How To Fly


Shortly after I got married, I ended up babysitting my nephew who was then two and a half or so.  It went okay, until I decided to show him a Dumbo cartoon.

He really, really, really liked the elephant flying. And when the elephant landed, he started screaming and crying “Elephant fly. Elephant fly.”

He was pretty disappointed when I couldn’t make the elephant fly.

What I was talking about: when your imagined future is suddenly yanked away, by changes in your industry, or illness, or a move is much like what my little nephew experienced.  Oh, except we know it won’t work.

So we scream “Elephant fly! Elephant fly!” but we know it won’t happen.

One of you asked “how you get around it.”


I’m still working through it.

Part of the problem is that I don’t have the type of mind that works with visualizations or affirmations.  As mentioned in another post, I am naturally a person of very little faith.  So if I sit here trying to imagine a future for myself, I just giggle. Or make up reasons for it never happening and end up pretty depressed.

I mean, if I’m going to sit around imagining a future, I prefer the one in which I win the lottery and clear 100 million dollars, and buy dream houses in three cities, and…  And that is fun because I know it’s never going to happen, not because it gives me some sort of map for my future.  (I mean, we remember to buy a ticket maybe twice a year.  With luck. And mostly just to buy that chance to dream for a couple days.)

I found out recently I’m already doing whatever the hot new “being really present” thing is in psychology.  I have through half a century of living with myself learned to redirect bad thoughts, stop panic attacks, etc.  That’s not the problem.

The problem is that I swear we’re like mice with an imprint of a labyrinth at some sub-thoughts level.  Even when we know the cheese is no longer there, we keep aiming the way we were going.  And the older you get, the harder it is to redirect. Because it’s not conscious. It’s how you stand, it’s what you eat, it’s how you occupy your time.

Sure, maybe transcendental meditation would work.  Or hanging by my feet from a helicopter, or something.  Look, I already have problems doing the praying I’m SUPPOSED to do.

But clearly standing in front of the TV screaming “Elephant fly!” ain’t gonna work.

And btw, for me at least, the Dumbo trick of holding a feather and believing you can is also not going to work.

I am of that unfortunate cast of mind that if I were the little engine that could … I wouldn’t be. I would be the little engine who asked really unfortunate questions. In the elephant flying case?  “Why is he flying? How can he fly? Have you seen his wing to body ratio?  What planet is this?”  And thus, my own situation.

So believing I really can is not in the cards either.

So what is left?

I don’t know.  Right now I’m locked in single combat with “establish a damn schedule already!” slightly hampered by the fact that my family has decided this is crazy year with comings and goings and needing me at weird places and weird times.

But to me, I think the path to another future goes through day to day.  First change habits.  Then establish routine. Work on getting healthy to avoid constant interruptions in work. Etc.

Let the macro stuff fall where it will. Worry about putting a foot in front of the other every day.  Climbing that cliff an inch at a time. Even when your nails bleed.

Incremental. Small. Just routine.

…. And maybe at the end of it I’ll find if the elephant really flies.

And maybe it will, soaring improbably into the blue on stubby wings.

It could happen.  Which is better than things that couldn’t.

And I sure as heck am going to give it a try.



182 thoughts on “How To Fly

      1. Yes, things fall down. But if you’re going fast enough, “down” keeps changing direction and you wind up going in a circle around it.

        1. Aye. If I recall right, Isaac Newton “invented” the artificial earth satellite. He posited that a cannonball fired fast enough, atop a mountain high enough, would fall all the way around the earth.

          1. The most plausible version of the “apple” story told about Newton was that he saw an apple shaken down by wind and noted that it followed a curved path. That got him thinking of apples being hurled faster and faster, their curves being broader and broader until finally they reached the point of matching the curvature of the Earth and then the “apple” would fall endlessly in circles around the Earth. This lead to the leap that the same force pulling things to the ground on Earth also explained the motion of the Moon around the Earth, and from there to the motion of the planets (including the Earth) around the Sun and lead to the Law of Universal Gravitation.

    1. If you try to fail, and succeed, what have you done?

      Something changed about a week ago. Used to was, when replying to a post, the text box opened right under that post. Now it goes all the way to the bottom of the page. Makes it reeeeeeal hard to quote the post you’re replying to when it’s a couple hundred posts up.

      WordPress delenda est?

      1. It’s keeping the text box by the post in my browser. (Palemoon 28.7.2 on Linux). Same (normal) behavior on my copy of Firefox (latest version for Linux, no idea of the revision number).

        I don’t think it’s WordPress this time…

        1. Depends. While on the page reading comments, hitting reply puts the reply enter box right below what replying to in Firefox, on Win10. Hit reply from email, and may not open right below what replying to. Inserts proper location, generally. Simple response from email, I’ll just hit reply. More complicated I’ll hit comments, search, using a phrase out of the comment replying to, then hit reply on the comment … provided it isn’t to embedded to prevent the reply link to be not shown.

          ** Yes. I am another programmer’s nightmare. Wrote software for 35 years. I know there has to be ways around what I don’t care for, or not working 100%. I can’t be stopped if program must have certain features. Clarification – If I care enough. Drove co-workers nuts when I told clients “Well, yes, on list to be fixed*, but meanwhile, these steps work …” (* usually way down on the priority list because “meanwhile this works …”) **

      2. I was having reply windows do that for a while, now they’re (mostly) back where they ought be.

        I would call WP junk but that would be over-rating it. Junk is occasionally useful.

          1. Debian now, after many years of openSUSE. SUSE 15.1’s KDE packaging is so seriously broken it is unusable. I have a long list of problems with Debian’s implementation, but with some workarounds, I can get by.

            I no longer bother to send bug reports to SUSE or KDE developers; they’ve circled the wagons and hung the “we don’t care, la-la-la-la” signs.

            Konqueror vs. Firefox of Chrome is like a Ferrari vs. an SUV or pickup truck. No, it won’t haul eight kids or a load of gravel, but once you get used to the speed, it’s really hard to wait for web pages to get around to rendering in lesser browsers…

      3. [checks] Weird. For me it was the other way around — the reply box used to go to the bottom of the page. Lately (and today) it’s right below the replying-to.

        However, that switch was also when it decided to make me fill in my who-am-I every single time.

        Might be difference in how browsers misinterpret the CSS. [For the record, I use SeaMonkey-current, with user-agent set to Firefox 32, because that makes Youtube behave.]

      1. If you include something that looks like HTML but isn’t real HTML, like a “sarc” tag in angle brackets, WordPress will swallow it. Try using square brackets instead, like this:

        [sarc]Posner is a genius.[/sarc]

        That should get the point across without confusing WordPress.

        1. …and if you use square brackets by habit, some forum software will swallow that.

          I’ve gone back to the old Usenet practice using a couple of dashes:


          It may look a little strange nowadays, but at least it’s not likely to silently disappear…

          1. The problem is that there are basically two standards for formatting blog comments, real HTML and square-bracket HTML. What we need is to develop a unified standard, thus creating yet another standard to further confuse the situation. 😛

            1. square brakets are bb code, iirc.
              I think all the forums I had to use square brackets are now dead. Maybe the bike forum, but I think it has an insert html option to go with the bbs code selections.

              1. The Forum I use most often (MX-Linux) uses phpBB so I have to think about it when I post elsewhere lest I use [].
                Then again, phpBB now let’s you highlight the text & use buttons to add the tags so I really only add them manually when using my Kindle which doesn’t like to keep text highlighted when you touch elsewhere…

              2. ISTR wiki using square brackets.

                BTW and off thread topic, can one read the comments on Mrs. Hoyt’s previous post anent absent friends without dissolving into tears? I’m off the Tramadol, but I’m not up for a 3rd round of sobbing.

            2. As far as I can tell, the number of standards will always exceed the number of social groups with an interest in a solution.

      2. You can also use &lt; for the left bracket, and &gt; for the right bracket, like this: <grok>

        (Showing the character codes meant taking it up another level — I had to type in &amp;lt;) (and showing that took Yet Another Level of HTML syntax)

        Now to see if all that worked…

  1. Cope – get one thing done, no matter how small, then move on to the next. Organize – make those habit changes, schedule, etc. Cope, organize. Repeat. 👍

  2. Knowing what you need.
    Knowing what you want.
    Knowing what makes you happy.
    Knowing the difference between them.
    Setting SMART Goals based on your wants and needs.

    Steven Covey’s Seven Habits of Successful People course, or The Landmark Forum’s course are very useful tools in helping you figure out where you are, and where you want to go with your life, in addition to setting up a method to get there; but they tend to be expensive and do require a time commitment of a week to a couple of months.

    Having life goals is important. And while achieving goals is good; achieving all of them and not setting new ones leaves you at loose ends, aimlessly drifting, and asking yourself, “what’s left?” and “What do I do now?”

    1. I’ve never had trouble seeing the Future. The problem I’ve experienced is that the Future I’ve seen is never the Future I get.

        1. “I have seen the future and it’s much like the present, only longer.”
          — Dan Quisenberry

  3. And btw, for me at least, the Dumbo trick of holding a feather and believing you can is also not going to work.

    No, you’d do better to strap some JATOs to him, perhaps use an electromagnetic launching catapult … a belt of “Nth metal” would likely help him as much as it did Hawkman, but with Trump’s trade wars being what they are I expect import duties from Thanagar would be prohibitive.?

        1. Y’mean like this? Its amazing the things you can make fly with a backwards gravity laser.

          The lone security guard at the Tom Howe landfill a couple of miles outside Hagersville Ontario looked up from his newspaper. He had heard an odd sound. He went to the window of the little office and peered at the top of the hill of garbage. Nothing much to see there. While he watched, a tremor moved the entire hill. Seagulls leaped into the air and circled, shrieking in consternation.

          Another tremor was accompanied by the top of the hill cracking open and tons of garbage cascading down off the sides of… something. Not gas then, thank God. It was smooth and dome shaped, and green. It rose slowly up from the top of the hill. And kept rising. By the time it was halfway out of the ground, the late middle-aged guard knew what it was. Difficult to miss, given the yellow stripe, the shape of the tail and the huge number ‘2’ emblazoned on the side of it. He finally recovered his senses enough to start recording the event with his phone.

              1. I need to watch more of the original version. It’s nearly the epitome of the can-do Space Age attitude from back when anything would be possible if you did the work to make it so.

                The current stifling bureaucracy acts as a wet blanket on that sort of inspiration.

    1. Let’s go old school (Rocky & Bullwinkle) and use Upsiedaisyium, or reaaaaaally old school and get out the Cavorite.

        1. Origin of upsy-daisy
          (Don’t know how accurate this is, but it’s logical)

          1860–65; compare earlier up-a-daisy, dial. up-a-day, perhaps up + (lack)aday, (lack)adaisy; -sy perhaps to be identified with -sy

          (Thank Goodness this isn’t a real national holiday. It would illustrate that Congress is even more useless than we already suspect.)

          Each year on June 8, National Upsy Daisy Day is set aside to encourage you to face the day positively and to get up ‘gloriously, gratefully and gleefully’ each morning.

          Every day is a gift and if we remember that as we rise each morning, it will help us carry a good attitude throughout the day, whatever the day may bring us. Life is full of challenges and bumps in the road, and it is our attitude that helps us over the bumps and through the challenges to move onward with a smile.

          Give it a try. Be grateful and thankful for what you do have such as a bed to sleep in, food to eat, friends and family. Try a smile and see how it feels. It may surprise you that it feels good on the inside also and how other people will smile back. You may just brighten up their day! Upsy Daisy!


          National Upsy Daisy Day was created by Stephanie West Allen is 2003. Her desire in creating National Upsy Daisy Day was to make humor, laughter and a positive attitude part of the Upsy Daisy Day way.

          1. (Thank Goodness this isn’t a real national holiday. It would illustrate that Congress is even more useless than we already suspect.)

            Hey, now, the more days the Congresscritters take off, the less time they have to fuck us over. I’d be all for a bunch of government-only holidays!

            If the government took enough time off, people might start to realize how many things they don’t need the government to do ‘for’ them.

            All those ‘government shutdowns’ that were supposed to end the world as we know it a few years ago, I hardly noticed.
            Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!!

            1. Likeliest explanation for almost any nonsense phrase in English; somebody fashionable said it, and it caught on. Second likeliest; it’s a phrase in some jargon, like Cockney Rhyming Slang or Polari, that got used as an in-joke in some popular entertainment, and spread.

              You can spend happy days chasing this kind of thing through Mencken’s AMERICAN LANGUAGE.

        2. upsy-daisy is mentioned without background in my 197x Merriam Webster, but there’s an “upsy freeze” (or “upsy dutch”), derived from: op zijn Friese literally defined as “in the Frisian manner”, implied drinking to excess.

          Whether this rabbit hole is worth exploring is left as an exercise.

    2. We can make warthogs fly, an elephant just needs some more wing area and maybe some more jet engines.

      [just with some quick searching, the weight of an average African elephant is about 12,000 pounds, and the maximum rated payload for the A-10 Thunderbolt II is 16,000 pounds, so if you could attach the elephant to it somehow, a Warthog could theoretically do the job…]

        1. Coconuts have a fibrous outer shell that’s quite easy for a sparrow to get its claws into.

          The big question is, was it an Asian or Polynesian coconut?

  4. “Right now I’m locked in single combat with “establish a damn schedule already!” slightly hampered by the fact that my family has decided this is crazy year with comings and goings and needing me at weird places and weird times.”

    No plan survives contact with Reality.

    I used to make everything and fix everything myself. You name it, I have the tool that you need to fix that thing. Cars, boats, houses, computers, furniture. If TVs still ran on tubes, I would have all that tube testing shit as well.

    But now, I don’t do it myself. I -feel- that I -should- do it… but I don’t. I hire it done or leave it undone. Ain’t no schedule going to make it happen any other way.

    Basically, I don’t have the youth and power that I used to have. I need to take it easier or I’ll break something. Irritating, but there it is.

    My choices are 1) Keep trying to hammer myself into the square hole everybody else says I should be fitting.
    2) Stop hammering.

    I chose the ‘stop hammering’ option because its less painful.

      1. This is sometimes the case. Its stupid to spend a day doing something I can pay a guy to do in an hour, because he has That Thing and I don’t.

      2. Most people either have time and no money, or money and no time.

        Pity the ones who have neither.

        1. Been there, too. You make do, much as you can, until the situation changes or you are able to make a decision that changes the situation.

  5. We’re looking for a) a place closer to town, b) with 2 bedrooms plus room for an office and a sewing room. We looked into buying bare land or a piece of trash house that could be demolished and a new one put in place.

    We looked for suitable parcels and through the home builder websites. After reading the procedure for site preparation (and considering the regulatory hoops for demolition and haul away), our plans came to a rather abrupt landing.

    We figured we were looking for 1-2 years of intense effort, either doing it ourselves or doing the cat-herding job that contracting would entail. My last project (drill a well, then pumphouse then off-grid solar power for the above) took an impressive amount of time, with a substantial amount waiting for sub-contractors to get the round-tuit to bid and start. Knowing that a new house would make that project look small made us reconsider.

    So, we’re looking for more modest flight plans. Get a house that fills the basic needs, and build or adapt space to do what we want. Remodeling is in our comfort zone (for various levels of discomfort). We don’t have to make an elephant fly. How about a bird? 🙂

        1. I saw that guy live one time in Toronto. Deadest crowd of old white people I ever saw, and he still got them clapping and singing. What a showman!

          1. Wayyyyyyy back in 1971 or thereabouts I was in the audience for the road company of Hello Dolly featuring Calloway and Pearl Bailey.


    1. Wife and I have been doing that since July of ’16, out in the wilds of Washington. If all goes well (famous last words), maybe we will move in next month. The problem is getting people to come and do the work we needed: excavation for basement/garage; foundation pouring; floors; doors; power; plumbing; propane tank and hookup; wiring; etc., etc., etc. Carpet laying? Five workers did that in one day. Expect nothing (NOTHING) to be done as soon as you’d hope

      1. In 2017 I had good response from the subcontractors for the well and pumphouse project (plumbing/excavator/electrical–they ran the 350′ lines that I didn’t want to do), but in 2018 it was a whole new world when I did the solar system for the well. Talked to a landscape contractor for doing solar array mounting holes in March. Got a bid in October and the posts were set in November. The contractor was doing his own house and was running into equally bad or worse delays.

        If we did a house, I’d expect to have to do/contract out the site prep (better have a working well and most of a septic system, so that’s well,electric, excavation and plumbing right there). Then it’s excavating the house site and getting a road/driveway to the house. We figure at best it’d take 2 years to get ready. (Going with an existing house for teardown might save the hassle of electric and well, but septic is likely to be a start-over, and demo/waste haulaway could be much worse.)

        Simpler projects would be practical for me. I could get a slab and a steel building for a shop and do the rest, but the complexity of a house is beyond what I’m willing to consider. The goal of a new house is to make life *easier* on us. Right now, staying put and looking for something close enough is the best strategy.

      2. WordPress ate my reply, so here’s another attempt. There are a couple of builders (Adair and HiLine) who do prepackaged stickbuilt houses in southern Oregon, but neither have local crews for our areas. Thus, they’d *really* like for the homeowner to do the site prep.

        We know what that entails and how many contractors we’d need. Unfortunately, there’s an acute shortage of contractors in the area, and it’s not clear when it will ease. I had an 8 month delay between contacting a guy to do solar array mounts (dig the holes and set the poles–8′ deep). He was getting similar delays in his own house project.

        Thus, I figure it would take a year of intensive labor/phonetag to get a site ready for the builders. We’re too old to do that, since the object is to make like *easier*, not to build a dream house. (We like our house, but it’s a bit far from town and it’s hell to try to maintain it if someone (me) is laid up.) We can do various levels of remodel ourselves, and I can build some small buildings, and finish out a shop if the shell is put up. House, no.

      3. WordPress seems to hate me tonight. Ate two longer replies.

        We’re in an acute contractor shortage. 1-2 years getting a site ready is probably a minimum, and the actual construction? Dunno.

        1. Seems to be a west coast problem. Interesting because the lack of contractors is directly the opposite of the surplus of available contractors between ’08 and ’16 …

          1. Amazing how that works, eh? Those Summers-of-Recovery were quite impressive, as long as you didn’t look for Recovery.

    2. I like how Larry Correia described building his new Mountain Lair — he wasn’t just building a house on an empty lot, he had to spend two years building the empty lot first.
      “Oh, you want Room 9. This is Room 9-A — ABUSE!!

      1. When we were considering building, we looked into a place that had a crappy house that was cheap enough to tear down. Dropped that thought because the site had problems (deep ravine cutting off a much needed acre), but further thought dampened our enthusiasm for the idea.

        Yeah, you get a working well, and presumably power (in the example, it had been cut off). The septic would almost have to be scrapped (code has changed a lot over the years, and larger place == larger septic). Then you get the demo issues. Hazmat (if old enough to use asbestos), not to mention enormous dump fees. Then it’s back to the site prep.

        We were more interested in a site that had been partly prepared. Septic was in, along with a good well, and electric to the site was roughed in. The project had been dropped because of unknown reasons*, but we turned it down. Long narrow road with dubious snow clearance (unpaved private road), hay field on one side, and a back 4 acres of juniper trees on a slope. $SPOUSE is allergic to both, and fire hazard from juniper trees is horrible. No way I could get a tractor up there to help.

        (*) We didn’t pursue it enough to find why the project had been abandoned.

  6. I know the feeling well, when you are full of noble goals, aspirations, intentions, and goals and life just stubbornly refuses to go that way. If you can’t fly, run. If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, crawl. If you can’t crawl, at least have your head pointed in the right direction.

    1. “When you can’t run, you crawl, and when you can’t crawl – when you can’t do that…”
      “You find someone to carry you. ”

  7. Well, as far as flying goes, we do live in an age of jetpacks and hovercars… some kinks to be worked out notwithstanding.

    To be less cryptic, I reckon a lot of people imagine their future, their desired station in life or position in society, based on the rewards received for achieving their goals, or the methods used to achieve their goals, but not on the achievement of goals in itself. It’s kinda like Harry Potter and the Mirror of Erised – those who fantasize about using the Philosopher’s Stone would never get it, as opposed to those who wish to acquire it for its own sake. Where there’s a will, there’s a way, but the will must be very carefully expressed, even in thought.

    In this sense, if, say, you wish to live in a particular type and size of house, prepare to go through tons of literature regarding the housing market, or offers by contractors to build the whole thing from scratch. And that’s without the matter of funding ever entering the picture. Most importantly, you need to love that process, instead of being disappointed it’s not as you imagined how it would be at first.

    If you wish to run a business, even something idealized and sugarcoated like a small town pastry shop, you need to love calling suppliers and negotiating advertising deals, managing employees, filling out health and safety forms and filing annual financial statements – because that’s part of the dream as well… if you acknowledge it is. If instead you think it’s a chore, a dark patch in your field of dreams, your mind will inevitably try and avoid dealing with it, leading to increasing errors in judgment.

    In short, look for your jetpack. Or build one yourself. But more importantly, accept that you need a jetpack in the first place; that the rules of the world, and our current place in it, aren’t as convenient as we’d like, but they can still be worked with. Don’t let anyone tell you that adapting to situations and circumstances as you find them is a sign of weakness or cynicism, as too many Hollywood-type stories would try and proclaim. It’s an atavistic instinct, no different from refusing to take your cold syrup, thinking it makes you look weak. After all, a million years ago, it’s not the strongest ape that won the battle for supremacy; it’s the one that reached for the stick. It’s not the elephants with big ears that fly, but… well, I guess you get my point.

      1. I’ve already got permanent hearing damage, and I’ve heard the crapola they put out on the radio these days (against my will, I assure you). I suppose the equine melody can’t be half as bad, mayhap.

        1. Be fair. I remember what was on the radios I heard in passing when I was a teen, and at least 90% of THAT was annoying drivel.

          Schofield’s Law of Popular Culture:

          We remember the popular culture of eras past so fondly because, mercifully, we don’t actually remember that much of it.

            1. I was thinking of Sturgeon as well

              It’s why I listen to what is these days called Classic Rock stations.

              Considering that 90% of popular music in any given time is crap, then Classic Rock stations usually are pulling from the 10% not crap over several decades thus giving a longer times between repetition.

              Whereas stations focused on the current releases are 90% crap* with the 10% scattered so thin as to make them un-listenable.

              (Auto tune is an exception to Sturgeon’s law: 100% of any song using auto tune is crap. Now get off my lawn while or I’ll crank up the Clapton again!)

          1. When I was a teen, I was listening to music that was old when my grandfather was a teen. *chuckle* Classical music phase. I also favor swing from the big band era. Some techno, as it is good working music. I know eighties music wasn’t the epitome of auditory experiences (hair. bands.), but I largely missed it as I was off in my own little world.

            The smell of old books and fresh sawdust, tobacco and deisel exhaust, the sound of a babbling brook in springtime and old time bluegrass, the sight of old buildings with fresh paint. These things are much more likely to inspire feelings of nostalgia than the music popular in my youth. *grin*

        2. I used to hate “old people” music like Crosby and Sinatra. But they sound pretty good compared to what passes for music-in-public-places nowadays…

          As to *why* every restaurant, waiting room, or lounge must have multiple TVs and competing audio sources when almost every customer is staring at their phone while tuning out the cacaphony, I have no idea.

          1. *nod* It is a pecularity from the last generation, I suspect, from when such things held some status for the business in question. Also, from my time as a small business guy, you put on, say, classic rock. Because it is more likely to piss off everybody a little bit equally than one subest greatly, and folks come to expect it. And who knows, maybe one guy will really like it and he’ll be easier to deal with.

            Myself, I try not to be held captive by the cell phone. Books hold more interest. Sometimes audiobooks, but I have to be in the mood for it. Many in my generation go the other direction. *shrug* They have their reasons, and I mine own.

            1. Been working out way through the history of Western Music with the Daughter Product, and there was a time in Vienna when popular music was, literally awesome. And anyone who lived through the 1970s has a solid case that the popular music was, legiy, rubbish.

              So… It depends. Some generations probably have a better case than others.

              1. A great supplement to any study of music is the BBC videos by Howard Goodall. The best, IMHO, is HOWARD GODALL’S BIG BANGS, where he goes into the five developments he believes explain Western Music’s dominance. I don’t quite get why he believe the development of Opera is so significant, but the other four makes sense;

                Musical Notation

                Equal Temperament (fascinating, and the first time I’d heard of it)

                The Piano



                1. Opera is justified in one of the synopsises as basically being big because it combined music with plays, GOOD ones, that told a real story.

                  …and now I am trying to draw the line between a Musical, and an Opera, and having problems.

                  1. Opera is not just a combination of music with plays.

                    It is the combination of pretty much all the major Western performing arts and crafts, with a play, and with an overwhelming multimedia experience. Live. (And since Wagner, in the dark.)

                    Movies basically wish they were opera. (Tolkien is clearly an opera guy.) And the idea of theaters being darkened is still Wagner’s opera-production idea.

                    Musicals are usually not as ambitious as opera productions; but of course Broadway musicals do attempt that same brand of shock and awe, with even more amazing production values.

                2. Equal Temperament is radically important. In natural (pythagorean ) tuning the further away you get from the original key the more out of tune you are. So you can go to closely related keys (from C Major to D major, only 2 keys around the circle of 5ths) but distant keys (say C Major to D flat Major) good luck if the piano or harpsichord had been tuned to C. Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier is all about showing off the key progressions you can do with an equal tempered scale. Of course you lose things too. In natural tuning certain sets of notes together (Like a C or G chord in C major on an instrument tuned to C Major) produce overtones that make the chord sound more full. This is a trick used by many A Capella types of singing, especially Barbershop producing what they call expanded sound. Find a good recording of a first rate barbershop group (or hear them live) and its astounding. Unfortunately even skilled amateurs often fail to tune to get the expanded sound as our brains are wrapped around piano (even temepered) tuning. When it fails it can be a bit like nails on a chalkboard as the singers tune to each other.

              2. There is a duo that goes by the name of 2Cellos, a couple of Croatian professional cellists who are famous for their covers of rock music. Their rendition of AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” apparently set off a raft of imitations across YouTube…

                They still do “classical music”, and often remind their audience that the music they’re playing was once considered popular music any random person might be familiar with, not highbrow stuff.

                But what they do with AC/DC songs… a cello ought not to be able to make sounds like that. It just ain’t right.

              3. Oh, and then there’s a Finnish group called Steve’n’Seagulls that does a hillbilly version of Thunderstruck:

                …featuring squeeze box, anvil-and-wrench, and tambourine… no, seriously, these guys are *good* and worth a few minutes of your time. Even if you hate rock music, they’ll probably brighten your morning. (38F, darkish, and misting rain here… I just brought YT up to get the URL, and they brightened *my* day, anyway)

                Such performances are conclusive proof that the fabric of Reality is polyester, and subject to snags.

          2. There’s a local Chinese restaurant that gets more of my business than its food actually warrants. I go there because it’s brightly lit and it has no televisions or Muzak. So I can read my book in peace, without a freakin’ flashlight.

            Maybe sitting in the dark is supposed to be “romantic.” But “lunch and go back to work” isn’t romantic in my view of the world…

            1. Given the nature of some lower quality Chinese food the low lights may be trying to avoid you seeing what they actualy are serving …

  8. Niece O’ my heart, I have a BS in System Engineering, and an MS in Operations Research. And a side job during most of my 25 years of Federal service was as a member of teams that evaluated government contractor performance. So schedules met and schedules failed are meat and drink to me.
    Cannot count the number of times early in a project where I was shown a bright shiny schedule with start date, end date, and performance milestones scattered throughout. There are complex and expensive software packages designed specifically to generate such pretty pictures.
    And inevitably as work progressed, or in actual fact in most cases didn’t, it would become apparent that their wondermus schedule contained no cushion or “slack” to accommodate that simple bit of reality known as shit happens. And also inevitably the solution always seemed to be to return to the well and request more time, more money, and more people because that’s what was needed to fit the new shiny schedule created to fit the changed reality they were faced with.
    A very sage expert in the Operations Research field once observed that in his considered opinion most government contracts were fundamentally based on the principle that if one woman can produce a baby in nine months then obviously nine women could produce that same baby in one month.
    Have I mentioned lately how very happy I am to be retired from all that carp?
    Now in your own case, I am pleased to hear that you are working on schedules for yourself. But based on past experience I feel compelled to ask who it is precisely who will ensure that you stick to those schedules, because your past success rate is, shall we say, somewhat problematic.
    Schedules are easy, keeping on track is hard. Life happens. Not to put too fine a point on it, but what you really need is a minder, someone to see that within reason you actually hold to the schedule you’ve set. Were I closer I’d take more of a stab at it, but the distance makes that difficult. So instead I just nag periodically.
    Heinlein was a genius as a storyteller, but much of the reason for his commercial success was that he set schedules for himself and met them. He spoke of that to a degree in that amazing speech he gave to the cadets ad Annapolis, Channel Markers. I do suspect that Virginia may have played a significant roll there as well, but those details are lost to the ages.

      1. But the gentleman known as Uncle Lars is correct.

        It is easier to start a new habit of you have someone to whom you can be accountable. You pick a desired end state

        Example: Good start to the day. How do I get there? Go to bed on time. Get up on time. Have coffee with devotion. Start day with one project from the project list I made the day before.

        Then you keep a little notebook logging what you actually do and send an account of it to that Someone in the first graph. Who promises to cheer you on, and help spot any systems failures you can tweak. It’s nice if that person can have you as their someone for a similar Habit Change project.

        Also, it takes either 21 days or 28 to set, once you’ve got your systems tweaked. Godspeed.

    1. I had one teacher in high school who could stick to a syllabus. He had a plan for what to cover each day and apparently had already accounted for questions — I don’t remember him ever rushing somebody who was trying to understand — digressions, and stories from his university days. It was very impressive.

      Everybody else, it seemed like we always just started sliding.

      I should… really take a lesson from that myself.

      1. There are a few who seem to simple but are genius in their apparent simplicity. One teacher somehow seemed to speak on this or that unrelated topic for perhaps a third of the class time, covered the day’s material in a third, and had the class start in on the homework for a third. I am SURE that I am mis-remembering it, but that’s the impression I have lo, these many years later. And even if the memory is wrong, generating it is itself a sign of his genius.

      2. The trick is having a realistic notion of what can be done in a class session.

        This is true of professional presentations, too. The rule of thumb is that you MUST hold a professional paper to 1 slide per minute of actually available time – with allowances for introductions and questions.

      3. The Business Statistics teacher I had was amazing: at the beginning of class he wrote the outline on the boards then proceeded through the schedule covering everything comprehensively and finishing in time to take questions from the class. He never seemed rushed, he never ignored class questions, he never finished short of time.

        Damned professional presentation. Admirable.

      4. I had a University History professor (Head of the department) in a Western Civ class from the fall of the Roman Empire through the Middle Ages. He tied everything together and spoke on the subject so well that it all made sense as to why Europe developed the way it did.

        I once got to lecture late (usually sat in the front row) and was stuck behind a column up high in the auditorium. He manged to hold my attention for the full hour without me ever once making visual contact with him.

        1. Professor John Henneman, around the same time frame (79-80 when I took his class). Saw his name as a source/consultant on some PBS specials in the late 80’s early 90’s.

    2. Currently working on a project with a soft deadline of six months. Having just enough experience to know how this works I allotted one of those to slop. After all large parts of the system can directly draw from previous experience working on something very similar, but there is a part where I don’t have any experience and need that slop.

      Now two months from the deadline I’ve burnt all the slop and then some on unexpected developments on the familiar part. Not even close to the unfamiliar yet.

      *shakes head*

      1. Yes. Funny how that works out.

        Have ran into this before. Granted, both times were back in the “old days” of programming.

        First time it happened to me it was at the end of the project. The end user liked the over all system, and it solved the problem. “But” (I learned to despise that word) “couldn’t the reports be flipped on it’s side?” Sure, easy enough to do in spreadsheets (kind of … even then it didn’t work 100% correctly). Not so easy with the programming tools available. It worked until the programming tool in question declared the solution a “bug”, and fixed bug in one of the upgrades … this was ’95.

        Second time. I knew it was coming. There were going to be two areas where the slop was going to be needed. When approached for time estimates, answer was: 1) Can’t be done unless this tool upgrade and rewrite are done (4 to 6 months). 2) Need this seminar to do rewrite (1 week, firm). and 3) Had to dig to find the correct MS function (without reinventing and working with embedded functions). Had to do with saving off and retrieving text in specific double byte code pages, without changing the OS code page setting. (Unknown.) Luckily, #1 only took, 3 months, #3 took 6 weeks to find, it was buried deep, but only days to implement usage, thanks to step 1. This was ’01.

    3. Or, if you have a tight budget, you can hire 0.5 FTE (full time equivalent) women, and take 18 months.

      1. Once upon a time I had a $BIGBOSS that did something like that. The position advertised was for one full time position. That $BIGBOSS filled it… with two part-timers (only one of which was competent/honest). Cheap doesn’t begin to describe that unmissed $BIGBOSS.

    4. “A very sage expert in the Operations Research field once observed that in his considered opinion most government contracts were fundamentally based on the principle that if one woman can produce a baby in nine months then obviously nine women could produce that same baby in one month.
      Have I mentioned lately how very happy I am to be retired from all that carp?”

      Retirement part? Oh heck yes!!!

      “JUST” Government contracts? Try any software project. Although please don’t point fingers at the people who are actually doing the work. In my experience, at the one place I didn’t have full control over deliver date:

      Engineer’s would be consulted. Then marketing would set the date. Every. Single. Time. Project would not, could not, hit the marketing set date. Not once. Engineering date wasn’t always met, but was a heck of a lot closer, depending on emergencies ran into.

      My piece, software, my (not marketing’s version) date was always met … but that was because by then I knew better. As in guess time to complete various pieces, add up the hours, now triple for a minimum, quadruple for a maximum. Rarely approached the maximum, generally less than the minimum, but once or twice a stubborn piece pushed back. Usually a piece I knew needed to be redone/redesigned, but until allowed to do so, was going to continue to be a PIA (no not something I originally wrote).

      My last job, which dealt with governmental entities (still does), I found it interesting on how the contract was scheduled. Because the company never failed, even if the install target date kept getting pushed out. Because contract required the governmental entity to complete parts. Thus, schedule would go.

      1) Setup by entity IT for step 2.
      2) Completed by company in X time.
      3) Provided by entity end client, to company, base information for import, in X format. Both data, and formats, as defined in contract.
      4) Completed by company in X time.

      Any item that company relied on the entity, the clock did not start ticking on the dependent item. Did we hear about it from TPTB? Yes. Every time it could be pointed out that it was stalled by someone on their side (FWIW … IT, 99% of the time). What was interesting, is most steps by client could be completed in tandem, concurrent. Company items dependent on step 3 could be completed in house, but not installed until step 1 was completed. Result. The appearance was company employed brilliant engineers and programmers.

      The key? The boss had programmed …

      1. Although please don’t point fingers at the people who are actually doing the work.

        “We need you to fix this bug.”

        “The ‘bug’ that is exactly what their written specification said?”

        “Yes, that BUG.”

        “That’s NOT a bug. That’s a SPECIFICATION ERROR.”

        “They say it’s a bug.”

        “They also say their intestinal wall is the sky, or would if they opened their eyes. Also, didn’t they DEMAND this be done ‘by Tuesday’ SIX MONTHS AGO?”

        “Yes. They finally got around to install it and-”

        “And I should NOW believe them after they’ve lied to us TWICE already?”

        “They’re the customer.”

        “That we keep losing money on.”

        Why, yes, there are some things I do NOT miss.

        1. > “That we keep losing money on.”

          As businesses get larger they tend to lose track of that. Like Scott Adams “Battling Business Units” Dilbert panels, corporations sometimes wind up split into different structures, billing *each other* for services; IT, telco, management, secretarial, janitorial, advertising, production… the corporate quatloos are important to individual managers; they mean promotion or pay raises. And they’re entirely disconnected from “outside money”, which is only of concern by the accountants, who might be a contractor in a different state, with no skin in the game either.

          1. The company I worked for ’96 – ’02, the product I worked on was an acknowledged “lost leader”. As long as they sold 1000 releases a year, or $2000 upgrades. Then my salary & upkeep was more than covered. The whole point of the product was to pull through hardware, which was the main product of the business.

        2. Ran into that more than once. The one that sticks out is one client who was a particular PIA. Everything had to be filtered through one person, who I swear couldn’t find his own head.

          Client. “We need this changed on XYZ because the commissioner’s require it.”
          Me. “Okay. Send me the requirements, in writing. But pretty sure it is a billable change order.” Sends out change order, with billing estimate and copied change requirement.
          Get signed change order back.
          Make change (not that difficult). Send out notice of change ready to install.
          Three months later. Guess who calls about the change complaining how a different department didn’t like the requirement.
          Me. Forwards signed change order, that they’ve paid for and paid a premium because part of the bid was a rush change. Note. Added to email, that they’d get charge to change it back …
          Client. “Uh, will get back to you.”

          Not long after I gave notice. Became “not my problem.” Warned the new guys this client was prone to these type of shenanigans.

          Not the only time I ran into this. At first bothered the heck out of me. Thought I was doing something wrong. Nope. I learned to push back. Ultimately, my favorite dodge was charge an obvious outrageous change order cost, with a premium added for “right now”. Sometimes they even paid it …

          Must admit got away with the above for a number of reasons. It was expensive and hard to change to another system. Limited options to switch to (they were out there). No one else was as responsive for changes. There was limited “will put this on a list and it will be out or fixed in the next release.” Limited because annual user conference requests, did go on that list, but even these items weren’t on a particular release, they dribbled out as they were completed. Client requests or fixes were completed and released immediately. Not many, of any software systems, does that.

          1. There was one notoriously irksome psuedocustomer that once asked for/demanded “Make new system work like this old system” but did NOT say just what the old system did. I wound up writing the spec for them to sign off on. I figured they wouldn’t even read it and slipped in a corker.

            Nope, they didn’t read it. The didn’t say a word about how if Button #3 was pressed, the system would transform into a pumpkin at the next midnight.

    5. Churchill’s six-volume history of WWII starts off with a lot of political stuff that doesn’t make much sense unless you fill in the gaps elsewhere; the other five volumes are mostly logistics and scheduling. Not just Britain; the entire Commonwealth and all its allies, with realistic slack for losses by combat and the contrariness of nature, in a theater that spanned most of the entire planet, including Antarctica…

      Unlike many of the players, it wasn’t Churchill’s first rodeo, and he knew from personal experience what it took to get from “we need to write up a proposal to mine some ore to make the copper to make some ammunition” to being the guy in Buttcrackistan wondering where the hell their shipment of ammo was…

    6. I’ll also note that, at least inn the government world, no-one over ran on a contract they did not get, and that finishing early and under budget is a sure fire way to get said budget cut for next time…

  9. Back when I did embedded programming at $WeBuildScales, there were times when a problem seemed big. So I’d break off a tiny bit and work on that as it was manageable. And then the next bit. And the next bit… What the? It’s done already? Wow! This happened over and over and over.

    Though when I had to pull someone over and “let me explain this to you until I understand it” it happened a LOT slower.

    1. “I’d break off a tiny bit and work on that as it was manageable.”

      The ONLY way to program. Build shell, compile, run, test. Add small piece compile, run, test. Build on small piece, compile, run, test. Repeat until done. If something doesn’t compile, or run right, then you KNEW it was in that new piece. A lot easier to find problems, after all it must be in the new piece, which makes it go faster. Rarely did I have to back track to a prior section.

      1. Building anew is MUCH easier than ‘maintenance’ and modification. I will say that one piece utter dreack was easier to work on than some of the “brilliantly” (ptwooie! Herr Professor’s Ideal sucks when you get stuck with it and Herr Professor’s dingelfritzien student didn’t bother with that ‘documentation’ thing as it was ‘obvious’) made stuff. Since dreck couldn’t get any worse, dive in and modify the [snot] out of it – no harm done. I won’t say that I truly improved it, but I doubt ever managed to somehow make it worse.

        1. It’s much the same in the infrastructure business I work in. New builds, I *know* it is right because I run it from end to end and ensure every bit and bob is in its place, redundancies for maintenance are in easily accessible areas, and stepoffs for future changes (because sure as Himself made little green apples, there will be), and documentation for every. Single. Bit.

          Maintenance, repair, and modification can be bad, and can be worse. The oldest structures we support are usually only a bit over a century old, with about seven generations of modification in them to keep straight. Nothing like doing new mods across the pond as I understand it, or like some places in {redacted}. There are some mods I have done that can’t be replicated (or replaced, for that matter) because of structure modification subsequent to my work, done without proper documentation or any consideration at all for little things like, oh, *com lines* or return feeds. Business get rather testy with you when the system they’ve relied on for years is made inoperable because of one numbnut contractor’s brilliant idea…

  10. “I can do it!” only works if (1) “It” is something you control. (2) and “it” is realistic.

    “I can make a fortune writing” depends on _other_ _people_ buying your work, and is thus extremely hard to manage.

    “I can write a damned good book” is doable, because you’ve done it before.

    “I can market my book” is doable “and make more money.” is merely possible.

    1. Right. Well, I’m not sure about the “write a damned good book” but in general (and probably the specific)… I can go to work, I can produce what my boss wants, I can deliver what I’m asked for and get paid on a regular schedule. I can control this. The schedule and requirements are right there in front of me and I can fill in the boxes.

      I never understood people who viewed that as a BAD thing, as worse than having your own business, for example.

      Trying something and putting hundreds of hours into it with no notion if it’s going to work at all? That’s really hard.

      At least now I can say, I can write a book… it will be okay. I can publish the book and I can order a nice paper copy of it. It *might* be more than that, but that’s at least something. There’s a *chance* other people might think it’s damned good, but if not, at least I’m sure it will be okay. If I’m lucky tons of people will buy it, but at least I’ll get a volume to hold in my hands, look at, and put on a shelf.

      The back of my head is still working through all those years of “Why are you doing this when the chances of success are next to zero? If you just don’t do it you’ll save a lot of time and effort and never quite have to fail.”

      1. > “write a damned good book”

        Nice, but not necessarily a requirement for “and then you get paid.”

        I’ve ready *way* too many books by Real Famous Authors, edited by Experienced Professional Editors, published by Major Publishing Houses, that any sane editor would have tossed back into the slush pile. We’re talking major plot holes and factual errors, not matters of style.

        One of those authors also deigned to grace the writer’s section of an online service I subscribed to back in the 1980s. He bragged that no editor would dare touch any of his work, or he’d have them fired.

        Having read a few of his “best-sellers”, I could believe it, because they desperately needed someone to go through them with a red pen and a chainsaw.

        1. … books by Real Famous Authors, edited by Experienced Professional Editors, published by Major Publishing Houses

          Anent “Major Publishing Houses” this note from Power Line’s memorium to Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky stood out:

          n 1992, the year after the Soviet Union collapsed, Bukovsky was asked to return to Russia as an expert witness at a trial against President Boris Yeltsin. Yeltsin had banned the Communist Party and seized its property. Bukovsky’s argument, which he had always believed, was that the party had been unconstitutional. To demonstrate it, Bukovsky requested access to the Central Committee archives. Using a laptop and hand-held scanner, he surreptitiously copied and smuggled out thousands of pages before being discovered.

          His findings were captured in “Judgment in Moscow,” first published in 1995 in French, then in Russian and other European languages. It didn’t come out in English until this year. Its subtitle, “Soviet Crimes and Western Complicity,” gives a clue as to why. When Bukovsky first attempted to publish the book in English, in the 1990s, the American publisher had asked him to rewrite “the entire book from the point of view of a leftist liberal,” he wrote. Specifically, he was told to omit all mention of media companies that had entered agreements to publish articles and cover media events “under the direct editorial control of the Soviets.” He rejected the offer, and the publisher canceled the contract.

          The documents cited in the book demonstrate, he wrote, the “treacherous role of the American left”—its complicity with Moscow during the 1930s and ’40s, infiltration of the U.S. government and assistance to the Soviets during the Cold War. They demonstrate also the Kremlin’s support for Middle Eastern terrorists, Mikhail Gorbachev’s sabotage of the European Community, and the pseudoliberalism of Mr. Gorbachev’s “perestroika.”

          Emphasis added.

          1. You mean McCarthy was right???
            And the Red scare was real and true?
            You mean the Media LIED to us about Communist influence??
            How can this be??

            1. McCarthy was right and wrong.
              He was right in that there had been Communist infiltration of the US.
              He was wrong about where to look for it.
              HUAC, with Nixon in charge, was the group that found actual Communists.

  11. I can fly in my dreams.
    The trick is to transition from the dream to the reality without losing the ability. Alas, that’s one that I have not figured out yet. I’ll let you know when I do.

    1. In the waking world, I have ridden in aircraft. A time or three, I was even allowed to operate the controls of the craft. But in the (very) odd dream, I could simply cross my arms as if resting them on an invisible shelf and levitate at a whim. This has, alas, never translated itself into my wakeful state. Even sans any lateral travel at all, it would have some decided utility.

    2. As far as I can remember I’ve never dreamed that I could fly. But as a child I sometimes dreamed I was nearly weightless. Too light to walk; I had to move by bounding, or laying down and tugging at clumps of grass. But I also had normal inertia, so running into things was bad.

      Those were… probably before and around the first grade, up into just before being a teen.

      I guess those dreams were the reason I was always so irritated when people would try to explain the difference between weight and mass. Well, duh. Master of the Bleeding Obvious, are you? Doesn’t everyone *know* that?

      Given they were still explaining it in college physics books, I guess not…

  12. “Elephant fly! Elephant fly!”

    Not related, exactly.

    Our son was maybe 32 months old. We’d gone to Portland, Or, for the monthly visit to MIL at her nursing home. Then over to my sisters for our toddler to play with her toddler. Two things happened this trip, one I knew about when it happened. Second one, not so much.

    First thing. We walked in to MIL rooms, start to hand off toddler to MIL to say hi. Now please note, we’d been making the trip to see her every month since he was about 3 months, before that it was every weekend (only to Bend, Or; and yes it was exhausting as a new mother.) Kid takes one look and lets out a HUGE scream … I took kid and walked out. Eventually he did settle enough to be comfortable cuddling for a bit. MIL was not happy with our approach, but my attitude was tough, kid comes first. Hey, I wasn’t real thrilled with actively settling him enough to interact at all, if he wasn’t comfortable, but I can compromise … Went to cousins. They had a ball playing. All better now …

    Get about half way home. Kid had been sound asleep in car seat in back. Nice early spring drive home … Then the screaming started. I’m thinking it is fall out from MIL visit … nope. Kid’s screaming phrases during his sob. Getting parts of: “moon”, “daddy”, “broke”, but not all at once, or in sequence. I’m going “Huh???????” Meanwhile, dad, who is driving. Is doing his best to make himself hunch very small (he’s 6’2″), and trying to not laugh loudly … I mean I can see him crying from laughing so hard. (Yes, I kind of had a clue at this point it wasn’t MIL.)

    Finally the kid screams “Daddy broke the moon.”

    FWIW, it was my turn to cry as I tried not to laugh. AND this was over 25 years ago. It is still hilarious.

    Yes. There had been an early moon during the day. Part moon. The dad’s while outside with the kids had explained how they’d taken a partial bite out of the moon, like a cookie … we spent the rest of the summer, keeping the kid up late showing the different phases of the moon, starting with the first available (visible) full moon.

    Like “elephant fly, elephant fly” be careful of toddlers.

    Have I ever mentioned “daddy broke his face”, yet?

      1. No, first you need to get the elephant to wear pants. Maybe find that one that Groucho Marx shot…

      1. Let’s start easy with an elephant float. I know I have some ice cream around here, but may be short on root beer (and elephants)

  13. It helps to build a schedule with enough of a buffer to handle the unexpected. This works for budgets, too.

    Of course, most people can’t implement that level of wariness.

    1. “Of course, most people can’t implement that level of wariness.”

      No one can do it by instinct alone. Everyone is capable of learning how to, given enough metaphorical “2×4 moments” of unexpected. If I could, anyone should be able to. I’ve met people who wouldn’t … you could generally tell who it was … in my experience. They are the ones running around waving hands that the sky is falling, rather than stepping back, reassessing, and adapting.

    2. My goal is to get through X material in a year. If we do not, then we do not. I’ve got wiggle room because of how the topic is defined. No worries.

      Other class: I must get through Y material in Z% of the available time, A material in L% of the available time, and so on. Because someone else sets everything up on a national level. Talk about a Maalox™ moment.

  14. Maybe your telescope is just too long.

    What is writing except envisioning and describing other futures, other nows, that might not possibly ever be? You’re just adjusted to a thousand years or worlds so far distant that magic works. Like trying to point the big telescope at Mauna Kea at the Earth, looking at your own next few years you can’t focus in so close.

    Bad analogy, probably, but maybe it makes sense, or has some utility.

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