Category Archives: Stuff

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.

Let The Blog Do The Work


Today’s Music: Dire Straits – Solid Rock

So I was trying to frame my thoughts for the next post. I was thinking  of something from the Ticket Stub bin, or perhaps (one of the many) stories of drunken stupidity littering my past.
But I also wanted it to be funny.
And then it occurred to me – for those of you who haven’t been reading the blog, or the comments regularly, below is an exchange between two readers, over two days.

I’ll just let the blog do the work on this one. Because I’ll be busy figuring out how to save myself and barricading myself behind my firewall.
As an aside, my girl (the most wonderful girl in the universe) laughed herself silly at this.

So here it is, the unexpurgated comments, with thanks/apologies to Weenine Girl and Brian the Kwyjibo

Comments from The Bozo List:
Weenie Girl | November 7, 2011 at 22:18 | Reply | Edit

I hope you don’t think that enhancing another blogger’s post really counts as your own post. Your readers want you!! Don’t let us down!! Some of us may know where you live!!!

Weenie Girl | November 7, 2011 at 22:20 | Reply | Edit

And by the way, you didn’t say what the music of the day was. Surely you don’t expect me to figure it out by myself…

Brian the Kwyjibo | November 8, 2011 at 04:15 | Reply | Edit

You’ve got a point, Weenie. Some of us have come to count on his daily recommendations. Don’t leave us hanging like this!

Brian the Kwyjibo | November 8, 2011 at 04:14 | Reply | Edit

Awesome, Guapo! It appears you might have your own stalker. I want a stalker. (Weenie Girl, I’ll send you the address to my house, and some good directions.)

And shamelessly plugging another guy’s blog totally counts as a post. You had to type some words and even make a hyperlink. I’m gonna put something on Unintimidated to direct readers here, maybe to your music page.

Weenie Girl | November 8, 2011 at 06:46 | Reply | Edit

My stalking schedule is a little tight but I may have an opening after the holidays, Brian. Besides that service, I can also nag and be self-righteous. For example, what the hell were you doing posting at 4 am instead of sleeping?!!?

Let me know if you’d like to pursue this.

WG

Brian the Kwyjibo | November 8, 2011 at 14:31 | Reply | Edit

I work swing shift, then usually stay up most of the night doing homework (or commenting on my favorite blogs when I should be doing homework). Some nights I get to bed by 2 or 3, and other times I’m up ’til 6. Either way, I sleep most of the morning. Before you nag me any more, let me say that I went to bed right after posting that comment last night.

I’ll get back with you on a time early next year when I’ll likely need a good stalker. (I’m so excited!)

El Guapo | November 8, 2011 at 15:19 | Reply | Edit

There ain’t nothing that’s good about the above.
Nothing at all.

Sadly, it picked up again after the next post,
And the comments from An Adventure – Learning to Sail

Weenie Girl | November 9, 2011 at 09:51 | Reply | Edit

I don’t even know where to begin.

1) You let your sisters tag along or they let you tag along?
2) Sunfish don’t have stays. Or guys. What kind of Sunfish are you talking about?
3) You only fell out of the boat? And only twice? Did it not capsize? That’s the whole fun of the getting wet part. If you capsize, it’s the wind’s fault. If you just fell out, you’re an idiot. Maybe that should be on the bozo list. Brian, do you think that qualifies? (And if you play your cards right, maybe I’ll invite you sailing.)
4) If you really loved sailing as much as you claim to, you would have taken the opportunity to respond affirmatively when you were invited. Pezhead!

El Guapo | November 9, 2011 at 10:20 | Reply | Edit

1 – They tagged along.
2 – The course was the Red Cross certification, and covered stays and guys.
3 – capsized and fell out. I am multi-talented. And ignoring the wind and capsizing is the sailors fault.
4 – Perhaps I just can’t find the right (sane) people to sail with….

Weenie Girl | November 9, 2011 at 10:37 | Reply | Edit

Bah! I wonder if your sisters agree with you. Check with them.

But still, only twice? If that was it, you weren’t sailing hard enough. If you fell out because your boat wasn’t tied to the dock, I don’t think I’d include that as one of your “multi-talents”.

Sanity is over-rated. I’ll ask my other self what she thinks but I believe she agrees with me.

Brian the Kwyjibo | November 9, 2011 at 12:59 | Reply | Edit

Nice nagging, WG! I could add him to The Bozo List, but he comprises 50% of the list’s editorial team, so that might not be a good move.

For some, shyness might be their El Guapo. For others, a lack of education might be their El Guapo. El Guapo, I’m starting to think your personal El Guapo is a blog commenter who goes by the name of Weenie Girl.

El Guapo | November 9, 2011 at 14:35 | Reply | Edit

Too. True.

Friday Foolishness – Jellybean edition


Today’s Music: Kina Grannis

First the old business – results of last weeks’ poll:
Other responses were
1 – not yet a problem
2 – When it grows long enough, I braid it with my nose hair. Looks like a mustache.

I like 2 myself, and may try it when the hair gets uncontrollable…
And the winner is
a tie between “Ear hair? Really? What kind of a freak are you?” and “Au Naturale”.

Thanks to all you voters.

And here’s this weeks’ “What the hell is wrong with him?” poll:

And while you wait for the answers (voting ends next Thursday at midnight), please enjoy a jellybean video from today’s Today’s Music artist.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

An Adventure – Learning to Sail


Today’s Music: Jimmy Buffett

WHEEEEE!!!!!!

In a June, quite some time ago, Ms. Diamond needed to get certified as a Life Guard.
So, one day in the cafeteria, she dropped the brochure for the place she was going for the lifeguard course on the table.
Being a nosy S.O.B. (though it’s possible sh offered it to me – not sure – been a lot of drinking between then an now), I looked through it.
Sailing! Learn to sail on a lake in Pennsylvania! One person Sunfish! Oh.My. God.

At the time, I was listening to way too much Jimmy Buffett. Parrothead, (mostly) recovered, that’s me.
One of the things Jimmy sings an awful lot about (besides drinking, and women, and food and islands and…) is sailing.
And here was an opportunity to learn it on the cheap!

So I went. My sisters came along to learn to Scuba Dive (in the same lake), but I was there for the sailing.

The first day, it poured. So they brought the sailing group (there was sailing, lifeguarding, scuba, and a bunch of other classes being taught that week) into a cabin. The instructors told us about themselves, told us about the boats we’d be using, and asked us what we wanted to get out of the class, and to draw a picture of it.
I wrote Sail like Magellan. The picture I drew wasn’t quite as bad as this, but lord, it wasn’t good:

Not even Magellan could keep this afloat.

Fortunately, making us artists wasn’t the point of the course. Making us sailors was.
They taught us how to put together a sunfish and take it apart. How to step the mast (insert it in it’s slot so it wouldn’t leave the boat when the sail was filled with wind), how to run the lines (ropes on a boat are called lines), how to tell where the wind was coming from and how to trim the boat (adjust sails and heading (direction) for the wind).
They taught us about the hardware on the boat – the stays and guys, tiller and running rigging, and how all of them held the boat together and made it go.
They taught us witty sailor sayings – “red sky at night, sailors delight, red sky at dawn, storm coming on”, “tiller to boom to avoid doom”, “rain before wind, better stay in. Wind before rain, soon set sail again”.
All phrases that I’ve found useful even in my daily landlubber-ous existence.

And they taught us how to sail.
Picture 5 newbies, each in our own boat, trying to sail in formation. Okay, we managed to get more or less to the same part of the lake, more or less at the same time. But when they told us to sail in close formation, we all managed to get in exactly the same part of the lake at exactly the same time. And had a massive pile up.
I think that was the first time I fell out of my boat, avoiding the nose of another that parked itself on top of me.

But slowly we learned. We understood the points of sail, learned how to trim a sail to take the most advantage of the wind. How to get out of irons, or steer for a buoy.
And we learned to not crash into each other. Unless we really wanted to.

On the last day, we were allowed to sail around on our own. When time was up, I steered in, coming up to the dock neatly against the wind. I put my hands on the dock – to hoist myself out of the boat – my feet still in it.
And the boat, which wasn’t tied down, started to drift…away…from the dock…

Which was the last time I fell in.

I’m sorry I couldn’t find it, because i really wanted to scan and post my Upside Down Award, for falling creatively out of boats. I earned it, dangnabbit.

And before you leave the post chuckling at how i wasted a week, several years later I was invited to crew on the Around Long Island Regatta on a boat something like this:

Image from Charterworld.com

I got here from a Sunfish.