Category Archives: Stuff

SPROINGGGGGGG


Today’s Music: Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer – Makin Whoopee
(Alternate take: Dr. John and Rickie Lee Jones)
Days Til Spring: ZERO! ZIP!! ZILCH!!! NADA!!!!

At. Frakkin. Last.
At 12:57 EDT today, something glorious happen(s/ed). Without any speeches or announcements, without the interference or permission or approval of talking heads or governments, Spring start(s/ed).
For some of us, it still feels like winter, or it’s actually the start of autumn.
But for me, even though the weather disagrees with the calendar, today is a milestone.
90 days ago was the shortest day of the year. Today, regardless of legislated clock shennanigans, sunset begins twelve hours after sunrise. And after that, for the next 90 days, the days keep getting longer.

But today is where it starts! Two whole seasons of no jackets, bright sunshine, and green grass. How will I spend it?
Glad you asked!

Wait for your eyes to stop bleeding.  Then get your own at Wave Shoppe

Wait for your eyes to stop bleeding.
Then get your own at Wave Shoppe


The Spring and Summer Stupid
Surfing. As always, I don’t care if I stand up on a wave or not. Get on the water on my board. Paddle til I can’t feel my arms. Lie on the beach, then go out for a good meal.
Picnics. Books. Good food. Guitar. Hula hoop for The Most Wonderful Girl In The Universe. ‘Nuff said.
Road Trips. Pick a direction, roll down the windows and drive. Find a town, maybe with an event, maybe with the worlds largest ball of twine. Who cares! Just enjoy the ride, baby.
Stand Up Paddleboarding. We go down to a place on the Hudson in lower Manhattan. Paddleboarding in the middle of a major metropolis? Gives me the giggles every time.
Jet Skiing. A place opened on the same beach we surf. I expect to fall off at least once
Rock Climbing. TMWGITU (to my ecstatic surprise) loves climbing in a gym. I really want to get her on a cliff at the ‘Gunks.
NAPS!!!! If you have to ask why, we need to sit down for a long talk.
Free Music. It’s everywhere in the city. Free concerts in the park. Free concerts by the rivers. Festivals. I’m like a kid in a candy store.
Playing Guitar Outdoors. I don’t care how good I am (or not). There’s something extra joyful about sitting in a park making music. Even if it’s the same notes over and over. (And TMWGITU will probably bring her hoop for those outings too!)
Bungee Jumping. This probably won’t happen, but I discovered there’s a bridge with a 200′ drop 20 minutes outside Ottowa. How could that not be on my list?
Watching the stars. A warm quiet night with the heavens ablaze. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, try it and you’ll understand.

As always, this list is neither definitive, nor accurate. Maybe paddleboarding will get dropped in favor of the trapeze on the west side. New things will get added, others will get dropped because of time or money.
But it will be Spring and Summer, and I’ll spend it with my wife.

Looks like they will be great seasons!

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Friday Foolishness – Football Edition


Today’s Music: Snooks Eaglin – Sleepwalk
Days Til Spring: 44
(a note on today’s music – I absolutely love this song. I hope you do to. Special thanks to Nick Spitzer of American Routes on NPR for finally giving me the name!)

Weather Terrorist.


Well, here we are again. Another week, wasted at work…
Fortunately, I had the blogosphere to keep me company.
Sandylikeabeach posted a beautiful Happy Birthday message to her dad.
Merilee Mitchell alerted me to some sad goings on in a beautiful spot in the desert
Apparently, someone gave Eric Murtaugh room to do a guest post,
and Alex Autin made me talk like Steve Irwin. Fortunately, it wasn’t out loud.

You guys, and everyone else, are part of what I look forward to every week!

Last week, Guapola wanted to know about you and the State of the Union.
Here’s what you said (Commments in italics are mine)
it’s time to invest in a decent Blu-ray & enjoy my starwars boxset! Kanerva 🙂
(Ah, Star Wars. Another heart warming story of the relationship between citizens and the government…)
of the state of the crapper in my BR that is clogged again and useless lizziec
(An excellent political metaphor, lizziecracked!)
‘tics is a four-letter word, but politicians are too stupid to spell it. Red.
(I think they can only spell words with the letter “$” in it, Red…)
that they opposing party does not deserve a televised response time.
(Sometimes, I’m not sure the party in power deserves the television time.)
of sleeping through it.
(WE HAVE A WINNER!!!!)
That I had something more important to do in the other room. Like the dishes.
(Which is why, my fellow Americans, in the next election, I promise you, a dishwasher in every house!)
We have better writers on WordPress. – The Hobbler
(And you are one of them, Hobbler!)
being Canadian, I have to ask, What is the state of the union?
(Being American, I have to answer, not that good.)
What State of the Union?
(Are you Canadian too?)
That I damn well better start working for Obama again. The alternatives suck
(I really hope we don’t find out how badly they really do suck come November!)
alcohol can make anything entertaining. theworldaccordingtoscarp
(Entertaining. Or sad. So very, very sad…)
I try not to think too much. It hurts…
(They make a pill for that! Several, in fact…)
that I should watch it but got highlights from comedians on Twitter instead.
(That and The Daily Show are where I get most of my news from!)
The States of America, for this country is not United. – Rich Crete
(Dude, you are totally killing my buzz)
I’ve never heard of a state called ‘The Union’. Are there 51 states now? GingrSnaap
(Yes, it’s where the Veggies from VeggieTales live.)
American TV ran out of programming. Thank God for the Canadian channels. John Phillips
(What, you don’t love the Kardashians?!?)
State of the Union? Was there a State of the Union? Alex Autin….things I LOVE!
(In name only, Alex…)
There was a State of Union?? I think I slept through it. TEXT
(As did several senators, I believe…)
i LOVE Boehner’s new shade of orange barkinginthedark
(It’s like he’s diseased and irradiated!)

However, it seemed many of you just watched the event to Marvel at the size of Obama’s ears.
Hey, there are worse ways to spend an evening, I suppose…
And for those keeping track, there were 2 votes for BBRRRAAAIIINNNSSSSS!!! Thanks for keeping the dream alive!

This week (keeping with our topical polls of late), we turn our eyes to that game of games, the Superbowl!


Vote early, vote often! Poll closes next Thursday at 1159 pm.
See you next week. And to keep you busy until then, 2 things you’ve probably all seen before, but are still fun:
Matrix Ping Pong!!!

and Bill Murrays speech from the end of Groundhog Day.

Have a good weekend, see you ’round the bend…

An Adventure – CHEESESTEAKS!!!


Today’s Music: Fitz and the Tantrums – Don’t Gotta Work It Out
Days Til Spring: 55

*Discaimer – I was young and stupid(er) at the time. I don’t drive (often) like this anymore!

Conversation with co-workers went like this:
Guap: Want to have lunch tomorrow?
Brian: Sure
Sean: Yeah, why not.
Guap: Great. Meet me here tomorrow at 10.
Brian and Sean: What? Why?!?

Because we were in NYC. And for lunch, I thought a Philadelphia Cheesesteak would be nice. From Philadelphia.
Oh don’t look at me like that. You’ve thought it too.

Totally worth the trip.

So, the next day, at about 10, we piled into my car and headed for Philly.
This was in the days before mapquest or gps, so we just had the atlas I kept in the car.
Brian was the navigator. He sat in front with the map.
Sean was just along for the ride. He had two concerns: being fed, and meeting women.
I was the driver. I drove like a lunatic.

So we headed off. It’s about a three hour drive from where we were to where we were trying to get too. We did it in about two and a half. Should’ve been faster. Read on.

Conversation wandered over the normal range of topics among three guys that worked together in a kitchen: how much work sucked, which waitresses were cute, where we were going to work next when we moved on.
We hit Jersey and started kicking up dust, flying down the turnpike towards Philly at about 85 mph.
The road was wide open, and we flew.

As the driver, I had to let the Navigator know what our options were for exits and he had to figure out which one to take.
“Brian, we’re coming up on exit 8 in two miles” (at 85 mph, about 95 sec). “It says Philly. Is that where we want to go?”
“Hold on, let me find it”
“I mile, Brian”
“HOLD ON!”
“BRIAN, DO WE WANT THE EXIT?!?”
“YES!!! GET OFF!!!”
whoosh
“Too late. Never mind.”

At this point, Brian decided to read ahead on the atlas. He found the exit we wanted. A quarter of a mile before we wanted it. While we were in the left lane.
So we went from the left lane to the right lane to the exit ramp in one very smooth maneuver.
(Yes, I know you think that’s a terrible move, Kayjai. But it was a private car, not a taxi.)
Didn’t see any other cars to worry about.
Not even the cop.

Over his loudspeaker: “PAY THE TOLL AND PULLOVER.”
Great.
So we pay the toll (Me thinking, I have to pay the toll before they haul me in? That SUCKS!) and pull over.
Sean, taking off his headphones: “Why are we stopping?”
“We just got pulled over. Hang on, let’s not be any stupider than we have to be”

Cop gets out of his car. I have the window open, hands on the wheel in plain sight.
Cop: “Do you know how fast you were going?”
Guap – Laughing resignedly and shrugging: “70?”
Cop – Raising his eyebrow: 87 miles. per. hour.
Guapo – still laughing resignedly: “Yeah, I know…”
Cop: “Please step out of the car”
I get out.
Cop: “You want to tell me where you’re going?”
Guap – looking around and sighing: “Philadelphia, for cheesesteaks”
Cop, taking off his sunglasses: “What”
“Well you see, officer, we work together” (pointing at the car). “We had a day off, and thought it would be nice to go out for lunch. And we wanted cheesesteaks. So if you’re in the northeast and you want a cheesesteak” I continued, “you go to Philly”. I couldn’t stop from laughing again.
Cop looked at me for a minute. “Wait here.”
He walked over to the car and asked Brian to step out. He led him a few yards from the car and they spoke.
The cop walked back to the car, asked Sean to step out.
They walked a few yards from the car and Brian and spoke.
Cop looked at Sean, then Brian, then me and waved us all back to the car. We got in.
The cop took my license and registration and went back to his car to write up the ticket.

In the car, Brian Sean and I all talked about what just happened.
“He asked me where we were going” said Brian.
“Me too”, agreed Sean.
“What did you tell him?!?” I asked
Brian said “I was gonna lie, but I didn’t know what you said, so I told the truth.”
Sean nodded in agreement.
The trooper came back over holding paperwork.
“Okay”, he said. “This is a 55mph zone. For the speed you were doing, I could haul you in and impound your vehicle”. He pulled out the ticket. “I’ve written you up for doing 67. That’s the highest I can write without having you be arrested.” He handed me the ticket, and my license and reg. “Don’t drive like an idiot, enjoy your sandwiches”

He headed back to the car. I put my seat belt on and made sure the guys did too, not wanting to push my luck at all.
“Get his picture” came the voice from the back.
I turned to look at Sean. “Are you out. of. your. mind?”
“No, c’mon”, he insisted. “It’ll be cool” He pushed his camera at me.
I sighed. Looked at the camera. Got out of the car.
Walked over to the trooper, still parked at the toll plaza behind us.
He looked up. “Yes?”
“My friend would like a picture of you” I said, pointing at the car.
The cop looked at my car, then back at me. “Why?”
I looked at my car and then back at him. “I have absolutely no idea. But hey, doesn’t hurt to ask. The cop shook his head in a “wtf” kind of way and got out of his car. “Sure”.

Cheese (steak) it! The cops!!!

We made it to the Philadelphia exit with no further troubles. Now we just needed to find a cheesesteak.
(Oh, don’t look at me like that. Does it look so far like any of this trip was planned?)

Fortunately, there was one last toll before we left the highway, just before the harbor area. We asked the attendant.
“Oh, cheesesteaks?” he said. “You can get them anywhere.”
“Yeah”, I answered, but we want really good ones…”
He laughed, “Then you want Pats” he replied, and gave us directions (that we could follow!!!) right to Pat’s front door.

Pat, and his competitor Gino, are Philadelphia cheesesteak institutions. They both have ridiculously fanatical adherents,each side swearing that their guy makes a better sandwich.
Want to find out for yourself? Well, they’re on opposite corners from each other so you can do it in one trip.
Pats is a small stand, with no interior. Walk up to the window (through which you can see a massive flattop griddle) and place your order – anything from a traditional up to ones with all sorts of toppings.
While you wait, look at the exterior walls. They are covered with celebrities who have paid homage to Pat and his delicious cheesesteak.
When your food is ready, take a seat at one of the picnic tables around the stand, or go across the street to the bleachers at the baseball field.
Place your napkins where they can be reached.
Unwrap.
Inhale the aroma…
Eat…
And…
ahhhhh….

Pat. The man behind the magic. (with Sean and Brian)

The meat, sliced thinly, cooked to juicy perfection on the griddle. Onions, peppers, mushrooms, sauteed as weel as any five star restaurant would give you, soaked in the juices of the meat. Cheese (Velveeta, baby!!!) oozing over the whole thing.
When the juice runs down your arm, you’ll want to lick it off so as not to lose any of that delicious taste. And no, you’ll have no shame about doing it.
Between the 3 of us, we went through seven cheesesteaks, each one better than the last.
We picked up a couple for the guys back home and, after profuse thank yous, hopped back in the car for a much more sedate trip home.
I’d like to say everyone really appreciated and enjoyed the cheesesteaks we brought back, but I can’t.
We ate them on the way.

What? There was traffic.

Now where am I going? – Physical edition


Today’s Music: Stray Cats

I can get within 5 miles of my target on a 500 mile trip. It’s that last mile that kills me.
But I’ve gotten smarter. I have a GPS for the car. I have maps. And I have a compass.
Actually, I own several compasses. I have analog ones, digital ones. I have GPS, I have them bundled in other tools.
When making screened t-shirts was on my list of things to do, the front logo was a compass.

It came with the car!

I love my compi (plural). When I’m on a car trip, I take note of where I’m going, and never fail to laugh during the large east/west section of I-95 North/South. It makes me feel kind of smug that I, outdoor adventurer, have a better idea of my bearings than the guys that built a road from Florida to Maine, but couldn’t even get the orientation of the road correct.

But sometimes I’m on foot.

Fits in my pocket!

For that, I have this little gem. It came with a carabiner! It has a little Canadian flag as a souvenir of where I bought it!
It worked for two whole weeks!
But the key ring on the other end holds all my keys, so I keep it even though the compass doesn’t work anymore and is not worth the effort to recharge and recalibrate. Besides, I have an Android.

It's on my phone!

With a compass App! It’s pretty accurate. It also has other features, and with the phone’s GPS, I can keep a record of my path and (more importantly) find my way back out.

Which has been really helpful sometimes. When I remember to turn it on.

Though, there are times when electronics are just persnickety.

I could have been an arm model


So I can align my watch with the sun and adjust the bearing dial to find general direction. Doesn’t work as well at night though…

Of course, sometimes I’m not tramping about on roads or through the woods. Sometimes I’m doing it underwater.

I could have been a hand model

Sadly, I have no idea how to use this underwater. But it’s really cool. And is my second favorite compass I own, behind…

My wife (the most wonderful girl in the universe) gave me this, one of the first gifts I ever got from her. It means more to me than a lot of other things I own, because for me, it’s a perfect gift. It’s small, it is elegant and it works.
I love this little box compass.

So there’s really no reason for me to get lost in the world anymore.

Next time we’ll do the Metaphysical Edition…

Clutter is Bad for the Head, UPDATED


Today’s Music: Huey Lewis

What a difference a day makes.

And I’m feeling much better myself. Just after that small bit of tidying.
Go figure…

ALSO, Friday Foolishness is almost here. So if you haven’t yet, check out last week’s poll and vote.

And as always, thanks for stopping by!

Clutter is Bad for the Head


Today’s Music: Howard Jones (Acoustic)

The inside of my head looks like the top of my desk.

Organization? Who needs organization?

And it would be very simple to fix my desk: look at everything that’s there and sort it into piles. Move my trash into the bin. Pull out the stuff that needs attention and put it in the space on the left, file all the rest in its appropriate cabinet.

Clearing my head would be more or less the same process. Stuff the noise and clutter into a back bin to be dealt with (or ignored) later*. Keep the important stuff on top, and deal with all the routine stuff as…well…routine.

But for some reason, I can’t seem to do it. I don’t think there’s more on my mind than usual. I’m just having a harder time controlling it than usual. Might be that I’m fighting a slow battle with a cold that is threatening to sack me. Might be that I have a family obligation coming up next month and no time off to tend to it, so what do I do about that? (Seriously, if anyone has ideas, I’m open to them.)

I’m just feeling run down lately. I’ve been forcing myself to make dinner when my wife (the most wonderful girl in the universe) and I finally get home, and sometimes that means pulling out the appropriate takeaway menu. My wife has even had to do some of the ironing (which I usually do) because I’m just too damned wiped out to pull my butt off the couch.

So the days come and go. And this is my little sad rant about it. But now its off my chest. And is just annoying me.
I’m gonna get a shovel, bellow my rallying cry** and dig my way out of this pile. Can’t let it all drag me down.

If I did, how would I make it surfing Sunday?

Yep, that's a wave at my beach!

*I find it’s very nice to leave things on my schedule that I can just ignore. Frees up time when I’ve blocked out space for something I know I’m not going to do.

**SPOON!!!!

An Adventure – Learning to Ski


Today’s Music: Tori Amos

So, here we are, in the ongoing series of “Learning to” Adventures posts.

Some of my best skiing days have happened when I was hung over. I don’t recommend that condition for actually learning to ski though.

This picture isn't me, but could have been. Many times.

Skiing (from Urban Dictionary): somethin a person does in the wintertime to convince oneself that he or she is actually enjoying the 10 degree weather.

The first thing is to get the right clothes.
The first time I went, I wore jeans. And fell a lot. All the dye in the denim seeped right through the top 20 layers of my skin, and I had blue legs through February.

Second thing is have a sense of humor.
You’re going to fall. No way around it. If you can laugh about it, you’ll be able to get back up and learn to stay up that much faster, thereby freeing yourself to laugh at the poor bastard behind you who just did a fantastic slow-mo windmilling flop. While not moving.

Third thing is to get a teacher.
By teacher I mean not just someone who knows how to ski, but someone who can teach it.

Let me explain.
So one winter, Ronnie and Meat decided I should learn how to ski. Sure, why not.
We trundled up to the mountain, and I got my rental gear and lift ticket, and we headed up the mountain. To the top.

Much scarier with planks strapped to your feet. And no idea what you're doing.

This was the lesson, as explained to me by Meat: Ronnie’ll go first and show you what to do. I’ll go behind you to pick up your stuff (see top pic) and tell you what you did wrong.

One thing I learned about cold mountain air – it clears hangovers fast. Well, that and terror.

For those of you have never been to Hunter Mountain, the main skiing face faces east. That means it is softened by the morning sun. Which means?
Exactly. When the sun crests and begins to set in the west, the east face freezes back up. Into sheet ice.

People out west mock the east coast snow. And justifiably, because their’s is much softer and fluffier.
But lemme tell you, if you can ski the east (especially someplace like Hunter), you can ski anywhere.

Back to the lesson.

The fourth thing is to Zip. Up. Your. Jacket. All the way.
We’ve already established that you will fall. At some point, you will probably Yard Sale (again, see top pic).
That’s where both your skis come off and shoot in opposite directions, your poles bounce off to God-knows-where, your hat is half buried in the snow behind you, a glove may have come off, and your lungs are twice their normal size from all the snow forced down your throat as you belly surfed down the hill.
Zipping your jacket will keep at least one square yard of snow off your chest.

Having fun yet?

Looks ridiculous, but it does work.

Good. Because it isn’t all horror. By the end of the day, I was able to use my modified snowplow to zig-zag down the mountain in one piece. I was skiing!

Meat and Ronnie gave me my first lessons in skiing parallel too (as opposed to snowplow), and this gave me (barely) enough control and (way too much) speed to be able to zip down the mountain making some truly…unique maneuvers.
I had so much fun, I eventually forgave them for their wtf teaching method.

Once I could ski at a level near theirs, we needed to add some tricks,
like the Daffy, and the Backscratcher

I've done this! And landed well!

I've done this! The landing was hilarious. And painful.

Now, my wife (the most wonderful girl in the universe) and I try and go skiing at least once a year. I taught her the basics, and she very wisely (and relationship savingly) decided to take a real lesson. She gets better every year. And so do I.

Looking back over this, I think the most important part of learning to ski is to do it because it’s fun, and you want to enjoy it.
Otherwise, you’ll end up with blue legs, or a belly full of ice, or a broken rib (that one really sucked, but I skied the rest of the day anyway), and no big stupid grin to show for it.

Bought these after I knew how to use them. They were great, but their time has passed...

Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll go see what lift tickets will be this season, and try on my ski hat…

Yes, I do wear it in public. Sometimes, I even wear it to work.