red rubber ball

I wrote last week about how our refrigerator had died. I wrote that the compressor was here and the repairman was scheduled. He did show up on the appointed day. He checked out the compressor and found it had been damaged in transit. Worthless.

Yesterday I received a robo call from the repair company telling me that I needed to call to reschedule the appointment which was set for tomorrow. That was not a complete surprise because the replacement compressor did not show up on Friday as I had expected. The agent told me that the compressor was on back order, no surprise, and that it was not scheduled to ship until Friday 27 June, big, unpleasant surprise.

We have a fridge in the garage. This is a first world problem, I get that. And when I took Boss Boss Radio off of mute after talking to the agent, it was playing the closing strains of “Red Rubber Ball.”

That was nice.

Sacred Music Friday: Come Holy Ghost

Church of Saint Michael, Stillwater, MN. Music Director: Jayne Windnagel. Principal Organist: Joseph Clarke

the Amazon dilemma

A friend on Facebook asked if Amazon was the new Walmart. I don’t think that is a question. I think it’s a fact that is hard to dispute.

I do not shop at Walmart. I refuse to shop at Walmart. Walmart keeps prices low and profits high by squeezing both their employees and their suppliers. In the pre-Obamacare days they told employees who needed medical attention to avail themselves of the local county health system.

I spend a lot of money at Amazon. Yet Amazon’s poor treatment of their warehouse employees is well-documented. When the Hachette dispute arose, I downloaded the Barnes and Noble Nook app to my iPad thinking that I would read my next book on the Nook, as a small, insignificant, but symbolic protest. When that time came I found that the book I selected was four dollars more on the Nook than on the Kindle. Spending the additional four dollars, even as a protest, didn’t make sense to me, especially since I had a gift card credit on the books (excuse the unintended pun) at Amazon.

I really should be consistent in my approach to Walmart and Amazon. I’m not. I can’t justify that. I can’t justify supporting Amazon. But I do.

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farewell to the San Jose Rep

I learned today that the San Jose Repertory Theatre is shutting down. I first heard the news on a KQED-FM local news segment. I then saw the official statement of Facebook. Eerily, as of this afternoon, the Web site is fully up and running, promoting the next play that was due to open June 19.

This is sad news for Terry and me. We didn’t attend often, but always had a marvelous time when we did. We would check in to the Fairmont, have dinner, see the show, enjoy a late evening in our room, and then get room service breakfast the next morning before heading home. We will still do that at the end of August when we see Wicked courtesy of Nederlander’s Broadway San Jose, but it is a different experience to attend a locally produced play.

What a variety of shows we have seen. There was the serious, intense Splitting Infinity. We saw Two Pianos Four Hands, which was intelligent and witty. It also had a more serious side, however, exploring the experience of living a life centered around music, from childhood through trying to make a living as an adult by that means. The Marvelous Wonderettes was a kick which employed a couple of unusual devices, though mostly an excuse to perform fifties and sixties pop. All of the shows were time well spent.

We will miss the Rep.

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True Believers

TrueBelieversTrue Believers: A Novel
Kurt Andersen
Random House (July 10, 2012), 449 pages
Kindle Edition $9.99, Amazon Hardcover $22.89, Amazon Paperback  $12.97

True Believers is narrated by Karen, an accomplished attorney at age 65. The plot moves back and forth between the present day, where Karen is writing a memoir, and her past. The story of her past starts in her childhood and moves through her first two years of college. She describes how she and her friends were big James Bond fans (the books and the movies) and how in high school in the 1960’s they played James Bond adventure games of their own invention. Eventually they abandoned those games, but that background created the foundation for a political conspiracy that was national in its scope. We read a lot about the conspiracy before the narrator reveals exactly what is being planned. The book pivots on how that conspiracy plays out.

Andersen (who you may know from Studio 360 on NPR) does a passable job of presenting the story in a female voice. If you lived through the 1960’s, or if you didn’t, but are interested in the era, this book is likely to engage you.

the good and the ugly

The ugly: We came home from vacation to a refrigerator that gave out. The temperature kept rising while the motor kept running. Same problem we’d had before: the compressor quit. It is not an old refrigerator. We got it when we did our kitchen remodel in 2007. I would expect much better from the high end of the GE line. This is mildly ugly but not very bad because the old fridge (which has kept functioning admirably) is in the garage. Yes, I know we’re not supposed to do that, but it holds much more than the proverbial six-pack of Coke (which we don’t buy anyway). Between our leftovers sealed up with the FoodSaver, stocking up at Trader Joe’s, Terry’s Weight Watcher lunches, our Indian take-out leftovers, and keeping our King Arthur flour fresh, it gets good use. It is just a tad crowded now, that’s for sure. But the compressor is already here and repair man is scheduled to be back Thursday.

The good: While we were away I got an email saying that we were eligible for advance tickets for the run of Wicked in San Jose. When we got home I ordered tickets (great seats!) and made a reservation at the Fairmont. Terry set up Tasha at her resort. A late birthday getaway for me with my wife the Friday and Saturday of Labor Day weekend. So very cool.

The really good trumps the slightly ugly in this case for sure.

Sacred Music Friday: Nunc Dimittis

Nunc DImittis in D by Herbert Brewer (1865-1928) sung by the Choir of St Stephen’s Church, Canterbury


Someone on Facebook posted an interesting article on creativity. The core of the article is in the following two paragraphs:


Complaining and creating have a direct correlation. The more you create, the less you complain. The more you complain, the less you create. It’s a pretty simple formula.

Instead of standing by the problem pointing out everything that’s wrong, create a solution. Instead of ingraining an attitude of discontent, start working toward a new way forward. Create a movement, a relationship, a tool or a conversation.

creativityI love this. I channel my creativity through this blog. For many years I also had a creative outlet in photography. What I realized a few years ago, though, was that I was so busy out in nature trying to get the right shot with my camera that I was failing to experience the moment. So I scaled back on my photography and began focusing even more on writing, which means I look back and reflect on the moment after it has passed. I think that’s a good thing.

The Cooking Channel used to have a tag line of “Stay Hungry.” I forget the context, but I mentioned that to my spiritual director several years ago, and her response was, “Stay Creative.”

Right. Exactly.

trivial matters

Three trivial matters:

  1. I wrote recently about some things that are obvious that I have missed. Here’s one. With our solar panels we are on a Time of Use rate schedule, where 1:00 to 7:00 pm Monday through Friday May through September is peak rate. Given that, on hot days we precool the house so we can turn off the air conditioner at 1:00 and be feeding back into the grid. I’ve been turning down the thermostat manually at 1:00. It occurred to me that I could move the Day setting on the thermostat from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm so I wouldn’t have to worry about being at the thermostat and turn it down manually at 1:00. Duh. Obvious.
  2. I was buzzing around doing errands when I heard the beginning of an interview with Sarah McLachlan on NPR. I was just pulling in to the parking space at the grocery store when it began, so I missed most of it. When I went to look for it later, I couldn’t find it. I thought it might have been on Fresh Air, but I couldn’t find it on that Web site. Then it occurred to me to look at the time stamp on the grocery store receipt. 11:56 am. Ah. That would be Here and Now. I went to the Web site, checked on Thursday’s show, and there it was. Some simple detective work on myself. The interview is here, if you’re interested.
  3. Almost universally, Chinese fast food places have two item and three item plates, but the stipulation is that one item must be rice or chow mien. Why not have a one item plate with rice or chow mien and a two-item plate with rice or chow mien? Much cleaner and simpler.

reading fiction

Over the past several years I’ve read a lot of books, almost all of them nonfiction. In the past several months I have really returned to the novel in a big way. It all started with The Last Enchantments. After reading the review I couldn’t resist the prospect of a book set at Oxford. That was followed with Where’d You Go, Bernadette, a novel that had fun with the stereotype of the Seattle lifestyle and mindset, but which ended on a serious note. I then read The Interestings, the story of a group of friends over a period of years.

There have been some nonfiction books mixed in, but I have also recently read Putting Away Childish Things, another novel in an academic setting, but with themes of religion and faith, Old School, a prep school story, and Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, a novel that incorporates a laid-off graphic designer, a used book store, a secret society, and the culture of Google.

It’s good to be back in the world of the novel.