Chess

Many, many decades ago, I learned the fundamentals of chess. I’m not sure if this happened at my own request or if my dad simply declared it a fundamental life skill. But he made sure I knew where the pieces started, how they moved, and the basics of strategy.

We played a fair number of games together. I always lost, of course, but then again, I was only two years old.

Haha. Actually, I was more like twelve years old, but I’m not joking about always losing. Sure, it’s a complicated game. And yeah, I was very early in my chess-playing career. But none of that meant I had set my feet on the path of a lifetime losing streak.

Then one day it happened. I began with pawn to king four, he countered, I played, he advanced, and after an unknown number of moves I looked down at the board in wide-eyed disbelief and declared “checkmate.”

And that was the last time I won a game of chess.

For whatever reason, it’s a mental blind spot for me. As vastly intelligent and incredibly humble as I am in many other areas, being able to “strategize” a chess game simply isn’t in my wiring.

They say that grandmasters are able to see many, many moves ahead. My problem is that I can barely see two moves behind. Let alone plan anything. I move through a chess game with all the skill and foresight of a person fumbling for a flashlight during a power outage.

Even so, I wasn’t prepared for something that happened to me last year. Thinking I might try to actually learn something, I found an online chess site. They had a number of lessons and tutorials for all skill levels. To begin, you either had to choose your own level or — this is the cool part — play through a game after which the site would determine your proper course.

I chose the latter. “Stand back, everyone. I’m about to do chess.” I began with pawn to king four, the software countered, I played, it advanced, and after an unknown number of moves the game abruptly stopped and said, “Got it! Click next to continue your chess training.”

Eagerly I clicked next only to be humiliated with: “Lesson Zero. This is a pawn. It can move one space forward, or two spaces forward on its first move…”

Seriously?

The silver lining in all this: so many hours of my life recovered which I can now spend on other things. Heck, I may even start a blog.

Things That Go Bump in the Night

It’s October again, which means we’re now officially seven weeks into the Halloween season, going by the standard retail marketing calendar. (This also means we’re officially one week into the Christmas season.) So what better way to kick off the month than with a scary story! One of the “ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggedy beasties” kind.

When we first moved to Austin, I looked forward to a number of things: better career opportunities, lots to see and do, and (most importantly) not being buried under five feet of snow every year. However, there were a few things I didn’t look forward to and at the top of that list sat: scorpions.

For the first few months we were here, I carried around a mild but nonetheless irrational fear of the little beasties. I’d never seen one before, not in real life, and I didn’t want to. I’d heard stories from our real estate agent and others who’d lived here a while, so I expected to see one at every turn. But as our time in Austin moved on and I still had yet to run into any, I figured maybe the whole scare was overblown.

Until one day while at work I got an instant message from Laura.

We had a pile of pillows on the floor in a corner. She moved one and out skittered a little scorpion. The emphasis is on little. Because when I got home that night to see it I felt a bit disappointed that I’d gotten all worked up over nothing. All the scorpions I’d seen in the media were big, ugly, scary things. Now, I’m not saying that this one cute and cuddly. But in comparison to my runaway imagination, this was relatively tame.

A few years went by and I only saw maybe two or three more. A decade went by and nothing. At this point I assumed humans had finally won the battle and I had nothing more to worry about. Until last year when we moved north.

While everything to the south of our new house looks like standard suburbia, our backyard, to the north side, butts right up against a thousand acre ranch. Whereas our front street sees cars, and garbage trucks, and delivery vehicles, our back fence wards off wandering cattle.

I enjoy this odd arrangement, where two worlds meet, but that also means we’re on the front line of the War of the Arthropods.

Even before we moved in, we encountered our first scorpion. Of course, by now they didn’t bother me any more than any other random bug encounter would. Plus, it was already dead.

“That’s one,” we said, knowing that there were more on the way.

Fast forward to July 2017. We stopped counting scorpion findings somewhere around two dozen. I would say eighty percent of them are already dead and the remaining are very near death as Laura approaches with a sledgehammer.

Anyway, on the night of July 27, I went to sleep like any other night. I was two or three hours into a nice, cozy sleep when my eyes flew open at a sharp pain on my left pinky followed quickly by one on my left arm.

“What the hell was that?” my brain thought, not having the benefit of reading an entire blog post about scorpions to set the stage. I climbed out of bed and walked to the bathroom and turned on the light. My finger felt sore but in my still-groggy state I somehow began to wonder if I didn’t just imagine something, or this was all a vivid dream.

There on my finger was a little white circle with a red dot in the middle. Okay, nope: not imagining things. But what was that? Did a spider bite me?

I went back to my bed with half my brain thinking, “I’d better investigate this.” The other half of my brain was thinking, “It’s late. Just go back to sleep.” (That’s the half of my brain I like to refer to as “the stupid half.”)

Flipping on my phone’s camera light, I conducted a quick search but couldn’t find anything. The confusing thought that maybe I dreamed all this still fogged my brain. I headed back to the bathroom and looked at my finger again. Still white and red and slightly swollen. Okay, nope: still not imagining things.

Upon my second trip back to the bed for further investigation, I was relieved to find physical evidence of the incident. There on the bed as I peeled back the covers further, lay a small, arms-curled-up, dead-spider-looking thing.

“Aha!” I said to myself as I found a container to scoop him up in. But as I scooped, the dead-looking spider uncurled all his long-leggedy appendages and revealed himself in his full scorpion glory.

Now safely bottled up, I placed him on the kitchen counter so he could think about what he did. I returned to bed one last time, conducted a quick additional scan in case he had any friends, and went back to sleep.

The next day I showed him off to the family. I took the jar to work and showed him off to coworkers. At that point, figuring he learned his lesson by now, I took him outside to a thick stand of trees and let him go. If you’re not squeamish about such things, you can view his escape here.

Tune in next week when I might tell you about the tarantula we found walking around our driveway when we came home from dinner last week. You know a spider is big when you can see it from the street.

On second thought, never mind. We’ll be too deep into the Christmas season for such tales by then.

Day 10,007

[Cue female voiceover]

Previously on Charlie’s Blog. Charlie commemorated his ten thousandth day of dieting with a look back over twenty-seven years of pain, suffering, and Chex Mix. During that era, there arose The Great Diets, standing far above the rest. We left off with 1,032 days of the Third Great Diet still unaccounted for.

[Cue theme music and roll opening credits.]

The Third Great Diet began with cancer diagnosis and treatment and ended with—well, the good news is it hasn’t ended. I never gained it all back, so technically speaking, this diet is still going. I sleep well at night knowing that I haven’t screwed it up. Yet.

I’m sure giving it a shot, though.

As much weight as I lost during cancer treatment in 2012 (around 40 pounds), I did gain about ten of it back by Christmas that year. That particular gain (right after that very particular loss) alarmed me enough to declare, “Never Again!” and it worked. By the end of 2014, two years later, I was down another thirty. And I did it all without the help of Rituximab, Cyclophosphamide, Hydroxydaunorubicin, or Ensure shakes.

“I did it!” I shouted on that fateful day I hit my previously-unattainable goal weight.

“You did it!” my scale shouted back to me, sharing my triumph.

That momentous occasion called for celebration. And celebrate I did. To the tune of gaining forty pounds back over the next two years.

Rats.


Through all my years of yo-yoing, one thing was a given: the weight I gained quickly always came off quickly. If ever I gained ten or fifteen around the holidays (hahaha . . . I said “if”) then come January, those last ten or fifteen peeled off as quickly as they went on. By the end of 2016, I had no reason to believe this wouldn’t continue.

“It’s okay, Charlie! Shovel in another bucketful of Chex Mix. Come January, these last ten or fifteen pounds will peel off as quickly as they’re going on.”

Except they didn’t.

Weight loss is controlled by a little known organ in the body called the squizzard. It secretes an enzyme (called stopstuphinurfase) into the blood stream that tells your brain to tell your hands to stop stuffing your face. I don’t know if because I’m getting older, or all this yo-yo dieting has finally caught up to me, but my squizzard is broken and I can no longer afford the stopstuphinurfase injections on my new insurance.

January turned to February. February to March. And March somehow went right into September. And no matter what I did, I just couldn’t make it happen.

“But this is what I do!” I exclaimed in desperation one morning as the scale refuses to budge.”

“No, this is what you used to do,” the scale replied. “Before you broke your squizzard.”

I think what I really need is a vacation. While most people use vacations as an excuse to over-indulge in the gastronomical delights, I tend to pull way back. I’ve had several business trips this year. When I returned from the longest one, I found myself miraculously back in Onederland. When I returned from my most recent one, same thing.

“Check it out!” I said to my scale both times. “I’m definitely back!”

Two days later, I’d be up three or four pounds again.

“No. No you’re not,” the scale mocked.

So as of today (Day 10,007, Diet #129, Reboot 1) I’m still pretty much hovering where I’ve been for most of the year. On the bright side, I am down about fifteen pounds since The Disaster of 2016. But that still means I have twenty-five to go. And at the rate I’m going, I’ll hit it . . . um . . . around . . .

Looks like I’ll see you all back here for an exciting update on Friday, June 12, 2020!

Day 10,000

When I retired the old blog and started this here new one, I admit I was happy to leave behind the burden of diet-related blogging. The new domain came with a fresh start and an “I can talk about anything I want” attitude. And for sure: how’s the diet going? wasn’t anywhere on the anything I want list.

In spite of that, this is somehow my eighth post on the topic here. That’s right, on the blog where I swore to not talk about weight loss, weight loss now comprises nearly ten percent of my posts. Yay, me!

But that’s okay! Because today is a super duper special day. Fate demands that I drag up The Topic more time for today is Day 10,000. That’s a real number. I’m not exaggerating for effect. I even used the internet to double check my work.


Long time readers will know that I’ve been on a fair number of diets during this period. For those of you keeping score at home, I’m currently on #129 (Day 33). But more on that later.

Looking back over a ten thousand day stretch, it’s clear there have only been three diets that have counted. And I mean, really counted. So hop in the car and buckle your seat belt. We’re taking a drive down memory lane.

The First Great Diet

The very first Day One began several lifetimes ago. (Twenty-seven years, four months, and fifteen days ago, to be precise.) On May 1, 1990 I looked down at my midsection and thought, “Huh, I’d better do something about this.” I weighed in at 194 pounds that morning: the heaviest I’d ever been in my (short) adult life.

For whatever reason, I waited five months before doing anything. It wasn’t until October when I suddenly found myself up another eleven pounds and thought, “Huh, I’d better do something about this.”

Long story short, The First Great Diet was a huge success. I cut down on calories, swam laps almost every day (yes: actual exercise), and drank gallons and gallons of Slim Fast. And in only 335 days, on Day 495, I magically hit 168. Down thirty-seven pounds total.

The Second Great Diet

Right after the end of The First Great Diet, I learned a new dieting thing. I didn’t even know it was a thing. Looking back, I’m sorry I ever found out about what can only be called The Thing: gaining it all back. It’s a terrible Thing. Why this is even a Thing at all boggles my mind.

Gaining it all back took 684 days. It was difficult at times, but I somehow pulled it off. On Day 1,179 my scale told me I’d reached the start weight of The First Great diet. Rats. Of course, my brain kept lying to my body, “If you did it once, you can do it again!” So I made many subsequent attempts to get the magic back. But it wasn’t until Day 3,854 that The Switch came on again but good.

Long story short, The Second Great Diet was a huge success. I went low carb, switched to walking as my exercise, and drank gallons and gallons of Vernor’s Diet Ginger Ale. And just 306 days later, on Day 4,219, I was basically back to where The First Great Diet left off.

The Third Great Diet

The success of my first two diets brought me untold fame on fortune. I was People Magazine’s World’s Most Awesome Dieter for three years running, appeared on Oprah twice, and was even Time Magazine’s Man of the Year. Heck, I even wrote a book about it all. (At least that part is true.)

But the constantly ringing phone and the hounding paparazzi finally got to me. There was only one solution: I had to get out. So I did what any of you would’ve done in my shoes. I gained it all back. Unfortunately, this did not bring me the happiness I expected and I realized that it was time for The Third Great Diet.

Long story short, The Third Great Diet was a huge success. I got cancer, went for walks around my living room for exercise, and drank gallons and gallons of Ensure. And just 1,106 days later, on Day 8,968, I was only a few pounds above the end-weight of the First Two Great Diets.

Introspection or Whatever

Here’s the thing about The Third Great Diet. Out of the dozens and dozens of diets I’d been on, this one was truly different because it was born out of half a year of that pesky cancer thing. I swore — I swore — that I would absolutely and positively not “gain it all back” again.

And I think that’s why, instead of 300 or so days for the typical diet run, this one ran over eleven hundred days. That’s not a “slim fast” approach. That’s someone in it for the long haul.

Now at this point, the astute reader will note a small delta between Day 8,968 and today. Yes, yes, I knew it would come to that. The good news is, I have not gained it all back. The bad news is, I sure seem to be making a solid run at it. Here’s the full graph, end to end, in all its glory:

The graph is, of course, all over the place. This graph has seen more ups and downs than thirty kangaroos on an olympic trampoline. But let’s peel back a layer of data and just look at the 1,000-day increments:

Strange how flat it looks. Except for maybe three anomalous readings, I seem to clock in around the same weight every 1,000 days. In fact, sometimes I look at this and think, “Why do I even bother?” All the pain and suffering and deprivation for what: Day 10,000 looking about the same as Day 1? Is that what all this has come to?

But it’s exactly that kind of thinking why I take comfort in the final graph. All the pain and suffering and deprivation isn’t for nothing. It’s because without all of that, this is the graph we’d be discussing today:

And I’m okay with that.

Tune in next week, when diet-related posts will suddenly comprise eleven percent of this new blog! I need to fill you in on the last 1,032 days.

Fan Mail

Welcome again to my fourth annual fan mail blog post.

I never intended for this to become a tradition. But then again, I never expected that I’d be forever inundated with fan mail like this. With all the pain, heartache, and uncertainty in the world, I sleep well knowing that good people are taking time out of their busy schedules to contact me.

So without further ado, let’s look at Fan Mail 2017:


I am truly grateful to the holder of this web page who has shared this enormous piece of writing at at this place.

When I ask myself, “Self, where should I share enormous pieces of writing?” I always answer, “At this place, Charlie. At this place.” Good to know that someone is grateful for it.


Bookmarked!!, I Ljke Yoiur Blog! I’Ve Been Browsing Online More Thasn 3 Hours Today, Yet I Nevesr Fond Anyy Intedesting Artyicle Lie Yours. It’S Prettty Worh
Enpugh Forr Me. In Myy View, Iff All Weeb Ownefs Annd
Blogers Madee God Content Ass Youu Did, Thee Web Will Bee A Loot Ore Useftul Thasn Eve Before. It’S Appropriate Time Tto Make Soje Poans Foor Tthe Futurre And Iit Is Timke Tto Bbe Happy. I’Ve Rerad His Pot Andd Iif I Could I Ant Tto Suggest Youu Few Interestying Thungs Oor Advice. Perehaps Youu Ckuld Writre Next Articcles Refeering Too This Article.

As a bloger who makees god content ass I have, I appreciate tthe fact that you ljke mye blog so mruch! Wwhen I firrst starTEd bloging, my mane gole was too postt intedesting artyicles for the weeb peooplrs. Befoor then the Web Wass Not Usetful Atol. Buut now It Is! Horrray!!1


Hi, i read your blog from time to time and i own a similar one and i was just curious if you get a lot of spam feedback? If so how do you prevent it, any plugin or anything you can advise? I get so much lately it’s driving me insane so any support is very much appreciated.

Sorry, I never get spam feedback. Best of luck to you, good citizen.


I got this site from my pal who shared with me about this site and now this time I am visiting this website and reading very informative posts at this place.

What a coincidence. I also got this site from someone who shared with me about this site and that’s why I started this website at this place!


I used to be able to find good info from your blog posts.

Flattery will get you nowhere.


Hello to every one, the contents present at this web site are genuinely amazing for people knowledge, well, keep up the nice work fellows.

I once thought about writing for dog knowledge. Then again for elephant knowledge. But it’s obvious that settling on people knowledge was the right choice. We fellows will keep up this nice work.


What’s up, I read your blog regularly. Your writing style is witty, keep it up!

Wait. That almost sounds like a person. Are you a person?


Thanks in favor of sharing such a nice idea, post is fastidious, thats why i have read it completely

You’re fastidious.


I am actually grateful to the holder of this web site who has shared this impressive paragraph at at this time.

Have I been wasting my time writing five hundred word blog posts when all I’ve had to do is write one impressive paragraph?! This changes everything!

Epilogue

Whelp, after writing this, I realized I needed to add a spoiler alert. If you haven’t read or seen any Harry Potter, and you’re still planning on it, then maybe skip forward until the Nineteen Years Earlier section. Otherwise, if you’ve already read or seen it or just don’t care, read on!

When Back to the Future, Part II came out in 1989, the audience got a glimpse of what life might be like twenty-six years in the future. The city of Hill Valley, California buzzed with flying cars as holographic sharks terrorized passers-by and we learned the Cubs had at last won the World Series.

Nearly two years ago, on October 21, 2015, the rest of the world finally caught up to Doc and Marty. While flying cars never happened (and the writers missed the Cubs’ World Series win by only one year) it was strange to suddenly have this “future” date upon us. From that point forward, every part of the Back to the Future story would now be in our real life past.

Today, September 1, 2017, is another day like that. Any Harry Potter fan will instantly recognize the name of the epilogue (in both book and on film) as the date that the now thirty-seven year old Harry, Ron, and Hermione take their children to Platform 9¾ and watch as the Hogwarts Express carries a new generation northward to their own adventures. It’s the perfect ending (for both the book and the film) and I have to admit, now that the date is upon us, I’m feeling a bit introspective about the whole affair. So I thought I’d take a walk back down memory lane.

Nineteen Years Earlier

In 1998 when we still lived in Iowa, my sister Biz and her daughter Hannah came to visit. I don’t remember the exact occasion, except that a local parade took place, so I’m guessing either Memorial Day or the Fourth of July. Families and children lined the streets and many dressed up in costumes.

“Oh look!” Biz said, pointing toward a young boy. He was dressed in black robes, wore round glasses, and had a scar on his forehead.

“What?” I replied.

“He’s dressed like Harry Potter.”

“Who’s Harry Potter?”

Biz went on to describe that it was a relatively new children’s book gaining quickly in popularity. I made a mental note to look into it. Someday.

Three Years Later

By 2001 you would’ve been living under a fairly large and heavy rock to have not heard of Harry Potter. My mental note remained just that: a note as I still had not read any of the books.

It wasn’t because I couldn’t find the time. No, I actively avoided them. As I was working on writing my own fantasy novels, I didn’t want to be “polluted” by a very popular series.

But I also knew the first film would be coming out and I wanted to see it. Further, I didn’t want to see it without reading the book. So I caved in. At the very least, I would find out why people at work were debating on how the strange name of Her-Me-Own was pronounced.

I liked it. I’ll admit I wasn’t absolutely blown away by it. But I checked it off the list and went to see the movie in theaters. The movie was about as faithful a recreation of a book can be. I admit I wasn’t absolutely blown away by it. But I knew I’d be back for more.

Six Years Later

By July 20, 2007 the family had moved to Austin. I’d read the first six books in the series and just seen the fifth film. The seventh and final installment in the series was about to be released.

On Friday, July 20, we headed down to BookPeople for a book release event of epic proportions. Hundreds of fans gathered in the parking lot enjoying a dozen or so mini events taking place. I was amazed by it all. For one evening I buried deep the fact that in all this time I still had yet to finish anything of my own. I could barely picture myself getting all the way to my first “The End” let alone having upwards of twelve million people waiting for anything I wrote.

The line of buyers wound for a hundred yards or more. At exactly midnight, workers began to slice boxes open. When my turn at last came they handed over the thick, yellow-orange tome and I gripped it like a greedy child.

We got home around one or so. Everyone went to bed except me. I settled into a chair and read for about an hour until I couldn’t keep my eyes open. Waking up on Saturday, July 21, the book and I got back together. I was very worried about spoilers, so I basically read the entire book in a single sitting that day: all 198,227 words of it.

Four Years Later

Summer 2011. The eighth and final Harry Potter movie is out. I found a theater playing a double feature: the six-month-old Deathly Hallows, Part 1 followed by the final film. As that iconic, dark and clouded Warner Brothers logo zoomed toward us, it was a bittersweet moment: eager to see what was going to happen but sad it was all about to be over.

Epilogue

Another six years have passed and here we are, September 1, 2017. It’s hard to say where the years went. Heck, I’m still struggling to figure out where just this one summer went. But I’m back to blogging. Oh, not quite as amazing as battling Lord Voldemort but it’s all cool: I wouldn’t be very good at that anyway.

See you next week!

Summer Vacation

The public school system is designed to prepare children for adulthood. The system teaches children essential knowledge of readin’, writin’ and ’rithmetic. It gives them invaluable experience in social interaction. And where else would children learn how to turn ropes of clay into treasured lopsided pots?

However, the typical public school system fails children in one very important area. For thirteen years it quietly indoctrinates each child into believing one works nine months and then takes three months off. Through the spring, as the days lengthen and the temperatures rise, so too does each child’s anticipation of summer grow.

No school! No homework! Complete freedom! Days full of beaches and ice cream. Nights full of catching fireflies and staying up past ten o’clock. All of these wonders starting in the three months after kindergarten, then after first grade, and after second grade, and so on.

I still carry a vivid memory of me riding my bike around town during the July before my senior year in high school. (I’m about 75% sure it happened right here, on Oak Avenue between Bonnie Brae and Harlem.) As I biked in the street in my usual slow and aimless pattern, I thought, “This is my last summer vacation. After this, it’ll be time for me to work through the summers. And even perhaps (gasp!) work every month of the year!

The horrors!

As it turned out, I was correct. Through no fault or ill action of my own, the universe abruptly and unceremoniously reduced the duration of summer vacation from three months to one week. And sometimes not even that.

Whelp, I’m a grown up now. In spite of the persistent lie grown ups told me when I was young (“When you’re grown up, you can do whatever you want!”) I’m going to take just one opportunity to do what I want and embark on a summer vacation.

No, not from work. No, not from chores. But from the blog. This probably comes as little surprise, given the sad sputtering of posts over the last couple months. It’s clear I need to give the old brain a break for a bit and return well-rested and strong in the fall.

See you all back here again on September First. Have a great summer and be sure to take lots of pictures!

A Week Off

As I type this, it’s a quarter hour until midnight. Which means it’s almost time for my daily, six or seven hour nap. I like these naps. When I have them, I feel more alert the next day. Alert is good. Because I have lots going on that I need to be alert for. Which is also what’s preventing me from writing an actual blorg poast.

Catch you next week.

Internet Moon

Don’t get me wrong, I like the internet. I use it to educate myself. I listen to most of my music on it. And, most importantly, it’s where I keep my blog. The internet is awesome. It’s hard to imagine the days where I couldn’t click a button and immediately find a picture of a cat.

And like many inventions, it’s exposed the both the best and worst sides of humanity. While it’s easy to say that the internet merely uncovered things that were already there, I don’t know. Take something that was “already there” and instantaneously connect it to a billion minds, and my guess is you’ve also added something new to it.

Toward the “worst” end of the internet’s best-worst continuum lies is a real pet peeve of mine: misinformation. While misinformation isn’t true, it’s also not necessarily a lie. A lie is a known falsehood with an intent to deceive. Misinformation is that benign ignorance that typically begins with an uncited “I read somewhere…”

In the last day or two you’ve probably seen articles about today’s Strawberry Moon. They all say the same thing, “rare event”, “special treat”, and, of course, “spectacular.” Let’s take a look at them and then translate the internet-speak into plain language. Oh boy, this is going to be fun!

Here is when you’ll see this spectacular event. The strawberry moon will reach its full peak which occurs when the moon’s on the exact opposite side of the earth as the sun.

This is a load of fancy words to describe every full moon. They might as well describe a sunrise as, “This spectacular event only happens when your position on the earth’s surface rotates into the path of light emitted from the sun.”

As the last full moon of spring, stargazers can expect the moon to be big and bright.

Stargazers can expect this moon to look like every other moon.

Break out your telescope and bring a picnic dinner because it is set to be spectacular.

Dinner? Only if you’re in Europe. If you’re west of the Atlantic, this happens before breakfast. Also: it’s not “set to be spectacular.” It’s just a full moon.

June’s full moon is a long-awaited event for devoted and amateur sky-watchers alike, representing a rare opportunity to witness the annual cosmic treat.

It’s not long-awaited. And did you actually use “rare” and “annual” in the same sentence? Further, this “rare” and “annual” event happens every twenty eight days.

It’s exasperating reading some of this stuff. And it’s not just the Strawberry Moon. But we get these spectacular and rare events with the Pink Moon, the Blue Moon, the Harvest Moon, and any other time an online presence needs some content to drive click-revenue. (And don’t even get me started about the Super moon.)

So what’s a guy to do? Well, as the Roman philosopher Plato once said, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!” So in that light I’d like to announce…

Stargazers worldwide will turn their eyes to the heavens in July 2017 for a rare and spectacular celestial event. The Internet Moon will be at its closest position to earth in 319 years! At this position it will appear twice as large as normal. Further, the Internet Moon always radiates a brilliant violet glow. Don’t miss this once in a lifetime event!

How’d I do?

It Was Twenty Years Ago Today

Back in 1987, I remember watching a newscast that began with the iconic opening line from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The program made note of the fact that it was “twenty years ago today” when the song came out, to which I then thought, “Interesting. That means it was actually forty years ago today that Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play.”

It was also at that moment that I realized “twenty years” isn’t a very large time span. Not when you’ve lived it a couple times or more. Back in 1987, the thought of 1967 or even 1947 seemed like forever. Every event that stretches that beyond your own personal timeline feels that way.

I mean, 1947 wasn’t too long after World War II. And my 1987 self assumed that war took place just after the Civil War. After all, both wars took place in black & white.

Today I can remember back in 2007 when it crossed my mind, “It was twenty years ago today when I first heard that it was twenty years ago today that the Beatles sang about it being twenty years ago today that Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play.” That meant the Beatles song was now forty years old and World War II more than sixty.

When did I blink?

Cut to New Year’s Day this year. As the clock struck January, my brain took a trip back twenty years to 1997. Were I to hazard a guess, I would’ve said 1997 was just a couple months ago, not a couple decades ago. I then began recalling all the movies that came out that year:

  • Titanic
  • Men in Black
  • Air Force One and the Ass-Kicking President
  • Batman and Robin (Yes, this movie actually happened)
  • My Best Friend’s Wedding
  • Contact
  • The Fifth Element

Really? Even The Fifth Element came out twenty years ago now? Tell me it ain’t so!

But here’s the tough part: that was also the year that George Lucas released his Twentieth Anniversary Editions of the first three Star Wars films. I remember that very clearly because theaters were running all three films back to back and Laura and I went to see them. What a rare opportunity! All three films, in the theater, in one day. It was the most amazing backache I ever had.

But wait a sec . . . that means 2017 is somehow suddenly the Fortieth Anniversary of the first Star Wars film. How is that possible? “Forty years” is that same time period between World War II and my college-aged self pondering a twenty year old Beatles album. Not between movie events in my own personal lifespan.

I’m not really sure how I feel about all this. Maybe stop back here in 2027 and I’ll have it all figured out by then. If you can’t wait that long, just blink a couple times.