12th Day – Exploring this blog’s purpose

I guess the numbering system won’t end up being so bad. As I typed “12th Day,” I didn’t think of it as the 12th day since ending something, but instead that it’s the 12th consecutive day I am writing an entry. Maybe I thought that because I almost decided to skip writing something today. Earlier I sent Dana a longish ramble that satiated my desire to type out thoughts. But, then, I decided… No. This is a goal. Stick to it until it becomes second nature.

I realize that I don’t have a theme for my blog, which won’t exactly help to build an audience. While it is both flattering and humbling to have accumulated a fairly impressive number of page views of my Day 10 entry just from sharing it on my Facebook wall, I’m not sure I want to measure my life’s ambition by page views.

I used to.

Many moons ago, before the Facebook era, I had a website devoted to images taken at Renaissance Faires sprinkled with some personal galleries. That, obviously had a theme. It also had a purpose. It was 1999, and I wanted to visit a Renaissance Faire. Bristol had about a month and half before its opening day for the season. After reading through usenet forums and doing some web searches (I think I was still using Yahoo! to search instead of Google), I found a page that listed a few faires that were going on. But, the closest ones were in Tennessee and St. Louis. I wanted to see some pictures of them to get an idea if it’d be worth the drive, but image galleries were scarce and digital cameras hadn’t quite hit the consumer level.


Greater St. Louis Renaissance Faire 1999


I opted to try out the St. Louis faire, and with a great friend, took a six hour drive.


Fortuitously, I had also recently purchased a digital camera — a Sony Mavica — one of those ones that used 3.5″ floppy disks. I think I could get 10 – 15 pictures on a disk at a resolution of 1024 x 768.

Dial-up connections were still the norm. Speedy users had 56.6kbps. T-1 lines were a dream and cost around $30,000 to have installed. I digress.


Before teaching dragged me into adulthood


I made a simple web page, posted a link to the images on alt.fairs.renaissance.

A persona, and an obsession, was born.


Friendships forged at Greater St. Louis Renaissance Faire 1999


As I fight with the formatting here to get this to look just like I want it, I’m not sure if all this futzing is worth the effort. How do I crop the damn images? Why don’t I have more control over the caption boxes? Ugh. Why can’t I move the sumnabitch where I want it — move up one frickin’ line, would ya!? 

For the record, I am NOT happy with the way these images are laid out. But, I also just wanted to make a quick entry before playing some Star Wars: Battlefront, so screw it. I’ll just have to live with it. Besides, all this was just to drive home the point that I can get obsessive about interests. I already once was motivated by page views, and I don’t think I need to explore that again. I’m blogging simply to journal my days… largely for me. Hopefully others find them interesting or entertaining.

I sat in Racine while the windows were installed, and I charged the battery of a car that’s been sitting since September. I also contacted the DMV about some particulars regarding selling that car and drafted some paperwork for the impending sale. Once all that was done, I stopped at Rocky Rococo’s for breakfast/lunch/dinner, then headed home for a nap.

As I said before, after the nap, I composed a rambling message to Dana. She got home from her work/volleyball day around 8:00. We watched a couple of episodes of Breaking Bad (season three) before she decided to go romp around slumberland. And here we are.


(Note: I just previewed this page — I am really unhappy with the presentation.)



Those pivotal moments

When I think about those pivotal points when my life’s journey changed in the course of a day or an instant, I also think about some of the times when it could have been drastically altered, but wasn’t. While watching Pretty Little Liars (which I recently admitted to viewing) one of those moments came rushing back to me.

liarsIn the episode (S04E14 “Grave New World”) there’s a scene where a couple of the girls are looking out of a window that’s broken. Cue suspenseful music — cut to a glimpse of the window slipping down — cut to girls’ necks ready to be severed. Spoiler alert: the window does crash. The girls survive.

Working at Aladdin’s Castle in the early 90’s had such an influence on me that I still regularly have dreams about the place 25 years later. Twenty five years?  Yeah… I guess so. In fact, this spring it will be exactly 25 years since I started working there.

I only worked there for two or two-and-a-half years before I quit — the first time. Six months later I worked there again for another couple of years before the Tinseltown movie theater opened up on Highway 50 and soon led to the demise of Old Market Square. Even though the arcade remained for awhile after, Namco Cybertainment closed Store #325 in Kenosha in, um, 1994 or ’95. Maybe ’96. The mid-90’s are a bit blurry for me.

Anyway, one of the games and I didn’t get along so well. This frickin’ beast of a game that tilted forward and backward and left and right. Nevermind that I sucked at the game. Performing maintenance on that sumnabitch was probably the greatest amount of stress I suffered throughout those years. Look at the thing… just look at it!

Sega Afterburner

Every so often, one of the motors would stop working. In an automotive garage, it would be an easy fix. Typically the motor wasn’t completely trashed. Something called a motor brush had to be replaced. Since the thing rocked back and forth and left and right, there were two motors, hence twice the fun of replacing the stupid springy thing.

A view of the Afterburner’s motor

Replacing the brush in the back motor wasn’t much of an issue. The blue metal thing had to be unscrewed, elbows needed to be contorted, batteries needed to be found to put in a flashlight to find a runaway washer. Tedious, but not a big deal.

The front motor, on the other hand, wasn’t so easy. The motor had to be accessed from underneath the cabinet. Obviously, being unable to phase shift through the floor, the left side of the cabinet would have to be tilted up. And, since the cabinet would have to remain propped up during the repair, this process would require two people.

Except that being a small arcade with maybe three customers before 3pm on a school day, I typically worked alone. Combine the impatience of youth with a desire not to remain at work longer than necessary, and my problem solving brain starts working.

Car jack
Flimsy car jack not designed to lift Afterburner cabinet

I thought a car jack should do the trick. But, I was driving a Dodge Shadow at the time that had one of those not-really-a-spare tires. I suppose all spare tires are that variety now, aren’t they? Along with the not-really-a-spare-tire came a flimsy car jack. Fortunately, I was only a couple of years past 18, so I was still more or less immortal and believed this thing would do the trick.

The first trick was to figure out a way to lift the cabinet and get the jack positioned appropriately to prop it up. The fact that I weighed maybe 125 pounds at the time didn’t help at all. After some huffing and puffing and swearing, eventually the cabinet was off the ground enough for me to get my head under it to see what’s what.

Yeah, that’s right: my head. I put my head between this 900 pound machine and the cement floor. There wasn’t much room to spare. I only remained in that position for a moment or two to determine the likelihood of having enough room to maneuver and make the repair. Honestly, at this point, I can’t remember if I did or didn’t.

For whatever reason: a need to get a flashlight or socket driver,  a premonition, a realization that I was being incredibly stupid — whatever — I got out from under the cabinet. Seconds later the jack crumbled and the cabinet crashed down.

That could have been one of those life altering pivotal moments. The weight of the moment was not lost on me. That’s why I don’t really remember what caused me to move right then. I did, however, end up waiting to repair the game until I had someone to help me.

Since then I’ve been accused of sometimes being too cautious or unwilling to press ahead without the proper preparations. As a kid, my father would chastise me for always having to “learn the hard way.” That was largely true. I believe most of us only learn from our own mistakes — not the wisdom of others. After a few significant experiences like having a huge game actually perform a gruesome fatality in real life, I suffer no embarrassment for being overly cautious.

I’ve also come to recognize nearly every moment as a pivotal moment worthy of mindfulness: making sure to walk carefully down the stairs when it’s snowed outside… and when it hasn’t; not trying to carry too much if there’s glassware involved… even if it’s just a few inches so I can dust.

I guess that begs the question: how the hell did I end up spending three-and-a-half hours in Lake Michigan after dumping a kayak last October. The answer to that is pretty obvious. Despite best efforts, it’s impossible to be mindful of everything, yet that doesn’t stop every moment from being a pivotal moment.