Ponderings and Musings

Memorial Day.

Living in the desert has really messed up my sense of time. I had a hard time understanding that today is Memorial Day and not Labor Day, since what I have always known as “summer weather” has been cranking along for the past two months.

Regardless of the weather, we need to take a moment to thank those that gave the ultimate sacrifice while serving our country.


I noticed the neighbors moved their flag to half staff this morning. I believe this is the first time they’ve done this since we’ve moved to the area a little over a year ago.


My husband swears by “Hellmann’s”, or Hellmann’s Mayonnaise. I think I grew up with Kraft Salad Dressing, but once in a while Mom would drift away from the bargains aisle and buy us Hellman’s and we’d delight in its creamy texture when combined with peanut butter on a sandwich.

Hellmann’s Mayonnaise does not exist west of the Rockies, instead it’s called Best Foods. “Bring out the Hellmann’s and bring out the best” is “Bring out the Best Foods and bring out the best”. This is a result of two companies combining forces in the early 20th century. Urban legend states one of the recipes are slightly sweeter but I can’t taste the difference. My husband hasn’t complained so I doubt there’s much of a difference.

In a world where there’s a Circle K on every corner and a Walmart on the edge of every town and a *bertos Mexican Fast Food joint near every bar, it’s fun to think of a mayonnaise company that stays to its roots, and carries two different names depending on where you are in the United States.

Bring out the Best Foods and bring out the Best!


So for the past seven days I’ve reduced my Twitter usage by about 98%. I haven’t deleted my accounts or anything but my interaction time has waned. I miss some of the people I’ve developed a friendship with over the years; I need to find alternate ways of maintaining a connection.

The biggest change I’ve noticed from this new approach to Twitter is that I’m a lot less anxiety ridden about what’s going on in the world. As I’ve mentioned before, opinions and debate from all sides of the political spectrum can become quite shouty over on Twitter. I don’t know what Elon Musk is talking about when it comes to “limitations of free speech” because there’s a lot of free speech being bandied about over there and a good chunk of it is quite ugly.

I still firmly believe that technology has outpaced society’s ability to use it properly responsibly. There are too many people that lack the moral foundation of sharing truth, listening to others, and such and more concerned with the dopamine hit that results from screaming absurdities and getting the audience riled up.

We need to thrive on intelligent dialog and debate, not dopamine hits of this nature. Of course, the dopamine hit approach is egged on by algorithms designed by the social media companies to ramp up engagement so they can get richer. It’s a rather ugly situation but one that is not going to go away any time soon.

In the meantime, I decide to step away a lot. My sanity is much more important.


I was talking to my mom over Facetime the other day and telling her about some recent accomplishments at work. As a software engineer and team leader making a decent salary without ever finishing either of my attempted college degrees (that had nothing to do with computers), I feel like I’m in a good place in my life. My mother, in her motherly ways, verbally shared her pride for her oldest and remarked at how far I had come in my career. Admittedly, I’ve done some good things.

“Not bad for starting out by being fascinated with the electronic cash registers at the P&C”, I replied.

I’ve mentioned this before on the blog, but as a kid I was fascinated by cash registers, especially the early electronic cash registers of the 1970s. I wanted to push buttons but more importantly, I wanted to know how they worked. The early electronic registers basically emulated what their mechanical predecessors did as far as just dividing things up until departments and the like, but they could also look up prices based on a code and print more detailed reports of what was going on during that shift in the checkout lane. The orange VFD (Vacuum Florescent Display) was fascinating to me and I loved the sounds of the Seiko EP101 printers (which would later become a printer company called Epson).

The Data Terminal Systems Series 400 electronic cash registers, and their little brother, the Series 300, were the most fascinating to me. When P&C Foods held a “Food Fiesta” at the State Fairgrounds, we attended. They had a small display of their new electronic cash registers and attendees were invited to try them out. I ran to the display and waited me turn. I can remember growing impatient with the guy in front of me who could not figure out how to get the drawer open. I waited for him to step aside, cleared whatever error he had on the screen, and punched in a typical order, just like I had seen at the P&C grocery store in town. I entered split pricing (1@ 3/ .99), did some tax exceptions, hit subtotal and then did a split tender of 1.40 cash and 40.00 check. The receipt was about a foot long. I saved it in my collection of receipts for many years. Knowing how that cash register worked led to me writing software on my VIC-20 and later Commodore 64, to emulate a cash register system. I ended up sharing that software on a Bulletin Board Service when I was in college and then rewrote it for business systems using the college computer lab. A company bought the shareware from me for a small amount of money and I bought a bigger computer.

My love for writing software continues to this day, all because I watched what Delores on register 2 punched into the nifty DTS 400 at the P&C in town.


Promotional photo for “Julia” on HBOMax, pulled from eonline.com

We’ve been watching the series “Julia” on HBOMax. As a solid member of Gen-X, I’m well aware of who Julia Child is and her inspiring culinary ways. We are enjoying the experience.

I’m always curious as to whether what we’re seeing in a biographical TV outing such as this is actually biographical. Taking a look at this article in The Washington Post, it turns out the show runners tried to keep the series somewhat biographical. There are invented characters and situations made for television, but as they said, they’re trying to stick to what’s written about Julia’s life in Wikipedia. (The fact they’re sourcing Wikipedia for this is a completely different topic). The thing is, they’re “filling in between the lines” to account for some of the circumstances that drives what we see on-screen Julia do with her career.

Apparently, Julia Child was a reasonably private person, separating her public persona from her home life. Admirable. There’s a wide swatch of certain celebrities that I wish would do the same thing (though, what would I gripe about once in a while on this blog?). I don’t know if it’s due to my wiring or an inability to separate fact from fiction or what, but I find it a bit confusing when a known person in being portrayed on television differently, or even with a bigger dose of embellishment than expected, than what actually happened.

Perhaps my expectations are just different or I need to be reminded that series such as “Julia” are for entertainment purposes only.

Well, in that regard, I am certainly being entertained and I look forward to finishing out the series.


I’ve always found Bruce Willis hot. I wasn’t much of a “Moonlighting” fan back in the day but once in a while I’d catch an episode and enjoy his manliness on the screen. I watched a few of his movies after he moved to the bigger screen and I found most of the ones I watched enjoyable. We probably wouldn’t see eye-to-eye on a selection of topics on any given day but hey, everyone enjoys looking at something they can’t have.

He announced that he is retiring from the entertainment world after being diagnosed with Aphasia. Aphasia is the inability to comprehend or formulate language because of damage to specific brain regions. To put it simply, it’s becoming more and more difficult for Mr. Willis to communicate through language. I’ve heard the term in the past but I’ve never met anyone afflicted with the condition. There are some therapies available to assist with those living with aphasia but there’s no cure.

I hope Bruce is able to find joy in his retirement. Everyone deserves joy.


My husband is in for a routine colonoscopy today. We tried to avoid medical facilities during these enduring COVID times but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

It’s interesting to see how they’ve tried to spread out waiting areas in these facilities to maintain social distancing. Chairs and tables seem to be fairly standard along hallways at this facility. When Earl was taken in back I was asked to leave the waiting room where registration takes place and have a seat ournin the hallway.

It’s much more comfortable out here.

There’s talk of a new COVID variant in Europe and Asia. I don’t know a lot about it. I do know that I’ll continue to wear a mask when I need to and will get any and all booster vaccinations as needed. I’m sure my fairly timid response to Omicron a while back was due to my vaccination. I’m not going to risk a change in that arena when there’s solitons available.


A decade or so ago I mentioned to my friend David, who is five days older than me, that I wasn’t afraid of dying but I wasn’t looking forward to aging. I wasn’t ready to accept life as a middle aged man, I didn’t want to have to wear glasses all the time, and I wasn’t ready to go completely gray (not that there’s a lot to go gray anyways).

Here we are over 10 years later and I’m a middle aged man. I’m surviving this just fine. With middle age comes accomplishment and hopefully some wisdom and I feel like I’ve settled pretty well into the role.

I’m flying airplanes with relative ease. I can manage a decent hike with friends. I still can ride my bicycle, and I don’t need vitameatavegamin to stop from pooping out at parties. Sure, I go to bed early when I have to get up early for work. I really don’t like whatever tries to pass as “Popular Music” these days (it all sounds like uninspired, metallic robot noises to me) and I’m losing patience with folks much younger than me that speak with authority on “history” with a remarkable amount of inaccuracy and then want to argue the point even though I was there and they weren’t even born yet.

As a middle aged American man I believe I’ve seen the modern United States as we know it peak about 20 years ago and start to wane. My husband and I have been debating this a little bit. I’ve seen polarization like I’ve never seen before and even family members talk about things, often from very different points of view, in ways we would have never dreamed of discussing a few decades ago.

I take medication to keep important blood test results in check, I proudly wear glasses, and yes, I’ve accepted my gray hair enough to grow my mustache back and feel comfortable with it. I have wrinkles around the eyes, probably from too much smiling over the decades, and my voice is not quite as youthful as it was when I was in Top 40 radio 30 years ago.

And I’m OK with all of this.

Life feels like it’s moving faster and faster. I still don’t feel like a grown up, but I feel like I at least I look the part. I feel absolutely no impulse to change the natural aging process of my body; what you see is what you get. And for the first time in my life, ever, I am comfortable with the way I look.

Short version? Middle age is awesome.

Good Enough?

We have a new refrigerator on the way. The old refrigerator was small for a family of our size, so we moved that to a different location to be our backup storage solution. The new LG arrives tomorrow.

When we pulled out the refrigerator for relocation we noticed some interesting painting decisions around the refrigerator. Occasionally when making an improvement in the house we find signs of “quick fixes” to make things look “good enough”.

What you don’t see in this photo is the gray changes to a different shade at the line of the cabinet over the refrigerator. Eventually we’ll have to repaint the whole kitchen.