SAD Winter

The trivia question for this week is, What Beatles sad song became their 20th and last number-one song in the United States? This was in June 1970 and was the last single they released as a group.

This is not just about me. I’m fortunate enough to have a relatively mild form of what is commonly referred to as SAD. SAD—seasonal affective disorder—is also known as winter depression or winter blues, but it can happen to some people in summer. it’s a mood disorder in which people who have normal mental health throughout most of the year experience depressive symptoms, usually at the same time each year and most commonly in the winter. From 4 to 6 percent have winter depression and another 10 to 20 percent have mild SAD. SAD is four times more common in women than in men. Although some children and teenagers get SAD, it usually doesn’t start in people younger than age 20. Your chance of getting SAD goes down as you get older. If you know someone who suffers from seasonal affective disorder, try to understand that it is recognized as a legitimate form of depression and that when dealing with those who do suffer from it, it’s real. I worked with a woman once who had it to such a degree that she would start crying at any given moment for no apparent reason. Thankfully, I am not that bad.

September begins the moody season for me, although some people who know me would say my moody season is every season, just different to some measure, and I guess I would have to agree. I would add, however, that my moods take a definite uptick in spring as my hope does spring eternal, at least until mid- to late-August when I realize September is lurking just around the corner. If September comes, can winter be far behind?

Although experts were initially skeptical, this condition is now recognized as a common disorder. SAD’s prevalence in the U.S. also varies with geography and increases as you go further north, ranging from 1.4 percent in Florida to 9.9 percent in Alaska.  A lot of causes have been proposed, and one study looked at whether some people could be predisposed to SAD based on personality traits such as high levels of neuroticism, agreeableness, openness, and avoidance-oriented coping disorders.

I love watching football. I played football from around the age of 8 through college. Until the last two years of my college days, I lived in a cold climate, and I sometimes wonder if my love of the game and my desire to smash into another human being “hell bent for leather,” as my old football coach use to say (and in those days it was leather) had anything to do with my general disagreeableness in winter. I wonder if I had lived in Florida, would I have preferred croquet or perhaps dashing about the green lawn in my tennis shorts under the palm trees for a bit of badminton perhaps.

At this very moment, I could probably program an entire 4 hours of radio music with nothing but sad tunes such as Elton John’s “Sad Songs (Say So Much).”

I’ll have a little more on SAD, some rock and roll news and history, and the answer to the trivia question in the podcast. I hope you join me on the shores of Rambling Harbor.


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The Pet Rock

The trivia question for this week is, Besides the Pet Rock, something else was a big fad in 1975. It was something you wore, and if it was blue it meant you were happy. The answer is in the podcast.

A few days ago I posted on Facebook that I could no longer put pen to paper about Donald Trump, that even seeing his name in print made my stomach churn in very hostile ways. A friend on Facebook said, “Dan, it’s time to give it a break and take up a hobby, like rock collecting,” and I thought that was a brilliant idea.

Remember the Pet Rock? The Pet Rock was a genius of an idea conceived in a bar in Bonny Doon. Bonny Doon is a misleading name because it’s not located in Ireland or Scotland or any place you might think would use the term Bonny and Doon in the same breath. Nope, Bonny Doon is located in Santa Cruz County, California, at an elevation of 1,476 feet. The 2010 United States census, the most recent census figure I could find, reported Bonny Doon’s population was 2,678. It was founded in the 1850s as a logging camp, and John Burns, a Scotsman living in Santa Cruz, named Bonny Doon after a line in Robert Burns’s song “The Banks O’ Doon,” which refers to the Doon River in Scotland.

I’ve had a lot of ideas conceived in bars, but none I would ever remotely consider a stroke of genius. So here is this man named Gary Dahl, sitting in a bar at 1,476 feet above sea level in a town that had fewer people than most neighborhoods around the Bonny Town of Boston. I imagine he might have been downing a pint or two while listening to his friends’ complaints about their pets, and some place between pint one and pint two—at this point I should mention that Gary Dahl may not have even been a drinking man, but I think it adds something to the story—he came up with the idea of a Pet Rock. A rock would not need to be fed, walked, bathed, or groomed and would not die, become sick, or become unruly. Dahl figured it would be the perfect pet and joked about it with his friends. But he also took his idea seriously and composed an “instruction manual” for a pet rock. The manual was full of puns, gags, and plays on words that referred to the rock as an actual pet.

The rock was a smooth stone from Mexico’s Rosarito Beach. Pet Rocks were marketed like live pets and had their own custom cardboard boxes, with straw bedding and breathing holes for the “animal.” The fad lasted about six months, ending after a short uptick in sales around the 1975 Christmas season, but by February 1976, they were discounted due to lower sales. Dahl sold 1.5 million Pet Rocks for $4 each and became a millionaire. He died on March 23, 2015, at the age of 78. Rosebud Entertainment currently holds the United States trademark rights to the Pet Rock.

I followed my Facebook friend’s advice to give myself a break from Trump and decided to take it a step further. There are a number of expressions comparing someone’s intelligence to a turnip, and most of us have come to realize that Donald Trump is not in possession of one of the most gifted intellects on this planet (all ideas expressed here are copyrighted, and I am the sole owner). But if a genius marketer or manufacturer would like to negotiate, I am available to offer a money-making idea. If you haven’t guessed—Are you ready for this? Wait for it. Here it comes!—it’s the Trump Turnip!

In the podcast, I’ll have the answer to the trivia question, maybe some political venting, and as always some rock and roll news and history. I hope you’ll join me on the bonny shores of Rambling Harbor.


The Poet, Not the Politician. Please Pass the Idiom.

Connors and Brooksby farms S3ptember 2015 020 goatMy mother regularly used the expression you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, an expression I’m sure most of us have heard in one form or another. Its general meaning is that you can’t make something good out of something bad.

I’ve been thinking about idioms lately and where that particular one originated and discovered there’s a lot of conjecturing as to just where it did begin. The range is someplace between the devil and the deep blue sea, from the dying words of Hamlet to the Reverend Jonathan Swift in 1801, but an English satirist named Stephen Gosson seems to have made a like statement centuries earlier in The Ephemerides of Phialo in 1579. But one thing I do know for certain is that my mother used it time and time again. Usually, when I wanted something better than what I had.

I have also decided that you cannot make a political essayist out of a poet, at least not a happy poet. I have spent the last few months primarily writing about politics and particularly about my disdain for and fear of Donald Trump who might possibly become president of our country. To be perfectly clear about this, I have in no way tried to make a silk purse out of him and would never insult a pig by any comparison.

In my attempt to convey how I feel about this demon who struts and frets his hour upon the stage, I have all but lost track of who I am. I am a person with a proclivity for poetry, prose, poems, promulgation, and apparently alliteration, and that seems to make me happy as a clam. (If you’re wondering why clams are happy, this may shed some light on that. The original version is “as happy as a clam at high water.” Hide tide is when clams are free from predators.)

My politics are similar to my religion. I consider myself a spiritual person but almost never go to church, but I pay attention and I do pray. I consider myself a political person but never campaign for anyone, but I pay attention and I do vote.

In last week’s podcast, I had a meltdown. As I said then, I was sick of self-obsessing about Donald Trump, and it was true then and it rings truer now. I also realize that mostly I am preaching to the choir because most of my readers already agree with me and the ones who don’t have left me high and dry. (The phrase “preaching to the choir” probably had its origin as “preaching to the converted,” first cited in the works of John Stuart Mill. He used the phrase in An Examination of Sir W. Hamilton’s Philosophy, 1867.)

Now as we approach the eleventh hour of the political process, I have decided to let sleeping dogs lie and return to the poetry, prose, music-loving, storytelling person I am and have my blogs and podcast be what I have always intended them to be, informative and fun. I hope and pray and will vote that Donald Trump is here today and gone tomorrow.

On the shores of Rambling Harbor, there will be a few more idle thoughts on one thing or another and some rock and roll history, but of course, that’s not carved in stone. I hope you’ll join me there.This way to the shores of Rambling Harbor

Copyright © 2016 Daniel (Dan) Sanders. All rights