Saturday, January 30, 2010

Filling up the Pool

I don't often mention during my blogging that I feel I am a
fairly spiritual and God-seeking Christian. I try to be a good
Catholic boy, and look forward to spending eternity with God.

But that discussion is for another time and another place,
that is not what this blog is about. However, since God is
a big part of my life, I may occasionally blog about religious
themes.

So with that in mind, I would like to discuss Eternity. Whether
you consider yourself to be religious or not, it is still
fascinating to try to understand what Eternity may be like.

Eternity means 'timeless'. No beginning, and no end. Since we
humans are on the earth for a finite period of time, we can only
relate to things that are finite. The concept of Forever in
the actual, literal sense is something that we just don't have
the ability to comprehend.

It may be possible for us to conceive of 'A Very Long Period
of Time', but even that is difficult (at least, for me it is).
A very long period of time is still not the same as Eternity.

For example, we are told that the earth has been around for a
few billion years. I guess my little pea-brain is able to
comprehend a million of something if I break it down:

A thousand, that's a do-able number. Easy enough, then, to
imagine one hundred thousand. We deal with numbers like this in
our daily life all the time. So if I can grasp one hundred
thousand, I only have to take ten of those to get to a million.

But to go much bigger than that, it starts to get pretty
intense. They say that the dinosaurs have been gone for about
200 million years. Now we are getting into some serious time.

Pretty amazing to think of a dinosaur leaving a footprint in
some mud, and then the print just sits there...undisturbed for
however long it takes to harden and turn into rock, just waiting
for someone to come along and uncover it.

Can you imagine leaving one of your footprints somewhere, and
there it remains for someone to find in the future, millions
of years from now? Can you now handle going into the billions,
and TRILLIONS?

But you know, as big as these numbers are, they are still
finite. We still can't compare that with eternity, no matter
how hard we try.

Think of this...let's say we have an Olympic size swimming pool.
We are now going to take an eyedropper, and place one drop of
water into the empty pool. We'll assume that the drop of water
will fall into it and stay there, it won't evaporate or
otherwise disappear. And we go away for a year.

Next year, we come back, and place another drop of water in the
pool. Then, next year, we will do the same. Can you see where
this is going? Eventually, if you add one drop per YEAR...you
will fill up the pool. And however long that takes, eternity is
still longer.

Okay, I did some research, and I found that a gallon of water
contains 90,840 drops (yes, a drop of water is a specific size,
determined by how many water molecules can bind together in a
single coherent mass before falling apart due to their own weight).

I also found that an Olympic swimming pool of the size:
164 ft. x 82 ft. x 6 ft. deep
will hold 600,000 gallons of water.
By my calculations, that would be 54,504,000,000 drops of water.

So if you were very patient, and only added one drop per year,
it would take you fifty-four trillion, five-hundred and four
million years to fill the pool.

This is not even a blink of an eye compared to eternity.
In fact, when you are in eternity, and have filled up the
pool, you will let another 54 trillion years go by, and STILL
you continue on living.

Now, I don't know about you, but I am not jacking with my
eternal soul...I want to spend MY eternity with God.

Peace be with you.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Just doing my Civic duty


There is a certain roadway that we travel with some frequency
here in our fair town, called Texan Trail. We normally access
this by exiting the 114 Freeway heading east, and we then arrive
at the intersection of Texan Trail and the off-ramp.
Texan Trail runs north-south, and our normal route is to take a
left turn at TT to go northbound.

There is (was) a slightly confusing problem, however.
Texan Trail is two lanes going north, and two lanes going south,
with a very large dividing island between them.

When you get off the freeway and are sitting at the intersection
waiting to turn left, it is very difficult to see the northbound
lanes on the other side of the island, and since the two
SOUTH-bound lanes are so very wide, there is an easy tendency
to 'undercut' the turn, and head left into the on-coming traffic.

I know it was a big problem, because whenever I had to take this
route...even knowing about it...I still had an inclination to want
to do this. Even with my bride warning me every time..."Don't
forget you have to go all the way across beyond the island!"

On more than one occasion, I saw cars that actually DID undercut
the turn and head into on-coming traffic. Luckily there were no
bad consequences that I ever witnessed.

See the aerial shot below:



Per the aerial shot diagram:
1. Very wide island
2. Inclination to cut short the left turn
3. This is the correct path you should take

4. So last year (January 5, 2009) I sent the city an email advising
them to look at the problem:

Concerning the Texan Trail offramp from Eastbound 114...

When you get to Texan Trail off the freeway to make a
left-hand
turn, (to go Northbound on Texan Trail) there
is a problem seeing
across the street. Due to the extreme
width of Texan Trail, and
the middle street bed being
raised, you can't easily see the street
beyond the island.
As a result, there is a tendency to cut short the left turn
and
nearly turn into the Southbound lanes instead of going
all the way
across and turn into the correct Northbound lane.

I thought it was just me, until the other afternoon
the car in front
of me actually DID turn into oncoming traffic, with
fortunately no
bad result. Perhaps some arrows or lines could be
painted on the
intersection? Thanks!
A concerned resident,
Joe Capuano


Hey, I actually got an email back from them!:

Joe, Your suggestion has merit. This is a state intersection.
We will work with the State on getting a tracking pavement
marking
put in across the intersection to properly guide the
motorists into
the correct lane.

Ramana Chinnakotla

Assistant Director of Public Works
Transportation & Utilities
City of Grapevine


And much to my appreciation, when traveling on our beloved
highway a few weeks later, this is what I found:



So, if you ever happen to find yourself in Grapevine, Texas,
you might want to take a look at the Eastbound Highway 114
service road and Texan Trail. I feel proud that I had a hand in
creating the yellow dashes that will help you to arrive at your
destination safely.

Peace be with you.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Bounce House


Several years ago, I went to a dermatologist to have something
looked at on my nose. It was a hard pimply growth on the side
of my nose, and it just did not want to go away.

The dermatologist cut if off for me (the pimply growth, not my
nose) and found it was a Basal cell carcinoma, but not to worry,
as this is not the more dreaded melanoma type of skin cancer. As
long as caught and removed early, as it was, we are cool.

Now, over the past few months I have noticed a similar type of
object taking shape on my left thigh. It would bleed a little
bit, then start to heal, making me think all was cool. Then the
cycle would start over.

The reason I mention this is because I know that everyone is
just dying to read about the excruciatingly dull and mundane
details of my miserable little life, and so, being the giving
person that I am, I comply.

I set an appointment with the doctor, but since over the past
few weeks it had entered another 'healing' mode, I almost
cancelled the visit. But, what the hell, I already had scheduled
to leave work early, so I might as well just go.

Turns out it was just another Basal cell growth, and he could
remove it right there. He said it was good that I came in,
because while it is easy to take care of now, left untreated it
could become more serious.

I purposely wore shorts that day, even though it was kind of
chilly, just so it would be easier to take care of this... had I
worn Levi's, I would have had to take them off to get to it. I
have found that when going to a doctor, you just feel like
things are less serious if you don't have to remove any article
of clothing.

You know those 'canned air' things you can buy, where you press
a button and air comes whooshing out to blow dust off computer
keyboards? (More expensive than just blowing on them, but also
more fun). And you know, if you turn the can upside down and
press the button, what you get is a freezing cold blast capable
of turning anything you direct it on into frozen frost.

This is the kind of device he used to kill the thing that had
taken residence on my leg. It was efficient and quick, which I
like. (He gave me a second blast just for good measure.
Something that is really really cold feels like really really hot,
just like holding dry ice in your hands.) The doctor warned
me it may 'blister' but once that heals, I should be golden.

Now, I am glad the 'thing' is gone, and the blister really
doesn't hurt, but it sure looks cool! I wish you could see this
picture in 3-D, because it is about half an inch tall, and
reminds me of a little bounce house:



This is going to be one of those things that you just can't
resist 'probing', all day long, my finger will wander over to
the bubble and go Bounce-bounce-bounce on it, just see how it is
progressing.

And now I see that I have taken up 546 words to just say:

Went to doctor.
Had pimple removed.

And they say men don't talk.

Peace be with you.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Stuck on Driving

My car has been mentioned on the news a few times as being
recalled because of a sticking gas pedal. They say the carpet
mat has a tendency to get stuck on the gas pedal, causing it
stay 'floored'.

Hmm...I really don't get this in any way, as you can see that
the mat is securely flat in its proper position:



Today I am hearing the problem is even worse...the
pedal may stick because of some other reason, and
cars are being recalled, and sales have been halted.

Now, I am not one to panic, and have been driving this
particular car for almost five years. I imagine some
people may have the problem, but I don't think the
gas pedal is going to suddenly 'stick' on me after this
many years just because the news stories are out.
I am willing to play the odds.

And I realize there must really really be a problem,
as a car company is not going to take these kind of
drastic measures for nothing.

But I have been driving for almost 40 years...I have
driven everything from boats and motorcycles to buses
and big rigs. Probably have racked up a couple million
miles in the process...when I lived in California, I put
more than 300,000 miles on my last car in 12 years
alone...I could have driven to the moon and part-way
back in those 12 years.

I think if my gas pedal ever got stuck, I would have
a clear enough mind to flip it into neutral without
panicking.

Peace be with you.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Jiggling the Handle - Part Two


Recall in our latest exciting Episode, our hero (Moi) had just
completed an extensive plumbing repair, and was taking a
well-earned rest.

...Our story continues...

As I laid down to take a well-deserved nap, I was suddenly
startled by the sound of water gushing against the wall in a
pretty strong stream...

Since I was only semi-conscious (a state that I seem to be in a
lot, lately), it took me a few minutes to realize what may have
been happening here...

I dashed into the bathroom to find a powerful stream of water
blasting out of the damn riser valve at a velocity of about
several gallons per minute.

My first thought is panic...how to stop this, and stop it
quickly! You know what kind of damage water will do, especially
originating on the second floor!

Going through my mind...calling a plumber...by the time he gets
here, the whole upper floor will have collapsed onto the ground
floor.

As you may know, most residences in the US have the main water
valve at the street in front of the house under a grate...and
the only way to turn off the water is by using a 'water
key'...which is a big stiff metal rod with two prongs on it.
You have to get down there and really turn on the thing to get
it to turn off. Most people don't have a water key...a pipe
wrench might do it in a pinch.

You must procure a pipe wrench, and get out there and find the
water meter, and all the while, since you are panicking, you are
not thinking clearly or efficiently.

I thank the Lord that we have had an additional water shut-off
valve installed just outside the front door with a simple ball
valve. It was just a matter of digging into the dirt to find it.
I knew it was there somewhere, buried under weeds and plants
(I am so glad that we have holly bushes in the front, all the
scratches I am getting will make me appear to be working really
hard at this).

Success! I crank the valve off (lefty loosey-righty tighty).
I run back into the house to make sure the ceiling is still in
one piece. The water has shut off, giving us some breathing room.

My lovely bride is already up there trying to mop up the water
with towels, and she is getting most of it up before it has a
chance to drain down through the drywall and come through the
ceiling downstairs.

So now that I have a chance to breathe, I can see that the
break has come from the cheapo water valve that was originally
installed in this house. These marvels of human engineering
are not designed to be turned off and on...imagine... a valve
that is not supposed to be turned.

So when I was fixing the problem with the running tank, I had
to turn off the valve, and bend the metal tubing to the side
just a bit...just enough to compromise the integrity of the
tube. Turn on valve, increase pressure...and we have a major
structural failure. The picture below is the replaced valve,
all nice and shiny and new:



Had this event occurred during the daytime when we were at
work, we would have come home to find a single story house
with a huge cathedral ceiling...complete with a nice lap pool in
the family room. I can't thank God enough that this did not happen.

As it is, the damage was limited to a few attractive abstract
stains on the downstairs ceiling...kind of like ink blots, yes?
(It doesn't actually look this bad, I upped the contrast so you
can see the pattern better).



And now, The Daughter is complaining that the toilet in HER
bathroom is running...should she submit the form?

See Option One: Just jiggle the damn handle!

Peace be with you.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Jiggling the Handle - Part One

I consider myself to be a pretty handy guy. When I was
growing up, my dad always made me help him with various
projects he was doing, mostly involving carpentry. I learned
a lot from him about construction, woodworking, drywalling,
and how to use various tools and power saws.

It was not until I looked back years later that I even came
close to realizing what a skillful man he was.

In addition to this excellent education, due to the many many
jobs I have had in my life (and this, too is a story for a
future post) I am semi-well versed in electrical wiring and
plumbing. Very basically, electricity is to wiring as water
is to pipes...if electricity has a place to go, it will go.

So this is pretty basic simple stuff, I can do most home
repairs, such as replacing switches, faucets, fixing leaks,
etc. However, even though I may be capable of said repairs,
you really have to weigh the different options before deciding
on which course to take to resolve the issue:

Option One: Do nothing. Live with it. Not worth the trouble.

Option Two: Fix it myself, if it is a minor enough task that
I think I can handle within a reasonable amount of time.

Option Three: Hire somebody. This is when the problem is
severe enough that I know it HAS to be done, and complicated
enough where I know it would take me somewhere between
two days and Never to get it completed if I did it myself.

I am not completely dim-witted, if there are mechanical issues
in the house that need to be addressed, I am aware of them. I
just choose to selectively ignore them. So if something needs
to be done, I will ask my bride to submit Form 27-a:



For example, she came to me not long ago and said that some of
the light switches are not working. They work if you flip it up
really hard, and then you have to flip it down really hard to
make it turn off. The switch is obviously old and the contacts
are worn. It does warrant a replacement:



Electrical repairs always bug me, because the amount of existing
wiring in the house is finite. You never know how much slack you
are going to find when you remove the old switch. It is tough to
coax the thick wire around the little screw, and as we all know,
you can only bend and un-bend the wire so many times before it
breaks. If I cannot pull any more wire out of the wall, then the
switch will have to be decommissioned and rendered useless,
along with whatever appliance it has been controlling.

I had her submit the form as a way to have a paper trail, but I
added an addendum that the work would have to be delayed until
next spring, when Daylight Savings Time kicks in. (The nature of
the requested repair dictates that power would have to be shut
off in the kitchen.)

As a result of this, the clocks on the coffeemaker and the
microwave would have to be reset. It would be counter-
productive to go through the hassle of setting these clocks
only to have to RE-set them again just a few weeks later, so I
penciled her in for March 14, 2010.

I did not remind her that on that date, I will be in California
with The Daughter to visit my mom, which unfortunately will have
a negative impact on the requested repair. We may have to live
with the loose switches for another six months.

Having narrowly escaped (for now) the electrical repair, my bride
then submitted another form for the upstairs toilet. According
to the form, when you flush, the water in the tank continues to
'run'. I reviewed the documentation and scheduled an initial
inquiry. I was tempted to kick the form back to her as Denied
due to an inaccuracy in the terminology, but I was feeling
generous that day and I did the inspection.

I discovered that the problem could be alleviated by just doing
a slight 'jiggle' of the flush handle after the tank had filled
up. (As I get older, I find that I am getting to be more and
more like electricity...I like to follow the path of least
resistance).

Now I am at an impasse...for me, it is much easier to just
jiggle the damn handle then it is to turn off the water valve,
reach down into the tank and mess with that gooky rubber and
plastic garbage down there, replace the tank gasket, etc etc.
I would much rather be spending my afternoon taking a nap.

(See Option One above).

But, as you all know by now, I am the perfect husband, and I
always do what my family requests (assuming the proper
paperwork has been submitted). I ran down to Lowes, got the
needed equipment, and performed the required repair.
All was well.

As I laid down to take a well-deserved nap, I was suddenly
startled by the sound of water gushing against the wall in a
pretty strong stream...

I am now realizing that this is dragging on for longer than I
intended. In the interest of not creating a post that is TOO
LONG...I must publish the second episode tomorrow...

Peace be with you.

...may cause the following Side Effects

Don't you just HATE those prescription drug commercials?
I cannot even bear to watch them.
The side effects are often just as bad as the symptoms
they are trying to correct.
For example:

Xanax:

Xanax is used to treat anxiety and panic disorders.
Side effects may include:

Anxiety -
Depression -
Confusion -
Umm...isn't this what the drug is supposed to cure?

Nausea -
Vomiting -
Diarrhea -
Increased or stomach pain -
I gotta tell ya...out of all the maladies that affect my humble
body, the four 'side effects' listed above are probably about
the worse things that could happen.
Vomiting is probably my least favored activity of all time, with
good old-fashioned nausea coming a close second.

Trouble urinating -
Don't mess with my plumbing.

Impaired coordination -
Irritability -
Memory impairment -
Dizziness -
Lightheadedness -
So...I need assistance in acquiring these attributes??

Abnormal involuntary movements -
Muscle twitching -
There goes my Tai Chai.
************
Lipitor:

Lipitor lowers cholesterol in your blood
Side effects may include:

Constipation -
Diarrhea -
Gas -
Stomach pain -
Upset stomach -
See above.
************
Nexium:

Nexium is used to treat several acid-related problems.
Side effects may include:

Nausea-
Abdominal pain -
Constipation -
Diarrhea -
Nuff said already.

Flatulence -
This may not actually be a problem if I am alone (or if I desire
to BE alone).
************
Ambien:

Ambien is used for the short-term treatment of insomnia.
Side effects may include:

Dizziness -
Drowsiness -
Drugged feeling -
I think that is point of the drug, n'est-ce pas?
************
Percocet:

Percocet is a narcotic pain reliever
Side effects may include:

Nausea -
Stomach pain -
Vomiting -
Upset stomach -
Constipation -
Yada yada yada...

Confusion -
Unusual thoughts or behavior -
Seizure (convulsions) -
I wish I could come up with some clever comments here...
************
Now what we really need is a drug with beneficial results.
If only we had something like that:

Warning! Using this mystical drug may cause the following side
effects!

Stabilization of the body at an exact optimum weight -
Peaceful restful sleep -
Reduction in the swelling of nasal passages -
Sudden and prolonged increase in mental capacity -

May also cause:

Twenty dollar bills to appear in random pockets -
Confidence and charisma to exude from you -

We dream.

Peace be with you.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Does anybody really know what time it is?

Dang! Can you even BUY anything these days that doesn't have
a clock on it? This world can be very tough for those of us like
myself who are anal about having ALL clocks in the house having
the same CORRECT time. I am talking right down to the second.

I don't know why I am like that, but I know it has something to
do with the fact that I hate to be late for ANYTHING, and I am
not just talking about work here.

If I am going somewhere, I know enough about factoring in the
variables regarding traffic, weather, time of day, and the
degree of familiarity I have with the location I am destined
for, as well as the importance of the pending event. I know how
long it will take to get there and what time I want to ARRIVE
there. So I know what time I need to leave. I can't leave any
of this to chance.

For example, I know that it will take me between 22 and 25
minutes for me to get to work, so I can leave the house at
exactly 6:15 AM and be fine.

If you have one clock that says, like 6:00, and another may have
5:57, another reading 6:03...well that is too much margin for
error for me. If they all have the same time, then I don't have
to guess what time it really is.

Now, as ANYBODY who knows me will tell you, I am generally a
very well-adjusted, normal individual with few quirks. But in
this case, it is a big deal. You should see me when we change
our clocks back or ahead during the Daylight Savings Time fiasco
we are subjected to in the US.

First, we start with the PC. I sync the computer clock with the
Atomic Clock in Denver, Colorado, and then set my wrist watch to
that time to be used as my Portable Master Timekeeper (PMT).

Next I have to take my PMT around to the different clocks in the
house, such as the thermostats, ALL the various clock radios and
alarm clocks, coffeemaker, microwave oven, the cars, the clock
in the garage, etc etc etc.

I realize that all the clocks won't actually keep the same time
as the weeks progress, due to inaccuracies with each one, but I
know that at least twice a year, they are all correct for about
a week or two.

I like to have a clock or two in every room of the house. No
matter where I am in my house, I want to have a clock in view
without having to turn my head more than about 180 degrees.
And of course, they all must agree, and be correct.

When we have a power outage (which is frequent here in Texas)
my bride and The Daughter exchange glances with each other saying,
"there he goes!". As soon as power comes back on, I am prancing
around the house, PMT in hand.

Now here is a cool thing...most of the more modern devices that
have a connection with the internet or phone lines now sync up
automatically with SOMEthing. Cell phones and cable boxes come
to mind, as well as our telephone. Of course, I can't guarantee
that they are displaying the CORRECT time, but as long as they
all agree with what time it is, they are at least consistent.

So tell me again why every other freaking gadget or device that
you buy these days all have digital displays on them with clocks!
And most of these have to be set manually! WHY must they
torture me like this?! Don't they realize that if the damn thing
has a clock, it MUST be accurately set???

For example, my electric razor and my coffee cup??



Polly Pocket and even the dang CLOCK has a clock??



My dad used to have a saying that he had printed and hung on
the wall after he retired:
What time is it?
Who gives a shit?

That will be my mantra when I retire!
My dad was a very wise man. I miss him.

Peace be with you.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Understanding Buzzwords

I am so glad that I am currently employed. My job may not be
perfect...probably none are...and I do sometimes complain about
different things...but I really should be...and I am...extremely
thankful that I am working.

I am very lucky to have a job for many reasons, not the least of
them being that I am getting older, and probably would not
qualify for many of the 'techie' jobs that are open today.

I look at some of the job descriptions and required
qualifications that are advertised these days, and sheesh! I
can't even tell what they are looking for! Now, I am not
college-educated, and I concede that I am not the sharpest tool
in the shed, but you can't help but be a little intimidated by
the wording they use:

...leveraging agile methods to deliver high quality application
code/functionality in a 24x7 mission critical environment.

...cultivates team dynamics that drives toward the collective
goals of the team and the success of the company.

Who writes this stuff? What must the job interview be like?

Interviewer: Do you have the ability to clearly articulate
complex situations and effectively influence colleagues?

Applicant: Um, yes, I can explain to my co-workers what I want
done.

Interviewer: Can you establish the stewardship for technology
governance and architecture process and control procedures?

Applicant: Yeah, I think I can figure out who is supposed to be
doing what in their jobs.

Interviewer: ...leaning forward in his chair:
Yes, but are you able to efficiently integrate the various
components that our products are comprised of in a manner
conducive to optimal dispensal?

Applicant: If you are asking me if I know how to stir the
mustard, then the answer is Yes.

Interviewer: That may be well and good, but answer me this:
Have you the necessary disposition to endure extended hours
in a calorically active environment, while ingesting gaseous
residue from chemically altered protein modules???

Applicant: Uh, yeah, Beavis, I think I can flip the burgers.

Applicant goes on:

But regarding the monetary compensation...Has this
establishment been made aware of the financial obligations
to reward the labors of its participants? Is the logistical
support of Management sufficient to ensure a consistent
implementation of tenure, or in absence of this, has a redundancy
procedure been deployed?

Interviewer is silent...this was not in his notes.

Applicant feels pity, saying: "Dude, it's ok. I am just asking
what the pay is and do we have unemployment insurance!"

May the inner feeling of satisfaction, comfort, safety, and
well-being be bestowed upon your soul by the Lord.

(In other words, Peace be with you).

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Nature Calling

Just kinda thinking about odd stuff today...being the odd
sort myself...

I am a true nature lover...which means that while I am forced
to live in an urban environment because of the reality of
civilization, my heart and soul will always be in the natural
world...in a beautiful forest, a deserted sea shore, somewhere
peaceful and quiet.

I love birds, insects, reptiles, animals...I think they are
beautiful and fascinating. I often wish I could live out in an
isolated area in the wilderness just to be close to nature, and
away from the hassles and stress of civilization.

While most 'normal' people just hear birds chirping...if they
take the time to hear them at all...I can often identify which
bird it is just by the particular songs they are singing.

I know, I am weird...but I think 'bugs' are just so cool. They
remind me of little robots. They can be so beautiful. I used to
go out at night and collect crickets and katydids when I was a
kid. To this day, it would be impossible for me to see a
praying mantis and not pick it up and check it out. Cicadas
remind me of little frogs:



Of course, I hate things like ants, fleas, mosquitoes and
cockroaches INSIDE the house...but even these things
are fascinating and wondrous to study and learn about.

When I retire, I plan to sell my suburban house and move to a
small town somewhere in Arkansas or Virginia, someplace where I
have a pretty large plot of land with lots of forests or woods
near by.

I don't think my wife is very keen on this idea, but I believe
if we are within 50 miles of a major airport and a decent
hospital, I can get her to see things my way. I have about ten
years in which to convince her...

I want to go outside at night and see the stars.
I can tell you that if it is a perfectly dark clear
night, if you are far away enough from light pollution, the
Milky Way is so bright that it almost looks like it is a cloudy
sky!

I don't dislike people, and I love the wonders of modern
technology (not to mention electricity, hot water and indoor
outhouses), but I would prefer to spend most of my time in a
quiet, rustic environment, spending time socializing with people
on my terms and at my convenience, and not having to drive on a
freeway so I can punch a time clock.

Peace be with you.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Dammit Jim, I'm a drummer, not a Midi Programmer!

I have been playing the drums for a loooonnngg time, for sure
since I was about 12 years old. The first drum set I ever got
was purchased from a swap meet in California for about 30 bucks.
It had the standard bass drum, snare drum, floor tom, but only
one bass-mounted tom tom, and only one crappy cymbal.

Ah, but that was all I needed. It was more than enough for me
to learn how to do basic beats, and it carried me through many
years. It was not until I was around 17 that I had scraped
together enough money to buy a newer set, and I quickly
discovered that the most expensive part of the set was going to
be buying quality cymbals.

When I got out of high school in 1974, one of my long term
buddies and I formed a band...I was the drummer, and my buddy
Ray was the keyboard player. We struggled to find a decent
guitar player and bass player, but we managed to dig some
people up and got our little quartet going. But that is a whole
other story that I may get to in the future.

For right now, we are focusing on the drums.
(In the UK, they refer to them as drum 'kits', and I never took
to that word. To me, it sounds kind of cheap, but what the hell
do I know. They invented the language over there).

For me, playing the drums is just as much as a visual thing as
it is an audio experience. The cymbals are shiny and they look
cool when lights reflect off them. A drumset is physical, it is
tangible, it is hardware.

Yeah, I know, so are other instruments, but with drums, it is
different. There are many different parts, and each piece, when
disassembled and held in your hand, has its own separate
personality. You can hold a cymbal in your hands, and it is a
flashy metal disk that is pretty and reflects colors.

There are ways to tune the individual drums so you can get
specific type of sounds out of them, but as you can imagine, it
is limited, and not easily changed to something else. When you
are playing, the feel of the sound is going to depend more on
how you hit the drums.

Being a drummer, I understand that most people don't actually
pay attention to the drummer. As long as you are keeping the
beat and are not overpowering, a drummer is not really noticed.
But mess up big time, and you are noticed! I know a guitar
player can miss a note, a keyboard player can hit a wrong chord,
but mostly only the band members may ever catch it.

But the drums are a dynamic instrument, a flubbed off-beat
mistake will be a glaring error that will throw off the timing
for everyone, and make the entire band look bad.

Now you take those new-fangled electronic drums that are out
there these days...
I remember them being used in the 80's on different disco songs,
and I have to say it was very sad. The artificial sound, the
steady, un-changing patterns (which point to a looped
recording), the boring sameness of the beat...
You knew that there was nobody even playing the drums in these
songs, it was all synthesized.

Not only did they sound artificial, but they looked boring too!
Electronic technology is wonderful, but the goal here was not to
create anything that looked cool. With the electronic drums,
all the fun was taken out of drumming.

However!! Not to worry, because that was then, and this is now:



My reluctance to embrace the future has been rectified, my
ignorance destroyed. I have since discovered, thanks to the
leader, singer and guitar-player of my current group, that these
electronic drums have changed quite a bit since the 1980's. Not
only do they sound exactly like acoustic drums, but the sounds
are easily changed to something else, which makes for great
convenience when doing different types of music.

Once I actually played them, I discovered that they sound and
feel exactly like acoustic drums. In fact, if I closed my eyes,
I would not be able to tell any difference at all both in sound
and the feel of them. And not only that, it was so easy to move
them, adjust the volume, record them. I have to say I was
enlightened.

Now, there are few issues that need to be brought up, however
minor they may be. We now have something that was likely one
of the first instruments ever devised by man...that only required
a thing to hit, and something to hit it with...in need of power.
Which means more things to plug in, more cables to work with,
and in some cases, requires some technological skills that a
dumb drummer never had to deal with!

Instead of tightening a drum head with a drummer's key, we are
now spinning electronic dials, stringing cables between amps and
electronic boxes, dealing with short circuits, crimped
cables, and mis-matched connections.



Dammit Jim, I am a drummer, not a Midi programmer!

Ah, but let me say this, Roger, my beloved bandmate, friend,
brother...
I love the electronic drums...they are easy to play and move...
The only thing we need to work on is to make them LOOK like old
style drums...
For recording, it doesn't matter, but for live gigs, someday, I
will get an old set, do some chopping, hacking and patching, and
see if we can disguise all those pesky electronic gadgets.

Peace be with you.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Black Hole

I am NOT a clean freak. I like the house to be sanitary, but it
doesn't have to be sterile. As long as there are not pieces of
unknown gunk stuck all over the kitchen counters, crusted dishes
sitting in the sink, or crumbs on the floor that I feel when
walking barefoot (which is always), I am good.

A little dust on the furniture or some newspapers or magazines
laying around on the sofa, I am OK with that. It doesn't matter
if the mirrors and windows are a little dirty, or if there are
fingerprints on the fridge.

There is one thing, though, that I can't abide (besides
Jawas)...and that is CLUTTER. I just can't stand extraneous and
useless CRAP laying around all over the place. My bride calls it
chachki stuff. It's like the entire house being a junk drawer.
It's junk drawers run amok. Junk drawers gone wild. Ok, we get
the point.

My lovely young daughter...delicate flower that she is...is not
what I would term terribly neat. I am hoping it is just a phase
that she is going through, and am hopeful it will end some day.

I forget what color the carpet in her room is, because you
really can't even see it. Whatever she has in her hands that
she decides she does not want to continue holding lands on the
floor in whatever location she is standing in at the time.

If she is taking off shoes or jackets, off they go, and wherever
they happen to end up is where they will take up residence.
I just can't see how she can live like this. I am not a neat
freak, but there comes a point where you just can't have CD's,
clothes, books, papers, cell phone chargers, and even CASH just
laying around on the floor like that. We can't even tell which
clothes are clean, and which ones are dirty.

If we bring up a basket full of clean clothes after the wash,
she will pick them out of the basket if she needs them, or maybe
they will end up on the floor. When my bride asks her to bring
down her dirty clothes to get them washed, I have a hunch she
just grabs an armful of stuff and brings it down, no way of
telling if they are really dirty or not.

Food wrappers, empty (or full) soda cans, even un-eaten food
lurk in the dark corners under her bed.

My fear is that one day she will turn out to be one of those
people you read about in the news with newspapers stacked to
the ceiling, and blocking every passageway in the house.

Now here is a paradox...I affectionately refer to her room as a
'Black Hole'...not because stuff mysteriously vanishes, but
because it gets lost. She has lots of stuff in there, but
whatever you are specifically seeking is nowhere to be found.
So I think what we actually have here is a 'Selective
Singularity'...instead of EVERYTHING in her room getting sucked
up into nothingness, which is what any normal black hole would
do (and would result in a spotless room), it seems to feed only
on things that we may actually want to find.

Bride: Hey, I just put our 2009 tax returns in Ariel's room...I
thought I had laid them on her desk, but now I can't find them.

Me: (with a sinking feeling): Uh...how long ago was that?

Bride: I think it was yesterday.

Me: OMG, I hope it is not too late!

So I go and push open her door...I can feel the resistance of
several tons of miscellaneous debris behind the door that must
be shoved aside. I kick through a pile of Teen Beat magazines
with my foot so I can create a pathway towards her desk. My
hope is that I can retrieve the documents before they have
gotten sucked past the Event Horizon.

Before me stands The Desk. The drawers are all open,
mis-matched socks hang out of them, single shoes without their
mates, long ropes of petrified licorice.

I search the top of the desk, gingerly pushing aside Skittles
wrappers and used up iTunes cards. I think I see what I am
looking for.

Wait! What's this? Could it be the clicker from the old TV
that got misplaced in 2006? Her Human Cell Diorama that she
worked on so hard last year, but never turned in because she
couldn't find it?

Suddenly, I start to feel a tugging at my left foot, slowly but
forcefully pulling me towards the closet. I think I may be on
the verge of discovering the exact location of the Singularity.
As I allow myself to be nudged towards the closet, I can feel a
breeze blowing past me...probably the movement of air being
pulled into the gravitational field.

I manage to pull myself free, grab the tax return, and make a
dash for the door. And I discover that I have been in The Room
for almost 7 hours...Apparently the time distortion has affected
my perception of reality. And now I know why it takes her 5
hours to get ready for bed after taking a shower.

Peace be with you.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

How to have a Guilt-free Marriage

There are several things that I wish I had told my bride right
off the bat when I first met her. Things that, had I made
perfectly clear right from the beginning, I would have been able
to adhere to all throughout the marriage, without having any
negative repercussions. Such as:

I don't do painting

If she had been notified of this, then I would have saved myself
lots of trouble when she decided that various rooms needed to be
painted. Being the giving and generous husband that I am, I of
course helped her do the painting. But had I clearly stated my
dislike for painting early on in the relationship, I could have
legally declined to do any of it.

It would have been my loophole, I could have let her know she
was on her own without any of the guilt.
Along a similar line:

Don't ask my opinion on home decor

I will defer to you, my lovely bride. Whatever you like,
darling. Yes dear. My own preferences are wood paneling and
leather furniture, but whatever you think is best. Really.

I don't do Christmas decorations

See this early post for clarification.

I don't dance

I didn't dance when I was a kid in high school
(like I would have if I had the chance anyway, as I was
not exactly Mr. Popularity back then), and I hate to dance now.

Oh, I did it all right, in my 20's when I went to 'clubs', but
that was because it was the only sociably acceptable way to hang
out with the females. You really can't just sit and chat with all
that loud noise going on. You kinda hafta dance.

I prefer to just listen to the music rather than dance to it.
I am of the rather goofy, un-coordinated sort, and I am very
warm blooded and get hot and sweaty very easily. This is
compounded by the fact that by convention you are usually bound
up pretty tightly in 'dress-up' clothes, which just adds to my
discomfort regarding my temperature regulation.

See this post that illustrates how my lameness has caused me
to have a life-long distaste for sports.

Now, there have been times where I agreed to dance, but these
moments are very rare, and it would require that several
conditions be met:

1. The music would have to be my kind of music...rock and roll,
loud, and one of my favorite songs.

2. The environment must be comfortable, what I would consider
acceptable would be chilly by most other people's standards.

3. It must be fairly crowded, so I don't stand out too much

4. It wouldn't hurt for me to have a couple of Scotch on the
rocks under my belt beforehand.

And yes, I DID dance with my bride on our wedding, and I WILL
dance with her on our 25'th wedding anniversary in 2013!

Peace be with you

Friday, January 15, 2010

Emptying the Tank

So I am quite lucky when it comes to my morning commute. I
only have to drive about 20 miles, and I usually make it in less
than half an hour. If you compare that with our drive times when
we lived in California, I have paid my dues and have earned this
short trip. My bride and I both had at least a 3 hour round trip
commute when we were living near LA.

As you can well imagine, before I left for work in the morning
it was crucial that I empty all the tanks in preparation for up
to two hours without access to the facilities.

As some of my loyal listeners may know, I sometimes go to the
gym early in the morning, and while I am exercising, I usually
drink copious amounts of water. When I get home, I drink some
more, and then will typically have at least one cup of coffee.

However, even though my current drive time is pretty short, I
usually have to make a trip to the boy's room right away when I
arrive at work. You know how it is after the morning coffee. To
be safe, I always do one final purge right before I walk out the
door. One would think that would be enough insurance for a 25
minute trip.

We had some mighty cold weather last week in North Texas. I
think it was last Monday where the temp had gotten down to
about 20, and then right before I left for work, a very light foggy
sprinkle fell for just a few minutes. Of course it froze, and
it was just enough freak all the drivers out.

So I am calmly driving along to work along the 183. Ten minutes
go by, and as per my plan, I am about half-way to work. Traffic
is doing OK, so far nobody has decided that the speed on the
freeway should be 5 MPH, ice or not. I pass all the familiar
landmarks, check my time and mileage, when I notice that there
are brake lights ahead.

They are not just slowing down, however, they are stopped. I
stop as well, and I check my watch, I won't be late. it's rather
odd, though, how we have stopped, but are not actually
going again. And as the minutes tick by, and we are not moving,
it slowly becomes apparent that we have a problem, Houston.
That's Problem with a capital 'P'.

So far I am not panicking. I am only about 8 miles from work,
how much longer can it take? I start to have these inner
conversations with myself...before the situation gets out of
hand, I need to calmly explore my options.

I can just hang on and hope and pray for the best. It's not as
if this is the first time in my life I have been caught away
from the loo. A little discomfort, but I will be fine.

Soon I become surprised at how quickly I am approaching critical
mass. I need to start planning NOW what I am going to do if it
gets dire. I can't just get off the freeway and find a
restaurant, I am at a dead stop in the 'fast' lane with traffic
blocking me all around.

Another desperate option would be to fill up a water bottle or
container of some sort, so I glance around my car. Nothing.
Luckily, males have external plumbing, so as a last resort, I
can always open my door and lean out. I won't have to drain the
entire tank, but just relieve some of the pressure.

I prep myself mentally, as that will be the Final Solution if
things don't get moving pretty quick. As Chucky would say,
"A baby's gotta do what a baby's gotta do."

Now, before anyone starts to think I am a gross male pig, let me
remind you that when the bladder is stretched to capacity, the
walls of it are only two cells thick. I don't think it would
take much at that point to cause a massive decompression that
would land me in the hospital at the very least.

I look around me at the other cars, trying to see if anyone else
is in any obvious discomfort, when I am startled by a horn
blaring behind me. We are moving!

With fresh resolve, I command my body to 'man up' and take it
for five more minutes. I arrive safely at work and jog into the
Men's room. I get a few odd looks, but I don't care...I am here
safely, and I am still dry!

Now, for a nice cup of coffee!

Peace be with you.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Songs Remain the Same

People like to read biographies of famous people, but do you
know what I find the most fascinating part of these life
stories? I always like to see how their lives were before they
became famous. Whether it is a great musician, or an actor, a
politician, or a successful business person, I always like to
know what their lives were like when they were still "normal"
people. I like to put myself in their place as they plodded
along in their day to day life, imagine the things I would be
feeling if I were in their position. They may have been working
hard towards their goals, and working just a bit harder than
most of us do.

I like to imagine what kind of lives famous people would have
had if they had not attained their goals...what kind of jobs
they would be doing. There are lots of things in life that
happen to us that we have little control over, and I believe
that no matter how talented or aggressive a person is, there
must be a certain element of luck involved for them to truly
succeed.

I would bet that for every really successful actor, musician,
singer, or entertainer in the world today, there are probably
hundreds, or maybe even thousands of people who are just as
talented, and some even more talented than these success
stories...but there can only be so many "famous people" on
earth, and in order for them to be celebrities, there must be a
large class of "normal" people. Perhaps these extremely
talented "wannabees", who are just as good, just never work
hard enough, or pursue their goals long enough. Maybe they
just were never in the right place at the right time.

However...talent is a subjective term, especially these days,
when every young actor on the Disney Channel suddenly
becomes a 'singer'. Sure, these young folks can carry a tune,
but so can I. But none of them are 'great'. In fact, to me, all
the young female singers all sound exactly alike. I guess
I have to ask myself, do we really NEED another singer?
Is there a global shortage?

I guess the Tweeny-boppers love them, so you can't fault the
Disney Channel for catering to them if it is making them money.
I have watched these Disney Channel series (my daughter is in
7'th grade), and I can admit that some of those shows are
mildly amusing, and I honestly can't deny that these young
actors and actresses have talent. But should they be making CD's?

Now you take American Idol. I am not a fan, but I have seen it.
Yes, some of them really sing well. But again...hmm...how can I
put this...
If you are going to stand out among the glut of singers already
famous in this world....you have to be GREAT! AWESOME!
Give me chills and goosebumps when I hear you sing. Stand out
among all the other great singers you have ever heard.

For example...Robert Plant. Great singer? Maybe. Can he carry
a tune? Absolutely. He also has great range. But when you hear
him sing...the peculiar sound that he has...whether you like Led
Zeppelin or not, when you hear him sing, you KNOW you are
hearing someone with a very different and original sound.

I am in awe of musicians who play complex movements perfectly
and smoothly, especially during live concerts. Any band that
sounds great playing live music are truly great musicians, and
worthy of the fame they receive. Anybody can be made to sound
good in a controlled environment such as a recording studio, but
if you sound great live, you have true talent.

I am, however, a true believer of the line that "if you want
something bad enough, you will get it." To truly "make it", I
would have to work as hard as the success stories do. Even
then, there is no guarantee...most actors or rock bands struggle
for many years before they hit it big. What if they had given
up just a short time before their "break" came? And what about
the people who struggle, and then give up... there is no telling
what could have been around the very next corner.

I'll bet that really successful people today have made many
sacrifices to get where they are, and in a strange way, when we
pay to see a movie or buy a CD, we are really just rewarding
them for their hard work.

Peace be with you.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Rakishly Leaving

Believe it or not, winter is generally one of my favorite times
of year. I am not a fan of the 100 degree humid bath house
summers here in North Texas. Not only does winter give us a nice
respite from the unreasonably hot weather, but it also brings me
to one of my favorite yearly events...raking leaves!

To make things more fun, I usually wait till ALL the leaves have
fallen from the nearby trees before raking them up. I know lots
of my neighbors are out there raking weekly, but I just can't
see the point. I would much rather enjoy the chore to its
fullest by waiting until we are knee-deep in leaves.

Several factors must be considered before undertaking such a
joyful task. We must wait until the wind is blowing from south
to north (which it normally does in North Texas, thereby
bringing the deliciously damp and juicy atmosphere to us from the
Gulf Coast). This way, any errant leaves that get away from me
will blow into Tony's yard, and he doesn't care. The whole key
to life is making physics work for you, that is my motto.

To start, I will rake all the leaves away from the street
gutters so the water can drain down, we can give the leaves a
chance to dry out before picking them up:



(Note to self: corner lot-bad idea)

Then we can start to rake the leaves on the lawn into nice
confined pens, molding them into any geometric shape that fits
my fancy. Being the boring type, as you know by now, I opted
for the square this year. I have experimented with other shapes
in past years, but I find that rectangular themes draw more
approving glances from the neighbors.
Then we wait for physics to do its thing (blow wind blow):



As you have no doubt noticed by now, after reading some of my
blogs, I really am a logical and well-balanced chap, and my way
of doing things just works.

It is usually about this time when Robert from across the street
comes out to watch me start to bag them. He likes to tease me
because he has already finished his. He doesn't realize that
the joke is on him, because it is 40 degrees out, and I am
enjoying this work. Ha ha, silly Robert.

I really like that when I pick up the wet leaves from the gutter,
they are so heavy that the trash bag starts to rip as I fill it
up. I think it is cool when my bride sees me struggling with the
heavy bag, and makes her think I am working so hard. Any good
excuse for a nap, I always say.

Later on, Tony will come out to rake HIS (my) leaves, and then
Robert and I will go get some lawn chairs and beers and watch.
You can always drink beer, even in 40 degree weather.

All good things must come to an end, but fortunately, I do carry
some reminders of this pleasant outing with me...a nice blister:



Peace be with you.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Global Freezing

I live in North Texas, the Dallas-Fort Worth area to be exact.
(Fondly called DFW by the natives here).

I am a transplant from LA, we have been living here for about 13
years. Some things I miss about California are the beautiful palm
trees, the ocean, and, of course, the weather. One thing I DON'T
miss are the earthquakes...one reason we moved out here, but
not the only one. (Can you say one-and-a-half hour commute to
North Hollywood...ONE WAY!)?

But the weather in LA was always pretty nice. Hot in late
summer (but dry) and winter nights rarely getting down even
close to freezing. But I am not in Texas by choice...if I
didn't have to work, I wouldn't be living in ANY highly-
populated urban arena. Economic realities force me to live
where I live.

I love our little neighborhood, however, it is quiet, pleasant,
the neighbors are GREAT, and we have some friends. But summer
is unbearable...stifling...muggy...filled with mosquitoes between
late February and late November.

But what's this about global freezing, you wonder aloud?
Yes, winters can be quite cold here. Snow flurries happen, but
usually frozen stuff is just ice...all of the slippery misery
without any of the fun beauty of snow.

But I never complain about the cold weather. I don't like to
freeze, but I like it more than summers where the temp does not
go below 85 degrees even in the middle of the night. You can't
even open a window at night like we used to California, it just
doesn't cool off. The AC out here has to run 24-7 for about 8
months out of the year.

We have about a two-week window twice a year where we
don't have to run either the heat or the AC...The beginning of
March, and then again towards the middle of November.

Two summers ago we had a power outage in August. Within
a few hours, the temp inside the house was over 90 degrees.
Power was out for two days, we had to go rent a hotel for a few
days. I don't know how people around here existed before air
conditioning. The only feasible way I would have been able to
sleep would have been in a bathtub full of water.

So I don't mind the cold. GREAT sleeping weather!
Last night we had our coldest temperatures since I have been out
here...15 degrees. Yeah, I know, lots of you in colder parts of
the country are shaking your heads in bewilderment, but
personally, that is the coldest temperature I have ever
experienced in my life.

So, being a wanna-be photographer (as well as a wanna-be
musician, writer, dot com executive) I had to go out and take
some pictures of the icy street gutters:



I like the patterns on the ice with the leaves encased within
the frozen water:



Last night I let an outdoor faucet drip ever so lightly, in the
hopes that I would find this beautiful frozen sculpture, with a
stalagmite of ice reaching gracefully up to the spigot, gently
caressing the metal pipe in a cold lovely embrace. Alas, all I
found was a dripping faucet with a frozen puddle on the ground.

Peace be with you.

Friday, January 8, 2010

What's in a Name?

I am terrible with names...I always have been.
I wish I wasn't, it can be so embarrassing.
If I meet someone new, I can remember them by face pretty
easily, but I hate that I keep forgetting their name.

What's even worse, is that I may see these people frequently
over time, and still not quite place their names. I hate it
when they say "Hi, Joe, how are you?" And I just go "Hey". How
lame am I?

When you have a kid in middle school, like I do, you can't help
but meet lots of new people from the school, such as parents of
her friends, teachers, parole officers. And dang it if I don't
wish they all wore name tags!

You know, it even happens to me at work, and with people I have
actually known for some time! The problem is, if you have been
seeing someone around for a small amount of time, and have
forgotten their name, the more time that goes by, the more
awkward it is to say "I'm sorry, I am stupid, what was your name
again?" So it snowballs. No way in hell am I going to ask
someone I have been working with for two years what their name
is!

Sometimes I get lucky and wait for someone to call them by name,
or I might sneak up to them and see what the name is on their
email account on their PC. There are ways, my friend.

At a job I had years ago, there was one guy who always called
everybody 'Hoss'. You'd go up to him and say HI! (I can't quite
place his name just now). And he would just go, "Hey, Hoss, how
are ya?" And it is only recently that I have come to the
realization that he was a very wise fellow who had solved the
same problem that I have!

Peace be with you.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

No Gain, No Pain

All right, so I am getting older now. I will be 54 this year.
I am trying to keep myself in shape, and have been doing okay
for the past several years. We like to go to our neighborhood
Lifetime Fitness outlet because it is clean, full-featured, and
is open 24-7.



(By the way, don't you just LOVE reading about all the mindless
minutiae and boring details of my exciting life?)

When we first started going, it was usually on week-ends, and
also afternoons or evenings when we got home from work. We
really enjoyed going, and we always see people we know
there...from work, from school, from church. It is very
family-oriented, friendly, and has lots of events.

As time went by, I began to find it more and more difficult to
find the time after work to get to the gym. If we were going to
do it, we would have to go right after work, because since my
bride and I don't usually get home at the same time, one of us
would have to wait for the other.

Then we get complications with dinner, and if we wait till after
dinner we didn't feel like going. It got to be too difficult to
find a consistent plan. So I found a solution...

Hey, let's get up at 3:00 AM and go!
(My bride is not keen on that, so now she goes a bit later in the
morning, or perhaps in the evenings).

I, however, have discovered that getting up early really DOES
work for me! Now, that doesn't mean I enjoy getting up at 3:00
AM several days a week, but there is that certain feeling of
accomplishment when you are walking OUT of the gym at
5:00 AM, all done with the work-out, and passing all the other
people who are just arriving to start theirs.

I have found that getting up at 3 is really no different then
getting up at 5 or 6...if you are being awakened by an alarm
when you would rather sleep, it is not pleasant regardless of
what time it is. As long as I have gotten to sleep before 10:00
PM, I am OK. The added benefit, now that it is done, I don't
have to worry about it for all the day! I can get home and
relax, maybe even take a nap.

The really cool thing about going in the middle of the night is
that rather than finding a full parking lot, and having to wait
for the machines like you do during rush hour, there is usually
NOBODY else there! It is almost spooky being in that rather
huge dark place all by myself.

There are a few other regulars who go early from time to
time...there may be one or two other people working out, but
often, there is really and truly NOBODY ELSE THERE!

After I have been there for some time, usually around 4:30 AM,
groups of people will start coming in, but for the most part, I
have the run of the place for about an hour.

But...uh oh...something else has come up now. I have lost that
social aspect that we had when going during the busy hours. I no
longer run into people that I know...in fact, I don't run into
anyone now...hardly.

When I go in the afternoon, I enjoy socializing with the people
I see, shooting the breeze, so they say. But if I am getting up
at 0-Dark-30 in the morning, the clock is ticking. I have a set
amount of time I have allotted to myself in order to not be late
getting home, taking a shower, and getting to work. It is not
happy hour.

Recall, Gentle Reader, that I mentioned that there are hundreds
of people in the gym in the afternoons, and maybe one or two or
three early in the morning. It is a different feel in the early
time, so if you see someone in an empty gym you notice them
more, and are more apt to greet them and say Hi to them. But by
mutual agreement, it really doesn't go any farther than that.

On the rare occasions where I actually DO bump into someone, I
really don't have time for more than a quick 'hello' and how ya
doing. They are, like myself, just there to get it done, and
then get the hell out of Dodge. We are not trying to be rude,
it's just that this is our own private time to work out, and I
am sure they feel the same way that I do.

I am not there to scope out the chicks, or to compare muscles
with dudes. So if you happen to see me in the gym early early in
the morning, stop by and say Howdy! But if you want to
socialize, we can do that in the afternoon when I am already
done working for the day and am more relaxed.

Peace be with you.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Duplicity

You know, when I first started this blog, I was originally going
to do one specifically on one of my favorite hobbies...
Photography. My aim was to present a myriad of excellent
photos that I had taken. What I wanted to do was share my
blog with other most excellent photographers, and we could
then follow each other and comment on how great our images are.

Alas and alack...I went through a painful process that
ultimately led me to the conclusion that I would not be able to
do this due to the fact that most of my photos...well...SUCK!!

Now, I still diligently search out and peruse photography blogs,
but as of yet have not been able to find any that focus
specifically on photography...so if anyone stumbles upon my blog
and either HAS a photography blog or knows of any, I would
greatly appreciate being clued in on them, as I still would love
to find some to follow.

I will still comment on how cool your photos are, and then,
Gentle Reader, will include some of my own for your approval...
Of course, that implies that I can FIND any of mine that are
worthy of displaying.

So with that in mind, I humbly present, for your amusement, what
I like to call 'Duplicity'...which are images that contain TWO
of me. In this first episode, I am teaching myself the proper way
of frying eggs:



And in THIS one, you could say I am jamming with myself:



Along a similar vein, we have a ghostly image of myself and The
Daughter. The Daughter is so weird...I can't imagine where she
gets it from:



In her dreams, she can fly!:



And just to top things off, a gorgeous shot of the gaping maw
of a clean donkey...



Peace be with you

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Sportsman-like Conduct

I am frequently puzzled at how 'into it' some sports fans are,
and how much of their lives revolve around their teams. I cannot
imagine anything in my life...short of winning the lottery...
that would make me as excited as these people get when their
team wins. And I swear that when their team loses, these fans
get even more upset than the team players themselves.

When I lived in California, a local radio personality said it
best when he mused that he did not care for sports because he
was not born with the 'Sports Gene'. I think now that he was
correct...you either love sports or you don't, just like you
either have blue eyes or brown eyes.

For me, basketball is the least interesting sport there is...
watching a group of tall sweaty guys running back and forth
bouncing a ball just does not do anything for me. I am able to
tolerate watching portions of a football or hockey game, and
baseball is mindless entertainment, but for me to pay to go see
a basketball game...well, it ain't gonna happen. Let's talk
about how much you would have to pay me to see the game.

Part of my distaste for sports may stem from the fact that I am
somewhat 'un-coordinated', which in grade school meant that I
throw like a girl. I was not as agile or talented as the other
kids, so during our forced sports participation, I did not do
well, and so was teased and bullied about it. As a result, I
hate sports.

Of course, sports is a pretty general term, I do love many
outdoor activities, such as hiking, camping, swimming, fishing,
golf, scuba diving, etc., which may all be considered sports in
a broad sense. My dislike for sports is limited mainly to the
organized team sports, the kind where we have one team
competing with another (and groups of loud people yelling at
each other and painting themselves).

The funny thing is, I wish I could get into it like other
people...it would be fun to have something that exciting to
look forward to, especially the college football games in the
winter. But alas, I have no interest, no time for it.

Happy New Year & Peace be with you.