Back Story

I am in pretty good health but that is subject to change at the drop of a hat. My back seems to go out of whack throughout the day even when I am just sitting at my desk. I can usually free the stuck parts with a few simple movements. I might have injured it playing sports. I did a lot of that. The first time I remember throwing it out was while doing cartwheels on our front lawn sometime during high school. From then on I could only do a cartwheel going in one direction. Sort of like when I learned how to throw a curve ball so good, I could only throw curve balls. And then I injured my back it in a car accident.

I was a freshman at Indiana University and I hooked up with a guy going to Syracuse on Thanksgiving. He had posted a listing on the IU Ride Board in the Commons and I gave him a call. There were six of us in a restored 56 Chevy. That sounds like a lot but it was perfectly comfortable in the back seat. We were getting low on gas in Pennsylvania near this town called North East. It’s on Route 90 near the New York border. You can pretty much guess what part of the state it is in. We got off the highway to look for gas and there wasn’t anything open. We drove for a bit on a small road and ran out of gas.

We walked up to a farm house and rang the bell. A woman told us we were in luck because there was a gas station at the bottom of the big hill out front. All we had to do was push the car over the crest of the hill. The owner of the car sat behind the wheel and we all pushed but were having a hard time getting this tank to the top of the hill. The owner got out and pushed from the rear and I was reaching in the window from the side to steer the car while pushing. We were giving it everything we had and got it up to the crest where it started picking up steam. The owner yelled, “Jump in and steer” so I did.

I was rolling down this hill when a car came up behind me. I was watching him in my mirror and he was coming up pretty fast while I was just rolling. I turned on my lights, pumped the brakes and he kept coming at me. I pulled off to the shoulder and the guy pulled off to the shoulder. I pulled back on the road and he followed me. I was watching all this in that tiny little mirror and the guy just plowed into me.

I wound up down by the gas pedal curled up like a ball. The back seat of the Chevy came out and landed on top of me. The horn on the other car was stuck in the loud position. I worked my way free and walked back to find a man and a woman slumped over in the front seat. Their heads had shattered the windshield and they were both very bloody. The man was groaning.

The other guys caught up to us and the owner was pissed. He was pissed at me too! We walked to a house and called an ambulance for the couple. The car was towed and we hitchhiked home separately. My back was hurting me for weeks.

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New Voice In The Group

Lou and Arianna Calesso
Lou and Arianna Calesso Photo by Kevin Leas

I fell in love with this photo. It was on the front page of The Irondequoit Post. Lou and Arianna Calesso teach computer skills to local blind people. Arianna says, “I can do anything (on a computer) you (sighted) guys can do.” In the article she tells how she met her husband. “I heard a new voice (in the group) and that was it,” she laughed. “I wasn’t looking for anyone.” My mother in law has one of the clocks shown here. It chirps a different bird sound for every quarter hour.

I took some heat a while back for a my post with the dead mouse. That hasn’t stopped me from setting traps although we haven’t caught one in a while. The last few times I’ve checked on them the peanut butter I used as bait was gone but the traps hadn’t sprung. Either the mice were wising up as their brothers went down or or maybe it was light-on-their-feet ants. Yesterday I stuck my had in the crawl space to check on the status and one of the traps was gone. I got a flashlight but couldn’t see the trap anywhere. Either a mouse dragged it back to where he came from or some other bigger animal took the dead mouse and trap somewhere.

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Can I Comment On My Own Blog?

I got some flack for the photo of the dead mouse in my “b” log entry a few days ago. Frank told me he would kill a person before he killed an animal and then after our Margo gig tonight, Maureen told me her grade school students were a little freaked out by it. Am I the only one who wears leather shoes or eats Italian sausage? Our cats would have done the dirty work if we had let them in the crawl space and they would have had a good time doing it. They bring mice and moles and chipmunks to the door and just plop them there with puncture marks like a trophy. I’m using good peanut butter.

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Dear Diary

Sunflowers In Winter
Sunflowers In Winter

On the front page of our local paper yesterday there was a story about some remarks that either Hillary or Obama made about race. We couldn’t tell from the article who said what or why it was controversial. But the headline made it sound as if it was newsworthy. The article came from the Associated Press and it was probably so heavily edited by one of the few full time Gannett staffers that it came out incoherent.

Which brings me to the comment that Steve Hoy made on the “Send Us Your Problems” entry. Steve bailed me out when I was a freshman and we were roommates. I had a paper due the next morning and I was grumbling about it and Steve said, “Let me write it”. He banged it off and called it “Time, The Fourth Dimension”. I had my doubts but turned it in anyway and got an “A” along with a comment addressed to “Mr. Dodd” with an explanation point after it. And I work for a small company named 4D.

My nephew who is a senior in high school and one year younger than I was when Steve wrote that paper for me is in San Francisco for MacWorld. I’ve been following their adventures on his blog, The iLife. He and his friend got in line yesterday for today’s keynote address by Steve Jobs. They were first in line and were interviewed by Justine from iJustine.tv.

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Low Expectations

After the Margaret Explosion gig last night, our bass player, Ken Frank, told me that he was going to bring his stand up bass again next week now that they have taken the holiday tree down. I guess there wasn’t enough room where we set up with the tree. I told him I never even noticed the tree. We still have ours up but I’ve stopped looking at it.

We got our fireplace insert installed today and I can’t stop looking at that. I thought my camera had gone haywire because when I took a photo and switched to review mode to check it out, it always showed the same photo from a few weeks ago. But I saved all my photos tonight and noticed that the number on the .jpg files had reached its limit of 9,999. It’s hard to believe I’ve taken that many photos. I certainly haven’t saved them all.

Bed & Breakfast near Ithaca

I just saved this one from the bed and breakfast we stayed at on New Years’s Eve. Taughannock Farms Inn is located just up the lake a bit from Ithaca. You can see the lake off to the right and the old yellow house with the widow’s walk is where they serve dinner. The state park and falls are next door with some beautiful hiking trails.

We have had a party on New Years for many years and we always waited to the last minute to invite people. If somebody had something better to do they would not be at our party. The key ingredient to a good party is low expectations.

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Betty Davis Eyes

I caught the snowmen before their heads fell off this morning. Five minutes after I took this shot the one on the right was headless. Actually they were already headless. These are their midsections looking like heads.

Snowmen melting
Snowmen melting

Our old neighbor, Sparky, played out at Peggi’s mom’s home last night. We were planning on stopping out there but didn’t make it. Jeanne was in town from Nashville and she hooked up with Patty and they both stopped by. Jeanne brought over a bottle of Korbel champagne that had been sitting on her father’s shelf for a few years. It was warm but we popped it open anyway. It was sort of dark and it tasted like vinegar so we didn’t drink it. We made a fire and sat around talking. We hooked our laptop up to the stereo and streamed music from the other room. “Betty Davis Eyes” sounded good. Patty’s family sold the LDR Char Pit when her father in law retired and she told us about her new job at the local guitar cord factory, Whirlwind.

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Good Looking People

Peggi brought her mom over here on Christmas for some champagne and then we planned to head over to my parents’ house where the whole family gathers for sandwiches and some gift-giving. I have some of my dark crime faces hanging by the door and on the way out of the house I heard my mother-in-law say, “I must tell Paul, I wish someday he would get some good looking people up there.”

Peggi with Lucas’s baby blanket.
Peggi with Lucas’s baby blanket.

Peggi gave our niece the baby blanket that she has been crocheting for Lucas and then took it back so she could finish it at the party. Lucas’ brother, Dylan, was running around in his new Superman pajamas. Peggi finished the blanket.

We built up $500 worth of points in our Visa Rewards program and we ordered a MacBook through Best Buy. It was back ordered so we didn’t get it by Christmas. It is in now with a tracking number but it still seems to sitting at the Best Buy warehouse. We will probably use our old laptop for a jukebox. We tracked Peggi’s LL Bean order at Fed Ex and watched it leave Maine on a truck, get sorted at the Rochester Fed Ex facility and then leave for Memphis only to turn around and fly back to Rochester. It arrived the day before Christmas. I like Fed Ex’s tracking interface better than UPS’. Our nephew is staying with us and we geeked all day. We installed Leopard on a sub 867 G4 and transfered our mail package to that computer. We’re putting our G3 out to pasture.

Margaret Explosion plays tonight and a bunch of my family will be there.

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Rick & Monica Envy

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s fireplace insert. But we did and today we put a down payment on one. In fact, it is the same one as Rick and Monica’s. We shopped around a bit. We looked at “Fireplace Fashions” and drove by “House of Fire.” That name sort of bothers me. It’s not what I want to picture when starting a fire in my living room. Rick and Monica recommended Williamson Hardware so that’s where we did our business. But then Monica told us she didn’t like Christmas and the next day we look out there and see white lights on some trees in front of their house. We dealt with the owner of Williamson Hardware. He does the installs as well. He is up at four, runs three to five miles a day and also does abstract photographs. He showed us one on his Blackberry. He is having a show at Image Gallery in April.

Our house was built in the forties and the fireplace is big. We have chopped and burnt a lot of wood. But it doesn’t exactly heat up the house or even the room. You have to sit right on top of it to feel the warmth. It drains heat from the house while we are having a fire and and the opening continues to drain heat while we aren’t. Didn’t they know this in the forties? Maybe energy was so much cheaper that it was a smaller issue. Wood burning fireplace inserts are expensive.

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Manufactured Landscapes

I checked in on ndsforfree.com to make sure the cash register was still ringing and did a little more Stumbling in Firefox this morning and then went out to blow the the leaves off the roof. Then I raked the leaves that I blew off out of the pachysandra. Tomorrow we might pick those leaves up with our neighbor’s leaf picker upper if he’s up for it. I helped my parents take down their awnings for the winter and then dashed back to 4D to meet with someone who wanted a brochure. He buys mortgages from people who are holding unpaid ones and he told us he invented a product and had received a letter from Arnold Schwarzenegger about it.

We had our neighbors and friends, Rick and Monica over for dinner to try to thank them for taking us to and picking us up from the airport. Peggi made chili with tofu Italian sausage (Tofurkey) and French bread. I roasted chestnuts for an appetizer and made a salad. We had my mother’s homemade peanut butter cookies for dessert. After dinner we started a fire and watched a documentary that Rick and Monica had rented from Netflix called, “Manufactured Landscapes.” The film features the photos of Edward Burtynsky and the settings for his beautiful shots. Most of the movie takes place in China where worker bees in color coordinated uniforms perform the the most mundane, repetitive tasks in the name of globalization.

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Beginner’s Mind

Andrew with his medium format Kodak camera
Andrew with his medium format Kodak camera

I fell asleep at nine or midnight NY time and then woke up at six (LA time) and read my nephew’s ” Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind” book for a few hours before heading downstairs for coffee. I love it. “For Zen students, a weed is a treasure.”

We walked up Bel Air Drive today until the road ended. And then we walked downhill to Beverly Glen and then back up again. It is a beautiful day. I just checked in Rochester and watched a camera animation of the sun going down over Bishop Kearney High School. We had our first snowfall there. Peggi made Challa bread with the kids when they were young and it has become some sort of tradition on Thanksgiving in the Meyer household. So she had them braid the dough again and it’s in the oven. “Zen is not some kind of excitement, but concentration on our usual everyday routine.”

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