8 years and other contemplations

I logged into this old site of mine this morning just to poke around, update a few things and redo my original “About me” page when I realized something–I missed it! As of February 2nd of this year, Just Thinkin’ was officially 8 years old! And it all began with this post. Rather ironic as the current weather outside is still not this:

Spring forest sky

A look at the sky through the trees on a beautiful Spring day in Corinth, Vermont.

Outside I see yet another 4 inches from the “snow showers” we had yesterday adding to the 2+ feet of snow we’ve had on the ground for the last 2 months. Oh well, Spring has to arrive sometime.

And now for the typically long-ish and rambling part of the post.

Anyway, the realization of this bloggish anniversary of mine has brought up a question that’s been simmering in my mind for the last few months. What to do with this old blog of mine.

Posting has been beyond sparse these days, the most recent post being published this last New Year’s day. To be honest about it many things have changed over the past 8 years and many of those past things gave me a reason to post which is actually rather odd since this site never had any real purpose, goal or even any particular subject to post about. Just a place to write about the off-beat ramblings that burbled around in this (slightly disturbed?) head of mine and the need to write about it–I guess that would be a purpose? Things are still burbling around alright but the need to write them down sort of ran off.

Something else that drastically changed over the past 8 years–the rise of social sites namely, Facebook and later, Google Plus.

Ironically enough, I signed up for a Facebook account strictly out of curiosity as well as a bit of an experiment back around the February, 2009. I made my obligatory first post to it as well as filling some basic info on what passed for a “Time Line” back then and then pretty much never posted to Facebook again. Then, two months later, my wife’s eldest daughter contacted her about playing some game on Facebook and it snowballed from there. Not too long after that, all 5 of her children ended up on Facebook and of course, started picking on me. I had no choice but to retaliate so my time on Facebook began to increase which is even more ironic since, even today, I rarely post anything on Facebook at all. Just reply to posts and comments.

Then, about a year ago, one of my old shipments from the old USS Silversides (see header image at the top of this page) contacted me via email telling me they had an ‘Ol Silversides Facebook page for former crew members and I was dragged “back to sea” as it were.

More time taken away from the blog.

And now, Google Plus came along and everything changed again. As much as I disliked Facebook, I really liked Google Plus and to this day I really can’t give you a specific reason why. There was just something about it that really appealed to me. Now, my Google Plus Home page “feed” is all about Linux and open source plus a few other odds and ends and absolutely no posts about cats or images of auto-spellcheck mistakes in text conversations and absolutely no maps announcing that someone is busy swallowing their second sloppy Joe at Barney’s Pub and Grill and regretting it.

And yet more time taken away.

One thing I do have in common with both Facebook and Google Plus is that I rarely post to Google Plus–just reply to posts and comments.

So as the “social sites” thing gained steam and quickly increased in popularity as time went on I watched the popularity of “social interaction” taking place at the personal blog level, the platform that I feel contributed most to the online social phenomenon in the first place, simply dwindle away.

The personal blogs were still out there of course, but many owners now had Facebook accounts to which they shared their blog posts. The problem I saw with that was now the conversation on any particular blog post that would have, in the past, taken place at that particular post’s comment section, now took place in Facebook. To me the personal blog had then become an extension of Facebook, driving the conversation away from the original post, rather than Facebook driving the conversation back to the personal blog. And that’s something I had a real problem with.

After awhile the idea of writing short blog posts about the every day events in my life or about what a uniquely beautiful day it happened to be began to seem rather silly when many of my fellow bloggers  had turned to sites like Facebook and such to post about same type of things instead of posting them on their blogs and yet I couldn’t seem to make the switch myself.

Because of all the above plus my own struggle with my service connected disabilities, writing to the blog withered away to almost nothing but I’ve never been able to bring myself to the point of retiring Just Thinkin’. After all, it’s the DYI WordPress site that I cut my teeth on and learned on. And I’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way, mistakes I had to learn how to fix myself and learn how to accept help from others (and finding friends along the way). Learned how to effectively do research and to find the right answers by asking the right questions, etc. And through all those mistakes, all the recoveries, all the updates and all the posting, this old original WordPress install has managed to survive the past 8 years intact.

My but this post is getting long, isn’t it?

So, in the end I still can’t bring myself to put the old thing out to pasture but I have decided a few things. To wit:

  • I need to stop thinking about the posts that have gone before. There’s no common thread between any of them so there’s no use looking for one. No guide for future posts. Anything goes as far as subjects are concerned.
  • No more short posts. There will be an occasional exception to this but I figure if I have a need to write some miscellaneous 4-liner I can do that on Facebook, Google+ or not at all.
  • If I have a thought, idea or subject I figure is actually worth writing about and publishing for all to see then this is the pace to do so.
  • If it’s worth writing about then it’s worth taking the time to do it. If it takes a couple hours, fine. If it takes a couple of days then fine again. There’s no deadline here and there’s certainly no one out there breathlessly waiting for my next post. Especially these days.
  • No more thinking I have to maintain some type of posting schedule. If I have something to write about, then write about it. If I don’t (or I can’t) then that’s the way it is.

That’s about it then I guess and despite what it may sound like, this isn’t any “turning point” at all. It’s simply that the past 8 years have changed my situation and me along with it. And this old site of mine is simply going to reflect these changes. It’s too much a part of me now to ever put aside.

So, without further ado or further rambling on this particular post…

To be continued…

YANYRP

Well, well, 2014 has finally arrived on a chill wind and below zero temperatures which means it’s time once again for a Yet Another New Year’s Resolution Post or YANYRP for short.

To be perfectly honest about the whole thing, I scarfed the following image off a Google+ post made by a friend of mine including my reply as I figured I really couldn’t top that “moment-of-inspiration” I had when I first read the check list below–inspired mainly because I couldn’t understand most of it.

Anyway, for what it’s worth…

resolution-checklist

Find your “Why”

I know the “Why”, it’s the “What”, “Where” and “When” that’s gone missing.

Write down a plan

I wrote down a “Plan” but it’s apparently gone off with the “What”, “Where” and “When”.

Recruit others

I actually “Recruited” 3 “Others” but they stayed for about 20 minutes, got bored and went off to find the “What”, “Where”, “When” and the “Plan”. Probably figured they were having a more interesting time of it.

Start a log

I started the log and it burned very nicely, thank you. But it probably would have been better if I had put it in the wood stove first.

Set weekly goals

I’ve got all the parts to set the “Weekly goals” but it’s winter in these parts, the ground is frozen solid and I can’t get the posts in the ground. Guess I’ll have to set my goals in the Spring, then?

Pick on-completion reward

On-completion reward? I’ll pick winning the lottery every time. My youngest son-in-law and his wife needs a bigger place (they just won’t stop having kids, you know). The trouble is, I never know when to stop so how do I know I’m complete?

Do something to seal the deal

And I’m just about to do something to “Seal the deal”. I’m grabbing the “Why”, a bottle of scotch and going off the find the “What”, “Where”, “When”, the “Plan” and the 3 “Others” I recruited. They’ve  got to be having a better time than I am trying to make all these New blasted Year’s resolutions!

All in fun, of course.

A Happy New Year’s to all, then.

A Caring Man Am I

It was Friday the 13th and I arrived back home after a day trip to the VA medical center and I pulled into our driveway just in time to see my poor wife limping around the corner of the garage pushing our wheelbarrow full of firewood that, for some reason, only had one handle. The fact that she was limping didn’t bode well either.

It seems she had loaded up our ancient, deep dish type wheelbarrow with the night’s firewood, wheeled it out of the woodshed and caught the font end on a chunk of ice just as her feet slipped out from underneath her. She ended up bruising her hip while the museum piece wheelbarrow lost a handle. I’m glad it wasn’t the other way around–I’d hate for the woman I love to lose her handle.

Now, I am not an uncaring man. Despite her protestations, I insisted that my wonderful lady, the woman I love so dearly, shouldn’t have to suffer having to bring in firewood one armful at a time or be forced to use a one handled wheelbarrow. Absolutely not, I wouldn’t hear of it.

So I bought her a new wheelbarrow.

Truper wheel barrow

No one can ever say that I am not a caring man.

 

Breakdown of Destiny

I have two big toes. This, I assume, is the normal way of things and that most people have the same–except for those who apparently should never have been given a ax or chainsaw. Now this wouldn’t mean much except for the fact that both have ingrown toenails, the left one being the worst. In fact, it’s so bad that it inspires visions of a pretty female podiatrist holding a stainless steel clad, high pressure type hypodermic with a huge needle filled with industrial strength Novocain. Not the kind of ingrown nail that a  5 minute session in the bathroom with a pair of nail clippers will take care of.

So, like the last time this happened (about two years ago), it was time to head down to the VA medical center and see that pretty podiatrist with her nasty old hypodermic and various, shiny metal tools of big toenail destruction. At least, that was the plan.

I had the appointment made two weeks ago, one week out I started a regime of antibiotics in order to curtail any infection that might have set into that left toe of mine and yesterday morning, I was ready. Just a leisurely two hour ride south to the medical center so to make my 2:40 PM appointment. Unfortunately, I was going to be racing a major snow/sleet/ice/rain storm on my way back but all weather reports looked like I’d be at least an hour ahead of it.

My old Jeep Liberty had other ideas about this apparently.

Just inside 30 miles down the highway the engine light came on followed by the engine deciding to run on one cylinder…then 3…then all kicked in for awhile just for good measure then back to one again. And, of course, I had just passed the last exit before the long climb up the mountain as well as the last highway crossover.

Damn!

Oh well, I just threw on my hazards and backed up a quarter mile and used the crossover to point myself and my sick Jeep the other way.

Thankfully, the engine never quit although it felt like the cylinders, which had been dancing in harmony with one another for years now, were in a heated argument as to which one should be firing and in what sequence. Makes me wonder…did they suddenly forget?

Despite the mechanical arguments going on under the hood, the old girl made it back home and then up to my mechanic that evening as if making it back home after breaking down wasn’t quite enough. Little show off.

Turns out that little breakdown may have just prevented me from having to drive back in that “winter weather event” as they’re called now. Perhaps the storm would have arrived early or maybe I would have gotten out later than I expected into the “wet and heavy”. Who knows? Either way, my days of driving long distances in snow storms (I’ve clocked several hundred hours over the years I’m sure) are not quite as enjoyable as they used to be, if you catch my drift. Someone or some thing looking over my shoulder, perhaps?

By the way, my appointment had been rescheduled for December 13th–which happens to land on a Friday. You don’t think this means anything…do you?

 

 

Remembering what didn’t happen

I remember taking my morning medications–I know I did! I clearly recall going to the pill box, opening the appropriate container and swallowing the darn things. I even remember the bitter taste as that little white one immediately dissolved on my my mouth before I had a chance to throw some water into the mix and doing that swallow thing.

The problem is that the damn pills are still there in the pill box. And there are no other pills missing in, other words, I remember what didn’t happen.

You hear about the onset of Alzheimer’s in some older folks, even a few still in their fifties but I seem to  have the onset of the reverse. Clearly recalling things that didn’t happen.

“Did you buy the lottery ticket?”, asks my wife. “Yup”, says I. Uh…er…no, it seems I didn’t after all. But I know I did. I know I opened the garage door, backed my Jeep out to the end of the driveway (I distinctly recall the pain in my upper back as I turned my head to see if the road was clear), the drive to the midi-mart, buying the ticket, chatting up the young thing behind the counter and coming home, realizing I better eat lunch so I can get over to the store to relieve my wife for the afternoon.

But the ticket was never bought. Even though I remember buying it. And the above two examples are hardly the only incidents of late. I clearly remember where something is, even when it was put there–but it wasn’t there and it didn’t happen. I remember the color of the old Sears riding mower that’s still out in the backyard covered by a tarp. It’s dark green. I know it is–but it’s actually gray (slaps self on forehead).

So what is this now? Am I living two very similar parallel lives all of a sudden and not being able to tell the difference between the happenings in one or the other? Am I living with two nearly identical wives in two different timelines? Does this constitute adultery? Or is this some sort of reverse Alzheimer’s that increases my memory so far that I’m now seeing things that happened in other timelines? And here I’ve always had trouble remembering my own phone number…or breakfast…or the name of my cat…or…

What was I saying now? Did I actually say it? Or did I say it in some other dimension? Is this some kind of dimensia? (misspelled properly but I wonder how many people will actually get it)

And how the hell do I stop writing this post…

…that I might not have actually written…

…if I actually remember writing it?

Trimming the site a bit

In case anyone has been wondering where I’ve been and even if you haven’t, I’ve been working on a new WordPress powered version of my wife’s business website which is being built on my long standing “test” site that I’ve used in the past to “beat on” nightly versions of WordPress, try new themes and plugins and all that kind of stuff. Once the basics are completed, it will be moved by a good friend of mine who has boat loads more experience in doing such things than I do. So what does this have to do with trimming this site a bit? Well, I’ll tell you.

In order to make the move as easy as possible (and to lessen the amount of irritation on my friend’s part) I had to do a heck of a lot of trimming, removing database tables and entries left behind by various plugins, removing various widgets and posts that won’t be used in the final version of the site, etc, and after I got done doing all this I realized that the old test site was whizzing right along even without the caching plugin (WP Super Cache) I had been using. And this made me think of this site.

My ancient old, beat up, banged up, patched up, taped up beater of a WordPress powered blog I started nearly 7 years ago. I thought about the contents of sidebar widgets that I haven’t updated in a coon’s age (however long that is), old ad plugins whose ads have long ago disappeared due to lack of impressions or some such thing and plugins that I really don’t need anymore.

In other words, time to clean house.

So, I have removed all ad plugins, including what I called the “obligatory Google Ads” which aren’t so obligatory any longer. I’ve also removed the “Links” widget thingy from the sidebar as well over half the links were either not applicable any longer or the site’s the links pointed to simply no longer existed. For those sites that I still frequent on a regular basis (and are still there) that were referenced in the “Links” widget, like this guy already mentioned and this other guy plus others, I’ll reference them in future posts until I can think of something better.

I removed other plugins whose functions I no longer needed, that had been apparently “abandoned” or whose functions have been replaced by another plugin. But I did add one new plugin in an effort to slow down the massive amount of comment spam that’s been arriving lately.

It’s not one of those annoying “captcha” style plugins that I despise so much. No, this is a simple “copy and paste” the code from one field to another before you post your comment. The plugin just adds two small fields below comment form, the top field with the code you copy and the bottom field the one you paste the code into. Pretty simple, yes? Anyway, it’s taken the several thousand comment spams caught by Akismet that I have to plow through every few days and reduced the amount to zero. If you find you can’t leave a comment, please let me know by emailing me directly (Use the email address on the Contact page).

A rather long and boring post now, isn’t it? Well, hell. Got to have a few of those now and then, right?. Makes my other posts seem a bit more lively in comparison I think. At least when I manage to actually post something?

Have a fine day and don’t let the drones annoy you. The two legged kind I mean, not the flying ones.

 

About the shutdown

I was going to say something about the shutdown. About the 800,000 or so federal workers currently out of their jobs, about how every day this shutdown continues the worse it will affect this nation right down anything that depends directly or indirectly on federal funds to operate. I was going to say something in depth and profound.

But I’m not.

Instead, I’ve been too busy trying to find out how the hell my wife and I are going to survive if this totally unnecessary shutdown continues for more than two weeks. Because if it does the VA has already stated that that there will not be enough funds left to send out payments to over 3.4 million disabled veterans come November. And after 30 years of working full time and better (usually better) as a member of the armed forces as well as a civilian, I am now rated 100% disabled as well as unemployable. As much as I hate it, I’m absolutely dependent on my disability compensation that comes in every month and these jackasses in Congress apparently couldn’t care less. But the bank that holds the mortgage to our little house certainly does–oh yes they do.

Will they work  with me if November rolls around and the cry babies in Washington are still dug into their respective trenches? Of course not. Will they understand that the circumstances are entirely out of my hands and defer a payment in hopes that the Government re-opens sometime before Christmas? That it’s not just a matter of finding another job? Absolutely not.

And, of course, there’s the idiots out there who believe the government should remain shutdown–that we’d be better off. Gives me such hope it does.

In all actuality though, we’ll probably be able to pay November’s mortgage payment thanks to my lady’s hard work at her store along with eating nothing but rice and potatoes for the rest of the month (and maybe an occasional lemon to prevent scurvy) but come December? We’d better win the damn lottery because that’s it, the piggy bank is empty.

(sigh)

I’ve read on the news that there’s been a significant increase in ammunition sales over the past few days to the point where the stuff is getting harder to find–especially .22 caliber.

Now isn’t that odd?

In case you were wondering…

It’s national “Talk like a pirate” day–I think. Well, if you talk like a pirate ya’ gotta have a name like a pirate, right? So, just in case you were wondering…

My pirate name is (apparently):

Iron Jack Flint!

Pirate flagCourtesy of www.piratequiz.com

It’s a good thing the name turned out so well otherwise I never would post this kind of thing.

Arrr?