Feb 232015
 
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No big post today.  Just best wishes for a wonderful celebration of our nation’s birthday.  While you enjoy the day, don’t forget all the people who make our freedom possible in the armed forces and the wisdom of our founding fathers.

Ralph

Ralph is the inspiration for Cantankerous Old Coots and is our Grand Duke of Cantankerousness

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Feb 232015
 
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I’m looking at my desktop this morning- not what Windows calls my desktop- I mean my real desktop.  It’s a mess- a controlled mess to be sure- but still a mess.  I confess that I don’t understand quite how I lost control but somehow the result of a series of seemingly reasonable organizational decisions over the last month is clutter.  As you probably can guess, clutter doesn’t bother me a lot.  What bother me are the consequences of clutter.   I fear that the wraith of my order loving wife will breach the security of my office and destroy my serenity.  She tries to restrain herself in the vain hope that I might suddenly get my act together but eventually she loses it and I hear “When are you going to clean your room?” or the even more ominous “Do you want me to help you clean that mess up?”

Somehow I can't manage this clutter.

Somehow I can’t manage this clutter.

This drives me to panic because her involvement will push me to crisis.  I know that her solution for clutter is the trash can.  Life is simple for her.  You handle something; then you either file it or throw it away. I don’t dispute the logic of her thinking.  It is just that there is some obstacle in my brain to actually doing it.  Everything on my desk is on my desk because it is important.  It doesn’t get there otherwise.  I am merciless with junk mail.  It never gets past the trash can. What’s on my desk is pure gold.

As far as the stuff cluttering my desk, if I could throw it away, I would.  It is just that I still need it, although I confess that that need may not be today or even next week.  (It is ridiculous to claim- as my wife does frequently- that I am a hopeless hoarder and that without her careful oversight, our house would look like a dump. After all we are only talking about my desk and not the whole house.)  I need everything on my desk.  The problem is that I don’t necessarily need it right now.  If I leave it there in plain sight then when I do need it, I will know where to find it.  In the meantime, my only problem is that it might obscure my view of something else that I need now and can’t find.

From time to time, I try to organize the clutter.  I consolidate by making piles of similar things but this doesn’t help very much.  My wife isn’t fooled and I find it harder to locate important items.  It isn’t that I don’t want to put things away; putting items away just puts at great risk my ability to ever find them again.

People suggest that all I need to do is file my clutter away where I can pull it out again when I need it.  I’ve tried that with disastrous results.  It works fine initially and my desk gets clear.  The problem occurs when I need to find anything and don’t know where to look for it.   Say I have some information about making videos.  Should I file it under the person providing the information, the type of video or do I just make a big file with everything video in it.  This bothers me when I file things but it is a real problem when I go to find it again.  First, I have to remember that I wanted to dig deeper into this issue which may not happen once the information is out of sight.  Second I have to know how I filed it of else I have to go through multiple possibilities.  The odds are very good that I will forget about the issue altogether but even if I do remember it, it will take hours to find it.  Often even when I know the right folder, I won’t find what I want on the first time through the file.  I have so many bad memories about searching for information and most of them are bad.  As a result, I cling to my cluttered desk

So what’s on my desk right now?  Well, in the far left corner there is a stack of paper with my wife’s business invoices on top.  I still have to get our tax information organized and to the tax guy, so it has to stay visible.  Beneath that stack is some miscellaneous information that I need and am afraid to file.  There is the gate code, copies of our passports, the title for the car we are trying to unload, loan documents for my son’s car, a catalogue I thought I might need, an offer from an internet marketer that promises to change my life and printouts of the pages from one of my websites. I confess that some of those items can be filed away or even tossed because I either don’t need them in the foreseeable future or I don’t need them at all because the offer expired.

In front of that stack is the mailing from the tax guy with instructions about getting him the information.   I just consolidated that pile with my wife’s checking and credit card information from the other side of the desk.  I filed the registration and the passport copies in my personal folder but I am afraid to file the gate code so it now resides in my ‘I don’t know what to do with this’ bin in my out box.  Now the left side of my desk is looking presentable if you ignore the USB splitter, the SD card reader, my cameras (still and video), a calculator and my headphones.

Swinging around to the right we see my inbox (with three levels for in, out-filing- and what they heck do I do with this), a file for index cards which I once thought were an ideal method for taking notes, a stack of those note cards, a jumble of paper, my old Franklin Planner- now unused but containing contact information-, a book I was reading but have abandoned, a stack of audio cd’s, another book and the Spanish Language study program CD we used before going to Argentina.

Now that I inventory the items on my desktop, it is clear that much of it can either go or be stuck in a file with the probability that I will never look at it again.  My wife is right again but I can’t just cave and admit it.

After that painful inventory, I confess to being a sadder but wiser man although I doubt that it will significantly change my organizational skills in the future.  It is so hard to make this life and death decisions about my desk and so easy to hope that they all will resolve before I have to deal with them and so I muddle on.

Ralph

Ralph is the inspiration for Cantankerous Old Coots and is our Grand Duke of Cantankerousness

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Feb 232015
 
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I’ve got a love-hate relationship with daylight savings time. When I had a job, I hated driving home in the dark. There was nothing more depressing to me than the feeling that the day was over and I was still in the office. I was fine with going to work in the dark. I even preferred it. It seemed that I was getting a head start on the day. Coming home in the dark was a drag.

fallbackThese days I find my priorities are changed. Even in the fall with daylight savings time, on most days I sleep late enough to get up with the sun. It’s the days when I have to get up earlier that make me long for daylight savings time to be gone. Twice a week we have exercise sessions scheduled at 7:30 and to get there we leave around 7:00. While we never jump eagerly out of bed to do sit ups and squats, it’s less painful when the sun is shining.

Still whatever the benefit of daylight savings time on the economy or my mood, the change of time- even just one measly hour- twice a year messes up my body, my sleep patterns and my routines. It is difficult to decide whether after all is said and done, daylight savings time makes my life better or worse. But, no matter, since it seems that daylight savings time is here to stay, I won’t worry about ending it. For now I’ll just enjoy

 10 reasons to be happy that Daylight Savings Time is over. Continue reading »

Ralph

Ralph is the inspiration for Cantankerous Old Coots and is our Grand Duke of Cantankerousness

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Feb 102015
 
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Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Ahh immortal words, “Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”  Ferris Beuller was right.  My youngest daughter went to school this year and looking back on it, these past 6 years have gone by very quickly.  I look at my youngest and he will be in school in 4 short years.

 

This year was a different birthday….it just didn’t matter as much.  I am not sure why, maybe just getting older.  If it wasn’t for the kids it may have passed quietly and been just a blip.  I am quite sure that I was more excited for Talk Like a Pirate Day.

 

Yep, life moves fast, somewhere we all have to find the perspective to look around and see what is actually happening.  My oldest is 12 and growing up way too fast.  It is disconcerting to think that she will be an adult in only 6 years.  Now is the time to make those count, because we cant get them back.

 

Go outside and enjoy fall.  I went camping last weekend.  All of the trees were changing, the elk were bugling and the fish were moderately biting.  The temperature never got above 70.  It was great, and it sure beat cleaning out the garage.

 

Don’t miss life sitting here in front of a computer.  Go live life, winter is coming.  (bonus points if you take that as a reference and not a statement of the changing seasons.)

-Justin

Continue reading »

Justin

Justin is the young Coot with a Cantankerous Soul who continues to be educated by older, more cootish Ralph and Bob. His Cantankerosity is his own.

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Coots at the Opera

 Posted by at 11:44  Reflections
Feb 102015
 
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Sometimes life catches up with you!

Just because you’ve been around the block a few times doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve been counting.  I’m into culture from time to time and I couldn’t resist the opportunity to see big time opera just down the street so I found myself attending a meeting of the El Dorado Hills Geriatric Society down at the local multiplex. Well, actually it was a simulcast from the Metropolitan Opera beamed into the hinterlands by the wonders of modern science.  They’re been broadcasting live performances for years now but I’m lucky if I make it to one each season.  This was the first time I managed to get to one of the broadcasts this year and when I took a good hard look at the audience, it caught be by surprise. They were all old.  I was embarrassed at the association.

valkyrie2Of course I blended right in although I tend to forget that I am no longer the apple cheeked, brown haired stud that I picture when I think of myself.  Checking myself out reluctantly in the mirror of the washroom confirmed that I belonged to the crowd of old men with sagging jowls and bulging guts relieving their overloaded bladders at intermission.  There was not a youngster in the crowd.  I wondered if culture is dying.

Attending opera has never been so easy

as today when the Met beams its simulcasts into 10 or 15 venues in Sacramento alone on eight Saturdays each year.  Since the Met is anything but a philanthropic organization, I assume that they must be finding an audience and filling the coffers.  After all, if the Met is available in Sacramento, it is surely available anywhere because cowtown is no culture mecca.  But if they want to make a killing in El Dorado Hills, they had better be quick because judging from the audience in the theatre; it won’t be many more years before they expire.

Opera wasn’t available to me growing up in Kansas City.  My first live opera performance was the Lyric Opera in Chicago when I was in college.  I don’t remember what opera I saw, just the difficult trek from the Southside to the Loop and then walking across town to the venue. It was clearly high value to cause  a small town boy to brave the Chicago streets at night.  Clearly I had cultural aspirations. The way I saw it,  opera was the holy grail of classical cluture, combining theatre, music, dance and spectacle in one glorious package.

Still, as life continued,

opera remained only an occasional pleasure.  For many years, there was no opera company in Los Angeles.  Later family pressures and the fact that my wife doesn’t like opera kept me from subscribing for the season and made attending even one or two operas a year a guilty, solitary pleasure.

Early on, after I started working in Sacramento and commuting home to LA each weekend, it was easy to attend performances at the Sacramento opera on weekdays but when my wife and son moved up to join me my weeknights were no longer so free.  Who would ever believe that opera would be so accessible that you could drop by the local movie theater to take in Aida or Madama Butterfly and snack on popcorn all the while?

The contrast between the availability of opera everywhere and the general lack of culture displayed in the media or normal life is disconcerting.  It doesn’t help one bit that the opera goers down at the multiplex are easily as long in the tooth as yours truly.   While I can’t say that my love of opera was nurtured at home, neither can I say that that I nurtured a love of classical music in my own children who wouldn’t be joining me at the opera even if I paid and bought popcorn. My only comfort is the knowledge that I wasn’t the only lone opera lover in the theatre.  Nobody else was joined by children and grandchildren to enjoy the culture of opera.  Opera may be alive and well right now but the future looks ominous, if the audience last week in El Dorado Hills is typical.

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Ralph

Ralph is the inspiration for Cantankerous Old Coots and is our Grand Duke of Cantankerousness

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