Thursday, March 31, 2011

What's that Smell??

I got up this morning, a little bit later than I should have. I came down, poured a coffee and threw some frozen waffles into the toaster. I got a couple things ready in the living room where I've been setting up shop lately, logged into my computer, started my necessary programs, and I heard my waffles pop up.

I took a sip of my coffee and headed out to the kitchen. As I rounded the doorway I was punched in the face by a memory associated with the smell of toaster waffles. They say smell is the sense most powerfully associated with memory, and it's moments like this that prove it.

I'd mentioned before that I was never a great student, and that was never more apparent than shortly after the 6th grade. I'd done some hard-core slacking off that year, and got a failing grade for the fourth quarter of Science. I passed the other quarters, but only barely, so I didn't know whether or not I'd passed for the year. I took it in stride; calm, cool, and collective, as was my way.

Several days later, we got a letter in the mail that my disappointed and mildly angry mother read to me. It wasn't required, but strong recommended that I go to summer school, as I had passed science by the skin of my teeth with a D- average. Further, was the fact that going to summer school had a price associated with it, and I knew my folks didn't exactly have cash laying around. Phew! I thought. Summer school would have interfered with our trips to the MDC pool in Brighton that we frequented every day of every summer for the last few years.

I sat at the table, feeling like I was invincible, having dodged the summer school bullet. I was eating my waffles, feeling very pleased with myself and probably acting the part. I was feeling great, right up until I said something, or did something that pissed off my already angry mother. I can honestly tell you, I don't remember what it was that I did, but I knew I'd stepped in it as soon as it happened... In a tone that tied my stomach in a knot, a tone that I couldn't begin to describe, she said "...oh yeah?"

She got on the phone and called my father at work. I listened, hoping that he'd tell her to forget it, that we didn't have the money for it. "I think that's a good idea," I heard him say over the phone. Crushed, I started to cry as I tried to eat my now-cold waffles. I tried to ride out the storm, thinking it was a scare tactic. I moved a waffle bit around in the syrup, and squished some butter between the tines of my fork, in an effort to distract myself until it blew over.

Alas, it did not.

I went to summer school a couple days later. I went again for failing science the summer between 7th and 8th grade, and again for failing English (of all things) before entering high school. I don't remember anything about the events leading up to the second two bouts with summer school, except that there had been no two ways about those two times. I didn't pass at all, I was going to go to summer school, or stay back a grade. Perhaps having gone through the first round thickened the skin enough that by then it was no big deal.

You might think that reliving that memory this morning, as I walked into the kitchen would be an unpleasant one, but sending me to summer school was the right decision. Were I the parent in that particular instance, I'd have done the same thing without a moment's hesitation.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Join Something!

As some of you may know, I'm participating in an A to Z challenge starting in April over at my Brew Log. There are over 600 people participating in the A to Z challenge, and I started thinking about the amount of traffic this could generate.

I decided to look around for other such challenges or blog chains or rings to participate in to keep me writing even when I don't really feel like it... And they are kind of difficult to find Google search results gave me a few useful results, but most of them had expired or were inactive.

I decided to put together a blog where people who are hosting or participating in these sorts of challenges can go and advertise them. People looking for something to join can come and look through things that are available that they can join. The blog is called Join Something! and it's just getting off the ground. There's some basic information there right now, and I'm trying to get as much content on there as possible, cause on Monday, BlogMakeOver will be redesigning it for me!

If you know of a challenge or blog chain that is looking for more participants, please go there and post a comment about to help get their word out. Make sure to check back there often to see if there's anything going on that you'd like to join!

Friday, March 25, 2011

15 Albums I'd Take to a Desert Island

Mr. Jim Suldog posted this, at the end of which, he asked that his readers do the same. Being an opinionated music snob, I couldn't resist but take up his call!

Music, for me, is more than just something to listen to, it pokes at nerves. It's in many cases as potent as a drug for me. As I approach this post, I sort of wonder if I will be able to choose only 15 albums. We shall see!

Ok, so I'm finishing up this post, and I have to apologize, I could not stick to the rules... I can't pick 15 albums, and I think it's because of the way the music industry works these days. It used to be you bought an album, and you listened to it. It was a pain in the ass to skip tracks, cause you had to line the needed up on the vinyl just right, or you had to fast forward through the tape and sometimes you missed it, etc... These days, you make your own albums, you buy songs one at a time, you don't have to GO to the record store, you just punch in a few numbers and you have your song immediately on three or four devices...

Another great thing about an album used to be that after listening to it a few times, it became associated with whatever you were doing, so when you hear certain tracks now, it brings back memories of what you used to do when listening. Now, You listen to just songs, not albums, and half the time, I'm not even sure what the name of the album whatever I'm listening to came off of!

So, sorry for deviating, but I had to, otherwise this would have been a very short post.

15 - Red Hot Chili Peppers "Stadium Arcadium"

This is a two CD album, and I have listened to the entire thing without skipping a single track countless times. Like Mr. Dog, I absolutely love a solid bass line, and Flea plays the base better than most people do anything.

Although the first popular single off this album (I think?) was Dani California, I picked up this album specifically for these tracks: (don't worry, they're clothed in these videos. ...mostly anyway).

Alright, so I posted three youtube videos here, and when I did a preview of the page, it completely bogged down. If I'm going to do 15 albums, I'm going to want to share some of the music, but even at one or two videos per, this post would be unreadable... So I'll just link to them.

Tell Me Baby and  Snow (Hey Oh) and Hump De Bump. I do not dance, but if I ever did, Hump De Bump might be the song that'd get me to do it.

I could probably post a video for every single song on that album, but there are 28 tracks in total... Do yourself a favor and poke around on youtube for them yourself.

14.Queen - A Kind of Magic

Queen is without a doubt (in my opinion) one of the most under rated bands of all times, and it sickens me that their defined by "We will rock you" and "We are the champions"... And I cringe whenever "You're my best friend" comes on the radio. 

I was born in the last 3 months of the 70s, so I missed a lot of good music when it was new. When I discovered Queen, I was probably around 12 or so, and I was playing a lot of video games.

I can't listen to this album without thinking about Mario Kart, or Road Rash, two racing games.

Gimme the Prize makes me want to get in a 80s style mustang and just drive really fast somewhere.

13. U2 - Achtung Baby

When I was young, long before I was old enough to head out to the record store to buy my own stuff, my mother would go to concerts from time to time with a friend of hers. She went to see U2 on their Achtung Baby tour, and I've been jealous ever since. This is probably my favorite album of theirs.

I don't know what I like so much about U2, perhaps it has to do with my Irish roots.

The first track Zoo Station has got to be one of the best songs to start an album with. I love the build up it has... very simply bass line, weird sound, some creepy ambient noises, then some one drumming on something that sounds like a cast iron soil pipe, then some kind of "red alert" noise... Then Bono just making sounds, as is his way... The song itself gets your foot tapping, gets you in the mood to listen to more music. Makes you think "I'm ready" which is a theme repeated over and over again in the lyrics. 

12. Tom Petty

Ok, so no album here. I can't choose, so I'd probably go with a greatest hits album.

Tom Petty was probably one of my first favorite artist as a kid, when I stopped listening exclusively to the Monkees... I Full Moon Fever was the first album I ever bought myself, followed by Into the Great Wide Open.

Really, there's nothing exactly incredible about his music. I can't point to something and say "he's the best at this part right here", except that he writes music that's catchy, nice, unpretentious, and appeals to just about anyone. He seems like a very normal American guy with ordinary, every day wants and desires. I'm willing to be that he could relate to most average Joes.

Still though, I can't help but think of the girl at the beginning of the Silence of the Lambs singing (badly) along with American Girl

11. The Eagles - Any. I'll take whatever Eagles album you choose for me. I like it all, even "Hotel California" which is also one of those songs that sort of defines the band for people who don't know them very well...

10. Alice In Chains - Dirt

This is the best album when you need to smash something, or wanna just plain yell at someone. Them Bones is exactly that kind of song. Dam That River is a great followup to that song.

They show another side of their skills with a slower song called Down in a Hole on that album too. This link I gave is to their unplugged version.

9. Pink Floyd
I'd have to find a compilation or something, I can't choose an album... 

Again, another defined by their lesser fans for a song or two. Another brick in the wall is one of those songs that everyone knows by the age of 12, and can't really remember listening to it. It's not so much the song that I like, although I do, but the video of it strikes a chord with me. If you haven't watched it, just click that link and skim through it. There's a bunch of nameless faceless people slowly drudging along, walking in a line, and they walk off the end of the path and into a meat grinder.

I was commuting to work one day when I worked in down town Boston, and that video became quite understandable to me. I got off the commuter rail with the hundred or so other people, and we walked the length of the platform, only as quickly as the slowest person in front of us. Everyone looks down as they walk, no one is looking around, cause things are just so important that they don't have enough brain power to enjoy or absorb anything that is of no consequence. Only difference between my day and that video is those people got ground up, and escaped the drudgery.

Wish you were here is a great tune that's full of pearls of wisdom, and it's easy / fun to play on the guitar.

8. The Vince Guaraldi Trio - It's Christmas Charlie Brown
I'm going to be honest, I'm not much for Christmas music. Actually, there are maybe two or three I don't mind. Christmas is going to happen whether I want it to or not, I've come to learn, so I might as well enjoy something that suits the season.

7. Lynyrd Skynyrd
Once again, I can't choose just one album. I'd have to just cobble something together on a DVD to bring or something, because there's just too much to choose from, and it's all really good.

I say "Once again" here once again (twice!) cause once again, this is a band who is recognized by songs that I could do without ever hearing again. While I don't mind Free Bird, or Sweet Home Alabama, they are NOT the difinitive Skynyrd anthems that they're made out to be.

Simple man was one of the first songs I learned to play on the guitar, and I have to say, it's a simple song, but sounds great and gives a strong message.

If I ever get off my ass and really learn to play the guitar, I hope I'm able to play things like "I know a little" and "I need you". I already play the latter there, but it's bad.

The thing I like best about Lynyrd Skynyrd is that they embody the southern sort of bad ass tough guy image, but if you listen to their music and how good they all had to be with their instruments and how much work it would have taken to get all seven of them to work so well together... These guys had to have no life what so ever. "Let's go kick those Yankee asses! ...right after my guitar lesson...".

6. Celine Dion - My Heart Will Go On. I'd definitely bring this album to my desert island so I could grind sand into it, and stomp on it and smash it with a rock. I'm glad her heart will go on, i just wish her vocal chords would stop.

5. Jimi Hendrix - Experience Hendrix

I think this probably goes without saying, but Hendrix was quite an amazing guitarist.

Most of his best stuff isn't in the mainstream of course, but even the stuff you hear on the radio all the time is pretty damn good.

One of the greatest boxed sets I have ever had, was a Jimi set, and I can't find it to save my life. I don't remember what it was called, I don't remember where I left it and I can't find it on the Internet... But it was great.

Jimi was playing a lot of his songs, and many songs that were just great old blues songs with other great blues artists like BB King, and Stevie Ray Vaughn. THAT would be the one I'd bring with me to my island, if I could find it again!

Little wing is one of my favorite tunes that he does, I just wish it was a little longer.

4. The Counting Crows - August and Everything After

This album was probably best known for the track "Mr. Jones" and I remember that you couldn't get away from that song when it came out. At the time, I was not a fan, and I found it extremely frustrating that the song was on everywhere I went.

I don't remember why I ended up listening to the album, but I'm glad I did. Since then, The Counting Crows have been one of my favorite bands of all time. I can't think of a single song of theirs that I don't like. I think what I like about them is sort of the same thing that I liked about Tom Petty, most of their music is just plain nice. Nothing pretentious, nothing abrasive, etc... Their lyrics are often very clever and deep too.

3. The Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream

The Smashing Pumpkins were a solid favorite of mine back in high school, and this is probably one of the few albums I've had that really brings me back to listen to.

I was just getting into music, just learning how to play the guitar, and really loved the feeling of the total wall of distortion that they played with.

Billy Corgan, back when he had hair, used to look somewhat like I did some 60 pounds and 15 years ago. I actually had a couple of the kids believing that he was my uncle.

He doesn't have the best voice, I will admit that. It's high pitched, and very nasal, and by those descriptors, I really would expect that I'd hate it... but I don't. I have no explanation.

Mayonnaise is my favorite track on this album.

2. Clutch - The Elephant Riders

While this is not exactly one of my favorite bands, I think it fills a void that I haven't covered with the other albums yet.

One of my favorite tracks on there is the Soapmakers. It's very bass-heavy and strong over tones of Frank Zappa.

When this album came out, I was in high school. Similarly to the Smashing Pumpkins album, when I listen to it, it reminds me of hanging out at the house with my friends, watching MTV and making model cars.

I also smoked a pipe for a little while back then, tobacco only, of course. Even though the tempo of the album is quick and heavyish, it makes me think about easier times, and relaxes me.

1. Pearl Jam - Ten
This was one of my favorite albums for a very, very long time. This album defined Pearl Jam for years, and they've done everything they can since then to not come close to repeating it.

Pretty much every single track on this album was good, so I won't link any one, cause I'd have to link them all.

Ok, good, so there. I'm done. 

That was actually a really difficult post to make, I had a very hard time coming up with albums, as I'm sure you noticed! 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Caveman Vs. Cavewomen

Image Credit
People the world over like to talk about the differences between men and women. We've all heard it in movies, emails, conversations, etc. and largely it's one side complaining about the other. "My wife buys things we don't need just because they're on sale," or "My husband wont stop for directions!" and so on.

It was explained to me by someone who's references I've never checked, that we are what we are because of the way things were in the caveman days. Men went out and hunted, women stayed home and foraged and took care of the babies.

Now, neither one of us are experts in sociology or paleontology or anything really, so this could all just be wrong. I haven't done any research on it, or looked it up on the interweb, nor have I talked about it with anyone who may have more of a clue than us. This whole post could just be full of bologna (which my mind wants to spell as bullony, by the way. If you see it spelled that way, just move on. My mind doesn't always listen to my brain.)

I am, however, a staunch believer in logic, and if it makes enough sense, I'm perfectly happy to move along in life giving suggestions like the caveman explanation at least some credit, somewhere on par with the credit we give to rules of thumb.

This caveman explanation is at very least a convenient way for us all to look at the opposite sex and say "See? It's not my fault, it's because of cavemen!".

Some of these stereotypes are either unfair or just plain wrong, but many of them are founded in truth, I think. For instance, when I go to a store, I have some idea of what I'm looking for, I find something that suits my needs, and I buy it and go.

Cave men were similar. Assuming it's true that the cave men were the hunters, they weren't exactly given the opportunity to be picky about what they were going out for. They suited up, got their spears, and went off with an objective in mind. Kill to feed the family, or die trying. When approaching their kill, they didn't have opportunity to squeeze it, turn it over, inspect it's lining, rub it on their faces, smell it, and try to find a better specimen. That would get them eaten.

I imagine the event would have gone something like this for caveman-me:
"Need food for family. Want meat. Must go where meat-food is." I grab my spear, put on my furs and head out to the fields. I find the fields where I know the mammoths graze. I'm in luck, there's a small one nearby, and he's looking the other way. I and my crew could easily jump out and take this one down.

Clearly, we see the other larger mammoth a little further away, and while we could probably take that one down instead, it would be more difficult, and the little one would feed us for just as long before the left overs start to spoil. Prudently, we go with the one that's good enough to suit our needs.

This is exactly how I approach shopping for gifts.

"Need gift for kid. Want toy. Must go where toy-gift is." I grab my keys and wallet, put on my jacket and head out to the mall. I'm in luck, there are toys. I come to the nearest one, and while I can see that there are toys all over the freakin place, this one is closest, and it will suit my needs. Done deal.

The cave women on the other hand, get things done differently. They're saddled with the kids, so they're limited to safer forms of food procurement. They and their fellow cave women get together and forage for nuts and berries, and because the chances of their prey fighting back and killing them are low, they get to talk and make noise.

They pick the largest, ripest, berries. They turn each berry over in their hands, inspecting it for imperfections, discarding the yucky ones.

This contrast perfectly explains those situations where the couple are seen together in the mall, the women chatting and rifling through rack of clothes while the guy stares off annoyed. They're both on the same mission to get things, but the process is changed. She's still looking for the best version of what's available, and he's just looking for the quick and easy "good enough", and neither are getting the experience they prefer. The male likes the quiet "get in and get done" and the female likes the social interaction and the procurement of the best of what's available.

There are countless other comparisons, like men preferring rooms darker than women. Light blows the caveman's cover, whereas it helps the cave women to identify flawed berries. Men prefer not to talk as much cause talking at all could blow their cover. Men resort to violence faster than women, cause violence was their job, etc.

Again, I have no idea of the validity of these thoughts, and haven't even looked into it to see if it wasn't completely cooked up by this friend of mine, but a lot of it does stand to reason, and is at least convenient if not completely logical. Have you heard this before? Can you apply this explanation to any other real life man vs. women stereotypes?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Relaxation Hour

In stark contrast to Bucks Happy hour sound track, I find sitting here from 7 to 8 or so most nights, with a beer in my hand (lately, yet far less often than I'd like) and listening to a piece of classical music to try to bring my nerves down to a manageable level.

Tonight's beer is Wolaver's Oatmeal Stout.

The soundtrack is: Johann Christian Bach. Symphony for Double Orchestra in E flat major Op 18. ''Andante''

Probably not something one would quote in a year book, but a very nice easy piece to listen to.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Treasures of My Early Youth

When I was a kid, we weren't exactly floating in dough. We didn't have much money either. Fortunately children aren't quite as sensitive to that sort of thing, so I had no idea. I thought we lived in the coolest place cause we had a yard where my mother planted things like strawberries, cucumbers, green beans, green peppers and a few other things.

I thought we did the things we did, cause it was the cool thing to do. Everyone else had it all wrong! I'd tell my friends "You guys get orange juice that's already made? You should tell your parents to try the frozen stuff that you add water to and mash, THAT is the good stuff."

I grew up (mostly) in Brookline MA which is a smallish town bordered on 3 sides by Boston. The town itself is fairly well to do. A 5 bedroom, 2 bath, 2200 sq ft house in Brookline is generally around $900k+. Have a look for yourself:

My family was (and still is) blue collar hard working Irish. We rented, and during my earliest years it was in the projects. The projects in Brookline were literally 1 or 2 streets over from some of these super rich streets, with houses rich in history. Here's where I grew up. We were the third unit down. That parking lot on the right used to just be a paved common area where we played kickball and threw Frisbees. I learned to ride a bike there.

Some residents of Brookline found secret passage ways filled with civil war regalia, and some were part of the under ground rail road. My brothers installed HVAC in the house of a couple of the New Kids On The Block in the height of their fame. Which wasn't exactly our style music, so it was rather less than enjoyable. Their mother was very proud of them, and like to share their music, I'm told.

But again, as a kid, these things were just simple facts to be known, not badges of honor for some and points of disgrace for others. I knew who I was, and I knew what I enjoyed. I played in the park with the neighbors, I slid down the slides, I played on the swings and we had a great time. We knew we were different, and it never crossed our minds that it made any difference at all. ...which I still feel that it didn't, and shouldn't. I was called "honkey" a few times by one particularly belligerent kid. What a stupid thing to call someone, I thought. I didn't even look like a car! He was clearly challenged in the name-calling department. I took pity on him.

Image Credit 
We had the coolest garden hose, which looking back was just a simple green ...uh, garden variety... hose. The cool part though, wasn't the hose itself, it was the nozzle we had. It wasn't one of those usual pistol-grip ones with the lever, it was a straight brass nozzle that would control water flow when you twisted it.

In reality, it was nothing special, and we probably only had that instead of the more common one because it was cheaper, but in my mind, we had it cause it was the best! 

One day when I was about 7 years of age, the kid in the unit next-door, (and there's no easy way to say this without cracking a smile, so I'm just going to say it...) had his hose out at the same time I had mine out. (You're snickering, aren't you... I know, it's OK. I am too!) His hose was unadorned by any nozzle at all, but he thought he was something special, putting his thumb over half of the opening, making the water spray a little bit faster, but at an awkward angle.

He thought he'd challenge me to a water fight. He had no idea the technology I held in my fat little hands! I smiled and warned him it was a bad idea. He mistook my warning as cowardice, and sent a limp splash of water my way. It was refreshing. It was almost cute. I twisted the nozzle of my secret weapon and blew the glasses off his face. He went in crying, which was not what I expected, but a victory nonetheless. I'm sure I got in trouble for it, but I still say it was worth it.

Image Credit
Another wonderful thing that I had, that I thought was a one-of-a-kind was the turtle sandbox. I remember the day my folks bought it and brought it home. A little quick math, I think I couldn't have been more than 5.

We went to some enormous store with a super high ceiling, which in retrospect must have been Home Depot, and bought sand. I remember being very confused that we were buying big bags of sand, when there were tons of it at the beach that we could just bring home. I had it all figured out, I'd get my pail and new shovel, and we'd save money! I don't remember the rest of the discussion, but if it was anything like the ones I have with my kids, I'm sure I know how it ended.

I loved my sandbox, and so too did the kids in the neighborhood. We'd sit in it and dig, and fill back in, and dig, and rinse, repeat. I'm sure I was told countless times to put the cover back on when I was done, but for some reason, it never seemed to cross my mind when it should have. The problem with this sandbox that I and my friends loved so well was that the cats in the neighborhood (mine included) loved it too. It wasn't long before I was no longer allowed in my sandbox.

Image Credit
I had an extensive collection of Matchbox cars, and I loved every one of them. I had rules regarding my matchbox cars that were followed strictly. They were to be put away in my spiderman carrying bucket (which I recall was just a little different from that picture, though I might be wrong, so that pic will do.) when I was done with them, and they were not to be played with in the sandbox.

One day, I'd brought my matchbox car collection across the street to the "Co-op" playground where some other kids my age played. I thought they would love my collection and had visions of them ooing and ahhing at it. I knew we'd all have such great fun playing with my cars and they would beg me to come back again soon with them so we could play some more! And I was right! We had such a blast that day, and I was the hit of the party.

The next morning, I thought I'd grab my cars and head back over and pull an encore performance! I dressed and ate and went to scoop my spidey bucket, only to find that it was not there. In sudden horror, I realized I'd left it there over night, outside, and it had rained that night. I ran back over and found my bucket. It was lying in the muck, sideways, a pool of cold dirty water inside. I was missing most of my cars, and the ones that were still there were filthy and stickers were peeling.

I remember being crushed, thinking that I would never again see such a bounty of matchbox cars, because I was certain that these were the last ones on earth, and no one had ever seen them anywhere before except from my collection! Imagine my surprise, ten plus years later when I found out you can buy them by the dozen for pretty short money. I was literally shocked they were so cheap, and simultaneously a little bit jaded that no one could drop a few bucks to build my little collection back up.

I suppose it taught me a little responsibility and cause and effect. ...On the other hand, here I am 31 years old, blogging about it, it must have left some scar that could have been avoided. I went without my cars, but I don't remember anyone going without scratch tickets or cigarettes!

It's funny to watch my kids now, particularly the older one, cause she looks at things much the same was I used to. A very low quality doll from the dollar store gets damaged, and you might think the world stopped spinning. Part of me wants to tell her to forget it and go replace it with another of the same thing. The other part hopes that one day, I'll be reading her blog about the irreplaceable doll that met a tragic end. Followed shortly by a post that goes "They were only a dollar and you never replaced it?!"

Did you have something as a child you thought was irreplaceable?  

Friday, March 18, 2011

St. Patrick's day!

So I was a very non-attentive Boston Irish boy last night.

I am a HUGE fan of corned beef. ...let me rephrase that... I am a slightly-bigger-than-average devout fan of corned beef. I absolutely love a boiled dinner, and we DID buy one to make later this week... but about a week ago, I started getting the itch for gratuitous amounts of steak. We made plans to go to the Longhorn Steakhouse on my wife's "next day off" (she works nights) which happened to be last night.

We got cheese stuffed mushrooms, the wife got a burger that she said was tremendous, and I got a 22oz porterhouse with a side of asparagus. Both were amazing and the asparagus made my urine smell weird. Yes, as a little boy trapped in an older guy's body, funny smelling urine is a bonus. One of those "Yeesh, hahaha" experiences. Perhaps one of those exclusively male stupidity genes I had talked about before. 

But all seriousness aside... Can you fault me for this?:

The A to Z Challenge

I've been challenged. This is an A to Z challenge to post something every day, from A to Z. Details can be found here, and I'll probably put up a badge to promote it later on today. This is an attempt to keep myself writing even when I don't particularly feel like it.
u start asking "For how long?" I don't mean that normal things are difficult for me, I mean that there's an open challenge and I'm taking up arms to meet it.

This A to Z will be about Beer, and as such will be done over at my brewlog, so if you're interested in watching the posts fly, head over and follow. If you're not, then no harm no foul, though it'll likely be full of good stuff, as most beer-based stories are.

I encourage all of you to join in the challenge, I think it'll be a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to watching some of the other entries too, and it doesn't start until April, so you have some time to get things planned out!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

More Critters in my Yard!

A while back I did this post about the turtle in my yard laying eggs. This morning my wife caught this ...gaggle? of wild turkeys passing through the yard.

Boy, I can't wait for Thanksgiving... 

Time Slipping Away...

I am currently sitting, enjoying the peace of the house. The TV's are off, the lights are dimmed. I'm alone with my thoughts, as is typical these nights. While I do enjoy my quiet time, thoughts have been coming in heavily of late. Thoughts of the past, thoughts of the future, thoughts of life, etc. I'm familiar with a great many facts of life, and understand them, but I think what I didn't realize is just how little being aware and mindful really helps when certain stages of existence come to pass.

I don't have any one particular event in mind specifically at the moment. There was no one catalyst for these thoughts. Perhaps it's just that only now, during my solace, do I finally get the opportunity to reflect upon the events of the day. Those times I felt frustration at something one of the kids did now bring a whistful smile to my face. Invariably, I remember doing the same thing myself at that age.
I remember a significant amount of my early years, stretching as far back as the age of two. I remember life at the time being nothing but a waiting game. You're too young. Give it some time. You'll get there. You'll see. You just wait. I don't think I stopped to really look around until I was graduating high school. That's when things really changed. Prior to that, if I thought something was cool, I thought "I'll do that again tomorrow". Leaving high school that statement turned into, "Boy, I wish I could go back and experience that again."

As the sands of time continue to drizzle down into the bottom of the hour glass, I find myself missing that which has passed more and more, a feeling that's only exacerbated by watching my kids grow. We work so hard to help them along and teach them the things they will need to know to stay happy, healthy, etc... and then we all look back and wish they were babies again. I suppose that's what perpetuates the species.

It may sound a little melodramatic at this point in my life, where my children are 17 months and 5 years old, but I swear it happened so fast, that I can already see the next twenty years flashing by only just slightly more slowly.

People say that time goes by faster as you age, and although my over-inflated sense of logic would love to try to argue the point, it'd be a waste of time. As I sit here, a single year represents 1/31 of my life... If you cut a pie into 31 slices, each slice would be bigger than those in a pie cut in 32 equal pieces. Each year, our pie slices get smaller and less noticeable. Thus, the length of a year becomes less noticeable.

Realizing of course that of the group who may read this blog that I'm likely among the younger demographic at the age of 31, I welcome the "YOU feel old?! Hah!" statements expectantly. I know I'm not likely to get much sympathy, and in truth, that's not what I'm looking for, I really don't need sympathy. I'm certainly not the first person to have realized that time has passed, and things we've taken for granted are not only gone, but slowly fading from memory.

I'm not looking for answers by posting this, as I know that realistically, there are none. I just felt like writing and this is what happened to be on my mind at the time. I realize the only thing to do is sit back and enjoy the ride. The tricky part is interpreting each pit stop as an opportunity commit things to memory, and not an inconvenience. I've been saying "You'll miss it when it's gone" a lot lately, especially when I'm telling my oldest not to do something I've told her not to do a hundred times before, or picking up pieces of half-chewed food, or reaching for a sippy cup full of cheese that'd rolled beneath the couch last week... it helps to keep things in perspective.

Do you get the same sorts of pangs nostalgia? What do you do to soften the blow?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Is Lack of Evidence Proof?

Following a recent post of mine wherein I explained my thoughts on god, I had a discission with a friend of mine who believes there is no such thing. He explained that he grew up in a devount Catholic household, and the holes in the teachings gave rise to questions. I directed me to a video clip that I can't seem to find. The video was about someone who had seen the inaccuracies and began asking questions, and finding more descrpencies in the bible and teachings which eventually led him to Aethism.

I started thinking about it, and came to the conclusion that if all the things this fellow found are true (and I say IF because I don't have the ambition or the means to really double check for him, so he could be misleading for all I know) then he hasn't really disproven the existence of a god, just that the religion is wrong.

When I voiced this thought, the friend of mine said that in a forum where everything is based on logic, if you can't prove something, it doesn't exist. Someone is saying "God is this" but has no proof, thus God must be none of those things.

I personally disagree. Simply because we don't understand something, or we can prove something, doens't mean it's non-existent, right? I mean, people who believe in the big bang theory (a vast number of whom are atheists) can't prove it. No one can, that's why it's called a theory. Could it have happened? Certainly does seem strange, right? So much nothing, that it became something? I've never been so full that I became hungry. I've never been so sleepy that I became rested. I've never heard of someone being so strong that they became weak... conventional wisdom would state that it couldn't have happened... But then, the same could be said for the existence of God right? Someone's suggesting something, and as unlikely as it might sound, it certainly would explain some things. (or in this case, everything).

I don't claim to know anything one way or another, but I do feel like organized religion is not entirely right on. I'd feel like the church would be far more credible if it were a non-profit (hah, or prophet!) organization. The idea that they are the wealthiest business in the world sorta shoots holes all over the floor of that particular boat in my opinion. What do they need all that money for, other than settlements lately? (Sorry, cheap shot...)

My friend is not comfortable with not having a belief it seems. I'm perfectly happy to sat that to me, the numbers don't seem to add up, and leave it at that. He seems to need something to believe in, even if the belief is in disbelief.

Religion aside, do you feel that a lack of evidence is enough to make you believe the opposite? All opinions are welcome.

Murphy is Always Watching.

About a month ago, my brother gave me his old 36" Sony Trinitron TV. It's a very nice TV, good HD picture, and so on. It was one of those things where I didn't necessarily need it, but it was just too nice to pass up. We took the (ridiculously heavy) television and it's stand. It came into the house, and sat in the kitchen for a while until we made some room for it.

The TV in the living room, a 36" flat panel went into my mother in law's, and her 32" CRT (big ol' tube TV) came out to the kitchen where it say awaiting it's final destination. The plan was that it would go into our room, and ours would make it's way to the trash heap, as it buzzes when it's on. I think it's circling the drain.

For those of you wondering why things end up in the kitchen, our kitchen is huge and central. To get things from one room to any other on the first floor, one must go through the kitchen. When whatever it is that you're moving has got no where else to go, it's the least inconvenient place for it to stay for a short while.

Moving the flat panel into my mother in law's room wasn't a big deal. The problem was that the entertainment center we had to accommodate the TV was a very tall, solid oak corner unit. Very heavy, and very cumbersome. It took me three hours, and some craftsmanship to get it into her room. Of course, I could have asked for help and might have gotten it done in 2, but I'd rather not inconvenience someone if I didn't have to.

Long story short, getting the flat panel set up, and then this monstrosity of a TV set up took the better part of a weekend, and left some seriously strained muscles in their wake.

So, on to why I speak of Mr. Murphy and his law... This morning, the Trinitron died. I get sound, but no picture. Some Internet detective work suggests that four or five years ago, given the model number and the flashing "standby" light on the front means a problem that would cost around $450 at the time to repair. Given the age of the thing, I'm thinking I might be able to call local repair guys and either it'll be so old that the parts are really cheap, OR it'll be so old that it's obscure, and not worth fixing.

My fear is that it's going to be the latter of the two, which means first, I have to enlist someones help to wrestle this thing out of the house, and then figure out wtf to do with it... and second, I'll have to take the 32" that's sitting in the kitchen and set it up out here. Which means I need a new entertainment center... but if I'm going to spend on that, I might as well save and get a flat panel that I can just mount to the wall...  I certainly can't see dumping more than $100 into it when I could probably find a reasonable replacement for just a bit more, that will be flat panel and come with a warranty.

Not like I have the money to buy ANYTHING right now... but c'mon. The damn thing waits until I get everything rearranged to sputter out. Any possible solution right now is either a pain in the ass and expensive, OR a pain in the ass and a disappointment. 

I swear, if I ever find this "Murphy" character, I'm going to punch him in the throat. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Ok, So...

I've been away from the blogosphere for a little while, things with work / life have just been running me ragged. Shortly before I left I was presented with a (my first!) blog award. It was "Versatile Blogger" by Uncle Skip. ...Two weeks ago. I suppose it's a good thing it wasn't a "Punctual Blogger" award, I would have made a fool of myself and poor Uncle Skip...

The good Uncle awarded me this prize stating "Cause I want to see what he'll do with it". I'm sure "Nothing" wasn't what he was hoping. I suppose there isn't a whole lot I can do with it, since it's actually just 1s and 0s. I can't sew it to my football jacket or badge sash. Just as well, since I don't have either of those things...

So the terms of my acceptance of this thing. First I've got to link the fellow who presented me with the award. I did that. Next, I have to tell you 8 things about myself. Then I need to choose some other folks who I'd like to have do the same thing.

I'm not entirely sure what people are hoping to learn about me, or even what things I can share that won't come around in the future to bite me on the ass, and thus shouldn't be shared. Not that there's a whole lot of dirt in my past or present that I could get in trouble for, but I once shared some information regarding a piece of music that struck a certain "chord" in my being and brought a tear to my eye. That information in the wrong hands is such a pain in the ass. I'll never hear the end of it. Not that it bothers me, but the fact that the person who thinks it bothers me, thinks it bothers me... bothers me. If that makes any sense...

So, I think for the sake of not getting any 4th grade razzing (...from my thirty-something year old friends...) I'll try to keep the information as innocuous as possible.

Fact #1 - I've been eating food now for a very long time, 30+ years in fact. I suppose I wasn't eating things like pizza and burgers in the first couple years of life, what with no teeth and all. I imagine those things started entering the picture some time later on. I do have proof in the form of a picture around here somewhere, that I ate a tomato at 9 months. I was much smaller at the time, and I'm much more proficient at eating tomatoes and other things now. I made quite a mess with that tomato.

Fact #2 - I have a very difficult time remembering things that I've forgotten. There's a good deal of information that I used to know, but don't know anymore, and I can't remember it. I can't even remember what all the things that I can't remember are. They could have been phone numbers, addresses, names, dates, places, things... Actually, I suppose they're all things... Which is why it can be accurately enough described as "something" I've forgotten.

You ever notice when you ask someone something, and they've forgotten it, they don't say "I don't know", they say "I can't remember" giving you the impression that they once knew... as if the fact that they once knew would sort of improve your opinion of them in some way that saying "I don't know" wouldn't. As if in case one day you might say "That guy is so smart, he was once able to comprehend this thing. He can't now, but he could at one point." Wouldn't want you going around saying "I don't know if that guy could ever understand this thing cause he never has in the past. I wish he'd have at least learned it at some point, and then forgotten, cause at least then I would know whether or not he has the capacity. Now, I'm just not sure."

Fact #3 - There are many things that I cannot do. I know it's hard to imagine that there are things outside of my realm of possibility, but it's a sad fact. I cannot keep my eyes open when I sneeze. I cannot lick my own elbows. I cannot perform miracles like turning water into wine, although I'm very good at turning wine into urine.

Fact #4 - I'm older than I've ever been, and now I'm even older.

Fact #5 - I will never tell someone I'm open minded, because that would mean I'd have to be closed minded toward being closed-minded. You can't be something that is by definition the antithesis of that which you are... You basically negate yourself, and the universe collapses. I hate when that happens.

Fact #6 - I will never bet against a Sicilian when death is on the line.

Fact #7 - I never understood why they call it a "Head Butt" when you hit someone or something with your head, but it's not called a "Fist butt" or a "Foot Butt" when you punch or kick someone. Why "head butt" why not "Head punch"? or why not "Forehead impacting"? What happens when you KICK someone in the butt... did they butt-butt your foot?

Fact #8 - I don't find Uma Thurman attractive in the least, and it baffles me that there are people who find her amazingly attractive. At best, I'd say she's not repulsive.

So that's about it for the factoids, I hope I didn't divulged anything I'll get crap for later, and I hope I fulfilled the requirements of the award thus far.

As far as picking some folks to participate in this, I think I'm going to have to abstain, simply just because out of the group of folks from whom I'd pick, I was the last to get tagged... so the people I'd choose have already done it, and asking them to do it again could actually result in me having to do it again in a couple weeks... I'd like to spare us all that.

If you're interested in doing it though, please help yourself. Consider this an open invitation to your own versatile blogger award!