Welcome to Glenn's Blog!

Here I will periodically post random thoughts and stories about what's going on in my life and the world around me. As if anyone cared. But seriously, you've found your way here, so hopefully you will enjoy at least some of what I have to say, even if you aren't entirely interested in it. At the least, it should be a good way to waste time.

Of course, you can visit my website for more info about me, or feel free to email me anytime.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Christmas Is Coming

Well, it's now December, and Christmas is coming. I suppose somewhere, a goose is getting fat. Well. Who isn't? After a full day of gorging on foodstuffs last Thursday, and hosting a mimosa brunch yesterday, followed by happy hour wings at Hooters, I certainly feel like I am. 'Tis the season. But Thanksgiving came and went without any headaches, and it successfully provided us with its annual placeholder between the Halloween and Christmas seasons. I actually put my Christmas tree up the week before Thanksgiving. Why not? Just more time to enjoy it. Plus, I know if I didn't get it done, I probably would not have gotten around to it until mid-December. And what a lot of work that would be just to have it up for a couple of weeks. So, the house is decorated and ready, more or less, and one present currently sits under the tree for Connor. With more to come. Well, for Connor at least; no one's buying me any presents to put under there.

Speaking of Christmas trees: yesterday I posted a holiday video on my You Tube channel which featured Connor describing the "proper" way to decorate the tree. Basically it amounts to putting a hook on the ornament, and then hanging it from a tree branch. Or as he puts it, "you put it on your thing". I guess he doesn't know the word "branch". Well, more educating of the kid is clearly necessary. But the video was a good excuse to post some pictures of my Disney-decorated tree, as well as some photos of the two of us with the tree. Our annual holiday tradition. Well, except for last year. But now I have some fodder to create some actual Christmas cards to send out to some people. I don't send a lot, really. But still it's nice to have them.

And with Thanksgiving so late this year, we're now entering the final week of classes at Sac State before finals. Usually we have a couple of weeks after Thanksgiving; I can't recall a time where we came back from the break and it was already December. But here we are. Which means, now, 10 concerts in 7 days. So it goes. Consistent and predictable, at least. And that is where I sit, now, at work with the final week upon us. Lots to do here this week, and then it will settle down. I'll probably be late at work most of this week, including Thursday when I'll need to step in and help run the choir concert downtown. There's just too much going on at once and not enough people to do it all. But hey, the concert should be festive anyway. And next week will begin the gradual slow down, for me, as we plod on towards the winter break. Getting quieter and quieter as each day passes. I kind of like that.

For now, I'm currently playing Christmas music through my computer at my desk. Why not? Everything is early this year, I guess. I mean I know it's not like the stores started stocking holiday paraphernalia in early October. Oh wait - they did, they did. But it's okay, I'm in the routine, in the groove. And Christmas is, after all, coming...



Thursday, November 21, 2019

Spell Check This

The auto-correct on my iPhone can be quite annoying. Especially when using the voice-to-text feature. I swear when it first came out, it actually worked better than the current version does. I often will speak sentences in to the phone, watching as they magically appear. And then as soon as I finish speaking, the phone says, "Hold on a minute, let me fix this for you...". And then it promptly changes half of the words into phrases that I have never once uttered in my life. Sometimes the message was actually perfectly correct, before the phone stepped in and messed it all up. I swear it's like my phone is a 6-year old.

Then of course there's the corrections that cannot help but to make me smile. Like when "Sac State" changes to "Sex tape". Or something like that. Who knew Sac State was so sexy? This morning I attempted to speak "vocal jazz ensembles" into the phone. It promptly changed to "vocal jazz and some balls". Maybe my phone just has its mind in the gutter. Like father, like son? Sort of how like pets often resemble their owners. I think maybe our "smart" devices are getting a little too smart for their own good. Or for our own good. Something to ponder later.

Anyhoo. This morning I went for a walk by the river by Sac State. On weeks when I don't have Connor, there's a lot less to get done in the morning, so I tend to get into work super early. But hey, a chance to get my steps in. And today I cam across a coyote, out near the water treatment plant not far from Alumni Grove. I froze in my tracks as soon as I saw him. But I think I startled him more than he startled me. He was only about 20 feet away, half hiding in the overgrown brush. I'd not actually ever come upon a live coyote before, so this was something of an event. Come to think of it, I actually rarely see any wildlife when I go out for walks along the river near campus. I've actually seen more right at our own building, with squirrels and skunks and turkeys. And the occasional opossum.

In any case, this coyote seemed to not particularly care that I was there, although he kept his distance a bit and eventually trotted off down the trail away from campus. So that was fun. I just stood and watched, and clumsily tried to get a photo. I suppose he was probably foraging for food, and I must have interrupted him. Shame on me! He did look a little scraggly. And also alone. I guess we were sort of kindred spirits out there, in that regard.

It's nice in the morning, peaceful and quiet generally. Though there's sometimes bikers whizzing by as if in training for the Tour de France. And of course there's random students, still half asleep, slowly shuffling there way to school. Like moths to a flame, only in slow motion. But aside from that, it's quiet and serene, and definitely pretty. If you get there early enough you can see the sun rising over the far reaches of the river. It's especially nice if there's some clouds in the sky. Clouds, backlit by the sun, are always nice. It adds a nice contrast and sense of dimension to them. I tend to snap photos of it often, when it's pretty enough to inspire me, so I have quite the collection building of shots of the river, the clouds, the sun. I don't know why I take them, or so many of them. Photos are nice, but can never compare to the live experience.

But after me and my coyote brother parted, it was about time to head back in to actually go to work. I already have 1.5 miles of walking in for the day. Or so says my phone. It could be a liar, I suppose. But I will assume it's being honest and consider that a win for the day, even though the day is still young. It's always nice to start with a 'win'. It's a busy time here of course, as the end of the semester draws near, and everyone is trying to squeeze in their concerts. Not to mention, it's now the scheduling period for the spring semester, so everyone is trying to squeeze those events into the calendar as well. As an aside - I appreciate that this blogger program doesn't try to auto-correct my typing. It just underlines with little red dots any words it doesn't recognize. It's less insistent that way, or more passive, depending on which way you look at it. It just calmly clears it metaphorical throat and says, "Excuse me...but I think you might have missed something there...". So much nicer than the phone, who just says "Nope! You meant to say this.".

No, phone, I didn't. Go spell check somewhere else.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Catching Up On Reading

So I'm not what you would call an 'avid' reader, though I suppose it's fairly relative. I read a lot more than some people, perhaps more than a lot of people, but I know quite a few people who really read a lot. In that sense I suppose I'm not what you would call "well read", but I do at the very least try and read a little before bed each night. I suppose part of it is just to tire out my eyes, in some sort of (often futile) attempt to wear myself out and help me fall asleep quicker. And of course it depends on the level and complexity of the writing as to how much I'll get through on any given night. Not to mention how tired I already am when I start reading. I might tire out after only a couple of pages of something that is rather wordy and intricate, or I might get through a dozen pages or more of something simple and straightforward.

This year I tried something new, for me. I started keeping a log of what I've read. I thought it would be interesting to see, at the end of the year, just how much I got through. It's not a particularly long list, but I like to think it is a least a little varied, in style and thematic material if nothing else. I mostly read fiction, often mixing juvenile books with more adult themed ones. And of course my favorite author is Kurt Vonnegut Jr., so he's definitely going to show up prominently in any list of books I read. I also find that I tend to like dystopian novels. Kind of gravitate towards them. That and satire, I suppose, are two biggies on my hit list. But in any case, here's what I've read (thus far) in 2019:

Life of Pi, by Yann Martel
The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green
All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood
To A God Unknown, by John Steinbeck
Jailbird, by Kurt Vonnegut
Catch 22, by Joseph Heller
Cat's Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut

That's it, 8 books. Not quite one per month. I know it's not a lot in quatity, but in this day and age with our complex lives absorbing up so much of our time, it's often tough to make the time to just sit down and read. Or perhaps I'm just lazy, I don't know. Maybe this winter I will find some more time to read. I certainly have bought more books this year than I've read. If one were to view my personal library at home, you'd probably think I was much more of a bookworm than I actually am. Well, maybe I'll get there. At the least, I should start catching up on reading those that I've bought but have done nothing more with than to ceremoniously add them to my collection. Well, I still have 7 weeks left in the year after all...

Monday, November 4, 2019

Party Sunday

Yesterday Connor had a birthday party thrown by his mother at Rebounderz, a new indoor play place with trampolines, play structures, a ninja warrior-style obstacle course, rock walls, and more. I'd never been to this particular place; it's housed in what used to be the Country Club Mall, which flourished in the 1980s before recessions started wiping out businesses. I actually had not been inside what is now left of that once great mall from my childhood, in many years. Throughout the 1990s and into the 2000s, the shops there started shuttering their doors, unable to compete any more, until the mall became a virtual wasteland. It's starting to come back now, apparently, with some new stores and restaurants popping up, including a movie theatre and a Winco (for some odd reason). And Rebounderz.

It was nice to see a new place, and it certainly is a monstrosity. You could get lost in there. The party rooms are actually upstairs, and they all overlook the play area much like a box suite at a sporting arena. Which, I gotta admit, is a really nice feature to be able to have a bird's eye view of the facility. There's even a dedicated parent viewing area up there, in case you happen to not be there for a party. What's different about how they run parties at this place, as compared to places such as Wacky Tacky, is that they don't have organized play areas cordoned off for party guests. Everyone is just free to roam around the entire facility to whichever attraction they choose, mixing with people from other parties and the general public. Which sounds nice, I suppose, but what ends up happening is that people in a group party get spread out quite a bit and ultimately spend little time hanging out with anyone except their closest one or two buddies. Many kids hung out by themselves. And this was a bit of a detriment for Connor, since at this age he doesn't have a lot of close friends, really. They are more of acquaintances at best, and he sees none of them on a weekly basis being that he's shuttled back and forth each week between two homes. If his classmates from school had been invited, perhaps it would have been different, since he sees and plays with them every day anyway. Oh well.

So what happened was this: about 20 minutes or so after I arrived, I was downstairs and Connor randomly found me. I had not seen him up to this point, as most everyone had already scattered out around the facility when I arrived, and they all blended in with everyone else there that day. But when Connor found me, he was alone and kind of sad because, in his words, "Everyone left me". So I hung out with him and directed him over to the rock wall area, where I knew the only one of his school friends in attendance was. But he didn't connect much with her there, as she was just exiting the rock wall attraction and he wanted to go try it. In any case, to make a long, rambling, play-by-play story short, I hung out near him and watched him play for the next half hour, through the rock walls and ninja course and trampoline basketball court. And he seemed better, comforted even. So that was nice. He does love to have an audience.

After quite a bit of running around, he was working up a bit of a sweat, and told me he was thirsty. So we went to the snack bar and I bought him an Icee. He does love his slushy drinks! He picked out cherry and watermelon (I thought for sure he'd pick blue raspberry to go with the cherry, as he usually likes the red and blue mix). But it was good, and he really liked it. Not much after that some kid whom I don't know came up to him and said that they had announced that it was time for his party upstairs. I guess that's how they wrangle people back together after they've scattered throughout the facility, they make some sort of announcement. Not that we heard it. Good thing that kid saw him and told us, or Connor might have missed out on pizza and cake. We would have never known. Well I imagine someone, hopefully, would have come looking for the guest of honor if the party dared to start without him.

After pizza and cake, the kids were all handed game cards for the arcade by the staff, and although there was a small mound of presents there, we never got to see them opened. They were eventually loaded on a cart and taken away, as they started to clear and clean the room for the next party. I actually went by the Winco after that, because a) I had never been in one before, and b) how often do you get to go to a grocery store. In a mall. Actually, it's a pretty cool store, and has really good prices on things. Even better than Walmart (which they proudly display in the form of price comparisons every chance they get). Who knew about this place? I'll have to find one closer to me, if one exists, and check it out some more. I couldn't stay long though as yesterday was also the opening day of the Festival of New American Music at Sac State, so I had to go check in and make sure things were off and running. And they were. And it was pretty low-key, so I got home early enough to still enjoy a movie before bedtime. In the form of Coco. Well, after all, I had to do something to celebrate the recent Día de los Muertos.

So that was my Sunday. Tra la la.

Friday, November 1, 2019

6

So yesterday Connor turned 6, though he said this morning that he won't really be 6 until all of the family comes over to celebrate his birthday. Which is happening tomorrow. Perhaps he just wants more presents. But of course I had a few presents for him to open in the morning, before I had to load him up in the car and take him to school. And his Ma got him a little cake for after school, so he has at this point already ticked off the most important criteria for celebrating a birthday: cake and presents.

Anyways, yesterday was Halloween and Connor and I dressed up as ninjas and terrorized the neighborhood. Actually the neighborhood was already quite dead; probably 70% or so of homes in the area were not serving. Everywhere you looked it was lights out. Even several homes that were decorated for Halloween were dark. And we tried knocking, we tried. It was a weird year. Get this: I left my big dish of candy 'salad' out for trick-or-treaters, for when we were out hitting the pavement ourselves, since the cats weren't about to answer the door and hand out candy. And Connor is too young yet for me just to send him on his own. It was still almost all there when we got back. Then we left shortly after to go to a get together (pronounced: "party") at Bernie's house. So I left it out until we returned after 9pm. Not only was almost all of it still there, but there was MORE candy in it - a Butterfinger was on top, and I didn't buy that...someone actually dropped off candy. Was my selection THAT bad? Or did someone just see an opportunity to offload something they didn't like??

It was that kind of holiday. To be fair, in my neighborhood the houses are setup in rows of three that face each other, so the street alternates with rows of six garages or six front doors. And ours is the furthest back in the row. And in our row, ours was the ONLY house with a porch light on. A solitary beacon in the darkness. Not surprising that kids don't want to waste their time walking all the way to the end of the walkway just for one potential house to get candy from. But I had it, it was there. So now I'm left with a whole lot of M&Ms and Twixes and 3 Musketeers and Nerds and Milky Ways. And so on. Oh, and one Butterfinger. You know, for a little variety.

Actually, I also had some little packets of fruit snacks, in case anyone came who didn't really like chocolate. I know that's hard to imagine, but I've heard that they actually exist. Of course my thoughtfulness got slammed on Facebook for being "that guy" that hands out fruit snacks. Oh well, I just can't win. In any case, I have a lot of chocolate (and some fruit snacks) to get through, and with a birthday party tomorrow there's going to be even more junk food littering the house. This will be one fat weekend.

But hey, Connor turned six. Happy birthday to my little man, who's not so little anymore. And he did make a good little ninja, though he gave up the sword and daggers early on so he could focus on holding his candy bag. Priorities, am I right?

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

20

So, yesterday was the annual Staff Employees Award Luncheon at Sac State. Our department goes every year, since, well, we get a free buffet lunch out of it. The luncheon recognizes those who have achieved milestones in employment here - 10 years, 15 years, and so on. As it turns out, this past year was my 20th year. Though it took some convincing on my part, because the University apparently had the wrong hire date down for me. They had to go all the way to the State Controller's office to verify when my employment began. The benefits of this: I got my name in the program (along with a whole bunch of other people), and my name scrolled down on the slide show (along with a whole bunch of other people).

20 years. Has it been that long? Yes. Yes it has.

I frequently remind people that I was a student here just before that, so really I've been on campus now for 26 consecutive years. I do that mostly to illicit sympathy. I don't always get it. But I also don't get students saying, "Wow I wasn't even born yet when you started here!". Even though that's true, in most cases. So, there's that small consolation. I also tell people to shoot me if I'm still here 10 years from now. No, really, I'm serious. I really don't plan to be here that long. If I am, it would certainly mean that my soul had died some time before, and my body just continued on in its place, merely out of habit.

One person yesterday was honored for having worked here for 45 years. Imagine that. I wasn't even born yet when they started working here.

But anyways. We had a nice lunch of pasta and salad and garlic bread. And carrot cake for dessert. Yum! I should have taken a picture of that. It was a highlight, to be sure. They also had some sort of 'other' cake there - it looked like a marbled cake of some sort. Actually it looked like a cheesecake-cake, if there ever was such a thing. Like a cheesecake, and in the form of a sheet cake, and with frosting. I'm sure it too, was delicious. And then we got to listen to people speak who are not trained nor experienced at public speaking, and they got to have the grand finale of butchering many people's names as they tried in vain to read off the list of honorees.

Incidentally, this is a highly attended event, being just one of two times in the year that the University Staff Assembly gifts everyone a free lunch. 600? 700? I'm not really sure how many people were there in the University Ballroom. A lot. But there's a lot of people on staff here. To give an idea, in the 20 years of service category there were, including me, 24 people being honored. 24 from that one year, way back in 1999. There were even more in each of the 10 and 15 year categories, and a fair amount in the 25 year category. So yeah, a lot of people work here. Bureaucracy at its finest.

So in summary, I got fed, my name got read, people clapped, some random person came over and handed me a 20-year lapel pin (now I have a matching set with my 10 and 15 year ones, which are tucked away safely in a desk drawer underneath some packets of parmesan cheese from Round Table Pizza), and now it's back to work as normal. 20 years down. Still a few more to go...