CD-ROM dream; techno failure

bad karma

cd-romIn mid-December, I woke up from this CD-ROM dream.

I was in charge of some massive organization that met in a football stadium. It had been accused of not documenting its activities sufficiently. So now we had to audit all the activities from the previous period. This involved reviewing a stack of CD-ROM discs that was three feet high. We couldn’t do any other work until we verified all the information.

Currently, I have no working computer that even HAS a CD-ROM drive.

One of our laptops was in the shop for several days at the end of the school semester. This meant my daughter needed the one working machine for homework AND my wife needed it for lesson plans AND I needed it for whatever it is that I do.

And when it was repaired, it no longer works with the printer. We ought to see if we can get the even older laptop to perform.

We have no working DVD player. I think we have bad karma when it comes to those devices. I bought a TV last year specifically to play DVDs. The second time we used it, the disc got stuck.

And also

Lest you think all of our difficulties are with electronics, our dishwasher can be cranky. It does not work when the outside temperature is less than 14F/-10C.

When it warmed up, it STILL didn’t work. I spent over a half hour on the phone with the company’s help desk. It didn’t solve the problem. We could have had a service call. It would have cost $129 just for the person to come through the door, plus $160/hour, calculated in 15-minute segments.

Finally, we called our own repair guy, who’s much cheaper. John cleaned the drain filter, which we had already done, but obviously not thoroughly enough.

None of this is meant as a complaint, exactly. One does find workarounds. We have a library branch less than two blocks away where we can print and copy.

Not incidentally, the Albany Public Library has this incognito mode I use all the time, so the next user doesn’t access my email/Facebook et al. Last time I was using the 15-minute computer downtown, I accessed the previous user’s Gmail. I sent him an email from “him” to him suggesting that he needed to take more precautions.

And of course, I’m very good at washing dishes by hand. So we get by. Geez, the door lock is sticking again…

Agatha Green, and McKinley and Les

5 Gaines Street

Agatha GreenThe result of my great reveal is has been quite heartening. People are impressed, as they ought to be, about the moxie of my late grandmother, Agatha Green, nee Walker, as well as their affection for my dad, Les Green.

I realize that I hadn’t remarked much about her in this blog. Well, except here. That’s because she died when I was nine, in 1964. While I remember her fondly, as I noted, I have only two broad memories. One is that she was my Sunday school teacher. The other is that she taught me how to play canasta on her kitchen table.

My parents and I lived on the second floor of 5 Gaines Street in Binghamton. But at some point in the early 1950s – probably by the time my sister Leslie was born – we moved to the first floor. McKinley and Agatha moved upstairs.

As I’ve mentioned, I fell down the hallway stairs from the second floor to the first when I was about three, in 1956. No doubt I was visiting one or both of my grandparents. As a result, a have a tiny knot under my lower lip where facial hair refuses to grow. It’s not some sort of “soul patch” affectation.


Now McKinley I’ve written about several times, going back to the earliest months of this blog, and also here and here and here.

So this new information requires a balancing act. Discovering my biological grandfather doesn’t mean my sisters and I abandon our affection for Mac. At the same time, I know my father must have suffered, not just from Raymond Cone, but the off-again, on-again relationship between Mac and Agatha.

They were married in 1931, living together in 1932, but by 1936, they weren’t. In 1940, Agatha and Les lived with her parents, while McKinley was in a boarding house, and this was still true in 1943. Yet on the faux birth certificate that my father obtained from Binghamton, NY, McKinley was listed as Les’ father. (But Mac was a poor liar; he listed how old he was in 1944, not in 1926 when Les was born.) Mac and Agatha Green are together again by 1946.

Several people have asked me what I’m feeling. That’s why I write, to try to figure these things out. I’m still working on it. I appreciate the outpouring off support in my journey. Well, it’s OUR journey, really, Leslie’s and Marcia’s and mine, attempting to sort out the myths from the truth of our lineage.

The train, before the climate changes

guts the Environmental Protection Agency

trainKelly has provided more questions.

What is your favorite mode of transportation, regardless of destination?

The train, the train, the train. It’s civilized. I like the light rail in Charlotte, NC. But I LOVE it in San Diego. If Amtrak didn’t have to share the track with commercial vehicles, it’d be way better off. And if cities had spent more money over time with their mass transit – the NYC subway, and especially the T in Boston – it would be top-notch.

When I see stories about traveling out west to Great Basin Star Train, designed to see the stars sans light pollution, I say, “I would do that.”

One pipe dream involves going to a bunch of Major League ballparks by train, maybe Boston to New York (2), Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Miami and Tampa Bay. Then another route through the Midwest – Toronto to Cleveland, et al., and a third out west. I’ve gone to two games by train, from Poughkeepsie to the New York Yankees in 2018, and from San Diego to Anaheim to see the Angels back in the late 1980s.

I took the train when I went to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998, and to take the JEOPARDY! test in Washington, DC a week later.


Incidentally, I had planned to write something about the sesquicentennial of the birth of the transcontinental railroad on November 24, 1869. The heads of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads meet in Promontory, Utah, and drove a ceremonial last spike into a rail line that connects their railroads. This made transcontinental railroad travel possible for the first time in U.S. history.

Most of my treks from Albany, NY to Charlotte, NC were by train. This includes a trip just prior to my mother’s death. That post, BTW, is the post on this blog that has gotten the most comments, bar none.

And I LOVE train-themed songs.

How pessimistic are you about climate change? (I am DEEPLY pessimistic about it.)

We’re doomed. We’re already seeing the changes, with more severe weather as the annual average temperature keeps creeping upward. If I thought the government had a strategy for attacking the problem, I might be cautiously optimistic. Instead, the US pulls out of the Paris agreement, promotes the use of coal, eviscerates the Endangered Species Act, guts the Environmental Protection Agency.

Check out Former EPA head Gina McCarthy knows why climate change activists aren’t getting their message across.

Movie review: Little Women (2019)

best picture nominee

Little WomenI’m not an expert on the writings of Louisa May Alcott. Thus I can only judge the new movie Little Women based on what I saw on the screen. I was most impressed. My wife, on the other hand, is seeped in the story. She enjoyed it immensely.

I understand that this is a reimagining. Writer/director Greta Gerwig drew on Louisa May Alcott’s life and letters, as well as the original source. It was not strictly chronological, which confused me early on, but it soon made sense.

We really enjoyed Gerwig’s previous film, Lady Bird, which also starred Saoirse Ronan. In Little Women, she plays a Jo March that is talented, but with doubts. The Oscar-nominated Ronan was also excellent in Brooklyn and Atonement.

It seems that Gerwig has developed a troupe, of sorts, besides Saoirse. Timothée Chalamet, best known in Call Me By Your Name, was a young musician in Lady Bird, and Theodore “Laurie” Laurence in Little Women. Tracy Letts embodied Henry Ford II in the Oscar-nominated Ford v. Ferrari; he was the father in Lady Bird and Mr. Dashwood in this film.

The former Hermione Granger

They were all fine performers, as were Emma Watson as Meg, Eliza Scanlen as Beth, and the always reliable Laura Dern as Marmee, among others. Apparently, the role of the aunt was expanded, which I suppose happens when one gets Meryl Streep for the role.

But Florence Pugh as Amy was a revelation. She was a force. The performer has been in a number of movies, none of which I’ve seen, and most of which I never heard of. Her Academy Award for best supporting actress nomination was well deserved.

I’d already put Alexandre Desplat’s original score on my wishlist. I’m glad he, Greta for adapted screenplay, and costume designer Jacqueline Durran all got Oscar nods. I’m sorry, though that Greta Gerwig got left off the ballot for best director; what remains is that burger joint, five guys.

Bubbling Under the Hot 100

Good Morning, Vietnam

Joan Armatrading
Joan Armatrading
One of the many music reference books – yes, I said BOOKS – that I own is Bubbling Under the Billboard Hot 100, 1959-2004. These are songs that didn’t quite make it to the promised land on the primary US singles chart.

There are several reasons. Some were regional hits. Some were B-sides of bigger hits but managed to nearly chart anyway. A few are re-releases that had charted higher in the past.

Since the book is nearly 300 pages long, I’m limiting myself to songs I actually own in physical form, either on compact disc or vinyl. You’ll recognize quite a few, I promise. This will take a while.

New York New York – Ryan Adams, #112 in 2002, filmed 9/7/2001. I put this on a mixed CD in my early blogger days.
Baby Please Don’t Go – Amboy Dukes – #106 in 1968
Show Some Emotion– Joan Armatrading – #110 in 1978; I LOVED her albums of that era
What A Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong with the Tommy Goodman Orchestra – #116 in 1968; #32 in 1988, due to its inclusion in the movie Good Morning, Vietnam
The Shape I’m In – The Band, #121 in 1973; B-side of Time To Kill (#77 pop)

The Beach Boys

I gave a friend their box set, and when she knew she was dying, she wanted me to take it back
Why Do Fools Fall in Love, 101 in 1964; B-side of Fun, Fun, Fun (#5 pop)
She Knows Me Too Well – 101 in 1964; B-side of hen I Grow Up (To Be A Man) (#9 pop)
Cottonfields – #103 in 1970
Marcella – #110 in 1972
Barbara Ann – #101 in 1975 rerelease; #2 in 1966
Wouldn’t It Be Nice – #103 in 1975 rerelease; #8 in 1966

The Beatles

I have some interest in this group.
From Me To You, #116 in 1963; #41 in 1964
I’m Down, #101 in 1965; B-side of Help! (#1 pop) The only B-side of The Beatles first 21 regular Capitol/Apple releases not to make the Top 100
Boys, #102 in 1965; one of a series of singles released on Capitol’s green label “The Star Line”

I Can’t See Nobody – Bee Gees, #128 in 1967; B-side of New York Mining Disaster 1941 (#14 pop)

David Bowie

I have a fair amount of his output on LPs
Space Oddity, #124 in 1969 on Mercury Records; it hit #15 in 1973 on RCA Victor
Let’s Spend the Night Together, #109 in 1973
D.J., #106 in 1979
Ashes to Ashes, #101 in 1980

It Don’t Matter to the Sun – Garth Brooks as Chris Gaines, a fictional character for a proposed movie, The Lamb, starring Brooks; B-side of Lost in You (#5 pop)
Please, Please, Please -James Brown – #105 in 1960, though #5 on the R&B charts in 1956, and a live version went to #95 pop in 1964

Next time, I’ll get much further into the alphabet.