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Monday, November 26, 2012

Remember me?

Hey all! Remember me? I used to post here... I moved to WordPress though... It was nothing personal, I just liked all the control I had with the WordPress platform.

I wanted to check in and make sure folks aren't still looking for posts from me over here, and I'll post a couple times a year to make sure everyone has all the updated information.

I would love it if you would continue to follow me over at MattConlon.com, and if you're having trouble keeping up with it, because you can't follow it through the Google Friend Connect, which they've discontinued, I have a google plus page here.

I also recommend checking out Bloglovin.com for keeping in touch with your friends on different blogging platforms. I wrote a blog about it here today.

Thanks all! Hope all is well, and hope to see you again over at the new MattConlon.com!
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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Oh, HI!

Thought I'd stop in over here, and leave a post for the folks who might not have made the trip over to MattConlon.com yet...

I've posted a few times over there at my wordpress site, and I miss the comments! Please come on over, and check out the header and background I put together. I had a lot of fun drawing it, but I think it may just be a little too busy for my likes.

Anyway, miss you guys! Come on over! http://www.MattConlon.com/

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Oh, and by the way....

I'm still fleshing things out over there, and I'm created a long blogroll list for the front page.

If I missed you, please don't be angry, I'm really not that smart... Comment and let me know, I'll rectify it right-quick!

Come visit at www.mattconlon.com

Welp, I've done it...

So, I have officially moved over to wordpress... 



I'm still going to keep this page active and such, leave forwarding information, and I hope you all drop by at the new mattconlon.com and leave a message.

There'll be an RSS feed of that site over here, so if you come by here, you'll be able to see all the latest posts and click links to come over there, and what not. I'll also still be using this account to read your blogs, so I'm still around.


Monday, July 2, 2012

Blogger vs. Wordpress

As you may or may not know, I've got other blogs, one of which is www.brewnewb.com. I used to host it here at Blogger, and then moved it to a different CMS (Content Management System - prepackaged website template), and subsequently flipped it over to Wordpress...

I have to say, I like Wordpress a little bit better than I do Blogger.

I find that Blogger is a bit more basic, which in and of itself isn't a BAD thing... But I feel like I have much more control over the site at Wordpress.

A friend of mine hosts the site, instead of just signing up for free hosting at wordpress.com. This allows me to use a ton of different "plugins" and widgets and so on.

I also like that anyone can comment if they supply a name, their email address and a website (the website is optional).

The development of the plugins and such seem great, everything is up to date, everything works, etc. So far, there's nothing that I get here at blogger, that I don't get at wordpress, and I think the themes are nicer looking at WP.

That said, I think blogger gives you a little more control over the theme itself, though I haven't explored all of the options at WP yet...

I DO like the "follow" widget here at Blogger though. I'm trying to see if I can get a widget like the "Follow" one here for blogger users, but I don't think Google is interested in that anymore... They seem to be forcing everyone to just use Plus.google.com instead. That said, I have a plus account, so no biggie.

I was shocked how incredibly easy it was to import an entire blogger blog to WP. I migrated one site to WP in less than ten minutes, and had it looking the way I want it in just another ten minutes.

Have you checked out Wordpress at all recently? What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Memories of the Commute


I used to ride the commuter rail to work every morning with a friend of mine. He was kind enough to pick me up in the mornings, and we'd head in together, over a 40 minute ride, one way.

When you share a ride with so many of the same folks day after day, you start to realize how powerful force of habit really is. out of the hundreds of people who ride the train, it's generally the same folks on the same cars.

In the middle of some of the cars, there were tables, one on either side. We always did our best to grab one, and being that we got on the 3rd stop on the way in, and the first stop on the way out, we usually succeeded.

The mornings were tough sometimes though, there's a High School along the route, and some of the well to do little bastards get their moms and dads to buy them passes, and the ones who got on before us would usurp the tables, play their shit music through their ipod headphones or ear buds or whatever the F they're called these days and do freakin homework. Worse was when they didn't have any homework, they would start throwing little bits or trash around at each other.

I really just wanted to slap the zits off them with their books.

But I digress.

There are few things I miss about the commute, not the least of which is the fact that I almost never see that friend of mine anymore... But this isn't a whiny sentimental blog, (today) we have fun here. As I'm sure you're aware, I like to goof around... This post is about that.

I used to really hate it (still would I'd imagine, if I had to deal with it on a daily basis again) when people would gawk at me. It didn't happen often, but you know how sometimes you'll lose yourself in thought, and not realize that you're staring at someone or something? It happens to us all, but it's only okay when it happens to me. I hate when other people do it, and they're looking at me but don't realize it. Which brings me to the first thing I miss about my commute...

1 - Made You Look!

One time there was a person across the aisle from me, sitting on the opposite side of the table. I don't know if I had something on my forehead or what, but this person kept looking over at me. Perhaps I looked familiar. Still, I wasn't in the mood.

I decided to stare back, but not at him. I looked out the window right next to him during a moment when he wasn't looking. When he eventually did look back over at me, thinking I was looking at him. Then I snapped my gaze at him, looking him in the eye. He realized that I hadn't been looking at him to begin with, and that I'd just caught him looking at me. Hah! I won!

But now in his head, he was busted, and he didn't like it. Now he was looking everywhere. Next to me, next to him, behind me, etc, as if he'd only been looking at me because it was on his way to look at something else. He even shifted his sitting position, and squinted his eyes as if to look like he was thinking about something, and not really looking at anything at all.

I causally looked back over to my other side, and looked out the window, and let the chump relax. A few minutes later, I'd look out his window again, and again he'd look over, and again, I'd bust him. ...and again, he'd fidget, this time worse than before, because not only had I just bagged him twice, but now he's mad at himself for letting it happen again.

Most of the time, twice is enough for people to consciously avoid looking in your direction, regardless of where you're looking. This is even more amusing, because they're completely BUSY trying to NOT LOOK busy. Talk about an uncomfortable ride for them.

That's what you get for looking at me you ass. Who do you think you are?! Heh.

2 - The Phone Talker.

Yeah, we all know "that guy". On the subway, since there are just MORE people, people talk on the damned phones all the time. But the commuter rail is a different sort of group. Most of them are business folk, heading to their desk jobs or what have you.

Every single one of them has a frickin cell phone. Most of the time, particularly in the morning, it's quite. People haven't started the day yet and there's not much business going on just yet. But there's always that one person who likes to start earlier than most, and they're always louder than most.

This bothers me for two main reasons... One, because we are at the hight of our technology. There are microphones in these cell phones that will pick up every god damned noise you make. There are times when I'm talking to someone that I think I hear their sinuses draining. You do not need to yell into the god damned phone. The other reason is that not only do they not NEED to yell, but even if they thought they did, you'd think they'd realize that they are disturbing everyone around them, yet, they continue anyway, so thus they must not CARE.

There was a woman on the phone several rows back talking to someone loudly about nothing in particular, one day. I was irritable, cause I was frequently that way when I had that particular job, and it was the end of the day, the train was hot and packed, etc... She babbled on about nothing, and I got tired of it.

I am not the kind to pick a fight with someone though, even if they're being ridiculous. It was either I do something to amuse myself, or I'd blow my stack... I started saying out loud, what I imagined might have been the other side of the conversation. She'd say something into the phone, and I'd reply back into the air, plenty loud enough for most of the train to hear me.

My companions around the table were all trying to not be seen stiphling laughs, which amused me, so I continued. The more I said, the harder it was for them to contain. The call ended before too long, all the while the person was completely oblivious to the world around her. Which was good, cause as I started to look around, the world around her was about a dozen other folks trying not to laugh as well.

3 - The Routine

People tend to fall into a routine, which is actually how I prefer things. I don't like when things change, particularly when there's really no good reason for them to change. I like things to get comfortable, and stay that way.

Every morning my good friend would roll up to the house, and I'd come out, climb into the car, and we'd head off to the train station. Most of the time, we'd stop and hit the donut shop, grab a coffee and a muffin.

I remember realizing, as we pulled into the train station parking lot where we'd sit for ten minutes or so and listen to WZLX, that we were definitely settled into the routine. I thought about how we'd drudge into the train, contend with the squeeky-voiced adolents for table space. Then we'd exit the train, and half to shamble down the platform at a not-quite full stride, because the pace was always set by the slowest people in the group, and somehow they always ended up in front. Nobody looked around. If you looked around, you'd see a couple hundred people lumbering along, staring at the ground or the back of the person in front of them. Very monotonous. I would always hum "Another Brick in the Wall" to myself, and imagine the video of the faceless people marching along to jump off the end of the line into the meat grinder. The music was the perfect beat for the walk too.

Sitting there, that particular day, I thought to myself that I should change something... But my character is such that I really didn't WANT to change anything, cause anything worth changing would likely be a real pain in the ass. So I thought of the most incosequential things over which I had control. There wasn't much, just the things in my hands. One was a coffee, which I really wanted to drink. The other was the waxy paper bag in which they'd given me my muffin, that normally would be landing in the trash barrel just outside the car.

Those days were over.

But what to do with, and who would care besides me? As if to underscore how deeply emersed in routine the world was, I decided to do something not exactly nice, but in the grand scheme of things, pretty innocuous. The train would come, and the two of us would fling the doors open. He'd grab his back out of the back seat, I'd grab mine out of the trunk. (It was one of those 2-1/2 door Saturn coups, so he had a half door behind him, so he'd throw his bag in there. Was just easier for me to toss mine in the trunk as I got in.) This day, as I grabbed my bag, I tossed my little waxy paper bag, all crumpled into a ball, into the trunk, and grinned slightly to myself.

This went on for MONTHS.

I don't remember how or why he ended up going into the trunk, but I got a call shortly thereafter.

The jig was up. My several-months-long practical joke was over. What to do now?

I am generally not one to tell the same joke twice, so trash in the trunk was out of the question.

That next morning as the train approached, we flung open our doors, and in one fluid motion, (fully intending to get caught, by the way...) as I sat forward in my seat to lean out the door, I reached out with my left hand, and opened the glove box. I'd flip the rolled up bag into the glove box, and as I was standing, I'd push it closed with my left knee.

This was done between the moment, he turned his head to get out his side, and when he'd open the back 1/2 door to get his bag.

I started adding a step, as the train approached, of opening the glove box as we got out of the car, and tossing my waxy paper bag ball into there, before my buddy turned back around to grab his bag from the seat behind him.

Again, I don't recall what he went into the glove box for, probably registration or something like that. Regardless though, this had gone on for months as well. I was kind of glad when he finally found them, cause his glove box was running out of room.

There are other things I remember but I think that's probably enough for now.

Do you have a commute like I did? If you take public transportation, have you ever looked around at your fellow commuters and wondered why you're the only one looking around?

Sunday, June 17, 2012

10 albums #6 Taylor Swift - Speak Now

So I'm going to catch some flack for this one, I'm sure. Bring it on, I don't care.

I had to kind of laugh at myself when I saw during an episode of True Blood where one dude held up this album and said to his friend "...this yours??" and the friend was all "No!"

And now I ought to catch some flack for watching True Blood too.

Anyway, a couple years ago, I realized how quickly my first daughter was growing, and I told her to stop. She looked at me sadly and said "I don't know how!" Since then, it's been kind of a running joke between her an I. I'll tell her to stop growing. She used to say "I'll try" ...Now she just says no. This song always reminds me of her.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

10 Albums, 2 Thru 5

So I'm just a bit behind here. Like, a week.

For those of you just tuning in, I'm participating in a 10 albums I'd take to a desert island challenge, hosted over on www.joinsomething.net which I'm co-running with a buddy of mine. It's still coming together, so don't judge it yet! 

So here, I'll post 2, 3, 4, and 5.

2 - Pink Floyd, album: A Momentary Lapse of Reason

On the turning Away


Probably one of the easiest songs to play on the guitar. Just an overall excellent song.

3 - Aerosmith - O Yeah

This was tough, cause I like almost every one of their songs... Except "Taste of India". What a terrible song.

Anyway, I'm going to go with an oldie

Seasons of Wither



4 - U2 - Rattle and Hum

Van Diemen's Land

I'm noticing a trend here, all of these songs are kinda slow. Guess I've just been a mello kinda mood lately. Perhaps the next challenge will be specifically about high energy stuff... Might be a short list...



5 - Lynyrd Skynyrd - Second Helping

This was the first southern rock album I'd ever bought, and it really cemented itself in my memory. There are a lot of great tracks on this album, so I'm going to pick my two favorites from it.

5a. The Balad of Curtis Lowe



5b I Need You



I love the guitar solos in this song.

Well, that should do it for catching up... I'll be back on Monday. I should be able to keep up from this point... Was a heck of a week!

Monday, June 11, 2012

10 Albums - 1 - Live - Top from Throwing Copper

It could have simply been just that I was really into this band back in the 90s, when music was awesome, but for whatever reason, this song gets stuck in my head for weeks when I hear it...


Friday, June 8, 2012

Blog Challenge #10albums I'd Take With Me to a Desert Island

Oy, almost missed the first day of my OWN freakin challenge!

I did a post like this some time ago, but it was 15 albums... And it was difficult. Now I'm only limited to 10?! SHEESH!

Well anyway, the purpose of this challenge, aside from having a good time, of course... was to test out the "Event" module at JoinSomething.net. The point of that site is so that people can coordinate and sign up for events and such. It's still kinda in Beta, so there are many kinks to work out. Testing is important.

The Challenge. This is a list of 10 albums I'd take with me to a desert island. Every business day for the next two weeks I will pick my favorite song off of the particular album that corresponds to that day, and post a video of it, and explain why I like it so much. Thus, Monday will be a song from album 1, Tuesday a song from album 2, etc...

Onto the list:
  1. Live - Throwing Copper
  2. Pink Floyd - A Momentary Lapse of Reason
  3. Aerosmith - Greatest Hits (There's gotta be an anthology somewhere that has ALL the greatest hits right?!? ...is that cheating?) OO I Found One! - O, Yeah! Ultimate Aerosmith Hits
  4. U2 - Rattle and Hum
  5. Lynyrd Skynyrd - Second Helping
  6. Taylor Swift - Speak Now (Shut it, she's talented.)
  7. Pearl Jam - Ten
  8. Alice In Chains - Dirt
  9. Red Hot Chili Peppers - Stadium Arcadium
  10. Queen - A Kind of Magic
Being limited to 10 really makes it difficult for me to get all the genres that I like covered. I really would miss Classical Music on this Island, but you know, it doesn't say anywhere in the challenge rules that you could never return from said island. I'd spend some time out there, rocking out and then come back. So. That's good.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Blog Challenge - 10 Albums I'd take...

Heya folks!

I am hosting a blog challenge that starts this Friday. It's a short challenge, and really is just a vehicle for us to put a polish on our "joinsomething.net" page. This is the first challenge posted over there, and I would REALLY like it if you would go and sign up, even if you don't participate in the challenge! :D

The challenge is "Ten Albums I'd Take to a Desert Island", and it goes like this:

  1. Friday: Post the list of the 10 albums. Don't post why, don't post what's your favorite song... just the list. 
  2. DO NOT POST ON THE WEEKEND!
  3. Monday: pick a song from the first album on that list, see if you can find it on YouTube and post the video. Then explain why you picked that song. Your reason can be "Cause I just like it" if you like, or feel free to go into detail. 
  4. That's it. 
Now, as with any blog challenge, the idea is to get folks to participate, so I encourage you to... But my underlying motivation here is to make sure the site (http://www.JoinSomething.net) works, and for us to get all the nuts and bolts tightened down over there. 

Please go to here: http://www.joinsomething.net/event/blog-challenge-ten-albums-id-take-desert-island and sign up! You'll have to "Register" for an account, or you can click "Log in with Facebook". If you have a Facebook account, you'll get right in. (same for twitter!).

Once you sign up, your name and your site should show up in a list on that events page. This will give us all the ability to visit each page that's signed up. A link list of all participants. 

As always, all feedback is encouraged and appreciated either here, at the site, or in my email. 

Thanks!

UPDATE! 6-2-2012 - 3:58pm
Ok, problem fixed. Please go sign up!
http://joinsomething.net/event/blog-challenge-ten-albums-id-take-desert-island

UPDATE! 6-4-2012 - 1:30pm
Seems we're having troubles with the module for event registration. Please give me a little time... :)

Saturday, June 2, 2012

www.JoinSomething

A year ago, (and a couple months) I joined the A to Z challenge, and realized the potential traffic something like that could create. Many of the folks who stick around here are folks I met via A to Z.

I'd found out about the A to Z by chance, and realized that there's really no place to go to find out about things like blog challenges and / or blog hops or blog rings, or ... basically blogosphere events or groups.

So I (and my buddy) created one.

If you're into events or challenges, please go to http://www.JoinSomething.net and check us out. You can created an account, or even log in with your FaceBook account, and "register" events.

The site isn't exactly completed yet, and we've agreed that it's always going to be a work in progress, so new and better things will always be coming down the pipeline. We're always interested in input.

Please go check it out, read the about tab, frequently asked questions, post in the forums if you'd like.

I'd consider it a personal favor. :D

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Raising Bullies

Some time ago, my friend Jim posted about a city here in MA talking about banning profanity, and threatening to hand out $20 tickets to folks who swear in public.

The police chief of said town had said that it was mostly teenagers swearing down town in the area where shop owners made their business, and were feeling threatened.

This really kinda pissed me off, enough that now, probably about a month later, it's still sorta seething in me.

My thoughts on the problem are that parents who decided thirty something years ago, that it wasn't right to discipline their kids, tried coming up with ways of reasoning with them. They never raised their voices. They never raised their hands. What their raised was a bunch of assholes who learned that if their parents made them mad, they could drag them to court, and divorce them!

Well, now those assholes are having little assholes of their own. But the parent's don't want to be divorced by their kids, so instead of doing something about it, they're having the generation who would have smacked the shit out of them but are now too old and afraid, get the police involved! The police?! Don't these people have bigger fish to fry than handing out $20 tickets to teenagers for saying "Shit" in public?? There's not enough real crime? Tax dollars at work! WTF?

Everywhere you look, there's a story about kids being bullied, and killing themselves, or moving schools or something drastic like that. The bullies are winning because people are using these same god damned tactics to deal with them!

"Bullying is wrong. How would you feel. Stop bullying. Let's raise awareness!"

How about we find the little bastards and whoop their asses? Seems to be the only thing they understand, and it's painfully obvious that it's been missing out of their upbringing.

Christ, I'd have gotten the tar smacked out of me if someone told my mother I was a bully. One of the facebook groups she "Likes" is "I'd rather go to jail for spanking my kid, than have my kid go to jail because I didn't."

Thoughts?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

#atozchallenge - Satisfaction

The work day today ended like any other, for the most part. I had to pick up Thing 1 from her after school program, so I jumped in the car a little earlier than I had to and stopped at the liquor store. I picked up a bottle of W. H. Harrison Straight Bourbon Whiskey, which is my new favorite. Very smooth, and quite affordable.

I then went on to get the kid. RIGHT next to the place she goes is a smoke shop. I picked up a couple cigars. Partagas, the dark ones, in case you wanted to send me a box of them.

I had a little extra room on the credit card, so I told the lass she could pick the venue for dinner tonight, fearing she'd choose Friendly's. She did. I said, "Hey, you know the 99 is a lot closer..." She agreed. Good lass.

The waiter came over, looking a bit like he'd been working the bar from the wrong side. He leaned over the edge of the table, a little droopy eyed, a little too friendly, the way some folks do when they've had a bit too much to drink. "Hey." he said offhandedly.

Now... I like to drink on occasion, and frankly I am not bothered by someone else who does. Yeah, I know, he's working, unprofessional, blahblahblah and he was clearly drunk... but it really didn't bother me. All he's gotta do is get the food to me. He was friendly, and nice, etc... Yeah, I'd be singing a different tune if he dropped something hot on us or what have you, but... He took our drink order, and went off...

That however, was the last we'd seen of him. My six year old was thirsty, saying things like "Ugh, C'mon, dude!" but the reality was that we sat there for maybe five minutes before a nice young lass came over and asked, "Did your waiter take your order yet?" He hadn't, but I told her what we'd ordered for drinks. She said that the fellow who'd taken the drink order had gotten a party of eight, and was a little over burdened. She apologized, and I assured her it was fine.

She came back again, and said that she'd be taking over for him. He'd dropped a considerably large tray of food and drink, and would be going home for the day. Yikes, I thought. Still, I was in good spirits, enjoying my time with my first born.

Dinner came, I got the double BBQ turkey tips, which I highly recommend to anyone, even vegetarians, cause I get a kick out of doing things like that. They tried to give me potatoes in the form of mashed, which I do like, but I'm watching the intake... I asked what else they had, she suggested french fries... eventually, I got broccoli and carrots. When the dinner came they threw in a dinner biscuit, cause god forbid I go without some kind of complex carb, right? Don't worry, we found a use for it.

The lass got mozzarella sticks, french fries, apple sauce and a side of pickles.

We had a great dinner, goofing around with the crayons, flicking bits of rolled up straw wrappers at one another, telling jokes... being kids.

Thing 1
The manager then paid us a visit, and apologized. I was actually surprised, because in no way was I put out or even peeved. He wanted to make sure everything was OK, and told me that dinner was on the house. He said the waiter had had a bad day, something with his mother and father, etc... and in the course of things we were neglected.

I told him I had no problems whatsoever, these things happen, not a big deal, etc... But graciously accepted a free meal. :)

As I had said, I had planned on using the credit card though, so was unable to tip our waitress. I told her I'd feel badly not tipping, but she said not to worry about it, and just get her next time I came in. I plan to. If you'd like, and if you're in the area of the Ninety Nine restaurant in Taunton MA, ask for Nicole and give her a good tip.

We got home and rejoined the rest of the family, and I retreated to the back deck with a fold up chair, a cigar, and a glass of whiskey, turned on the Red Sox game on my cell phone and listened to innings three through five.

Very enjoyable evening. Here's my view:
Click for original
So as I thought there, thinking about how perfect an evening it was, my wife brought thing 2 out, (the 2 year old) who told me "Daday! I pooped! It's dehskustin!"

Thing 2

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

#atozchallenge - Right

I've posted before about how much people hate to be wrong. Have you ever been in a conversation where someone said something, and you disagreed. They then start to tell you why they're right. You point out something that had escaped their attention, which makes them not quite correct, and they continue to defend their point.

When it gets to the point that they're quite clearly wrong, they just kinda hold on regardless. Or eventually say something "WELL I DON'T FREAKIN KNOW THEN!" or "OKAY, YES! YOU ARE RIGHT! You're always right! GOOD for you!"

The hell's up with that? Take a step away, and look... You told me something that was inaccurate, and I pointed it out. YOU were in the wrong, not me! You should be thanking me for stopping you from telling other people this incorrect crap.

I don't understand why people hate being wrong so much. I'm always the first person to consider that perhaps I'm wrong. I'm wrong all the time! Doesn't mean I'm stupid or something, means I have incorrect information. If someone tells me I'm wrong, I appreciate it. I don't want to walk around with incorrect information, I want to be told about it.

Perhaps it's pride? People like to seem like they know things, and when they're shown that they don't, they're embarrassed?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

#atozchallenge - Qi

I used to watch Kung-Fu: The Legend Continues, and I remember the guy talking about his "Chi" all the time, but it wasn't until I started playing Scrabble with the family that I realized how it's spelled.

What a SUCKY word! I get so pissed off when someone plays it in Scrabble or Words with Friends! The Q is 10 points, and god help you if you get it on a bonus tile. Such a cheap way out! I spend the game trying to spell Quiz or Quid, and never think of Qi... Pain in the ass word.

Za too, that's another Scrabble word I hate! Supposedly it means "Pizza". Who do you know that calls pizza "Za"?? If you know someone who refers to pizza as Za, and there's not some culteral reason that I don't even know about, they deserve to be poked in the eye. Za, indeed...

I think there should be a penalty for using either of those words in Scrabble. The tile worth 1/2 the normal points or something.

Who's with me?!

Stick IT Blog

Some of you are aware of the web comic I write once in a great while called "Stick IT", the adventures of a stick figure IT guy.

Just wanted to let you know, I created a blog specifically for that, it's at http://stickit-comic.blogspot.com/ and you can also use the tab at the top of this blog to get there.

Thanks! Happy Saturday!

#atozchallenge - Prednisone

Well, here it is April 28th, and I'm behind by a lot on three different blogs. I'm still going to finish, but I've realized that it's not likely to be a post per day... Might take me a little longer, but I'll cross the finish line one way or another.

I took the week that my kid had off from school and got a few things done around the house that needed doing. I made a decision to stay off the computer the whole week, regardless of the challenge. Sorry to disappoint, though I'd be surprised if anyone actually noticed I was gone. :D

One of the things I got done over the week off was some yard work, that ended up with a few cases of poison ivy... Mine wasn't too terrible, my wife's was just a little worse. My nephew on the other hand, got it pretty bad. Felt rather badly about that.

The poison ivy had grown all over an old brick BBQ pit that my father in law had built some years back. That's the actual thing in the picture.

This picture was taken last year in the middle of the summer. I'd used that push broom early in the season, and a couple short weeks later, I was too afraid to touch it again. :)

This year, we figured we'd remove the structure before the ivy grew. While I thought this was a solid plan, I found out the hard way that the oil from the ivy can persist on objects it's touched for up to 2 years after the plant is removed...

The put itself was filled with dirt, which apparently was laced with the oil.

I'm not quite the spring chicken I used to be, so when we started tearing the thing down (which was the very easy part) and loading it brick by brick into the wheelbarrow, I realized that it was a pain in the ass. Last year, I'd hired my nephew to do some similar work, and he was happy to do it. I also worked him pretty hard all week, and paid fairly well at the end of the week, for which I'm sure he was pleased.

I loaded up one wheelbarrow, and decided to find out what he was doing. Turned out he was free, so I came by and picked him up. He did a great job of relocating the bricks, and removing most of the silt that had built up inside.

The day after, my wife woke to a swollen eye and itchy spots. I was fine. I texted my nephew, he said he was fine. The day after that I was itching too. I texted my nephew again, and he said he was covered. I had no idea how badly though, until a couple days later... The dirt had gotten down into his shoes, and ground around and such. Poor kid.

I will make it up to him though.

*I* have had poison ivy a few times in the last four or five years now, and I've tried to tough it out with calamine lotion, or however the heck that's spelled. It doesn't work. I'm too much of a hedonist to not scratch, and too much of a moron to care that it makes things worse. So I scratch. My favorite is scalding hot water... Absolutely amazing feeling. I highly recommend it.

My own stupidity and lack of self control means that I have to resort to other methods of dealing with it. I cannot get rid of poison ivy without the help of drugs. I call the doctor, and he calls in a prescription of prednisone, which is a steroid. I hate it, but it works.

It's a relatively short process, taking about twelve days, starting with a few days of a big dose, stepping it down every three days. Unfortunately, it makes me hot. And grumpy, and uncomfortable. Makes my fingers tingle.

Have you ever had poison ivy? Or had to be on prednisone? Do you have a nephew you like to recruit for work you could probably do yourself, but just don't want to? ...is he allergic to poison ivy?? If not, what's his number?

Monday, April 23, 2012

#atozchallenge - Ostrich (repost)

Sorry. Another repost again, but I really liked this.

The Ostrich: I remember riding in my father's Fiat wagon around the age of three. My father was driving, my mother was in shotgun, and at least a couple brothers of mine and I were in the back. We were driving on Memorial Drive along the Charles River one weekend morning, most likely on our way to a family reunion in Medford. 

The interesting part about that area is that it's in the middle of an urban setting, but it's a serene drive. Water to one side (don't drink it) trees to the other side. The one thing it's lacking is tranquility. There's the constant buzzing of cars, and masses of people. It's like wilderness, only louder. The Charles river is always surrounded by people. It's a favorite spot for runners, sailors, fishermen, etc. Bustling with city folk looking for that little bit of nature. 

All of a sudden, there amongst all the damn humans in the wanna-be nature scene was an Ostrich! "Hey! An ostrich!" I exclaimed with the excitement that only a three year old could muster. I was wrong, of course. There are no ostriches along the Charles, it was a runner who was stretching. She was bent down, with one leg up in the air that I thought was a neck and head. 

I don't remember much else about the ride, but I'm told that I had a good laugh at myself for it. I've been amusing myself ever since. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

#atozchallenge - ...sorry

Hello! I know, I'm behind, and out of sequence with this post. I took the last week off, and stayed completely off the computer the whole time. I will be back tomorrow, and will pay some due attention to the challenge, and the commenters.

Thanks for your understanding, and I look forward to getting back into the saddle! :)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

#atozchallenge - Nerds

No, the candy.

I'm sort of surprised how "nerds" are still treated as kids, given how well the world knows these days, that nerds run things. Not only are nerds typically your boss, but they're completely responsible for a HUGE chunk of cinematic / theatrics history over the last fifteen years now. Lord of the Rings, The Game of Thrones, the X men movies, all the super hero movies, etc.

These were the same folks who got made fun of for not being good at sports, and being ultra smart. People love them as lab partners, but they make terrible wing men. What I'm mostly surprised about is how that stereotype (as well as just about ALL the others that make middle to high school terrible for those who don't fit the mold) is totally perpetuated in children's tv. Not PBS stuff, of course, but the older "tween" shows, like the crap on the Disney channel. There are pretty / popular cheerleaders, and awkward scholastic tech types. You'd think in a society where you can't say "Christmas" out loud, that that shit wouldn't fly.

Kids are mean, and I can tell you that first hand. My mother will tell you I was NOT fat, and NOT picked on. The fact that she was never sitting in the class room at the time proves that she had her crystal ball tuned into the wrong channel. Cause I was.

Though, I wasn't picked on for being a nerd, I got solid C's and D's. I was what you'd have called a geek, although being that there weren't any OTHER geeks for me to relate to at that particular school, I just remained the unusual kid.

Shows like such that are on TV now, which are aimed at kids around 12 are laden with that sort of "Ew, don't talk to the geek," attitude, and it really sort of pisses me off. How fast would a show like that be whipped off the air if it had a fat girl that everyone picked on? Why is it that geeks and nerds are fair game? I'd love to see a show where smart non-athletic kids made football stars cry in the boy's room, and feel inadequate.

I am already dreading when my kids get to that age, cause given the genetic cloth from which they're cut, they're likely to be on the receiving end of some of that.

Perhaps because they're probably the only group who doesn't care? They know what's what, and realize that your high school achievements aren't worth a fart, once you're working for a living? I know it ain't cause you can beat them up anymore...

Thoughts?

Monday, April 16, 2012

#atozchallenge - M stuff

I remember watching looney toons, and Bugs would sometimes say "What a maroon" and I never really understo od the irony there... how he was trying to say moron. I didn't realize this until much later in life.



I realize that I know I'm behind a little here, so I know I owe a little more than usuall...

Muffins. I life muffins. However, blueberry muffins seem to give me heart bunr every single time. I prefer bannad nut. we have a cat that my daughter named "muffin" when she was 2. I call her muffin top, cause it's a current term that chubby people use, and I (being a chubby person) find it amusing.

Then there's me! Matt... Gift from god. Any other Matts out there? Were you aware that Matthew meant "gift from god"? Could there be any bigger an ego boost?

I know it's a short post, and I know I'm behind, but hey... Take what you can get! :P

Got any better M stuff?

Friday, April 13, 2012

#atozchallenge - Larrys







So I've been drinking today, and realized about 1/3 into the bottle of whiskey that I had no "l" post lined up, so here I am, so as not to disappoint.

However. Typing is like, really hard right now.

So I thought about L words, and I bet a BAJILLION and SIX people are going to do Love. Like too, and how it pertains to Facebook and social media. Loser will pop up a few times, and maybe even lice.

Larry has been a name that I always kinda liked, in that "I like these strange names" sort of context. I have a cat named Larry, one of the "barn" cats who lives outside and eats moles and squirrels because I thought it was such an unusual name for a cat. There's also a "Mark" out there too. Perhaps I'll talk about him tomorrow.

Anyway, this post isn't about cats. It's about some famous Larrys.  
I've often wondered... Was "Larry" from the 3 Stooges ever anyone's favorite stooge? I mean, Moe was in charge, I'm sure there were fans of Moe, and Curley... Well, who doesn't like Curley? Shemp... eh... different story, and I'm not even county Curley Joe. But Larry... I don't remember any great skits of just Larry. I remember Curley getting squirted in the eye by a clam in his chowder, and pulling wires out of a pipe, thinking they were bathroom plumbing pipes. Moe was always hitting someone for being stupid or impersonating Hitler. But... Larry?

He was always there, but...

 And then of course, there's Larry the Cable Guy. One wonders if he's ever really installed Cable. I haven't seen him do it. Have you?
 Larry Bird of course. Who could forget a face like that... 


Then, Larry Hagman

The rest of my google results only yielded a bunch of old white guys two black, and one Asian, none of whom I recognized, and Michele Obama while on Larry King, but none of Larry King himself until a bit later, which I find interesting.


Do you know any Larrys we should all know about??

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

#atozchallenge - Ketchup

Ok, this is a repost again, and for that I'm sorry, but I just re-read it, and It's amusing. Give it a chance! :D

I was the fourth of four boys, and I showed up late. I mentioned somewhere before in my ramblings that my brothers were 13, 14, and 15 when I was born, so in essence, I had a whole lot of authority figures, rather than partners in crime.

Fortunately, my cousin Eric visited on most weekends, and even came to live with us for a while. He and I were (and still are) only three months apart. We were more like brothers than anything else.

One lazy afternoon we were having fish sticks and french fries, and I was wrestling with the ketchup. You know, I still don't understand why they put ketchup in those glass jars, by the way. I realize glass is so plentiful and all that, and even posted about it a few days ago. I also definitely agree with the benefits of using it like they do for pickles, and mayonnaise and severed heads and jelly. I would even submit it would be a good idea for ketchup, but WHY that shape? What a pain in the ass! You want some mayo or mustard, you can scoop it out with a spoon, or even just dunk whatever you're eating into it. Not ketchup, no sir. Only thing you can get in there is a butter knife, which you have to do a dozen times to cover your bread or amass an adequate puddle to dip fries or what have you... Just doesn't make any damn sense, says I. 

So anyway, I was shaking that thing like a mad man, when my cousin hatched a plan. He'd seen on TV (which at our age meant: fact) that if you held the bottle by the neck in a tight fist, with your thumb over the cap (for obvious reasons) and swung it around like Pete Townshend doing  a windmill the ketchup would loosen up, and flow freely. Centrifugal motion and what not, right? (Which I just learned isn't Centrifical... Live and learn, eh?)

Well you know what? It worked. He handed me back the bottle and "blurp" I got my ketchup puddle. No mess, like you might have been expecting. 

Feeling cheated? 

Something anyone who knows anything about young males age 10 to dead would know, when you do something stupid, and it works without adverse consequence, you do it again until it does. And we did. 

Once again, he took the bottle, and once again, it went 'round and 'round. "Whoa!" I shouted, "Dude!" We cleaned the red stripe that marked the walls and floor with a sense of such urgency that you might have thought we were moving a body. We got it done quickly and perfectly. Walls and floor were clean again, and we wouldn't get caught. Now we could commence the hysterics that follow such a thing. 

Our kitchen was in a section of the house that was an addition. There was no basement below, and no second floor or attic above, so to run the electric for the lights, the landlord put in a dropped ceiling. It's the kind of dropped ceiling you'd see in a college cafeteria, 2'x4' rectangular foam pieces. Very light, very cheap... Very absorbent. We scrubbed the ketchup stripe out of that thing, or perhaps I should say, INTO that thing as best we could, and put it back up. It was like a bad comb over... We totally knew it was what it was, but just pretended not to. 

Somehow, no one in any position of authority in my house ever saw it, and we lived there another three or four years. Just like CSI Grissom always says: "Nobody ever looks up". ...thank god.

#atozchallenge - Just Something in my Eye (Repost)

This is a repost, but I needed something for J, and I've gotten a lot of good comments on this in the past. I wrote it originally perhaps a year or so ago, so any numbers pertaining to age, just add a year.  Enjoy!

I was a pretty emotional kid. I remember being easily reduced to tears in my pre-school and kindergarten days. By an large, I was a happy child, always wanting to laugh, always had the best intentions, never a malicious thought. When things didn't work out that way I was hurt by it.

These days, I am generally still that way. I really love being happy, and even more than being happy, I love when other people are happy and enjoying themselves. Now... I'm six feet tall, 250 lbs, and not all of it beer belly... I have a shaved head, and a full beard. I'm a wallet chain short of a hell's angel.

I've had good friends tell me that they were scared shitless of me back before they knew me, and were afraid that they'd have to fight me someday (Apparently that was a common thing to worry about for the smaller kids...) So you might imagine how out of place the rest of this post should sound... I have a very girlishly difficult time not crying at totally girly times.

I can't watch chick flicks without spending at least twenty minutes steeling myself for the sad parts. Fortunately there's almost always plenty of time where they're just yapping, so I take that time to strap on the mental armor.

I've even gone so far as setting up a fan so that it was blowing straight in my face, TWENTY MINUTES before even starting a movie, JUST IN CASE there was a sad part, I could say the fan was making my eyes run.

Why do women LIKE those movies anyway?? What the hell is wrong with you people?? "Oh, I love this movie, it's so SAD!" ...wtf?

I've been successful in pulling off the tough-guy act for the family so far... for the last 12 or so years, I've been able to look away in time, or make myself laugh before having to dig an imaginary eyelash out of my eye... I did get caught once, in Hope Floats, when the main character's mother dies... She was a taxidermist though, and I changed the subject by saying they were going to have her stuffed and propped up in the swing on the porch. I think I was able to avoid having that hit my permanent record.

Anyway, one of the hardest "guy" (or Geek) movies to watch for me is the third Lord of the Rings movie, (Spoiler coming up, in case you haven't seen it. ...and shame on you for not!) when Frodo gets to take the ship with the Elves, and Sam, Merry and Pippin are just finding out about it... (Which, by the way, Frodo's an ass for blindsiding them like that, he really should have given them the heads up... ). Watching the confusion on their faces give way to a stomach-knotting dread that they'll never see their friend again... Yeah, total guy-tears. I think the worst part is, they all have these innocent child-like faces. I hate when kids are disappointed or sad... freaking kills me.

This came to mind today as I sat in my daughter's school auditorium to see their school show. My daughter's Kindergarten performed "High Hopes". She was a rubber-tree plant, and she did a terrific job. For someone as full of energy and drama as my daughter to stand there, NOT move and NOT sing, showed tremendous effort.

I watched her grinning face beaming out at the audience, green construction paper hanging from her cheeks, and could see so much of myself in her. She tried desperately not to laugh when I stuck my tongue out at her. Then of course, I started thinking about how big she's gotten and how my little girl was growing up so fast, etc... I had to start blinking fast to try to get the tears welling in my eyes to stop. Then naturally my wife looked over at me, and I made the cliche comment about the air quality being poor and my eyes burning... figured that'd cover me for the whole show.

I once told my daughter to stop growing up. She looked at me completely disappointed and said "I'm sorry daddy, I don't know how!" She'll be six in July, and it's kinda freaking me out how fast they went, and knowing that it won't be much longer before she realizes that I'm not perfect, and don't know everything, and that she would rather spend time with someone else. God help her first boyfriend... I got a gun and a shovel, and no one will miss you, kid.

Until then though, all I can do is enjoy the things she does, even if they make me crazy. I know there are a few guys out there reading this, and you all have these same sorts of feelings whether you want to admit it or not. How do you deal with it?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

#atozchallenge - I, Matt Conlon...

I have a wonderful family, a loving wife, and two spirited, intelligent, beautiful and challenging young daughters.

I own a mountain bike, but I have not ridden it in over ten years.

I like to cook and try new recipes. I have an account at goodhousekeeping.com and feel just a little silly whenever I get their email newsletter and it's about girl stuff... but I still read the recipes.

I like cats, although I am allergic.

I don't particularly care for "Guy movies" where there's tons of violence and explosions. In all honesty, I prefer romantic comedies.

I love beer and pizza.

I wear a bi-pap at night because it's easier than losing forty pounds. (Working on that too).

I get very worn out by conversing with people, especially when it's about nothing in particular. I am without question, introverted.

I love to laugh, although I find a joke is not effective if I see the punchline coming. Humor is much more funny if it's unexpected.

I love to fish, although I haven't actually done it in over ten years.

I juggle on occasion. I even juggled pins for a couple months in high school, though I wasn't very good.

I, for some reason have a habit of capitalizing "high" and "school" whenever I talk about high school, and have to go back and edit it.

I really hate most music on the top 40.

Monday, April 9, 2012

#atozchallenge - Having Kids means:



Having kids:

means that for the first time in (hopefully) a very long time, going to the bathroom is sometimes not a solo act anymore, even at times when you wish it could be.

means you should wear shoes in the house, most of the time.

means you're going to get human excrement on your in some form or another, probably all.

you'll learn to check for toilet paper before sitting down, and you're often going to have to flush first too.

means you'll have to clean toothpaste from places you know your kids shouldn't be able to get toothpaste.

means you don't have extra money. Ever.

means you're going to find Legos, Barbie clothes, Cheerios, sand, french fries, bits of apples, mushed bananas, unidentifiable slime, and / or other sorts of unusual things in your house, cars, couches, pockets, laundry, sinks, appliances, power receptacles, windows, beds, dressers, closets, drawers, nightstands, telephone receivers, and other such places, and it won't always be fresh.

you find out how fast a sippy-cup full of milk can turn into a sippy-cup full of cheese.

you'll realize how much sex and violence there really is on TV.

you'll realize how stupid the shit you did as a kid really was.

you'll become a hypocrite, and realize that it's the right thing to do.

is the toughest job you'll ever love, and is totally worth it.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

#atozchallenge G

Some of my favorite musical pieces, starting with G. Hope you enjoy, there should be something for almost everyone. :)














Friday, April 6, 2012

A to Z Challenge 2012 - Flying Fickle Finger of Fate

By the time my folks got around to having me, they'd already had three other kids, who were 13, 14 and 15 in 1979 when I made my debut. All my life, I've been surrounded by folks who are ALMOST too old to be considered the same generation as me. The music I listen to is about 20 years before my time. I've often looked around at people who are actually my own age, and wondered what the F they were thinking.

Television is also a forum in which I found this particular quirk. I watched some unusual television for a kid, including Nick at Night when it first came out.

The shows in that lineup were old even when my brothers were kids. If I recall correctly, the original line up went something like Mr. Ed, Bewhitched, Donna Reed Show, Patty Duke, Green Acres, My Three Sons, and a few other things over the years like I Love Lucy and Make Room for Daddy... Anyway, at some point over the years, I watched a good deal of Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In.

One of the skits they had on there was an award that they gave for the dumbest news of the week. I don't remember ANY of the recipients, but I always remembered the award. I also always hated the fact that when I mentioned it, nobody knew what the hell I was talking about, except for my father.

Thus, I kinda just stopped talking about it, cause it was pointless, and also kinda cumbersome to say, so why bother.

If you remember this award, or anyone it was given to, please let me know!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A to Z Challenge 2012 - Easter Traditions

I grew up Catholic, and was an alter boy for close to ten years. These days, I'm not a very religious fellow, so I don't put a whole lot of belief into the religious stories. If you're really interested, I posted my thoughts here. I'm also pretty skeptical about the origins of the different holidays, and how the big ones all seem to be claimed by the Christians, even though there is evidence that these holidays used to be Pagan holidays, and what not... Not going to get into that, but...

That said, I see no harm in still celebrating the holidays, even if I don't agree why or when they started. Easter was always a strange one for me as a kid. I DID go to church on Easter Sunday at some point, and it always confused me why I was made to dress so much nicer on Easter than I was any other Sunday, if I wasn't doing anything all that different. My general recollection of Easter was mostly that I get up in the morning, and find my "basket" which was always actually a cowboy hat, upside down filled with green cellophane and candy. Perhaps a coloring book or two, etc. The Easter Bunny knew a boy would much rather have a cowboy hat than a frickin basket!

I'd get up, and there'd be a trail if those chocolate footballs wrapped in tin foil, which I guess were probably meant to be eggs... I just always thought they were footballs. Anyway, the trail would go down the hall, down the stairs, and around the corner to my "basket". That was always my favorite part, I think since I don't really have any other specific memories of the basket itself, except for the malted milk balls and how disgusting they were. Of course, in true-me fashion, I ate em anyway.

I seem to remember the rest of the day being more of a pain in the arse than anything else. I had to wear clothes that weren't very comfortable, couldn't play with my new toys or eat my new candy, and had to go visiting relatives, which I didn't really start to appreciate until much later in life. We'd do Easter egg hunts, which I never really enjoyed, because I could never find mine. I still hate searching for things.

One of my favorite memories though, was an event at my aunt's house that I don't actually remember... Which I know sounds strange, but, she tells me about it every now and then, and I always like hearing it.

My aunt's house was spotless (at least when we came over for family gatherings. I like to pretend that everyone is just as slovenly as I am when they're not expecting company!) and her kids were mid to late teens when I was old enough to be a pain in the ass. We were there, and playing in what was the TV room. There were a few other cousins who were of a similar age, and God only knows what the hell we were doing, but from time to time, the grown ups would holler up the stairs and tell us to calm down, cause the chandelier in the kitchen was shaking. 

Finally, after the third or fourth such hollering, a trip upstairs had to be made. My aunt opened the door to the TV room, to find that we'd moved the couch, which pulled the carpet. As she opened the door, I was in the process of standing the lamp back up, and immediately said "I didn't do it!"

I have to wonder what the "it" of which I was speaking specifically was... Knocking over the lamp? Moving the couch? Naturally I thought it was perfectly reasonable to think I could make someone believe I, the youngest of the group had nothing to do with any of the carnage. I of course, was just explaining to them that they had to settle down and was straightening up the room just as my aunt walked in. Poor innocent me.

If only they'd had some Legos in that house...

What are your favorite Easter memories from your childhood?


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A to Z Blog Challenge 2012 - Commercials of Olde

Once upon a time here in New England, there was a television channel who cared enough about it's audience that it aired commercials specifically for the betterment and education of the viewers, without a thought of profits and losses. These commercials were Public Service Announcements, and to this day, twenty-five plus years after watching them, I still remember most of them verbatim. Though intended to be educational, they are actually rather humorous if you ask me.

Thank goodness for youtube and the users who (for some reason) had this PSAs taped... Have a stroll down memory lane with me to the mid 80s, won't you?

I remember seeing this one and thinking "Boy that older kid is in lots of trouble!" The "'87" would put me at 8 years old, if it were after September.


I don't actually remember this one, but the "This is serious!" I think carried over to "Wonder Pets". 


This one I completely forgot about until poking around on youtube


I remember when I realized what Bugs was saying in this one "So kids don't get more than a treat." I felt dumb, cause I had wondered what kids were getting more "dematreet"... 


I STILL can't understand what the kid says in this one... "Just having one isn't enough. Kids should stronis tonis smoke to take to make!" ... WHA??? Help me out here!


Ah, "something planned which is, tomato cheese sandwiches". Much like the Bugs Bunny one, I had a hard time picking out the words on this one too... NOW I understand this one. There were a bunch of these guy.


Just listening to this guy it's VERY clear, this was a New England (or more specifically Boston) commercial. Unfortunately, they disabled embedding in this one, but I recommend checking it out anyway. 

http://youtu.be/COcR2Erpbx4

Well, I think I've spent enough of your time here, and I can't find some of my favorite ones from back then. There was "Big Cheese and the Food Groupies" and one about brushing your teeth where a horse was talking to a mouse who had a toothache. The horse kept saying "Oh, horse-feathers!"

Do you remember any of these?

Monday, April 2, 2012

A to Z Challenge 2012 - Basic Association

I'm frequently amazed at how completely, vivid memories of my child hood are associated with the things I do today. Some pleasant, some not so much.

My mother used to make beef stew from time to time, and she wouldn't use bouillon at all. She'd brown the meat in the frying pan, and when the pan cooled, she'd take some water and some flour and heat it all back up again, making it beef stock. I was not aware of this process back when I was 13 however.

I wasn't exactly what one might call the most helpful of thirteen-year-olds, so it was pretty out of character for me, but one day, I came strolling through the kitchen and saw that my mother had clearly forgotten to clean out the frying pan she'd used for browning the meat. Poor mom, I thought. She must be very tired. I know, I'll help out! I washed that pan to a sparkly shine. There, that's better. She'll be so surprised! And she was.

The irony was not lost on me even at that age, that I got in trouble (like, vein-popping ire) for the one time I washed something I noticed was dirty. Every time I even think of the word "stew", I think about that day. Incidentally, she simply used bouillon that time, and it came out fine.

I talked a bit some posts ago about using a magnifying glass as a kid to burn things. You can go ahead and read it, I'll wait.

Anyway, to this day, the smell of burning plastic reminds me of melting trash bags with a magnifying glass. Fortunately I don't get to smell burning plastic often (as it's toxic!) so that memory, as vivid as it is, doesn't get drawn up too often.

I was sitting one time talking with a brother of mine about this same sort of thing, the basic associations... He mentioned that he was once up in the Berkshire mountains, and one day while adding cream to his coffee, he was thinking about that day in the mountains, and now whenever he watches freshly added cream swirl in his coffee, he thinks of the Berkshires.

...Now of course, every time I see cream swirling in my coffee, I think of him thinking about the Berkshires!

I have tons of these, but I thought I'd keep it fairly short, for those of you who are stopping by for the A to Z challenge.

Do you have any basic associative thoughts like this?


Sunday, April 1, 2012

A to Z Challenge 2012 - Accidents

I have had many accidents over the course of my thirty two (and change) years. Not all were bad though. Some where...

I once did $11,000 in damage to a car that only had 4,000 miles on it. Very stupid, totally my fault, I was reaching for my phone and the person in front of me stopped. The car was in the shop for several weeks, and a week after getting it, I slid in the snow and bumped a median / island thing where the city had planted some bushes in the middle of a three way intersection, causing another $750 in damage. Needed a whole new bumper. I hate that cars are plastic now!

I dropped my cell phone in the toilet... TWICE in one month.

I once had to take a trip to another state for work. The flight was early, and so as not to wake my wife, I got dressed in the dark. I realized my folly while going through air port security. I looked down to make sure I was standing in the little tape outlines of feet so I could be scanned only to notice the pink stitching on my toes and heels. Apparently I was wearing my wife's socks. Also apparently, the TSA is used to seeing that. Guess it happens a lot on the early flights.

I once grabbed the wrong card from my wallet while paying the bill at a restaurant. I thought it odd that the waitress had returned so quickly. Apparently the credit card machine didn't take my bus pass.

I once left my back pack in the classroom. I returned to find the room closed and the lights off. I broke my library card trying to jimmy open the door. I then realized that the door was not locked to begin with.

I accidentally reminded the teacher to assign homework on more than one occasion in high school.

Got any good accident stories? I'd love to hear em!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Cheated Out of Winter

As many of you know, the weather in these here parts (New England) was very mild as far as winters usually go. I think collectively we may have had eight or so inches of snow this year, that probably only stuck around for a collective four or five days.

I am a creature of the cold, I think. I'd MUCH rather it be cold, and I can wear a sweater or something, rather than it be hot and I can only get so naked before I'm out of cost saving options. Yes, I have air conditioners, but I'd rather they were off.

I can't REALLY complain, since I didn't spend nearly as much money this year on oil as I did last year, so I can accept the sucky winter (good thing, huh?)

But still, I can't help but feel disappointed by mother nature. What a wimpy winter.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Five, Five... uh, Five, Five... And, um...Five.

So, I'm drinking today. Beer. Exellent beer, which I'm about to review over at my other blog, www.brewnewb.com so if you're wondering what it is, gimmie about 20 minutes after THIS post, and mozy on over.

I thought this was cool... I was thinking yesterday that every time I look at my speedometer, it's at an interesting number like, 88888 or something like that.

Then today, as I'm logging in to write my beer review before I'm too inebriated, I see this:

Monday, March 12, 2012

Stick I.T. - Disk 2

As an I.T. guy it's sometimes incredible to me how out of their element some folks can be when it comes to computers, particularly in situations where the computer pops up a message and actually tells you exactly what it needs.

 There are also times when you'll say something like "OK, now there should be an "OK" button, do you see it?" and they'll say "Yes, what should I do, click it?"... There have been times when I tried to inject a little of my typical smartassery, only to have it go over their heads as well, which really rankles.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Is it Just Me??

Why can't I seem to find a 12 cup drip coffee maker that doesn't dribble coffee down the carafe when I pour a cup, leaving a puddle of coffee on the counter? The last four I've had do this, and it's freaking mind boggling! Different styles, different models, different manufactures... SAME problem!

We have satellites that can see the color of the dust on a moth's wings, but we can't design a god damned coffee pot (for less than $80 anyway) that doesn't dribble?

Why can't we figure out how to design a pump-action soap bottle that doesn't leave the last table spoon of soap in the bottle? I don't want to have fiddle with the damned bottle and slap the bottom to get the end of the damned soap. I paid for 12 oz of soap, but I gotta work up a sweat for that last ounce?

I have trouble understanding how at this point in time, it's still lucrative for spammers to continue to send spam. How is it that there are really still people who click these ads? I mean, I know they do, I'm an I.T. guy and have to clean it up all the time, but really? There is no Nigerian prince who needs your help. Don't give him your bank account info...

Why is it every time you find a pencil with a good eraser, the tip constantly breaks easily? The tips that never break? No erasers!

Why can't they make a medicine that tastes good?

Shouldn't these things be possible by now? Is it just me who thinks this?

Friday, March 2, 2012

Free Credit Reports are a Pain in the Ass!

Why is it such a pain in the ass to get a look at one's own credit report?

Sites that offer free credit reports often have a fine print that says you'll be charged in a month if you don't cancel right away, but for your convenience, they'll monitor your credit and alert you when something happens. Yeah, that's nice and all, but I just wanna know where I stand right now!

Honest, who is looking at their credit reports the most? The people with bad credit who are trying to fix it, and the people who are providing these reports are making it more difficult for that to happen!

"Hey Bill, what's the best way to make money with this credit report site of ours?"

"Well... I was thinking, the folks coming to find out about their reports are probably trying to fix it for some reason or another, so they must be pretty bad with money. Let's screw them over as best we can, they're clearly an easy target."

All I want to do is find out how I'm doing, but I have to jump through all these freakin hoops, some of which I'm not even aware of! You can easily sign up for free online, and you HAVE to provide a credit card, but to cancel you have to call them, tell them why you're canceling, verify all your information, and EVEN STILL you might get charged. This happened to us recently.

"Oh, well when you signed up, you agreed to open TWO accounts, one for the credit report access, and the other for credit monitoring."

I had to tell the guy "That's ridiculous and misleading, and I want this charge reversed."

To which he replied, "I understand completely. I can bring that price down from $15 a month to $7 a month, and you..."

I thought you just said you understood?

I had to talk to his supervisor, who said "I'm sorry sir, we do not offer refunds, but I've canceled further charges. Is there anything else I can do for you today?"

To which I said, "Yeah, you can reverse this charge."

"Ok sir, I can make a one time exception in this case and reverse that charge."

WTF!? Is there a specific number of times you have to ask before they say ok? This person told me it was impossible, only to tell me in the next breath that she'd go ahead and do it!

Perhaps they do understand completely... They just don't care!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Magnifying Glass and the Summer Sun

I suppose the year may have been something like 1987 (Putting me at around age 8) or there-bouts. My family used to go on what they called "The October Trip" to a camp ground in western MA called the Mohawk Trail. As you could imagine, it was called this because we'd go in October. Not exactly the most seasonable months for camping, but the place was definitely not crowded!

I remember a number of things about going on the October trip. I remember packing for it, my father had always insisted on buying cars with roof racks, a preference I think I've shared since then. He'd put a blue tarp over the car, throw all the gear, tent, pots and pans, food, clothes, etc on top, and wrap the tarp around it. Then he'd tie it to the car with all kinds of knots I never learned to make.

I did tie some stuff to the roof of a car a few years ago, and since I've vowed I will never do it again without real come-alongs. I lost a box spring on Rt. 24 just north of Fall River that day, and didn't find out until either or ten miles later. We went back that same way later that day, and it was smashed, and sitting in the grass in the median. We did not stop.
I remember that it was on one of these trips (to the Mohawk Trail, not to Fall River) when I realized the trip TO somewhere was always a lot longer than the trip home.

It was also on such a trip that my father took me aside while holding a tissue box. We walked about eight feet away from the picnic table, and he produced a magnifying glass from his pocket and showed me how to start a fire. This was the beginning of a brand new hobby.

From that point on, I'd spend as much time outside burning this or that as I would in my sandbox. I burnt ants, spiders, pill bugs, beetles, wood chips, paper plates, plastic bags... To this day, if I smell burning plastic, I'm immediately flashed back to my youth. Too bad it's toxic, cause it brings back some memories!

There was one time where I was melting a garbage bag that was on our front porch, and got in big trouble, because IN that garbage bag was a dead car battery... You know, you leave something in the yard of a nine year old equipped with a magnifying glass, you're asking for it to be melted / burnt, if you ask me...

I also found out that cheap walmart sandal's would catch on fire fast, and turn into a sort of burning, boiling plastic version of napalm.

I eventually started getting more creative with it. I posed my plastic captain America action figure in a cool pose, and tried to melt his leg and arm sockets in place, so he would stay that way. It didn't really work out, so all I really accomplished was destroying yet another thing.

I started burning my name into things, which turned out to also be a bad idea, because I couldn't deny that it was me burning things. "Who burnt your name into the tree out front?" "Ah... vandals?"

I got in trouble again when my cousin and I started a little tiny fire in the back hard on some dead grass. The second it caught, he stomped it out, and we spent the rest of the afternoon trying to do it again... Then at dinner, he told my mother about it, like it was awesome... "What??" she said. "Nothing!" I said... And he retold the story. /facepalm.

Fast-forward to 1994. We were on a trip to Jaffery New Hampshire, my aunt had rented a cottage, and my cousin and I were dragged away for the week. We spent the whole week playing Rummy 500 and having camp fires. We burnt all their wood, and started burning odds and ends we found in the garage... Paneling we pulled off the walls, boxes and what not.

Looking back, it's a miracle we survived that weekend, because we found a red "stick" in the garage that we thought might be dynamite. We both looked at it awestruck, wondering if it might be dynamite, and what it would be in their garage for. We agreed that we really needed to know if it was or wasn't dynamite, so like a couple of early Mensa candidates, we threw a chunk of it into the fire, and sat there watching... Turned out to only be a road flare, thank god...

Thinking back, I really don't know why that particular story had nothing to do with a magnifying glass, it would have been the perfect time / place...

Did you find fire fascinating as a kid? Were you ever schooled in the arts of of the magnifying glass lighter, or was I, like in so many others of my childhood activities, the only one?

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Aliens: What If...

I've always been a big believer in extra-terrestrial life. I think it'd be arrogant to believe we are the only life out there among billions of solar systems. I've also always been a fan of science fiction, although I've never really liked the movies in which aliens come to earth to strip it of it's resources. That's our job!

In order to do something as monumental as achieving inter-galactic travel, I'm willing to bet it would require some serious team work. For a civilization to get to that point, every one of them would have to understand the value of life, cooporation, blahblahblah. I find it far more likely that if they come here at all, their intentions would be more along the lines of peace. Perhaps there's some inter-stellar counsil and we just might be the addition that they've been waiting for! What a blown opportunity it would be to land and kill everyone, you know?

I always liked the way they handled this in Star Trek, The Next Generation. Pre-Warp drive civilizations are left to their own devices figuring things out, and once they build the first warp drive vessle, they're greeted by Star Fleet. "Ok, now that you're out here, introductions are in order".

Movies love to make aliens the bad guys though, and I can understand that because it's unknown, it's easier to make it scary. But how do you think the aliens are going to react when they see some of these flicks?


Yeah, I'd be pissed too. I bet they have movies where they come down to earth and they all get stupider for having been exposed to our idiocy.

Crap. I just realized I forgot the sad one's ear... There. All fixed...

I think we'd be in trouble if they came tomorrow. Who would you want to be the person to make first contact? The president? Bill Gates? The Pope? (Hah! That'd be something...)

Imagine they land and it's the WORST case scenario... Who would be the WORST person on the planet to make first contact? Paris Hilton? Pee Wee Herman? The band Kiss?