Archive for the ‘Stuff’ Category

Belief, sex and all that

Monday, November 20th, 2017

These comments are probably badly worded and reflect only my own experiences and beliefs. Note that I was “raised wrong” (for my time, apparently, given some of the excuses going on these days): my parents  brought me up to believe that women were people first, women second, and I’ve never been able to see women as belongings or objects. Most of my best bosses have been women; most of my best friends have been women; the smartest and best person in this household is a woman [who kept her own name, but then I never suggested otherwise]; most of my most valuable colleagues at work were women; most of the jackasses I’ve encountered have been men.

Lying and belief

I am inclined to take most people at face value until I learn otherwise.

I am especially inclined to believe most people when what they’re saying can hurt them and has no likelihood of helping them.

I am acutely aware that women have a harder time being listened to, being paid attention to (not always the same thing), and being believed than men do.

So, all things considered, I am inclined to believe most women who speak up about bad things that happened to them, even after many years and especially when they’re standing up to somebody more powerful.

[Admittedly, if someone asserting low-level sexual assault turns out to be a frequent “just playing around” sexual assaulter herself or himself, that reduces credibility a whole lot: that speaks to “until I learn otherwise.”]

Oh, and there’s this: while I suspect there may be a few women somewhere who have never been sexually harassed or sexually assaulted, that number seems likely to be shockingly small: I don’t have handy examples to point out.

So, yeah, for all those reasons and more–specifically including the believability of the women I’ve worked with and for, dated, or married–I’m inclined to believe the accusers.

I’ve heard enough about casting couches to assume they’re real; I’ve overheard enough bragging to assume there’s a lot of “seduction” going on that’s not the courtship of equals; in the past, I’ve even been known to shut down one or two “I’d do that…” discussions–although, to my eternal shame, not every time and perhaps not loudly enough. I know that too many men are dogs and proud of it.


As for sexual assault: I’m essentially certain that I never have. Certainly not kissing, hugging or anything more intimate, and I’m pretty certain not any unwanted touching.

Not the way I was raised. Not my understanding of how people should behave with other people.

Then there’s sexual harassment, and here, at 72 years of age and with a badly imperfect memory, all I can say is: I hope not, and I’d like to think not, and certainly not in the last few decades, but never? I can’t say. (If I ever did, it would never have been more than an unwanted compliment or asking someone out twice before taking “No” for an answer, and I can’t be sure neither of those or some equivalent never happened.) If I did, my belated apologies.

As for the “not all men…” idea, I’m not going to go for that particular line of bullshit, and I am aware of the societal dynamic. In effect, it might as well be all men. [How would I feel about men just not running for political office for, say, 50 years? Sounds good to me, and I haven’t voted for a male Senate candidate in quite a few years…]

I’m no saint, and I’ve certainly been an asshole now and then. I suspect that grown-up men are just fine, but I always wonder when I’ll actually grow up and how many men ever do…

Why this post?

I’ve tended to avoid some hot issues because I don’t have much to say. This may be one of them, but I think it’s worth saying something anyway.


Priorities: Why C&I may not appear in December

Sunday, November 19th, 2017

See, here’s the thing…

My wife had surgery for degenerative arthritis on her left thumb joint about 10 days ago–much-needed surgery that involves replacing a bone with an extra tendon (did you know you have extra tendons in your arms?).

For a few weeks, that means her left hand’s essentially useless; for some time after that, it may be less useful. So, after she’s taken care of me for just shy of 40 years, I’m stepping up. (We’ve always done our own laundry, shared the household laundry, and done our own weekday meals & cleanup–but while most of my meals are quick & easy, hers are more healthful and involve more peeling and cutting and trimming and cleanup. Now, I’m doing as much of the prep work as requires two hands and all of the dishes, and providing help elsewhere when two hands are needed.)

I’m not complaining. If anything, it’s rewarding to know my work is directly benefiting one person I know & love rather than hoping it’s of some use to friends and strangers. But it does take up two or three hours a day, sometimes less, sometimes more.

Which reduces available writing time and energy to very little if any.

So…I have an essay with the source documents tagged for sections and the first 11 or 12 (out of 87, but that number always comes down during the process) handled. Including zero in the last four days. With additional doctor’s appointments and, oh yes, hosting Thanksgiving for the family (but at a restaurant), I don’t see the situation improving soon.

I haven’t made a final decision, but if my higher-priority stuff and the fun/reading I need to have continue to crowd out the essay, I’ll choose a point in December, massage the index for issues 1-10, publish the annual volume (the thickest ever, but that’s because it’s the first 6″ x 9″) and continue working on the essay for a January issue.

Of course, come January, a renewed project will take up much of my attention–GOAJ3 2012-2017, for those familiar with this. So C&I may continue to be even more erratic than usual (a comment that could apply to its editor/publisher/writer as well!). Not abandoned, not yet, but occasional.

Audio/music (an OFP)

Monday, October 2nd, 2017

The first OFP has a brief comment on OFPs.

This could also be titled “Hearing/listening,” but I’ll stick with the first title. It’s about a surprising set of recent personal discoveries, and although I’m not flacking for FLAC, it could look that way.


In the old days–let’s say before 1978–I had a big record collection and put together a sound system that was better than I could really afford. I also took extremely good care of the records and the stylus.

(How big? Around 1,300 LPs, most of them baroque or 20th century classical, along with a few hundred folk, country, rock, etc. Specialized in JS Bach–I was buying all the Das Alte Werke cantatas with conductor’s scores included, for example–and Stravinsky: I owned every Stravinsky-or-Craft-conducts-Stravinsky piece except The Flood, which was apparently in print for a day or two. Also lots of 20th century American composers and Russians.)

The final system had at its heart ESS Translinear speaker systems ca. 1973, magnificent tower speakers that were discontinued when ESS introduced the Heil Air Motion Transformer tweeter. I don’t remember the final receiver, but it was a good one.

I never much cared for background music, but at the time I played a lot of “foreground music.” (Can you actually use Bach cantatas or Stravinsky as background?) Then what mattered to me started to change, as did how I spent my time..;

We’ll skip over changes that eventually resulted in getting rid of the too-large stereo system, the too-bulky and too-delicate LPs (and I wasn’t listening to classical that much any more), and switching to CDs–and, eventually, a really good Denon CD/receiver/music system.

Mixtapes, CD-Rs, MP3 and “You Can’t Hear the Difference Anyway.”

For the times when semi-background music was desirable–driving, weekend dinners–I’d prepared a couple dozen cassette mixtapes from the 200-odd non-classical LPs. At some point, I wanted to do the same thing but using CD-Rs instead of increasingly obsolescent cassettes.

Creating a mix CD-R from cuts on 22 different CDs would be really difficult, if even possible.

Fortunately, at some point, PC storage capacity became large enough that it was plausible to rip the growing collection of CDs to MP3 files, at some resolution, then create mix CD-Rs from those files. After some listening, I concluded that even my not-so-great hearing was good enough to distinguish between 196K MP3 and 320K, the maximum MP3 rate–and that I wasn’t sure I heard the difference between 320K MP3 and the original CDs, at least for non-classical music other than solo piano. Or at least that the difference wasn’t important for music played in the background or in a car.

Was I deluding myself? Possibly. On the other hand, it was a worthwhile delusion: the mix CDs worked, and I didn’t have disk space enough for .WAV rips (probably around 100 gigabytes for our 200-odd-CD collection).

We like a quiet household. When I wanted to listen more closely to music (or to use it while weeding), I purchased a 2GB Sansa Express (still available!)–probably in 2005 or 2006–and Sennheiser portable headphones, and prepared a ruthlessly small playlist of 200 or so songs. Later, probably around 2008 or 2009,I got a Sansa Fuze (yes, I like SanDisk products) with 8GB storage; I was able to save my 800 or so favorite cuts. For weekend dinners and driving, I’d prepared a fair number of mix CD-Rs.

[If you’re wondering: the Express–about the size and shape of a thick thumb drive–gave up the ghost in 2016. The Fuze is still going strong. But see below…]

Or Maybe You Can Hear the Difference?

Several things happened in 2015 and beyond, coming to a head this summer:

  • Some of the CD-Rs developed whooshing sounds in later tracks. When I went to rerecord them, I was stupidly still using the last CD-R blanks fro a 50-pack I probably opened six years ago, maybe more. So the new CD-Rs weren’t lasting all that well… (I’ve seen advice that blanks should be recorded within 2-3 years of opening a pack. I should have remembered the advice.)
  • My wife was noting that solo piano didn’t sound quite right on the CD-Rs, and when she had me play the original CDs, she was sure she was right–and I thought I could tell the difference as well. (My ears haven’t gotten any better–indeed, my high-frequency hearing is very much typical of men my age with that ski slope above 1500-2000Hz.. I’m in the process of getting hearing aids now, and probably should have done so years ago.)
  • A year ago, I upgraded from the $50 Sennheisers to Grado SR80e headphones, far more revealing and a great bargain. (I also use and highly recommend Howard Leight Sync hearing protectors/headphones when vacuuming or using a lawnmower or trimmer: they’re inexpensive, do a reasonable job of muffling the damaging power-tool sounds, and the headphones are surprisingly decent for what are basically hearing-protection devices.) I began to notice “edges” in songs that I hadn’t noticed before–and was pretty sure those edges weren’t in the originals.

Oh, along the way, the clever vertical-mounted CD drive in the Denon became useless (the drive-door solenoid stopped working, and would be absurdly expensive to fix), so I picked up a cheap Sony DVD player to use as a CD drive. What the heck, the CD-Rs were only expanded from 320K MP3s anyway…

Summer Solutions

I began to suspect that the only way to assure CD-quality sound on the mix CD-Rs was to store the music in a lossless format; some research suggested that lossless FLAC was my best bet. (Since Windows Media Player is no longer the easy way to rip, organize and burn, I’ve moved to MusicBee; it supports FLAC nicely, and verifies rips.) And my current notebook has enough disk space that I figured I could spare the 50GB to 100GB that might be needed (FLAC compresses when it can do so losslessly; it seems to average about 50% compression.)

I reripped everything–a surprisingly fast process carried out as a secondary task while doing other computer work. But it was clear I couldn’t keep using the Sansa Fuze for my main close-listening device: it didn’t have enough space. Wound up with 58GB of music and overhead, covering 2,770-odd tracks. Of those, I’d identified about 670 that were good candidates for dinner music.

Opening a new 50-pack of CD-Rs (actually not new, but unopened), I made new versions of a couple of the “Dinner CD-Rs,” and we were both satisfied that they did indeed sound as good as the original tracks–and yes, I could tell the difference. But my wife also noted, correctly, that with only a dozen or so dinner mixes, they could be predictable…

Separately, I concluded that a new personal music player with better audio specifications and more storage space was in order–and decided on a Cowon Plenue D (36GB and 50-hour battery life playing FLACs, with remarkably good audio specs), plus a 64GB SDHC card, since it made sense to just copy the whole music library to the player (or, actually, “drive G,” the SDHC card). Amazon had/has it at an excellent price: $188 (and $24 for the SDHC card).

The Cowon doesn’t have a separate line-level audio output, but the headphone output peaks at roughly CD-player output levels. I suspected that it could do as a server of sorts…

Yes, indeed. Bumping the volume up to 95 or so (as compared to 30-35 for the Grados) and connecting the Denon via a headphone-to-RCA adapter resulted in excellent sound, making the Cowon a very small, very inexpensive music server. Took me about 2-3 hours to build a favorites set of all 670-odd items that appear to be good dinner candidates. Plug in the Cowon, flip to Shuffle on the favorites list, and…

The first time we tried this, we were both happy: my wife was hearing songs that I seemed not to have included on mix CD-Rs and we both felt that the sound was at least as good* as the original CDs. I’ve stopped rerecording dinner CDs for now (but will still do some car CDs, since our 12-year-old new car doesn’t have an audio input jack).

Weeknights, I’m slowly working my way through the whole 2,770-song library with the Grados, in alphabetic order. It sounds great: quieter and more “liquid” than the MP3s, and I’m hearing stuff I forgot we had. The convincer: I would never listen to more than five or so songs an evening, tiring of it after that. Now, I listen to 10-15 or more, as time permits: a song might be tiring, but the sound never is. It should take about a year for the scan.

Weekends, the Cowon becomes a server for the smaller set of pieces, served up randomly. (If we hit a piece we agree shouldn’t be in the dinner list, it takes 5 seconds or so to remove it from the Favorites list but not the player. Skipping a piece, of course, takes no time to speak of. Adding more pieces to the Favorites list takes 2-4 seconds per piece…)

Conclusion: I believe the difference between high-resolution MP3 and lossless digital audio is audible, even on pop/folk/country/rock, even for half-deaf oldsters like me, or at least some of us, although largely at a nearly subliminal level. (With solo piano and orchestral pieces, it’s more audible.) Would I be able to tell the difference in a blind A/B test? Quite possibly not–I grumble about high-end reviewers a lot, but they’re correct in saying that blind A/B tests are artificial and can obscure as much as they reveal. My wife has excellent hearing, and she knows what she’s hearing: I’m 100% certain she’s right.

Oh, and a music server doesn’t have to be big or expensive…the Cowon measures about 2″ x 3″ x 0.5″ and certainly wasn’t expensive.

No, I’m not going back to vinyl; I still suspect elements of euphonic distortion in claims that vinyl actually offers better sound, although anybody who finds it more musical or more enjoyable is probably right, at least for them.

(More accurate and more musical aren’t necessarily the same thing. We could talk about Bose… Incidentally, for those who know Cowon, no, I’m not using Jet Effects or equalization, at least not for this pass or for dinner music, at least not yet.)

*”at least as good”: There are two semi-plausible scientifically-arguable reasons that the music from the Cowon could sound better than CDs from the Sony, even though the Cowon files were ripped from those CDs:

  1. Jitter and error correction, theoretically problems for mass-produced CDs and CD players, shouldn’t be issues for solid-state players with high-quality digital/analog converters.
  2. Signal-to-noise ratio: the Cowon has extremely good audio specifications; the Sony doesn’t even mention signal-to-noise ratio, but it’s a cheap player mostly intended to play DVDs. So, yes, the Cowon is probably quieter, although that shouldn’t be audible at dinner-music levels. Or should it?

What I know is that my wife immediately felt the music–all music–sounded better, “fuller,” and that the close-listening headphone sound is clearly better to me on most pieces, even if my high-frequency hearing is fairly crappy.

And so endeth this absurdly discursive OFP. I’m gonna listen to some music…

The nerve of that guy!

Sunday, August 6th, 2017

A comment that updates & expands the “Partial Social Media Bankruptcy” note I offered at Facebook & Twitter. To wit, it’s likely to be even “less of the web” for a few days, weeks or possibly months.

The title’s significance may become evident.

Wednesday, August 2

My wife went in for (planned and very much needed) carpal tunnel release surgery, which meant her right/dominant hand would be in a lower-arm/hand splint for a week, then a removable splint for another week. Basically one-handed…and that hand needs different attention later. Oh, and with thumb arthritis issues on the other hand to be addressed at a later date.

I figured I’d step back from stuff and spend as much time as needed providing a helping hand. (We also purchased an Etak Deluxe One-Handed Paring Board with Rocker Knife, and it’s a marvelous device for one-handed paring, peeling, opening jars, and lots more. Highly recommended.) Anyway…

I was just a little unsteady to & from the outpatient clinic; I attributed this to getting up VERY early.

Thursday, August 3

She’d done so much advance preparation–and the Etak is such a great device–that she didn’t need very much help. But she noticed a little continuing instability in my walk, and I noticed that I had white noise in my right ear. At dinner, she said “Smile” and informed me that the right side of my mouth was drooping. Fortunately, I passed the other “911 he’s stroking out” tests [e.g. holding arms out straight, touching nose with finger, etc.,) so we agreed that if it wasn’t better Friday morning I should call my doctor.

Friday, August 4

It wasn’t better. It was somewhat worse. I called to make an appointment. My primary care doctor wasn’t in on Friday; when I described my symptoms to the receptionist, she had me on hold for a few seconds, then said “Go to the emergency room.” Not quite “call 911” but “get in here now.”

We went to ER. After initial tests, the ER doctor thought it looked like Bell’s palsy, but wanted to check with a neurologist–as it happens, the neurologist who tested for nerve conductivity in the nerve damaged an March 2016 (when I had a Schwannoma, a benign nerve sheath tumor, removed from my right forearm). She didn’t find any, and the last three fingers of my right hand still can’t be lifted when the wrist’s steady or lifted–I’m now a seven-fingered typist. But that was 2016.

Now, after an MRI,  she discussed the symptoms, tried a couple quick tests, and thought it was more likely to be a minor stroke. And wanted me to stay overnight and get more tests…

A ultrasound/echocardiogram, neck ultrasound, second MRI with contrast, and an odd night (including alerting nurses when the person in the other bed fell on his way to the bathroom–at 3 a.m.) later… and, of course, my wife driving to & from the hospital twice, with one arm barely mobile…

Saturday, August 5

Symptoms… drooping mouth a little worse, drooping right eyelid, and–as it turns out–blinking doesn’t fully shut the right eyelid, and I can’t shut just that eyelid at all. After looking at these, reviewing the various tests, reviewing the second MRI especially, etc., they conclude that the first diagnosis was right: Bell’s palsy, “a nerve disorder that usually happens suddenly and without warning.” No clear cause, but usually a virus, such as a cold sore (a flareup of herpes simplex).

And yes, going to ER was appropriate, because the symptoms are similar to those of a stroke. Fortunately, Bell’s palsy is “rarely serious” and usually subsides in a few weeks without treatment. But one aspect of it–one eyelid not working properly–means the eye needs to be kept closed so it doesn’t dry out and damage the cornea, and with one eye closed there’s no depth perception, and so no driving (and the instability’s not quite gone, another issue even for walking). [Also probably the only connection I’ll ever have to Angelina Jolie: she supposedly had Bell’s palsy.]

I’m on prednisone and valtrex [respectively corticosteroid and antiviral], both for a week, and finally on baby aspirin forever, like most older men. I’d assumed that I’d finally lose my old status of  being over 70, male, and *not* on any continuing prescription drugs, but since it’s not a stroke and y cholesterol panel and other results were fine, I may retain that odd status for a while longer.

And beyond…

So does the post title make sense now? Seems like when  I do have problems they’re nerve-related

For the nonce, I’m spending much less time online and much more time resting, listening to music with my eyes closed, and of course helping my wife (she could only prepare veggies etc. so far ahead, so come tomorrow I’ll start learning/practicing more food prep. Cheerfully.)

I may not be around much. Haven’t read any tweets or status since early Friday morning and won’t even think about catching up. Some day, it will be better…

Oh, by the way: keeping one eye closed did not earn me the Dread Pirate Walt badge. The patch with a strap protects the eye from light but does nothing to keep the eye closed. I’m using boring combinations of gauze pads and adhesive eye patches (my beady little eyes are too sunken for the adhesive patch to work by itself): not dashing, but seems to work. And lots of eye drops and closing both eyes frequently for the break periods in which I get to use both eyes.

In case it’s not obvious: this–my situation and my wife’s–is a damn nuisance but a temporary one. No sympathy requested or required, and certainly not comparable to ongoing ability issues!

[Special thanks to my wife–39 great years and counting–and my brother and sister-in-law.]

Now I’m gonna go check on a couple of things and log off.

Update, Wednesday August 8:

So how’s it going?


Tuesday 3 a.m.: When you’re a little unstable and wearing an eyepatch and going to bed, maybe it’s not the ideal time to resume every-other-night wearing of a full-hand right resting splint…

…and getting up in the middle of the night for the usual reason, not sitting long enough, heading for the step up in the (all tiled) area near the door, noticing (I did have a flashlight) you’re too close, reaching out on the side you can’t see (eyepatch) with the hand that’s really a cloth-covered slab to steady yourself…

…kaboom, not falling badly but managing to hit forehead just above (left) eye on door on the way down. Wife appropriately upset, cleaned up bloody hands (not really that much blood, but), had a “911?” conversation, assured ourselves no concussion, no broken bones, not even any blood or serious bumps other than the one.

Was admonished NOT TO GET UP without waking my wife, who guided me Tuesday early. The wound was narrow but deep and not really bleeding, so we checked urgent care hours, then I called my regular doctor (just down the hall), who had an opening a couple hours after urgent care would have opened.

Saw her. She was great. Didn’t need to add sutures. Did provide excellent suggestion on stability–and as it turns out we already have a cane.

So I’m bloodied and bowed, moving slowly with right hand on a cane. *Not* wearing eye patch during the day (closing eyes at least once a minute, and the blink’s getting better). Won’t be driving for a bit longer. Everything takes 2-3 times as long, and resting a LOT. As I should. Other symptoms actually improving (I can furrow both sides of my brow, my smile is less ghastly, the blink is at least halfway there)–but gait/stability problems were first to show and probably last to go. Feeling like a weary little old man, but then again…

How many times?

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017

I see yet another OA conference is happening (I’ve never been to one, probably never will be, and that’s OK.) My question, after seeing some tweeted photos: How many times during the conference will gold OA be equated with APCs? Dozens? Hundreds?

Maybe a better question: How often will somebody mention gold OA and explicitly note that most gold OA journals (and 43% of articles in 2016) do NOT involve APCs?

Now! with HTTPS (but not fully secure yet)

Sunday, June 4th, 2017

Thanks to Blake Carver’s assistance, I’m pleased to note that all three of my sites–

Walt at Random

Cites & Insights

–now support secure (https) connections.

At least for now, and possibly for some time to come, these sites will connect via https: but be flagged as having insecure content, because some links within the sites are http: links.

On Firefox, that means a little orange warning sign in front of the secure-site lock.

On Chrome, you get an info icon rather than the “Secure” message. I can assure youthat none of these sites care about your location, try to use your camera or microphone or any of the other things Chromewarns about.

On Edge, you just don’t get the lock icon.

I have no idea when (or whether) all links will be changed to https. Ifthat includes links within these blog posts, “never” may be the answer.

All times are UTC

Friday, January 13th, 2017

I use Chrome as my default browser while researching journals, because it makes it so easy to use the Google language tools to translate pages. Almost always, I can use the translation–and occasionally, as with Italian author guides, the translation has the feel of free verse.

Then there’s this–just encountered when checking
Herakleion : Revista Interdisciplinar de Historia y Arqueología del Mediterráneo, a Spanish journal.

One of the tabs is
Normas de Publicación
(which I already recognize as “publication norms” or author guidelines).
Translating the page yielded this:
All times are UTC
which is an…interesting…translation.

And no doubt true.

Adding a new category for W.a.R. posts

Sunday, December 11th, 2016

I’ve just added an Important New Category for posts that offer my superior wisdom to those who have thought about something on their own, especially when those people lacking The Truth are women.

The new category is “Actually…”

Check back periodically to catch up on “Actually…” posts.

If I behave as I believe is appropriate, checking back once a month year decade should be sufficient.

[Updated a bit later: The real reason for the category and this post is to remind me when I’m on the verge of something like mansplaining, that it’s almost always a bad and pointless idea.]

The new Mikado

Monday, August 29th, 2016

Yesterday, we saw the closing performance of the Lamplighters’ production of The New Mikado: Una Commedia Musicale! at Livermore’s first-rate Bankhead Theater.

It was excellent.

Set in Tirmisu, a sweet little town near Renaissance Milan (and ruled by Milan’s emperor, Il Ducato, who aims to make the punishment fit the crime), it tells the complicated story of Niccolu, son of Il Ducato but disguised as a wandering minstrel (or second trombone in Tirmisu’s municipal band), Amiam, his beloved, and how love eventually conquers…nah, you can’t really recount the plot.

What? Renaissance Milan?

Yep. I’m sure you can find material on why the Lamplighters staged this production. (We saw their production of The Mikado a few years back. It was also excellent.) I won’t dwell on that. I’ll just say the commedia dell’arte-style production (including street entertainers before the curtain and actors reacting to scenery changes involving trees being lifted out of or restored into the scene) was absolutely first-rate. Mason Gates was especially good, but others–including F. Lawrence Ewing as Coco–weren’t far behind.

Sigh. Unfortunately, for whatever reasons, the Lamplighters won’t visit Livermore for the rest of the 2016-2017 season.


How terribly strange…

Sunday, August 14th, 2016

I can only reasonably use the post title above for one more month, so this is as good a time as any. If you don’t get the reference, you may not be a S&G fan.

Semi-appropriate sidebar 1: For Paul Simon, it was more than four years ago.

The more significant item this year: the Fourth Official Sign of Growing Old in the U.S.:

  1. More than 20 years ago: AARP eligibility.
  2. More than five years ago: Medicare eligibility.
  3. More than four years ago: full Social Security eligibility.
  4. This year: Turning seventy-and-a-half.

If you don’t get that fourth one, you’re either much younger or don’t have a 401(k) or 403(b): this is when the government says “if you don’t take it, we will”–not unreasonably.

Semi-appropriate sidebar 2: For Sir Elton Hercules John (or Reginald Kenneth Dwight), it was nine years ago, and my best guess is that John has changed his mind.

This is the year I’ve decided “old” isn’t such a terrible word for me. Maybe because a couple of things have me feeling oldish…

Semi-appropriate sidebar 3: For Sir James Paul McCartney, it came twelve years ago, but his has always been more upbeat. He does not apparently have grandchildren, whether Vera, Chuck, Dave or otherwise–but he can probably afford to rent a cottage on the Isle of Wight. (Right around $270/night, AFAICT.) [No, that’s not the canonical version; UMG has done a pretty good job of locking out official versions.]

So what’s got me feeling old? Apart from waiting for forms to fill out (hey, Lincoln!) and that sort of thing? Well…

  1. This is the year I had my first surgery lasting more than 30 seconds or so, having a benign nerve sheath tumor (a Schwannoma) removed from my right forearm…and had the unexpected side effect of, so far at least (4.5 months later), a partly dysfunctional right hand. (Floppy fingers is one term; I have nothing but good words for the physical therapists at ValleyCare Livermore, and am getting good at six-finger typing. I do use chopsticks like a clumsy eight-year-old, though…) Yes, I know I’m damn lucky to have gone 70 years with no significant surgeries. And that I’m ambidextrous enough that this mild inability is just that.
  2. This is the year that, after some nudging, I clarified where I stand on speaking travel, given my health, my wife’s health, our cats’ health and other issues: Starting with “unlikely” and clarified to “Simply not doing it.”
  3. Not sure if this is a sign of age, but I’ve been blocking a lot more people on FB–mostly friends of “friends,” and almost always for misogynistic, bigoted, racist, stupid attitudes or support of such attitudes.

On the other hand…

  1. This is the year I completed a full in-depth analysis of article publishing by Gold OA journals listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals, with sponsorship from SPARC. Considerably more than 4,000 copies of the book-length results have been downloaded–and, unfortunately, very few copies of the Subject and Country supplements.
  2. It’s now clear that $6 is a prohibitive price for an easier-to-use paperback copy of that same report. I’d say the ratio of PDF to paperback (excluding my own copy) is more than 4,000 to 1, but it’s actually infinity.
  3. I’m still married to my best friend, we’re still in the nicest house we’ve ever owned, and in a city we’ve come to like even better–this odd mix of fifty-odd wineries, cattlemen (still a few) and scientists (still thousands).

I said there was no deeper significance. I don’t find it terribly strange, but then I spend more time on long (4-5 mile weekly) walks with friends and short (1.3 mile daily) walks with my wife than I do sitting on park benches.