Happy Birthday, Dad!


Today is my dad’s birthday. If he had a Facebook page, I’d be uploading this photo to it. He was born 3/19/1931. I miss the old fart. He would have been 84. He died 6/7/2008. These numbers just came to me out of the blue, I have no idea how or why I have them memorized, but there they are.

His nickname was “Bozzo”, misspelled just that way. Because of the way his hair stuck out on both sides when he woke up in the morning. Such a clown.

I just finished an audiobook called “AsapScience: Answers to the world’s weirdest questions, most persistent rumors, and unexplained phenomena”. Wow, that title got me right away. It was a fairly short book though – only a couple hours long. One of the things explained in it is why time seems to go faster the older we get. The days and the summers of our childhood seemed to last forever, and now, being over 50, everything just zips by so fast it’s crazy. I think, as a result of this, most of the memories I have of my father are from my childhood.

The Hong Kong Flu nearly killed him when I was a kid.

He used to by me electronic toys, or buy one for him and one for myself so I could learn how to use it and show him how to. Plenty of visits to Chester’s Electronics and Radio Shack were made, and I once bought a “build-it-yourself computer”. The rest, as they say, is history. He put the bugs in my head and they shaped my life.

He was a hoarder. Rummage sales and flea markets were his favorite excursions, and he just HAD to come back with something every time. He was a CB’er and a scanner enthusiast, always listening to both, and he really enjoyed the early days of cell phones, when nothing was digital and with the right type of scanner you could constantly eavesdrop of dozens of personal phone conversations at any given time. Ah, those were the days.

He lived the American Dream: He built a large family (7 children), worked 40 years to retirement, and had a long happy marriage. I think ALL of those things are amazing accomplishments. These days, any one of those seems next to impossible.

Anyway, nice job dad. You did great. I wish I had told you sooner.  Here’s some photos.

Boyhood, The Beatles and The Black Album

This holiday season we watched a movie called “Boyhood”.  One of the many great things about the movie is how it reflects many aspects of life, and in this case, passing down musical taste from generation to generation. In one scene in the movie, Ethan Hawke’s father character describes to his son (played by Ellar Coltrane) “The Black Album.” What is it? Basically, what we’re describing, a greatest hits mix-tape and “secret” Beatles record which is essentially a collection of all the best solo Beatle songs – Songs performed by all 4 Beatles BEFORE or AFTER The actual Beatles, either when they were solo or in other bands. Ethan Hawke and Richard Linklater came up with the track list together. If you’ve never delved in very deep with Beatles solo albums and wished there was one more Beatles record after Let It Be, well this it the playlist for you. The whole thing acts as a mixtape that Ethan Hawke writes for his son in the movie. And there’s even liner notes that begin:

I wanted to give you something for your birthday that money couldn’t buy, something that only a father could give a son, like a family heirloom.  This is the best I could do. Apologies in advance. I present to you: THE BEATLES’ BLACK ALBUM.”

The Beatles - The Black AlbumAfter looking at the playlist, I drooled. I wanted this. So I spent a few days over my Christmas/New Years holiday vacation this year and actually put the REAL CDs together. I was shocked to find I was only missing 3 songs! I bought those on Amazon.com and added them to complete the albums. I spent a whopping $1.87! Then I even found a cover art image on the internet that looked perfect, and changed the cover art and metatags for the album name so it matched the album info on every track. Here’s the album cover:

I used MediaMonkey for this, which is awesome for just such mass-changes. It worked out beautifully and I now have this 3-CD set on my phone to play any time I want to. Here’s the track list if you’re interested:

Disc 1:
1. Paul McCartney & Wings, “Band on the Run”
2. George Harrison, “My Sweet Lord”
3. John Lennon feat. The Flux Fiddlers & the Plastic Ono Band, “Jealous Guy”
4. Ringo Starr, “Photograph”
5. John Lennon, “How?”
6. Paul McCartney, “Every Night”
7. George Harrison, “Blow Away”
8. Paul McCartney, “Maybe I’m Amazed”
9. John Lennon, “Woman”
10.Paul McCartney & Wings, “Jet”
11. John Lennon, “Stand by Me”
12. Ringo Starr, “No No Song”
13. Paul McCartney, “Junk”
14. John Lennon, “Love”
15. Paul McCartney & Linda McCartney, “The Back Seat of My Car”
16. John Lennon, “Watching the Wheels”
17. John Lennon, “Mind Games”
18. Paul McCartney & Wings, “Bluebird”
19. John Lennon, “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)” 20. George Harrison, “What Is Life”

Disc 2:
1. John Lennon, “God”
2. Wings, “Listen to What the Man Said”
3. John Lennon, “Crippled Inside”
4. Ringo Starr, “You’re Sixteen You’re Beautiful (And You’re Mine)”
5. Paul McCartney & Wings, “Let Me Roll It”
6. John Lennon & The Plastic Ono Band, “Power to the People”
7. Paul McCartney, “Another Day”
8. George Harrison, “If Not For You (2001 Digital Remaster)”
9. John Lennon, “(Just Like) Starting Over”
10. Wings, “Let ‘Em In”
11. John Lennon, “Mother”
12. Paul McCartney & Wings, “Helen Wheels”
13. John Lennon, “I Found Out”
14. Paul McCartney & Linda McCartney, “Uncle Albert / Admiral Halsey”
15. John Lennon, Yoko Ono & The Plastic Ono Band, “Instant Karma! (We All Shine On)”
15. George Harrison, “Not Guilty (2004 Digital Remaster)”
16. Paul McCartney & Linda McCartney, “Heart of the Country”
17. John Lennon, “Oh Yoko!”
18. Wings, “Mull of Kintyre”
19. Ringo Starr, “It Don’t Come Easy”

Disc 3:
1. John Lennon, “Grow Old With Me (2010 Remaster)”
2. Wings, “Silly Love Songs”
3. The Beatles, “Real Love”
4. Paul McCartney & Wings, “My Love”
5. John Lennon, “Oh My Love”
6. George Harrison, “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)”
7. Paul McCartney, “Pipes of Peace”
8. John Lennon, “Imagine”
9. Paul McCartney, “Here Today”
10. George Harrison, “All Things Must Pass”
11. Paul McCartney, “And I Love Her (Live on MTV Unplugged)”

July? What’s that??

Holy crap, July just flew by! What the heck was that?! I’ll sum things up: I called Karen, my sister who lives in Florida, just to catch up. Loretta asked Sandy to have me call her. She was very shocked, but said it made her day. And it was, in fact, her birthday that day! Of all the days to call, I unknowingly chose her birthday. That was interesting. After our conversation, I started writing a long letter to her, catching her up on me, my family and old memories. That took awhile to write, but I got it done and even included dozens of old photos, culled from several of my dad’s old photo collections, which I had scanned and posted online. Unfortunately, Karen doesn’t have Internet or a computer, so I had to go “old school” and copy & paste into my Evernote letter. It worked out well, but barely fit into a business envelope! I added an extra stamp just to be sure it wouldn’t return. We’ll see if she likes it. Using Google Street View, I was even able to view the little house she lives in with her friend.

Kevin and I spent a day at the Milwaukee Art Museum in July. That was very fun, and we had a good time. It’s great how they change the exhibits around frequently so there’s always something new to see. Chester and I went to Oshkosh for an Ingress Resistance BBQ as well. Since it was a two hour drive, we made a day of it, leaving Kenosha in the morning and spending the afternoon and evening hacking all the uniques we could find and topping it off with some great food and great people! Ah, smurfs…

I’ve been walking my ass off. Literally. I’ve been taking 2 walks a day, most days, walking a minimum of 1 mile each time, in an effort to lose weight. I guess, since I refuse to totally give up snacking and the food I love, it’s a very slow process, but I’m seeing progress. I really don’t think I could have done it this long without the help of Ingress and Runtastic. Ingress has given me a reason to walk, as often as possible, in an effort to support our lil blue worldwide “smurf” team in an effort to save the world from the evil toads (the green team). I walk to as many portals as I can these days, keeping Runtastic running at the same time, which tracks my walks and provides tons of data and statistics as well as medals, very much like Ingress does. The combination of both apps on my phone has motivated me quite a bit.

Socks is now addicted to walking as well. When I walk in the evenings or on weekends, he’s with me. He needs to lose weight as well, according to the vet, so we’re both working on it. At home now, each evening around the same time, he automatically starts getting excited. On days I’m not going for an evening walk, I have to calm him down and try to get him to understand it’s not going to happen this time. He eventually just gives up, but it’s frustrating to watch him work himself into a frenzy when nothing is going to happen. Seems like such a let-down. He never seems to be angry about not going though, maybe just a little disappointed.

Work has been pretty shaky. We’ve gone to 4-day work weeks twice already this year, each time lasting several weeks. I made up the extra day by using vacation time, but now I’m left without days for an actual vacation. Kinda depressing. On the other hand, I’m looking forward to the big, double, Amazon warehouse they’re building in Kenosha! They’ll be starting to take applications very soon I hear, so who knows.

My Birthday

Everyone wants to know if I had a nice birthday.  At this point, I don’t know why you’re supposed to celebrate getting another year older… maybe you’re supposed to be glad that you’ve managed to survive this long.  Believe me, I am.  I’m 49–or as Mark says, “older than dirt”.  Everyone says that about their grandparents.  I’m not quite there yet.  Not a grandparent anyway.  And I FEEL better than I have in years.  I’ve been losing weight with all of this walking and eating right, and it’s making a lot of things easier.  Heck, I can almost see my feet again!

We went to visit George in the hospital yesterday.  He’s doing better.  He’ll be going to a nursing home for rehab next, and we’re hoping for the best.  Next I worked on Ty’s laptop.  He somehow managed to spill Aunt Jemima over his keyboard, basically gluing down several of his keys.  This took some work, carefully popping off, and removing, each glued key, cleaning it, and cleaning everything underneath it, then reassembling it.  Not an easy task on a laptop.  On a regular PC keyboard I would have just replaced the keyboard with a new one, but on a laptop this can get pretty pricey.  It worked out ok though, and the keys are working fine again.

Next, Kevin Ty and I went swimming at Rec-Plex.  I did 10 reverse laps and the current channel–this is a hot-dog-shaped channel of current where you can basically just ride the current around the loop with no effort at all.  Walking in reverse, however, is just the opposite.  It requires MUCH effort, and after a few laps you can really feel it.  My goal is always 10 reverse laps.  After 7 laps I got a cramp in my left calf, but I managed to still complete the full 10 laps.  Kevin, as usual, got “carded” again a couple times when we got in the hot tub.  The age requirement is “12-16 year olds allowed if accompanied by an adult,  under 12 not allowed.”  Apparently Kevin always looks like he’s under 12, because they always catch him and look to me.  He’s 14 now, so this has been going on for almost 3 years.  He just hasn’t “sprouted” yet.  Ty, on the other hand, with his “hint of a moustache” is never an issue.  But since Kevin and I are members, I am relieved to know that if he ever REALLY gets carded–where the want proof–all they have to do is check their own records.  They have his photo on file, along with his date of birth, which proves his age, and they’ve had it since we started going there.  I think we even went there right after his 12th birthday, just to celebrate him now being “hot tub-eligible”… yes, I believe we got carded that day, too.

When we got home from swimming, Sandy had an awesome supper of cheese ravioli & meatballs with marijuana sauce (yeah, it’s marinara sauce, but I pronounce it differently), then it was on to a video chat with Jay and his family.

I had planned to have a fire as well, but we quickly ran out of time and had to get to our double-feature of MIB and MIB II to get ready for MIB III, which we’re going to see today.  Ty passed out halfway through MIB II, and Kevin opted out of the whole thing, since he has watched them both so many times in the past.  I guess we’re about as ready as we’ll ever be for today’s matinee.