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A walking anniversary

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A walking anniversary

Today I celebrate a personal anniversary. Last October, a year ago, I started taking a walk around the neighborhood every day after work. For the past 12 months, 5 days a week, rain or shine, I have gotten up out of my office chair, put my iPod in my pocket and my music in my ears, and enjoyed this self-propelled program of exercise and relaxation.

If you remember October 2012, you may remember that here in the USA we were in the final weeks before a Presidential election. Down the block from me there was a house on the busiest through street in our neighborhood which had been flying the “Don’t Tread On Me” flag — an anti-Obama symbol through the mad logic of politics — and I was ready to demonstrate to the neighborhood and whatever small part of the world that passes through it that we pro-Obama people were not intimidated. So I put on my Obama baseball cap and I started walking.

Down the street past the offending banner. Up and down the sidewalk of the through street, joining the dog-walkers, the bicyclists, the do-a-little-yard-workers, the mailbox checkers, the joggers, the kids at play as part of the outdoors world.

I learned that my neighborhood was more pro-Obama than anti. I pass maybe 100 houses on my circuit. Perhaps half a dozen had Romney signs on the lawn in October 2012. About three times that many had Obama signs. There were a lot of Obama bumper stickers in evidence — as there still are on the anniversary of my first walking day.

Last week Angelika and I were vacationing at the beach while the government shutdown farce played out in D.C. and on the national news channels. It’s not clear which the so-called “Tea Party” faction hate more, the fact that we have a black President or the idea that insurance companies will have to let poor people get health care. Today (October 22) was my first day back at work, and I read reports of polls showing that these “Don’t Tread On Me” hatemongers have lost a tremendous amount of public support and a fair amount of political capital by their tactic of putting the world economy in jeopardy in hopes of getting their way.

Today was my first day back at work, so it was my first day to take my walk around the neighborhood again. As I approached the corner, my spirits were lifted to see the “Don’t Tread On Me” flag gone and the American flag flying on its own.

Does this mean that my anti-Obama neighbor is experiencing a change of heart? A moment, at the very least, of shame? I’m not sure I believe it. Maybe it’s just laundry day for the offensive flag. But for the moment, it does add a bit of celebration to my little anniversary.

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Saying goodbye to an obsolete old friend

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Saying goodbye to an obsolete old friend

Years ago, one of the things I did for fun was to make cassette tape collections of music for listening at leisure, in the car or at home, for parties where there’d be dancing or parties where there wouldn’t, etc. There was a bit of an art to it, choosing the right tunes in the right order so that each new song would make an interesting “segue” from the last, keeping the party rolling, and being able to eyeball just how much time was left on a tape so that the last song on the side wouldn’t be cut off and wouldn’t leave a big gap of silence at the end.

Then came Sony’s MiniDisc system, featuring a little CD about 2-1/2 inches across encased in flat arrangement of hard plastic. Each one held a convenient 74 minutes of music AND (important advantage over cassettes) the order of the songs could be rearranged, songs deleted or added at will, so that if some “segue” didn’t quite work, I could fix it. As with cassettes, I could record straight from LP or CD with the MiniDisc recorder hooked up to my stereo. I guess it was around 1998 when I bought into this technology, and I’ve still got about 50 of these little “MD 74” discs sitting around, the portable player that runs them, and the adapter to get that to work through a car’s cassette player.

It’s been years since I’ve had a car with a cassette player, but what REALLY killed the MiniDisc was iTunes. Now I have an iPod Touch, a smaller gadget than the Walkman-sized portable MiniDisc player, which holds THOUSANDS of songs, HOURS upon HOURS of songs, in as many different playlists as I like without even needing a pile of MiniDiscs handy for swapping out. The only thing I’ve lost is the ability to record from an LP (and I could pay for that technology if I wanted to take the trouble), but I’ve gained a wonderful amount of convenience and flexibility. So today the dusty old MiniDisc recorder is out of my possession and on to the land of antique curiosities.