I can’t seem to forget a moment. It pops up every few years, when I’m looking for an analogy, even though it’s hardly that. It was just a moment.

It was my sophomore year in college. I was taking some telecommunications class, not all that interesting but necessary. The instructor was a nice enough guy, probably in his 30s, with an early career in radio before switching to academics, I guess. He definitely had opinions about things.

So, he had an opinion about subject A. “Subject A is relatively equivalent to subject B.” I’m obviously making this up. Just bear with me.

There was a guy in this class who was vehemently opposed to the notion that A had anything to do with B. Let’s say. Pretty vocal about it. Argued with the instructor a bit in class about this. Clash of opinions, really. Nobody’s mind was changed. And I’m pretty sure nobody else in the class cared.

Although I did. Not about A and B. I was curious about this argument, and why it was taking place, and then came test day.

There it was. “Subject A is relatively equivalent to…”

Pretty easy. He’d been saying it all semester.

And then the tests were eventually returned, and that other guy in class got the question wrong, and he started arguing again. He was a little more heated, although the instructor stayed calm and very clear that he was sure about this whole A-B thing. He heard the argument, discussed it, and dismissed it.

After about five minutes of this post-test whining, I finally spoke up and pointed out that we’d been told the answer to this question for weeks. Why was this guy complaining about it? If he disagreed with the answer, he could continue to disagree and still not harm his grade. Or, if he was that passionate (and it was some incredibly stupid thing to hold an opinion about, I remember that much; like at what voltage a transducer will begin to pop and click, or something like that, technical and boring), just write down your noble, if wrong, answer and take your lumps.

And this other student called me on it, almost plaintively, asking me if I was going to just do what others told me to for the rest of my life instead of taking a stand.

This guy was a year or two older than I was. Didn’t matter. If this instructor, in this subject, had told us that the moon was larger than the earth, and it was on the test, I would have answered that way. This was not my battle. I know all about the moon. If this instructor was an idiot, I wasn’t going to let that stand in my way of a good grade on the test.

The other student seemed to think this was a moral failing on my part, this refusal to stand up for what somebody else thought was right and just. My opinion of him was also not so good, but in a different way.


As I said, this memory keeps coming up. It’s not a mystery. I was 19 and figuring stuff out. I admired principled stands; I had good examples to follow and history was always right there, ready to give me some more.

But I knew this wasn’t a principled stand. It was a dumb one. There’s a difference.

And so every week, now, I stare at a blank page and wonder. A lot is going on in the world outside our little communities. I’m very much aware of all of it. Some of it could be very dangerous, I suspect. I have some opinions.

I also write for small newspapers, the ones people read for local news and high school sports, and whatever reason they read my column.

Part of the problem is I have nothing new to add. Another part is that this is not what I do, not normally. Sometimes, but rarely, something in the national or world news will catch my eye and I’ll do some commentary, but that’s usually just a curiosity anyway. It’s not a ban on refugees or a dismantling of the Affordable Care Act.

Most of the problem, though, is that I see absolutely no value on stating the obvious, or what should be the obvious. If it’s not, I’m not gonna change your mind anyway.

That said, some of this could be awfully serious, and needs taking a stand, and grabbing a mouthpiece if you’ve got one might be one way.

It’s just that I don’t know. I can’t read the history that’s happening right now. That’s not new; the first few days of any new administration is filled with grand gestures and dumb mistakes and other things that people do when they’re new on the job.

Did shutting down airports and making a lot of people miserable do any good? I have no idea. I think it possibly did, a greater good, a huge awareness. Maybe not. Maybe it just makes the protestors feel the same way that guy in my class, so long ago, wanted to feel. Noble. Justified. Martyred. Special.

I don’t really believe this. But I can’t come to a conclusion yet on a lot of what’s happening, in terms of alarm, and sounding alarms, and mouthpieces.

It doesn’t mean I don’t have an opinion. I just haven’t figured out what it’s worth yet.

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Seeing The Shadows

You know how sometimes, if you’ve been sick for a while and finally begin to feel better, you sometimes overdo it? Yeah. That’s not going to happen.

I do feel better. Cough is still sticking around, although a much better kind of cough. I’m still not taking many deep breaths, and I can still launch into a coughing jag that feels terminal, but improved, definitely. Although now I’m coughing again, just writing about it. Screw this.

I watched Groundhog Day last night, listening to the director’s commentary (the late Harold Ramis; it made the experience sort of sad, hearing him), trying to glean any stories I could as I’m holding sort of a film study on it next Tuesday.

Sort of. And really not similar to a class. We’re just having a showing at church, and then a discussion to follow, but this is my baby so I’m trying to be responsible. I’ve been pushing for more inclusive events, since this is a small church and I really like everyone. A lot. I like hanging out with them, and in the past year I’ve noticed what I suspected was a very real desire to do more. Not just come to church, talk a bit afterward, have a cup of coffee and head home.

And I’ll note that there’s real concern in this church about our post-election situation. People don’t know how to process, or that seems to be the difficulty, and I understand that. It was a strange year, and that’s a pathetic attempt to describe it.

But if people are worried, I think part of the point of belonging to a church is having a safe place, where maybe some reassurance, guidance, or at least support can be found.

So I’ve been trying to arrange more of these all-church events, in my role as the elder in charge of proclamation and evangelism, which sounds pretty impressive but isn’t, so much. Mostly I’ve been focused on helping make the church a more welcoming place, for whatever reason people attend.

Anyway. One of the ideas I had was a film night. Not a new idea. Find something appropriate, controversial, provocative, classic, cutting edge…it doesn’t matter. Seeing a movie and then talking about it is a fun thing to do.

And Groundhog Day is a timely choice for a couple of reasons, the first being the fact that Groundhog Day is, in fact, almost upon us, and the second being the lectionary for this week in the church calendar, which points us directly at the beatitudes.

I love this, from The Talmud:

“Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Act justly now. Love mercy now. Walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.”

I can’t help but see what’s happening on social media. I can barely peek these days; even the people with whom I share particular notions about how our country should be are just relentless. This in a medium that I suspect brought this whole business down upon us, but maybe you use what you got.

It just makes me weary, because I haven’t figured it out yet. I don’t know the best way to respond to what I see (and honestly, I don’t know what I’m seeing quite yet, although some things are disturbing), so I just wait. And cough. Don’t forget the cough.

But I can think of worse things that to try tapping into ancient wisdom and philosophies about living a good and just life. The Beatitudes are the DaVinci Code to Christianity, and hiding in plain sight. As Kurt Vonnegut commented, no one is clamoring to have “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God” carved into a courtroom or in the Pentagon.

Instead we get the Ten Commandments, not unimportant in terms of human socialization but beyond ancient. I can find the Ten Commandments, I know them, but the idea of practicing Christians paying so much attention to them rather than the Gospels and the teaching of Jesus is crazy. Maybe it’s all crazy.

Look: There was a flood. There were lots of floods. There were asteroids the stuck the earth and caused all sorts of problems. This is ancient, ancient. Did a guy named Noah build an ark and all that? Of course not. I mean, he might have built an ark. Couldn’t have repopulated the earth. Doesn’t make the story any more important or useful. Once again, these are very old human stories, preserved through oral traditions for centuries. They are arks themselves, carrying our collective thoughts and wisdom on how to be human beings.

Did Moses come down from Mount Sinai with tablets of stone, the immortal commandments neatly carved in 14-point for easy reading? How would anyone know? The historical Jesus is harder to track than, say, early philosophers or scientists, not to mention emperors and kings and conquerors, but you can find him. There’s enough extant evidence for most historians to place a radical Jewish leader in the right place at the right time, anyway.

Moses? As far as historians are concerned, there’s nothing. Nada. No records. He didn’t exist, at least in a historical sense; it was too long ago. He’s become an archetype, really, the Lawgiver, although maybe the Reluctant Lawgiver.

Anyway, I’ve wandered away. I just was noting that we’re discussing the Beatitudes this Sunday, and then Tuesday night we’re watching Groundhog Day and I think those are going to go together beautifully. It’s not about showing up, not for me. It’s taking what you hear out into the world. Even if it’s “Rise and shine, campers!”, “Don’t drive angry,” or, my favorite, “This is one time where television really fails to capture the true excitement of a large squirrel predicting the weather.”

And if you’re not already hearing the Pennsylvania Polka, give it a minute. It’ll come.

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Sam I Am, At Least For Now

Apologia: For what seems to be a human error reason, my latest column in every paper is truncated, just stopped about five paragraphs before the end. I say “human error” rather than anything else, such as an editor getting aggressive. The whole thing appears in at least one print version.

None of this is important, other than it was sort of amusing to read what I wrote, considering I remembered almost none of it. It was one of those really sick days. Much better now.

And there’s nothing earthshaking here, just wandering around moustaches and movies. I just figured the whole thing should be up somewhere.


The problem with community-acquired illnesses, from mild colds to double pneumonia, is that none of us are special. This cough I developed last weekend? It’s the same one you’ve got.

This is no fun, feeling bad in bunches. Everyone has a story, and being human-type people we will share our stories with anyone willing to listen (or coughing so much they can’t say no). I have nothing new to add to this season of hacking and hoarseness, other than being able to pull off a decent Sam Elliott impression.

I’ve got a cold, and probably you do too. I’d be glad to complain but then I’d have to let you complain back. Let’s just agree that it’s been a rough cold and flu season and go back to washing our hands every five minutes.

Also, it’s helpful if you read this column as though Sam Elliott is reading it aloud to you. I’m this close to nailing that voice.

Sam Elliott has been on my mind, as a matter of fact, as have actors and movies in general. This is what we do when sickness strikes; we curl up with a good movie and a big box of tissues. Or a big movie and a good box of tissues. Either one would work. I’m pretty delirious right now.

I watched “Sully” on my last trip to Arizona, maybe an odd choice the night before I got on an airplane. I paid extra close attention to the safety instructions, at any rate. I liked “Sully,” although I thought it was maybe a little theatrical. Clint Eastwood and Tom Hanks aren’t likely to be associated with a dud, and this is not that. I just felt a little manipulated, but I’m a sucker for a happy ending and “Sully” delivers.

And next week I’m sure, no matter how I feel, that I’ll watch “Groundhog Day.” It’s been written about extensively, now firmly in the pantheon of significant American films, referred to by National Review writer Jonah Goldberg as “what many believe is the best cinematic moral allegory popular culture has produced in decades.” So that captures the moral allegory audience right there.

But I believe the subject was Sam Elliott. I believe that with all my heart, because honestly I can’t even remember where I was going when I started this. Sam is good enough for a virus-altered brain.

Sam Elliott. Do I have to explain? He’s the lanky, drawling, laconic actor with the sweeping moustache who’s mostly worked in Westerns but has turned in some subtle performances in other movies and television shows, including “Lifeguard” in 1976, a one-year stint on “Mission: Impossible,” and, should you still be a little uncertain, he was The Stranger in “The Big Lebowski.” Which I may watch today.

It could be the voice, deep and rich, but it’s mostly the moustache. Last year, appearing in several episodes of Netflix’s original series, “Grace and Frankie,” another cast member, Sam Waterston, saw a picture of him and summed up the situation.

“Only 10 men in the world can pull off that moustache,” he says, “and this guy is nine of them.”

Elliott is the perfect actor for me to admire, since I really don’t know much about his personal life. He has a daughter my age. He’s currently 72. He’s been married for decades to actress Katharine Ross. I don’t know if he’s a wild-eyed liberal or a common-sense conservative or a libertarian or what, and I’m content with my ignorance. The man can rock a moustache.

My son and I started watching his latest effort, “The Ranch,” another Netflix original, where he plays the patriarch of a Colorado ranch that’s slowly dripping down the economic drain. I haven’t seen enough episodes to determine whether I’ll stick with it or not, but it’s nice to see Sam do his thing.

And he’s been doing it for a long time, which I now know was what I was writing about. Forget that other stuff about moral allegories.

After two years at Clark College in Vancouver (he grew up in Portland), he headed to Hollywood, and landed his first part, a anonymous poker player in the beginning of another film now comfortably resting in our pantheon, “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”

It’s a tiny part but his voice is unmistakable, heard from off-screen, and if you look hard you’ll see him standing in the background as Robert Redford takes offense at the accusation that he’s cheating at cards.

Katharine Ross was the female lead in that film, by the way, although she and Elliott wouldn’t meet for another 10 years.

But enough about Sam. Now I remember what I was thinking about. Forget the moustache.

“Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” might be my favorite movie. It’s certainly up there, and influential in my life. They just looked like they were having so much fun. I own a copy, probably several, and I’ve seen it on the big screen more than once.

And on Thursday, February 9, the Edmonds  Center for the Arts will be showing it at 7:30pm, as part of their Film Cabaret series. Do yourself a favor and try to see it the way it was intended to be seen, and support the ECA at the same time.

Look for me. I’ll be the one talking like Sam Elliott. Or coughing, which may itself be sort of a moral allegory, but again: I’m pretty delirious. Wash your hands.


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Every Breath I Take

This is my last sick day. We’ve all decided. Everyone has had some version of a respiratory illness in this household for weeks now, but I’m the guy who coughs all night and keeps people up. Either I see a significant improvement today or I’m having them set me off on an ice floe.

I did manage a shower yesterday and a quick trip to the corner drugstore for some over-the-counter wishful thinking. I’m pretty skeptical but I’m not looking for a cure, just maybe a little more comfort. Two doses of your standard-variety expectorant/suppressant and maybe things are a bit better. Just took the third.

And seeing a physician is better than being set adrift in the North Pacific. Probably. Again, looking for comfort. I understand, I think, what’s going on. There’s been no fever that I can document, no sore throat, not much in the way of achy joints. Just this dumb cough. I’d rather not pay someone to cluck over me and take x-rays of my chest and give me steroids and empty my checking account. That’s all.


Before this gets too whiny, I’ll note that when I lurched out of the house yesterday, reeking of illness, I picked up a pizza and accessories for John. Because he did build me a computer.

I try not to gush too much. It’s just a piece of machinery, and nothing spectacular at that, relatively speaking. But a new car is not just more reliable transportation; it’s new, everything about it is new. You know what I mean.

So it’s a similar experience. I’m able to do things now I didn’t have the horsepower for in the past. It’s faster in small ways, the only ways I’d notice these days, since our broadband speed is probably more important for most of the things we use computers for now.

It’s also kind of hard to explain without dredging up dumb analogies, but there’s a divesting that happens, at least to me, with a new computer. I have a solid-state drive in my old laptop, and I bought another for this new desktop. Same size, 120 GB. I’ve got a 1TB external drive for music, photos, etc. Aside from a few apps I use, my hard drive consists mostly of Dropbox files and stray stuff that I haven’t looked at in years. So some of that won’t be transferred, and in a small way I’ll feel as though I’ve accomplished some spring cleaning.

Now if someone could come over and defrag my ears, nose, and throat…

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Microbes and Microprocessors

I’ve been having packages delivered over the past few days, just the parts for my new PC build, and I got a notice from UPS this morning that the last one is on its way. This led me to a weird image, barely recognizable, of those plastic quarantine tubes that snaked through the house at the end of E.T.

Meaning, that film was released in 1982. We should be able to order those tubes on Amazon by now. Because we really need them.

I turned in a column yesterday, which turned out to be reasonably amusing to my reading of it last night. I read it last night because I had no idea what I’d written 12 hours before, which tells you that we are sick in this house. Sick sick sick.

Anyway, I mentioned the problem with community-acquired illness, which is that everybody’s got it so there’s no one left to feel sorry for you. Or bring you stuff from the store. I’m sure there are plenty of healthy people, and also a whole barnyard full of microbes out there, which means that any given neighbor might be experiencing something quite different than we are here at this house. But I don’t really believe it. I think the cough I have is the cough you have. It might even have been transactional, one way or the other.

But damn. Everybody’s got a story about sniffles and hacking, and mine’s no different. It’s not fun, particularly since my last bout of bronchitis was in November. This isn’t much different except possibly worse, other than the absence of a high fever to get the ball rolling.

And I can’t go to the doctor. That’s the state of our healthcare system. The last time, it cost me nearly $500, my insurance covering none of it since my $5000 deductible has worse odds of being met in any given year than that snowball in hell everyone talks about.

I will say that I got excellent treatment, and an array of medications that eased that bronchitis out of existence. But it was pricey, and not something I can afford every couple of months. It’s possible this could become pneumonia or I don’t know what, and I could die, but I’m counting on being too pissed for that.


On the positive side, the only PC part that’s left to be delivered is an optical drive, something I didn’t even consider but I think I want. Most of the reason I was frustrated with my old computer was that I couldn’t edit video without hours of lagging and buffering and freezing, and having a drive to grab video from is sort of necessary.

It was necessary from the start, in fact. My son, who seems to have a superpower in this area, not only did the research on what I needed for what I wanted (i.e., I didn’t need a gaming PC, so I didn’t need a $300 video card), but he made me a handy list of parts, which I ordered, and then while I sat at my laptop, coughing like crazy and spending hours trying to rewrite a single sentence, he muttered to himself and built it in a couple of hours.

But, of course, that empty SSD needed an operating system, which came on a disk. We just borrowed his drive, which he believes he may have never even used. Mine gets here tomorrow. It’ll play Blu-Rays if I feel like doing that.

And this is a monster, even if it cost less than an urgent care visit. An AMD processor but six cores and 3.5 GHz, plenty for me along with that 16GB of RAM. Nice mid-size case. Pretty lights. It works.

Now let’s see if I can do something creative with it, other than spattering the screen with saliva, which was probably more than you wanted to know but then, you might be doing the same thing.

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Building For The Future

My son texted me this morning, all the way from the family room. He noticed something on our group calendar about an anniversary, and it confused him. “I thought it was in the summer,” he said, meaning when we got married.

First, I should note that I’m the one responsible for this anniversary. January 21, 1984 was a Friday, and it was the day my now-wife and I decided to take our futures into our own hands. You would think by our ages (we were in our mid to late 20s, depending on which one you’re talking about), we would have gotten a handle on this future planning business. And I guess, at least in this case, we did.

So we moved into a cabin on the outskirts of Flagstaff, Arizona, and started the ball rolling, leaving a couple of broken hearts behind but you know. People manage to survive this sort of thing.

The only reason I kept the date in mind was just a calendar trick; a week following our first Sunday of living in sin was the Super Bowl, and also my sister’s 24th birthday. And also a night when I did a really dumb thing, which I’ve probably talked about and have no interest in revisiting, other than to say that the scar is not discernible after 34 years. It was still dumb.

And welcome to the smart phone and digital calendars, which allowed my wife to slap the anniversary on our calendar and alarm my son, and remind me.

We got married about seven months later, and here we are. Happy anniversary.


My son has been itching to build me a computer, and I’ve been resisting. I can’t really afford it, or much of anything, but this current PC is going on six years and as proud as I am that it’s still functioning pretty efficiently, kept cool and with a new hard drive (SSD) and really? I’m not sure about the future of stationary computing. I thought this might, in fact, be my last computer.

But I had to edit a video for my mom’s anniversary, a very sweet effort by all of her grandchildren to share stories about her, and it was kind of a nightmare. Many more hours than necessary were required, simply because the flow on the timeline was so choppy and maxed out my CPU, to the point that I really couldn’t figure out what I had until I rendered it, which also took a while, and then had to essentially go back and do it again…

…and there are opportunities out there for someone with my skills who might be able to take advantage of video. It’s a risk; I can’t really afford a new computer, but my son knows what he speaks of. And it turns out the CPU is key, even though we went for an AMD because, you know, money. And RAM. RAM is really important, more RAM than I thought a PC could use. We’ll start with 16GB and see.

I know that sometimes you have to spend money to make money. I would just rather make money, and tap into whatever creativity I have left. And this build is really inexpensive for a pretty powerful computer, about $400.

So maybe I’ll keep you updated. I’m probably too old to plan for this particular future, but then. You’re only as young as your CPU, I suppose. Here’s to hope.

The boxes await. RAM and motherboard come today, then power supply tomorrow.
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Sunshine, Scottsdale, Something To Celebrate

When I travel these days, it’s always south, which shouldn’t surprise anyone who knows where I live and definitely won’t surprise anyone who reads this blog.

What this does, though, is create an air lock experience, moving through climates. This latest trip, I went from cold to mild to cool to mild to home, where it’s also cool. The whole thing was pretty cool.

It started out a little messy. Having reserved a car for Friday night, and arriving at the car rental counter a few minutes after midnight, I had to deal with aggressive upselling at exactly the wrong time. This process also added to our already long day, finally hitting the hotel around 2:30am.

I also packed the wrong pants. Really, I’m trying to be fair here, trying to avoid saying that it was the perfect weekend when that’s exactly what it felt like. Warts and all. And there were warts.

But oh boy. A big birthday bash for Mom, the sort of thing she usually organizes, went down about as smoothly as one could hope, which is to say, I guess, perfectly. From the reimagined railroad executive dining car to the family and old friends who came and connected, I’d say we pulled it off.

I missed dinner, having to run Julie and John to the airport for their trip home (she had church the next morning and he had a cat to return to), although I reached the restaurant in time to see that most of the party guests had stayed to eat.

I want to say it was remarkable. I think that’s because I’ve never quite had this experience, although I’ll surely have more. You make a lot of friends in 80 years, and those years also come with a whole bunch of family.

Then again, our family is not that big. Mom grew up with plenty of cousins, but they’re pretty farflung if still around. I’ve noted it before here, but I had four grandparents, one uncle and two aunts, and four cousins. Seriously. If it weren’t for a couple of my cousins having a reasonably normal family (that’s a joke; I just mean more than just one child), it would be a pretty sparse family reunion if we ever managed one of those.

But two of those cousins came and brought family, and as for the three siblings and crew we were only missing Beth, for whom traveling can be a nightmare without her husband and a rented condo with a kitchen so she can prepare the food my grandson needs.

And then there were the friends, some from decades ago when Mom was working, and some even further back, to her high school days. Then there were a couple of my friends (really, friends of all of us, and the family in general; grew up with us mostly).

If you’re interested, this sort of thing doesn’t cost a lot of money. Just a space, some snacks, a cake, and let the magic commence. It’s all about people; it always has been.

And I was able to see my family, and get a little verklempt at all the love. It’s all you need. Someone should write a song.

The originals. My sister Jeanne, my brother Bill, me, and Mom.
John and his grandma. Besties.
Still here.
Mom with a former work mate, having fun and just rocking 80.
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The Rainbow Connections

A few weeks ago, I wrote about synesthesia and being a synesthete. It’s not nearly as fancy as it sounds.

It just refers to the way some people visualize abstract concepts, and in my case numbers (mostly on a mental calendar, referred to as number form synesthesia). I’ve been this way as long as I can remember, and from early on I had a suspicion that not everyone was like me in this regard. It’s a neurological phenomenon that’s not understood very well, but seldom a big deal. We all have quirks.

I could draw you a year, for example. I can’t do it in Photoshop, etc., because it involves gradients and honestly I don’t have the inclination to figure that out. The way I visualize a specific year, either the current one or in the past, is as a 2-dimensional ellipse filled in with (again) gradients of color that can be manipulated on its axis but remains flat.

There. That’s sort of a year. I could draw lines to demonstrate months, because that’s the way I see it, but interestingly the proportions would be seriously skewed; summer takes up the entire top half (and would be shades of blue and yellow, depending). This was obviously set at some point when I was a kid, which is essentially how synesthesia operates anyway. Childhood is when abstraction becomes a concept.

January is very dark blue, if you’re curious. Always has been.


I have no idea if this is a memory aide or not; it does feel organized, though, and maybe easier for me to reference. I bring it up only because we’re celebrating my mom’s 80th birthday this week, so memory is on my mind. So to speak.

Memory is why I enjoy going to these reunion things, whether it’s friends or family or both. I’m seeking verification, although that’s not likely to happen. Mostly my experience has been that we pool our memories, filling in gaps and trying to piece together what happened and when. Colors don’t help that much.

This is a blessing of the digital age, then. It’s easier to track down facts and confront my memories, adjusting as I do. Often I’m a little disappointed, only because the truth tends to ruin what had been a good story. But occasionally I’m enlightened, and let me put the geek hat on for a minute.

I think I became a fan of Star Trek in the early 1970s, when the syndication machine took off and the fan base with it. I remember coming home from high school with friends and watching them in the afternoon. I must have been familiar with it, but I don’t have memories of watching in their first run.

I do remember hearing, though. I’ve had a distinct memory since childhood of lying in bed at night, listening to the television and Star Trek in the living room. I might have been envious; space was a big deal in the ‘60s, especially to a kid. I really have no idea, though.

What I remember is something about salt. That’s always been there, and then jump ahead a few years to those afternoons after school. I saw that salt episode finally, and got my verification.

Keep jumping. Now I’m an adult, a parent, and I’ve got some sort of Star Trek trivia book that I picked up in a thrift shop. I find out that the salt episode (The Man Trap, if you’re that sort of person) was actually the first show aired (on Sept. 8, 1966, when I was 8). My parents saw the very first one; pretty cool, but also strange. I have no recollection of Star Trek and my parents in any way other than that fuzzy memory of listening from the bedroom. I remember them watching Peyton Place and The Big Valley, but not Shatner and company.

Now one more jump. I dragged that story out of the weeds for a column a few years ago, and here comes the internet and what not. Looking up the actual date, I realized why my parents had probably watched it: It was part of a special new season promotion on NBC, a sneak preview of the upcoming shows. There was probably nothing else on, but they apparently passed after that.

But verification! Take that, you mahogany-colored September 1966.


You know why this is on my mind? Because Lawrence Dobkin, that’s why.

Dobkin is kind of a story. You might recognize the face; the voice might seem very familiar, almost certainly not the name. He had a decent show biz career, though, as an actor on episodic television in the 1950s and 60s, and then as a director. He even has a Star Trek trivia notation, since he was one of only two people to direct and act in an episode of both the original series and The Next Generation.

He was also one of two men to do the famous narration from TV’s Naked City (“There are 8 million stories in the naked city. This has been one of them.”).

It gets better.

In 1958, the year I was born, he appeared on a Western show called Trackdown.

And, really, that’s all I have to say. How about that internet.

Also? 1958 is sort of purple.

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Outrage Alert

Hey, this is a fun idea. I should write about things I’m not interested in. Let’s start with the Golden Globes.

I’ve never watched. So. I’m going to say that meets the criterion.

I’m also not particularly interested in Meryl Streep’s opinion, although I think she’s wonderful and probably wise and insightful. I doubt very much that she’s interested in my opinion either.

I see no reason why a movie star’s take on current events is less valid than, say, mine or yours, or a talking head on cable news. Or lots of people. I just see no reason to pay particular attention to this particular incident on that particular awards show. She thinks the incoming Trump administration is dangerous? Get in line.

What I am interested in are jokes. I appreciate a good sense of humor.

That makes me slightly interested in actor Joshua Malina, who’s a funny guy and a decent actor, one of the Aaron Sorkin Players. He was excellent on Sports Night, and good on The West Wing. He’s currently on Scandal, which I’m also not interested in, and he cohosts The West Wing Weekly, a podcast devoted to that show, which I am interested in.

Now that we’re clear.

I follow Malina on Twitter, whenever I remember to check. Not that often. He’s funny, though. Sarcastic often, which is not a style I usually appreciate but he carries it off and did yesterday, when in response to this latest kerfuffle he tweeted at @RealDonaldTrump: “I don’t agree with a lot of your policies, but you NAILED IT on this whole Streep thing. She is not that good at acting.”

I’m going to break this down, as deadly as that is to humor, because you probably don’t pay attention to the sensibilities of Joshua Malina. Our president-elect referred to Meryl Streep, the most accomplished actor on the planet, as over-rated. Malina tossed some sarcasm back. Oh, SURE. She’s OVER-RATED.

Josh Malina knows where he sits on the acting chain. I wish him well, but he’s not going to win any Oscars. He’s not that kind of an actor. He knows he’s Joshua Malina. Meryl Streep knows she’s Meryl Streep, too. I’m not sure what Trump knows.

But Josh had a good day yesterday, trolling for the humorless. Here’s a good example.

Understand what I do, or I think I do: Joshua Malina thinks this backlash is hilarious. I find it pretty funny, too, and discouraging. Of course. I follow him because he provides amusement and entertainment for me, little pleasures. And he makes this point often: If you follow the Twitter feed or Facebook page or Instagram account of a famous person, either you want to hear their thoughts or you have some fantasy of becoming their best friend. I think that’s about it. One or the other.

Anyway. If you’re bored or easily amused, you should take a lot at the response (it’ll be moved quickly down the history, since he tends to tweet a few times a day). I’m not sure what it means, if anything other than a lot of Meryl Streep fans have a limited capacity for subtlety.

Which makes me wonder how they’re fans in the first place, all things considered. But only a little. I just can’t seem to get interested.

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Seasonal Affective Disorder

I just noticed that our temperature is currently about the same as Austin, which happens. Just not so much when the first number is a 2.

And despite this cold air that’s been parked here for a week, it only dipped into the teens on a couple of nights, and we had a dusting or maybe an inch of snow, depending on your criteria. It’ll warm up tomorrow and we’re back to rain and clouds.

Once again, then, I count my blessings. I look at my friends and family in Virginia and just shake my head. Weather, go figure. When it seems the rest of the country is sweltering in August, we’re flirting with 75 degrees and feeling pretty good about it. Drought for years in Southern California? Naw, we’re good. Hurricanes happen in other places. We get some wind, and occasionally flooding if your house is near a river. And if you’re young and raising children, and wonder about the future and climate change, this is where you want to live. Not Miami. Although the average house in Seattle proper is going for slightly north of a million bucks, so you’d better bring your wallet.


And if you’re the Detroit Lions, and you play in a dome, and the only games you won on the road were all in domes, and you’re looking at cold weather and maybe some sleet or snow mixed in with rain, along with the crazy, can-humans-really-get-this-loud CenturyLink chaos? I dunno. But I think about it.

I know I’m distracting myself with football, and I know why. The same reason I started binge-watching episodes of 30 Rock. I’m willing to accept the things I can’t change and change the things I can, but I seek serenity these days in simple things.

Although football really isn’t simple. It comes with baggage, history and statistics and emotional rides that are rarely fun. I know all about this.

I became a fan because my dad was; I know this. I was 8 or 9 and the middle child; my brother was the first male grandchild in my family, and my sister the first female. I have no idea if this was important but some people do. I might have been looking for something to share with my father.

Whatever the origin of my affection was, I became a fan and so found out the ugly truth. Your favorite team will lose games, miss playoffs, flounder in lost opportunities and unfulfilled dreams of little boys. I grew up in southern California and so the L.A. Rams became my team, and they were the worst kind. They were good, pretty good a lot of the time, particularly in the late 1960s and throughout most of the ‘70s. Roman Gabriel, Jack Snow, Deacon Jones, Merlin Olsen all the way to Vince Ferragamo, but they played in the same conference as the Vikings and the Cowboys. There were a lot of unfulfilled dreams.

Then to Seattle in 1983, their eighth season, the one in which they hired Chuck Knox, the coach of the Rams for most of the 1970s. The one in which he benched Jim Zorn in favor of his backup, Dave Krieg, the most chaotic quarterback I’ve ever seen, and they went to their first playoffs, beating the Broncos and Dolphins to end up in the AFC Championship game, where they lost to the Raiders. They went 12-4 and back to the playoffs the next year, but it was a painful relationship. After they made it to the Super Bowl in 2005, losing to the Steelers in a bitter game with still-remembered awful officiating, I drifted away from fandom. It was just too much stress, and football had begun to look brutal. Baseball was a lot easier.

And then Pete Carroll arrived in 2010, and Russell Wilson in 2012, and now we’ve had five straight years of playoffs, five years of 10 wins or better (they had five in their first 35 years). And so I get to watch.

No complaints, either. Can’t make that work; three Super Bowls in nine years feels greedy when you’ve been following heartbreakers all your life.

So I know this team very well. Bookending their Super Bowls I saw them come back and nearly take out Atlanta in 2012, and they came back from 31 points down last year against Carolina to lose 31-28. I know their strengths and weaknesses.

I know what Wilson is capable of, and know that he’s been hobbled all year by the knee and the high-ankle sprain (40 years ago they just called that a broken leg), never missing practice, never missing a game, managing to win without those defense-crushing breakaway runs. And now he’s been cleared to take the knee brace off, depending on the weather tonight but probably definitely if they make it to next week.

This is my life lately, then. Looking at stats, listening to sports radio, rewatching games, checking out the opposition…I’m actually just checking out. The future will come regardless, so I’ll watch football as long as it lasts. At least the roads are clear, and it’ll soon be nothing but rain.

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