Phones: Everything’s Easier

Speaking of the holidays… over the past couple of days I’ve been trying to get my phone loaded up with all of our familiar family Christmas songs. Most of them are everyone else’s family songs as well, sung by old favorites, and those are pretty easily found on Spotify. πŸ˜‹πŸŽ„πŸŽΆ So I just pick the ones that I want and add them to a playlist. The good cheezy 70s sounding ones though, the ones on obscure albums or even records that Firestone and Goodyear would give away each year… those are a bit more difficult to come by.

Terry Baxter and His Orchestra… I had to go on Amazon a few years ago and buy one particular album in MP3 format, which I now have to actually copy over to my phone – rather than just streaming them like the others on Spotify. And it’s funny, there are a few albums that were released under that artist’s name – but upon googling to find out what he looked like, or just more about him in general… it turns out that it was likely just a name that the record company put on albums of similar sound, when they were really just performed by a house band or even different folks. πŸ˜πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

(In the upper right corner of this video you can select from 42 songs in the playlist for this album.)

Doesn’t make any difference to me… but still, that’s an interesting thing to find out about 40 years later. But now I’ve got all the happy ones, some sad ones, 8-bit / chiptune Christmas covers, and even a few from the South Park / Mr Hankey Christmas episode ready to go. πŸ˜‹ I’m doing all this now, while I’m in a decent mood, because I wanna try a little harder this year to not let the whole season just blow by me. For various reasons over the past several years, the “holiday mood” has been harder to come by – but being able to play these songs as I fart around the house or drive in town for food or whatever… it’ll help.

I still need to find a good version of “Christmas Chimes are Calling” from one of my favorite specials:

Now I have to look in the basement at some point and see if I still have a tree. πŸ€”πŸ§

Continuing The Tradition

It’s my fault for not knowing about it, since I still haven’t managed to get my ass back onto FB since before my cancer scan, but yesterday my cousin Jim texted me to let me know that he was hosting the family cookout that night. He announced it in the family group on FB, but like I said… so yeah, maybe that’s what I should have done to try to keep myself awake longer last night – but having woken up before 4am that same day, I just didn’t have the oomph to put on my social face… and I also didn’t wanna concern people, with them noticing that I was low-energy and possibly thinking it was cancer related. I mean, technically that could be part of it, but I covered the real reason in the entry below.

But I texted him today to apologize for not going, and he said that turnout was relatively low. Mostly local family and then a couple of the extended family that live within reasonable driving distance. I gave him props for still having the oomph to host cookouts or bonfires now and then, because even without a kid and a job, I know how just the crap that I’m dealing with can often have me just wanting to stay at home and recover from whatever has been wearing me out.

Talked about how lucky we were as kids, when we’d have the reunions at Grandma and Grandpa S’s house… how all of us kids just always had a great time, and were blissfully unaware of any “shit” that the adults may have been dealing with. Maybe they were just a slightly tougher generation, but whatever it was – it let us all experience those moments and create the memories that we now can only hope to reenact for the younger folks in the family now. So hopefully when Jim has a cookout like last night, and turnout is light… we’re comparing it to how it was when we were little… so hopefully the younglings are still getting a similar good feeling and creating similar fond memories to look back on when they’re older – even if it didn’t feel like a complete success to Jim.

I told him the same thing that I told Toni a while back… just because I might not come to an event, please don’t stop inviting me. When I don’t show up, it’s usually not because I don’t want to go – but because the other stuff that’s happening or recently happened in my life just has me distracted, tired, or otherwise just lacking the oomph to make myself go. But I do have good days, and I do wanna go to those things, and sometimes everything works out where I actually make it… and of course I end up having a good time.

Last time was an impromptu trip out to Shannon and Chris’ house with Matt, Toni, and Anna… even though I had to drive out through the field and park right next to the bonfire since it was during the period where my right knee was almost unusable. And as much as I hate being the “man, he looks pretty messed up” guy, it was still nice to spend a couple hours out there with all of them. Meh… I’m rambling…

I did manage to stay up a little later last night, and woke up a little later as well, so at least that plan worked last night – and I’m feeling somewhat better because of it today. Still having crappy dreams, but at least last night they didn’t actually wake me up. But I’ve already done up the little bit of dishes, made some pasta w/garlic sausage sauce that I split up into three plates for easy microwaving later, the doors are open since the day is nice, and there’ll soon be a NASCAR race to play in the background as I decide to do whatever it is that I’m gonna do with the day.

Been There, Done That

Trying to force my brain to take a break today… and having an evening NASCAR race helps with that. It’s actually at a track that I’ve been to, but when I went a handful of years ago it was still a traditional Sunday race. Ya know, having all the races on a Saturday night would be a good selling point for the out-of-shape, disabled, or old farts. (Of which I’m like 2.5 out of 3) Mid-day summer races, with all the blacktop and aluminum seats reflecting and radiating the heat… β˜€οΈπŸ”₯πŸ˜“πŸŽοΈπŸ’¨πŸ’₯Β Thankfully it wasn’t until I was a little older and more out of shape (after all my trips) that I realized how brutal it can really be. 😯

Tonight’s race is from Kentucky Speedway. I think it was four years ago that I went… staying free at ‘Da Boat for a couple of nights, and hopping over the river to Sparta on race day. 😎 If I remember correctly, Cassi went with – but just to enjoy the room and the getaway. It really is a fan friendly track, but woo… all that walking. πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™‚οΈΒ It’s no Indianapolis… another track where I’m amazed that I would spend entire days walking around (miles) in the August heat. πŸ˜₯πŸ™‚Β I suppose it helps though, once you’re there, hearing the cars, seeing the drivers, getting the pics and occasional autographs… it only hurts and burns later that night. 😏

It’s funny, I remember having a Skoal Bandits matchbox car when I was a kid, but that was the extent of my interest in NASCAR until after I was out of school and Dad took me to a couple races at Indy. Since then I’ve seen two Brickyard 400s, two Indy 500s, one race at Kansas, and one race at Kentucky. πŸ˜ƒ But, probably showing early signs of what was to come, the last few times (and those were a while ago) that I went to Indy… I’d only go on qualifying / practice day. That way I could see the sights, collect all the good shots that I could, sneak in whatever areas I could manage… but not getting the “bake in the stands for however many hours” experience that actual race day would require.

I’m not saying that I’ll never go to another race, or another track around race days, but I just haven’t been able to stay as interested in the new drivers once “my drivers” or “our drivers” retired or otherwise exited the sport. 😟 Think about who you’re not seeing anymore when you go to a race, and if you’re old enough – it’ll probably make you wonder if you still wanna bother going too. πŸ€”πŸ€¨

Dale Earnhardt, Mark Martin, Dale Jarrett, Jeff and Ward Burton, Darrell and Michael Waltrip, Sterling Marlin, Bobby and Terry Labonte, Mike Skinner, Kenny Schrader, Ricky Rudd, the various Bodines, Rusty Wallace, Morgan Shepherd (oldest driver to start a NASCAR race, at 72 😯 years old), Jeff Gordon, Greg Biffle,Β Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards, and even Dale Jr. That’s how you know you’ve been a fan a while though, when you’ve watched a kid come into the sport, run for a good long time, and now even they’re gone. And yeah, I didn’t necessarily give many shits about a few of those named… but boy did they all have personality. πŸ™‚

And that’s exactly what made their presence so easy to remember and, now, miss. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

The “Subjectively Positive” One

This is gonna be another really long one… it’s more fun for me this way. 😏 Settle in and enjoy.

Now, this is something that’s almost impossible to explain to someone who doesn’t or hasn’t experienced severe social anxiety. πŸ€” But last Saturday, after spending about a week and a half without even leaving my house, while trying (and failing) to adjust to a new medication, and still tending to my gimpy knee… I had to go to a concert in Columbus. 😐 At the Schottenstein Center, which holds about 18,000 people. 18,000 loud, screaming, drinking, super enthusiastic, having an awesome time, concert-goin’ people. 😏 (God bless ’em… heh) Oh, and we had “Meet and Greet” VIP passes for Debbie Gibson and Tiffany after the show.

The story begins last year, when my friend Jim got us tickets to see Phil Collins at Nationwide Arena. I had seen Genesis before, but never Phil on his own… so it was a bucket list thing. We had a great time, so in the fall of last year when “The Mixtape Tour” tickets came available – I went ahead and got our tickets, sort of as a birthday gift / way to pay back his generosity re: the Phil Collins tickets.

Flash forward to last Saturday… and it took every ounce of oomph that I had to make myself get up, get ready, and go to the venue to meet Jim. πŸ₯Ί My anxiety was so bad that up until the minute I was finally able to make myself get in the car, I wasn’t even sure I was gonna be able to do it. 😬 But I had already cancelled on Jim on a few other things, and I would feel like a giant shit if I bailed on him again, and he ended up just going by himself. So I honestly went more because of Jim, rather than a desire to actually go. Well, no… that isn’t entirely accurate… because I absolutely wanted to go… heh… like I said, it’s hard to explain how anxiety can overrule anything that you think you might want or be able to do. πŸ™„πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

Heh… I’m realizing that this isn’t gonna sound like a positive experience, so let me go ahead and interject here to say that I did have a good time while I was there, and was glad that I went. πŸ™‚ It was the getting there and getting home that were the biggest hurdles for my uncooperative brain. And of course there had to be construction all along the freeway on the way there, which is always fun – anxiety or not. And then when I got there, because I left so late, I ended up having to walk… *consulting google maps* … I had to walk “Total distance:Β 2,885.24 ftΒ (879.42 m)from the parking lot to the venue. 😧 But I had my cane, I took my time, and didn’t die too much. 😏 In fact, not only did it help me to unwind from the traffic, but it continued my DIY physical therapy that I’m trying – to avoid the costly, painful, inconvenient, time consuming, real thing.

The thing that probably saved the night for me, once we found our way to our seats, was that we were at the absolute top of the seats. Literally everyone in front of us, with the backs of our chairs being against the wall. 😊 Plus the seat next to me was empty. 😁 I can’t stress enough how much of a difference it makes to be “outside” of the humans rather than surrounded by a sea of them in every direction. So for the duration of the actual show, I was golden. πŸ™‚ Me and Jim, catching up on shit, no assholes around to be a nuisance, a decent view of everything due to the big LED screens, despite being in the very definition of “the nosebleed seats” for the concert… and it was awesome. I was glad that I “made” myself go.

Then the show ended. 😳 At which point we had to navigate through the herd of exiting humans, trying to figure out where we had to be to do the Meet and Greet part of our experience. 😬 Buttloads of people, slight confusion of where to go, the prospect of meeting a couple of celebrity singers… so, again, I found myself *this close* to just walking out one of the nearby doors and just waiting for Jim to go and do that part on his own. But he said the right things I needed to hear, I took a few woosah moments, and once a lot of the people were gone we found our way to what was essentially the basement under all of the seating. 😯

Sorry, I’ll try to tighten this up a bit. 😏 There were different M&G packages, some with just Debbie, some with just Tiffany, some with both – so thankfully, even though they had us all crammed into a relatively small waiting space, we got to do our thing pretty quickly since we had the dual package. Got a hug from Tiffany, they both autographed my lanyard, and while there was a little confusion with the official person taking the photos – it gave me some time to actually talk with Debbie while we had a short wait.

She asked if I had a good time and I told her “Oh, absolutely…” with a smile, but since other people were distracted I was able to lean over to her and kinda quietly say “… but man is my social anxiety kickin’ right about now.” Heh… probably a little weird, but it would have been awkward just standing there silently as we waited for the photographer to get ready. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ But she just smiled back at me and said she actually knows what I mean, and that before each show she usually stays in her dressing room with her piano and just plays some random jazz or classical to help her get rid of herΒ pre-show anxiety. πŸ™‚ And that was a comforting thing to hear… since rather than her thinking I was a weirdo, she could actually relate. Then we got the pic, I got a hug from her as well, and that was that.

Well, that was it for me I mean. 😏 Jim still had to get his picture with them… but keep in mind, Jim wasn’t Jim for the night… he went as Squirtman. πŸ˜³πŸ˜„ The orange body suit, the cape, the Squirtman puppet, flashing LED glasses, the cowboy hat… heh… the whole deal. That was actually another good thing throughout the night – because when you’re next to Squirtman, you’re essentially invisible – which was perfect. πŸ‘πŸ»

He got there an hour before the doors even opened, so he was parked right in the first lot and was able to give me a ride out to my car – since all of the walking and stairs and such did finally take its toll on me. πŸ˜•Β I did have the typical “I need to be home”Β voice repeating in my head as I was driving, but the goody feeling from the concert buzz made the long drive home much more bearable than some drives I’ve made in the past. πŸ™‚

So yeah… yay me. 😊 I did a thing. 😏

If you remember any of these bands or singers and wanna check out some clips, here ya go:

Alrighty, that’s about it. Congrats if you made it through all of my (hopefully) descriptive weirdo rambling. πŸ˜‰

Unrelated to Adulting

Okay, now that I’ve got all that other shit out of my brain for the moment… now I can write about the other stuff from the past week or so. Let me start off by talking about a new toy that I couldn’t resist. 😊 It was only $80 shipped, which isn’t too bad… and considerably less than what the original (with disk drive) would have cost new. It’s called The C64 Mini, and while it’s not an official Commodore product, it’s essentially an entire C64 emulated on a teeny board, in a teeny replica of the original “breadbin” style Commodore 64.Β πŸ˜ƒ And before you ask, no… the keyboard doesn’t actually work… but you can plug a USB keyboard into it and use it as an actual computer – and the company intends to come out with a full-sized, completely working replica soon. 😁

I’ve yet to even power the thing on, because I’m waiting for a spell when I’ll be able to do nothing but mess with the thing… which will include upgrading the firmware to allow me to load any program from a flash drive, and loading it up with all of my favorites from when I was a kid. It does have 64 licensed games built in, but most people are like me and get it so they’ll have the closest thing to an actual C64 – but with HDMI output – for the best looking Commodore 8-bit computer ever. 😊

I suppose everyone has a “thing” from their generation that they loved when they were younger, and therefore want to have again once they’re old. 😏 Classic video games and Commodore computing are definitely my thing, the same way that HAM radio is Dad’s thing… and like me, he’s still got a few toys as well that he plays with to this day.Β πŸ€“ I’m even learning how to take a C64 disk image, open it on a Windows 10 laptop, add or remove C64 programs as I see fit, and then export the new C64 disk image for use on this thing. 😯 That’s how it is with me though… give me something I’m genuinely passionate about, and my brain will start absorbing everything that it needs to know about it.

Okay, gotta keep this entry short-ish. 🀨 Maven is almost completely done with her home-grooming, which means my bathroom and living room carpet areΒ covered with poofed hair for now. 😟 I’m lucky that she’s so cooperative though. In fact, for the most part she loves the process. Bri came for a visit right before Halloween, not only to hang out (she drew the face on the pumpkin and I carved it upΒ πŸŽƒπŸ˜) but to also distract from her mom’s deteriorating health. She’s actually had a couple of good days, so it was nice to see her have a little more energy. However, my friend Greg, his mother passed away this past week. 😒 She was having a rough time, so it’s one of those deals where you’re almost relieved.

Cassi came down to spend the night on one of her days off. Her life is so hectic, between all of the hours that she’s been putting in lately and then having her, her mom, and her (very opinionated) 17 year-old sister all there at her house, making noise at each other. 😏 So coming here, even if half of her time is spent sleeping… it really is like a teeny mental vacation for her.Β πŸ™‚ Plus she helped me out with some chores, including the whole de-flea-ing process with the sprays and the carpet powder, etc. (Plus the most important and helpful thing… getting Maven to swallow that damn Capstar flea killin’ pill.)

As we sat in the living room watching the new “Charmed” show, we also each had our notebooks and were fastidiously jotting down the things that we intend to work on in the next few days. It’s strange how just having her here “working” in the same way that I was, how it helps to settle my brain and let me get down to business without getting as easily distracted by Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube. 😡

So there ya go… just so you don’t think my entire existence is grumping and bitching. 😐 There’s always some good sprinkled in there – and even when it isn’t “good” in general, I’m thankful that I have the right kind of friends to help me through those times, and vice versa.Β πŸ™‚Β Okay, carry on…