Saturday, May 09, 2020

Preface To A Personal Show: Remember Being Fearful

But first, a word from our sponsor:

Ashwagandha, also known as Indian ginseng, has a wide range of health benefits, which include its ability to reduce the blood sugar levels, fight cancer, reduce stress & anxiety, & increase fertility in men.

That's right, this blog post is sponsored by ginseng.

& now for the main event:

Remember being fearful?  It's a trip down "Memory Lane"* with me, Gary, the host of Self Help Radio.  This is a story about being too personal, on the radio, right out of the gate, & fearing afterwards that you'd somehow revealed too much...  Like people's names you shouldn't have said.  Or maybe details about your life.  Or maybe your phone number...  Did you actually give out your phone number on the air?

We'll be back to this stressful situation after this Public Service Announcement:

Eeww.  Is it the proper reaction to most situations?  Almost certainly.  Next time, remember: Eeww.

When we last left our hero (me, Gary**), he was fretting about possibly revealing too much personal information about his life on the air.  It seemed to flow naturally, he was trying to be funny, how could anyone make such stuff up?  Riding his bike home, he wondered: Would anyone call?  Or find out where he lived?  Jeez, hadn't he seen Play Misty For Me?

But, like most worrying, it was all for naught!  No one cared.  No one, most likely, was listening.

& the next time he (I) blurted out more personal information, he was beside himself with concern.  It became something like a ritual.  What if I said something too personal?  What if I made someone mad?  What if I betrayed a trust?  Why do I keep doing that?

& on & on, even now to the present day!  & no one cared.  No one took advantage of personal information the radio host might have said or shared on the air.  No one was listening.  Or if they were listening, they simply didn't care.

We'll be back after these footnotes:

* Not an actual thoroughfare.
** This is confusing, sorry.

Friday, May 08, 2020

Track Changes

These are some things I'm not doing during this pandemic:

Thinking about the future.  No, my wife does that.  Sometimes way into the future.  Jobs have been lost, houses have been foreclosed upon, I suppose I might be arrested.  That's her, not me.  Mainly I am thinking about what radio show I need to do next.  Which leads me to something else I'm not doing this pandemic:

Getting radio shows done on time.  This is my classic procrastinator's pattern.   I have a little bit of time to plan, & instead I read stuff online that depresses or enrages me, I eat, or I nap.  I nap a lot.  Like, probably an unhealthy amount.  I actually think I nap for that moment when I wake when I have no idea what time it is, where I am, & what the hell I have been doing.  That used to be frightening, now it's a comfort.

Which reminds me, something else I'm doing during this pandemic is:

Getting anything done.  Sure, I have made some radio shows, but there are a million things I wish I could do - from finishing books I've started reading to simply getting ahead of the curve for other projects - that I am not taking the time to do.  Yes, I have a good deal of anxiety & yes, I am often a bit depressed, but I have to admit that that's par for the course of my life.  What is keeping me from doing this?  I am not drinking more than usual.  I am not doing other drugs or otherwise occupying my time in that way (although I do nap a lot).  So what is it?  Laziness.  Pure & simple.

It's been so beautiful & warm around here lately so I wish I could tell you I've been spending time outside, but nope!  I do walk the dogs twice a day, & am stunned by folks who require you to cross the street out of some weird privilege - dude, we have three dogs & one of them is a senior citizen who's old & slow, but sure, I'll move so you & your fucking husky can breeze past us - but that's not nearly as much time as the wife, who also has to work, has spent in our garden.  Does sitting outside in the backyard on the porch playing games on the phone count?  No.  No, it doesn't.

Yes, I am eating a bit more.  I am going to eat something now, in fact, while reading things that will raise my blood pressure online.  I actually just saw something I thought was thoughtful & wanted to see what the reaction online was - & of course it was bugfuck crazy.  We need to defend our "side" over anything - & luckily there are obfuscation tools available at the ready once you've committed.  I feel awful for anyone who might have questions, or doubts, or reservations - surely you, like me, will be destroyed first.

Oh yeah, I mentioned I would eat something now.  That's what I'll do, then.

Thursday, May 07, 2020

May 7, 2019

It may seem a little cheap to return to something I wrote barely a year ago, but today is a momentous day for me & my family.  A year ago today we left a beautiful home & truly great neighbors to begin what would be an exhausting four-day trek across the United States to come live in Portland.  I'm glad I wrote these travelogues every night in the hotel rooms.  To this day I can't believe we actually did it.  Here's what I wrote a year ago in a hotel room in - well, it's what the post was called:

Santa Rosa, New Mexico

We made it.  516 miles.  Three dogs & me in a tiny Prius.  Three cats & the wife in a rented minivan. (A Chrysler Pacifica if you really want to know.)  The wife was happy because it had Sirius radio, & she loves the First Wave channel.  I am exhausted.

Last night I couldn't get to sleep, which is par for the course.  I get anxious before trips - my first trip by car to this part of the world, I spent the night until I collapsed from exhaustion around 3am thumbing through a Mapsco deciding the best route.  (This was in 1995, in the days before GPS.)  Then, as this morning, I woke at six.  It's 9pm New Mexico time, & I am running on fumes.  Which is great!  I'll sleep like the dead tonight.

We planned to leave at eight but it took a little longer to get the house cleaned & our shit packed - kudos to the wife for putting four & half times as much as realistically possible into the minivan - & so far the only thing we left behind was Magda's lunch.

It was sad to let the house go.  It's a lovely place, & I know even though they really can't miss it, the dogs (especially Pauline) are going to miss the beautiful yard.  I think my anxiousness about last night was equal parts going from the house & going to Portland.  The wife put so much work & so much of herself into the house & it was the most comfortable place I've ever lived.  Even after all our belongings were taken away on Thursday, I would find myself going to this room or that as I had been doing for two or more years, out of habit, surprised that my stuff wasn't there anymore.

But I love moving, I love going to new cities, I am very excited about getting to know Portland.  It's not that I have wanderlust per se, I just wish I could relocate every two or three years & spend time in a new place.

The dogs - who doubtless thought we were just going to the park - were easily cajoled into the car.  The cats, however, were freaked out - we put them in an empty room while we packed up & it unnerved Bolan, who was quite frantic.  Bronte & Boone hid in an empty closet, & they were easily grabbed & put into carriers.  Bronte & Bolan shared a large one, Boone had to be by himself in a regular-sized one.  The wife tells me that Bolan complained occasionally throughout the drive, & when we stopped & I checked on them, Bolan was meowing to get out while Boone & Bronte stayed in the back of the carriers.  I wish I could have trained them to be walked like dogs!

We hit the road after 9, I got to hear a bit of my friends Pippin & Carole begging for money on the show I used to do, the Tuesday Morning Blend.  They were much, much better at it than I was, & I was glad they were doing it & not me.  The route began on I-30 till it became I-20 & wound its way through Weatherford, past Mineral Wells, through Abilene, & made a right onto 84 at Sweetwater.  Thanks to the magic of cell phones, the wife & I talked a great deal of the drive, although I did listen to some new records, & a collection of Momus tunes I made so I could sing along.  I didn't listen to any podcasts or books on tape, though I brought those, too - I just really love to listen to music when I drive.

We made a promise to stop every hour or so, for everyone but the cats to go pee, & we pretty much kept the schedule.  We stopped outside Abilene to eat lunch - we brought a lot of food, since we ate out with friends pretty much the entire last week we were in Fort Worth (though, as I've said, the lunch Magda prepared for herself last night was left, we later realized, by our unused fireplace).  While I was eating my sandwich, I met a fellow at a gas station who had a pro-beagle bumper sticker & I also met his beautiful sixteen-year-old beagle named Buster.  The guy was so obviously pro-beagle that Winston, who is famously stingy with his love, gave him a lick when the fellow put his face close to Winston's.

The route took us around, & not through, Lubbock - which seems to have more wind turbines than oil derricks these days, hooray! but the same amount of stockyards, so boo!  - & we had to improvise to find a gas station, which we did, in a town called Littlefield, at a service station on Waylon Jennings Road.  Would you believe I was listening to Townes Van Zandt when we drove up?  I was, but you don't have to believe it.  It began to rain as we left, & the very gregarious cashier told us bad weather was coming.  How did she know? I asked.  She said, "I don't watch TV!  It's just what people tell me!"

She's very good, it turns out.  We later discovered we just missed a storm which included a tornado watch.  We had escaped over the border to New Mexico by then.

The highway was smaller, & we had to drop from 75 mph to 35 mph in a matter of fractions of a mile from time-to-time.  That happens in Texas, too, of course, & also there are generally cops there to give tickets to the unwary.  About an hour from Santa Rosa - in a town called Fort Sumner - we met a young woman who was moving from Washington State - the wife noticed her license plates - to Austin (we asked).  We talked about the Austin that we knew & she admitted that she was moving reluctantly - her husband recently got a job there.  Magda thought I might sympathize but nope!  There isn't a lot of reluctance with this move.

Highway 84 took us to Santa Rosa & I noticed we were in a new time zone.  It is earlier than it once was.  We sneaked the cats into the hotel room - luckily our room was near the back door - hey, we paid extra for three dogs! - & they were pretty unhappy.  It's been a few hours & they've finally come out to eat. They still don't know what to make about the noise in the hallway, but I think they'll be fine - although I am not entirely sure they won't hide when it's time to go.

The hotel is on what used to be Route 66, so we walked the dogs a mile or so down the road & back & I took a lot of pictures of cool signs & abandoned places, two of my favorite things.  I'll post the ones I like best at some point - to my personal Facebook page & to the show's Tumblr blog - but knowing how long it takes me to get through my pictures, I'll be settling into regular life in Portland by the time they make their appearances.  Hey!  I take a lot of dumb pictures!  I go through them chronologically!  They remind me how much I forget things!

For dinner, we ate leftover enchiladas I made in Lexington*.  There are not a lot of vegan choices in Santa Rosa.  Let me rephrase that.  There are hardly any vegan choices in Santa Rosa.  Might I try again.  I would be surprised if there were vegan choices in Santa Rosa.  The enchiladas were good.  If I don't say so myself.  Though I just did.

It's earlier than I feel, but I am exhausted.  The wife has already fallen asleep.  I had last driven in this part of the world maybe twenty-five years ago, & for some reason back then I usually drove around here at night.  But the desert is lovely in its way & I've missed it.  Like Jonathan Richman says, "When I'm in the desert, I wanna see the desert some more."

Luckily we're driving up into Utah tomorrow!

*  (I wrote this sentence at the end of a very long day; of course I meant Fort Worth)

Monday, May 04, 2020

Self Help Radio 050420: Maps

(Never the treasure on the map.  Original image here.)

If you used a map to find this week's Self Help Radio, good for you!  The show is in fact about maps. I am unaware of any actual maps made for the show - it's where all the shows turn up, at Self Help Radio dot net - but there are so many maps out there, I suspect it would be easy to repurpose, let's say, the #9 downtown to find your way to a radio show.  Hey.  It's not fun to get lost!

& you won't get lost.  There are plenty of maps on today's show.  There's even a GPS!  & handy tips on making your own map!  It's a mapstravaganza!  A mappapalooza!  A maptastic mapselebration!  Sorry.  I always take these things too far.

Visit the Self Help Radio website to listen to the show.  You should know by now there's a username - SHR - & a password - selfhelp - which you need to enter but you won't have to do it more than once a visit.  & of course all the songs & what happens on the show is noted below.

You're safe!  You have a map now!

Self Help Radio Maps Show
"Maps" Yeah Yeah Yeahs _Fever To Tell_
"Maps" The Front Bottoms _The Front Bottoms_
"Map" Call & Response _Call & Response_

introduction & definitions (with the Definition-O-Tron 3000!)

"Map Of The World" Comsat Angels _Waiting For A Miracle_
"Maps For Lost Lovers" The Rosie Taylor Project _This City Draws Maps_
"Case Study: Maggie The GPS" Superego _Superego Season 2, Episode 7_
"The Map To Your Good Graces" Ad Frank _Mr. Fancypants_
"A Map Below" The Blue Aeroplanes _Detective Song_

interview with educational software Mappy The Map Maker

"Guess How Much I Love You" The Lucksmiths _A Good Kind Of Nervous_
"Maps & Legends" R.E.M. _Fables Of The Reconstruction_
"Moon Map" Jonathan Winters _Another Day, Another World_
"Map Ref. 41°N 93°W" Wire _154_
"Map Of The World" The Corn Dollies _The Corn Dollies_

interview with cartographer & psychologist Dr. Mortimer Davis

"Midnight Maps" Shriekback _Jam Science_
"Map Your Eyes" Bernthøler _Merry Lines In The Sky_
"Map Of The World" The Smothers Brothers _The Two Sides Of The Smothers Brothers_
"El Mapa" Family _Un Soplo En El Corazón_
"An Animated Description Of Mr. Maps" The Books _Lost & Safe_

interview with the Rev Dr Howard Gently

"Hey, Map My Way" Cutaways _Earth & Earthly Things_
"I'm Using My Bible For A Road Map" Porter Wagoner & The Blackwood Brothers Quartet _The Grand Old Gospel_
"Lewton Cole, The Doc, The Map, & The Gunfight" Roger Miller _Waterhole # 3_
"Off The Map" Guy Clark _The Dark_
"Dot On The Map" Volcano Suns _All-Night Lotus Party_

conclusion & goodbye

"New Map" M83 _Hurry Up, We're Dreaming_
"Maps For Sleep" Half String _Eclipse * Oval * Hue_
"Map" The Ex _Disturbing Domestic Peace_

Sunday, May 03, 2020

Whither Maps?

(Could this be the oldest map in the world? It's a map on a mammoth's tusk.  It's from around 25,000 BCE.  Read more at this link.)

Oh wow, do you see that picture up there?  It's a map from maybe 27,000 years ago.  It's an amount of time that's hard to wrap one's head around (although this quarantine has made it somewhat more understandable).  Smart people who study these things aren't entirely sure what it's a map of - it could be a map of the area where it was found, in the current Czech Republic.  Or it could have been a hunting map.  It's just fascinating to think, human beings were making maps way back when.  & I still can't tell someone exactly where the nearest dispensary is.

You might be wondering about my own fascination with maps.  I will tell you two stories about my youth - one which I am certain I've mentioned here before, another that I haven't.  I had this notion, because as a child I loved to look at maps, that every city was surrounded by railroad tracks.  That's how you knew you were leaving one city & entering another.  I hadn't thought about it before, but I suspect I might have thought that because of the broken line borders that designated boundaries, which perhaps I interpreted as railroads.  Anyway, my family members disabused me of that notion by calling me an idiot when I spoke the idea out loud.

This did not deter me from thinking I might be helpful & come up with a kind of map.  As I sat in the back seat while someone else (probably one of my brothers) was driving, I took to carrying a notepad & pencil & I attempted to scribble down the street names as we passed.  In a sense I meant to make a kind of "word map" that would help someone - if you memorized, for example, "Medina, Prescott, Ridgedale," you'd be able to know where a street was off another street (in this case, Fifth Street) if you needed a sense of where something was located.

Also I really just wanted a list of every street name.  That fascinated me.  I don't always know when my projects as a child began & ended, but I know when this one was quashed: when I saw my first map of Garland.  There, on the right hand side, was a list, in alphabetical order, of all the streets in the town.  I don't know if that's what I wanted all along, but I remember having a feeling that someone has somehow beaten me to the punch.  & I lost interest in that kind of cartography.

Until tomorrow, of course.  An entire show about maps!  But.  I can't say when tomorrow - I am still operating on what I'm calling quarantime - but some time tomorrow I hope there'll be a Self Help Radio episode about maps.  You can find it at the Self Help Radio website, but I'll announce it here & the other usual places.

You won't need to follow a map to find it.  Although if I planned better, that would've been fun.