Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Letter to Myself at Age 13

Russ McCabe did a video a few weeks ago, “Letter to myself (13)”.  It inspired me to do a video response, the link to which (gag me, but if you want to see me “live”, click it) I will paste below.  I actually composed it on here, and read it (not quite word-for-word). 

So, a letter from me to 13-year-old me:

Dear Nick,

I know you’re incredibly confused right now.  Your body is going through all kinds of changes and weirdness and you’re very frightened.  And yes, you do like boys, not girls.  That doesn’t change.  It’s not a phase, and you’re not going to grow out of it.  You think you have a deep, dark secret, that you’re different, that you’re going to Hell. You think that all the moving around from place to place means you’ll always be unbearably lonely; you think that Dad has wronged you dragging you off to yet another base during high school.

Believe it or not, all these things--while some of them are painful now--will make up the tapestry that is your life.  That move to San Antonio sets in motion a chain of events that will alter your life forever (in a good way); you’ll meet amazing friends you’ll keep for the rest of your life.  You’ll have a successful career—both the way you define it now (which is wrong, by the way, surprise!) and the way you’ll define it in 2013.  Just don’t expect it instantly, it’s a lot of hard work.

You ARE different, you DO like other boys--but you ARE NOT ALONE.  Many, many others are in that boat with you.  There will come a time when you are proud of this and when everybody knows.  Believe it or not, Mother and Dad will always love you, and your friends will still be your friends when you tell them.  Not only that, but you will meet many amazing new friends who will be proud to love you, and they will love you.  Some will be older, but some of them will be 20 years younger than you, some 30 years younger—so they haven’t even been born yet.  They’ll make a huge difference in your life.  And if I told you how you meet all of them, you’d never believe me (remember one word:  Microsoft.  Ok, two words:  Microsoft…and Apple!).

And you’re not going to Hell.  There is no such thing.  It was made up by a 15th century poet who had evidently been into the peyote (you’ll understand that reference later).  I can’t tell you about religion now, you’ll have to make those discoveries yourself, and you wouldn’t believe me if I told you.

There are going to be some dark days.  You know that Dad keeps guns, and you know how to use them.  I’m sorry to tell you, there are going to be several days when you sit alone in the house with one in your lap loaded, intending to use it on yourself.  DON’T DO IT.  IT GETS BETTER.  Trust me!  If you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust? 

Remember, I’m you and I know you.  Right now, you think of everything in absolutes—it’s all black or white, on or off, 0 or 1, good or evil.  That’s not true—it’s all shades of gray.  The truth lies somewhere in between.

As a TV show in 2013 says, “The world is full of Endless Wonder.”  Don’t miss a bit of it!  Another 2013 catchphrase is, “YOLO”.  It means, “You Only Live Once.”  Go out and experience the world around you!  Take a dare!  Take a chance!

Finally, love yourself.  You’re unique and special.  That means, put the guns back in the drawer.  Put the fork down on the table, turn off the TV, and exercise.  Mom’s a great cook, but that doesn’t mean you have to gorge.  That’s going to come back to  haunt you later.  Lose the weight and keep it off. 

And, don’t be so shy—if you don’t know someone, that means they don’t know you, either.  Go up and say hello.  You might both like it.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained!

That’s about it, except—look, buster, you DO drive too fast, don’t EVEN try to deny it.  That is going to get you in SO MUCH TROUBLE.  Ease off the damn gas, buck-o.  Oh, and the Beatles never do get back together—sorry.  But Star Trek will still be going strong!  But…no flying car.  Sorry!  And yeah—we really do look just like Uncle Horace! 

LOVE YOURSELF!  Be good to yourself!



Russ's video

My video

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Paybacks, and Unnecessary but Fun Expense

Back in this column, I talked about how some very gracious ladies found my pooches and returned them to me.

I was driving along the “through” street in the subdivision yesterday, and from the corner of my eye spotted a little brown dog coming at top speed from a side street.  Further back, a heavier older lady was huffing and puffing, leash in hand, frantically calling the dog’s name (the dog having suddenly developed “K-9 hearing disorder”, with which all dogs are sometimes afflicted, “I can’t HEARRR YOU!  LALALALALALA”). 

So I stopped the van.  The brown dog stopped to investigate.  I wondered if my old trick with Lucy and Ethel would work, hit the power door, and hollered, “Get in the car!”  And the dog did!

Which enabled the lady to catch up.  She was SO grateful (and believe me, I am SO familiar with that feeling!). 

Stupid dogs! Winking smile



Well-secluded, Ethel sees all…


Unnecessary but fun expense:

Yesterday, KEH.com, the big online camera store featuring very accurately described and rated used camera equipment, had a buying event at the Houston Camera Exchange, one of the two camera stores we have left (the other is for “Serious” photographers).  So, I loaded up all of Dad’s old equipment (I called him first and asked his permission, which he gave), along with MINE, and lugged it down there.  They didn’t buy two of the old lenses, but they bought the rest, plus the T-90 (camera) plus my NEW (2 months old) lens that I just bought from them.  Paid pretty good money for all of them.

When I bought my camera, in 2006, it was the second “good” camera I’d ever had.  The first, my old AE-1 Program, had served me long and well, but by the early 2000’s digital was the thing.  Dad and I bought a crappy (but expensive) Kodak, then I upgraded to a better Kodak; Dad, with more available cash, bought a Canon G3 (a point and shoot).  I bought a Canon G5 a year or so later, and that’s what I took to many of the tailgate parties. (Mother gave me some birthday money, so I always think of that as being a present from her).

So, in 2006, I was ready for a DSLR.  I knew what I wanted—a Nikon D200.  Unfortunately, Nikon thought quite a bit of their product, much more than my budget would allow.  So, I bought a D50 instead, and that’s what I’ve used since.  I paid almost $800 for it (camera and cheap Promaster “kit” lens + accessories), so that was still a lot for me (with camera equipment you’re limited only by your imagination and your budget). 

When I stopped going to tailgate parties and then moved to Houston, I basically stopped photography altogether and the whole thing sat on the shelf. 

A few months ago, when I discovered all of Dad’s old equipment, it fanned the ember of my photo hobby genes, and I got excited all over again.


Along with the D200 that I wanted in 2006, there was also a lens I wanted.  Nikon 18-200 “Super-Zoom”.  It was $800 and there was a WAITING LIST.  Dealers were selling them at 120% of MSRP.  Obviously out of the question, but I never stopped wanting it.

So when I started again this year, I began reading up to find out what the current state of photographic equipment development was.  That damn lens is STILL $800, though they are available everywhere now.  The thing is $400 and up USED.

So I bought the knock-off (the “new lens” to which I referred earlier), a Tamron 18-200.  This took fine photographs, and I would have been happy with it (other than an annoying tendency to “creep”, which it shares with the Nikon and Sigma versions), had I not gone to the camera store in Austin on my recent visit, and played with the Nikon.  As the great Marvin Gaye told us, “Ain’t Nothin like the Real Thing baby!” 

Anyway, when KEH said they were coming to Houston with a checkbook, I loaded it all up—and got enough to buy the Nikon lens (used).  It will arrive Wednesday.

Camera?  Their offer on my $800 D50 was $75.  I decided to keep it as a spare.  They wouldn’t buy my old Osawa lens (out of business, they’d never sell it) and Dad’s old Vivitar (too beat up).  So I still have one of Dad’s lenses and my old lens, both of which will work on my D50.

So now I’ve got to save the money for a new camera body.  The D200 is as hopelessly out of date as mine (but still not as cheap, so I’d be paying to upgrade to a camera as outdated as the one I now have).  The current iteration is the D7100 and the only thing separating me from it is $1,000 or so.  I really don’t want it, though.

Without going into a lot of technical detail (especially since nobody is still reading), the sensor in all of these cameras is small.  I want a full-frame, the D800 (in which the sensor is the same size as a frame of 35mm film).  Ahem, now we’re up to $2,500 for the camera—AND it doesn’t take the lens I just bought!!!!

So, I’m going to compromise on a used D90—$400 and up from KEH.

And meanwhile, I’ll use my old D50 and my new lens.

But here are a couple I took yesterday with the “kit” Promaster (ugh, I never did like that lens, have to do a lot of sharpening…).







Sunday, July 21, 2013

End of a Favorite TV Show, and Technology

This one is only 7 months late…(and there are lots of spoilers, if you’ve not watched these shows; I’ve started and stopped the spoilers.)

Ok, I’m not afraid to admit it, I watch TV.  For years and years, I didn’t—seems that the TV shows of the late 80’s through mid-2000’s, with a few exceptions, really didn’t capture my interest long enough to keep watching.

That changed with “The Sopranos”* and “Six Feet Under”.  I had basic cable when they came out.  Went to visit a friend in San Diego who had HBO, and he was totally –hooked- on both.  We watched both on his TiVo, and I came back home and wanted one IMMEDIATELY.  I called the cable company and they hemmed and hawed and by golly, I hung up on them (literally) and called DirecTV (then pretty new) and have been a DirecTV subscriber ever since.

Begin Spoilers:

Sometimes, TV shows end in unsatisfying and mediocre ways.  Unlike most everybody else, I loved the ending of St. Elsewhere (one of my favorites from days gone by); the whole thing was a dream in the brain of an autistic Donnie Westphal, and the hospital was a snow globe.  (That series, btw, featured a truly elegant and well-acted two-part episode, “Time Heals”, that is one of my very favorite episodes of any series). 

Star Trek had some unsatisfying endings.  The original season—didn’t.  It was cancelled so abruptly by NBC that there was no final episode.  That actually worked to advantage later, since the characters and story just continued—and we caught back up with them via animated series, movies, etc.  Deep Space Nine’s ending was ok, Voyager’s seemed abrupt but appropriate (and one of my two-parter favorites; Admiral Janeway leaves a not-so-swell future to come back to present-day and bring Voyager home early.  In the process, she fights Klingons, Starfleet Command, and her own friends/family, time-travels, then defeats the Borg AND gets the ship home.  Not bad, Kathryn…I’m sure it was the coffee that did it).  Enterprise’s ending was AWFUL—it was seen as history through the eyes of TNG???  Yuck.  TNG had a great ending; though you knew it was going on in the movies, the series ended on a high note.

Eureka ended leaving them wanting just a little more—but did a great job of wrapping up the loose ends, with a twist, and had a little nod to the past about which I (and most fans) had forgotten. 

Probably one of the best series-enders was the venerable Mary Tyler Moore Show, featuring the cast in one big hilarious group hug. Loved it.

But then, there’s The Bob Newhart Show, in which case Bob the innkeeper wakes up—it’s all been a dream, he’s in bed with Suzanne Pleshette in Chicago, because he’s really Dr. Bob Hartley, a Chicago psychologist, and he’s dreamed the whole Vermont Innkeeper story.  A classic parody.

The Sopranos had a great ending—a twist, nothing resolved; it was great.  Tony and Carm and the family in the local diner.  End.  No resolution of anything. Wow.

Six Feet Under as a series slipped in its last couple of seasons, but the series finale was great and true to its beginnings.  The youngest family member, Claire, finally leaves to strike out on her own—and as she’s doing it, we flash-forward to see the deaths of every single character (seeing the death of characters was a huge motif of the show), ending with—hers.  Hard to describe, but the final sequence was great.

Which brings us to the subject of this column:

I’ve been watching the current ideation of Merlin, which sought to re-introduce the Arthurian legends to a more modern audience.  It ran for 5 years on BBC One and SyFy, with the American version (much like Downton Abbey, another of my favourites) 6 months behind the British.

If you’re not familiar and don’t plan to watch it, Merlin has a 17 year old Merlin travelling to Camelot to get away from his ruined home; in process, he’s taken in by kindly Gaius, the Court Physician, and becomes “servant” to the also-17 Arthur Pendragon.  Uther Pendragon is on the throne and is waging a tireless (and somewhat tiresome) war against Sorcery, which is banished and punishable by death.  Merlin must play a bumbling and foolish servant, when in reality he is the most powerful sorcerer in history.

The creators/writers took many liberties with the legend (see paragraph above…) but followed the outline loosely.  Arthur meets Guinevere—check.  “Gwen” meets Lancelot—check. Gawain joins the merrie band—check.  Percival?  check.  Even Tristan and Isolde make an appearance.  The elements are all there—the red and white dragons, Excalibur (given by the Lady of the Lake), Morgan LeFay, Arthur’s sister and evil Sorceress, Mordred—just all re-arranged a bit to make them a bit more palatable for the 20-something crowd. 

The finale, however, followed the legend a bit more closely.  In the climactic battle of Camlann, Arthur is run through by Mordred, who is in turn killed by the wounded Arthur.  Merlin spirits Arthur away and tries to save him, but alas, Arthur dies.  Merlin sends “The Once and Future King” to rest on Avalon.  When Albion (Britain) is in her day of greatest peril, Arthur will once again rise and lead her to safety as her King.

It’s a very romantic and tragic story.  In the various sources (there is no one true source; L’Morte de Arthur, by Geoffrey of Monmouth, gave us most of the characters—Merlin the powerful magician, Guinevere and Lancelot and the love triangle, Excalibur, et al.), all of them end with the deaths of almost everybody.  Except Merlin—he’s enchanted and hidden in the crystal cave by Nimue, who has stolen all his powers.

I stayed up late to watch last night.

The “bromance” between Arthur and Merlin IS the show—and that concluded in a very satisfying (and tearful, for me) way.  (The last scene with Arthur and Merlin has Merlin trying to drag a chain-mail-clad Arthur to the Lake, to be healed of his (we know mortal) wound.  They fall, and Merlin struggles to keep going.  Arthur knows this is “it”, and tells Merlin, “…just—hold me”.  And that’s where the waterworks started for me). 

(There are a ton of gay overtones in the final episode—Merlin, who has been “closeted” the whole time, “comes out” to Arthur.  At first, Arthur is both disbelieving and unaccepting—but quickly realizes that now he knows the whole of his friend—and still loves him.  In one of his final moments, Arthur tells Merlin, “Just always—be YOU”.  It’s a complete allegory for gay people.).

And, much as the legend suggests, Merlin is waiting for Arthur to rise again, so he can take his place at Arthur’s side.  In the show, Merlin is last seen in modern-day Avalon, an old man walking down the road past the Lake of Avalon.  He pauses—and then keeps walking, waiting.

It was brilliant.  Unexpected twist on a great story, a very satisfying ending.

I was, therefore, shocked at the number of people commenting (in reviews) about how they want a “happy ending”.  There WAS no happy ending!  They did NOT live happily ever after!  At least, not in the legend!  And so, not in the show.  The ending should be bittersweet at best—and it was. 

End Spoilers.

Don’t these people ever, like, I dunno, read books???


Which brings us to technology.

Technology has profoundly altered all our lives.  The genie is out of the bottle, and will not return.  I took a quick trip this week, and was never out of touch thanks to my iPhone 5 (which, I’m sure, we will all laugh and consider hopelessly archaic, and a relic, 5 years from now.  “Hey, remember when we thought the iPhone 5 was the be-all/end-all?  HAHAHAHA!”).  Kept up with the day-to-day activities of my friends, and posted many of my day-to-day activities.

In terms of TV/entertainment, my life has been revolutionized by Roku.  If you don’t have a Roku, get one—they’re cheap and fabulous.  It consolidates all my web services—Netflix, HBOGo, Hulu Plus, Vimeo, Vudu—into one device.  Yes, my TV does all that, too—but not as well as Roku.  Plus, my TV does not allow me to control it via iPhone (!).  I was a skeptic, till I got one.  Give it a try.

Anyway, it has changed the way I watch television.  There were several original Star Trek episodes, for example, that I not only missed during the regular season, I missed during the ONE (1) summer re-run---thus didn’t see until years later when the show was in syndication.  If you weren’t glued to your set, or if you had two conflicting shows, you were just by-golly going to miss something.

Then came the VCR and freedom (is there anyone who doesn’t have a big box of VHS tapes slowly deteriorating somewhere in their house?  In my case, I’d record a bunch of stuff, all on the same tape, with the idea of watching later—and never doing it.  So I’ve got hours of unwatched video (make that “never to be watched video”) and no VCR.

Then TiVo!  Holee crap!  Much better—with limited storage, though.  You couldn’t keep a whole season of anything.

But now, with all these services—I can just wait and watch the entire season (“series” in UK english—in the UK, a “show” is a “programme”, and each individual year is a “series”; Series 1, series 2, series 3 means year 1, year 2, year 3) at the same time.

Which is what I did with Merlin—I watched the entirety of Series 5 over the course of a few days.  It’s like watching a great, continuous  movie—with no commercials!  It is now my preferred method of watching shows—I’m even sort-of leaving the DVR behind and just watching entire shows on the Roku.  I can also pick up shows I’ve never watched (24, Game of Thrones, Walking Dead).

What wonders will the future bring?


Do you have a favorite TV show ending?  Write me a comment and tell me about it!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Messing Around With the Camera and Photoshop


From my patio today:



This thing is blooming its head off for me.  I love the colour.




It’s just a crape myrtle.  Mine did this weird thing where the top branches from last year died (no idea…).  I was going to crop this, but decided I kind of liked the look.  What do you think?  Leave me some comments and let me know.

I was going to go out and drive around and take some city pics, but not sure I have the energy this week.  Plus, it’s cloudy—I love that clear blue sky with little white puffy clouds.  Maybe next week.

I should be shot for even thinking about it, but this new lens was really just an experiment to see if I would pick up a camera again.  I have.  There’s nothing wrong with the lens –it’s a very nice Tamron- but now I not only want a new lens, I want a new camera.  You’re only limited by your imagination and your budget.  In my case, it’s budget.  I could now get a D200, but that’s trading in one dinosaur for a slightly newer dinosaur.  The D300 (which has been far surpassed) is better, but still pricey—especially when you consider I want the Nikkor 18-200 lens with Vibration Reduction.  I played with one last week; it was –stellar- and I really, really want it.

Unfortunately, a nice USED set of equipment (I’ve decided, no more new cars,  no more new camera equipment, it’s stupid to pay full price when you can get nice used for 1/2 or less.  As an infamous tote-the-note car dealer from Rose City, Arkansas used to advertise:  “…Because EVERYBODY drives a used car!” 

Well, don't we all?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Bike Update 7/11/2013

Ok, so I fell off yesterday--it wasn't my fault!  (yeah, ok, it was).  I wasn't hurt, bike wasn't hurt, only my pride.  I got to thinking about it:

My first bike was a Western Flyer, red.  (Whoever’s got this posted on ebay, it’s a beaut!  I’m “borrowing” your pic, it’s beautiful.  If you don’t want me to use it, email me or comment below).  The bike was too big for me, and I fell off with regularity.

Western Flyer

My next bike, I rode the holy hell out of—a purple Schwinn Sting Ray!  The extreme coolness of me on this bike cannot possibly be overstated—I was the MAN!  People trembled in fear when I flew by, furiously pedaling!  (At least, in my imagination…).  My Dad bought the thing in a box; he hid the box in the back of the station wagon under all the other Christmas gifts, and I was –clueless-.  He assembled it while we slept Christmas Eve, so “Santa” dropped the Sting Ray on me.  I was 11, so this was the total BOMB.  No more old-fashioned bike for me (my friends were very jealous, although Richard Padilla (that jerk! and one of my best friends) got a green one just like it from Santa (that two-timing red-suited Coke-guzzling cookie eating jerk two-timed me!  And freaking Richard lived right down the street!).


By February 11, 1973, I was way way way too mortified to be seen on the Schwinn.  That was my birthday; my Dad (over the furious objections of Mom, one of the only times I ever really saw her lose it on him) drove me to the DPS office where I passed my test; then drove me, my freshly minted receipt/TDL in my pocket, over to his buddy Kermit’s house.  Mr. Lochte, as I called him, had a 1955 Dodge Royal Lancer (it had a hemi!) that he had bought new; charcoal and salmon, with a cream top and black interior.  $200.  Dad drove me up, I was busy looking at the car and talking to Mr. Lochte, and Dad burned rubber getting away—leaving me to drive my “new” car home.  This one’s almost identical, I wish I had it now!!!


From that day until around 1980, I didn’t own a bike (Dad sold the Schwinn in a garage sale).  With the huge success of the movie “Breaking Away” in 1979 (still a great movie), my entire generation had to have Italian racing bikes!!!  10 speeds, handlebars curved under, you had to lean down like you were racing—and couldn’t see the road at all unless you craned your neck.  Skinny tires and one errant pebble could bring you down.  Like everyone else, I rode mine 10 or 12 times and then it sat in the walk-in closet of my upstairs apartment (you had to get it out, drag it through the apartment, down the stairs, then ride on busy streets, then drag it back upstairs and figure out how to fit it back in the closet) until the tires rotted and I sold it for maybe $20.  (Remember taking a piece of notebook paper, taping a pic to it, then making little tear-off tabs at the bottom with your name and phone number on it, and posting it on the bulletin board at the apartment laundry?).

Decades later, when Nathan and I moved to Houston and he got very into biking (it’s how he met his wife), I borrowed my brother-in-law’s 10-speed and tried to keep up, but (1) Nathan is 26 years younger than I am and (2) he had a Specialized Expedition while I had a broken down 10-speed.  It hurt my back and I quit.


Which brings us to the present.  I haven’t been on a bike in 6 years, and then only 2 or 3 times; before that only 10 or 12 times in the 80’s, so REALLY I haven’t ridden a bike since 1973—and that’s 40 years (my God…).

You don’t forget how (really) to balance, but you DO forget a lot of little things.  For example, if two cars are meeting on a narrow but busy street, you can just stop till they get past.

No, not yours truly, I plowed ahead into a slick muddy patch and down I slid.

As I say, the only thing hurt was pride, and I got over that a long time ago.

Today was a good day!  Terry Hershey Park!  (Some of the slow time, the trail meanders up and down and I had to pedal hard—even with 21 speeds—it’s like this, I don’t want to give myself a heart attack…not terrible for my 4th time out).


Monday, July 8, 2013

Just Because

Every morning I take pics of whichever flowers are blooming and send them to Dad and Jean.

Today’s haul:









Sunday, July 7, 2013

Say Hellooo To My Little Friend (well, new friend anyway)



Getting rid of all this excess tonnage (40 lbs so far!) is priority #1 for me right now.  Diet will only take you so far; exercise must be added.

It’s too damn hot and I will not walk.  Too much impact while I still have this much lard.  Too hard on the knees and ankles, plus too much heat.

But I’ve always loved cycling—so yesterday I went to Austin and picked up this little beauty.  I went to –a local bike shop- and priced them; the entry level bike I priced (and for which I was fitted) started at $439 plus tax; this one is the upgrade and is closer to $500.  Maybe entry level for everybody else, but awfully rich for my blood!

Craigslist to the rescue.  Vastly less than half price.  Well cared-for.  Used—so what?  When I ride it out of the local bike shop it’s used….

So, I will be sitting less and riding more.  Rode today (I can already feel the muscles starting to burn, what few there are of them—and I didn’t go very far.  But, I can go further each time.  Terry Hershey Park is right down the street from my house and offers great trails—no cars.


This may be my last post.  I don’t think anybody reads them.  If you want me to continue, leave me a comment below just letting me know somebody saw this. 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Beethoven, Beatles, Mancini, Mantovani, and the Chairman of the Board---

Not every blog post has to be so SERIOUS (cue ponderous music).  Sometimes you have to lighten up, Francis.

First, Happy 4th, everyone!

Second, before anybody asks, no, I am NOT a hoarder.  I just have lots of…collections, yeah, that’s the ticket, collections.

So after wasting time on the patio this morning, (I love my patio and treasure every minute I spend out there, just wish I had someone to enjoy it with)








This one, I ‘shopped; can you see where?  If so, tell me…

I spent some quality time learning just how much I DO NOT know about Photoshop Elements 11.  It’s a tremendous program, chock-full of great things to do with your pictures—and I failed at some of the most simple.  Well, practice makes perfect.

So I cleaned the kitchen (ugh), washed a couple of loads (double ugh), and tried to decide which of my myriad long-term projects (I’m an Aquarian; we start 1,000 projects and finish NONE) I might have a shot at even trying to make progress on.

Ever since I bought my first Magnavox (ok, I’m queer for shoes—and Magnavox—and a couple of other things which shall be mentioned later), I’ve been accumulating albums.  I seem to have lost my own album collection in the multiple moves (or did I?), so I set out to replace.  At first, I was doing Half Price Books (they always have a nice selection).  Then, some relatives sent me a box of theirs (kind of scary?…); then I re-discovered Goodwill.

Goodwill, which has like 50 stores across Metro Houston, is a junk paradise.  They’ve got some of everything.  I’ve found a set of soup bowls to match my china, another set to match my everyday stuff; I’ve found clothes (I’ve got no problem with used clothes as long as they’re high-quality, clean, and decent—some people get rid of them because they’re “last year’s stripe” (more on that in another blog).  I even found an amazing thing:  a crystal “diamond” from the Little Rock Chamber of Commerce (there were TWO of them, one for me, one for Nathan!  At the Goodwill Store on Katy Freeway in Houston, Texas!  Bizarre!). (If you have ANY idea what these are, let me know in the comments!  It’s a solid 5” across and weighs at least a pound.)  It has a place of honor on my desk in its own little jewel box (in which it came).


Lousy picture; I was trying to get the etching to show up…

Goodwill (at least most of them) also has ALBUMS.  You know, Granny will go to the Home and the kids will come in to clean it all out and say, “Gawd, throw those in the trash!” “No, give ‘em to Goodwill and get a tax writeoff!”  Goodwill has them for $0.99 each, except when they’re on sale for $0.50.  I check them carefully; all of them are “used”, but if they’ve got big scratches, etc., I’m not going to want them even for $0.50. 

My musical tastes are extremely varied, so whatever I buy is varied as well (and depends on the selection).  I’ve got practically all of the Rat Pack’s records, except the Chairman.  His are collectible and harder to get and more costly.  I also have ALL of them on CD (yes, all).  The Chairman (Frank Sinatra, the Chairman of the Board), Elvis, and the Beatles were seminal talents in the history of music, and I happened to be around for all of them (got to see Elvis in concert!  during his white spandex pantsuit/many sequin/300 lb era, but he still put on a show, and yes, they really did say, “Elvis has left the building”).  On the Maggie, I love things I hated as a kid—101 Strings, Ferrante and Teicher, and my Granny’s favorite, Mantovani.  I still love classical and opera (always).  I’ll even like the occasional country star (wait for it…Buck Owens and the Buckaroos.  You heard it here…).

Goodwill has all of these at one time or another in one location or another (it’s helter-skelter—just depends what came in that day).  So, as I pass by a Goodwill, I’ll dash in and spend $10 or $20 on records.  Some are real gems—Anna Moffo in the 1959 *Living Stereo* recording of “La Traviata”, considered a classic—$0.99, looks brand-new); others are, ahem, “K-Tel presents:  TV Themes of the 70’s!!!”. 

Tragically, I’ll bring them in (vinyl + Houston summer heat in the car = landfill), but just stack them in a corner.  One of my never-to-be-completed projects.

In order to keep my friend from calling the show “Hoarders”, I decided TODAY IS THE DAY on the albums.  I have a “little den” that I am optimistically terming “the music room”.  Built-in bookcases (house was built in 1976, which I actually like).  I squared my shoulders and bravely marched in.

I’m embarrassed for you to see this picture, partly because of the mess (I had to clear those shelves to put the records there) and partly because of the record collection…but here it is, all TEN (10) FEET OF IT. (I measured).


Now to catalog it (this will take another 2 years…).

I love comments but hardly ever get one!  If you have a stupid collection, in the comments below, tell me what it is (misery loves company).  Or, just let me know you read the thing (thank you, all 6 of you who read me).  I feel like I’m writing this in a vacuum, but I guess I can look on it as a journal…).