tube unafraid

On the passing of Prince

I'm a member of the generation that remembers MTV played music videos 24/7. I have mixed-up images in my head of the videos for "Little Red Corvette" and "1999." Prince stroking his thigh as he sings about the "lion in my pocket," and a quick cut to a close-up of the fingers of one of the women in his band dancing over the keys following "forgive me if it goes to fast."

But "Purple Rain" was the album that was the anthem of high school. I acted as DJ for high-school dances and I'd always start them off with "Let's Go Crazy." Because, come on, of course I did. After the spiritual intro, the beat would start. Prince reminds us that "In this life, you're on your own." Then two beats of a funky chord. Rising riff. Two more beats. Then the instruction: "And if the elevator tries to break you down? Go crazy. Punch a higher floor." And we're off. "Woo!"

I'd leap off the stage on to the gym floor and dash into the group of mostly-girls dancing along. No partner. No fear. This is my music.

At least until I started thinking too much. Was anyone watching? Was she? Was that a smile? Was she laughing? Were they all laughing at me?

OK, the solo has started and the song will end before long. Need to get back to the safety of the turntables and cue up the next song. Then I can retreat back out of the lights. Sit back and just spin the tunes. Maybe I'll get back out on the floor for "Safety Dance."

I remember that we had a new student that year. A kid whose family moved in from Chicago. He was cool. He was artistic. He could actually dance.

During a slow period in Chemistry or Physics one day, he was in my lab group and took some time to draw my portrait. He handed it to me and I self-consciously added a few scraggly beard hairs, unable to accept that I was as beautiful as he had seen me. He took the portrait back and added to it, giving me a prescient longer beard and hair and then added a profusion of disco chains around my neck and adding some shade to my glasses. It was good work. But I regretted then and still regret today that I didn't have the courage to honor his art. To accept what he saw or at least to accept that he saw it.

So as Prince leaves us, I reflect that I've matured a lot since then. I'm a lot more comfortable in my skin. I think there's still a little room to be even more courageous about who I am and one of the ways to do that is to honor what my friends see in me.
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    "Let's Go Crazy" - Prince - Purple Rain
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Projects, Clutter, and thoughts thereon

Last week, I started a project to clear up the usefulness of our dining room. It had been slowly transformed into a space where various things sat on horizontal surfaces and collected disgusting amounts of dust. So Saturday was the day of getting all the stuff contained in boxes, moved out of the room, and getting the room cleaned.

With that out of the way, I was able to assess the space and what it might be useful for. We don't have a use for a true dining room as we don't have regular sit-down meals very often. So this space is really a bit of an extension of the kitchen hybridized with some home office functions. It was where a computer sat, where the dogs are fed, and where mail was sorted.

The initial impact of moving all the stuff out of the room was that the cabinets below the kitchen's peninsula counter were made accessible. Taking a cue from that, I decided that putting some cabinets on the opposite wall would give some storage space for all the stuff while keeping it from collecting nearly as much dust. A trip to IKEA later, and I've picked out cabinets to hang on the wall for a fairly reasonable price. This weekend's project will be to give the room a much-needed coat of paint, and to purchase, assemble, and install those cabinets.

Today, I read an interesting article about estimating the cost of clutter. It starts with a formulaic calculation of the value of each square foot of your house and then applying that to the room that the clutter prevents you from using. If your house is worth $100 per square foot, a 10-foot square room half-full of clutter is costing you $5000! I think a better way to go about this would be to make that cost-per-square-foot figure be the amount of your monthly rent or mortgage payment divided by the square footage. So if you pay $1 per square foot, that 10-foot square room half full of stuff is the equivalent of renting storage for $50/month!

It's a bit simplistic, to be sure, but another interesting way of looking at the costs of stuff vs. their value.

Another thought I had was on purchasing or keeping things for "someday" or "just in case." In the case of purchases, it seems a better idea to take the amount of money that would be spent on those just-in-case items and set it aside for just such emergencies. That is, that the cash is a much more flexible instrument for dealing with future needs and desires than whatever might be purchased. Yes, you might end up needing whatever it is you're keeping. But you might end up needing something different. So if you have the money saved and ear-marked for such things, you'd be in a better position when the need actually arises. (Assuming that your money holds its value over inflation, etc.) So applying the same logic to things that are kept "just in case" leads me to think of "buying" those future needs.

That is, that I may end up needing something that currently sits neglected in my house. If I can figure out what it would cost to purchase that item new today, I can put that amount of money into savings and safely dispose of the thing. If I do end up needing it in the future, I'll have the money on hand to purchase a new one. If I end up needing something different, I won't be tied to keeping this thing and will have the money to get the thing I need. It would also be a good policy to view purchases made from the "just in case" fund to be loans, so that getting one thing that's needed doesn't prevent another thing from being purchased when it's needed.

Edited to add: If the above gives you the impression that I did all this thinking and all the work of going through the upgrade for the dining room on my own, you should know that I had help. Very capable help.

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Thoughts on Halo

Over the last three weeks, I've played the original Halo trilogy in its entirety. My main impression is that the life of the Master Chief would be much longer if architects in the Halo universe incorporated the basic safety rail into their work.

Now, sure, Master Chief is seven feet tall and weighs quite a bit in his armor, and yes there are occasions when, under my guidance, he has jumped off cliffs or bridges or buildings of his own free will or carelessness. Still, a basic OSHA inspection of USMC or Covenant facilities would turn up glaring omissions of basic safety precautions.

(And from a game-player's standpoint it's real drag to have to replay a tough level just because you accidentally walk off a bridge when you're not looking.)

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Late night worries

I'm busy at work, which is a good thing. But I don't know if I can finish the projects assigned to me in the time allotted.

Ericka is having a health issue. It is probably something minor that will clear up in a week or so with medication. But I wonder if it is a sign of something worse developing.

My driveway remains uncleared largely because shoveling makes my back hurt. Am I so woefully out of shape? Can I adjust this before it's too late?

Are my creative juices dried up? Will I never write that novel that bangs around head? Hell, will I never finish the short story I wrote last year and have meant to edit ever since?

Will I see my friends again?

Are these the same worries I had as a 30-year-old person? Does that make me old? Am I losing relevance?

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Things I was thinking yesterday

Thoughts I had yesterday. If you follow me on Twitter, you've probably already seen these.

On the agenda today: lots of laundry, some zombies, a couple horror movies. Naps may also break out. Hold onto your hats!

Second load of laundry in, but feeling a general malaise. No energy for other tasks, irritable for no good reason. Hope I'm not ill.

Know how your mom feels your neck to see if your "glands" are swollen? Yeah, mine are. Might explain the day-long fatigue I'm fighting.

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Things I was thinking yesterday

Thoughts I had yesterday. If you follow me on Twitter, you've probably already seen these.

Much snow already and it's still coming down. Dogs went out for morning constitutional and came back well-dusted. Very pretty and quiet.

Woke at 5:30, shoveled back step. Woke again at 9:00, couldn't tell. Have shoveled the first foot+ off the sidewalk. More to come.

Two shovelings later, I cannot tell the current back step from its original condition. I give up. Time for today's third nap.

Dogs are out back barking at neighbor trying to dig out his car. Hope he appreciates the encouragement.

Finished third shoveling of the back step, second of the front walk. I think these will take. For a couple hours, anyway.

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Things I was thinking yesterday

Thoughts I had yesterday. If you follow me on Twitter, you've probably already seen these.

With the loss of a network drive, my presence at work has become superfluous.

Huge props to Bernie Sanders for filibustering old school. Standing and talking for over six hours and counting.

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Things I was thinking yesterday

Thoughts I had yesterday. If you follow me on Twitter, you've probably already seen these.

Gowalla is giving away a rad new gift every day til Christmas— I WANT THE @FIELDNOTESBRAND COLORS SUBSCRIPTION!!!

Speaking of @gowalla, they're teaming up with Sundance for cool stuff and my Internet man-servant @ChuckWendig will have a short film there.

Barely got home and it's already dark. Solstice, and the longer days that follow, can't come soon enough.