Nothing came to mind

I’ve been sitting in front of my display staring into an empty sheet of cyber-paper, fingers trembling above my keyboard in literary anticipation and…

…nothing came to mind.

So much for trembling fingers, anticipation or not.

It’s not as if there hasn’t been things happening in my life worth writing about (there most certainly has been), it’s the annoying fact that these happenings of late are not the kind of events that I should really write about. Not unless I wish to make these events worse than they already are.

Very ironic. Lot’s of stuff to write about but not the kind of stuff I can write about. Unfortunately, everything else going on pales in comparison to the equivalent of putting gas into my car. Not exactly fodder for the masses (all 5 of them).

And, of course, these events that I can’t write about involve people. What else?

The problem that occurs is that these people I refer to can most likely read or at least I assume so. Actual comprehension is another matter. Now I could be completely wrong but I’d rather not take the chance of illiteracy on their part. Also, there’s the off chance that they actually may have stumbled upon this old blog of mine and take the time to check in once in awhile just to see if I’ve written anything concerning them. That way they could get upset about it.

So I’ll just leave it be for now.

I suppose you’d tell me, if you were sitting here with me instead of reading this from afar and actually knew what the hell I was not writing about, that this is one of those situations I’d laugh about later on. Well, that may be true but I can tell you, it would not be a wise thing to say to me at the moment. Not if you didn’t want to find yourself dangled out a 2nd story window by your feet.

So, there you have it. Sitting here in front of my display with a blank slate ready to be written upon and all these things I can’t write about–I couldn’t think of a thing to write about.

So I wrote about it.

Sheer genius if you ask me.

When Fate Intervenes

I’ve often found it strange how things come about in my life. Some things or events are actually planned insomuch as I have a vague idea of what I want to do/buy/cause-to-happen and an even vaguer idea when this thing or event should occur but, for the most part, things or events that occur in my life seem to be left in the hands of fate as it were. And since fate landed me in the good hands of my wonderful lady over 12 years ago, fate seems to have tagged along for the ride or at least assigned one of his (her?) apprentices to us for a bit of the on-the-job training.

Take for example this year (so not to bore the good reader with past examples from my long-past life…): We knew we had to replace our rather ancient (propane fired) power vented hot water heater but we didn’t know it would be quite so expensive. Pretty normal occurrence all around. But we had no clue that our trusty old washing machine, which still had the protective plastic over the control section, would simply and permanently stop working one wash day–right in the middle of the rinse cycle of course.

Now the above would also seem pretty much par-for-the-course as far as normal life events are concerned but it did have a “touch-of-fate” to it since it occurred on the same day as our local Sears store had a rare sale on a top-of-the-line front loading washing machine which put it financially within our grasp. So, to make a long story short, we bought one of these new fangled, computerized, “high efficiency”, front loaders and the laundry was finally finished and hung out to dry. It also plays music at us when we turn it on, when it’s finished and when it turns off–I’m still not sure I’m comfortable with that. At least it doesn’t talk to us?

But fate’s apprentice was not through with us yet it seemed. Shortly after the washing machine incident, I told my darling wife of a Sunday that I was going to take an hour or so and indulge myself perusing the lots of the various car dealers we have around our area. I was planning on replacing our old reliable but rusting 2003 Jeep Liberty with something a bit newer and a lot less rusty. I wasn’t intending to do anything until after September though but I tend to do 3 to 4 months of research before upgrading my vehicle. Hence going out on a Sunday when car dealers are supposed to be closed.

My criteria was fairly simple. Real 4WD, a class 2 hitch, reasonably low mileage, good condition and not rusty.

The first two dealers I hit were closed as expected but otherwise the pickings were more or less meh (Meh, good word that–perfectly describes the experience). The newer style vehicles are all pretty much meh to me these days anyway. No style, no personality and they all pretty much look alike be it sub-compact, compact, sedan, SUV or pick up truck. And what is it with the pick up trucks these days? The things are HUGE not to mention horribly expensive. And what happened to the small pick ups? I swear the so-called modern small pick up truck is as large as the 1986 Ford F150 I owned way back when.

So on to the next lot I went on my Sunday afternoon car-hunting jaunt. I cruised slowly by the lot and was about to pass it by since I didn’t see anything that caught my interest when I spotted this:

2012 Jeep LibertyOkay, so…this was interesting. Worth a look anyway and safe enough since, as I said, I wasn’t planning to replace the 2003 I was driving around in until after September and auto dealers are supposed to be closed on Sunday! Still, it was good research material. And here was where fate (or the apprentice) stepped in.

The dealer wasn’t wasn’t closed even though it gave every sign that it actually was. A young guy came out dressed in a t-short and shorts to which I stated, “You’re supposed to be closed!”, to which he immediately threw up his hands and backed away from me as if I had pulled out a gun and pointed it to his forehead. I took pity on him though and asked him the particulars of this vehicle and in short, to the point terms (no sales talk whatsoever which impressed me a bit) he did:

2012 Jeep Liberty.
18,220 miles on the odometer.
Leased for 1 year by some guy in Massachusetts.
They had just put it on the lot that weekend (late Friday afternoon).

In short, it was sitting in my driveway Monday afternoon. I got a good amount for the old 2003 (much to my surprise considering the mileage), it’s financed through the same local bank that the 2003 was and at the same payment, they swapped over my nearly new tires from the 2003 to the 2012 and I’m scheduled for a class 2 trailer hitch installation tomorrow, the price of which was included in the price of the vehicle. The price of everything and the interest on the loan was surprisingly enough, very reasonable.

But fate wasn’t done quite yet. On the Wednesday following the Monday I bought the 2012 I was back at the dealer waiting for the tires to be swapped over and I spotted a 2002 Chevy 1500 4WD “supercab” pick up truck sitting in their “yet to be inspected, cleaned and detailed” back lot. Despite the 140,000 miles on the odometer, the body and truck bed actually looked new, not a spot of rust on her. Inside the cab of course, looked like it had been driven all those miles but the wear for mileage wasn’t bad at all.

So why am I looking at a pick up truck after I bought a 2012 Jeep Liberty you may ask? Well, I’ll tell you.

My wife and I have a mutual friend and fellow disabled veteran who lives alone on top of a rather secluded mountain in a very nice house of her own design. In contrast to her very nice house is her only vehicle, a 1990 Chevy 1500 4WD “supercab” pick up that fell off it’s “last legs” so to speak at least two years prior. Non-inspectable, running on 7 cylinders, more rust than solid metal and still she drove it–she badly needed a new truck.

I was looking over this 2002 and immediately thought of her.

I asked the young lad who sold my my latest vehicle about this rig and it turned out it was what they call a “one owner” who took immaculate care of it including undercoating it every year. He gave me the keys, I took it for a jaunt and was very impressed with it overall. 140,000 miles is nothing for a well-kept pick up truck by the way. The trouble is that well kept high mileage pick up trucks are a rare thing these days. Usually they’re destined for the junk yard. But not this one.

It also was just traded in the previous day. What do you call that? Kismet or something? Fate intervened once again?

So, in the end, our friend is now driving around in the 2002 pick up truck instead of the rolling junk yard of the 1990 she had previously. Two vehicles that just by chance had just arrived on the same lot within a few days of each other which had just happened to be spotted by the same guy (me) who had no intention of buying anything or looking for anybody else.

And by the way, a week later I received I check for $50 from the very same dealer. A “thank you” as it were for the sale of that 2002 pick up truck. Now how about that?

All very mysterious and I’m tempted to ask, “what’s next I wonder” but then again…

…I wouldn’t want to tempt fate.

What’s in a logo?

It appears that Hillary Clinton has now officially announced her bid for president in 2016 and with that bid comes the new Hillary Clinton presidential campaign logo. It looks like this:

Hillary Clinton logoNow I’m not one to be one to be carrying on about politics, especially on this ancient blog of mine, as I’m hardly a prime example of the “political animal”. In fact, I’m more the antithesis of one since I actually believe in getting the job done instead of wasting time bickering about it and wallowing in party dogma. But this logo caught my attention simply because it’s simple, to the point (so to speak) and it bloody well stands out. Well done in my oh so humble opinion. The aforementioned reasons are probably also why the new logo has been “crowdsmashed” by social media since it came out which begs the question…

…don’t these people of the social media set have anything better to do?

It’s a rip off of the traditional hospital sign you see on roads and highways they say (uh…no).

It’s a rip off of the Wikileaks Twitter logo they say (like can you actually trademark a red arrow?).

“I could do that and better for less money” blah blah blah.

At the very least, one can say without reservation that Hillary’s new campaign logo certainly grabs instant attention which probably means it was done right. Whether it means that the presidential candidate behind the logo is as equably capable of doing the job that’s required if she does get elected remains to be seen and way too far ahead in the future to even bother considering at this point.

But that logo certainly brought out the computer chair critics now didn’t it? As for myself though…

…I prefer this one instead:

Hillary logo IWSHave a nice day all.

Taking a break from the conversation.

Today I decided to take a break from the conversation–online conversation that is. I didn’t actually plan to do this, I just happened to have a rare early morning in bed where I wasn’t in a lot of pain for some reason (Yup, I’ve suffered from some pretty annoying chronic pain for a number of years now–you’d think I’d be used to it by now?). My body and mind were, for once, blissfully relaxed so I decided to do my utmost to remain that way throughout the day and this meant staying out of any online social-type conversations. And it wasn’t so difficult to do.

You see, there’s been a new outbreak of something called “anti-vaxxers” that includes a whole new breed of grossly uninformed fanatics and they’re plying the waters of social media in droves. Now where I make it a firm rule to avoid these types of fanatic infested conversations like the plague, I felt myself unwillingly drawn into them by some irresistible force.

Resistance was futile.

I won’t get into the horrid details of what lay in wait for me within these comment threads of saturated ignorance since I wish to spare my readers, who I just know are not only objective in their thinking but are very informed as well, from experiencing any sort of second-hand damage to their intellects.

So instead I think I’ll use this opportunity to wish a good friend of mine and fellow blogger (who is actually older than I am) a very Happy Birthday…

…which is sometime this month although I can’t recall the exact date ‘cuz my brain is fried from the past 3 days of online conversation-with-idiots experience.

Was that actually a sentence?

Anyway I even came across the perfect gift for the “awd lad” but I haven’t actually found where to buy one of the things let alone tackle the problems of shipping it to Ireland. Still, it’s the thought that counts?

inflate a pub

He could put it in his backyard maybe?

Stocking it with the brew of his choice I’m afraid would be up to him of course since any sort of what might pass for a decent brew in Ireland never reaches the shores of the US. They only ship us the stuff they wouldn’t drink if you paid them.

So Happy Birthday, Grandad! And many more happy ones to ya!

A pretty sneaky way to wish someone a happy birthday, I think.

Could we have a Internet troll vaccine?

Anyone who has spent any time at all on the great and powerful WWW reading and leaving their comments on various comment threads of blogs, news articles, social sites and such, have come to know and dread the arrival of the Internet troll. And while there’s really no one thing that attracts these trolls, writing about any sort of controversial issue will often do the trick.

Politics and religion will almost always bring them in droves although it’s difficult at times to discern the trolls from the truly stupid or the “cultist”. But the latest thing, at least according to my personal observations, are these so-called “anti-vaxxers”. And, heaven save us, they’ve started calling it a “movement” as well. Nothing like “movements” and “causes” to bring out the idiots.

So could we have a troll vaccine please?

Now before I go any further I should point out that for anyone who’s actually followed this old blog of mine over the years (there must be at least 3 or 4 of them out there somewhere), they know very well that I’m not in the habit of labeling people “idiots” or “morons” or any other type of derogative term. But I just can’t help it this time. It’s just become so obvious during the past year or so I just can’t hold it back any longer.

I’ll say one thing for this so-called anti-vaccine movement, it sure brought the trolls out of the woodwork and on top of that, they’re the lowest form of troll I’ve seen yet.

One thing that all trolls all seem to have in common:

  • They can’t spell.
  • They can’t punctuate.
  • They seem to have no clue of how to form a sentence.
  • Skipped every class that involved teaching anything about grammar or history or English or anything.
  • Skipped every class period.
  • Ignores actual facts while cherishing their own bullshit “facts”.
  • Has a love affair with their caps lock.
  • Always resorts to insults and personal attacks in the end.

I’m sure there’s more but that’s as far as I want to go at the moment.

If it’s not horrendously long comments full of subjective rambling rhetoric of little or no substance…

…or paragraphs…

…or punctuation…

…or properly spelled words…

…or sense of grammar…

…it’s a short one or two liner telling a previous commenter that, “your not only retardedbut you mother walked the peers with a matress straped to her back so give ME a brake”, or something of that nature.

We who prowl the great and mighty innerweb are all too familiar with these lower forms of animal life who do their utmost to disrupt even the most genteel and intelligent of virtual conversations. And no subject is sacred especially these days where the trolls seem to be even more thriving and abundant than ever before with no real cure in sight.

So, how about that Internet troll vaccine, huh? I mean, we have anti-virus and Internet security suites for those who use Windows, spam filters for our email so why not a virtual anti-troll vaccine for our comment threads? With all the open source developers out there coming up with all these wonderful things from software to operating systems, you’d think it was possible.

If so, these Internet trolls’ days are surely numbered?

Or not.


Freezing in Wonderland

We’re having a fine old time freezing our butts off here in Wonderland, VT. What, you say? Wonderland(?) you say? I thought you lived in a place called Newport?

Well, okay, we do live in a place called Newport, VT but I’ve gone to calling it Wonderland instead which is due to the fact that I’m really starting to wonder if the town city will ever get off it’s collective hind ends and actually do something with itself. But hey, that’s another set of stories. This post has to do with freezing our hind ends off.

This a general, “Winter in Vermont” type post just so you know.

Too much snow on the roof

Makes it easier to clear the snow off when it’s like this?

Now, I’m not complaining really (no, really) since actual snow falling from the sky has been minimal so far.This means that there’s been much less arse-busting involved so far this year which is good since I don’t have a lot of arse left to bust. Of course, there’s always stuff to do.

For example, I really need to haul apart one side our larger snow blower to make sure the carburetor isn’t ready to fall off. Yes, it’s happened before with our smaller one which, believe-you-me, gives one a rather hollow feeling when you’ve just run two passes up and down the driveway after a good two-footer of a snow storm and the machine backfires, the engines dies and the carburetor ends up dangling 6 inches off the ground by the end of the throttle cable.

And yes, the carburetors on snow blowers are usually screwed to the heat shield as well as the engine block but the screws holding said carburetor to said engine block have a nasty habit of backing themselves out so all that’s left holding the darn thing anywhere close to where it should be (meaning that aforementioned engine block) are the screws holding it to said heat shield. And those aren’t all that substantial hence the falling carburetor.

Okay, so much for lessons in snow blowers so back to the reason for this post.

It’s been a cold winter so far. Like Arctic cold. For example, we’ve had a high of 0F for today, we had -24F last night and are looking forward to the same thing tonight. My poor old Jeep looks more like a 4-wheeled, economy sized cube of salt than the Jeep Liberty it actually is. And running it through the local car wash is out of the question at these kind of temperatures. At least it is if I ever want to get into it anytime before the spring thaw. Doors have a habit of freezing solid at temps running 0F or below.

The good news is that we’re still working on last season’s firewood to heat the house so we haven’t had to touch the 5 cords we had delivered for this season yet. On top of that, my lady is now retired and home for good which makes things a bit warmer all around.

Otherwise, it’s bloody freezing outside. This means the electric 5-ton splitter I have to use now to split our firewood into a size the stove can use is pretty much useless. At least at these temperatures. Since I can no longer swing a splitting maul without risking life and limb (mine and probably anybody who’s in my general vicinity), the electric splitter is what I have to do the job. The motor might actually turn over on it’s own after a few tries but the hydraulic ram is reluctant to do anything else but jitter a bit because the hydraulic oil is too cold. I suppose I could have drained out the heavier weight oil used for warmer weather and replaced it with the lighter weight oil recommended for our type of Winter temperatures but to be honest about it, flipping around a 150 pound electric splitter twice a year is more than my body can take at this point.

No real problem though. Once the temps get above 20F the thing runs fine and it usually gets there every few days. Then it’s split like mad to replace what I used during the time the splitter was in hibernation.

Anyway, like I said before, this is just a general “Winter in Vermont” type of post so there’s no real point in it. Just an excuse to write something I suppose. But the sun is shining, the stove is burning bright and it’s warm and toasty–more or less. More inside and a lot less outside.

But the simple fact is, despite the cold snowy winters we have around these parts I really wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. Even if it came with central heating, thermostats, shopping malls (within 75 miles) and lots of money.

Well, lots of money wouldn’t be so bad but heck, you can’t have everything. Now where’s my long johns?

Turning the page to a new chapter

So, how does one begin writing again? Especially since it’s been near a year since my last post. How, I say, how? By turning the page to a new chapter, that’s how. But I probably need to clarify what I mean by this as it’s probably simpler than you might think.

Basically it boils down to the fact that absolutely nothing happened over the last several months of my life. At least nothing other than than the same daily routine day after day after day. And that kind of daily schedule does not provide fodder or even the inclination for writing.

Herself (to borrow the online “nom de plume” for the “better half” from Grandad) got up, had breakfast and went off to her store 7 days a week and I kept the home fires burning so to speak, did the needed chores and went on the required errands, etc and so on. Once in awhile I manned the store while my honey made the necessary store-related trips down-country every 3 weeks but even this was hardly anything to write home about.

This routine literally did not change since  the last time I posted back in March, 2014.

But now…


….it has.

My honey has retired!

Or, at least to say, she has retired her store after 9 years of being in a brick and mortar. Perhaps more on that at a later date. What this means is that she’ll be home all the time now. No more just the cats for company. No more calling back and forth from home to store and visa-versa. And no more girlfriends coming over no more lack of female company.

Of course, some would wonder how she and I are going to get used to being together all…the…time. Answer? Easily. It’s how we started out in the first place. Since there was no trouble being together 24/7 back then, there should be no reason that should change now except for the minor fact that we’re a bit more creaky than we were 9 years ago. I could say a bit more on that subject but I won’t.

Now comes the joy of  finding places for all the stuff we brought back from the store. A chore that will probably take us the rest of the winter however, since we have all the time in world now to get it done, there’s no real hurry.

Unless, of course, we want to start living in the house again instead of a tent in the yard (I may be exaggerating that a bit).

So here’s to the future adventures we can now share together. We may even get brave and actually travel down-country about an hour or so and go to Walmart! Pretty daring for folks our age?

Got to love this retirement thing.



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…