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My printer at work makes strange and peculiar noises whenever I use it or turn it off.  These sound suitable for Halloween: one is a creepy organ cord and another is a sort of banshee wail.  I am not certain why the printer is doing this. Perhaps it is possessed or bewitched. A more likely explanation is I programmed it to do so last October and I have forgotten how I did that. Worse, I don’t remember how to turn it off.

My ongoing attempt to create a password manager has so far been unsuccessful but along the way I’ve learned a few tricks and hacks for the unholy trinity that is my PC, my Mac laptop, and my cellphone. I’ve learned the Ctrl button with a number moves me between open windows without having to move the mouse. I’m certain there are Spo-fans rolling their eyes now along the line of ‘oh that, everyone knows about that”.  Knowing little tricks and short cuts may be maudlin but they give me a sense of accomplishment in an area I find intimidating viz. electronic gadgets.

Some of these lessons are simple such as sweeping left across an entered number in the cellphone calculator to remove the last added digit. Some of them touch upon the dastardly plans of thems in charge.  I learned there is an on/off button in my cellphone that stops the battery being consumed to send Apple data on their advertising. The temerity of it! Apple using my juice to get its data without my permission! Turning that one off gives me a small smug satisfaction I’ve improved things while thumbing my nose at the evil empire.

Punching a newly learned command onto the keyboard and seeing the screen light up confirming ‘that really works” makes me wonder how many other commands and tricks are swimming below in the depths of the Dell. They must be legion. Hopefully there are not too many sinister types like the Apple example.  I hate the notion my phone and computers are in cahoots with the tech-barons. On the other hand I know this is happening every time I go on Facebook.  The lack of privacy is a large price to pay for learning what my relatives are doing.

Learning little things like Cntrl + B and triple-click cellphone options are along the line of the cartoon “Give Alice some pencils and she will stay happy for hours”. They make me happy. They also give me courage to attempt to exorcise the printer of its Haunted Mansion noises.  Who knows where this may go.  Perhaps I will become one of those computer nerds who works ‘mouse-less”. More likely Apple and Microsoft will realize I’ve caught on to their shenanigans and they will merely move the cheese. Stirges.

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I am waiting for The Piano Tuner or somebody like him to soon show in order to tune my piano. About a week ago I got an email reminder it was time to do so. I had two emotional reactions to the header “Time to tune your piano!”: the first one was to wonder hadn’t we just done this and the second was to make to recall of when I last played. Alas, Babylon it has been a year since the last tune up and it was probably then when I last touched the thing.
I have is a four-legged spinet. The Piano Tuner tells me it is a 1937 production of a company that no longer exists (Mason & Hamlin). * He tells me my piano is still in good shape. It was originally my grandmother’s; I inherited it in the 80s after her death and I’ve had it ever since.
He seems excited to touch and tune its faded yellow ivory keys given its antiquity and rarity. All I get out of it these days is guilt in E-flat. I started playing the piano perhaps when I was six. At some point in my life I was fairly good and I enjoyed playing. Over the decades I played less and less and after 2005 when we moved to Arizona I’ve hardly touched it. Whenever I lay eyes on it I feel I should either get back to it or find some home for it. Both thoughts elicit guilt and inaction.
Pianos are antithetical to todays’ tech-driven society. Perfecting an instrument requires time and lots of it at least for me. At the end of countless hours of practice, what do I get? : the fair at best ability to play a piece that my iPhone could produce immediately and play so much better.
My piano playing is a classic example of the ‘sunk cost’ fallacy: I feel obliged to continue on the grounds I spent so much time doing so. It feels bad to conclude I don’t want to really play anymore. I better decide soon for there is the baby grand piano of my mother to consider. When she moves or dies you bet your Bach’s booty I’m going to get it. I have room for it but do I want another huge white elephant taken more from guilt than desire?
The Piano Tuner will spend 1-2 hours at his craft. At the end he will conclude it sounds marvelous and it is all ready for me. Let’s see what happens between now and a year hence when I get next year’s reminder email.

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*Someday I should look up their history;  after 50 years of looking at their signature while playing I don’t know who they were or what happened to them.

“Stone and sea are deep in life
Two unalterable symbols of the world
Permanence at rest
And permanence in motion
Participants in the power that remains”

At La Casa de Spo y Someone we emulate these elements.  Someone can be counted onto be constant all he does. In restaurants and bars I know what he will order as it is always the same. In contrast I shun ‘same as always’ wanting to try as many things as possible.  At Einstein Brothers the cashier doesn’t ask him anymore what he wants to order but just orders it for him while she waits for me to determine what shall it be this time. That sort of thing.

This diametric approach is played out – of all places!- on the computer wallpaper. I don’t think he’s changed his screen wallpaper in years.* I change my wallpaper as often as I change my Mack Weldons – more often rather.

At work I have a few folders of photos. The first is my collection of the 100+ Spo-shirts. The second is a pastiche of fun photos colorful and whimsical.  I have some for Christmas time and Halloween. The wallpaper folder changes daily and the contents change every thirty minutes – every 15 minutes for the Halloween pictures.

One explanation for my fondness for frequent wallpaper turnover is my hummingbird mind has at most a 15 minute attention span and needs to flit from flower to flower. A less derisive explanation is my desire to experience as much of something as possible. In my youth I hoped for a new dish every day not the same ones over and over. Why always eat the rocky road when 31 Flavors had thirty others to try – that sort of reasoning.  Changing the wallpaper on the cellphone, the work/home computer, and here at Spo-reflections isn’t much but it reminds me to continue to strive for new and various things in the more important areas of life. As I’ve aged I seen comfortable safe repetition slowly take over where there was once novelty.  Is this wisdom or coping out?  So much of my daily life is repetition perhaps a new wallpaper is my one way left to have variety in my life.

 

 

 

*A collection of rubber ducks, quite colorful and jolly since you were wondering.

My recent essay on context friends elicited strong emotions. More than one Spo-fan sent a critical word on the matter. If I am to going to define what makes a context friend and distinguish him from other types, what is the definition of a ‘true’ or ‘real’ friend?

I recall among my notes from Jung school a little essay on the topic. I cleaned up some of the more esoteric Jungian mumbo-jumbo to print it here:

“What makes a true friend from a ordinary one starts with the brave choice to let another past the Personae enter into the Self with its Shadow. True friendships are not based on our impressive strengths and virtues; they are based on vulnerability.  In them we allow another to see the truths behind the Personae. Whenever we choose intimacy we risk ourselves to psychic danger. Letting another see our fears and frailties and our Shadow parts opens ourselves to great disaster if put into the wrong hands. The other could laugh at us, or hurt us, or even exploit us. True friendships have vulnerability without hurt. Thus the paradox of opposites in Jungian psychology is fulfilled. The revelation of the sad, anxious, embarrassing, and awful parts allows intimacy to grow thus transforming strangers into True Friends. Because of the great hazard from vulnerability it is of no surprise True Friends are the minority of Friends total.  You may have lots of friends to joke and laugh with but only a few you would dare call at 2AM asking for help.”

I am fortunate to have a handful of True Friends. They would walk the world over to get a blade of grass that I needed if I asked them. Some of them I hardly hear from anymore but I am assured with a simple reach out they are there.  I haven’t many but they are enough.

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Mack Weldon recently sent me some underwear, which is kind of him as I wanted some. It’s also dutiful that he did so as I paid for the garments including shipping and handling. There is no lack of nether-drawers in my dresser but the purchase was justified that some of the usuals are ready for the rag drawer. I am most grateful for Mr. Weldon for lending me his underwear which are of the boxer type – my preference.

Someone prefers a different sort of shorts –  a good thing as two men sharing the same dirty duds drawer it gets a bit blurred who owns and wears what. Our sock style also differs so the sorting of socks is an easy chore.  In contrast we wear the same oh-so-practical white T-shirts which we merely divide 50-50.

I have long suspected Someone doesn’t like the way I fold clothes. My Swiss-German genetics can’t abide piles of clean clothes sitting unfolded so I generally fold everything my way and later he refolds his. As an aside I recently saw on Youtube how to fold a shortsleeved shirt in a few seconds. I don’t quite have the hang of it but it’s jolly good fun. The jury is out if Someone approves.

There is a silent agreement we iron our own shirts. It’s a pleasure for me to iron my Spo-shirts. In contrast  ironing my dress shirts is terribly tedious. I admit I am no great with an iron but what I do is ‘good enough ironing’ as it were. On the other hand Someone needs his dress shirts precisely ironed and he does this very well. Think of The Buddha on Adderall.  He can to let the ‘to iron’ pile grow as high as Fafner’s hoard while I see the ironing like an old man jumping for the weed killer at the first sign of a dandelion in his otherwise precise lawn.

We may have our differences in folding and ironing but we are in agreement there is always a lot of laundry. It never ceases to amaze us how two men generate so much in a week. The washer and dryer seem to be in a continual use.

Thus is laundry a metaphor for life: no matter how much you do you it is never enough to keep up.

The lusty month of May beim Spo-Haus is a quiet four weeks compared to its counterparts to wit there is nothing particularly interesting in it. June-October is full up with fun times but not May. Jonathon Coulton and Julie Andrews are just big liars. May is mostly a slightly tedious countdown to Memorial Day weekend. Until then it is daily doings and drudgery:  get up, go to work, try to lose weight – try again that sort of thing. This year I have Memorial Day weekend plans. Someone is working all that weekend so rather than staying home and wandering about like Henrik the Ghost I will go north to Flagstaff to stay at my friend’s B&B. This is the last time to do so as Richard recently sold the place. I am to be one of his last customers before he turns on the ‘no vacancy’ sign for good.

My friendship with Richard is what my aunt called a ‘context friend’. This is sort of pal for only one task. Apart from that specific activity there is no contact otherwise.  I see Richard when I visit Flagstaff; we don’t call or hang out otherwise. I sense when he moves to Washington we won’t stay in touch.

When I lived in Chicago I had a friend named Chuck I saw once a year. We went apple-picking every autumn. We did not meet at any other time of the year; neither one of us seemed to want such. Context friends seem to be a guy thing as I don’t think there is a female counterpart.* Context friends often happen in male social settings like sports teams or clubs. In these activities guys are chummy but they don’t dream of contacting each other otherwise. It is sort of an assignment-type friendship; after the task is done you all go home. One often doesn’t know much about the other guy even after years of doing the mutual past time.

Brother #4 goes hunting every fall with a bunch of dudes and Brother #3 gets together every autumn to attend U of M football games. They often tell me how fun their buddies are, yet they don’t seem to know much about them.  Their wives find this incredible.

“How is Joes’ new baby?” one of their wives might ask when he comes back from his boy’s night.

“What baby?”

You spent all afternoon with Joe and you don’t know about their new born??”

“He didn’t say anything we were hunting”.

Context friends are/were seldom viewed by men as a problem or something that needed expansion. Guys are more at ease perhaps with comrades they walk with only brief time while on Life’s road. Chuck and I were happy to go apple picking once a year. I will miss Richard when he leaves but apparently not enough to keep in touch.

Context friends seem to be more of a thing of the past.  I sense the decline in context friends is more about men not having time to hang out with each other than an improvement to share more about themselves. Context friends at least were something; nowadays men seem to have almost none.

*Spo-fans: do you have context friends? Do you feel OK with them?  Spo-fans of the female persuasion: do you have context friends?

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The Board of Directors Here at Spo-reflections was pleased as punch to see such  comments about demonic drivers. They have no use for automobiles (as the roads around the Board Room are not paved) but they do like all matters leading to fights and (if all goes well) violence and mayhem.  I was surprised to read impudent drivers are not unique to Phoenix; I was even more surprised to discover these sorts of shenanigans happen out of the States as well. I thought it was only us Yanks who drive so. 

I don’t have anything erudite or witty to write today what with the allergies so bad. I’ve got all the usual symptoms: red itchy eyes, drippy nose, and sneezes of hurricane velocity. The OTC (other the counter) meds do little or nothing other than dry me up and make me feel stuporous. Last night we foolishly went to the ballet only to fall instantly asleep in the dark, cool pollen-free air. Being home sleep doesn’t happen as neither one of us can breathe; two weeks worth of insomnia is taking a toll on the complexion.  

Today is Cinco de Mayo which is a big holiday around these parts in the same way St. Patrick’s Day is viz. an excuse to party and drink beer (this time not green).  There is some present backlash against the fiesta from a duo usually not in league: The Mexicans and The Conservatives.  The Mexicans are a bit fed-up with the stereotypical sombreros and paper Pancho Villa mustaches while the GOP sees the celebration as another insidious cabal for the illegals to get their foot in the door and take over.*  

I am not bothering to consume cerveza and burritos as I do this all the time anyway. Living where I do Mexican food is everywhere and the main stable in our diet. After a decade of consuming the stuff anything that isn’t loaded with hot sauce and chilies taste rawther insipid.  Even if I wanted to go out with the tequila drinkers the allergy meds have me out cold. It’s only noon yet I am ready to crash for my siesta, which is how I will be celebrating today a not-too-important 1862 battle. 

Later on if I should wake I plan to read blogs and find out how the gringos are going.  I think of my blogger buddies often.

I wish you all a happy 5/5 and pass the hot sauce por favor. 

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WRONG

*The GOP equivocates all things Mexican to ‘illegals’.  In contrast on St. Patrick’s ‘every one is Irish” in their view while Cinco de Mayo evokes no desire to become Mexican. Far from it. 

Picture it: you are driving in the far left lane of the highway; you are going the speed limit or a few mph over. The merging entering lane to your right is soon to end. You see in your rearview mirror some Jehu driving behind you coming up fast.  Logic says the driver should move into the middle lane, passing you on your left, and finishing the pass by pulling in front of you to continue his apparently necessary furious pace.  What he does actually is drive up behind you, passing you on your right using the ever dwindling merger lane to get around you that way, nearly causing a collision as the two lanes merge into one.   He drives off no doubt thinking ill will of you for going too slow and getting in his way.

Another curious local tribal custom is cars in the far right lane making a sudden highway exit crossing quickly 2-3 lanes to make the exit.

I witness these sorts of shenanigans nearly every morning while commuting to work. When I first moved to Arizona I thought everyone on the road here had gone crazy. After 10 years they have not mellowed.

I stay in the far left lane as much as I can to let everyone rush by me hell-bent on getting to work as quickly as possible without regard to traffic rules and safety. Thems who rush up my backside going well over the speed limit I can feel their wrath as they pass me on either side.  I confess I get a small ping of passive-aggressive comfort knowing they had to slow down and swerve thus raising their stress hormones just a tad higher towards premature death.

I am nearly always the ‘bottom’ in road rage intercourse but there are times I am the ‘top’ swerving around the slow poke with malice of thought. In my defense these villains are nearly always going below the speed limit. I always pass on the right, having a vague recollection from driving school this is the proper way to do things. I glance at the drivers as I pass and nine times out of ten they are not elderly or anxious-looking as assumed but gabbing on their cellphones. This burns my burrito and raises my DBP. If there is a hell I hope for a special circle for aggressive drivers but thems on their cellphones may go directly to Dante #9.

The state of Arizona recently made it illegal to drive and text at the same time. This is sensible but quaint as it will do no good. Human nature being what it is everyone believes everyone else is a boob-on-wheels but they do fine – even when texting. Oh the pain.

Sometimes I am tempted to take the ‘if you can’t beat’em join’em” approach. I vow to cling to dignity and a sense of propriety by obeying traffic laws, no-texting while driving, and thinking good thoughts to my fellow highwaymen. The latter is the most challenging.

Spo-fans: take comfort these sorts of shenanigans don’t happen in your neck of the woods.

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Yesterday at work during the ‘no-shows’ I composed a witty composition only to forget to post it. Even the easiest of work days leave me a bit scattered and forgetful. The human brain tells the body to release glucocorticoids whenever it feels a threat. Alas, alas, the lower brain parts don’t discriminate: they think the incoming next patient is just as dangerous as a hyena. Glucocorticoids viz. stress hormones are good for preparing for fight or flight but they muck up ones memory. It’s wonder by day’s end I can barely remember where I put my car keys let alone posting to WordPress. Post-its help, especially if they are fluorescent yellow and tacked to the computer screen.  Putting the borderline personality cases at the beginning of the work day also helps.

Besides neurochemical overload another factor scrambling my eggs is my allergies. ‘Tis the season hohoho for the mesquite trees being in full bloom. They too are fluorescent yellow. The spring trees admittedly are lovely but the prodigious amounts of pollen pile up and (worse) get up my nose. My eyes itch and I can’t breathe from congestion. Antihistamines help  but make me doubt my memory including my sanity. I shall be in an allergenic-Zyrtec stupor until the temperatures go above 40C and burn it all away. This happens sooner each year. It’s a fluorescent yellow-silver lining to climate change.

Perhaps my brain is merely on strike, fed up with the continuous fusillade of educational podcasts I give it. It refuses to learn/remember anything more, apparently full up like a Memorial Day resort.

I should not complain. The triple goddess of Attention, Memory, and Executive Function can go on holiday for a month. After all being dumb and dizzy has its charms especially in my community. The hummingbirds that house in my cortex can flit around unsupervised for now.

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