I love it.

My point: it was “the actual shopping,” the “being there” that brought me to the table. I wouldn’t have found it otherwise because it’s not online.

The salesperson who saw me “looking around” even helped me look at a few other little tables *and* they gave me a discount (amounted to -$8, hey, better than a stick in the eye, right (pun intended)) because he agreed with me after the conversation we had (one you can’t have with a website, although you might be able to leave them feedback via an e-mail!) about the store’s cool, odd and assorted and eclectic collection of stuff that, even though they’re a chain store, was different in each of their stores and no store had all the same stuff. As a matter of fact, I think I got the two chairs on my balcony from another one of these same stores and this particular store had no idea what I was talking about when I asked someone for a little table to go with the two chairs I’d gotten at ‘one of their other stores.’

We agreed that it’s no fun anymore and you “can’t shop right” online and all that jazz I’ve already written about “shopping and interacting in person being better than ordering online” and that it’s not as “fun” to choose stuff from a picture and then either having it delivered or picking it up at a store ... a store that *used* to actually *have* your item there for you to pick up, but now only has a picture of it on their website. And after you click on it and put it in “your cart” (which I think will soon be as funny as the picture of a 3.5” floppy used as the button to ‘save’ things, but many people don’t remember 3.5” floppy disks anymore just as I’m guessing they’ll collectively soon forget what a “shopping cart” is) you click some other button and then either have it delivered to your house -- where you’ve been sitting on your ass doing nothing but gaining weight from lack of exercise ... so you order magic weight loss pills or some other gimmick to help you lose the weight you gained from running your life online instead of on your feetses.

And they don’t have “enough stuff” in the stores anymore, either, I don’t think. That’s part of the fun: looking at stuff while you’re there with the intent of getting something else! I even went to a place called they called a “Super Store.” But there they only had “the latest and greatest” models. If you wanted something else (an earlier model of something, for example), as I said: you need to order it from their website and they’ll have it delivered to the store or your door the next day from some mysterious warehouse on the outskirts of town. Can’t blame ‘em ... nice business model, but it’s NO FUN.

PREDICTION: These mysterious warehouses on the outskirts of town from which our ‘overnight deliveries’ come from will soon be also accessible to the public as showrooms and we’ll be able to purchase stuff there since we’ll be saving the company the costs involved in magically delivering it after we clickity click on their websites, maybe?

... and won't that be like going back to how it used to be done?  They can save money by having us go to them for our stuff instead of the expenses involved in all this 'home delivery' thing?  I dunno.  What do *I* know?



Sophia will be 83 on September 20th of this year.

Sophia Loren was born as Sofia Scicolone at the Clinica Regina Margherita in Rome, Italy, on September 20, 1934.

Her father, Riccardo Scicolone, was married to another woman and refused to marry her mother, Romilda Villani, despite the fact that she was the mother of his two children (Sophia and her younger sister Maria Scicolone).

Growing up in the slums of Pozzuoli during the second World War without any support from her father, she experienced much sadness in her childhood.

Her life took an unexpected turn for the best when, at age 14, she entered into a beauty contest where she placed as one of the finalists.

It was there that Sophia caught the attention of film producer Carlo Ponti, some 22 years her senior, whom she eventually married in 1966 once he finally obtained a divorce from his first wife.

Some quotes attributed to Sophia:

“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.”

“Beauty is how you feel inside, and it reflects in your eyes. It is not something physical.”

“I've never tried to block out the memories of the past, even though some are painful. I don't understand people who hide from their past. Everything you live through helps to make you the person you are now.”

“Sex appeal is fifty percent what you've got and fifty percent what people think you've got.”

“A woman's dress should be like a barbed-wire fence: serving its purpose without obstructing the view.”

“Everything you see I owe to spaghetti.”

“Nothing makes a woman more beautiful than the belief that she is beautiful.”

“If you haven't cried, your eyes cannot be beautiful”

“After all these years, I am still involved in the process of self-discovery. It's better to explore life and make mistakes than to play it safe. Mistakes are part of the dues one pays for a full life.”

“Mistakes are part of the dues one pays for a full life.”

“Getting ahead in a difficult profession requires avid faith in yourself. That is why some people with mediocre talent, but with great inner drive, go so much further than people with vastly superior talent.”

“When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. You are connected to your child and to all those who touch your lives. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child.”

“It's a mistake to think that once you're done with school you need never learn anything new.”

“Spaghetti can be eaten most successfully if you inhale it like a vacuum cleaner.”

“When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child.”

"Getting ahead in a difficult profession requires avid faith in yourself. That is why some people with mediocre talent, but with the inner drive, go much farther than people with vastly superior talent”

“You must all, somewhere deep in your hearts, believe that you have a special beauty that is like no other and that is so valuable that you must not abandon it. Indeed, you must learn to cherish it.”

“At the dressing table, every woman has a chance to be an artist, and art, as Aristotle said, "completes what nature left unfinished.”

“Food makes people happy, it takes you back home, it says so many things that words can’t say.”

“Discipline is the great equalizer. If a young woman is beautiful but has no discipline, she will lose her looks as she grows older. If a plain woman is disciplined she will undoubtedly become more beautiful with time.”

“I have my own peculiar yardstick for measuring a man: Does he have the courage to cry in a moment of grief? Does he have the compassion not to hunt an animal? In his relationship with a woman, is he gentle? Real manliness is nurtured in kindness and gentleness, which I associate with intelligence, comprehension, tolerance, justice, education, and high morality. If only men realized how easy it is to open a woman's heart with kindness, and how many women close their hearts to the assaults of the Don Juans.”

“Every opportunity is a big opportunity,”

“As time passed there was no more buying food, no money, no supplies. On some days, we wouldn’t even have a crumb to eat. There’s a vivid scene in Nanni Loy’s The Four Days of Naples, a movie made after the war about the uprising of the Neapolitans against the occupying Germans, in which one of the young characters sinks his teeth into a loaf of bread so voraciously, so desperately, I can still identify with him. In those four famous days in late September, when Naples rose up against the Germans—even before the Allies arrived, it was the climax of a terrible period of deprivation and marked the beginning of the end of the war in Italy.”

“You have to believe in marriage and you have to believe in a relationship between two people. If you really think in your life that you have found the right person, you have to stick to it, even though there are ups and downs. If you really believe in your union, you have to nourish it and work for it, then you can really spend your life together forever.” 

― Sophia Loren

Thick-headed morons promoted past their usefulness ...

A quick note about the current graphic above:

I happened upon it coincidentally after a 1-sided chat with someone who didn't like something I wrote - which they may or may not have felt indirectly referred to them. Although they may have missed the message I was trying to convey (entirely my fault since I wrote it in a way which could be construed exactly as they did ... on purpose, I guess), and, after one of their minions caught it, they showed my 'anonymous input' to their boss.  Their boss obviously didn't like what they thought they understood and officially told me so in no uncertain terms that they thought it was "unprofessional."

Okay.  I'll agree.  It might have been written more vanilla, but I was pissed.  So ...

2017 addition:
What I said was that a particular person was "thick" to believe what he was doing was a good idea.  I pretty much said that, in those words, on a survey asking for feedback on how I thought a particular process was handled involving the office where I worked.  He didn't like being called "thick," I guess.
This person probably would have been communicating their feelings more accurately had they said something like:

"I would have liked you to not make me look so bad and you could have used nicer words that weren't so "direct."   I probably would have apologized.  But, ummmm, he didn't.  So, neither did I.  I was urged by half a dozen if 1 person to report this lil dude for using a procedure (and an official gov't form) to reprimand me (unofficially and not on record; I was kinda stunned for a week or two actually).  But, he's since been relegated to a position where he can do no further harm.  So all's well.

I thought that this graphic "said it all," which is:

If you want people to write (or say) 'warm' things about you, then it's probably not a good idea to do things which tend to have them do the opposite, right?  

Kind of a no-brainer, right?  He and I both kinda screwed up.  But I feel better for having done it and this particular person probably has little or no memory of the incident.  Sigh.
-- JM(M) --

K.I.S.S. / NBA

12, 13 & 14.9.14

"K.I.S.S." & "N.B.A"
(Keep It Simple Stupid & No Bullshit Allowed)
(No BS! You don't like it or need it. Don't take it.)

Nobody has to put up with other people's crap.

Specifically: at work.

Most of us spend the majority of our non-asleep adult lives at work somewhere (well, at least most people are awake - most of the time - at work - I hope). And, sadly, many people *think* they have to put up with BS from others.

Not. True.

We may *choose* to do put up with BS because "things are just less difficult if I put up the the BS" than if we were to deal directly with a problem. Or, more likely: we are afraid of the confrontation -- we simply prefer not to tell someone (usually a 'senior' person, but not always!) what they need to be told and made to hear ... because it's more comfortable. It's "within our comfort zone."

What's funny is that, in many cases, the perceived problem is actually more of a molehill than a mountain ... and if your problem is a person, these types of folks very likely wouldn't be paying due attention even if given the most well-rehearsed and eloquently delivered "you're an idiot/jerk/moron and need to shape up and knock it off" speech.

But if you did (deliver that eloquent speech) you would be releasing tensions (your own, we don't care about the idiot at this point) and, when nothing is done about the existing problem (because they weren't listening) you would be able to, "by generally accepted U.S. workplace standards," go to the "next level" boss for another attempt at "fixing things."

There is a way to fix everything.

You only have one life. Don't let some stupid senseless rule or process or someone you consider to be a totally incompetent buffoon take control of it and wreck it.

If you don't like how things are. Change 'em. It can be done.

If you don't think you can change 'em, you're wrong.

You don't have to put up with bullshit.

So don't.
-- JM(M) --