Ash Wednesday

Today is Ash Wednesday. In a normal year I would ordinarily slip away from work for the Ash Wednesday noon service and the imposition of ashes.

This is not a normal year. I am not employed. We are getting our house ready to sell. I am not prepared for that liturgy and to hear, “Know that you are dust…” I have too much on my mind.

The point of Ash Wednesday is that it is the entry point into Lent. You work your way through Lent and arrive at Holy Week. And as you progress through Holy Week, and the Triduum in particular, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday, you come out on the other end at Easter.

The problem is, I don’t know where I will be or what I will be doing on Easter. In the best possible scenario, the Good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, Terry and I will packing up and preparing to move south.

All of the confusion, chaos, and disruption makes it hard for me to think clearly about Easter. Which means that I’m not prepared to participate in Ash Wednesday.

And so it goes.

using old technology

Terry and I were enjoying the rain during our series of storms the weekend before last. Sunday afternoon we were watching the Mel Brooks special on HBO which Terry had recorded. I was adding recipes to the Living Cookbook database on my laptop. Then the power went out. And the cable box made a not very reassuring noise.

When the power came back on the cable box did not follow suit. Multiple phone calls to the cable company did not help in reviving it. Finally, our cable company agreed with me that the cable box/DVR as dead as the parrot in Monty Python.

On Monday I went to the cable company’s office to exchange the unit. Problem is, we have an old TV. It’s analog, not digital. So when the clerk there gave me the new box she said, “Use the same HDMI connection.” Um, our television doesn’t have an HDMI port. We connected via the old-fashioned coaxial cable. She didn’t have such a box in the office. Her attempt to get such a unit from the warehouse came up empty. She started to give me a box that a previous customer decided not to take, but when we looked at the back, we saw that there was no coax-out on that one either.

Fortunately I noticed that it did have an S-video set of ports, which I knew our TV had. Given that, she gave me a newer, smaller, box and DVR combo that had S-video.

So we’re up and running again, though we lost all those episodes of Cosmos that we had been planning to watch.

We’ll manage.

movin’ on

Movin’ On was a television show from the 1970’s about a pair of truckers shot on location at various spots around the country. Terry and I caught a couple of episodes on the cable system in Cambria when we spent some leisure time there.

It’s time for us to move on, and it’s both exciting and scary.

My focus changes.

Since July my primary mission has been of finding a new job. That has not worked out, in spite of sending out over one hundred resumes.

So we’re getting ready to list our house, and my job changes from trying to find employment to getting the house ready to sell. And that is a big job.

It’s a big change. It’s not our first choice. But it’s what we need to do.

So we move on.

Sacred Music Friday: We’ve Come This Far By Faith

Appropriate, I think, given Wednesday’s blog entry. And, of course, I love the seventies milieu.

losing something

I’m on the Internet as much as anyone. Probably more than I should be, although much of that time these days is spent on activities related to my job search.

I am also a veteran of the alternative news weekly. In the early 1980’s I was the first classified advertising manager at the Oklahoma Gazette, and when I moved to the Bay Area in 1985, I became the first classified advertising manager at San Jose Metro.

AltnewsWeekliesThe rise of the Internet, has, it can be argued, meant changes, and not for the better, to the alternative news weekly landscape. That is the case in San Francisco. As columnist C.W. Nevius writes in the San Francisco Chronicle, the storied Bay Guardian closed in October, and SF Weekly is rumored to be headed to a more entertainment and features focus, as the new editor was previously the editor at Acoustic Guitar magazine. (I don’t include a link because the column is behind a pay wall.)

Nevius opens the article by writing: “A few years ago, the San Francisco Bay Guardian called me a ‘conservative suburban twit.’ I miss that.”

He tells us what I know to be true of the alternative news weekly:

quoteAlthough the Guardian and the Weekly spent much of their time sniping at mainstream media like The Chronicle, it was still valuable to have contrarian voices in the city. They didn’t always convince us of their point of view, but they fostered the debate.

Nevius says: “Opinionated, news-driven independent newspapers are slipping away, partly because it’s so hard to make the finances work in the Internet age.” He quotes former the owner of the Guardian, Bruce Brugmann: “You look at the alternative papers, it’s awful,” he said. “Before the Internet, we had a lot of power. We had classified ads, personal ads. In the late 1990s, we were up to almost $12 million in revenue.”

Nevius goes on to state: “Of course, slipping revenue is a familiar story for newspapers everywhere. But there’s also a concern that the blogs and Internet sites are content to sit back and snipe at mainstream coverage, rather than getting actively involved in boots-on-the-ground reporting.”

The Internet is a great tool for all kinds of purposes, including information, education, entertainment, and community. But there is a downside to every technology.

The collateral effect in this case is unfortunate indeed.

implementing Plan B

Terry and I have crossed our Rubicon.

planbimplementedOn Monday I called a realtor. Yesterday he came over and we signed the papers for him to represent us. Today he and his wife, the design expert, came over along with the stagers. If you’ve never dealt with stagers in a real estate content, let me tell you that it can be a scary experience. Think of the scene in Sex and the City where the plastic surgeon dispassionately marks up Samantha’s torso.

In the end it wasn’t all that bad. It just felt that way at first. They are very nice people and their whole purpose is to help us get the highest dollar value for the house by implementing a neutral look and feel, creating an environment where potential buyers can visualize themselves living here. That’s a Good Thing.

The sale of this house should allow us to buy a house in Southern California, closer to my family and to Terry’s sister, where we can 1) experience considerably lower monthly expenses, and 2) with luck, find work.

This is not optimal. It is not our first choice. But it is the most practical and prudent approach.

that’s it

I wrote last November that the ownership of our local Channel 2, KTVU, had transferred from Cox Broadcasting to Fox Stations. I was not happy.

Fox2The other shoe has dropped. The newscasts on Channel 2 are now labeled “Fox 2.” Now in reality we had stopped watching the morning news on Channel 2 a few weeks back. We had a rainless January here in the Bay Area and the morning weatherman felt it necessary to beat us over the head with that fact every single morning. Yes, I know we’re in a drought. We have cut our water consumption as much as anyone and more than most.

A local independent station, KRON Channel 4, has a morning newscast, and we began watching that. There the weatherman there just gives us the forecast. Much nicer. This past weekend gave us some nice rain, so we could, conceivably, switch back to Channel 2. But no, not as long as they are calling themselves Fox 2 on their newscasts.

That’s it.