Stress Levels

It’s a revelation, although probably neither a unique one nor a stunning one.

But it just occurred to me that with the current issues from all directions – personal, professional, political, societal – I can barely remember what it was like to NOT have a half-dozen things at once trying to tie my guts into knots.

I know that such times existed, and not that so terribly long ago, when I could just to a large extent put life on cruise control for a while. It’s not that those times had no stress, just that it was more manageable and only spiked occasionally. Even then the peaks were terrifying – just stressful.

Now it seems like the “good” days are when I’m only at an “8” on a scale of one to ten, while most days are at a “9+.” And then there are the occasional days that go to an “11.” (Insert Spinal Tap meme here.)

When I make myself aware of this state I can remember the more normal times and on an intellectual level I can believe that those days will return. I’m having more problems convincing my gut that it will ever unclench.

Others have lived through such times. Intellectually (again) I suspect that the “normal” times that I want back are in fact the outlier when considered across the long arc of history. Probably by several standard deviations from the norm. That doesn’t make me want them back any less.

This stress thing sort of sucks.

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Filed under Deep Thoughts

Headphone Quest

I’m on a mission from God.

I need some good headphones or earbuds.

Years ago Sony made a really, REALLY good set that I just loved. This was before Bluetooth really worked well so they were corded, but that was fine. They had the BEST little hooks to go over my ears, they wouldn’t fall out or jiggle loose if I was running or exercising, they were comfortable, and they had great sound.

Of course, Sony stopped making them. No doubt just to spite me and piss me off. Well played, Sony…

I still have a pair, but they don’t work with my current iPhone since Apple in their utterly finite wisdom decided to get rid of the headphone jack on the iPhone 8.

Since I upgraded to the iPhone 8 a couple years ago it’s been one thing after the other, none of which is particularly satisfying.

The corded funky-shaped fancy ones that come with the iPhone give the best sound – but they don’t stay in very well.

I’ve got people at the office who sing the praises of the Apple Bluetooth ear buds, which are basically the same as the corded funky-shaped fancy ones but without the cord. They don’t stay in very well and then when they fall out they’re lost (and expensive to replace) because they’re not on a cord. Bounce, bounce, bounce, away they go, into traffic, into the gutter, into the bushes, into oblivion.

I researched ear buds for runners, corded and cordless, and got a pair of the best reviewed set.  The best thing about them is that they’re at least are connected together by a cord that hangs on the back of your neck. I’m not sure who reviewed them and said they were the best, but I have some strong disagreements on their assessment. They’re fine (mostly) if I’m sitting at my desk, but even walking around the house has them falling out.

So, falling out’s a problem! #1 on the hit parade when it comes to being useless. Screw that design!

I went on Amazon a couple of weeks ago and found a couple of different “cheap” (i.e., less than $30) corded “over the ear” ear bud sets. They stay on better than the ones without the “over the ear” plastic bits, but they’re nowhere near as good as the old, beloved Sonys. And while they stay on my ears, they’re not very good at staying IN my ears. They’re constantly creeping loose and wiggling out, so that while I can still hear the music, it’s tinny and a lot of outside sound gets in.

They’re better, but only because the bar wasn’t very stinking high.

Looking online it seems that possibly the best bet is to go to a full set of headphones rather than ear buds. I was sticking with ear buds because I want to run and exercise with them and I’m assuming that it’s awkward to do that with a full set of Beats (or whatever) on and that they would be heavy. But maybe that’s an assumption to be tested.

Of course, if I get a nice pair of wireless Beats (or whatever) and the sound is great and they’re lightweight for running and all of those wonderful things, then they probably cost $300 or more. And they may or may not be waterproof or water resistant, which is an issue since I tend to sweat when running long distances and sometimes do it in inclement weather.

Which, to be clear, at this point, I would pay if I could just solve the damn problem. I just don’t want to spend it and then find out that I simply have yet another set that are so-so at best and tend not to get used because they piss me off.

Any suggestions? Does anyone have anything that they’ve found wonderful for running and exercising that gives good sound but also is light and comfortable?

Alternately, if anyone sees that photo and says, “Oh, those are Sony XYZ87’s – I’ve got a whole box of them here we’re trying to get rid of, do you want four dozen pairs or five,” please let me know. I’ll worship at your feet.

As soon as I figure out how to plug the things into my iPhone 8. Or downgrade back to an iPhone 6.

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Filed under Music, Running

No Context For You – December 11th

What color is chrome?

Is there a chrome Crayon?

It’s sort of grey, or silver-ish, but with lots of white highlights.

I probably should have learned that it all of those art courses I took decades ago, huh?

A dark month, December. The days get shorter, the nights get longer, the temperatures drop, the winds howl, the rains arrive.

Is it any wonder that at the solstice we celebrate, no matter the religious or cultural justification?

Do we think we can frighten the night and the cold away with frantic noises and celebration? Do we as an “enlightened” people simply recognize the results of axial tilt and recognize the circumstantial passing of a defined point in the calliope of Newtonian mechanics? Or does it even matter?

We’ve made it through 11/12ths of this 2018 ordeal. Let us gather our strength to finish strong and bravely meet 2019 head on.

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Filed under Art, Photography

What Epic Battle Wrought?

Evidence on an elevator floor. The perfect arc. The splatter. The stain.

Coffee? Or something more…sinister?

The spot in the upper right where there almost seems to be a divot taken out of the splatter – a shoe, now sodden and/or scalded?

The step function in the upper left – a jostled elbow or bumped shoulder in panic and horror?

A sudden spin with an unstable grande mocha vente supremo ultimate no soy chai two sugars no cream?

Or was this an attempt at communication by those aliens from “Arrival”? Was Louise Banks in this elevator earlier?

We may never know.

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Filed under Photography, Silly Shit

Fiat Lux Two

More Christmas lights have gone up at the new house.

Most of the new stuff has gone up by the garage, and on that tall, tall bank of cedar trees that line the north side of the driveway. I was hoping that the “wall” made by the cedar trees would be easier to hand lights on, but those branches are much more flimsy and less structurally able to hold the light strings that I had hoped. And the last thing I want to do is start damaging the trees.

The lights first started going up after Thanksgiving and it’s obvious that I’ll never have as many lights here as I did at the old house. (Who knew in 2016 when I wrote that, thinking it was the last year at that house, that we had one more to go – but now we’re out.) There’s just not as much surface area to the house, and there are far, far fewer trees and bushes and foliage to drape lights on. But this isn’t bad for what I’ve got.

I also fixed the “bag of electricity and water” issues and put some really nice digital timers on to replace the clunky and only marginally useful analog “clock-style” timers I had.

So now the four sets of outside lights as well as the Christmas tree in the big front window all turn on and off within a minute of each other.

I like it!

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Filed under Castle Willett, Christmas Lights, Photography

Waxing Crescent In Deep Twilight

As I was leaving the hangar tonight, there was a gorgeous two-day old waxing crescent moon just above the horizon in an orange and yellow and red sunset!

And the panoramic view (click to enlarge, as always!):

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Filed under Astronomy, Panorama, Photography

Well THERE’s Your Problem – December 7th

It’s a whole new adventure putting up Christmas lights at the new house. Everything’s new and different. Where can I attach things? Where can I plug things in? Where can I put things so they stay dry if it rains?

There are…”challenges.”

We had some pretty significant rain a couple of days ago, and while we didn’t have to deal with any of the major problems that deluge brought to Southern California (especially to the burn areas), I found myself scrambling on Monday and Tuesday to try to waterproof my Christmas light installations.

Something failed.

The lights on one end of the house were plugged into a power strip at the end of a long extension cord and that was the likely source of the failure. It’s pretty exposed to the elements, so I had wrapped it up in plastic and I thought it might be okay. When I got home and saw that the lights were out it was pouring, so I just checked to see if it had tripped a breaker at the main panel and taken out any of the other electrical circuits in the house. We were fine, so it must have just been the circuit breaker on the power strip – which is how it’s supposed to work.

Tonight it was finally dry-ish, so I went out to see what was up, figuring a little bit of water might have squirreled it’s way in.

As Adam Savage is so fond of saying, “Well, there’s your problem!

Yeah, that’s a bag full of water and electricity. Not so good.

The reality is that the electricity got cut off as soon as it hit the electricity on Tuesday and from there the water just kept coming in from wherever it came in and made it look really impressive now.

Things are drying out now. We’ll see what’s working and what needs to be replace tomorrow.

(Now what REALLY would have been neat is if someone else had seen this and put a goldfish in there before I got to it!)

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Filed under Christmas Lights, Photography, Weather