Tag Archives: ponderings

Time Out


Today’s Music: Jen Chapin – Little Hours

Sunset over the #7 tracks in Queens NY – Photo by Chris Goldberg

It’s a beautiful evening in Queens, New York tonight. The air has a cool bite to it. There are a few clouds in the sky, but not enough to obscure the deep blue and deepening orange of the fading sunset.

I have nowhere to be tonight. No errands to run. No relatives to visit. No calls to make, forms to fill out, information to hunt down and organize.
No one to comfort, nothing to attend to.
Just have to figure out what’s for dinner, and have a nice quiet meal with my wife.

Later on, I may watch some of the Presidential Debate. Maybe not. Yes, I’ve already decided I’m voting for Obama. (You’re welcome to criticize below, just be polite about it.) Maybe I’ll turn on the ps3 and play a game.
I might strum my guitar for a bit. There’s a song I’m trying to learn that still needs a lot of work.

At some point, I’ll sit under the stars I can see from our porch and have a cigarette. Maybe I’ll have a beer with it. I’ll read a bit, check my email, but mostly, just sit and relax quietly.
There will be music.

Later on, I’ll go to bed. My girl (TMWGITU) and I will go through our nightly routine. We’ll make jokes about each other. We’ll complain to each other about setting our alarms for tomorrow.
I’ll change out my earring.
We’ll get under the blankets and I’ll put my arm around her.
Her feet will be freezing. I’ll shout when she puts them on me, and she’ll laugh at me.

It will be a quiet night at the Guapo household, like it hasn’t been for a while.

I’m looking forward to it.

The Friday Foolishness posts will continue (as long as I can think of polls – never a guarantee). Other than that, well, I was never a prolific poster. As stuff occurs to me, and as I can set more adventures on the page, or trifectas or beatnik poetry slams, I’ll post them. Just no idea how often.
You’ll still see me on twitter, and on your blogs. As much as I like trying to tell a good story here, I really love listening to all your stories.

So not goodbye, just a pause – a time out.
And if you need me, hey, I’m easy enough to find…

See you out there. I’ll be the one relaxing, enjoying the quiet time.

I think I feel good about that. (Photo by Lizzie Cracked)


El Guapo

Why you should always pursue adventure, even if it might kill you – Guest Post


Today’s Music: Van Halen – Jump
Days Til Spring: 50

A few weeks ago, Eric Murtaugh asked me to do a guest post on learning to scuba dive. It was my pleasure, and I had a good time writing it.
Today, Eric returns the favor with some thoughts on why adventure in the first place.
After you’ve read this, check out his site. Start with the way he proposed to his wife, then explore the rest. Seriously, he’s out of control.
In the best possible way.

Eric has phrased the why better than I ever could. Feel free to leave comments either here or on his site. And let us know what you’re planning. We may want to try it too…

Bet I can try this before Eric does!!!

Why you should always pursue adventure, even if it might kill you
Eric Murtaugh

Think back to the crazy things you’ve done in life; those exhilarating times when you woke up the next morning and thought, “damn, how exactly did I make it out alive?”

How did you feel afterwards? Slightly stupid? Or ready to get out there and do it again?

If you’re anything like me, I’m willing to bet you went with the latter.

And here’s why: each and every time you pull off another blood pumping, heart racing stunt, you feel more and more alive.

I can recall three events in my life where thrill seeking trumped intelligence:

1. Rafting the Gunnison River in a beat up inflatable kayak
2. Sailing a choppy, ice cold lake
3. Canoeing a flooded river, and the river won

In each example, I should’ve exercised patience.

I should’ve insisted we wait for the patch repairs to dry on my kayak. I should’ve known sailing in cold water without a wetsuit was an invitation to hypothermia. I should’ve known navigating a flooded river in a canoe would not end well (yep, my buddy and I almost died).

But you know what? I’ll never, ever forget those days. The details remain so vivid. This, coming from a guy who can’t remember where he placed his keys last night.

Look, I’m not suggesting you put your life on the line each and every time you head out for another round of adventure. That’s just silly.

The lesson here is you should take risks in life.

Sometimes those risks will backfire and you will find yourself in a tricky situation. If you survive, and let’s hope you always do, you will learn to value those moments, even if you feel like a total idiot for a few days.

Have you ever been in a situation where thrill seeking and adventure trumped intelligence?

Looking Sideways. And a Haiku!


Today’s Music: Iron Maiden – Run To The Hills
Days Til Spring: 57

From the inestimable Gary Larson. Please don't sue me.

Says it all... (From the inestimable Gary Larson. Please don't sue me.)

Wow. this is the 100th time I’m setting virtual pen to pixelated paper.
I don’t really have any ideas for this momentous occasion. Really, the only thing I have special for it is at the bottom, in the closing remark, and that isn’t even my idea. It came from the comments section of this post.

Mostly right now, I’m feeling more in tune with the post of another blogger, Sandylikeabeach in her post about prayer. (Though i imagine I could draw some excellent allegories from Hotspur too, but it would probably just go to his head.)
But that’s just because it was an exceptionally long day. This too shall pass I guess…

So, 100 down, god-knows-how-many to go. So far I’ve enjoyed myself. I’ve met some great bloggers, had some deeper conversations than I ever thought I would online, and mostly just amused the hell out of myself.
There have been limericks and polls (see the last two categories in the header), there’s been music every day (some of it good). There’s been some serious stuff, and a whole lot of silliness.
A nice blend, methinks. And if nothing else, a few days a week, I actually have to organize my thoughts. Doesn’t actually stay organized when it runs through my fingers, but still, it’s the thought that counts. (See what I did there?)

So stay tuned, keep the volume turned up, and put in as much or as little effort as you like as you browse.
Let me know what you’re listening to, or what concerts you’re going to see (I’ve updated the Concert Log page above), and what books you’re reading. I read all the comments (even the one that just said pornbeer.com and the other, posted by user1, I am the worlds best user!) and answer them too!
So, a bit of looking back. Some looking forwards. Mostly (and as always), just looking sideways…

And as promised, to commemorate the inanity of commemorating my 100th post, I give you
The Gopher Haiku
Did he ever get the girl?
The shorts look ridiculous
Welcome to Washington, Congressman.

PLUS!!! An older Dick Shawn and Bobby Short on the same cruise?!?

You’re welcome. Look on the bright side – the next 100 can’t get any worse!
(hehehe)

Now where am I going – Metaphysical Edition


Today’s Music: Johnny Clegg & Savuka

So last time, I used this title to show off a bunch of compasses I own.
Because I’m the kind of guy who thinks compasses are cool. (much like bow ties.)

Bow ties are cool.

At the bottom of that post, I promised I’d give you the Metaphysical Edition. Because I’m an idiot.

So come now, as we delve into the sludge and confusion that slosh and ooze inside my head. (No, not the eggs I put in my nose when I was 6. I’m talking about my brain. Sheesh, this is gonna be a long post…)

Any good psychiatrist will tell you that in order to know where you’re going, you have to know where you’ve been.
I’ve worked in kitchens. I’ve worked in offices. I even once assembled newspapers (that lasted one day).

Sunday NY Times. Lots and lots of pages.

I’ve traveled (not extensively, but a bit), gone to 5 or 6 countries, many states and countless bars and restaurants. Not that the number is so high they can’t be counted, it’s just hard to use numbers when you’re that drunk.

I’ve been ridiculously happy. Extremely sad. Criminally mischievous. Incredibly well dressed. I’ve worn Hawaiian shirts to work, and tuxedos to bars. I have a wicked sense of humor and enjoy being the perpetrator of a well played joke, as well as the victim of one.

Way back when I used to sweat for a living, it was my job to keep a semi-homicidal group of immigrants/junkies/alcoholics functioning well enough to serve 800 dinners a night out of a hellishly hot kitchen. I yelled, threatened, cursed, and when necessary, I showed my guys that the way I said to do it was right by doing it in front of them.

Those were their choices.


This led to a long and destructive period of aggressively enjoying the hell out of myself, and drinking way too much. It was also during this time that I met IrishPaul.

At the point where my knees decided they didn’t want weren’t going to work in restaurants anymore (and after I almost cut someone’s finger off for eating a french fry), I went back to school for a computer certification.

For that stretch, I worked as little as possible, relied on friends (bartenders) for food and drink, and generally recovered my head.
When I was about 28, I started a job as a pc tech. I had just moved in with a friend (bartender), went in for a drink that night on his shift and saw a girl (the most wonderful girl in the universe). And eventually married her.
(all that will eventually be another post.)

Everything up to this point had been a whirl of drink, food, road trips, good friends in bars, too little sleep and a ton of late nights.

3 months after I got my pc tech job, the dot com I was working at closed and I started a new job in a Network Operations Center (sounds cooler than it is – no windows, canned air and the constant whirring of server fans), working 2nd shift (noon to 10 pm).
Then they moved me to mornings.

I had a great boss (despite him thinking music began and ended with The Beatles), who didn’t fire me when it took two weeks for me to actually show up on time for the day shift.
but I couldn’t stay out all night if I had to be in at 7am. So I stopped staying out all night.
I grew mellower. I was sweating less. I was holding intelligent conversations that didn’t loudly speculate about an individual’s questionable intelligence or favorite farm animal.

Things were going well with the girl. She came skiing with me and learned to love it. She introduced me to new music, some of which is great. She got me to start cooking again (really, when I left restaurants, if I couldn’t nuke it, boil it, or eat it out of the bag, I wasn’t eating it). She suggested day trips, vacations, kayaking.
It was a perfect life.

I slowly started waking up in the morning. Looking forward to the weekend.
Speaking in a socially acceptable manner (i.e.every third word wasn’t a curse). I relaxed a bit more.
I became accustomed to the joys of the daily rush hour commute. To drink and enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning. To sweat less and smile more.

That’s continued for about the last 10 years. My girl and I have a simple life. I do most of the cooking and ironing, she makes sure the bills go out on time and (occasionally) laughs at my jokes. We have things that only move one of us, things that move both of us, nad each supports the other pretty much no matter what.
She knows (probably better than I do) what’ll piss me off or set me on edge (she doesn’t linger at/near/in smelling distance of the perfume counters at malls or department stores!), and always manages to keep me calm.
I tell her I love her several times a day, which she does too – not for reassurance, but because it’s nice to hear when it’s sincere.

So, I get up, I go to work. I come home, make dinner, lie on the couch with my girl as we read our books or she surfs the web and I watch tv.
I have time to play my guitars, or video games, or to work on my model railroad.
On weekends, we do our grocery shopping and other chores, visit friends, go to museums/restaurants/stuff we want to see, and live what I guess are normal ordinary lives.
I go to as many concerts as I can (sometimes with, sometimes without her), she also has stuff she does on her own.

It’s a stable, good life.

At this point, I probably won’t throw my gear and compii into the car and just go for long ride.
I’m never going to be a Marine Biologist. Or cure cancer. Or headline at Madison Square Garden.

I will work every day to justify my wife’s faith and love in me. I will still say as many inappropriate things as I think I can get away with. I will keep playing with my food.

One day, if I’m lucky, I’ll go see a man about a horse (in this case, a horse is a kayak/motorcycle/sailboat/small island…). I’ll keep having mini adventures (skiing, surfing, paragliding, driving in midtown) as I can fit them in.

I will probably work, retire when I can, worry about health, money, the Mets…
I’d like to do that someplace tropical. I’d like to understand more of quantum physics (thogh I do finally understand Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle).
I don’t know if any of that will happen. And, despite the beginning of this post, I don’t really know where I’m going.

But, for the moment, I’m content.
Because I got the girl.

Everything else is noise.

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!

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.