The cats and I each have items used to exercise our paws.
My period of relevance has passed. I’m enjoying my life very much, but I know I am out-of-sync with current culture. I drive, but mostly within a six-mile radius that spans my little town. I have used computers for decades, but I didn’t get into using a portable one until last year. I don’t own a PDA or iPod, and my cell phone has big buttons that are easier for my aging eyes to see. Though I don’t follow news closely, I get the information I need by reading parts of the newspapers (free) over tea at the roadhouse near my job. I like the letters to the editor best. It’s the pre-history of Twitter. As much as I adore and have learned from Bugs Bunny, I was never a good hare. I’m a better tortoise.
(Speaking of tortoises and hares, I have a low boredom-threshold when I’m waiting to be called for work. Here’s a 70 year-old cartoon I watched while waiting. The director, Tex Avery and I have the same birthday, though his was in 1908.)
Though I am getting old, something about me will remain timeless and unconquerable. It’s a gift I was born with, one that I’ve had all my life. I’m curious about a wide range of subjects. It takes me years to satisfy my curiosity about things I wish to know about or do better. Some of my interests require thousands of hours of practice, like music and writing. They can never be mastered. I can only become more proficient in more styles over time. I’ll always be working on something new.
I also want to know what’s up ahead, for me and for everyone else. Even when I’m depressed, upset or afraid, I am still curious about the future. I make guesses about it all the time, and am as delighted to be wrong about it as when I guess right. Nothing has ever made me want to stop tuning in to see what will happen next. Just writing that last sentence made my heart rate go up.
Fortunately, I live in a town that celebrates being old and new simultaneously. We have the highest percentage of homes and buildings constructed during the Victorian period in this country, and the highest number of them outside of San Francisco. At a time when physical printing is in steep decline compared to digital info dispersal, the largest private employer here is an 80 year-old paper mill. Paper is old tech, but the mill is going to expand into generating power from burning their waste products. That’s a new technology, and it’s a big topic of conversation both in the newspapers and face-to-face. The median age here is 47. New tech tends to be more upsetting to those who are older. I like new tech if it works, but it depends on what the costs are and what you have to give up in order to adopt it.
Port Townsend has a high percentage of alternative-energy projects and hybrid, biodiesel and electric vehicles, but we also have a school for training people to build wooden boats. There are more sail and paddle-powered vessels than motorboats in the bay. A fair number ride bikes here, but many more choose the lowest tech transport alternative whenever possible. They walk along country roads miles from town, even in pouring rain.
My enjoyment of Leo Kottke (both personally and professionally) fits right in. One reason some of you haven’t heard of him is because he performs more for the love of doing it than for the fame or money. He doesn’t allow merchandise at his concerts. He thinks buying and selling distracts an audience from the purpose of the gathering, which is the playing of and listening to the music. He makes records (CDs) because he hasn’t got time to visit every town, and because he likes recordings. He learns new techniques from listening to recordings of his favorite players, and from watching and collaborating with them. In his four-decade professional career, he has performed with every kind of guitarist imaginable, from all musical genres.
Leo is both high and low tech at the same time. He plays acoustic 6 and 12-string guitars with his naked fingers, but the guitars are always amplified with pickups, and their sound is always modified with a small amount of chorus and phase.
There’s been a nice side effect to having seen Leo perform last week. I’m noodling and scratching around on the guitar more bravely, trying out different tunings and new fingerings. I hope you don’t mind that I’m posting a bit less often right now. I have a lot of practicing to do.