Today is apparently one of those days when I get in the shower, soap my hair and beard, have a sudden writing inspiration, rinse, dry, dress, and make it downstairs to start making coffee before I remember that I had forgotten to wash anything below my neck.

Do I:

  • Go back and get in the shower again;
  • Do a quick “pits and tuchas” job with a washcloth and a bar of soap; or
  • Put on deodorant and hope for the best?

Distractions! Aargh!

September Progress Report: De-Amazoning

In our first month of cutting our ties with Amazon, we have taken the following steps.

1. Spouse cancelled her Prime subscription

2. Shifted all book purchases to a trustworthy list of independent booksellers, with Powell’s as our primary go-to.

3. Cancelled all “subscribe-and-save” subscriptions and found new and economical sources or substitutes for those items.

4. Ceased purchase of all Kindle books and began buying used hard copy editions from independent bookstores.

5. Began transcribing my Amazon Prime Music playlists in preparation for terminating Prime and beginning a long term effort to acquire LPs, DVDs, and legitimate digital recordings of my favorites.

Now that he’s at UCLA, it has been a personal quest to take Aaron to all of the places I used to haunt back when I grew up on the Westside. With the worst of the pandemic behind us, we could finally start that process. Fatburger was first, but Nate & Al’s was second. #AchevementUnlocked

This will be the last one for a while. I have now reached the point where the unread books on my shelves now exceed the funds to acquire more.

For the last 30 years I have lived by a simple maxim: when you have income but no time, buy books. When you have time but no income, read books.

And so the reading begins.

Aluminum Ornithology

As a plane geek, I love living near Pt. Mugu Naval Air Weapons Station. There’s always something exciting flying around. 

One day a Marine Corps OV-22 Osprey will fly over. Last week, it was an Air Force E-3 Sentry AWACS. Over the past month, I’ve seen a Coast Guard HC-130J, several flights of Navy F/A-18 Hornets, E-2 Hawkeyes, Coast Guard HH-65 Dolphins, and Air National Guard C-130Js.

Happy/happy/happy.

The humidity was high, and the winds were low, so this looked and smelled worse than it was. Might have been a homeless encampment, or it might have been the brain-damaged testosteroids setting off illegal fireworks on the beach. Thanks to Oxnard and VC fire for jumping on the hard-to-access flare-up at 10:30pm.

Mugology: Easing Back into the Classroom

 

You know you spend a lot of money on virtual courseware when the company you patronize sends you a free stoneware coffee mug.

Returning to higher education after an absence of over three decades demands a gradual approach. I would be no match for the kids just coming out of high school right now: homework, tests, and a 10-week learning cycle are figments of memory, not skill sets.

The Learning Company – via their Great Courses series – has helped put my brain back into learning mode. I guess my gratitude shows in my spending pattern.

Catbird seat

Occasionally, people who know that I lived in China for two decades will ask me what I miss about the place now that I have been living in the US again for nine years.

I miss the people, of course, but I still keep in touch with a lot of them. I missed my in-laws very much, but over the last year, they have both passed away.

And I miss taking the train everywhere, especially High-Speed Rail, the G-trains.

That is almost enough to convince me to go back. But the idea of sitting through a thirty-day quarantine simply to deal with the compound challenges and red-tape that now enwrap domestic travel in China carries little appeal. Sadly, my next high-speed rail journey will either be Acela or EuroStar, and I don’t know when – or if – I will ever find myself on Harmony again.

But those were good times, and I want to tip the hat to David Feng and all of the wonderful people on China High-Speed Rail. Thank you all for helping me rediscover my love of rail travel.

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