After a bad week, I heard the news on Friday that Neil Peart had passed away. 

My mom and I moved to the Chicago suburbs in 1978, thorougly uprooting me from my Mayberry like life in rural New England. My hometown was an example of late 70's post-industrial collapse. No jobs, no surviving industry, and being located in a valley, no radio signals. We'd get one rock station, that specialized in 60's hippie and acid rock and distantly, on a good night, a pop station out of Westerly, Rhode Island.

And then I got dropped into Chicagoland, and the rock scene there was heavily influenced by Canadian imports. Moxy, Pat Travers, April Wine, Triumph and this little band called Rush.

While my school peers listened to more mainstream bands, the nerds at my school all listened to Rush, among other bands. WLUP would occasionally throw one of their songs on the air, and it was always a good time. While Rush wasn't mainstream, it was at least well known enough in Chicago that you weren't completely ostracized for listening to them.

All of that changed in 1982, when we moved back to New England and the valley of shadow of radio signals. Coincidentally almost in time with Rush's release of their album, Signals. Then, my age peers didn't want anything to do with Rush or Geddy Lee's shrieky vocals. The content of Peart's lyrics was of little interest to them. Rush became my solitary pleasure. The music I listened to alone, frequently when I had time to read the liner notes and contemplate the message that Peart, Lee and Lifeson were sending.

Peart, in his younger years was an admirer or Ayn Rand, and although by his own admission he parted ways with her philosphy, he remained a staunch libertarian. And that belief shone through in his lyrics, and in a way, infected me. Meanwhile, the 80's and 90's rolled on. The albums kept coming, life was good.

Until it wasn't. Peart was rocked by two tragedies, the death of his only daughter and his wife. Rush ended their tour early and went on hiatus. I didn't know it at the time, but Peart took to riding his motorcycle around North and Central America, twice, trying to decide whether he wanted to live or die. As usual, great pain can be channeled into art. And he wrote about his journey in a book, Ghost Rider.

Hiatus usually means a band is done. But around the beginning of 2001 I started hearing rumors of a new Rush album. And sure enough it came to be. My favorite band was back and hopefully would be forever. 

But if you live long enough, you get to see your heroes die.

Peart officially retired in 2015. It was explained that he retired because he could no longer perform at the level he expected of himself due to tendonitis. Of course, it's easy to now surmise that his retirement was related to his diagnosis of brain cancer. 

So, here's Rush being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, an honor that was long denied them. It's a nice snapshot of a happier time and acknowledgement that this little quirky trio from Toronto is, was and always will be cool.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTAqCEPMHEg


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Thanks for this Ray, I listened to Rush as a kid and didn't know the whole story.
I've known you 15 years and there is still so much I don't know about you. I had no idea you were a huge Rush fan. Sweeeeet!

Thank you for writing and sharing this snapshot.

Losing Neil, man... this one hurts.
Ouch. I thought he left the band to write steampunk fiction (which he did do in the past few years). He was an amazing musician and inventor - his drum rigs were unreal.
 

Christmas is just a couple of days away and the hustle and bustle of the end of the year dash is almost over. Once Christmas is over we're into the week between, an almost non-week for those of us who have to work.

My schedule has been overbooked due to Microsoft ending support for Windows 7. We shall not mention Vista and 8.X and their failed promises. Most of the computers I am responsible for are updated, the remainder are scheduled and I'm on track to be legally covered on January 14th when 7 hits end of life. But things have been a little hectic. Not frantic, but there's been little time to rest and enjoy the holiday activities. Sorry if I've missed you these last few weeks. The Christmas cards never got sent, sorry. But rest assured you've all been in my thoughts.

So have a Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Joyful Kwanzaa, and/or a Happy Festivus. And to all a safe, happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!

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12/23 '19 2 Comments
It sounds like you've got things well under control, surely due to your thoughful planning and general kick-assery. If you find you need any last-minute help updating computers, I'm happy to lend a hand, just ask! I upgraded mine from Windows 7 to 10 last week while I was on the road for work and I was shocked at how pleasant it was. Still getting used to the Windows X interface, but I don't hate it.

Merry Christmas and Happy Yule, my friend. I hope things settle down soon, and you can take a breath to enjoy the season for a moment or three.
Jill "xtingu" Knapp 12/24 '19edited
I use classic shell for my more cretaceous end users. My work computer is going last since I need a reliable machine if something goes kablooie. I've had a 10 tablet for a couple of years now. I built a new home computer that is also 10, back in May. Immediately after I stood up the new home computer my old one went belly up. So I've been on 10 for some months. It's interface is kludgey for administration and the program list begs for shortcuts on the desktop. But it is much more usable than 8.X.
Ray Conrad 12/24 '19
 

I recently had a friend describe me as a "straight arrow" in a vaguely critical way to someone who passing around their combustible drug of choice. I.E. "Ray doesn't partake, he's a straight arrow."

Pardon my social blindness, but since when was not choosing to indulge in your drug a decision worthy of criticism?

The definition of straight arrow being: A person righteously devoted to clean or conventional living.

Clean? Meh. Conventional? Hardly. Admittedly, my quirks are fairly mundane and my record is clean enough for the government to think I pass a sniff test. Perhaps this is owing to most people not knowing me very well. 

I guess I'm okay with that.

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10/30 '19 3 Comments
Don't forget, m'dear: When people criticize like that, it's almost always a reflection of how they secretly feel about themselves. Someone feels ashamed about their drug use, it seems.

I think you're pretty fuckin' cool, wacky tabacky or not. :)
Jill beat me to it.
Well that's some hot high school level bullcrap. Like, you can be 90° from every other norm, but since you passed on huffing a combustible somehow that makes you a straight arrow? LOL

I know there are some folks who aren't comfortable with their own choices unless everyone around is making the same choice, but they need to sit with that discomfort *with their mouths shut*. Anything else is bullying.
Anne Mollo 11/1 '19
 

I woke at three in the morning to answer a call of nature. I'm one of those people who has to have moving air on me at all times when I sleep. So, in a pitch black room I open my eyes and I see a halo of light in front of me. I quickly blink to see if I'm hallucinating, but nope, it's still there.

Because I'm me, I alternately close one eye and then the next. The halo disappears when my right eye is closed. Hmm, says I. What fresh Hell is this? I lay there while my sleep-addled brain turns this problem over.

Finally, I realize that my right eye has the perfect paralax to see past the spinner of the fan and be able to observe the faint spark from the brushes in the fan motor glowing in the dark room.

Cool.

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10/18 '19 7 Comments
I'm a fan.
Thomas Boutell 10/18 '19
What you did there? I see it.
Ray Conrad 10/20 '19
Getting old sucks. I find myself second guessing _every_ weird sensation no matter how clear the cause is.
And dreading every doctor's appointment.
Ray Conrad 10/20 '19
I probably would - if I was making any. *cough*
That is cool. But yeah, it sucks we're now at that age where our first line of questioning often is "Wait a sec. Am I having a stroke?"
Too true. We're all riding out the clock until it's adult diaper time.
Ray Conrad 10/20 '19
 

People ruin everything.

totally  would have worn, ironically, a shirt that said, "Save the Planet Eat the Children". But some political fringe case / mental illness sufferer made it go mainstream before I could wear it with a proud smirk.

I guess I'm going to have to go with "Remember, Napalm Sticks To Kids".

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10/4 '19 5 Comments
If I got my news right, turns out she was a Lyndon LaRouche plant (of all things).

If someone thought a mere white lady saying "Eat the babies" was gonna derail a gal who grew up in NYC, they were dumb. Regardless how anyone feels about AOC--I think she (AOC) came off as pretty concerned and compassionate, but certainly not derailed.

I was amused by the whole thing. :-)

"Save the Planet: Eat the babies" is pretty awesome. 😂
"Save the Planet: Eat the babies" has already been done. It's called "A Modest Proposal", you've probably heard of it ... :)
Jonathan Swift. Of course his proposal was only limited to the Irish. This latest iteration doesn't seem to have that restriction.
Ray Conrad 10/17 '19
Well, now we're all running out of potatoes ...
I'm not going to engage on the climate hysteria front. Mostly because I'm old enough to remember the predictions of massive famine by the 1990's, no summers in London by the 2000s and New York City underwater by 2019.

To her point, there is no resource ill that could not be resolved with less people on the planet. But western society has no comparative sins on that count. We might want to get China and India on board before we start the genocide plan.
Ray Conrad 10/22 '19
 

Just wanted to take a second to report how happy I am that I left Farcebook. Yes, I miss social anouncements. But word of events generally reaches me, given time. And I don't have to waste processing cycles and emotional energy on the latest trauma du jour, real or imagined.

In general, I've been happier not knowing about the minutiae of my peer group's lives.

That is all.

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6/17 '19 2 Comments
Yes. Yes yes yes yes. I don't miss it at all. It's so nice not knowing about stuff.

It's frustrating that I am forced to keep a personal FB account just so I can administer our Hot Breakfast page, but I administer it via the Pages app so I never have a reason to go to anyplace other than our page.

I read an article in the NY Times this morning how FB is building a new cryptocurrency. Yeah, I want a company with the world's shittiest privacy practices issuing my money. Hard hard pass.
Same. I passively wait to see what happens to FB eventually.
Karen Kuhl 7/3 '19edited