Saga of the “What If’s..”

giphy.gifI was laying in bed last night, just before going to sleep, and the temperature outside was a balmy -6°F when it hit me.  What if we had a fire in the house right now?  It’s not an impossibility.  The house is over 170 years old.  Having gone down to the basement, there are indications of a previous fire in the neighborhood of the living room fireplace, so in the past history of the house, there was some sort of disaster, or at least some timbers were heavily singed.  Since we don’t know the history of the house really past the 1870s (that’s as far as the title search went) we’re forced to speculate a little bit about the ‘what if’s’ that occurred back then.

But again, what if there was a fire in the house?  Would we get out in time?  How many of our possessions would be salvageable?  Moreover, would we be able to catch the cat to save his little furry butt as well?  Naturally there are pressing issues about scene items, like my flogger collection, and other BDSM toys, how much of them would be destroyed, lost to water damage, smoke and so on.  One of our wedding presents was a flogger made by an artisan who’s no longer crafting her wares.  Matter of fact, one can’t hardly find a reference to her work anymore on the web, but go back 25-30 years ago, and she was a highly respected and sought after craftsperson.  Weird sometimes how that happens.  Lost to the whims of history, even in BDSM lore.

I started this post a week ago, but am finishing it up now, fyi.  A couple of days ago as I was thinking about the scenario that began this post, I thought about buying a safe for my more valuable and less ably replaceable scene items (along with some other necessities, like insurance papers, birth and marriage certificates, as well as other important documents and valuables).  We do have a small safe that my FIL owned, but it’s been in storage for the past 20 years, and it actually weighs about 200 lbs (~91 kgs).  Too, I don’t believe we ever ascertained or found the combination, so at present the safe door is open, so we don’t have to pay a locksmith to open the damn thing.  Consequently, that wouldn’t do very well anyway.  Too small.  I went to a safe website, and looked for possible options and hit upon a possible solution, a ‘gun safe’, one that would be used to protect one’s firearms as well as other valuables.  The only problem (besides price) would be the one I would probably want weighs in excess of 800 lbs (~363 kgs).  The likelihood of something of that nature would be it would end up in the basement, since it would probably crash through the floor of whatever room we wanted to put it in.

So that scenario isn’t a likely solution.  Just another in a long line of musings I’ve had over the years.  Actually, the other ‘what if’ thought I’ve had is, who’s going to inherit my toy collection after I’m gone?  Yeesh.  Gotta quit being morbid.

 

Almost tired of the holiday

I suppose there’s a term for holiday burnout.  Perhaps that’s the term right there.  When you get to the point that you really, really want it to be all over with.  A little peace and quiet, and no one wishing you Merry Christmas, or expecting you to be happy all the blessed time because of the holiday.

Certainly (I think at least) it’s worse for those of us in retail.  When you have to be ‘on’ all the time, smiling and helpful to people who may be having a bad day and they (perhaps inadvertently, perhaps not) take it out on you, because they can’t get something that they’ve been wanting, planning for etc.  So, sometimes you have to bear the brunt of their ire, shrug it off and plaster a smile on your puss for the next person.  After a couple of months of that (think Thanksgiving and Christmas) one can get a little frazzled.

Then of course there’s the music.  Stores play over their sound systems music that people over the years have termed ‘Elevator Music’, it’s Muzak, but more increasingly it’s not just instrumentals, but what might be called ‘contemporary music’, ie it’s somewhat current, but it’s subdued, to keep the din of the shopping experience somewhat muted.  So you don’t have a silent store, but there’s something to mask the sounds of what goes on in a typical store, from chattering of the patrons, to other sounds that are normally heard in any brick and mortar retail establishment.  Of course, when you work in such a place, since the music is fairly predictable, eventually you know what song is coming next because you’ve heard it tens of thousands of times.  The music companies aren’t really all that unpredictable with their playlists, only every now and again do they change things up, and with some of them, they have contracts with companies that individual stores can ‘choose’ what playlists they can have piped into the stores, but the contracts generally are for several years in length.  So what you get is what you get all the time.  Try listening to the same playlist for a couple of years straight, 8 hours at a clip.  Try it, I dare you.

The day after Thanksgiving, the Christmas music begins in earnest.  At least in my store.  One solid month of Christmas music.  Old ballads, newer versions, but of course after you’ve heard ‘Santa Baby’ by fourteen different artists in different arrangements, you start to go a little nutty.  Frosty the Snowman, or Jingle Bells are nice songs, but when you hear them played 3 or 4 times in the same hour, you start to wonder if you’re going to make it through the season.  I have to admit, after 30 plus years in retail, I wonder sometimes if I’m going to manage the rest of my time in the same type of job when the wonder and merriment of the season is being sucked out of me.

Sadly, it’s become more and more apparent that I’ll be glad when Christmas is over.  January can’t come soon enough!

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Seasons Greetings.  Thanks for reading.

Tumbling Tumblr

Admittedly I don’t have a huge social media presence, but I am on quite a few platforms all the same.  One of the ones that I use (or have been using) almost daily is Tumblr.  Though I don’t admittedly use it for vanilla purposes, and in the next 10 days it’s going to get sidelined.  You may or may not have heard of this, but the company that owns the platform; Oath, has decided to eliminate ALL adult content on the service.  Which means, if anything that even slightly looks like porn, it gets pushed off the service.  Meaning probably deleted, along with the offending account that posted it in the first place.  As you can imagine, this is causing a great deal of bruhaha with the majority of people who have such material in their accounts.

Fortunately, I’ve dealt with this sort of thing before.  A few years ago, the website Bondage.com went under, simple because it was considered extraneous, to the company that owns AdultFriendFinder.com.  Of course, it wasn’t just the website that was going under, there was an IRC (Internet Relay Chat) server attached to it as well.  And this server had been working for better than 10 years, so you can imagine there was a pretty big community on it.  IRC servers by and large predate the Internet as it’s known today.  It’s a chat service that’s considered very ‘old school’.  It’s all done by text, you must have a bit of computer know-how to get onto one, and since that’s the case, you tend to get a different grade of person that’s connected.  Very few bright eye’d sorts, think more earthy, down-to-earth, the ones’ that have been around a while and seen a lot of things.

When the news came along, there wasn’t too much time to make any sort of plans, the clock was most definitely ticking, much the way it is now with Tumblr.  More than a few enterprising folks took it upon themselves to code up new IRC servers, but without significant outlay of $$, it didn’t take long for most of them to go under.  An IRC server isn’t something you code on a whim, it takes time, hardware and moolah.  Not a lot, but server space isn’t necessarily cheap.  And dedicated bandwidth to run it also costs a good nickel, don’t let anyone fool you.  Tally in the fact that you need more than just yourself to police it, because there are going to be unsavory characters more than happy to glom onto your spanking new IRC server and drown it, just on a whim, or so they said that they did.

Getting back to the topic at hand, I’ve been sort of watching from the sidelines on this one, seeing the posts interspersed with ones giving Oath/Verizon the finger etc. telling people where to go for similar service, how to back up their Tumblr accounts (Tumblr itself is making it difficult for people to archive their stuff) while I did a little searching on the web for a suitable program or manip in order to move my account from web to hard drive.  A couple of days ago, my efforts bore fruit.  I discovered a freeware program that’s been out for a couple of years, it’s kind of a ‘quick and dirty’ program but it gets the job done.  No frills, but then again it’s free so who’s quibbling?  Once I understood how it worked, it took all of about an hour to pull my accounts off of Tumblr for good.  It doesn’t hurt that I have 16 TB (TeraBytes) of hard drive space at my disposal.

I’m really not going to comment on what caused the problem, how it could have been more easily dealt with, instead of Verizon choosing the nuclear option.  I’m just glad I was able to get my things off the web and into a safe spot.  Yes, and make a little rant at the same time.  *Shrug*  I think I’m due.

 

 

Holidailies

A couple years ago I tried out the Holidailies thing, with limited success.  This was on the earlier iteration of the blog, back before the changeover.  Since I have a hard time occasionally finding something to write about, I don’t think I ended up being all too prolific with my foray into it.  I actually found out about Holidailies from a friend that used to blog (a scene friend), and she liked to do it many years in a row.  I thought many times over the years about doing the same thing, but when I had a chance, it sort of died before it began.

But here it is 2018 and I’m trying again.  We’ll see if I do any better.

Music of the season

I love Christmas music.  Always have.  When it comes to this time of year, I like to immerse myself in the music that I grew up with.  Yes, some of it is secular, and I’m an avowed (and sometimes proud) atheist, but it doesn’t make the music any less wonderful.  Just because I don’t agree with the story behind ‘Away in a Manager‘ doesn’t mean I won’t sing it lustfully loud in the shower (there are times it’s good that the wife is a bit deaf, I can sing as loud as I want in the next room and she can’t hear me!) regardless of the words or the meaning behind them.  The same goes for standards like ‘What Child is This?”, “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” and others.  They’re music. They’re good singing music, and just as nice when you listen to them as much as you want to.  So there.

Even so, whoever decided that elevator music should include Christmas ballads needs to be hung up by their gonads and beat with a truncheon.  I can’t count how many good solid standards have been maligned or downright destroyed by a smattering of electronic sounds and a beat so fast that it completely destroys whatever intent that the originator of the music had in mind.  Too, when you play the same some 5 times in a 2 hour period, someone needs to have a little talk with the one that’s programming the playlist.

I use Spotify for my music nowadays.  It’s the most recent tool/program that I’ve come to, having utilized a cornucopia over the years. (Napster, iTunes, iHeartRadio, Pandora and a few others that I can’t remember right now)  I use the paid version, so there are no ads, and create playlists for my various electronic devices.  I like Spotify in that they at least give the creators of the music their deserved royalties, and yes while I have to pay $10/month for the use of the service, it’s a necessary and acceptable outlay.

In the last few years I’ve been reminiscing over some of the holiday music that my family played when we trimmed the tree, and kept the silence at bay during the holiday season.  During the 1970s, vinyl records were the norm, since CDs and MP3s were decades away from being invented, cassette tapes were just becoming available and 8-track tapes were rapidly becoming a thing of the past.  When my mother was shopping at the local A&P (Atlantic & Pacific Co, in case you were wondering what the initials meant) she found a compilation album of Christmas music and bought it.  It was added to the playlist of albums that we used at that time of year and I fondly remember the music even now, 40 plus years later.  Somehow in the time of moving from one house to another, I lost that album, but I still have all the other albums that my family had, but rarely use a stereo (the one my family had is in storage) to listen to them.  With the advent of Bluetooth technology, I’ve been contemplating digging out the stereo, setting it up and connecting it via Bluetooth so I can control it remotely.  And of course using the stereo in the house for it’s intended purpose.  During the various moves from one house to another, I kept the speakers from our stereo, and within the last year bought a 40 watt amp and hooked them up to my 42″ LED tv in the den.  The speakers may be 40 years old, but they sound just as good as they did back then.  At least as much as I remember.

I did happen to find another copy of the aforementioned A&P album on eBay in case you were wondering.  When I get the turntable and stereo out of storage, get everything set up and acclimated, I hope it sounds just as good as it did back then.

ChristmasAlbum

A matter of hue

I tend to engage with the customers at my workplace.  It’s something that I’ve always done, since if you carry on a conversation, it’s not so much like they’re just there to shop, they might find that they have a ‘friend’ in the business and if they feel more comfortable, then perhaps their shopping experience will be a little less impersonal.  And they might end spending more, which sometimes can be considered a good thing.  Even so, there are times when customers, having become familiar, tell me things that surprise me sometimes and on occasion make me do a double take, or just completely bowl me over.

Case in point, this past week one of my older customers was telling me about what she did (and didn’t do) for Thanksgiving.  Apparently she and her son have become estranged over the several months leading up to the holiday, so much so that she wasn’t invited to their house for the meal.  Having been spurned, she was informed by one of her girlfriends that a couple of the local churches were serving a holiday dinner.  The first church that she went to, apparently had served the dinner either the day before, or the weekend before, so there wasn’t anyone there when she arrived.

Upon going to the other church, she apparently was quite surprised by the fact that the vast majority of people there were “colored” (her word, not mine).  That fact seemed to unnerve her so she left and didn’t partake.  I try not to judge, I don’t know everyone’s upbringing or their politics or personal preferences, but I have to admit that I was rather taken aback with the way she was describing her obvious confusion and distaste over what she had found.  I did ask her what she did for Thanksgiving dinner, and she quite nonchalantly said that she ‘went without’.  I really wanted to ask her why she had such a problem taking a meal with her neighbors, but I could see that asking something of that nature would more than likely have done more harm than good.

I’m not colorblind, I have friends that are African-American.  I went to high school with black kids, college and have worked with many over the years.  When I was in college in my senior year, I even had a black roommate.  He was from Brooklyn and a little rough around the edges, but we managed to get along.

Suffice it to say, it was just a little unnerving to hear someone in their 80s have that sort of reaction to people not of her own race.  As far as we’ve come as a people, as a species, we seem to be continually reminded that we still have a long way to go.

Hurry up and wait

Hurry-Up-and-WaitOur original plan was to get together every couple of months to keep things fresh in the relationship.  Due to financial constraints, that plan has been shelved at least until spring of 2019.  It certainly brings neither of us any joy in stating this, let alone living it, but as we repeat to one another all too often “it is, what it is.”  As infuriating as that statement may be, it’s just the damnable truth.

For me, what makes it all the more untenable is the fact that my girl is able to play in my absence, due to her need for companionship beyond what’s possible with me.  She’s presently exploring a poly situation with a couple in her area, and (naturally) even that’s not a cakewalk.  It has had its own shoebox of drama, that she’s had to navigate as best that she can.

I just find more and more that I’m back to being on the sidelines.  Where I swore that I didn’t want to be again.  Yet here I sit, day in and out, week and out, month and out, not doing anything while my toys start to gather dust again.  Yes, this is a rant.  It’s not however, a rant against my girl or anyone else.  Merely expressing myself here in print, because I’m getting more and more frustrated and I just need some place to talk about it, and well, here’s a place.  I’ll caveat it to say I’m not IN ANY WAY blaming anyone about what makes the situation the way it is.

It is this way because of money for the most part.  (Doesn’t it always in some way end up being the culprit?) I can’t solely afford to foot the bill for another trip to meet my girl.  I’m certainly in the process right now of paying for my own bills, dealing with my household debt, and attempting to sock away as much money as I can into my 401k, since my Union decided to kowtow and knuckle under instead of fighting for a pension that has been paid into for 30+ years.  Just another in a long line of concessions they’ve given up.  Not for nothing, but in 18 months, when it’s time to negotiate the 2020 version of the contract, I’m almost completely resigned to the fact that the union will be presented with two untenable options.  Either agree to a reduced payment from the company for the new 401k plan they started this year, or incur more payments from the rank and file for overpriced health care insurance.

Anyway, I’ve said my piece.  I’m disabling comments on this, because it’s a rant.  I don’t expect or desire commentary on this.  Thanks for your attention, providing you made it this far through the post.