Monday, December 29, 2014

All About Me

I firmly believe that no one reading this blog has much interest in the minutia of my daily life.  If I'm correct, than this will be a boring post, because the following is what's going on with me right now.

For starters, this is the last post I'll be making on my Model M keyboard for a couple of months.  My personal computer will be going into storage on the first, along with most of my personal belongings.  I was able to plan on moving out of my current apartment before leaving, and not moving into my new one until after my trip, thus saving a months rent.

I leave for this trip on the fifteenth of January.  I'm all set as far as the trip goes.  All that's left is to pack away my life, while still meeting my obligations.  I will be working ten days in a row before I leave.

Last week I missed my posting, but I promise I have a good reason.  I was on death's door.  In a matter of hours I went from healthy, to passing out while standing.  I thought it was just something I ate, and didn't take the illness seriously.  Thankfully, my mistake didn't cost too much.  I was able to work from home that Monday, and was well enough to leave the house the next day.

As far as my diet goes, I'm still doing well.  I was hoping to lose 39 pounds before my trip, and I've lost 32.5 so far.  I know now that I won't achieve that goal, but that still makes this an incredible victory.  I'm proud of that, and all of the positive changes I'm making right now.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Recent Anecdotes

Thank you for checking my promise! I share three recent anecdotes:

Contact Lens Issues
I have had cataract surgery, I wear contact lenses because my cataract glasses are, well, unflattering. Ugly. Coke bottle bottoms. I wear my contacts all the time, except for just before going to bed and briefly after getting up.

Feeling as I’ve felt recently, I rest ( sleep ) much more than usual, and often on the couch. Because I am not supposed to sleep with my contact lenses inserted, and because this napping occurs in the morning, I usually wear my cataract glasses until after lunch.

One day I read the paper, dozed, did email with my smart phone, dozed, got and read the USPS mail, dozed, and finally had lunch. Somewhat energized, I inserted my contact lenses and went to work on my computer. I had a terrible time: I was barely able to see the text clearly enough to read. I did the things I could to make the text bigger. This helped, but I continued to struggle.

This sudden difficulty scared me. My recent falling incident at the Basilica told me bad things can happen in a hurry. I continued to worry, try to work different applications, trying to do a variety of things.The problem persisted.

Eventually I remembered a prior experience; “I wonder if that could be what’s going on here.” My two eyes require different corrections; to distinguish them, the Left lens is bLue and the Right lens is gReen. I hurried to the bathroom, got down my contact lens case, and popped out the contact lens in my Right eye. It was not gReen, but bLue! Somehow I swapped lenses.

I put the bLue one in the case, removed the other one, inserted it in the Right eye, the bLue one in the Left eye and hurried back to my office. I could easily see monitor’s text and read to my heart’s content once again. Life was good.

Daring Offer
In the far corner of the parking lot at my medical clinic, in the kind of weather that makes walking an adventure, as I pulled into a parking space, I noticed a woman: alone, on crutches, trying to carry a rather large handbag, struggling mightily. “I could help her with that,” I thought. Immediately following, “What do you suppose she will think or say if you do that? Do you really think that’s a good idea?

Realizing the risk I was taking ( Is it not a shame that this is something I had to even think about? ), I walked up to her on her right side, “It looks to me like you’re struggling with that purse. I’d be happy to carry it if you’d like.

Without sarcasm, and without trying to attack me with it, she said, “Oh, would you; that’d be so nice,” and handed it over to me. For the first time I saw her youth; I could’ve easily been her father, perhaps grandfather.

We had a very pleasant conversation on the walk in. At one point I even said, “I’m not afraid to carry a purse,” and opened my coat to show her the bag I always carry over my shoulder. We laughed.

She had been quite an athlete. Injuries to her left knee ended that; she was, then, taking her right knee, with its torn ACL, in to schedule surgery. I was quite early for my appointment, so I accompanied her to the orthopedic clinic, put her purse on the counter when we got there, my hand on her forearm, uttered “Have a wonderful Christmas,” and left for my appointment.

I experienced the event as pleasant and she got a huge help getting into the clinic; win-win.

Contact Lens Issues Unmasked
A few days after my initial Contact Lens Issue, I had just removed my contact lenses, cleaned them, and put them in the wells of the lens case. As I was putting the soaking solution in the Right well, I noticed the lens: it was bLue!

For the second time that week, after thirty years of not doing it at all, I had mixed up the lenses putting the Right one where the Left one should go and vice versa, setting myself up for reading problems once again. “I gotta get a new system,” I think.
If you would like to comment but don't care to use the comment field, send an email to

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Walter Snuck some Time Off

"You're not quite over this," my body would say to my spirit.

My apology to all; I took a break from posting and said nothing about it; just kind of "snuck it in." It's because I was sick, overcome with a cough that zapped most of my energy. Several times I thought I was improving and soon found myself in a five-minute period where I could do nothing but cough. "I'm not quite over this," I'd realize.

I promise to publish, next week, one or more anecdotes from the last few weeks. I found them interesting in real time and hope you'll find them so.
If you would like to comment but don't care to use the comment field, send an email to

Monday, December 15, 2014

Theological Skepticism - #3

I missed posting last week.  It was a busy week for me, which included a funeral, among other things.  It was a catholic funeral that took place at a church that I would describe as progressive.

This church does have a cross at the center, but it's far bigger than the Jesus, and shaped more like a plus, so as not to conjure up an execution device quite so much.  The Jesus, and all other statues, are left their natural wood color to avoid portraying a white Jesus without exactly saying he was brown either.

The ceremony was short, and had no kneeling.  In fact, there were no kneelers.  The whole experience was not unpleasant.  The priest never mentioned fire or brimstone, but of course mentioned heaven.  The catholics I know believe it is wrong to propose that they know who is in hell, but are happy to clam that they know who is in heaven.  According to the priest, the latter was the case for my recently deceased acquaintance.

This priest continued to explain what "we believe" about the afterlife because he is an intelligent man who knows a funeral will contain non-christians.  Then he got to the one part that really struck me.  After explaining that she will now be spending infinite time in an infinitely pleasurable place, he went on to say that this does not assuage our grief.

It doesn't?  Maybe he could have elaborated on that.  You could argue that our grief is for ourselves because we can't hang out with her for a while.  Sure.  But even then, how callous is that?  The best thing that could possibly happen to anyone, just happened to this woman, and instead of celebrating for her, I'm sad for me?

I've heard it argued that not knowing that you know something is the same thing as not knowing that thing.  I might have agreed except for this particular piece of knowledge.  Every christian I know, knows that life is unlimited, but lives like it is not.  They worry about death, of themselves and their loved ones, as much as a person who accepts that all lives will end one day.

I know there are a few suicide bombers who are exceptions to the rule, but it seems to me that most theists think that they think they're immortal, but live like they're not.  As for me, I say memento mori, but of course I said nothing of the sort at the funeral.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

One Price of Addiction - an Update

"Have you been reading your Facebook lately?"

"What does it say?"

"We won."

We won an eye-dropper filled fountain pen; in my prior post, from which the quote is taken, I wrote about entering the contest, winning an AirMail eye-dropper filled fountain pen, my excitement, my initial screw-up filling the pen, subsequently filling the pen correctly and how wonderfully the pen writes.

I have since retired that pen from use, at least for the winter months.

the retirement
The day after I posted that glowing report, I wrote this in my journal, "My prize-won-in-a-drawing AirMail pen leaked into the cap and spit all over this morning, first thing. ICK! Very unhappy. I predicted this, but not this soon. And not this bad, I don't think."

Full Disclosure: I had had another pen which spit up in use. Customer service told me that the problem was the temperature at night got too cool and my warm hands, warming the unit's ink, increased the pressure in the barrel so that the pen had virtually no choice but to spit. That pen was a piston filled pen, so the ink was in the barrel, only the barrel's thickness away from my warm hands. An eye-dropper filled pen also puts the ink right in the barrel, right next to my warm hands. "Piston fillers and eye-dropper fillers are not for you," he had said. He replaced the pen with another, filled differently and with a different ink-feed design, with which I am quite happy.

I based my prediction of this experience on those words from customer service. The pen had leaked, the pen case in which I had stored it overnight was wet with ink ( this was a hand-made item, made of  plastic canvas and yarn, and I was able to get most of the ink out with a good washing of it ), and I had had it with that pen. "The pen writes so nicely, though … ," kept going through my mind.

Having some experience with replacing the nibs in my Chinese pens and noticing that the nib in this pen seemed about the same size, I considered putting the nib from this pen in one of my Chinese pens. I removed the nib from the AirMail easily enough; I tried putting the nib and the Chinese pen's feed into one of my Chinese pens; that went smoothly enough, as well. Feeling a bit smug, I thought I'd make some lemonade.

After some appropriate diddling ( determining that two particular bottles of ink that I own just don't work with my Chinese pens, removing and reinserting the nib/feed several times, adjusting the relative positioning of the nib and feed ) I now have another attractive Chinese fountain pen that writes at least as good as it looks. 

I joined it with the other two pens with the number 6 nibs I received for my birthday, and I have a trio of fine looking and writing pens.

My three Chinese pens in front of a writing sample from each.

I just finished writing the Christmas cards my wife and I send ( yes, my job ) and I used all three of them without hesitation. 

for the winter months
This spitting phenomenon occurs when the pen gets cold overnight and is then subjected to my warm hands. The "cold overnight" occurs only in the winter.

I doubt that I'll return its nib to this pen and try it again in the spring. I may try it with the Chinese pen's nib, but that nib doesn't work well in the Chinese pens, I don't know why I'd think it would work in the AirMail pen. We'll see. If you want to know, please ask.
If you would like to comment but don't care to use the comment field, send an email to

Monday, December 1, 2014

Cheapness is a Sense

The other day a friend told me that American consumerism is out of control.  This is evidenced to him by all of the holiday sales the evil and greedy corporations are running to trick the poor unsuspecting consumer into buying something they don't need.  I couldn't disagree more.

The way I see it, capitalism has set up a system were everyone gets a nice lot in life if they choose to put in the effort.  I have friends who have more money than time.  This is because they perform difficult and specific tasks for our society.  Tasks that they trained for long and hard.  They have the option of paying a little extra to get what they want, when they want it.

I, on the other hand, did not train so long, and don't work so hard.  I have more time than money.  Yes, cuts are made, but it's a trade off I chose.  And I can still get most of the things I want by shopping around to find a good deal.  I can take advantage of those sales.  Sometimes I can find what I'm looking for used.

A friend recently mentioned that her child wanted a toy for Christmas that has a MSRP of $60.  She did not expect me to purchase this because that is too much to spend on a friend's kid.  I found it locally on sale for $40, and then I saved $5 on top of that with a discounted gift card.  A great trick is to buy a gift cards at cardpool at a discount.  That way you can stack that with any other offer you find there.

As for people that don't have the money, and can't be bothered to find the deals?  People who really do buy things that they neither need nor want?  They'll get no sympathy from me.